Bill Brewer has a lengthy list of accomplishments, and at Tuesday’s Paragould Regional Chamber of Commerce banquet in the Community Center, he picked up one more: the Chamber named him to receive its Lifetime Achievement award for the year 2020-21.
Among his other accomplishments, Brewer currently serves as chairman of First National Bank and First Paragould Bankshares. He also served as chairman of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission from 1984 to 1991, served 22 years on the Paragould Light, Water and Cable commission, was chair of the Administrative Board of First United Methodist Church, was president of the Paragould Rotary Club, past chairman of Paragould Ducks Unlimited and zone chair of International Ducks Unlimited.
“I’ve been blessed to grow up and work in Greene County all my life,” Brewer said after receiving the award from 2020-21 Chamber president Kevin Lang. “There’s not a finer place in the world to live.”
And Brewer joked about receiving the award. “I didn’t realize only old folks could get it,” he said.
Given the COVID-19 public health emergency that began in March of 2020, the Chamber did not have its annual banquet last year. So the Chamber doubled up in its awards presentations, including in this year’s presentations those who would have received their awards last year.
Retired Mayor Mike Gaskill received the Lifetime Achievement award for 2020. Apart from serving as Paragould mayor from 1997 to his retirement last year, he teaches Sunday School at Westview Baptist Church. Brett Bradford, Chamber president for the 2019-20 year and presenter of the awards for that year, noted that as mayor, Gaskill had worked to get the city its Community Center and Aquatic Center, upgraded all the city’s park facilities, built two new fire stations, improved city sanitation and collection service, implemented a citywide recycling program, built the 911 Center and consolidated emergency services into a single entity. Bradford also noted Gaskill, a strong supporter of the armed forces, had proved instrumental in having The Wall That Heals (a replica of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington) come to Paragould in 2019. Among numerous other honors, Gaskill has also held several positions in, and received numerous awards, from state government entities in his capacity as mayor, and has also held several regional positions.
The Chamber also announced its other award recipients for both 2019-20 and 2020-21. For 2019-20, it named Jamie Miller of Paragould Light, Water and Cable as its young Professional of the Year, Sheila Ragsdell of the City of Paragould as its Chamber Ambassador of the Year and Misty Carr of Tenneco Automotive as its Member of the Year.
The Chamber named Jonathan Wright of Edward Jones as the 2020-21 Paragould Young Professional of the Year. Jerry Jett received the award for Ambassador of the Year for 2020-21, and attorney Robert F. Thompson was named Member of the Year for 2020-21.
The Chamber also presented retired Chamber Executive Director Sue McGowan with a Leadership Paragould award.