Brownwood chamber celebrates year with awards banquet

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce

Brownwood will never lack for deserving people to honor, Mayor Stephen Haynes said at the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce annual awards banquet Thursday night.

Haynes was one of several speakers who made brief remarks at a packed Brownwood Coliseum, where chamber representatives presented awards to individuals and businesses who have shined throughout the past year.

"We'll never run out of deserving people because Brownwood is that great," Haynes said. 

Individuals and businesses awarded were:

Chamber Ambassador of the Year

Vickki Firth was named Ambassador of the Year.

 Ambassadors are required to attend chamber event throughout the year and receive “points” for their participation. Vikki Firth has the highest number of “points” because she always steps up to help at all chamber functions such as the Business Expo, the Annual Banquet, Corks & Caps, Christmas Under the Stars, Professional Women’s Summit, monthly luncheons and countless ribbon cuttings.

Stuart Coleman Good Neighbor Award

Recipients Tara Newton, Carol Jarvis Deal and Travis Curry are commended for their community service. The recipients are described as unsung heroes who volunteer their time and talents through service, community, charitable, church or other organizations. This award is named in memory of Stuart Coleman for his lifetime of service to the Brownwood area.

Tara Newton received the Stuart Coleman Good Neighbor Award.

Tara Newton graduated from Brownwood High School and pursued a career at Texas State Technical College, where she then graduated as an EMT paramedic. Since then, she has been serving Brown and Coleman county EMS. Throughout her years as a paramedic, she has never hesitated to help where she can. 

Carol Jarvis Deal received the Stuart Coleman Good Neighbor Award.

Carol Jarvis Deal worked for State Farm Insurance for 30 years before retiring and beginning her second career as a full-time volunteer at Southside Church, the Central Texas Pregnancy Care Center, Good Samaritan Ministries and Salvation Army and the Heart of Texas CASA.  She and another volunteer share the responsibility for getting food delivered each week to Head Start.

Travis Curry received the Stuart Coleman Good Neighbor Award.

Travis Curry graduated from Brownwood High School, then received a CNA license and worked in the medical field. He later attended Ranger College and received a cosmetology license. He is a Jaycee, vice president of the Brownwood Arts Council Board and vice president of the Corinne T. Smith Animal Center Board. He also serves on the Brown County Child Welfare Board and volunteers with the Salvation Army, and served as director of the Cinco de Mayo in downtown Brownwood.

Small Business of the Year

Intermission Bookshop is Small  Business of the Year.

Intermission Bookshop is an independent bookstore in downtown Brownwood. During World War II, their shop was a theater known as the Queen Theater. Fully renovated, their store is home to gently used and new books. Opening their doors in 2020, owner Kim Burton often refers to this business as a community lead venture and notes that God has been in the details. 

Medium Business of the Year

Hill Country Home Care is Medium Business of the Year.

Hill Country Home Care opened in 2018 and is now licensed in 11 counties. Their services include sitter/companion services, light housekeeping, meal preparation, medications reminders, laundry, running errands, pet care, transportation to medical appointments and leisurely activities, grocery shopping, bathing, dressing, grooming, and hygiene care. 

Large Business of the Year

Performance Pipe was named Large Business of the Year.

Performance Pipe is a Division of Chevron Phillips Chemical. In 2000, Phillips Driscopipe and Chevron Plexco Companies merged, forming Performance Pipe. The Brownwood plant has 70 employees and has been in operation 59 years. The original Igloo cooler was developed here in the 1960s. They produce High Density Polyethylene pipe sizes 2 inches up to 54 inches in diameter, serving many industries.

Community Partner of the Year

Howard Payne University was named Community Partner of the Year.

Howard Payne University was founded as Howard Payne College by the Pecan Valley Baptist Association at Indian Creek, Texas in 1889. In 1953, Daniel Baker College, which originally had been a Presbyterian college and in 1950 had become the Episcopal College of the Southwest, was consolidated with Howard Payne. The Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom, the Dr. Guy D. Newman Hall of American Ideals, and the Bettie and Robert Girling Center for Social Justice stand on the original campus of Daniel Baker. In 1974, the college became Howard Payne University. 

Volunteer of the Year

Lindy Mason, formerly of Arizona, moved to Brownwood in 2012 from Somerset, Ohio with her husband and five kids. For more than 20 years she sacrificed her time, working as a stay-at-home mom. When the youngest started pre-k she began looking for ways to give back to the community. She began working with the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce which opened up many more opportunities for her to serve. She has volunteered for numerous organizations.

Professional of the Year

Sunni Modawell (left) is Professional of the Year, and Lindy Mason is Volunteer of the Year.

Sunni Modawell is an Early High School graduate who attended Howard Payne University and Tarleton State University. Her career of service to her community is best defined by her years with the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce. Beginning as the manager of the Brownwood Store at the Chamber, she soon became the Director of Tourism, a position she held for nine years. In 2018, she was named the Executive Director of the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce. Under her direction, Chamber membership reached record numbers of 575. She recently retired from the chamber. 

Woman of the Year

Nancy Kay Bishop King (seated) is Woman of the Year.

Nancy Kay Bishop King is someone who never sought recognition but enjoyed serving quietly in the background. She loves helping others and especially young people. Her entire adult life has been spent impacting the lives of children and youth. She is a 1963 graduate of Brownwood High School, and her first job in high school was as a waitress at the Post Office café. She is a 1972 graduate of Howard Payne University and received her Master’s in Education from Tarleton State University. She retired from public education in 1998 after 27 years of service, going from being an aide in the head start program to elementary teacher, special education teacher and then educational diagnostician. She later worked with the Girl Scout, LatchKey and Boys & Girls Club. 

Man of the Year

Larry Mathis (center) is Man of the Year.

Larry Mathis was raised in Andrews and graduated in 1970. The next four years were a whirlwind cultivating in 1974 when he graduated from college one week and then married his high school sweetheart the next week. He went on to teach drama at Brownwood High School, where the program soared. Soon, more students were going to state than were in the program when he first began. Traveling the state to individual tournaments his students brought home more than 2 ,000 medals or trophies and won more than 100 Sweepstakes trophies over the course of 30 years. Before and after his retirement he was a mainstay at the Brownwood Lyric Theatre. Additionally, he was the public address announcer at Gordon Wood Stadium for more than 25 years. He served on the Brownwood City Council before resigning his seat to move out of town with his wife to be near family.

Grover Pitts Lifetime of Service Award

Dale Wheelis was posthumously awarded the Groner Pitts Lifetime of Service Award.

This was awarded posthumously to Dr. Dale Wheelis, a graduate of Brownwood High School and the University of Texas School of Dentistry.  He worked as a dentist in Brownwood for more than 30 years before retiring in 2007. He served as president of the Friends of the Library and served as a Brownwood ISD school board member. In 2001, the chamber named him Outstanding Man of the Year. He volunteered with the Pecan Valley Arts Festival and the Stars of Texas Art Exhibit for 22 years, and played a key role in renovation and operation of the Lyric Theatre and was a longtime member of the Lyric Theatre's board. He served in the Rotary Club and volunteered with charitable organizations.