Brownstown Exchange Club honors longtime civic leader

BROWNSTOWN

A couple of expressions come to mind when Larry Raymer thinks of Richard Burrell.

One is “heart of gold.” The other one is “that man would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.”

Raymer also said there are two types of people in this world — dream makers and dream breakers. Dream breakers come up with excuses for why something can’t be done and won’t do anything to help, while dream makers ask how they can help and go out and make it happen.

Burrell is a dream maker, Raymer said.

During the Brownstown Exchange Club’s sixth annual Community Service Awards Dinner on Tuesday at W.R. Ewing, Burrell was presented with the Book of Golden Deeds Award.

The National Exchange Club’s highest honor recognizes dedicated community leaders who have given their time, talents and resources toward making their community a better place to live, club president Joe Bradley said.

“I’ve always tried to help the community as much as I could,” Burrell said. “As I look around this room, I see a lot of people who have done golden deeds, and I feel extremely humbled to be here. I am honored and pleased to represent the community.”

Burrell he grew up and went to school in Brownstown and is in his 44th year as owner of South Central Insurance in town.

He has been a member of Brownstown Baptist Church since 1964 and served in many ways, including deacon and trustee for more than 30 years and choir and building committee member.

He also has been heavily involved in the Brownstown Men’s Softball League, serving as treasurer from 1968 to 1980 and 1992 to now and a team sponsor for more than 40 years. In the past, he was a volunteer umpire, commissioner and team sponsor with the girls softball league in town, sponsor of many Brownstown Baseball Association and a team manager for a girls softball league in Seymour. Since 2004, he has been an Amateur Softball Association district commissioner.

His memberships include Brownstown Park Board since 1999, serving as chairman since 2004, and Brownstown Volunteer Fire Department for more than 40 years.

Raymer said Burrell was instrumental in rebuilding a shelter house on top of Skyline Drive when someone burned it down in the mid-1990s. The Department of Natural Resources sent out a call for volunteers to help rebuild the shelter house, which was built in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Burrell also helped fulfill teachers’ request to build a log cabin at Brownstown Elementary School so they could host a Pioneer Days event to educate county fourth-graders. Several people performed some work before Raymer and Burrell finished it up.

“Dick spent every Wednesday on his day off to come and work on that log cabin,” Raymer said. “We started working on Sunday after church so we could get finished in the spring of 1998. … That just wouldn’t have been possible without people like Dick who helped us build that log cabin.”

Four other awards were presented Tuesday night.

The Brownstown/Ewing Cultural Heritage Award, which goes to someone who “keeps history alive,” went to John Nolting. As president of the Brownstown Town Council, Nolting has been instrumental in improving the town’s business district and helping put comprehensive zoning in place, Bradley said.

“I’m really honored and humbled by this,” Nolting said. “When Joe called me, I was really surprised that they were honoring me with this. We are almost 200 years here in Brownstown, and we’re trying to keep the heritage alive.”

Nolting is involved with a committee to establish a downtown park/community center featuring a stage for concerts and community events. Despite being turned down for a grant, Nolting said, the committee is pushing forward with other funding opportunities.

“I was flabbergasted that we really haven’t hit the industries yet and we have raised almost $20,000 for that park,” Nolting said.

Bob Lucas, a crime scene investigator and technician with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, was named Police Officer of the Year. After 12 years as a reserve officer, Lucas took on a full-time role, serving as a detective before focusing on crime scene investigations. He also was a longtime Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer.

Jackson County Prosecutor AmyMarie Travis, who nominated Lucas for the award, and Jackson County Sheriff Mike Carothers made the presentation.

While Travis lauded Lucas for the work he does on a daily basis, she said one quality stands out above all.

“One of my favorite things about Bob is not only is he a great police officer, he is a great family man and a great husband,” Travis said. “There isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t talk about his family. He’s just a great guy.”

Carothers said he has worked with Lucas since 1987.

“Bob is super to work with. He’s always there,” Carothers said. “I’m very proud to call Bob my friend and co-worker, and I think this is very well-deserved for him.”

Lucas said there have been ups and downs on the job along the way, but he has been proud to represent the sheriff’s department.

He became emotional when talking about the sacrifices his family has had to make because of his job.

“If anyone deserves honors for doing what we do, it’s our families,” he said.

The Firefighter of the Year plaque was presented to Mitch Noelker of the Brownstown Volunteer Fire Department. He was nominated by Chief Eric Browalski.

Noelker said he joined the department shortly after he turned 18 and has since earned firefighter 1 and 2, hazardous material and emergency medical technician certifications.

“I’ve just enjoyed being with the other fellas on the department,” Noelker said. “It has been a great experience so far, and I’m looking forward to more to come.”

Sheila Reynolds, secretary of the Lake and Forest Club, received the Proudly We Hail Award on behalf of the privately owned residential area. That goes to a group, company or citizen that exemplifies the best display of the American flag and follows the rules in doing so.

“To receive an award for patriotism, isn’t that a great idea? I just think it’s great,” Reynolds said.

Also recognized were the Brownstown Exchange Club Youths of the Month throughout this past school year: Amanda Stuckwisch, Olivia Goecker, Hannah Hackman, Allison Persinger, Brittany Isaacs and Sarah Adams. Isaacs was named Youth of the Year.

Committee chairman Kevin Gwin said the honor is based on scholastic achievement and involvement in clubs, athletics and the community. A point system helps determine the winner for each month and for the year.

On the Web

For information about the Brownstown Exchange Club, visit brownstownexchangeclub.org.

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.