Wednesday, January 25, 2006

TOP STORY >> Cabot names Citizen of Year

Leader staff writer

Cabot’s new Citizen of the Year, named Friday during the annual Chamber of Commerce banquet, is a 43-year-old native who says he takes a lot of pride in making sure the city where he grew up is growing as it should.

Since Gary McMillan is a senior vice president with First Arkansas Bank and Trust and is responsible for all the branch banks in Cabot and El Paso, it’s easy to see how helping Cabot grow would benefit him professionally. But McMillan says helping Cabot is personal.

“I grew up here,” he said. “I went to all 12 grades of school here before I went away to Fayetteville. I worked in Little Rock for 13 years, but I came back here in 1998.

“It raised me. So I want to be a part of planning for its future,” he said.

McMillan was chosen from among six nominees by a panel of judges not from Cabot. He was nominated by Jay Robinson with the Arkansas Department of Economic Development and Wayne Welch with Farmers In-surance.

“In my 25 plus years of business and community development, I have seen many volunteers accomplish worthwhile projects,” Robinson wrote in the cover letter to the essay he submitted to the judges when Mc-Millan was nominated. “His innovative thinking; straightforward process of moving things forward is to me the essence of the Citizen of the Year.”
The essay listed many of those accomplishments:

“For the last two years, Gary has served as the chairman of the Cabot Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Com-mittee,” Robinson wrote.

“The Economic Development Committee has been instrumental in preparing demographics, specialized maps, reports and other information needed by prospective business and industry representatives.

During the two years of his leadership, over 500 new jobs have been created in Cabot due to new business development and/or expansion of existing businesses.

“Due to his involvement in the economic development activities of Cabot, he was asked by Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman to serve on the Lonoke County Long Range Transportation Com-mittee.

This committee is charged with finding immediate, practical solutions to some of Cabot’s traffic problems as well as planning for future infrastructure to support our growing population.

“The extension of Rockwood Road to the Hwy. 5 exit is a direct result of Gary’s input and involvement in this new committee.
“Gary has been active in a variety of other organizations and activities including, but not limited to, the Cabot Home Builders Association, Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council, and the Arkansas Economic Developers,” he wrote.

“He serves on the Cabot High School Business Advisory Council and the Cabot Public Schools Business and Industry Council. Gary is also a presenter for the Arkansas Scholars program, which is aimed at eighth graders to help them achieve their goals during their high school years.

“The Arkansas Scholars program is a partnership between the Cabot Public Schools and the Cabot Chamber of Commerce.
“In addition, Gary has brought together community leaders from throughout Lonoke County on numerous occasions to discuss the possibility of a county-wide drug coalition.

“Just git it done,” is McMillan’s philosophy, according to Cham-ber of Commerce executive director Mary Jane Sawyer.
But McMillan says he was shocked Friday night when his name was announced.

“With such great people nominated like Bob Duke, who has been on the city council for 30 years, I didn’t think I even had a chance, he said.
“I still don’t believe it.”