Cook serves up a delicacy

Monday, April 9, 2007

That raucous rattle you might be hearing is us, gleefully nodding our heads in agreement at the selection of J.C. Cook as Cherokee Citizen of The Year.

Cook, a Cherokee attorney who co-chaired with Dr. Robert Martin the successful fund drive that produced the city's highly anticipated Bacon Aquatics Center and Gillette Park renovation project now nearing completion, went above and beyond the call of community service.

Along with Martin, in the front lines of the tedious task to get and keep the ball rolling for the energetic $3.6 million project that spanned more than five years of study, failure, dozens upon dozens of committee and city council meetings, and ample head scratching, J.C. Cook became the "face" of the project.

In his inimitable way, the eloquent, erudite barrister collected, coached, cajoled, and collated a wide array of allies on a hectic sojourn to cap the coffers to deliver the goods - namely, one shining crown jewel for Our Town.

The most impressive thing about Cook's hugely successful endeavor is the simple fact that he didn't have to do it - that is, to accept the burden of such toil after others before him had repeatedly tried and failed.

His children are now grown and moved away and we doubt there's a colorful Speedo and knock-out tan awaiting the reserved Cherokee native to flaunt at the new Aquatics Center.

But J.C. Cook saw the need.

He knew the city's 50-year-old swimming pool had run its course, that something had to be done, sooner than later.

He knew the city could not afford to pay the bill and that such a project would become a vital economic development asset.

He knew the George Bacon Trust dollars were available for seed money.

He knew there were grant monies out there if only someone would champion the cause.

He knew he had the gumption, devotion, passion, wit, and savvy to help lead the charge.

He knew the timelines such an endeavor would carve out of his professional and personal life.

And he knew from past history that this wonderful community would again be willing to roll up its sleeves and dig a little deeper to support such a need at such a time if someone would only take the reins and run the race properly.

So, J.C. Cook stepped up and began talking the talk and walking the walk, with nothing on his determined mind but enhancing his community and our children's joy.

We ask area residents to drive by the project on West Bluff Street; to maybe pause and take in the well-planned grandeur of this "dream" as it winds its way to fruition. (And while you're there, offer a prayer for the late George Bacon.)

And then take the time to contact J.C. Cook and Bob Martin, to tell them "Thank You" for both believing and investing in this invaluable calling card to our community.