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‘Legions of volunteers’ make new community center a reality

Melissa Roach
Posted 10/21/16

COOK - It’s been a long time in the making for everything to be ready for an open house showcasing to the community the new Cook Community Center.

Recreation Committee Board Member Greg …

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‘Legions of volunteers’ make new community center a reality

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COOK - It’s been a long time in the making for everything to be ready for an open house showcasing to the community the new Cook Community Center.

Recreation Committee Board Member Greg Burkhardt started off the presentation by thanking the “legions of volunteers, fundraisers, and donations that made this happen.” Jeannie Taylor, also of the Recreation Committee stated, “I hope you feel a sense of pride when you look around. In the beginning $150,000 was raised by volunteers, $300,000 in volunteer labor, $250,000 more was raised, and two $50,000 grants from the IRRRB. The Cook Building Center secured building materials at cost. And today, it is worth more than $650,000.” Taylor added, “We truly are proud of what our community has done. We believed, and together we made it happen.”

It was a young girl named Megan who had an idea that the community needed a place to play and gather. That idea was quickly fostered by a small group that shared the vision and got the ball rolling. A monumental task, the small group knew that it was going to need the community’s help to accomplish the project. The group, Friends of the Parks, was formed in order to take donations and organize volunteer efforts.

IRRRB Community Development Representative Chris Ismil was with Iron Range Youth in Action when the project came to his attention. He recalled the days back when the project was trying to garner steam, thinking “the project in its entirety is massive.” For the project to come to fruition, “the community would have to own it.” And they did. “The kids played a role, not just through fundraising, but building and being involved. The project would take everybody.”

IRRRB Commissioner Mark Phillips spoke of the commitment it takes from the community to complete such a project. “People talk about attracting jobs to the area and I tell them if you’re after jobs in your community, then you raise the quality of life…People come to the IRRRB for funding and we look for leverage. We prefer to invest in people and communities that want to invest in themselves.”

Cook Mayor Harold Johnston said, “This completed project really shows that we are a full-service town, and we have a broad base of commitment.” Councilor Elizabeth Storm added nostalgia to the day, “About 30 years ago in this same place I was here to dedicate a new facility, the Doug Johnson Center. Today, I have a note from a former Mayor.”

The note read…”I’m so thrilled to see the community come together in the construction of this new facility. It will be a great place for children and adults. I’m proud to say Cook was my home for most of my life. It’s so great to see Cook going strong and thriving.” The note, Storm noted, was signed by Senator Doug Johnson.

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