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The makings of a beautiful park… Cooke family donation will be a ‘jewel’ for the Tweetsie Trail

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
Sometimes the craziest of ideas during a conversation at church can lead to a great outcome.

Such was the case after a conversation between Mack Cooke and Danny Hilbert which led to Cooke presenting a donation of 1.36 acres of land by Mack and his wife Nancy to the City of Elizabethton which will be turned into a showcase piece along the Tweetsie Trail.

The land is located where the red house above Tri-Cities Gun and Ammo once stood before a fire destroyed the home.

“Danny Hilbert started this mess up there at the church,” Cooke recollected about the initial conversation. “He said Mack, I have a wild idea. He said why don’t you give that property to the City of Elizabethton and make a park out there and I thought he was crazy but after I got to talking to you (Mayor Alexander) it made a lot of sense.

“I’m 76 years old and been in Elizabethton all my life and they have been good to me and I want to give something back to them.”

Mayor Alexander presented the Cookes with a plaque in appreciation of the donation they made to the city during Thursday’s City Council meeting and shared with those in attendance the first time he met Mack.

“A guy came into my office about a year to a year and a half ago and I had never met him and he wanted to help the city,” Mayor Alexander commented. “He had this property and wondered if the city would be interested in it and I thought this guy was crazy and I think I turned out to be right.”

“I have gotten to know Mack and his wife Nancy really well and there are things they do for this community that no one knows about. I had to beg him to get him to come here to receive any type of recognition.

“Mack, we really appreciate you and Nancy for what you have done as far as donating that land and it’s going to make a beautiful park and we will have signs up really soon and have a ribbon-cutting,” Alexander continued. “Just by helping the city and doing that I have to say that will be one of the nicest parks on the Tweetsie Trail – it’s going to be really beautiful.

“You could have done a lot of things with that land but you chose to give it to the city.”

Mike Mains, Elizabethton Park and Recreation Director, said that the location of the property will help to bring something extra special for those who utilize the Tweetsie Trail.

“It’s another great win for users of the Tweetsie Trail and the City of Elizabethton,” Mains stated. “We cannot thank the Cooke family enough for this wonderful donation of land along the Tweetsie Trail.

“Mr. and Mrs. Cooke have provided a tremendous resource for our citizens and visitors from our region that enjoy the Tweetsie Trail and for that, we are extremely grateful.”

Mains added that the scenic beauty of this park area along with future park amenities will provide a great setting for users to take a break and picnic or just enjoy a moment to relax.

“The next step is the creation of a master plan for the park which may include picnic areas, water station, restrooms, and other park equipment users would enjoy,” stated Mains.