Niles’ Cook honored for volunteer efforts

Published 7:33 pm Tuesday, July 13, 2004

By By MARCIA STEFFENS / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS -- A woman who made a difference in the quality of the Dowagiac waters was honored Monday afternoon by the Samuel Felt Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) at the Cass District Library in Cassopolis, and also by the national and state DAR organizations.
Barbara Cook of Niles was instrumental is the success of the Dowagiac River Watershed Project.
To receive the DAR Conservation Award, she was recommended by Marcia Colclough and William Westrate.
Colclough, senior planner for the Southwestern Michigan Commission, worked with Cook for six years, as former manager for the Watershed project.
When the project started, Cook was supervisor of Pokagon Township and was instrumental in recruiting other townships to jump on board. She made changes for her township's land use policies to protect water quality, farmland and open space for future generations.
As vice president of MEANDRS (Meeting Ecological and Agricultural Needs of the Dowagiac River System), she continues to educate the public.
Recently, she took a leadership role to restore a portion of the river channel at Dodd Park in Cass County, Colclough said.
Westrate, who also recommended Cook to receive the award, called her "a unique asset to the area." He praised her continuing efforts to preserve history.
Cook herself said it was her "interest in local history" which lead her to these causes. "My great-grandfather was mayor of Niles," she told the DAR women. He fought against dredging the river. She lives on that farmland today.
Barb and her husband Grif, write books on the area's history and also dress in period costumes to bring history alive. She also serves on the Cass County Planning Commission, where she spearheads farmland preservation.
Monday's DAR program was music and a presentation by Carl Payne, of the House of David in Benton Harbor, on how he made his Celtic harp.
The next meeting of the DAR will be held on Monday, Aug. 9 at 2 p.m. in the Cass District Library in Cassopolis.
Sue Toth of Books Bound to Be Used in Edwardsburg, will present a program on book binding. Guests are welcome.