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John A. Cooper established Cherokee Village in 1954. In 1969, Cooper was instrumental in forming the Cherokee Village Suburban Improvement District (SID) to provide fire security protection service, to provide, operate and maintain recreational facilities and to maintain the area's streets and roads.
Empowered under the laws of the state of Arkansas, the SID's Board of Commissioners assessed annual levies against property parcels to ensure the ability of the SID to meet its maintenance obligations.
In 1994, a group of military veterans met weekly at the Copper Feather to discuss their rights unavailable because of the lack of a representative governing body.
Interest grew in the idea of a ‘government’ and attendance swelled. Citizens began to talk “incorporation.” The idea caught hold and the citizens formed a group initially labeled the “Concerned Citizens Committee.” Those involved volunteered to serve as officers for the group and the officers, in addition to appointing a board of directors and committees, solicited the aid of attorney. The group obtained 501-C-3 status as a corporation and on December 14, 1995, the Concerned Citizens Committee and Board of Directors became a reality.
Three volunteers who unselfishly contributed countless hours, a great effort, indomitable spirit, boundless enthusiasm and support to their fellow team members, passed away during or shortly after the incorporation project. Everett Compton, Paul Eastman and Murray Rudd are memorialized with a plaque and three Bradford pear trees located in the parkway at Town Center.
To solicit citizen signatures on a petition for presentation to the Sharp and Fulton County judges, the committee began drafting a White Paper based on a format used by another Cooper Community seeking incorporation. The paper explained what would be required to incorporate, what the results of incorporation would mean for the citizens and for the existing governing entity, the Cherokee Village Suburban Improvement District 1, how the city would finance itself, and what benefits of incorporation would accrue should incorporation become a reality.
When the Board of Directors decided that the White Paper answered everyone’s questions satisfactorily and that sufficient numbers of signatures petitioning incorporation were documented, the formal request for incorporation took place at Omaha Center on December 20, 1996 before both the Sharp and Fulton County Judges.
On January 31, 1997, the Fulton County Judge signed a court order stating that there were no impediments in the petition to incorporate. Cherokee Village West was born. Elections produced a mayor, Marjorie A. Rogers, a city clerk, Susan Maynard and a council comprised of Fritz Lorentzen, Hobie Weisman, Jay Torbit, Buddy White and Allen Maxedon.
On February 6, 1997, the Sharp County Judge denied the petitioners. A subsequent vote for annexation (with Cherokee Village West and the annexed citizens in Sharp County participating) made the city of Cherokee Village a unified city on April 28, 1998. The Sharp County Judge the court order on April 30.
In November of the same year, another election named Marjorie Rogers as mayor, Susan Maynard as clerk, and the council was expanded to include wards determined by census statistics for the entire city. The council increased from five to eight (with two persons representing each ward, at large) and the following took seats at the council table: Tom Paul, Ray Torbit, Dan Dennis, Roger Radebaugh, Jay Torbit, Joe Waggoner, Louisa Relyea and Marty Betz.
Excitement and energy caught on and the mayor’s wise and aggressive leadership, along with an enthusiastic, dedicated and supportive council established twice monthly meetings. These efforts produced committees to address immediate needs of planning and zoning, roads, police, animal control and airport affiliation.
The city contracted with SID to assume responsibility for security, fire protection and road maintenance. In 2000, the city hired the first police chief, commanding a force comprised of a lieutenant and four patrolmen to satisfy state statutes as a city of the first class with a population of 4,868. Cherokee Village became the largest city among the three counties of Sharp, Fulton and Izard counties. Shortly thereafter, city coffers were enriched through the establishment and fine collection system of a municipal court.
In April 2000, the mayor, clerk, council, police department and building inspector moved into new quarters. Town Center’s defunct and vacant grocery store became the property of the city. Hours and hours of volunteer labor preceded the move-as many as 15-20 people at a time were sanding, sawing and painting to put on the finishing touches. The mayor’s staff capped the project by decorating the building throughout.