Pembroke’s longest serving mayor started off her latest state of the city address Friday by noting she’s done it a time or two before, and “even though at first glance they all sort of sound the same, they are always a little bit different.” Then Judy Cook struck a typically Judy-Cookian tone, as she noted such addresses should always be upbeat.
“They must always sound happy, even if the city is shorthanded, unequipped and broke,” she said, two weeks into the first month of her fifth term as the city’s top elected official. The address was made during an address sponsored by the North Bryan Chamber of Commerce and held at Lucy Belle Farms. And Cook said she is genuinely upbeat this year.
“I can talk about the upcoming year with certainty. The city’s financial position is sound, our capital projects are being accomplished and our digest and SPLOST receipts are benefiting from a strong economy,” she added, noting the city has more private investment than ever and “we are blessed with the best trained, qualified and most dedicated personnel that our city has ever enjoyed.”
Pembroke, with around 2,500 residents, has somehow managed to avoid much of the runaway growth in South Bryan and west Chatham, but it’s headed west at some point, Cook said.
“Cities all around us are evolving, and we are learning to change and adapt here in Pembroke, too,” she said. “But one thing will never change, and that is our commitment to our core purpose of serving the public with fairness, integrity and good stewardship.” During her address, Cook, who has worked for the city since 1972, listed a number of projects completed by the city in 2019.
These include a new well and water tank, a second fire station, a mechanic’s shop, the reopening of a teen center, road paving funded through TSPLOST and Local Maintenance Improvement Grant money, and affordable and senior housing initiatives.
Projects on tap in 2020 include an effort to pass legislation allowing package sales of liquor; the new city hall and movement of police headquarters into the current city hall; and expansion of the city’s fire station No. 1, among other things.
Cook also noted the city’s general budget in 2020 for the first time will exceed $2.5 million.