Ken Cook, Astoria's director of public works since February 2006, was honored at Monday's Astoria City Council meeting on the 25th anniversary of the day he started working for the Public Works Department in 1982. "He's worked extremely hard, he's a great team player," Mayor Willis Van Dusen said as he presented Cook with a certificate.
Cook spent six months as interim director after Mitch Mitchum departed in 2005 and was promoted to the permanent position a year later. Since then, he has faced a number of difficult situations, including the major landslide at First and Commercial streets and the ongoing federally-mandated Combined Sewer Overflow Project.
Cook came to Astoria while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, working on an estuary data development project associated with CREST, the Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce. Surprisingly, his decision to apply for a job in the city's Public Works Department was rather spur-of-the-moment - it was a career path he hadn't considered before. But he's glad he switched course.
"It's been a challenge, and it's taught me an awful lot. Hopefully, I've given back a lot as well," Cook said.
Cook started out as a "maintainer," became assistant public works superintendent in 1988 and was promoted to public works superintendent in 1992. He knows the city's infrastructure inside and out, and that knowledge continues to be a major asset.
"He has given his whole heart and soul to the city and he's a perfect example of our entire Public Works Department," Van Dusen said after the meeting. "When we had a tour of the reservoirs we had a number of the employees there and the experience and the dedication is very impressive, and Ken is the leader of the Public Works Department. It's really an accomplishment. I hope he's here 25 more years."