Brooks gives veterans home update
by DELANEY WALKER Banner Staff Writer
Nov 21, 2013 | 1138 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
KIWANIS CLUB OF CLEVELAND members continue to meet on the first and third Wednesday of every month for an informal satellite meeting. Wednesday morning found state Rep. Kevin Brooks the guest of honor. Members had the opportunity to ask Brooks a variety of questions over grits, biscuits and bacon.
KIWANIS CLUB OF CLEVELAND members continue to meet on the first and third Wednesday of every month for an informal satellite meeting. Wednesday morning found state Rep. Kevin Brooks the guest of honor. Members had the opportunity to ask Brooks a variety of questions over grits, biscuits and bacon.
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The Kiwanis Club of Cleveland’s satellite club had the opportunity to address a number of questions to state Rep. Kevin Brooks during Wednesday’s informal breakfast.

Kiwanis member Milan Blake requested an update on the Cleveland/Bradley County State Veterans Home.

Brooks said Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder has been working with state and local agents to clear up the issue.

“She feels terrible about what has happened,” Brooks said. “It was amazingly bad timing and an amazingly bad decision that has been reversed.”

The decision to halt the home’s progress came from the State of Tennessee Real Estate and Asset Management division.

According to Brooks, the division determined the construction of the veterans home was not the “highest and best use” of the property. This decision was made based on computer schematics.

The division has since agreed to reconsider its decision and revisit the land.

Kiwanis member Matt Ryerson highlighted a positive outcome he hopes will develop from the recent issues.

“Locally this issue is generally widely supported, but I also think ... that sometimes we get a little complacent with that,” Ryerson said. “So maybe it will wake the sleeping giants, so to say, to get people behind this project.”

He suggested forward momentum through community support is not at the speed it could be.

Brooks said STREAM’s recent decision angered 59,000 of his 60,000 constituents. He suggested the remaining 1,000 must not have read the afternoon news. He further said Grinder’s visit to the Chamber of Commerce of Cleveland/Bradley County reflected how seriously she was taking the situation.

“We are not halted. We are back again in the thick of it with all systems go,” Brooks said. “The commissioner herself said we are moving forward. She actually used the term ‘speed bump’ [to describe the issue].”

Ryerson asked Brooks how he handles negativity in both news and people he might encounter in Nashville.

“It’s funny you ask that,” Brooks responded. “I had some very, very close friends who begged me not to do this. They said, ‘You are a really good guy and we don’t want to see you change.’”

He pointed to an internal compass for his point of reference.

“You need to not lose yourself. You have to have your own true north within you,” Brooks said. “I happen to use the [phrase] ‘Holy Spirit within me.’”

According to Brooks, he is called upon regularly by both branches of government to, “take off my representative hat ... to act as an ambassador of whatever is going on.”

A lesson has remained with Brooks since his first day in Nashville. As he was walking toward his office, he was greeted by three separate state employees.

All three said, “Good Morning, Representative.” State Sen. Dewayne Bunch asked Brooks if he knew why they were calling him “representative.”

Brooks guessed it was because he had just won an election. Bunch responded, “No, it is because they don’t know your name.”

Six years later, Brooks has not forgotten the lesson.

“It really does ground you. It is not about me. They don’t even know my name,” Brooks said. “... Tomorrow someone could take my job and they would do a great job.”

Kiwanis past President Chris Newton thanked Brooks for his time.

“You run on a partisan ticket, but once you take an oath of office, you are there to serve both your friends and enemies. That is what we have been blessed with from you,” Newton said. “... Whenever you are in the rooms where the real decisions are being made you get there by virtue of the position from which you were elected, but it is what is in your heart ... and what you do once you get there is what defines you and what earns you their trust.”