KENWOOD – A small Cherokee community in Delaware County is making big gains with a new state-of-the-art community center worth an estimated $10 million to improve the area.
On March 25, Cherokee Nation officials dedicated the CN Woody Hair Community Center.
The facility is named for the late Woody Hair, who was a fluent Cherokee-speaking pillar of the community. He resided in Raper Holler and often found himself at most community events. One of his best-known attributes was the cooking of pork.
Dawni Squirrel, CN’s Cultural Awareness Advisor and member of the community’s One Fire Association, said there wasn’t a moment when she didn’t know about Woody and what he brings to the community.
“Everything I learned about the culture, I learned right here in this community,” Squirrel said. “We miss Woody. There was never a time in my life when I didn’t know Woody. Woody was still there until recently when he passed away. It’s really appropriate that we have pork fries today because Woody is for me the person who brought pork fries to the Cherokee nation. When I heard he had retired, I didn’t know you could stop cooking pork. But he passed on what he knew to other people. That’s the culture, we transmit what we know to those who are promising.
Several of Woody’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren reside in the Kenwood community and were present for this historic event, including his son Nick Hair.
“I want to thank Chief Hoskin, his committee and the One Fire Association for bestowing this great honor on my family,” Hair said. “I know my family is thrilled about it. We couldn’t believe it when it was first announced. It was very emotional for us.”
The estimated 33,000 square foot facility will combine multiple amenities into one space.
It will replace an existing community center and will include 2,800 square feet for the CN Jumpstart program, seniors nutrition, a 1,300 square foot wellness space, an 11,000 square foot indoor multipurpose gymnasium and administrative offices. . The complex around the facility will include a new softball field, an outdoor basketball court, a walking/running path, a picnic area and space for traditional games.
There will also be weatherproof spaces in the building and in a second phase of the project, accommodation for the elderly will be introduced.
“There are people who have worked toward this long before I took office,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “They have worked to build in this community. I waited a long time to get to this day because this is the kind of project that attracts so many of us to public service. This is one of the reasons I wanted to go into public service for the Cherokee people – to help communities that are working hard to help themselves.
The chef worked with President Mike Shambaugh, a Dist. 9 Tribal Councilor and the One Fire Association to bring the ideas for a community center to life through months of meetings and rough drafts of what the facility would like and has to offer.
“My experiences at Kenwood were right behind the third base dugout,” Shambaugh said. “I was probably 8 or 10 and there were baseball games going on in that area and my dad was playing so every weekend we were going somewhere. It was a big part of my life growing up and here we are today and look what’s to come. I couldn’t be excited for this city anymore.
The installation is expected to be completed in 2023.