Written by Bob Weir
I’ve just had the distinct pleasure of meeting three history-makers right here in our own backyard. Most of you probably never heard of them, but they were an important component of the collective growth in the body-politic of the area.
They were part of the leadership that helped settle Double Oak, a 2.4 square mile slice of real estate bordering Flower Mound, Bartonville and Copper Canyon. It was incorporated in the early 1970s when suburban sprawl from Dallas and Fort Worth began to augment the population.
Currently, there are about 3,200 residents in the cozy, quiet little burg, where residents live comfortably on a minimum of one acre lots. About 40 years ago, Bernie Carrico, Charles Bimmerle and Dick Cook were starting their families and building their careers, but they also dedicated some of their time and effort to the management of their town.
On May 25, 1974, with a population of 164 people, Double Oak became an incorporated town. One month later, J.R. Griswald was elected as the town’s first Mayor. Succeeding him were Weldon Word, Tony Horvath, Richard Simmons, Bob Greer, Bernie Carrico, Chuck Bimmerle, Alan Johnson, Jay Wood, Rick Braud, Malcolm Nordstrom, Jim Handzel, Richard Cook, Bill Wilkinson, Richard Cook (2nd term), Pam King, Mike Donnelly and Tom Pidcock. Mike Donnelly is currently serving another term as Mayor.
Town leadership consists of a mayor, five council members (unpaid and elected), two town secretaries, a court clerk, a police chief, six police officers, a detective, a code enforcement official, a volunteer fire department and a Double Oak Women’s Club.
Bernie Carrico served on the Council from 1976 to 1980, then as Mayor from 1980-83. A 41-year resident, Carrico, an investment banker, was very flexible during those early days. “At one time I was the Chief of Police, Mayor and Judge for about 60 to 90 days,” he said with a smile. During his time in office he dealt with the establishment of a charter, corporate governance and road construction. Herb Cable developed the roads, while Ken Hodge and Tim West began building homes.
Chuck Bimmerle was Mayor from 1984-85. An industrial engineer, formerly with Ford Motor Co., he became a consultant on the F-16 aircraft. He faced challenges with roads, drainage issues and street signs. “For 15 years I put up all the street signs,” he said. Bimmerle was a Professor at North Texas and holds a PhD., which he jokingly refers to as “Pizza Hut Dude.” (A personal note – My Brother, Bill Weir and his wife Lucy lived next door to Chuck Bimmerle and across the street from Ken and Pat Hodge in the mid-1970s.)
Dick Cook was elected to the Council in 1994, then appointed Mayor in 1995 to 1997. He was elected Mayor in 1997 and reelected in 1999. He served on Council again from 2000 to 2002 and was Town Treasurer for two years. One of his challenges was the building of a water tower to provide the required pressure the fire department needed in the performance of their duties. “It was the subject of some controversy, but I, and many other residents believed it was a vital need. Now that all the dust has settled, people feel it was a good thing because the additional water pressure helps to save lives,” he said proudly. The tower is on Simmons Road and FM 407. Cook served in the Navy for 20 years before going into the computer industry with the Motorola Corporation. He is the town’s longest serving Mayor and is also proud to have kept the taxes low, while not skimping on the needs of the residents.
For about an hour, my wife Annette and I sat back and listened as these three community leaders, all of whom still live in Double Oak, talked about the early years in the town that they and their families have loved since they first found their way there. It was in the early 70s that Carrico moved here from Michigan, Bimmerle from Ohio, and Cook from Illinois. They talked about their first Town Council meetings, which were held in a barn, before moving to a small room upstairs in the building that is now the home of Cristina’s Mexican Restaurant at FM 1171 and Shiloh Road. “Back then it was a German Restaurant,” Carrico said. “There were two Baptists on Council and they were not comfortable with holding meetings in a restaurant that served alcohol,” he added.
There were a few other locations for their meetings before they finally built a Town Hall at 320 Waketon Road. They all agreed that their town is pretty much a conflict free zone. “We haven’t had many contested elections,” Cook said, “probably because most people like things the way they are.” Several years ago they initiated a 4th of July celebration with a parade and accompanying festivities.
What came across during this interview is the affection these men have for the town they helped organize and build. Towns don’t just happen by accident; someone has to make them happen. Without people like these former mayors, stepping out of their comfort zone and thrusting themselves into the public arena, Double Oak may never have happened. I feel certain that the residents are glad it did.
Editor’s note: The Cross Timbers Gazette was founded by Double Oak residents in 1979. The newspaper was originally called The Double Oak Gazette from 1979 to 2001.