Park volunteers make it happen

September 21, 2013 

Yates Mill County Park will hold its eighth annual Fall Harvest Celebration Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the legendary mill open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Yates Mill stone-ground cornmeal will be sold, and tours given for a small fee. (Parking is on Inwood Road near Lake Wheeler Road.)

No, this isn’t an announcement about the event. Rather, it’s to note something quite important about Yates Mill and about Wake County’s eight parks: They depend tremendously on volunteers who put in about 6,000 hours of labor each year looking after the parks. In fact, without them, the parks would be in trouble, if they could be open at all.

Have we said, “thank you,” yet. Then we should. We all should.

Some of the volunteers are Scouts in need of building those community service hours. Others are working off community service ordered by the courts. But a good many are folks who like parks, and who like the idea of helping to keep them orderly and clean and well-traveled by others. Wake County has many such people, and is fortunate to be in that position.

Yates Mill might have been lost to the ages or simply have fallen into disrepair without volunteers. (A big force behind the park for years has been Wake Chief District Court Judge Robert Rader, who has not sought any credit for his efforts.) It is owned by N.C. State University and leased by the county. It opened as a park in 2006.

Now, kids who have no idea about water wheels and grinding meal can see it all in action and take in a history lesson at the scenic park. It’s a wonder indeed. The same might be said of all parks. And all volunteers.

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