The mission of the Wayne County Park District is to protect, establish and conservatively maintain natural areas including wetlands, woodlands, stream channels, lakes, prairie fields, and hillsides throughout Wayne County. These natural areas will be maintained for public use by providing natural areas of beauty for spiritual and mental rejuvenation, leisure activities, and the promotion of educational opportunities to study nature.
The Wayne County Park District reorganized in 2011. Currently the Park District has five park commissioners that serve 3 year terms as appointed by the Probate Judge. The Board is committed to the Mission Statement of securing and preserving natural habitats for recreational and educational purposes.
The Park Board is responsible for applying for state, federal, or local grants and seek avenues of additional funding to maintain parks under their ownership. The Park District does not receive any operating monies from the county and solely depends on grants and donations along with any fundraising done by the Friends of the Park District.
The Friends of the Wayne County Park District also reorganized in 2011. These volunteers provide the majority of the labor for maintaining the parks and responsible for fundraising for approved projects. The organization welcomes all age groups and families.
George Shopbell is considered to be the main groundskeeper of the Barnes Preserve from the beginning of the development of the park. In that time, he has mowed and trimmed the lawn at the pavilion and other areas 125 times! That does not include all the leaves and nuts he picks up around the pavilion every fall. Besides groundskeeping, George takes on whatever job needs to be done and never asks for money or a thank you. The Friends of the Park affectionately call him “Tool Man, George' because he has every tool to make work easier. He has been awarded three years in a row as “Volunteer of the Year” by the Park Board and peers.
In 2002, George retired from United Parcel Service after 34 years, where he was a package driver extraordinaire! He works part time as a maintenance worker for a local group home. He lives with his wife, Bernie, and his three-legged cat, “Nickolas”, outside of Wooster. He is remodeling a home in Florida where he plans to spend some downtime in the winters.
Pictured here is George at our latest Trick of Treat event where he took “Kids Choice Award” for his spooky sponsor door!
The Park Board and Friends group meet back-to-back at least one time per month, normally the second Tuesday of the month at 6 PM either at the Wayne County Library or Romich Pavilion at Barnes Preserve (weather permitting). All meetings are open to the public.
What is the future of Wayne County Park District? During the year 2019 we will be participating in Strategic Planning sessions with Trevor Dunlap, an experienced facilitator in assisting organizations in developing short and long term goals. Through a series of assessments, public surveys, participation, and input from any interested people, the Board hopes to determine the most appropriate and effective direction to take the Park District over the next 10 years. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend any of the sessions. Each meeting will be posted on the Events page.