By Jeanna Baxter White
Nestled in the middle of Mocksville is an oasis of beauty. Lush green lawns, tree-lined trails, well-equipped playgrounds, and manicured ballfields make Rich Park a delightful place to spend an hour or an entire day.
“Rich Park is a fun place for the family and kids to come out and have a good time from walking the trails to playing on the playgrounds, having a picnic, or catching a baseball game,” said Rustin Harpe, director of Mocksville’s Parks and Grounds Department.
He should know. He has been maintaining the park for the past 14 years and takes its appearance seriously. “I like our parks to look pretty and green. When a park is nice and clean people are more likely to check it out. No one wants to go to a park that has trash laying around, things are falling apart or it isn’t mowed or weed-eaten.”
While Harpe is content for his department to fly under the radar, the work they do is actually front and center in the Town of Mocksville. The crew of six full-time and three seasonal employees maintains all of the Town’s landscaping – mowing, mulching, and pruning – in Rich Park, Main Street Park, the Town Square, Town Hall, and Rose Cemetery, and lesser-recognized spots like the four on and off-ramps at I-40 and Hwy 601. There are more than 30 locations in all.
They also manage the things that people don’t tend to notice when they are done well but complain about if they aren’t, such as maintaining the park shelters, cleaning and stocking the 14 restrooms twice daily, collecting the trash, and cleaning up graffiti.
Parks and Grounds is a year-round, seven-day-a-week job, according to Harpe. Mowing, trimming, and edging becomes an all-consuming task from March until October. Just keeping Rose Cemetery manicured takes a team of six an entire day each week. From October to January the department focuses on the Town’s leaf removal and runs trucks daily to vacuum up the leaves which they process into compost which is available for purchase at the Rich Park compost site behind the basketball courts. During the off-season, they mulch the trees and playgrounds, conduct greenway maintenance, complete general repairs, and fix equipment that has been “band-aided’ together all summer long.
The most time and labor-intensive responsibility is Rich Park. In addition to mowing and trimming, the team handles all other aspects of the park — playground equipment, shelters and bathrooms, the beach volleyball and basketball courts, and the paved greenway trails which are blown off regularly to remove sticks and leaves, particularly after storms.
The department also takes care of the park’s signature attraction, Mando Field, the home of Mocksville-Davie American Legion Baseball. This year the field is also being used by the Mocksville Muscadines, Carolina University, the Forsyth Home Educators, and the Davie Youth Complex’s weekend travel ball team.
With the field’s frequent use, daily maintenance includes dragging the field, filling in holes, and edging the baselines. When it gets hot and dry, Parks and Grounds adds irrigating the field and maintaining the irrigation equipment to its list of tasks.
Mocksville Mayor Will Marklin appreciates the department’s hard work and believes it’s worthy of a little recognition.
“Thank you, Rustin and all of your crew. The town and its parks look so green and lush this year thanks to your hard work and dedication. I look forward to spending time this season watching games and walking the greenways.”
To learn more about renting a shelter or Mando Field click here or call Town Hall at 336-753-6700.