The Vinton County Park District, established in 2021, is an independent political subdivision authorized under Chapter 1545 of the Ohio Revised Code. The district is dedicated to conserving Vinton County’s natural resources and preserving sites of local historic value.
The Board of Park Commissioners typically meet the last Monday of every month at 10 a.m. at the Vinton County Visitor Center, 104 W. Main St., McArthur, OH 45651. Notice of any deviations from that schedule will be posted here. Meetings are open to the public. The September 2022 meeting has been cancelled due to lack of business. The December 2022 meeting will be held on the 19th.
The mission of the Vinton County Park District is to conserve, protect, and enhance the natural and historic resources of Vinton County, while providing quality outdoor recreational and educational opportunities for residents and tourists alike.
Vinton County has a wealth of natural, cultural, and historic resources that make it a truly wonderful place to live. Part of the Hocking Hills Region, its landscape features rolling hills, rock outcrops, and marshes, littered with historic remnants of its industrial past. Its railways, iron furnaces, and brick plants are historically significant in terms of local and national economic growth. Its fertile, densely forested land is desirable for a range of outdoor recreation activities, from hunting and fishing to offroading.
Subdivision of land parcels is occurring at an increasing rate, often sold to nonresident property owners. The Vinton County Park District seeks to play a leadership role in the conservation of natural areas and historic sites, as well as the provision of quality outdoor recreational facilities and opportunities for Vinton County residents and tourists. The park district will take a proactive approach to land preservation by working with Vinton County residents, organizations, and governments to plan for the future quality of life.
The park district will: (1) work to ensure an adequate financial base to support land acquisition, park maintenance, capital improvements, and all other park operations; (2) develop an active strategy to promote awareness of the park district, its attractions and activities; and (3) place great emphasis on resident education for land stewardship and the conservation of natural resources. The park district is committed to the preservation of Vinton County’s natural and historic heritage for the benefit of future generations.
Vinton County Park District employees and volunteers are expected to share these values:
LEADERSHIP: We will actively take the lead to conserve and protect our county’s natural resources and historic sites, recognizing that these assets are unique and valuable, with untapped potential. We will learn to see these resources as visitors see them.
SUSTAINABILITY: We support efforts to improve the environment, locally and beyond. We recognize that restoring and reclaiming blighted and damaged land increases economic value. In addition to natural resources, the park district takes seriously its stewardship of financial resources.
PRESERVATION: We support efforts to preserve our local historic sites, culture, and heritage. We also recognize that residents enjoy the rural nature of where they live and seek to acquire land in a way that counters urbanization while supporting tourism and economic growth.
FREEDOM: We see the world getting smaller, with fewer places to enjoy specialized outdoor recreation activities. We support efforts to design multi-use trails and parks to fill gaps that others have left, including offroad vehicle use, drone operation, metal detecting, and more.
COLLABORATION: We recognize the importance of working together to accomplish great things. We value our partnerships with local organizations, public partners, villages, and townships. Equally important are relationships among staff.
INTEGRITY: We uphold the highest standards and ethical principles, demonstrating honesty in all of our actions. Having integrity means doing the right thing even when no one is watching.
COMMUNICATION: We communicate proactively with visitors, residents, volunteers, and with one another. Constructive feedback and ideas are encouraged.
TRANSPARENCY: We hold ourselves accountable to the public and to each other. Information is shared not because it is mandated, but because it is the right thing to do.
Historical Marker Program
The park district administers a Historical Marker Program, funded by the Vinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau, to recognize historic sites, persons, and events that are significant in the areas of architecture, archaeology, county history and traditional culture. The purpose of this program is to increase public awareness of the rich cultural heritage of the county, to encourage historic preservation, and to augment the enjoyment of local historic sites.
Historical markers erected through this program are placed on private property outside of the public road right-of-way, but must be accessible to the public. The markers remain property of the Vinton County Park District; it is illegal to remove or vandalize them. Applications must be made by or with the permission of the property owner of the site on which the marker will be erected. Once an application has been submitted, park district staff will work with the property owner to confirm the historical significance of the subject, ensure the marker text is historically accurate, and erect the marker.
[Application button coming soon]
Board of Park Commissioners and Employees
The park district is governed by a three-member Board of Park Commissioners appointed by the Probate Judge of Vinton County. Candidates ideally have a background in natural resources conservation, tourism, or economic development. Persons wishing to serve on the board may submit applications listing their qualifications and relevant experience to the Probate Judge to be considered for future vacancies. These persons serve without compensation.
The current board is:
Terri Fetherolf, President (term expiring 2025)
Lori Grupenhof, Vice President (term expiring 2023)
Brian Blair (term expiring 2024)
The Acting Director is Caleb Appleman.
The park district sees opportunity for Vinton County as a trail destination, with total public park acreage and lodging facilities eventually surpassing those of neighboring counties. The district seeks to eventually include offroad vehicles in their trail systems, a user group underserved by other agencies. The district will also attempt to serve other recreational activities that are typically heavily regulated or prohibited altogether, such as metal detecting, drone operation, and nighttime activities. These expressions of recreational freedom will help portray Vinton County as “Ohio’s Last Frontier” and give the district a competitive advantage over other recreation areas.
The park district will establish the Vinton County Community Conservation Corps (CCC) to integrate residents into taking ownership of their natural and historic resources. Separate divisions will be created to provide youth, people with community service or work requirements, and convicted felons temporary job opportunities that teach life and job skills. The CCC, working with park district staff, will be directly responsible for building and maintaining park district infrastructure, including trails, recreation areas, retaining walls, foot bridges, and cabins.
The park district will work to arrange agreements with townships and the county to make offroad-friendly trail systems. Unused railroad corridors will be acquired to provide trail connectors, linking McArthur to neighboring villages.
The district will work with Ohio Department of Natural Resources on a plan to reintroduce elk into the state, which will attract nonresident hunters while restoring a native species.
The district will seek to acquire and preserve more properties with unique scenic beauty and local historic significance. The initial goal is two park properties in every township.
The park district will encourage economic development in Vinton County by acquiring properties in areas with growth potential, issuing commercial activity permits, and leasing space and facilities to private enterprises that may otherwise not have been able to start.