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See the rural charm of Oak Ridge

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — There’s no mistake you’re rolling into the Town of Oak Ridge when you see the giant red mill wheel turning on the side of the highway.  

The town has been doing things the old-fashioned way for decades.

“It’s almost like living in Mayberry,” said Ashley Royal, public information officer for the town.  “Everybody knows somebody, and you feel at home, and it’s very peaceful.”

It’s part of what made Royal and new Mayor Jim Kinneman plant roots in the Guilford County town more than two decades ago.

“When I first moved here at the center of town at 150 and 68, there was no shopping center. The only thing there was a gas station. We would go in there and get a cup of coffee and a drink and fill up your car, and that’s pretty much it,” Kinneman said.

Kinneman and Royal say watching the transformation firsthand has been amazing.

“We are at the point where we don’t have to run down to Greensboro or over to Winston-Salem to get some fine dining,” Kinneman said.

With bistros, pizza shops and burger joints popping up, the town balances a wave of new businesses with pieces of the past like the Oak Ridge Military Academy.

“That’s been in operation since 1852. It was very active with the military cadets, and it’s a co-ed organization now on the National Historic Registry,” Kinneman said.

They also take pride in the old Guilford Mill with wheels still spinning.

“It’s been in continuous operation for over two centuries. It still produces flower, grits and pancake mix,” Kinneman said.

Town staff and volunteers bring people together through celebrations like Music in the Park, which hosted 1,300 people at one event last summer, and Light up the Night.

“We love to be able to provide services to our community and entertainment that’s free because that’s what we like to do, and we like to bring people out together,” Royal said.

Keeping things green has always been a priority, which is why they’re expanding and creating 60 more acres of park space. 

The process took three years to secure the land behind the town hall and connect the existing park to the new one.

Part of the area surrounded by a walking trail will be farmed by a local farmer for hay. Town staff plans to add tennis courts and pickleball courts, and they’re close to opening up an inclusive playground.

There’s a ramp giving kids of all abilities easy access to the play structure and sensory areas to make sure everyone has a place in Oak Ridge.

The town is hosting a grand opening of the new Heritage Farm Park on May 4. 

Kids will be able to play on the new playground, and families can sit under the shelter and enjoy music and food from local food trucks.


Source: Fox 8 News Channel

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