If the roadsides near the Marion Family YMCA along Barks Road seem particularly beautiful, there’s a good reason for that. It’s due to the diligence of a community-minded man named Randall Huffman.
Huffman, for the last five years, has taken it upon himself to manicure the road right-of-way, on his own time and with his own equipment.
According to Marion County Engineer Brad Irons, Huffman is a community gem who mows the roadsides out of a simple desire to improve the community.
Huffman and his wife of 67 years live at Primrose Retirement Community. They have resided there for the last five years. Previously, they made their home on LaRue-DeCliff Road, where they owned 224 acres and farmed for 31 years – and helped to beautifully maintain their roadsides. When they revealed to their neighbors that they were moving, the most asked question was, “Who is going to mow the roadway?”
Upon moving to their new location, Huffman quickly realized that there was much grooming to be done with the grass in their new neighborhood.
“It took him many hours to get the area around their residence whipped into shape,” said Irons. “He not only mows along Barks Road, but makes sure that Primrose and Wellness Drive are taken care of as well.”
It takes this spry 89-year-old approximately 17 hours to mow all of the areas that he has adopted.
Prior to becoming the “Mower Man,” he farmed the land and had various interests throughout his life. He acquired his teaching degree at 34 years old and taught science and math for 27 years in the River Valley Local Schools.
Huffman loved sports and participated in basketball and track from the time he was in sixth grade and was actively involved until 2013. He estimates that from 1974-1985, he logged about 13,000 miles of running.
When the knees decided that they were finished with running, he took up the sport of archery and became a very accomplished archer. He was so successful, that he qualified for the Olympic trials three times – in 1988, 1992 and 1996.
Huffman does all of the mowing with his trusty John Deere 48” deck tractor – with the hood held down by bungee cords.
“He claims doesn’t want to take it in for repair, as he would not be able to stay ahead of the grass,” said Irons.
In addition to mowing, Huffman also sprays for weeds where needed. The Marion County Engineer’s Department mows the roadways throughout the County. In addition, they are the office that handles road and bridge maintenance, snow removal, and similar duties for the County.
“We would like to express our deepest gratitude for Mr. Huffman’s assistance, as well as others who aid in helping to make Marion a better place to live,” said Irons. “Mr. Huffman has but one request. He would truly appreciate citizens to refrain from throwing garbage out along the roadway. This makes his job much more difficult, as he has to stop and pick up any trash that litters the roadway.”
As Spring continues to unfold and the grass begins growing, Huffman will once again be a visible fixture on the roadside he volunteers to maintain. Irons believes that working together, especially with dedicated volunteers like Huffman, makes Marion County a great place to live and work.
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