Agricultural Commissioner Steve Troxler honored longtime N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services employee Bill Yarborough by naming the Dupont State Recreational Forest Little River Access Bridge in his honor. Yarborough recently retired after 35 years of service in Western North Carolina.
“This bridge would not be here without Bill’s dedication, determination and strong desire to improve this forest for the citizens of Western North Carolina,” said Troxler. “Bill has always made it his top priority to make sure folks in Western North Carolina were heard. This part of the state has benefitted from his years of work and will continue to benefit from the legacy of service he has left. It is very fitting that we leave this legacy for him.”
The pedestrian bridge across the Little River was completed during the summer of 2013. “For roughly a year, Bill rolled up his sleeves and worked tirelessly with the N.C. Department of Transportation and other partners to make this project happen,” said Scott Bissette, assistant commissioner. “If it wasn’t for Bill’s efforts, the bridge project would not have happened as quickly.”
With the increase in visitation experienced at Dupont State Recreational Forest, the bridge has provided visitors who park in the Hooker Falls Access parking areas with a safe passage. “This bridge has served a critical need, resolving a longstanding public safety issue for millions of visitors crossing a highly-used highway to access the forest,” said Jason Guidry, forest supervisor.
In addition to the bridge naming, Yarborough received an ambassador of agriculture award for his committed service to Western North Carolina.
“I don’t believe there is anyone as passionate about and committed to Western North Carolina communities as Bill Yarborough, and that is evidenced by the many projects he has spearheaded and seen completed over the years,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Bill has been relentless in his work, whether he was involved in projects to expand and add much-needed facilities at DuPont State Recreational Forest, fostering public-private partnerships to make $4 million worth of upgrades to the Western N.C. Ag Center and WNC Farmers Markets, or encouraging support for hemlock restoration efforts. ”
In addition to those activities, some of Yarborough’s career highlights include: helping distribute direct relief payments for farmers through Operation Brighter Day following back-to-back hurricanes in 2004; leading a hay relief/livestock feed effort during a devastating drought in 2006; supporting critical agriculture and conservation efforts in Western N.C. through the distribution of Tennessee Valley Authority settlement funds in 2014; overseeing departmental efforts to support healthy bee populations by expanding pollinator habitats statewide; and assisting with the planning and development of Mountain Island State Educational Forest.
“Bill’s list of accomplishments, recognitions and awards is extensive, but one of his greatest contributions is bringing people and groups together collaboratively to make projects happen,” Troxler said. “If someone said it could not be done, Bill was determined to show them it could. If you look around Western N.C., you will see plenty of projects that are examples of that.”