ONE ON ONE | Carol Potter Getting the word out about Mill Creek MetroParks

Only three weeks ago, your job took on a new course. What does that mean?
I was the director of public relations and marketing, and the board and the new executive director, Susan Dicken, decided to streamline some of the operations here at the park, and they put the departments of development and PR and marketing together into one new department called Department of Development and Marketing.
How does that affect you?
It's just a great opportunity, because now I'll be able to contribute in another way, in helping find funds and different worthy projects to involve the MetroParks in and just to enhance everything that we already have here to offer to people.
As a matter of fact, right now I'm working on a grant to get a historical marker at the Hopewell Furnace, which is in Struthers, it's in Yellow Creek Park.
It's the very first blast furnace in Ohio. It was started in 1802, but in 1803 it had its first blast, which is Ohio's bicentennial. So we are tying it into a bicentennial marker and celebration.
When people hear about Mill Creek MetroParks, they often think solely of Mill Creek, but it's more than just that, right?
That's part of my job, is to make the public aware of all the MetroParks has to offer people, not just in Mahoning County but our visitors and guests. Mill Creek is quite a tourist destination. Two years ago, we were the No. 1 destination in Mahoning County for bus tours.
How did you get involved with MetroParks?
Well, I've always been a great admirer of the park, and prior to being here I was a volunteer with the Junior League and had been involved with their lecture series. The MetroParks had just built their brand-new performing arts pavilion, the Morley, and they were looking for someone who had experience with producing, promoting and hosting major events such as concerts. As chairman of the Town Hall Committee, I had worked with a lot of top talents in the country. So actually, my volunteer training turned into a job.
What did you do before this?
Did you ever go to the Magic Twanger? I was the special events coordinator. I booked the bands there.
How did you end up in this area?
Well, I lived on both coasts, lived in many states in between. But my husband is from New Castle, so actually we came here for a job, for his job in 1979.
Any thought of ever leaving?
No. It's been a tremendous place to raise our son, and we have such loyalty to everything here. One of the great joys of my life is getting to work for Mill Creek. It really is the first place -- and this is a common experience -- that we, Mahoning Valley residents, take our out-of-town guests to go see.
And I can tell you, having worked in the Loop in Chicago, and being from that area, and living in San Francisco, and living in so many different places, that very few communities had the benefit of a Volney Rogers (the founder of Mill Creek).
Because of the heavy industry here, the people of common means really didn't have a place to go to have a picnic or recreation where the air was clean.
He was almost obsessed with providing vistas, that's why Mill Creek's so famous for its outlooks. He really wanted people to be able to come out on the trolley car and look at the beautiful lake, see the different drives.
What do you remember about your first visit to Mill Creek?
Well, I remember picnicking here. But my very first strong memory was when my son was in first grade. His class had the very first tour of Lanterman's Mill. I remember walking outside the mill and looking around and looking at the land and thinking someone really saw through at a time when that wasn't the common way of thinking.
What's a personal goal for you?
One challenge, I find, is there are so many hours I put in that I often cannot seem to find the time to actually take advantage of what I'm requesting everyone else to do.
I have had very little time to take a hike, I've had very little time to do the very things that we promote. So I think that my biggest challenge is balance, and trying to keep things in perspective.
What's your favorite movie?
Boy, I am really struggling on this. The first one I think of is "It's A Wonderful Life." But I absolutely adore Hitchcock's "North by Northwest."

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