By Ginger Jarvis
Greene Publishing, Inc.
By a unanimous vote, the Barksdale Foundation has decided to convey its property in northeast Madison County to the Florida Methodist Children’s Home. The vote, taken at Monday night’s meeting, approved a resolution transferring the 239-acre site to the FMCH for the purpose of building a local branch of the institution.
Attorney Cary Hardee, who assisted with the resolution, said that the transfer will help fulfill the dreams of Shirley Barksdale, who had left the property for the purpose of caring for special-needs children. “The Foundation had the will and the imagination, but they just did not have the funds to build a home,” he said.
Mary K. Blume, president of the Barksdale Foundation, spoke excitedly about the transfer. “We were so happy to have this chance to use the property as Shirley had wanted. This is her dream,” she said. She added that the site is ideal because of its proximity to Cherry Lake, local bike trails, and schools. “It has so much to offer, and it is serene and beautiful.”
Blume added that the FMCH plans to maintain the farmhouse on the grounds and the family cemetery where Shirley Barksdale is buried.
Mike Galloway, president of the FMCH, said that crews are already at work conducting studies for the EPA, soil analyses, topography, and other tests. “When these studies are finished, we plan to move quickly,” he said. “In about two weeks, I expect to be able to accept this very generous gift.”
Galloway said that he is pleased that so many people from Tallahassee to Jacksonville are optimistic about the home being situated in Madison County. It will serve children from Madison and two other counties.
The FMCH had originally considered a tract just off Dusty Miller Road for the extension; however, many residents of that area were opposed to the plan. The Barksdale property is surrounded by uninhabited fields and forests, so that those objections will not arise.