After several years of searching for the right spot, the residents of Fleming will finally have their own local park. Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony meant families will soon be playing at Gill Park named after life-long residents Joseph Fillmore Gill Sr., and Bedie Haymans Gill.
Members of the Florencie Bacon and Gill families, Liberty County Recreation Department, Liberty County Board of Commissioners and the public attended the ceremony welcoming the construction of the park.
The park will be part of the LCRD and is located off Freedman Grove Road.
"I can’t believe we are finally here," LCRD Board member Charlene Godley said. "I’ve been on the recreation board for years and ever since I’ve been on the board I’ve watched all the other districts get parks or had their parks renovated or had something done in their district. And we had the money to build a park here in Fleming, we just had a lot of trouble finding a piece of property."
Godley said they searched high and low for a spot in what she calls Fleming proper.
"I want you all to know they tried to talk me into getting the park down here on Luke Road," she said. "Do you all know where Luke Road is? That is North Midway…that is not Fleming. And I kept telling them no that is not Fleming."
She noted that every time they thought they found the right spot they would hit a snag. Then, with the assistance of Florencie Bacon and the Gill family descendants, the perfect piece of land was brought to the LCRD board’s attention. It was off Freedman Grove Road and Beasleyville Road.
"My mother who is 93 lives right down here at the end of Beasleyville Road…This is where I grew up," Godley said excited. "It is accessible to a public road…it would be safe…it is already leveled and all it needed was a little cleaning up and it was in Fleming. I am thrilled. I just can’t tell you all how excited I am. I grew up playing in this pasture right here. I think that our community is going to be proud of this park. It is going to be well used. I want to thank the Gill and Bacon family for helping this come to fruition."
LCRD Director Jimmy Martin said the park may not look like much now, "But I promise you it’s going to in the very near future," he said. "We have big plans for this site to include a softball field, pavilion playground, basketball court, pond and walking trail."
Martin said he thinks the park was meant to be located at their new site.
"You can’t find a better site than this…it seems to be a perfect location," he acknowledged.
Sisters Bea Betsworth and Jerry Lynn Beard, both daughters of Florencie Bacon and grand-daughters of Bedie Haymans Gill, spoke to the attendees and thanked the community, LCRD and County Commissioners for naming the park after their grandparents.
Beard said her grandmother was born in October of 1884 and died in June of 1963 at 79 years old. Her grandparents were married for 58 years, lived in the Fleming community all of their lives and were active in church affairs. They had six girls and three boys.
"She was seamstress and wonderful cook…she was known as being kind, compassionate, caring and religious and most of all a lady," Beard said about her grandmother
Moe Gill, also spoke about his grandfather who he said was born May 20, 1880 and died February 4, 1967.
"He was a Christian man…He was in the cattle business in Bryan County. Later he went into the turpentine business for many years," Gill said. "He was a conservationist and a steward of his property and he believed in leaving things the way he found it. He believed in a renewable forest…he took care of his wildlife…he was very well thought of and a pillar in the community and we are all very proud of him."
Martin said construction will start soon.
"It will be done in two phases and the initial phase will start soon with the construction of the playground," he said. "And we are very close to awarding the bid for the pavilion as well."