Note: the meeting originally scheduled for Monday evening, May 17, at 5 p.m., has been tabled for at least four weeks. See: “Tabling Tonight’s Hearing, Whispering Meadows Ranch and County ‘Very Close to an Agreement’ as Talks Continue.”
Driving down John Anderson Highway you’re likelier than not to miss the entrance to Whispering Meadows Ranch, unless you know what you’re looking for. Like every property along John Anderson past the clusters around State Road 100, it’s invisible. It spreads behind hedges and trees and that old-Florida lushness that still defines that area of the county.
In recent weeks a couple of canary-yellow signs, entirely out of place at the ranch’s entrance, might catch your attention. They’re the kind of blunt placards that notice a public hearing, when the property they’re planted on is involved in some kind of land use issue before a local government board. Whispering Meadows doesn’t actually have an issue. A few of its neighbors–and a few might be an exaggeration–do.
Mary Helene and Richard Davis have lived at the 5.4-acre property and its 2,600-square-foot house for some 22 years. They’ve run Whispering Meadows, providing horse, or equine, therapy a few hours a day to veterans and disabled children for almost 14 of those years, in a pen in back of the property. They might have eight children on a given day riding in 30 to 60minute sessions after school. The maximum number of people they may have there is 15 to 20, including volunteers, who help run the place, along with Kristine Aguirre, Mary and Richard’s daughter.
Though it’s long known of the ranch’s operations–the last three sheriffs, Rotary clubs, Kiwanis clubs and many other civic organizations whose boards and memberships are interchangeable with elected officials have fund-raised and supported the ranch for years–county government earlier this year required the Davises to fill out an application that would for the first time permit semi-public use of the property. They were told they should’ve done so from the start, though no one had brought that to their attention previously. Nor has county government, code enforcement or any other division or government agency or neighbor ever complained about the ranch in any way.
That changed a few months ago when John Tanner, the former state attorney and one of the ranch’s most immediate neighbors, did complain, and drafted other neighbors to raise concerns about the ranch’s operations. Much of the concerns, judging from what was voiced at a Planning Board meeting about the issue last month, mischaracterize the ranch’s operations, exaggerating its traffic, inventing bus trips and festivals that don’t really exist, at least not nearly to the extent feared, and portraying the non-profit operation as a big money-maker charging up to $1,000 for a set of classes. (In fact, and in keeping with the ranch’s policy of never turning anyone away who wants to have therapy, most riders’ classes are underwritten by scholarship. The ranch operates mostly on contributions.)
As recently as this Thursday (May 12), an anonymous letter was circulated to John Anderson Highway residents repeating malicious falsehoods about the ranch–malicious, because the falsehoods have already been publicly discredited, such as the claim that if the county were to grant the exception, then it would open the door to “group homes,” “domestic violence shelters,” “Drug/Alcohol Rehab Homes” and religious houses of worship–all patently untrue, since in every case the decision rests with the commission. The letter, scurrilous in its audacity but pointedly nameless, also repeats falsehoods about the length of times the ranch operates or about the ranch’s effects on neighboring property values, which have only increased in recent years–and are expected to post the sharpest increase in years imminently, according to Jay Gardner, the property appraiser–in tandem with values across the county. The Davises have answered the letter point by point.
The Davises and Aguirre have implored Tanner, neighbors and now county commissioners to visit, ask questions, voice their concerns, work out issues communally. Tanner visited once, as have a few neighbors, but no commissioner has been to the property. Yet on Monday evening at 5 p.m., the Flagler County Commission will hold a hearing and rule on the ranch’s semi-public use application. The decision will be a verdict on the ranch’s fate: it must either be shut down (or go elsewhere) or it’ll be allowed to continue.
In mid-April, the county’s planning board voted unanimously to recommend continued operations, with a few conditions. But the planning board’s recommendation is not binding. On the commission, the Davises are starting from behind: Commissioner Greg Hansen has already told several people, they say, that he wants the place shut down, though he hasn’t spoken to the Davises or been there. (Hansen’s wife, Linda Hansen, claimed in a phone call that Greg Hansen said no such things–and repeated as much in a comment below–but she said he would not himself confirm it or speak to FlaglerLive, a common pattern with the Hansens.)
“Ranch” is a bit of a misnomer, judging from the entrance–a modest gate with two short pillars on either side, and a dirt driveway that curves a little to the left under old oaks. You park under the trees. You walk along a thickly shaded path. Small signs by a tree or a couple of enclosures with tools and other wares suggest the local high schools’ Key Clubs have done some work here, as have Buddy Taylor Middle School’s K-Kids, the Garden Club and others. A few steps further in, you see the house, then a gate that leads behind the house to the “ranch” itself.
On a recent Friday afternoon, three children were on horses inside a pen, though you’d be hard-pressed to think of it as lessons: from 20 feet away, it’s too quiet, too serene, though that appears to be the point.
The lessons are one-on-one. There’s no screaming, no yelling, says Mary Davis, whose voice echoes the calm in the pen. You might hear a child laugh or giggle from time to time. They’re not learning to ride. They’re learning to use parts of their body, to strengthen body and mind, everything working together, depending on their condition and needs. Their actual disabilities are not necessarily known by their teachers. “That’s not what we’re here for,” Davis says. The idea is to establish a rapport between horse and rider, and to deal with the rider’s anxieties or fears, which a horse will sense. “So we try to teach them to be able to take some deep breaths, to breathe and to be able to watch the difference of the personality of the horse with them. As they calm down, the horse is calming down.
“The children as well as the adults as well as the veterans need an extremely quiet, secure place with not a lot of stuff going on, so they can concentrate, they can feel peaceful, they can feel secure.” The horses themselves are very peaceful, all trained to do their job, aware of the “precious cargo on their back, so they can be as perfect as an animal can be.”
There were claims at the planning board meeting that some of the riders could pose a risk to the neighborhood. “Our children are not dangerous,” Davis says. “You know, under disabilities, there’s mental, psychological, behavior, anger, you might want to list what the word disability means. But they’re not dangerous. They’re precious children that need help. Our veterans that come are not dangerous. I guess they weren’t too dangerous to go and put their lives on the line to protect us and our country.”
“The noise that you hear is as loud as it gets,” Davis says. At that moment, there was no more noise than the whir of a normal house’s air conditioning unit. There was a conversation in the distance, there was a bit of chirping in the trees, and if you walked up real close, you could make out the rhythmic swish of the brush on a horse’s hide, maybe–maybe–hear a slow trot if a horse is briefly walking on a harder surface than the sandy or grassy pens there their sounds are muffled. For anyone coming from Palm Coast or Flagler Beach’s busier core, the silence is arresting. “It has to be this serene atmosphere for the children and the veterans,” Davis says, “and not only that, but the parents of these children, they’ll sit here and watch their child and watch their child smile and achieve things that they never achieved before. But they also get to communicate with each other and share services that are out there that one may not know of, but the other does, and they can share these services, they can share their laughter, they share their tears, going through what they go through with those kids.”
There are crucifixes here and there along the fencing, which remind the visitor of the Christian-themed sign near the entrance, amid a small copse of plants donated by the Garden Club of Palm Coast’s Propagation Guild, that displays the ranch’s name above a white-silhouetted cutout of a horse, two children and a crucifix. “We are born-again Christians,” Davis says. “We believe in loving the people the way Christ wants us to. We don’t do any preaching. We don’t have any Bibles. We don’t have any of that. But if somebody comes in and they’ll say, Would you pray for me? Sure. Would you pray for my child? My child’s going in for surgery, my child is doing their testing and it doesn’t look good, would you pray? And of course we will pray, we’ll pray that moment if they ask or we will put them on our prayer list. It’s not a requirement for you to be a Christian to come here. We’re just here to love you the way God wants us to love you, plain and simple.”
Davis and her husband were a working couple–they had a window-treatment business for decades, where their daughter also worked–until they trained to work with disabilities and horses as PATH instructors (the acronym for Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International). They loved working with children with disabilities. They started with one horse.
It’s not a horse-riding stable. It’s not open to anyone and everyone. It’s not even open to visitors who just wander in for a look-see. It’s by invitation only. “Most of the young people that show up are with a guardian, a lot of times they’re with a counselor or a medical health professional,” Dennis Bayer, the Flagler Beach attorney who represents the Davises, told the planning board last month. “Same thing with the vets that come out there. It’s not just come out and ride a horse. Typically they come to us as referrals through the school board, or through a licensed medical professional. So we don’t just allow anybody out on the property.”
The main space–what’s been referred to as the pen so far–is called the Arena, though that, too, is a misnomer: It’s about the size of two typical backyards put together, fenced in, surfaced with leveled yellow sand. Behind it is the “Round Pen” for exercising the horses a bit, once or twice a week. There’s no manure in sight, no smell detected at any point of a 90-minute visit, even when walking near the pile of manure toward the back of the property. Manure is picked up seven days a week, every day of the year. Neighbors come in and take loads for their own uses.
Off to the side the horses have their barn surrounded by a grassy enclosure where they can roam free. If they’re not working they can come and go as they please. They can huddle under the barn if it’s stormy. They have fans. “They’re just spoiled. I will admit it, but we love them,” Davis says. They have another fenced in pen where the grass grows and they can roam around twice a week. “So we try to take everything under consideration for their comfort as well because they work very hard,” Davis says. “They’re very intelligent animals. And all of them, there’s five mares, five girls.” All donated, with one exception, Star, rescued when she was 15. She’s now 27.
Niblet is the 31-year-old pony. “She’s still going, she’s a happy little pony. Kids love her because she’s small and they think that she’s a baby,” Davis says. “But she works every day just like the others.” Niblet actually went to pony college, because she had a few unacceptable wiggles and didn’t fit as perfectly as she should, given the responsibilities. When she returned from training, she did.
The barn has been an issue: “They don’t like that they can see your barn,” Aguirre was told. Ironically, if the Davises lived there with five horses (or six or seven or eight) and they had a barn, but didn’t let disabled children ride the horses during lessons, the barn wouldn’t be an issue. If the Davises happened to have an extended family, if they had a dozen grandchildren who visited every few days and rode the horses for hours at a time, it wouldn’t be an issue. If the Davises were rich and just felt like giving lessons to their friends and their children, but not take money for it, it wouldn’t be an issue.
The ranch closed in February 2020 with the onset of the pandemic and reopened in September, around the time when the property next door went up for sale. And around the time when problems started brewing, starting with a mysterious complaint the Davises heard about. “The complaint filed came as a complete blindside,” Aguirre said. “We did not know where it was coming from. And they had said that we were running a huge commercial enterprise. And then they wanted to shut us down immediately. So I didn’t know what that meant, or where that was coming from.” That was when the county’s Adam Mengel, the planning director, asked the Davises to apply for the semi-use.
There haven’t been any school buses on the property since April 2019, nor has there been an event there since November 2019, the last time the ranch hosted its country-themed Fall Festival with games and sing-alongs, plus hamburger and hot dog lunches for $2 or $3, to cover the food expenses. Contrary to false claims circulating in the neighborhood, there’s never been a band. Parking on John Anderson during the festival? That’s accurate. “We decided after that event that we would not be doing those any longer here, even though the Flagler County Sheriff came out, and they did the traffic for us,” Aguirre says. “Now, in 13 years, we’ve never had a complaint, not one neighbor has ever come to us, and Adam Mengel said they have never had a complaint or a code enforcement against them until now. So why two years after something are they coming forward? That’s what we would like to have the answer to.”
As for those school trips, they were only special education, or ESE, students–some 14 or 15 students bused in for lunch for a rare outing from school, along with their teachers. A lot of the children who’d visit are profoundly disabled, some with feeding tubes. This wasn’t a field day, exactly, but a different form of therapy. “We don’t charge them to come out here, no one gets charged, they don’t get charged to come and participate in a couple of hours with the horses,” Aguirre says. But opponents of the ranch whispered about the inappropriateness of “school buses” in and out. “So again, another misconception is school bus trips,” Aguirre says.
The planning board heard claims about fees charged. “Every child that comes here and goes through an evaluation, rides, regardless if they have funds or not.” The claim was of $30 per lesson, $1,000 for a set. The numbers aren’t inaccurate. But they were presented misleadingly. “That $30 to $1,000 is on our website as an opportunity for people to donate,” Aguirre says. “So if you want to sponsor a child or sponsor a horse, we have allocated how much it costs for us to meet our overhead. So we are allowed as a not-for-profit to charge fees. We have a lot of people that come to us and say, Hey, listen, we want to donate to sponsor a child, how much does it cost? So we’ll say, okay, we’ve in our mind have figured out it costs $30 a lesson or $40 For a private lesson to ride and we give them a figure. If you want to sponsor a child for an entire year, this is what it costs. That’s not what we charge people when they come here. It clearly states on there, a scholarship. Everybody is accepted into the program. The majority of these kids don’t pay. The ones that do pay are coming from a Gardener Scholarship through the State of Florida, which is for children with special needs. And then also Medicaid pays for 10 sessions a year, for an entire year, so that’s not very much. So then we let those kids continue on after their Medicaid is up, and they continue on through the rest of the year.”
In sum, 80 percent of the ranch’s income is from donations. “I really hope here we can get it worked out. We’re trying to reach out to people,” Aguirre says. “We’re trying to say listen, what can we do? What can we do to make sure that we are not upsetting the neighborhood?”
Aguirre is troubled by some county commissioners already voicing their intentions of denying the ranch’s exception. “I’m not going to be able to change somebody’s mind if they’re openly saying that in public. And they’re going to vote how they’re going to vote,” she says. “I just hope and pray that they at least look at this fairly, because they’re not looking at it fairly right now. How can you judge something when you’ve never been there? You’ve never stepped foot on the property? It’s really a beautiful program. I’m very proud of what it has done for the community. And I’m proud of all these volunteers that come and help us every day. We couldn’t do it without them. We’re one of the few places in Flagler county where people can come and actually volunteer. I have kids come out here from school saying, ‘I didn’t know where else I could volunteer, I love coming out here and getting community service hours.’ So it’s not just about serving these kids with special needs. It’s serving the community as a whole, and you’re going to take a lot away. You’re not going to take away just horseback riding.”
For the life of me I could not see why this would be a problem to anyone. This is such an asset to our community, I was not aware of its existence before reading this article. Don’t we need more services for disabled children and veterans as opposed to less?
A completely separate issue is the one regarding commissioners voicing an opinion without having even visited the ranch. I don’t see where that should even be allowed. The longer I live here, the more disenchanted I become with our county commission. I have written numerous letters over the years to our commissioners regarding issues important to me and have only received a handful of summary form letters in return.
The commissioners are elected to serve all of the citizens of the county, not just the ones with big mouths and big wallets. Not for the first time, I am of the strong opinion that every single one of them needs to go, we need a fresh start with more diversity.
Great comment. Not much to add except typical of this Leadership to make blind decisions. I was disenchanted long ago
I do not understand what the real problem with the commissioners is. Also why does it bother Tanner to the point where he spreads lies and gets the neighbors on his side. Sounds like some one wants the ranch gone and maybe causing the property to be sold and then resold at a big profit to a builder for more homes?Just a thought.
From what I saw about this place on Channel 9 ,I think, and from what I’ve read here, the place is a clean and orderly peaceful place that gives these children something nice to look forward to and helps them at the same time. I see nothing wrong with that at all. For once, county commissioners, do something right and humane for a change, and allow this place to remain open.
E, ROBOT says
This issue has nothing to do with whether the “ranch” is doing a good job or not. It is simply in a area zoned residential.
That property is valuable and can be sold and the operation relocated to somewhere more appropriate.
A Very Heartless Cold Statement! What if your child or grandchild needed a program like the one that is offer at Whispering Meadows! Be careful what you think because God takes notes!S
Trailer Bob says
Thank you. I agree. Some people have not hearts or sole. not everyone is brought up the same way, and not all people life so easy. If you feel this enterprise will ruin our neighborhood, perhaps you need to move.
Allow me to correct you…I fact, the property owners have every right to apply for a permit for semi-public use. And the decision of the Commission is supposed to be based on 2 key questions, according to county law: 1. Is the semi-public use necessary to fulfill current or anticipated community needs? And 2) Would the semi-public use impose a substantial detrimental effect on the neighborhood? After exhaustive study, the Planning and Development Board found that the answers are 1) yes and 2) no. That’s why they recommend approval. And that’s why the Commission should follow the Board’s recommendation and approve. You clearly lack the knowledge and understanding of equine-assisted therapy to suggest they it’s a simple matter to just sell the property and relocate somewhere else.
More appropriate? Hmmm. Not sure what that means. Kids interacting and growing is appropriate in any location. There are somethings more important than money. As far as the property value goes, there is no correlation.
Could not agree more! I have hope for a fresh start with Andy Dance, who grew up here and loves this community for real. The rest, not so much. Not to mention that this place is providing a much needed service to our community, is completely hidden and does nothing to detract from the area. I also don’t understand who is the one neighbor that apparently is spreading lies to get them shut down. Awful!!
Crystal Jackson says
I agree my son is Autistic and I have never been to the ranch. I was told about this place by many medical staff members I work front line with. I called a few months back to get my son in. The owner was very nice and compassionate and empathetic. I even asked about cost because I had been out of work for two months because my son has been home bound since Feb 11th 2021. He doesn’t have anything to look forward to and even the school forced him to do home instruct. The owner wasn’t concerned about cost but more worried about my son. We were invited with open hands and money was not a concern she didn’t even ask about insurance she just wanted my son to have something to look forward to. I have worked in the medical field for 15 plus years and I know compassion when I hear it and this was the real thing. I plan on calling them back and taking them up on there offer for my son Robert. However, let’s be realistic I could only imagine how much it costs to feed and house and maintain these precious horses. Let’s not forget the veterinarian bills and there hoofs and all the blood sweat and tears these kind people put into this company. We already lack so much stuff regarding to mental health and now they are trying to take this to. Just imagine all the special need kids and adults and vets and families this will effect. This is sad and I feel awful for them.
The lady in the trail says
For those of you who may not know about equine therapy it is the one activity that uses the muscles a person uses for walking and balance. Equine therapy is evidence based and approved by insurance companies as treatments for disabled, handicapped, autism, PTSD, and an assortment of all other medical diagnoses. With a large veteran population and disadvantaged families it’s amazing to me people are not doing more to support this faculty instead of close it. As an aging community this type of facility has the potential to be a place for caregivers of the elderly and disabled to relieve stress and loneliness. If equine therapy is removed as a non-pharmacological medical treatment option what is next, yoga or medical marijuana? If medical marijuana can be promoted then why can’t equine therapy! Both backed by science to be therapeutic for physical and emotional pain.
Concerned Citizen says
I have never touched Marijuana. Just a personal choice.
I have however spent numerous hours in the saddle. And can attest that while my issues pale in comparison to others a day spent in the saddle is betther than any narcotic out there.
I have a horse who completley understands if I’m having a rough day. And will lean on you to be petted for however long it takes. And if that isn’t something special I don’t know what is!!
Pam H says
I find it so sad that Whispering Meadow Ranch is having to prove to the community the worth of therapeutic riding for children and adults with physical and mental challenges. I am a retired ESE teacher from the Flagler County School district, having taught children with severe physical challenges I have seen first hand the positive effects that riding, and being around horses have on both children and adults with physical and mental challenges. My background is not only in Education but also as a Professional rider, trainer, and horse farm owner. I was an instructor for 13 years, while living in NY, for the Long Island Riding for the Handicapped Association, a program very similar to the program that Whispering Meadows Ranch has.. we too were supported solely by donations, allowing us to provide services to 30 students. The benefits that these programs provide to their students is so well documented it is unfathomable that in this day and age, government has become so short sited when it comes to those who need these services the most.
With all of the new homes being built in Palm Coast, it stands to reason that there will be families who will need services from Whispering Meadows in addition to the families that need and use them now. Please county commissions-keep it open. I will NOT vote to re-elect any county commissioner who votes to close it. Also, if any of you who knew Mr. John Fischer, Whispering Meadows was near and dear to him. Honor his memory by keeping it open.
Judith Back-Zack says
This is just awful!! The Davis family are wonderful people who have dedicated their lives to helping developmental disabled children, adults and Veterans. They should be grandfathered in!! What does this say about Flagler County. A few greedy neighbors and uncaring commissioners make us all look bad. They should be voted out if the do this.
Always one jurk trying to muddy the water. To the neighbor that wants it shut down, get a life and leave this gift alone.
I will be just trying to be neutral in this issue:
A) I believe the ranch does a lot of good for those special needs children, their families and veterans. Also is a heaven for the horses used on the venture as some are rescues.
B) I also believe that the operation creates additional traffic in the area including school buses (as described and past festivals) and as such the noise of the vehicles and their view for their neighbors. I believe that John Anderson is a residential area with large properties and very pricey and those neighbors are concerned that the effect will hinder their quality of life and their homes values.
I read that the Ranch owner thinks that the barn view is one of the issues of concerns and if I would be her I will properly screen that barn from neighbors views just to keep the peace. Only will take some mature Crape Myrtles https://www.fast-growing-trees.com/products/red-rocket-crape-myrtle?variant=13940750024756&msclkid=33f6c4b0ffd6129294f6a42f60a1396f&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=%28MT%29+-+Shopping+-+Flowering+Trees&utm_term=4580702889704069&utm_content=flowering+trees or young trees that probably she could get donated plants and labor as she mentions garden items and labor were donated before. The excuse that if she didn’t have the fee ranch service would be no complaint, is probably incorrect as unsightly accumulations or structures complained by neighbors have to be resolved in residential areas also increased traffic created by a for profit or none profit in a residential area is not approved as far is my concern in PC city limits, don’t know in the unincorporated areas of the county.
I see some neighbors (Mr. Tanner) had the good will to visit the place and if the Ranch has been operating for as many as 20 or 22 years then is obvious that lately something changed just lately in the way the Ranch functions to move the neighbors to complain.
If both residents and ranch owner present real proof of their grievances (doing away with misconceptions)I believe that a compromise and agreement to resolve permanently the latest issues between the surrounded affected residents and the ranch owner may secure the permanency of the ranch in this advantageous residential location. Takes two to tango.
I can understand those John Anderson residents concerns as here in the city in residential areas some home business violate their permit by increased traffic with customers/employees parking on the street or swale for hours, besides the noise/pollution of large semitrucks (that are not the usual UPS, FEDEX or Amazon) delivering in their homes.
Allow me to correct some falsehoods and misrepresentations in your comment. 1. The school bus issue is a thing of the past. There hasn’t been a school bus anywhere near the property in years and the Ranch agreed to not host school groups that arrive in buses in the future. 2. ALL property owners in the subdivision have the right to keep horses or other livestock on their property and many others do. Even though there is no requirement to do so, the Ranch is surrounded by a 3′ deep barrier of lush vegetation on all sides, which secludes it from neighboring properties. Furthermore, there are no unsightly structures on the Ranch — it is meticulously maintained. 3. Whether the Ranch was serving children with special needs and disabled veterans or not, anyone who lived there would have every right to have horses and a barn. 4. The Ranch stopped having what you refer to as “festivals” a couple of years ago and when they did hold them, they were held between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. once per year and were no noisier then backyard barbeque parties other neighbors have held. 4. The Ranch had operated for 13 years without a complaint ever being filed with the county or the ranch owners. 5. NOTHING changed at the Ranch to prompt this battle. Nor does the Ranch have any plans to make any changes. There is no difference in activity, number of people served, clientele, nothing. It is the same operation it has been for 13 years. 6. As documented on the website of the Flagler County Property Appraiser, neighborhood properties.have increased in Certified Just (Market) Value by 20-40 percent in the last 2 years alone, so it is absurd to suggest the Ranch had or could have any negative effect on property values.
A lot of lies have been circulated lately, obviously you read some of them. I live close by and can attest to the fact that you’re gravely misinformed. Get your facts straight before you write in a public forum.
Concerned Citizen says
So what is the real reason for all your hatred towards the ranch?
Inquiring minds want to know.
Kim Pandich-Gridley says
On Friday, John Fischer, a dear friend, passed away from surgical complications. This is relevant to this article because just before he went into the hospital two weeks ago he asked me if I could help him drum up support for the Whispering Meadows Ranch. He was adamant about keeping the Ranch up and running as he had been there multiple times and said the people that worked there “genuine and positive people who make a difference in the lives of our children and veterans.” I think it was fate that I saw this story only a couple of hours after John passed. This article is indicative of all the good work the Ranch does and John felt that it was simply greed motivating the attempt to close it down. As a result (and with the permission of his family) I am asking that as a tribute to John’s memory, your readers please contact their county representatives and let them know that they simply must vote to keep the Ranch open. For my part, I promise to vigorously campaign against any council member who chooses not to support the Whispering Meadows Ranch and to encourage all of John’s supporters to do the same. Similarly, in lieu of flowers, donations in John’s name to the Ranch would be appreciated. Thank you.
Leave it alone you greedy sobs they just want money and to develop
Support 81 says
Tanner and other Anti-Veterans should move OUT of Flagler County! This same ‘group’ was also AGAINST the USS Liberty Memorial! Freedom is NOT Free! Time to Honor and Help Veterans who DEFEND America’s Freedom!
Kat ditto ditto
PJ Flanders says
Thank you to whomever wrote this article. It’s so good to read the truth at last! I have witnessed many Blessings at the “Ranch”. Parents that had been told that their child would never walk,Walked. Parents were told that their child would never speak, Spoke. I have been a part of Whispering Meadows Ranch for almost 14yrs. helping wherever I could. God’s peace can be felt as you drive into this very special “Ranch”.
Jaii M. Hein says
Mr Tanner has been a pain in th arse for many years in Flagler County. Cease your stupidity sir. I was a longtime resident. And I don’t think mr. Tanner has ever committed to being humane.
For families and caregivers of disabled or special needs, my heart goes out to you. No one but families and caregivers can truly know of the 24/7 attention and constant diligence of care for those with special needs. Whispering Meadows Ranch has been, and continues to be, a soft place to land for many families over the last 14 years. No one but these families can truly understand the importance of one hour per week where no one is judging and there is a total acceptance and joy. One can only hope that the Flagler Commissioners can be truly empathetic to those who need this quiet, peaceful setting and allow it to continue. I ask that the Commissioners heed the old medical rule: First Do No Harm. Let Whispering Meadows continue its excellent (but quiet) enrichment equine therapy program.
Sounds like another stunt for Mr. Tanner to try and keep himself relevant. He was able to give his children lots of opportunities in life. Why stop those who may have little else to look forward to? How selfish and inconsiderate to deny a small opportunity for others. God is watching.
Mr. Tanner does not disclose this, but his own daughter volunteered at the Ranch for many, many years. He sure didn’t have any problems with it then, she his daughter was learning horsemanship and compassion for others.
From the ANONYMOUS, cowardly letter circulated :
“One couple recently lost a contract for the sale of their property when the purchasers learned that the commercial WMR, Inc was adjacent to their land”
Makes one wonder just WHAT kind of people were contemplating purchasing the land that they were soooo upset about a therapy ranch nextdoor and cancelled ? And what were/are they planning to do with the property if they HAD purchased? Just the kind of people I would want living in my neighborhood … NOT!
Also – “There were claims at the planning board meeting that some of the riders could pose a risk to the neighborhood. ”
Sounds to me that the existing neighbors and the ‘potential’ buyers are more of a threat to the neighborhood than the clients could ever be. I know I wouldn’t want them near me if I could choose.
“Commissioner Greg Hansen has already told several people, they say, that he wants the place shut down, though he hasn’t spoken to the Davises or been there.”
Hansen again, huh? When does this poor excuse for a citizen representative come up for office again?
A caring person says
I believe Lisa Gardner feels that she lost a commission. She needs to know that it wasn’t because of the ranch, but they were told the truth by a neighbor that the property floods. I think that it’s called GREED
Re: Whispering Meadows Ranch continuation of their 14 year old equine therapy program. Do you know anything about these very special people? Do you know how young some of them are? Have you researched for any new knowledge? Do you know some of these people are trapped inside their own bodies and minds and cannot get out? You would if you were to look in their eyes and see their frustration and hurt. These children come to Whispering Meadows Ranch and a miracle happens: God touches them and for a moment the frustration and hurt is gone and is replaced by the joy seen in their eyes.
Look at the parents: What have they been through with their special needs child? What is their future? How many times have they cried themselves to sleep? Grandma in Indiana and Grandpa in Texas are brokenhearted at the thought of the Ranch being shut down and do not understand the reason. Do you know anything about mama bear and her cubs? When parents come with their children to the Ranch a miracle happens. God touches them and they see the peace and joy and a smile on their child’s face. Monday’s Commissioner Meeting may be the happy moment of the day for these parents–resulting in joy in their lives instead of tears on their pillows.
It all boils down to a couple of people who want to shut down the Ranch. Where is your heart and understanding for these parents?
Kim Pandich-Gridley says
Is the decision being made at Monday night’s meeting? If so, multiple voices need to be heard before then or if possible, at the meeting itself!
Yes! At the last minute, they pushed up the start time of the meeting to 5:00. Please come and let your voice be heard if you are concerned about this.
The county commission meets twice a month–the first and third Mondays of the month. The first Monday’s meeting is at 9 a.m., the second is at 5 p.m. There was no last-minute change.
Unfortunately, Spectrum News 13 did a rather large article on this subject just recently, and they posted the start time as 5:30. I sent an email to the article author, but as of Monday morning, the time had not been corrected on their article.
Kim Pandich-Gridley says
I have been told that the vote has been delayed for a few weeks. I don’t know if it will come up tonight or not, but the public’s demonstration of support would still be valuable if only as an indication of how important this issue was to John Fischer, and subsequently, his followers.
I know there has to be somebody on this thread that is more technically proficient and I am inputting a link to our commissioner so that we can all contact them directly with our feelings about this issue. Can somebody help me with this?
The email links have been added to the article.
Sad Times says
Another example of greed! To hell with the people. The commissioners don’t care about us….they just want money for themselves and their friends.
Voters…..if YOU truly care…vote these guys out….replace them with people who care.
Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that out area follows the Republican greed….to hell with people. Their goals…get as much money as they can….the reason for staying in power.
Trailer Bob says
All republicans are not like these idiots. I am one and I would in a minute support the efforts of these folks trying to help other human beings that haven’t had such an easy life…no fault of their own.
Keep me informed of the next meeting and someone please contact me at 386-585-2971 of the meeting, and I will be there. Mankind has to be reined in at times when their moral compass wanders off on the side of arrogance…Do as I want, not as others need? I will be there as long as someone provides the time and date of the next meeting. It is late and I am tired, so just send me the info to [email protected] , and I will attend.
Disapointed and frustrated says
Of course Hansen supports the sale. He has never supported anything with the best interest of the citizens. Having done the damage to the Hammock, i, e, his support for the crooked Bing’s Landing deal, the big property development, the boat storage facility and the restarant that never materialized, he is now ready to ruin other parts of the county. Hansen wants to move in the circles of those he considers to be rich and influential. like Tanner. Need more proof of his lack of backbone? He has been insulted by Mullins, has criticized Mullins and yet when it came to Mullins meaningless, irrelevant gesture about supporting the Constitution, which, as an elected official he had already sworn to do, he fell in lockstock with Mullins. He doesn’t care about those the Ranch has served and would serve in the future. They are not rich and influential. Remember this at election time.
The people who are against this don’t care about disabled people or their health, unless it is by displaying a mask on their face to show how much they “care” about others. I guess some of our newly relocated neighbors could build a couple huge luxury homes on that nice little piece of land. Two big houses equal more taxes that a ag/public use property i would reckon. Here’s a grand idea, let’s cut down the remaining trees in Florida and turn all the ranch/ag land into homes with solar panels on the roofs. That way we can power electric cars…………yes sarcasm.
Linda Hansen says
Commissioner Hansen most assuredly has not told anybody he plans on shutting this down. FACT.
Truth Squad says
Actually, he did, indeed, tell 2 separate people that he will vote against the ranch. FACT.
Than let him publicly come out in support of the ranch. He has had ample time to research and make an informed decision. Let us publicly hear his input.. here is his chance..
This article just proves the dysfunction of our local government but riddle me this. I often read here how citizens are disgusted by the actions of our County Commission but yet continue to re-elect them into office. Be mad all you want and post all over FL but if you really want to make change get out there next cycle and do your part.
Otherwise stop complaining and accept it.
After reading this article and all the comments, I would like to know how a vote would be fair that decides Whispering Meadow’s Ranch’s future when None of the Commissioners has Never visited the Ranch? During the Pandemic we all learned many lessons about life. One of those lessons was a reminder to treat others as you want them to treat you. Caring is Sharing. If anything, Be Kind. Be Fair. I urge the one’s who will vote to please make the effort to visit this ranch before you cast your vote. OMT. Horses are healers. Never doubt that.
Whispering Meadows Ranch has done EVERYTHING asked of them in order to keep this program up and running. This is nothing but a witch hunt started by a realtor who lost a sale nearby and instead of just working toward another buyer decided to stick her nose where it doesn’t belong. Like this article says, you don’t even know the ranch is back there unless you actually know it’s back there. They have left plenty of overgrowth surrounding their property for privacy and there is virtually no noise coming from the disabled community or veterans utilizing the services. A bunch of kids in a backyard pool party would create more noise! No one liked or respected John Tanner when he was state attorney and he has always thrived on controversy. He’s just a plain bully and it is sad that his crusade has even gone this far. And shame on the County Commissioners who will have the fate of the ranch in their hands, yet are not willing to visit the ranch and actually learn what truthfully goes on there. I am hopeful they have at least listened to the community that is supportive of the ranch, whose numbers way outnumber those opposed, and allow this ranch to continue its mission.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
Leave the ranch be just as it is, where it is – at least for now. Not one of the $55,000 plus perks a year commissioner has bothered to visit this charming, clean, loving facility which in my book means ‘malfeasance’ if any of them vote to shut it down! Commissioners are paid to do their homework and not to pander to the ‘real’ county attorney ( my opinion) the one and only Michael Chiumento III!
Some extra facts: Land purchased in 2002 for $230,000. Maximum total paid in property taxes over 19 years: $59,000. Land listed last year for $549,000. Alleged lost sale ( boohoohoo) might cost them 10% loss in sale value. Okay – so instead of $549,000 – which is the LIST price – the sellers might only be able to count $ 494,000 ( oops gotta subtract the $58,000 property taxes) while sitting in their home , or just walking along the dock, valued at over $725,000 facing the intercoastal…
Not done yet: Property re- listed in February , $549,000 so sale must have fallen through between September and January, and is still listed for sale.. THERE IS NO LOST COMMISSION which has nothing at all to do with the value of keeping the ranch open and legally giving it GRANDFATHER STATUS! There is nothing illegal about the wife of our property appraiser being the listing agent; she is a well known, well respected licensed realtor. I gotta make sure I don’t forget to buy nose plugs before entering commission chambers tomorrow night.