Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Arboretum Boardwalk a Family Project

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Arboretum Boardwalk a Family Project

Article excerpt

Byline: Cindy Holifield & Sandy Strickland

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held recently to mark completion of the 110-foot handicapped-accessible boardwalk at the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens, built to showcase the state's and probably the nation's largest loblolly bay tree.

There are benches at the end where people can sit and admire the loblolly and its white blooms with yellow stamens, read a book or eat a sandwich, said Lad Hawkins, a landscape architect who discovered the tree some years ago and is on the arboretum's board.

Hawkins' 97-year-old mother, who lives in Baton Rouge, La., and his father, who died a short time ago, provided most of the $6,500 needed for the material. Hawkins, his wife, Mindy, and his brother chipped in the rest. It's being named the Julia and Murray Hawkins and Family Boardwalk.

The arboretum, at 1445 Millcoe Road east of the Florida 9A/Monument Road exit, is free to the public seven days a week. The times vary with the season. A nonprofit group of volunteers has a lease with the city to run the arboretum. Mindy Hawkins is membership chairwoman.

The arboretum has a scenic 25-foot ravine created by a strip mining operation that was abandoned in the early 1960s. Stately oaks, tall pines, scrub palmetto, lush ferns, cypress trees and plants grow within its 120 acres.

Here's more good news:

- A "Comedy and Dining Extraordinaire" benefit at the Sawgrass Marriott raised $95,000 for Project SOS, a Northeast Florida nonprofit that teaches teens how to make healthy life choices. The event featured comedian Ron Pearson and silent and live auctions. CEO Pam Mullarkey, who founded the nonprofit 20 years ago, said it has helped more than 380,000 teens and their families since then.

- Teens now have their own space at the San Marco branch library at 1513 LaSalle St. The Teen Scene, created out of an existing area using transparent mesh panels, recently opened to give them an inviting place to do homework, use laptops or just relax and read. …

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