- COMMUNITY LINKS
KANE - In just three days, excited Kane area children will be waking up Christmas morning in their homes to see what wonderful gifts Santa Claus has delivered this year.
Three young Kane boys at this point don't have a home and may be waking up Christmas morning in a motel room.
A fire Thursday night forced the boys and their guardians to flee the house they rented at 629 Park Ave., Kane. They've been staying at local motels ever since. Unless the family finds a new house to rent in the near future, it appears Santa will be dropping off Christmas gifts at their motel.
"My Christmas wish is to have a new place to call home," Barbara "Shelly" Floyd said Tuesday.
The 51-year-old widow is the legal guardian for her three great-nephews-- Douglas Graves Jr., 8; Cory Graves, 6; and Dylan Graves, 5. They attend the Kane Elementary School.
Floyd and the three boys resided in the rental two-story house on Park Avenue along with Floyd's 20-year-old daughter, Gabrielle and Gabrielle's long-haired chihuahua "Mailbox."
All escaped injury in the fire reported at 11:50 p.m. Thursday.
Dylan-- the youngest boy-- is a patient at a Clarion Hospital with health issues not caused by the fire and smoke. He is expected to return to his family in time for Christmas.
The two-story Park Avenue house now is inhabitable. Damage has been estimated at $30,000.
The American Red Cross helped the family by providing a room at the Best Western Motel in Bradford. The family later moved to the Kaneview Motel and now is staying at the Getaway Motel at Lantz Corners.
Floyd said she appreciates the temporary accommodations, but really is wishing to find a new home before Christmas.
"I'd prefer to have a home for Christmas," she said. "A single-family dwelling would be best."
Floyd, a 1978 graduate of Bradford High School, is employed as a secretary and bookkeeper at the MSL Oil and Gas Corp. near Tack's Inn at Routes 219 and 59. She said she would be financially able to pay up to $600 per month to rent another house in the Kane area.
With the encouragement of her daughter, Floyd filed documents in McKean County Court to obtain custody of the three boys. Her request was granted and she has been their legal guardian since September 2009. Floyd, her daughter and the three boys moved to the Park Avenue home in Kane last July.
The boys' mother, a Bradford native, died in 2006. The boys' father, Eldred native Douglas Allen Graves Sr., has been in and out of state prison and county jail, Floyd said. He was incarcerated at the time of the custody hearing and was "in favor" of Floyd's request to be the guardian of his boys, according to court documents.
Floyd, who is the great-aunt of the boys, said she sought custody to give the children "a stable home."
"They would stay with other relatives for a week or two and then go somewhere else," Floyd said. "I didn't want the boys to be split up in foster homes."
Floyd said her daughter "kind of initiated" the plan to seek custody of the boys.
"At my age, I didn't want to start over to raise a family," Floyd said. "But my daughter said 'Come on, mom, we can do it.' She promised to help me with the boys and she has."
"We thought we could give them a better home," Gabrielle said.
A 2010 graduate of Bradford High School, Gabrielle is taking college classes via the internet. She also is a cashier and pumps gas at Sparkle on North Fraley Street in Kane.
She started this job the same day as the fire.
A widow since 2004, Floyd said the boys refer to her as "Aunt Shelly." Although her first name is Barbara, Floyd has been known as "Shelly" since birth.
"The hospital nurses called me 'Shelly' because my middle name is Michelle," she said.
Floyd admits that raising three young boys is "a challenge." But she has no regrets in taking custody of her great-nephews. "It's worth is all," she said.
Floyd praised the Kane community for helping the family establish a residence here.