CARLISLE — The odd story of the single-wide, the traffic jam and the small town that, for a while, had the world watching now includes one of America's richest men calling up Frances Barton of Nicholas County and telling her to go shopping.
"He said 'get your heinie up and put on your shoes'," said Barton, who recalled the name of her California benefactor only as Tim.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
Tim, it turns out, is billionaire Tim Blixseth, who according to Forbes.com grew up poor in Oregon and began building his $1.3 billion fortune with a savvy donkey sale at 15. He wired $20,000 to Doyle Mobile Homes in Flemingsburg, who moved Barton's new single-wide mobile home to a lot in Nicholas County Wednesday.
"I've never seen anything like this," said Diane Bowling, who took Blixseth's original call to the mobile home office.
"It just makes you feel great to be a part of something like this," said David Doyle, who actually oversaw the move.
The money from Blixseth, plus $10,000 from an anonymous Florida donor, plus $7,000 deposited in a fund for Barton at The Deposit Bank in Carlisle, makes a total of $37,000 so far. (The median household income in Nicholas county, according to most recent Census records, is $33,142.)
Barton made national news when her mobile home was destroyed after it was stuck on U.S. 68 in Nicholas County, blocking traffic. Twelve people, including eight children, lived in the mobile home, which Barton, who was helping run the mobile home park to cover her lot fee, tried to move, fully loaded, using a farm tractor.
Pushed off the road
Nicholas County Sheriff Dick Garrett, after directing traffic around the stalled home for about nine hours, ultimately ordered it pushed off the road and gave Barton 10 days to remove the wreckage or face a fine.
The saga has been highlighted on CNN Headline News and on the satirical Web site fark.com.
It has also been the buzz of Nicholas County.
Barton acknowledged that she's heard all kinds of stories about herself and her family, including that she's a scam artist facing fraud charges and a drug addict with a pot leaf tattoo on her neck. But she says the rumors are unfounded. It is a relative of her boyfriend who is facing fraud charges, she said.
As for the tattoo, it's a green leaf, but a nondescript one, topped by a frog. It covers, she said, the name of a not yet officially ex-husband.
The state attorney general's office said Wednesday it has no record of fraud charges against Barton but said such a case might be handled at the local level. The Nicholas County Attorney, Dawn Letcher, declined to speak the Herald-Leader.
For her part, Barton said she's never been in trouble and is overwhelmed by the response to her plight, both positive and negative.
She was really just hoping for something better when she moved her $5,000 home from a mobile home park to a littered, muddy patch of ground she calls the farm, between a steep cliff and a black-topped road not far from a creek.
"If that's not a lot for a person to ask for," she said, "I don't know what is."
Her boyfriend's mother lives across the way in a barn converted into an apartment. A few feet down the road one way is a home that burned but still stands unlivable and the other way a battered, single-wide with toys abandoned in the yard.
Do something good
Barton said Blixseth told her she could buy whatever she wanted, even a new double-wide. His only stipulation, she said, was that she try to do something good for somebody down the road.
"I told him that is no problem," she said.
Barton said she picked out the seven-year-old single-wide, a 16-by-80-foot mobile home, because the faux-wood wallpaper with a scenic cowboy theme in one bedroom matched exactly what was destroyed.
It's got three bedrooms, two baths and all that she needs, she said. Doyle's company donated living and dining room furniture, some painting and some artificial plants set off by blue carpeting. Barton used $4,300 of the $10,000 from the Florida donor to buy furniture for three bedrooms and a washer and dryer. There's room for her five horses, her cats, Satan and Mommy Cat, and her family.
On Wednesday, Deovion Cummins, 9, was putting up posters of High School Musical's Zach Efron in the bedroom she will share with Barton's 12-year-old daughter. (Barton, whom Deovion calls Mom, said she is the girl's official guardian.) There also is a room for Barton's son.
This house might be less crowded. Seven of the 12 people once living with Barton, including her daughter and granddaughter, have found other arrangements.
But, there's still work to do. A trash pile that sits across from Barton's still-unattached front porch is what's left of her old home. Barton's been told by the local game warden that she must remove it, bagging up the old insulation that is threaded throughout, so wildlife won't be harmed.
Because the electricity has not been hooked up yet, she was determined to spend Wednesday night in her new home using kerosene heaters. David Doyle, fearing fire, said he told her it would be better to wait until the electricity is on before moving in.
Barton said she's already lost everything once and isn't going to risk losing it again. With all the talk around Nicholas County, she said, she's afraid if she leaves it empty, it will be vandalized.
"I'm scared if I leave this house, something is going to happen."