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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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County Commission News

County Commissioner DuPree's Pool
A back yard death trap


Reflections glisten on the surface of the water in Commissioner DuPree's in ground, unfenced pool. A death trap waiting to happen, Harry Dicks of the County Building Dept. gave the seal of approval to this project.


County Commissioner Jody DuPree. The rules don't apply to him.

Florida has some of the toughest pool safety regulations in the world, for good reason. In the Sunshine State, "drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in and around the home for children under the age of five." If a child falls into your pool, because of Florida's attractive nuisance law, not having a fence around the pool is the same as leaving a loaded 47 Magnum on your front steps for a child to pick up. For the majority of folks, this would seem to make sense. For County Commissioner Jody DuPree and Columbia County Building Inspector, Harry Dicks, they seem to have other ideas.

The Law and why there is a law.

Commissioner DuPree has been a licensed contractor since 1999.

Florida has the highest drowning death rate in the nation for children under age 5. Over 60% of these drowning deaths occur in residential swimming pools every year. Lapses in adult supervision and lack of pool safety features, as mandated in the Preston de Ibern/McKenzie Merriam Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act, have been identified as contributing to these needless and preventable tragedies.

The Florida Legislature found that drowning is also a significant cause of death for medically frail elderly persons and that constant adult supervision is the key to accomplishing the objective of reducing the number of submersion incidents. (FS 515)


It is a clear shot from the street, around Com DuPree's blue truck, into Commissioner DuPree's unfenced pool. The other side of the house also does not have a fence.

When lapses in supervision occur, a pool safety feature designed to deny, delay, or detect unsupervised entry to the swimming pool, spa, or hot tub will reduce drowning and near-drowning incidents. In addition to the incalculable human cost of these submersion incidents, the health care costs, loss of lifetime productivity, and legal and administrative expenses associated with drowning of young children and medically frail elderly persons each year and the lifetime costs for the care and treatment of young children who have suffered brain disability due to near-drowning incidents are enormous. (FS 515)


The pool is just past the big rock on the right.

On June 17, 2004, Unique Pools and Spas was issued a permit to construct a pool for Jody DuPree, 290 NW Club View Circle, Lake City, Fl. A simple sketch of the pool and residence is shown. There are no indications of any fences or barriers. (Go to sketch) A Notice of Commencement was filed with the Court on the same day. The building department was unable to locate an architect's or engineer's drawing.

Nothing is signed off in the designated area

Mr. DuPree's building permit has nothing signed off in the area designated for that purpose.

According to a long time pool contractor, name withheld, three inspections are required when building an in ground pool.

Inspection one: The hole is dug. The hole is formed and steeled (this is wire mesh steel grid that makes the pool look like it will eventually look like. It is ready for the concrete). After this is done, one calls for an inspection. The inspector comes and inspects. The permit that is supposed to be hanging on the job site is signed by the inspector.
Inspection two: The concrete is formed in and on the steel mesh. The pool plumbing is installed and the deck is formed and bonded, so one does not get electrocuted. Before the deck is concreted over, the building inspector inspects the deck, the bonding and all the previous work. The permit must again be signed.
Inspection three:  Before this inspection, the pumps, electrical work, equipment and fence or screened enclosure, door and window alarms if necessary, as in Mr. DuPree's pool, must be completed. If everything is up to snuff, the building inspector signs off.

The Observer:     What if the building inspector comes out and everything is completed and the fence is not up?

Pool Contractor:     It's gonna fail inspection. There is no way a pool should pass inspection without a fence. That has been in effect for a long time.

Only one inspection for Mr. DuPree

Eleven days after the job began, a computer print out from the building department shows only one inspection for Mr. DuPree's pool: July 2, 2004; Inspector – Harry; Pass – OK.

"In 2005, there were 50 reported drowning deaths of children under age 5 in residential swimming pools in Florida.  While this number may seem inconsequential, there are also an unknown number of near-drowning incidents that occur in swimming pools every year."

Every day for the past seven years, the now Commissioner DuPree, with the seal of approval of the Columbia County Building Department and inspector Harry Dicks, has been putting the lives of the most defenseless at risk.

It is not hard to believe the unsubstantiated reports of other unfenced pools in Columbia County.

This kind of brazen evasion of the law is nothing new in the Columbia County Building Department.

It is more business as usual for the infamous good ol' boys of Columbia County.

Barbara Jeffords contributed to this article.

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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Links to related articles:

 • County Commissioner DuPree's Pool
A back yard death trap
(March 17, 2011)

Sebring weighs in on Commissioner DuPree's death trap (March 21, 2011)

Columbia County Commissioner's pool remains a death trap - State turns deaf ear (April 1, 2011 )

New York weighs in on Commissioner DuPree's pool (April 4, 2011)