Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Columbia County News

County Commission Deep Sixes Booze on Sunday; Boondoggle in the Boondocks; FLOW:
$100,000's down the drain

Prohibition era photoCOLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Squandering the public's money is nothing new in Columbia County as last night the County Commission jettisoned two ongoing projects, the ill-conceived Events Center, known as the Boondoggle in the Boondocks; FLOW (Florida Leaders Organized for Water); and with barely a word of explanation turned down an ordinance that would have allowed the Sunday sale of mixed drinks in restaurants.

Booze on Sunday – Even the Sheriff was confused

The County Commission turned down an ordinance that would have allowed the Sunday sale of mixed drinks in restaurants.

The item was listed on the agenda as, "Ordinance No. 2013-6 – Alcoholic Beverage Ordinance – Amended." No one reading the agenda would have known the subject matter of the proposed changes and should anyone have found the ordinance that was made available to the public, there was no way to discern what the changes were.

This is typical for Columbia County.

When the public hearing was opened no one from the public spoke. Sheriff Mark Hunter came to the microphone to speak about the ordinance. It turned out, even the Sheriff was confused and came to speak about the wrong ordinance.

Only Commissioner Ronald Williams was in favor of the ordinance. Commissioner Nash abstained from the vote because of a conflict. He owns a restaurant. Commissioners Frisina and DePratter had no comments other than their no vote. Chairman Stephen Bailey said he liked the county's restrictive ordinance just the way it was.

If you go out to eat on Sunday and would like a margarita, you are driving out of Columbia County.

Boondoggle in the Boon Docks: Ill-conceived; finally put to rest

The Boondoggle saga begins here

One of the few remaining vestiges of the reign of the deposed District III commissioner, Jody DuPree, came to an end last night as the former commissioner watched from the shadows as the Boondoggle in the Boon Docks was finally put to rest.

Long time County Manager Dale Williams explained a letter from Joel Foreman, the county's attorney on the project, "What it pertains to is a critical component of what the original fact finding committee for the events center determined was an integral part of this project."

In plain English, that component was an agreement with the folks that run the Fair Grounds and the annual rodeo, Columbia County Resources (CCR).

This ill-fated waste of taxpayer dollars, which began in July of 2011, in real dollars seems to have cost well over $200,000 and a total has not been made available.

CCR, had the project continued, would have been required to donate all of its 80+ acres of prime commercial real-estate to the county.

CCR, through its attorney said, "It is clear misgivings have since developed about the feasibility of the Events Center project as previously envisioned." They were not ready to make any agreement with the county.

Commissioner Nash made a motion to "suspend the events center indefinitely." "This Board has put undue pressure on Columbia County Resources and they are getting blamed for pulling out of this," he said.

The Board voted 4-1 to suspend the project. Commissioner Williams was against.

FLOW: Florida Leaders Organized for Water

Begin reading about FLOW here

FLOW began with a torrent of best intentions in November 2011. By last month it was only a drip. Last night Columbia County pulled the plug on financing the organization.

Unwieldy from the start, the almost complete lack of leadership from the organization's Chairman, Ronald Williams, was a major cause of FLOWS demise.


Booze on Sunday, the Boondoggle in the Boondocks, and FLOW have cost Columbia County's citizens hundreds of thousands of dollars demonstrating once again that planning ahead is something Columbia County does not do well.

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

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