Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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The 5: Up To It's Old Tricks As Tonight's County Commission Docket Rolls Around

Columbia County 5
The Columbia County 5 from left to right: Chairman Ronald Williams;
Commissioners Rusty DePratter; Bucky Nash; Stephen Bailey; Scarlet Frisina

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Columbia County's legendary County Commission, The 5, Florida's infamous backroom boys, will be living up to their reputation on tonight's docket when they will be voting once again to pick the pockets of the County taxpayers to fund another $200,000 plus School District capital improvement project.

Buried in the consent agenda is a $200,000 plus cost overrun on the County's Big Dig, the Bypass to Nowhere, the Bascom Norris Bypass.

The 5 will also be voting to further restrict the public's right to participate and will be acting on something yet to be disclosed regarding the replacement of the County's recently resigned Economic Development Director.

The 5's Agenda, which received the stamp of approval from veteran commissioner and Board Chair, Ronald Williams, has mislabeled the School District capital improvement and gives the wrong price. The agenda indicates the improvement is to the ball fields, while it really is to build new locker rooms. The listed price of $250,000 is really $224,250. The project meets the state requirements to be put out to bid. This was apparently not done.

There is no indication on The 5's agenda how the School District capital improvement appeared, nor is there a site plan or any photos showing the purported need for this improvement.

In Columbia County, Florida, this is typical standard operating procedure for what is acceptable to The 5.

The Big Dig, The Bypass to Nowhere

Another cost overrun for the Bascom Norris Bypass to Nowhere is buried in the consent agenda. This one is for $214,000, "Due to ongoing project delays," according to the CSX railroad.

The agenda gives no indication where the money is coming from to pay the additional $214,000.

In an effort to further stifle public comment, County Manager Dale Williams has included in the agenda a proposed change to the public meeting rules.

At the last meeting of The 5, Board Chair Ronald Williams decided he was going to change the Board's meeting rules by executive fiat. Conflict Attorney Joel Foreman was asked to sit in for County Attorney Feagle. Chairman Williams explained that both County Manager Williams and Attorney Feagle were absent from the meeting because they were "in mitigation."

After Chairman Williams declared he was changing the rules by executive fiat, Mr. Foreman did not volunteer an opinion. As of Monday evening, Mr. Foreman was not asked for an opinion regarding tonight's proposed change.


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