Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Nash Doubles Down on County Management Team Ignores Inexperience, Personnel Issues, Lawsuits

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Again notable in the run-up to yesterday's meeting of the County 5 was County Manager Ben Scott's inability to prepare or have prepared meeting materials on the Friday before County Commission meetings. The County management and the County 5's inability to follow their guidelines and rules were particularly evident last night with late information, walk-ons, and last minute contract information for Century Ambulance. Last night, Commissioners DePratter and Nash were joined by Commissioner Phillips in their displeasure at the lack of timeliness of County materials. So far these complaints have proven to be nothing more than a charade.


On August 1, 2013, Ben Scott, the former Columbia County Purchasing Director, who had gone to work for P. DeWitt Cason, Clerk of the Courts, wrote to then County Manager Dale Williams that he thought he was the man for the job of Assistant County Manager.

On May 28, 2014, Ben Scott became the heir apparent to Dale Williams when he was appointed Assistant County Manager.

The County 5 had previously decided that they would not advertise for a County Manager to replace the retiring veteran Dale Williams. Mr. Scott was the County Manager in training.

By the beginning of 2015, Mr. Scott was generally in charge of the day to day operations of the County. On October 1, 2015, Mr. Scott officially became the County Manager. His salary of $120k was the same as the retiring 34-year veteran, Williams.

On April 30, 2015, Scott Ward, a candidate without any County, private industry, or economic development experience, was appointed Assistant County Manager, with a starting salary of $95k.

For his first few weeks on the job it appears that he walked around introducing himself. He had no office and apparently nothing else to do. Most of the departments that Mr. Ward was hired to supervise were departments in which he had no prior experience.

Assistant County Manager Kevin Kirby, Dale Williams' handpicked Director of Public works has been extensively covered in the Observer. A high school graduate, his present salary is $109k.

The most recent spate of hinky road surfacing projects had Mr. Kirby in the limelight once again.

Ben Scott, Kevin Kirby and Scott Ward are the top brass of Columbia County.

The County has been in turmoil.


Inexperience had resulted in the firing of two county workers, who, during their lunch hour decided to mow one of their mother's lawn. Community pressure caused them to be reinstated.

Inexperience and a lack of quality management experience has the County spending tens of thousands on legal fees for outside counsel for various causes.

Morale among County workers has been at an all time low because of a County management that leads from the back of the pack by fear, innuendo, and outright slander.

The County's Economic Development Director was kept on probation for two years in clear violation of the County's Personnel Policy by Assistant County Manager Scott Ward.

More lawsuits against the County appear to be on the way.

Preparing Agendas

One of the jobs of County Management is timely preparation of agenda and supporting material. This enables The 5 to know what is going on and the public to be knowledgeable about what is going on.

Numerous times in the past two years complaints have come from commissioners about the lack of timely material and last minute agenda items.

This issue was addressed again this past Thursday when Commissioners DePratter, Phillips, and Nash complained about the lack of timely information from the County Management.

The County Agenda was presented on time last Friday, or so it seemed.

By the time yesterday evening, Thursday, rolled around the agenda backup material looked like it was prepared and orchestrated by Max Sennett's Keystone Cops.

Chairman Nash:  "You have your team in place"

As Thursday's meeting drew to a close, Chairman Nash addressed "his" County Manager, Ben Scott [as spoken]:

Ben, I think the board has been very supportive of you assembling your team. I think you have your team in place. One of the things as you go or as it started in the early stages there's going to be bumps and humps in the road so to speak, but I am looking forward and I am gonna' to hold you guys to the fire. You know, some of the things that does come in the board room and dotting I's and crossing the T's -- I expect that to get better. I believe in the team that you've assembled and like I said as you guys start working better together I think things will improve and I hope so.


Everybody else hopes so, too.

Even the Lake City version of Pravda, the Lake City Reporter, has been unable to turn a blind eye on the goings-on in the County.

And when they start blasting the County, you know it is bad.

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