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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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North Florida Broadband Authority: Small vendors in big trouble | NFEDP/FSU's Hendry may resign

Winding down and still in trouble

As the October 7, 2011 North Florida Broadband Authority emergency meeting wound down, NGN's Encinosa told the Board, "From a financial perspective there is not really a lot of financial activity at the moment, since the grant funds were stopped.

GSG's financial expert, Krystal Strickland could sit no more. She stood up in the back of the room and told the Board so everyone could hear:

I have to say the contractors kept on working right up and in through August. The invoices are still coming in for all the work they completed. There are a tremendous number of the invoices that have been set aside over these past several months since the money stopped. There is a tremendous amount of work that has to be done, if the money does come back, before we are able to pay people.

One small contractor that trusted the NFBA

On October 11, 2011, Jerri Chaires contacted the Observer. This is her story. It is similar to those of other small contractors that trusted the NFBA. The questions are obvious:

My name is Jerri Chaires. My husband began Independent Network Services 10 years ago. We are a small family company. We have 7 people working for us. I don't know who to contact to try and get paid. They owe us $114,000 and that will sink our company.
We are a family of five trying to get by. This was federal money and we thought we would get paid and we haven’t. We started invoicing in June and our last invoice was August 1st.
We have to borrow off of our home equity line just to keep our business afloat right now, because of this. We are taking money out of our own personal equity line to pay our payroll.
Someone in our office spoke with GSG, and according to him, he was told that they were holding an $80,000 check for us.
I don't see why the government's not just stepping in and saying -- we have people who did this work and have paid money out of their pockets. Let's bypass the NFBA and let's bypass GSG and let's pay these contractors who did the work and were on the towers.

The Final Act – The NFEDP's Jeff Hendry – The last man standing

Chairman Fulford, always respecting everybody's right to contribute to the conversation, gave the floor to Jeff Hendry on his request.

FSU's Mr. Hendry, who's consulting contract with the NFEDP/NFBA is worth $10,000 a month, said he was doing some soul searching, that this was the signature project of his career and he was thinking of resigning.

He said he would advise the full NFBA Board of his decision at the next meeting on October 19th.

Epilogue

Jeff Hendry is the last man standing of the original group that brought this worthwhile and life changing project, financed by the American people, to North Central Florida. Every one of the major players has been forced to resign or voluntarily resigned, depending on one's point of view, by the Federal Government, or as most on the Board want to believe, by Bradford County, Rapid Systems or anyone else they can blame or point a finger at.

The Federal Government is continuing its investigation. Folks who have felt so strongly about what they have seen have been granted whistleblower status, something not to be taken lightly, as this can be a career and business breaker.

Everyone that has resigned may well find vindication in not being indicted, but clearly there has been a lot more going on here than "Why is everyone always pickin' on me." And that particularly goes for the present NFBA board members, also.

The NFBA Board would do well to listen carefully to Mr. Hendry's words and do some soul searching of their own. 

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 the NFBA series:

• North Florida Broadband Authority: FL's Public Record Laws the latest casualty
(Part XXXIII) (January 6, 2013)

North Florida Broadband Authority: Foot dragging, lack of info cause Suwannee Cnty to call "strike 3" on the NFBA – They're out
(Part XXXII) (January 3, 2013)

North Florida Broadband Authority: Suwannee County tells the NFBA – One more strike and you're out
(PartXXXI) (December 20, 2012)

North Florida Broadband Authority: Wracked by gross mismanagement from the feds on down, the NFBA has become the poster child for non disclosure
(Part XXX) (December 18, 2012)

North Florida Broadband Authority: More bad news. Last Mile Wifi CEO, "I knew they were going to extort me."
(Part XXIX) December 10, 2012

North Florida Broadband Authority: NFBA failed to make the grade in Gilchrist County
(Part XXVIII) (November 29, 2012)

North Florida Broadband Authority: Columbia County Pulls Out of Obama Funded Stimulus Project
(Part XXVII) (November 2, 2012)

North Florida Broadband Authority: The NFBA road show traveled to an unprepared Columbia County with misinformation, half truths, and just plain lies
(Part XXVI) (Posted October 9, 2012)

North Florida Broadband Authority: Woebegotten Stimulus funded authority gets another black eye. No one bids to service the $30 mil 14 county network.
(Part XXV) (Posted October 1, 2012)

• North Florida Broadband Auth: Another County pulls out. Dixie says throwing away money a major issue.
(Part XXIV) (Posted September 13, 2012)

North Florida Broadband Authority: NFBA road shows moves to Lake City for a double dose of free money
(Part XXIII) (Posted September 5, 2012)

North Florida Broadband Authority: Secrecy and a lawyer's spread sheet. It's business as usual at the NFBA.
(Part XXII) (Posted August 22, 2012)

North Florida Broadband Authority:  Mainstreet Broadband, NFBA's touted business partner, goes bust
(Part XXI) (Posted August 2, 2012)

• North Florida Broadband Authority: Two cities say "no mas." Refuse free tower space to NFBA
(Part XX)  (Posted July 26, 2012)

North Florida Broadband Authority: Taylor County Says Goodbye, "I don't think our county should be involved."
(Part XIX) (Posted April 18, 2012)

• North Florida Broadband Authority: Perry Pulls Out, City Manager tells Council, "It's just out of whack"
(Part XVIII) (Posted April 11, 2012)

North Florida Broadband Authority: Bradford County Says "No Mas" – Pulls Out
(Part XVII) (Posted April 4, 2012)

North Florida Broadband Authority: Operating in the shadows with the help of the Feds, the NFBA saga continues
(Part XVI) (posted March 29, 2012)

Lake City, City Manager Wendell Johnson looks to make White Elephant deal with troubled North Florida Broadband Authority
(Part XV) (Posted Feb 28, 2012)

North Florida Broadband Authority: Propped up by the Feds, financed by the American People - Who can you trust?
(Part XIV) (Posted Feb 25, 2012)

North Florida Broadband Authority:
"Sunlight is the best disinfectant." Not for them

(Part XIII) (Posted Jan 13, 2011)

North Florida Broadband Authority:
A Lawyer's Dream. A Look At The Numbers
(Part XIIb) (Posted Dec 29, 2011)

North Florida Broadband Authority:
A Lawyer's Dream. Money Is No Object
(Part XIIa) (Posted Dec 28, 2011)

North Florida Broadband Authority:
Feds come to town – Working under the cover of darkness was their MO

(Part XI) (Posted November 23, 2011)

North Florida Broadband Authority:
Feds continue investigation - Interim GM rehires resigned firms employees

(part X) (Posted Nov 11, 2011)

North Florida Broadband Authority: "The greatest threat to this project is the Government"
(Part IX) (Posted November 2, 2011)

• Federal grant for broadband access in rural Louisiana rescinded: Could the North Florida Broadband Authority Be Far Behind?
(Posted October 28, 2011)

• North Florida Broadband Authority: Redefining "Good Business Sense?"
(Part VIII) (Posted October 25, 2011)

• North Florida Broadband Authority: Feds resume funding – Put small vendors first
(Part VII) (Posted October 20, 2011)

North Florida Broadband Authority: Small vendors in big trouble | NFEDP/FSU's Hendry may resign (Part VIb)  (Posted Oct 14, 2011)

North Florida Broadband Authority: Blood in the street (Part VIa)  (posted Oct 13, 2011)

North Florida Broadband Authority: "I don't want to die on principle and not have broadband." (Part V)  (posted Oct. 6, 2011)

NFBA future in limbo - Fed keeps funds locked down - Suspend project  (Part IV) (posted Sept 28, 2011)

The North Florida Broadband Authority. Its world was about to change (part III)  (posted Sept 16, 2011)

"I think we have a failure to communicate." The N Florida Rural Broadband saga continues (Part II)  (posted Sept 14, 2011)

Feds close spigot on $30 million broadband stimulus grant. 15 north central Florida counties waiting for money to flow again
(Part I)  (posted Sept 12, 2011)