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Columbia County Observer

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Confusion Reigns as Gov's Lake Shore Hosp Auth Bd Puts Kibosh on 'Jack Berry Hwy'

Berry Working on a Revival Plan


The MOU approved by the County 5 was for the design of the road, which The 5 did not reject.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Monday night, February 13, Governor Scott's Lake Shore Hospital Board met for its monthly meeting. Confusion reigned as Authority Chair Koby Adams, also Representative Elizabeth Porter's Chief of Staff, put the 'Jack Berry Highway' on the table. Former "Repo Man" and Political operative Jack Berry, the Lake Shore Hospital Authority Manager, gave his version of the history of the project to the Board. Up for consideration: the revised Memorandum of Understanding between the County, Lake City, and the Authority for the design, building, and funding of the road.

Chairman Adams introduced the item: "The next item on the agenda is the Lake Shore Hospital Authority Access Road Project MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) related to the shared responsibilities."

Manager Berry Explains the Project
Tells Board, "They (the County 5) Can Explain it to the State"

Manager Berry's remarks (the real history of the Jack Berry Hwy):

OK. Let me give you a little bit of background on this. In 2012, the City, the County, and us agreed. The agreement back then was that Lake Shore Hospital Authority would pay $30,200 to do the drillings, to see if a road was possible commin' through the E. Access Rd. We did that. We paid the money. The drillings were done.

In the agreement, the County would design and build a road and furnish the mitigation credits. The City would accept ownership and do the maintenance on the road.

Taxes generated by the hospital would be set aside from each agency into an account to go toward payin' for the road. All three partners in the road would work to obtain additional funding. That was the 2012 agreement.

Well, our state legislators gave us $410,000 to design the road. DOT's got the money. They called the County and had the County – Told em' they wanted to give em' the money.

Well, at least one County Commissioner balked. They don't want to abide by the 2012 agreement. But it came out with these two MOUs and if you sign either one of em', probably is never goin' get the road built.

My suggestion is that the Board don't approve either one of em' and kick it back to the Board of County Commissioners and if they want to ditch the road, let em' ditch it.

They can explain to the state.

The Observer requested a copy of the 2012 Agreement which Manager Berry referenced. Mr. Berry did not respond.

The Governor's Board Weighs In
Berry Has a Secret Revival Plan

Board member Ron Foreman weighed in, "Does that put the whole project in jeopardy if Ron Williams as the chairman says, 'We're done.' Is it done or can we revive it?"

Manager Berry answered, "We can revive it through another way."

None of the Board members asked what that way was.

Foreman Confused About the Decision Making Process

Mr. Foreman continued, "I don't want Ron Williams to have the decision. The County Commission has the authority to put our patients at risk for whatever reason."


MOU info on the Authority agenda

It wasn't clear if Mr. Foreman, Manager Berry, or anyone on the Board read the Memorandum of Understanding. The project was not dead. The first MOU in the Authority's material was rejected by the County 5; the second was for approval.

The County 5 did not reject the money for the planning of the road.

Manager Berry added, "There's another avenue that we're workin' on."

Chairman Adams asked, "So what do we want to do on this?"

"We do whatever"
Governor Scott's Latest Appointee Makes a Motion

Board member Beil:  "I move that we do whatever, whether use the original or Memorandum of Understanding or whatever that we did in 2012 that we can stick to that and if the County doesn't want us uphold on their end, then, so be it."

Chairman Adams asks for a second, "Can I have a second?"

There is no such thing in parliamentary procedure as a "second for the purpose of discussion." There were not two MOUs on the agenda, there was the first version of the MOU, which the County 5 rejected on February 2, and the modified approved version. The MOU was prepared by County Attorney Joel Foreman, the son of Authority Board member Ron Foreman.

Board member Foreman: "Second for purpose of discussion. So we have to take no action on either MOU?"

Manager Berry answers, "No."

Mr. Foreman follows up, "OK. And the next course of action would be – Jack, would you then notify the Board of County Commissioners to put this item on the agenda for discussion."

Manager Berry: "That's correct."

Chairman Adams adds:  "You got a second, so we're just gonna' not do anything?"

Unidentified Board member:  "Yeah. So it really doesn't take a motion to do that."

Epilogue

Lake Shore Hospital Authority contract attorney Fred Koberlein was in attendance. He is also the Lake City contract attorney.

He neither advised the Board, nor explained the MOU.

Mr. Koberlein did not disclose whether or not he discussed the matter with his other client, Lake City, a proposed participant in the MOU.

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Jack Berry Authority Manager Berry is a widely known public figure and political operative. He has an interesting track record after four decades on the political map.