Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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County Commission News

County utility boondoggle moving into high gear • DuPree bans city participation

District III Commissioner, Jody

Like a bull in a china shop, Jack Berry protégé, County Utility Sub Committee Chairman, Jody DuPree is following in the footsteps of his mentor, former LSHA boss Berry. Instead of spending millions without a plan in order to take care of the "good ole boys" in the land scams around the Hospital Authority, the Columbia County Utility boondoggle is going to cost the working families of Columbia County tens of millions in one of the most inane demonstrations of pure muddle-headedness in the history of the state of Florida.

Sub Committee Chairman DuPree has shown time and time again that he, along with the rest of the County Commission, is incapable of grasping the most rudimentary fundamentals of planning and economics.

Columbia County, after a purportedly studying the utility business for the past ten years and spending millions of dollars, has only come up with a utility and a plan that includes fourteen customers.

Now, the County wants to spend up to thirty million dollars developing three water plants in unspecified locations and serving an unknown customer base without any plan at all.

Back room dealing, which has long been a hallmark of the Columbia County Commission, has dipped to a new low with the election of Commissioner DuPree and now, surprise attacks at County Commission meetings are common place, as off agenda items worth millions are slinked onto the agenda, leaving some to wonder why the County Commission even bothers to print an agenda at all.

On December 17, 2009, Commissioner Williams went off script when, out of the clear blue sky, he recommended locating a "well field" somewhere in Columbia County.

Commissioner DuPree, picking up the faux pas had to ask Commissioner Williams, "To make sure I understand what you mean by a well field. You talkin about a sure enough water plant -- Right?"

That two step by Commissioners DuPree and Williams will eventually put the working families of Columbia County on tap to spend at least $10,000,000.

The next out of the blue sky sneak attack occurred on January 5, 2010, when Com DuPree, carried the ball by himself.

Minutes before the County Commission meeting concluded, Com DuPree asked the Board to approve an RFP (request for proposals) for a geological study to determine where the "well fields need to be located."

Com DuPree told the Board: "“It is going to play a huge role in the cost and the quality of the water.”

When Com Bailey questioned the reason for the geological study, Com DuPree cut Com Bailey off.

Com Bailey asked a logical question, "And the reason for the geological study would be to be so that you can actually determine the cost of what it would cost you to," DuPree interrupts.

Com DuPree's answer:

Partly most of what that happens that a geological study's got to be done to get facts to know where to put a well plant. You just can’t go anywhere and decide that’s where you’re gonna draw water from -- you have to take a study of the Columbia County area -- about where we’re gonna get the best water out of... (talks about city)

We’ve kind of gotta do the same thing. We’ve gotta gather an engineering outfit come in do the study along the lines of where -- that’s what we have to do as a utility committee to is come up with in relation to economic development -- where does all these lines being dug -- that’s going to take some explanation ~inaudible~ to determine the best location for the well plant.

It could very well be you could end up with three well plants, because you don’t want to spend thirty million dollars apiece. So you break it out. That’s a lot of what the geological study will tell you. Here’s where you can set your well fields and then you can ~inaudible~ later, design your system around it.

There is no county study showing the areas of growth in the county. The Columbia County Industrial Development Authority claims that it is doing a study and it has not been completed.

Under the Generalship of Com DuPree, the taxpayers of Columbia County are going to end up being on the hook for millions and millions, as he and an intransigent and back slapping "good ole boy" County Commission go into competition with the real county utility system, the Lake City Regional Utility.

In a classic act of hubris by a school yard bully, Commissioner DuPree has determined that the folks at the Lake City Utility should not be participating on the County Utility Sub Committee, anymore.

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