Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lakeshore Hospital Authority News

Lakeshore Hospital Authority Water Woes:
Berry tells Hosp Auth, "Talkin' to the City is like talkin' to the wall."

Half way through last night's Lakeshore Hospital Authority Board meeting, after telling the Authority Board that he wanted to spend  $9,000 of taxpayer money for furniture so for profit companies could use the Authority meeting rooms for free, Authority Manager Jackson "Jack" Berry told the Board he was having issues with the Authority's City water bill. He said, "There's no way on Gods green earth we'd be putin that much water out. I've tried to explain this to the City of Lake City, it's like talkin to the wall."

Mr. Berry told the Board:

This year so far we have paid the city $3492.13 to irrigate a little bit of grass in the parking lot over there and around this building. These sprinklers are electronically controlled -- two days a week. There's no way on Gods green earth we'd be putin that much water out. I've tried to explain this to the City of Lake City, it's like talkin to the wall. I just suggest we put out bids and put us an irrigation well... and eliminate this four, five hundred dollars a month. One month the bill will be $17, the next month it will be $160; the next month it will be $17...

Mr. Berry explained that in his opinion it would cost less than $10,000 to put in a well. "We will recoup that in two or three years," he said.

This is the area around the Authority Hdq that has sprinklers. Click here for more photos.

Mr. Berry explained that he had spoken to several well drillers and they told him he could put one down.

Board member Dr. Kahn asked, "So we spent $3000 for irrigation."

Mr. Berry answered, "$3492.13, in less than one year."

Board member Bruce Naylor added, "What he just described is -- I had a $400 bill one month at my house. I wasn't there. Did you go down and talk to those people? You really don't know what you're using."

Not mentioned is the fact that part of the Authority water bill goes to supply the water used in the building.

Mr. Berry, "Yeah, we do."

Mr. Naylor, "No you don't if the City's telling you." (Mr. Berry cuts' him off)

Mr. Berry, "Well, I mean I know what maximum amount of water goin through those pipes. I've got those numbers back there [presumably his office] and they ain't nowhere near the City's numbers."

The Board asked Mr. Berry to come back with bids for a well at the next meeting.

After the meeting, Mr. Berry told the Observer, “I can’t get them (the City) to call me back.”

He said he would ask them a lot of questions if he could.

The Observer: So if they got in touch with you and you could work this out, you might not spend the $10,000?

Mr. Berry: We didn’t put an irrigation system to put a well in. I’m willin to work with the City any way I can.

Hospital Authority Manager Berry defiant -- claims computer printout of water bills is his personal work product

The Observer asked one final question. That was for a copy of the computer print out of the water bills that Mr. Berry was reading from at the meeting.

Mr. Berry refused, saying it was his personal work product.

The Observer: Come on Jack. That was done on Hospital Authority time, on a Hospital Authority Computer in the Hospital Authority.

Mr. Berry said if the Observer wanted a copy to sue him for it, adding, “And you still won’t get it... You don't like it, go see the State Attorney."

Lake City's City Manager Wendell Johnson weighs in

After the meeting City Manager Johnson told the Observer: I am not aware of Mr. Berry trying to speak to anybody and nobody speaking to him. I know that our Finance Director Donna Duncan would certainly speak to him promptly if he asked.

CM Johnson explained that irrigation water can be expensive: It depends on how often they water. It's expensive. My water bill at my house will run $300 or $400 a month if I run my irrigation system. It all depends on the usage.

CM Johnson continued: We are responsive to all our customers. If there are issues, we are responsive to solving them. Jack has said nothing to me and I would have to believe he has said nothing to Donna Duncan, because she is very open to communicating with me when we have problems. I just have to believe that Jack has communicated with no one. If he has, I don't know who it would be.

CM Johnson concluded: I would like to hear Mr. Berry's problem. Addressing it to his governing body is not going to solve the problem. He needs to address it with the people at the City who can take care of the problem.

Lake City Utility Director Dave Clanton

Utility Director Dave Clanton told the Observer that to the best of his knowledge Jack Berry never contacted the City about an issue regarding water at the Lakeshore Hospital Authority. Regarding installing a well at the Authority, Mr. Clanton told the Observer, "As long as Mr. Berry puts in the proper backflow devices and gets a permit from the Suwannee River Water Management District, I see no problem." 


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