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Columbia County News

Lake Shore Hosp Auth: Gov. Scott's Board Nixes Closing, Berry Shuts Down the Auth – Anyway

Posted December 23, 2014  10:35 pm

An undated, unsigned notice was taped on the Hosp Auth door.  Click to enlarge

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – A little over two weeks ago on December 8, Governor Scott's Lake Shore Hospital Authority Board, relying on the approved Authority policy, told Authority Manager Jack Berry to keep the Authority open on the Fridays after Christmas and New Year's. A request by Hosp Auth Manager Berry to close the Authority on Friday, December 26, and Friday January 2 was denied by the Authority Board. On Friday, December 19, an undated, unsigned sign hanging from the front door of the Authority said the Authority was closed on December 26.

More LSHA stories are here.

Over the years, the Lake Shore Hospital Authority has claimed that it follows the policies of Columbia County. In October, Columbia County's HR Director, Lisa Roberts, asked the County 5 to change the County designated holiday of Christmas Eve to the day after Christmas for this year, as Christmas falls on Thursday. Ms. Roberts made the request "in order to provide employees an extended Christmas holiday weekend."

On October 16, The 5 approved the change giving the County's employees and the residents time to adjust their schedules and prepare for a four day weekend.

Manager Berry: He does things differently

This composite of the Authority calendar doesn't show that the Authority is closed anytime for Christmas. This snapshot is as of the 23d.

On December 8, 2014, two weeks before the Christmas holidays were to begin, Manager Berry addressed the Authority Board:

As we know Christmas is on Thursday this year. December 26th. The personnel policy gives employees off on the 24th and the 25th, which will be Wednesday and Thursday.  Uh, last year, I believe we were open the 26th and nobody came in this buildin’ on the 26th except our employees. It would be awful nice of the board if you would let our employees be off that day. It’s up to the board.  And the same situation on January the 1st and 2d. Most everybody’s doing somethin’ on those days. January 1st is a holiday and that’s on Thursday and the 2d is on Friday. If you’ll leave it like it is that's fine with me or if you wanna change, that’s [I] wanna bring it to the attention of the board.

New Board member, Janet Creel asked, "Is there any reason or an emergency that would arise that they would have to be here? (silence) I make a motion to have Thursday and Friday off. (more silence)

Chairwoman Lory Chancy asked, "Do I hear a second?"

(more silence)

Board member Steven Douglas said, "I’ll second it for discussion. They already have Wednesday and Thursday – right? They are just asking for a third day?"

That would be three paid days off before the weekend.

Manager Berry responded, "Just for Christmas. Yeah.  New Year's you don't have Wednesday off."

Mr. Douglas followed up, "Ok. Well – just Christmas. They already have Wednesday and Thursday off. They are asking for Friday – a third day.  And for New Years, you already have the one day. You’re asking for a second day?

Manager Berry answered, "Right."

Mr. Douglas followed up, "Thursday and Friday?"

Mr. Berry told the Board he is not asking it for time off, but advising it of the situation.

Mr. Douglas asked if the County and the City are coming "back to work on Friday?"

Manager Berry said he didn't know.

Mr. Douglas responded, "I think we need to stay open. I think those days are good enough for me if you want to make opinion to reduce staff on that Friday after Christmas or the day after New Year's that's on you. I think we need to keep it the way it is."

Ms. Creel asked, "Do you need a full staff to do it?"

Manager Berry answered, "No. We could alternate one of em’ on one weekend and one on the other – would be fine I think. I think they’d be willin’ to do that."

The Authority's web page is over a month behind or more.The Board members appear oblivious.                             Click to enlarge

Board member Tim Murphy volunteered, "That’s how we do it."

Manager Berry followed up, "As long as we got somebody in here."

The Board spoke among themselves, sometimes barely audible.

Chairwoman Chancy tells the board, "There’s a motion on the floor."

Board member Marc Vann said, "It’s rescinded." The rest was unintelligible. The motion was for discussion. There was nothing to rescind.

Ms. Creel adds, "I’m fine with that."

Chairwoman Chancy said, "OK." After a pregnant pause, Ms. Chancy asked, "Are there any other comments or suggestions?"

There were none.

The Authority Minutes:
Just wrong

The Authority minutes state the following: "...decision made that LSHA will operate on reduced staff for holidays. All in favor. Motion carried." The minutes are labeled draft and were prepared on December 10, one working day after the Authority Board meeting. The Authority records its meetings.

On December 23, Sandra Buck-Camp told the Observer, "I was sitting in the second row. I wrote in my notes, 'motion rescinded.'"

The County; the City; Courts

Lake City and Columbia County are both open on Wednesday, Christmas Eve and closed Thursday and Friday. The day after New Year's it is back to business as usual.

On July 8, Chief Judge Greg Parker of the Third Judicial Circuit, based on an order of the Florida Supreme Court, chose as a discretionary holiday the day after Christmas, Friday, December 26. On Friday, January 2, 2015, the Third Circuit, which includes the Public Defender's Office and the State's Attorney Office, is back to work.


It is clear that the Governor's Board did not intend for Manager Berry to close down the Authority on December 26, or January 2. Recently, the Authority staff received $1,000 bonuses for working. Manager Berry did not participate in that money give-away.

As Authority Manager, Mr. Berry is entitled to the same holiday pay as any other employee. Should he also close the Authority on January 2d, as well as December 26, the cost to the taxpayers will be $838.46.

Authority Manager Berry did not explain why he waited until the last minute to deal with the Holiday closings. None of the Board members asked for an explanation.

It's business as usual at Governor Scott's Lake Shore Hospital Authority.

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