Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news from Florida for working families since 2007

LSHA/County News

Berry's LSHA Vanity Signs Now Front & Center $45k plus for signs - $738,000 plus for property 

The parcels holding the vanity signs were purchased during an Auth. buying spree before the Great Recession. The total cost to the taxpayers for the properties was $738,000, plus demo.

More LSHA stories are here.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – The Lake Shore Hospital Authority (LSHA), its governor appointed board, and former board member, repo-man, political operative and Authority Manager, the legendary Jackson P. "Jack" Berry, went on a spending spree to build vanity signs in downtown Lake City. The purpose of the signs has never been clear, however, two of the signs point to Shands at Lakeshore, the Authority hospital leased to Community Health Systems (CHS), a for profit NYSE listed corporation and one of the nation's leading operators of general acute care hospitals.


On December 29, 2016, before any bids or proposals were requested by the Authority Board, a letter from Landscape Design Associates (LDA) was sent to "Jack Berry, Lake Shore Hospital Authority" which began: "I am proposing the following services for your project located in the City of Lake City." The LDA letter outlined the scope of work and fees for the "Lake Shore Hospital [Authority] Landscape & Irrigation Plan." LDA's design fee: $4,000

The sign directing one to the LC Medical Center speaks for itself.

On January 4, 2017, Lawn Enforcement Agency submitted a proposal for a design fee of $4,200.

Both LDA and Lawn Enforcement appeared to be responding an Authority undated and untitled scope of work which did not include the name of the Lake Shore Hospital Authority anywhere on the request.

Then, on January 9, 2017, Manager Berry prepared a Board agenda which called for a "discussion on developing [a] landscape plan for the area." There was no further explanation, nor was any documentation or study provided for the information of the Authority Board or the public. The letters from LDA and Lawn Enforcement were not provided.

This sign doesn't lead directly to the Hospital. Some folks think it looks like the entrance to a subdivision. Nobody knows what the wood is.

The Jan. 9 Board minutes reflect that after some discussion the board voted to spend $5,000 on a landscape plan "from Marion Street to the hospital to make property more presentable for expansion."

On May 8, 2017, Manager Berry presented a landscape plan. The Authority minutes state that Sabine Marcks, Landscape Design Associates was the low bidder. It appears that LDA was the only bidder.

Sabine Marcks included an estimate for the signs and plants on Marion St.: $60,529 for the three signs, two at the intersection of Franklin and one on Leon and Marion Street, which does not connect to the hospital.

If there was more than one plan prepared by Sabine Marcks, it was not mentioned or made public. The sign design was done in concert with Manager Berry.

With the new vanity signs under construction, it is clear that the white H on blue is the most effective sign to the hospital. A two faced sign like that of the LCMC would have saved money and looked better.

Sabine Marcks or Landscape Design Associates are landscape architects. It appears that this process should have been governed by the Consultants Competitive Negotiations Act (CCNA).

The Authority Board agreed to put the sign project out to bid.

On July 10, 2017, Mr. Berry reported to the LSHA Board that there was one bidder: Landscape Design Associates, who bid 45k.

Manager Berry never mentioned the previous design proposals by LDA or Lawn Enforcement.

It's the LSHA: Where is the Contract?

On August 14, 2017, under unfinished business, Mr. Berry asked for a resolution approving a contract with Landscape Design and Associates for "landscaping services previously approved by the Board." Still a board member, Ron Foreman made the motion, which passed unanimously.

The contract was not attached. The just passed resolution said that the contract was in the office, which was only a few feet away from the Board room. No one asked to see the contract.

The resolution gave Manager Berry the authority to change the contract and directed the Board Chairman to sign the contract.

Governor Scott's Board, which still included Dr. Waseem Khan, who was living out of the County, and Ron Foreman, who claimed to have philosophical differences with the board, did not object to approving a contract which was subject to change without their approval.


With Board member residency issues, office staff notary issues, and the latest issues of Berry retirement class confusion and the continued non diversity of the Board, it is time the Governor said, "No Mas" and had the legislature disband this vestige of the past.

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