Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.  An online news service

Lake City News
Index of stories 2020-2018-2017-2016-2015
Go to 2009-2010Go to 2011-20122013-14

 Lake City News 2019 (scroll down)

Lake City firefighters caucus during contract negotiationsLC Firefighter Negotiations Hobbled by Continuing City Failure to Provide Timely Access to Contract Documents

Third Round of LC Firefighter Negotiations Lays Groundwork for Monday's City-Union Match-Up

photo of city firefighters and city managerCity Labor Atny to Firefighters: "We understand your position is the firefighters are underpaid."

After 92 Years, Lake City's Confederate Olustee Memorial Will Finally Get a Public Hearing

City Manager Joe HelfenbergerLake City Charter Revision, City Manager Helfenberger to Revisit Enhanced Public Notice

Glynell Presley is not infavor of postponing the Olustee conversation.Battle of Olustee Memorial Monument & Battle Reenactment Funding On Tap in LC Monday Night

Alden Rosner & Todd Sampson Vying for Lake City Council District 13 This Fall: They're 'off & running'

Lake City Hotel Mogul Nick Patel Optimistic Despite 80% Drop In Occupancy Due to the Coronavirus

Lake City IT Director Mandy RandLake City Going Virtual Monday Night in an Effort to Take Care of Business & Keep the Public Safe

Mayor Steve Witt Running for a 5th Term: "There Is Still More Work to Do"

The Blanche: A $1,000,000 'Technical Violation?' The City Will Be Counting Days & Decide

City Council Going Virtual Tonight: Is the City IT Staff & Management Up To the Task?

Lake City, City Council to Meet in Emergency Session at 10 a.m. Today: Unprepared

Blanche ribbon cutting ceremonyLake City's 'New' Blanche Hotel, Resurrected and Controversial, Celebrates a Grand Opening

Graphic: Image of Justice Potter Stewart with the quote: "Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do."Lake City, City Council Says 'Yes' to Ethics – 'No' to Ex Parte Communication

Councilman Greene:  Vacations-Work Should Not Determine Lawful City Meeting Schedule

Dr. Mark Thompson, Lake City, FloridaLake City Downtown Revival to Continue: LSHA Declares 12 Parcels Surplus - Donate to City

Graphic: Fred Koberlein, Jr. and Chris GreeneCity Manager Straightening Out City Meeting Scheduling Mess: City Attorney - Zero Direction

City Attorney Fred Koberlein, Jr. and City Manager Joe HelfenbergerWho Is the Boss – City Attorney or City Manager? City Council Decides Tonight: 'To pay or not to pay'

County 5 Pledge $15,000 for an Anti Panhandler Marketing Campaign Without Seeing a Plan

City Manager Joe Helfenberger hold a  poster board.A New Downtown Lake City City Hall: 3 LSHA Gov Appointees Will be the Deciders on LC's Future

City Attny Koberlein vs. City Manger Helfenberger: Which Way Will the City Council Go?

Panhandlers: Councilwoman Moses & Com. Witt Want to Throw Tens of Thousands $ Without Data

Downtown Lake City Revitalization Hot Topic at City/County Meet - LSHA: the Gorilla in the Room

Tonight: Jefferson Set to Ask City Council For $17,828 in Legal Fees When He Ran For City Council

City Manager Joe Helfenberger with Assistant City Manager Vince AkhimieAssistant City Manager Start Date Delayed:
"The best laid plans of mice and men..."

Vince AkhimieA Lot Is Going On In Lake City: Meet Vince Akhimie – Tonight – New Asst. City Manager

Lake City Approves Budget, Holding the Line on Taxes, Fire and Garbage Assessments

Vince Akhimie, Engineer, Certified Public Manager, Utilities Expert, Chosen to be Asst. City Manager

Waste Pro / City Trash Saga Heading Down to the Wire:  Roll Offs & Recycling Are the Issue

Lake City Garbage Woes: Will Low Rates and Pickups Continue Uninterrupted?

City Residential Garbage On Tap Monday Night: Residential Rates May Be Heading Up – Way Up

City Manager Declares War on Cyber Attacks – Fortifying City IT: It Will Be Expensive

Combined graphic showing Jennifer Anchors, Ron Williams, Jr., homeless personCounty's United Way Is the Homeless Coalition: "The problem is getting worse," Ron Williams, Jr.

Commissioner Ronald Williams (left) - Mayor Steve Witt (right)Columbia Cnty – Lake City Homeless/Panhandlers:  "Too Big of a Problem – We Need a Joint Effort"

Lake City's Rules of Procedure: Racist? Dictatorial? Fair? – It's Back to the Drawing Board  (Part II)

Lake City's Rules of Procedure – Not Problematic For Over a Decade – Background   (Part I)

Lake City Finally Admits to Cyber Ransom, FL League of Cities to Pay Approx $474,000

City Hit by Cyber Attack: Was it the "Triple Threat," Inadequate Malware Protection, Human Error?

image of jigsaw puzzle: lake city looking for the right fit, assistant city managerLake City Assistant City Manager: The Search Is On, Salary Range 81k to 130k

Photo of white nationalist roger wiggins addressing the Lake City, City CouncilWhite Supremacy vs. Public Opinion in City Hall: Morph Into Race Baiting by the Lake City Reporter

Assistant City Manager, Grayson Cason, sitting at the table in the front of the City Council chambers.Grayson Cason, a Lake City Fixture for 18 Years, Is Retiring: "Lake City is My Hometown"

Lake City Assistant City Manager: City on the Move, Position to be Advertised Shortly

Lake City, City Clerk Audrey Sikes: Independent, Responsible, Busy, "Willing to go the extra mile"

photo of Mayor Steve Witt and copy saying he will be instituting new rules for public comments and a new meeting timing clockCity Council Rules, Mayor Witt Says, "Let's Try Another Way"

Questioning Lake City's Power Structure: Vanessa Geroge (left), Melinda Moses (right)Meaningful Public Comment: Challenging for Lake City's Old Guard

City Docket Tonight: Affirmative Action, Nepotism, Meeting Rules, Diversity

City Manager Joe HelfenbergerLake City Keeping the Public in the Dark Again Tonight's Agenda Nowhere on City Website

Old time rendering of Lake City's BLanche Hotel with headline: last 90 days of constructionLake City's Blanche Hotel: IDP's Decker Gives City Council an Upbeat Construction Update

City Leaves Public in the Dark About Pending Issues at Council Meeting Tonight

Pt II  Mayor Witt Asks All Speakers to Follow the Rules - City Attorney Makes No Effort to Diffuse

Pt I  City Council Discovers 2014 Rules of Decorum Mayor Witt Asks All Speakers to Follow the Rules

Lake City Mayor Steve Witt Proclaims February Black History Month

 Lake City News 2018 (scroll down)

City Manager Upgrading City Web Presence – Working Towards More Transparency & Participation

City Councilman Eugene Jefferson Takes Oath for the 6th Time: Begins 21st Year on City Council

Mayor Witt Directs City Manager to Develop a Policy for Police Escorts at Funerals

Councilman Jefferson Receives 20 Year Service Award From Florida League of Cities

Unprepared, the City Appeared before the TDC $300,874  Short for the Lake DeSoto Waterfront

Homicide Suspect Arrested in N. Carolina

Lake City's Mainstream Media: Lake City Reporter, A Growing Deception of News Coverage

Bowden v Tucker, Rudimentary Court Rules Out the Window: Tucker Removed From Dist. 10 City Race

Lake City's Mainstream Media Rakes Mayor Over the Coals: Sends Message to New City Manager

LCPD City Manager Investigation: Background Check or Stassi Like Police Overreach?

New City Manager's Contract Ready for Prime Time This Monday Night

City Hall, The Bricks Are Falling Down
O'Neal Roofing Estimates Repair at $296k

Lake City Reporter Gets It Wrong Again: "It wasn't a roadblock," Councilman Jefferson

Last Man Left Standing: Helfenberger Stars at the "Meet & Greet" the City Manager Candidate

The Race for City Manager Now Down to Style & Substance In a Dead Heat: It's Helfenberger v Judd

City Manager Search, Next Up The Interviews – Will the Semifinal 5 Begin With a Clean Slate?

City Manager Grayson Cason: Mostly Couldn't Be Heard, Agenda Material Incomplete for $296k Job

Spec Mtng Whittles City Mngr Candidates From 9 to 5: Interviews June 6

City Hall Shutting Down Mid-Day: No one admits to giving the order - City Manager Cason - Silent

City Manager Candidates On Tap in City Hall 6pm Tonight: Who will be interviewed?

Amphitheater/Bandshell Coming to Downtown Lake City: Committee Gives Final Approval

City Mgr Search Back on Track, Field Narrowed to 13, Mayor Welcomes Q's From the Community

City Manager Search Stalls - Starts. City Council in Disarray. Emerg Mtng Called - Conflicts w/The 5

Top Initial Rankings Spreadsheet, All Applications:  Available in Story

City Manager Applications Flood HR Before the Final Buzzer on Friday: Applicants From All Over

City Manager Search to Resume
Moses Wants to Reach Beyond FL Border

City Manager Search Getting Back On Track, Mayor Witt Calls Special Meeting for Monday Night

Lake City, City Manager Search: "Off to a Bad Start," Glenel Bowden

Lake City Charter/City Manager Confusion
A Diversified Applicant Pool Not Restricted

City Manager Search Halted, Job Posting Withdrawn, Council Regroups, Charter Confusion

 Lake City News 2017 (scroll down)

Councilman Hill Stands Tough Against the Tide
City Manager Johnson Heaped With Praise

"Lie of Omission": City Manager Johnson Fires Back at Lake City Reporter Editor, Robert Bridges

Stormwater Fee Ordinance Adopted
Working Mom Waits for Stormwater Vote

Blanche: After a Vote of No Confidence Redevelopment Options Unwrapped, But Not Public

Blanche: One by One They Came to the Mic, But the Deal to "Walk it Back" Was Cut Before the Meeting

Columbia Cnty's Mainstream Media & the Blanche: Twisted Facts, False Praise (Part II)

Columbia County's Mainstream Media and the Blanche: Fake News, Twisted Facts, False Praise

Blanche Update: Lease Cost Up $1.7 Million, City Manager Johnson, "That's not unusual"

Lake City to Internet Cafe Owners: You Are Guilty Until You Prove Yourself Innocent

Blanche Delayed Again: How Much Is the Move? Cnclman Hill Calls for Workshop - Ward Votes No

Investigation of Complaint Against City Manager Johnson Cost $11,893: Consultant Clears Johnson

More Econ Dev Turmoil: FSU's Scholz Complains About City Manager Wendell Johnson's Behavior

Reversal of Plans, City Man Scrambling, Says Council Mbrs Won't Attend Spec Chamber Meeting

The Blanche: Time for Straight Talking in the Sunlight by City Manager Johnson & IDP

Unequal Opportunity for Big Money CRA Grants - Councilman Jake Hill Votes "No"

Unequal Opportunity the Hallmark  Downtown Redevelopment Big Money CRA Grants

Lake City CRA Tables $45,000 Facade Grant Request

Jack Berry Hwy Moves to Lake City, City Has No Plan or Funding Plan, Bogus Info Sent to FDOT

 Lake City News 2016 (scroll down)

LC Tables Medical Marijuana Moratorium

9 Month Medical Marijuana Moratorium on the Lake City Docket Monday Night

Lake City Picks Interim Logo – Councilwoman Moses Ready to Move Without Public Input

Lake City Tonight, Buried in the Agenda, A New City Logo

The Come-Back Kid: Jake Hill, After a 4 yr Absence, Took His Seat on the City Council

City Meeting Calendar Wrong Again
City Manager Unable to Fix Continuing Problem

City Manager Johnson Updates the City on the $15,000,000+ Blanche Project: 'Ready for Takeoff'

Lake City Keeping the Public in the Dark
12th hr. Notice Not a New Event for City Manager

Dig These Girls Thursday Night in Pink. It's the Annual Col v. Suw High Girls Volley Ball Shoot Out
Supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month

School District Warns: Don't Drink the Water
4 Hrs Later, Lake City PD Sends an Email

Court Moderates Canvassing Bd Record Inspection Dispute, Election May Be Contested

New City Atny Fred Koberlein: What Did He Say?
Mayor Steve Witt:  We Will Get a Transcript

City Attorney Interviews – Flatlined – Completely Inaudible: City Violates Statute

Blanche Renovation Should Begin by Christmas, IRS Blamed for Construction Delays

City Atny Slot Goes to Koberlein, Councilman Elect Hill Ignored, Public Records Issue

Scheduling Difficulties Keep Public Off-Balance
City Dropping the Ball: "That's the way it goes"

Lake DeSoto Deforestation Complete, "Chainsaw" Jack & Gov Scott's Hosp Auth Bd Silent

Hutton Dev Scores: City Council Approves 10yr $440,00 Tax Abatement & $340k in Cash

City Manager Johnson Brings Clarity to Lake DeSoto Trees and the "Jack Berry Highway"

"Chain Saw Jack" Berry & Gov's LSHA Board Vote to Cut Down Lake DeSoto Trees

City Approves $1,635,307 Park Renovation - City Manager & Council Leave Public Out of Process

 Lake City News 2015 (scroll down)

Million Dollar Plus LC Waterfront Redevelopment Back to the Drawing Board, Again (Pt II)

Million Dollar Plus LC Waterfront Redevelopment Back to the Drawing Board (Pt I - Background)

Johnson Backs Down Again: Outsourcing City Utility Division Workers Put on Hold Indefinitely

LCPD's Marshall Sova: Exceptional Service

Lake City Waterfront Redevelopment Tonight:
Will the Public Be Shutout Again?

City Manager Backs Down on Outsourcing: Workers Safe Through Christmas

City Manager Looking Into Gutting City Workers Packed Utility Committee to hear Last Minute Info

The Blanche: Economic Development for the Developer Puts City Taxpayers on the Hook

Wendell Johnson's IDP Blanche Legacy Project:
Top Secret Before it Should Have Been

Blanche on Lake City Docket: City Manager Johnson Fails to post Council agenda – Leaves public in dark

Lake City Votes to Sanitize Its Logo: American and Confederate Flags Coming Down

City Slides Confederate Battle Flag  Onto Monday Night's Agenda 

Lake City Reporter Gets It Wrong on the Stars & Bars: What was it thinking?

Stars & Bars – the Conversation Continues
Mayor Witt, "I don't want a knee jerk reaction"

Monday's Lake City Agenda Still a Question
Stars & Bars, City Manager & Council Go Sub Rosa

Lake City Logo: The Discussion Began With City Manager Johnson & City Council in Stone Silence

Lake City Logo: Fair, Balanced, Symbol of Hate? Last Night in City Hall, the Discussion Began

Lake City Proposed Tax Increase Negligible:    $6.93 projected on a $100,000 home appraisal

Lake City, Columbia County
Florida's Gateway to the Past

Lake City Tries Again for $750,000 Parking Lot Grant: Will the 4th Time Be a Charm?

Threatening To Blow Up Bank: Not a Good Idea
You Will Be Arrested

Fire At the Health Department: Lake City Fire Department Arrives at Scene in Two Minutes

Blanche Million $ Loan Goes Down 3-2
Next Up: City Manager Johnson's Fall Back Plan

The Blanche – The County Million $ – The County 5 Tonight: "To be or not to be? That is the question"

The Great Lake Shore Hosp Auth Land Give-a-way. Financed by Columbia Cnty Tax Payers, City Scores

Blanche Redevelopment Confusion: Com. Nash, "Everybody should get in a room and air it out"

Lake City: Looking for a Consultant for its Downtown Community Redevelopment Area

City Manager Johnson's Thursday Appearance At the County 5: It was not to address the Board

Frisina Swings the Vote, Blanche Ducks a TKO
Lake City, County, Developer Regrouping

The Blanche Ducks a TKO
Lake City, County, Developer Regrouping

The Blanche Tonight:  Will Wendell Johnson's $17 mil Lake City Legacy Survive the County 5?

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Tonight, after multitudinous meetings with the Assistant County Manager, Ben Scott, and County Economic Development Director, Glenn Hunter, Columbia County's infamous County 5 will decide whether or not to front Lake City at least a million dollars on the derelict Blanche Hotel. Secrecy and secret finances were a hallmark of City Manager Wendell Johnson's time at the now mostly defunct dismal failure, the $30 mil North Florida Broadband Authority, of which he was one of the financial kingpins. Johnson now is the driving force in Lake City's Blanche project, one that has ballooned from $13.5 mil to $17 mil in seven months.

Lake City's Gulf Coast Financial Awarded Small Business of the Year

Posted April 25, 2015  12:01 am

LAKE CITY, FL –  Local financial practice, Gulf Coast Financial Services, Inc. (Gulf Coast), was recently awarded Small Business of the Year by the Lake City-Columbia County Chamber of Commerce.

Blanche Hotel Developer Equity Skyrockets 850%: What is The Real Investment?

Johnson's Legacy Inflating: Blanche Price Tag Now $17,000,000 from $13,675,000

LSHA's Berry and LC's Johnson Ignoring the Needs of the Handicapped on the Authority Campus

Blanche Hotel: 6 Months & Counting – $14,000,000 Letter of Intent May Be Next Month

Blanche Hotel Train of Advisors Pulled into City Hall Last Night: Lots of Pictures - Not Much New

Blanche Saga Continues Monday Night: $14,000,000 financing remains unexplained

City Ramping Up for $1.2mil Downtown Improvement Loan

Blanche $15 mil Renovation: CM Johnson Playing it Close to the Vest, "You'll know when I know"

 • Meeting Calendar