Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.


LSHA Berry nixes ADA compliance

Columbia County’s iron fisted Lake Shore Hospital Authority (“LSHA”) chairman, Jack Berry, has demonstrated that for him, the letter and the spirit of the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”) doesn’t have much influence. Mr. Berry’s secretive and totalitarian rule has left the handicapped and physically challenged as second class citizens at the LSHA campus in Columbia County.

More LSHA stories are here.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”) enables people with disabilities to join the mainstream of American life. In many communities more people with disabilities are enjoying access.

Speaking for the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”), Alex Acosta, the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights explained that according to the census bureau almost half of all people over 65 have a disability. Mr. Acosta said that more than one in five have a disability and that “more people than ever are enjoying access.” He was not talking about the LSHA.

John Wodatch of the DOJ explained that compliance with the ADA is not optional. He said, “There are no grandfather provisions in the ADA, it’s a civil right.” “The law is about common sense.”

The LSHA’s Operating Policies and Procedures should explain its relationship with ADA policies and their responsibilities to those with disabilities. The Observer has been unable to find any such LSHA policy.

The LSHA is not handicapped friendly

The LSHA is not handicapped friendly and the LSHA campus is nothing short of a mine field for the physically handicapped and challenged.

Curb cuts and clearly marked walkways are missing from many sidewalks and roads. In some areas where there could and should be sidewalks, there are none. Van accessible parking spaces are not marked in the Lake Shore Hospital parking lot and some of the handicapped spaces flood easily and lack the proper drainage and accessibility to walkways.

Shands employee and hospital administrator, Ms. Rhonda Sherrod, in a brief walk around with the Observer said she wants her hospital to be in compliance.

Berry was not so cooperative

Lake Shore Hospital Authority chairman, Jack Berry, was not so cooperative, demonstrating once again that nobody tells him what to do, including the Federal Government.

On the afternoon of August 10, 2009 the LSHA attempted to have two previously scheduled meetings at their newly renovated jail. The Authority did not have a quorum, but the meetings seemed to go on, anyway.

In this Ariel photo the distance from the handicapped parking spaces (circled in red) to the front entrance is clearly visible. The entrance is underneath the camera. It is obvious that someone with crutches or respiratory problems could be at risk.

At the conclusion the meetings, the Observer noticed that the handicapped parking spaces accessible to the new LSHA building were far away across the street and clearly not in compliance with the regulations set forth in the ADA.

This part of the act is straightforward.

It is the law and common sense that accessible parking spaces should be the spaces closest to the entrance.

Your reporter pointed out to Mr. Berry that at the west entrance to the building there was a new concrete curb where there was none before and that the handicapped ramp was very close to the parking spaces, yet was inaccessible.

The Observer to Mr. Berry: Jack, why don’t you fix this? This is the space closest to the building. I think you need a curb cut here.

Mr. Berry: We have handicapped spaces across the street in the parking lot.

The Observer: But they are supposed to be closest to the building.

Mr. Berry: Talk to the contractor or to the city. They approved the plans.

The Observer: Come on Jack.

Mr. Berry (red shirt) turned his back and walked away. A curb cut by the ramp would be common sense.

Chairman Berry turned his back and walked away to his truck, which was parked in the new parking lot. Then he turned to the Observer and yelled across the street, “If you know somebody that needs some help gettin to the buildin you tell em to call me.”

A few days later, the Observer spoke to Lake City’s building director, Larry Lee about the parking and road that runs along the west side of the LSHA building. Mr. Lee said, “That road was closed years ago for parking.” Mr. Lee explained that he believed the supervision of the road was given to the county sheriff and has remained under county control ever since.

The deficiencies at the LSHA renovated county jail, now called the administrative complex are clear.

Jack Berry protégé, Commissioner Jody DuPree, was the construction manager for this project. He worked hand in hand with the engineer and Chairman Berry.

Sally Conway of the Justice Department, “You don’t have to do every single thing at once. You don’t have to gut your building and make every single change in the world.” “You need to remove barriers that are readily achievable.” “The important thing is getting folks with disabilities into your door.” “The important thing is you do something and you do it now.”

Before the LSHA renovated the jail for their staff of one, there was parking alongside the main entrance of the building. The Hospital Authority should have planned for a passenger loading zone. Instead -- it planted grass.

Sally Conway: The important thing is that people with disabilities aren’t any different. They want to be treated fairly and honestly, with dignity and respect, just like everybody else.

Earlier this year Mr. Berry told the Observer, “I receive my marching orders from the Governor’s office.” ... “We’re going to do things by the law as long as I’m in charge."


The old jail was ADA compliant with handicapped parking next to the ramp. Now that it has been renovated, the handicapped parking has disappeared. The construction manager, County Commissioner Jody DuPree supervised the renovation.


While under construction it is clear that this is a challenged building.


The old LSHA hdq. and clinic has no curb cut.


This handicapped walkway on the LSHA campus needs no explanation.


The distance from the handicapped spaces to the front door are evident.


The records storage building (right-front) was another DuPree project. There is no curb cut to the sidewalk.


Mr. Berry refused to replace the curb with a curb cut and instead had new lines painted.