Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.

Lake Shore Hospital Authority

New LSHA boss refuses to comply with ADA wheel chair requirements.

More LSHA stories are here.

Former LSHA Chairman, Jack Berry, along with his protégé, Columbia County Commissioner, contractor and LSHA construction manager, Jody DuPree, didn't much care about the American's With Disabilities Act during the renovation of the old county jail, which became the new and unnecessary headquarters of the LSHA. The new regime under the leadership of Chairman Marc Vann is doing a little better, but not much.

In early November 2009, your reporter spoke with Lake City, City Manager, Wendell Johnson, regarding the non compliance of the new LSHA headquarters. City Manager Johnson explained that the architect is responsible for drawing plans that adhere to the ADA.

The conversation filtered down.

On November 9th, after the LSHA meeting, the Observer learned from Chairman Vann that the Authority was going to put ADA compliant handicapped parking on the west side of the Authority building. This is where it belonged and where it should have remained, closest to the building.

The Observer asked Chairman Vann, "Is DuPree [that is County Commissioner DuPree, also the LSHA construction manager] going to pay for that."

The old jail was ADA compliant with handicapped parking next to the ramp.

Mr. Vann, answered, "No. The Hospital Authority is going to pay for that. It has nothing to do with them. That’s on this parking lot that’s behind this building."

This is the handicapped accessible parking that Mr. Berry and Commissioner DuPree had demolished.

The other DuPree screw up remains un fixed.

For months, it had been obvious that the glass access window into the Authority's offices was not ADA compliant and the Observer continued with his questions asking, "Who is going to fix the window?"

Any one in a wheel chair would not be able to access the only service window at the Authority.

Sue Fraze, the Authority's only employee for years (there are now two) answered," There’s nothing we can do to fix that."We’ve had no problem with handicapped people coming up there."

Mr. Vann added, "I don’t know about that. I don’t have an answer for that. There’s no plans to put a handicapped window in."

Ms. Fraze, who at one time was looking to have a window installed in the lobby, where it belonged, concluded, "How can they do it now? They can’t put me in a new window. They sure can’t fix that window."

Chairman Vann claimed Lake City gave the building a clean bill of health.

During the December 14th LSHA Board meeting, Chairman Vann brought up ADA compliance, stating that the Lake City Building Department had given the new building a clean bill of health. Mr. Vann told the Board:

ADA compliance -- and I left it -- but I will tell ya all that ah -- I guess just for the sake and I will bring it in and give it to Sue to put in with our building stuff -- that the city building inspector wrote a letter to my office. Said there'd been some inquires about, ah, handicapped accessibility and the building -- ah -- being to code, in the different areas, for handicapped use. Ah -- and he dropped a letter off stating that they had made an inspection of the property, during and since -- ah -- completion -- and that all areas of public use are all ADA compliant. And this is somethin we want to stick in our file, cause it was an old building. It’s been remodeled and twisted and turned and a lot of stuff done. And since there are some areas that aren’t necessarily accessible to -- ah -- wheelchairs and other things -- ah -- those areas are all areas that are not -- ah --public access areas. And this letter states this. I just wanna put that in the minutes and I’ll be bringin that letter over here. I left it on my desk this afternoon.

Later that week, the Observer went to the Lake City Building Department and obtained a copy of the letter to which Mr. Vann referred. The letter was not addressed to the LSHA and it did not give the Authority a clean bill of health, as Mr. Vann indicated.

Upon reading the letter, the Observer asked Lake City's chief building inspector, Troy Crews, if there was another letter.

Mr. Crews responded, "No."

The Observer: "They said you inspected the building and gave it a clean bill of health."

Mr. Crews: "They asked me to inspect the hallway on the west side of the building. That's all we did."

The Observer: "What about the customer service window. That's not accessible with a wheel chair."

Mr. Crews: "They didn't ask me to inspect that."

The Observer: "What about the handicapped parking."

Mr. Crews: "They didn't ask me to inspect that. I inspected what they asked me to inspect." 

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

On January 14, 2010 - Cindy of Lake City wrote:

Ok so I was reading this story and it really made me mad. Well it really p---ed  me off...I have a son that is in a wheelchair. He can not walk. I also have 2 other kids. My husband has copd and most of the time can not even go into a store with the kids and me because it is to far to walk in the parking lot and then the store. When I moved to Lake City I noticed that there are a lot of places that you can not take a wheelchair to. Now reading this story makes things worse. When I go to that hospital, I put my kids at risk sometimes. If there is no where to park and I have to park somewhere else then I have to walk in the streets with all my kids. Now from the pic that I have seen of Berry...I am sorry to say but he is not getting any younger. One of these days he will be in a wheelchair and then lets see how he feels. I think this man has no manners.


On January 25, 2010 - Laura wrote

      I thought that when a building was renovated whether it be Residential or Commercial that building permits and inspections were suppose to be pulled?
      Maybe I am wrong but "Hello."  Mr. Crews said he didn't inspect it because they didn't ask?  Where is it written that the common lay person is supposed to know the rules.  Is that not why you have titles such as Chief Building Inspector (AKA), Troy Crews, employed by the Lake City Building Department.
     I think the City Fathers should take a closer look at this.  Besides, Mr. Dupree's business is Construction so shouldn't he have known about compliance with ADA?
     Just saying, sounds like a whole lotta "back slapping" that chimps could have performed better!


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Former LSHA Chairman, Jack Berry, had no problem showing his distain for ADA requirements or the Observer.


The Florida Accessibility code makes it clear what wheel chair accessibility looks like.


If the service window was at the correct height, a wheel chair would block the non compliant hallway, which it does, anyway.


The Hospital Authority waiting room has no space for a wheel chair.