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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fox 4's Mike Mason sparks another investigation into Lee County's troubled DOT

Clay Simmons
  Lee County officials opening a new investigation tonight and this comes after Four in your Corner's Mike Mason already found county employees doing work on family members' property.

The dirt keeps piling up around Lee County's Director of D-O-T operations, Clay Simmons who is already under fire for delivering dirt to the Berner family's home in Buckingham. Now it appears he also broke federal guidelines by doing it. D-O-T workers accuse Simmons of delivering the dirt as a personal favor for the Berners after we exposed that Mrs. Berner is the sister-in-law of a D-O-T supervisor.
After digging deeper, and reviewing the county's zoning rules Fox 4's investigation found that dirt was dumped in a federally restricted flood way. We went straight to Simmons for answers telling him, "it's in a flood way, you weren't supposed to have anything delivered there that's a pretty big deal." Simmons responded, "No, I don't agree that it is."
Simmons says he's not talking about the issue any further and Fox 4 will have to speak with someone in media relations department. We went to Joan LaGuardia, the manager at Lee County's Department of Community Development. She says she has serious concerns with what we showed her. Since the Berner's home is located in a restricted flood zone, the Berners would have needed to get a special certification approved by an engineer before getting the dirt delivered.
Berner Home
This is something workers say Simmons should have known since he's a professional engineer himself. The Berner family confirmed to Fox 4 that D.O.T. dropped off the dirt so they could build up the slope of their pond and it is clearly located in a restricted area.
LaGuardia says they Berners will either have to hire an engineer and obtain the proper certification or have all of that dirt removed.
Investigator Mike Mason asked LaGuardia, "So now Code Enforcement is going to have to do an investigation? LaGuardia responded, "Yes they will. Now that I'm aware of it I'll let them know tonight. I hadn't been aware that fill was put there."
We then confronted Simmons, telling him, "Joan LaGuardia just said she's opening an investigation and having code officers go out there". Simmons would only say, "You need to go through the process." Simmons told us we would have to take our questions to Patty DiPeiro who works with media relations.
DiPiero told us Simmons has been notified that he will have to cooperate with code enforcement's investigation. She promised to give us an update tomorrow
To view the Fox 4 report click on this link:

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