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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lee County supervisors accused of doing expensive favors for friends

Using your tax dollars to do favors for relatives! Four in your corner has now confirmed claims that supervisors at Lee County's troubled transportation department are making some controversial decisions on your dime. Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason has already prompted the county to order an audit of D-O-T. and now he's tracking down exactly who is getting dirt delivered to their homes thanks to Lee County taxpayers.

D.O.T worker Bob Maxey is fired up about his supervisor, Clay Simmons. He exclaims, "Mr. Simmons, I promise you and I promise the people of this county that man is lying." After two weeks Fox 4 finally caught up with Simmons at his office on Wednesday. Simmons stated that he's "not going to talk about personnel issues."

Karen Hawes
County Manager Karen Hawes ordered an audit into hiring practices at D.O.T. because of a Four in your Corner investigation this week. That doesn't prevent Simmons from speaking about other issues such as why he allegedly ordered his workers to deliver more than 130 truckloads of dirt to the Berner family last November. Workers say for three days they drove the dirt from Billy's Creek in Fort Myers to the Berner's private residence in Buckingham, seven and a half miles away.

Berner Residence
 The Berners used the dirt to build a slope around the pond on their 10 acre property. That project would have racked up nearly 2,000 miles on county trucks, required hundreds of man hours and it was paid for by Lee County taxpayers.

Maxey is now outraged with Simmons saying, "You cost us money, you cost the tax payers money when you do that."

Clay Simmons
 Simmons claims he actually saved taxpayer money because the dirt delivered to the Berners was taken from ditches and canals nearby. When we asked him for documentation to prove where the dirt came from he said his office didn't keep track of it.
Maxey says Simmons is not telling the truth and the dirt was hauled out of Billy's Creek in Fort Myers and driven all the way to Buckingham, which is much further and more costly. Maxey claims, "The drivers, they won't come forward but they told me they were hauling it out of Billy's Creek Commerce Center."
Fox 4 also found the Berner family is actually related to D-O-T supervisor Shane Hinman. That huge amount of dirt was delivered to Shane Hinman's sister -in -law. Fox Four Investigator Mike Mason asked Clay Simmons if he did a favor for a supervisor's family member. Simmons responded, "No it is not because if you happened to own a piece of property there I'd be happy to give you the material."
Still, some workers say Simmons went out of his way to help the Berner family. On the day the Berners wanted to have dirt delivered to their home the county's heavy equipment that is used to screen the dirt was conveniently placed across the street from their house. Maxey says Simmons is using county equipment to turn favors, "He is cheating the employees, he's cheating the citizens of this county if that's good for the Berner family or whoever got this material then by God let's give it to everybody!."
Clay Simmons claims Lee County residents can always ask for free ditch material and dirt. All they have to do is call the D-O-T's operation's center at 239-533-9400 and fill out a dirt request form.
We've put that information on our website ‘'.. And while you're there you can click on the ‘Viewers' Voice' tab to let us know if you have problems getting dirt from the county.
To view the Fox 4 report click on this link:

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