A complete story of Lollipop which was in the Lake City Reporter

Lollipop lease a sticky situation

TONY BRITT

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

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The city’s potential lease agreement with Lollipop Child Care, or the George & Warren Foundation, has turned into a sticky situation.

 

Child Care or the George and Warren Foundation turned into a sticky situation.  Most of the discussion in the nearly three hour meeting Tuesday Night centered around the City’s proposed lease of the Girl’s Club buildings

 

Earlier this month, city officials told Joe Hellenberger City Manager to work on a lease so the Lollipop Child Care Center could lease the building for a nominal fee,  However at lease nine people addressed the issue at the council meeting with some questioning the potential leasing deal and its legality while others questioned how the city could lease the building without publicly notifying the community the buildings were up for lease.

 

Among those addressing the council were Lavell and Jeanne George, the owners of Lollipop. Who wanted to find out what the holdup was in the process of them in leasing the buildings.  Ron Warren II questioned the legality of the deal and what gave the city council the authority to lease the buildings to a non-profit business.

In the January 4th meeting Hellenberger said Lollipop was a non-profit Williams added that competitive bids should have been taken in this instance.

While Lollipop Hangout and Lollipop Children Center are for non-profit corporations according to the Florida Department of State, Lavell and Joanne George said they planned to lease the Girl’s Club buildings with their non-profit agency, the George & Warren Foundation.

According to the state department, the George & Warren Foundation was registered as a non-profit January 28, 2020 with board members Vanessa George, Deborah Hillo, Lafarious Mullins, Thayla Mullins, DeCarlos Scippio, Latorie Jones and Sylvester Warren III.

The Georges said Lollipop is just the name of their brand but they sent in paperwork to the city manager and the Koberlein Law Offices, indicating the buildings would be operated through the non-profit, George & Warren Foundation.

 

Fred Koberlein, Sr. who was the legal council during the meeting, challenged that, presenting documentation that claimed the building would be run by both a non-profit and a for-profit in the same paragraph.

 

Mayor Stephen Witt, who asked the Georges whether thy were a non-profit or for-profit, said the lease has to be with a non-profit or the building would have to be listed at market value.

 

After looking at the documents from Koberlein, Witt noted the paperwork didn’t appear to be in order and city officials needed more time to decide what direction they could go in to be legal.

 

When the lease associated with the buildings finally came up on the agenda, Hellenberger said there was additional homework needed to be done on the project and other questions needed to be answered before a lease could be considered.

 

As city officials offered comments before the end of the meeting, Chris Greene, vice mayor, returned to the topic and noted that he didn’t feel that the council provided all the direction Hellenberger needed to address the lease of the building.

 

“I think Mr. Hellenberger, maybe didn’t handle this situation the best” he said.  “We didn’t handle this situation correctly.”

 

Greene added he didn’t support leasing the buildings and if the buildings are leased, everyone should have an equal opportunity at the buildings.  He then suggested that the city take a step back before agreeing to lease the buildings because the city may need the additional space after work begins on the new City Hall building.