No doubt, 2008 was a rough year around Hernando County, but not everything was bleak. You can always count on the locals to keep things entertaining, albeit unintentionally. Here are some of the year's headline highlights:
LOVE HURTS, AND REQUIRES STITCHES: When Adneris Abrahante asks her boyfriend Miguel Molina if he loves her, he said yes, a little. She is not amused, and stabs him twice outside their Spring Hill home.
SO, HOW'S THAT WHOLE REHAB THING WORKING OUT?: John Harshbarger needs money to pay his probation costs, and he gets it by breaking into his Spring Hill neighbors' sheds, stealing thousands of dollars worth of equipment and selling it on the street.
DROP THE FRUIT AND BACK AWAY SLOWLY: Italo Tomaselli, 80, is charged with theft after his Spring Hill neighbor Ruth Snow alleges he had trespassed on her property to steal a tangerine.
UNAUTHORIZED FIELD TRIP PUNISHED: Former teacher Daniel Madril loses his Florida teaching certification after his arrest for voyeurism. A coworker caught him three years ago climbing out of a crawl space that ran above the girls' locker room at D.S. Parrott Middle School.
UNITING THE NATION, ONE GROUP AT A TIME: U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite manages to insult all Puerto Ricans by calling them "foreign citizens'' who should not get federal economic stimulus checks.
OH YEAH? WELL, HER DRESS IS A FASHION FELONY: Christopher Holder, 19, of Brooksville is arrested for disorderly conduct after a woman complains about the raunchy rap lyrics he is singing as he walks down the street.
THE DOGS COMPLAINED ABOUT GETTING FLEAS: To help raise money for the Humane Society, local celebrities and politicians spend a night in shelter kennels with stray dogs.
DUMBER THAN A FIFTH-GRADER: FCAT scores for 27 Hernando High students are invalidated because they brought cell phones into the test areas, despite numerous warnings.
CLINT EASTWOOD'S FACE ON THE $20 WAS A GIVE-AWAY: Hernando deputies bust a couple on charges of making counterfeit U.S. currency after a raid of their home reveals fake bills, papers, inks and a specialized printer and copier.
BUT NEEDING NEW SHOES IS AN EMERGENCY: Stephanie Anderson, Hernando's emergency management secretary, is charged with theft after collecting more than $7,000 in overtime while shopping in Tampa and at Pinellas County beach stores and going to a spa in Citrus County.
KUNG-FU SHOPLIFTING: When Amy Ulm was arrested months ago for shoplifting from Belk's department store, the arrest report says she kicked the security guard in the groin and bit his hand. She sues the store, claiming she was injured and lost an important bodily function when the guard tackled her.
ALSO AVAILABLE FOR WEDDINGS AND BAR MITZVAHS: County Commissioner Jeff Stabins writes and performs a song at the Hernando County Fair to the tune of a country favorite: I've Been Everywhere.
MAYBE NOW THEY'LL RECOUNT THOSE GORE VOTES FROM 2000: More than a year after defeating Hannah Nancy Robinson in the 2006 election, Rose Rocco is now officially a county commissioner after the Florida Supreme Court denies a hearing on an appeal by a Robinson supporter.
NEW SLIP-AND-SLIDE OPENS FOR THE KIDS: County public works employees say they were told to dump sewage and sludge on the side of the road rather than take it to a lift station or landfill. They dumped more than 2,000 gallons of raw sewage into a retention pond on the ironically named Quality Drive.
A MAN OF THE PEOPLE; THE RICH ONES, ANYWAY: Showing he is not quite as tone deaf to the tough economic times as he first appeared, school superintendent Wayne Alexander reduces his request for a raise from 14 percent to a mere 5.5 percent, still boosting his pay from $119,000 to $125,545.
THEY NEED A GEEK SQUAD, NOT A SWAT TEAM: Hernando County is about to start using its high-tech security system, several years in the making, at the new courthouse but must delay again when a computer glitch keeps the elevators from operating.
OPERATORS WERE STANDING BY: Hernando County hangs up its ethics hotline, which encouraged people to call in with complaints about the behavior of county employees and officials.
HURRICANE HERB 1, HERNANDO ZIP: County emergency managers hold a storm preparation drill but they can't log into the computer program, which was designed by their former director. Before they could get it working, fictional category 3 Hurricane Herb clobbers the county.
ALL THE NEWS THAT'S FIT TO REPEAT: Kent Weissinger, assistant county attorney, is revealed to be the author of a blog called the Hernando News Source, which he termed an alternative to the "dead tree media.'' His blog links to stories already printed in local newspapers.
THEY WERE TOLD TO WATCH IT ON YOUTUBE INSTEAD: A mix-up over graduation tickets at Hernando High leads officials to close the gym to dozens of family members.
HE WAS PACKING MEAT: A store worker stops William Napoli, 55, as he tries to leave Publix with six packages of steak stuffed down his pants.
MAKING THE GRANDKIDS PROUD: Perennial congressional candidate David Werder has never come close to winning any of the elections he has been in, but he earns a victory of sorts when the state elections division lets him list his name on the ballot as H. David "the flagpole sitter'' Werder, recognizing his world record of spending 439 days sitting on a flagpole in Clearwater in 1982-1984.
FUELISH NEW POLICY ENACTED: To save fuel, Hernando County begins a new policy whereby vehicles cannot be left idling when a worker makes a delivery and can only be warmed up for three minutes during the summer, five minutes in the winter.
THIS JUST IN: THE SKY IS BLUE: Hank Fishkind, an Orlando economist, tells local leaders what has been painfully obvious for more than a year: Hernando County is in a recession.
GROWING GILLS FOR A GOOD CAUSE: Commissioner Diane Rowden makes a splash as a Weeki Wachee mermaid as a fundraiser for the Baby R.I.A. Foundation.
AND THE LANDFILL IS OVERFLOWING: In a ghoulish sign of the times, Hernando County is paying to bury more indigent people, a nearly 30 percent increase over last year.
HOW WILL THEY GET NEW CUSTOMERS?: Local hospitals and health clinics announce they will ban tobacco of any kind on their grounds as of Jan. 1
WAIT TILL THEY FIND WHERE HE STASHED HIS PIPE: Warren Wilson told deputies bringing him to jail that he had no drugs. He did not mention the pills stashed inside a flashlight and the plastic bag containing marijuana residue that was hidden inside his prosthetic leg.
SOUNDS LIKE A TYPICAL COMMISSION MEETING: The county spends $558,000 on a mobile centrifuge that is filled with raw sewage and spins to separate liquids from solids.
NEXT, BEEF JERKY AT 20 PACES: A melee at a 7-Eleven store involves a man, several women, a can of Mace, boiled peanuts and 25 hair extensions ripped from a woman's scalp.
THE MEGA-DEATH T-SHIRTS ARE OUT: The Hernando County School Board's contract proposal to teachers includes a dress code that would be at least as strict as the one governing students.
EMPLOYEES OF THE MONTH: Two county workers are fired for making sexually suggestive comments to co-workers. One told a woman to turn around, adding, "If I had a swing like that on my back porch, I would take it apart screw by screw.''
HE SHOULD TELL THAT KNEE-SLAPPER AT THE INAUGURATION: Blaise Ingoglia, a Republican activist, upsets a Unity Rally by telling a racially offensive joke about Sen. Barack Obama's face being on food stamps if he wins the presidency.
AT LEAST HIS WAITING ROOM WASN'T CROWDED: Gary Lloyd of Weeki Wachee had a lab coat, an ID card from Tampa General Hospital and business cards — everything except a medical diploma. Lloyd is charged with the unlicensed practice of health care when he advertises his services online. One hint to potential patients: He claims to be a graduate of the University of Central Florida medical school, which has not opened yet.
FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY; BRING GRANDMA AND THE KIDS: Local rancher Jimmy Batten needs a county permit to host a biker rodeo on his property and includes in his application a link to a Web site that shows the antics at previous events, including a screaming orgasm contest.
SHE WOULDN'T FIT IN THE GLOVE COMPARTMENT: A Spring Hill family picking up their 16-year-old daughter after she was released from a juvenile center had too many people in the car, so the girl rides home in the trunk. A bystander sees her get out at a convenience store and calls police.
BLAZIN' BUTTS WIPED OUT: The third annual Blazin' Butts-n-Brisket Barbecue is canceled after the contest draws only 11 entries.
THE FIRST GOOD DECISION SHE MADE ALL YEAR: U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite says she will not debate her Democratic challenger John Russell or attend any campaign events with him after a very acrimonious contest two years ago.
MILK CRATES AND A DOOR ON SAWHORSES SHOULD WORK: County commissioners balk at spending $27,427 on new furniture for offices at the Hernando County Airport. "Go on a scavenger hunt,'' officials are told.
CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN: The top priority at a County Commission goal-setting session is to form more committees.
CRASH TEST DUMMY: William Lindsay was driving a rock truck east on State Road 50 when the raised truck bed plowed into the overpass at Interstate 75, taking out two support beams.