Central Pasco chamber leader abruptly leaves
Kathy Dunkley, longtime executive director of the Central Pasco Chamber of Commerce, has left the organization after 15 years, leaders announced this week. Chamber president Dennis Esber declined to comment on the reasons behind Dunkley's departure or say when the organization expects to hire her replacement. "Our statement is our statement," he said. A news release said that under Dunkley's tenure, the chamber has experienced "many great accomplishments and endeavors" and that her service was "appreciated." Efforts to reach Dunkley on Wednesday were unsuccessful. During her tenure, the annual fundraiser, the Flapjack Festival, flourished but then collapsed in 2009 after organizers decided to move it from behind the community center on U.S. 41 to the more spacious county fairgrounds in Dade City.
No reinstatement for fire marshal
Zephyrhills Fire Chief Keith Williams on Wednesday formally denied the request to reinstate Fire Marshal Kerry Barnett, who was fired last month for violating the city's sick leave policy. After a two-month investigation by city police, Williams determined that Barnett violated city policy prohibiting him from working a similar second job without permission while out on sick leave after suffering an off-duty foot injury last fall. Barnett has never denied working as a consultant for the town of St. Leo and has said he performed mostly paperwork duties. He didn't realize it violated policy, he has said. On Feb. 23 he had a hearing before the fire chief with his local fire union representatives, arguing that the chief didn't follow proper procedure leading up to his firing and violated his rights under the collective bargaining agreement. In Williams' response written on Wednesday, the chief said Barnett's arguments "failed to substantiate" that violations by the city did occur. "The decision that the chief rendered was not surprising," Barnett said Wednesday night. His next step is to file a grievance to the city manager, which he said he plans to do.
Controlled burn for preserve this week
A controlled burn is planned for today or Friday at the Jumping Gully Preserve in central Pasco, weather conditions permitting. Pasco County's Environmental Lands Acquisition and Management Program will conduct the 200-acre burn for habitat restoration purposes under the supervision of the U.S. Forest Service. The burn will start at 10 a.m. The Jumping Gully Preserve consists of 598 acres north of State Road 52 and west of U.S. 41, at 18812 Fishburne Drive.