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Hernando County news and notes

LOCAL WOMAN WINS LOTTERY: The Florida Lottery announced last week that Greta Engstrom, 66, of Spring Hill claimed a $1 million prize by matching five white balls in the Jan. 31 Mega Millions drawing.

Engstrom purchased her winning ticket at Winn-Dixie, 11092 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill. The retailer received $1,000 for selling the winning ticket.

CHILI CHALLENGE: The Hernando County Family YMCA will host its annual Chili Challenge from 1 to 3 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Y, 1300 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill.

There is no cost to enter chili in the contest. Entries should be brought to the event in a slow cooker, hot and ready to serve. Judging will be based on aroma, taste and appearance. Cash and prizes will be awarded.

Tickets for chili tasters are $7 if purchased in advance and $10 on the day of the event. Ticket price includes crackers, corn bread, cheese, sour cream, beverage and ice cream. Proceeds will benefit the Y's financial assistance program. For information, contact Kathy Kissell at (352) 688-9622 or

SUNCOAST HARMONY CONCERT: The Suncoast Harmony Chorus will host its annual show, "A Passion to Sing," at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 23 at Richey Suncoast Theater, 6237 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey.

The 23-member chorus is the west-central Florida chapter of Sweet Adelines International, directed by Amy Riddle. The show will include music ranging from folk to jazz to gospel, with many well-known songs such as Sweet Georgia Brown, Ain't Misbehavin' and Chances Are.

The featured guest entertainer will be Rusty Vitagliano, a singer, songwriter and entertainer from Spring Hill. She will perform songs from the 1940s through '80s. Gloria Kozkosky, a performer with the Old Time Radio group, will emcee.

Tickets are $12 and are available at the box office, (727) 842-8777, or by calling (352) 597-4376.

EXERCISE PROGRAM FOR CANCER PATIENTS: The YMCA of the Suncoast is offering a free, 12-week Livestrong group exercise class for cancer patients who would like to improve their quality of life before, during and after treatment. The class will be offered from 10:15 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting Feb. 25, at the Hernando County Family YMCA, 1300 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill.

The small group sessions will be led by certified instructors and personal trainers who have undergone specialized training in the elements of cancer, rehabilitative exercise and supportive cancer care. YMCA membership is not required.

Additional start dates will be on April 21 (for Monday and Wednesday morning or evening classes) and on April 22 (for Tuesday and Thursday morning classes). For information or to sign up, call Kathy Kissell at the Y, (352) 688-9622.

VOLUNTEER WITH HOSPICE: HPH Hospice is recruiting volunteers to help with patient support at the Sturgill Hospice Care Center, visit with patients in their homes or assist the agency with clerical duties. A two-part orientation will be provided to prospective volunteers from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 25 and 26 at the care center, 12242 Cortez Blvd., Spring Hill. Lunch will be provided. Attendance both days is mandatory. There is no cost, but registration is required. Call Anne or Jacque at (352) 597-1882.

READING FEST: The annual Hernando County Reading Festival will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 1 at Nature Coast Technical High School, 4057 California St., south of Brooksville.

The event will include various authors, including: Cheryl Campbell, author of Darling the Curly Tailed Raindoe; Lynn S. Combes, author of A Garden Full of Butterflies; and Michelle Kohlas and Danielle Viverito, authors of My Bully and Me.

The event will include food, games and door prizes. Also on the schedule: Jiggleman at 11:15 a.m.; the Read Across America Parade and Dr. Seuss birthday party at 12:30 p.m.; and a "Puppetry Pride" presentation by BlackLight Theatre at 1:15 p.m. The Spring Hill Power Ranger Team will be on hand.

A free goody bag will be given to the first 300 children to arrive.

The event is offered through the combined efforts of the Hernando County School System/HEART Literacy, the Brooksville Rotary Club, Friends of the Library, the Hernando County Council PTA, the Spring Hill Domino Club and the Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties. For information, call (352) 797-7018.

VIOLET SHOW: The Fantasy African Violet Club will host its 20th annual show and sale from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 1 and from noon to 3 p.m. March 2 at the Oak Hill Hospital H2U Partner's Club, 11375 Cortez Blvd., Spring Hill. Along with a juried show, there will be blooming African violets and other gesneriads available, as well as potting mix, supplies and information. There will also be a bake sale, a raffle auction and door prizes.

Admission is free. For information, contact Thad Scaggs at (352) 398-1679 or

FESTIVAL IN THE SWAMP: The 21st annual Weeki Wachee Swamp Festival will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 7 and 8 and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 9 at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, 6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee.

The event will feature a variety of live entertainment, arts and crafts, contests, "swamp" foods and more than 200 prize drawings. Admission is $8 at the gate, $4 for children ages 6 to 12 and free for ages 5 and younger. Remote parking will be offered at the Sand Hill Scout Reservation on Cortez Boulevard, with free shuttle service provided.

Proceeds will benefit the Hernando Environmental Land Protectors, the Weeki Wachee Crime Watch, the Weeki Wachee Area Club and other local nonprofit organizations. For information, call (352) 556-5807 or (352) 597-4424. Visit the website at

ROTARY FOOD DRIVE: The Rotary Club of Spring Hill Central has kicked off its Rotary Has Heart campaign to help provide food for Hernando County children in need.

Collection boxes for donations of nonperishable food items are at the Hernando Oaks pro shop, off U.S. 41 south of Brooksville, and at BB&T Bank, 11234 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill.

All food collected will be donated to People Helping People's Weekend Blessings program, which provides backpacks of food each weekend to local schoolchildren. Donations will be collected through the end of February. For information, visit or call Doug at (352) 442-1156.

JAZZ SOCIETY SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM: The Hernando Jazz Society will award at least three $500 scholarships for private instrumental or voice lessons. Students in the ninth through 12th grades are eligible.

Applications must include a recording of the student performing and a letter of reference for pre-audition screening. Applicants must perform a solo with accompaniment; the solo does not have to be in jazz style. Accompaniment may be live or recorded. Recordings can be MP3 or a WAV file. A CD may be mailed or a file attached to an email.

Finalists will be invited to the live auditions, which will be 1 p.m. April 12 at Spring Hill United Church of Christ, 4244 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill. Winners will be asked to perform at the May 18 gathering of the Hernando Jazz Society. For information and an application, contact Louis Mauro at (352) 666-1749 or

CHILD LOSS GROUP TO START: HPH Hospice has created a new Loss of a Child support group for parents or guardians who are grieving the death of a child of any age. The eight-week group will meet from 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesdays, beginning March 5, at HPH, 12254 Cortez Blvd. (Building 2), Spring Hill.

The group is open to all individuals who have lost a child, whether in hospice care or not, regardless of the circumstances.

An experienced hospice bereavement counselor will facilitate. Participants will have an opportunity to talk about their emotions and experiences in a confidential setting, while learning how to better understand and manage their grief.

There is no cost to participate. For information, call the HPH bereavement department toll-free 1-800-486-8784.

TREASURES AND SWEETS: The United Methodist Men and Women will host an Attic Treasure and Bake Sale from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 7 and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 8 at First Methodist Church, 109 S Broad St., Brooksville. Proceeds will benefit projects such as scholarships, the Florida Methodist Children's Home, a local backpack ministry and local missions. For information, call (352) 796-3363.

ANTIQUE APPRAISAL SHOW: The St. Frances Cabrini Knights of Columbus Council 13209 will host its annual Spring Antique Appraisal Show from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. March 8 in Xavier Hall at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church, 5030 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill.

This event is fashioned after the Antiques Roadshow television program. It will include a certified personal property appraiser, Dale Smrekar, who specializes in collectibles, fine art, jewelry, coins and paper money, oil paintings, sports memorabilia, antique guns, antique swords and knives, vintage toys and other items. Those wishing to have an appraisal on an item too large to bring, such as furniture, may bring photos of the item.

Only verbal appraisals will be given. The cost is $5 per appraisal. There will be no buying or selling.

Refreshments will be available. For information, call Jack Hauser at (352) 686-9767 or (352) 238-1878.

Hernando County news and notes 02/13/14 [Last modified: Friday, February 14, 2014 3:59pm]
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