Sunday, February 18, 2018
News Roundup

Hernando shouldn't bank on rock mining for its economic future

The tall berms that hide rock mining in Hernando County, a government-imposed regulation, actually do the mines a big favor: Very few people see how bad they really are.

Trees, grass, topsoil, everything alive, is stripped away to get to the rock. West Virginia coal mines do mountaintop removal. Florida rock mines do ridge removal, because that's where the best rock is.

And, as has been shown by the few feeble, local efforts, reclamation should not be confused with restoration.

Even Brooksville lawyer Joe Mason — one of the powerful landowners who have revived their 3-year-old request to lease several hundred acres of land for rock mining — says there are lines to be drawn when it comes to mining.

Nobody's greedily rubbing his hands at the thought of bulldozers ripping apart downtown Brooksville or Chinsegut Hill, probably the two biggest and best reserves of hard rock in the county. They're too valuable, he said, too important to what the county is all about.

I'd say the same for the site of this proposed mine, west of Brooksville and across from Bayfront Health Brooksville.

Wednesday's public meeting to discuss the plan will no doubt draw lots of neighbors, worried about what it will do to their corner of the county.

It should draw people from all over, worried about what it will do to the economic future of the county — or, really, whether Hernando even wants to move on to the future.

This county is working hard and investing a lot of its money, and much more of the state's, to make itself over as a recreation and tourist destination.

Think of the $1.5 million for renovating the Chinsegut manor house, the $7 million plans for an environmental education center in Hernando Beach, $8.7 million worth of upgrades at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.

And then, at the western gateway to Brooksville, the town that could and should be at the heart of all this emphasis on history and beauty, we're thinking about installing a wasteland — hidden, of course, behind woods or berms (and maybe stores and houses, because the owners want to keep some land for commercial and residential development).

But isn't mining a big source of jobs for the community? Not really. Not anymore.

The industry employs 69 people in Hernando, according to the most recent statistics available from the state Department of Economic Opportunity. Adding this land isn't about adding jobs; it won't expand the operation, but give it more years of life.

That came from an official from the company during a 2011 meeting to talk about the old plan. That company, by the way, is the giant Mexican firm Cemex, meaning the proceeds won't stay in the county, except for lease payments going to the likes of Mason and retired mining executive Tommy Bronson, who owns the most of the property.

And that future source of jobs, in arts, entertainment and recreation? Actually, it's already a bigger part of the present than mining, with more than 500 employees, according to the state. That doesn't include more than 5,000 people employed by businesses such as motels and restaurants, a sector that will grow right along with the tourism industry.

Or won't grow, if we don't draw the right lines for the right land uses in the right places.

Comments

Pinellas Sheriff’s Office accuses 14-year-old of copycat Snapchat school threat

PINELLAS PARK — The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office late Saturday said detectives arrested a 14-year-old boy and accused him of posting a threat to a school on his Snapchat account.Edward Charles Osgood, who attends Lealman Innovation Academy, was a...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Ten things to know about Stormy Daniels

Ten things to know about Stormy Daniels

1. Was editor of her high school newspaper, president of her 4-H club.2. Started stripping at age 17 in Baton Rouge, La.3. Made her first porn film with a girlfriend.4. Took her stage name from the Motley Crue bassist, who named his son Storm, and fr...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Trump adviser: Russian meddling ‘incontrovertible’

Trump adviser: Russian meddling ‘incontrovertible’

MUNICH — President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said Saturday there was "incontrovertible" evidence of a Russian plot to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election, a blunt statement that shows how significantly the new criminal charges leveled by an...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Prominent Republican donor issues an ultimatum

Prominent Republican donor issues an ultimatum

A prominent Republican political donor demanded on Saturday that the party pass legislation to restrict access to guns, and vowed not to contribute to any candidates or electioneering groups that did not support a ban on the sale of military-style fi...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Hundreds rally against gun violence in downtown St. Pete

Hundreds rally against gun violence in downtown St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG — A red heart-shaped balloon rose above crowd of several hundred people that had gathered at Williams Park on Saturday evening to mourn Wednesday’s school shooting in Broward County and to protest gun violence.Below the balloon, signs ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Trumpeter is the highlight of a concert featuring ‘West Side Story’ themes

Trumpeter is the highlight of a concert featuring ‘West Side Story’ themes

TAMPA — Leonard Bernstein would have turned 100 this year. The Florida Orchestra performed two of his works Friday, the second of which paired the dances from West Side Story with the overture to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet.The orches...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Stormy at the strip club: A porn star cashes in on presidential connection

Stormy at the strip club: A porn star cashes in on presidential connection

TAMPA — In the center of the nightclub, between the cigar case and bustling bar, a giant screen blankets the back wall. Usually, ads for drink specials and coming attractions scroll across.But Friday night, a life-size picture of President Donald Tru...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Man found dead in flaming mobile home

TAMPA — Firefighters found a man dead inside a burned-down mobile home Saturday.Tampa Fire Rescue got a call just after 4:30 p.m. that a single-wide mobile home at the 100 block of East Linebaugh Avenue was in flames.The man’s identity was not releas...
Published: 02/17/18
‘I’m going to watch you bleed’: Nikolas Cruz threatened ex’s new boyfriend, report says

‘I’m going to watch you bleed’: Nikolas Cruz threatened ex’s new boyfriend, report says

Warning: This story quotes graphic material.Before he killed 17 people at a South Florida high school, Nikolas Cruz repeatedly threatened an ex-classmate who had started dating his former girlfriend, according to a report in Buzzfeed News."I’m going ...
Published: 02/17/18

Police find dead man in Tampa apartment

TAMPA — Police found a dead man inside an apartment in the 5200 block of Sonora Court Friday after 3 p.m.Who the man is or how long he’s been dead is not yet clear, police said. The victim appears to have been killed in some sort of "homicidal violen...
Published: 02/17/18