How long have you lived in Hernando County, and where do you live? Where did you live previously?
I was born in Land O'Lakes. When I was 11 years old, my grandparents moved to Brooksville. I attended Brooksville Elementary School my second-grade year, but only that year. I moved back to Brooksville in 1984 when I married, and my children were born and raised here.
Who are the members of your family?
My son, Cole Fletcher, and his family, including fiancee Amanda Watkins and their daughter, Brady, recently moved to Alabama. My daughter, Willow Fletcher, who is a sophomore at Hernando High School, lives with me.
Tell us about your career.
My career is in hotel management. I've been the general manager at Days Inn Brooksville, near I-75 east of Brooksville, for the past 11 years. My duties include marketing, sales and general hospitality.
What kinds of activities are you involved in now?
I am the co-chairman for the Hernando County Chamber of Commerce's East Side Development Committee. As co-chair I handle our monthly meetings, help recruit new businesses and promote the chamber in general.
Our committee hosts two large events each year — the annual Light Up Ridge Manor Christmas Festival and the Business to Business Social.
This is our third year for the Ridge Manor Christmas Festival. This year's event is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday at Sunrise Plaza on Cortez Boulevard in Ridge Manor West.
The event is free for both vendors and the public. We'll have Santa Claus, Christmas carolers, a bookmobile, a cake walk, children's games and activities, raffles, prizes, clowns and music provided by DJ Bob Pepe. WWJB-AM 1450 will broadcast live. All proceeds from the raffle will benefit Jericho Road Ministries.
The chamber's Business to Business Social is open to any Hernando County at no cost. The event is a great way for business folks to network and promote their business as well as intra-county commerce.
In addition to my chamber service, I'm also a member of the Kiwanis Club of Brooksville Ridge and have participated in three of the club's book reading events. The club sponsors Goodwill's BookWorks program in Hernando County, and regularly visits local preschools and day care centers to read to children. After story time, each child receives a book to take home. The purpose of the program is to instill a love of books and reading in children.
In the Days Inn family, I serve as the Florida Days Inn Alliance chairwoman and cover all Days Inns in Florida. Together with the board members, we decide where our marketing and promotional effort will focus in addition to sales and marketing decisions. We help decide where the advertising funds will be spent.
I'm also a Hernando High School FFA alumni member and currently serve as treasurer.
Do you have any special hobbies?
I like to go horseback riding, fishing, camping, air-boating and four-wheeling.
What are your favorite things to do in Hernando County?
I've recently started kayaking down the Weeki Wachee River. It's my new favorite thing to do. But I'm working on my bucket list so I have a list of things I would like to do, including having dinner on a train and taking a hot air balloon ride.
Since I live on the river, my daughter and I love to ride our horses on the Withlacoochee River trails. But, truth be told, my granddaughter is my favorite hobby. Since they only moved less than a month ago, I'm still taking it very hard.
What do you think would make Hernando County a better place to live?
I think we need more progressive thought processes to bring businesses to our county. Our No. 1 job should be creating jobs for our county and our youth. And I definitely think we need to replace Sue Rupe, our tourism development coordinator for Hernando County. If we don't fill that position, our county will suffer tremendously.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.
I'm very loyal to my friends and family. It's my No. 1 priority of everything I do. I work very hard, striving to do better. I don't like to settle for less than the best I can do. If something scares me, I push myself even harder to do it. I don't want anything to hold me back, especially fear.
Hernando Neighbors is an occasional feature of the Hernando Times. Do you know someone who would make a good profile? We'd like to hear from you. Contact Jean Hayes, community news coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1438.