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Organizers of Brooksville's Juneteenth Festival scramble as event nears

BROOKSVILLE — Organizers of Brooksville's annual Juneteenth Festival are having to do some last-minute scrambling in order to hold the celebration next week at the Brooksville Elks Lodge.

In a letter to county officials Friday, Paul Douglas, past president of the Hernando County Branch of the NAACP, said he was withdrawing his promise to pay for liability insurance because of questions of possible criminal activity by the event's founder, Paul Boston.

"If any authority is utilizing any statement of support by me, personally, I hereby disavow and withdraw such statements," Douglas said in his letter.

Boston, organizer of the event that marks the end of slavery and celebrates African-American culture, said he is planning to go on with the festival.

"We're going to meet with the (Elks Lodge) members on Sunday and discuss what needs to be done," Boston said "Everything is going to be fine."

Briefly a Brooksville City Council candidate until he was disqualified earlier this week for not meeting residency requirements, Boston, along with his daughter, LaRhonda Travick, was the subject of an investigation after police said he lied about living within the city limits throughout the past year.

According to Brooksville Police Chief George Turner, Boston provided a signed affidavit from his daughter claiming that he lived with her at Hillside Estates prior to his moving into another housing unit there.

Turner said Travick later told police she didn't write the affidavit but instead signed a document written by Boston that she claims she never read.

While no formal charges have been brought against either Boston or his daughter, Douglas nonetheless decided to pull his financial support of $320 needed to pay for insurance on equipment that festival organizers are borrowing from the county.

Hernando County community public relations coordinator Brenda Frazier said Boston contacted her and assured her that the insurance requirement would be met Monday.

The festival, which is slated to include live entertainment, food vendors and guest speakers, was originally to include a hospitality area at the sheriff's substation on Dr. M.L. King Jr. Boulevard. However, Boston said he had to scrap the idea after being unable to raise the necessary funds to pay for street closures.

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or lneill@tampabay.com.

Organizers of Brooksville's Juneteenth Festival scramble as event nears 06/08/12 [Last modified: Friday, June 8, 2012 8:14pm]
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