Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Resolve to remember Hernando County's best of 2011

I’ve never liked celebrating the new year, never been able to look at it as a fresh start rather than as the passage of one more year.

Assuming that at least some of you feel the same way, I'll use this space to look back at events that might brighten the mood a little.

Not a lot, probably, because in 2011 the pickings were slim for good news. But maybe enough to temporarily divert our attention from the year-end rehashing of murders, political ugliness and economic misery.

With that modest goal in mind, here goes:

As inappropriate as it may be to compare an event as insignificant as finishing the Hernando Beach dredge with one as historic as Watergate, I can't resist paraphrasing President Gerald Ford's remarks on taking the oath of office.

Finally, our long county nightmare is over.

At the end of last week, the county reported that dredge contractor BCPeabody had achieved "substantial completion" of the dredge, a project that has dragged on for more than 17 years.

Most of the work was done in the past few months, after Peabody started doing this job the way they were done in the state's dredge-and-fill heyday: scooping up dirt with heavy equipment and floating it away on a barge.

This is still a good approach, apparently, unless you're a Hernando Beach homeowner with a vulnerable seawall or dock.

But it makes you wonder all the more why the dredge had to be such a big deal, why the county had to sink so many resources into trying to build complicated "dewatering" systems to accommodate even more complicated dredging systems.

We already know how much time all this wasted. Soon we'll know exactly how much money was squandered, and it's sure to be a sickening sum.

But for now, lift your Bloody Mary glass and toast the good news about the dredge: It's nearly done.

When looking for signs of hope, Partners in Health — the organization started by former Brooksville resident Paul Farmer — is a good place to start. That's true even though the agency works in some of the poorest, least hopeful countries in the world, including Haiti.

One of the most ambitious projects undertaken to help the country recover from its massive earthquake two years ago is a 320-bed teaching hospital that PIH is building in the town of Mirebalais.

Look at this page — pih.org/mirebalais — on the group's website to see photographs of the nearly complete, large, white building in a valley in the central plateau.

The cholera epidemic still represents a major threat to Haitians. And thousands of them still live in the tarp cities that appeared after the earthquake.

But after hearing about so much misery in Haiti, the fact that a modern hospital is due to open in just a few months not only seems like good news; it almost seems like a miracle.

If there was ever a local public employee who came close to showing Farmer's level of commitment, I would have to nominate Kristin Wood, the former director of the Chinsegut Nature Center.

She got a bum deal a year ago, getting forced out of this job after transforming the center, north of Brooksville, into a vital teaching facility with a core of enthusiastic volunteers.

What's good about that? The center survived a proposed budget cut by Gov. Rick Scott and was able to hire a replacement director.

Look for information about the center on the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's website — myfwc.com — and you'll see it is still holding events such as Pioneer Day. It's still around and functioning, in other words.

Also, Wood has been hired part-time, developing programs at the Dade Battlefield Historic State Park in Bushnell, which is good news not only for her, but anyone who plans to visit the park.

Finally, let's look at the continued slide in the local housing market. This is devastating for our economy and especially for the 13.1 percent of county residents who are unemployed.

But consider that last year the Legislature dismantled the Department of Community Affairs and the Hernando County Commission approved the Quarry Preserve, a so-called new city with room for 5,800 residential units far north of Brooksville.

Later in the year, the commission also did away with impact fees altogether. Right now, in other words, nobody in charge seems to know how to responsibly manage growth. If it were surging right now, with the current policies in place, it would be brutal on the economy and our public bank accounts.

In the spirit of desperately looking for a bright side, we can consider this lull in development good news.

Still, let's hope the market turns around — and, while we're at it, for some farsighted leadership.

Let's hope for a fresh start in the new year.

Resolve to remember Hernando County's best of 2011 12/31/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 31, 2011 11:43am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. State rolls out food assistance program for residents affected by Hurricane Irma

    Hurricanes

    Help is on the way for Florida residents struggling to put food on the table after Hurricane Irma.

    The Salvation Army Mobile Food Pantry hlped out with free food in Largo after Hurricane Irma. Now, the federal government is expanding access to food for people affected by the storm. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  2. Kriseman proclaims Buy Local week in St. Pete to quicken storm recovery

    Blogs

    Mayor Rick Kriseman has proclaimed next week to be "'Burg Buy Local Week" in an appeal to residents to help small businesses struggling to recover from Hurricane Irma.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman wants St. Pete residents to help small businesses recover from Hurricane Irma
  3. Only one Hernando County school needs schedule adjustment after Irma

    Blogs

    Hernando County public school students missed seven days of classes because of Hurricane Irma.

    Challenger K-8 School served as a Hernando County shelter during Hurricane Irma. Students returned to classes Monday, and won't need to make up any missed time.
  4. Editorial: Ready to put Irma behind? Maybe it's time to get ready, instead

    Editorials

    One can only marvel now, looking back at the radar image of Hurricane Irma whirling and jerking north between Tampa and Orlando and leaving two of Florida's major population centers with only scattered damage from its high winds.

    A hand-painted sign signals a West Tampa homeowner's resolve as Hurricane Irma approached the Tampa Bay Area on Sept. 10. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA   |   Times]
  5. Investigation launched into HHS Secretary Tom Price's travel on charter jets

    Nation

    Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price will face an inspector general's investigation into his reported use of chartered jets for at least two dozen flights in recent months at taxpayer expense.

    Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price will face an inspector general's investigation into his reported use of chartered jets for at least two dozen flights in recent months at taxpayer expense. A spokeswoman for HHS Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson told The Washington Post on Friday that the agency will request records of Price's travel and review the justification made by Price and his staff for the trips, which reportedly cost taxpayers a combined $300,000. [Associated Press]