Tuesday, April 24, 2018
News Roundup

Year in review: Brooksville plans for blueberry festival sour

BROOKSVILLE — City officials and business leaders in Brooksville hoped the Florida Blueberry Festival they hosted would be a boon for the area — not just for one weekend of the year, but as a baseline for regular public events for years to come. For them, 2017 was a huge disappointment.

At the end of 2016, the Brooksville City Council tinkered with a long-term lease that would give a portion of the city’s Quarry Golf Course to Blueberry Festival organizers. Since 2011, the festival has drawn tens of thousands of visitors annually.

The lease would have given the land to the festival for 40 years. But in the weeks leading up to the council vote, residents started to attend council meetings to complain.

Festival organizers wanted to develop the golf course land into a year-round venue that could include a convention center, an arena, a concert hall, a visitor center or other facilities. Several business leaders supported the plan, but others blasted the council. They said the lease would pull the festival out of downtown Brooksville and that it amounted to a giveaway of city property with its $1-per-year rent provision.

After a lengthy debate in February, the council approved the lease. But months went by, and it was not signed by the festival.

In a surprise announcement in June, festival leader Michael Heard said organizers would not sign the lease and were pulling the event out of Brooksville because the festival had outgrown the area.

Local businesses are planning to run a much smaller blueberry festival in Brooksville in late April.

Barbara Behrendt, Times staff

RELATED: Florida blueberry festival won’t return to Brooksville

Comments
Five options if the Bucs want to trade down from No. 7

Five options if the Bucs want to trade down from No. 7

For months, NFL fans have wondered what the Bucs might do with the No. 7 pick in Thursday's draft, producing a wide range of answers, each with passionate support from some of their fans.But as draft nears, and as the interest level in a talented gro...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Embattled Hernando County commissioner not present at Tuesday’s meeting

Embattled Hernando County commissioner not present at Tuesday’s meeting

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County Commissioner Nick Nicholson was absent from Tuesday’s regular meeting, but he was still the subject of much conversation.Commissioners, stung by the nationwide publicity about Nicholson’s arrest last week on three prosti...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Ex-Bucs QB Jeff Garcia doesn’t care about NFL draft: ‘I have a life’

Ex-Bucs QB Jeff Garcia doesn’t care about NFL draft: ‘I have a life’

So much of the attention Monday surrounding the Bucs' announcing who'd be announcing their late-round draft picks was, of course, that a parrot would be delivering the name of the fourth-round pick to the pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium.But late...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Breaking down the NFL draft with Sam Farmer

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Breaking down the NFL draft with Sam Farmer

On today's Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast, Rick Stroud breaks down the NFL draft with the Los Angeles Times' Sam Farmer.Farmer coordinates a mock draft with beat writers around the league, and it's usually one of the most accurate prognostications...
Updated: 1 hour ago
St. Pete Pier public arts committee to meet with finalists, make decision

St. Pete Pier public arts committee to meet with finalists, make decision

ST. PETERSBURG — The pier public arts committee is expected to decide today which artist or artists will have their work showcased in the new 26-acre Pier District. The committee, which selected six finalists with the help of consultant Ann Wykell, w...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Attorneys: Seminole Heights murder suspect might be mentally ill

Attorneys: Seminole Heights murder suspect might be mentally ill

TAMPA — Attorneys for the man accused of four Seminole Heights murders want a psychologist to determine if their client is mentally ill.The lawyers filed a formal request Tuesday asking a judge to appoint a doctor to assess whether Howell Emanuel Don...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Girls hockey could replace boys lacrosse on Pasco tourism calendar

Girls hockey could replace boys lacrosse on Pasco tourism calendar

NEW PORT RICHEY – Hockey pucks could replace lacrosse balls as the required sports equipment for the holiday tourism season in Wesley Chapel.The Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival, founded by Canadian hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser, is seek...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Disney World hiring 3,500, offers signing bonuses up to $5,000

Disney World hiring 3,500, offers signing bonuses up to $5,000

ORLANDO — In an ever-tightening job market, Disney World is doubling its hiring bonuses for some summer jobs, even for unskilled or part-time positions — as it seeks to hire for 3,500 positions.A housekeeper hired this year at Disney World’s resorts ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
So far, Pasco’s tourism base: Floridians, Canadians

So far, Pasco’s tourism base: Floridians, Canadians

NEW PORT RICHEY – The typical tourist in Pasco County this year most likely is a Floridian.But there are lots of Canadians here as well. Nearly 80 percent drove, rather than flew, to the region. Forty percent stayed in hotels, but more than a quarter...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pitching, defense bring Carrollwood Day to the top in Class 3A

Pitching, defense bring Carrollwood Day to the top in Class 3A

TAMPA — The momentum for Carrollwood Day School's baseball team has grown as the kids have grown the past three or four years — stronger, faster and smarter.The Patriots, in fact, have grown into a relative beast, racking up the best reco...
Updated: 2 hours ago