Tuesday, February 20, 2018
News Roundup

Blueberry festival, fair to request aid from Hernando

BROOKSVILLE — Organizers of two of Hernando County's largest public events will appear before county commissioners Tuesday in the hope of coaxing thousands of dollars of cash and in-kind services to support their efforts.

As they have the past two years, Florida Blueberry Festival representatives will ask commissioners for $14,000 to be used toward the estimated $30,000 cost of closing two state roads during the two-day event, planned for April 12 and 13. In addition to asking the county to waive fees for facility use, permits and use of county vehicles for transportation, organizers are asking the Tourist Development Council to pitch in $5,000 to help with marketing efforts.

Festival chairwoman Michael Heard said that the blueberry festival, which is in its third year, has a proven track record for attracting visitors to the area, and she wants the county to continue as the event's co-sponsor. While the festival has posted a modest profit its first two years, it hasn't been enough to sustain the event on its own, Heard said. Support from the county is essential to keep the festival's momentum going.

"(The festival) has shown itself to be a win-win for every resident and business owner in Hernando," Heard said. "We bring in a lot of people who stay in our motels and eat in our restaurants. I think anyone would consider that a good investment for our future."

Whether the same can be said about the Hernando County Fair is up for debate. According to financial figures provided by the Hernando County Fair Association, last year's fair earned about $86,000 in profit.

However, the association itself posted an overall deficit of $30,026 for the reporting period that ran from June 1, 2012, to May 31, 2013. The money drain isn't just a recent trend, either. Documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service show losses of $43,809 in 2010, $42,450 in 2011 and $30,101 in 2012.

Fair association president Robin McAndrew, who will be asking commissioners for about $20,000 to help with marketing expenses for this year's fair, plus a waiver for dumping fees, said that the organization's financial struggles are due mainly to the lagging economy, which has curtailed fair attendance and cut into the association's income from rental of the fairgrounds. Operational costs consume a good portion of the association's annual budget.

McAndrew said she hopes that this year's fair, which is set for April 4 to 12, will help the organization close its financial gap.

"We've never asked for any help from the county before, and that says something," McAndrew said. "We've done a lot of work to make it the best fair it can be. And it's going to take a lot more work to rebuild it back up."

County Commissioner Dave Russell said he was surprised to learn of the fair association's financial plight, and was uncertain as to how it would affect his decision on whether to grant the event financial assistance.

"It seems to me there's going to be a lot of discussion about it on Tuesday," Russell said.

Commissioner Jim Adkins, who along with Russell once sat on the association's board of directors, said he's not in favor of the county doling out tax dollars to support public events, and wants to take a wait-and-see approach before making a decision to support either event.

"If we had lots of money, maybe I might think differently," Adkins said. "But we don't have lots of money."

Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.

Comments
The Daystarter: The St. Petersburg-Habana Yacht Race returns to a difficult climate; meet Stormy Daniels; and commandos come to Palm Harbor.

The Daystarter: The St. Petersburg-Habana Yacht Race returns to a difficult climate; meet Stormy Daniels; and commandos come to Palm Harbor.

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• For the latest legislative coverage from Tallahassee, keep checking The Buzz, which is updated throughout the day by the reporters of the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau.• We...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Romano: Until the Parkland shooting, lawmakers ignored requests for school safety funds

Romano: Until the Parkland shooting, lawmakers ignored requests for school safety funds

His words and his pleas are similar to what we’ve heard from others in recent days.Kids deserve to feel safe when they walk into a classroom in Florida. More security is needed. More boots on the ground would be helpful. Mostly, more money must be de...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Today: Senate to put its own stamp on Florida education proposals

Today: Senate to put its own stamp on Florida education proposals

The massive education measure known as House Bill 7055 has received plenty of attention during the legislative session, with its emphasis on decertifying teachers’ unions and using state-backed scholarship programs to steer kids away from public scho...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Following deaths from Irma, Florida looks to new rules for keeping nursing homes cool after outages

Following deaths from Irma, Florida looks to new rules for keeping nursing homes cool after outages

After national headlines and a public outcry over the deaths of 14 people at a Broward County nursing home after Hurricane Irma, nursing homes across the state are working to comply with new rules requiring them to have back-up power.But the process ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

The 2017 St. Petersburg-Habana Yacht Race was celebrated as more than a competitive regatta to Cuba’s capital city of Havana.The relaunch of the maritime competition cancelled since 1959 was hailed as a reflection of the detente started under Preside...
Published: 02/20/18
Girl, 12, sister of murder victim, calls relative after being reported missing

Girl, 12, sister of murder victim, calls relative after being reported missing

Seven months ago, Jalyssa Shannon’s older sister Janessa went missing, sparking a frantic search that ended with the discovery of the 13-year-old’s body in a Hillsborough County nature preserve and, later, the arrest of the girls’ father in her murde...
Updated: 6 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Feb. 19

Monday’s scoreboardSoftballSpringstead 11, Central 0
Updated: 8 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Mon., Feb. 19, midday:46 278 6907e_SRit78769Mon., Feb. 19, evening:59 597 4363e_SRit97936Fantasy 5Mon., Feb. 19...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Updated: 8 hours ago
Water Wars starting to simmer again in Tampa Bay

Water Wars starting to simmer again in Tampa Bay

CLEARWATER — A simmering feud between Tampa and the regional water authority avoided boiling over Monday, but little was resolved.At a Tampa Bay Water meeting, board members requested Tampa work with the agency on the city’s plan to convert tens of m...
Updated: 9 hours ago