Wednesday, December 13, 2017
News Roundup

Facts questioned as vote looms on future of motor coach rally in Hernando

BROOKSVILLE — The Family Motor Coach Association has sent out a ballot to its chapter presidents and national directors asking whether the Southeast Area organization should return to Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport for its 2014 winter rally.

Accompanying the ballot is a batch of letters and memos, including a fact sheet that local officials say isn't very factual.

"We're baffled,'' said Michael McHugh, Hernando business development manager. "Obviously, they have not painted a very favorable viewpoint of our community or our airport.''

Last week, on behalf of the airport, McHugh sent an offer to the organization to cut license fees, take over property maintenance, provide a hangar and round up volunteers to help with the rally. The proposal was designed to solve specific problems identified by association officials. Among those concerns was the fact that the rally, which has been at the Hernando airport for 15 years, was costing more than it was bringing in.

As of Wednesday, McHugh said he had received no formal response.

But the backup material sent to voting officials critiques the county's offer.

Cutting the licensing fee results in "no gain or loss in rally expenses,'' writes Douglas Pearson Sr., a Family Motor Coach Association official.

Having the county provide $8,000 of grounds maintenance and mowing results in "no gain or loss in rally expenses.''

Pearson goes on to say that the county's offer to lease the group a hangar to offset the cost of tents for the rally actually increases expenses for the rally. So does the use of volunteers to help with event.

"In summary,'' he writes, "Hernando County has not provided any concessions that would reduce our operating expense. On the contrary, when studied, their offerings actually increase our financial obligations.''

Pearson says accepting an offer from the Volusia County Fair Association to move the rally there would be a better way "to stop the bleeding.''

Hernando County Aviation Authority Chairman Gary Schraut said he was confused by Pearson's assessment.

"I couldn't make heads or tails of it,'' Schraut said. "This whole thing is slanted toward them going to Daytona.''

The fact sheet also talks about the deteriorating west runway where the rally is held in Hernando and problems with the roof, door and lighting in the storage buildings and office space the association uses at the airport.

Schraut said the runway is in good enough shape to drive on at 80 mph and that the motor coach association owns the building that needs a new roof. He also questioned other details presented as "facts" by Ralph Marino, the national vice president for the association's Southeast Area.

So did County Commissioner Diane Rowden, the commission liaison to the airport.

"I was really shocked when I saw the facts here,'' Rowden said. "They're just looking for anything to make us look bad.''

Marino urges the voting directors to vote to move the rally.

"After careful review of the (Southeast Area's) financials, the decision to stay at the airport and continue to lose money or to move to the Volusia County Fairgrounds is up to you,'' Marino wrote.

Completed ballots are due Wednesday.

Schraut said he planned to talk to the Aviation Authority about the latest developments during today's regularly scheduled meeting and hopes to get information to the voting officials that presents a more accurate picture of Hernando.

"We do not believe that what is being presented was a fair assessment of what's taking place,'' he said. "Hopefully, we will get some accurate information disseminated.''

Schraut said that none of the paperwork assembled for the voting directors talks about how the offer Hernando made included plans to work an even better deal for the rally after 2014. There was also no recognition of the 15 years the airport and the association have worked together successfully.

Schraut said he had talked to between 50 and 60 people at this year's rally, and they voiced strong support for staying in Brooksville.

But they are not the association officials who will be voting.

"I am very disappointed in the way this was slanted,'' Schraut said. "Nothing here presents what Volusia would cost. Everything presented here was derogatory to Brooksville and the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport."

Marino did not return a phone call or email from the Times seeking comment.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

Comments
Hometown Pasco for Dec. 15

Hometown Pasco for Dec. 15

We want your news!Hometown Pasco is devoted to everyday life in our county, whether it’s snapshots from your family reunion, recreational sporting event, news from your last club meeting or just a few lines thanking someone for a job well done. You ...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
Top 5 at Noon: Home flipping starts flopping in Tampa Bay; Gasparilla Music Fest lineup is big; Free McDonald's McNugget Day

Top 5 at Noon: Home flipping starts flopping in Tampa Bay; Gasparilla Music Fest lineup is big; Free McDonald's McNugget Day

Our top stories today at noon.
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Pasco Business Digest for Dec. 15

Pasco Business Digest for Dec. 15

Business digestWho’s newsHOSPITAL APPOINTS ASSISTANT CHIEF NURSING OFFICER: Registered nurse Courtney Stephenson, board certified nurse executive advanced, was recently appointed assistant chief nursing officer at Medical Center of Trinity. Stephenso...
Updated: 23 minutes ago

Hernando Vendors for Dec. 15

Vendors are needed for the following nonprofit events:• Vendors and volunteers are being sought for a National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day event from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 21 at Crescent Community Clinic, 5244 Commercial Way, Spring Hill. During t...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Tampa airport ranks No. 4 for most affordable parking rates

Tampa airport ranks No. 4 for most affordable parking rates

TAMPA — Holiday flight prices may be high, but parking rates at Tampa International Airport are a little more manageable. TIA has the fourth-cheapest parking rates in the country, a study by travel and expense app company TravelBank said. TIA, the st...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Dunedin City Commission punts decision on paid parking

Dunedin City Commission punts decision on paid parking

DUNEDIN — At 1 a.m. Wednesday, after seven hours of public input and back-and-forth discussion on the dais, the City Commission failed to agree on a path forward for the downtown paid parking trial program that was scheduled to expire Tuesday.Instead...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

BROOKSVILLE — The new year could bring about new beginnings for at-risk girls in Hernando County.Pending a vote by the School Board next month, PACE Center for Girls, an alternative education program for middle- and high-school students, could open a...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hometown Hernando for Dec. 15

Hometown Hernando for Dec. 15

We want your news!Hometown Hernando is devoted to everyday life in our county, whether it’s snapshots from your family reunion, recreational sporting event, news from your last club meeting or just a few lines thanking someone for a job well done. Y...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Hernando Government Meetings for Dec. 15

Here is a listing of public meetings scheduled for this week:MondayBrooksville City Council, 7 p.m., council chambers, City Hall, 201 Howell Ave., Brooksville.TuesdayBrooksville Housing Authority Board Meeting, 5 p.m. council chambers, City Hall, 201...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pinellas sheriff to announce findings of excessive force investigation

Pinellas sheriff to announce findings of excessive force investigation

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri will announce Wednesday the findings of an internal investigation sparked by dashboard camera video that appears to show deputies beating, choking and yanking the hair of a 25-year-old man during an arrest.Gualti...
Updated: 1 hour ago