Thursday, November 23, 2017
News Roundup

Hernando commission joins state effort to become test site for drones

RECOMMENDED READING


BROOKSVILLE — Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport is back in the running to become a testing site for unmanned drones.

Before a fired-up group of opponents, the Hernando County Commission voted 3-2 Tuesday to become part of the Space Florida initiative, a coalition of public, private and academic entities that has applied to be one of six drone testing sites the Federal Aviation Administration is seeking across the country.

That coalition includes NASA, a smattering of other Florida airports and universities across the state.

For Hernando to get a piece of the drone-testing business, Space Florida would have to be chosen by the FAA, and Hernando then would have to be offered a project that the County Commission would be willing to take on.

Two weeks ago, commission Chairman Dave Russell shut down discussion regarding the issue, causing the county to miss a deadline to submit its own application. Since then, the county learned that Space Florida had applied by the deadline and Hernando could get into the running under that umbrella.

Protesters waved anti-drone signs outside the county government center in downtown Brooksville before Tuesday's meeting, and plenty stuck around to criticize the drone-testing idea.

Testing would defeat the rebranding effort the county has been working on for the airport, argued Brian Moore of the NatureCoast Coalition for Peace and Justice. "You're going to hurt your marketability" and keep companies from relocating to the county.

Ana Trinque, speaking on behalf of the Hernando County Association of Realtors, read a letter supporting the county's effort. The Realtors said this was a "once-in-a-lifetime chance."

Michael McHugh, the county's business development director, explained that the resolution approved Tuesday would simply keep the county in the running for drone testing and related projects; each project would have to come before the County Commission for a separate vote, he said.

Commissioner Diane Rowden made a motion to approve the resolution, then read a new version with more focus on developing safety and privacy protocols.

Commissioner Jim Adkins said he would support the resolution because of the added safety and privacy provisions and because if a project popped up and wasn't acceptable, the commission could back out.

Russell and Commissioner Wayne Dukes said they could not support the resolution.

Dukes said he had seen airplane crashes and worried about safety. Russell repeated his previous argument that, as a pilot, he was not comfortable with drone testing at the Hernando airport because the technology still isn't perfected to avoid collisions.

That technology, Russell said, "needs to be developed somewhere else."

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

Comments
Thanksgiving forecast: Rain today, but sunny skies this weekend

Thanksgiving forecast: Rain today, but sunny skies this weekend

It’s going to be a wet Thanksgiving across Tampa Bay, but sunny skies are coming during the long weekend, according to WTSP 10Weather meteorologist Ric Kearbey. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Self-proclaimed Nazi banned from University of North Florida — but allowed to remain a student

Self-proclaimed Nazi banned from University of North Florida — but allowed to remain a student

A self-proclaimed Nazi is banned from the University of North Florida’s campus — but will remain a student, university officials said.Ken Parker, a 37-year-old Navy veteran who once served as the grand dragon, or highest-ranking leader, of the Ku Klu...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Days after a high fever, Jon Mott wins his fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

Days after a high fever, Jon Mott wins his fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

CLEARWATER — On Tuesday, Jon Mott had a 103-degree fever. That was not enough to keep him from maintaining his dominance Thursday at the 39th Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot.The former Northeast standout added to his record with his fifth title in the ev...
Updated: 2 hours ago
President Trump presents his report card, passes with flying colors

President Trump presents his report card, passes with flying colors

PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump has a Thanksgiving Day message for the nation: Look at all I’ve done. Trump is telling followers in an early-morning holiday tweet that, "your Country is starting to do really well." He says: Jobs are "coming back,...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Lutz pedestrian dies in accident on U.S. 41

LUTZ — A man is dead after deputies said he walked into the path of a car on U.S. Route 41 Wednesday night.Charles Miller, 69 of Lutz, was walking east across the highway at 7:34 p.m., according to Florida Highway Patrol.Daniel Johnson, 35 and also o...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Police: Family hit on Dale Mabry Highway in stable condition

TAMPA — The mother and two small children who were hit by a car while trying to cross Dale Mabry Highway on Wednesday were all in stable condition by Thanksgiving morning, said Tampa police. Investigators said the family is not originally from the Ta...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tarpon Springs seeking to honor sponger George Billiris

Tarpon Springs seeking to honor sponger George Billiris

TARPON SPRINGS — The city is considering a way to honor the legacy of the late longtime sponge merchant George Billiris at a city building. "We know how he promoted Tarpon Springs," Commissioner David Banther said at a recent City Commission meeting....
Published: 11/23/17
New Weeki Wachee basketball coach transitions from years on college sidelines

New Weeki Wachee basketball coach transitions from years on college sidelines

WEEKI WACHEE — Mark Lee was looking for an accomplished coach to take over Weeki Wachee High’s boys basketball team. Not only did he find what he was searching for, but he may have gone above and beyond with the hiring of Rick Scruggs.The 30-year vet...
Published: 11/23/17
Bar review: Fashion and adult beverages at Bartique in St. Petersburg

Bar review: Fashion and adult beverages at Bartique in St. Petersburg

Like many people, I treat holiday shopping as a terrifying last-minute ordeal — a scramble to fill out gift lists with a number of items that, despite a complete lack of planning, will somehow seem thoughtful.You know what would make this whole thing...
Published: 11/23/17
Florida 10-year-old is one of 21 kids suing federal government over climate change

Florida 10-year-old is one of 21 kids suing federal government over climate change

At age 10, Levi Draheim hates math and loves reading Harry Potter books. He plays the violin but dislikes practicing. What he really enjoys is paddling a kayak or going swimming. It helps that he lives just a five-minute walk from the beach in the to...
Updated: 2 hours ago