Friday, December 15, 2017
News Roundup

Turnout small, but concerns big over drone testing in Hernando

SPRING HILL — While turnout may have lagged at Brian Moore's public meeting Thursday to discuss drone testing in Hernando County, those who did participate expressed big fears about the potential project.

Chief among them was David Lemon, a pilot at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport. Lemon voiced concerns about the testing when the Hernando County Aviation Authority agreed last week to move forward in the application process, seeking to make the airport a test site.

The Federal Aviation Administration is seeking six such sites across the country, and Hernando officials are working with a drone support company, TaSM LLC, to put the county on that list.

At Thursday's meeting at the West Hernando/S.T. Foggia Branch Library, Lemon, a former member of the Aviation Authority, expounded on his concerns over how drone testing might affect the local community of pilots. The test sites would be used to find out how unmanned drones would fit in with general aviation activities like those conducted at the airport south of Brooksville.

Lemon wondered what would happen if it's determined that drones do not mesh with general aviation activities.

"What happens is I run into a drone and I kill myself,'' he said.

Lemon said he was worried that the authority was trying to push through a project without the public having a full discussion about its merits and potential consequences.

Moore, of the NatureCoast Coalition for Peace and Justice, said he and his group have had concerns about the use of drones overseas for some time, but the deployment of drones domestically poses questions about invasion of privacy, safety of citizens and the potential for "a financial boondoggle with the airport and the county.''

Shirley Miketinac cited information from a recent National Geographic article, which noted that drones can have issues with the signal that guides them and that some have crashed.

"Things can fail,'' Miketinac said. "We can't control it. We would be the experimental laboratory to see how to control this.''

Lemon said he feels resentment because the County Commission tends to rubber-stamp whatever the Aviation Authority recommends. While he pays for airport operations through his hangar rental, "I don't get to vote, and it just irritates me," he said.

He also said that, if drone testing is needed, it should be done in restricted airspace where there is more control, such as along the east coast of Florida — home to the Kennedy Space Center.

Moore said he was concerned about what the drones could be used for domestically, and he pointed out that, as a regular protester of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there was a time when sheriff's deputies would covertly observe his protests and take down license plate numbers to see who was participating.

"God knows what they're going to do with a drone,'' Moore said.

Miketinac said she plans to continue telling county commissioners of her concerns during Tuesday meetings, and she encouraged the other half-dozen people at the meeting to do the same. The group also decided to attend the April meeting of the Aviation Authority.

Moore plans another public meeting on drones from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. today at the Spring Hill Branch/Harold G. Zopp Memorial Library on Spring Hill Drive. An ad hoc group, including Miketinac and her husband, will sponsor an anti-drone demonstration at the old Hernando County Courthouse in Brooksville from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Moore's group will be picketing after that, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, at the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport office, off Spring Hill Drive.

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

Comments

AOL Instant Messenger is no more, and it’s okay your inner 13-year-old is crying

Saying goodbye to an old friend stings.On the morning of Dec. 15, 2017, AOL Instant Messenger died.Take a moment to allow the 13-year-old inside of you let out a deep sob; think about the bulletin you wish you could post to your MySpace page about ho...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

LARGO — Eight months after paying $10.15 million for the office building that houses IT services company Vology, a New York company is suing the Pinellas County Property Appraiser and Florida Department of Revenue contending its $5.5 million tax asse...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Pinellas schools sheltered thousands during Irma. Here’s what it cost

Pinellas schools sheltered thousands during Irma. Here’s what it cost

Three months later, the Pinellas County school district has totaled up the costs of operating 16 schools as shelters for 25,000 evacuees during Hurricane Irma.The district is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, for a reimbursemen...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Being your own lawyer: bad idea. People in Tampa Bay do it anyway.

Being your own lawyer: bad idea. People in Tampa Bay do it anyway.

LARGO — Daniel Richards walked into the courtroom in his orange jail scrubs. Carrying a stack of papers, he stood in front of Pinellas Circuit judge Chris Helinger as she glanced at the handwritten documents he filed days earlier."I foresee foul play...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
New video shows cows beaten and burned at Florida dairy farm

New video shows cows beaten and burned at Florida dairy farm

The Miami Beach-based Animal Recovery Mission has released a video from its undercover abuse investigation at a Central Florida dairy farmThe graphic video, with disturbing images of cows cruelly being beaten, speared, stabbed and burned, was shot by...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Pinellas jury: Clearwater man representing himself is guilty of killing his mother

LARGO — A jury found Daniel Richards guilty of second-degree murder on Friday for the fatal beating of his 83-year-old mother.Richards, a 61-year-old who represented himself during his trial, was sentenced to life in prison.On the night of July 17, 2...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, shot dog, hid in swamp

Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, shot dog, hid in swamp

DOVER — Two Plant City men who ran from deputies and shot a dog were captured after a brief pursuit Thursday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.They ditched the stolen car, ran away on foot, crossed through several yards and then ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hillsborough school district and its teachers are at a bargaining impasse, but still talking

Hillsborough school district and its teachers are at a bargaining impasse, but still talking

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District is at a bargaining impasse with its largest work group, about 20,000 teachers and other employees represented by the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association.The two sides, which began negotiations i...
Updated: 1 hour ago

FHP: Overturned vehicle reported on northbound Howard Frankland

ST. PETERSBURG — Drivers should avoid the northbound Howard Frankland Bridge for a while: The Florida Highway Patrol is responding to a report of an overturned vehicle there.The incident was reported on northbound Interstate 275, near mile marker 32,...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Bay Times’ all-Tampa Bay girls swim teams

Tampa Bay Times’ all-Tampa Bay girls swim teams

Hillsborough County Swimmer of the Year: Morgan Tankersley, Sr., PlantTankersley defended her state title in the 500 free (4:44.75) and placed second in one of the country’s fastest 200 free races in 1:46.75, 2.07 seconds behind Buchholz junior Isa...
Updated: 1 hour ago