BROOKSVILLE — Needed for decades and planned over the last couple of years, utility improvements in the first section of south Brooksville are about to become a reality.
The Hernando County Commission on Tuesday approved an $819,110 contract with Goodwin Brothers Construction to complete work on water, sewer and stormwater improvements on St. Francis and Easy streets. Goodwin Brothers, which submitted the low bid among four firms, is a Brooksville-based company.
The work to install a new 8-inch water main to improve fire flow and an 8-inch gravity sewer line with connections to 33 customers now on septic tanks was made possible by a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant.
In addition, a stormwater pipe on St. Francis will be installed, using money from the county's stormwater management fund.
The infrastructure improvements are Phase 1 of an extensive list of community upgrades in south Brooksville that have been talked about by the county's Community Initiatives Team for the last several years.
"A lot of people put a lot of hard work into this,'' Dale Ravencraft of environmental services told the commission.
Portions of south Brooksville lie in the city limits of Brooksville, and the city has also gotten a $750,000 block grant to continue upgrades to the neighborhood and is finalizing grant agreements to move forward.
Bids for that project, which will also upgrade and replace old and undersized water lines and add hydrants to improve fire flow, should be sought before the end of the year, according to city community development director Bill Geiger.
In other business Tuesday, the County Commission:
• Accepted a memo submitted by County Administrator David Hamilton that outlined the administration's plan to transition to a countywide fire service if voters in Spring Hill fail to approve taxing authority for their own fire board next month.
Commissioner Wayne Dukes noted that e-mails have been sent out that indicate the county is acting "almost like we're robbers in the night'' for having a plan if the vote goes badly for the fire commission in Spring Hill.
Hamilton said his memo was just for information and would be meaningless if the referendum is approved.
"There are no plans to spend public money in the distribution of this document,'' Hamilton said. "We have no media strategy.''
Hamilton's memo describes a two-year transition period if Spring Hill Fire Rescue were to merge with Hernando County Fire and Rescue.
The memo can be found on the county's website within Tuesday's meeting agenda at hernandocountyfl.iqm2.com/citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=1237.
• Approved scheduling a public hearing to consider an ordinance that would set new conditions on anyone opening a pain management clinic in Hernando.
The ordinance, supported strongly by Sheriff Al Nienhuis, would work along with new state rules put in place during the legislative session to gain control of so-called "pill mills,'' officials said.
The public hearing is expected to be at the commission meeting on June 14.
Sheriff's Lt. Col. Royce Decker thanked the commission and the public for their support of the new controls. Nienhuis has named prescription drug abuse as the leading challenge he faces in law enforcement in Hernando County.
"I'm shocked and appalled at what is happening out there,'' said Commissioner John Druzbick, who told Decker that his department has "a daunting task'' to get the abuse under control.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1434.