Wednesday, September 19, 2018


Barbara Behrendt, Times Staff Writer

Barbara Behrendt, Times Staff Writer

Barbara Behrendt has been a staff writer covering the North Suncoast since 1983. She currently covers Hernando County government, the city of Brooksville and general assignment stories in Hernando County. A native of Chicago, she grew up in Columbus Ohio and earned her journalism degree from the Ohio State University.

Hernando County Courthouse

Hernando Commission holds tax rate steady but dips into reserves to handle shortfall

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Commission voted this week to approve its 2018-19 budget. Commissioners held the line on the county property tax rate but had to suspend for one year the county policy of keeping an 18.5 percent general fund...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Former Hernando County Commissioner Nick Nicholson and Valerie Surette [Courtesy Pasco County Jail]

Woman who says she exchanged sex for rent with Hernando commissioner describes political alliances

BROOKSVILLE — Valerie Surette, the woman at the heart of prostitution-related charges against former Hernando County Commissioner Nick Nicholson, told Sheriff’s Office detectives in March that he frequently talked to her about county business.
Published: 09/12/18
CHRIS URSO   |   Times
Homes along Running Oak Court are bounded by a wooded area looking north  in Spring Hill. The Spring Center development is a 450-acre planned community in the center of Spring Hill.

Hernando Commissioners approve 3,000-home development in Spring Hill

BROOKSVILLE — The large planned development known as Spring Center passed its last major hurdle Tuesday when the Hernando County Commission voted unanimously to rezone undeveloped land for the residential and commercial project billed as creating a...
Published: 09/11/18
Waters from the Withlacoochee River creep onto Tarzan Street, a residential dirt road inside Talisman Estates in eastern Hernando County. The neighborhood was devastated by Hurricane Irma in 2017. MEGAN REEVES | Times

Hurricane Irma swamped east Hernando County last year. After a rainy summer, Withlacoochee River flooding could be even worse.

RIDGE MANOR — For most of his seven summers at his home on Cyril Drive, 71-year-old Ralph Cocchi could walk across his back yard, down four stair-steps and over the three big rocks that lead to the...
Published: 09/06/18
Brooksville City Hall ââ\u0082¬â\u0080\u009D 201 Howell Ave., Brooksville

Final Brooksville city budget hearing set for Wednesday

BROOKSVILLE — The Brooksville City Council will hold the final hearing on its 2018-19 city budget and tax rate at 5 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall. The council has set a tentative property tax rate at 6.2 mills, or $6.20 in tax for every $1,000 in...
Published: 09/06/18
Hernando County Courthouse  DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times

Hernando County plan holds property tax rates steady, but forces commissioners to violate their own reserve fund rules

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County commissioners gave a tentative nod Tuesday to a spending plan for the coming fiscal year. It holds the property tax rate steady, despite a multi-million dollar shortfall revealed several months ago.The 2018-19...
Published: 09/05/18
Hillary Sanford, former Brooksville fire captain

Fired Brooksville fire captain finally gets her settlement

BROOKSVILLE — An emotional Hillary Sanford received pay and benefits last week that were more than two years overdue when the Brooksville City Council voted to settle her wrongful termination case.Brooksville Fire Chief David Freda fired...
Published: 09/05/18
Alice Herden   |   Special to the Times  
Volunteers and employees from the University of Florida and Hernando County participate in oyster reef deployment in March at Centipede Bay.

Strategic plan for Hernando coastline concerns business leaders and residents

BROOKSVILLE — A strategic plan that guides decisions about Hernando County’s natural coastline would seem like an easy sell in a community that values its coastal character.But last week, such a plan drew concerns from a wide spectrum of...
Updated one month ago

Big election turnout in Hernando County brings change, sets up November races

BROOKSVILLE — Nearly 30 percent of Hernando County voters cast ballots in the primary election, the number Supervisor of Elections Shirley Anderson had hoped to hit.That is a significant improvement from the 22.7 percent turnout in the last...
Updated one month ago
Republican Douglas Chorvat and no-party candidate Michael Lamberti

Hernando Clerk: Longtime staffer Chorvat wins GOP primary

In the race for Hernando County Clerk of the Circuit Court, Douglas Chorvat was the winner, earning nearly 53 percent of the vote over Joel Fritton in the Republican primary race.Chorvat, an 18-year employee of the clerk's office, faces...
Updated one month ago