Barbara Behrendt, Times Staff Writer

Barbara Behrendt

Barbara Behrendt is based in Brooksville and covers Hernando County government, growth, development and the environment for the Tampa Bay Times. She joined the Times in 1983. Born in Chicago, she grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and earned her degree from the Ohio State University.

Phone: (352) 848-1434

Email: behrendt@tampabay.com

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  1. As marina issues linger in Hernando Beach, owners believe they're unfairly targeted

    Local Government

    HERNANDO BEACH — From their support for a improved landscaping in the median at Shoal Line and Osowaw boulevards to their efforts to help the county resolve congestion and parking issues at the community boat ramps, Ron Wolf says all he and his brother have tried to do is make Hernando Beach a better place.

    But Wolf, whose brother, Gordon, owns Blue Pelican Marina, says they are frustrated that they have been the targets for a variety of complaints regarding code violations and safety issues....

  2. New Hernando elections chief's message: 'Get out to vote'

    Elections

    BROOKSVILLE — As Shirley Anderson navigates her first primary as Hernando County's supervisor of elections, she is upbeat about the process, excited about Election Day on Tuesday and encouraging people to exercise their right to vote.

    Late this week, Anderson's office stopped mailing out ballots as part of the vote-by-mail campaign. She was excited by having had more than 18,000 requests for mail ballots, though concerned that they were not being returned very quickly. Although she first predicted a 25 percent overall voter turnout by the time the last ballots are counted Tuesday night, she now says that might be a bit too optimistic....

    Shirley Anderson, the Hernando County supervisor of elections, has posted on her Facebook page about voting in the primary election and worked to spread the word in newspaper advertisements and on the radio.
  3. Two commissioners question purchase of marina property in Hernando Beach

    Local Government

    HERNANDO BEACH — Take any weekend during scalloping season, on a holiday or in the summer, and traffic along Calienta Street can get chaotic.

    Vehicles with trailers back up along the prime entryway into Hernando Beach. Some are forced to navigate the V-shaped intersection at Petit Lane. Parking is often at a premium near the county boat ramps that lead to the Hernando Beach channel....

  4. Hernando transit system improvements include connection to Pasco

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County's public transit system will get a major boost, thanks to action by the Hernando County Commission last week to shorten wait times, add a route providing service to Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport and make a long-awaited connection with the Pasco County transit system.

    The enhancements are the latest to expand the system, known as THE Bus, and come just a couple of years after some commissioners and residents were ready to abandon the system because of low ridership....

  5. Hernando County Commission, District 4

    Politics

    County Commission | District 4

    When Dave Russell chose to not run for another term on the Hernando County Commission, he left wide open the District 4 seat, and a number of political newcomers have qualified to run. Two are Republicans who will face each other in the Aug. 26 primary. They are Jeff Holcomb, a software consultant, and Realtor Laurie Pizzo. The winner will face Democrat Dan Oliver and no-party candidate H. David Werder in November....

    Laurie Pizzo
  6. Commission fluffs up bed tax to 5 percent

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County's tourism development coordinator didn't pull any punches when she addressed her bosses this week.

    "We're stretched beyond thin,'' Tammy Heon told the County Commission as she made her pitch to increase the county's tourist tax from 3 percent to 5 percent.

    The increase, Heon argued, would enable her to keep open the visitor center near the Interstate 75/Cortez Boulevard interchange and allow for broader marketing efforts that could draw more visitors — and their wallets — to Hernando....

  7. Hernando commission okays raises to boost some lagging salaries

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Salaries for Hernando County government employees lag behind comparable public sector salaries by about 4 percent, according to a study presented to the Hernando County Commission this week.

    Commissioners responded by unanimously approving a pay raise plan that will increase salaries for 361 of the county's 745 employees. Of those who will see raises, 275 are employees who make less than $50,000, Adrienne Johnson of Evergreen Solutions told commissioners....

  8. Hernando commission extends moratorium on transportation impact fees

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Commission has again voted to extend the moratorium on charging transportation impact fees, this time until June.

    In April 2013, commissioners approved a $2,537 transportation fee for new single-family homes, but agreed to hold off implementing the fee until Aug. 14 of this year.

    Commissioner Nick Nicholson has argued that the delay needed to be extended because the county is working with the school district to get the Penny for Projects sales tax approved by voters in November. The sales tax initiative targets a number of road improvement projects....

  9. Hernando planning commission gives nod to Dollar General store in Ridge Manor

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Plans for a new Dollar General store in Ridge Manor got a push forward Monday, despite concerns from apartment dwellers who will be displaced.

    The store was one of several applications that sparked discussion before the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission.

    Teramore Development LLC applied for a rezoning that would allow construction of a Dollar General store on 2 acres on the south side of Cortez Boulevard west of Treiman Boulevard. The site is in a commercial corridor, and a retail store at that location would be appropriate, applicant representative Todd Pressman told planning commission members....

    Teramore Development LLC applied for a rezoning that would allow construction of a Dollar General store on 2 acres that are currently the site of Ridge Manor Garden Apartments on the south side of Cortez Boulevard west of Treiman Boulevard in Ridge Manor.
  10. Spring Hill kennel request set for second hearing

    Local Government

    SPRING HILL — Retirees Charlotte Furey and David Hitchcock want to provide a safe, secure place where travelers can kennel their pets without worries.

    The proposed site, at Orchard Way and Christine Lane in southern Spring Hill, is a 2 1/2-acre parcel next to Furey's home where only a garage now stands.

    The kennel would have space for 40 large dogs, 20 small dogs and 10 cats. The couple also want to offer services like grooming and training. But first they need county permission in the form of a special-exception-use permit....

  11. Latest extension means more delays in getting homes completed in Hernando subdivision

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Residents of the Trails at Rivard subdivision, who have been waiting for years to see a half dozen partially built homes finished, will have to wait a little longer.

    While the builder, Costa Homes, had court-ordered deadlines for completion of the exteriors of the houses, one of those was not met.

    Once the July 18 deadline passed, Hernando County building officials placed a stop-work order on the structure, according to a motion Costa Homes filed in Circuit Court late last month. In that motion, the builder explains the delay by saying the financing for the work was not finalized until July 3....

    Costa Homes missed a July 18 deadline to finish a half dozen partially built homes in the Trails at Rivard subdivision. Rivard residents say the problems are hurting property values.
  12. Coptic Orthodox Diocese plans substance abuse treatment facility near Brooksville

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — A new option for substance abuse treatment may soon be available in Hernando County, one offering extended rehabilitation with a Christian focus.

    The Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday will hear an application from the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States for a special exception allowing a substance abuse rehabilitation facility and church on property off U.S. 98, north of Brooksville....

  13. Candidates cite backgrounds in race that divides GOP loyalties

    Local

    Both Jeff Holcomb and Laurie Pizzo point to their background as the reason why they're the smart pick in the Republican primary election in Hernando County Commission District 4.

    Holcomb's background includes experience in the private sector as a software consultant and in the military. Pizzo, a Realtor, has extensive political experience, working for candidates and causes as well as participation in a variety of local and state organizations....

    Laurie Pizzo says her decisions will be fair and unbiased.
  14. Companies' tax incentive requests project 200 jobs in Hernando

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Two biomedical companies looking at Hernando County could bring more than 200 new jobs with higher-than-average wages.

    On Tuesday, the Hernando County Commission will decide whether the two businesses meet the criteria to receive incentives through the state's Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund and High Impact Bonus. Those incentives are based on a company creating high-wage jobs in industries listed as "value added" in state law....

  15. Fire-damaged East Hernando library being readied for reopening

    Local Government

    RIDGE MANOR WEST — Where there had been soot and soaked carpeting and walls a year ago, there is now new flooring, fresh paint and bright white ceiling tiles.

    On Tuesday, Hernando County officials showed off the soon-to-be-reopened East Hernando Branch Library. Shelves were full of books that had been cleaned by a special ozone process to rid the smell of smoke that permeated them when an arsonist set the building on fire in July last year....

    Mark Flood of Hernando County Fire Rescue volunteered to place books on the newly built shelves at the library branch.