Clear74° FULL FORECASTClear74° FULL FORECAST
Make us your home page
Instagram

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

link
  1. Commissioner wants to revisit super-majority requirement for comprehensive plan changes

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — The temporary deployment of county Commissioner Jeff Holcomb to Southwest Asia may be the catalyst that derails a county ordinance that was strongly opposed by the county's building and development community when it was passed in 2005.

    A member of the Navy Reserve, Holcomb announced last month that he would be gone from six to 12 months fighting the war on terror. Later in the same meeting, Commissioner Wayne Dukes said that, since only four commissioners will be making decisions in the coming months, the commission should consider repealing its supermajority ordinance....

    Commission member Jeff Holcomb will be in Asia on Navy Reserve duty for up to 12 months.
  2. County poised to make new bid for sales tax to pay for projects

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — In 2014, when Hernando County voters rejected the proposed Penny for Projects 1-cent sales tax, hopes for an infusion of money to build needed infrastructure, beef up economic development incentives and improve the schools were dashed.

    For any number of reasons, the partnership among the county, the city of Brooksville and the school district just didn't resonate with voters....

  3. Commissioners discuss future of Environmentally Sensitive Lands program

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Eight months of delay in the county reinstating an advisory committee for its Environmentally Sensitive Lands program, plus recent public discussion about what projects should be paid for with the program's proceeds, prompted extensive debate this week.

    County commissioners heard a lineup of local supporters of environmental causes encourage the county to appoint a new advisory board and consider again asking voters this fall if they would approve a small tax to fund the ESL program, which has been used to buy and maintain environmentally sensitive lands across Hernando County....

    Commissioner Wayne Dukes led the push last year to disband the ESL advisory panel.
  4. e-TeleQuote to create 70 new jobs with expansion into Hernando

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — With the unanimous approval of an incentives package, the Hernando County Commission this week paved the way for a Clearwater company to expand in Hernando and create 70 new jobs by the end of the year.

    Commissioners unanimously approved up to $210,000 in job-creation incentives over the next five years for e-TeleQuote. The company, which has 120 employees in other locations, including about 75 in its Clearwater headquarters, markets and sells Medicare insurance products, which are administered by private insurance carriers, to people over the age of 65....

    Len Sossamon has faced recent criticism.
  5. Sheriff told his plan for getting a set percentage of county revenue won't fly

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — A new budgeting method proposed by Sheriff Al Nienhuis — one that would have guaranteed him a percentage of all new revenue coming into the county's general fund — has been taken off the table.

    Discussion has begun, however, regarding a proposed sales tax increase to fund specific county government projects, and some of that funding could be earmarked for the Sheriff's Office....

    Sheriff Al Nienhuis had proposed that the county give his office an additional 45 percent of new revenue.
  6. Hernando Beach residents air concerns over expanded commercial fishing

    Local Government

    HERNANDO BEACH — Residents of Hernando Beach are not just concerned about expanded commercial fishing encroaching into a residential canal where there is little commercial activity now.

    They're worried that if the current rezoning request by Sportfisherman's Landing Inc. is approved, it will set a precedent that resident Margo McConnell said "could transform what is a residential area into a working seaport, which was not the intention.''...

  7. Planning commission approves scaled-back canine competitions

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Concerned about the impacts on a quiet rural area south of Brooksville, the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission this week approved a permit for canine sports activities, but scaled back on the number of events.

    Last year, Barbara Mahony bought 16 acres at the northwest corner of Saturn and Rackley roads. A dog agility and sports enthusiast, she began inviting over friends with similar interests. She is affiliated with a national nonprofit organization, UpDog Challenge, that sponsors canine competitions....

    Barbara Mahony puts dog through a fetching exercise on her property south of Brooksville. She is affiliated with a national nonprofit organization, UpDog Challenge, that sponsors canine competitions.
  8. Hernando County Commissioner Jeff Holcomb called away to duty in Naval Reserve

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — The audience was abuzz before the start of this week's Hernando County Commission meeting, wondering what the big announcement was that Commissioner Jeff Holcomb had placed on the agenda.

    Holcomb's news became apparent when he stepped down from the dais to speak at the public microphone. He had switched from his suit coat to his military uniform as a member of the Naval Reserve....

    Jeff Holcomb says he has been called up to join the fight against terror and will be gone up to 12 months.
  9. Second phase approved for new apartments in Brooksville

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — A second phase for the Freedom Gardens apartments on the city's south side has been approved by the Brooksville City Council.

    Earlier this month, the council held the final public hearing on the rezoning of 8.3 acres on the east side of Hale Avenue, about 600 feet north of Cortez Boulevard. The previously approved first phase of the complex lies immediately to the east....

  10. Widow discovers who struck, killed her husband on bike: former Rep. Robert Schenck

    Accidents

    SPRING HILL — On a clear morning in September 2014, Lyle Swanson's happy life as a retiree ended when a black Lincoln MKZ cut a corner on a left turn in Spring Hill, crashing into Swanson's bicycle.

    The 74-year-old Swanson had severe injuries that sent him from one health care facility to another over the next six months. Those injuries cost him his life in March 2015.

    What few people knew, including Swanson's wife of 53 years, Sharon, was that the driver of the vehicle was Robert Schenck....

    Sharon Swanson holds a photo of her late husband, Lyle Swanson, who was hit by a vehicle while riding his bicycle in Spring Hill in September 2014. Swanson lived six months after the crash.
  11. Widow finds out who struck, killed her husband: former Rep. Robert Schenck

    Blog

    On a clear morning in September 2014, Lyle Swanson's happy life as a retiree ended when a black Lincoln MKZ cut a corner to turn left off Eldridge Road onto Vicksburg Road, crashing into Swanson's bicycle.

    The 74-year-old Swanson had severe injuries that sent him from one health care facility to another over the next six months. Those injuries cost him his life in March 2015.

    What few people knew, including Swanson's wife of 53 years, Sharon, was that the driver of the vehicle, who ended up having adjudication withheld on the citation he was given for causing the wreck, was Robert Schenck....

  12. Using animals, Hernando woman seeks to operate congregate care home for children

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — For as long as Felicia Bass can remember, she has been surrounded by animals.

    A member of the famous Cristiani circus family, known especially for their equestrian expertise, she grew up experiencing how animals can touch people's lives.

    For the past several years, she has been making use of that special bond to help at-risk children who are experiencing behavioral or mental health issues....

    Children visit camels on Felicia Bass’ ranch south of Brooksville, where she wants to open a group home for at-risk boys.
  13. Rowden's battle with organization over service dog ends

    Human Interest

    BROOKSVILLE — Livy, the 11-year-old service dog cared for by Diane Rowden for the past two years, is back in Pennsylvania with Canine Partners for Life, the organization that originally raised and trained her.

    The executive director of Canine Partners, Darlene Sullivan, said she was pleased to confirm that Livy was back with the nonprofit organization. But she declined to say when the black poodle was returned, how she came, the circumstances in which she was living or whether Livy's return to Pennsylvania had anything to do with the fact that two lawsuits against Rowden, one in Hernando County and one in Pennsylvania, were recently dismissed....

    Diane Rowden, shown in November with Livy, right, and Keribo, had been sued by Canine Partners for Life after she got Livy following Bruce Hicks’ death.
  14. Residents south of Brooksville complain to county about canine contests

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Dog agility and sports contests being conducted on 16 acres south of Brooksville have riled neighbors, who have told county officials they do not want the character of their bucolic neighborhood to change.

    Barbara Mahony bought the land at the northwest corner of Saturn and Rackley roads last year and began to invite fellow canine sports enthusiasts to the site, permitting them to park their recreational vehicles and installing a swimming pool so dogs could compete in long-jump contests. The contests are through a local chapter of a national organization known as UpDog Challenge....

    Miss Kitty the dog dives into a pool as Barbara Mahony puts it through a fetching exercise on her property south of Brooksville.
  15. County won't shut off reclaimed water to Timber Pines

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — County commissioners last week wanted to send the management and residents of Timber Pines a clear message:

    The county has no intention of cutting off the community's supply of reclaimed water even if it means leaving the smelly wastewater treatment plan on Osowaw Boulevard online longer than planned.

    The retirement community on U.S. 19 has long used reclaimed wastewater to irrigate its common areas and golf courses. Its representatives told commissioners that in a recent meeting with county environmental services director Susan Goebel-Canning, they got the definite impression — mistakenly, she says — that the county would temporarily cut off this supply....