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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


  1. Plans for Dollar General store prompt discussion about ambiance in Hernando Beach

    Local Government

    HERNANDO BEACH — Dollar General stores have been popping up all over Central Florida in recent years. But in this Hernando County waterfront community, the chain is hardly being welcomed with open arms.

    Some residents are preparing to take on the retail giant, which boasts 12,200 stores in 43 states. They argue that the 9,100-square-foot store proposed for 1.4 acres on Shoal Line Boulevard, just south of Companaro Entra, amounts to blight and is not compatible with the community's character....

    Some Hernando Beach residents are saying a Dollar General store proposed for 1.4 acres on Shoal Line Boulevard, just south of Companaro Entra, amounts to blight and is not compatible with the community’s character.
  2. Plan for outdoor gun range near Glen Lakes has residents up in arms

    Local Government

    SPRING HILL — Christopher Russo is doing what any other businessman does.

    He has found a niche to fill, developed a business plan and, in the final analysis, hopes to serve the community and put food on his family's table.

    But Russo's plan is not going over well with his potential new neighbors near the gated Glen Lakes community, off U.S. 19 north of Weeki Wachee.

    "We are looking at opening a gun store and outdoor gun range," Russo said. "Our first and foremost goal and agenda is the safety of the community.''...

  3. Clerk says he wasn't to blame in mixup over county's 2015-16 budget numbers

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — In the mess that became Hernando County's final budget hearing last week, Clerk of the Circuit Court Don Barbee went from being hero to villain.

    But Barbee says he was only trying to make sure that county commissioners had all of the information they needed about his budget before they settled their own.

    The timing of the delivery of Barbee's information, and the incomplete nature of it, was what tripped up commissioners, who were anxious to find an easy answer to a vexing problem — coming up with enough money to provide the funding requested by Sheriff Al Nienhuis and Supervisor of Elections Shirley Anderson....

    Don Barbee, county clerk, says he didn’t mean to mislead when he said he could return more.
  4. Hernando Beach residents hear pitch for independent fire district

    Local Government

    HERNANDO BEACH — David Freda believes it is time to take off the training wheels and secure full independence for the Hernando Beach Volunteer Fire Department.

    Freda, who has served as the department's chief for the past three years, told the residents last week that the department intends to present a proposed bill to the Hernando County legislative delegation that would create an independent special district, switching the governance and taxing authority of the 40-year-old fire department from the county to a board that would be elected by Hernando Beach residents....

  5. Brooksville fire Chief Tim Mossgrove departs with three decades of memories

    Local Government


    When Brooksville fire Chief Tim Mossgrove walks out of his office for the last time next week, he will take with him nearly 30 years of satisfying memories watching the Brooksville Fire Department and the community grow and improve. • Mossgrove was just 19 years old when he started at the department, working his way up through the ranks and taking advantage of opportunities to improve his education and earn special certifications along the way....

    City of Brooksville Fire Department Chief Tim Mossgrove, 49, is retiring after joining the department at age 19.
  6. Hernando commission taps into reserve account to meet budget demands of sheriff, elections supervisor

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — With an ending that matched the drama leading up to it, the Hernando County Commission brought its 2015-16 budget deliberations to a close Tuesday night with a surprise — finding enough money to give Sheriff Al Nienhuis and Supervisor of Elections Shirley Anderson all of the funding they requested.

    But the process turned out to be a bit bait-and-switch.

    At the start of the final public hearing on the budget, Clerk of the Court Don Barbee announced that he was going to be able to return more than half a million additional dollars to the county at the close of the current fiscal year....

    Don Barbee, court clerk, overstated how much he could return.
  7. With support from fellow commissioners, Hernando commissioner Nick Nicholson declines to step down

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — In the minutes leading up to the start of this week's Hernando County Commission meeting, there were plenty of whispers about what might transpire.

    Would Nick Nicholson step down as commission chairman? Would he resign?

    There were calls for both. But instead of condemnation, Nicholson walked away from the meeting with the verbal support of the majority of his commission colleagues, led by the sole Democrat, Diane Rowden....

    A FDLE report found Nick Nicholson had relations with a stripper leading up to his election.
  8. Open house will give opponents of Cemex permit renewal a chance to air concerns

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — State environmental regulators are preparing to temporarily renew the air operation permit for Cemex's Brooksville South cement plant, and residents who have been keeping an eye on the mining company are protesting.

    Because of the opposition, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has scheduled a community open house from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Lake House on Kenlake Avenue in Spring Hill....

  9. Planning board recommends denial of development along Powell Road

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — One after another, residents who live in rural and semirural neighborhoods around a multiuse development planned for the corner of Powell and Gloucester roads told about their current frustration with road congestion.

    They showed pictures of the crosses where wrecks have happened and photos of lined-up cars on Powell stalled in traffic. And they told stories of children trying to get to nearby schools in all that chaos....

  10. Speculation swirls over who leaked FDLE report regarding Nicholson's relationship with stripper

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — In the week since Hernando County Commission Chairman Nick Nicholson's past relationship with a drug-addicted stripper came to light, among the most asked questions has been: Why did this surface now?

    Some speculate that the timing relates to the public feud Nicholson is having with Sheriff Al Nienhuis over next year's budget for the Sheriff's Office. The County Commission has dug in its heels over giving the sheriff additional revenue....

    Hernando Commission Chairman Nick Nicholson admits he had sex with the woman.
  11. Hernando commissioner's relationship with stripper was investigated as part of 2012 drug, abuse case

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — In the months leading up to his election in November 2012, then-Hernando County Commission candidate Nick Nicholson met a stripper at Calendar Girls in Pasco County and befriended her, according to an investigation by state law enforcement officials.

    He went to her home in Spring Hill regularly, had sex with her, left her money for bills, brought her food and drove her to friends' homes where she was said to be buying drugs....

    Kimberly Losurdo was arrested in late 2012 on charges of child abuse. Her arrest made national news when it was reported that a child in her care had ingested a piece of crack cocaine.
  12. Residents voice objections to proposed rezoning along Powell Road

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Residents of Oakwood Acres and other nearby communities are distressed about a proposed rezoning that would change an adjacent 37.6-acre rural residential and agricultural parcel to a mix of office professional, apartments and single-family homes.

    The rezoning request by applicant Mohamed Shahout for property at Powell and Gloucester roads will be heard by the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday....

  13. Dispute over right-of-way stalls construction project at busy Barclay intersection

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Plans for improvements at the busy intersection of Cortez Boulevard and Barclay Avenue hit a roadblock late last month when the Hernando County Commission decided to abandon efforts to acquire a key piece of right-of-way.

    The decision brought to an end a legal squabble in which the attorney of the landowner claimed Hernando County didn't follow the rules for taking private property for public use....

    Brian Malmberg: “The four-laning ... will be placed on hold at this time.”
  14. Residents urge Hernando County to ban unattended tethering of dogs

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County commissioners listened recently as a parade of concerned citizens urged the board to adopt an ordinance that would prohibit dog owners from tethering their pets outside unattended.

    From a woman who wore a leash around her neck and pulled it tight as she talked about the need for the new law, to a couple who live next to a man with 10 pit bulls tied up in his yard, the residents argued that an anti-tethering ordinance would prevent dog cruelty and also keep the public safe....

    Hernando County residents are urging the county to ban unattended tethering of dogs. This is Honey, a dog found in Palm Harbor in 2010 with a rope embedded in her neck. It’s believed she was tied as a puppy, got away and grew into the too-tight rope. She eventually received surgery.
  15. Sheriff's spending plan likely to be focal point during county's first 2015-16 budget hearing

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — All eyes will likely be on Sheriff Al Nienhuis on Sept. 3, when the Hernando County Commission holds the first of two public hearings on the county's 2015-16 budget.

    Several weeks ago, the commission set its property tax rates for the new spending plan, freezing all of the rates except for a small tentative increase for emergency medical services. That action in essence cut $4.18 million in spending from the wish lists of the departments controlled by the commission, the sheriff and the supervisor of elections....