Make us your home page

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. With retirement of incumbent, District 5 commission seat is up for grabs


    With two-term county Commissioner Jim Adkins choosing not to seek a third term, the District 5 commission seat is up for grabs in the Nov. 8 general election, and two political newcomers — Republican Steve Champion and Democrat Paul Douglas — are in pursuit.

    Champion, 42, has owned American Gun & Pawn in Brooksville for the past three years. A fifth-generation Hernando County resident, he previously worked for 23 years as a store director for Target. A lifelong member of the National Rifle Association, he has been an annual sponsor of the Hernando High School chapter of Future Farmers of America....

  2. In District 3, lone commission Democrat Rowden tangles with GOP foe Allocco


    As a long-term public servant and the sole Democrat holding elected office in Hernando County, Diane Rowden is used to the challenge of a hotly contested election. And this year's race for the District 3 seat on the County Commission is no different as she goes head-to-head with a political newcomer, Republican John Allocco.

    Rowden, 67, is a retired flight attendant who has served three terms on the County Commission and three years on the Hernando School Board. Six years ago, she made an unsuccessful run for the State House....

  3. Hernando District 1 commission candidates disagree on administrator's role, sheriff's funding


    Nick Nicholson, the Republican county commissioner representing District 1, says he is proud of his tenure on the board, both as a fiscal conservative and as a public official focused on quality-of-life issues.

    But his challenger in the Nov. 8 general election, Democrat Jimmy Lodato, questions the wisdom of Nicholson and other commissioners on a variety of issues, including entrusting economic development to County Administrator Len Sossamon and the commission's recent decision to deny a funding increase requested by Sheriff Al Nienhuis....

  4. State House | District 35


    One-term incumbent Rep. Blaise Ingoglia also serves as head of the Republican Party of Florida and has been chairman of the Hernando County Republican Executive Committee. He faces a challenge for his House seat from Democrat Ramon Gutierrez.

    About the job: State House District 35 includes all of Hernando County except the northwest quadrant. Representatives serve two-year terms and are paid $29,697 a year....

    Blaise Ingoglia
  5. Hernando County Commission | District 5


    With two-term Commissioner Jim Adkins' decision to not seek re-election, the District 5 commission seat will be filled by a political newcomer. Voters will choose between Republican Steve Champion, who defeated longtime public official Dave Russell in the primary, and Democrat Paul Douglas, who heads up the local NAACP. Barbara Behrendt, Times staff writer

    About the job: County commissioners are elected countywide but must live in the district for the seat they are seeking. Commissioners set policy and the budget for government operations. District 5 if comprised of most of the eastern half of Hernando County. Commission terms are four years and the annual salary is $65,515....

    photo of Paul Douglas, who is running for president of the local NAACP chapter.
To run with story (NAACP) by Tony Marrero on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010 in the Hernando Times
  6. Hernando County Commission | District 3


    The District 3 race for Hernando County Commission pits the commission's sole Democrat, Diane Rowden, against Republican challenger John Allocco. Rowden, who is vying for her fourth term on the commission, is running on her history of promoting quality of life, environmental protection and economic development. Allocco, who has not previously sought public office, serves on the county's Republican Executive Committee and has served on several Republican political campaigns. ...

    Diane Rowden
  7. Hernando County Commission | District 1


    County Commission | District 1

    Having beaten two opponents in the Republican primary, incumbent Nick Nicholson is seeking to win his second term on the Hernando County Commission. His challenger is Democrat Jimmy Lodato, who has made two previous runs at the commission, once in District 5 when he ran as a Republican and once in District 2 as a Democrat.

    About the job: County commissioners are elected countywide but must live in the district for the seat they are seeking. Commissioners set policy and budget for government operations. District 1 is comprised of the central and northern parts of Spring Hill. Commissioners serve four-year terms and earn an annual salary of $65,515....

    Jimmy Lodato for County Commissioner District 2 on Thursday, August 28, 2014.
  8. Candidates for Brooksville council tout current, past experience


    BROOKSVILLE — City residents have just one City Council race to decide on the Nov. 8 ballot, and that choice is between two native Brooksvillians who have each served on the council before: sitting council member Frankie Burnett and challenger Joe Bernardini.

    Burnett, 61, is a retired contract manager for Mid-Florida Community Services. He has a business management degree from the University of Phoenix and took additional coursework at the University of Florida. He is separated and has four adult children and four grandsons....

  9. Blaise Ingoglia faces challenge from underfunded Democrat in House 35 race


    When state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia reflects on his choice to move to Hernando County 20 years ago, he notes that he was leaving New York, a place that typified a government with too much regulation and too much taxation, according to his campaign website.

    Ingoglia, who nine years ago broke onto the public scene as the voice of "Government Gone Wild," then became a spokesman against government overspending and control. He boasts on the site of spending $40,000 of his own money to unseat county commissioners on the ballot the next year. He also rose to the position of head of the local Republican Party and, after that, head of the Republican Party of Florida. This summer, he won the job of Republican state committeeman for Hernando County....

  10. Brooksville City Council, Seat 2


    Two city natives who have served on the council previously are vying for the job again as they seek the one available position: Seat 2. The candidates are former council member Joe Bernardini and current council member Frankie Burnett. Council races are nonpartisan.

    About the job: City Council members set policy and approve budgets for the city. Though they run for specific seats, council members are elected at large by all city voters. Council members serve four-year terms and are paid $5,400 a year. The vice mayor receives $6,000, the mayor $7,200....

    City Councilman Frankie Burnett [Photo Courtesy of Brooksville City Hall]
  11. Brooksville officials hold firm on downtown traffic priorities

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Even though a change might help Brooksville officials achieve their goal of a more economically viable downtown sooner, and cost a lot less, the City Council is staying the course and pushing hard to end the one-way streets downtown and reroute trucks from the core of the city.

    Earlier this month, the council heard a pitch from Dennis Dix, who heads up the Hernando-Citrus Metropolitan Planning Organization. For years, Hernando transportation planners have been in discussions with the Florida Department of Transportation about the reasons changing Jefferson and Broad streets back to two-way traffic would make sense....

  12. Brooksville rolls back tax rate to fund status-quo 2016-17 budget

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — The Brooksville City Council has unanimously approved a status-quo spending plan for 2016-17 that includes a small decrease in the property tax rate but a significant increase in the fees paid for fire service.

    After two public hearings earlier this month, the council accepted the tax rate known as the rollback rate, which at 6.6426 mills is slightly lower than the current year's rate. The 2016-17 rate amounts to $6.64 per $1,000 of appraised taxable property value in taxes to support city services. When applied to higher property values, the rollback rate will bring in the same amount of tax revenue as the current year....

  13. Brooksville council raises concerns over downtown seating area

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — A proposal to enter into a partnership with SunTrust Bank to build a seating area on bank property at the southeast corner of N Orange Avenue and W Jefferson Street hit a roadblock with the City Council this week.

    Council members, sitting as the Brooksville Community Redevelopment Agency on Monday night, rejected the plan that could have cost the CRA $30,000, three times the amount the agency normally contributes toward improvements made by city businesses....

    Brooksville council raised concerns over a downtown seating area at the southeast corner of N Orange Avenue and W Jefferson Street on Monday night. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times (2011)]
  14. Hernando commissioners reject sheriff's plea for additional dollars

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Sheriff Al Nienhuis and his supporters left Tuesday evening's final county budget hearing disappointed after the Hernando County Commission refused to give him the dollars he requested to hire additional staff.

    The commission instead approved a 2016-17 general fund tax rate equal that of last year at 6.9912 mills. That translates to $699.12 in taxes to support the general fund for the owner of a home with a taxable value of $100,000. The vote was 4-0, with Commissioner Jeff Holcomb on military leave....

    Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis asked for a $1.7 million increase to his budget.
  15. Officials, coastal residents discuss ways to improve storm preparedness

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — A visible testament to the vulnerability of those who live on the water, residential streets in coastal Hernando County for days have been piled with sopping carpet and padding, splintered drywall, soaked furniture and branches — lots of branches.

    In the aftermath of Hurricane Hermine, which made landfall miles away in the Panhandle on Sept. 2, residents have grappled with cleanup, insurance claims and waste-hauling issues. And some have focused on whether they could have been better prepared for a storm that got stronger as it grew nearer and surprised some people with its potential for flooding and destruction....

    Submerged from rains and flooding from Hurricane Hermine, Bayou Drive off Pine Island Drive in Bayport disappears soon after it begins. Pine Island Drive remained closed as well Friday afternoon with high tide on the way.