01/22/15 Local Government
HERNANDO BEACH — Hernando County Administrator Len Sossamon wanted it to be the centerpiece of what he called "the Nature Coast experience."
But after 10 months of controversy and changes in direction, none of which caught on, the Nature Coast Education and Tourism Center ended up more like the "brilliant blunder," as one critic called it during the debate.
Earlier this month, a unanimous County Commission voted to tell the state to keep the $3 million the Legislature had allocated for the project last spring. That allows the county to keep the $3 million in local funds it had promised as a match....
01/22/15 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — From 2006 to 2014, as a member of the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission, Robert Widmar studied county land-use rules, weighed testimony and made recommendations to the County Commission regarding everything from rezonings to changes in the county's comprehensive plan.
Old habits die hard.
Widmar's term on the planning commission ended in December, but that didn't stop him from penning a letter last week as a private citizen to the commission. He urged it to change direction and seek a true economic impact study before considering the pending mining expansion application from Cemex Construction Materials Florida....
01/21/15 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — Beginning with Powell Road, 10 curving rural roadways in Hernando County will be receiving safety enhancements, thanks to a $552,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation.
The improvements include speed advisory signs, new roadway striping and reflective pavement markers. The enhancements will bring the potentially dangerous curves into compliance with the latest Federal Highway Administration rules....
01/14/15 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — They visit your street every week and know when something seems out of kilter.
Now they will be helping in more ways than one to clean up the neighborhood.
The county's residential garbage hauler, Republic Services, has teamed up with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office to provide another set of eyes and ears for crime prevention. "Operation Clean Streets'' was announced last week at a gathering of Republic employees....
01/14/15 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — Faced with several contentious issues regarding Hernando County's future development, the County Commission this week decided more study was needed before making two key decisions.
On the possibility of lifting a moratorium on some impact fees, a majority of the commission voted to delay a decision for another two months, prompting the lone Democrat, Commissioner Diane Rowden, to proclaim that her colleagues were simply stalling....
01/13/15 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — After nearly a 10-month search trying to find a suitable place to spend $6 million in state and local money to build the Nature Coast Education and Tourism Center — and encountering critics at every turn — the Hernando County Commission on Tuesday voted to end the search and return the money.
The commission was supposed to consider the last of the sites that county staffers had explored: the old Hernando Beach water tower property. Bordering the Weekiwachee Preserve, the 56.1-acre parcel is county owned and on Shoal Line Boulevard, across the street from Blue Pelican Marina. The marina was the first of a handful of sites the county considered and rejected for the center....
01/10/15 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — After going several years without levying impact fees for schools and roads — the two most expensive categories — the Hernando County Commission on Tuesday will consider bringing back the fees, possibly even before the end of the month.
In mid November, just weeks after Hernando voters soundly rejected the Penny for Projects 1-cent sales tax referendum — money that would have gone to schools, the county and the city of Brooksville — county commissioners agreed it was time to discuss impact fees....
01/08/15 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — The controversy over a plan to mine lime rock on property west of Brooksville is likely to resume Tuesday before the Hernando County Commission.
The quick return of the issue comes because a consensus by commissioners in December to conduct an economic impact study on the proposal by Cemex Constructions Materials Florida is now being questioned and is up for further public discussion and a possible reversal....
01/07/15 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — After months searching for the ideal home for the Nature Coast Education and Tourism Center, Hernando County officials are zeroing in on the site of the old Hernando Beach water tower.
The site is across Shoal Line Boulevard from Blue Pelican Marina, where the center originally was proposed, which renews questions of compatibility. The 56.1-acre parcel is owned by the county and adjacent to the Weekiwachee Preserve, a popular natural recreation area owned by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, commonly known as Swiftmud....
BROOKSVILLE — Officials with Hospice of Citrus County and the Nature Coast have failed to prove to an administrative law judge that they should be allowed to expand into Hernando County to provide for unmet needs and offer pediatric services for the youngest hospice patients.
Late last month, Judge John D.C. Newton II overturned the state Agency for Health Care Administration's ruling that granted the Citrus hospice a certificate of need allowing for the expansion into Hernando....
01/01/15 Local Government
The Hernando County Fair Association struggled with financial and public relations issues in 2014.
Early in the year, fair association officials came before the County Commission seeking financial assistance, but their presentation ended up raising several questions about the fair's operations, questions that former board members had been asking for years.
One of those former board members, Ty Mullis, filed a complaint with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office and talked extensively with the Tampa Bay Times about his concerns regarding how the fair association's leadership lacked transparency in its financial dealings, did not have a good system for monitoring revenue and spending, and used questionable bidding practices....
12/29/14 Local Government
ARIPEKA — The residents of Aripeka and nearby coastal communities in Pasco and Hernando counties likely will be inconvenienced for several more weeks by the closure of the bridge over Hammock Creek after erosion of the bridge's foundation, Hernando officials said Monday.
Brian Malmberg, assistant county administrator for operations, visited the bridge Monday to check on repairs. Two small pieces of heavy equipment were moving dirt along the roadway and carting riprap from one area to another to shore up holes that had formed at the south base of the bridge....
12/25/14 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — For Len Sossamon, the pace each day is a sprint.
That's because Sossamon is wearing two very demanding hats — one as county administrator and the other as Hernando's economic development director.
When he takes a breather to think about what's in store for the county in 2015, as he did recently with the Times, it is no surprise that he has not just one, but two lengthy lists of tasks....
12/25/14 Local Government
For two decades, Rackley Road resident David Nelson endured the issues that come with living on a lime rock road. Send the dog out to do his business; he returns covered with dust. Try to dry the clean clothes on a clothesline; be prepared to wash them again.
"Even with the windows closed, you still get the dust in the house. Your vehicles constantly look like trash," Nelson said. "We've been eating the dust bad."...
12/20/14 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — Last year, Tony Dye and his father, Bradley, fought hard to get their aircraft repair facility moved from Clearwater to Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport, butting heads with airport officials and the then-chairman of the Hernando County Aviation Authority.
Last week, the Dyes' company, Corporate Jet Solutions, delivered notice to the county that it planned to break its lease and abandon the site by Dec. 31....