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Dan DeWitt, Hernando Times Columnist

Dan DeWitt

Dan DeWitt has worked as a reporter or columnist for the Times in Hernando County since 1989. He and his wife, Laura, live with their two sons south of Brooksville.

DeWitt previously worked for the Newport News (Va.) Daily Press. A Cincinnati native, he attended Kenyon College in Ohio and received a master's degree in journalism from the University of Michigan.

Phone: (352) 754-6116


Twitter: @DDewittTimes

  1. DeWitt: Hospital should have ponied up for road from which it will benefit


    No business benefited more from Hernando County's post-boom impact fee generosity than Oak Hill Hospital.

    It completed two major expansions in the past five years, with a full impact on roads estimated by county consultants at more than $800,000.

    The amount it paid in transportation impact fees? Zero.

    The way I see it, that's a big public debt built up by Oak Hill's deep-pocketed owner, Hospital Corporation of America....

  2. In surprise move, Hernando deputy school superintendent resigns


    BROOKSVILLE — In a move that shocked some Hernando County School District officials, Eric Williams has resigned as deputy superintendent after one year on the job.

    Williams, 44, who has served as a district staffer since 2008, according to a biography he provided to the Times last year, was promoted to his $96,200-a-year job last year during a shake-up of district-level administrators....

    Eric Williams resigned as Hernando’s deputy superinten-dent Tuesday after one year on the job.
  3. Hernando flooring store owner charged with taking more than $186,000 from customers


    BROOKSVILLE — Two weeks ago, David Chodzko drove to Georgie's Flooring Outlet to find out when owner George Carr would finally get around to installing the new flooring and countertops that had already cost Chodzko $6,000.

    Probably never, Chodzko realized that day.

    The store on Cortez Boulevard west of Brooksville was closed, and in the few minutes Chodzko was in the parking lot, he was joined by four other customers who complained that they had been stiffed....

    George Carr was arrested on a charge of aggravated grand theft.
  4. Candidate pulls out of crowded Hernando School Board race


    BROOKSVILLE — Willis Reese III has created elbow room in the crowded District 2 Hernando County School Board race, announcing his withdrawal from the contest last week after accepting a teaching job in Pinellas County.

    Reese taught seventh-grade math at Winding Waters K-8 School this year, but learned last month that his contract would not be renewed. That action and his inability to find another job in the Hernando district for next school year, he claimed, was at least partly due to his political activity....

  5. DeWitt: Claims of viable waste-to-energy process ring hollow

    Local Government

    It's a seductive idea.

    A company takes all or most of Hernando County's garbage, mechanically sorts out recyclables and converts whatever remains to gas or fuel pellets that can be burned to produce clean energy.

    No sorting of cans or newspapers. The end of wasteful landfilling. Ultimately, big savings for the county.

    Problem is, at this point it's a fantasy. With just a few calls it becomes clear the county has spent two years chasing a mirage....

  6. Hernando School Board gets good news: a balance budget for 2016-17


    BROOKSVILLE — A windfall from the Hernando County School District's health insurer. Low prices for fuel for its buses. Increased tax revenue.

    All these factors led to the kind of news the Hernando School Board hasn't heard in years:

    "We are a able to present you with a balanced budget," executive director of business services Heather Martin said during a board workshop Tuesday....

    Low prices for bus fuel contributed to a surprise balanced budget for the Hernando County School District.
  7. IRS says Brooksville lawyer owes millions in taxes on offshore earnings


    BROOKSVILLE — Brooksville lawyer Tom Hogan Jr. and a longtime business partner, R. Victor Taglia, are fighting off claims that they owe a total of about $20 million in taxes on more than $50 million dollars the Internal Revenue Service says was funneled through a "tax avoidance scheme" in the U.S. Virgin Islands more than a decade ago.

    The cases, filed in little-known U.S. Tax Court earlier this year, hinge on whether the two men were "bona fide" residents of the Virgin Islands in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Residency would have qualified them for a 90 percent reduction their income tax rate....

    Tom Hogan Jr., seen on his law firm’s website, is accused of a “tax avoidance scheme.”
  8. DeWitt: Graduating teen already a recognized name in marine biology world


    Cole Kolasa climbed to the bow of the fishing boat, anchor in hand, while his father, Keith, throttled slowly forward, periodically glancing overboard until the faint image of a white limestone outcropping appeared beneath 15 feet of Army-green water.

    "That's the ledge right there," Keith Kolasa said, the signal for Cole to drop anchor.

    This underwater ridge, a dozen miles west of Bayport, supported one of the rarest life forms in this part of the Gulf of Mexico, one usually associated with crystal tropical water and schools of angelfish, one that Cole, who is set to graduate from Hernando High School on Saturday, has already built a national reputation for studying:...

    Cole Kolasa, a graduating Hernando High School senior, dives off Twin Shoals, a limestone outcropping a dozen miles west of Bayport off the Hernando coast, while studying coral there.
  9. Two new entries bring to six the number of candidates seeking congressional seat


    The race for the District 11 seat in Congress, dominated by high-profile Republicans Justin Grabelle and U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, has drawn two more obscure candidates.

    Mark Fisher of Mount Dora, former vice chairman of the Lake County Republican Party and currently an inactive lawyer, entered the race last week as a Republican.

    The week before, repeat candidate Bruce Ray Riggs of Crystal River, an online head shop owner previously convicted of trying to hire a hit man, filed as a no-party candidate....

  10. Evaluations show solid support for Hernando school superintendent


    BROOKSVILLE — Hernando School Board member Susan Duval's sharply critical evaluation of superintendent Lori Romano last year left Romano with a narrow majority of supporters on the board.

    That support was solidified this month when four of five board members — including Duval — submitted favorable reviews of Romano's performance.

    The board had been scheduled to talk about the evaluations at its last workshop, but the discussion was postponed because board member Beth Narverud had not had a chance to meet with Romano to discuss her unflattering evaluation....

  11. Superintendent removes two principals from schools


    BROOKSVILLE — Two Hernando County school principals, Mark Griffith of Moton Elementary School and Latressa Jones of the Endeavor and Discovery academies, will not return to their positions next year.

    Two district-level staffers — Jason Chase, supervisor of technology and information services, and J. Lisle Bozeman, manager of planning and grant development — also will be leaving their jobs....

    Mark Griffith
  12. DeWitt: Brooksville's cry of foul rings hollow when it comes to racist past


    Brooksville, with a history as racist as any city in the United States, is offended that somebody dared to call it racist.

    Actually, it's more than offended. It's "befuddled, shocked, amazed and very disappointed" at these "slanderous aspersions."

    The city's honor has been impugned, the resolution passed by the City Council last month states, and can only be restored if Hernando County fires the lawyers "accountable for this abominable emetic action."...

  13. Judge rules former Hernando schools administrator should not get his job back


    BROOKSVILLE — A Brooksville judge has denied Ken Pritz's claim that the state's whistleblower law entitles him to temporarily return to his former job as assistant superintendent of the Hernando County School District.

    The case is secondary to the main claim — that the district owes Pritz for lost salary and retirement benefits — which is scheduled for a jury trial early next year....

    Ken Pritz says the school chief cut him loose in retaliation for revealing she sent an email in his name.
  14. Supermajority preservation an unexpected plus for Hernando


    Hooray for Jim Adkins, crusader for the environment!

    Three cheers for Jeff Holcomb, enemy of ill-conceived mining plans!

    I know. Reading those sentences might be disorienting, even a shock to the system.

    Writing them definitely was. But I had to do it.

    Last week, Hernando County Commissioners Holcomb, Adkins and, more predictably, Diane Rowden voted to stick to one of the best rules the County Commission has ever established: the requirement of a supermajority vote to change the Comprehensive Plan, the county's blueprint for future development....

  15. Vince La Borante elected to lead teachers union in Hernando


    BROOKSVILLE — Vince La Borante, a longtime teacher and administrator with the Hernando County School District, has won a three-year term as president of the Hernando Classroom Teachers Association.

    La Borante, 60, who has been the union's second vice president, will replace president Jo Ann Hartge at the end of the school year.

    Hartge, who also served a previous stint as president in the 1990s, is retiring after 29 years with the school district....