Mostly Cloudy68° WeatherMostly Cloudy68° Weather

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

Email: dewitt@tampabay.com

Twitter: @DDewittTimes

link
  1. On Thanksgiving, quiet not the custom for tireless foster parents (w/video)

    Human Interest

    BROOKSVILLE

    Thanksgivings were supposed to be getting quieter for Pat and Linda Hoins.

    They decided last spring to be "selfish" and stop taking in foster kids nearly every time they were asked, Pat Hoins said. They stuck a "For Sale" sign in front of their big house south of Brooksville and sold their 12-piece Broyhill dining room set on Craigslist.

    "Like fools," Linda said, because since then almost nothing has worked out as planned....

    Standing behind Pat, left, and Linda Hoins are, from left, Bella Hoins, 11, Anakin Piccirilli, 12, Colton Hoins, 17, Mikalah Bryant, 9, Anastasia Piccirilli, 15, and her brother Tony Piccirilli, 14.
  2. DeWitt: Time can't blot out Hernando's racial history, lynchings

    Local Government

    When it comes to seeking racial justice in Hernando County, Jerry Bell Jr. is ambitious enough to aim high, practical enough to accept a modest victory.

    Bell, 37, a 1995 Hernando High School graduate, has written to the federal Department of Justice asking for an investigation into the racial violence in his home county, which had the highest per-capita rate of lynchings of any county in the country between 1900 and 1931, according to the most reliable statistics available....

    Jerry Ball Jr. says that if Hernando County can have a monument honoring Confederate soldiers outside its courthouse, then "the same can be done for the countless African-American lives that were lost in Hernando County" to the violence of racism.
  3. DeWitt: If Hernando is to thrive, it must invest in itself

    K12

    Hernando County is the mean old man on the block.

    His house is neglected, dank and dingy. You don't visit unless you have to, and you don't hang around long. If a ball is hit in his yard, nobody retrieves it because he's got a reputation for hating kids.

    We could have changed this last week, put a little money into our place to make it more welcoming to investors and home buyers with children. We could have made it a place that the most talented and ambitious of these children are not so eager to leave....

    The failed 1-cent sales tax increase in Hernando would have helped pay for state-mandated tablets in the schools.
  4. Former assistant fails to get mea culpa in ongoing battle with Hernando school superintendent

    K12

    BROOKSVILLE — All former Hernando assistant school superintendent Ken Pritz asked for was an acknowledgment that his former boss was wrong when she sent out an email in his name last year — an email incorrectly saying he was "excited" to be taking on his new duties as district warehouse manager.

    Pritz got that acknowledgement on Monday from outgoing School Board member Dianne Bonfield, but not from a majority of the board....

    Former assistant school superinten­dent Ken Pritz is challenging his termination.
  5. Hernando leaders reflect after failure of penny sales tax for schools, government

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Barbara Kight, eating lunch at the Deli World restaurant in Brooksville last week, didn't buy the argument that one computerized tablet could replace an entire backpack of textbooks.

    She wasn't swayed when told that this new technology is required by the state. She didn't want to hear any other arguments in favor of the Penny for Projects sales tax that would have raised $170 million over 10 years for the tablets and a long list of infrastructure improvements....

  6. In 22 years on the Brooksville City Council, Joe Bernardini was voice of the people

    Human Interest

    When I arrived in Brooksville 25 years ago, a fellow reporter explained how easy it was to reach the city's mayor, Joe Bernardini.

    He works for the phone company, she said; if you page him, he'll climb to the top of the nearest telephone pole, hook into a wire and return your call.

    Sure enough, I ended up having many such conversations with Bernardini, his voice sometimes drowned out by whipping wind and whizzing traffic....

    In 22 years on the Brooksville City Council, Joe Bernardini was voice of the people.
  7. High school band programs in Hernando struggle to keep the music going

    K12

    BROOKSVILLE

    Nature Coast Technical High School football players sprinted onto the field from beneath a giant, inflatable light blue-and-black helmet to the sound of the University of Oklahoma's fight song, Boomer Sooner.

    Cheerleaders launched tumbling runs near the 50-yard line.

    Fans cheered.

    A typical high school football game on a clear, cool Friday night — except for one detail:...

    Above, Hernando High marching band members practice their routine at Tom Fisher Stadium in Brooksville on Monday.
  8. Happiness, relief — and questions — in aftermath of Tuesday's election in Hernando

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County's newest county commissioner, software consultant Jeff Holcomb, found himself preparing to switch gears in the aftermath of Tuesday's general election.

    After more than a year of pouring himself into the race for the District 4 seat on the commission, he said that it was time to actually get ready to take office. He will be sworn in later this month, along with commission Chairman Wayne Dukes, who won re-election....

    Blaise Ingoglia won the state House District 35 seat.
  9. Republicans take two seats on Hernando County Commission

    Elections

    BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County voters gave District 2 County Commissioner Wayne Dukes a second term in a hard-fought race against challenger Jimmy Lodato on Tuesday.

    In his campaign, Dukes, a Republican, focused on his fiscal conservatism and attacked Lodato for statements he made favoring a tax increase. Both Dukes and Lodato supported the failed sales tax initiative on Tuesday's ballot, and Dukes voted for the most recent increase in the property tax....

    Johnson
  10. Nugent claims easy victory in U.S. House District 11 race

    Elections

    Republican incumbent Rep. Rich Nugent cruised to an easy victory Tuesday over Democratic challenger David Koller in the race for the District 11 seat of the U.S. House of Representatives.

    It will be the third term for Nugent, of Spring Hill, in the heavily Republican district, which includes Hernando, Citrus and Sumter counties, and part of Marion.

    Koller said he ran against Nugent out of disgust over last year's shutdown of the federal government. Nugent voted with the Republican minority that opposed ending the shutdown and later opposed a widely praised budget compromise....

    Rich Nugent
  11. Hernando judge levies $100 fines on residents who failed to show up for jury duty

    Civil

    BROOKSVILLE — In August, Circuit Judge Daniel B. Merritt Jr. lectured a courtroom full of no-show jurors in Hernando County about their patriotic duty.

    "Act like an American," he told them.

    On Monday, Merritt said, it was time for more serious measures to address the chronic problem of residents not appearing for jury duty.

    "I've been there, and done that," he said of his previous lecture, "and it did not have the desired effect."...

    In August, Circuit Judge Daniel B. Merritt Jr. lectured a courtroom full of no-show jurors in Hernando County about their patriotic duty. On Monday, he fined them.
  12. Hernando judge says red-light referendum cannot go on ballot

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Siding with the city of Brooksville, a Hernando County judge has struck down a referendum that would have allowed voters to ban the city's red-light cameras.

    The measure sought to change the city's charter to prohibit current and future city councils from installing red-light cameras, which was one of the reasons for Circuit Judge Thomas Eineman's ruling.

    It was too broad, he ruled, because the changes to the charter would have eliminated the city's power of self-rule that is guaranteed by state law and therefore "violates the Municipal Home Powers Act," Eineman wrote....

    A Hernando County judge has struck down a referendum that would have allowed voters to ban the city’s red-light cameras.
  13. Lara Bradburn's Coast to Coast bike trail route will help Brooksville

    Local Government

    Brooksville City Council member Lara Bradburn was at her best and worst at a big meeting last week.

    She was defensive almost to the point of tears while pushing her preferred route for a link in the statewide Coast to Coast Connector bike trail.

    She exaggerated the dire consequences if things didn't go her way.

    And, when I talked to her after the Oct. 21 meeting of the Hernando Citrus Metropolitan Planning Organization, it wasn't completely clear she even had her facts straight....

    Lara Bradburn has the most sensible bike route for Brooksville.
  14. Route differences aside, support for closing gaps on cross-state bike trail is strong

    Transportation

    Anyone who doubts the changing perception of bike trails in Florida needs only to look at the Coast to Coast Connector.

    With the backing of the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott, the state Department of Transportation has set aside $18.8 million this year for the project, which would link existing trails to create a 275-mile cycling path from St. Petersburg to Titusville.

    The money includes $5.4 million to help close gaps in Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties....

  15. Pasco loses appeal on channel dredge permit for SunWest development

    Local Government

    ARIPEKA — The Army Corps of Engineers once again has denied Pasco County permission to dredge a deepwater channel in the Gulf of Mexico to its proposed SunWest Park in Aripeka.

    The corps previously had denied Pasco's application in May 2013. The county appealed to senior corps staffers in Jacksonville and learned this week that the denial was upheld.

    The decision was applauded by Mac Davis, president of the Gulf Coast Conservancy, one of several environmental agencies that fought the dredge, citing damage to sea grass beds, among other issues....

    Pasco County wants to dredge a deepwater channel in the Gulf of Mexico to its proposed SunWest Park in Aripeka.