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

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  1. State report shows Hernando lags in recycling effort

    Environment

    Toss it. Pitch it. Dump it. Chuck it.

    All describe the disposal of stuff.

    And all of these phrases, no surprise, sound a lot like other expressions — "the heck with it" being one of the more polite examples — that mean we don't care.

    Throwing something away is often a shortcut.

    It means you don't want to make the effort to repair a no-longer-useful item, or take it to a thrift store, or, most appropriately for this discussion, recycle it....

  2. Dewitt column: A little subtlety could have helped Brooksville Common

    Religion

    It's a shame that it came to this.

    The people at the First United Methodist Church of Brooksville no doubt wanted to do good for the city when they planned and built the Brooksville Common, a public courtyard next to their downtown sanctuary.

    They put up most of the $240,000 cost of the project, and just about all of the rest came from other donors.

    Only $10,000 was public money — a grant from the Brooksville Community Redevelopment Agency — and it doesn't appear it was essential to complete the common. It has been open since May, and the church still hasn't received a dime of the grant....

  3. Hernando High Athletic Hall of Fame inductee lived up to his name

    Human Interest

    BROOKSVILLE

    The question isn't why Joann Moore fell in love with her future husband, Hercules.

    It's more like, why wouldn't she?

    "I hate to say a man is gorgeous, but oh my goodness!" she said. "He was gorgeous!"

    As a cheerleader for the football team at old Moton High School, she could hear the fans demand that "Herc" get the ball, could watch as he launched his trademark breakaway runs....

    Hercules Moore, an electric running back for Moton High School in the 1960s, was named for induction into the Hernando High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Moore died heroically in Vietnam less than a year after graduation.
  4. Can piers prevent sinkhole damage? Engineers have doubts

    Real Estate

    Can LRE Ground Services Inc., a Brooksville company well known for fixing sinkhole damage, actually prevent it?

    The company would like you to think so, which you probably know if you watch much cable television.

    For months, the company has been running an advertisement touting the use of "helical piers" to stabilize the foundations of homes — not after they have settled into sinkholes, which has long been common, but before the houses are built....

  5. Church-state separation group challenges grant for Brooksville Common

    Religion

    BROOKSVILLE — The Brooksville Common is on land owned by First United Methodist Church of Brooksville and was built almost entirely with more than $200,000 raised from church members and other private donors.

    But the Freedom from Religion Foundation has filed a letter objecting to the one public source of funding for the common — $10,000 approved by the city's Community Redevelopment Agency....

    A large display of the Ten Commandments is placed in the front of the Brooksville Common on South Broad Street in Brooksville on April 21. The Brooksville Common, a joint venture of the city and First United Methodist Church of Brooksville, is aimed at providing open space downtown.
  6. Florida Supreme Court overturns death sentence in 1985 Hernando murder

    Criminal

    The same samples of bodily fluids that helped put Paul Hildwin on death row for a 1985 murder in Hernando County persuaded the Florida Supreme Court to overturn his conviction and death sentence on Thursday.

    Prosecutors in his original trial relied heavily on now-outdated scientific evidence that claimed to show semen and sweat found at the crime scene likely came from Hildwin, the court's ruling said....

    Paul Hildwin cries while being interviewed at the Hernando County Jail in 1996. [Times files]
  7. Dump the tourism center, keep the beach at Weekiwachee Preserve

    Columns

    Forget about the "sports field."

    I have no idea why this vaguely ball field-shaped blob showed up on the county plan for a park in the Weekiwachee Preserve, but it clearly doesn't belong.

    The county can also scrap the educational plaza. Or tourism center. Or, as I've also heard it called, visitors center.

    That it has so many different names is a sign that nobody really knew what it was supposed to be before securing $3 million in state money for this project and pledging an equal amount of the county's cash. Nobody apparently considered that it sure is a lot like the $1.5 million museum and interpretive center that actually was planned — rather than dreamed up — as part of the $8.7 million of improvements at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park....

    Forrest Bennett, left, of Hernando Beach, Clara Adkins and her husband, County Commissioner Jim Adkins, along with Commissioner Diane Rowden listen to a presentation about a proposed education and tourism center at WeekiWachee Preserve.
  8. Brothers on 17,000-mile cycling trip from Alaska to Argentina

    Transportation

    Even after the rough first day of their long-distance cycling trip, Matt and Andrew Sufficool could think of plenty of reasons why they'd have no problem making it to the end.

    The scenery — frost-bound tundra stretching to the horizon in every direction — was bound to improve, as was the subfreezing weather.

    They would eat their way through some of their 80-pound loads and jettison some of the rest....

    Brooksville natives Matt Sufficool, right, and his brother Andrew started their trek in Deadhorse, Alaska, near the Beaufort Sea.
  9. Hernando commission should approve wide bike path near I-75, planner says

    Transportation

    BROOKSVILLE — At a meeting two weeks ago, Hernando County Commissioner Jim Adkins said the county should pass on the state's offer to build a bike-friendly "widewalk" along a stretch of State Road 50 rather than accept the $3,600-per-mile maintenance costs.

    "I would like the board to consider the (state) standard" of a sidewalk and a shoulder "in lieu of the widewalk," Adkins said.

    The commission instead voted to delay the vote, which was a good decision, said Dennis Dix, the county's transportation planning coordinator....

  10. Former Brooksville resident LaKimbre Brown is an education superstar

    K12

    When we talk about Brooksvillians who have gone on to do great things — Jerome Brown and Paul Farmer and the rest — maybe we need to start including LaKimbre Brown.

    Brown, 36, moved away from Brooksville during elementary school, but returned every summer to stay with her grandmother, Emma Johnson.

    Her parents, Lester and Deneece Brown, have come back to live here after long stints in other states and overseas. And LaKimbre, an instructional superintendent with the Washington, D.C., public schools, visited last week to speak at a scholarship banquet held by the Black Educators Caucus of Hernando County....

    LaKimbre Brown is an administrator with the D.C. district.
  11. DeWitt: Life in prison, not death, best for Freddie Lee Hall

    Criminal

    I'm not sure it's ever acceptable to think of a human being as trash, but if we make one exception, it might be for Freddie Lee Hall.

    His 1978 killing of a cop, Hernando County Sheriff's Deputy Lonnie Coburn, is not even his most heartless crime, maybe not even close.

    A few hours before killing Coburn, Hall had raped a woman, Karol Ann Hurst, who was seven months' pregnant. What's more, he singled her out because she was pregnant and therefore less likely to fight back, said Jimmy Brown, the Brooksville lawyer who, as a young assistant state attorney, prosecuted Hall....

    Freddie Lee Hall has been on death row for 36 years.
  12. Brooksville mourns death of Red Mule Pub owner Les Jinkens

    Retail

    BROOKSVILLE — Steve Smith, manager of the Brooksville Walmart, was one of a steady stream of customers who stopped by the Red Mule Pub on Monday morning to console Julia Jinkens on the death of her son, Les.

    "People have been so nice," said Jinkens, hugging Smith. "I didn't know he was that important. By golly, he must have done something right."

    The important thing that Les Jinkens did right, or at least the thing that caused the widespread mourning after his sudden death of an apparent heart attack on Saturday at age 67, was open the Red Mule....

    Red Mule Pub server Cookie Teusch, left, embraces Julia Jinkens at the Brooksville bar Monday. Jinkens’ son Les died Saturday.
  13. Springstead High principal built 'culture of learning' at Hernando school

    K12

    I challenge you to name a job, in a community this size, as important and potentially rewarding as high school principal.

    Your realm is small enough that leadership is direct and personal. You get to know kids. If your teachers take a stand to maintain discipline or academic standards, you can stand right beside them.

    Yet schools are big enough that a principal can change thousands of lives over the course of a career. Send out crop after crop of students who are actually prepared to take a place in the workforce or a college classroom and you've performed a massive public service....

  14. U.S. Supreme Court decision in IQ death penalty case creates new delays

    Criminal

    It comes up again and again in interviews with Lonnie Coburn's aging family members and the retired sheriff's deputies who worked with him: the 36 years they have had to wait for his killer to die.

    Freddie Lee Hall's many appeals include the successful one of his original death penalty for killing Coburn, a 25-year-old Hernando County deputy, and several unsuccessful attempts to overturn his death sentence for the rape and murder earlier that day in 1978 of a pregnant 21-year-old Leesburg woman, Karol Ann Hurst....

    Freddie Lee Hall, 68, killed a sheriff’s deputy and a pregnant woman on the same day in 1978.
  15. Commission passes its first test on sales tax, but others await

    Local Government

    School kids have exams this time of year. On Tuesday, the Hernando County Commission had its big test.

    While finally getting around to talking publicly about a planned sales tax referendum, it got to show whether it has mastered a couple of basic concepts.

    Do commissioners realize that they, not business leaders, have to get out in front of this issue? And do they understand how badly they need the help of the county School Board?...