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

  1. Dewitt: Only a few voters care to steer future of schools

    Local Government

    Ho-hum. The only thing at stake was the financial future of the Hernando County schools.

    Also, there was solid evidence that incumbent School Board candidate John Sweeney pulled strings to change his son's grades, an outrageous case of meddling by an elected official.

    But why bother filling out a ballot? Why send a message or make yourself heard? Somebody else will take care of it.

    I guess that's what the great majority of voters who stayed away from the polls were thinking Tuesday. Of course, I can only guess because you can't interview people at the polls if they don't show up....

  2. Brooksville renews fight for red-light camera citations


    BROOKSVILLE — The city of Brooksville is trying to revive its long-dead chances of defending red-light camera cases in court.

    But the biggest news for drivers might be what is missing from the city's legal argument.

    At least for now, assistant City Attorney Cliff Taylor said, the city will only prosecute traffic citations against drivers who travel straight through intersections — not those making a careless right turn on red....

    One Hernando judge ruled that red-light cameras could not be used for right-on-red violations and another questioned using photos in court.
  3. Hernando man whose death sentence was overturned refuses to delay new trial


    BROOKSVILLE — In a move that surprised his own lawyer, a man who spent 28 years on death row has refused to wait any longer than necessary for the start of his retrial.

    Paul Hildwin, 54, whose first-degree murder conviction and death sentence for a 1985 Hernando County murder was overturned in June, had been expected to waive his right to a speedy trial when he appeared before Circuit Judge Stephen E. Toner on Thursday....

    The decision by Hildwin, who spent 28 years on death row, gives lawyers little time to prepare.
  4. County should act to protect neighbors of hunting camp, gun range

    Local Government

    It would be nice if we could just ignore Ron Ritter.

    It would be nice if not paying attention to Ritter, who runs a hog-hunting camp in Ridge Manor, would do what that supposedly does to loudmouths — quiet him down. Even nicer if it stopped him from creating problems for neighbors of the property he leases off U.S. 98, south of State Road 50.

    But it hasn't.

    For the past year, the county has taken a mostly hands-off approach to Ritter. ...

    A notice about the state’s agritourism law is posted on Ron Ritter’s property in Ridge Manor. The idea behind the law was to allow farmers to make some money, to bring in visitors, to teach people about how food is produced. Ritter has benefited from Hernando County’s generous interpretation of the law.
  5. Justifications for extension of impact fee moratorium don't add up

    Local Government

    The uncertainty of the upcoming sales tax referendum was one excuse Nick Nicholson gave to put off — again — charging builders their fair share for new construction.

    We won't know how much we need in impact fees, Nicholson told his fellow Hernando County commissioners Tuesday, until we know whether voters will agree in November to add a penny of tax per dollar to their purchases....

  6. Hernando recycling apathy extends to county, Republic Services


    That I recently called Hernando County residents apathetic when it comes to recycling generated very little outrage. Too much apathy, I guess.

    But a few people, to their credit, did object.

    Some of them doubted that curbside recycling is available to all of the county's solid waste customers — which it definitely is — because they are concerned and well-informed residents and didn't know this fact....

  7. State report shows Hernando lags in recycling effort


    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....

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


    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....

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

    Human Interest


    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....

    Joann Moore, widow of Hercules Moore, and their daughter, Diana Moore, who was 3 years old when her father was killed in Vietnam, now live in St Petersburg. Hercules Moore was recently named to the Hernando High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
  10. 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....

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


    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.
  12. Florida Supreme Court overturns death sentence in 1985 Hernando murder


    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]
  13. Dump the tourism center, keep the beach at Weekiwachee Preserve


    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.
  14. Brothers on 17,000-mile cycling trip from Alaska to Argentina


    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.
  15. Hernando commission should approve wide bike path near I-75, planner says


    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....