Circuit judge | Group 3
The Group 3 race for circuit judge in the 5th Judicial Circuit comes down to a choice between the two surviving candidates from the August primary, which eliminated incumbent Sandy K. Kautz and a fourth challenger, Bo Samargya. The winner of the race will occupy a seat where the judge traditionally has handled juvenile justice, family law, felony cases and civil disputes involving more than $15,000. By Logan Neill, Times staff writer...
Brooksville City Council | Seat 4
Three political newcomers are vying for the only contested City Council seat up for election this year. The winner will join Robert "Butch" Battista and Natalie Kahler, both of whom ran unopposed. Council races are nonpartisan. By Logan Neill, Times staff writer
Vivian "Vi" Coogler, 62 Betty Erhard, 52 William Kemerer, 64 Experience Born into one of Brooksville's pioneering families, Coogler has made several unsuccessful stabs at political office. He lost a bid for County Commission in 2006, and was a School Board candidate briefly in 2008 before dropping out. Medically disabled, he currently works as a volunteer equipment manager with Parrott Middle School's football team. Erhard is a 27-year Brooksville resident and a 1983 graduate of Hernando High School. Her past work experience includes administrative assistant at the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce and employment with Hernando County government. She currently makes her living as an independent sales consultant. She has served on the city's charter review board since 2012. A resident of Southern Hills Plantation Club since 2012, Kemerer has served stints on the board of directors of the Westchase community homeowners association in Tampa, and for a while served as community district supervisor. He currently serves on the board of directors at Southern Hills. Education High school, some college High school High school, bachelor of science in business administration Why do you want to be a member of the City Council? Coogler says he wants to work toward assuring residents and city business owners that the city will focus on revitalizing the city. Among his goals is to encourage the council to obtain more outside grants to help with funding to pay for infrastructure needs. Erhard, who ran unsuccessfully for the council two years ago, says her main focus is to bring "true representation" to Brooksville residents. If elected, she promises to bring fresh ideas and a desire to become a voice for residents who may feel their voices have been left out of the political process. Kemerer, who worked as a certified public accountant and lives at Southern Hills Plantation Club, says he believes in applying businesslike principles to municipal government and supports establishing budgetary policies that address both the city's present and future needs. Would you support the continued use of red-light cameras? No No No Do you support the Penny for Progress sales tax referendum? Yes Yes Yes
BROOKSVILLE — The Brooksville City Council will enter a new era when it meets with three new members on the first Monday in December.
Two of these new council members have already been revealed: Neither Robert "Butch" Battista nor Natalie Kahler drew an opponent in their races for council seats.
But on Nov. 4, voters will be able to choose from three first-time candidates vying to fill council Seat 4, currently held by Kevin Hohn, who is not running for re-election....
10/09/14 Human Interest
BROOKSVILLE — The name Hal Neely probably won't pique the interest of anyone not well-versed in pop music. For Brooksville author and storyteller Jerry Cowling, even an appeal by a close friend to help assemble Neely's memoirs didn't elicit much excitement at first. But it didn't take long for Cowling to change his mind.
Neely, who died five years ago at age 88 in a Brooksville assisted living facility, was something of an obscure legend — a record company executive and producer who helped steer the music careers of dozens of musicians, including soul music icon James Brown....
BROOKSVILLE — A 23-year-old Spring Hill man who was behind the wheel of a sport utility vehicle that rolled over a year ago, killing his twin brother, is now facing a felony DUI manslaughter charge.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Chase William Walker surrendered at the Hernando County Detention Center on Monday after a warrant for his arrest was issued. He was released after posting $30,000 bail....
BROOKSVILLE — A little more than a month after a shooting rampage in south Brooksville left three people dead and a fourth in critical condition, George Mason III pleaded not guilty Tuesday to three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted felony murder.
Inside a packed Hernando County courtroom, family members of Mason looked on as the suspect stood silently in handcuffs while the charges were read. Last week, a grand jury indicted Mason, 42, of Lutz, in the Aug. 29 shootings that killed Jannie V. Taylor, 81, Ralph Peyton, 29, and Mason's girlfriend, Tarasha Townsend, 37. Mason is also accused of shooting and severely wounding his half brother, Gabriel Taylor, 33....
BROOKSVILLE — For the past three years, Brooksville has enjoyed celebrity status as home to the state's largest blueberry celebration. Each April, the Florida Blueberry Festival attracts thousands to a two-day downtown street fest that pays homage to anything connected to the juicy indigo fruit.
In a couple of weeks, Brooksville will be able to boast one more accolade when it becomes the official home of the Florida Blueberry Growers Association....
09/18/14 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — Resigned to the notion that outgoing officeholders don't want to saddle their successors with undue burdens, the Brooksville City Council approved a $7.7 million 2014-15 budget Wednesday night with no last-minute surprises.
The measure, which passed 3-2, calls for keeping the present 6.6962-mill property tax rate, which will generate about same amount of revenue as this year. One mill is equivalent to $1 of tax for each $1,000 of assessed, nonexempt real property....
BROOKSVILLE — Standing on the balcony of the Chinsegut manor house, Christie Anderberg watches while the final touches are being put on the $1.5 million restoration project that was just getting under way six months ago.
The 164-year-old edifice that had been crumbling from neglect and disrepair is nearing its stately former self, and within a few weeks will be ready to welcome the visiting public....
09/17/14 Music & Concerts
One could say that Bluesapalooza has found its way.
Last year, the daylong music event moved from its original remote location to the more centralized venue of Hernando Park in downtown Brooksville. Fans not only followed, they grew.
That was good news for Hernando Parks and Recreation coordinator Harry Johnson, who in 2009 pitched the first Bluesapalooza to the County Commission as a way of earning extra revenue for the department. Looking forward to this weekend's sixth staging of the event, Johnson is optimistic for another good turnout....
09/12/14 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — The past six years were not kind economically to the city of Brooksville. Like every other municipality hard hit by the recession, budget discussions became sobering reminders that the city was facing a tough road as it navigated its fiscal future.
Between 2008 and 2013, Brooksville's taxable property value fell more than $200 million, forcing City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha to find ways to continue delivering services under the auspices of what she called "the new norm." In 2011 alone, the city managed to sidestep a projected $404,000 revenue shortfall through aggressive reductions in staffing, lower employee insurance costs and the leasing of the Quarry Golf Course to a private entity, while keeping the property tax rate at a respectable 6.37 mills....
09/11/14 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — Back in June, Pat and Shirley Miketinac turned over to the Hernando County Supervisor of Elections Office 536 petition signatures that they were certain would pave the way for a November election referendum that would forever ban Brooksville's use of red-light cameras.
The reaction by the Brooksville City Council was swift. Within a week, a majority of council members voted to challenge the legality of the petition in Hernando County Circuit Court, requesting a declaratory judgment that focused on several issues....
09/10/14 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — Citing concerns over fairness and budget limitations, the Brooksville City Council once again is mulling over changes to its policy of granting fee waivers to promoters of special events.
At a workshop Tuesday night, council members discussed ways to tweak the city's current policy so that the $7,000 set aside to help with city services for parades, concerts, festivals and running events will go further toward helping to bring more special events to the city....
BROOKSVILLE — A former Hernando County sheriff's deputy accused of stealing thousands of dollars from a local Fraternal Order of Police bank account, plus money from a fund set up to help the family of deceased department captain, has pleaded no contest to the charges.
Michael Glatfelter, 52, was sentenced Thursday by Circuit Judge Stephen Toner to five years of probation and was ordered to pay back money to the fund. In addition, he was ordered to give up his law enforcement certification....
Circuit Judge | Group 3
Incumbent Sandy K. Kautz has drawn three challengers to the nonpartisan seat she has held since 2008. Although generally well-regarded by colleagues and peers, Kautz drew some fire recently from the Judicial Qualifications Commission when it was alleged she tried to use her influence in a family matter before the court. The commission's recommendation that she be publicly reprimanded has yet to be acted upon by the Supreme Court. If no one receives more than 50 percent of the primary vote in the August primary election, the top two finishers will face each other in November....