Logan Neill, Times Staff Writer

Logan Neill

Logan Neill covers arts and entertainment in Hernando County for the Tampa Bay Times.

Phone: (352) 848-1435

Email: lneill@tampabay.com

  1. Brooksville council approves 'neutral' balanced budget

    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....

  2. After months of restoration, historic Chinsegut manor house nearly ready for public


    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....

    Chinsegut Hill’s 164-year-old manor house that had been crumbling from neglect is nearing its stately former self after months of work. A $1.5 million historic preservation grant awarded by the Legislature has been used to completely renovate the house.
  3. Bluesapalooza finds its way in downtown Brooksville

    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....

    Music got some in the audience up on their feet to sing and dance at last year’s Bluesapalooza. 
  4. Outgoing Brooksville council members lament lack of action on budget issues

    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....

  5. Brooksville red-light camera referendum remains stalled in court system

    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....

    The deadline has passed to get a referendum on the November ballot asking voters to decide on the use of red-light cameras in Brooksville.
  6. Brooksville considers changes to fee-waiver policy for events

    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....

  7. Ex-Hernando deputy gets probation, must make restitution in fraud, theft cases


    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....

  8. Circuit Judge, Group 3


    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....

    Sandy K. Kautz
  9. Supreme Court suspends Spring Hill lawyer for three months


    SPRING HILL — The Florida Supreme Court has suspended a Spring Hill lawyer for 91 days for engaging in actions that it said involved "dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation" in a divorce case against his wife of seven years.

    George Allen Routh, 82, who has practiced law in Florida for 53 years, was found culpable of infractions between 2005 and 2012 that occurred during the breakup of his marriage to Sarah Thompson. According to a complaint filed by the Florida Bar, many of Routh's actions were meant to deny his wife of her rightful benefit of joint assets....

  10. Mosquito spraying resumes in Brooksville after dispute with county settled

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — For the past couple of months, the mosquitoes in and around Harold Johnson's home at Southern Hills Plantation Club had gotten so bad that he and his neighbors were reluctant to step outside after dusk for even a brief walk around the neighborhood.

    "It's probably about as bad as I've ever seen it," Johnson said. "Everyone I know says the same thing."

    Johnson wanted answers as to why the mosquito problem had gotten so out of hand this summer, so he called Hernando County Mosquito Control. He was told by coordinator/surveillance technician Rene Snow that it wasn't the county's problem....

    ** FILE ** This undated handout file photo provided by the Agriculture Department shows an aedes aegypti mosquito on human skin. A reader-submitted regarding the use of a bacterium to shorten the lifespan of mosquitoes is being answered as part of an Associated Press Q&A column called "Ask AP" (AP Photo/USDA, File)
  11. Former Hernando teacher gets six years in prison for sex with teen boy


    BROOKSVILLE — Cynthia Lynn Herr, a former Hernando County teacher accused last year of having sexual activity with a 16-year-old boy, received a six-year prison sentence Thursday in exchange for a guilty plea. Once she is released, she must serve nine years of sexual offender probation.

    Standing beside her attorney, Mike Mastrogiovanni, a tearful Herr, 36, appeared before Hernando Circuit Judge Daniel B. Merritt Jr., who also required that she surrender her state teaching certificate....

    Cynthia Lynn Herr, 36, took a deal for pleading guilty.
  12. Foreclosures 'overwhelmed' Hernando clerk's office before logjam broke

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — When Don Barbee took the reins last year as Hernando County clerk of the court, he inherited a huge problem. Not only were foreclosure filings continuing at a high level, there was the dilemma of what to do about cases that had languished far longer than normal in the courts.

    The foreclosure logjam dated back several years, but by January 2013 it had reached critical mass, with nearly 3,500 cases on the books and only two judges hearing them. At the same time, Barbee's office was dealing with deep budget cuts that gripped every county government agency....

  13. In new trial, jury convicts Hernando man for murder of father


    BROOKSVILLE — His eyes locked on the six jurors before him, Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino held up two photos and made a somber comparison Wednesday in Hernando Circuit Judge Stephen E. Toner's courtroom.

    "Ivan Horne in life," Magrino remarked, holding up the first photo. "Ivan Horne in death," he said, as he showed the second picture, taken the morning of May, 4, 2010, when authorities discovered Horne's body in a yard in Ridge Manor, in eastern Hernando County....

    Stephen Horne listens to closing arguments Wednesday. 
  14. Retrial of man charged with murder of father begins in Hernando


    BROOKSVILLE — For the next couple of days, Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino is expected to cover some familiar territory during the retrial of Stephen Horne.

    Many of the same witnesses will be called, and jurors will see most of the same evidence presented three years ago when Horne was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the first-degree murder and armed robbery of his 47-year-old father, Ivan Horne....

    Stephen Horne is accused of fatally shooting his father, and stealing drugs and cash.
  15. Group hopes to present plan by year's end to eliminate one-way streets in Brooksville

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — The Brooksville Vision Foundation is looking to formally present its plan to eliminate the one-way streets through downtown Brooksville to the Florida Department of Transportation by the end of the year.

    Foundation president Cliff Manuel said during the organization's monthly meeting Tuesday that DOT officials want the group to work with the newly combined Hernando-Citrus Metropolitan Planning Organization to get the project put on the DOT's "cost-affordable" plan for long-term transportation projects. From there, the plan would likely gain momentum from DOT officials, who are currently in the process of putting together a new 20-year transportation plan....