05/21/13 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — In what has become a much-talked-about issue lately in Brooksville, advocates on both sides of the subject of communitywide fluoridation lined up Tuesday to debate the issue at a Brooksville City Council information workshop.
The hot-button issue is likely to come again before the council over the next few months.
The Hernando County Health Department, which favors a return of fluoridation, invited a team of dental health care professionals to speak in favor of the practice....
BROOKSVILLE — In the rising heat of the early afternoon, Trish Weston smiled and watched as her 3-year-old basenji, Jake, sat happily in a blue kiddie pool filled with water and ice.
"That looks fun," Weston said as she sipped on a soft drink. "I almost wish I could jump right in with him."
Yes, it was quite warm at the Inverness Kennel Club's Spring Fling dog show last weekend. So warm that club officials set up special cooling lounges for the canine contestants around the show grounds at the Hernando County Fairgrounds....
05/20/13 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — County business development manager Michael McHugh couldn't be happier with the word this week out of Tallahassee.
Hernando County landed $3 million in state funding for two of McHugh's pet projects: startup funding for an adult technical education program and money to help restore the manor house at Chinsegut Hill, north of Brooksville.
The projects are key to Hernando County's economic and tourist development goals....
05/17/13 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — Call it fluoridation debate, redux.
The long-standing question of whether Brooksville should return to the practice of adding the tooth decay-fighting chemical to its water supply will return front and center before the City Council during a workshop at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The issue, which has strong advocates on both sides, last came up in March, when council member Frankie Burnett stated to council members that he welcomed bringing in dental health experts as early as possible to present their views before the five-member governing body. All agreed with Burnett, except Mayor Lara Bradburn, a staunch opponent of fluoridation, who thought it more appropriate to discuss the matter during the summer budget season....
WEEKI WACHEE — Two months ago, residents of the Glen Lakes community looked above the horizon and saw something that no homeowner ever wants to see: a wall of flames racing toward their property.
Within minutes, the normally quiet neighborhood that abuts the eastern edge of the 34,000-acre Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area was flooded by emergency responders from six agencies scrambling to control the blaze....
SPRING LAKE — Four years ago, south Florida promoter Russ Bowers had a plan to bring together some of Florida's more noted improvisational rock bands that he hoped would appeal to the growing audience for jam bands.
Since then, the annual Orange Blossom Jamboree has, well, blossomed into one of the largest festivals of its kind in the Southeast.
"We always knew that Central Florida would support a festival like this," Bowers said. "Every year, it keeps getting better — the music, the audience, the vendors, everything."...
05/10/13 Human Interest
When asked what she was planning as a Mother's Day gift, 8-year-old Natallie giggled and explained that she had put together in school a "breakfast bag."
It would hold a muffin, a drawing, a poem she had written and a surprise that she refused to reveal, other than to say this:
"Linda will really like it."
Mother's Day is always a special occasion for Linda Hoins. Cards, letters and phone calls flood into her comfortable home south of Brooksville to remind her of the dozens of young people who have lived here over the past 21 years....
05/07/13 Economic Development
BROOKSVILLE — Just a few months ago, supporters of the historic Chinsegut Hill Manor House almost felt like throwing in the towel.
Turned down by agency after agency in their quest to keep the 165-year-old landmark and its picturesque grounds from being "surplussed" — or sold to a private buyer — the nonprofit Friends of Chinsegut Hill made a last ditch pitch to the Hernando County Commission. It asked the commission to underwrite a plan to lease the facility from the state and keep it in public hands....
05/06/13 Economic Development
BROOKSVILLE — This past weekend's second annual Florida Blueberry Festival in Brooksville had a lot riding on it. Not only was it a calling card to potential visitors from all over Central Florida, but also it had to make a profit to return in the future.
It turns out, the event was a winner on both counts, said Michael Heard, chairwoman of Florida Blueberry Festival Inc.
A preliminary tally of gate receipts showed that festival pulled in between 45,000 and 50,000 visitors during its two days, she said. That should ensure a profit that will be divided between chosen charities....
05/04/13 Human Interest
BROOKSVILLE — Normally, not much happens in downtown Brooksville on a weekend afternoon. Only a handful of people walk the streets. Most businesses are closed.
But on Saturday, it was awash in blue as thousands of people descended upon the historic city for the second annual Florida Blueberry Festival.
"I just love blueberries,'' said Teri Schummer, dipping her spoon into a blueberry smoothie. "I always come to these things for the food.''...
05/02/13 Human Interest
BROOKSVILLE — If you're hosting a big-time public event such as the Florida Blueberry Festival, its organizers say, you need a big-time attraction.
And the people running this weekend's festival in Brooksville think they have found that draw in 31-year-old country music upstart Easton Corbin.
"We brought him in to bring a bigger audience to the festival," said Sue Rupe, entertainment chair of Florida Blueberry Festival Inc....
04/30/13 Human Interest
BROOKSVILLE — Organizers of the Florida Blueberry Festival stepped into their new venture last year hoping that the investment of thousands of advertising dollars and many hours of planning would pay off by bringing hordes of visitors to downtown.
In one way, the event — which returns this weekend — was a success, drawing a crowd of about 40,000 over the course of the weekend....
BROOKSVILLE — The State Attorney's office on Monday cleared a Hernando County sheriff's deputy of any criminal wrongdoing in the February shooting of an 18-year-old student at Nature Coast Technical High School.
The student, Joseph "Joey" Berrios, attacked the deputy, Ramona Fuhs, after she ordered him to stop, according to the statement from the State Attorney's office, which summarized the findings of an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement....
BROOKSVILLE — Prosecutors on Monday cleared a Hernando County sheriff's deputy of criminal wrongdoing in the February shooting of a Nature Coast Technical High School student.
The decision from Brad King, state attorney for the 5th Judicial Circuit, was based on his office's review of the investigation into the shooting by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The student, Joseph "Joey" Berrios, 18, attacked the deputy, Ramona Fuhs, as she tried to leave her patrol car, the prosecutors' report said....
Tracy Taylor still swells with pride when she looks around the three-bedroom home on Peach Street that she and her family have called home for 18 years.
Though modest in appearance, the dwelling is a dream castle in her eyes, filled with loving memories that began before the foundation was poured.
Back in 1994, Taylor found herself in impossible living conditions. A single mother with three small children, she no longer felt that the cramped rented mobile home on Easy Street was the proper place to raise her family. Although she had a good job as a certified nursing assistant, she was convinced she would never qualify for a home loan because she thought no one believed in her....