12/10/13 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Commission on Tuesday put the final touches on the county's takeover of the former Spring Hill Fire Rescue District by approving a three-year contract with the newly-merged firefighters union. Under the terms of the agreement, all rank-and-file employees will receive 3 percent raises.
The contract, however, does not include a hoped-for step plan that would have helped to alleviate the discrepancy between the higher-paid Spring Hill employees. Robert Rae, the union representative for the firefighters, said that he was told that county commissioners weren't likely to support such an idea....
The clack of the conveyer system resonates through the work area where Kathy Oleson busily sorts through a pile of freshly washed red grapefruit. The ancient machine, purchased during the 1940s by her grandparents, provides a constant soundtrack during her December work days at Boyett's Grove and Citrus Attraction.
This time of year, Oleson, her family and the seasonal workers hired to help process and ship fruit from the storied grove in eastern Hernando County are in top gear as they try to meet the crush of holiday demand. It's not unusual for them to put in 14 hours — and ship more than 250 boxes of fruit — per day....
SPRING HILL — Although there weren't many times they disagreed, Hernando County builder Dudley Hampton recalls that when he and his friend Len Tria failed to see eye to eye on an issue, it was never due to a lack of respect.
"If there was ever a guy you could trust would give you his absolute honest opinion, it was Len," Hampton said. "What came out of his mouth was genuine and straight from the heart. You could disagree with him, but never doubt his passion."...
12/03/13 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — The Brooksville City Council gave its blessing Monday night to a community revitalization group's effort to rid downtown of two one-way highways that the group says impede business and make the city less desirable to pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
The unanimous support of a resolution backing the nonprofit Brooksville Vision Foundation's desire to return stretches of U.S. 41 (Broad Street) and U.S. 98 (Jefferson Street) to two-way traffic is the first step in bringing the matter before the state Department Of Transportation, said the organization's president, Cliff Manuel....
12/03/13 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — The action needed Tuesday to restore fluoride to Brooksville's water supply was deceptively easy.
According to utilities director Will Smith, the process involved little more than hooking up a 15-gallon tank containing hydrofluorosilic acid, making a few adjustments to the automatic metering system, and letting gravity take its course.
Indeed, delivering the tooth decay-fighting chemical into residents' homes seemed almost anticlimactic compared to the battle over fluoridation that raged over the course of several months earlier this year....
SPRING HILL — It's been a long time since Richard Bowden played a round of golf on one of his favorite Spring Hill courses — more than two years.
That was just before the Spring Hill Golf and Country Club went dormant. Since then, Bowden and other golfers who enjoy playing the course have been hoping for the day when they could once again drive a ball down the long, lush fairways or putt on what many once considered some of the best greens in Hernando County....
11/27/13 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — Built during an era when horse-drawn carriages rolled down Howell Avenue in downtown Brooksville, the section of sidewalk stretching north about four blocks from Fort Dade Avenue to the First Baptist Church has been showing its age for the past few decades.
Invading tree roots and settling soil have caused concrete sections along the east side of the road to twist and buckle, increasing the danger of someone falling into the busy roadway....
Bluegrass music has had its share of standout musicians who hail from places far from the genre's Southern origins. So it's no surprise that one of the most talked about groups these days comes from way north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
The Spinney Brothers, from the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, embrace the music's deepest traditional roots, and that's what caught the ear of promoter Mitch Lind, who puts together the lineup for this week's annual Sertoma Youth Ranch Thanksgiving Bluegrass Festival. Lind gave one listen to the quartet and was immediately sold on the group....
SPRING HILL — Dr. David McGrew knows well just how precious life is, especially the final moments, when apologies, regrets and forgiveness are no longer concerns that can be put off.
Through three decades as a tending physician and medical director for HPH Hospice, McGrew can recall thousands of happy endings when family members gathered to comfort a loved one and worked together to help make the transition from the living world a loving, peaceful one....
11/19/13 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — As the heavy bass beat throbbed from the black Chevy SUV parked 92 feet away, Brooksville Vice Mayor Kevin Hohn covered his ears and grimaced.
"That really gets to you," Hohn said, turning to police Chief George Turner. "I can't imagine someone trying to drive a car with that going on."
But people do. And although the city has reinstated a car stereo ordinance, designed to curb the sound coming from "boom" cars, some City Council members believe it needs to be tweaked to be more fair to drivers whose sound systems aren't so offensive....
BROOKSVILLE — Many owners of historic homes are faced with a dilemma when they consider enhancing their property with storage sheds, garage space and other outbuildings. Options tend to be limited and often come down to choosing between a prefabricated structure with little or no aesthetic appeal or hiring a contractor to build one from scratch.
Jo-Anne Peck and her husband, Craig DeRoin, thought there should be a better alternative, one that would offer a handsome, affordable structure to better complement the existing edifice and that could be built to modern standards....
A prehistoric stone bowl, dozens of old bottles, a corroded cap pistol from the 1940s, discarded car tires, a shard from a 15th century Spanish ceramic plate.
Divers working on a restoration project at Chassahowitzka Springs over the summer never knew what they were going to find and bring to the surface.
The vast trove of treasures and trash — either tossed or lost — was on public display Wednesday at the Chassahowitzka River Campground as officials from the Southwest Florida Water Management District and other state environmental agencies presented a wrap-up of the first phase of a water quality improvement project intended to rid the spring of noxious algae and make it more habitable for wildlife....
SPRING HILL — Forty years ago, the startup community of Spring Hill had little to offer its new residents in the way of culture, especially for those who were interested in the visual arts. There were no public art galleries, not even a local store that specialized in art supplies.
But a determined group of like-minded painters, sculptors and crafters sought to change that.
The establishment of the nonprofit Spring Hill Art League in April 1974 created a spark of enthusiasm that even today focuses on giving local artists their due, said Sandra Bonadonna, who serves as the league's historian....
11/08/13 Human Interest
BROOKSVILLE — For Jan Knowles, the time to celebrate has come at last.
For the past four years, Knowles and other members of the Friends of Chinesgut Hill have poured their hearts and souls into saving the historic manor house at Chinsegut Hill. Destined to end up on the state's list of surplus properties, the effort was touch-and-go as the nonprofit group desperately sought a partner that believed the 165-year-old landmark was worth keeping in public hands....
On a sunny Tuesday, the door to Andrew Jackson American Legion Post 99's canteen is wide open as John and Linda Swald finish up maintenance chores.
The couple stop by often during the week to help out with whatever needs to be done. Rarely is there not a need at the 56-year-old hall on Fort Dade Avenue in downtown Brooksville.
In addition to woes ranging from plumbing problems to constant damage by vandals, the building is showing its age. A new roof and other major repairs have remained on hold for some time. Fundraisers have helped with some of the money, but they haven't done much to address all of the post's needs....