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Megan Reeves, Times Staff Writer

Megan Reeves

Megan covers the Hernando County School District and general news throughout Hernando County. She is from the Jacksonville area and graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in photojournalism in May 2015. She joined the Times in January 2016 after spending one year at the Lake City Reporter.

Phone: (352) 754-6116

Email: mreeves@tampabay.com

Twitter: @mareevs

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  1. Hernando school budget bolstered by higher property values

    Education

    BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School Board on Tuesday tentatively approved a nearly $266 million budget for the new fiscal year that increases spending by $9 million, but includes a state-required cut to the property tax rate.

    The spending plan is a result of a projected $2 million in new revenue from higher property values combined with what School District budget director Kendra Sittig called conservative spending in recent years....

    Hernando School Board member Mark Johnson said he was pleased the proposed budget had 6 percent in reserves and said he hoped extra money could be spent replacing the district's aging school bus fleet and outdated IT system. 
Times photo (2014)
  2. Survey shows employees praise, fear Hernando School Superintendent Romano

    Education

    BROOKSVILLE — Two years after Hernando School District leaders suggested an employee-based evaluation of Superintendent Lori Romano, the results — showing feedback both positive and not so — are now public.

    Some responses praised the superintendent's firmly set vision to get the district to an "A'' rating and her ability to present well to the public. Meanwhile, others called for her resignation, criticizing her lack of transparency and communication skills, and calling her administration style "fear-based."...

    Hernando County School Superintendent Lori Romano, right, got positive feedback for professionalism and setting a vision of the School District. Some employees expressed fear of their boss.
  3. Spring Hill couple arrested on drug charges after months-long investigation

    Crime

    SPRING HILL — A Spring Hill couple was arrested Wednesday on several drug charges after a months-long investigation by the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

    After allegedly selling cocaine to undercover detectives multiple times, Devon Bristol, 28, was booked on charges of trafficking cocaine, possession of a structure to traffic cocaine, felony possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance, seven counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, seven counts of unlawful use of a two-way communication device and seven counts of sale and possession of cocaine, some of which were within 1,000 feet of a church or school....

    Hernando County Sheriff's Office detectives stand behind 24 pounds of marijuana seized by the agency during a drug bust this week. [Photo by Megan Reeves]
  4. Hernando sheriff's sergeant fired after investigation of fatal shooting

    Public Safety

    Although cleared by state prosecutors after fatally shooting a suicidal elderly man during a house call last year, a Hernando County sheriff's sergeant deputy has been fired after 15 years of service.

    Sheriff Al Nienhuis sent Sgt. Gisele Dunn a termination letter last month, saying her actions during the September incident, when she and another deputy fatally shot 69-year-old veteran, former police officer and avid gun collector Joseph Schlosser, were "in violation of agency policy and in direct conflict with the high standards" of the agency....

    OCTAVIO JONES   |   TimesSheriff Al Nienhuis told Sgt. Gisele Dunn in a termination letter that her actions in the shooting death of Joseph Schlosser were “in violation of agency policy and in direct conflict with the high standards” of the agency.
  5. Mother of slain girl, 13, says she sneaked out but 'never stayed gone'

    Crime

    RIVERVIEW — Janessa Shannon had sneaked out of her mother's Bradenton home before. So Michelle Mosley wasn't happy when she found out her 13-year-old daughter had done it again, winding up at a boy's house.

    As punishment, Janessa was returned to her father's home in Riverview a day early, Mosley said Sunday. It was the last time she would see her daughter.

    The father, Nahshon Shannon, grounded her that night. He checked on Janessa the following day, he said, and found no one in her bedroom at his home at 11219 Cocoa Beach Drive. He reported her disappearance to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office on July 3, a Monday....

    Photo of the Triple Creek Nature Preserve in Riverview where Hillsborough Sheriff detectives say the badly decomposed body of missing 13 year old Janessa Shannon was found. Janessa's body was discovered on July 12, 2017 and detectives along with the Hillsborough Medical Examiners Office determined it was the body of the missing teen on July 14. [Sunday July 16, 2017] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  6. Homework no more for Marion County elementary schools

    Blog

    Elementary schools in Marion County will say goodbye to everyday homework in the coming school year after Superintendent Heidi Maier said research shows it does not enhance learning.

    Maier, who took office in November, notified parents and teachers of the change at the district’s 31 elementary schools on Wednesday via automated phone message. The new rule will not apply to high school and middle school students....

    Elementary schools in Marion County will say goodbye to everyday homework in the coming school year after Superintendent Heidi Maier said research shows it does not enhance learning.
  7. Intern program at Monster Transmission opens opportunities for local youth

    Education

    BROOKSVILLE — Jami White was headed down the hallway at Central High School on the way to third-period calculus when a friend stopped him.

    "You need to come with me right now," White recalls the friend saying. So, clad in denim cutoffs, a camouflage flannel and cowboy boots — an ensemble inspired by Senior Week — he followed.

    And it's a good thing he did.

    Less than two months later, an 18-year-old fresh out of high school, White walked into the first day of a new job with Monster Transmission & Performance, a local automotive company working to connect young adults to jobs in the industry....

    Senior builder Nathan Fuller, 29, left, shows intern Jami White, 18, of Spring Hill how to install a full manual valve body into a Turbo 400 transmission last month at Monster Transmission & Performance in Brooksville.
  8. Sheriff's deputy reinstated after internal affairs investigation

    Public Safety

    A longtime Hernando County sheriff's deputy has returned to his post after a three-month suspension for what investigators say were violations of the agency's general order code and code of conduct during an encounter with a disoriented man earlier this year.

    Investigation records show that Jeffrey Lamondra, a decade-long employee of the Sheriff's Office, gave a third party the disoriented man's legally protected information and "conducted a minimal investigation with little effort to bring (it) to a conclusion."...

  9. PHSC board member resigns amid tensions with college president

    Blog

    After a contentious review of Pasco-Hernando State College president Timothy Beard by the board of trustees last month, longtime board member John Dougherty has resigned.

    A financial planner and business adviser from Spring Hill, Dougherty, 59, had served on the board since December 2013, most recently as vice chairman. He came out strongly against the president during the recent state-mandated annual evaluation, pointing to "visioning problems" and then supporting a failed motion to fire Beard and begin a search for his replacement....

    John Dougherty doesn’t think it’s possible to stay.
  10. PHSC board member resigns amid tensions with college president

    Education

    After a contentious review of Pasco-Hernando State College president Timothy Beard by the board of trustees last month, longtime board member John Dougherty has resigned.

    A financial planner and business adviser from Spring Hill, Dougherty, 59, had served on the board since December 2013, most recently as vice chairman. He came out strongly against the president during the recent state-mandated annual evaluation, pointing to "visioning problems" and then supporting a failed motion to fire Beard and begin a search for his replacement....

    John Dougherty doesn’t think it’s possible to stay.
  11. For the first time in seven years, Hernando schools get new buses

    K12

    BROOKSVILLE

    It's been seven years since Hernando County schools have been able to afford a new school bus, but this year the district sprang for three.

    The new wheels, a buy that came with a nearly $317,000 price tag, rolled into the district's transportation center last month after district leaders decided transportation needs could no longer be pushed aside.

    The 77-passenger International Corp. buses will make their debut this school year, driven by Hernando's three longest-serving bus drivers, one being Mena Bates, who has driven for the district for 31 years....

    Joe Handzus repairs an engine on one of the older school buses at the district’s bus compound. Repair costs have been high in recent years for the district’s aging 148-plus bus fleet. The district’s oldest bus still on the road is a 2002 model.
  12. Hernando schools maintain, improve grades from last year

    Blog

    BROOKSVILLE - Nearly every school in Hernando County this year either maintained or improved on its grade, making for slight gains that inched the district closer to an A but kept it steady at a B for the third straight year.

    Superintendent Lori Romano said she was pleased to see how the county fared, ranking 37th among Florida's 67 districts and moving from 54 percent to 56 percent of fulfilled points on the state's grading scale. Sixty-two percent secures an A....

    A look at Hernando school grades from 2016 to 2017.
  13. Hernando schools maintain, improve grades from last year

    K12

    BROOKSVILLE — Nearly every school in Hernando County this year either maintained or improved on its grade, making for slight gains that inched the district closer to an A but kept it steady at a B for the third straight year.

    Superintendent Lori Romano said she was pleased to see how the county fared, ranking 37th among Florida's 67 districts and moving from 54 percent to 56 percent of fulfilled points on the state's grading scale. Sixty-two percent secures an A....

    Superintendent Lori Romano said she was pleased to see how Hernando fared with school grades this year.
  14. Faulty AC leaves Chinsegut manor house, supporters steaming

    Human Interest

    BROOKSVILLE

    As summer temperatures climb, volunteers at Chinsegut Hill Manor House say a faulty air-conditioning system has put them in a hot spot.

    Members of Friends of Chinsegut Hill, the nonprofit group that oversees the historic house north of Brooksville, say the $123,000 system, paid for with state grant money, hasn't worked properly since it was installed three years ago....

    Thomas Hoops of Tampa, left, takes a breather with his 1-year-old daughter, Zoe Hoops, on the porch of the Chinsegut Hill Manor House.
  15. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    "Ok, then," he recalled thinking. "I guess we're open now."

    For the last 14 years, St. Pete Pride has taken over the central St. Pete neighborhood that Rockhill's new business calls home. But in its 15th year, Florida's largest Pride took its biggest leap yet: it moved downtown....

    (From left to right) Skip Bass, Michael Wood and Tim Raff put glitter spray on each other to prepare before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in Downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday, June 24, 2017. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]