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Courthouse grant money saved

An Orange County legislator on Thursday threatened $1.8-million worth of money earmarked for historic preservation projects in 51 counties, including Hernando.

Rep. Alzo Reddick, D-Orlando, called for the grant money to be diverted to counties such as his own that have military bases tar-geted for closure by the federal government.

However, Reddick withdrew his motion after meeting resistance from other legislators. The Legislature approved a total of $9.2-million for grants.

So Hernando County takes another vital step toward getting $106,000 for the Brooksville courthouse renovation project. The county has twice failed to make it this far.

"This is as close as we've ever gotten," County Commission Chairwoman June Ester said Thursday. "We can almost taste it."

The money still could be cut byGov. Lawton Chiles. However, Ester said the governor assured her over dinner Monday night "that he would do his darnedest not to veto it."

Last August, Chiles stood on the courthouse steps and vowed to help Hernando get that grant. Ester is counting on the governor to keep his word.

Toward that end, the commissioner has sought help from influential banker Jim Kimbrough and his prominent father-in-law, Alfred McKethan. She asked them to write letters to Chiles, encouraging him to approve Hernando's grant money.

Chiles should make a decision before the legislative session ends in early April.