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There are still good, honest people in our neighborhoods. On Columbus Day, the banks were closed, and I made a cash deposit at SunTrust Bank's Seven Hills ATM on Mariner Boulevard in Spring Hill.

The machine spit an envelope out for me, but I was unaware of this. The following morning at 7:30 a.m., a gentleman called to say his wife had found the envelope. He told me that I could pick it up at his house or he would drop it off for me, which he did. The couple know who they are, and I just wanted to let them know that I thank them very much.

Shirley McCray,

Spring Hill


On Oct. 24, Juanita Sikes celebrated 30 years with the Hernando County Tax Collector's Office. The anniversary was noted with a surprise luncheon presented by her co-workers and a scrapbook consisting of photographs of the office and employees over the past 30 years.

Sikes, 49, born Juanita Irene Brittle, was raised in rural Hernando County. She graduated from Hernando High School in 1970. When the law was passed allowing 18-year-olds to vote, she was the first to register in Hernando County.

Before being hired by Irene Kilpatrick, tax collector at the time, Sikes worked for Tommie Dawson Realty and then the Clerk of Circuit Court Office. In 1972, she was first hired part time at the Tax Collector's Office; she became full time in October of that year.

Sikes served as a top-level manager for more than 18 years before being elected tax collector in November 2000. She began serving in her new position in January 2001, replacing her sister, Leona Bechtelheimer, who had held the job for 24 years.

For the past two years, Sikes has operated the Tax Collector's Office conservatively. She has returned unused fees back to the County Commission and other taxing authorities each year. At the end of the 2000-01 budget year, the office returned $1,543,516.85. At the end of the 2001-02 budget year, the office returned $1,645,509.69.

In 1972, Juanita married Sam Sikes. They have two sons _ Cody, 24 and Zane, 21 _ and a 4-year-old grandson, Tyler.


The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 15-8, in Hernando Beach, had elections during the Oct. 21 meeting. William Malone was elected flotilla commander-elect, and Len Sinisgalli was elected flotilla vice commander-elect. Both men will begin serving their terms in January.

In attendance were Rosalind Lucash, current flotilla vice commander, and Mary Kennedy, division captain. Donna Letvinchek was selected to fill an unexpired term as flotilla publications officer for the rest of this year. It is expected she will hold the position for 2003 as well.

During the meeting, two new members were sworn in: Ray Pullen and Steve George. Pullen is a retired Coast Guard member and, George, 17, is planning a career with the Coast Guard after his high school graduation in 2003.

To join the Coast Guard Auxiliary, individuals must be at least 17 years old, a U.S. citizen and not have a felony record.

All other staff officers will be appointed during the group's change of watch ceremony in December. They will all take office in January.


The Hernando County Education Foundation had its October meeting at Westside Elementary School in Spring Hill. Founded in 1988 as a direct-support, nonprofit corporation, its mission is to enrich the quality of public education in Hernando County and to encourage business and community involvement in the public education system.

The foundation sponsors the Teacher of the Year program, Brain Quest, the superintendent's golf tournament and the mini-grant program for teachers.

The 2002-03 officers include Gus Guadagnino, president; Royce Decker, first vice president; Janice Schlaich, second vice president; Doris Bedell, treasurer; and Susan Cannoy, secretary.

Members include Lori Bainum, Jim Beatty, Bruce Dodge, David Harris, Bob Marshall, Reg Miller, Morris Porton, Ron Schildbach, Ted Smith, Scott Twyman, James Yant and Carolyn Mountain, executive director.

For information, contact Mountain at 797-7029.

On Aug. 1, the Hernando County Cooperative Extension Service graduated nine Master Gardeners. Hernando County Commissioners Nancy Robinson, Mary Aiken and Diane Rowden attended the graduation, as well as many of the current Master Gardeners and county extension staff.

The 2002 Master Gardener graduates are Charlotte Goldman, Michael Goldman, Al Hernandez, Marcia Jarosz, Karen Mossburg, Barbara Ogden, Jay Rowden, Deborah Swanson and Marcia Ward.

The 12-week course was taught by Jim Moll, urban horticulture agent, and Vivian Harris, Pasco County extension director and horticulture agent, as well as a host of speakers with experience in the horticulture field.

Florida Master Gardeners are University of Florida-trained volunteer teachers. They educate and provide information to Floridians about gardening and maintaining urban, suburban and rural landscapes while promoting environmental awareness and protection.

For information about any cooperative extension service program, call 754-4433.

On Oct. 9, the Michigan Club of Hernando County had its second picnic of the year at Delta Woods Park in Spring Hill. Sixty-seven members ate a catered lunch by La Fontana restaurant.

A special thank-you went to Mike Walsh, owner of the restaurant, for all of the food and service. The club also thanked Sue Churchill for organizing the picnic.

The picnic had a Halloween theme, and member Ron Davis brought two special guests he had created to sit and watch members come and go.

Members also played games of shuffleboard, horseshoes and cards while some relaxed and socialized on the sunny day.

The Preceptor Delta Iota Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority International had their recent monthly meeting at Patricia's Boutique in downtown Brooksville.

Mary Alice Queiros and Diane Rodriguez, members of the Brooksville Mural Society, were introduced as the guest speakers by Beverly Lewis, program hostess and a member of the mural society.

The group walked outside to view the Brooksville Raid mural, which was recently completed by artist Tony Caparello on the side of the Patricia's Boutique building. Queiros described in detail the research done before the painting was started in order to ensure the painting was authentic.

Caparello spent several months working from scaffolding in all kinds of weather to complete the painting in time for Brooksville's Founder's Day celebration.

The mural covers the entire west wall of the building.

Following the business meeting, chapter members enjoyed refreshments and had time to do a little shopping at Patricia's Boutique.

Juanita Sikes was presented with an anniversary cake celebrating her 30 years with the Hernando County Tax Collector's Office.

Celebrating a milestone

Florence Jamieson was honored recently by the Hernando County Commission on the occasion of her 100th birthday. Jamieson, who turned 100 on Sept. 27, was surprised with a birthday dinner given by her family. On Oct. 1, she accepted a proclamation from the commissioners. Standing from left is her granddaughter, Catherine A. Judd; commissioners Mary Aiken and Betty Whitehouse; daughter, Beatrice M. Collins; Jamieson; chairwoman Nancy Robinson; commissioners Diane Rowden and Chris Kingsley, and granddaughter, Karen M. Macchione.

During the Oct. 21 meeting of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 15-8, Len Sinisgalli, left, was elected flotilla vice commander-elect, and William Malone was elected flotilla commander-elect. Their terms begin in January.

Donna Letvinchek, center, was recently elected to fill an unexpired term as the publications officer with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 15-8. Presenting Letvinchek with her shoulder board to indicate her new position were Rosalind Lucash, left, and Mary Kennedy, right.

MASTER GARDENER: On Sept. 27, Hernando County Master Gardeners awarded Mitzi Cazee a plaque for her 15,000 volunteer hours to the Master Gardener program and the Hernando Cooperative Extension Service. Standing, from left, are Cazee; Mary Lamwers, Master Gardeners treasurer; Howard Wolf, Master Gardeners secretary, and Ada Motos, Master Gardeners vice president.

The 2002 Master Gardener graduates, from left, are Marcia Ward, Al Hernandez, Barbara Ogden, Jay Rowden, Marcia Jarosz, Deborah Swanson, Charlotte Goldman, Karen Mossburg and Michael Goldman.

Ron Davis, a member of the Michigan Club of Hernando County, created two Halloween figures that he took to the club's fall picnic.

36 years of NAACP service

Frankie Burnett, president of the Hernando County branch of the NAACP, accepted a proclamation presented by the Hernando County Commission on Oct. 8, commending the branch for its 36 years of service. The branch was also recognized for encouraging residents to support the 16th annual NAACP banquet Oct. 12 at the old Moton School and bringing its national "Meeting the Challenges of the New Century" program to the attention of the public. Standing, from left, are: Commissioners Mary Aiken and Betty Whitehouse; Burnett; commission Chairwoman Nancy Robinson, and Commissioners Diane Rowden and Chris Kingsley.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS: On Oct. 8, Stephanie Walley, executive director of the Dawn Center, and Tina Hall, elder coordinator, accepted a proclamation declaring October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Hernando County. Standing, from left, are: county Commissioners Mary Aiken and Betty Whitehouse; Walley; commission Chairwoman Nancy Robinson; Hall, and Commissioners Diane Rowden and Chris Kingsley.

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