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NATURE'S WINK LURED HIM BACK

How long have you lived in Hernando County, and where do you live? Where did you live previously?

I, and my family, have resided in Spring Hill since November 1983. We moved here from Miami.

We first became familiar with Hernando County in 1980 when we brought our church's youth group from Miami to Lakewood Retreat for summer camp. A drive in the area revealed the natural beauty, rolling hills and forested areas. We had commented: Wouldn't it be nice to live here?

We had not anticipated that we would move to Hernando County just three years later.

Who are the members of your family?

My wife, Karla; son, Jared; and daughters Kelly and Melissa. In 1988, my parents moved from Miami to Homosassa in order to be near us.

My son serves as a worship leader and youth pastor in Sarasota. One daughter lives in Hernando County with her husband, and my other daughter lives in Sarasota with her husband.

Tell us about your career.

I began my law enforcement career with the North Miami Police Department in 1976. I attended the Miami-Dade Law Enforcement Academy and upon graduation was assigned to the patrol division as a police officer. During my tenure there, I served as a patrol officer, foot patrolman, in the juvenile division as a detective, and later as a crime scene investigator.

In 1983, I was hired by the Hernando County Sheriff's Office as a deputy. During my time here, I've been assigned to the patrol division and was later transferred to crime scene investigations.

In 1987, I was promoted to sergeant, then to lieutenant in 1988. I would later receive promotions to captain (1992), major (2001) and currently serve as bureau chief (2009) of the law enforcement services bureau.

Since coming to Hernando County, I have completed my master's degree in criminal justice from the University of South Florida. I am working on my doctorate degree in business management with Northcentral University online. I also serve as a part-time adjunct professor with Saint Leo University, teaching criminal justice courses.

I am a graduate of the FBI National Academy, and have been featured on the FBI Television Network.

What kinds of activities are you involved in now?

I am an active member of Spring Hill Baptist Church and have taught adult Sunday school since 1995.

I serve as chairman of the Pasco-Hernando Community College Law Enforcement Advisory Committee. I also serve on the board of directors with the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce. I assist the chamber in conducting its annual Leadership Hernando and help facilitate Simulated Society, a program that teaches empathy, leadership and decisionmaking. I also facilitate SIMSOC for Teen Leadership Hernando once a year.

I have been emcee for the annual Teacher of the Year event for the past several years. I recognize and appreciate the job that all teachers and support staff perform during the school year for our students. I have previously served as a board member of the Hernando County Education Foundation.

Do you have any special hobbies?

This year, I will be back on the Appalachian Trail for my fifth straight year. I am currently section hiking with my son and members from our church.

On the trail, we get back to basics with no contact with the outside world (cell phones for emergency only). It is my desire to section hike as much of the Appalachian Trail as possible. Once we return, we plan to kayak on the Chestatee River outside of Dahlonega, Ga.

What are your favorite things to do in Hernando County?

Three years ago, I took up kayaking and have traversed the Weeki Wachee River and the Gulf of Mexico off Bayport. I am able to retreat to one of the spoil islands for a short period of time and just relax without any traffic, very little noise and a good book.

I also enjoy cycling on the Suncoast Parkway bike path.

What do you think would make Hernando County a better place to live?

We have a great community with committed people who contribute to make it that way on a daily basis. The quality of life still exceeds that of many larger-populated areas.

Much has changed since coming here in the 1980s. The Suncoast Parkway has made it convenient to travel to areas south of Hernando County. However, it also allows people to travel north into our community. Growth has been both a blessing and a bane.

In many respects, a small-town atmosphere still exists, with fantastic community members helping to maintain the quality of life even amid the growth.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.

I have run in, and completed, two full Disney marathons along with several half marathons. I play trumpet and sing at Spring Hill Baptist Church. I have a deep appreciation of American history and recognize the sacrifices made by those in the armed forces currently and historically.

I, and my family, have a deep faith in Jesus Christ and desire to serve others to the best of our abilities. I view my position in law enforcement as a ministry that allows me to serve both within the Sheriff's Office as well as the community. I attempt to live my life by one of the principles espoused by the Apostle Paul, which is my personal life verse: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourself. Do not merely look out for your own interests, rather look out for the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4.

Hernando Neighbors is an occasional feature of the Hernando Times. Do you know someone who would make a good profile? We'd like to hear from you. Contact Jean Hayes, community news coordinator, at jhayes@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1438.

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