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From housing rental assistance to a new concert band forming: Here’s what’s happening in Hernando

News and notes from Hernando County
Hernando County community news [Tara McCarty]
Hernando County community news [Tara McCarty]
Published Jan. 20


Three-day window to apply for housing rental assistance

The Hernando County Housing Authority will be accept online applications and conduct a lottery to add 500 households to its Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) waiting list. This program assists low-income households with rent payments.

Those wishing to apply may do so online at from 8 a.m. Jan. 29 through until 11:59 p.m. Jan. 31. Applicants may use any computer, tablet or smart phone with internet access to apply online only during the designated time period. Computers with free internet access are available at all public libraries.

To qualify, annual gross household income cannot exceed the following: one-person, $23,450; two-person, $26,800; three-person, $30,150; four-person, $33,450; five-person, $36,150; and six-person, $38,850.

All applicants will be screened for previous violent criminal or illegal drug activity. Preferences will be given to residents of Hernando County, elderly, veterans and disabled households. Time and date of receipt of the application online does not give any advantage to the applicant.

Applications will not be available at the Hernando County Housing Authority office, and faxed requests will not be accepted. Those without internet access may submit a written request for a paper application in advance of the waiting list opening. The request must explain why the applicant is unable to apply online. Written requests should be mailed/delivered to the Housing Authority office, 621 W Jefferson St., Brooksville, FL 34601, prior to the deadline. Contact the Hernando County Housing Authority at (352) 754-4160.

County to auction off surplus vehicles, equipment

Hernando County Commissioners have partnered with Atkinson Realty and Auction to conduct an online surplus vehicle/equipment auction now through 4 p.m. Jan. 28. Bidding may be submitted online only. Items may be viewed in person from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 23 at the surplus yard at 1545 E Jefferson St., Brooksville.

Online auction participants may bid on 64 surplus county items from ambulances to copy machines. Auction details and descriptions re available at Those who register will have a bidder number emailed to them. For information, contact auction coordinator Mark Atkinson at (813) 477-3615 or

Sheriff’s office to provide SAFE training

The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office will offer Situational Awareness Firearms Training, an interactive course available exclusively to Hernando County residents who are concealed weapon permit-holders. The course runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 14 at a location to be announced.

Participants will receive interactive simulations training and instruction on the firing range, with each participant firing 100 rounds from his or her personally-owned weapon. Training will be provided by certified firearms instructors.

Participants must be full-time residents of Hernando County as verified through a driver’s license or other form of current identification; and must possess a current, active Florida concealed weapon permit. Each participant must submit to a criminal history check and verification of participant’s concealed weapon permit.

The cost is $100, which must be paid online (a portion of the proceeds will benefit Boy Scouts of America). Each participant must bring a personally-owned firearm (only .38 caliber, 9mm, 40 caliber, .380 caliber and 45 caliber are allowed). Each firearm will be subject to a safety inspection by instructors. Each participant must bring 100 rounds of factory ammunition (reloads are not permitted).

To apply, visit Once the application is processed, the applicant will be emailed a link to remit the registration fee. Cash or checks are not accepted. A confirmation email will tell you where to report on the day of the class.


Special Olympics needs sponsors, golfers

Special Olympics Florida - Hernando County is hosting its fourth-annual golf fundraiser tournament March 7 at Brooksville Country Club, 23446 Links Drive. Check-in is at 7:30 a.m., and the shotgun start is at 8:30 a.m.

The cost is $75 per golfer or $250 per team of four, which includes a light breakfast and lunch. Various sponsorships are available. Early registration closes March 4 for golfers, and sponsor registration for logos is Feb. 18.

All funds raised will benefit athletes in Hernando County. For further details or to sign up, contact Judy Howard at (207) 576-5295 or

Black history celebrated at gallery

In celebrating Black History Month, the Uptown Art Gallery will feature a special exhibit, “This is Our Story,” throughout February, which includes art and artifacts from private collections that represent black history through the years.

A reception for the exhibit will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7 at the gallery, located at Brooksville City Hall, 201 Howell Ave. The gallery is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, except holidays. For information, call (352) 540-3811 or email


Bridge class available for beginners

An eight-week beginning bridge class will be offered at the Nature Coast Bridge Club, 3021 Commercial Way. The two-hour sessions will be conducted at 9:30 a.m. on consecutive Fridays, starting Feb. 7.

The cost is $65, which includes the textbook. For further information, contact Judy Kortier at (727) 819-2008 or

Winterfest returns; vendor deadline nears

Hernando County Parks and Recreation will host Winterfest 2020 from 5 to 10 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Lake House, 1202 Kenlake Ave. The event will feature musical entertainment, craft and merchandise vendors, as well as a variety of food vendors.

The deadline for vendor applications is Jan. 31. The cost is $75, plus tax, for craft and commercial vendors; $150, plus tax, for food vendors; electricity is available for $15. Contact Christie Williams at Hernando County Parks and Recreation at or (352) 754-4031.


New concert band forming

A community concert band, Weeki Wachee Winds, is forming. The group will be based at Nativity Lutheran Church, 6363 Commercial Way, and is open to musicians from high school age and older who play a woodwind, brass or percussion instrument.

Rehearsals will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, Feb. 20 to April 23, in Winemiller Hall at the church. The band will perform at the 11 a.m. service on April 19, and perform in concert at 7:30 p.m. April 23.

The group is spearheaded by Weeki Wachee resident Mark Hengesh, a retired band director with 40 years of experience in the Chicago suburban area, directing groups at the elementary, high school, community college and community band level. For further information, or to donate usable instruments or funding, contact Hengesh at (630-244-5105 or

Weeki Wachee “Friends” host 5K race

The Friends of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, along with Weeki Wachee High School’s cross country teams, will host The Extreme Fish Out of Water 5K Race at 9 a.m. Feb. 1 at the park, 6131 Commercial Way.

Individuals and teams can participate in this cross country race through 3.11 miles of the park’s nature preserve. After the runners take off, walkers, children with parents and well-behaved dogs on leashes can participate. No wheeled bikes, chairs, strollers or scooters are allowed on the trail.

Participants must be able to traverse through uneven sugar sand and rock terrain, independently or with a companion for assistance. Participants should be aware that there may be animals along the trail, as well. Finishers who complete the course will receive an official shirt and medal.

Packet pick-up will start on 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 31 at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. Packets may be picked up from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Feb. 1 at the event. Those who register after Jan. 26 will be able to pick up packets only on the morning of the race.

The cost for runners is $40, $20 for students. The first 50 runners registered will receive a swag bag. For further information, find the event page on or Facebook.

Harmonizers to present concert

The Hernando Harmonizers will present “An Afternoon of Music” at 2 p.m. Feb. 8 at Nativity Lutheran Church, 6363 Commercial Way. This is a free concert and donations will be accepted. Seating is limited; to obtain tickets, stop by the church office between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. weekdays. For information, call (352) 597-1456.


  1. Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis
  2. Hernando officials will close the Spring Hill recycling center at Walmart due to too much contamination of materials.
  3. Brian Davison is chief executive officer of Equialt, which bought this Safety Harbor home in a tax deed sale. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission contends in a new lawsuit that EquiAlt is a Ponzi scheme, and Davison has diverted investor funds for his own lavish personal spending. Times (2015)
  4. Associate professor of biology Caitlin Gille leads the Pasco-Hernando State College faculty union, which challenged the school's public comment rules.  (Photo Courtesy of Caitlin Gille)
  5. Jacqueline Ortiz and Francisco Medero were the first couple to exchange wedding vows during a special Valentine's Day ceremony held in historic Courtroom 1 at the Hernando County Courthouse in Brooksville. County judges Kristie Healis (pictured) and Kurt Hitzemann took turns officiating the ceremonies that were scheduled at 15-minute intervals throughout the day.
  6. Iriann Paynewhite of Dade City enjoys a ride on a lady bug on opening day at the Pasco County Fair. The fair continues through Feb. 23 at the county fairgrounds in Dade City.
  7. Hernando County community news
  8. Luis Espel, 22, uses the Cass Street bike lane to commute to work in Tampa. Times (2019)
  9. Handsome Boy, Harry, Sasha and Eden are looking for their forever homes.
  10. Adisa Dzudza-Sunjic, MD, (on left) and Carla J. Danesi, registered and licensed dietitian, have joined Access Health Care Physicians.
  11. Artist's rendering of the proposed new Hernando County government center which could be built at the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport.
  12. Country crooner Doug Stone headlines this weekend's Florida Bluegrass Classic at Florida Classic Park in eastern Brooksville. Stone performs at 8:30 p.m. Feb. 22. He is known for hits such as "I’d Be Better Off (In a Pine Box)" and "A Jukebox With a Country Song."