11/30/16 Global Warming
Scott Stephens, a federal meteorologist based in Asheville, N.C., said what people in his profession usually say about the link between freakish weather and global warming.
"You can't tie a single event to climate change," Stephens said. "But one of the tenets of climate change is that you have greater extremes."
Drought in a temperate rain forest certainly qualifies as "extreme," and that is what my family and I encountered on our Thanksgiving trip to the mountains of North Carolina — bone-dry conditions in one of the wettest parts of the eastern United States, a two-month stretch of negligible rainfall in a place that routinely receives more than 80 inches of precipitation per year....
After Westside Elementary School's recorder club ran through a performance of Hot Cross Buns — an "awesome" performance, according to teacher Barb Weiss — fifth-grader Kailey Headen demonstrated how she produced the notes.
"Normally, we work with G, A and B," said Kailey, 10. "G would be with three fingers on these holes. A is two fingers . . . and B would be with one finger."...
11/23/16 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — The head of Hernando County's purchasing operations was dismissed abruptly Nov. 17, he said because he tried to enforce county spending rules and because of complaints by a cliquish group of women employees in his office.
"I'm out on the street because of a bunch of girls squawking," said Anthony Garzione, the county's purchasing and contracts manager, who said he was escorted from his office in downtown Brooksville after a brief meeting with his immediate boss, budget services director Pamela Lee, and human resources director Cristi Charlow....
The Crescent Community Clinic in Spring Hill is a lifeline for people like Arthur Adams.
He lost his construction job during the housing bust, he said, and barely makes enough as a part-time handyman to get by — and not nearly enough to pay for the doctors' visits and six medications he needs to control his back pain and heart disease.
Without Crescent, said Adams, 52, of Spring Hill, "I guess I'd be scraping money together just to get to a doctor."...
BROOKSVILLE — Hernando High School football coach Bill Vonada said last week he had been asked to step aside. This week, however, school principal Leechele Booker confirmed that Vonada isn't going anywhere.
"In recent days, coach Vonada and I have had several constructive conversations about Hernando High School football and what it will look like for the future," Booker wrote in a statement released Tuesday. "Together, we have been working on creating a very dynamic and focused plan that will position the Leopards for an outstanding 2017 season....
Bill Vonada, the longtime head football coach at Springstead High School who had recently completed his third year in that role at Hernando High School, said he has been asked to step aside for a new coach.
“I have recently been told by our school leadership that I have done a good job getting the football program at HHS to this critical building stage, but that there is doubt that I am the person to take it to the next stage,” Vonada wrote in a statement emailed to the Times....
HERNANDO BEACH — The tragedy of a young black bear hit and killed by a car on Shoal Line Boulevard last week may also carry a hopeful message:
The tiny community of bears that live in coastal Hernando County is not only still around, but may have received an infusion of new blood because of an expanding statewide bear population.
The same population growth that caused more bears to appear in trash bins and pool enclosures near Orlando and other urban areas has forced them west from the Ocala National Forest into Levy and Dixie counties, said Mike Orlando, the assistant bear program director for the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission, who was on the team that conducted a study of the so-called Chassahowitzka population from 1997 through 2002....
Ronald Palmer is an expert on President-elect Donald Trump, and especially one aspect of his candidacy that the supposed experts missed:
Voters didn't support Trump just because, as we so often heard, he was the better of two bad choices, that he wasn't Hillary Clinton — though that was certainly a factor.
No, they voted for Trump because "they were excited about him," said Palmer, 69....
11/08/16 State Roundup
Veteran lawmaker U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster took a commanding lead Tuesday night over Democratic challenger Dave Koller in the heavily Republican 11th Congressional District.
Webster, 67, a Republican from Clermont, represented Central Florida in the Florida Legislature for 28 years and served six years in the U.S. House of Representatives. With most of the counties all or nearly counted, he led by more than a 2-1 ratio....
11/08/16 State Roundup
Two incumbent constitutional officers in Hernando County — Property Appraiser John Emerson and Supervisor of Elections Shirley Anderson — clinched dominant victories Tuesday evening.
Emerson, 67, a Republican first elected in 2012, defeated his Democratic challenger, Jeff Huffman, by more than 25 percentage points according to the unofficial results.
"It's not me, it's my whole office," Emerson said when asked about the reason for his win. "It's the public service it provides that makes me look good, and I think people remember that."...
11/08/16 State Roundup
Incumbent Gus Guadagnino cruised to a comfortable victory over his challenger, longtime high school teacher and football coach Bill Vonada, in Tuesday's District 4 Hernando County School Board race.
"I thought it was going to be closer than that, to be honest with you," said Guadagnino, whose margin of victory nearly 20 percentage points. He congratulated Vonada for running a clean race. "I think we'll go down in history for running the most respectful race."...
The career plans of Hernando County Judge Donald "Sonny" McCathran Jr. will be no surprise to defense attorneys who have appeared before him.
When his term ends in January, McCathran will become an assistant state attorney, the same job he held for 14 years before being appointed to a judge job in March 2014 — and, to hear some lawyers tell it, a job he practically continued to perform on the bench....
11/08/16 Local Government
BROOKSVILLE — The Brooksville City Council is moving ahead with a controversial plan to lease the former site of the Quarry Golf Course to the Florida Blueberry Festival for 60 years.
The challenges of continuing to stage the festival downtown, especially the presence of two state-maintained highways, will keep the event from growing, backers of the plan say. The move to dedicated grounds, where festival organizers plan to build an amphitheater, would allow the nonprofit organization to host several other events each year. And it might help fend off blueberry growers from Polk County who have sought to lure the festival away from Brooksville....
There was a nasty discussion at a Hernando County School Board meeting last month.
Board member Beth Narverud said she had heard from parents and teachers about the chaotic situation at Moton Elementary School — now on its third full-time principal in less than six months — and wondered what the district was doing about it.
Board member Gus Guadagnino, a steadfast ally of superintendent Lori Romano, responded by blasting Narverud for "basically crucifying our superintendent without knowing all the details."...
BROOKSVILLE — With broad-based support locally and statewide, three portions of a network of paved walking and cycling trails in Hernando County have hit or are approaching crucial milestones.
And former Brooksville Mayor Lara Bradburn can hardly believe the level of official backing.
"We've gone from a house full of non-believers to a house full of believers," said Bradburn, a trail advocate for about 20 years....