Kennel getting back on track
BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County Animal Services suspended all public operations effective May 12, but announced that it had resumed partial operations on May 17.
Cat adoptions and intakes have fully resumed. Dog adoptions will be open to a limited number of dogs. Some areas of the shelter will remain restricted to public access. The front lobby will resume public operations for licensing and the collection of fines. Dog intakes and shelter tours will remain temporarily suspended until further notice.
Licenses can also be obtained via the PetData website: https://www.petdata.com/for-pet-owners/hrn/license-online.
A positive test for the canine parvovirus was detected in a puppy. The canine parvovirus is a gastrointestinal disease that occurs in dogs and is contagious.
“It is our priority to focus on the health of every animal in our care,” said James Terry, Hernando County Animal Services manager. “Hernando County Animal Services is following best practices and taking a proactive approach based on recommendations from University of Florida experts. This has allowed us to take the appropriate steps to contain the situation while protecting the safety of our animals.”
Assault kit tracking goes statewide
TALLAHASSEE — Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Mark Glass has announced that FL Track-Kit, a sexual assault kit tracking database, is now available to survivors throughout Florida, more than two months ahead of the July 1 deadline.
Based on a law passed in 2021, FDLE implemented a statewide web-based tracking system that allows survivors to monitor the location and processing of their barcoded sexual assault kits. Survivors may also elect to be notified if a DNA match to an alleged perpetrator occurs.
Gail’s Law (HB 673), passed in 2021, gave survivors the power to access information about the status of their kits, building upon previous requirements (F.S. 943.326) for law enforcement to submit sexual assault kits from reporting survivors to crime labs within 30 days and created a 120-day mandatory turnaround time for testing.
Arts council applicants sought
The Hernando County Board of County Commissioners is accepting applications from individuals wishing to serve as a member on the Fine Arts Council.
One position is available. All applicants must be residents and registered voters in Hernando County.
This is a voluntary, non-paid position, and may be designated as an alternate member position. Applications are available in the County Administrator’s Office, Attention: Jessica Wright, 15470 Flight Path Drive, Brooksville, FL 34604, by calling 352-540-6249, or by visiting our website at www.HernandoCounty.us/committees. Applications must be returned to the County Administrator’s Office no later than 5 p.m., Friday, May 26. For more information about a specific board or committee, contact the County Administrator’s Office at 352-754-4002.
Children’s mental health gets focus
The statewide Guardian ad Litem Office is joining other advocates across Florida and the nation to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health and its role in their healthy development from birth.
Research shows abused and neglected children are at higher risk of developmental delays, school failure and social and emotional problems than non-abused children.
Publications from the National Institute of Mental Health assert that half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14.
The Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office represents Florida's abused, abandoned, and neglected children in court and the community.
In 2022, the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office represented over 36,000 children in Florida. You can help, take action, and make a difference in a child's life by joining the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office Child Advocacy Team. Learn more by visiting www.guardianadlitem.org or calling 352-812-6971.
City gets permitting software
The city of Brooksville Community Development Department has a new online platform for permitting and plan review.
On May 15, the new Community Development online platform went live, automating the reservation, registration and payment process. This new platform will make it easier for residents to submit development plans and receive review comments by email. The software updates will also include a convenient portal for submission and issuance of building permits, scheduling inspections, receiving inspection comments by email as well as making online payments with debit and credit cards. Civic Gov software was selected to provide citizens an easier online customer service experience 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Residents can set up an account using their own email address along with a unique password. The software is also mobile-friendly so residents can access their account, submit applications and make payments by phone. Residents/customers can still visit the Community Development Department in person for these services; however, payments cannot be taken by phone.
“We are committed to improving the customer experience,” said Community Development Director David Hainley, “and are excited to offer this service to our citizens, making it easier than ever to navigate the process.”
Terlep thanks ‘Pet Palooza’ attendees
SPRING HILL — Terlep Chiropractic offered a big thank-you to all who attended the Pet Palooza event held at its clinic, 8466 Northcliffe Blvd., Spring Hill.
“Over 1,000 people visited,” said Daniel Frost, director of outreach. The public donated approximately $4,500 worth of dog/cat food and kitty litter while donating $1,500 in donations through drawings for various baskets. For their donations, visitors enjoyed free tacos, chiropractic care, shaved ice, petting zoo, games, face painting and pet magazines.
The LifeSouth bus recorded 13 donations of blood to save lives. “The best news of all, five dogs were adopted out to loving homes,” Frost said.
Dealership backs K9 Partners for Patriots
BROOKSVILLE — K9 Partners for Patriots has announced a $15,000 sponsorship from Buick GMC Brooksville, supporting its mission to save the lives of veterans and their rescue dogs so both may gain a second chance at life. As part of their partnership, Buick GMC Brooksville has pledged to support K9 Partners for Patriots throughout the year by hosting fundraisers and at community events.
"The Buick GMC Brooksville Team is thrilled to be a part of the K9 Partners for Patriots mission," said Jennifer Stals, General Manager, Buick GMC Brooksville. "To support shelter dogs in finding a ‘forever home with a purpose’ is humbling. To support those who have sacrificed so much for our country is truly the greatest honor."
Ron Flaville, chief executive for K9 Partners for Patriots, said, “It is beyond gratifying to gain the trust and support of the great team at Buick GMC Brooksville. “They’ve taken the time to understand what we’re doing; to see veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder find a positive path by caring for a dog they train to become their own service dog. Many of these dogs are rescued from shelters so the veteran and K9 are truly partners saving each other.”
Church offers dementia workshop
SpringLife United Methodist Church of Spring Hill, 9344 Spring Hill Drive, will host an ABC of Dementia workshop from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, July 27.
The workshop, to be conducted by Debbie Selsavage, president of Coping with Dementia LLC, will define Alzheimer’s and dementia, explain how dementia affects individuals, discuss ways to interpret dementia behaviors for better communication, and show how compassion and the proper use of voice, approach, and appropriate touch can result in more effective and less stressful caregiving. While the workshop is designed for care partners of loved ones living with dementia, people already experiencing dementia are welcome to attend.
Though the workshop is free and open to the public, registration is requested for planning purposes. To make reservations, call 352-422-3663 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Act would boost broadband in floodplains
WASHINGTON — U.S. Gus Bilirakis has re-introduced the Coastal Broadband Deployment Act, which would accelerate the deployment of broadband projects entirely within a floodplain. This legislation is part of a comprehensive package of bills that aims to streamline the deployment of broadband infrastructure. This package would promote new and upgraded infrastructure deployments, incentivize competition and consumer choice, create right-size regulations for building infrastructure across industries and facilitate broadband deployment on federal lands.
“Several parts of my district lie within flood zones,” Bilirakis said. “I want to be sure that all of my constituents have access to 21st-century technologies, enabling them to harness the potential power that these capabilities offer. Being left behind is not an option.”
More than 21 million Americans could not access broadband before COVID-19, and the pandemic has made even more clear how vital these services are as Americans work, learn, and receive health care from home.
Local student wins art honor
Madeline Teague, a senior at Hernando High School, has won the Best in Show at the 2023 Congressional Art Competition, which was held in Land O’ Lakes on May 4. The title of Teague’s artwork, which uses oil, acrylic and glitter, is “Amour.”
As the overall winner, Teague has won a trip to Washington, D.C., for a reception with other winners throughout the country. Her artwork will hang in the Capitol for the next year.
The panel of judges, consisting of volunteers from the Hernando and Pasco County Fine Arts Councils, also picked a top piece of artwork from each county. These beautiful works will be hung in each of U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis’s local offices for the next year.
For Hernando County, Natalie Hartman of Springhill Christian Academy was selected for her submission “Faber Est Suae Fortunae.”
“As a strong supporter of the arts in education, I’m proud to host the annual Congressional Art Competition in my district,” Bilirakis said. “Art enriches life and is an important part of a well-rounded education. Each year we receive so many incredible submissions from local high school students.”
HT-ARCHERY1-0517 -- Gina Regazzi (first place, Youth Bowhunter); Dave Ireland, coach; Vincent Regazzi (first place PeeWee); and Vera Regazzi (first place Youth Freestyle)
Local Archer Sets PeeWee Record
Vincent Regazzi of the Citrus Archery Club in Spring Hill has set a Florida Archery Association state record by posting a 504 at the recent FAA Field Archery Championship held in Sarasota. He is a new shooter who has had a fine start in the sport.
FDLE invites accreditation comments
TALLAHASSEE — In July 1990, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was the first state law enforcement agency in the nation to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, and FDLE has voluntarily participated and maintained accreditation ever since.
Part of this process includes an opportunity for the public to provide comments, commendations and other feedback about the quality of FDLE’s services in compliance with CALEA standards and overall candidacy for accredited status.
The link to the public portal is posted on the FDLE homepage. Comments can be submitted directly to CALEA via https://cimrs2.calea.org/888.
CALEA is not an investigatory body and the public portal should not be used to submit information for such purposes. Comments will be considered in context to their relevancy to FDLE’s compliance with the standards and tenets of CALEA accreditation. The Public Comment Portal is maintained by CALEA, and feedback provided goes straight to CALEA.
Upcoming events in Hernando
There’s going to be a lot to do in Hernando in the next few weeks.
On May 26, Food Truck Friday will be held at the Airport Administration Building, 15800 Flight Path Drive. Come on over to the BKV Airport Administration Parking Lot on these Fridays for fabulous food truck cuisine.
Go to https://flybkv.com/visitor-info/dining/food-truck-friday/ for menus and featured trucks.
May 29 is Memorial Day. Remember and honor those who sacrificed for our freedom. Hernando County government offices, library services and transit services (TheBus) will be closed. The Main Landfill will remain open and Republic Services will continue to provide service as normal on May 29.
Brooksville offices closed on holiday
All city of Brooksville government municipal offices will be closed on Monday, May 29, in observance of Memorial Day, a federal holiday. All facilities will return to normal business hours on Tuesday, May 30.
Residential garbage collection normally scheduled for Monday, May 29, will be collected on Tuesday, May 30. Normally scheduled pickup for Tuesday May 30, will be moved to Wednesday, May 31.
Recycling collection scheduled for May will remain the same on the first and third Wednesday of the month.
City holidays, recycling and solid waste pickup schedules are available on the city’s website. For information contact the City of Brooksville at 352-540-3810 or email@example.com
Brookridge dance to be held June 3
The “Night in the Tropics” dance will be held June 3 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Brookridge Clubhouse, 8150 Hampton St., Brookville. Billy Lindsey will be performing and playing dance music. BYOB and your snacks, coffee and ice will be provided.
The “Carnival” dance will be held on Aug. 5 with Johnny Lobo performing. Tickets will be available at the door for $7 each. Call to reserve your seats.
There is limited availability. For more information, contact Patty at 317-440-6586 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
High Point to hold parade July 4
The High Point Community July 4 parade starts at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 4. You will need to come earlier to get a parking spot. A color guard ceremony will follow at the High Point Memorial. For more information or if you would like to submit a float, contact Jeff Burton at 215-519-4963.
EliteCare welcomes new doctor
Francisco Hernandez Mendez, M.D., Diplomate of the American Board of Family Medicine, has joined EliteCare Health Centers. His practice is at 8363 S. Suncoast Blvd., Homosassa. Call 352-654-2070 to schedule an appointment.
Mendez is bilingual in both English and Spanish. He received his medical degree from Universidad Autonoma of Guadalajara School of Medicine in Guadalajara, Mexico. He completed his residency in family medicine at Manati Medical Center Hospital in Manati, Puerto Rico. He completed the New York Medical College Fifth Pathway Program certification in 2008.
Mendez is an associate member of the Alumni Association of New York Medical College and is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and Florida Academy of Family Physicians.
Celebrate PRIDE at Marker 48
Join the LGBTQ+ Caucus of the Nature Coast and Marker 48 for PRIDE weekend from Thursday, June 8, to Sunday, June 11. The NCR LGBTQ+ Caucus will be there with an event table and raffles on Friday, June 9. Join us for fun, fellowship and PRIDE.
Chinsegut named Gateway site
The great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail has welcomed Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area as its ninth Gateway site. Gateways are specially selected sites that put the “Great” in Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. They are known for two things: having some of the best birding and wildlife viewing in Florida, and offering excellent educational opportunities.
At Gateway sites, visitors not only experience and learn about Florida’s wildlife and ecosystems, they can also access GFBWT resources like bird and butterfly checklists, trail guides and more.
Chinsegut offers many programs to introduce residents and visitors to important local wildlife and habitats, enriching people’s sense of place, knowledge of local natural communities and what is required to keep them healthy.
Dementia care seminar planned
United Way of Hernando County will be hosting its Semi-Annual Dementia Care Seminar on Thursday, June 29, from 9 a.m. to noon at 10515 Northcliffe Blvd, Spring Hill. This free seminar is for families and caregivers focusing on loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
“If you are caring for someone living with dementia, you need to be at this seminar,” said Gary Joseph LeBlanc. “We will be covering the best standards in care communication techniques and more.”
LeBlanc will be presenting on the A-Z’s of dementia-related diagnoses as well as best case practices, communication tactics and strategies to handle behaviors that come with dementia care.
Join United Way of Hernando for breakfast, while exploring a variety of health vendors from 211, Mid Florida Community Services, and so many more specialties. Attendees must RSVP to reserve their seat by visiting www.UnitedWayHernando.org/2023Dementia, calling the UW office at 352-688-2026, or by emailing Care@UnitedWayHernando.org. On-site respite care will be provided at this event by Always Near Home Care (indicate your need when registering).
Mental-health researchers get grants
TAMPA — Two separate projects led by faculty in the University of South Florida College of Education and College of Behavioral and Community Sciences are being funded by a combined $8 million from the U.S. Department of Education to address mental health in Tampa Bay K-12 students.
Stacy-Ann January, associate professor in the Department of Educational and Psychological Studies, is leading efforts to enhance the capacity and effectiveness of school psychologists by helping schools adopt a framework for mental health assessments and intervention techniques. Through Project TIERS, which stands for “Targeted and Intensive Emotional and Relational Support,” USF will partner with local elementary schools in greatest need of assistance.
It expands upon USF’s school psychology program, in which 21 graduate students will spend the next five years working in local schools to identify students in need of support and tailor their services based on the intensity of their situation. January will then share what they learned with school psychologists across the country.
In the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, several faculty members are working with the Hillsborough, Hernando and Manatee school districts to launch Project MABAS, which stands for “Mental Health Applied Behavior Analysis Social Work.”
Project MABAS, also funded by a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education, will help diversify the school-based mental health services workforce by enhancing the pipeline of behavior analysts and social workers. Forty USF graduate students from diverse backgrounds enrolled in the applied behavior analysis or social work programs will provide integrated behavioral and mental health services in high-need schools, helping improve social-emotional, behavioral, and educational outcomes.
USF students enrolled in Project MABAS and Project TIERS will receive tuition support and a stipend. In turn, they will have the training and skills needed to help thousands of children throughout their careers.
Lambert to lead WREC
The Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative’s Board of Trustees announced the appointment of David Lambert as the new general manager of the electric cooperative.
“As the manager of member relations, David was instrumental in orchestrating business strategy and operations with demonstrated results in complex business environments, managing multiple facets of the cooperative,” said Terry Schrader, board president. “Myself, the Board of Trustees, leadership and the employees of WREC all look forward to working with David as he brings his talents, expertise, and passion to his new role.”
Lambert will succeed Billy Brown after Brown’s 67 years of service with the Cooperative.
Bilirakis files sinkhole bill
U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla, and Darren Soto, D-Fla., have filed the Sinkhole Mapping Act of 2023. The bill directs the United States Geological Survey to conduct studies on the short- and long-term mechanisms potentially contribute to the triggering of sinkholes, including extreme storm events, prolonged droughts leading to shifts in water management practices, as well as ongoing aquafer depletion, and other major changes in water use.
This legislation also directs the director of the USGS to establish and maintain a public website that displays maps that depict zones that are at greater risk of sinkhole formation and other relevant information critical for use by community planners and emergency managers. This will give community planners and first responders access to information on where sinkholes are likely to form.
“In recent years we have seen throughout Tampa Bay how dangerous sinkholes can be for neighborhoods,” Bilirakis said. “To improve public safety and consumer protection, we need to study the causes and remedies of sinkholes while developing geological maps to delineate the highest risk areas for sinkholes to occur. I look forward to working on this important bipartisan initiative with my colleagues.
Report shows pandemic aid blunted financial crisis, but warning signs are on horizon
The United Way’s newest ALICE Florida Report: “ALICE in the Crosscurrents” finds that while the Covid-19 pandemic brought employment shifts, health struggles and school/business closures in 2021, it also spurred unprecedented public assistance through pandemic relief measures. The ranks of Florida residents unable to afford the basic necessities grew by more than twice as much during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a total of 3.9 million households (or 45%) struggling to afford basics means by 2021. As highlighted in the ALICE Report, in 2019, 36,935 households in Hernando County were below the ALICE Threshold; by 2021 this number increased by 6% to a total of 39,331 households.
ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed — households that earn more than the federal poverty level, but less than what is needed to survive in the modern econo my (the ALICE Threshold). ALICE is those working low-wage jobs, with little or no savings and one crisis away from poverty. These individuals have been overlooked and undercounted by traditional poverty measures.
While job disruptions and inflation delivered significant financial pain, a combination of pandemic supports and rising wages did help to blunt what could have been a deeper financial crisis, the Report finds. However, as some benefits are peeled back, and inflation persists, signs of greater financial stress are on the horizon.
Even with the variety of temporary pandemic supports available, in 2021, a family of four with two-full time workers, earning a combined hourly wage of $34.23, as a retail salesperson and a cashier — two of the most common occupations in Florida — fell short of affording the family budget by $2,738.
To explore the report and access online, interactive dashboards that provide data on financial hardship at the state, county and local level, visit United4ALICE.org/ALICECrosscurrents. Become an ALICE advocate and join United Ways across the state, as local leaders host community conversations around solutions for this struggling population. More on Hernando County can be found at UnitedWayHernando.org/ALICE.
Hernando awarded federal funds under emergency food and shelter program
Hernando County has been awarded a total of $57,571 to supplement Emergency Food and Shelter Programs throughout the county for Phase 40. The announcement was made by a national board that is chaired by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency. The award amount is based on the average number of unemployed individuals in the Hernando area, the total number of individuals below the poverty level, and the jurisdiction’s total population.
Agency applications are now being accepted for Phase 40. A local board made up of representatives from American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, local government, the Jewish Federation, Mid Florida Homeless Coalition, and United Way of Hernando County will determine how the funds are to be granted to qualified Hernando County organizations. These funds are to be distributed to supplement and expand ongoing efforts to provide shelter, food and supportive services for Hernando’s hungry, homeless, and residents in economic crisis. The local board is responsible for the process and recommendation of agencies who will receive EFSP funds and any additional funds under this program.
Agencies interested in applying for Phase 40 program funds may email a request for application to Finance@UnitedWayHernando.org. It is recommended for applying agencies to visit www.efsp.unitedway.org prior to submission, for additional tools that cover EFSP requirements, recent changes, reporting for Local Recipient Organizations, as well as the EFSP Manual.
Hard copies of completed applications are to be submitted to the United Way of Hernando County office via mail or drop-off no later than Friday, April 28, by 5 p.m. United Way of Hernando County address is 4028 Commercial Way, Spring Hill. The local board will review applications shortly after, and applicants will be contacted by mid-May with allocation results and further instructions.
For more information on the Emergency Food & Shelter National Board Program, visit www.efsp.unitedway.org.
Marine Corps League to host ‘Meatloaf Monday’
The second Monday of every month is “Meatloaf Monday” from 3 to 6 p.m. for $5.
Every other Monday from 3 to 6 p.m. will be hamburger and fries for $5.
With a free draft beer, additional burger topping $1 each, also receive a ticket for a chance to win $50.
Whiskey and wings every Wednesday, with whisky shots $3 and wings 75 cents each.
A March 26 veteran fundraiser from noon to 5 p.m. will have live music, food and raffles.
Motorcycle riders, make plans to attend and come out and help us support a local veteran in need.
For all other information on upcoming events, like and follow us on Facebook
“mcl708 oorah,” or call 352-556-3045 for any questions.
Armenian genocide education act introduced
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On April 24, on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla. and 41 co-sponsors introduced the Armenian Genocide Education Act, bipartisan legislation to promote accurate and effective education about the Armenian genocide.
The act establishes a new program in the Library of Congress tasked with developing resources, including digital resources, to foster understanding about why and how the Armenian genocide happened. These resources will be incorporated into curricula at schools across the country. The bill authorizes $2 million annually for the program over five years and allows the Library of Congress to supplement this funding with private donations.
“Our darkest moments as a human race have come during times when those who knew better stood silently, making excuses for passivity and allowing injustice and persecution to reign. We must acknowledge the atrocities of the past so that we might hopefully prevent them in the future,” Bilirakis said.
Bilirakis leads group urging FDA to improve review of rare disease therapies
U.S. Sens Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla, and Doris Matsui, D-Calif., co-chairs of the bipartisan bicameral Rare Disease Congressional Caucus, led a group of lawmakers in calling on the Food and Drug Administration to bring more reliability and consistency to the process of reviewing rare disease therapies.
While there have been improvements in facilitating rare disease products, patients and advocates have identified that FDA divisions and offices can differ in how they treat applications. The lawmakers are urging the FDA to improve reliability in how it reviews applications for rare disease therapies.
“We recognize and appreciate the actions FDA has taken over the years to address the challenges associated with developing treatments for orphan diseases and conditions, including through the Office of Orphan Products Development and the recent establishment of the Accelerating Rare Disease Cures (ARC) program. However, across the agency there remains significant uneven application of rare disease policies, guidance, and expertise, even, at times, for the same product application,” wrote the lawmakers. “We urge the convening of an FDA task force including leaders from all divisions, offices, and centers which process rare disease therapy applications to fully examine areas of policy and procedural inconsistency and shortcomings, as well as best practices, and provide concrete recommendations to the administration and Congress for improvement.”
Bilirakis helps introduce Kids First Research Act 2.0
U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., has introduced the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act 2.0 along with Reps. Tom Cole, R-Okla.; Jennifer Wexton, D-Va.; and Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., as well as Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan.
The legislation would reauthorize and increase funding for the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program (Kids First), which has supported lifesaving research of treatments for childhood cancer.
The bill is named in honor of Gabriella Miller, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and died in 2013 at age 10. Gabriella’s advocacy for lawmakers to “stop talking, start doing,” led to the creation of the Ten-Year Pediatric Research Initiative Fund which authorized $12.6 million in annual funds for childhood disease research. The fund expires at the end of this fiscal year.
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