4/15 Week in Review: Gopher tortoises find safe haven, Homosassa, Hernando icons remembered
Monday–Happy Springs Protection Month! To provide real-time information about the condition of the water, the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) collects real time water-quality data at five springs systems and uploads the information online on an hourly basis.Tuesday–April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. Once called the “Shaking Palsy” because of the most visible symptom of tremors, today a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is life-changing, but not life-ending. More than one million people in the U.S. have Parkinson’s. While a cure is not in sight, researchers are close to developing drugs that can severely impede the spread of the disease.
Also Tuesday: Local public defender Ed Spaight recently filed his candidacy for Fifth Circuit Court judge. Judge Patricia Thomas, who is retiring this year, has held that position for 25 years. If elected, Spaight will most likely split his time between Citrus and Hernando counties.
Wednesday–Medical marijuana advocates received good news Tuesday: County commissioners unanimously voted to pass an ordinance allowing pot dispensaries anywhere in the county as long as they have the proper state licensing and are at least 500 feet away from a school.
Also Wednesday: “Mama Ruth” Twiggs, the matriarch of Hernando, died March 18 at age 88. She was soft-spoken but tough, loving and strong. She raised five children on her own and worked as executive housekeeper at Citrus Memorial Hospital for 30 years, all without a car. She and her twin brother, Russell Smith, were inseparable. Smith died in 2012.
Thursday–Even before the real work of the Suncoast Parkway extension project can begin, homes needed to be found for about 110 residents — gopher tortoises. They are being relocated from their homes in Homosassa to two sites: the Withlacoochee State Forest and a ranch/preserve in Sumter County.
Also Thursday: Inverness City Manager told members of the Citrus County Council Wednesday that the economic future of Inverness is not big box stores and chain restaurants, but “mom-and-pop” businesses, which “become a part of your personality” as a city, he said. “When you visit, you remember those places.” DiGiovanni also shared his vision for the Depot District, the $12 million makeover of Liberty and Wallace Brooks parks that includes a city marina, floating stage, outdoor market and a replica water tower.
Friday–Effective midnight Sunday, Citrus County’s local radio station WYKE 104.3 FM becomes WXZC, going from sports to country. WYKE, a CBS Sports radio affiliate, has been owned by the Key Training Center for the past six years. The Key Center has entered into a three-year limited marketing and option-to-purchase agreement with WGUL-FM, but still retaining the station license.
Also Friday: The friends and family of Alton “Dunk” Pierce, Sr., a longtime shrimper and fisherman in Old Homosassa, remembered the beloved icon who died last October by launching 79 luminaries on the Homosassa River on Wednesday, which would have been Dunk’s 79th birthday.
Newsmaker of the week: The nature part of the Nature Coast. This week local waters and indigenous creatures made the front page, from local springs and the aquifer to protected gopher tortoises. April may be Springs Protection Awareness Month, but the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) tests the water quality of five springs systems hourly 24/7 to stay on top of the health of the water. Meanwhile, the city of Crystal River is having water problems — a Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) excavation site at U.S. 19 and the Crosstown Trail has weakened a nearby aquifer underneath the highway, which could result in a sinkhole.
As for the gopher tortoises, because of their protected status, more than 100 of them were recently relocated, keeping them safe from the Sunshine Parkway extension construction, which has yet to begin.
Hot topic of the week: Lots of cranky callers to this week’s Sound Off sounded off about crying babies in restaurants, bringing dogs to restaurants, stores and movie theaters, solo diners sitting in restaurant booths, church services being too long and strong perfume. The late Rodney King, the Los Angeles taxi driver who was brutally beaten by L.A. police in 1991, famously said, “Can’t we all just get along?” Sometimes it seems like we can’t.
Quote of the week: “Looking at the amount of medical marijuana jobs coming here alone is worth it. That’s not even talking about the needs of the people.” — Damion Grob, owner of Healthy Hempies in Inverness, about the county passing an ordinance to allow pot dispensaries
Good news item of the week: Inverness Elks Lodge 2522, “the lodge on the lake,” recently gave $1,500 to the local YMCA. The money will fund a Water Safety Expo to teach children in our community how to be safe around water. The expo will be open to all children in the county.