01/11/18 Public Safety
Hernando County Sheriff's Office personnel have been cleared in the death of Scott Michael Chamberlain, a bank robbery suspect deputies shot in the middle of Broad Street following a speedy chase in September, according to the Florida State Attorney's Office.
In a letter to Sheriff Al Nienhuis last week, State Attorney Brad King said he agreed with the findings of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into the shooting....
A handful of candidates already have pre-filed to run for public office in 2018 elections that will appear on Hernando County ballots in the August primary and the November general election.
U.S. House District 11
Rep. Daniel Webster, a Republican from Webster, has filed to seek reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives, and four Democrats have joined the race to try to unseat him. They are: Samuel "Sam" Allen, Tavares; James F. "Jim" Henry, Hernando; Dave Koller, Ocala; and Ronald L. Reid, The Villages....
SPRING HILL — Like most bodies of water in Florida, Hunters Lake is home to many animals. But county workers never expected to find a cow standing in the middle of it.
The animal, found about two years ago, had ventured there during a drought. It became trapped atop a collection of tussocks, or large pieces of matted vegetation floating on the surface, when the spring-fed lake returned to its normal level. The organic sludge pieces served as a sort of respite for the cow, but they created other problems as they grew....
Hernando teacher returns to classroom after arrest for inappropriately touching adult education student12/27/17Crime
SPRING HILL — An automotive instructor who was removed from Nature Coast Technical High School earlier this month after inappropriately touching an adult education student has returned to the classroom, according to the Hernando County School District.
Investigative documents released last week show that Kevin Moglia, 61, resumed teaching high school students on Dec. 15, but he will no longer teach for SunTech, the district's evening adult education program....
Long plagued by high teacher turnover, a rotating administration and student behavior problems, Moton Elementary School entered 2017 unstable and troubled.
Still, Principal Joe Frana, hired in Oct. 2016 as the school's third principal in a year, started the year with a promise.
"I know at one time Moton was a great school, and we're going to be a great school again," he told the Hernando County School Board in January. He had a plan regarding student behavior and communication that had the Title 1 school on track to improve. Title 1 schools have a high number of low-income students....
With new programs, complicated community partnerships and abrupt resignations, Pasco-Hernando State College was busy in 2017, its 45th year in existence.
January began with administrators butting heads with Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco over the gun range at the college's East Pasco campus police academy. It was renovated with a $1 million state grant the sheriff secured.
When Nocco asked the college Board of Trustees to allow officers to train there using lead bullets, the same ammunition used on duty, trustees said no. They mandated a more "green" alternative that would be less costly to clean up....
After two years of planning for a district-wide survey to evaluate Hernando schools Superintendent Lori Romano, the School Board got it done in 2017.
In April, members were still debating details of the evaluation instrument they agreed to pay a University of South Florida professor $11,000 to create. Results of the voluntary survey — sent to more than 3,000 district employees and returned by about 940 — were released in July. They showed mixed reviews....
School grades released by the Florida Department of Education this summer showed most Hernando County schools chugging steadily toward an A. But three schools — and their principals — made strides that stood out.
Spring Hill Elementary School rose from a B to an A, and both Parrott Middle School and Nature Coast Technical High School jumped from a C to a B. While each schools faced its own challenges, the top administrators all credit their gains to a new culture they've carefully constructed on their campuses....
As the Hernando County School Board prepares to launch a second district-wide survey to evaluate Superintendent Lori Romano, the superintendent said the negative portions of the first results were too vague to be of use to her.
Released in July, the results show Romano's overall average rating by district employees was 2.86 on a scale of 1 to 5. While some respondents praised her performance, others noted a lack of transparency and communication, and some called her leadership style "fear-based." Some also called for her resignation....
BROOKSVILLE — The new year could bring about new beginnings for at-risk girls in Hernando County.
Pending a vote by the School Board next month, PACE Center for Girls, an alternative education program for middle- and high-school students, could open as the 20th in the state. If approved, students could begin classes as soon as Jan. 9.
Gail Armstrong, executive director of the private, nonprofit center in Pasco County, also would oversee the Hernando school. She gave a well-received presentation Tuesday to School Board members, all of whom seemed to support the plan....
Whether at the front of a classroom or in the garden, Maria Rybka was a teacher to her core. Those who loved her say she lived with purpose: to educate, inspire and demand the most from life.
Following a lengthy illness, the longtime Hernando County educator and healthy lifestyle advocate died Nov. 30. She was 50.
A graduate of Springstead High School, Rybka began her teaching career in the late 1990s, when she joined the staff at Westside Elementary as a third grade teacher. It was a summer day soon after that when teacher Cari O'Rourke started at the school. On the first trip to her classroom, she found Rybka standing in the doorway....
SPRING HILL — A Hernando County teacher was arrested last week on a charge of misdemeanor battery after deputies said he was accused of inappropriately touching an adult education student.
According to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, Kevin Thomas Moglia, an auto mechanics instructor at Nature Coast Technical High School, touched a 19-year-old male student on Nov. 6. Deputies reviewed classroom surveillance video on Nov. 30, and arrested Moglia, 61....
A standing statistic says that one third of murders in the United States each year go unsolved, racking up the list of cold cases for law enforcement agencies across the country. In Hernando County, there are 13 homicide deaths investigators have yet to solve. These are their stories:
• The death of Dominique Devon Lewis, a 19-year-old St. Petersburg medical student, was the only reported homicide in 2007. She was murdered sometime shortly after Thanksgiving that year, and her body was found by a CSX railroad worker in a wooded area off Brooksville Rock Road in Brooksville on Dec. 11. Investigators clocked more than 1,000 hours looking for her killer, naming several as people of interest in the case, including her boyfriend, Jeremy Grisby, who was booked into Pinellas County Jail three days after Lewis' body was found on an unrelated charge of sexual battery but never charged in her death....
BROOKSVILLE — In recent years, schools across the state have made major strides toward digital-based instruction. But what about students who don't have access to the internet?
Thanks to an initiative by Sprint telecommunications company, that's no longer a problem in Hernando County.
Since the start of the school year, nearly 600 high school students have received a free smartphone, complete with a data plan, that they can use through graduation....
Heather Gibson credits the Withlacoochee River for most of her childhood joys. Having grown up just steps from its banks, she remembers sunny afternoons spent biking trails and exploring swimming holes near her parents' home in Talisman Estates.
The neighborhood, which sits on the eastern edge of Hernando County in Ridge Manor, near the Pasco County line, suffered the brunt of the damage brought to the area by Hurricane Irma. According to a county assessment, more than 20 homes there were affected, some deemed unlivable, due to extreme flooding caused by the swollen river as it reached historically high levels in the days after the storm....