Report: Teen On Burglary Bond Breaks Into Home

Natasha Raiola found herself in a familiar place on Thursday – in handcuffs, charged with breaking into a house.

Hours prior, she was standing in circuit court accepting a three-year prison sentence for her role in a May 22 home invasion that injured a 93-year-old man. Raiola, 16, was given two weeks to get her affairs in order before reporting to the Department of Corrections.

In the intervening hours, deputies say, she and a friend, Jeovani Hernandez, went three times to a Spring Hill home to settle a score. When the parents of their target wouldn’t let the pair inside, Hernandez, 18, reportedly kicked in the door and tried to force his way inside.

A deputy went to the home on the 7200 block of Terrytown Drive and noted the shoeprint on the door appeared to match a Converse sneaker. His investigation led them to the suspects’ home, 8377 Falmouth Court, where both admitted to the attempted break-in, according to an affidavit.

Both were charged with burglary of a structure.

Raiola was previously charged in connection with a home invasion last May on Lodge Circle. The other suspect in that case, David Barnes, held a gun to the elderly victim’s head while Raiola grabbed $300 in cash and a cell phone. The two fled in the victim’s Toyota.

Barnes pleaded no contest in December and received four years prison. Raiola pleaded guilty on Thursday and received three years prison, with a recommendation for DOC boot camp.

Reporter Kyle Martin can be reached at 352-544-5271 or

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Lawsuit Blames Doctors For Alleged MRSA Death

A widow filed court papers last week that blame local health care providers for her husband’s death from a virulent staph infection.

The Dec. 29 lawsuit alleges that doctors failed to diagnose Ronald Carl with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus – better known as MRSA – when he went to a doctor to have a boil lanced last July.

The bacteria that causes MRSA has a variety of symptoms including abscesses that require surgical draining.

Instead of taking a culture to determine the type of infection affecting Carl, he was prescribed antibiotics and sent home, the lawsuit states.

Several days later Carl was admitted to Oak Hill Hospital to control his high blood sugar and tests revealed he had MRSA. However, he was not told of the infection, nor did staff write the results on his chart or notify his doctor, according to the lawsuit.

Carl went home again and his prescribed antibiotics kept the MRSA under “reasonable control” until Sept. 19 and 20 when he visited two other doctors, the lawsuit states.

He was diagnosed with “uncontrolled diabetes,” but the abscess on his back was not examined before he was readmitted to Oak Hill Hospital on Sept. 20, the lawsuit alleges.

The admitting doctor called several times over that period to check on Carl, but it was 21 hours before he was physically examined around midday Sept. 21, according to the lawsuit. The consulting physician determined that Carl was septic with MRSA and ordered him into the intensive care unit because of Carl’s worsening condition, the lawsuit claims.

Carl went into cardiac arrest an hour later, was revived, then died the following morning, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges negligence on the part of the Oak Hill Hospital staff and the physicians that treated Carl. It bases its request for more than $15,000 in damages on the Florida Wrongful Death Act. That act provides compensation for families who lose loved ones to medical malpractice.

Richard Linkul, spokesman for Oak Hill Hospital, could not comment on pending litigation. A message left for the attorney behind the lawsuit, Terry Nelson, was not returned Tuesday.

While MRSA can be a fatal infection, there are also thousands of people infected with the bacteria who show no signs of the disease, said Roger Sanderson, an epidemiologist with the Florida Department of Health.

And while MRSA does cause boils on the skin, there’s no reason to immediately suspect that a patient with a boil is infected by the disease, Sanderson said.

“The only way to definitely know is to culture it,” he said.

The most common way that MRSA is spread is by person-to-person contact, although it can become airborne if a person is sick with pneumonia. An uncovered draining abscess could create a higher transfer spread, Sanderson said.

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Benefits For Stay-At-Home, Non-Working Spouses

QUESTION: What benefits would a stay-at-home, non-working (outside the home) wife receive from Social Security and Medicare when she reaches the age at which she would be eligible? Would she receive benefits based on her husband’s work record or would she receive no benefits at all?

Would the wife be able to receive Medicare and how would the premiums be paid if she does? Would she be charged the same as people that worked and paid into the Medicare fund?

Please comment on the situation if the husband is living or deceased.

C.W.K., Spring Hill

ANSWER: Both the Social Security and Medicare programs provide for stay-at-home spouses.

Normally, Social Security benefits can not be paid to a non-working spouse until the working husband or wife begins receiving benefits, usually now at age 66 but as young as 62 if early retirement benefits (at a reduction of about 20 percent) are taken.

The non-working spouse must be at least 62 years old to qualify for benefits which, at full retirement age of 66, would be an amount equal to half of the working spouse’s full retirement benefit. The spousal benefit would be reduced by 25/36ths of one percent for each month he or she is younger than 66, up to 36 months, if taken before that age. The reduction is 5/12ths of one percent for each month in excess of 36.

Most often it is the husband who works and the wife who is the homemaker and caretaker of the children but the same rules apply when their roles are switched.

Should the working husband die, the wife would be entitled to a widow’s benefit if she is at least 60 years of age. However, if there are children under the age of 16 (18 if the child still is in high school) at home, she, at any age, and the children would be entitled to survivors’ insurance.

A widow’s benefit is the amount the husband was entitled to at age 66. The amount would be reduced by 19/40ths of one percent for each month she is younger than 66 when she elects to take benefits. Should she become disabled before age 60, the widow would be entitled to disability benefits equal to the amount of Social Security benefits she would receive at age 60

In any event, anyone who is entitled to Social Security benefits and is at least 65 years of age is entitled to Medicare coverage. (Those receiving disability benefits and have been disabled for at least two years are entitled to Medicare at any age.) There is no premium to pay for Part A (covers hospital stays). Part B (doctor and some procedures) coverage now costs $96.40 a month. That premium is the same for everyone. Part D (prescription drugs) coverage is additional, with premiums – which vary with the types of policies from different companies – averaging somewhere around $50 a month.

Even an individual who did not work at least 10 years in a job where Medicare taxes were paid and is not married to someone who did can still get Medicare Part A (hospital) coverage by paying a $204 a month premium. Like everyone else on Medicare, that individual can get Parts B and D by paying those premiums.

Should there be a divorce involved, all of the benefits mentioned for the spouse or widow would apply just as if the marriage were intact as long as the marriage lasted for at least 10 years and the woman was not remarried.

Adon Taft is a resident of Brooksville. If you have questions about any issues connected with aging, except medical conditions, please write to Life to the Fullest, Hernando Today, 13299 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville, Fla. 34613, or send e-mail to adontaft@ya

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John W. Hynes, 64, of Spring Hill, died Saturday, Jan. 3, at his home. He was born in Queens, N.Y., and moved to this area two years ago from Baldwin, N.Y.
Mr. Hynes retired from the New York City School System after 39 years as a schoolteacher.
Survivors include his wife, Eleanor; a son, Frank of Spring Hill; a daughter, Eleanor Yost of Washington, D.C.; and two sisters, Frances Bub of Queens and Patricia Driscoll of Long Island, N.Y.
Arrangements by Brewer & Sons Funeral Homes and Cremation Services, Commercial Way, Spring Hill Chapel.

Elizabeth Jeanette Fernandez, 80, of Brooksville, died Sunday, Jan. 4. She was born in Bainbridge, Ga., and moved to this area 57 years ago from Bainbridge.
Mrs. Fernandez was a drafting clerk with the telephone company and a member of Grace Tabernacle Baptist Church, Brooksville.
Survivors include two sons, Sheldon Wimberley of Brooksville and Jerry Wimberley of Floral City; three daughters, Rhonda Baker, Brenda Lowe, and Glenda Bennett, all of Brooksville; three sisters, Florence Bishop of Thomasville, Ga., and Geneva Josey and Sybil Isler, both of Bainbridge; 11 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.
Arrangements by Merritt Funeral Home, Brooksville Chapel.

Richard E. Ewing, of Venice, died Sunday, Dec. 28, at the Pinebrook Rehabilitation Center, Venice.
Mr. Ewing was born in Vanlue, Ohio.
Survivors include his companion, Lorraine Rzemisienski of Venice; three daughters, Peggy Mundy of Carmel, Ind., Barbara Caudill of Carey, Ohio, and Angela Balderson of Spring Hill; a brother, Jim Ewing of Fostoria, Ohio; nine grandchildren; two stepgrandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and four stepgreat-grandchildren.
Arrangements by Hooper Funeral Homes & Crematory, Inverness.

Patricia “Patti” E. Stewart, 66, of Brooksville, died Wednesday, Dec. 31, at the Hernando-Pasco Hospice Care Center, Brooksville. She was born in Columbus, Ohio, and moved to this area 22 years ago from Meigs County, Ohio.
Ms. Stewart was a homemaker and a member of the American Legion Auxiliary and Eastern Star.
Survivors include a son, Robert Chappelear of Bakersfield, Calif.; three daughters, Barbara Gray of Dade City, Rebecca Delena of Hastings, and Brenda Chappelear of Richmond, Va.; 10 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Arrangements by Pinecrest Funeral Chapel, Brooksville Chapel.

1 vote, 5.00 avg. rating (95% score)

New Orthopedist Settles On Brooksville

Daniel Moynihan heard his share of barbs before he left Los Angeles.

He was a month away from starting his practice 2,500 miles away in Brooksville.

Most people didn’t know where it was, but they knew it sounded small. It also happened to be in Florida.

“You know, there are hurricanes over there,” someone joked as Moynihan, an orthopedic surgeon, worked on his patient.

Seconds later, the room began to shake. A magnitude 5.8 earthquake caused the entire building to sway from side to side. Moynihan used his body to cover his patient from falling instruments and surgical equipment. He also needed to hold him still.

“I thought, ‘I’m going to die right here,'” he said.

The shaking stopped and Moynihan and his staff could return to work.

Hurricanes suddenly didn’t seem as dangerous. At least they come after some warning.

Four months ago, Moynihan opened the West Coast Musculoskeletel Institute. He needed some help, so he recruited his family.

His older brother, Eugene, 40, is a former SWAT member on the New York Police Department. He is now the office manager.

His younger brother, Bryan, 32, is finishing his studies at Hofstra University in Long Island, N.Y., and will soon join Moynihan as his physician’s assistant.

“We chose to come down here because it’s a better place to raise your kids,” said the eldest brother. “It still has a New York flavor.”

Don’t tell the brothers Spring Hill is just like where they’re from.

“Spring Hill really isn’t much like Long Island,” Eugene Moynihan said. “It’s about 30 degrees up there right now.”

His wife and his brother’s also work with them.

The Brooksville-born receptionist is the only non-Moynihan working in the office, located at 14555 Cortez Blvd., just west of the Suncoast Parkway. It is strategically wedged between Spring Hill and Brooksville.

The building was purchased in July. By Sept. 1, they had occupied it.

“Yeah, it was a quick move,” Eugene Moynihan said. “We had a really good contractor.”

The workers tore out pink carpet, peeled off the 1970s-era wallpaper and replaced the furniture. More work is expected, but the offices, lobby area and exam rooms are finished.

Daniel Moynihan knew where he wanted to be just a few months before he moved.

Some of his spine surgeon colleagues work in Pasco County. Knowing they came to an area that needed doctors, he decided to visit.

One morning on a boat off the coast of Homosassa was all it took.

“We went fishing,” he said, referring to him and his older brother. “After that, we knew where we wanted to stay.”

Moynihan is a general orthopedist, focused on arthroscopy, which is a minimally invasive surgery on the joints. It involes a camera and smaller incisions.

He provides services at all three of the county’s hospitals, but said the equipment at Oak Hill Hospital is among the best he has seen in his career.

“The medical industry here is pretty forward-thinking,” he said. “This is the way medicine is going.”

An electrician until he was 25 years old, Moynihan attended Stony Brook University and then medical school at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

His residency was at the Southern California Orthopedic Institute (SCOI) in Los Angeles.

Biz at a glance:

Name of biz – West Coast Musculoskeletal Institute

Owner – Dr. Daniel P. Moynihan

What it is – Orthopedics and sports medicine

Where it is – 14555 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville

Get in touch – 352-556-4823

Hours of operation – 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday

Reporter Tony Holt can be reached at 352-544-5283 or

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Up 4 Breakfast Pleases Any Appetite

Business sales have been every bit as slow as the housing market.

Given the current climate, it seemed the shopping center space formerly known as Ram’s Restaurant would stay vacant for months.

John Monticciolo bought it less than 24 hours after it became available. There was no time even to post a “for sale” sign.

“A perfect opportunity came along and I took advantage of it,” he said.

Up 4 Breakfast opened in September, a few months after its predecessor closed.

On Saturday, the diner was packed with people from the nearby soccer tournament at Anderson Snow Park. There were only a few tables open shortly after 1 p.m.

The restaurant is crowded every weekend. The churchgoers eat there. So do the neighbors. During the week, employees at the Airport Industrial Park regularly come in for a sit-down lunch.

“It has exceeded expectations,” said Monticciolo, who aimed to improve upon what Ram’s had been for the previous 11 years.

He wanted a diner that served breakfast and lunch. He wished for a clean restaurant with good service. He didn’t have to search far to find good help.

His 19-year-old brother, Joseph Monticciolo, is the vice president of the business. His parents come in to assist him. His grandfather is a regular.

“Oh, it’s delicious,” said the elder Monticciolo. “I’m a hamburger man. They’re good here.”

The menu is varied for customers with a range of appetites – from the modest to the extreme.

One may order an egg with toast or a biscuit for $1.95, or he or she could order the biggest breakfast on the menu – a Super Special. It includes two eggs, two bacon strips, two sausage links, three silver dollar pancakes, a choice of home fries, hash browns or grits, a coffee and a small orange juice for $7.25.

John Monticciolo learned of Ram’s closing the day it happened. He was a cook at another restaurant when he received a call asking whether he would like to buy any of the leftover food. He had a much loftier purchase in mind almost immediately.

Ram’s closed on a Wednesday. He signed the paperwork on Thursday, his brother said.

“We have lower prices,” Joseph Monticciolo said of the diner compared to others. “There is a ton of development around here and a lot of shopping stores … It’s really a mix. We have young kids, families, elderly. The big thing today was large parties.”

Soccer moms and players occupied most of the tables Saturday. Some of them had eaten there earlier in the day for breakfast. Word got around along the sidelines for those interested in finding a place for lunch.

It was a short drive from the soccer fields and seemed like a good place for fast service and a hearty meal.

“I have friends who recommended it,” said Julie Lessard, of Seffner. “Other (soccer moms) have eaten here at past tournaments.”

Her food came out a few minutes later. She and her son and his friend were finished and out the door 20 minutes later.

The salad and sandwich she ordered was “very good and fresh,” she said.

Up 4 Breakfast was a hit with Melissa Massaro, another soccer mom. She was seated at a table of more than a dozen players and parents. She was on the same schedule as Lessard. Like her, she heard about the diner from her friends.

“We had an hour between games and we had to eat quick,” Massaro said. “It was very good and very fast.”

John Monticciolo, 26, has been in the restaurant business for five years. He already has joined the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce and sponsors a local soccer and bowling team.

He also has adopted a needy family and donates to a local Catholic charity that assists other local families, he said.

“We changed everything,” he said of his new restaurant. “We brought a whole new attitude. We wanted to retain the customers (Ram’s) had and bring some new ones.”

Biz at a glance:

Name of biz – Up 4 Breakfast

Owner – John Monticciolo

What it is – Diner that serves breakfast and lunch

Where it is – 14359 Spring Hill Drive Hours of operation – 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday Get in touch – 352-686-4185

Biz at a glance:

Name of biz – Up 4 Breakfast

Owner – John Monticciolo

What it is – Diner that serves breakfast and lunch

Where it is – 14359 Spring Hill Drive

Hours of operation – 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday

Get in touch – 352-686-4185

Reporter Tony Holt can be reached at 352-544-5283 or

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Six Straight For Streaking Springstead

At the beginning of the season, veteran Springstead Head Coach Sal Calabrese felt anything above .500 would be a bonus for his young team.

At this point, he may want to raise the bar.

The Eagles, fresh off an impressive 2-0 win over defending Class 4A, District 8 champion Hudson on Wednesday, pushed their winning streak to six Thursday with a 4-0 win over Sunlake at Booster Stadium.

“This is our second match back-to-back and I didn’t make a whole lot of changes,” Calabrese said. “All the boys that started and played last night played tonight. The boys deserve all the credit. They played hard.

“It’s just work ethic, hard work. Some of these guys played 80 minutes last night and 80 minutes tonight. This game is not meant to be played back-to-back, but they did a great job.”

Dominating performance

Sunlake came in with a respectable 6-4-2 mark (5-3-2 in 4A-8) and tied Springstead (9-3-2 overall, 8-2-2 4A-8) 2-2 on Nov. 24.

This time, however, the Seahawks barely looked competitive, mustering just four relatively tame shots on goal against Eagle keeper Joey Lasala, who saved them all in posting a shutout.

“Awful,” Sunlake Head Coach Sam Koleduk said. “We had a tough game against Pasco last night, lost 2-1, and mentally we weren’t prepared tonight. Sal had them ready to play. I thought they played well.”

Senior midfielder Stephan Philippeaux was the offensive star for the Eagles, scoring a pair of goals to go along with an assist.

Off a free kick that went off the defense, he found Josh Peirce for the first goal of the night 12 minutes in.

Four minutes later, Philippeaux got to the ball on a breakaway and put it passed the keeper, who had left the net to pursue the play.

With around 11 minutes remaining in the second half, Philippeaux tacked on his second score, connecting on a corner kick by Terry Wald.

“I feel like I played great,” Philippeaux said. “We played great as a team. We came out here wanting to win and we got the victory.

“We’re just working together, pass after pass, goal after goal. The defense is holding up fine. We’re doing good.”

Philippeaux came into the week with three goals and no assists, but scored twice Monday versus Nature Coast and had an assist in the Hudson match.

“Terry (Wald) kicked the ball over to me (on the first goal),” Philippeaux said. “I kicked it around the defender, I ran around him. The goalie came out and I kicked it in.

“…It was a good, hard cross through the middle (on the second goal).”

In the waning seconds of the match, Wald notched his second assist on a breakaway goal by Matthew Gozdziewski.

Springstead won’t return to the pitch until a tournament at Ridgewood starting Dec. 29.

Sunlake 0 0 – 0
Springstead 2 2 – 4
Goals – SPG: Philippeaux 2, Peirce, Gozdziewski.
Assists – SPG: Wald 2, Philippeaux.
Shots on goal – SL: 4, SPG: 12.
Saves – SL: Krupka 8; SPG: Lasala 4.
Yellow Cards – none.
Blue Cards – none.
Red Cards – none.
Records: Sunlake (6-5-2 overall, 5-4-2 4A-8), Springstead (9-3-2 overall, 8-2-2 4A-8).

Sports writer Chris Bernhardt Jr. can be reached at (352) 544-5288 or

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area deaths ar-283052

Thomas Kappenmacher, 45, of Shady Hills, died Sunday, Dec. 14. He was born in Hollis, Queens, N.Y., and moved to Florida from Long Island, N.Y.
Mr. Kappenmacher was employed by Superior Structures.
Survivors include his wife, Keri; three sons, Thomas, Michael and Johnny Kane; three brothers; and six sisters.
Arrangements by Brewer & Sons Funeral Homes and Cremation Services, Seven Hills Chapel, Spring Hill.
Thomas J. Biuso, 81, of Spring Hill, died Wednesday, Dec. 17, at his home. He was born in Bronx, N.Y., and moved to this area 13 years ago from Long Island, N.Y.
Mr. Biuso retired as a senior architect for JC Penney Company, New York, N.Y.
Survivors include his wife, Dorothy; four children, Thomas, Joseph, Christopher and Dori Elefterakis; nine grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.
Arrangements by Turner Funeral & Cremation Center, U.S. 19 Chapel, Spring Hill.
Frankie Lee Riggins, 69, of Brooksville, died Friday, Dec. 12, at his home. He was born in Brooksville and returned to Brooksville 10 years ago from Glen Cove, N.Y.
Mr. Riggins was a retired welder.
Survivors include three sons, Frankie Riggins Jr. of New York, Chan Riggins of Georgia and Caesar Riggins of Tennessee; three daughters, Belinda Riggins, Deborah Thomas and Elissa Wilson of Georgia; two brothers, Thomas Brooks and Robert Brooks; seven sisters, Bessie Lookadoo, Fatimah Saleem, Elizabeth Simmons, Tommie Files, Sarah Reed, Fannie Conyers and Joyce Gay; 16 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Arrangements by Cason Funeral & Cremation Services, Brooksville.
Larry Gene Mullins, 62, of Brooksville, died Friday, Dec. 12, at Brooksville Regional Hospital. He was born in Chesapeake, Ohio, and moved to this area 29 years ago from Gallipolis, Ohio.
Mr. Mullins was a retired auto mechanic.
Survivors include his wife, Linda; four daughters, Lisa Mullins, Laura Kent, Lana Springer and Christina Carn, all of Brooksville; three brothers, Les Mullins of Bowling Green, S.C., and Lorn Mullins and David Allen, both of Gallipolis; three sisters, Judy Sanders and Sandra Paydon, both of Gallipolis, and Yovanna Massey of Bowling Green; 11 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
Arrangements by Cason Funeral & Cremation Services, Brooksville.
Lorene H. Morgan, 81, of Brooksville, died Wednesday, Dec. 17. She was born in Randolph County, Alabama, and moved to this area 53 years ago from Fort Payne, Ala.
Mrs. Morgan was a homemaker and a member of Church of the Holy Spirit.
Survivors include a son, Millard Hodges of Floral City; two daughters, Linda Conrad and Carolyn Reding of Brooksville; a sister, Evabell Wells of Fort Payne; 11 grandchildren; and many great-grandchildren.
Arrangements by Turner Funeral Homes, Spring Hill Chapel.

1 vote, 5.00 avg. rating (95% score)

Panhandling A Common Sight

Heather Hasenstaub feels sharp pain each day.
She cannot walk without a cane. She recently suffered burn injuries on her right arm and leg. Three of her top teeth were broken during a fall. She was trying to escape a burning house.
Doctors advised her not to be on her feet for more than 15 minutes at a time.
She stands on street corners for up to five hours straight. Her house was gutted due to the fire, and she is not receiving any government aid in spite of her physical difficulties, she said.
It is either beg for money or go hungry.
The physical pain is one thing. Her self-esteem hurts more.
“This is humiliating,” Hasenstaub said as she stared blankly toward Shady Hills Road. “When I was better off, I used to see people with these signs and automatically assume they were hustling.”
Solicitation along medians, streets and highways is illegal in Hernando County. The statute is meant to “prevent dangers to persons and property, to prevent delays and to avoid interference with the traffic flow,” the law states.
Cities across the country are looking to crack down on panhandling, including High Point, N.C., Spokane, Wash., and Des Moines, Iowa.
Sheriff’s deputies have told Hasenstaub, 33, and her family to move elsewhere. They stand on the Pasco County side of the road and have been seen there for several weeks.
Most motorists stop at the traffic light and anxiously look ahead. They pretend they don’t see Hasenstaub, or her fiancée and 17-year-old daughter.
Some give cash and coins, but it seems most people who acknowledge them are not feeling as charitable.
Hasenstaub and her daughter, Tiffany Heitz, 17, will see obscene gestures or hear screams and swearing.
“I’ve seen people I’ve known before and they’re laughing at me,” said Heitz. “It’s an eye-opener. You have no idea how hard it is.”
Her body aches every day. She is often joined by her boyfriend. They will either stay at a friend’s house or sleep in a two-door Chevrolet Monte Carlo along with her mother and fiancé. It is difficult for four people to sleep in a small-sized sedan, she said.
Hasenstaub said their home was damaged by fire several months ago, but she couldn’t recall the exact date. Neither could her fiancé. But that’s not how they lost their home.
The concrete walls were salvaged, they said, but the floor, ceiling and interior required a lot of repair. They didn’t have insurance, so they tried to live in their scorched home amidst the smell of burned wood and ashes.
The house, which is located in Gulf Highlands in Port Richey, eventually was foreclosed.
Whenever Hasenstaub and her daughter see a school bus heading toward them along County Line Road, they will turn around and hide in the bushes, she said.
The high school students are the worst hecklers.
One day, Hasenstaub was struck in the forehead by a quarter. The person who threw it yelled, “Get a job!”
“My feelings were hurt more than anything,” she said.
Less than five miles away from where Hasenstaub and her family stood Wednesday morning was another panhandler.
Jim Hughes, 52, was at the corner of Barclay Avenue and Spring Hill Drive. He was looking for money and a ride to Port Charlotte. But first, he wanted to get a drink and find someone willing to drive him to U.S. 41.
He has a post office box in Port Charlotte, he said. He also likes the food served by the homeless shelter there, not to mention the showering facilities he can use along the way in Sarasota.
It was mid-morning and he already smelled of alcohol. The money he collected that day – about $12 – was going to be spent on booze at the nearby 7-Eleven. He admitted it.
“I want to find work,” he said when asked what he ultimately wants. “I want to get off the street.”
He pulled a cigarette from a pack of Pall Malls he was given earlier that day.
Hughes wore a red and white baseball cap, blue jeans, black tennis shoes, a blue T-shirt and a leather jacket. The clothes looked relatively new.
The rest of him looked ragged. He had not showered in more than two weeks and he had dirt under his fingernails. His brown and gray beard extended to his breast bone.
Hughes spent the previous night in jail. He was arrested in Spring Hill for public drunkenness, he said.
“The nurse told me I stunk,” he said. “I told her, ‘You walk 25 or 35 miles a day for two weeks and see if you stink.'”
Hughes was standing on the median across from Advanced Auto Parts. He crossed the street and sat down on the curb along the parking lot.
He clutched a sign that read, “On the road. I need help. God bless you.” It also contained a peace sign.
At that moment, Mary Beers, of Spring Hill, pulled over in her Chevrolet sport utility vehicle and gave Hughes a $5 bill.
He kissed her hand twice.
“Get something to eat and buy a lottery ticket – a scratch off or something,” Beers told him. “You might get lucky.”
“I just got lucky,” he said.
Another woman pulled up a minute later and gave him two more dollars. She wished him a Merry Christmas.
Hughes said he used to be a machine operator for a furniture chain while he lived in North Carolina.
During the last 10 years, he has been living in various places across the country – mostly in the South. He lives off what people give him. He spends most of it on liquor and beer, he said.
“I don’t have any choice,” when asked why he solicits along street corners. “I have no money.”

Reporter Tony Holt can be reached at 352-544-5283 or

1 vote, 5.00 avg. rating (95% score)

Hernando Oaks Expects To Rebound

Brooksville –
Hernando Oaks, one of the larger subdivisions in Hernando County, received another economic hit last week when one of the development entities filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court.

Hernando Oaks LLC is responsible for the commercial development, golf course and clubhouse of the gated subdivision, which is located on U.S. 41, about two miles south of Wiscon Road.

The commercial node was slated to be farther south, toward Powell Road and U.S. 41.

The bankruptcy filing does not affect the residential portion of Hernando Oaks, which is home to some 313 people. That part of the development is overseen by a separate entity: Hernando Oaks II LLP.

Despite this latest move, project and county officials remain optimistic. County Commissioner Dave Russell said “it’s not all doom and gloom.”

“Eventually, that project will be built up because it is a viable project,” Russell said. “It’s just been a victim of the downturn in the economy.”

While the bankruptcy filing will force Hernando Oaks LLC to reorganize, the other development entity remains solvent, Russell said.

Hernando County, he said, has a good track record of successfully completed subdivisions, and he believes Hernando Oaks “will pull through.”

County Commissioner John Druzbick agreed that there is no reason to panic. The move affects only one of the development entities of Hernando Oaks and, by its very nature, Chapter 11 is simply a reorganization.

Druzbick said he has been in touch with homeowners in Hernando Oaks and none have expressed concern.

Hernando Oaks, he said, maintains a strong, active homeowners’ association and neighbors are in-tune with developments.

“They’re excited about how things are going there,” Druzbick said.

Druzbick said the builder remains confident and, “until I hear anything further, I still believe it’s a viable project.”

The move comes only about one month after Hernando Oaks II LLP, the developer of Hernando Oaks, asked the county to call the bond against the general contractor, Priority Developers Inc., because the latter failed to complete infrastructure improvements and was in default.

This is the latest in the Hernando Oaks saga, which started with so much promise when the project was approved back in 1999. The subdivision currently has about 313 homes. The project was originally envisioned to have six phases and contain 975 homes.

In October 2006, a bond in the amount of $5 million was issued guaranteeing the installation and completion of the infrastructure on the project, including roadwork, storm drainage, sewer and other work.

This year, Hernando Oaks notified the county that Priority failed to complete the infrastructure and was insolvent and unable to finish the work.

In October, Hernando Oaks gave county officials its engineer’s completed site work certificate of cost estimate, showing that the value of finished work on the project was $3.4 million, leaving about $1.6 million in unfinished work.

Reporter Michael D. Bates can be reached at 352-544-5290 or

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