Carmen “Chick” Camorata, 86, of Spring Hill, died Monday, Sept. 8, at Oak Hill Hospital. He was born in Elm, N.J., and moved to the area in 1991.

Mr. Camorata served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was a volunteer firefighter for the Hammonton New Jersey Fire Department.

Survivors include his wife, Gladys; son, Skip Conover, of Spring Hill; daughter, Darlene Camorata; sisters, Catherine O’Toole, and Rose Camorata; and four grandchildren.

Arrangements by Brewer and Sons Funeral Home, Spring Hill Chapel.

Survivors include his son, Neil F. “Freddy,” of Brooksville.

Arrangements by Merritt Funeral Home, Brooksville Chapel.

Patricia A. Breslin, 53, of Spring Hill, died Friday, Sept. 12.

Survivors include her son, Patrick Breslin-Williams, of Pennsylvania; and three sisters, Maureen, Frances and Nancy.

Arrangements by Downing Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Spring Hill.

Lorraine M. Hewitt, 87, of Spring Hill, died Saturday, Sept. 18, at her home. She was born in Ashland, Pa.

Ms. Hewitt was a former librarian and a member of the Women’s Army Air Corps. She also was a member of Holiday Rambler Chapter 92, American Legion Post 186, Brooksville Lodge 2582, Moose Lodge 1765. She was the founding member of the Elite Investment Club and past lady president of the Elks Ladies.

Survivors include her daughters, Sue Van Horn-Marsh, of Spring Hill, and Barbara Adams, of Camp Hill, Pa.; six grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

Arrangements by Turner Funeral Homes, Spring Hill Chapel.

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Large Firms Behind Power Plant Proposal

The energy investment firm proposing a gas-fired power plant on mining land north of Brooksville apparently has some heavy-duty financial backing.

A spokeswoman for JP Morgan Chase, a global financial services firm, shed some light Friday on the hierarchy of companies behind the plan for a 1,200-megawatt, natural gas-fired power plant on Florida Crushed Stone property between the Suncoast Parkway and U.S. 98.

Florida Power Development LLC is the corporation proposing the plant project that is dubbed SunCoast Power, said Tasha Pelio, a New York based spokeswoman for JP Morgan.

Florida Power Development is a subsidiary of Central Power Holdings, owned by Arroyo Energy Investors based in Houston, Texas.

Arroyo had been owned by Bear Stearns, one of the largest global investment banks and securities trading and brokerage firms before its collapse earlier this year. JP Morgan acquired the firm in May.

Arroyo has interests in natural gas and electric power generation facilities throughout the country and in Florida, including plants in Polk and Orange counties that sell power to Progress Energy and Tampa Electric Company, according to the company’s Web site.

Pelio said the Brooksville plant proposal is still in the early stages and declined to comment further. Florida Crushed Stone officials have not returned calls.

The plant infrastructure would be built on 75 acres of reclaimed mine land on Florida Crushed Stone’s 580-acre property, according to an overview of the project provided to the county planning department. It’s unclear whether the Florida Power Development would lease or purchase the land.

The plant would take three years to build, cost an estimated $1.3 billion, and would employ about 40 full-time employees.

The plan is a response to Progress Energy’s request for proposals for projects to help meet the region’s burgeoning energy needs. The facility needs to produce a minimum of 1,159-megawatts and the power needs to be available for commercial delivery by June 1, 2013.

The overview noted the plant would be supplied with natural gas through a new line built on Florida Crushed Stone property to tap into an existing line to the west.

The project does not require a change to the county’s comprehensive land use map, but the county commission would have to OK the site plan.

The project “needs the blessing of Hernando County to remain competitive in Progress Energy’s selection process,” the overview states.

The plant would be built in Commissioner Diane Rowden’s district. Rowden hadn’t seen the proposal by Friday.

“If it would help lower our power bills, that would be nice, wouldn’t it,” she said.

Reporter Tony Marrero can be reached at 352-544-5286 or

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Beware: Don’t Feed The Bears!

To the victor go the spoils an elder wise man once pointed out.

For a second consecutive season, Central High pocketed the Hernando County football championship.

As a result of the Bears’ on field success, CHS paced the annual Hernando Today All-County Football All-Star Team with 10 players, in addition to Coach of the Year Cliff Lohrey.

Class 3A, District 6 runner-up Nature Coast Technical, which finished second in the county, collected eight selections.

The county’s third-place team, Springstead, earned six picks followed by Hernando Christian Academy (3) and Hernando High (2).

Overall, area coaches and the Hernando Today staff picked almost an entirely new All-Star squad as only six picks were repeat choices from the 2006 squad.

Bears’ bounty: 11 picks

Lohrey, who guided Central to the Class 4A, District 8 and county championships in his initial campaign in 2006, saw his Silver and Navy-clad Bears finish 6-4 in 2007.

Springstead’s veteran Head Coach Bill Vonada explained why Lohrey was the unanimous choice to repeat at Coach of the Year.

“He won the county,” said Vonada. “And his team managed to pull out some games despite some adversity. I thought he did a great job.”

“In 2006, we raised the expectations around here,” shared Lohrey, a Crystal River High School graduate. “Some teams are content with finishing 6-4, but not me. Honestly, we felt like we kinda underachieved on the field.

“We want to be a perennial title team and district contenders,” added Lohrey. “That’s our on-field goal. It’s pretty simple.”

The Bears were paced by 10 All-Star picks featuring: QB Chase Walker, RB Duane Marks, WR Chad Walker, TE Jeff Wright, OL Jason Morton, PK Cody Grey, DL Austin Forte and Brooks Reid, LB Nathan Brazeau and SF Heath Heroux.

Marks and Heroux joined Lohrey as repeat picks from the 2006 squad.

Only Forte and Reid were underclassmen as other eight Bears were seniors.

Chase Walker connected on a county-best 81 passes in 150 attempts (county-high 54 percent), a county-best 1,078 yards and nine touchdowns against six interceptions. Not bad for a signal caller who totaled 647 yards the year before and had more INTs (10) than TDs (5).

On Walker, “our offense went through him. He had a complete grasp of it,” commended Lohrey. “His leadership and physical abilities stood out. It’s nice to put your best athlete at quarterback because he’ll touch the ball every time.”

Marks was named to the 2006 squad at tight end. He was primarily utilized as an H-Back. Last fall, with the graduation loss of do-everything DuJuan Harris to Troy, Marks was the Bears’ primary sledgehammer with 704 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.

“Duane was a 3-year varsity guy for us,” said Lohrey. “And he played just about anywhere we needed. He was a physical back, who had some speed. He’s the type of player that wants the ball in his hands.

“There’s no question when we had our best players in the game (including Marks, who was hurt during midseason) we played our best ball. Even though he got hurt, he never complained once.”


Chase Walker’s favorite target was his red-headed twin brother, Chad. Chad led the county in receiving with 34 catches for 476 yards and a county-high five TD catches through the air.

“Chad was definitely a weapon,” analyzed Lohrey. “And he took a lot of pride in his downfield blocking, too. He was a tremendous athlete who could run.”

In 2006, Wright snared a quiet seven passes for 88 measly yards.

A year later, Wright emerged as the county’s finest tight end and received the distinction as Hernando County’s Special Teams Most Valuable Player.

Wright did so by quadrupling his production with 28 receptions for 435 yards and two TD grabs.

On special teams, he was a demon with four returns for touchdowns highlighted by two punts and two kickoffs for scores.

“Jeff (Wright) emerged as a vital part of our offense,” described Lohrey. “We moved him from split end to H-Back. He did it all; he could block, run and catch. To me, he found his stride on the field.”

Like Wright, Morton emerged from the shadows for a dominant role.

“During my time, Jason (Morton) has come further than any player I’ve been around,” said Lohrey. “He came in very raw, but he’s very coachable and he really worked on his technique. Physically, he’s an imposing young man. We’re certainly gonna miss him up front this year.”

Grey, a standout soccer player, went 31-for-31 in extra points and connected on 3-of-11 field goal attempts.

“I wish we would have gotten him here earlier,” lamented Lohrey. “Place kicker is an important position. Extra points have to be like free throws, they’ve got to be automatic. He didn’t miss any (PATs). And there’s no question he’s got a big leg.”

High risk, high rewards

Central’s pressure defensive scheme anchored that side of the line of scrimmage.

Two main culprits included defensive linemen Reid and Forte.

Forte led the team with 8.5 sacks while he and Reid split 83 tackles.

“Austin has a knack for the ball,” shared Lohrey. “And Brooks has started every game since his sophomore season. He’s not a publicity guy; he simply does his job. Brooks can be as good as he wants to be this year.”

According to Lohrey, the heart and soul of the Bears belonged to Brazeau.

“To me, he’s one of the best players in the county – on either side of the ball. He’s the face of what you would want your program to be. Nathan’s got a great work ethic, great character and he loves his teammates.”

Heroux was a repeat selection at safety. But his game is liken to more of a linebacker or a John Lynch-type hitter.

“We moved him around,” said Lohrey. “He’s a great athlete. People tend to think of great athletes as offensive players; Heath is that on the defensive side. What I liked the most is since he’s been here; there has been no ounce of concern for his body. He’ll definitely check your chin during a game.”

NCT: great eight

After capturing the 3A-6 crown and splitting the county title in 2006 with Central, NCT was the lone Hernando County team to reach the coveted state playoffs in 2007.

As the Sharks finished 7-4 overall, NCT was feted with eight All-Stars including: TB Tevin Drake, OL Tim LaRose and J.J. Baker, QB Stephen Pelaez, DL Preston Williams, LB Alfredo Lindo, DB Michael Fields and SF Jimmy Huang.

Drake and LaRose were repeat selections from 2006.

Drake, who led the county in rushing with 1,527 yards and a school-record 22 rushing touchdowns, was tabbed not only as the County’s Offensive Player of the Year, but also feted as the County’s Most Valuable Player.

“Offensively, it’s no secret we want to run the football,” shared NCT Head Coach Jamie Joyner. “But even though everybody knew he was getting the ball, he still performed. Tevin set the tone for us offensively.”

The 6-foot-5, 300-pound LaRose anchored strong tackle.

“We’re gonna miss his leadership on and off the field,” discussed Joyner. “He wanted people to run behind him. He didn’t say a whole lot. He was a man of few words.”

NCT was primarily a right-handed running team behind strong guard Baker.

“When he first got here, J.J. was on the defensive line,” recalled Joyner. “It’s no secret where we ran the ball; we were very right-handed. But with J.J. and Tim there we dominated that side of the line. J.J. was one of the hardest working kids we’ve had.”

Pelaez was aptly feted as a utility pick. He filled in wherever needed at NCT. As a senior, he combined for 1,555 yards total offense.

“Stephen played every position on offense except lineman,” reminded Joyner. “If we asked him to drop kick the ball, he could do that. He was that kind of athlete. And he was certainly an impact player for us. He was probably our best inside runner.”

Fields of dreams

Fields had a season for the ages. Forget the fact that Fields went from zero tackles as a sophomore to rank eighth overall with 58 tackles this past season. He caused two fumbles and recovered one.

But from the edge, he stood out. He became a Rhonde Barber-type shutdown cornerback compiling 12 pass breakups and tying the county record of Hernando High’s Eddie Looper with 10 interceptions.

For his efforts he was voted as the county’s Defensive Player of the Year and named to the Class 3A All-State Team.

“Fields’ stats speak for themselves,” admitted Coach Vonada. “He’s very deserving of all the accolades.”

“Michael was a shutdown corner,” emphasized Joyner. “Against North Marion, he blanketed their 6-foot-5 All-State receiver to zero catches. When he’s on that side of the ball, we don’t worry about things.”

Like Fields, Williams was one of four first-time Shark All-Star defenders.

Williams excelled in applying pressure. He totaled 12 quarterback pressures and six tackles for a loss.

“I may never coach another Preston Williams,” lamented Joyner. “I think he was sometimes overlooked at nose guard. He was a cat off the ball. Against St. Pete in the preseason he tackled two guys on a reverse. That just doesn’t happen. He was the type of player who never took a play off.”

Lindo was a tackling machine for NCT Defense Coordinator Charles Liggett’s defense with 127 tackles. Lindo notched a team-high 20 QBP, caused three fumbles and recovered three fumbles.

“Alfredo Lindo is an animal,” stated Joyner. “He’s the most intense kid we’ve got. He was a lot like Preston (Williams). He was intensely competitive and a tone-setter.”

Like Fields, Huang flew under the radar screen until his senior year compiling 85 tackles from his safety position.

“Jimmy (Huang) was never the biggest guy out there,” Joyner said. “He’s a self-made man on the field. He waited his turn and he certainly put the work in. He was invaluable as a run stopper.”

Six Eagles

Six Springstead Eagles were named to the county All-Star squad – all first-time selections – including RB Mike Greco, WR Domnique Roberson, RB/QB/WR Ben Noury, OL Luis Delgado, LB Nate Schafer and DB Bryce Hollingshead.

Fortunately for Coach Vonada, Greco, Roberson, Noury, Schafer and Hollingshead all return.

Greco, who finished third in the county in rushing (786 yards), was the only player to also rank (ninth) in the Top 10 in receiving as well.

“Mike (Greco) certainly progressed as the season went on,” remarked Vonada. “He had some big runs and big pass plays. Other teams had to start accounting for him.”

Roberson, who moved into Spring Hill as last season began, steadily improved on offense and defense. Roberson ranked third in the county in receptions (31) and tied Chad Walker with the most TD grabs (5).

“He took a couple games to get his feet under him,” explained Vonada. “But he started breaking out in week three. He’s a natural leader on offense and defense.”

Like NCT’s Pelaez, Noury served as a jack-of-all trades playing quarterback, wide receiver and running back besides playing defense and punting the football.

“He did an awful lot of things for us,” explained Vonada. “The kid never came off the field. He did everything for us but sweep up the concession stand. And he’s a terrific student/athlete.”

Ex-NCT lineman Delgado helped the SHS offense average almost 300 yards per game.

“It just seemed week after week, Luis (Delgado) always drew the toughest guys across the way,” pointed out Vonada. “And he stood his ground. He was our toughest and most dependable lineman.”

Schafer was the leading tackler for the Eagles with 108 total tackles.

“He was a real consistent performer for us,” described Vonada. “He averaged over 10 tackles a game. He picked up a lot of the slack when we surrounded him with new guys on defense.”

Hollingshead impressed by having a knack for impact plays. He swiped four passes and returned a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

“Bryce has really turned into a fine young man, too” declared Vonada. “He turned into a dependable player on and off the field. You can see that he’s coming into his own on the football field.”

HCA: trio of Lions

Hernando Christian Academy, which averaged over 31 points per game and permitted only 12.3 ppg, finished 6-2 overall under first-year Head Coach David Raley.

The Lions, who were denied two games to September’s torrential showers, were represented by three juniors: QB David Rotteveel, RB/TE/LB/PT Clay Kessler and NG Josh Romeo.

Rotteveel, a transfer from Hudson, nearly passed for 1,000 yards in eight games and hurled a county-high 11 TDs against six INTs.

“David almost passed for 1,000 yards and in the games we led early, we stopped throwing the ball,” recalled Coach Raley. “He’s a terrific person and he’s the most accurate passer I’ve ever had. He has exceptional accuracy.”

Romeo, another Hudson transfer, recorded 33 tackles at nose guard including five sacks.

“Josh was the best defensive lineman in all of Class 1B,” praised Raley. “He’s a great athlete at 5-foot-10 and 250 pounds. He’s amazingly nimble in a rolly-polly body.”

When healthy, Kessler was a force on offense (17 TDs), defense (68 tackles) and special teams. He was voted the county’s top punter averaging over 41.8 yards per kick with no blocks.

“Clay is a big strong kid,” said Raley. “And he never comes off the field. And he was the hardest working kid on the field or in the weight room. There are not enough superlatives to describe what he meant to us.”

Leopard duo

Rounding out the All-Star squad were two members from Hernando High: junior OL David Hines and senior LB Taylor Rotunda.

The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Hines was the Leopards’ most consistent offensive lineman, though he battled through injuries.

On defense, Rotunda paced the 2-8 Leopards with 117 tackles.

2007 Hernando Today All-County Football Team

Offense Selections (15 positions)
QB Chase Walker 12th Central County’s lone 1,000-yard passer.
RB Mike Greco 11th Springstead Gained nearly 1,000 yds. total offense.
RB Duane Marks* 12th Central Three-way threat scored 11 TDs.
WR Chad Walker 12th Central Snared a county-high 34 aerials.
WR Domnique Roberson 11th Springstead Grabbed 31 passes; gradually improved.
TE Jeff Wright 12th Central Caught 28 passes as an “H-Back”.
OL Tim LaRose* 12th NCT Never missed a snap in 4 varsity seasons.
OL J.J. Baker 12th NCT Solid blocker at strong guard for Sharks.
OL David Hines 11th Hernando Great size at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds.
OL Jason Morton 12th Central Prototype tackle at 6-foot-4, 325 lbs.
OL Luis Delgado 12th Springstead Most consistent Eagle lineman.
PK Cody Grey 12th Central Paced county w/3 FGs, 31 PATs.
UTL Stephen Pelaez 12th NCT Passed, rushed for 1,555 yards.
UTL Ben Noury 11th Springstead Huge 3-way threat for the Eagles.
UTL David Rotteveel 11th HCA Threw for 899 yds., 11 TDs in 8 games.

Defense Selections (13 positions)
DL Austin Forte 11th Central Registered team-best 8.5 sacks, 2 blocks.
DL Preston Williams 12th NCT Had 3 sacks, 12 QB pressures for Sharks.
DL Brooks Reid 11th Central Emerging lineman with 42 tackles.
LB Alfredo Lindo 11th NCT Collected 127 tackles, 20 QBP, 3 FR, 3 CF.
LB Nathan Brazeau 12th Central Posted a team-best 111.5 tackles, 6.5 sacks.
LB Taylor Rotunda 12th Hernando Collected team-high 117 tackles.
LB Nate Schafer 11th Springstead Garnered team-high 108 tackles, 2 TBLs.
DB Michael Fields 11th NCT All-State pick swiped 10 INTs, had 12 PB.
DB Bryce Hollingshead11th Springstead Had 4 INTs, returned 1 FR for a score.
SF Heath Heroux* 12th Central Utilized LB mentality with 60 tackles.
SF Jimmy Huang 12th NCT Collected 85 tackles, 2 INTs, 6 PB..
PT Clay Kessler 11th HCA Averaged over 41 yds. per boot, no blocks.
UTL Josh Romeo 11th HCA 33 tackles including 5 SKs.

Offensive MVP – Tevin Drake* (NCT)
Defensive MVP – Michael Fields (NCT)
Special Teams MVP – Jeff Wright (Central)
Coach of the Year – Cliff Lohrey* (Central)
County MVP – Tevin Drake (Central)
* Denotes repeat selection

2006 Hernando Today All-County Football Team

Offense Selections (14 positions)
QB John Hogeland* 12th Springstead County’s leading passer w/849 yds., 8 TDs.
RB DuJuan Harris* 12th Central Amasssed 1,641 rushing yds., 17 TDs.
RB Tevin Drake 9th NCT In 5 games rushed for 857 yds., 11 TDs.
WR Jeff Haynes 12th Springstead Snared county-high 27 aerials.
WR Stephen Pelaez 11th NCT Grabbed 18 passes, 294 yds.
TE Duane Marks 11th Central Caught 19 passes, 254 yds. as an “H-Back”.
OL Tim LaRose 11th NCT Strong tackle for county’s leading offense.
OL David Kriner 12th NCT Sharks’ best blocker for 3 years.
OL Mike Schafer 12th Springstead At 6-foot-3, 223-lbs., most consistent OL.
OL Aaron Bourguignon 12th Central Anchored strong tackle for district champs.
OL Joe Homan 12th Central Trap master at center for the Bears.
PK Josh Magrini 12th Springstead Hit 20-of-21 PATs, county-best 4 FGs.
UTL Josh Ortiz* 12th NCT Passed, rushed for a combined 1,534 yards.
UTL Robert Smith 12th Hernando Rushed for 743 yds., 8 TDs.

Defense Selections (13 positions)
DL Josh Olivera* 12th Springstead Team-best 88 tackles, 1 sack, 1 CF.
DL Michael Cole 12th NCT 63 tackles, 9 TBL, 7 QBP, 1 INT, 1 FR.
DL Jason Joens 12th NCT 73 tackles, 3 TBL, 9 QBP.
LB Cody Fritsch 12th NCT Totaled 166 tackles, 6 TBL, 8 QBP, 3 BLK.
LB Jessie Hartman 12th Central Posted a team-best 111.5 tackles, 6.5 sacks.
LB Nick Pauliot 11th Hernando Collected team-high 105 tackles, 19 QBP.
LB Anthony Scarantino*12th Springstead Garnered 57 tackles, 1 sack, 1 CF, 1 FR.
DB Randall Smith 12th Hernando 38 tackles, 6 PB, team-best 3 INTs.
DB Bryan Villegas 12th Springstead Notched 77 tackles, 4 INTs.
SF Heath Heroux 11th Central 47 tackles, 1 INT, 1 CF.
SF Josh Ortiz 12th NCT Two-way threat, 2 INTs, one TD for score.
PT Casey Jones* 12th NCT Very consistent. Averaged over 38 yds.
UTL Corey Drummond 12th HCA Totaled 126 tackles, 3 CF, 2 FR, 1 INT.

Offensive MVP – DuJuan Harris (NCT)
Defensive MVP – Nick Pauliot (Hernando)
Special Teams MVP – George Fribley III (Hernando)
Coach of the Year – Cliff Lohrey (Central)
County MVP – DuJuan Harris (NCT)
* Denotes repeat selection

2005 Hernando Today All-County Football Team

Offense Selections (14 positions)
QB John Hogeland 11th Springstead Steadily improved in his first year.
RB Michael King* 12th Springstead Homerun threat w/ 754 yards, 8 TDs.
RB James “LJ” Thomas 12th Hernando Leopard workhorse w/829 yds., 11 TDs.
WR Brock Byrd 12th Hernando Explosive. Avg. nearly 22 yds. per catch.
WR Nate Dahmer 12th HCA Snared a county-best 8 TDs.
TE Chris Ferguson* 12th Springstead Prototype TE at 6-foot-4, 250-lbs.
OL Chris Sibilia 12th Springstead Solid blocker on the perimeter.
OL Philip McGuire 12th Springstead Will get down and dirty.
OL Brandon Nuby 10th NCT Sharks’ “Hog of the Year” recipient.
OL Justin Cochran 12th Hernando Great pulling offensive guard.
OL Andreu Szempruch 11th HCA Undersized at 6-foot, 188-pounds.
PK Stephen Bock 12th Central Paced county w/7 FGs, 21 PATs.
UTL Ryan Walczak* 12th HCA Accounted 1,108 yards, 14 TDs for Lions.
UTL Josh Ortiz* 11th NCT Amassed 1,138 total yds. of offense.

Defense Selections (14 positions)
DL Brandon White 11th Hernando 63 total tackles, including 45 solos, 1.5 SK.
DL Kyle Friant 12th Central 81 total tackles, lived in the backfield.
DL Morgan Roderick 12th NCT 68 tackles, 13 TFL, 4 SKs, 3 QBPs.
DL Josh Oliveira 11th Springstead 67 tackles, 2 TFL, 1.5 SKs, 3 CF, 4 FR.
LB Seth Metz 12th Springstead Led county w/ 133 tackles, 6 SKs, 4 CF.
LB Anthony Scarantino11th Springstead 106 tackles, 2.5 SKs, 1 FR.
LB Bryan Nutter 12th Central Two-way standout; 80 tackles, 3 FR.
LB Carlos Becaria 11th Central Two-way threat; 103 total tackles, 3 FR.
DB Andrew Ortiz 12th Springstead Shutdown corner; 84 tackles, 6 INTs.
DB Tim Hery 12th Springstead Former cheerleader w/ 70 tackles, 5 INTs.
SF Brock Byrd 12th Hernando Two-way threat; 66 total tackles, 4 INTs.
PT Casey Jones 11th NCT Averaged over 39 yds. per kick, no blocks.
UTL DuJuan Harris 11th Central Never left the field for the Bears.
UTL Corey Drummond* 11th HCA 110 total tackles including 78 solos, 1 SK.

Offensive MVP – Seth Metz 12th Springstead Led county 929 rushing yards, 12 TDs.
Defensive MVP – Seth Metz 12th Springstead Led county w/ 133 tackles, 6 SKs, 4 CF.
S. Teams MVP – George Fribley 10th Hernando Led county w/3 KORs for TDs.
Coach of the Year – Bill Vonada (Springstead)
Player of Year – Seth Metz (Springstead)
* Denotes repeat selection

2004 Hernando Today All-County Football Team

Offense Selections (14 positions)
QB Ian Wald* 12th Springstead Lefty was proto-type option quarterback.
RB Tim Dow* 12th Springstead Plowed for 983 yds., 14 TDs.
RB Rian Williams 11th NCT Paced county w/ 1,728 yds., 20 TDs.
WR Jeremy Flowers* 12th Central Led county w/ 40 reps, 556 yds., 5 TDs.
WR Josh Ortiz 10th NCT Snared 22 reps., 398 yds., 6 TDs.
TE Chris Ferguson* 11th Springstead Great blocker; 24 reps., 344 yds., 2 TDs.
OL Andrew Leavine 11th Central Bears protected by 6-foot-5 condominium.
OL William Wilson 12th Springstead In crucial times, Eagles ran behind him.
OL Chris Schaefer 12th Springstead Undersized tackle played “big”.
OL David Kriner 10th NCT Red headed bulldozer.
OL Windham Rotunda* 12th Hernando Excelled on both sides of the line.
PK Justin DeMutiis 12th Springstead Paced county w/6 FGs, 33-of-35 PATs.
UTL Shane Collard 12th Central Two-way standout for the Bears.
UTL Chad Sanders 12th Hernando Rushed for 1,322 yds., 13 TDs.

Defense Selections (14 positions)
DL Jon Howland 12th Springstead 71 total tackles, including 12 TFL, 8 SKs.
DL John Washington 12th Hernando Side-to-side guy; 108 total tackles, 6 SKs.
DL Addison Chipoletti12th Hernando Great motor; 74 tackles, 2 SKs, 1 FR.
DL Josh Golden 11th Springstead 51 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 CF, 1 FR.
LB Daniel Harris* 12th Central Led county w/ 110 tackles, 7 SKs.
LB Nick Belavilas 12th Springstead 88 tackles, 6 TFL, 3 CF, 3 FRs, 1 INT.
LB John Hardy 12th Springstead 71 tackles, 3 TFL, 1SK, 2 CF, 2 INTs.
LB Quinden Floyd 11th Springstead Speedster; 42 tackles, 4 SKs, 2 CF, 2 INT.
DB Michael King 11th Springstead Hard to elude; nibble; 59 tackles, 2 FRs.
DB Jeremy Flowers* 12th Central 57 tackles, 2 FRs, 3 INTs.
SF Shane Collard 12th Central 46 tackles, 2 SKs, 2 INTs.
PT Ian Wald 12th Springstead Averaged over 38.5 yds. per kick.
UTL Corey Drummond 10th HCA 94 tackles, including 60 solos, 2 CF, 3 FRs.
UTL Ryan Walczak 11th HCA 70 tackles including 37 solos, 1 CF, 2 FRs.

Offensive MVP – Ian Wald 12th Springstead Led county 690 passing yds., rushed for 888.
Defensive MVP – Daniel Harris 12th Central Inspirational leader, averaged 10 tackles.
S. Teams MVP – Justin DeMutiis 12th Springstead Could pooch it or boot it deep.
Coach of the Year – Bill Vonada (Springstead)
County MVP – Ian Wald (Springstead)
* Denotes repeat selection

2003 Hernando Today All-County Football Team

Offense Selections (13 positions)
QB Ian Wald 11th Springstead County’s finest two-way threat
RB Tim Dow 11th Springstead Battering ram led Eagles w/ 733 yds.
RB Rod Roberts* 11th Hernando Paced county with 9.38 yds. per carry avg.
WR Chris Ferguson 10th Springstead County’s top receiver w/ 27 reps., 416 yds.
WR Ermine Lewis 12th Central Snared 16 passes, 332 yds., 2 TDs
TE Brae White* 12th Hernando Averaged 39 yds. per catch, fine blocker
CT Joe Vitale* 12th Springstead Starter for over 3½ years at 6-foot, 250-lbs.
OG Eric Bruscino 12th Springstead Solid performer at 6-foot, 267-lbs.
OG Rotunda Windham 11th Hernando Beginning to blossom at 6-foot-3, 260-lbs.
OT Brian Oakes* 12th Central Focal point of Bears’ OL…Quick, athletic.
OT Charles Gonyea 12th Springstead Go-to blocker at 6-foot-5, 255-lbs.
PK Mike Hibbert* 12th Central Paced county w/ 15, 21 PATs.
UTL Jeremy Flowers 11th Central Opened at WR…Led county in passing.

Defense Selections (13 positions)
DL Michael Noyes 12th Central 67 total tackles, including 44 solos, 1 FR.
DL Tank Donaldson* 12th Hernando Two-player starter, 23 total tackles.
DL Charles Gonyea* 12th Springstead 25 tackles, 7 TBLs, 3 SKs.
DL Chris Schaefer 11th Springstead 33 tackles, 7 TBLs, 4 SKs.
LB Kurt Carriveau* 12th Springstead 60 tackles, 4 CFs, 2 FRs, 2 INTs.
LB Jarvis Baylor 12th Hernando Led county w/134 total tackles, 1 CF, 1 FR.
LB Darnell Craig 12th Central 125 total tackles, including 85 solos, 4 FRs.
LB Daniel Harris 11th Central 43 total tackles including 33 solos, 4 SKs.
DB Jose Yearwood* 12th Springstead Two-way threat; 44 tackles, 2 INTs.
DB Rod Roberts 12th Hernando 2-way threat when healthy, 40 tackles, 6 PB.
SF Jeremy Flowers 11th Central 29 total tackles, 2 INTs.
PT Mike Hibbert 12th Central Averaged over 41 yds. per kick.
UTL Anthony Wright 12th Central 45 tackles including 16 solos, 3 SKs.

Offensive MVP – Ian Wald (Springstead)
Defensive MVP – Darnell Craig (Central)
Special Teams MVP – Mike Hibbert (Central)
Coach of the Year – Bill Vonada (Springstead)
County MVP – Darnell Craig (Central)
* Denotes repeat selection

2002 Hernando Today All-County Football Team

Offense Selections (13 positions)
QB Brad Wyatt 12th Hernando County’s leading passer with 724 yds.
RB Tim Gaynor 12th Central Leading rusher w/ 1,351 yds., 13 TDs.
RB Rod Roberts 11th Hernando County’s No. 2 rusher w/ 808 yds., 5 TDs
WR Nate Jenkins 11th Springstead County’s leading receiver w/ 14 reps.
WR Mozell Elder 11th Hernando Snared 10 passes, county-best 3 TDs.
TE Brae White 11th Hernando Two-way starter, 6 reps. for 101 yds.
CT John Humbert 12th Hernando At 6-foot-2, 250-lbs., a major force on traps
CT Joe Vitale 11th Springstead Third-year starter at 6-foot, 228-lbs.
OG Robbie Jernigan 12th Hernando Graded out most consistent Leopard OLman.
OT Brian Oakes 11th Central Enabled Bears to rush for 2,122 yds.
OT Nick Marty 12th Central A load on sweeps at 6-foot-5, 295-lbs.
PK Mike Hibbert 11th Springstead Paced county w/ 10 FGs
UTL Jagren Castillo 11th Hernando Totaled 875 offensive yds., 12 TDs

Defense Selections (13 positions)
DL Tank Donaldson 11th Hernando 44 tackles, 1 INT.
DL Windham Rotunda 10th Hernando 40 tackles, 2 FRs.
DL Charles Gonyea 11th Springstead 23 tackles, 1 SK, 1 FR.
DL Eric Bruscino 11th Springstead 62 tackles including 30 solos.
LB Ermine Lewis 11th Central 76 tackles, 6 SKs vs. RR, 2 FRs.
LB Richie DelValle 12th Central 102 tackles including 44 solos.
LB Andres Lawson 11th Hernando County-best 130 tackles in 10 games, 2 FRs.
LB Kurt Carriveau 11th Springstead 96 tackles including 60 solos, 4 FRs, 2 INTs.
DB Antonio Brown 10th Hernando 29 tackles, 1 FR, county-best 5 INTs.
DB Jose Yearwood 11th Springstead 68 tackles including 31 solos.
SF Willie Fifer 12th Hernando 104 tackles, 2 CFs, 2 FRrs.
PT Willie Fifer 12th Hernando Averaged county-best 38.5 yards per kick.
UTL Brandon Dampier 11th Central 45 tackles including 16 solos, 3 SKs.

Offensive MVP – Tim Gaynor (Central)
Defensive MVP – Kurt Carriveau (Springstead)
Special Teams MVP – Mike Hibbert (Springstead)
Coach of the Year – Bill Browning (Hernando)
County MVP – Tim Gaynor (Central)

Sports Editor Tony Castro can be reached at (352) 544-5278 or online at

1 vote, 5.00 avg. rating (97% score)

The NFL Can Wait

When Jose Yearwood graduated from F.W. Springstead High School, little did he think he would end his college career with as many accomplishments as he has attained.

Yearwood, who this past spring graduated from Brown University of the Ivy League, started for the Brown football team, earned two tryouts with teams in the National Football League, and has a job awaiting him with the financial firm of J.P. Morgan.

“I mean, I would love to play in the NFL, but I have a degree from Brown, I won an Ivy League title as a sophomore and I’ve got that ring,” Yearwood said. “In the end, it was the best decision I ever made.”

After graduating from Springstead High in 2004, Yearwood decided to attend the Ivy League school where he earned a double major in economics and ancient history.

He made the Brown Bears team as a freshman, but had only two tackles on the year. In his sophomore year, Yearwood earned a starting spot as a defensive back and had 56 tackles as Brown won its first Ivy League title in 41 years.

As a junior, Yearwood was named Honorable Mention All-Ivy League and was picked on the weekly Ivy League Honor Roll for his performance against Penn when he had eight tackles and broke up three passes in the game.

During Yearwood’s final year at Brown, the 6-foot-1, 226-pound defensive back had 33 tackles and 24 assists.

Against Yale in a 17-7 loss, Yearwood had 10 tackles, while in a 28-17 win over Duquesne, he had eight tackles and a late interception in the end zone to help preserve the win.

Two tryouts

This past summer, Yearwood attended two tryout camps. Initially, he went to the Kansas City Chiefs’ camp in mid-May and then attended a camp for the Buffalo Bills.

“Right now, I have a lot of free time before I start working and trying to make it in the NFL was something I wanted to do,” he said.

“Both the camp with the Chiefs and the Bills were basically tryout camps,” the Spring Hill resident said. “I didn’t get invited to the NFL Combine and when we had a Pro Day at Brown, Kansas City and five other NFL teams were there.

“I ran a 4.53 40-yard dash and I thought I did well enough on Pro Day that I might get signed as an undrafted free agent. But I wasn’t and I’m OK with that,” he said. “I mean, this fall I’m going to be working for J. P. Morgan in New York City.”

Before the draft, the Internet site interviewed Yearwood and had some interesting quotes from him.

When they asked him to describe his game in three words or less, Yearwood told them, “consistent, dependable and prepared.”

Later, they asked him to list three things he wanted to do with his life: “1. Work on Wall Street; 2. Coach high school football; 3 Broadcasting.”

And while sports is an important part of Yearwood’s life, academics is also very important. “Academics are second to none,” he said. “It gives you great opportunities after school.

“It pushes you. It’s a really big challenge and I definitely think it will make you a better person in the long run.”

The Brown graduate also thinks the football played in the Ivy League does not get the recognition is should. “Football is the only NCAA sport that has a Division I and a I-AA. Of the I-AA schools, we’re as good as most of them,” he said.

“I’m sure we couldn’t have beaten Appalachian State (this year’s NCAA I-AA national champion), but we play teams from the Patriot League and we’ve beaten them.”

Yearwood says his plans right now are to relax and visit Florida. “I want to visit my family and my nephew, Kevin Greer, plays at Central and I want to see him and work out with him.”

But if asked what accomplishment he’s most proud of, Yearwood says quickly it was playing football and graduating from Brown.

“People talk about student-athletes. But I think playing in the Ivy League is the ultimate,” he said. “You’re held to an extremely high standard. And when you’re in the real world with an employee, an Ivy League degree is something to say you played ball and still balanced a tough academic load every week.”

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Area Deaths 289959

Willie Smith, 73, of Brooksville, died Thursday, April 10 at his home.
He was born in Uniontown, Ala., and moved to Florida 55 years ago. He was a member of Word of Faith ministries.
Survivors include his former wife, Willie Mae Smith of Brooksville; two daughters, Glorida Hagood and Betty Smith, both of Brooksville; five stepsons, James, Willis and Antonio Register and Giammona and Zachary Griffin, all of Crystal River; four stepdaughters, Rosa Hagood and Catherine Willis of Brooksville and Karen and Dorethea Register of Crystal River; three bothers, Walter Smith of Brooksville and Evan Jr. and James Smith, both of Ft. Wayne, In.; two sisters, Lee Ethel Johnson of Bronx, N.Y. and Ella M. Whitt of Fort Wayne, In. and 36 grand and great-grand children.
Funeral arrangements by Cason Funeral and Cremation Services in Brooksville.

Theresa M. DiCecco, 51, of Spring Hill, died Sunday, April 13, 2008, at her home. She was born in Mineola, N.Y., and came to this area 12 years ago from Long Island, N.Y.
She was a Catholic by faith and was employed by Hernando Correctional Institute for six years as a corrections officer.
Survivors include her children, Peter Sauro, Anthony Sauro, Angelo Sauro, Kathy Jo Sauro, all of Long Island, N.Y., Carmine Sauro, Peter DiCecco, Tara DiCecco, all of Spring Hill; her father, Bill Sipila, of Arizona; a sister, Lynn Giorgi, of Long Island, N.Y; a brother, George Sapila, of California; and seven grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements by Brewer & Sons Funeral Homes, Seven Hills Chapel

Anthony Barbaro, 85, of Spring Hill died Monday, April 14, 2008 at Hernando Care Center. He was born in New York, N.Y. and came to this area 22 years ago from Long Island, N.Y.
Mr. Barbaro was a laborer and Roman Catholic by faith.
Survivors include his wife, Grace; a son, John of Babylon, N.Y.; a daughter, Rose Seeger of Gaithersburg, Md.; five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
Arrangements by Turner Funeral Homes, Spring Hill chapel.

Fred B. Replogle, 75, of Spring Hill, died Saturday, April 12, 2008 at Spring Hill Regional Hospital.
Mr. Replogle was born in Port Huron, Mich. and came here 30 years ago from California. He served in the National Guard for more than 20 years in California.
Survivors include a sister, Loretta Bennett of Spring Hilll; and several nieces and nephews.
Arrangements by Brewer and Sons Funeral Homes, Seven Hills chapel.

Aaron Martin Roth, 23, of Tallahassee, died Friday, April 11.
Roth was born in Somerset, N.J., and moved to Florida in 1991 from the Pennsylvania.
He worked as a civil engineer fro Finley Engineering in Tallahassee. He graduated from Central High School in Brooksville in 2003 and Florida State University in 2007.
Survivors include his mother, Susan M. Roth of Ocala; sister and brother-in-law, Melissa and Warren Hatt of Casselberry; his maternal grandparents, William and Kathleen Harnden of Spring Hill; his companion, Jessica Elder of Tallahassee and many aunts, uncles and cousins.
Funeral arrangements by Grace Memorial Gardens and Funeral Home in Hudson.

Peter Mauro, 93, of Spring Hill, died Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at his residence. He was a native of Detroit, Michigan and came here 26 years ago.
Mr. Mauro was a U.S. Army veteran and retired machinist. Survivors include his wife, Dorothy Mauro, and two sisters.
Funeral arrangements by Pinecrest Funeral Chapels in Spring Hill

Oral Selliken, 92, of Spring Hill, died April 11, 2008, at Brooksville Healthcare Center.
She was born in Mattoon, Ill., and came to this area three years ago from Peel, Ark. She was a clerk at an army ordinance depot.
Survivors include five children, Jean, Richard, Lois, Phyllis and Judi; 10 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

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Zydenbos: County Lacks Imagination

Jon Albert Zydenbos said he took the nickname “JAZ” because it fits his initials, not because of any musical acumen.

But he’s hoping voters will remember him more for his political platform when they enter the voting booth Aug. 26 and pick a Republican to represent them in the District 1 County Commission race.

Zydenbos, 63, said he can supply the ingredient missing from county government: The ability to think outside the box.

“We lack imagination in this county,” said Zydenbos, who moved to Hernando County three years ago.

Zydenbos’ Republican challengers are incumbent Jeff Stabins and Michael Burmann.

The current crop of incumbent commissioners is “all out for political self-preservation and not looking out for you and me,” Zydenbos said.

To change that, Zydenbos plans to look at every facet of government to find efficiencies. A good start, he said, is the office of business development. He wants to find a director with more experience who can attract large-scale, high-paying jobs to Hernando County.

The local economy is too dependent on the construction industry, he said.

To save money and increase efficiency, he wants to outsource jobs to local Hernando County contractors.

A New Jersey native, Zydenbos is a local Realtor and mortgage broker. He has never run for office, but said he was involved in the election campaigns of George Bush Sr. and Gov. Jesse Ventura of Minnesota.

If elected, Zydenbos said he will work to make department managers more accountable for their budgets and reduce what he sees as overspending.

He supports the Fair Tax Act which, among other things, would replace all federal income taxes with a national retail sales tax.

Zydenbos believes THE Bus is a failure and needs to be dumped.

As for Spring Hill Fire Rescue, he supports the referendum asking stakeholders if they support independence.

“If people want their own fire department, let them have it,” he says.

But if they vote against independence, he favors consolidation into the county for greater efficiency.

Zydenbos said he expects the job to be full-time, at least the first two years while he gets the county back on track.

County overspending and the failure to run government as a business has led to the current economic problems, he said.

In 1967, Zydenbos was a U.S. Air Force combat engineer in Vietnam.

A businessman for 40 years, Zydenbos has had a varied work background, including a stint as vice president of sales for Gloria Vanderbilt Playwear in New York in the 1980s.

He is secretary of the Hernando Beach Club and a member of VFW Post 10209.

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

Jon “Jaz” Zydenbos

Age: 63.


Education: Passaic Valley High School graduate; business studies at the University of New Hampshire and the University of Maryland.

Religion: Christian.

Hobbies: semi-pro singer, French-trained chef, photography, boating.

Last book read: “The Secret,” by Rhonda Byrne.

Most Admired: Ronald Reagan.

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Albert P. Juliano, 83, of Brooksville, died Thursday, July 31, at his home. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, and moved to this area 15 years ago from Largo.
Mr. Juliano was a self-employed artist, a U.S. Navy veteran and a Catholic by faith.
He is survived by his nephew, Phillip Juliano Jr. of Richmond, Va.
Arrangements by Turner Funeral & Cremation Center, U.S. 19 Chapel, Spring Hill.

Richard D. Morgan, 63, of Spring Hill, died Friday, Aug. 1, at Oak Hill Hospital. He was born in Plainview, Texas, and moved to this area eight years ago from Dallas, Texas.
Mr. Morgan worked in maintenance for various apartment complexes.
Survivors include his wife, Derby; four sons, Richard and Michael, both of Spring Hill, John of Benham, Ky., and Daniel of Texas; a sister, Jeri of Las Vegas, Nev.; four grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.
Arrangements by Downing Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Spring Hill.

Nancy L. Amore, 42, of Spring Hill, died Thursday, July 31, at Spring Hill Regional Hospital. She was born in Brooklyn, New York, and moved to this area nine years ago from Elmont, N.Y.
Ms. Amore attended St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, Spring Hill.
Survivors include her son, Kristopher; her parents, Bunni and Rusty Amore; a brother, Guy Jr.; and maternal grandmother, Mildred Asselta.
Arrangements by Thomas B. Dobies Funeral Home, Hudson Avenue Chapel, Hudson.

DeAnn Mildred Whitney, 70, of Spring Hill, died Monday, Aug. 4, at Spring Hill Regional Hospital. She was born in Gloversville, N.Y., and moved to this area 22 years ago from Amsterdam, N.Y.
Mrs. Whitney was a payroll clerk and a Methodist by faith.
Survivors include her husband, James; a daughter, Karen Whitney of Spring Hill; and two granddaughters.
Arrangements by Turner Funeral Homes, Spring Hill Chapel.

James “Jim” J. Keegan III, 63, of Spring Hill, died Friday, Aug. 1, at Tampa General Hospital. He was born in Philadelphia, Pa., and moved to Florida eight years ago from York, Pa.
Mr. Keegan worked for the Franklin Mint of Delaware County and Pfaltzgraff Company of York.
Survivors include his wife, Carmen; three daughters, Colleen Walker of York, Heather Fowler of Woolrich, Pa., and Carmen Armbruster of Spring Hill; a son, Benito Alvarez of Cleveland, Ohio; a brother, Bill Keegan of Philadelphia; 11 grandchildren; and three nieces.
Arrangements by Brewer & Sons Funeral Homes and Cremation Services, Seven Hills Chapel, Spring Hill.

Ada Irene Bush, 89, of Brooksville, died Monday, Aug. 4, at Brooksville Regional Hospital. She was born in Windham, Pa., and moved to this area 38 years ago from Camp Verde, Ariz.
Mrs. Bush was a member of Women of the Moose, Brooksville.
Survivors include her son, Floyd Bush of Brooksville, two granddaughters; a grandson; and a great-grandson.
Arrangements by Brewer & Sons Funeral Homes and Cremation Services, Brooksville Chapel.

Fredrick P. “Rick” Carpenter, 56, of Hernando Beach, died Sunday, Aug. 3, in Spring Hill. He was born in Oceanside, Long Island, N.Y., and moved to this area 19 years ago from Medford, Long Island, N.Y.
Mr. Carpenter owned and operated Rick’s Mobile Outboard Repair as a master outboard mechanic.
Survivors include his wife, Susan; a son, Christopher of Hernando Beach; a daughter, Deanna of Spring Hill; and his mother, Marie Carpenter of Brooksville.
Arrangements by Brewer & Sons Funeral Homes and Cremation Services, Commercial Way, Spring Hill Chapel.

Marian L. Scott, 89, of Spring Hill, died Monday, Aug. 4, at Hernando-Pasco Hospice Care Unit, Chatman Boulevard, Brooksville. She was born in Point Marion, Pa., and moved to this area 26 years ago from Morgantown, W.Va.
Mrs. Scott worked in accounts payable/accounts receivable in a hospital. She was a volunteer at Oak Hill Hospital and attended First United Methodist Church, Spring Hill.
Survivors include her son, John Manley of Spring Hill; three stepdaughters, Barbara of Mt. Morris, Pa., Mary Luzader of Morgantown and Karen Butchart of Clemons, N.C.; a sister, Mildred Hale of Fairmont, W.Va.; seven grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and four great-great-grandchildren.
Arrangements by Downing Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Spring Hill.

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Come Eat Some Maryland-Style Crabs

They don’t boil blue crabs in Maryland.

Instead, they steam them inside a pot. The recipes usually call for some beer, a little water, a splash of vinegar and some Old Bay seasoning and dry mustard.

That’s the Maryland way to cook crabs.

The most sought-after menu items at the Chesapeake Bay Crab House come from the coast of Florida. But once they enter the kitchen, they get the Mid-Atlantic treatment.

“We have a niche,” said co-owner Bill Scarpo, a native of Ocean City, Md. “Nobody else has this food anywhere.”

The menu items include steamed crabs, crab cakes, crab balls, cream of crab soup, crab fluff, fried hard crabs, soft-shell crabs and crab imperial.

There are several more items on the menu not centered on the two-clawed crustacean. The restaurant also serves pasta, chicken, soups, fish, shrimp, burgers and a variety of appetizers and sandwiches.

Scarpo, 54, has been in the restaurant business for 10 years. The co-owner, Jim Atkinson, 70, has worked in the industry for seven years. Both of them know their seafood.

The same goes for their customers.

Many of the regulars pack the bar/lounge area and watch their favorite football teams play on Sundays – usually it’s either the Washington Redskins or the Baltimore Ravens. There is, after all, a lot of Maryland natives stretched from Hillsborough to Marion counties. Scarpo’s crab house is a favorite of theirs.

The restaurant remains nearly spotless all day and night in spite of the specialty dish on the menu – steamed blue crabs.

Brown paper covers the table. Once the guests are finished cracking, splitting and nibbling, the paper gets rolled and everything is removed from the table top at once.

There is no sign there was ever a towering pile of shells, claws and balled-up napkins. It is just like the way they do it at Eastern Shore Maryland.

The kitchen makes up 25 percent of the 4,200 square-foot building. There is plenty of room to steam bushel upon bushel of crabs and still have enough space to grill a prime rib, fry some scallops and whip up a pot of crab soup.

Most of the blue crabs are found along the East Coast of Florida. They are harder to find in the Gulf, Scarpo said.

Those Marylanders who reside in or near Hernando County might be luckier eating them here rather than their home state. The crab supply along the Delmarva Peninsula has been reduced to the point where catching females is prohibited.

Any seasoned veteran knows the meat in a female crab tastes sweeter, said Scarpo, who claims to have the best crab cakes in Florida.

“People travel from far away to come here,” he continued. “The Villages isn’t close. Tampa isn’t close. I’d say 40 percent of my business comes from outside Hernando County.”

Food is served until 10 p.m., but the bar remains open until midnight every night.

Scarpo said the three keys to running a successful restaurant are good food, good service and cleanliness.

A third of the lounge was full Wednesday afternoon, long after the usual lunch rush and well before the packed dinner crowd.

The crab house also offers an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet available every Sunday.

Biz at a glance:

Name of biz – Chesapeake Bay Crab House.

Owners – Bill Scarpo and Jim Atkinson.

What it is – Maryland-style crab and seafood restaurant.

Where it is – 3095 Anderson Snow Road, Spring Hill.

Hours of operation – 11 a.m. to midnight, seven days per week.

Get in touch – 352-540-9760.

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

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Tampa Bay Beaches Score High In Water Tests

WASHINGTON – Beaches in Florida’s Hillsborough, Pinellas and Sarasota counties last year were found to have risky pollution levels for swimmers less often than the rest of the nation, says an environmental watchdog group.

In the Tampa Bay area, only Pasco County’s beaches had a slightly higher percentage of water samples exceeding bacteria safety limits than the U.S. average, says a report Tuesday by the National Resources Defense Council.

But none of the region’s beaches come close to being rated as having among the nation’s – or even Florida’s – worst water quality, says the council.

The nonprofit group used data from the Environmental Protection Agency to compile its report, “Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches.”

The group says the largest known source of beach water pollution continues to be contamination from stormwater, which carries sewage and pollution from the streets to the beach without treatment when it rains. But unknown sources of pollution also are a frequent cause of health advisories or beach closings nationally.

“What this report means for families heading to the beach is they need to be careful and do a little homework,” explained Nancy Stoner, director of the defense council’s clean water project.

Water monitoring, done weekly in Florida, is important, says the council, because high bacterial levels leave beachgoers vulnerable to a range of waterborne illnesses.

Those can range from gastroenteritis, dysentery, hepatitis, respiratory ailments and other serious health problems. For senior citizens, small children, and people with weak immune systems, the results can be fatal.

In Florida, an average of 4 percent of the water-quality samples taken weekly exceeded the bacterial standards. The regular water-quality checks were done at 308 of the state’s coastal beaches, selected for the monitoring based on usage and other criteria.

The monitoring is carried out locally, but overseen by the state Health Department.

The council’s report found:

Hillsborough County’s beaches mirrored the statewide average of 4 percent of water samples exceeding bacteria safety limits, as did Sarasota County’s beaches.

Hillsborough’s beaches at Cypress Point North, Simmons Park, Davis Island and Cypress Point South did not exceed bacteria safety limits in any of the more than 50 water samples taken at each beach. The worst rate of the nine Hillsborough beaches that were regularly monitored for bacteria was at Ben T. Davis South, where 12 percent of the 60 water samples exceeded the safety levels.

Pinellas County beaches exceeded the bacterial safety limits, on average, in 5 percent of the water samples taken. Of the 15 beaches regularly monitored in the county, Indian Rocks, Sand Key and Belleair Causeway-Intercoastal were those that did not have any samples exceed the bacterial limits.

Of the 16 Sarasota County beaches monitored, none of the more than 50 samples taken at each of the beaches at South Lido, Blind Pass, and Manasota exceeded bacteria safety standards. Ringling Causeway had the worst rate, with 8 percent of its 59 samples exceeding the limit.

Pasco County’s beaches exceeded the bacteria safety standards, on average, in 8 percent of the water samples taken.

None of the 62 samples taken at Anclote River Park Beach exceeded the bacterial safety limits. The worst rate was at Robert J. Strickland Beach, where 19 percent of the 62 samples take exceeded the standards.

“Any time you have high bacterial levels it makes people nervous,” said David Polk, the state health official in charge of making sure counties conduct beach monitoring programs.

But Polk said Florida is shown, overall, to have “very good water quality” and “I think it’s a fairly accurate report.”

The highest rates among Florida beaches for water samples exceeding the bacteria standards were at four Taylor County beaches.

Nationally, Kathy Osterman Beach, a beach in Cook County, Ill., had the highest percentage of water samples exceeding the standard – 100 percent. A Lake County, Ill., beach was next highest, at 83 percent, followed by Avalon Beach in Los Angeles, at 75 percent.

Overall, Florida’s beaches saw a 17 percent increase in 2007 in the number of days (a total of 3,139) where swimming advisories or warnings were posted based on high bacterial readings.

The council emphasizes that a year-to-year increase in warnings or closing may not necessarily be a negative thing – because it might reflect better testing and communication rather than huge increases in pollution.

Reporter Billy House can be reached at 202-662-7673.

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Hernando’s Dawn Center: A Safe Place When Home Isn’t

BROOKSVILLE – It’s almost like being rescued from a sinking ship.

On a surface level, they are as different as night and day. Some are young, others old, some wealthy, some poor. They look like any other people you’d see walking down the street – the polished executive, the young blonde graduate, the former gourmet chef.

But underneath the surface, there’s an unspoken commonality: They’ve all been victims of horrific abuse, and have often done the only thing they could – sought refuge at the Dawn Center, Hernando County’s center for domestic and sexual violence.

Defining Domestic Violence

When the Dawn Center’s executive director, Debbie Andrews, speaks to groups about domestic violence, she often cites an alarming statistic: One out of every three women has been, will be or is in a domestic violence situation.

Whether verbal, emotional or physical, it affects everyone – mothers, sisters, brothers, children.

“(Victims) come to the center because they had no choice,” she said. “Home wasn’t safe.”

By Florida law, “domestic violence” means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.

Defined more loosely, domestic violence is a complex form of power and control, and is often passed through generations. It destroys victims’ self confidence, causes developmental delays in children and continues for numerous reasons.

“It takes women an average of seven to nine times to leave a domestic violence situation,” Andrews said.

Many times, women stay for financial reasons – they know they wouldn’t be able to support their children on minimum wage, for example. Other times they feel they did something to deserve the abuse or fear their abuser will hurt them if they try to leave.

And the aggressor is not always a boyfriend or husband. More recently, the center has seen a resurgence of young women escaping from abusive brothers, uncles, step-parents and fathers, Andrews said.

Some stay. Some go back.

Either way, the shelter’s staff is there to support them on their journey.

How It Began

The Dawn Center – one of 42 certified domestic violence centers serving Florida’s 67 counties – originally began in Hernando County in the late 1980s as a grassroots organization in which local residents invited women and children facing abuse to take shelter in private homes.

“Back then, it was just friends taking in friends, neighbors taking in neighbors,” Andrews said. “It was an incredible movement.”

With the shelter’s current, centralized outreach concept that started in Marion County in 1986, the first safe house in Hernando was acquired in 1994.

Two years later, through fundraising efforts from local citizens and U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, officials purchased the “safe house” currently in use. Three years ago, a new addition was added, with a renovated children’s wing that opened in May 2005.

The shelter – which has top security in place to protect residents and is located in a private, undisclosed area of the county – now has 40 beds and several cribs that are typically filled, though occupancy changes daily. Many women bring their children, and some have given birth while living at the shelter, Andrews said.

From June 2007 to July 2008, the shelter’s staff saw 282 new victims, not including those who had sought help before. Each day, they responded to an average of five to seven crisis calls and provided emergency shelter for 30 local women and children.

Residents receive necessary food and supplies, including clothing, diapers, baby formula and toiletries.

While the current safe house only has space for women and children, Dawn Center staff can also find alternative living arrangements for men needing shelter.

What The Center Provides

The center does not aim to rescue women, but to provide an eight-week intervention program to allow victims to heal, build strength and examine their options.

Staff members are specially-trained to operate a 24-hour crisis hotline for victims of domestic violence or rape, with advocates available to talk victims through situations and help them formulate a safety plan.

If a person needs to leave their home and a staff member is not available, deputies from the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office will meet them in a safe place and transport or lead them to the home.

“Even if they don’t need shelter, we provide telephone advocacy,” Andrews said. “There’s no time limit on how long it takes someone to leave.”

Once at the shelter, a resource coordinator and shelter advocate meet with victims to determine what assistance they need and provide resources, ranging from arranging rape examinations and filing injunctions to finding a job and applying for government assistance.

The Dawn Center also employs a legal advocate in the county clerk’s office, who helps residents with hearings, filing injunctions and locating necessary legal services through referrals and other resources. All information is kept confidential.

‘Hernando County may be small and limited, but the services we have and people we partner with is unprecedented,” Andrews said. “My staff talks to people throughout the state. It’s incredible.”

Life At The Home

By the time they arrive at the shelter, most victims are numb. They aren’t aware of what they’re feeling, what to do next or what their options are, let alone how to make choices.

While many have endured life-threatening injuries, the majority of residents don’t display obvious signs of abuse. No black eyes, big bruises or broken bones.

But psychologically, the scars linger. Many are withdrawn, haunted by years of being molested, beaten, berated or manipulated by those closest to them.

Residents prepare all of the shelter’s food, and take turns cooking and completing chores. Andrews estimated that last year, women in the shelter prepared almost 33,000 meals.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Often, victims and their children have had to leave quickly and have left behind many of their belongings. They must learn to survive without items often taken for granted, such as a vehicle, cell phone, credit cards and for children, favorite toys.

The center’s staff acts as peacekeepers, with ongoing parenting classes and support meetings. They help victims set goals, build their lives from scratch and teach them how to care for themselves.

Since residents share bedrooms, tensions sometimes arise from sharing personal space, particularly between adults and children accustomed to independence.

They also must abide by strict safety rules, which include always notifying their whereabouts, signing out before they leave and being in before 10 p.m., unless work requires otherwise.

After they leave the home, victims rarely remain in contact with the center’s staff. However, the success stories make the work worthwhile, Andrews said.

She recalled a young, 20-year-old resident who lived in the shelter twice with her two young children. She accepted help and moved on, but occasionally calls the center’s staff and leaves messages.

“She just says, ‘I know you remember who I am, and wanted to let everyone know I have a really good job, I just bought a house and am doing really well,'” Andrews said. “Those are the calls we look forward to getting.”

Keeping The Shelter Going

The Dawn Center is constantly facing challenges. Since state funding covers 80 percent of the center’s budget, the center’s staff must cover the additional 20 percent through private donations and grants.

“This is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week job,” she said. “It never stops.”

Andrews, who became director in 2005, estimated that she will need to raise $150,000 this year alone.

“We want to make sure there are no fees attached to anything,” she said. “Our outreach through advocacy programs is free and ongoing.”

Dawn Center staff members regularly participate in local and state trainings and conferences, and the center aims to partner with as many other local organizations as possible, such as the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, State Attorney’s Office, Department of Children and Families, the Brooksville Police Department and local hospitals.

And the little things matter more than people may realize. While nonperishable food is easy to come by, the center’s staff struggles to keep the refrigerator stocked with everyday staples such as milk, cheese, meat and eggs, Andrews said.

“Cash donations are how we are able to provide the daily staples of what we need in the household,” she said.

Donations also pay for transportation costs, such as driving victims to doctor’s appointments or providing gasoline or bus passes so they can job search, Andrews said.

The center is also in constant need of local volunteers, who do everything from answering crisis calls to helping women navigate their way through the legal system.

And domestic violence itself is showing no signs of letting up.

“As the economy is slowing down, crime is on the rise – and domestic violence is definitely on the rise,” Andrews said. “Also, because of people losing their jobs and homes, we have more women and children needing our services than we can provide, at this point.”

For information about the Dawn Center or its services, go to

Reporter Linnea Brown can be reached at 352-544-5289 or

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