health events ar 302172

Jazzercize to host benefit class

Jazzercize will host a Thanksgiving Day Jazzercise class at 9 a.m. Nov. 24 at the Spring Hill Jazzercize Fitness Center, 7257 Forest Oaks Blvd., in the Forest Oaks Plaza. Participants should attend dressed to exercise. Organized by Jazzercise instructor Becky Mooneyham, the 60-minute class will include a warm-up, high-energy aerobic routines, muscle toning and cool-down stretch segment. Jazzercise combines elements of dance, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, kickboxing and more to create programs for people of every age and fitness level. Admission to the class is a nonperishable food item, paper products or monetary donation, and the public is welcome to attend. Donations will be given to People Helping People of Hernando County, which serves hot meals and provides free clothing, groceries and resource materials to those in need in the county. For information, call Becky Mooneyham at (352) 442-8595.

Dana Bennett event at Strong Tower

Strong Tower Vineyard & Winery will host the Dana Bennett Beneficiary event from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the winery, 17810 Forge Drive. Bennett was recently diagnosed with breast cancer; and due to her liver disease, her physicians in Denver, Colo. advised her to return to Denver for her mastectomy surgery. The fundraiser event is to help Bennett with the expense of moving back to Colorado and to help pay for some of her medical expenses. Ticket cost for the wine-tasting event is $20 per person, and all proceeds will benefit Bennett. If unable to attend the event but would like to make a donation, checks should be made payable to Diane Rowden/Dana Bennett Beneficiary and mailed to Diane Rowden, 10350 Fulton Ave., Weeki Wachee, FL 34613 or call Diane Rowden at (352) 573-4178.

Memory screenings at Meridien Research

Meridien Research will offer free memory screenings from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday at its facility at 16176 Cortez Blvd., off Fort Dade Avenue. The event is being held in honor of the Alzheimer’s Foundation’s National Memory Screening Day. Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are encouraged. The public is welcome. For reservations or information, call (352) 597-8839.

Health series at Southern Woods

Oak Hill Hospital will continue its For Your Health community education series from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Southern Woods Golf Club, 1501 Corkwood Blvd. Dr. Andre Brooks will present “Living Successfully with Heart Failure.” Dr. Brooks is board certified in cardiovascular disease and is on staff at Oak Hill Hospital. A question-and-answer session will follow. Admission will be free, and a complimentary hot meal will be served. Since seating is limited, reservations are required. To register or for information, call (352) 597-6333.

NAMI to feature presentation

NAMI of Hernando (affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness) will feature a presentation by Kim Garcia, owner of GIME Fitness, on the topic “How to cope with medications through nutrition and exercise” at 6:30 p.m. today at the Beautiful Mind Center in the Brothers I and II Plaza, 10554 Spring Hill Drive. The event is free and is open to the public. For information, call (352) 684-0004 or visit

Healthy Hearts series at Oak Hill Hospital

Oak Hill Hospital will offer its Healthy Hearts Education Series from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Monday in the cafeteria conference room of the hospital, 11375 Cortez Blvd. Mary-Anne Flowers, RD, LD (registered dietitian, licensed dietitian), Oak Hill Hospital’s clinical nutrition manager, will discuss “Healthy Eating for the Holidays.” Admission will be free, and complimentary refreshments will be served. Since seating is limited, reservations are required. For reservations or information, visit or call (352) 597-6333.

CPR training at Brooksville Regional

A CPR/AED class will be offered at 6 p.m. Nov. 17 in Room 120 of the new Brooksville Regional Hospital Medical Arts Complex, 17240 Cortez Blvd. The course meets the guidelines of the American Heart Association and the American Safety and Health Institute. The class is designed for the professional health care provider, but anyone is welcome to attend. At the successful completion of the class, the student will receive a two-year certification card. The cost is $20 per person for the complete course to include CPR and Automated External Defribulation. Since seating is limited and classes fill up quickly, early reservations are advisable. For reservations or information, call (352) 597-8875.

‘Surviving the Holidays’ program

Northcliffe Baptist Church will offer a GriefShare program, “Surviving the Holidays,” from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the church, 10515 Northcliffe Blvd. A video and panel discussion will be featured. The speaker will be Fran Welch, and the topic will be “Heaven.” A question-and-answer session will follow, along with a light brunch. The program is for anyone who has lost a loved one, and it does not matter how long it has been since the loved one has died. The event is free, and the public is welcome. For reservations or information, call the church at (352) 683-5882.

Filthy Fun Run at The Concourse

Pasco Pediatric Foundation will hold a 5K “Filthy Fun Run” Nov. 19 at The Concourse, 15325 Alric Pottberg Road. The event will feature an obstacle course built into the race route, wherein participants will crawl through mud, climb over walls, and swing from tree limbs to reach the finish line. Participants can sign up for a wave starting every half hour – the first will begin at 8 a.m. and the last will begin at 12:30 p.m. The entry fee is $50 per person. A party featuring a band, disc jockey and catering by Buffalo Wind Wings will run throughout the event and is open to racers and spectators. The fun run is being held in memory of longtime Pasco Pediatric Foundation supporter Dr. Jeffrey Baumrauker, and sponsorships are still available. The race is open to adventure lovers ages 18 and older of all, or no, athletic ability. To register for the event or for information, visit or call (727) 863-2266.

Hospice to hold volunteer orientation

HPH Hospice will hold a two-day volunteer orientation from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Nov. 15 and 17 at the HPH Hospice office, 698 S. Broad St. Attendance on both days is required. Volunteer opportunities will include office duties, patient support visits, clerical support and helping at the Hospice House and Care Center. Registration is required, and lunch will be provided. To register, call Jacqueline Lambert, volunteer coordinator, at (352) 796-2611. For information, visit

Deaf Literacy Academy offers free program

Deaf Family Literacy Academy (DFLA) of Pasco and Hernando counties is currently enrolling families in the area for a free educational program to teach young deaf and hard-of-hearing children, ages infant to12, and their parents how to communicate using American Sign Language (ASL). Services are offered at no cost to families. Test results show deaf children have the same potential as their hearing peers to achieve the highest levels of academic success. Yet most are failing due to their lack of mastery in a first language as well as substandard reading comprehension skills. To address these critical educational needs, the DFLA program provides families in the community a unique opportunity to learn and practice ASL in their home. Trained deaf mentors go into the home of each family for weekly sessions. To enroll or for information, email Jeff Thomas, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services of Florida, at or call (727) 853-1010. The Deaf Family Literacy Academy of Pasco/Hernando is a program of the Volunteer USA Foundation,

Chatterboxes support group

Community Chatterboxes meet from 3 to 4 p.m. every other Thursday at Community Hospital, 5637 Marine Parkway. Community Chatterboxes is a support group to assist individuals suffering from communication deficits (i.e., aphasia, apraxia, dysarthria, etc.) as a result of a cerebral vascular accident or other neurological disorders. The group was originally established for outpatients that had been discharged from traditional speech therapy but still wished an outlet to practice and interact with others with the same problems. Caregivers and spouses are encouraged to attend. For information, call (727) 845-0757.

‘Look Good’ program at New Hope

Florida Cancer Institute-New Hope has announced that it will host the American Cancer Society’s “Look Good…Feel Better” program once a month in its conference room, 7154 Medical Center Drive. The program is held periodically on Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m., and the next scheduled meeting will be held Nov. 17. This is a free group program that teaches beauty techniques to female cancer patients to help combat the appearance-related side effects of treatment. “Look Good… Feel Better” is free and open to all women cancer patients in active treatment. Reservations are required. For information, call Mary Capo at (352) 596-1926 Ext.150. For information about the Florida Cancer Institute, call 888-206-0054 or visit

In addition, a Look Good Feel Better Support Group meets from 3:30 to 5 p.m. the third Wednesday of every month at the Florida Cancer Institute’s Spring Hill Center, 10441 Quality Drive, Suite 203, in the Medical Arts Building, next to Spring Hill Regional Hospital. The next scheduled meeting will be held Nov. 16. For information, call Peggy Beckett, R.N., support group facilitator, at (352) 688-7744.

Ostomy Assoc. meets 3rd Thursday

Hernando County Ostomy Association meets from 2 to 4 p.m. the third Thursday of each month, except July and August, in Conference Room 2, first floor, of Brooksville Regional Hospital, 17240 Cortez Blvd. The next scheduled meeting will be held Nov. 17. New members are welcome. For information, call Linda Ravenhorst, ostomy nurse, at (352) 686-1956 or Ellen Boldt, president, at (352) 597-5426.

Birthplace offers pediatric CPR

The Birthplace at Community Hospital will hold a pediatric CPR class from 9 to 11 a.m. Nov. 19 at the Birthplace, 5637 Marine Parkway. The class is offered the fourth Saturday of every month at the Birthplace. Pediatric CPR teaches how to save the life of a child. Participants will learn the skills of the American Heart Association course, “CPR for family and friends.” The fee is $15 for one person and $25 for two people. For reservations or information, call (727) 834-5630.

Tours offered at Birthplace

The Birthplace at Community Hospital offers tours through its Family Education Program at the hospital, 5637 Marine Parkway. The next scheduled tour is Nov. 19. Tours are conducted by a Registered Nurse educator who will meet with small groups and guide them through the Birthplace. Participants will visit the labor, delivery, recovery, post-partum rooms and will observe the Birthplace’s Infant Safety and Security Program. Participants are welcome to bring questions with them. Since spots are limited, reservations are required. For reservations or information, call (727) 834-5630.

Holiday grief workshop

HPH Hospice will host a holiday bereavement workshop for any grieving adult who is concerned about coping with the holidays. The free workshop will be offered from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at HPH Hospice’s West Hernando team office, 12260 Cortez Blvd. Led by an HPH Hospice bereavement counselor, the workshop will provide tips on coping with grief during the holiday season. Preregistration is requested. To register, call (800) 486-8784. For information, visit

Alzheimer’s research by Families to Rescue

Families to the Rescue will be conducting research on Alzheimer’s/Dementia beginning Jan. 1, 2012. The research is filed with the federal government at and the Alzheimer’s Association will be posting the research on the web site. The study is based on using hypnotherapy to enhance the body’s natural immune system to dissolve the beta-amyloid buildup in the brain. Similar study was done in the UK by Dr. Daniel Nightingale and Simon Duff several years ago with success. Each person will be rated on improvement in concentration, relaxation, motivation, activities of daily living, immediate memory, memory for significant events, socialization and the overall quality of life. Anyone interested in participating in the study should call John Bainum of Families to the Rescue at (352) 848-0612.

TOPS 604 meets at Forest Oaks

TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) Chapter 604 of Spring Hill meets from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. every Tuesday at Forest Oaks Lutheran Church, 8555 Forest Oaks Blvd. Weigh-in is held from 8:15 to 9:15 a.m., followed by an informative meeting from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Meetings include programs offering advice for losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle. Visitors are welcome to attend the first meeting free. In addition to the meetings, social functions such as auctions and picnics are held throughout the year. New members, both men and women, are welcome. Dues are $26 per year and $4 per month. For information, call Nancy at (352) 592-1088 or Doris at (352) 666-9525.

TOPS 530 to meet at First Lutheran

TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) Chapter 530 meets at 9 a.m. every Tuesday at First Lutheran Church, 30419 Park Ridge Drive. Weigh-in is held at 8:15 a.m., followed by the meeting at 9 a.m. For more information, call Evelyn at (352) 796-0477.

Overeaters group meets Thursdays

Overeaters Anonymous of Hernando County offers a 12-step recovery program from 7 to 8 p.m. every Thursday at DaySpring Presbyterian Church in the fellowship hall, 6000 Mariner Blvd. The program is for compulsive overeaters, food addicts, and anorexic or bulimic persons. For more information, call Karen at (352) 200-8433 or visit

Hospice speakers available for meetings

HPH Hospice has speakers available for church, club or civic groups. Educational presentations about HPH Hospice and end-of-life care will be provided. Presentations are generally 20 minutes and can be designed to meet the group’s needs and areas of interest. Advance care planning, how hospice works (common myths and misconceptions about hospice care), home health care and caring for the caregiver are a few of the topics offered by HPH Hospice. Speakers are available weekdays, weeknights and weekends. To schedule a presentation, call Community Relations at (800) 486-8784. For information, visit

Arc seeking volunteers

The Arc Nature Coast is seeking volunteers for its POSSE (Promoting Opportunities and Skills with Special Equestrians) Program, Enrichment Program at the Education Center or Neff Lake Road facility, any of several office locations, community outings and special events. Applications and background screenings are required for any position which involves direct contact with customers. There is a one-time fee of $28 for submission of paperwork to two outside agencies. Orientation and tours of the facilities will be available to all volunteers. For information and application forms, contact John DiRienzo at or by calling (352) 544-2322.

Free resources to quit smoking

Hernando County Health Department, in cooperation with Gulf Coast Area Health Education Center, offers free one-on-one counseling to help residents kick the tobacco habit. Veronique Polo, MPH, CHES, a trained tobacco cessation specialist, is available each Wednesday at the Brooksville clinic, 300 S. Main St. Polo will provide education, quitting strategies and support, and information and access to free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (patches, gum, lozenges). For information, call (813)929-1000 or visit To schedule an appointment, call (352) 540-6800.

Alzheimer’s support group meetings

Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point will hold Alzheimer’s support group meetings from 10 a.m. to noon the first Tuesday of every month in the second floor conference room, 14000 Fivay Road. Meetings are open to caregivers and interested people to discuss and exchange ideas, as well as help and encourage those involved in the care of Alzheimer’s patients. For information, call Maria Curley at (727) 992-1358 or Kathy Montero at AFO at (727) 848-8888.

AFO expanding volunteer program

Alzheimer’s Family Organization (AFO) is expanding its volunteer program. AFO services the central Florida area including Hernando, Pasco, Citrus, Lake, Sumter, northern Hillsborough and northern Pinellas. AFO has a new volunteer coordinator with many new opportunities available, such as assisting with fundraising and educational events, office help, health fairs, creating gift baskets, contacting newspapers and more. To volunteer or for information, call the AFO office at (727) 848-8888 or toll free at (888) 496-8004.

Crescent Clinic open for services

Crescent Community Clinic is open for services at its new location in the Winchester Plaza, 5244 Commercial Way. The primary health care and basic dental services clinic is for uninsured adults ages 18 to 64 who meet federal poverty guidelines. Patients must bring a photo I.D. and proof of income; e.g., paystub or other information verifying income. The clinic is open the first three Saturdays of the month excluding holidays. The policy for services has changed; a limited number of new patients can sign in between 8:30-9:30 a.m. only. Patients on file can sign in between 9:30-10:30 a.m. only. Lab patients with a script for blood work can sign in at 9:15 a.m. Basic dental services consisting of infection control, extractions and cleanings are now offered. Patients needing refills on prescriptions should have the pharmacy fax a refill request to the clinic by Wednesday. Prescriptions and renewals can be picked up after 2 p.m. on Saturdays. For information, call (352) 610-9916. The fax is (352) 610-9915.

New hours at Health Dept.

Health Department Environmental Health Office announces new service hours: from 7:30 a.m. to noon and 12:30 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at its annex site, 15470 Flight Path Drive, Airport Industrial Park. For information, call (352) 540-6800.

LifeSouth in need of blood donors

LifeSouth Community Blood Center, 12395 Cortez Blvd., just west of Mariner Boulevard, has a shortage of donors with snowbirds up North, causing a struggle to meet the blood needs of local hospitals. Anyone 17 or older (16 with parental permission) weighing a minimum of 110 pounds and in good health is eligible to donate. A photo I.D. is required. The blood center is open seven days a week as follows: from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Friday; from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; and from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. To make an appointment to donate at a different time other than times listed or to find the Bloodmobile locations, call (352) 596-2002.

Volunteer positions available at Oak Hill

Oak Hill Hospital Volunteer Association has a wide range of volunteer opportunities at the hospital,11375 Cortez Blvd. Morning, afternoon and evening shifts are available in both patient contact and non-patient contact areas, assisting support departments, helping in the gift shop, the hospital’s special programs, and in particular, the newly formed Oak Hill Hospital Partner’s Club. With the approach of the summer months, teens 16 years of age and older are particularly welcome. For information, call the Oak Hill Hospital Volunteer Association president, Dorothy Kaelin, at (352) 597-3038.

Brooksville Reg. seeking volunteers

Brooksville Regional Hospital Auxiliary is seeking volunteers for various positions. Morning and afternoon shifts are available, and year-round residents are preferred. For more information, call (352) 544-6117 or (352) 544-6080, or visit online at

NAMI offers free classes

NAMI of Hernando (affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness) invites anyone who is dealing with a mental issue, or has a family member or loved one who is, to join its support activities. Its Consumer and Family support groups meet from 3 to 5 p.m. every Wednesday; and another consumer group meets from 7 to 8:30 p.m. every Monday, both at the Beautiful Mind Outreach Center in the Brothers 1 and 2 Plaza, 10554 Spring Hill Drive. Art classes, programs and speakers to inform the public about various aspects and treatments for mental illness will be featured. For more information, call (352) 684-0004.

Caregiver Support at Catholic Charities

HPH Hospice facilitates Caregiver Support Groups at 11 a.m. the last Friday of every month at the Catholic Charities office, 1423 Kass Circle, off Spring Hill Drive. Caregivers can meet and talk with others caring for loved ones with dementia. The information and guidance provided helps caregivers determine a plan for care while coping with the challenges of dementia. Meetings will be facilitated by a master of social work from HPH Hospice. The support group is free and is open to the public. For information, call JoAnn Laperle, MSW, at (352)597-1882 or Loraine Jones, BSW, at (352) 597-1882.

Caregiver Support Group meeting

Florida Cancer Institute-New Hope holds its Caregiver Support Group meeting from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at its Spring Hill Center, 10441 Quality Drive, Suite 203, Medical Arts Building next to Spring Hill Regional Hospital. For information, call Pamela McGee, support group facilitator, at (352) 688-7744.

Alzheimer’s Assoc. lists support groups

Alzheimer’s Association, Florida Gulf Coast Chapter, offers support groups for family members, caregivers, and others interested in learning more about Alzheimer’s disease. Support group facilitators have received training as required by chapter and National Alzheimer’s Association standards. Program schedule is as follows: First Friday of each month, 2:30 p.m., Main Branch Public Library, 238 Howell Ave., Brooksville, Jerry Fisher, (352) 688-4537; first Thursday of each month, 2:30 p.m., Oak Hill Hospital-Senior Partners, 11361 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville, Jerry Fisher, (352) 688-4537; third Monday of each month, 2 p.m., The Residence at Timber Pines, 3140 Forest Road, off U.S. 19, Spring Hill, Diane Koenig, (352) 683-9009; first Tuesday of each month, 11 a.m., Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, 550 U.S. Highway 41 south, Inverness, Cathy Heaps, (352) 527-4600; third Wednesday of each month, 11 a.m., Avante Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, 304 S. Citrus Ave., Inverness, Cathy Heaps, (352) 527-4600; second Wednesday of each month, 2:30 p.m., Sunflower Springs Assisted Living Community, 8733 W. Yulee Drive, Homosassa, Cathy Heaps, (352) 527-4600. Meetings are free and are open to everyone. Also, visit the Alzheimer’s Association online support group at for a live chat at noon every Wednesday. Message boards are open at all times to post questions and leave replies. For program information, call the above-listed phone numbers. For other questions or to arrange free respite care in order to attend a meeting, call the Hernando office at (352) 688-4537 or (800) 772-8672.

Man to Man meets first Monday

Florida Cancer Institute-New Hope holds its “Man to Man” prostate cancer support group from 6 to 7 p.m. the first Monday of every month at its Brooksville Center, 7154 Medical Center Drive, off Kadri Boulevard, across from the High Point community. Topics frequently discussed are: importance of early detection, signs and symptoms, prognosis, disease stages, incontinence, impotence, various treatment options including hormone therapy and medications, and especially the latest research and treatment modalities. Speakers will include physicians, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, social workers and others. The support group is co-sponsored by the American Cancer Society. For information, call Mary Capo at (352) 596-1926.

RSVP seeking volunteers

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) is seeking volunteers, and the only requirement of the program is to be 55 years of age or older. A representative of the RSVP Welcome Center, 880 Kennedy Blvd. will find a position that will fit the interests and needs of interested volunteers. Some of the areas available are Meals on Wheels, senior centers, nature, museum docent or researcher, library, food banks, animal care, child or elder programs and more. If interested in volunteering or for information, call from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at (352) 796-8117.

Northcliffe Baptist offers GriefShare

GriefShare recovery seminar and support group will meet from 9 to 10:30 a.m. each Saturday at Northcliffe Baptist Church, 10515 Northcliffe Blvd. GriefShare features nationally recognized experts on grief and recovery topics. Seminar sessions will include “The Journey of Grief,” “The Effects of Grief,” “When Your Spouse Dies,” “Your Family and Grief,” “Why?” and “Stuck in Grief.” For information, call the church at (352) 683-5882.

Support Group at Christian Church

Christian Church in the Wildwood offers a Cancer Support Group which meets at 1:30 p.m. the second Monday of every month in the Building A Café of the church, 10051 Country Road. The purpose of the support group is to help caregivers, survivors or those currently dealing with cancer. The support group is free. For information, call Godfrey Eason at (352) 597-9916 or (352) 263-3784 or email

Lost art of Kiko lessons at library

Kiko is based on Goju Ryu which means the five-storied pagoda, and not hard and soft, which is based on the five elements represented by the vowel sounds to which the consonants are added which determine the sounds and movements of Kiko which physicalizes and builds up the Ki into the body and life of the practitioner and manifests as health and/or martial arts power. Classes are held at 1 p.m. every Saturday at the Spring Hill Branch Library, 9220 Spring Hill Drive. For more information, call (352) 544-5700.

Myeloma Support meets Wednesday

Multiple Myeloma Support Group meets at 6 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month at the Partner’s Club (formerly Spring Hill Enrichment Center), behind Oak Hill Hospital, 11375 Cortez Blvd. For information, contact Pat Killingsworth at 715-271-5037 or email

Leukemia Support meets Wednesday

Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Multiple Myeloma Support Group meets at 6 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month at the Moose Lodge, 5214 Mariner Blvd. For more information, contact Lourdes Arvelo at (813) 963-6461 Ext. 11 or email or visit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s website at

Respite Program has openings

Catholic Charities, one of United Way of Hernando County’s partner agencies, has openings in its Respite Program. The program is for people with early stage Alzheimer’s disease and other memory loss illnesses including stroke, Parkinson’s disease or senile dementia. The program offers caregivers some short-term, dependable relief from their day-to-day responsibilities, providing their loved ones the opportunity to participate in planned activities and friendships. For more information, contact Marie Monahan at (352) 686-9897 Ext. 22 or email

SHINE program announces new sites

Florida Department of Elder Affairs will offer the free SHINE program (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) at the following locations:


11 a.m. to noon, Brooksville Enrichment Center, 17222 Hospital Blvd., Medical Arts Building, Suite 120, Brooksville. For information, call (352) 544-6022.


Noon to 1 p.m., East Hernando Branch Library, 6457 Windmere Road, Brooksville. For information, call (352) 754-4443.


11 a.m. to noon, Spring Hill Enrichment Center, 10441 Quality Drive, Medical Arts Building, Suite 105, Spring Hill. For information, call (352) 684-7568.

SHINE counselors offer information and assistance with Medicare (filling out paperwork, bills and filing appeals), Medicare supplemental insurance, Medicare prescription drug coverage, long-term care planning and pharmaceutical assistance programs. An appointment is not necessary. For information or for counseling locations outside Hernando County, call the Elder Hotline toll-free at 800-262-2243.

Oak Hill announces new Partner’s Club

Oak Hill Hospital announces the formation of its new organization – the Oak Hill Hospital Partner’s Club. Membership is open to all existing Enrichment Center members, H2U members, Oak Hill Hospital volunteers, or any Hernando, Pasco, or Citrus county resident. The Partner’s Club offers a variety of activities and events that focus on health, education, staying active, and meeting new friends. The club will be headquartered in the soon-to-be remodeled facility formerly occupied by the Enrichment Center. The hospital will provide further information about enrollment in the near future. For information about the hospital, visit its website at

Assistance for low-income elders

Florida Department of Elder Affairs has launched a pilot project to help low-income elders enroll for benefits. Florida’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program, requires that most applicants for benefits fill out their requests online. However, a large portion of Florida’s 4.45 million seniors are not regular computer users, and statewide 58 percent of eligible elders do not participate in SNAP. The three-year pilot project will enable elders who are reluctant or unable to visit an office location or apply online to call the state’s Elder Helpline and have a trained professional enter the online data for them. Seniors who need help with a SNAP application should call the state’s Elder Helpline toll-free at 800-963-5337.

Volunteers sought for hospital/clinic

Brooksville Regional Hospital and Good Shepherd Medical Clinic are seeking volunteers for various positions. Shifts can be morning or afternoon at the hospital,17240 Cortez Blvd.; and from 7 a.m. to noon at the medical clinic, 8425 Northcliffe Blvd., Spring Hill. Year-round residents are preferred. For information, call (352) 544-6117 or (352) 544-6080 or visit

Volunteers needed to drive patients

American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program is in need of volunteers to drive cancer patients in Hernando County to their chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Schedules will be flexible, and training will be provided. Requirements will be a safe driving record, valid driver’s license, insurance and a smoke-free vehicle in good running condition. For information, call Joan at (352) 799-9078.

Hospice offers support groups

HPH Hospice holds bereavement support groups from 3 to 4 p.m. Mondays at the HPH at 698 S. Broad St. or from 3 to 4 p.m. Thursdays at the HPH at 12260 Cortez Blvd. The organization invites any adult who is grieving over the death of a loved one. The groups are led by an HPH bereavement counselor and are open to the community. The support group is free, and reservations are not required. For information, call 800-486-8784 or visit

Al Anon meetings at Holy Trinity

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church conducts an Alcoholics Anonymous Family Group meeting at 7 p.m. each Tuesday in the Ministry Center of the church, 1214 Broad St. (U.S. 41). Meetings are open to the public. For information, call (352) 796-4066.

Elder Helpline offers support

West Central Florida Area Agency on Aging’s Elder Helpline offers support for caregivers and their aging parents. The Helpline provides information for older adults and their caregivers by helping callers make informed decisions about available assistance. It is the starting point in getting connected with programs or services that can meet the needs of the older adult or caregiver. For more information, call 800-96Elder (800-963-5337) or visit

Resource Room at Pinebrook

American Cancer Society has a Hernando Resource Room which is open from noon to 4 p.m. every Wednesday in Suite 203 of the Main Entrance at the Pinebrook Regional Medical Center, 14540 Cortez Blvd. Bras, wigs, prosthesis, turbans, and scarves are available free for uninsured or underinsured patients. For information on other American Cancer Society free programs and services, call 800-227-2345 or visit online at

Amplified phones for residents

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services of Florida offers amplified and text telephones and ring signaling devices free to Florida residents through its contract with Florida Telecommunications Relay. An individual must be over the age of 3 and certified as being deaf, hard of hearing, deaf/blind, or speech impaired. Equipment will be available by appointment every Tuesday morning at the Spring Hill Enrichment Center, behind Oak Hill Hospital, 11375 Cortez Blvd. To schedule an appointment for equipment or for more information, call 866-685-9477 or (727) 853-1010 or visit online at

Oak Hill announces ambassador service

Oak Hill Hospital announces the establishment of a new position of Patient Ambassador. The ambassador is an advocate for their patients’ needs while respecting the confidentiality of all involved. The patient advocate’s job duties entail greeting each patient at least twice per four-hour shift to determine whether the patient’s needs are being met – whether the patient needs a newspaper, directions, a water refill or simply a friendly ear, the ambassador will attempt to fulfill the needs and information request. If medical assistance is needed, the ambassador will alert the necessary medical staff. For information, contact the hospital at (352) 596-6632 or visit online at

St. Andrew’s offers support groups

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 2030 Deltona Blvd., is offering the following Community Support Groups:

Divorce Care will meet at 7:30 p.m. in Krysher Hall of the church. Trained facilitators can assist and give support to people who are separated or divorced. For more information, call Geri at (352) 683-7013.

Griefshare will meet from 3 to 5 p.m. every Tuesday. The program is for people who have lost a spouse or close friend. Trained facilitators will be available to offer advice and support. For information, call the church office at (352) 683-2010.

Both programs are ongoing and can be joined at any time.

DivorceCare meetings

DivorceCare divorce recovery seminar and support group will meet at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays at St. Frances Cabrini Parish, 5030 Mariner Blvd. Seminar sessions will include “Facing My Anger,” “Facing My Loneliness,” “Depression,” “New Relationships,” “KidCare” and “Forgiveness.” For information, call (352) 686-9954 Ext. 409.

Health Dept. offers family services

Hernando County Health Department offers family planning assistance at both of its facilities at 300 S. Main St. in Brooksville and at 7551 Forest Oaks Blvd. in Spring Hill. The Health Department family planning services are based on FDA-approved methods which include condoms, birth control pills, Depo-Provera, IUDs, diaphragms, along with abstinence and natural family planning methods; counseling regarding vasectomy services; pregnancy testing; and a comprehensive exam (health history, health promotion and community resource information, physical examination and lab tests including Pap smear and testing for sexually transmitted diseases). Fees for services are based on the client’s income. The services are free for those who have incomes up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level. To make an appointment or for information, call (352) 540-6800.

Lymphedema support groups

Community Hospital, the future Medical Center of Trinity, will host Lymphedema support group meetings at 3 p.m. the third Thursday of every month at the Medical Center at 5637 Marine Parkway. Meetings will be conducted by Alisha Cover, a licensed physical therapy assistant. Since seating is limited, reservations are required. For reservations or information, call 877-4-HCA-DOCS (877-442-2362).

Florida Cancer Institute — New Hope will host its Lymphedema support group from 3 to 4 p.m. the third Thursday of each month at its center, 8763 River Crossing Blvd. Lindsey Wisniewski, licensed physical therapy assistant at Community Hospital, plans and conducts the meetings. For information, call Lindsey at (727) 845-0757.

Overeaters group meets Thursdays

Overeaters Anonymous of Hernando County offers a 12-step recovery program from 7 to 8 p.m. every Thursday at DaySpring Presbyterian Church in the fellowship hall, 6000 Mariner Blvd. The program is for compulsive overeaters, food addicts, and anorexic or bulimic persons. For information, call Overeaters Anonymous toll-free at 800-544-6353 or call Karen at (352) 200-8433. For detailed information, visit


Autistic children support group

The Harbor Behavioral Health is offering a free support group for families with autistic children from 6:30 to 8 p.m. the first and third Wednesday of each month at The Harbor, 7074 Grove Road. The support group is for caregivers of children with autism. Babysitting will not be offered during the meetings, so prior arrangements must be made for child care. For information, call (352) 346-1677.

Respite Room at First UMC

First United Methodist Church of Spring Hill will feature The Respite Room from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Tuesday in Burns Hall of the church, 9344 Spring Hill Drive. The Respite Room provides a weekly program for persons with memory challenges such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Participants engage in meaningful and age appropriate activities. This opportunity enables a person to be part of a social setting and participate in activities that are specially designed with them in mind. The program provides caregivers a brief break from tasks and time for themselves. For information, call Christine Powers at (727) 863-6868 or Cindy McLoud at (352) 683-2600.

ER wait times available online

HCA Oak Hill Hospital, Community Hospital and Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point now post Emergency Room wait times to see a qualified medical practitioner on their Websites and via text messaging. Visit or text ER to 23000. The Emergency Department wait times for these hospitals is updated approximately every 30 minutes using an average from the previous four hours.

Health Dept. offers childbirth classes

Hernando County Health Department/Nature Coast Community Health Center will offer Childbirth Education classes from 6 to 8 p.m. each Wednesday at the Health Department, 300 South Main St. Facilitated by Margaret Purdy, MS, ED, CBE, the series will offer pregnant women and a partner information, instruction and resources to promote a healthy delivery. A partner is not required to participate in the classes. The cost of the program is $60; and participants can pay by cash, check or credit card. The program is free for Healthy Start clients. Registration is limited to 10 participants and 10 partners. To register or for information, call Susan DeLise at (352) 540-6819.

Elder Options offers help

Elder Options, of the Mid-Florida Area Agency on Aging, exists to promote the independence, dignity, health and well-being of elder citizens; to plan, fund and administer a coordinated continuum of services; and to advocate for the needs of older Americans. Anyone who is 60 or older and is being hurt or taken advantage of by someone they know or trust, should report suspected cases of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation by calling 800-96-ELDER or 800-965-5337. To report elder abuse, call the confidential Elder Abuse Hotline at 800-96-ABUSE (800-962-2873).

Memory program at CARES

CARES Early Memory Loss Program will be offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday at the CARES Rao Musunuru, M.D. Enrichment Center, 12417 Clock Tower Parkway. The program is for individuals who are experiencing early memory losses and need a proactive day program to provide social support and memory retraining skills. The CARES “Senior Moments” Early Memory Loss program offers individuals and their families opportunities to reduce the progression and challenges of potential memory disorders through early intervention. For reservations or information, call Christine Powers at (727) 863-6868.

Hearing Clinic held at CARES

The St. John’s Hearing Institute will hold a hearing clinic at the CARES Rao Musunuru, M.D. Enrichment Center, 12417 Clock Tower Parkway, from 9 to 11 a.m. the second Monday of each month. Ear wax checks and ear wax removal, hearing screenings and hearing aid checks will be provided. Participants who wear hearing aids will receive one free package of batteries. Amplified telephones are distributed to the hearing impaired by Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services at no charge to qualified Florida residents. For information, call the Center at (727) 868-6363.

Miracle on Wheels qualification

Miracle on Wheels announces that Medicare’s regulations make it easier for seniors and others with debilitating conditions such as arthritis, stroke, heart and breathing problems, or diabetes to obtain a power wheelchair at little or no cost. Anyone who is suffering from any condition that severely limits their mobility should call Miracle on Wheels toll-free at 800-400-4210.

Co-Dependency group to meet

The Co-Dependency (CoDA) Words of Wisdom (WOW) Group meets from 6:30 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday at the Salvation Army, 15464 Cortez Blvd. The group is a 12-step fellowship of men and women whose common purpose is to develop healthy relationships. The only requirement for membership is a desire for healthy and fulfilling relationships. For information, call Valarie at (352) 596-2492.

‘Children Loved’ support group

St. Frances Cabrini Center will offer an “Our Children Loved and Remembered” support group at 7 p.m. the first and third Friday of each month in Room 3 of the Cabrini Center, 5030 Mariner Blvd. The support group is for parents and grandparents that have lost a child of any age or religion. For information, call Dorothy at (352) 684-1369 or Carol at (352) 686-1310.

Celebrate Recovery at Life Center

Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered 12-step program for those with hurts, habits and hang-ups, will be held at 7 p.m. Fridays and Mondays at Bridge Family Life Center, aka First Baptist Church, 7279 Pinehurst Drive. The Friday program is a time of worship and a lesson followed by small groups for fellowship and discussion. Child care is provided on Friday nights only. The Monday program is the men’s and women’s 12-step study groups. For information, call (352) 683-2863 or visit the church’s Website at

Yoga classes at Inner Peace

Hatha Yoga classes will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesdays and at 6 p.m. Thursdays at the Inner Peace Bookstore and Wellness Center, 421 West Jefferson St. Bring a mat or towel and bottled water. The cost is $7 per person, but the first yoga class is free with instructor Rachel Oleson, (352) 346-8619. For information, call the Bookstore at (352) 544-0304.

A Reiki clinic will be held at 7 p.m. each Wednesday at the Inner Peace Bookstore and Wellness Center. Reiki is a Japanese word meaning Universal Life Energy, an energy all around people. Reiki allows the person to feel deeply relaxed, calm and peaceful. The cost for the clinic is $10 per person or $22 per month, and Reiki books will be available for purchase. For information, call Maria at (352) 544-0304 or Vicki at (352) 442-1240.

Outreach Center offers support

Beautiful Mind Outreach Center, 10554 Spring Hill Drive, in the Brothers I and II Plaza, is a self-help rehabilitation and recreation center which helps those with a mental illness help themselves and also offers support and education to their families. The Center provides support groups, education groups, friendship groups, bingo, arts and crafts, computer classes, bowling, scrapbooking, guest speakers, social activities and more. For information, call the Center at (352) 684-0004 or Ginny at (352) 686-2687.

Brooksville Regional introduces EUS

Brooksville Regional Hospital, 17240 Cortez Blvd., has introduced its full-service gastrointestinal program incorporating a relatively new procedure, the Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS). EUS combines the techniques of endoscopy and ultrasound examination to obtain images and information about various parts of the digestive tract through a less invasive procedure than surgery. The procedure enables physicians to detect and determine treatment for cancerous and non-cancerous tumors, masses and lesions in body tissues at earlier stages, as well as determine how aggressively these masses should be treated. For information, call (352) 799-5019 or visit

DivorceCare meetings

DivorceCare divorce recovery seminar and support group will meet at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays at St. Frances Cabrini Parish, 5030 Mariner Blvd. Seminar sessions will include “Facing My Anger,” “Facing My Loneliness,” “Depression,” “New Relationships,” “KidCare” and “Forgiveness.” For information, call (352) 686-9954 Ext. 409.

SHINE program announces new sites

Florida Department of Elder Affairs will offer the free SHINE program (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) at the following locations effective Feb. 1:


11 a.m. to noon, Brooksville Enrichment Center, 17222 Hospital Blvd., Medical Arts Building, Suite 120, Brooksville. For information, call (352) 544-6022.


Noon to 1 p.m., East Hernando Branch Library, 6457 Windmere Road, Brooksville. For information, call (352) 754-4443.


11 a.m. to noon, Spring Hill Enrichment Center, 10441 Quality Drive, Medical Arts Building, Suite 105, Spring Hill. For information, call (352)684-7568.

SHINE counselors offer information and assistance with Medicare (filling out paperwork, bills and filing appeals), Medicare supplemental insurance, Medicare prescription drug coverage, long-term care planning and pharmaceutical assistance programs. An appointment is not necessary. For information or for counseling locations outside Hernando County, call the Elder Hotline toll-free at 800-262-2243.

Celiac Group to meet 4th Saturday

Celiac Support Group meets from 10 a.m. to noon the fourth Saturday of the month in the Community Room at Coastal Region Library, 8619 West Crystal St. The support group is for those who have celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis. Everyone is welcome; bring friends or relatives who also may be gluten intolerant. Anyone who would like to bring a gluten-free snack, bring the recipe and/or list of ingredients for those with other allergies. For information, call Mary Lou Thomas at (352) 628-9559.

Mid-Florida Services provides meals

Mid-Florida Community Services provides nutritious meals year-round to seniors age 60 and over. Seniors are welcome to visit any one of its four dining sites within the county. In addition, the Meals on Wheels program provides nutritious lunches five days a week to seniors who are homebound. The daily contact by the program’s volunteers ensures a visit by someone who provides companionship, while checking on the person’s health and well being. Volunteers are welcome, and donations are appreciated. For information, call (352) 796-1425 or (352) 796-0485.

Leukemia group meets 4th Tuesday

The Florida Cancer Institute’s Leukemia/Lymphoma Support Group will meet from 5 to 6:30 p.m. the fourth Tuesday of every month at the Florida Cancer Institute’s Spring Hill Center, 10441 Quality Drive, Suite 203, in the Medical Arts Building, next to Spring Hill Regional Hospital. Topics that are frequently discussed are: the importance of early detection, signs and symptoms of leukemia-lymphoma, prognosis, disease stages, the various treatment options, and especially the latest research and treatment modalities. For information, call Jeff Haight, R.N., support group facilitator, at (352) 688-7744.

Hearing services has phones

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services of Florida has recently announced the addition of several new telephones, ttys and captioned telephones which are available through its no-charge equipment distribution program. Deaf and Hard of Hearing offers amplified telephones and related equipment free to permanent Florida residents who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf/blind or speech-impaired. The telecommunications access program is funded by a surcharge on all landline phones in Florida. Equipment is available Monday through Friday at the Main Office, 8610 Galen Wilson Blvd. or at satellite locations throughout Pasco and Hernando counties. For information or to make an appointment, call (727) 853-1010 or 866-685-9477.

Medicare recipients eligible for wheelchair

All Medicare recipients should now be aware that if they suffer from conditions such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disorders, and have difficulty walking or propelling a standard wheelchair, they may be eligible to receive an electric wheelchair paid for by Medicare. For information on Medicare eligibility, call 800-810-2877.

Grief support group meets Fridays

Survivors Grief Support Group meets at 1 p.m. Fridays in Conference Room 1 of Oak Hill Hospital, 11375 Cortez Blvd. Everyone is welcome. For information, call Rose at (352) 596-6752.

Enrichment Centers list activities

Department of Veteran Services of Hernando County will be addressing concerns and answering questions from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Tuesday at the Brooksville Enrichment Center, 670 Broad St., Brooksville; and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Friday at the Spring Hill Enrichment Center, 11375 Cortez Blvd., Spring Hill. Capri Home Care will be checking blood pressure and will host a question-answer session about general health concerns from 10 to 11 a.m. every Thursday at the Brooksville Enrichment Center. Contours Express will be sending a personal trainer to assist the exercise class at 8:45 a.m. every Wednesday at the Brooksville Enrichment Center. A volunteer will take blood pressure Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Spring Hill and Tuesdays at Brooksville. Support groups are available, such as Parkinson’s, diabetic, Alzheimer’s, Ostomy, nurses, well spouse and breast cancer. For information, call the Spring Hill Enrichment Center at (352) 597-6331 or the Brooksville Enrichment Center at (352) 544-5900.

Wishes on Wheels has wheelchairs

Wishes on Wheels has electric power wheelchairs available for nonambulatory senior citizens 65 years old and up, and the permanently disabled of any age, if they qualify. For information, call 800-823-5220 or visit

WOW program offered at YMCA

Hernando County Family YMCA offers a Working on Weights program that meets twice a week for four weeks on the Wellness Floor of the facility, 1300 Mariner Blvd. The program features one-on-one instruction with a personal wellness trainer to help achieve personal goals while addressing personal limitations and comforts. For information, call Olivia Matles at (352) 688-9622.

Yoga in the park

Yoga in the park will be offered Wednesdays at 9 a.m. at Hernando Park, 205 East Fort Dade Ave. The cost is $7. For information, call Rachel at (352)263-4923 or Hernando County Recreation Department at (352) 754-4031.

Editor’s note: Healthy Happenings events will only be listed as space permits. Email submissions to Karen Cuocco at

Hernando deputy shoots fire bomber

Detectives said they were forced to take cover after a man emerged through the front door and chucked a homemade fire bomb at them.

In the suspect’s other hand was a nail gun, said Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis.

He pulled the trigger and a few nails whizzed toward the three detectives, one sergeant and one deputy standing on his property.

Nienhuis said the suspect, Brett D. Hattenbrun, missed his targets with the Molotov cocktail and nail gun and none of his men and women wound up injured.

“It was a minor miracle,” he said.

The suspect, however, was shot in the stomach, according to the sheriff’s office. He was transported to an area hospital, but injuries were not considered life threatening, said Cpl. Wendy McGinnis, a sheriff’s spokeswoman.

The detectives arrived shortly before 9:45 a.m. Tuesday at 7043 Owl Road to serve a search warrant. They knocked and Hattenbrun, after a short period of time, opened the door and immediately threw the flaming bottle, Nienhuis said.

The sheriff would not provide more details about the deputy-related shooting because the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating.

The sheriff’s office is conducting its own internal affairs investigation. Bryan Faulkingham, the detective who shot Hattenbrun, has been placed on administrative leave with pay, which is agency policy, Nienhuis said.

Hattenbrun, 60, was charged with five counts of first-degree attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and three counts of throwing a destructive device with the intent to harm.

He remained under a doctor’s care as of Tuesday evening. McGinnis said he would be transported to the Hernando County Jail upon his release from the hospital.

Hattenbrun’s daughter-in-law, Joey Lynn Hattenbrun, 30, was found the night of Sept. 16 by her husband. She lay near her driveway in critical condition, deputies said.

She was airlifted to a Tampa-area hospital, but succumbed to her injuries. Detectives have ruled it a homicide.

Nienhuis declined to say whether the search warrant was related to the slaying, which occurred at 6492 Owl Road, a short walk from where Tuesday morning’s shooting took place.

Kathy Bobba, who lives down the street from Brett Hattenbrun’s house, told a News Channel 8 reporter she saw her neighbor getting arrested moments after hearing the gunshots.

“(We were) shocked by the whole thing … and shocked when we saw our neighbor being put in handcuffs,” Bobba said.

Several neighbors along and near Owl Road have remained nervous since the Sept. 16 killing. Some said they’ve anxiously awaited word about an arrest or at least a break in the case. Those fears rose Tuesday morning.

David Kesicki, who lives around the corner along Bluebird Avenue, said his wife was on the front porch when the search warrant was served. She heard about 10 gunshots.

She also noticed a group of deputies setting up a staging area in proximity to the Hattenbrun house before the shots ran out, Kesicki said.

The couple stood near the yellow tape hoping to find out more information.

“We’ve never had any problems in this neighborhood,” said Kesicki. “We’re just confused.”

He said they make sure to keep their alarm activated and doors locked, even when they’re home.

Nienhuis acknowledged the neighbors’ fears and their desire for more information, but said releasing too many details could endanger the investigation.

He said he hoped in the “not-so-distant future” he would discuss the homicide.

“We just have a lot of things to go through,” said Nienhuis.

Don and Linda Cook, who live next door to where Joey Hattenbrun was killed, stood in front of their driveway and watched as deputies cordoned off a section of the street and searched the area.

They were perplexed about living in between two scenes of violence that took place 11 days apart.

“Oh, God,” said Cook about 15 minutes after the shooting Tuesday. He stared blankly toward the house.

Cook said little else. He stood on the corner of his driveway and shook his head as more deputies arrived.

Besides Faulkingham, the others who were put in harm’s way Tuesday morning were Sgt. Phil Lakin, Detectives Jill Morrell and John Ellis and Deputy Rosemary DeJesus, according to the sheriff’s office.

Larry Turcotte, who lives around the corner from the shooting, said he had a long conversation Monday night with Hattenbrun.

“He walks around with a drink in his hand,” Turcotte said of his neighbor. “He’s always been a little bit of a rebel.”

The two families take part in a friendly competition every Halloween. They load up a couple trailers and drive up and down the rural roads of their subdivision and go door-to-door. They collect as much candy as possible.

Turcotte said he noticed something was off about Hattenbrun the last time he spoke to him. He understood why given the family tragedy that had taken place earlier in the month.

“He didn’t look good,” said Turcotte. “He was very pale. He almost looked sickly.”

Hattenbrun’s son was in even worse shape, he said. His father told Turcotte he was worried about him becoming overwhelmed with grief.

Both Hattenbrun and his son live in houses hidden behind a lot of trees, Turcotte said. He figured it was because they preferred more privacy.

He said the family has always been mild-mannered and kind. He’s never noticed any suspicious behavior patterns.

“They’re a very nice family,” Turcotte said. “You wouldn’t suspect something like this to happen.”

Nienhuis said the sheriff’s office responded once to the Hattenbrun house a couple years ago for a suicide threat. McGinnis said Hattenbrun wasn’t the person who made the threat.

News Channel 8 reporter Dave Kraut contributed to this story. (352) 544-5283

Backpacks with wheels coming to a rolling stop

They might be more efficient when traveling, but the wheels are in motion for some Hernando County schools to prohibit rolling backpacks – particularly for students in kindergarten through third-grade.

School officials say safety is the key reason why the pullable bags with wheels are being driven out of the classroom in preference of the more traditional bookbags with straps that can attach to a child’s back.

Ray Pinder, principal of J.D. Floyd K-8 School of Environmental Science, said the backpacks haven’t caused a serious issue yet. However, educators have identified them as a tripping hazard – particularly through the hallways.

Students in fourth- through eighth-grades do have the option of using the wheeled bags.

“It’s still a tripping hazard, but as they get older they start paying a little more attention to what’s going on in the hallway,” Pinder said. “Plus, as kids get older, books get heavier.”

At Brooksville Elementary, Assistant Principal Nancy Johnson said rolling backpacks are prohibited for children in kindergarten and first-grade only – mainly due to children having a little too much fun with the wheeled bags.

“A lot of children like to use them as lawnmowers,” Johnson said. “We’ve had to constantly remind them that they’re meant to be pulled, not pushed – and so they tend to be a little more disruptive with them that way.”

Both agreed there have been no serious issues with them, while Pinder added that parents will likely be understanding of the restrictions.

As devices, games and other new items become popular, school officials annually consider stricter constraints on what children can bring to school.

Heelys, which are shoes with wheels on the bottom made by Heelys, Inc., are banned to keep students from practically roller skating through hallways. Silly Bandz, popular rubber bands that are formed into specific shapes, are also prohibited in some schools.

“Most of the items that are prohibited are mainly done for safety,” Pinder said.

Other no-no’s at some schools include:

* Mechanical pencils.

* Gel pens.

* Pencil sharpeners

* Trapper keepers.

* Ear bud style headphones.

To see your child’s back-to-school list, go to

Meanwhile, as some may argue that book bags are becoming too bulky and heavy for children and teens, Pinder pointed out that most would find that most of what students choose to carry in their backpacks are unnecessary.

“The bigger the backpack, the more kids tend to try and store in them,” Pinder said. “It becomes their own little packrat thing and adds more to what they have to clean out.”

Reporter Jeff Schmucker can be reached at (352) 544-5271 or

Urologist Omar Hamoui, M.D. using advanced surgical technology at Brooksville Regional Hospital

Dr. Omar Hamoui recently completed the first urological procedure using the daVinci surgical technology at Brooksville Regional Hospital.

Dr. Hamoui specializes in the diagnosis and minimally invasive treatment of kidney, bladder and prostate cancers.

Dr. Hamoui utilized the daVinci Robotic Surgical System to perform a nephrectomy, the surgical removal of a kidney or a section of a kidney.

This is commonly performed on patients with cancer or that have non-functioning kidneys as a result of infection, cysts, or kidney stones.

“This surgical system allows for smaller incisions and superior visualization. The benefits to the patient include less pain, minimal blood loss, less scarring, and a quicker recovery”, said Dr. Hamoui. “This patient was able to go home on the second day, which is rare for someone who has had a kidney removed”.

The da Vinci® Si surgical system is a technologically advanced robotic surgery system which allows surgeons the ability to perform intricate surgeries that provide patients the best possible surgical outcomes and fastest recovery times.

This is achieved because, with the da Vinci, surgeons can make smaller incisions and see magnified real-time imagery of the surgery site in 3-D, high-definition detail with up to 10x magnification.

Surgeons perform the surgeries by sitting at a computer console, viewing magnified, high definition imagery of the surgery site and using hand controls to manipulate the da Vinci’s robotic arms to make precise surgical maneuvers.

The surgeon maintains full control of every precise surgical movement.

Brooksville Regional Hospital introduced the daVinci Surgical System in November of 2010 and is the only hospital in Hernando county offering this technology.

“Having this advanced surgical system in Hernando County allows me to offer the latest in minimally invasive surgery to my patients”, said Dr. Hamoui. “It alleviates patients having to travel to Orlando or Tampa for the same advanced surgery”, said Dr. Hamoui.

If you are facing surgery, check with your doctor to find out if you are a candidate for surgery using the daVinci surgical system.

For more information visit us at and follow the link for daVinci Surgical System.

About Brooksville Regional Hospital

Brooksville Regional Hospital continues setting a standard of excellence which surrounds each and every person who comes to them for their care. With 120 beds and 60 private rooms, Brooksville Regional Hospital provides state-of-the-art technology, including high-speed CT scanners, digital mammography, dual cardiac catheterization suites and nuclear imaging cameras.

Approximately 275 physicians, 500 associates, and over 150 volunteers comprise Brooksville Regional Hospital’s healthcare delivery team.

Designated as an Accredited Chest Pain Center and a Certified Primary Stoke Center, Brooksville Regional Hospital has a highly trained cardiac team, with an advanced heart program, including angioplasty and stenting.

Should you need Emergency Care, their ER Extra program emphasizes extra fast, extra easy, extra great patient care and customer service.
Brooksville Regional Hospital has an extensive surgery program and is the only hospital in Hernando

County to offer robotic surgery using the da Vinci® surgery system. Brooksville Regional has a dedicated Orthopedic Joint Center and Women’s Imaging program that incorporates Digital Mammography with Computer Aided Detection (CAD) and Stereotactic Breast biopsy.

The hospital offers the only hospital-based outpatient cardiac, pulmonary and diabetic rehabilitation and Sleep Disorders Center. V

Visit us at

The King – of Brooksville – is in the building

BROOKSVILLE- Even with a three hour time difference, James Rompel sounded awake and alert at 7 a.m. Thursday as he started his day in “Sin City” and the “Entertainment Capital of the World.”

“I was just letting the dogs out,” said Rompel during a phone interview from his Las Vegas home.

A 1979 Hernando High School graduate, James “Love” Rompel will perform a free Elvis tribute concert noon Valentine’s Day in the clubhouse of Frontier Campground on State Road 50.

Rompel said he is excited to return to Brooksville to perform for his mother, Peg, and childhood friends. Donations will be accepted to aid his mother, who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is currently in the hospital with bronchitis.

“I hope she comes out by then,” he said. “I had a lot of fond memories from growing up there. It’s a good feeling to come back and rekindle memories with the people I grew up with.”

Based out of Las Vegas, Rompel’s television credits include VH1, MTV and the Tonight Show as well as regular performances at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand, Caesar’s Palace, Hard Rock Café, House of Blues, and Legends in Concert.

Rompel was first introduced to the “Kind of Rock and Roll” when he was in his teens and was inspired by his grandmother, who would draw over photographs of Rompel with his natural platinum blond hair with sharpie markers and say “You look like Presley.”

After working in food services, sales, marketing and even as a limo driver, Rompel began performing tributes to Elvis in his mid 20s.

“I thought she was crazy but she was my inspiration. I always felt a connection to Elvis,” he said. “If you can sing along, by all means. If you feel like dancing, we encourage that.”

Marv Sweet, event coordinator with Frontier Campground, said seating is limited and is on a first come, first served basis but almost 100 people have already said they would attend.

“We just made it an event for everybody. We’ve got almost 90 people signed up,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s one of the best I’ve ever seen.”

Rompel’s Elvis tribute concert is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted. The performance will begin at noon Valentine’s Day, Monday, Feb. 14, at Frontier Campground at 15549 Cortez Boulevard.

For more information, contact Sweet at 352-442-3210 or visit

Reporter Hayley Mathis can be reached at 352-544-5225 or

Traffic crash slows I-75 traffic near Brooksville

The Florida Highway Patrol is working an accident along Interstate 75 and at least one of the southbound lanes has been closed, according to scanner reports.

The accident took place shortly before 9:30 a.m. about three miles south of the State Road 50 exit, troopers said.

The inside lane was blocked after rescue units arrived, according to the FHP website.

Details of the crash were not available this morning.

Brooksville firefighter remains on paid leave following theft arrest

A suspended city firefighter is still under investigation following his shoplifting arrest last month, his boss said Tuesday.

Justin Rossano, 26, of Spring Hill, was charged Sept. 23 with misdemeanor retail theft.

A Walmart employee saw Rossano remove a sheet set and a nightlight and conceal the items before bypassing the registers as he walked toward the exit, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.

The total value of the items was $36.17, deputies said.

Rossano was arrested at the Walmart at 13300 Cortez Blvd., according to a sheriff’s report.

He was transported to the Hernando County Jail without incident, deputies said.

Rossano has been a firefighter/EMT with the Brooksville Fire Department for a little more than a year, said Chief Tim Mossgrove.

“We have an active internal affairs investigation going on,” said Mossgrove.

Rossano’s next court date is scheduled for Oct. 27.

He is being represented by Brooksville attorney Jimmy Brown, according to court records.

Rossano, who submitted a written plea of not guilty last week, remains on paid leave as the investigation continues, Mossgrove said.

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

Local trade school graduates feel duped

They expected to work on cruise ships. Two of them got jobs building screen porches. The rest got nothing.

They were promised they’d graduate with their heads filled with all the required marine interior skills. No one ever touched any welding equipment, let alone received training on how to use them, they said.

Some thought they would be working off the coast of Mexico, but those jobs were not available by the time they graduated. The company insisted on hiring Mexican workers.

They were promised the class at the Hernando Employment Training Association would last 12 weeks. It lasted more than five months.

Seven HETA graduates spoke negatively about their experiences. None has ever seen the inside of a shipyard since graduation.

Ed Tordesillas, president of HETA, said he sympathizes.

“I really, really do feel for the students,” he said. “It’s just a very, very tough economy out there.”

More students have come through the school, so the pool off out-of-work graduates is growing. Nonetheless, Tordesillas said HETA is still working to find them employment.

“We’re not going to stop,” he said. “My job is to help them. It’s absolutely to help them.”

In all, five classes have graduated from HETA. The school hopes to expand in the coming months and add several more morning and afternoon classes.

In spite of Tordesillas’ promises to help and in spite of them still clinging to the hope their HETA education will lead to a future job offer, the students from the June graduating class are unanimously bitter.

Thirteen men graduated from that class. They think they could have spent those five months looking for work, or at the very least, used the $5,000 in grant money to attend another trade school.

“I just want my five grand back so I can go take a welding class somewhere,” said Joey Piganowski, 42, of Tampa. “We spent five months in school when we could’ve been working. If you include all the time I’ve been trying to find a job, that’s a year that’s been tied up with these people. They’re living like fat cats and I have nothing to show for it.”

When a student suffered a sawing accident, he was treated and released at the hospital. HETA paid for it, Tordesillas said.

When the jobs in Mexico seemed like a sure thing, the students who didn’t have passports purchased them. When it fell through, the school reimbursed them, he said.

Tordesillas said he didn’t start the school as a way to make money.

He said he has extensive experience in the field of job assistance and training. A proposal was made to him in 2008 from a local industry executive about starting a trade school. The goal was to boost the number of local available workers with specialized skills.

It seemed like a good idea. Tordesillas thinks it still is a good idea. He relies on grant money for the school to survive and grow.

“We help people who have to overcome a lot of barriers,” he said. “We work with troubled youths, criminal offenders … We try to help everyone we can.”

A one-time grant wasted

“The message was come to class every day, do the work and apply yourself. The people who do that are going to get the jobs,” said Dennis Ely, a member of HETA’s second class. “I had a perfect attendance record. I got a 96 percent overall grade and no job. When you asked them about it, they would say, ‘Well, we didn’t really guarantee you a job.'”

Ely, who is in his 50s, has since moved to California to look for work. His background is in construction.

He applied and was eligible for a $5,000 grant through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The federal law was passed in 1998. It offers tuition and training costs for those who have been laid off. It also can be used by those looking to acquire new skills to secure a job in a new field.

There is a catch. The grant is a one-time deal.

Ely, like his classmates, feels as though he wasted his best opportunity for a better life.

The grant money, students said, went toward the salaries for those who work at HETA.

In spite of his resentment, Ely said he would accept any call from a HETA placement specialist.

“I don’t have a lot of options,” he said. “I have to find work.

“I went into marine joining to start a new career,” Ely continued. “Construction failed me and I needed something else. I really think they were just stroking me the whole time.”

Michael Fetz graduated from the same class. He said he finished with a final grade of 91 percent.

He, along with another graduate whose wife was employed at HETA, was offered a job with Coastal Craftsman, a pool cage company.

His other classmates wondered why he was offered a job and not them. Fetz wasn’t sure.

“I had hell to pay over that,” he said of his classmates’ initial resentment. “People called me and asked me, ‘How did that happen? I didn’t blame them for reacting that way, but I couldn’t refuse a job.”

The job paid about $10 an hour, he said. It was half of what he and his fellow students expected to be making after graduation.

Fetz, 27, didn’t work long for Coastal Craftsman. Years earlier, he had been injured in a motorcycle accident and had a steel rod inserted into his leg. He said he wasn’t physically suited to walk along beams 10 feet above ground.

Since quitting over the summer, he has remained unemployed.

“I should have taken that five months I spent at that school and looked for a job,” said Fetz, who is married with an 11-year-old stepson and a 16-month old son. “I probably missed a lot of opportunities out there.”

Jesse McKay, 22, of Brooksville, was one of the youngest students in the class. He now works for a local pizzeria. While in school, he worked part-time in retail.

“I was promised a lot of opportunities,” he said. “We were going to go through this class and we were going to learn everything we needed to know about this trade … I plunged myself into the class.”

The instructors included someone who had only a few weeks of training in marine joining and another who graduated from HETA’s first class in 2009. Within weeks, McKay and the others were skeptical.

“Right off the bat, you’re like, ‘What the heck is going on here?'” he said.

They didn’t work with blueprints. They worked with drawings sketched on letter-sized paper, said McKay.

They didn’t use welding tools. They only had a few saws and some screw guns.

“Out of those (five) months, we spent two months learning,” McKay said. “The rest of the time we sat on our (expletive deleted) and learned nothing. The whole time people were like, ‘Why am I here?'”

McKay was down on his luck, but he realized others had it worse.

“A lot of these guys were older and had families and mortgages,” he said. “We’re sitting in this class that was being dragged out and these poor guys needed to pay their mortgages.”

Six weeks ago, McKay received a call from a placement specialist at HETA. She told him of a job opportunity.

She didn’t know the name of the company. She didn’t know the address. She didn’t know much about the job other than it involved distributing, said McKay.

He declined the offer.

McKay, like most of the rest of his classmates, didn’t hold back when they spoke about HETA and the people who run it.

“They knew exactly what they were doing,” he said. “They knew what they were doing was wrong. The (grant) money was coming in for them and they were getting out of control with it.”

HETA wanted to give students hope, not promises

HETA is located at 3195 Premier Drive near the Airport Industrial Park. Renovations are being made and plans are underway to expand the school to include machining and ship building classes.

Tordesillas said the school started following a meeting between him and JB Bowles, president of R&M Ship Technologies USA.

Bowles no longer is employed with R&M. He still sits on the Pasco-Hernando Workforce Board, but he doesn’t know for how much longer.

The same workforce agency distributes the WIA grants.

R&M shut down its Brooksville location because of a lack of business. The company had hoped to make the local facility its U.S. headquarters. Bowles said the supplies were moved to storage and the company is looking to lease the building in the Airport Industrial Park.

“We mothballed it,” said Bowles. “Business was not doing well, especially after the Gulf oil spill.”

One of R&M’s divisions was supposed to have offered job opportunities for HETA graduates. Some of the graduates from the first class – maybe a half-dozen – still are working for R&M in Philadelphia, Bowles said.

He expected R&M to have more positions available for HETA graduates, but not every bidding contract gets accepted, said Bowles.

The Hernando County Commission offered monetary incentives to R&M. Those incentives were contingent on whether it could bring 15 to 20 jobs like it promised. It fell short.

In 2008, Bowles and Tordesillas came to an agreement: Tordesillas would open a school that would teach students how to build an interior of a ship. The graduates would make up the pool of desired skill workers.

Both men insist the closing of R&M’s location in the Airport Industrial Park had no effect on HETA. There were no jobs in Brooksville for marine joining. The jobs were in Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Mexico.

Those jobs didn’t pan out either, Tordesillas said.

In addition to R&M, HETA’s website lists Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce, Florida Marine Joiner Services, Lowe’s, Tampa Ship and the Insultech Group as sponsors or collaborators.

Karen Cobb, a Lowe’s spokeswoman, said the home-improvement retailer has no known affiliation with HETA.

“Certainly we will be looking into their use of the Lowe’s brand,” Cobb said.

Tordesillas said Lowe’s had donated supplies to help the school get started.

Students said they have applied for marine joining jobs on their own. When they call companies, including the names listed as sponsors on HETA’s website, the hiring managers tell them they are not familiar with the school.

In a story published in Hernando Today nine months ago, Tordesillas and his staff bragged about the success of the first class. Eighty percent of them found jobs while the rest were interviewing and on the brink of employment, they said.

“Twelve of our 15 graduates have designated jobs,” Tordesillas said in that article, copies of which were framed and are hanging on the walls inside the school. “Some will work locally. Others are going to do contract work in Philadelphia. Starting pay is $20 an hour.”

Tordesillas, who was interviewed Friday, stands by those numbers. He would not speak negatively about the students in the second class other than to say he was “disappointed” they were speaking out so strongly against the school.

One of them, Richard Coleman, 28, lives in a one-bedroom trailer in Shady Hills.

“I have not been called one time for a job, not one time,” he said.

Coleman is unemployed. His roommate graduated from HETA’s first class, the one with the 80 percent success rate.

Coleman’s roommate declined to be interviewed. He is employed, but not as a marine joiner.

Tordesillas thinks Coleman and others like him misinterpreted what HETA was offering. They would become better job candidates upon completion of the school, but nothing was automatic, he said.

“There is nothing in our writings that suggested we guarantee jobs,” said Tordesillas. “We didn’t misguide them. We trained them. We taught them. We’re still trying to help them. Everything we’re trying to do here is positive for the community.”

Reporter Tony Holt can be reached at 352-544-5823 or

Toddler death investigators have history of discipline problems

A man was pulled from his job by a group of uniformed deputies with guns and hauled to jail in November.

A victim in a home invasion singled him out from a booklet of photographs.

The man, who was working in Dade City the day the crime happened 40 miles away in Spring Hill, spent his birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day behind bars.

George Loydgren was the lead detective for the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office in the case.

The victim at first didn’t finger the suspect. Loydgren went back to him a second time and got a different result.

Transcripts from sworn testimony showed Loydgren’s explanation for the victim’s change of heart was that he had better lighting the second time he saw the photos.

The prosecutor dropped all charges after the arrested man had spent more than three months in jail.

In February 2008, Loydgren was given a written reprimand by Sheriff Richard Nugent and suspended for three days after he wrecked his patrol vehicle during a car chase along a lime rock road.

Nugent said he ignored the safety of the public when he engaged the suspect in a pursuit.

“Your indifference to our training and policy reviews as it relates to pursuits is obvious,” the sheriff wrote.

In March, Loydgren was issued a verbal reprimand. He had failed to inform his supervisor in a timely manner he had contacted the victims in an assigned criminal case, according to a sheriff’s report.

Loydgren, who joined the sheriff’s office in 2005, retired from the New York Police Department in 2003. He had worked there for 18 years. He said during a sworn deposition that he was a detective and worked terrorism cases prior to his retirement.

In November 2004, Sgt. Curtis Turney, who is Loydgren’s supervisor, failed to document his involvement in a murder investigation. He was a detective at the time.

His negligence led to a mistrial. It also led to unflattering newspaper reports that painted the sheriff’s office in a negative light, according to a report.

An internal investigation concluded Turney was at fault and his performance was declared unsatisfactory.

On Sept. 11, 2009, both men handled the interrogations of Breanna Underwood and David Alan McBurnett Jr. The latter was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse in connection with the beating death of 1-year-old Hunter Lee Morris.

McBurnett’s attorney, Ellis Faught, accused both men of unethical tactics during their interviews. He got them both to admit during sworn depositions that they had lied to both suspects.

They manipulated and deceived to get Underwood to lay all the blame on her boyfriend, Faught said.

They did so because it’s a common practice, they said.

Confession by deception

Faught is a Brandon criminal attorney who was hired by McBurnett’s grandmother.

His client was eligible to be sentenced as a youthful offender. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter and received a two-year sentence with much of that credited for time already served. He is expected to be assigned to a boot camp program and will be released sometime this year, his parents said.

His attorney said McBurnett never hit his girlfriend’s child.

Underwood told detectives the same during the first few hours of her interrogation. It wasn’t until after they told her McBurnett had ratted her out that she changed her story.

Records show McBurnett never told detectives Underwood had struck or injured her son. Loydgren and Turney testified later they had made it up.

No one else has corroborated Underwood’s claims that McBurnett ever hit the child. That includes Underwood’s mother, who said the only abuse she saw done to the boy was at the hands of her daughter.

Witnesses and social workers involved in the case have said Underwood was the main culprit in her son’s death, according to court records.

Underwood has not been charged.

Faught said when he received the transcripts of the interviews one Friday afternoon earlier this year, he expected to read them at a leisurely pace during the weekend.

He couldn’t put them down. After he was done, it took a while for him to digest what he had read.

“I was so perturbed,” Faught said. “I just could not believe what was taking place … It gave me the impetus to do what I thought needed to be done.

“I was a little bit disgusted with what they were doing with this 19-year-old kid,” he continued. “Detective Loydgren and Sgt. Turney both out and out admitted they were lying. Had that (case) made it to trial, I would’ve asked them in front of the jury, ‘You’re a liar, aren’t you?'”

Their interrogation tactics weren’t all that bothered Faught. He also thinks they failed to follow up on leads and ignored the findings from the Florida Department of Children and Families, which verified Underwood’s direct involvement with the death of her son.

“My experiences through the years have shown me once law enforcement has a target or made an arrest, it’s up to the defense attorney to show the investigation has not been complete,” said Faught. “Many times, (police) look no further.”

Peyton Hyslop is a former county judge. He is now a Brooksville defense attorney.

He said the sheriff’s office often stops short of the necessary requirements in evidence gathering.

“That’s usually the way it is,” said Hyslop. “The depth of investigating in most cases is not very deep.”

Hyslop said the interrogation strategies used by Loydgren and Turney in the McBurnett case were “pretty outlandish.”

He’s dealt with Loydgren before.

A defendant he represented in a drug case had his charges thrown out because Loydgren “went beyond the legally allowed boundaries” during his interviews with the suspect, Hyslop said.

Prosecutors, DCF say detectives did nothing unethical or illegal

Assistant State Attorney Don Barbee is a former police detective and FBI agent. He teaches police interrogation classes at the Withlacoochee Technical Institute.

He said Loydgren and Turney used common and acceptable strategies during their interviews with Underwood and McBurnett.

“Deception is perfectly allowable and often used in police interviews,” Barbee said. “That is a standard interview technique.”

He said the only instances when interrogations cross the legal line is when detectives use fake props – including photographs or videos – or when they go beyond the “shock the conscious” standard to get an innocent person to confess.

The latter often applies to torture techniques.

American Civil Liberties Union of Florida spokeswoman Elsie Morales said lying during an interrogation is a “very common tactic” used by police and sheriff’s departments.

Bill D’Aiuto, a DCF administrator in Wildwood, said his office has a “great relationship” with the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office. He thinks the detectives did a solid job in the McBurnett case with what little information they had.

“It can be difficult to determine a perpetrator,” D’Aiuto said. “We had two adults who were giving different versions of the story. They were responding to law enforcement one way and (another) way to us. I guess you could say the case was unique in that way.”

Pete Magrino is the prosecutor who handles most homicide cases in the Fifth Judicial Circuit of Florida, which includes Hernando County.

He prosecuted McBurnett and agreed to the plea agreement. He also said the case remains open and more arrests are possible.

He said he understood Faught’s displeasure with the way the case was handled, but after reviewing the audio recordings of the interviews with McBurnett and Underwood, Magrino did not find anything “improper or unethical” done by the detectives.

He said the attitudes and aggressiveness shown by Loydgren and Turney the morning of the arrests were understandable given the circumstances. A toddler was on life support and the two people who knew what had happened were being tight-lipped.

The boy was taken off his ventilator Sept. 12.

The initial interview of all suspects is critical, said Magrino.

If they are dismissed before any charges are filed, they can go home and collaborate on a story. That is why there was so much urgency on the part of the detectives that morning, he said.

“The bottom line is that law enforcement must try to get to the bottom of a case,” he said. “They were talking to people involved in a friggin’ homicide.”

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


Spring Hill’s Dixie Senior Boys (age 14) All-Stars completed an impressive five-game sweep of the District 6 Baseball Championships at Ernie Wever Youth Park by blanking San Antonio Thursday night, 11-0.

The West Hernando club, which outscored its opponents by 42 runs, 49-7, outhit San Ann (3-2), 11-3 overall in the 2:11 game.

Thursday’s win was Spring Hill’s third shutout of the tourney and second over the East Pasco County club. On Tuesday, the West Hernando squad stuffed San Ann, 3-0.

The win served Spring Hill Head Coach Shawn Laferty’s first-ever district crown. Laferty, who captured a state championship in 2008, joins Mike Sollazzo (2008), John Maggard (2005), Doug DeRespiris and Gerald Johnson (2001) as Hernando County skippers to guide teams to District 6 Senior Boys crowns this decade.

“We hit the ball better and we got big hits all night,” said Coach Laferty. “Certain players came to play. Our shortstop Will Pagan, is as good a player as there is around. He is an ‘A’ player.”

Had Spring Hill lost, that would have forced a winner-take-all game on Friday.

“No way did we want to play on Friday,” said Coach Laferty. “I asked the boys to prove who the better team was once and for all.”

The key?

“Our pitching was outstanding,” Coach Laferty said. “Blake (Laferty) didn’t strike out one batter. He didn’t have to. He let the other team hit the ball and we made plays behind him. It was an old-school type win. And I will say it’s nice to win a district title, but it’s nothing like winning states. This particular group of kids has finished second in states twice and won it all once – it’s a great bunch of guys.”

From the other dugout, San Antonio skipper Rob Hanlon tipped his cap.

“Their (Spring Hill) pitching was outstanding,” he noted. “Though they didn’t hit the ball the first time against us, they certainly hit the ball and put some plays together. They definitely had a game plan coming in.

“Now, we hit the ball, but most of the time it went right to somebody,” added Coach Hanlon. “Those guys (Spring Hill) have played together a long time. That’s a tough team to beat.”

Laferty rules

Right-hander Blake Laferty, Coach Laferty’s son, worked five-plus innings to earn the mound win, while Pagan retired all six batters he faced across the final two frames.

Laferty permitted three singles and two walks while not striking out a batter, while Pagan fanned three.

“I felt good, I was on top all night,” said the 14-year-old Laferty. “My arm felt strong. As a pitcher, I’m glad we came out swinging and we did a good job of working the count. Plus, our defense was stellar.”

Only J.D. Edwards, Zachary Flood and Johnny Nystrom collected base hits off Spring Hill pitchers.

In a terrific all-around effort, Spring Hill converted 30-for-30 chances on defense supporting Laferty and Pagan to earn a berth in the July 10 Dixie State Championships in Marianna.

By comparison, San Antonio hurt its chances committing a game-high five errors, besides suffering two wild pitches, one passed ball and one balk.

“We played great defense,” pointed out the 14-year-old Pagan. “And we got awesome pitching from Blake. We did not want to come back here and play again.”

Offensively, Laferty was the game’s main catalyst going 3-for-5 including a pair of doubles, while driving in a game-high four RBI.

Leadoff batter Ryan Stevens set the tone going 1-for-3, but scored four times, while right fielder Kyle Jaimes finished 2-for-4.

“Our pitching was excellent tonight,” said the 14-year-old Stevens. “Plus we had a lot of support from our defense. We did what we had to do.

“This was a huge win,” added Stevens. “They (San Antonio) came in with the mindset that they were the better team. We proved who was better.”

123 456 7 R H E
SH 200 401 4 — 11 11 0
SA 000 000 0 — 0 3 5
SH – Laferty, Pagan (6) and Treverton.
SA – Imhoff, Hanlon (4) and Edwards, Combee (7).
W – Laferty. L – Imhoff.
2B – Laferty 2 (SH).
Records – Spring Hill (5-0), San Antonio (3-2).

Dixie Youth League Senior Boys (age 14) All-Stars District 6 Recap at Ernie Wever Youth Park in Brooksville

San Antonio 13, Ridge Manor 1

South Lake 9, Hernando 3

Sumter 8, Wesley Chapel 4

Spring Hill 20, Oak Griner 0
SH – Blake Laferty three hits; Matt Rhineberger, Danny Schonborn,
Evan Webster, Kyle Jaimes, Austin Treverton and Will Pagan each with two hits.

Hernando 5, Ridge Manor 3
Wesley Chapel 10, Oak Griner 0
San Antonio 7, South Lake 0
Spring Hill 6, Sumter 2

Games rained out.

Hernando 14, Sumter 13 (8 Inns.)
HYL – D.J. Niethammer game-tying two-run HR in seventh;
Hunter Ridpath RBI single in eighth.
Wesley Chapel 9, South Lake 0
Spring Hill 3, San Antonio 0

San Antonio 12, Wesley Chapel 9
Spring Hill 9, Hernando 5

Spring Hill 11, San Antonio 0

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