The year 2021 was initially billed as a return to normal, but it was more of the same. COVID-19 was supposed to come under control as large portions of the population became vaccinated or developed natural immunity by having recovered from COVID-19.
Losing a Luminary
On August 26, 2021, Hernando County lost a luminary to COVID-19. Dennis Wilfong was a young 74. “Dennis and his family moved to Brooksville, Florida in 1979. There he founded Innovative Technology Corp with his newly invented products in surge protection. After selling the company in 1997, he dedicated his life, volunteering and giving to his community and helping others any way he could.”
Brooksville Water Tower Debacle
The City of Brooksville’s Water Tower was accidentally sold to Robert Read. In April, the City of Brooksville announced that the City Council had agreed to subdivide the water tower property and sell a portion to Robert Read. Read, who is a certified personal trainer, purchased the property intending to renovate the garage building to establish Downtown Athletics, LLC, a business that will offer personal and group fitness training activities. The error was discovered when Mr. Read requested a new address from the Property Appraiser. Mr. Read deeded the water tower back to the city. The city accidentally selling the water tower made national news.
City Manager Fired
Brooksville City Manager Mark Kutney was fired at the regular meeting on June 21, 2021. The firing came after the water tower debacle. Mr. Kutney gave a presentation about the sale, Kutney said that the accidental sale took place after staff had presented an inaccurate legal description of the property which was subsequently forwarded by Kutney’s office to the city attorney. “This does not mean I’m blaming my staff members,” Kutney told the Council. “Ultimately the manager is responsible and accountable for all actions taken by the City – I am accountable for the situation.” The Brooksville City Council voted 3-2 to terminate Mr. Kutney’s contract. Ron Snowberger, the city’s fire chief, was picked as an interim city manager, then later permanently hired for the position.
Hernando County’s New Government/Education Center
The Brooksville airport will be home to future government buildings, as well as the planned technical training center. It will bear the name, the “Dr. Dennis Wilfong Technology and Government Center.” “The educational center will be a collaboration of Pasco Hernando State College, Suncoast Technical Education Center, the Hernando County School District and private companies.” “The campus will be centered around the large educational building, but will also house several government offices including possibly the Supervisor of Elections. It is to be located on the 17.94-acre property that the county recently acquired from the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport (also controlled by the County) for $1,794,000. The property is located to the east of Gale Insulation (Towards US-41) on Spring Hill Drive.”
The Tampa Bay area is earning the title of Title Town USA with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning Super Bowl LV and the Tampa Bay Lightning winning their second consecutive Stanley Cup. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers managed to land the most Super Bowl-winning quarterback in the twilight of this career, Tom Brady. Brady and the rest of the team delivered, winning the second Superbowl in Buccaneers history. The Lightning defended their championship in 2021 winning their second consecutive Stanley Cup.
Hernando has its share of interesting criminals. Trey Cornwell made national news by stealing an ambulance from Oak Hill Hospital early Easter Sunday morning. The crime was not really the reason the story went viral, it was the combination of the crime and the mugshot of Trey Cornwell. Mr. Cornwell has a tattoo on his face that resembles the makeup from David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust.
The year 2021 was full of wild events. After the previous crazy year that was dominated by COVID-19 many were hoping for a break from the excitement, but 2021 was not willing to be calm.