On the morning of Friday, August 11, the Hernando County Government hosted the groundbreaking of the Dr. Dennis Wilfong Center for Success. The future center, which will be located on Helicopter Drive near the airport, is planned to be a technical training complex. This group of buildings is named in honor of the local businessman and humanitarian who founded the locally headquartered firm Innovative Technology, Incorporated, and passed away in 2021 at 74 years of age.
Appropriately, the complex was designed and will be built by a pair of local businesses, Coastal Engineering Associates and Goodwin Brothers Construction, respectively. The complex-to-be, which is a joint-agency project between the Hernando County School Board, the Hernando County Government, and Pasco-Hernando State College, has a passionate group of individuals across these organizations supporting the new site, including County Administrator Jeffrey Rogers and Superintendent of Schools John Stratton.
“This facility is intended to support Hernando County’s local workforce by providing much-needed affordable vocational and technical education options,” Rogers said in a press release. “The significance of this project is to allow more adults in our community to gain the knowledge and skillsets to access lucrative jobs in high-demand occupations.”
To open the proceedings, members of the local government, the public, and the media gathered in and around a covering from the sweltering morning heat. Several chairs were set up with mockups of the complex and a giant check flanking a podium. After County Public Information Coordinator Dominique Holmes opened the proceedings, a variety of speakers remarked on this important project for the county, including Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners John Allocco and President of Pasco-Hernando Community College Dr. Timothy Beard.
Many of those who stepped up to the podium talked about the kind of person Dr. Dennis Wilfong was and shared personal anecdotes of their time with him. Those like Superintendent Stratton discussed his vision for this center and how it was the doctor’s persistence that helped get the ball rolling on this project. Of all the speakers, a special guest took a few minutes to deliver her own poignant tribute – his wife, Pam Wilfong.
“[He] always thought you cannot hold a candle for someone else without lighting your own path. He did that for so many people in so many ways, which was his secret of always being super good but getting better,” Pam Wilfong said. “Dennis became more excited about this [center] than I’d ever seen him… It was a concept that allowed already talented, successful leaders to teach students to develop those real-world skills needed in their professions. In other words, they could hold a candle to light the path for others.”
Following all of the speakers’ remarks, Wilfong, council members, government officials, and construction workers donned hard hats and shovels and posed for group pictures before the main event. Before the festivities, the county stood on “the precipice of greatness.” Once their blades pierced the earth, the squad took the next step towards the construction of a one-of-a-kind instructional complex that will provide an invaluable service to the community.