Throwing our hat in the ring

The Hernando Sun competes in the Florida Press Weekly Newspaper Contest for the first time

This time of year, weekly newspapers around the state of Florida are preparing and finalizing their submissions for the Florida Press Association weekly newspaper contest. We have been printing for 3 years and a weekly newspaper for nearly 2 years and it is the first time we are submitting entries for the contest. The contest is for content published between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2017. While, it would be nice to be recognized by the FPA, it is really just a lot of fun to look back at some of our best work from 2017 and remember how the stories came to be. It is also a chance to share Hernando County’s most captivating stories and images with people from out of town. There are over 40 categories in the contest, but we’ll only submit entries for a few of them. It was also tough to decide which articles to submit, because we had a lot of really great local history related articles as well as profile features. Here are the categories we’ve submitted for so far. We’ll finish up the rest of our entries over the weekend.

Feature Story: Profile

Hazel Land’s years of legal service and activism

By Lisa MacNeil

This story developed because a citizen had written into the Board of County Commissioners, recommending that they recognize Ms. Land for her inspiring story and her legal work in the community. Lisa MacNeil interviewed Ms. Land at her home in Brooksville. The article captured Ms. Land’s humble nature, her important contributions to the area during the civil rights era and through her legal career.


She was living in New Jersey when she learned about John F. Kennedy’s inception of the Peace Corps. “I heard that, and I knew that was for me,” she recalls.

Hazel joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to the Philippines. Later, she would spend time in Nigeria. This was right around the same time the Civil Rights movement was taking off, and she said, “I just knew I would be involved in it. I knew it will be there when I get back. I wasn’t wrong either.”

Returning to the United States, Hazel got a job with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). However, there was no NAACP chapter in Brooksville, where she wanted to settle to be closer to her family. She recalled people not getting involved with the NAACP because they didn’t know how it would affect them personally, or their jobs. No one wanted to “rock the boat.”

Training at the Tampa chapter, she managed to talk with the regional director to learn about what she would need to do to organize the Brooksville chapter. “It would take a minimum of fifty people to get a branch started,” she said. “It took twenty-seven days.”

“I went door to door … it was not a hard job at all. People just needed it explained, what I was talking about. Some people thought we were about burning houses down, because some of those things were going on at that time. But that wasn’t NAACP’s work.”

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Best Reader - Generated Photograph

“Irma the Calf”

Ryan Bodiford rescued a heifer calf from his flooded property in Brooksville after Hurricane Irma came through. His brother Bert Bodiford photographed the rescue and the photo was included on the front page of the issue immediately following Irma, Sept. 15, 2017.

Best Obituary

Remembering Rosenquist and his Aripeka Love

By Julie B. Maglio

James Rosenquist, world renowned artist, was a fixture in Aripeka for several decades. He had a tremendous influence on artists in the area, and also lured others to our beautiful county. We couldn’t let his passing go without recognition, so we reached out to a couple of his Aripeka friends and colleagues, Dan Stack and Leslie Neumann, to help us to better know this man. We ended up learning that he fell in love with the untamed Florida landscape and the down to earth people of Aripeka. Stack revealed a lot about Rosenquist’s spontaneous personality through several anecdotal stories.

“Jim adopted Florida as his home,” said Stack, who emphasized that Rosenquist wanted to be a part of “old Florida.”

“He didn’t care that the tide would come in and flood the whole property, and it was a good thing that we had picked the painting up off the floor,” said Stack.

He truly embraced the wild Florida that Aripeka offered. “Jim wanted it rustic. It was very important to Jim to have the Florida landscape... Jim loved the Florida nature- he wanted to live in it- he didn’t want to change it. He didn’t want St. Augustine grass,” Stack explained.

Rosenquist also loved the people in Aripeka. “To him they were honest real people,” said Stack. “He wanted to be invited over for mullet.”

Stack explained that the families of Aripeka like the Norfleets and the Whites really embraced them. “The people in Aripeka could not have been nicer to us,” said Stack. “I’m sure Jim was always grateful for the local’s hospitality and acceptance.”

There was also another advantage that Florida had over New York City: dresscode. Stack remarked, “He liked it because he could paint shirtless in boxer shorts. In Florida he could get away with that.”

“He loved Aripeka and Hernando County. Unfortunately his house and studio burned down, but fire is part of Florida. It’s a part of our environment. The tide comes in and goes out. He was part of the environment,” said Stack. “I’m really going to miss him.”

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Feature Photo

10-24: Assignment Complete.

Cheryl Clanton’s photography of Firefighter/Paramedic Steven Terry’s Funeral Procession was exceptional, but one photo stood out in particular: Firefighter/EMT Tim Lair carrying Terry’s helmet during the procession.

Link to article and photo:

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