Citrus County could soon make it easier for local fortunetellers, palmists and clairvoyants to set up shop.
County commissioners Tuesday will discuss scheduling a public hearing March 28 to consider removing an outdated ordinance that now requires seers to jump more hurdles before hanging out a shingle.
The standards in the ordinance were established in 1992 and amended in 1994.
“It removes a hurdle between these private businesses and the county and allows them to carry out their trade,” county spokeswoman Veronica Kampschroer said.
If approved, they will have to go through the same process as other business owners but without the “extra layer of red tape,” she said.
Kampschroer said the issue came up when a citizen inquired about obtaining a fortunetelling permit and the land development department discovered the outdated language.
Here are some examples (edited for clarity):
“No person shall engage in the occupation of fortunetelling or hold themselves out to be clairvoyants, palmists, astrologers, phrenologists, character readers, spirit mediums (or) be engaged in any occupation of a similar nature (without a permit) by the board of county commissioners.”
“The applicant shall have been a resident of the state for at least two years; shall establish good moral character by not less than five reputable citizens of the county and if the applicant has not resided in the county for at least four years, by not less than an additional five reputable citizens from outside of the county within or without the state.”
“The (ordinance) shall be applicable (only) to the unincorporated area(s) of the county.”
(Exempted from the ordinance are) Christian churches who heal the sick by prayers or regularly ordained ministers of churches who are members of the state spiritualist ministerial association whose charter is filed in the Library of Congress and is on record in the state capitol.
The commission meeting is at 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 14, at the Citrus County Courthouse, 110 N. Apopka Ave., Inverness.
Michael D. Bates is a staff writer with the Citrus County Chronicle and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inverness City Councilwoman Crystal Lizanich made good Tuesday on her campaign promise to make City Council meetings and records more accessible to the public.
Newly elected this past November, Lizanich said residents shouldn’t have to make records requests of the city clerk to watch the council meeting from the previous evening. Lizanich said the meetings should be broadcast live on the internet and the city should archive the recorded meetings on its website for members of the public to review when they want.
Lizanich also called for the city to archive agendas and meeting minutes on the website.
It took some persuasion on Lizanich’s part, but after asking the other council members to try the new system for just one year, the council relented and the proposal passed 5-0.
Currently, the public can watch the meetings via Zoom through the city’s website, but to watch previous meetings the public would have to make a public records request of the city clerk.
In addition, the council’s previous meeting agendas are not available on the city’s website and only available upon request of the city clerk.
Much of what Lizanich wanted was part of the clerk’s request for new agenda software that makes it easier for city employees to add and process agenda materials. The city’s agenda software has not been updated since 2014.
The new software by CivicPlus also allows the city to archive council agendas and minutes and make them available to the public through the city’s website, and no records requests are required. The cost for the first year of service is about $10,000 and the price declines during following years.
At issue was whether the council also wanted CivicPlus to provide live video feeds of the council meetings as well as archiving the videos on the city’s website for easy public access. The cost was $2,700 annually.
City Clerk Susan Jackson told the council only an average of 4.5 people watch the meetings live now on Zoom and even fewer submit record requests after the meeting.
Jackson said the council only started the live Zoom feeds during the COVID pandemic, and Florida law does not require meetings be video recorded.
Lizanich said other county governments already offer agendas and videos of meetings.
“Everybody in the county has it, but Inverness,” she said. “I don’t want it to be a records request.”
Councilman Gene Davis said the cost for the recordings and archiving them on the city’s website seemed exorbitant, given that only 4.5 people watch the meetings live.
Mayor Bob Plaisted said the there are plenty of empty seats in the audience and people could come if they wanted.
“I find it somewhat unnecessary,” he said.
But Lizanich said that offering the videos directly to the public from the city’s website shows the council is transparent and does nothing behind the scenes – and making the archived meetings available could encourage more people to participate in the process.
Fred Hiers is a reporter at the Citrus Chronicle. Email him at email@example.com.
When you drive a car that’s made to look like poop, you know you’re bound to be the butt of a lot of jokes.
But, James Brooks and his son and business partner, Brandon, owners of Brooks Septic in Inverness, are in on the jokes.
If anything, the poop car draws attention.
“Everybody smiles when they see it,” Brooks said on a recent Tuesday morning as the little brown car was being washed for the start of a new workday.
“We have probably 10 to 15 bicyclists or cars stop and people stand next to it and take pictures, and that’s pretty neat. We sit in the office and laugh – we love it.”
Their office is located just off the Withlacoochee State Trail at U.S. 41 and East Arlington Street, where there’s lots of foot, bike and car traffic.
As for the idea for a poop car, Brooks said he saw the car, a red 2004 VW bug, and had the vision of a poop emoji on wheels.
Prior to that, people would stop by the office dropping off poop emoji merchandise, including a slingshot and a whoopee cushion, lighted poop emoji necklaces, anything that was a poop emoji.
“They did that pretty regularly for a while,” he said.
That’s when Brooks thought: Why not go big?
“So, we got the car and sent it to a fabricator and said, ‘Make us a poop car,’” he said.
The windows are tinted a poopish shade of brown, the same color as the car body and the hubcaps and the swirling poop on top.
“Some people think it’s an ice cream swirl, but most know it’s poop,” Brooks said.
A sticker on the back of the car reads: “Chug-a-chug, poo-poo – the ‘gravy’ train,” with a picture of a train.
There’s a framed drawing of the “gravy train” train that Brooks’ wife Tammy drew that won a blue ribbon at the county fair.
James Brooks, who grew up in Inverness, said that his grandfather had a septic business and that his dad at age 14 or 15 would go along on jobs with his dad.
“In those days they used five-gallon buckets,” he said.
James got into the business about 27 years ago with another guy, and then five years ago he and his son formed Brooks Septic.
Brandon’s son, Corbin, 8, said when he gets older he wants to work with his dad and grandpa – and he loves the poop car.
“I wouldn’t sell it for a trillion dollars,” he said. He would, however, fix the a/c and put in a better music system.
His sister, 6-year-old Paislee, added, “I think it’s OK, but you can’t connect your phone.”
When they’re dropped off at school in the mornings or picked up at the end of the school day, other kids laugh, Paislee said.
“They say, ‘Why did you ride in a poop car to school?’” she said.
If you’ve attended any local parades, perhaps you’ve seen it.
“We won the (Inverness) St. Paddy’s Day two years in a row,” James said. “It’s a lot of fun. We dressed the kids and some adults in blow-up poop emoji costumes.”
“We passed out Tootsie Rolls,” Brandon Brooks added.
Much of life is serious, and stuff happens, and as the Brooks Septic owners say, sometimes you just have to do what you can to make people smile.
“We leave skid marks all over town,” Brandon Brooks said.
Nancy Kennedy can be reached at 352-564-2927 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.