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Local
More rain coming for Citrus after close to 3 inches overnight Thursday

Citrus County got a ton of rain overnight Thursday into Friday, causing standing water on low-lying roads and lawns countywide.

michaelbates / Michael D. Bates Chronicle Reporter 

Fulkerson

“The official average from (Thursday) was 2.61 inches, but many of our rain gauges show 3-plus inches,” said Mark Fulkerson, chief professional engineer with the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD. “This brings the Citrus County total to 9.14 inches for March.”

That compares with the historical average for March of only 3.85 inches.

The National Weather Service (NWS) is forecasting an 80 percent chance of rain for Saturday and conditions should dry out starting Sunday.

“The next batch of storms will arrive this weekend, especially Saturday afternoon and Saturday night,” according to BayNews9 meteorologists. “Some could be strong again late Saturday.”

Emergency Management Director Amanda Woodward said she saw some pooling across smaller low-lying roads Thursday night but that was it.

“No complaints from residents,” she said.

WOODWARD

Woodward reminded people that Small Business Association (SBA) loans are still available to residents and businesses that may have seen damage from the March 12 tornadoes.

For more information, call 1-800-659-2955 or visit disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.


Lights and sounds blend into one another at the Citrus County Fair’s midway Tuesday night, March 29. The fair will wrap up tomorrow with a Carnival Ride Bonus $25 armband, main gate only, from 2 to 7 p.m., with no gate admission. The Citrus County Fairgrounds is located on U.S. 41 south of Inverness. See page A3 for more photos.

Midway lights up the night


Education
Show your spirit at the Schoolhouse Hustle

Each of the 12 annual fundraisers hosted by the Citrus County Education Foundation (CCEF) has a purpose: the kids.

Without any federal or state funds, CCEF relies on the community’s fundraiser attendance, in-kind donations and supplies for their free teacher store, scholarships, classroom grants, technology and other endeavors.

One of CCEF fan favorites is the Schoolhouse Hustle charity walk and race. In 2019, more than 1,000 participants made it the largest race in the county.

“That one kinda put us on the map,” CCEF executive director Shaunda Burdette told the Chronicle editorial board on March 16.

Special to the Chronicle  

Burdette

This year, the ninth annual Schoolhouse Hustle will take place April 9 at CREST School, 2600 S. Panther Pride Drive in Lecanto. After two years of hosting it virtually, this year’s event includes both live and virtual options.

The event schedule is as follows:

Registration opens and packet pickup: 7 a.m.

Family Health Expo and YMCA Kids Zone opens: 7 to 11 a.m.

Mascot Olympics: 7:30 a.m.

10k and 5k start: 8 a.m.

One-mile walk with Superintendent Sam Himmel: 8:30 a.m.

Awards presentation: 10 a.m.

STEPHEN E. LASKO / For the Chronicle 

Three-year-old Rorie Himmel crosses the finish line with grandmother, Superintendent of Schools Sandra “Sam” Himmel close behind as they participate in the 2019 Schoolhouse Hustle.

Participants are encouraged to wear their school colors and register with a school name. Attendees can run or walk on behalf of any Citrus County public school.

Awards include: overall individual male/female, overall masters (40-plus) male/female and medals for five youth age groups. All participants will receive a finisher medal and t-shirt.

STEPHEN E. LASKO / For the Chronicle 

Suncoast Credit Union gave medallions to runners as they crossed the finish line at the 2019 Schoolhouse Hustle in Lecanto.

The school with the most participants and the school with the highest participant/student ratio will each win a $1,000 grant. There will also be an award for the company or organization with the most participation.

For more information or to register, visit schoolhouse hustle.com.


Local
Nonprofit Spotlight: Nature Coast Cancer Crusaders

The Nature Coast Cancer Crusaders (NCCC) is a community-based cancer advocacy organization founded in 2015. It was created with the desire to consistently raise money for cancer patients in Citrus County.

Their mission is to raise money for national groundbreaking research and to fund local programs in Citrus County that will aid cancer patients and their families. They want to provide cancer patients with resources, as well as hold special events to honor survivors and those who have been lost.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCCC was unable to hold their cancer walk or any other events throughout 2020 and 2021. As a nonprofit organization fully dependent on donations from the community, this was a setback for their mission. This year, though, they were finally able to hold their cancer walk once again.

Despite the pandemic’s impact, they have not lost any motivation to continue helping the community. Listening to the stories of cancer survivors and their families at events is what keeps the organization’s volunteers motivated.

“It is touching to know how much they enjoy our event and the special recognition. Our luminaria ceremony is one aspect that brings people to our event as it is a very special time for survivors and those remembering lost loved ones,” said Rory Wells, treasurer and website creator for the NCCC.

Being 100 percent volunteer-based, all funds raised go towards events and donations to the Citrus Aid Cancer Foundation for services provided to Citrus County cancer patients and to Stand Up to Cancer for national research on cancer treatments. Anyone interested in volunteering can email ncccrusaders@gmail.com to get involved.

The best way for the community to help the NCCC continue their work is to attend their events, share their posts, and spread the word of their efforts to cancer patients who may not be aware of them.

For more information on Nature Coast Cancer Crusaders, visit the website at nature coastcancercrusaders.org, follow them on Facebook @naturecoastcancercrusaders, or call 352-201-9057.


Local
DeSantis signs bill to bolster law enforcement

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a wide-ranging package Friday that includes providing bonuses to help recruit law-enforcement officers from other states and giving county sheriffs more autonomy over their budgets. The highest profile part of the measure (HB 3) is $5,000 recruitment bonuses for law-enforcement officers.

The News Service of Florida file photo 

DeSANTIS

Gov. Ron DeSantis

With the law taking effect July 1, the state Department of Economic Opportunity is required to develop minimum eligibility requirements for the program.

“We want to incentivize really strong, high-quality people to pursue law enforcement as a vocation in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said during a bill-signing ceremony at the Brevard County Sheriff's Office in Titusville. “That may mean that you leave Seattle or Chicago or some of these places and come to the Brevard County Sheriff's Office. But it could also mean that you're somebody that's in Florida trying to determine what you want to do with your life.”

Other aspects of the measure include establishing a Florida Law Enforcement Academy Scholarship Program to cover basic-training tuition and fees for new officers and creating an exemption from certain law-enforcement training requirements for military veterans. Sheriffs, under the bill, will see their base salaries increase by $5,000 a year. Sheriffs will also get more leeway with their budgets after the spending plans have been approved by county commissions.

Currently, sheriffs can appeal county budgetary decisions to the state Administration Commission, which is made up of the governor and members of the Florida Cabinet. But lawmakers included the change into the bill in response to a legal battle started when former Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell shifted money within her budget. Alachua County fought the move, and the Florida Supreme Court in January ruled that the money couldn’t be shifted without approval from the county commission


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