Some of the most popular stories from the week that was:

CCSO charges 24 in drug sting 'Operation Coin Toss'

The Citrus County Sheriff's Office announced Thursday that narcotics detectives and other authorities arrested 24 alleged drug dealers in August. Operation Coin Toss began in June with undercover drug buys and other investigations and concluded with the arrests between Aug. 5 and Aug. 20.

Citrus begins preparing for Dorian

New owner has big plans for Crystal River's Sun Plaza

Sun Plaza

The old Sun Plaza on the northeast corner of U.S. 19 and Northwest First Avenue in Crystal River is being renamed Manatee Springs MarketPlace.

Fernando Mejia, the new owner of the old Sun Plaza in downtown Crystal River, has plans to revitalize it, seek out new tenants to add to the existing mix and come up with a new name to reflect all the changes. Mejia envisions a plaza where folks can walk to and visit while hanging out in downtown Crystal River. He said an organic supermarket or perhaps a store that sells craft beer might work.

At Chassahowitzka Hotel, a hundred years of hospitality

Chaz Hotel dominant.jpg

A guest registry from The Chassahowitzka Hotel "Sportsman's Lodge" has names and hometowns of guests from across the nation. Anglers and hunters have sought the solitude and access to the backcountry of the Chassahowitzka River for more than 100 years. Above are some of the lodge's historic photos. They include an angler from the 1920s with a 96-pound tarpon she caught, a photo from the original lodge and an image of two men with a catch of redfish dating back to a time when bag limits for the popular fish were not established.

In 1946, back when Lucille Strickland was a newlywed helping to run the family’s hotel on the Chassahowitzka River, the daily rate was $5. Today, her son David runs the hotel. The room rate has increased — it’ll run you $100 a night — and you can make reservations online instead of mailing a letter. But the hospitality is the same as it has been since Strickland’s great-grandparents, Ben and Eliza Smith, first bought the hotel in 1910.

Home sales up, prices rising in Citrus

Sold sign for real estate

Good news: The July housing market report is in from Florida Realtors, and Citrus County showed growth in several key categories, including closed and pending single-family home sales. One thing that didn’t change in July is the continuing decline in the inventory of available homes. Citrus County had a 3.8-month of supply in July, down from 4.1 last year.

Mike's Musings: Don't diss all these new gas stations

7-Eleven at Sugarmill Woods

Several new 7-Eleven stores /stations are in the works for Citrus County, such as this site on U.S. 19 by Sugarmill Woods in Homosassa. Other chain stores/stations are joining in the development here, such as Circle K and Wawa.

According to Chronicle business reporter Mike Bates, the influx of 7-Elevens, Wawa and Circle K stores/gas stations is a good thing for Citrus County. For one thing, the competition tends to bring down the price of gas in the vicinity. Plus, when a hurricane threatens Citrus County, we will be thankful for enough gas stations available for folks to fill up.

Former ‘Citizens Bank’ demolished, but people’s memories live on

Make way for Slurpees

Demolition of the former two-story Bank of America branch in Inverness continues the morning of Aug. 19. A new 7-Eleven convenience store and car wash are planned to replace the former bank at 1007 U.S. 41 North near the intersection of State Road 44 and U.S. 41.

Since the 1970s, the two-story bank building on the corner of Main Street and Davidson Avenue in Inverness, built by Ed Geritts, has been a place where careers were launched and at least one marriage began.

Most recently, it was the Bank of America. Currently, it’s being demolished to make way for a 7-Eleven. “It was like home to me,” Geritts said. “I was there from 7 in the morning until 7 at night.”

One of these five people will be county's newest judge

On Aug. 23, the Fifth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) recommended Barbara Kwatkosky, Bruce Carney, LeAnn Mackey-Barnes, Lisa Martin and Scott Timothy Smith as candidates for Citrus County’s second county judge. Gov. Ron DeSantis will pick from among the five. Whoever’s appointed has the job until it goes on the 2022 ballot.

Opinions vary as groups kick off Suncoast study

M-CORES kickoff meeting

Citrus County Commissioners Ron Kitchen Jr., Jeff Kinnard and Scott Carnahan, second row, wait with other task forces members and the public for the Aug. 27, 2020 M-CORES kickoff meeting at the Tampa Convention Center.

”We all got here by driving. We know we need roads,” said Citrus County Commissioner Ron Kitchen Jr.

Arson case headed to trial; man accused of trying to bury meth at bottom of pond has trial delayed

James Gehrke

James Gehrke

Vero Beach man James Cody Gehrke will head to trial next week unless he changes his not-guilty plea to burglary and arson charges and accepts a plea deal for 15 years in prison. The 31-year-old is accused of breaking into an Inverness home and starting a fire causing close to $100,000 in damages and faces up to 45 years in prison.

Hot topic of the week: Hurricane Dorian and people complaining about gas and water “hoarding.” Natural disasters, even before they happen, often bring out the best in people — and the worst. People took to Facebook this past week to express their frustration with those who were buying massive quantities of water, bread and gas. 

Danica Bazata wrote, “Way too much hoarding going on. You don’t need 20 cases of water, 17 loaves of bread and 80 gallons of gas. Take what you NEED and leave some for everyone. 

Selfish people when it comes to ‘natural disasters.’”

Feleshia Wegner wrote, “People are FREAKING out and causing a shortage.”

Denine Dudek wrote on Thursday, “I needed gas just to get to work tomorrow and the lines tonight are horrendous! People honking and yelling, filling many extra gas cans, seriously?!”

Quote of the week: “It’s like a downhill spiral of panic.” — Joe Leonard, in town from Colorado to visit his sister in Crystal River, commenting on the pre-hurricane frenzy.

Good news item of the week: In his Daystar Rising column on Wednesday, Anthony Kopka wrote about how someone from the community once again helped yet another deserving young person with a much-needed vehicle, this time recent Lecanto High School graduate Sierra Goodwin. Kopka, the director at Daystar Life Center in Crystal River, also named Joe Marteski, a community member who loves to help young people, as the squeaky wheel that knows how to “get the grease” and find resources for these young people. 

Contact Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy at 352-564-2927 or