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
As of Thursday afternoon, Hurricane Dorian’s track was still uncertain, Citrus County residents weren’t taking any chances. Gas stations saw higher-than-normal traffic as people topped off their tanks, and the bottled water shelves in grocery stores were empty. Joe Leonard, an out-of-state visitor commenting on the hysteria, said panic is contagious — people see long lines at gas stations, fear sets in and they think they must do the same.
New owner has big plans for Crystal River's Sun Plaza
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
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
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
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
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
People who love toll roads and those who hate them converged for a meeting in Tampa Tuesday that started early and ended after 6 p.m. This was the first meeting of the three toll-road task forces that are to provide recommendations to the governor and Legislature for three toll roads: the Suncoast Parkway extension to Georgia; the Florida Turnpike's connection with the parkway; and a toll road connecting Collier and Polk counties.
”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
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.