Some of the most popular stories from the week that was:
Hole opens, swallowing 40-foot tree, as workers drill well in Homosassa
A large hole opened up Monday afternoon when workers were drilling a new well for a home under construction off of West Lincoln Lane in Homosassa. Steve Hunt, owner of Sweetwater Well Drilling & Pump Service, estimated the hole to be 80 feet long, 40 feet wide and 15 feet deep. “It’s still getting bigger," he said.
'If I could bring him back, I’d kill him again:' Man charged in 2017 murder pleads guilty in exchange for life in prison
Christopher Eugene Smith expressed little remorse in court Friday, Aug. 16, as he pleaded guilty and agreed to spend his life in prison for the strangling death of James Thomas Roman in April 2017. He faced a spot on Florida’s death row had he gone to trial and been convicted of the capital murder felony.
FHP: Sheriff kills pedestrian in accident on U.S. 19
Inverness woman found dead inside home
A 28-year-old woman was found lying dead inside her home in the 1800 block of Colonade Street in Inverness around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. Detectives do not suspect foul play. A sheriff’s office report noted that the woman’s husband was performing chest compressions on his wife when deputies arrived but to no avail. The woman had been taking medications for several illnesses.
Comings & Goings: Mystery tenant expected to be named soon
All that’s known: A major national chain plans to move into the old Publix space. However, the property management company would not release names and company representatives say a lease is forth-coming and the identity of the chain will be named.
Floral City man who made threats to 'shoot up' Inverness Primary School won't be prosecuted for them, but remains jailed on other charges
Although Ryan Scott Connell threatened to “shoot up” Inverness Primary School on July 31 following a hearing in Mental Health Court as bailiffs placed the 34-year-old into custody for testing positive for drugs, state prosecutors have decided not to pursue criminal charges against him. State law forbids "written threats to kill" or making a false bomb threat, both felonies; however, Connell’s threats do not meet the criteria needed to charge him.
Local lawmakers call for action after learning man won't be charged for threatening schools
After hearing the State Attorney’s Office won’t be prosecuting Ryan Scott Connell for threatening to “shoot up” Inverness Primary School and can't be prosecuted under current state laws, state Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, and Rep. Ralph Massullo, R-Lecanto, agreed Monday that laws needs to be changed. Both legislators said they’ll be introducing ideas to their colleagues for their early legislative session, which starts in January.
Buddy benches at Lecanto Primary School make making friends as simple as sitting down
Thanks to the “buddy benches” on the playground at Lecanto Primary School, making friends is as simple as sitting down. The school’s PTO recently installed two benches and told the students if someone needs a friend to play with during recess, sit on the bench and someone will come and invite you to play. It was an immediate success and kids went above and beyond by watching for others alone on the benches and even sitting on the benches in groups offering themselves as friends.
Scallop experts: Don't panic over season's slim pickings
Despite the slim pickings in this year’s scallop supply, scientists who study the shellfish say there is no cause for alarm. Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute associate research scientist Jennifer Granneman told county tourism officials on Aug. 14 to sit tight, continue to monitor the situation and remain confident the tasty mollusks will come back in bigger numbers next year.
Pine Ridge man files for county commission District 3
Pine Ridge resident and retired Miami-Dade County police officer Luis Marin recently became the third Republican to file for the 2020 Citrus County Commission District 3 race, the seat currently held by Jimmie T. Smith. Marin joins Mark Hammer and Ruthie Schlabach as candidates in District 3, which is an open seat — Smith is switching to District 5 in his re-election attempt.
Hot topic of the week: After stories of the threat by a Floral City man to "shoot up" a local primary school, among the outrage of the public to fix the laws that allowed this man's verbal threat to go unprosecuted (the law only covers written threats), a Sound Off caller brought up another point:
The caller said laws should be changed to make it illegal for someone who's mentally ill to not take their meds — and those who refuse should be put in a mental institution (and that we need to build such a place). This sparked a lively discussion on the Chronicle Facebook page.
Jennifer Linaje said, “Definitely make it illegal to make verbal threats like he did, absolutely! However, making it illegal for those who chose to not be medicated — no. We have a right to what we put into our bodies. Honestly, I feel the meds ... make it worse! Always trying a different one to see what works.”
Barbara Walker Wolfe said, “They are free to not take their meds. But they are not free from the consequences of that choice. Verbal threats should be taken seriously. To say written only is to say a person who threatens to kill themselves cannot be Baker Acted because they didn't actually attempt suicide.”
As for building a mental institution, Teresa Campbell said, “Good luck funding a mental institution when we can not even find the funds to take care of those that want to take their meds.”
Quote of the week: “If I could bring him back, I’d kill him again.” — Christopher Smith at his sentencing hearing for the 2017 murder of James Thomas Roman.
Good news item of the week: Ruth Levins writes a column that runs every Wednesday in the Chronicle’s Hometown Happenings section either about volunteers and volunteering or about plays and concerts and other events she attends. She has been doing this for at least 30 years, even while battling serious health issues, and she has never asked to be paid for it. She says it’s a labor of love.