Man threatening to ‘shoot someone’ dies in hail of bullets after chase

A man who had allegedly threatened to shoot someone at a Hernando business died himself on Saturday following a chase by Citrus County deputies and a subsequent exchange of gunfire.

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office shot and killed a man who had threatened to shoot someone at a Hernando business and then led deputies on a wild chase before crashing near that business. (CCSO photo on February 17, 2018)

A Hernando man who had allegedly threatened to shoot someone at a Hernando business died himself on Saturday following a chase by Citrus County deputies and a subsequent exchange of gunfire.

At approximately 5 p.m. deputies started looking for a Blue KIA Sedona after Citrus County Sheriff’s Office dispatch received a call stating 28-year-old Brian Batchelder from Hernando was making threats to shoot someone at the Xtreme games 3 store at the U.S. 41 / State Road 200 apex across from the Cumberland Farms gas station in Hernando.

Patrol units quickly found Batchelder speeding down U.S. 41 north toward the shop. Batchelder failed to stop his vehicle, the CCSO said. A pursuit ensued Northbound on State Road 200. Because of high speeds and traffic volume, the chase was canceled. Marion County Sheriff’s Office was also notified, the CCSO said.

A short time later, deputies found Batchelder speeding down Southbound on County Road 491 and then Southbound on U.S. 41 through Hernando, passing the Xtreme games 3 store, at which point he pointed a firearm at deputies, the Sheriff’s Office said. After multiple attempts to try and stop the vehicle, Batchelder ran the red light at the U.S. 41 and S.R. 200  apex traveling at a high rate of speed, directly toward CCSO deputies who put themselves between Batchelder and citizens.

He slammed his vehicle into a sheriff’s vehicle, which in turn, pushed the cruiser into three other parked cars, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The impact of the crash forced other vehicles into a CCSO deputy. That deputy sustained non-life-threatening injuries, and the deputy was taken to a nearby hospital.

The CCSO said that deputies were then forced to discharge their weapons toward Batchelder’s vehicle. Deputies were able to get Batchelder out of the vehicle, but he died a short time later.

“This is a very tragic turn of events, where a man lost his life. We are very thankful that our officers were not seriously injured and that the many citizens who were very close to this extremely dangerous situation did not suffer catastrophic injuries,” said Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast.

“Again, we will count on FDLE to do a thorough investigation.”

FDLE will now take over the investigation. The deputies involved have been placed on administrative leave with pay per agency policy. We will not be releasing any more information regarding this case until FDLE is done with their investigation.

UPDATE ON SUNDAY, FEB. 18:

Below are the two names of the deputies who were put on paid administrative leave while the case is being investigated.

  • Deputy Ryne (no first name provided by the CCSO), who was hired on July 17, 2017;
  • Deputy Michael Anger, who was hired on Jan. 17, 2017.

 

BOCC selects Olney as Public Works head

A new Public Works Director has been selected by the Citrus County Board of County Commissioners. Randall Olney’s appointment was effective immediately

A new Public Works Director has been selected by the Citrus County Board of County Commissioners. Randall Olney’s appointment was effective immediately (February 13, 2018).

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County to examine mobility fees

Citrus County Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith brought up the issue of mobility fees versus impact fees during a meeting of the Citrus County Commission. There’ll be further discussion, commissioners have decided

Citrus County Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith brought up the issue of mobility fees versus impact fees during a meeting of the Citrus County Commission. There’ll be further discussion, commissioners have decided (February 13, 2018).

The idea of comparing the two came during discussion and vote on the collection of impact fees at the issuance of Certification of Occupancy (CO), instead of when the permit is filed. The board also discussed the collection of impact fees at the issuance of Certification of Occupancy (CO), instead of when the permit is filed.

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Feb. 18-22 night lane closures on U.S. 19

Night lane closures on U.S. 19

Homosassa Springs, FL — Periodic lane closures may take place in each direction of US 19 (Suncoast Boulevard) from West Green Acres Street to South Jump Court between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. Sunday through Thursday (February 18 – 22) nights.

Be alert to possible lane shifts.

 

Kitchen speaks to change in scallop season

At its February meeting near Tallahassee, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved regionally-specific bay scallop open season dates for 2018, including a change to the season for Levy, Citrus and Hernando counties that was proposed in December.

The Commission also approved a trial bay scallop season in state waters off Pasco County in 2018. On Tuesday, Citrus County Commission Chairman Ron Kitchen detailed the background for the scallop season process for 2018.

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Did we lose millions?

I have been greatly bothered by what transpired in that meeting, not in how things are working as I feel our board has a good working relationship.

In our first meeting of the Citrus county commission this year, we started off the year with a mistake.

I know this is not how I usually start my articles, but I have been greatly bothered by what transpired in that meeting, not in how things are working, as I feel our board has a good working relationship.

No the issue at hand is that we took an action that basically punished a resident of Citrus county for doing the right thing.

We have within the county government what’s called an affordable housing advisory committee (AHAC), this committee is organized to help insure proper policy is set for affordable housing as well as to be advocates for affordable housing.

We recently re-appointed four individuals to the board, but for some unknown reason replaced one.

The one we replaced is Cheryl Lambert and she was holding the position set aside for the realtors, a position she has held for quite some time.

Why did we replace her? Truly I have no clue.

But let me explain why we made a mistake and how it could negatively affect Citrus County.

Cheryl Lambert is a state wide leader on the issue of affordable housing, she was appointed by Governor Scott to be a part of the Florida State Task Force on Affordable Housing.

This task force was established to advise the Governor, Senate President and the Speaker of the House on issues dealing with affordable housing as well as the funding that should be directed.

Cheryl has also been my advisor on affordable housing when I was in the Florida House and now as a County Commissioner.

Cheryl is working on a project that could eventually see millions of dollars of funding from an altruist who lives in the Villages and wants to do what he can to help people.

It’s funny that the day she was removed from the AHAC board, she was in Tallahassee because that week was Great American Realtor Days in which they held meetings with legislators from both chambers to highlight the importance of affordable housing and why additional funding for these programs is critical to address the housing crisis Florida is now facing.

Cheryl has led the effort to educate legislators over the past several years on the impact the housing trust funds have on communities across Florida. This does not include her efforts at a national level, where last May she met with Secretary Carson in Washington DC to not only discuss Affordable Housing issues and the potential budget cuts, but to also thank him and his team for releasing the last CDBG Grant to Citrus County.

As you can see from the things that she has done, she is one of the most knowledgeable and respected people dealing with affordable housing, not only here in Citrus County, but throughout the entire state.

Her reward for years of dedicated service to the citizens of Citrus County… removal from the AHAC.

Could it be that she was removed because she made me aware that we have as a County, never properly followed the law when it came to dealing with affordable housing and surplus lands?

Did she take on the proverbial city hall and get smacked down for it?

Where is the press which is supposed to find out why these things are done, because I can’t ask why this was done due to it would potentially be a violation of the Florida Sunshine Law.

Now let me be clear, the lady who is now sitting in the position of real estate professional, whom I’ve never met in over seven years of dealing with affordable housing will likely do an adequate job and I hope to build a strong working relationship with her, so this is in no way a slight to her.

But what was the reason that Cheryl Lambert was removed? Did her efforts in working with me to bring to light the fact that since the states creation of surplus lands for affordable housing law, that we the county have never fully followed the law, cause her to be unceremoniously removed?

Or was it because her replacement is assumed to be a better candidate, if so what is it that makes her replacement more qualified to be the lead realtors advocate on the AHAC?

It’s unlikely that we can go back and correct this error, it’s even more unlikely that we will ever find out why this all transpired and I just hope that it isn’t going to cause us to lose “Millions of dollars” to help people who are struggling to afford to live in this Community.

I just want to say publicly to Cheryl, thank you for all you’ve done, many of us appreciate all the years of travel, research and advocacy that you have done on behalf of struggling families and the homeless in Citrus County and throughout the entire state.

I look forward to continuing to work with you to improve the quality of life for the residents of Citrus County.

Even though it seems the way some reward hard work is through the punishment of removal, some of us are truly grateful of all you’ve done.

Jimmie T. Smith,

Citrus County Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith, District 3

Kinnard appointed vice-chairman of Hernando/Citrus MPO

Citrus County Commissioner Jeff Kinnard was appointed Hernando/Citrus Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) vice-chairman for 2018. Each year, the vice-chairman rotates between a board member from Hernando and Citrus County. 

Citrus County Commissioner Jeff Kinnard

Citrus County Commissioner Jeff Kinnard was appointed Hernando/Citrus Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) vice-chairman for 2018. Each year, the vice-chairman rotates between a board member from Hernando and Citrus County.

The Hernando/Citrus Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is a federally mandated and federally funded transportation policy-making organization that is made up of representatives from local government and governmental transportation authorities.

The MPO ensures regional cooperation in transportation planning. Federal funding for transportation projects and programs are channeled through the MPO and ensure that existing and future expenditures of governmental funds for transportation projects and programs are based on a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive planning process.

Commissioner Kinnard also serves as 1st vice-chairman of the Citrus County Board of County Commissioners and is currently treasurer of the Withlacoochee Regional Water Supply Authority Board. For more information on the Citrus County Board of County Commissioners visit:

http://www.citrusbocc.com/commissioners/commissioners.htm.

 

Duke Energy Florida customers will not see rate increase for Hurricane Irma and related $513 million in storm costs

Instead of increasing customer rates, Duke Energy says it plans to apply federal tax reform savings toward those storm costs.

  • Hurricane Irma in full force

    Company will apply federal tax savings to prevent rate increase

  • Average residential customer will save $187

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Duke Energy Florida today announced that customers will directly benefit from the new federal tax law and avoid a rate increase for power restoration costs associated with the company’s response to last September’s Hurricane Irma.

Instead of increasing customer rates, the company plans to apply federal tax reform savings toward those storm costs.

On Dec. 28, 2017, the company had filed for recovery of $513 million – $381 millionfor power restoration costs and $132 million to replenish the storm reserve fund. Residential customers would have seen an increase of $5.20 per 1,000 kWh of electricity on a typical monthly bill over a three-year recovery period – an average of $187.20. Commercial and industrial customers were expected to see an increase of approximately 2.5 to 6.6 percent, though bills would have varied depending on a number of factors.

Like many companies, Duke Energy has been working to analyze the benefits of tax reform.

“We are pleased that this solution will prevent a rate increase for our customers,” said Harry Sideris, Duke Energy Florida state president. “Hurricane Irma was the worst storm to ever hit Duke Energy Florida and impacted many lives. Redirecting the tax reform savings against the storm costs ensures that our customers will reap the benefits of this new law.”

The change is supported by the Office of Public Counsel and consumer advocate groups. The Florida Public Service Commission will review the costs to be recovered and the level of the tax benefit and approve the change by year-end.

Hurricane Irma was a historic hurricane that caused widespread, devastating damage across the Southeast region. Utilities united and battled back with an unprecedented response.

Duke Energy crews and contractors from the Midwest and the Carolinas traveled to Florida to assist with restoration, as did workers for utilities from across the country and from as far as Canada to get 1.3 million customers restored as quickly and safely as possible.

In Florida, more than 12,000 line and field workers replaced approximately 1,800 distribution poles, 140 transmission poles and 1,100 transformers. Duke Energy restored power to more than 75 percent of its customers in just three days and 99 percent within eight days.

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Inverness pedestrian killed in traffic mishap

A 26-year-old pedestrian who was wearing dark clothing was struck and killed by a van Tuesday evening in Inverness.

A 26-year-old pedestrian who was wearing dark clothing was struck and killed by a van Tuesday evening in Inverness.

Christopher Jones of Inverness died at the scene of the accident which occurred at 6:37 a.m. at East Turner Camp Road and Bloomfield Drive in Inverness, according to an accident report from the Florida Highway Patrol.

He had been struck by a 1993 Dodge van driven by 42-year-old Gerald Grace, also of Inverness. He was not injured.

 

County still working multiyear plan for oil spill monies

Citrus County Administrator Randy Oliver told the county commission on Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Treasury has approved the county’s plans for $4.3 million, and that the plan will be posted on the county’s web site for 45 day

Citrus County is moving forward with its multiyear plan to use monies from the BP oil spill.

Citrus County Administrator Randy Oliver told the county commission on Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Treasury has tentatively approved the county’s plans for $4.3 million, and that the plan will be posted on the county’s web site for 45 days.

The public will also have a chance to comment during a future public hearing, Oliver said. After that, he said, that information will be sent back to the Treasury Department.

The blockbuster $18.7 billion oil spill settlement unveiled on June 30, 2016 between the U.S. government and oil company BP gave the Justice Department what it wanted: the biggest environmental fine ever levied against a corporation.

It also gave BP what it needed: a sense of closure after years spent fighting costly and complex courtroom battles over its role in the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

The deal marked a final reckoning for the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which riveted the nation for months in 2010 as television networks and Web sites continuously showed underwater video of the leak and the Obama administration struggled to respond effectively.