A few weeks ago I wrote about Citrus County’s attempts to woo site selectors, those whose jobs it is to find property for major commercial or manufacturing development.
The selectors would be in town for a few days and the county had a great logo and theme for the occasion: “Juiced for Citrus.”
So, of course, a friend gave me a couple of shirts with the logo and by golly you’ll be seeing me wearing these all over.
Because it’s really the perfect view of how I see things here.
Sure, we cover a lot of ground at Just Wright Citrus and some of it isn’t pretty. Politics is not for the faint at heart and it never will be.
But I need to remind myself every so often why the heck I love Citrus County so much. A person doesn’t live in a community for 35 years because there are no alternatives. At least I don’t.
Waiting in line for an oil change Thursday I started writing out a list of things that get me Juiced for Citrus. Here’s what came to mind in five minutes:
— Floral City and Homosassa. Two old compact towns where the locals know their history and traditions. Old elementary schools that kids can walk to.
— State and county walking/biking trails. Lakes, rivers, Gulf of Mexico. Fort Island Gulf Beach. Fresh air.
— Functional local governments. I know you’re thinking: WHAT?!?! Look. I’ve been around these parts for some time and I can tell you we’ve had it much, much worse. Both cities are well run, I trust the school board with our kids and the county commission is going to figure it out.
I know a lot of government people, whether they're in the courthouse or patch roads. They’re top-notch folks, regardless of whatever political turmoil is bubbling at the moment.
— Great drives. Citrus County has many, many great drives. Stage Coach Trail was my first favorite. Grab a map, or whatever it is young'uns use to get around, and take a drive through parts of Citrus County you’ve never seen. Plus, with traffic getting heavier on S.R. 44, I’m looking for alternatives through Crystal River and Inverness. They’re there, and the fun is in the looking.
— Inglis/Yankeetown. It’s in the “great drives” category. Same with Cedar Key. OK, not Citrus County. But close enough.
— Newbies. My, oh my, is this county growing. I’m meeting new folks every day, or hearing from them or viewing their published comments. We see them on the roads and grocery stores. Our county is growing and every day someone who lived elsewhere last week is now a Citrus County resident.
The reaction of long-timers is mixed. We of course welcome new residents to our fine community, which is now your fine community. We are not thrilled when someone moves in and starts telling us how to do things.
So welcome, newcomer! We’re juiced you’re here. Let us know your impressions so far.
— Citrus Avenue, or Citrus Ave. as the locals call it. I met someone for lunch the other day at BubbaQues, and afterward I stood on the sidewalk watching tourists and thought about how much this area has improved in 20 years.
Across U.S. 19, I recalled that the Crystal River town Square property was an ugly empty lot FOREVER. A funeral home wanted to build a crematorium there at one point.
Things changed when residents of Crystal River said they’d had enough. They elected smart city council members with vision and started turning that city around. Now it faces other challenges from growth, but these are the challenges of success, not failure. This is a city with a very bright future in our community.
— Depot District. Yeah, probably overreach on the part of the former city manager, but it was his vision that created this very exciting piece of Inverness. I’m a frequent visitor of Liberty Park and Wallace Brooks Park, and that whole area is just very, very cool. I’m confident the city will eventually figure out the financial end of it.
And the list goes on and on. I think you get the point. Today, tomorrow, or next Thursday, step outside the front door and see all that our community has to offer. You’ll be juiced for Citrus too.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.