Welcome to the first day of another busy government week.
Fresh off an invigorating two days of hobnobbing with political higher-ups on the state level, Citrus County commissioners meet Tuesday with a loaded agenda, including the fate of the LifeStream Baker Act contract.
Then it’s the annual Leadership Summit on Wednesday. The brainchild of former Commissioner Ron Kitchen Jr., this meeting brings together elected officials from the cities, school board and county commission to discuss issues of mutual interest. I'd like to tell you more but there's no agenda posted.
So with all that government stuff going on, of course, my mind is on the Citrus County Fair.
It starts at 5 p.m. Monday and runs through the weekend. Click here for the schedule.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a county fair guy. I look forward to the last week in March, when I can stroll the fairgrounds and breathe in the sights and aromas of a thriving community.
That’s really what the fair is: A collection of communities — farming, 4-H, nonprofits, businesses, Elephant Ear fryers — combined to create its own living community over the course of six days.
I write a lot about the community here and for good reason. We may disagree about the details but it’s the unified community that moves Citrus County forward.
We are seeing so much community lately. Off the top of my head:
— Floral City marked 140 years with Heritage Days, a parade and celebration Saturday that included tours of Citrus County’s oldest home, the Formy-Duval house. Saw a lot of friends there. Floral City is loaded with strong community character.
— The same day Crystal River had its centennial kickoff at the historic pump house. While I didn’t make that event, I can say that in the last 18 months in particular I’ve come to know and appreciate Crystal River more than ever. We’re going to be hearing lots about Crystal River’s heritage between now and the centennial celebration on July 3.
— A few weeks ago the Homosassa Civic Club had an event to thank supporters of the Old Homosassa Heritage Park and Working Waterfront. The name says it all. The government aided in getting this park property along the river but it wouldn’t even exist if not for Homosassa visionaries.
Not to mention the community I continually see on Facebook. Scott Hebert, chief academic officer for the school district and likely 2024 superintendent of schools candidate if Sandra “Sam” Himmel retires, is flooding Facebook with photos of students, teachers, parents and educators celebrating successes.
I can’t get too much of it.
And that brings me back to the county fair.
I challenge anyone who’s lived in Citrus County for at least six months to attend the fair, walk around for an hour, and not run into somebody you know. Even if you’re not trying it’s bound to happen.
I stopped by the fairgrounds on Sunday just to snap a few photos and wandered into the Jacobs Building, where the Chronicle has had a booth for longer than I remember. I spent many a fair evening at that booth, greeting passersby and talking about newspaper delivery. Or the county commission. Or whatever was on someone’s mind.
The Republicans were nearby and during election season that meant a stream of candidates with their petition cards pressing the flesh with voters.
(They’re always disappointed I won’t sign their cards — it’s no reflection on the candidate, just something I decided long ago I wouldn’t do. Political reporters generally stay far away from official campaigns. Though I met a reporter for the St. Pete Times many years ago at a party in Gainesville who told me he didn’t vote so as to keep his objectivity during campaign season. Personally, that’s a little extreme.)
So, yeah, it’s a busy government week. And I’ll be up to my chin in local government issues for blogs this week and weeks to come. (Here’s my Sunday Chronicle column on the Baker Act issue.) There is plenty to write about.
We can get so caught up in this stuff, at least I know I do. The county fair is the annual reprieve, a chance to walk away for a few hours from our challenges and visit instead with neighbors in a wholesome, friendly environment.
If you want me this week, you know where to look.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.