It seems that the four county administrator finalists in town next week for interviews will have some time on their hands.
Other than the 1-on-1 interviews themselves — a day-long affair Monday for commissioners and commissioner wannabes — and Tuesday’s 1 p.m. county commission meeting, they’re left totally on their own for their stay in our beautiful community.
One man is coming from Connecticut. Another from the Panhandle. Another from Georgia. And, of course, one won’t be traveling far at all. I have to wonder if the three out-of-towners have visited Citrus County much prior to this job opportunity.
I think we agree that the process of hiring Randy Oliver’s replacement is rife with wackiness. I’m not going to harp on it, but here’s another example of that.
If this process concludes Tuesday in a majority vote to select someone, it’ll occur without that person seeing a single thing in Citrus County or meeting a single individual outside the county administration, unless on their own time.
There are no plans to show these folks around or even take them out to dinner on Monday. I guess the administration’s view is the less involvement, other than what’s necessary, the better. Considering the commission’s current powder keg climate, that’s likely wise.
(It also sounds awkward as heck. Just saying.)
Not that they’re going to ask me, but I offer some ideas for these folks — Stanley Hawthorne, Steve Howard, Larry Jones and Tobey Phillips — to fill that free time.
These are meant not as entertainment or suggestions for fine dining, it’s to provide a broader flavor (ha!) of Citrus County. Someone is simply not going to get any overall look of the county in a series of hour-long interviews with commissioners.
And this isn’t a poker run-type tour of Citrus County either. Simply some ideas to pass the time that could help someone form an impression of our little slice of paradise:
— Chicken wings at The Cove. That’s number one for a reason. It’s what brought me here. One night of Cove chicken wings and I practically begged Gerry Mulligan for the Chronicle job. Of course that was the old Cove; I’m not so sure about this indoor plumbing Cove.
— Go out to MacRae’s bait shop on the Homosassa River and sit on the bench outside while sipping a cold beverage. (That’s the view in today’s photo.) While there, check out Monkey Island. Homosassa is unlike anywhere else.
— Visit the Historic Old Courthouse in downtown Inverness. Just a very, very cool building. Every time I'm there I learn something new about our community.
— Take a drive out to Ozello and know, yup, that beautiful locale is in Citrus County. We are blessed with scenic drives and gorgeous coastal sunsets.
— Three names to seek out: the Rev. Doug Alexander, Ginger West, Barbara Wheeler. They know things about this county you’re not going to hear from a commissioner.
— Drive our roads. Their condition, congestion and how to pay for the millions needed to improve both are our No. 1 challenge.
— I always encourage folks to visit our little beach. Fort Island Gulf Beach is an icon, and even sitting in the car out there for 10 minutes calms my rattled nerves.
— The cities of Crystal River and Inverness are both small town America. They are both strong municipalities. They also are not at all alike. Spend 30 minutes in each and you’ll see why.
— Drive the Suncoast Parkway. That’s our new normal and our future. We’re all still getting used to it.
I could go on but you get the point.
It is my hope these finalists not only come here for a job interview but also experience some of what this awesome and challenging place has to offer.
I realize there are differences of opinion about this whole thing, but that’s not the finalists’ fault. They’re coming here to interview for the most important non-elected public job in Citrus County, and regardless of outcome, I’m hoping they leave with a good impression of said county.
Let’s show ‘em who we are.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.