If you live in this county and haven’t seen Santa yet in a parade, you’re missing out.
What a great couple of weekends in our community. Christmas parades on land and water, tree lighting ceremonies, and just a ton of good feeling all around.
Some of that cheer is, of course, related to the holiday. The year winds down, politics eases to the side, we naturally focus on family and friends.
So, yes, there is some of that.
But I sense more. Much more.
It just feels right, like we’ve survived the rapids and now the stream is calm. We can relax and enjoy the scenery.
Look at where we’ve come just in the last 12 months. It was a year ago that the state said it wanted to build a turnpike extension through our front yard, so even before Christmas battle lines were being drawn about that.
Then so much uncertainty on the local government front. And Library Guy. And Ron Kitchen Jr.
Political campaigns are rarely pleasant and ours in 2022 was no different.
Here’s the thing. Not only did we survive it all, we thrived. As a resident of Citrus County and the city of Inverness, I look around and see a community eager for today and tomorrow.
— A county commission with a new administrator is locked into solving our challenges, and we’ve got plenty. County government is the sweet spot of local politics, and if the county commissioners can get it right, that’s good news for us all.
— The cities, my goodness. Talk about thriving. We’re two years removed from COVID-19 shutdowns and both cities have their arms open wide to welcome visitors.
Inverness, I’d say, has about a half-million people in it right now. Not just on the roads every day, but out and about. Take a walk through town, the Courthouse Square, Depot District, Liberty Park. I see folks of all ages walking, biking, enjoying the beauty.
And Crystal River is accomplishing the impossible: Its downtown, divided by U.S. 19, doesn’t stop visitors from seeing all the city has to offer. I was at the red light at Citrus Avenue on Sunday, watching some tourists in the Town Square park on one side of U.S. 19 and other tourists on the other side, strolling the sidewalk at Heritage Village.
For a county of 150,000-plus, we’re very fortunate to have bookend cities that complement each other and the community so well.
Now’s a good time to visit both.
— Traffic is bad but it’s not horrible. That might not seem much but it’s a subtle difference.
Any Citrus Countian who’s lived here more than 10 years noticed the influx of the last 12-15 months. I mentioned during Gerry Mulligan’s retirement party that it seemed like we went to sleep and awoke with 50,000 new neighbors.
Well, it’s now 50,050. Meaning, the drive from Inverness to Crystal River went from 30 minutes to 40 minutes in the last year, but not yet worse than that. And the overall nervousness from the shock of seeing so many newcomers is starting to wear off.
— Just a feeling that the out-of-whack growth isn’t going to happen, at least without a fair amount of scrutiny and oversight.
It was such a small thing, but the county commission’s decision last week to deny two zoning requests speaks volumes. It tells me commissioners are serious about ensuring commercial and residential growth makes sense and that their zoning decisions are answerable to taxpayers.
That won’t stop a subscription car wash on every corner if the zoning is already there. The message from this new board right off the bat though, is it’s paying attention.
All the elements are in place for Citrus County's success. I don’t know exactly what that looks like, but I know how it feels.
It feels like Christmas.
Join the discussion on our Facebook page.