An enjoyable meal eaten by an executive producer with “Fox & Friends” at Oscar Penn’s in Inverness led to the restaurant being featured live on the show early Saturday morning, Feb. 12.
Owner Jason Counsil received a call from the show with a request to do a live segment from the restaurant about “hor d’oeuvres with a fine dining twist for Super Bowl parties.”
“They explained to me the executive producer was in the restaurant, they were blown away by the house, the quality of the food, how you visit every table and your chef makes everything consistently,” Counsil said. “You’re pumping out food that belongs in the big city.”
The Fox & Friends crew came and set up at 5 a.m. for a segment that aired live at 6:50 a.m.
Counsil, who is in the planning stages of expansion, said he is sure the feature on “Fox & Friends” will spur additional interest in his restaurant.
“I definitely do,” he said of garnering new customers. “Hopefully, (the segment) will help show what we’re about.”
Parkway opening not expected to flood local roads immediately with traffic
When the Suncoast Parkway extension opens sometime in the next 45 days, don’t expect a sudden burst of cars and trucks to inundate local roads.
“I think traffic will be very, very light in the initial days, months and possibly years,” County Commissioner Jeff Kinnard said. “It’s going to take time for people to develop certain patterns of driving before all that traffic starts flooding through our cities.”
That is not to say that there will be no immediate impact. Kinnard said traffic backups are already bad along State Road 44 and “it won’t take too much traffic to make it worse.”
Kinnard added, “It’s not unusual right now going into Crystal River to sit through a signal or two before you can get onto U.S. 19 (from State Road 44).”
Also, any more vehicles turning east off the parkway at State Road 44 will add to the congestion going through Inverness, especially at rush hour, Kinnard said.
“We have a lot more traffic (in Citrus County) than we used to,” he said, adding that Crystal River will bear the brunt of all the new traffic, whenever it occurs.
That’s why the Turkey Oak detour is so important, he said.
Panera Bread, 7-Eleven commit to new Lecanto shopping complex
No news yet about the big box store that’s projected to anchor the new Lecanto shopping center on the northwest corner of County Roads 491 and 486 in Lecanto, but two tenants are confirmed: Panera Bread and 7-Eleven.
That leaves six more outparcels plus room for a big-box tenant at the 29-acre site, tentatively called Beverly Hills Crossing.
Once completed, this complex will be huge, with its own network of internal roads.
“This is the first real announcement that’s been verified by the developer and there’s more to come,” said Joe Cappuccilli, broker at Gulf to Lakes Real Estate Inc.
Culver’s recently broke ground near the southeast corner of the busy intersection. Glory Days Grill announced it’s about ready to begin construction at a parcel between McDonalds and Walmart.
Florida Transportation Builders’ Association (FTBA) president Ananth Prasad told government, business and community officials at a recent Citrus County Chamber of Commerce luncheon not to sit back and wait until the state decides on a possible route for the northern turnpike extension but to get involved now.
“You have to be engaged in the (input) process,” Prasad said. “Eventually, any alignment that is chosen will be based on public input.”
The turnpike extension debate has been a lightning rod of contention every time it comes up at public get-togethers. Many show-up with “no-build” signs hoping to get that message across. They’re worried that whatever route is chosen will go close to their homes or destroy the environment.
Some of the rumors have gotten out of hand, county commissioners said at their last regular meeting.
Prasad said the “no-build” option is an option but it’s not practical. Interstate 75, I-4 and other major roads in Florida are above capacity and it will only get worse as more people relocate to Florida, he said. Unless people want to put up with traffic jams and longer commutes, they should want to see traffic relievers, he said.
CoreCivic says warden, three others ‘no longer employed’ at county detention facility
An internal investigation into the November death of a Citrus County Detention Facility inmate resulted in the unemployments of the facility’s warden and three other staff members.
“The warden and three other staff members at CCDF are no longer employed by CoreCivic,” company spokesman Ryan Gustin said, adding he could not say how the employments ended.
Gustin said additional employees were also “disciplined and/or counseled.”
“Out of respect for personal privacy considerations, names of the individuals who were subject to corrective actions are not being disclosed,” he said. “Additional training to reinforce policy requirements and expectations has been initiated with all staff, along with staff meetings to discuss the importance of consistently adhering to established policies and protocols.”
Jerry Wardlow, who has more than 24 years of experience in corrections, is serving as acting warden until the position can be filled permanently.
Hot topic of the week: The Suncoast Parkway and the news of a 985-home subdivision getting an OK from the county and of the potential plan for an affordable housing project in Inverness that some people are opposing all were scorching hot topics this week with Chronicle readers on Facebook.
Here’s a sampling of what they had to say:
Laura McKee: “Kinnard said traffic backups are already bad along State Road 44 and ‘it won’t take too much traffic to make it worse.’ I hope the county commissioners keep that in mind when the Crystal Ridge development of 985 homes comes before them on March 8th for approval. That development is proposed right off Rock Crusher road on land that is currently zoned for recreation and low density housing.”
Betty Burgess Phelps: “I don’t see the parkway having much impact on the area. I do, however, see the additional housing developments bringing in more people to the area and causing traffic issues. Unless you have to drive SR 44 during ‘rush hours,’ I have never seen traffic issues in this area. In fact, that is one of the things that I liked when considering moving here.”
Jody Odinson: “People need places to live, end of story. Growth and change is constant whether you like it or not. Welcome to the 21st century, Citrus!”
Debe Pope Johns: “Everyone screaming for affordable housing complaining about cost of rent and buying goes on endlessly! But the same people: NIMBY. Hypocrites.”
Jeffery Ide: “What is going to cause the difference in congestion on 44? The people that traveled the Suncoast before are now just traveling closer to their destination before exiting the Suncoast. Thus, less congestion on the local roads. I applaud the politicians for thinking of future traffic. But spreading fears to get votes is wrong!”
Rob Anthony: “This is going to decongest local roads! When locals stop looking at it as just a toll road to Tampa, and look at it more as a shortcut interconnecting road amongst the locals as well, it starts having lots of added benefits.”
Quote of the week: “I think it’s going to be the start of something really good.” – Joe Cappuccilli, broker at Gulf to Lakes Real Estate Inc., about Panera Bread and 7-Eleven being the first two businesses to commit to building at the new Lecanto shopping center at County Roads 491 and 486
Good news item of the week: For nearly a decade, members of the Nature Coast Chapter of the Florida Sewing Sew-Ciety have donated clothing they have constructed themselves to students in Citrus County schools.
Recently, the group donated jackets and other warm clothing items, just as the temperatures were falling. They donated about 100 jackets this year.
The group generally donates about 700 articles of clothing each year, including shorts, tops and shirts, dresses and pants.
For information about the Sew-Ciety, call Carole at 352-527-3034, Dee at 352-527-8229 or Marcia at 352-601-6252.