Some of the most popular stories of the week
Pharmacists to diagnose and treat sick, relieving other health care professionals
Florida is one of several states that now allow pharmacists to perform basic diagnoses and write and fill prescriptions for illnesses such as urinary tract infections, the flu, COVID-19, and routine lung, and other kinds of infections.
Pharmacists can also run laboratory tests if they have the equipment.
Florida requires pharmacists to take one additional 20-hour class to perform the diagnostic service, but nothing more.
Ken Heimann, of B & W Rexall Drugs, is currently the only pharmacist in Citrus County who attended the state-run class back in October, and can now diagnose such illnesses.
Heiman said the pandemic forced the health care system’s hand and pushed the pharmacy industry further along its current trajectory.
Chain pharmacies were already moving in the diagnosis direction, hiring nurses and physician assistants to diagnose and treat customers. They were also doing COVID-19 testing and administering vaccines.
When the pandemic hit hardest, doctors, hospitals and labs were overwhelmed. The progression of pharmacists to be allowed to diagnose simple problems was the next logical step and helped to take some of the pressure off other sectors of health care, Heimann said.
Demand for new and used homes remains strong
How’s the housing market? Closed sales are up, home prices are soaring and inventory remains low. On the new-home construction side, builders are seeing plenty of work.
Right now, there is a furious demand for new homes in Citrus County. And, given current market conditions and the median cost of used homes ($ 260,000), there’s not much difference in getting a new home versus an existing one, he said.
“We’re building 50 homes a year – one a week,” said Bruce Kaufman, president of Kaufman Construction in Homosassa.
Pine Ridge, he said, is especially a hot market for new single-family home construction.
The majority of customers are retirees and they’re coming from all over Florida and the nation, he said.
Inverness couple chalks one up for the arts
As kids, Danny and Elisha Belden, owners of Twistid Ink Tattoo in Inverness, were “art kids.”
Danny liked to draw, Elisha liked drama and performing arts, both liked and still like music.
One thing they both recalled from their youth: sidewalk chalk art contests.
That inspired them to create an art / music festival this fall, the Walk of Arts, at Liberty Park, featuring a chalk art contest for kids ages 5 to 18, plus live music from local and regional bands and 80s pop star Tiffany as headliner.
“So, we decided we want to be advocates for the arts in Citrus County,” Danny Belden said. “We want kids to know there’s more than just sports for them.”
“The thing with Citrus County, we know of people from here who are doing some really cool, creative things, but they had to go somewhere else to do it,” Elisha Belden said. “We want kids to be able to be creative here.”
Inverness downtown hotel rising despite material and labor shortages
Despite rocketing material costs, labor shortage, and supply chain delivery problems that have plagued most construction across the country, Citrus County hotelier Dr. Paresh Desai is optimistic about the 72-suite hotel and its progress despite industry problems.
“We are struggling like most of the builders,” Desai said.
Originally thinking the hotel would open in June, he now thinks July or August are better bets.
“For the hotel to be open to the public it has to have everything,” Desai said.
That means every item that makes up a hotel, from soap holders in the showers to bedroom nightlights have to be there, he said.
However, that creates problems for DI Construction, LLC superintendent John Dungan because work in one area of the hotel rooms often has to stop because work can’t continue until materials arrive.
“Every time you’re waiting for something,” Dungan said. “And you pull your hair out every time you turn around.”
But both Dungan and Desai said this is happening all throughout the country and the Inverness project is not unique.
The hotel is expected to enjoy 80 percent to 90 percent occupancy when it’s completed and will cater to visiting HCA Florida Citrus hospital staff as well as the general public.
Homosassa man arrested for dumping 780 pounds of litter in state forest
Maxamillion Jacob Cox, 22, was arrested March 23 on a third-degree felony charge of littering more than 500 pounds after he dumped over 750 pounds of garbage in the Withlacoochee State Forest.
Florida Forest Service rangers took the litter to the county landfill, where the trash was weighed and then, using a name and address on receipts they found in the litter, they traced the origin of the trash back to Cox’s rented home in Homosassa.
According to his arrest report, when Cox met with an FWC officer at the Crystal River Mall, Cox told the officer, “I know exactly why you want to talk to me.”
“Cox was cooperative during the interview,” the FWC officer reported before arresting Cox, “stated that he was sorry, and he knew that what he did was wrong.”
Hot topic of the week: The housing market in Citrus County: Sales are up, home prices are soaring, inventory remains low and people have opinions. Here’s what some had to say this week on the Chronicle Facebook page:
Lynn Ericson: “And the overpriced market has pretty much excluded anyone born here. Ridiculous. “
Brian Snapp: “I am shocked that anyone is surprised by this. For years I have known and predicted this would happen as soon as the Veterans Expressway extension opened. It’s going to continue and in fact get worse when they build the turnpike extension. Citrus County as we have known it in the past is no more. This is the way of human population growth and migration. “
Katelynn Davis: “As much as I’ve loved this county growing up, we can’t keep everyone out forever. We need growth but we also shouldn’t lose our small town charm. It’s great to see so many people growing to love our small town as well. However, we still have roads which cannot handle all the influx of people. Change is necessary and I hope to see it done properly. “
Scarlett Dearheart: “They come here and want to change things. How about just move somewhere that’s already the way you want it? “
FrankDatank Griswold: “They have got to do something with affordable housing for younger families in this area. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what has happened. Sure housing prices went up but so did all the flippers that came in and bought houses and now are charging astronomical rent prices. You used to have people that worked for $ 10 an hour around here and could afford $ 550- $ 750 a month rent… Then the housing market exploded through COVID and everyone who was working those $ 10 an hour jobs got chased out of the area… The rent has literally tripled for the people who used to be able to work those $ 10 to $ 11 an hour jobs around here…
“I’m just saying somebody needs to think about the future… The truth of the matter is nobody wants to work for peanuts anymore because they simply cannot afford to live around here with the current rent prices. Remember not everyone can just up and buy a house… Can someone in the building department or county commissioners have a little common sense and look towards the future and realize what predicament we are all in right now? If they don’t build affordable housing for the younger generations they’re going to chase them all off and nobody will be here to take your orders or to check you out in the stores. “
Quote of the week: “I’m not coming as Chicken Little. The sky is not falling. ” – Brown “Jack” Dumas III, Crystal River Fire Chief and Assistant City Manager, addressing city council members about the needs of the fire department as the city gets ready for its May 4 budget workshop Suncoast Credit Union recently gave the Community Food Bank $ 20,000 to help them do what they do: feed hungry people in Citrus County. The money was used to purchase a forklift and a pallet truck.
The food bank provides food to about 50 smaller groups, agencies, churches, etc., who then distributes it to those who need it.
Each Monday, the Chronicle lists some of the places where people can get food assistance, including a cooked meal.