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Megan Reeves, Times Staff Writer

Megan Reeves

Megan covers the Hernando County School District and general news throughout Hernando County. She is from the Jacksonville area and graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in photojournalism in May 2015. She joined the Times in January 2016 after spending one year at the Lake City Reporter.

Phone: (352) 754-6116


Twitter: @mareevs

  1. After sheltering thousands, Hernando schools are back in business


    BROOKSVILLE — As Hurricane Irma bore down on Hernando County, more than 5,000 people and 700 animals huddled together seeking shelter inside six local schools.

    For days, that's where they slept, ate, played and, most of all, hoped that the massive storm would spare the homes they had left behind.

    Some slept in gymnasiums, others in classrooms or hallways. Children played games, and the elderly sat and talked. As winds picked up in the hours before the storm hit, dogs ran around courtyards for their last trip outside until Irma was gone....

    Volunteers serve lunch on Sept. 10 at Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics, one of the Hernando schools that opened as a public shelter during Hurricane Irma.
  2. During Irma, most in Hernando came through relatively unscathed


    After Hurricane Irma's visit to Florida, the Tampa Bay Times checked in with people and agencies across Hernando County to see how they endured. While the area saw many downed trees and some flooding, most residents and officials reported no major damage. Megan Reeves, Times staff writer

    Weeki Wachee State Park

    Other than several downed trees and a lot of scattered plant debris, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park sustained no damage, said spokesman John Athanason....

    A neighbor helps Jack Bates, left, cut up a palm tree knocked down in his yard by Hurricane Irma. Bates' property was one of many near downtown Brooksville that had downed trees and other debris. [Photo by Mena Bates]
  3. For Clover Leaf residents, Irma left her mark, and it wasn't pretty



    Most residents of Clover Leaf Forest RV Park in Brooksville evacuated ahead of Hurricane Irma. Those who stayed woke up to a sad scene.

    Trees were down everywhere, some atop cars and campers. A foot or more of water covered nearly half of the park, engulfing the neighborhood's streets and, in some places, where the road dips low, kissing the doorways of homes.

    Wind had thrown picnic tables and lawn furniture. Cars sat abandoned. By noon Monday, maintenance workers, who had begun before 6 a.m., were unloading a sixth tractor to remove debris. Only a handful of residents had returned to see the damage Irma had done....

    Janine Romano of Spring Hill arrives with a kayak to rescue her sister’s cat and four dogs from a flooded home at Clover Leaf Forest RV Park in Brooksville.
  4. Hernando residents watch rising Withlacoochee River with dread


    RIDGE MANOR — Terry Price sat with his shih tzu and a pack of cigarettes on a wooden porch outside his son's home on Tuesday afternoon. It had become an island thanks to the rising waters of the Withlacoochee River behind his Hernando County home.

    LIVE BLOG: The latest on Hurricane Irma...

    The yard of Terry Price is shown flooded on Tuesday afternoon. The rising waters of the Withlacoochee River, which the house backs up to, have caused severe flooding in the east Hernando County neighborhood near Ridge Manor. County officials predict the river will continue to rise nearly two more feet, putting it just below major flood stage. [MEGAN REEVES  |  Times]
  5. UF students on the street get a lift to the shelter from university's president


    Florida students Victoria Lehoczky and Stamatina Copulos were on a trek of their own.

    With pillows and a suitcase in tow, they had just begun a more than two-mile walk from their Thomas Hall dorm room to a local shelter, and it was raining.

    Walking along Stadium Road, they saw a car stop, and out stepped the university's president, Kent Fuchs.

    "He then asked us where we needed to go because he saw us carrying our things and offered to take us to the shelter," said Lehoczky, an 18-year-old freshman biology major....

    A screen grab shows the students' encounter with university's president.
  6. Irma Squirma: Tampa Bay's final push to find shelter, grab beer, make money


    Dozens of onlookers flocked Sunday afternoon to the northern end of St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park, where the western edge of Tampa Bay receded like an extreme low tide. Several hopped from the basin wall to the spongy, grassy muck below, venturing hundreds of feet into what would normally be water as police watched from their cars.

    In Tampa, 10-year-old Felix Carillo and his mom almost settled for selfies of a similar view over the iconic balustrade along Bayshore Boulevard. But after a few minutes of watching from the sidewalk, they just couldn't resist taking a walk where they're used to seeing water, joining other curious people smiling as their flip-flops stuck in the mud....

    Jason Bowes, 38, Christine Bowes, 31, and their dog Cupertino take photos of people walking through a suddenly dry Hillsborough Bay. Hurricane Irma pulled the water away but it was expected to come rushing back with a vengeance. [ANASTASIA DAWSON   |   Times]
  7. As volunteers escort the elderly from Irma, a woman tells her son: 'I'm safe now'


    BROOKSVILLE — She was standing in the doorway of her white stucco house when the school bus pulled up. Ever since her son made the call to Hernando County officials Saturday afternoon, alerting them that his 89-year-old mother needed help sheltering from Hurricane Irma, Angela Cassell had been waiting.

    "I promised my son I would go," she said. "They say this is the worst storm in years."...

    Angela Cassell, 89, is rolled out of her Weeki Wachee home by longtime Hernando County school bus driver Mena Bates. The school district made last-minute house calls Saturday to transport evacuees to local shelters ahead of Hurricane Irma's landfall.
  8. Waiting to see where Irma goes? These websites will keep you in the know


    As Hurricane Irma twirls furiously toward Florida in the Caribbean, it's a waiting game to see where the massive storm will go. In the meantime, we've curated a list of interactive weather websites sure to hook even the biggest weather nerds.

    Creator of Earth, Cameron Beccario, has deemed his website "a visualization of global weather conditions." Raw data — like wind speed, temperature and wave height — is transformed into an informational picture of the globe updated every three hours by "supercomputer" forecasters. Users can rotate and zoom in and out of the interactive graphic, as well pinpoint areas of storms, like Irma and the closely trailing Jose, for more specific information....

    A screenshot of Hurricane Irma on Sept. 9, 2017
  9. Cafeteria worker at Hernando Christian Academy arrested on sex charges


    BROOKSVILLE — A cafeteria worker at Hernando Christian Academy has been arrested after investigators say her "sexting-type relationship" turned physical with a teen at the school last year.

    According to an arrest affidavit from the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, Aimee Chevalier, 40, exchanged about 100 sexually explicit text messages — including pictures and videos of her nude body — with the teen before they agreed to meet in the school's kitchen. Once there, the pair engaged in multiple sexual activities, the Sheriff's Office said....

    Aimee Chevalier is accused of unlawful sex with a minor.
  10. Hernando School Board member says he was 'embarrassed' by discord


    BROOKSVILLE — Two weeks after a heated Hernando School Board workshop, board member Gus Guadagnino used a meeting Tuesday, Sept. 5, to address his fellow elected leaders about the recent public discord among them, spurred by a districtwide evaluation of superintendent Lori Romano.

    "I was kind of embarrassed at our last meeting at what took place . . . the interrupting, the accusations, the breakdown of teamwork," Guadagnino said. "All of us are looked up to in our own worlds, but (not) when we come together as a team."...

  11. XXXTentacion concert canceled at Ybor City's Orpheum (w/video)

    Public Safety

    YBOR CITY — A heavily anticipated rap concert was canceled Saturday night, spurring fights and amped-up police presence in the streets of Ybor City.

    The free concert by a controversial Broward County rapper, XXXTentacion — Jahseh Onfroy, 19 — attracted a crowd that reportedly approached 1,000 to the Orpheum, at 1915 E Seventh Ave.

    Onfroy, a performer in the "emo rap" and "SoundCloud rap" movements, announced the free concert earlier this week via In-stagram and Twitter....

    Tampa police arrived to control the crowd outside the Orpheum in Ybor City after a concert was canceled Saturday night.
  12. Parents travel from India to help son beat wife, say deputies


    RIVERVIEW — Three foreign nationals from India were arrested Saturday after deputies found a beaten woman and her child being held inside her home, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    Deputies described the woman, 33-year-old Silky Gaind, as "badly beaten and bruised over her entire body" from beatings by her husband and his parents that they say had "been ongoing for an extended period of time."...

    Devbir Kalsi, Jasbir Kalsi and Bhupinder Kalsi were arrested Saturday after Hillsborough authorities say Devbir Kalsi's wife was beaten and held inside her home against her will.
  13. Reef off Hernando Beach gets a long-awaited expansion



    For a handful of people and a whole lot of fish, last Friday was a good day. After five years of planning, plus a day of heavy lifting, a 22-year-old artificial reef off the coast of Hernando County has grown three times larger.

    "It's kind of like Christmas," Paul Pelletier, chairman of the county Port Authority, said from the deck of a boat idling near the reef Friday....

    Reinforced concrete structures are shoved into the Gulf of Mexico, about 20 miles from Hernando Beach, to expand the 22-year-old Bendickson Reef on Friday. The concrete is expected to attract sponges, algae and coral, which will attract fish. Watch the process at
  14. Hernando school leaders question value of evaluation of superintendent


    BROOKSVILLE — Tensions among school district leaders in Hernando are growing as they continue to sort through the results of an $11,000 districtwide survey commissioned to evaluate superintendent Lori Romano.

    George MacDonald, a University of South Florida professor who facilitated the survey, faced a tough crowd at a School Board meeting last week as he made a second, more detailed presentation of the results....

    Superintendent Lori Romano has taken issue with an evaluation of her that was facilitated by a USF professor.
  15. Protectors of Confederate statue readied for a battle that never materialized

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Big Dixie flags were waving. County employees had erected a barrier around the Confederate soldier statue at Main and Broad streets. Roads and parking areas were blocked off. Uniformed local officers and federal law enforcement patrolled.

    For a while last Friday, it appeared as if something major was about to happen in downtown Brooksville.

    While other towns across America have conversations about the future of displays honoring Confederate Civil War soldiers and leaders, it seemed Brooksville's statue on the courthouse lawn was about to become part of the national trend....

    Police tape and barricades surround the Confederate statue in Brooksville.