BROOKSVILLE - Due to a company reorganization, Duane Chichester is leaving Hernando Today after 32 years, the last 21 as publisher.
Chichester led Hernando Today through many changes and leaves at a time when the paper is a leading voice in the community.
"I've enjoyed serving the Hernando (County) community over my tenure as publisher," Chichester said. "I think the newspaper has supported our community, especially in areas of economic development, commerce and as a government watchdog."
Throughout the years, Hernando Today has garnered scores of awards under Chichester's leadership, ranging from excellence in investigative reporting, graphic design and editorial content.
Chichester also will leave his posts as publisher of the Suncoast News in Pasco County and the Clearwater Gazette in Pinellas County.
The business operations of all three organizations will be overseen by The Tampa Tribune.
Chichester has been with the paper since October 1981 and became publisher in 1992.
Chichester was active in the community, having served as chairman of the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce. He founded Hernando Progress, which supports economic development.
He remains on the YMCA and Salvation Army advisory boards. He also served on the Florida Press Association board.
"I have great respect for all of the people who work at the newspaper," he said. "They are true professionals and have committed themselves to serving the community and the newspaper."
Chichester said he and his wife love Hernando County and look forward to remaining here.
"When God closes one door, he allows another to open," Chichester said. "There are plenty of opportunities and I'm sure after a short period of rest, I'll be looking at those opportunities for my future. I still plan on working every day."
Cliff Manuel, president of Coastal Engineering Associates Inc., knows Chichester through his volunteerism.
"I see him as a very community-oriented person who rolled up his sleeves and got involved in activities that improved Hernando County," Manuel said.
Pat Crowley, president of the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce, said Chichester was passionate about the business community.
"When I think of Hernando Today, I think of Duane Chichester," Crowley said. "He was the face of Hernando Today."
Crowley said Chichester did much for the chamber, which in the past honored the newspaper as "Business of the Year."
"I think Duane is going to start another chapter in his life," she said. "We haven't seen the last of Duane Chichester."