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Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

Public will get peek at manor restoration


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BROOKSVILLE - The restoration of the Chinsegut Hill Manor House is under way and organizers want to show off their progress to the public at a fundraiser planned for Friday and Saturday.

Once completed, the historic manor house and spacious grounds north of Brooksville will be available for weddings and group stays. People will be able to use the cottages and meeting rooms.

County commissioners Tuesday will discuss the progress of the restoration and a request from fundraiser organizers to serve alcohol at the fundraiser.

Restoration is being done by the nonprofit organization Friends of Chinsegut Hill.

"We're looking forward to opening the manor house and grounds after the restoration is completed," said Jan Knowles, president of the nonprofit group Friends of Chinsegut Hill, which is handling the restoration. "The First Chinsegut Hill Celebration will give everyone a look at our progress and an opportunity for the public to be involved in making it a success.

The Friends have received a $50,000 matching grant from the Felburn Foundation. They have raised about $20,000 so far and plan to raise the remaining $30,000 to ensure the grant is guaranteed.

The grant money will be used for operational costs, including the necessary upgrades to the cottages, and preparing the grounds to open in January. In April, the state announced it would kick in $1.5 million, with the money restricted to the restoration of the historic manor house.

Knowles said all proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward the operational budget match for the Felburn grant.

County Tourism Coordinator Tammy Heon said the restoration will be an asset to help draw tourists to the area.

"Located within some of our most pristine bird-watching territory, the retreat of Chinsegut Hill is certain to add to our ecotourism efforts," Heon said. "It's a natural fit for our programs."

A members-only reception will be held 6-9 p.m. Friday. New members can join at the door for $20. The reception will feature a silent auction to benefit Chinsegut Hill, music and refreshments, and an update on current and future goals. Special guest will be Gary Mormino, author and retired professor of Florida Studies at the University of South Florida, who has conducted many educational events at Chinsegut.

The First Chinsegut Hill Celebration is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The free community event will feature family activities, arts and crafts, educational activities, student art, music by the Hernando Youth Orchestra Quartets and food and beverages, compliments of Hernando High School's Culinary program.

The county commission meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Hernando County Government Center, 20 N. Main St. in downtown Brooksville.

v vAlso at Tuesday's meeting, commissioners will:

Discuss a lawsuit filed against the county by Costa Homes that would stop the county from demolishing unfinished homes at Trails at Rivard. That lawsuit was filed Nov. 1, according to a check with the Hernando County Clerk's Office. As of Friday, the legal office had not been served a copy of the lawsuit.

Commissioners were already scheduled to discuss the broader topic regarding requests for demolition projects and removal of structures in the county.

Discuss the progress of the Little Rock Cannery business operations plan, being put together by supporters of the facility at Citrus Way and U.S. 98, north of Brooksville. Supporters had until Jan. 1 to draft a business plan and figure out a way to keep the cannery operational. Until then, the county will fund the facility to the tune of about $15,000.

Hear a presentation from Environmental Services Director Susan Goebel-Canning on the utilities department wastewater regionalization and reclaimed water expansion efforts.

To view the entire agenda, visit http ://hernandocountyfl.iqm2 .com/citizens.

(352) 544-5290

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