Veterans and city officials reacted with both Thursday following an announcement that the Veteran's Appreciation Parade is canceled in light of a disagreement the event organizer, Anna Liisa Covell, has with city officials concerning paperwork for off-duty police officers for the event.
Covell made the announcement on her blog and through email.
But on Thursday afternoon, many still didn't know about the cancellation.
Commander Bruce Carl of American Legion Post 186 said this would have been the first year his group was to take part. He added that he's sorry that would no longer be the case.
"That's a big disappointment," Carl said. "A lot of veterans look forward to that event and a lot of citizens do as well. It's their only chance to thank the folks for what they did."
Marion Kelley, Commandant of the Brooksville Marine Corps League, said the news would be a big let-down for many in the community, especially for retirees.
And while he doesn't want to lay blame for the cancellation, Kelley added that the loss of holding this year's veteran's parade doesn't look good for Brooksville.
"If (organizers) were having an issue, they should have put it out there and we would have come out and done something about that," Kelley said. "What I've found is that for the right cause, the people in this community are very giving. I'm presently working with Toys for Tots and while asking for help, we've found plenty of people willing to share, give money and try to help. It's really just a matter of asking them. So for this to come down at the last minute … I just don't get it."
City Council member Kevin Hohn, who paid out-of-pocket for the parade fees last year, said the event cancellation is fully on Covell and not the city, as she claims.
Covell has argued that the city has been unresponsive to her concerns about paying police officers separately — and that doing so means she would have to get W-9s for each officer, pay insurance, taxes and be held liable for them if they are injured.
However, Hohn said Covell has been told before by city staff how police officers would still be covered under the city.
"She was told several times that she wouldn't have to worry about insurance, liability, workman's comp or any of that stuff. But (Covell) just won't believe (the city manager)," Hohn said. "It's just a shame. It shouldn't have come to this."
Covell has said she didn't receive answers from city officials for more than six weeks and in her email blamed the city's "bureaucracy," adding that the funds had been collected for the event.
City Council Member Frankie Burnett said he was likewise disappointed and wanted to discuss the matter with City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha.
"I would do anything on behalf of the veterans. The veterans are very important to me," Burnett said. "I would have liked to have seen the parade happen. I want to look into it so the same thing doesn't happen the following years."
Meanwhile, Covell wrote that despite the cancellation of the parade, she hopes to have a small gathering between 8 and 10 a.m. at the Hernando County Courthouse to thank veterans.
"If you have a couple of minutes, please stop down and shake a veteran's hand, wave a flag or just to swap stories among veterans," Covell wrote.