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Governor appoints Alvin Nienhuis as Hernando County Sheriff

TALLAHASSEE - Governor Charlie Crist today appointed Alvin "Al" D. Nienhuis II as Hernando County Sheriff.

"Al's 15 years as a dedicated law enforcement officer have given him the experience and skills he needs to honorably serve the people of Hernando County," Governor Crist said.  "The leadership he has shown as an undersheriff for nearly a decade have prepared him to serve as one of the top law enforcement officers in our state."

Nienhuis' law enforcement career began in 1985 with the Florida Marine Patrol, where he first volunteered and later worked part-time. Since 2001, he has served as the Undersheriff for the Pasco Sheriff's Office, where he has been responsible for all detention and law enforcement daily operations.

One more night of freeze warnings, then turning warmer

Once again, the National Weather Service has issued a Freeze Warning tonight for much of the area.  The Freeze Warning is for the counties of Pasco southward through Sarasota County.  Pinellas County is not in the warning area, however location in the northern part of the county, north of Safety Harbor, will have to watch for freezing temperatures. 

The overnight lows will warm slightly from last night's frigid readings in the teens to low 30s, but the mercury will dip below the freezing mark to the mid and upper 20s for many areas away from the water. 

Photo Gallery: Frosty morning in Tampa Bay!
See Also: Why is it so darn cold?!

Transient charged in Brooksville sex attack

Brooksville, Florida -- A transient has been charged with beating and sexually battering a woman who helps homeless people from time to time, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office said.

Allen Everett Koonce, 47, was arrested after the sheriff's office got a call that a man matching his description was noticed walking on Hampstead Drive and Carefree Drive in Brooksville.

Deputies say he was taken into custody without incident on three counts of sexual battery.

Previous Story: Deputies search for sexual assault suspect

Investigators say he was the man who last Thursday asked the 62-year-old victim to meet with him at a friend's home. When she arrived, Koonce allegedly grabbed, handcuffed, sexually battered, beat and threatened her with a knife and rifle. She escaped Friday after he fell asleep.

Spring Hill woman helps soldier propose with scarf

Spring Hill, Florida - Michelle Sipe's love for crocheting began 15 years ago under her grandmother's guide. The hobby turned into an online business called Chelle's Craft Corner. This Spring Hill crafter's current project will change a couple's life.

"It's exciting, it's exciting. I've put a lot of love into this, thoughts and prayers," says Michelle.

First Lieutenant Roy Ragsdale and Kayla O'Rourke are 23 years old and live in New York. On Monday, Roy wrote Michelle a long email from Afghanistan asking she crochet a scarf for his girlfriend. Roy found her business while doing a search online.

His request was simple Michelle says, "I made him blue and white scarf in the middle I will put the words, 'Will You Marry Me?'"

Hernando County in state's top 5 for unemployment

Hernando County in state's top 5 for unemployment

Spring Hill, FL -- Hernando County has another rough month with a spike in the unemployment rate that puts it third on the state list.

In a report released on December 17th by the Agency for Worldforce Innovation (AWI), the November figures show Hernando coming in behind Hendry and Flager counties with a 15.2 percent unemployment rate. This compared to the 14.4 percent unemployment rate for Hernando County in October in which it ranked fourth behind St. Lucie County.

The unemployment rate for the state went up a tenth of a percentage point from October to November to 12.0 percent.

"The November unemployment rate reflects the challenges our state is facing as we slowly emerge from the national recession," said AWI Director Cynthia R.

'Balloon Boy' family looking for fresh start in Fla.

'Balloon Boy' family looking for fresh start in Fla.

Tampa Bay, Florida - Richard Heene makes his Bear Scratch devices in the family garage. "It's all from scratch-from bear scratch," he says with a laugh.

And in a home just north of Tampa (the family requested their exact location not be revealed), this inventor is also trying to invent a new life for his family. "Yes, being in Florida is an exciting fresh start for us," says Heene. "The kids love it here."

While 11-year-old Bradford, 10-year-old Ryo and 7-year-old Falcon help with the family business by creating shipping boxes for the Bear Scratch, the Heene's will always be known for creating a publicity stunt. In October 2009, millions watched a giant balloon drift across Colorado.

Coast guard team tested by mass destruction exercise

Coast guard team tested by mass destruction exercise

Brooksville, FL - The Florida National Guard's newly formed 48th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (CST) were assessed by U.S. Northern Command evaluators during a live domestic security exercise in Brooksville today, from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Members of the 48th CST, which was formed in 2009, were at the  Army Aviation Support Facility, simulating a real-world weapons-of-mass destruction or chemical attack. The evaluation involved chemical suits and hazardous material testing equipment.