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Nienhuis Flies Narverud to Brevard County on Recon Mission, May Have Violated FAA Reg

BROOKSVILLE – It is no secret that Hernando Board of County Commissioner Chairwoman Beth Narverud and Sheriff Al Nienhuis are no fans of County Animal Services Director James Terry, and a recent unsanctioned trip to Brevard County by the duo may be an indication of major changes coming to the facility. But that's not all. Sheriff Nienhuis may have violated FAA regulations by chartering their flight in his private plane.

On March 15, 2024, Chairwoman Narverud published photos and a statement about her trip with Nienhuis to Brevard County to meet with Sheriff Wayne Ivey. Narverud stated, "Very impressed with Sheriff Wayne Ivey and his Team of Dedicated Animal Lovers! Discovered great programs, procedures, and lots of great ideas while visiting this No-Kill Facility. Hoping to bring this to Hernando County! Who's with me???"

Narverud has been exceptionally critical of Terry's performance as the director, due to a recent incident involving claims that employees used the "heartstick" method to euthanize a dog. Those accusations proved to be false, but they led to outrage by several animal activists who launched attacks against Terry on social media.

During a BOCC meeting last November, Narverud spent 23 minutes reading citizen complaints about Terry and the condition of the shelter. Commissioner Steve Champion was the only commissioner to openly defend Terry stating "First of all, is this the Biden administration? Are we convicting him before even bringing him up here? It's a disgrace to even talk about that stuff. The man should be allowed to come up here and speak." Champion continued, "It's been three years and you haven't heard anything from anybody - Literally no complaints about the animal shelter."

Sheriff Nienhuis has his own reasons for disliking Terry, who used to be Major James Terry at the agency until Terry blew the whistle with allegations that Nienhuis was hiding $2.2 million in federal inmate housing revenue from County Officials. According to a statement filed in 2017 by Terry, "The Sheriff said he did not want the county to know about it or to turn it over," Terry wrote. "The comptroller recommended moving it into an account, stating the county would not see it there. The Sheriff agreed." Nienhuis responded to the accusations by attacking Terry's record and stating that he was a disgruntled employee. After leaving the agency, James Terry ran against Nienhuis in the 2020 election.

According to an expert on FAA regulations, Nienhuis may have violated the law by not having a Part 135 certification and transporting Narverud for the purposes of County business while he was acting as Sheriff. I asked Nienhuis if he received compensation for the chartered flight and he responded, "I received no reimbursement for the flight (Tax dollars or otherwise)." I then reminded Nienhuis that he was in uniform and flying during normal business hours to conduct county business with another Sheriff's Office. Nienhuis replied, "I am the elected Hernando County Sheriff 24/7 and get to work (and wear a "Sheriff shirt" and/or uniform) as much as I want." However, according to the FAA regulations, if Nienhuis was compensated in any way, which would include being paid for representing himself as Sheriff of Hernando County, then he would need a Part 135 certification.

I then shifted the focus to Nienhuis' motivations for chartering the trip with Narverud and asked if he had plans to take over management of the shelter. Nienhuis said, "It is very public knowledge that Commission Chair Narveud is an animal advocate. It is also very public knowledge that the county has delegated the animal enforcement component of their responsibilities to me (with my concurrence). Both the Chair and I were able to glean valuable information from Sheriff Ivey and from our visit to a very well-run animal shelter (for each of our respective interests and/or responsibilities)." If the Sheriff's Office took over management it would most likely result in James Terry being removed from his post as director.

Our sources say that Nienhuis did indeed violate FAA regulations by not having a Part 135 certification, but it would be up to an FAA inspector to make that determination if a complaint is filed. It should be noted that to qualify for a Part 135 certification, a pilot must have a minimum of 500 hours and carry substantial liability insurance. Nienhuis declined to respond to our requests for that information.

We reached out to Narverud for comment but she has not responded to our inquiries.

According to a spokesperson for the BOCC, there are no records available regarding Narverud's trip to Brevard County.

 

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