Halls River Bridge keeps name, but also honors environmental activist

The late Jim Bitter of Homosassa
The late Jim Bitter of Homosassa

Homosassa's Hall's River Bridge will still be called that, but there will be a second sign that honors longtime environmental activist Jim Bitter.

The Citrus County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on Tuesday voted 5-0 to pass the measure.

The sign over the bridge will now read, "Halls River Bridge". Underneath that will be a second sign that will have the Purple Heart symbol and the words, "James C. Bitter, Purple Heart Recipient."

The original motion called for renaming Halls River Bridge to the James C. Bitter Bridge, but Commission Chairman Scott Carnahan said that not all people who had contacted the county commission about the proposed name change wanted to do away with the Halls River Bridge name, so he proposed keeping the "Halls River Bridge" name, but also add a second sign that included the Purple Heart symbol and Bitter's name as one of those recipients for his actions in wartime.

The sticking point, however, came during pubic discussion, where one group lobbied against another group as to whether Bitter would have approved having his name to a bridge that he reportedly opposed before it was built, and others who said he wouldn't have minded at all. Still others argued that some other way should be found to honor him other than renaming the bridge.

The common thread, however, among all present during the discussion is that members of the public revered Bitter as a person and an environmental activist who had the interests of Homosassa, and Citrus County, at heart.

"He was a curmudgeon, but he was our curmudgeon," said Homosassa resident Robert Cullen. "And we all loved him."

Bitter died on Oct. 18, 2016, at the age of 88.