3 To Know: Dry conditions expected to fuel wildfire season

Marco Eagle

1. Dry conditions expected to fuel wildfire season

Remember a few months ago, when we were coming off the wettest wet season on record? 

Now conditions have flipped, as they do here, and counties south of Lake Okeechobee, especially Collier, are starting to rise on drought and wildfire scales. 

A brush fire burns in Naples, Fla., on March 7, 2017. Drought is exacerbating wildfires across the state.

"It’s definitely getting much drier," said Clark Ryals, with the Caloosahatchee district of Florida Forestry, which covers Lee and Collier counties. "With the lack of wind over the last week we’ve only had human-caused fires, mostly dry brush. But if we get 15, 20, 30 miles per hour we could see some devastating wildfires."

Record and near-record temperatures have been posted for Fort Myers, Naples and the surrounding area for much of this month. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is calling for an above average chance of above-average temperatures and an above-average chance for less-than-average rain for Southwest Florida between now and June 1. – Chad Gillis/Staff

2. Uber to add cheaper, faster car-pooling option

The latest variation of an Uber ride will require a short walk. In eight U.S. cities, the ride-hailing company is rolling out a service called “Express Pool,” which links riders in the same area who want to travel to similar destinations.

Once linked, riders would need to walk a couple of blocks to be picked up at a common location. They also would be dropped off at a site that would be a short walk from their final destinations.

Depending on time of day and metro area, Express Pool could cost up to 75 percent less than a regular Uber ride and up to half the cost of Uber’s current shared-ride service called Pool, said Ethan Stock, the company’s product director for shared rides.

3. Bonita Springs City Council ends medical marijuana dispensary ban in tie vote

Bonita Springs is set to become the only city in Lee County to allow medical marijuana dispensaries

The City Council on Wednesday voted against extending its temporary ban on the businesses.

A cannabis leaf laid atop Ben Franklin's face, with only his eyes showing.

The council voted 3-3 on the motion to extend a year-long moratorium another six months. A tie vote automatically fails.

“I thought it was time,” DeWitt said. “I know there are guys out there suffering from PTSD that have got their medical marijuana cards. It just was the time. It’s just — how many times are we going to kick the can down the road? Either do it or not. No one on the (council) ever said to do a permanent ban. People need (medical marijuana), and we should let them get it locally.”

The moratorium is set to end on March 2. Dispensaries can then submit a permit application to the city like any other business although at a much higher level of scrutiny. - Thaddeus Mast/Staff