1. Current Florida panther road kill pace would double state record

Drivers are on pace to kill 72 Florida panthers this year after six road kills were recorded in January. 

That would more than double the current record of 34 vehicle deaths set in 2016. 

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But scientists and panther advocates say that's unlikely to happen. 

Road kills often happen in bursts, and weeks can pass between road kills when the pace is slower. 

"The data shows we don’t keep this pace per month," said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission panther biologist Dave Onorato. "We kind of go through these spurts and then we go through some dry spells."

Florida panthers are the official state animal and are protected by state and federal endangered and threatened species regulations. 

Biologists say they number between 120 and 230, the vast majority of which lives south of Lake Okeechobee. 

Three of the deaths have taken place in Collier County, with two happening in Hendry and one in Polk. 

2. Mary Higgins Clark, the long reigning 'Queen of Suspense,' dies at 92 in Naples

Mary Higgins Clark, the tireless and long-reigning "Queen of Suspense" whose tales of women beating the odds made her one of the world's most popular writers, died Friday in Naples at age 92.

Her publisher, Simon & Schuster, announced that she died of natural causes.

"Nobody ever bonded more completely with her readers than Mary did," her longtime editor Michael Korda said in statement. "She understood them as if they were members of her own family. She was always absolutely sure of what they wanted to read — and, perhaps more important, what they didn’t want to read — and yet she managed to surprise them with every book."

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A widow with five children in her late 30s, she became a perennial best-seller over the second half of her life, writing or co-writing "A Stranger Is Watching," "Daddy's Little Girl" and more than 50 other favorites.

3. Community Foundation of Collier County awards $16M

The Community Foundation of Collier County distributed a record $16 million in grants during the three months ending Dec. 31, 2019, according to the nonprofit agency.

That’s $3 million shy of the $19 million given during the first six months of the year, according to the foundation.

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Established in 1985, the foundation’s focus is to increase philanthropy in the community.

“We pride ourselves on our partnerships and community knowledge that enable us to guide our donors in their charitable giving to make the most impact,” Eileen Connolly-Keelser, president and CEO of the foundation, said in a news release.

The community foundation manages more than 750 funds and collaborates with hundreds of nonprofits. It holds $224 million in assets and has distributed more than $168 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and community programs since its inception.

The $16 million covers 726 grants to nonprofit agencies and for secondary education and specialized training.

For more information, contact the foundation at 239-649-5000 or visit

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