Topher Forhecz

Host, Reporter

Topher is a reporter at WGCU News. 

He formerly freelanced for WNYC radio in New York City. He holds a master's degree from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

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A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation commissioner is seeking a permit that would give her and other landowners legal coverage if they were to kill or harass endangered animals while developing thousands of acres in eastern Collier County.

The land includes habitat for the Florida panther. The commission helps oversee the species’ rebound.

This comes as the agency rethinks its role in the panther’s recovery plan. Some environmental organizations worry about the state’s timing.

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Lee County’s conservation rangers are on the lookout for illegal berry pickers on county preserves. It’s the time of year when pickers will sneak into county lands to pluck saw-palmetto berries. There’s a demand especially for these berries from local buyers. They’re often used in medicinal supplements to supposedly treat prostate issues.

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Tropical Storm Erika has local emergency operation centers getting ready.

Rob Farmer stood in front of a multi-paneled screen at the Lee County Emergency Operations Center in Fort Myers. One of the screens showed the outline and projected path of Tropical Storm Erika.

Farmer is the county’s Director of Public Safety and Emergency Management. The storm has the center in what Farmer called a “monitoring phase.”

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CLARIFICATION: The lawsuits were settled between the state and Tallahassee attorney Steven Andrews.

Gov. Rick Scott and other state officials recently settled multiple lawsuits that claimed they violated the state’s public records law.

But, the AP reports at least one member of the state Senate was not pleased with the way in which the state used some of the funds for the settlement.

The governor discussed the settlement at a press stop in Naples on Friday.

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Hendry County concluded an investigation Wednesday into two local primate breeding facilities. The county was concerned the companies were performing practices outside of their agricultural permits.

The county found no violations.