Naples Daily News Weekend Digest Miss something this week? Catch up on a few of our big stories in this quick digest

Philanthropist Jay Baker got rich growing Kohl’s stores — now he’s sharing the wealth with Naples

Jay Baker is nowhere to be seen.

Arriving at Baker's airy Bay Colony penthouse, at first you see only walls crowded with colorful modern art, which somehow blends gracefully with his vast collection of antique baseball memorabilia, including well-worn gloves that were once owned by famed sluggers Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

Then Baker's oversized laugh arrives, and finally Baker himself, hand outstretched, dressed casually in a blue plaid shirt and khakis.

"Welcome, welcome!" Baker booms as he proudly shows off an inset of brightly colored Chihuly glass in his ceiling and settles in on the white leather couch. "Would you like a cup of tea?"

For a wealthy philanthropist whose name graces a number of Naples' most prominent institutions, and who has donated a staggering $150 million to charity over the past two decades, Baker certainly knows how to put a guest at ease.

But then, Baker is not one to put on airs. The 81-year-old retired president of Kohl's Corp. is quick to turn the conversation to his upbringing in Flushing, Queens, in a home crowded with three grandparents, his parents and his beloved older sister Beverly.

Famed voice-over icon Peter Thomas dies at 91

The man may be gone, but the voice is eternal.

Peter Thomas, 91, a voice-over icon and World War II veteran, died Saturday, nearly two years after he lost his wife and high school sweetheart, Stella Barrineau Thomas.

His distinctive vocal cords made him a part of Americana, but locally Peter Thomas became famous for his humanitarian heart.

"He was loved by so many people," said Peter Thomas Jr., the 65-year-old son who was by his father's side in Naples when he passed, along with Peter Thomas's two other children, Doug Thomas and Elizabeth Joyoprayitno.

During a career that spanned seven decades, Peter Thomas lent his smooth and silky baritone to everything from commercials to documentaries, his most well-known work being the narrator of "Forensic Files." He was a radio announcer, a newspaper reporter, television anchor for CBS New York and finally, a voice-over actor.

Collier tourism forecasts record year for 2016

Jack Wert's picture of tourism in Collier County remains rosy.

In his annual tourism report Tuesday, Wert said he expects the number of visitors to grow 1 to 2 percent over last year, setting a record.

While visitation in the first quarter wasn't as strong as it was last year, he said other indicators point to growth this year, including an expected increase in European tourists this summer.

"We have a lot of good events happening over the summer months. So that will bring some visitors to our area, as well," said Wert, the county's tourism director, who delivered this year's report to a crowd of about 60 at the scenic Naples Bay Resort in downtown Naples.

Hotel managers are projecting their occupancies will be flat or up slightly over last year. "Even if they're flat, that's still really good," Wert said.

In 2015 the county's visitor count jumped 3.1 percent over the year to more than 1.82 million. Meanwhile, direct spending by visitors grew more than 8 percent to more than $1.3 billion, and total economic impact rose 8 percent to more than $1.95 billion. Tourist tax collections reached their highest total yet — about $21 million.

Naples posts its first loggerhead sea turtle nest of 2016

It's happening again on Southwest Florida beaches.

A loggerhead sea turtle emerges from the darkness of the Gulf of Mexico, digs a hole with its rear flippers, lays 100 or so ping-pong ball-sized eggs in it, covers it with sand, and then crawls back below the waves.

Mama was long gone by the time turtle trackers found the telltale flipper tracks at daylight Tuesday. They came out of the Gulf in front of a mansion in the 2600 block of Gordon Drive — leading monitors to the first nest of the young turtle nesting season in Naples.

One of Southwest Florida's most awaited natural cycles officially began Sunday and runs through Oct. 31, along with lighting restrictions that are meant to keep beachfront lights from discouraging nesting sea turtles or confusing hatchlings racing to make it back into the Gulf.

As of Wednesday morning, monitors also had found two nests on Keewaydin Island — including one that could be from a loggerhead the Conservancy of Southwest Florida has been tracking since 1988 — one at Lovers Key State Park, two on Fort Myers Beach and four on Captiva Island.

Loggerheads are not storming the beach like they were last year in Collier, where turtles laid 16 nests in the first week of nesting compared to just one nest this year, said the county's sea turtle program coordinator Maura Kraus.

Naples fire working on revamping operations and outreach after chief’s firing

The Naples Fire-Rescue Department has taken on a six-week effort to revamp operations and community outreach programs after the termination of Steve McInerny as chief.

The department this week began offering free CPR classes to residents at the River Park Community Center and plans to begin blood-pressure screenings at Wynn's Market next month. The department also is designating a "community needs coordinator" to record reported fire hazards or other safety issues.

The programs are similar to the department's outreach efforts in the 1990s, when firefighters were more visible in the community, said Pete DiMaria, the acting chief.

"We hope to have the community feel like we're part of them," DiMaria said. "We're all working together for the same goal."

DiMaria became acting chief after City Manager Bill Moss fired McInerny on March 15. Questions about McInerny's conduct were raised last October when the fire union said McInerny has been exaggerating the department's needs and misleading the public.

McInerny's lawyer, Robert Bates, has declined to make him available for an interview.

Southwest Florida mosquito control gears up for Zika

Soon enough rainy season will begin drenching Southwest Florida with its annual average rainfall of 55 inches.

Standing water, even a capful in a plastic bottle top, can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes that transmit the Zika virus.

The Collier County Mosquito Control District is upgrading its laboratory to start testing for the mosquito species that carries the virus.

"This allows us to gets the results back in a matter of hours instead of days," Patrick Linn, executive director of the district, said.

On April 14 the board allocated $77,000 in its $11 million annual operating budget to buy equipment for the lab and safety upgrades, Linn said. The district is responsible for year-round surveillance and abatement of the nuisance pests.

"They felt the pursuit of this testing is timely," he said. "There's a good deal of urgency."

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