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

FGCU, Collier County keep an eye out for alligators in swimming lakes in wake of Disney tragedy

They've been spotted crawling across lawns, basking in the sun along busy highways and peering out from golf course water hazards.

They're alligators, and they've always been a part of the landscape in the Sunshine State.

But the death of a 2-year-old Nebraska boy, pulled underwater June 14 at a lake at a Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, is raising new questions about how to keep alligators and people out of each other's way.

Alligators have been removed from swimming lakes at Florida Gulf Coast University and at Lake Avalon at Sugden Park in East Naples, but university officials and Collier County officials said they don't consider their lakes to have an alligator problem.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has fielded 3,225 calls in Lee County and 1,479 calls in Collier County about nuisance alligators since 2014. Last year alone, FWC trappers removed more than 7,500 nuisance alligators statewide, FWC data show.

When the FWC gets a complaint about a nuisance alligator, it doesn't necessarily mean an FWC trapper will remove the gator. To be removed, the gator must be at least 4 feet long and there must be legal access to its location. Once trapped, alligators are either euthanized or taken to an alligator farm. Alligators are not relocated because they often try to return.

Property value growth up by double digits, Collier County appraiser says

The percentage growth of Collier County's just and taxable values is up by double digits, according to preliminary numbers released Tuesday by the Collier County Property Appraiser's office.

But until the county's various taxing authorities set their millage rates, the effect on residents' property tax bills has yet to be determined.

"If the millage rate stays the same or increases, your property taxes will increase," said Collier County Property Appraiser Abe Skinner.

Skinner said countywide just or fair-market values increased a total of 12.17 percent in 2016 to approximately $102.1 billion from $91 billion in 2015, including the value of new construction.

"This is down from the high water mark of 2007, when they hit about $108 billion in just value, and up from 2012, when they dropped to $70 billion," Skinner said.

"Since then, values have been coming back," he said.

As SWFL celebrates Fourth of July, drivers celebrate lowest gas prices since 2005

Patriots, rejoice! This Fourth of July will see the lowest gas prices since 2005, according to predictions from the popular smartphone app GasBuddy.

The company, which collects gas prices to direct users to the cheapest station in their location, predicts that the national average will hit $2.27 per gallon on the Fourth, down $1.39 from the same time two years ago.

Floridians in particular have reason to celebrate. According to the apps' data, the state's current average gas prices are at $2.24 per gallon, down 44 cents from last year.

"We saved a lot of money last year, but we're saving even more this year," said Gregg Laskoski, the senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. The reason for the decline, he said, has to do with the basic principle of supply and demand.

"Consumer demand is at an all-time high, but at the same time inventory has been very strong," he said. "Refinery production is at the highest level that we've seen in this calendar year."

And the trend isn't just limited to the U.S.

Naples Humane Society is No. 1 in Florida

There's that moment when families escort their new, adopted dog or cat from the humane society to their car.

"(The owner) is so happy, the dog is so happy," volunteer Bill Galas says. That moment, he said, is what makes his work worthwhile.

The Humane Society of Naples — which is not associated with the Humane Society of America or receive funding from it, said director of development Lois Taylor — is ranked the No. 1 shelter in Florida and No. 13 in the country by Charity Navigator, an independent charity evaluator. It is a four-star, no-kill shelter, adoption center, animal clinic and dog training agency.

About 3,000 pounds of food each month feeds animals at the main shelter on Airport-Pulling Road near Naples airport, as well as the humane society's Coastland Center mall location, a boarding facility in North Naples and several foster homes throughout the area.

In 2014, 1,687 do gs, 1,155 cats and 59 small animals — rodents like rabbits and guinea pigs — were adopted in Naples.

But this time of year, the facilities are swarming with meowing, pouncing kittens. Overflowing, actually.

Naples hotels packed for long Fourth of July weekend

here's no room left at the Hampton Inn Naples-Central.

The 107-room hotel off U.S. 41 is packed like an overstuffed suitcase for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, with most of its visitors driving from other parts of Florida, especially the east coast.

"We expect craziness, craziness — too many families, too many kids, too many tournaments," said a jovial Priscilla Dias, the inn's general manager.

The craziness shouldn't come as a surprise. AAA forecast a record number of Americans — nearly 43 million — would travel for the holiday weekend that started Thursday and ends Monday.

"Independence Day is always the most-traveled holiday of the summer, but this year it will be bigger than ever, primarily because of low gas prices," said Joseph J. Richardson Jr., president and CEO of AAA — The Auto Club Group, in a statement. "Airports will be just as crowded as the roads because low fuel prices are making it more affordable to fly."

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