Matthew F Smith

Matthew Smith is a reporter and producer of WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live.

Originally from Delaware, he moved to Alaska in 2010 for his first job in radio. He spent five years working as a radio and television reporter, as well as a radio producer, talk show host, and news director at stations across Alaska, where his reporting received awards from the Alaska Press Club and the Alaska Broadcasters Association. Relocating to southwest Florida, he spent several months producing television news before joining WGCU as the Gulf Coast Live producer in August 2016.

Matthew studied English and journalism at Villanova University in Villanova, PA, where he wrote for the school newspaper and other school publications. He taught English as a Second Language for several years before pursuing a career in journalism.

While most of the complaints about Southwest Florida's recent rainy weather center on the comeback of the annoying mosquito, the rain brings out another animal that can pose a serious threat to dogs: the cane toad, whose poison glands can sicken pets. Even the tadpoles can be highly toxic if ingested. 

A bill  before lawmakers in Congress would require car makers install technology reminding drivers when a child is in the back seat. It’s a move to help prevent the occurrence of “forgotten baby syndrome,” where a child is accidentally left in a car as potentially fatal temperatures soar. The “Hot Cars” Act is getting bi-partisan support since it was unveiled earlier this month in Washington DC. 

Florida lawmakers returned to Tallahassee for a busy three-day special session last week, ending with new agreements on school spending, tourism and business incentives, and medical marijuana but leaving in place many of Gov. Rick Scott's vetoes, and questions about the session's last-minute deals unanswered.

With more than 11,000 miles of rivers, coastlines, and waterways, new U.S. Coast Guard data shows Florida leads the nation in boating accidents and boating deaths, a trend that has been growing in Florida and nationwide since 2013.

The first case of canine influenza, or "dog flu," was confirmed in Florida this week. More than a dozen cases of the highly contagious H3N2 canine flu virus has been identified in northern and central Florida since the first diagnosis, including cases in the Orlando area.

Despite a months-long season for red snapper in state waters off Florida and other Gulf states, fisherman across the Gulf of Mexico are gearing up to protest a brief three-day opening to catch the prized fish in federal Gulf waters. Fishermen argue a short opening hurts businesses and hampers anglers across the Gulf, but fishery managers say a small window is important to preserve a species still recovering from overfishing.

New research shows the Zika virus was likely in the state earlier than health officials had previously thought—and had arrived in the state on multiple occasions.

A small team of paramedics  is quietly transforming community health in Manatee County, scheduling house calls and building relationships with patients who would otherwise be frequent visitors to emergency rooms and regularly calling 911.

Just this month Brazil—the country where experts say the Zika virus first arose—ended its nationwide health emergency related to the virus. The World Health Organization took a similar step in November. But as the summer mosquito season in Florida begins, the threat from Zika remains acute for South Florida and other parts of the world where the mosquitoes carrying the virus can be found.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center issues its 2017 Hurricane season outlook Thursday. NOAA meteorologist Jamie Rhome explains what’s in store for Southwest Florida in the months ahead.  

A brood of salt marsh mosquitoes borne from high tides along Southwest Florida’s coastal mangroves descended on Collier County this week, unleashing a “horrendous” torrent of insects that experts say is the worst they’ve seen in a decade.

Could the next car you buy drive itself? As technology for self-driving or "autonomous" vehicles improves, Florida lawmakers, transportation officials, and businesses are positioning the state as one of the leading test beds for driverless cars.

Lee County is making its own preparations, and the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority is just one of three pilot projects in the country getting federal Department of Transportation dollars. 

Despite being known as the "Sunshine State," Florida lags behind others parts of the country when it comes to generating electricity through solar power. Florida is the third largest state by population in the U.S., but when it comes to harnessing the power of the sun, it's out-shined by states like California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.

  When a health care provider wants to build a new hospital, hospice or nursing home in Florida, or even revamp and old one, they first have to apply for a “Certificate of Need" from state regulators.  It's a lengthy and expensive process that can end in rejection: last year, regulators denied 20 of the 47 applications.
 

New estimates through mid-2016 show Florida's surge in syphilis cases continued last year, with cases of infectious syphilis jumping statewide by 36 percent by the middle the middle of year.

Syphilis in Florida grew by a shocking 72.8 percent from 2010 through 2014, and continued to grow by nearly 20 percent the following year. In some parts of South Florida, the rate of infection per 100,000 people is greater than in major cities like Los Angeles. Southwest Florida counties like Lee and Sarasota saw small numbers of the disease triple or quadruple during that six-month period.

Estimates for traffic deaths in Florida climbed to more than 3,200 in 2016, a jump of nearly ten percent from the previous year. Lee County leads Southwest Florida with the deadliest roads in the region with more than 100 deaths in traffic accidents last year, nearly three times the fatalities seen in Collier and Charlotte counties.

South Florida is a hotspot for invasive species, and the exotic plants, reptiles, amphibians, and fish that take root in the subtropical region of Florida can cause harm to the ecology, economy, and even human health.

From invasive Burmese pythons to Argentine black and white tegus, from Clown Knifefish in the water to the climbing, coiling kudzu plants, Florida’s native plants and animals face displacement by nonnative species.

Women are drinking more heavily, and alcohol is behind a growing number of their deaths, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal health data.

The number of white women dying from alcohol-related problems rose 130 percent nationwide since 1999; for Hispanic women, alcohol-related deaths grew by 30 percent in that same time frame. Federal health data shows the prevalence of binge drinking among women up by more than 40 percent since the late 1990s, leading to more ER visits and a growing number of accidents, injuries, and chronic diseases.

Hundreds of cases of human trafficking are reported in Florida every year, and a new report from 2016 shows the number of human trafficking cases in the state doubled in the last year.

The vast majority of trafficked persons in Florida are young women, and sex trafficking is the most common form of human trafficking in the state, according to a report from Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Children and Families.

Seventeen bills filed for the coming March legislative session focus on guns. Some seek to ban the sale of certain guns or firearm components, while others seek to expand where Floridians can carry open or concealed weapons.

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