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News at noon: Manhunt for escaped inmates; drunk driver hits deputy's car; Realtors' outlook; new restaurants for 2016

A photo provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Office shows a cell and a vent screen that had been cut, near the floor at center rear, at Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, Calif., from which three inmates escaped sometime Friday. Investigators are pursuing several leads in their search, and in the meantime a separate probe was launched into how the inmates managed to obtain the tools to cut through the steel bars and plumbing tunnels to make it to the roof. [Orange County Sheriff's Office via AP]

A photo provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Office shows a cell and a vent screen that had been cut, near the floor at center rear, at Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, Calif., from which three inmates escaped sometime Friday. Investigators are pursuing several leads in their search, and in the meantime a separate probe was launched into how the inmates managed to obtain the tools to cut through the steel bars and plumbing tunnels to make it to the roof. [Orange County Sheriff's Office via AP]

It was a daring and elaborate escape: cutting through metal, crawling through plumbing tunnels, climbing a roof, rappelling four stories to freedom using ropes made from bedsheets. But this wasn't a Hollywood movie; it was a real-life breakout that left authorities struggling to find three escapees — one a suspected killer — and put together the pieces of how they managed to escape a Southern California maximum-security jail.

Sometimes authorities have to seek out suspected drunken drivers. Other times, the suspects come to them. Hillsborough County deputies were arresting one drunken driving suspect Sunday when another car sideswiped the patrol car. And when a deputy caught up to that driver? You guessed it. He had alcohol on his breath, red and glassy eyes and slurred speech, deputies said.

Coming off a robust year for Tampa Bay homes sales, area Realtors have a mixed forecast for 2016. We talked with four prominent local Realtors to get their take on what's in store for the housing market.

Bloomin' Brands CEO Liz Smith landed this month on Nation's Restaurant News' prestigious "Power List 2016" spotlighting the 50 most powerful people to watch in the food service industry. Smith was anointed, says the industry publication, because she is "leading the charge to overcome the casual-dining segment slowdown."

Worries over restaurant slowdowns don't appear to be affecting the Tampa Bay area too greatly. We're poised for a serious avalanche of notable new restaurants this spring. Already 2016 is heating up with fresh concepts that bring novelty to area tables.

One St. Petersburg restaurant that seemed to have trouble launching this past year seems to have settled into a more regular schedule, but, as Laura Reiley points out, Pericos will have to button down a number of other details before it stands a fighting chance in this densely competitive market.

And if you haven't checked it out yet, don't miss Laura's list of the Top 50 restaurants of Tampa Bay.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest albums of all time, the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. To mark the occasion, singer, songwriter and Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson is taking Pet Sounds out on the road one last time. Wilson has announced plans to perform Pet Sounds in full on an extensive 2016 tour, which will include a stop at St. Petersburg's Mahaffey Theater.

News at noon is a weekday feature from tampabay.com. Check in Monday through Friday for updates and information on the biggest stories of the day.

News at noon: Manhunt for escaped inmates; drunk driver hits deputy's car; Realtors' outlook; new restaurants for 2016 01/25/16 [Last modified: Monday, January 25, 2016 11:46am]
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