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News at noon: These Tampa Bay neighborhoods are rising in value; last few hours of sunshine; turf turnaround at Raymond James Stadium; and live at the Epiphany cross dive in Tarpon Springs

Zillow projects that St. Petersburg's Oak Gardens neighborhood will see among the highest increase in home values this year. 

This three-bedroom, one-bath house in Oak Gardens is listed at $170,000.
[SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN   |   Times]

Zillow projects that St. Petersburg's Oak Gardens neighborhood will see among the highest increase in home values this year. This three-bedroom, one-bath house in Oak Gardens is listed at $170,000. [SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN | Times]

Most Tampa Bay residents have never heard of Westminster Heights. But the St. Petersburg neighborhood could give a lot of bang for the buck when it comes to investing in real estate this year. tops Zillow's list of the five bay area neighborhoods expected to show the biggest percentage gain in home values in 2017. Which other neighborhoods made the list?

FORECAST: HEAVY RAIN, PLUMMETING TEMPERATURES IN STORE FOR TAMPA BAY'S COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKEND

Tampa Bay residents should enjoy these last few hours of sunshine, as heavy rain and chilly weather starts to make their way across the region tonight. While today remains relatively sunny with highs reaching the upper 70s, a band of brewing storms will make landfall overnight, possibly impacting the College Football Playoff events scheduled in Tampa throughout the weekend ahead of Monday night's Clemson-Alabama game at Raymond James Stadium, forecasters said.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF: DIG DEEP INTO THE TALE OF THE TURF AT RAYMOND JAMES

Raymond James Stadium tweeted this pic of the field, which was completely resodded after the Outback Bowl to get ready for Monday's national title game. @RJStadium Rise and Grind. First row of sod down, an entire field to go. #CFBPlayoff #NationalChampionship

To understand the behind-the-scenes work that goes into Alabama and Clemson chasing each other around Raymond James Stadium for a college football national championship on Monday night, you need only appreciate the grass they're trampling. Carefully chosen, grown specifically for this game over the past 18 months and transported west 60 miles from Fort Meade by police escort on 18 flatbed semis this week is 65,000 square feet of Tifway 419 Bermuda grass, installed by a crew of about 100 immediately after the Outback Bowl ended Monday afternoon.

10 TRENDS THAT WILL DRIVE TAMPA BAY BUSINESS IN 2017

After reviewing many forecasts and predictions of business trends likely to arrive or accelerate in 2017, business columnist Robert Trigaux boils them down to 10 that are most likely to influence the Tampa Bay business scene in the new year.

FACEBOOK LIVE: EPIPHANY CROSS DIVE IN TARPON SPRINGS

[TRACEY McMANUS | Times]

Tarpon Springs is celebrating the largest Epiphany event in the Western Hemisphere, celebrating the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. At 12:30 p.m. the faithful will head to the waterfront where teenage boys dive into the chilly water in an attempt to be the first to find the Holy Cross that will be tossed into Spring Bayou by the archbishop. Follow our live blog for updates throughout the day and be on the lookout for our Facebook Live video.

REP. CHARLIE CRIST EXPLAINS WHY HE MISSED VOTE SUPPORTING ISRAEL

Rep. Charlie Crist said he missed an important vote Thursday night because he didn't give himself enough time to walk from his office to the Capitol and was "detained" by people in the halls wanting to chat. "I'm sorry. It happens. Now I know better. I have to give myself more time," the rookie Democrat told the Tampa Bay Times this morning.

PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP SAYS FOCUS ON RUSSIAN HACKING IS A 'POLITICAL WITCH HUNT'

President-elect Donald Trump said in an interview today that the storm surrounding Russian hacking during the presidential campaign is a political witch hunt being carried out by his adversaries, who he said were embarrassed by their loss to him in the election last year. Trump spoke to the New York Times by telephone three hours before he was set to be briefed by the nation's top intelligence and law enforcement officials about Russian hacking of U.S. political institutions. In the conversation, he repeatedly criticized the intense focus on the alleged cyber intrusions by Russia.

SEAWORLD: TILIKUM, ORCA THAT KILLED TRAINER, HAS DIED

Tilikum, an orca that killed a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando in 2010 and was profiled in a documentary that helped sway popular opinion against keeping killer whales in captivity at SeaWorld parks, has died. Sea World officials said Tilikum died but did not give a cause of death. He was estimated to be 36 years old.

THE OBAMETER: EIGHT YEARS AND 533 CAMPAIGN PROMISES LATER, MEASURING BARACK OBAMA'S LEGACY

[STEVE MADDEN | Times illlustration]

When Barack Obama took office as the 44th president of the United States, PolitiFact created an unprecedented database of his 533 campaign promises. We've spent the past eight years amassing the definitive account of his record.

EVERGLADES RESTORATION: DEBATE RAGES OVER PLAN TO SPEND $800 MILLION TO BUILD A MASSIVE WATER CLEANING RESERVOIR?

Should Florida buy land to save water? That simple question is shaping up to be a complicated and politically tangled debate this legislative session as the state's powerful sugar industry ramps up against the widening reach of water-weary local communities in an age of climate change and sea level rise.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF: JALEN HURTS, AN UNFLAPPABLE TRUE FRESHMAN QB

[MONICA HERNDON | Times]

Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) talks with reporters after the Chick Fil A Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta on Saturday December 31, 2016. Alabama defeated Washington, 24-7.

Jalen Hurts could not have had a worse welcome-to-college-football than his first snap at Alabama. He took the ball in the season opener, faked a handoff and fumbled. USC, already leading, recovered near midfield. Disaster — and perpetually scowling coach Nick Saban — loomed. "I'm sure many people thought I was done with. …" Hurts said. They, obviously, were wrong. Hurts blossomed into the SEC's offensive player of the year and is on track to join Oklahoma's Jamelle Holieway as the only starting quarterbacks to win national titles as true freshmen.

CALENDAR: FRIDAY'S COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF EVENTS ACROSS TAMPA BAY

The buzz around college football's biggest showcase gets louder today, as multiple fan events kick off around Tampa Bay in advance of Monday's Clemson-Alabama game at Raymond James Stadium. Alabama was set to arrive in Tampa at noon and Clemson at 4 p.m. For the rest, here's what's on the slate today.

GOLDEN GLOBES MOVIE PREDICTIONS: 'MOONLIGHT,' 'LA LA LAND,' EMMA STONE AND MORE

Sorry, television but movies need to cut in line at the Golden Globes open bar, movie critic Steve Persall writes. They have to hit the bigger but more boring Academy Awards on Feb. 26; you're good until after Labor Day. Oscar voters are busy shaping their nomination ballots, due Jan. 13. The Globes offer a short list, culled from 90 Hollywood Foreign Press Association members cruising junkets for overseas outlets you've probably never heard of. They throw a nice party then sit back and enjoy the Oscar uproar. Persall examines the field and predicts his winners.

News at noon: These Tampa Bay neighborhoods are rising in value; last few hours of sunshine; turf turnaround at Raymond James Stadium; and live at the Epiphany cross dive in Tarpon Springs 01/06/17 [Last modified: Friday, January 6, 2017 12:48pm]
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