News at noon: Why a polar vortex that crippled much of the U.S. barely missed Tampa Bay; Program helps Tampa Bay homes at risk of falling into disrepair; Why the Bucs can’t afford Kareem Hunt; and more

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Published January 30
Updated January 30

Why a polar vortex that crippled much of the U.S. barely missed Tampa Bay

While the Midwest is getting walloped with an absolutely chilling arctic blast that the National Weather Service says will head to most of the eastern U.S., the bay area is seeing cold air move in that makes things cool, but still quite nice.

A cold front moved through the area Tuesday night into Wednesday morning and was already well on its way south by the morning commute. The front brought with it some cool, dry air that’ll hold over the area until Thursday, adding to the already cold air that’s kept temperatures below normal for the first half of the week.

Related: Deep freeze envelops Midwest, even stops the mail

Program helps Tampa Bay homes at risk of falling into disrepair

Even after almost 100 years, Barbara Collins' home near Ball Street still looked well-kept from the outside. The walls and mailbox were painted a rich purple. Hibiscus trees and a two-foot madonna figurine decorated her front yard.

But there was nothing Collins, 74, could do about the water that seeped through the roof and rose up through a cracked concrete slab during every storm. Unable to afford repairs that would have run into tens of thousands of dollars. the retired teacher's aide and former hospital worker lived with damp and mold problems for eight years.

A new program aims to preserve affordable housing stock by rehabbing homes deemed unsafe or beyond repair. Run by Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay and Hillsborough County, homes that qualify for assistance are demolished and rebuilt in the same footprint. The idea is to help low-income, mostly older homeowners struggling to maintain their houses. Without help, many of those homes will eventually fall into disrepair, reducing the availability of low-cost homes.

Why the Bucs can’t afford Kareem Hunt

In case you haven’t been following the story, Hunt was an extraordinary rookie running back in Kansas City in 2017, and a league-wide pariah by the end of 2018.

Video of Hunt in a physical altercation with a young woman in a hotel hallway made its way into the public square, and Hunt reportedly lied to the Chiefs when initially questioned about the incident.

Soon, there were whispers of two other bar fights in the previous year and the Chiefs – in the midst of what looked like a potential Super Bowl season — cut ties with Hunt almost two months ago.

Now come reports that multiple teams, including the Bears, have interest in signing Hunt. And NFL Network analyst Ian Rapoport told WDAE-AM 620 that he expected the Bucs to look into the possibility.

Of course, the Bucs should discuss it. They’d be derelict if they did not. But they should figure out pretty quickly that it would be a self-defeating decision.

‘It’s been a long time,’ says man who served 30 years for Tampa murder before doubts led to his release

Prosecutors on Wednesday dropped their case against Dean McKee over doubts about his guilt in a 1987 Tampa murder.

McKee, 47, is free after serving more than 30 years in prison for the crime. He wept when Assistant State Attorney Megan Newcomb announced the state would not put him through a second trial.

"It's been a long time," he said.

A judge wished McKee good luck and he walked out of the courtroom into the embrace of his fiance.

"We always knew Dean McKee did not commit this crime," said Seth Miller, executive director of the Innocence Project of Florida, which took McKee's case in 2011. "Although the state and I probably disagree about the substance of the case, this was the right result and I want to commend them for doing their due diligence."

The state's decision caps a long-running case that, in recent years, produced DNA results and witness testimony indicating McKee's older brother may have had a greater role in the crime than previously disclosed.

He’s back: Dalí Museum resurrects Salvador Dalí through artificial intelligence

Things will get even more surreal at the Dalí Museum in April, when the “Dalí Lives” experience opens featuring an artificial intelligence version of Salvador Dalí himself.

Dalí died in 1989. But the museum’s partnership with Goodby Silverstein & Partners, a San Francisco-based advertising agency, has resurrected a version of Dalí’s likeness. On a series of screens throughout the museum, the Surrealist master will share insights into his artworks and even comment on current events.

The immersive project began with museum staff gathering hundreds of interviews, quotes and archival footage from Dalí. Goodby Silverstein and Partners used these materials to train an algorithm to learn aspects of Dalí’s face. An actor with the same physical characteristics was filmed reading from Dalí’s writings, along with present day messages, and then the algorithm generated a version of Dalí’s likeness to match the actor’s face and expressions.

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