Austin
4:22 pm
Thu April 21, 2011

Restaurant Hosts Fundraiser For Oak Hill Wildfire Victims

Jack Allen's Kitchen is hosting a fundraiser for Oak Hill residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed by fire on Sunday.
Photo by Kenny Richter. Used with permission

People who lost property in a wildfire in the southwest Austin neighborhood of Oak Hill will get some help this weekend from Jack Allen's Kitchen. The restaurant is hosting a $20 appetizer buffet from 2 pm to 4 pm Saturday with all proceeds going to wildfire victims.

"It's just kind of a show of support, and a way for everyone to get together and mend a little bit," Jack Allen's Kitchen co-owner Tom Kamm told KUT News.

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Environment
3:34 pm
Thu April 21, 2011

Governor Perry Asks Texans to Pray for Rain

Governor Rick Perry has issued a proclamation for days of prayer for rain in Texas over this weekend.
Photo by Kenn Zuniga for KUT News

Governor Rick Perry is asking Texans to pray... a lot.

The Governor has proclaimed the next three days as “Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas.”  He is asking all people of different kinds of faith and religion to offer prayers for rain.

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Environment
3:17 pm
Thu April 21, 2011

Officials Check For Groundwater Contamination Near Georgetown Fuel Spill

The 3,500 gallon fuel spill happened in Georgetown's Sun City community.
Photo by Austex http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sun_City_Entry.jpg

A 3,500 gallon gasoline spill in a residential neighborhood of Georgetown is being investigated by the state to see how deeply the fuel may have seeped into the ground. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is leading the environmental assessment in the Sun City retirement community.

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Arts and Culture
2:26 pm
Thu April 21, 2011

Jersey Shore-Style Reality TV Show Planned For Austin?

Jersey Shore cast member Pauly D makes a public appearance. A website purports that an executive producer of that show wants to produce a reality tv series in Austin.
Photo by thatguygil http://www.flickr.com/photos/thatguygil/

This curious website has been raising some eyebrows in Austin. It purports to be a casting call for a reality TV program that is “rounding up the biggest and baddest personalities to live it up in the ultimate Austin pad.”

The website says the show is being produced by “one of the Executive Producers behind ‘Jersey Shore’ in conjunction with Badaddy Productions.” A Google search for Badaddy Productions yielded no results.

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Environment
1:01 pm
Thu April 21, 2011

City Council Approves New Energy Rules For Apartment Homes

Woodwillow Townhomes in South Austin is among the 1,000 apartment complexes in Austin affected by the new ordinance.
Photo by KUT News

Austin City Council approved new rules this morning that could have a big impact on the owners of apartment buildings and the people who live in them. The Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure (ECAD) Ordinance will require multifamily property owners to conduct specialized audits that reveal the energy efficiency of apartments and townhomes. That information would be disclosed to tenants, and the most inefficient buildings would require upgrades.

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Texas
12:12 pm
Thu April 21, 2011

Texas Wildfire Chief: "We Are Making Successes"

Fire bosses say more humid weather will help them get a handle on blazes that have scorched over 1.4 million acres across Texas.
Photo by Official U.S. Air Force http://www.flickr.com/photos/usairforce/with/5638679968/

Media will receive a tour of wildfire scorched zones in the Possum Kingdom Lake area this afternoon, so we can expect to get a closer glimpse of the devastation this evening. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that damper weather has helped prevent the wildfires from spreading more aggressively.

[O]vernight moisture, higher humidity and cooler temperatures temporarily lowered the danger of the fires further spreading, officials said.

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Politics
11:31 am
Thu April 21, 2011

Texas Senate Budget Spends Another $3 Billion From Rainy Day Fund

In an 11-4 vote, the Senate Finance Committee approved a spending plan that draws another $3 billion from the Rainy Day Fund.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Texas Senate Finance Committee has approved a budget that spends down an additional $3 billion from the state's Rainy Day fund, according to our political reporting partner the Texas Tribune.  The 11-4 vote came faster than expected this morning, and it sets up a showdown between House and Senate lawmakers.

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news brief
5:54 am
Thu April 21, 2011

Top Morning Stories April 21, 2011

Sen. Steve Ogden R-Bryan during a Senate committee hearing Tuesday.
Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera, courtesy of the Texas Tribune.

Senate Committee to Take Up Budget

The Texas Senate Finance Committee will take up the state's budget and could vote on it today. The Senate's proposed cuts aren't as deep as those approved by the House.  KUT's political reporting partner, the Texas Tribune, reports Chair Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, wants to include a measure to use $3 billion from the state's Rainy Day Fund to balance the budget if additional revenue can't be found. Once the committee votes, the budget bill goes to the full senate.

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Politics
5:17 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

Comptroller Offeres Additional Credit Protection

Comptroller Combs offeres 2nd credit monitoring discount.
Photo Courtesy the Texas Tribune for KUT News

Comptroller Susan Combs is continuing to clean up the privacy mess her office made when it exposed the Social Security numbers and birth dates of about 3.5 million Texans. In a press release, Combs said her office had negotiated a 2nd discounted credit monitoring subscription for those affected by the security breach.

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Education
4:53 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

Austin ISD Expanding Dual Language Program To Six Schools

Photo by KUT News

Two more elementary schools will offer dual language programs in the Austin Independent School District this fall. Sunset Valley Elementary and Travis Heights Elementary will join Becker, Ridgetop, Perez and Wooten elementary schools. The program will be offered to Pre-K and first grade students only, and will expand as students age.

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Enivornment
4:48 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

TCEQ Sunset Bill Gives Permit Applicants More Weight

The Texas House passed the TCEQ Sunset Bill that reauthorizes the state environmental reguations agency for another 12 years.
Photo by KUT News.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality lives on for another 12 years…at least according to the Texas House, who passed the sunset bill with some changes.

The biggest change environmentalists are fuming over is an amendment submitted by Rep. Warrren Chisum (R-Pampa) that would shift the burden of proof from companies to the person who requested a contested case hearing who must also show that a permit should not be granted or renewed.

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Texas
3:52 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

Texas Bans Marijuana-Like Substances K2, Spice

Products containing a synthetic THC-like substance are sometimes smoked in water pipes.
Photo by smokershighlife http://www.flickr.com/photos/smokershighlife/

The Texas Department of State Health Services waited until the day most marijuana users celebrate the drug to announce it is banning products that simulate cannabis. In a news release posted on its website, DSHS said it is banning substances found in products like K2 and Spice, effective this Friday, April 22.

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Texas
3:21 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

Feds Join Battle Against Possum Kingdom Wildfire

Wildfires burn out of control near Possum Kingdom Lake in this image from last Friday. The blaze has already destroyed more than 100 homes.
Photo by Texas Military Forces http://www.flickr.com/photos/texasmilitaryforces/

More than 600 homes are threatened in an area around Possum Kingdom Lake, about an hour west of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, after four wildfires merged into one.

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economy
1:20 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

Fewer Homes Sold Last Month, But Median Price Was Up

The median price of a home in Austin rose two percent in March.
Photo by KUT News

Ten percent fewer Austin homes were sold in March 2011 compared to March of last year, according to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) report issued today by the Austin Board of Realtors. But the median price was up two percent to $185,260.

An $8,000 tax credit for first time homebuyers that expired in 2010 is still making it harder to compare numbers now with numbers then, according to Austin Board of Realtors chair Judith Bundschuh.

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Austin
1:17 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

City Projects Deficit, Tax Increase Expected

Photo by Liang Shi/KUT News

The Austin City Council got its first look at budget projections for the next fiscal year today.

Budget managers told council members that falling property values and sales tax collections mean revenue is not keeping up with the cost of maintaining city services at current levels. The projections showed homeowners could face higher property taxes next year.

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