2:42 pm
Fri December 31, 2010

Don't Let Your Pets Get Freaked Out By NYE Fireworks

Two dogs wait to be adopted at Town Lake Animal Center. The shelter says its stray intake is expected to increase because of New Year's fireworks.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

To some people, New Year's Eve fireworks displays like this one are an awe-inspiring form of entertainment.

But to many cats and dogs, it sounds more like the end of the world.

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2:37 pm
Fri December 31, 2010

ANY Plans for New Year's?

A fireworks show will cap tonight's "Austin New Year's" celebration at Auditorium Shores
Image by Erika Aguilar/KUT

New Year’s Eve 2011 will look a little different in downtown Austin tonight. The bar and club scene will be about the same. But there won’t be a “First Night Austin” celebration, as there has been in years past.

In fact, this will be the first New Year’s Eve in six years where there has been no “First Night Austin” celebration. Organizers announced at the end of September that they didn’t have the money to stage the family-friendly downtown party this year. They’re hoping to be back to ring in 2012.

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12:44 pm
Fri December 31, 2010

Four Ways People Get Depressed Over the Holidays

For some, the holiday season can be anything but merry and jolly.
Image courtesy Photography

People have a lot going on this time of year. Party planning, family and friends in town, plus thinking about work next year and meeting those New Year’s resolutions.

For some, all of this can be too much. Michelle Magid calls it the holiday blues. She’s a psychiatrist at Seton Shoal Creek Hospital and an assistant professor at UT Southwestern in Dallas.

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10:01 am
Fri December 31, 2010

Construction Begins On Austin's Formula One Site

A map shows where the F1 site will be in relation to the airport. Construction officially began yesterday.
Photo by KUT News

Heavy machinery is breaking ground on a plot of land near the airport that will soon host F1 racers from around the world. reports that race promoter Tavo Hellmund was there yesterday to oversee the official groundbreaking.

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9:46 am
Fri December 31, 2010

Tell The City What You Think About Extending Parking Meter Hours

Callie Hernandez for KUT News

If you're driving downtown for New Year's Eve celebrations, you'll be able to park on the street for free after 5:30 p.m. That would change to midnight under a proposal being considered by the city, and local officials want to know what you think about it.

Outside of downtown, the change would see street parking meters remain in effect from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. instead of the current hours of 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

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9:02 am
Fri December 31, 2010

More Departures from the Forty Acres

Junior UT Cornerback Aaron Williams is putting his name into the 2011 NFL Draft
Image courtesy University of Texas

At a time when the Texas Longhorns football team is usually gearing up for a major bowl game, this year's post-season has been one of sudden change for the team.

Junior cornerback Aaron Williams has declared himself eligible for next April's NFL Draft.  Williams earned second-team All-Big-12 honors, after an impressive season of 46 tackles, one quarterback sack and five tackles for yardage losses.  He also forced opponents to turn the football over three times in 2010.

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Special Coverage
5:21 pm
Thu December 30, 2010

Our Top 5 News Stories Of 2010

KUT News filed more than 2,000 reports in 2010.  Here are five stories we think were significant.  Let us know where we were right or wrong in the comments below.

Don't like reading? That's why Reginald Fessenden invented radio! Listen to an audio version of this post by clicking the player.

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3:12 pm
Thu December 30, 2010

F1 from on High

Organizers plan to build the Formula 1 track near ABIA
Image by KUT News

It's hard to envision now what the area near the proposed Formula 1 race track in southeast Travis County to look like, once it's complete.  But maybe if we saw it from the air...

1:16 pm
Thu December 30, 2010

Second Man in County Shooting Dies

Travis County Sheriff's detectives continue to investigate Monday's fatal shooting on Rockway Drive
Image courtesy Travis County Sheriff's Department

Travis County Sheriff's investigators say 63-year-old John Joseph Debrecht died this morning at University Medical Center Brackenridge.  He and musician Bill Maddox were both found by deputies after a shooting early Monday morning.  Maddox, a drummer for the Eric Johnson Band in the '70s and for several other acts through the years, was pronounced dead at the scene.

1:05 pm
Thu December 30, 2010

Court Deals TCEQ "No" on Stay Request

An appeals court hands the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality a setback in its ongoing dispute with the EPA.
Image courtesy Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

The battle between the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took another step yesterday.  And it was a step toward the Feds.

4:46 pm
Wed December 29, 2010

How To Get Out Of Downtown Austin On New Year's Eve

Image courtesy atmtx

The cops just sent out a news release saying New Year's Eve will be another "No Refusal" night. Austin Police officers will forcibly extract blood from any drunk driving suspect who refuses a breathalyzer.  The policy will be in effect from 9 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Saturday.

It shouldn't come as a big surprise to anyone, given the APD's penchant for launching "No Refusal" initiatives anytime there's a major holiday.  More than half of the traffic fatalities over the past year have been alcohol related, according to police.

Not that you would ever consider drunk driving, of course. But you may want to plan ahead if you plan on going out for New Year's Eve. Calling a cab after midnight on NYE is notoriously difficult in Austin.  Wait times can be up to 2 hours, if you can even get through to a dispatcher.

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Arts and Culture
4:05 pm
Wed December 29, 2010

Austin Poet Susan Bright Dies

Austin poet and publisher Susan Bright with fellow poet Ali F. Bilir.
Image courtesy of the family of Susan Bright.

The term “force of nature” can be overused. But Susan Bright’s friends say, in her case, that description may not be enough.

The poet, publisher and Barton Springs advocate lost a short battle with cancer Wednesday morning. She was 65.

Bright was also the founder of Plain View Press. It’s a publishing house for local authors, and it has turned out over 350 titles so far.

Irene Pickhardt was a friend of Bright, and remembers her deep involvement in community issues.

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3:48 pm
Wed December 29, 2010

Firefighters' Union Says Chief Lowering Recruitment Standards

The chief of the firefighters' union is accusing the chief of excessively lowering recruitment standards to make the force more diverse.
Image by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Austin Fire Association President Bob Nicks believes that Austin Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr is setting the bar for job applicants too low in an attempt to increase diversity. Nicks says he will file a formal grievance with the city tomorrow.

Currently, four out of five firefighters are white. Women make up only five percent of the force.

The fire department has an extremely rare opportunity to change that. It has about 100 positions to fill. But not everyone agrees on how screen the candidates.

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3:41 pm
Wed December 29, 2010

Warren Jeffs Pleads Not Guilty To Child Rape In West Texas

Warren Jeffs, ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, appeared in a San Angelo courtroom today.

The Associated Press reports the polygamist sect leader stood silently during a hearing in a West Texas court Wednesday. The court entered the not guilty pleas on his behalf.

The 55-year-old Jeffs faces charges of bigamy and sexual assault of a child.  He’s scheduled to stand trial for the aggravated sexual assault charge January 24th. The AP reports says he plans to hire a Texas attorney but doesn’t have one yet.

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2:30 pm
Wed December 29, 2010

Frasier Gets Police Monitor's Nod

Former Travis County Sheriff Margo Frasier will be Austin's new police monitor.
Image courtesy Travis County

Former Travis County Sheriff Margo Frasier will be Austin's next police monitor. 

City Manager Marc Ott made the announcement this afternoon at a City Hall news conference.  She was one of six semifinalists seeking the city-appointed civilian watchdog position, reviewing citizens' complaints against the Austin Police Department.