Kelly Connelly en Photos: House of Torment’s Last Halloween at Highland Mall <p><strong>Update</strong>: The House of Torment has reached an agreement to stay at its Highland Mall location for a ninth year.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">"We couldn't be more excited to share what we've created this year with Austin fear fans," says&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">House of Torment&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">president and founder&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Daniel McCullough in a press release. "We really went above and beyond in terms of both production and design, and we hope you'll come scream with us."</span></p><div><strong style="line-height: 1.5;">Original story</strong><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> (Oct. 24, 2012): To encourage trick-or-treating in his neighborhood, every year Halloween-lover Dan McCullough would build a haunted house in his backyard in South Austin.</span></div><p>His plan worked – and soon the house’s popularity grew until one year it got out of hand. Over a hundred people showed up to the house and police were called to direct traffic. McCullough’s operation had to end&nbsp;–&nbsp;in that form at least.</p><p>McCullough decided to turn professional. The haunted house that originated in McCullough’s backyard is now the <a href="">House of Torment</a>.</p><p>Jon Love visited the House of Torment in its inaugural space 10 years ago. Now he’s the vice president of Harbinger Events, the organization that puts on the haunted house.</p><p> Thu, 15 Aug 2013 18:05:01 +0000 Kelly Connelly & Filipa Rodrigues 5431 at Photos: House of Torment’s Last Halloween at Highland Mall Are New Changes to Austin's Bag Ban Too Lenient? <p>Austin’s commitment to becoming a “zero waste” city by 2040 came into question today, as the City Council approved adding exemptions to the plastic bag ban <a href="">that takes effect in March 2013</a>.</p><p>Restaurants will now be exempt from the bag ban. Some citizens expressed that the exemption deviates from the goals of the original ban and provides too big of a loophole. (Whole Foods, Central Market and Wheatsville&nbsp;Co-op all serve hot dishes, for example.)&nbsp;</p><p>Mayor Lee Leffingwell disagrees. "This is addressing in a meaningful way something that's a real problem," Leffingwell&nbsp;said, "and we've done that for other uses of plastic bags where we've seen that there's not a reasonable alternative&nbsp;–&nbsp;newspapers, dry cleaning for example. I think it's pretty obvious once you think about it&nbsp;–&nbsp;obviously we didn't think about it [then], but once you do think about carrying out a bag full of barbeque sauce in a paper bag, it's not a good idea."</p><p> Thu, 08 Nov 2012 22:58:21 +0000 Kelly Connelly & Joy Diaz 5588 at Are New Changes to Austin's Bag Ban Too Lenient? The City Hopes These Signs and Kiosks Will Help You Navigate Downtown Austin <p>The Austin City Council hopes to make downtown Austin easier to get around.</p><p>The city's Planning and Development Review Department presented progress on the <a href="">Downtown Austin Wayfinding&nbsp;System </a>this morning. Under this plan, inconsistent and vague signs downtown would become more uniform and detailed. Gateways into downtown (like the passage under I-35 on Seventh Street) would also get a facelift.</p><p>In addition to increased signage, the design firm the city has contracted with&nbsp;– Pennsylvania-based&nbsp;<a href="">MERJE</a> –&nbsp;has created signs that are in step with international logos for parking, transportation, information and more, with an Austin flair.&nbsp;</p><p> Thu, 08 Nov 2012 21:55:58 +0000 Kelly Connelly 5583 at The City Hopes These Signs and Kiosks Will Help You Navigate Downtown Austin UT Moves Forward on Med School <p>Now that <a href="">Proposition 1</a> has passed, the University of Texas is moving ahead with plans for its new medical school.</p><p>UT officials held a press conference this morning about a possible timeline for the complex. University President Bill Powers said with an aggressive approach, the first freshman class could start as soon as 2015. “This isn’t off in the 2020s,” Powers said. “We might take a little breather today and start tomorrow on all the processes. We’d like to break ground within a year.”</p> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 19:33:04 +0000 Kelly Connelly 5572 at UT Moves Forward on Med School Texas AG Pits State Code Against International Treaty <p>Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has been making waves in international waters. Abbott and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, an international watchdog group, have been clashing all week.</p> Fri, 26 Oct 2012 21:37:30 +0000 Kelly Connelly 5464 at Texas AG Pits State Code Against International Treaty Austin Police Give Thumbs Down to Texting While Driving <p>With woolly&nbsp;traffic expected this weekend, city officials are reminding Austin drivers that texting while driving is banned under city law.</p><p>Texting while driving is a class C misdemeanor, which means offenders could face up to a $500 fine.&nbsp;And smart phone users should know that all "electronic messaging" is banned. That means no email, no Facebook, no <a href="">ACL Festival iPhone app</a>, and especially no <a href="">Words With Friends</a> behind the wheel.</p><p>Police Chief Art Acevedo asked drivers to be especially aware of pedestrians around Zilker Park this weekend, which, of course, is hosting the Austin City Limits Music Festival this weekend. Acevedo says crashes are likely to happen when texters look up from their phones and overcorrect.</p><p>To remind drivers not to text, Acevedo&nbsp;sported an orange thumb band, and encouraged others to do the same.&nbsp;</p><p> Fri, 12 Oct 2012 18:23:12 +0000 Kelly Connelly 5325 at Austin Police Give Thumbs Down to Texting While Driving What Draws People to Austin (And What Drives Them Away) <p>It’s no surprise that Austin ranks highly on many lists: <a href="">fastest growing cities</a>, <a href="">best cities</a>, even <a href="">“hipster” cities</a>.</p><p>But a more personal conversation has been unfolding on the <a href="">Austin page of popular social website Reddit</a>, simply asking “Why did you choose Austin?”</p><p>A native Austinite <a href="">posed the question</a>, noting many friendships made with people who decided to move to here. “So, my question to you Austin Redittors, why do you love Austin? Why is this where you want to live over other places? I'd love to see from another perspective why you think this city is so awesome.”</p><p>The question garnered 70 responses. Several answers dwell upon Austin’s traditional draws, but others are more attached to what makes Austin weird:</p><ul><li><strong>People come for school – then stick around: </strong>“I moved here to finish school at UT about 20 years ago after traveling like a nomad for quite a bit,” writes <a href="">Redditor MonsterBronson</a>. “Of all the cities I've seen, Austin is the best (for multiple reasons) so I never left.” Thu, 11 Oct 2012 17:26:03 +0000 Kelli Ainsworth , Kelly Connelly & Wells Dunbar 5313 at What Draws People to Austin (And What Drives Them Away) UT, Affirmative Action, and the 'Achievement Gap' <p>Wednesday, Oct. 10, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear <a data-mce-="" href="">Fisher v. The University of Texas</a>. The case asks whether including race as a factor for admission is constitutional. Debate around the issue has been heated.</p><p>Minority groups held a conference at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday and said affirmative action is necessary to right historic wrongs. They argued that underprivileged minorities remain underprivileged if they can’t attend flagship universities. And they argued that diversity in the classroom will help students deal with diversity in the real world.</p><p>But <a data-mce-="" href="">Lino Graglia</a>, a constitutional law professor at UT who specializes in race and education (and is no stranger to <a href="">controversial remarks on the topic</a>), says affirmative action won’t fix this. He says the real problem is that many minority students aren’t ready for college when they graduate high school. Wed, 10 Oct 2012 11:39:34 +0000 Kelly Connelly 5289 at UT, Affirmative Action, and the 'Achievement Gap' Honoring a Texas Pioneer in Women's Athletics: Jody Conradt <p><span style="font-family: sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 19px; ">"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance..."</span></p><p>That's a snippet of Title IX, the national legislation that provided a mandate for creation and funding for women's collegiate sports programs, and changed the face of Texas Longhorn basketball. Jody Conradt&nbsp;fostered a program that didn't just let women play, but encouraged them to flourish.</p><p>Tonight Conradt was honored with the first "Title IX Legacy Award." UT Track and Field Coach Bev Kearney presented former Coach Conradt with the award at 6:30 in the Belo Center for New Media.</p><p>Conradt's accolades make a long list. She has 900 career wins. She coached the first women’s college basketball team that went undefeated, and she took the Longhorns to three Final Fours and seven Elite Eights. Under Conradt, UT finished in the top ten nationally 11 times – And Conradt did all this while her players boasted a 99 percent graduation rate.</p><p> Fri, 05 Oct 2012 01:07:20 +0000 Kelly Connelly 5257 at Honoring a Texas Pioneer in Women's Athletics: Jody Conradt Call to Privatize State Hospital Comes Up Empty <p style="text-align: left;">The <a href="" target="_blank">Texas Department of State and Health Services</a> (DSHS) has failed to comply with a directive from the state legislature – but not without good reason.</p><p>Last session, the legislature asked&nbsp;DSHS to review proposals from companies interested in privatizing a state hospital, with the provision it be run at ten percent savings for four years. The agency was told to bring an approved proposal to the Legislative Budget Board and the Governor’s Office of Budget, Planning and Policy by Sept. 1. Instead, yesterday DSHS submitted a letter to those two agencies explaining why they were empty handed.</p><p>There was only one proposal submitted, by GEO Care for the <a href="" target="_blank">Kerrville State Hospital</a>. DSHS graded the proposal a 64 out of 100.</p><p>“Savings in the proposal were achieved primarily through reductions in staffing and benefits,” DSHS Commissioner David Lakely wrote, “to a degree that would put both our patients and the State of Texas at risk.”</p><p> Thu, 04 Oct 2012 15:44:00 +0000 Kelly Connelly 5240 at Call to Privatize State Hospital Comes Up Empty Scarce Housing Options Driving a New Building Boom <p>By all accounts, the housing market is booming in Austin.</p><p>Home prices, number of sales, and rental occupancy rates and rents are up. And, according to numbers released yesterday, so is new construction.<a href=""> MetroStudy</a>, a firm that tracks realty numbers, says construction in the third quarter is up 37% from last year.</p> Wed, 03 Oct 2012 21:44:25 +0000 Kelly Connelly 5238 at Scarce Housing Options Driving a New Building Boom Humana to Select Local Charity for Grant <p>Three Austin charities are finalists vying for a $100,000 grant from the Humana Foundation, the philanthropic branch of health insurance company Humana, Inc. Humana will make the award to a nonprofit that serves Central Texans in "dire need of assistance," ranging from seniors to children.</p><p>The finalist include<a href=""> Family Eldercare</a>, <a href="">Foundation Communities</a>, and <a href="">the Marbridge Foundation</a>.</p> Wed, 03 Oct 2012 19:37:05 +0000 Kelly Connelly 5236 at Humana to Select Local Charity for Grant UT Asks For Permission To Wreak Mobile Havoc. Then Promises It Won't. <p></p><p>Over the weekend, some University of Texas email users that read their mail on certain mobile devices received a puzzling pop-up notification. Users on Google Android tablets, or&nbsp;iPads&nbsp;with an older&nbsp;iOS, were asked to sacrifice some privacy features.</p><p>When users opened their email app they were not allowed to read their mail until they gave permission for UT to erase data at will, disable cameras, set storage encryption, lock the screen, and monitor log-in attempts. The message looked like this:</p><p></p><p></p> Wed, 03 Oct 2012 19:03:18 +0000 Kelly Connelly 5234 at UT Asks For Permission To Wreak Mobile Havoc. Then Promises It Won't. ABIA: Prepare for Heavy Traffic, International Flights for F1 <div><p><a href="">Austin-Bergstrom International Airport</a> is preparing for an influx of intercontinental traffic for the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix weekend. ABIA is <a href="">requiring reservations </a>from some aircraft operators between November 12 and 21.</p><p>Flights that aren’t normally scheduled commercial carriers with ABIA will have to fill out a form to receive a “Prior Permission Required” number.</p></div><div>ABIA warns that international flight operators will still have to clear U.S. Customs. And they'll need to get in touch with <a href="">Austin U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Authority</a> no later than 30 days prior to desired arrival. (That means the deadline is October 18 for travelers who want to get here the day before the race.)</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>ABIA also warns pilots that they should be prepared for airborne holding and reroutes to the<a href=""> Georgetown </a>or <a href="">San Marcos airports</a>.</div><p> Wed, 03 Oct 2012 17:17:12 +0000 Kelly Connelly 5233 at ABIA: Prepare for Heavy Traffic, International Flights for F1 How to Register and Where to Vote in Austin <p>KUT News has received a lot of feedback on “Why Bother,” our series on voter engagement. Suggestions that include ideas for making voting and voter registration easier, personal recollections and more. We expect to hear more tonight, at a taping of “<a href="" target="_blank">Why Bother? Voices of a New Generation</a>,” in KLRU’s Studio 6a.</p><p>But one criticism KUT News has received involves the existing process potential voters need to take to vote – and whether local news organizations, including KUT, have done enough to make that process understandable.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">A blog post by a local web designer</a>, A. Lista, questions why KUT is probing voter disengagement when the actual process to voting is itself convoluted. The blog shows step by step what happens when one searches “<a href=";aq=f&amp;oq=how+to+vote+austin+tx&amp;sugexp=chrome,mod=11&amp;sourceid=chrome&amp;ie=UTF-8" target="_blank">how to vote austin tx</a>” on Google. Seven screens later, the author says she is “exhausted, frustrated, and pretty annoyed with all the extremely unhelpful government websites:”</p><blockquote><p>Both the local news and KUT have suggested many times that voters are apathetic and unengaged, but like the government, neither has aired simple instruction on how to actually go about voting. How do you know you’re registered? Where do you go to vote? These things are confusing.</p></blockquote><p>Registering to vote in Texas isn’t that easy: <a href="" target="_blank">one suggestion</a> we’ve heard is that online registration would make things a lot easier. But Texas law requires voter registration cards to be sent in by mail or hand delivered in-person.</p><p> Tue, 02 Oct 2012 20:59:35 +0000 Kelly Connelly & Wells Dunbar 5225 at How to Register and Where to Vote in Austin Move Over Longhorns: Ultimate Frisbee On the Rise in Austin <p>Maybe it’s time to drop the idea that only hippies play&nbsp;Frisbee.</p><p>Far afield from the Frisbee golf crowd, <a href="">Ultimate Frisbee</a>&nbsp;has grown into a collegiate sport, catching the attention of athletic students who aren’t scholarship athletes. And after college, players can&nbsp; go on to club teams.&nbsp;<a href="">Doublewide&nbsp;</a>is one of the nation’s best, and it’s based right here in Austin.</p><p>Doublewide plays teams from all over the nation. Its traditional rival is&nbsp;<a href="">Chain Lightning</a>, based in Atlanta, but&nbsp;<a href="">USA Ultimate</a>&nbsp;(basically the MLB or NFL of Ultimate Frisbee) has recently shifted the region. Now they play in a region that stretches from Colorado all the way into Mexico. The elite of teams from this region will face off this weekend – right here in Austin.</p><p>Michael&nbsp;Natenberg&nbsp;is one of Doublewide’s three team captains (Jeff Loskorn and Valley&nbsp;Renshaw are the others.) In college, Natenberg played for the University of Texas, where he learned the game. &nbsp;</p><p> Fri, 28 Sep 2012 18:18:56 +0000 Kelly Connelly 5197 at Move Over Longhorns: Ultimate Frisbee On the Rise in Austin Festival Was Green Long Before it Was Trendy <p><em>Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated 2012 is&nbsp;SXSW&nbsp;Eco's first year.&nbsp;KUT&nbsp;News regrets the error.&nbsp;</em></p><p><a href="">SXSW Eco</a>&nbsp;will kick-off next week. But it's a niche that the <a href="">Renewable Energy Roundup and Green Living Fair </a>in Fredericksburg first tapped into 12 years ago.</p><p>The 2012 festival is this weekend, from Sept. 29 to 30.</p><p>The roundup will concentrate not so much on policy but on practice —what Texans can do everyday to make the world a little greener. Panels include "How to Grow Your Own Groceries," "Growing Herbs and Making Your Own Vinegar," &nbsp;"Hot Attics: Turning a Problem into a Resource," and even "Green Smoothies."</p><p>There are also hands-on workshops about collecting rainwater and solar energy.</p><p> Thu, 27 Sep 2012 17:51:30 +0000 Kelly Connelly 5186 at Festival Was Green Long Before it Was Trendy Suspect Dies in Officer-Involved Shooting <p><strong>Update (5 p.m.)</strong>: Austin Police tell KUT News Paladino died at University Medical Center Brackenridge approximately one-hour ago.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Update (4 p.m.)</strong>: Police have identified the suspect as 42 year-old Maurice Chad Paladino.</p><p><strong>Update (2:40 p.m.)</strong>: Austin Police&nbsp;have released the name of the officer involved in the shooting. APD officials say Officer Brandon Blanche was in danger for his life.</p><p>"In watching the video," Assistant Police Chief Sean Mannix says, "I think all of us are comfortable that there's not going to be any legal issues with the shooting, that the officer likely acted lawfully. But we hold our officers to a higher standard administratively. What we have to look at is the lawfulness of the shooting, but we also have to look at the tactics employed and how the officers got to the situation they were in as well."</p><p>Mannix says Blanche was clearly in the path of the vehicle that "actively engaged" when he discharged his weapon.</p><p>The still unnamed suspect is said to be in "grave condition."</p><p> Wed, 26 Sep 2012 22:02:44 +0000 Kelly Connelly & Laura Rice 5165 at Suspect Dies in Officer-Involved Shooting Austin Children's Museum Moving to Mueller <p>Have you ever seen a dizzy golf ball?&nbsp;</p><p>The <a href="" target="_blank">Austin Children's Museum</a> assures you will. The museum is dedicated to what they call informal learning; one exhibit, called "<a href="" target="_blank">Ready, Set, Roll</a>," teaches children about physics by sending golf balls through all manner of gravity-defying courses.</p><p>The Austin Children's Museum is expanding their facilities. Today, its leaders broke ground at their new location in the Mueller&nbsp;development in central east Austin.&nbsp;</p><p>New exhibits will focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, highlighting hands-on interactive learning. The museum will also encourage activity, with the grounds featuring interactive outdoor elements.</p><p> Tue, 25 Sep 2012 20:31:33 +0000 Kelly Connelly 5157 at Austin Children's Museum Moving to Mueller On Restaurant Week, Austin Shows Off Its Culinary Chops <p>Dozens of Austin restaurants are highlighting their best&nbsp;this week, offering deals on three-course prix&nbsp;fixe&nbsp;dinners. It’s all part of <a href="" target="_blank">Austin Restaurant Week</a>, a biannual event that raises awareness of Austin’s culinary scene and money for charities.</p><p>Restaurant Week is a bit of a misnomer, however: it’s actually made up of two half-weeks. The good eats kicked off yesterday, Sept.&nbsp;23, take a break on the 26th, resume Sept.&nbsp;30, and come to an end on Oct. 3.</p><p>Taylor Perkins is with Austin Restaurant Week. He says the festival is a testament to Austin’s burgeoning culinary standing. “The event has grown hand-in-hand with the Austin culinary scene,” he says. This installment marks Austin Restaurant Week's fourth year.</p><p>Where foodie influences were previously imported into Austin, Perkins says local chefs have evolved to create their own styles. “The scene in Austin has really come into its own,” he says. The majority of participating restaurants are found only in Austin, and Restaurant Week increasingly focuses on restaurants that source locally and offer a unique experience.</p><p> Mon, 24 Sep 2012 19:54:05 +0000 Kelly Connelly 5145 at On Restaurant Week, Austin Shows Off Its Culinary Chops