Andrew Huygen

Intern for KUT News 

Bob Makela

When things get quiet at a bar, many turn to their cell phone as a way to escape that awkward feeling.

Bob Makela hopes to change that with Barstool Poetry.

The idea began at a bar called the San Francisco Saloon in California in 1992. Makela and his roommate were having trouble working up the courage to speak to members of the opposite sex.

https://flic.kr/p/ayZi8V

For KUT News and Reporting Texas:

This past semester, four Texas State University MBA students worked with the Georgetown Police Department (GPD) to find possible solutions to a persistent problem: senior citizens living in the Sun City retirement community are increasingly being targeted for identity theft and fraud.

Dave Roshan is one of the MBA students working with the GPD to find a possible solution for the issue. 

Most surprising, Roshan said, is “what basic mistakes they are making,’’ including “[c]arrying their social security cards with them, leaving their checkbooks out in plain sight… They’re very trusting.”

City of Austin Watershed Protection Department

After years of erosion, Austin is shoring up the downtown banks of the Shoal Creek trail starting Monday. Running from 15th Street to 28th Street, the project includes the eastern boundary of Pease Park.

According to Morgan Byars, supervising engineer for the project at the Watershed Protection Department, the erosion hasn’t only caused safety hazards, but an overall loss of greenspace.

“Severe bank erosion [is] affecting large heritage trees that potentially will fall into the creek,” Byars says. “We’ve got erosion very close to the trail system which presents a safety hazard for pedestrians and bikers, but also it’s just a general loss of parkland.”

Andrew Huygen for KUT

The original artists behind two iconic murals in West Campus are restoring their work after the murals were defaced with graffiti. But the costly repairs to the University Co-op mural could be delayed, due to a steep price tag.  

While the Co-op pitched some money towards repainting the murals, they couldn't provide enough for the entire $30,000 overhaul. So the murals' artists have taken to the Web, starting an online campaign to fund the restoration – although a fast-approaching deadline could sideline the effort.

flickr.com/milestonemanagement

This story was co-reported with Reporting Texas, a project of UT Austin's School of Journalism.

Once again, Austin has landed at the top of another list. But this one doesn’t put the city in the best light.

In Austin, the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,074 per month – the highest in Texas. That amount is $202 more than the average fair market rent for the state.

The figure comes from the National Low Income Housing Coalition's annual “Out of Reach” report, which details how much it costs to live in different metropolitan areas around the United States.

Carmen Martinez Fischer, facebook.com/driverfriendly

Update: Looks like Driver Friendly finally caught a break: the Austin-based band had their trailer full of missing gear returned to them this morning. 

"At 8:30 this morning an Austin Police Officer knocked on Jeremi's door notifying him that they had found our trailer WITH EVERYTHING IN IT!!!" the band says on Facebook. "We cannot believe this turn of events, and feel so blessed to not only have everything back, but to have been supported by, you, our fans, through all of this."

All the funds Driver Friendly raised online to cover their missing gear will be returned to fans.  

Original story (March 19): A band that calls Austin home can’t seem to catch a break.

Andrew Huygen for KUT News

Donations for victims of a deadly crash during South by Southwest continue to accumulate.

Last week, 21-year-old Rashad Owens was charged with capital murder in the killing of three festival-goers. Owens is alleged to have plowed his car through SXSW crowds at high speed in an attempt to evade police. Three victims have died.

A SXSW Cares relief fund was quickly set up by the Austin Community Foundation, with help from groups including SXSW and the City of Austin. The Austin Community Foundation's MariBen Ramsey says that online donations and additional contributions have raised approximately $160,000.

Chris Quintero

The controversial arrest of a jogger in Austin's West Campus neighborhood last week has made international news.

Thursday, Amanda Stephen was arrested by Austin police officers for jaywalking and a refusal to identify herself. Her arrest was caught on video. Subsequent remarks by Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo – "In other cities there's cops who are actually committing sexual assaults on duty, so I thank God that this is what passes for a controversy in Austin, Texas" – prompted more online criticism and an apology. The story was picked up by everyone from The Huffington Post to the BBC

websense.com

Update: Dropbox and Websense will receive economic incentives to expand in Austin.

The Austin City Council voted 5-2 today to offer the two tech companies approximately $700,000 in incentives. The money comes on top of $6 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund. 

flickr.com/rutlo

For KUT News and Reporting Texas

Another competitor is joining the fiber arms race in Austin.

San Marcos-based Grande Communications says it will begin rolling out its own super-fast Internet service – offering speeds up to 1 gigabits per second (Gbps) – in select Austin neighborhoods starting next week. The service, which Grande is calling “Power 1000,” would cost $65 per month, with no contract or activity monitoring.

As a comparison, Internet speeds of 1 Gbps allow a user to download a full-length film in about 10 seconds, compared to over two minutes with a 50 megabits per second (Mbps), which is generally the top-tier speed offered to consumers by most Internet service providers.

flickr.com/blile59

On Wednesday, the CVS Pharmacy chain announced that on Oct. 1, all locations would cease selling cigarettes and tobacco products.

With nearly 13 percent of Austin adults calling themselves active smokers, the decision could have a lasting effect on the city.

The move was applauded by entities including the American Cancer Society and the White House. Dr. Philip Huang, medical director for Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services, has similar praises for the pharmacy chain.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT News

A crew of contractors from Vault Fine Art Services dismantled and transported Charles Umlauf’s “Three Muses” from Centennial Park to the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum on Monday.

The bronze sculptures relocated as part of a temporary loan while the Dell Medical School is under construction.

Teresa Vieira for KUT News

If you ever missed out on taking a film history course in school, you might just be in luck.

To celebrate its 100th birthday, the Paramount Theatre will be kicking off a year-and-a-half-long film series. “Paramount 100: A Century of Cinema” begins tonight with an exploration of the silent films of the 1900s through the 1920s. It’s a new undertaking for the theater, which is well known for its summertime repertory film series.

“Doing a series like this is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, I just never really had a good reason to do it,” says Paramount film programmer Stephen Jannise. “Right after last year’s summer classics series, I started to realize that we have Paramount’s 100th birthday coming up in 2015, so I thought it would be a great reason for me to sort of jump start this Paramount100 series and do a chronological trip through film history.”

data.austintexas.gov

The City of Austin has started uploading information on 3-1-1 service calls – citizen requests for things like animal services, graffiti abatement, making noise complaints and more – in hopes software developers utilize the data for public apps.

In 2001, the City of Austin established 3-1-1 as a way for citizens to make non-emergency calls separate from police calls. According to austintexas.gov, Austin 3-1-1 receives over a million calls a year, which translates into some 200,000 departmental service requests each year. Citizens are also able to submit service requests online.