Andy Uhler

Freelance reporter

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Business
3:21 pm
Mon March 26, 2012

What’s an EB-5 Regional Center? And More Importantly, How Can it Bring Jobs to Austin?

Mayor Lee Leffingwell and several others called for creation of an international investment agreement for Austin.
Photo courtesy facebook.com/pages/Lee-Leffingwell

Mayor Lee Leffingwell proposed this morning that Austin apply for a program that would encourage international investment in local green jobs, by designating Austin as an EB-5 Regional Center.

But what on earth is an EB-5 Regional Center?

A designation of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), EB-5 Regional Centers allow cities to receive immigrant investor capitol – either $500,000 or $1 million. Investors must also present evidence the investment “will create at least 10 full-time positions.” In exchange, the investor and the investor’s family “is granted conditional permanent residence” – more commonly known as a green card – “for a two-year period.” 

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Texas
4:44 pm
Fri March 23, 2012

Movable Jail One of Texas' 'Most Endangered' Landmarks

Clockwise, from left: San Marcos' Movable Jail, the Ritz Theater in Corpus Christi, and the William Pfluger House in Pflugerville

A movable jail cell that was originally constructed for the Hays County Jail is being called one of Texas’ most endangered historic places.

So says Preservation Texas, a private, non-profit historical society, announcing its 2012 list of Texas’ most endangered places at an annual summit at the Texas Capitol.

 The jail cell was built in the style of a log cabin. Preservation Texas notes:

The jail cell remained in use until 1925 as Kyle’s city jail and, later, was moved to the Texana Village at Aquarena Springs. Due to lack of funding, the jail cell along with other buildings and artifacts were removed from the Village.  At the eleventh hour, the jail cell was saved and moved to its current location in San Marcos.

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Business
3:22 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

Whole Foods Announces Opening Dates for Two New Stores

Whole Foods' flagship store and offices at Sixth and Lamar
Photo by Nathan Beriner for KUT News

Austin-based Whole Foods Market has announced the opening dates of two new stores in Central Texas today. The company’s Bee Cave location at the Hill Country Galleria will open on May 16th. The southwest Austin location at the intersection of MoPac and William Cannon will open on June 19th.

Both stores “will be about 35,000 square feet in size and will each employ 150 to 200 Team Members,” the company states in a press release.

The company reported a 33 percent increase in profits for the first quarter of this year, and more than 10 billion dollars in sales in 2011.

Severe Weather
8:23 am
Tue March 20, 2012

LCRA Opens Two Floodgates

Starcke Dam, in Marble Falls.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/dpbear

Significant rain fall in Central Texas forced the overnight opening of flood gates on two dams in the Highland Lakes.

“Flood gates are still open on Wirtz and Starcke Dams," says Lower Colorado River Authority spokesperson Clara Tuma. "And we need to emphasize that there is a lot of swift moving water moving through the lakes down to Lake Travis. So people need to take precautions to protect people and property that might be affected by that water."

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Sports
4:57 pm
Mon March 19, 2012

Goestenkors Quits as UT Women's Basketball Coach

"Coach G" announced her departure, effective this week.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/AaronIsNotCool

Texas Women’s basketball coach, Gail Goestenkors, resigned at a press conference this afternoon.

In the five years with Goestenkors at the helm, the Lady Longhorns only made it out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament once, in 2008. That was her first year as head coach.

They barely made the tournament field this year, finishing 18-14, and 8-10 in Big 12 play. They lost to West Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.

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Health
4:51 pm
Mon March 19, 2012

Farmers’ Market Doubles Purchasing Power for Needy Families

Sustainable Food Center, which operates three farmers’ markets, is opening a fourth in Northeast Austin.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/cbroders

A new farmers’ market opens on Austin's eastside tomorrow. And aside from offering fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses, the market offers a special incentive for families needing food assistance.  

The market, located at the YMCA East Communities Branch will be run by the Sustainable Food Center (SFC). It’s the fourth farmer’s market the SFC operated in Austin.

But SFC community relations director Susan Leibrock notes that this center is different: shoppers using a SNAP, Lone Star or WIC benefits card will have their fruit and vegetable purchases matched, up to $10 each week, by the market.

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Environment
2:37 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Burn Ban Lifted in City Parks

Two people grilling in Zilker Park before the burn ban enacted last April
Photo by ramk13 http://www.flickr.com/photos/ramk13/

The City of Austin has lifted a burn ban for all city parks. You can grill in designated areas, but campfires are only allowed at Emma Long Metropolitan Park.

Victor Ovalle is with Austin Parks and Recreation. He says recent rainfall has improved drought conditions in the area, but s park-goers should still be careful.

“We’re asking the public to be very careful when they’re out," Ovalle said. "There’s still a lot of timber in the area, in our parks, and so we ask them not to leave their fires unattended, to keep a source of water nearby, and before leaving the site, making sure the fire is completely extinguished."

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Texas
4:19 pm
Sat March 3, 2012

Army Paratrooper From Marble Falls Dies In Afghanistan

A soldier from Marble Falls has been killed in Afghanistan.

Pfc. Payton Jones died Thursday in Kandahar province after an attack on his base, according to the Department of Defense. He was one of two soldiers who died during the same assault. Staff Sgt. Jordan L. Bear, 25, of Denver, Colorado was also killed.

Jones was a paratrooper in the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C. He was 19 years old.

Education
2:25 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Supreme Court to Consider Role of Race in College Admission

UT's admission policies, possibly including the "top 10 percent" rule, will be heard before the Supreme Court this fall.
Photo by KUT News

The U.S. Supreme Court will revisit the issue of race in college admissions

Today, the court agreed to hear a challenge to the affirmative action policy at the University of Texas. The case was brought by Abigail Fisher, who argues she was denied admission to the university because of UT's race-conscious policy.

It's the second time the court has taken up the issue in the past 10 years. In 2003, the court upheld the University of Michigan's use of race in assessing law school applicants by a vote of 5-4. But today's court is more conservative. Former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote the majority opinion in the Michigan case. She's since been replaced by Justice Samuel Alito – who tends to vote with the court’s more conservative bloc.

Yale law professor Peter Schuck tells KUT News a number of factors outside the court’s University of Michigan ruling could be in play, as each state university system differs. Here in Texas, Schuck points to the effect the UT system’s “top 10 percent” rule could play.

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Transportation
2:44 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

Relax and Leave the Driving to Your Car

Peter Stone sits shotgun as his automated car does the driving.
Photo by Wyatt McSpadden, courtesy University of Texas

Could rush hour gridlock turn into relaxation time for Texas drivers?

University of Texas researcher Peter Stone and his fellow project members at UT’s Autonomous Intersection Management (AIM) project have been receiving attention with a provocative concept: creating “smart” intersections linked to intelligent autos that will enable cars to drive themselves. Stone’s research was recently presented at a meeting of the American Association for Advancement of Science.

Stone is no stranger to automotive technology; five years ago, he was part of a team that responded to a development challenge from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to create a vehicle that could pilot itself. “Since then, in 2007, we’ve had a car which can drive itself,” Stone says.

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Austin
11:27 am
Sun February 19, 2012

Sunday News Roundup

Bob Daemmrich of the Texas Tribune

Kenyan Edward Kiptum and American Shannon Bixler win the Livestrong Austin Marathon. Roads will be closed throughout the afternoon. Check out the Livestrong website for complete closure information. Also, Austin Energy is having billing system problems and records show Rick Perry doesn't check in at the Capitol very often. Let’s take a look at some top news stories across Texas today.

Austin Energy Has Billing Issues

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Austin
3:54 am
Sat February 18, 2012

Heavy Rains in Central Texas

KUT News

UPDATE - 9:00 am:

The National Weather Service has issued an Urban and Small Stream Flood Advisory for minor flooding of poor drainage areas in parts of Hays County, Comal County, northwestern Caldwell County, Travis County, and west central Bastrop County. That advisory is in effect until 10:30 am. Heavy rainfall across the advisory area has produced up to 3 inches of rain an hour.

All roads in and around Austin that were closed for a short time have been reopened.

3:35 am:

A Flash Flood Warning remains in effect until 5:00 this morning for Williamson and Travis counties – that’s according to the National Weather Service. The service has extended a Flash Flood Watch until noon.

Though the heaviest rains are thought to have left the Austin-metro area, scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected to last throughout the morning. Overnight rain gauge readings indicate that over an inch and a half of rain has fallen in and around Austin since midnight.

Locations where creeks, streams and road intersections have experienced flooding include Sun City, Liberty Hill, and the Georgetown dam.

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Weather
7:09 am
Wed January 25, 2012

Central Texas Severe Weather

Central Texas School Closures (As of 8:00 a.m.)

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News Brief
8:28 am
Mon January 16, 2012

Top Morning Stories 01/16/12: MLK Celebrations, SWAT Negotiations in NW Austin, Perry Appeals Ruling

The statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the UT campus.
Photo by Gregor_Bug on Flickr

MLK Day March and Road Closures

A march celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. begins at 9 am at the MLK statue on the UT campus at the corner of 24th and Speedway. It will continue to the Capitol along Congress Avenue. The march concludes at Huston-Tillotson University, where festivities will continue until 3pm.

You can expect some road closures in downtown Austin this morning as a result. The southbound off ramp of I-35 at MLK may be closed from 9am until 11am, depending on traffic. Chalmers Avenue and East Eighth Street will be closed from 7am to 6pm.

Capital Metro will be running a Saturday schedule today with no rail or UT shuttle service.

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Texas
4:43 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

Stream the GOP US Senate Debate Tonight

Photo by Herzogbr/Flickr

Candidates in the Texas Republican primary for the U.S. Senate will debate formally in Austin for the first time tonight at 7pm. Kay Bailey Hutchison announced one year ago that she would not seek a fourth term.

Tonight marks the first appearance in a general debate by front runner, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst. ESPN college football analyst Craig James, who announced his bid for the seat last month, will also make his debate debut.

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