Carrie Powell

KUT News Intern

Carrie Powell is a news intern covering stories for the KUT News blog. Originally hailing from Ohio, Carrie entered the world of public radio through WGTE FM 91 in Toledo. Having recently concluded a year of service with AmeriCorps VISTA, Carrie is interested in news, community, and storytelling.

Ways To Connect

Erica Grant, Southwestern University

Librarians are keeping late hours. Coffee shops are serving up triple-shot drinks to zombie-like customers. They’re all signs of one thing: college finals week.

The end of the semester creates an immense amount of stress on campus, which students handle with varying degrees of success. This year, area universities are providing a wider variety of services and resources to help students cope with the stress and anxiety.

In addition to the regular services offered by UT-Austin’s Counseling and Mental Health Center, including stress management tips for students and an online resource called Stress Recess, the university is hosting some more unorthodox events: UT Libraries partnered with the Austin Dog Alliance to bring therapy dogs to the Perry-Castañeda Library, Monday, Dec. 9, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Update: Austin’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission voted unanimously last night to certify the district maps for future city council elections.

The group split the city into ten districts. Starting next November, voters in each district will elect a single city council member. Previously, all council members were elected at-large.

Check out this interactive version of the district map:

View Larger Map

Callie Hernandez/KUT News

The City of Austin will soon name a leader for its newly created Innovation Office.

So what exactly will this person do – and does Austin need one?

Innovation – like sustainability, transparency, and social responsibility – are buzzwords the public sector is appropriating from the business world. Austin established its own Office of Sustainability in 2010.

A new study shows how Travis County’s low-income areas are home to inadequate prenatal care and troublesome birth outcomes – including a racial disparity in neonatal intensive care unit admissions.

The study, released at the Birth Outcomes Summit at Dell Children’s Hospital, uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Texas Department of State Health Services.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

This time last year, many local businesses were staffed up and overstocked.

In the weeks and months prior to its first Formula 1 Grand Prix, Austin prepared to host thousands of fans from around the globe.

With the sport attracting a coterie of high rollers, business expectations were high. The Austin Better Business Bureau even urged local businesses to consider accepting foreign currency.

For some, the event brought an increase in business. But for many vendors and retailers, the crowds never seemed to show up.

Carrie Powell for KUT News

The southeast Austin neighborhood of Colony Park is being re-imagined as a model civic space. And the city’s asking the neighborhood for input on the changes.

A door-to-door survey of Colony Park residents starts today. Through the middle of the month, volunteers hope to complete 450 surveys. That’s about 10 percent of the number of households in the five Colony Park census tracts.

As KUT News previously reported, a new master plan for the Colony Park neighborhood will use a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to remake the area. The city’s in the process of planning the use of 200-plus acres of vacant, Austin-owned land near Overton Elementary School.

Ben Philpott, KUT News

Texas Governor Rick Perry is nearing the end of a 10-day international economic opportunity tour with stops in London and Israel.

Perry took the opportunity to highlight the opening of a  Texas A & M University in Israel and looked to highlight Texas' financial successes, as well as recent resource and energy conservation solutions.

Carrie Powell for KUT News

A new master plan for the Colony Park neighborhood will use a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in an effort to revitalize the area. The project resembles the planning of Mueller in scope and ambition, but some residents are concerned the project might eventually displace them.

At a Saturday community engagement meeting, residents in the Colony Park area said they were concerned the city might move on to implementation of the plan without their approval.

Dick Peterson

Austin's recent rains have caused a fair amount of trouble. But some folks made out like bandits during the recent deluge.

Many urban rain collectors watched recent downpours overwhelm their rain barrels and cisterns. It raises a question: Can too much rain be a bad thing, even for rainwater harvesters?

Most rain harvesters say: Nope.

Karen Collins, who collects rain at her home in Austin and on farmland north of Liberty Hill, is optimistic about the surge in rain. “It’s wonderful,” she says. “My tanks are completely full. I am in great shape. There are times in the summer when I don’t have any rainwater.”

KUT News

Former University of Texas quarterback James Street died Monday morning in his Austin home after suffering a heart attack. He was 65 years old.

Street played for Coach Darrell K. Royal from 1966 to 1969. He won all 20 games he started as quarterback – a feat no other Longhorn quarterback has repeated.

Erika Aguilar for KUT News

The Texas criminal justice system is not doing everything it can to ensure the death penalty is applied fairly.

That's according to a report released today by the American Bar Association’s Texas Capital Punishment Assessment Team, which claims Texas fails to meet national standards in all phases of implementing capital punishment.

KUT News

Following the weekend’s 44-23 loss to Ole Miss, Longhorn Football coach Mack Brown is realistic about the list of challenges facing the Longhorns and the dismal performance of his team so far this season.

“I’m more disappointed than anybody at the way we have started,” Brown said in a press conference on Monday. “It has kind of been the perfect storm. We’ve had injuries, we’ve had setbacks.”

KUT News

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, joins other members of Congress in hesitantly approving President Barack Obama’s decision to diplomatically disarm Syria rather than initiate a military intervention.

“Well I do believe that this proposal is better than executing a poorly thought out and foolishly telegraphed plan that is doomed to fail," Sen. Cornyn said of President Obama’s address. "I think it is worth seeing this thing to a conclusion.”

Liang Shi for KUT News

Update: For the first time since 2007, the Austin City Council has voted to lower the city’s property tax rate. The council finalized the fiscal year 2014 budget this afternoon.

Granted, the tax rate hasn’t fallen by much: two-hundredths of a penny (from 50.29 to 50.27 cents) for every $100 dollars of valuation. For the owner of a $200,000 home, that amounts to a savings of 40 cents a year. Mayor Lee Leffingwell had pressed for a bigger cut.

KUT News

September is Travis County’s Voter Registration Awareness Month – and the county Tax Assessor and Voter Registrar are kicking things off with a new online tool to help volunteers find new voters.

Citizen registrars can now use the county’s website to view lists and maps of addresses with unregistered and suspended voters, broken down by Travis County precincts. While the maps do not verify that eligible, but unregistered, voters reside at those locations, the new resource still helps deputy registrars and other organizations identify areas that may be neglected by the voting process.