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AM Update: 9/20/12
8:58 am
Thu September 20, 2012

AM Update: Central Texas Ozone Watch, Texas Supreme Court Judge Resigns

Traffic congestion - like this scene on MoPac - can lead to ozone alerts.
Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

Did you see the Space Shuttle Endeavor fly over Austin this morning? Send us a picture to news@kut.org. Here's a look at what else is happening in the area:

Central Texas Ozone Watch

The Clean Air Force of Central Texas is predicting “Level Orange” ozone levels for today. The areas affected by this Ozone Watch include Hays, Travis, Williamson, Caldwell and Bastrop Counties.

According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Air Quality Index, Austin’s air quality is currently “good."

Individuals with chronic lung disease, the elderly and young children are particularly sensitive to ground-level ozone. They should attempt to avoid exposure by minimizing exertion outdoors today.

The Clean Air Force of Central Texas encourages everyone to reduce air pollution by carpooling or riding the bus, tuning up vehicles and waiting to refuel until after 6 p.m.

Texas Supreme Court Justice Resigns

A Texas Supreme Court Justice is resigning and will go into private law practice in Austin.

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Austin
6:34 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Excitement Over Austin Skies: Space Shuttle & NORAD Jets to Fly Over

The Space Shuttle Endeavor flew over Houston before heading towards Austin.
NASA

The Space Shuttle Endeavor will take a low flight over Downtown Austin this morning.

The shuttle is attached to the top of a 747, and the plane is scheduled to fly over the Texas Capitol building between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. From Austin, the shuttle will head to El Paso for refueling.

After refueling in South Texas, the space shuttle will continue on its way towards Los Angeles where it will be placed on permanent display at the California Science Center.

The Space Shuttle Endeavor was the final NASA space shuttle to be built. The shuttle was constructed as a replacement for the space shuttle Challenger.

Endeavor completed its last mission in June of 2011. It and three other shuttles are going to museums across the country after the retirement of the space shuttle program.

The space shuttle may not be the only unusual aircraft in Austin skies today.

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AM Update: 9/18/12
8:57 am
Tue September 18, 2012

AM Update: More HID Global Incentive Talk, County Prison Problems, UT Offers Real Estate Certificate

Flexible ID tags are some of the items manufactured by HID Global—a company that the county is now considering offering economic incentives to.
HID Global

Traffic is now clearing up around Stassney Lane and Manchaca Road after a gas leak at the intersection this morning. Schools in the area started on time. Here's a roundup of other news this morning:

More HID Global Incentives?

Travis County Commissioners will meet in executive session today to talk about whether the county will offer economic incentives to a company that’s considering relocating to the area.

The State of Texas is already offering HID Global $1.9 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund. And the City of Austin is considering offering the company close to a million dollars in rebates on taxes for real estate and equipment purchases. The city plans to hold a public hearing on the issue Sept. 27.

In return, HID Global would build a manufacturing and distribution center in Northeast Austin, and create 276 jobs over 10 years. HID Global makes products like ID cards and key-card readers.

Problems in Texas County Prisons

Today Texas lawmakers will take a look at problems facing county jails.

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Austin
1:28 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Can DNA Testing Solve an Austin Neighborhood's Dog Poo Problem?

One response to a ubiquitous 'doggie don't.' An Austin condo complex is attempting a higher-tech solution.
flickr.com/crawfishpie

Austin is known as a dog friendly city. There’s dog parks, ample off-leash areas – heck, even the City Council passed an ordinance allowing dogs on outdoor restaurant patios.

And along with the local acceptance of dogs has come tolerance of the occasional accident. We’ve all seen them – on our front yards, exercise trails and even along the bottoms of our shoes.

Dogs can’t help it – it’s instinctual for them. Their owners, however, can. It’s their responsibility to tend to their animal's needs, little plastic bag in hand, so that when Fido finishes his business, no one else has to deal with the matter.

Unfortunately, some dog owners at The Pointe at Onion Creek, a small condominium complex in South Austin, haven’t been doing their due diligence. Now the home owners association is considering using DNA testing to find out which pooch is pooping and fleeing the scene.

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AM Update: 9/13/12
8:58 am
Thu September 13, 2012

AM Update: Longer School Days?, Doctors Support Medical School, One Word About Your Favorite Teacher

Lawmakers are considering options to increase student success. That might mean more time at school for Texas kids.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Should Texas Kids Spend More Time in School?

State lawmakers want to know if having kids spend more time in school will increase performance.

The Texas Senate Committee on Education is meeting this morning to talk about the impact of extended learning time on school success. That could mean longer school days or adding more days to the school year.

Lawmakers will also look at after-school programs and their effect on school performance, attendance and behavior.

The public is invited to comment at the hearing. It starts at 9 a.m. at the capitol.

Hundreds of Austin-Area Doctors Support Medical School

Proposition 1, the proposal for a new medical school and teaching hospital in Austin, now has the support of over 400 Austin-area doctors. The doctors' support means they are behind the five cent increase in property taxes per $100 of taxable value if Prop. 1 is successful in November.

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AM Update: 9/11/12
8:49 am
Tue September 11, 2012

AM Update: 9/11 Memorials, Travis County Tourism Tax, UT Helping Students Make the Grade

The 9/11 memorial at the Texas State Cemetery.
Liang Shi for KUT News

Today marks 11 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks. Here's information on remembrance events and other stories making news today:

Local 9/11 Memorial Events

There are several events scheduled today across Central Texas to mark the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

At 10 a.m., Austin firefighters will climb the Pleasant Valley Drill Tower. Wearing full gear, they’ll climb up and down the equivalent of the height of the World Trade Center.

At noon, there will be a 9-11 Memorial and pipe and drum performance in the Texas Capitol Rotunda.

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Business
2:08 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

What Does Saks' Closing Mean For the Future of the Arboretum?

Empty benches at the Arboretum Market. Anchor tenant Saks Fifth Avenue is leaving the retail center.
flickr.com/cloverity

High-end retailer Saks Incorporated announced that it plans to close its Saks Fifth Avenue stores located in Austin’s Arboretum Market at the end of the year.

Approximately 64 associates are employed in the Austin store. The retailer says all affected associates either will be offered transfer opportunities or will receive employment separation packages. Saks will also be closing down a location in Highland Park, Illinois.

“Store closing decisions are never easy,” Saks Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Sadove says in a statement. “We are very appreciative of our many loyal associates in both the Highland Park and Austin Saks Fifth Avenue stores, and we are committed to providing them with needed assistance during this period.”

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AM Update: 9/6/12
8:41 am
Thu September 6, 2012

AM Update: Funds for Bastrop Fire Victims, Tech Firm Opens Austin Office, Roddick Hangs Up Racket

Those who lost homes in the Bastrop wildfires can now apply for federal aid to help them rebuild.
Reshma Kirpalani for KUT News

Good morning. We're looking at another hot one today, with a high of 102 degrees. Here's some of the region's top overnight stories. 

Rebuilding Grants for Bastrop Fire Victims

It’s been just over one year since wildfires tore across Central Texas. Many fire victims are still rebuilding their lives.

Now, the Texas General Land Office is taking applications for federal aid from people whose homes were lost or damaged in the Bastrop fires.

The money is coming from more than $30 million dollars in Community Development Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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AM Update: 9/4/12
8:54 am
Tue September 4, 2012

AM Update: Hearing on Women's Health Program, Lawmakers to Discuss Texas Prisons, New Rules for CDLs

Protestors Rally in Austin during March rally.
flickr.com/scATX

It's back to work today for many after a long Labor Day weekend. Expect another day in the triple digits.

Public Invited to Comment on Texas Women’s Health Program

Today the public will get a chance to express their thoughts on proposed changes to the Texas Women’s Health Program – what used to be known as the Medicaid Women’s Health Program.

The program provides health services to about 130,000 low-income Texas women. It has been mostly paid for with federal funding. But when Texas lawmakers decided to enforce a state rule that the program could not support clinics affiliated with abortions, the Obama Administration vowed to cut off the funding. When Medicaid funding is cut off in November, Governor Rick Perry says Texas will pay for the program. The details of how the state will take on the funding have not yet been outlined.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood is suing in hopes of retaining funding. Planned Parenthood says their clinics provide important health services to women who would otherwise have a hard time getting them.

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AM Update: 8/30/12
9:01 am
Thu August 30, 2012

AM Update: MoPac Flyover to Open, E-book Refund for Texans, Fried Cactus at the State Fair

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has announced an antitrust settlement with E-book publishers.
courtesy flickr.com/alienratt

Good morning. Central Texas winds have slowed down today as Isaac has been downgraded to a tropical storm.

Traffic Relief for Some Austin Commuters

Some northbound Austin drivers should see traffic relief starting tomorrow.

Texas Department of Transportation spokesperson John Hurt tells KUT News that the flyover from northbound MoPac to eastbound U.S. 290 will open up sometime late tonight or early tomorrow morning – before most commuters head to work.

Right now, those drivers have to go through a traffic light and down a frontage road before getting on Ben While Boulevard.

Hurt says the other part of the project – a flyover from westbound 290 to southbound MoPac – won’t be complete until around Thanksgiving.

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