Huma Munir

Intern for KUT News.

Photo courtesy flickr.com/cdnphoto

The Travis County Commissioner’s Court has approved an incentives package for computing company Apple to expand operations in Austin.

As reported earlier today,Travis County is estimated to give Apple between $5.4 and $6.4 million dollars in tax rebates over 15 years. This comes on top of Austin's estimated $8.6 million in tax rebates over the next ten years, and the state's $21 million in incentives. In return, Apple says it will bring well over 3,000 jobs to the Austin area.

County commissioners said Apple should consider economically disadvantaged individuals for employment. However, that’s not stipulated as part of the contract’s requirement.

The Texas Military Forces Open House returns this weekend.
Photo courtesy txmf.us

Camp Mabry is hosting its annual Texas Military Forces Open House April 21 and 22. It's a high-powered display of U.S. military technology, from the World War II-era to today. But the organizers say it's more than that.

The event initially occurred in the fall, which drew less than 5,000 people yearly, until Camp Mabry officials moved the event to spring in 2006. Last year, the attendance increased to 17,000 people, said Garrison Commander Major John Davis. 

"It's gotten really big and really popular in Austin and Central Texas area," Davis says. 

A draft image of the mosaic, by artist Reginald C. Adams
Image courtesy mocah.org

The City of Austin is encouraging citizens to participate in creating a mosaic mural for the  African American Cultural and Heritage Facility tonight.

The mosaic will feature iconic individuals from the African American community. Art and Public Places Coordinator Carrie Brown said her department is working closely with the African-American Resource Advisory Commission to gather input from the community for the design concept. The mosaic will feature distinguished members of the African-American Community such as Willie Ray Davis, who was the first black firefighter in Austin, and Dr. Connie Yearwood, a medical leader for Austin's black community.

"We asked community members to give us names and give us photographs," Brown said. "They helped us create the design concept and now they will help us create the mosaic."

Photo by Huma Munir for KUT News

Today, Austin Police spoke to the fatal police shooting of a 35 year-old man last week.

Ahmed Jabbar Bradley was killed by Officer Eric Copeland after a foot chase that started when the officer pulled Bradley for a traffic violation. APD says Copeland smelled marijuana coming from Bradley’s vehicle, then pulled him over. Bradley fled the scene and Copeland pursued, catching up with him on the 5200 block of Overbrook Drive.

A struggle ensued. APD played a recording of a 911 call from a witness, saying the officer was on the ground and Bradley was trying to take his gun. APD says the dashboard cameras also revealed Bradley trying to strangle Copeland with his attached police radio wire. APD Assistant Chief Sean Mannix said the transceiver's head on Copeland’s radio was separated from the cord.

Image courtesy City of Austin

The 85th annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays have returned to Austin.

Track and field action at the Mike A. Myers Track and Soccer Stadium kicked off on Wednesday and stretches through Saturday. More than 6,000 athletes from high schools and colleges across the country will be competing.

The relays are accompanied by a host of other activities in town, meaning street closures and traffic delays.

Image courtesy City of Austin

A $500 million development may bring new housing, retail and underground parking to the southwest quadrant of downtown Austin.

Today, the City Council was briefed on the sale of a plot of land facing Lady Bird Lake. The land is the former location of the Green Water Treatment Plant, bordered by Cesar Chavez and Third Street, San Antonio Street and Shoal Creek.

Austin’s first treatment plant, the City Council voted to demolish Green in 2006 to promote taxable development more compatible with downtown.  

Under the terms city staff presented today, the city would sell the plot to TC Austin Development, a subsidiary of development firm Trammell Crow, for $42.4 million.

Photo courtesy flickr.com/baggis

The future of Waller Creek – if not downtown in general – is being drafted in a design competition.

Waller Creek, winding through the Eastern portion of downtown Austin, has received sporadic attention and investment over the years. The creek is prone to flooding during heavy rains, which has occasionally claimed the lives of homeless citizens sleeping along its sparsely-traveled banks.

Efforts to address Waller Creek received a boost in in 2006, when the city partnered with the county to fund a tunneling project. Currently underway in Waterloo Park, the tunnel will create a steady flow in the creek and pull nearby land out of the floodplain. But while engineering and construction of the tunnel continues, the city is facilitating a design competition to determine the function and aesthetics of the downtown areas along the creek.  

Photo courtesy flickr.com/thestarshine

Texas has joined six other states challenging the constitutionality of the federal mandate that requires contraceptive coverage in all employee healthcare benefits.

A fracas erupted earlier this month when Catholic organizations protested a requirement in the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature health care reforms, that employer health insurance would cover contraception. The Texas Tribune reports:

Construction of affordable housing downtown could start in less than a year.

At a meeting tonight, Austin nonprofit Foundation Communities is making a pitch for their Capital Studios development – 135 apartments to be located on what's now a parking lot at 11th street and Trinity.  A Foundation Communities spokesperson tells KUT News Capital Studios will be the first truly affordable downtown development in the last 40 years – and with rents ranging from $400 to $650, all bills paid, it’s hard to argue.

The low rents are designed to attract Austinites that work and play downtown, but can’t afford to live there – primarily young adults making $27,000 annually or less. Ten of the units will be reserved for working musicians and artists. Another 27 units will provide permanent supportive housing for clients transitioning out of homelessness, processed through agencies like Caritas, the Trinity Center, and the ARCH.

Photo courtesy flickr.com/velkr0

Austin Resource Recovery (ARR) presented their newest draft of a disposable bag ban to the City Council today.

So what’s changed since the proposal was last floated?

ARR director Bob Gedert initially discussed a temporary surcharge  – either 10 cents a bag, or a dollar per transaction – to fund the initial, educational phase of the ordinance. 

But Gedert raised the surcharge proposal only to take it off the table moments later. Citing implementation challenges, he ultimately recommended against the measure, a move Mayor Lee Leffingwell supported. Leffingwell said no fees in the interim period would provide a “safe harbor” for customers, and ensure “people are not left trying to carry 20 cans of peas out in their arms.”