Joy Diaz

City reporter

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Health
5:01 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

New Facility for Alzheimer's Patients Not Nearly Enough

A new facility for older Austinites is scheduled to open soon in south Austin. It will serve those with memory impairments like Alzheimer’s or dementia. The “Silverado Senior Living” plans to house 90 people.  Right now, the only facilities like it are in Round Rock.  But, the needs of Austin’s elderly population continue to grow at a fast pace.

Silverado Senior Living is a private facility. Loren Shook is the company’s CEO.  He says “there are thousands of people within the city of Austin that are suffering from this disease [Alzheimer’s] and we are very confident there is sufficient resources in the market for people to afford our services ”

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Education
5:15 am
Thu January 3, 2013

How Austin Baby Boomers' Tax Perk Hurts Texas' Bottom Line

Texas Tribune

January usually marks a mad rush to the local tax office to pay property taxes. If you are a homeowner turning 65 years old, you can apply for a property tax exemption from Travis County and for a cap to your school taxes. It's a  perk for taxpayers that could affect local school districts. 

First, it’s important to note that thousands of Austinites will be turning 65 this year. That’s why last May, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell appointed task force on aging. Angela Atwood serves on the task force. She say “aging is the issue of our time and Austin and Central Texas is an epicenter nationally.”

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Austin
1:51 pm
Tue January 1, 2013

A Near-Centenarian's Advice for 2013's First Baby

99 year-old Gus Herzik at his home in Austin.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

Usually on New Years' Day, news outlets will tell you about the first birth of the year.

While the spotlight shines on Austin's first baby of 2013, we invited Gus Herzik to welcome that lucky child with some words of wisdom. 

Herzik has learned plenty in his lifetime - he'll turn 100 years old later this year.

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Health
3:28 pm
Fri December 28, 2012

How Two Doctors Turned a Dashed Anniversary Into an Online Medical Exchange

Doctors Tracey Haas (top) and Tim Gueramy (bottom, left) created Docbook MD for online consulting.
Tim Gueramy and Tracey Haas, docbookmd.com

On the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it’s likely that your doctor’s office may be closed at some point.

But doctors are never really off. There’s always someone on-call to take care of emergencies. And that someone could be from the Gueramy-Haas household here in Austin. The two-doctor home took some valuable lessons from a day of back-to-back emergencies and turned them into a better way to care for their patients.

Picture this: you’ve been married to the love of your life for almost a year. You’ve carefully selected the restaurant where you’ll have dinner on your anniversary, and you’ve made sure every detail is meaningful. When the big night arrives, everything is just as you’d imagined it: Both of you look sharp. The appetizers arrive. And … we’ll let Tracey Haas take it from here:

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Austin
4:05 pm
Thu December 27, 2012

Austin Wants to See Your New Year's Resolutions - Via Text

Will you resolutions make the city's cut? Text to find out.
KUT News

Please don’t say your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. As full of merit as your resolution is, it may not be tweeted out by city staff.  

Starting today and through Dec. 31, the city of Austin is encouraging Austinites to text their New Year resolutions to 512-518-5879.  But there’s a catch: you need to think about how your resolution will make the city better. City staff will then go through them and pick the most interesting responses.  

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Geographic Representation
4:04 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Auditor Calls for Input on City Redistricting Process

Wells Dunbar/KUT News

Auditor Calls for Input on City Redistricting Process

It may seem like government offices are in slow mode during the holiday season, but Austin's City Auditor is working against the clock. That's because there’s a very strict timeline the auditor needs to meet in order to put together the group that will draw Austin’s new city council district maps. 

The auditor is following the guidelines and timeline laid out in Proposition 3. That was the citizen-initiated charter amendment passed by Austin voters last month. But some of the terminology in Prop 3 needs to be tweaked into more official legal terms in some cases. In others, it just needs to be clarified. So, the City of Austin's Auditor, Kenneth Mory, is asking for citizen input.

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Austin
1:37 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Santa's Helpers Deliver Toys to Dell Children's Hospital

Blue Santa volunteers unload presents at Dell Children's Hospital this morning.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

Audio: Blue Santa comes to Dell's Children's Hospital

Dozens of boxes full of toys made their way to Austin’s Dell Children’s Hospital this morning, courtesy of Operation Blue Santa.

Santa and his reindeer could not be there since many of the kids are too sick to risk having the animals nearby. So volunteers from the Austin Police Department made sure there was enough holiday cheer to go around.

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Politics
12:11 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Broadening the Franchise: Seeking Diversity in Austin Government

The George Washington Carver Library in East Austin.
flickr.com/rhaaga

If you’ve been around Austin for a while, chances are you’ve heard Andrew Zuniga's sentiments before.

“This is not the same Austin I used to know,” Zuniga said. “Because I was away for 40 years see?”

Zuniga is a musician. He’s 79 years old.

“Well, it’s a lot bigger, a lot of traffic and more people,” he said.

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City Council
1:12 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Reluctantly, City Council Gives Up $15M for Water Treatment Plant 4

Under-construction WTP4, as photographed last year.
Jessie Wang for KUT News

Austin City Council begrudgingly parted with $15.5 million Thursday to help complete construction of Water Treatment Plant No. 4  in northwest Austin.

The controversial plant was designed to provide the city’s growing population with more drinking water. But it’s been controversial since its proposal as environmental groups opposed its construction. Now many of those activists are saying I told you so.

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Formula 1
7:13 pm
Sun November 18, 2012

Mexican Racing Fans Applaud Formula 1's Launch in Texas

Sergio Pérez rounds the F1 track in 2011.
flickr.com/code_martial

Thousands of Mexican fans flowed into Austin for F1 and the thrill of watching Mexican driver Sergio "Checo" Pérez speed around the track. David Besch was one of them. As he waited in line to get into the Circuit of the Americas stands , Besch said F1 in Austin reminded him of the thrill of his first race at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City.

“I was about eight or nine years old – I think. My uncle took me to the race. From then on, I didn’t stop watching it.”

Many of the fans this weekend said they were ready to see Mexico reopen its F1 track. Recent reports say the country’s leading business owners – among them Carlos Slim Domit, the son of one of the richest men in the world – are talking are talking about getting on the F1 schedule as early as next year.

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Geographic Representation
1:48 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Now With Prop 3 Passed, Backers Look to Stay Part of the Process

Prop 3 supporters, including Nelson Linder and Jessica Ellison (foreground) , announced formation of an "advisory group" today.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

The group of Austinites that collected signatures to get a single-member district plan on the November ballot wants to remain a part of the process now that Proposition 3 has passed. 

Prop 3 supporters, Austinites for Geographic Representation, gathered at City Hall today to announce the formation of an “advisory committee” to ensure single-member districts by 2014.

Former state Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, one of Prop 3 most active promoters, was on hand. He says many of the original activists are eager to help. 

“There are many people in Austin who participated, who are experts and have decades of experience in the different fields of redistricting, of drawing lines, of fair representation,” Barrientos said. “And we want to facilitate the city efforts – whatever we can help with – we have hundreds of years of experience among all these folks.”

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Austin City Council
4:58 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Are New Changes to Austin's Bag Ban Too Lenient?

Some retailers thanked council today for exempting restaurants from Austin's bag ban; others felt it created a loophole.
courtesy flickr.com/jonathanyoungblood

Austin’s commitment to becoming a “zero waste” city by 2040 came into question today, as the City Council approved adding exemptions to the plastic bag ban that takes effect in March 2013.

Restaurants will now be exempt from the bag ban. Some citizens expressed that the exemption deviates from the goals of the original ban and provides too big of a loophole. (Whole Foods, Central Market and Wheatsville Co-op all serve hot dishes, for example.) 

Mayor Lee Leffingwell disagrees. "This is addressing in a meaningful way something that's a real problem," Leffingwell said, "and we've done that for other uses of plastic bags where we've seen that there's not a reasonable alternative – newspapers, dry cleaning for example. I think it's pretty obvious once you think about it – obviously we didn't think about it [then], but once you do think about carrying out a bag full of barbeque sauce in a paper bag, it's not a good idea."

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Weather
4:50 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Cold Front May Bring Severe Weather to Region

Scattered storms in the Austin region may produce high winds and hail.
National Weather Service

Areas east of I-35 and the Austin metro area may see some severe storms this evening as a cold front moves through.

Forecasters say the main threats are wind and possibly large hail.  Rainfall is expected to be light and spotty – although some areas may get up to one inch of rain.

The National Weather Service has a severe thunderstorm watch in effect for parts of the eastern Central Texas until 9 p.m.; no watch has been issued for Travis County, but the NWS has issued a “hazardous weather outlook.”

Austin
8:58 am
Thu October 25, 2012

No Simple Solution for Austin Homeless (Updated)

Gerry and Melanie Yount and their 12-year-old son live in a pickup truck as they try to get medical care.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

Update: Oct. 25, 2012 at 9 a.m.:

After airing this story on Monday, listeners have been wondering what happened to the Yount family.  The first thing was that a listener drove by the parking lot where they were and gave them a cell phone.  Others have called asking for ways in which they can help.  KUT now has a way to get in touch with the Younts.  If you have any interest in helping them, you can contact KUT.

Original Story posted on KUT.org Oct. 23, 2012 at 5:30 a.m.:

The city of Miami claims to have taken almost half of its homeless population off the streets in the last 10 years. In Austin, where homeless services are stretched to the limit, the City Council is looking for new solutions. Last night, council members met with officials from Miami. The challenges of one local homeless family that is struggling on the streets show how complex the problem can be.

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