Kelly Connelly

News intern
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: The House of Torment has reached an agreement to stay at its Highland Mall location for a ninth year. "We couldn't be more excited to share what we've created this year with Austin fear fans," says House of Torment president and founder Daniel McCullough in a press release. "We really went above and beyond in terms of both production and design, and we hope you'll come scream with us."

Original story (Oct. 24, 2012): To encourage trick-or-treating in his neighborhood, every year Halloween-lover Dan McCullough would build a haunted house in his backyard in South Austin.

His plan worked – and soon the house’s popularity grew until one year it got out of hand. Over a hundred people showed up to the house and police were called to direct traffic. McCullough’s operation had to end – in that form at least.

McCullough decided to turn professional. The haunted house that originated in McCullough’s backyard is now the House of Torment.

Jon Love visited the House of Torment in its inaugural space 10 years ago. Now he’s the vice president of Harbinger Events, the organization that puts on the haunted house.

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."

MERJE, via the City of Austin

The Austin City Council hopes to make downtown Austin easier to get around.

The city's Planning and Development Review Department presented progress on the Downtown Austin Wayfinding System this morning. Under this plan, inconsistent and vague signs downtown would become more uniform and detailed. Gateways into downtown (like the passage under I-35 on Seventh Street) would also get a facelift.

In addition to increased signage, the design firm the city has contracted with – Pennsylvania-based MERJE – has created signs that are in step with international logos for parking, transportation, information and more, with an Austin flair. 

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Now that Proposition 1 has passed, the University of Texas is moving ahead with plans for its new medical school.

UT officials held a press conference this morning about a possible timeline for the complex. University President Bill Powers said with an aggressive approach, the first freshman class could start as soon as 2015. “This isn’t off in the 2020s,” Powers said. “We might take a little breather today and start tomorrow on all the processes. We’d like to break ground within a year.”

http://www.flickr.com/snurb/

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has been making waves in international waters. Abbott and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, an international watchdog group, have been clashing all week.

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