Kelly Connelly

News intern

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Texas
1:22 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

Experts: Something's Fishy with Texas' Seafood Imports

The Texas Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs heard testimony this morning about concerns on imported seafood.
flickr.com/charlenesimmons

Fish is routinely held up as a healthy alternative to other meats. But some experts might urge you to rethink the catch-of-the-day,  because of what else might be lurking on the plate. 

The Texas Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs heard testimony this morning about the condition of the state’s seafood industry. The Catfish Institute's Jeff McCord testified that he was concerned about importing fish to Texas.

Most of the catfish found in restaurants is imported from China. McCord says China doesn’t have the same kind of regulations the U.S. does, so banned substances can easily enter the food supply. A group of chemicals called nitrofurans is on this list. Fish farmers use them to rid the water of certain microbes, but they’re mostly banned by the FDA. “It’s been shown to cause cancer,” McCord says, “and it also disrupts human cell reproduction.”

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Public Safety
3:36 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

What Do Dog Bites, Wildfires, and 12th & Chicon Have in Common?

Fire resources, neighborhood patrols, and dog bites will be discussed at the Public Safety Commission.
KUT News

City of Austin officials will address all these titular topics and more at a jam-packed meeting of the Public Safety Commission this afternoon, the group that makes safety-related recommendations to the City Council.

Following a 15-minute allotment for public comment, the members of the commission will hear from speakers on several topics. Speakers and their topics include:

  • Austin Fire Department Chief of Staff Harry Evans and Austin Firefighters Association President Bob Nicks, on wildfire risk.
  • Austin Police Department Assistant Chief Patrick Ockletree, on neighborhood enforcement issues in the 12th and Chicon area.
  • APD Assistant Chief Rail Munguia, on neighborhood enforcement issues in the downtown area.
  • A representative from APD, on Travis County Animal Services' report on "dog bites in relation to public safety."

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Austin
5:43 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Demolition and Rebuilding at 12th and Chicon

A building steps away from the corner of 12th and Chicon Streets was demolished today to make way for a mixed use building in an effort to revitalize the area.
Photo by Kelly Connelly, KUT News

The intersection of 12th and Chicon streets is associated with the sale and use of drugs, but soon it could be home to a different kind of retail altogether.

The Chestnut Neighborhood Revitalization Corporation (CNRC) is a nonprofit affiliated with the area's neighborhood association. Today, it began the demolition of a building just steps away from the corner to make way for mixed-use structures that will house stores on the ground floor and residential units above.

Two other buildings between 12th and 14th streets are slated for the same makeover. The developments will make up a project called the Chicon Corridor.

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Environment
5:12 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

Remembering Lady Bird Johnson This Weekend

Lady Bird Johnson and her husband, former President Lyndon Baines Johnson, contributed to the beautification of the nation's highways.
Lady Bird Wildflower Center

It’s been one hundred years since the birth of the legendary Lady Bird Johnson.

The Texas First Lady's time in the White House was marked by several environmental conservation and beautification efforts – a cause she pursued locally after leaving Washington with the foundation of the National Wildflower Research Center and her work beautifying Town Lake (which was since renamed in her honor).

The Wildflower Center, which bears Lady Bird’s name, remembers Mrs. Johnson this Sunday with a day-long tribute. Admission is free, with doors opening at 9 a.m.

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AM Update: 7/27/12
8:22 am
Fri July 27, 2012

AM Update: Early Voting Ending, Aurora Victim Laid to Rest, Longhorns in the Olympics

Today is the last day to cast a ballot before Election Day on Tuesday.
flickr.com/kcivey

Last Day to Vote Early

Today is the last day to cast your ballot early in the primary runoff election.

You can click here to find a list of early voting locations in Travis County. Most locations close at 6 p.m. The polling place at the Travis County Offices on Airport Boulevard is open until 7 p.m.

Less than three percent of registered Travis County voters have cast a ballot so far.

Election Day for the primary runoff is Tuesday. On Election Day you’ll only be allowed to vote at your precinct.

Colorado Shooting Victim Remembered in Austin

A funeral for the former Austinite killed in the Aurora movie theater massacre will take place in Austin today.

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AM Update 7/20/12
7:50 am
Fri July 20, 2012

AM Update: Lackland Air Base Sexual Assault Case, Austin Movie Security, Summer Sales Tax Holiday

The basic training graduation ceremony at Lackland Air Force Base earlier this year.
flickr.com/thomasebunton

Lackland Assault Case Nears Conclusion

The case against Staff Sergeant Luis Walker, the trainer accused of sexual assault at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, is wrapping up. Closing arguments got underway this  morning.

Staff Sgt. Walker is accused of 28 counts that include rape and sexual assault.

In three days of testimony, the prosecution presented 14 witnesses, including alleged victims. The defense brought only one witness, a technical sergeant familiar with the video surveillance capabilities throughout the base.

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Austin
4:47 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

Barton Springs Gets a Rain Check

Hot summer days draw Austinites to Barton Springs - but rainy weather has temporarily closed the pool.
KUT Staff

Recent rains have caused flooding and debris to accumulate in Barton Springs Pool.

The city's Parks and Recreation Aquatic Division has temporarily closed the pool “due to flooding conditions,” according to a press release. No reopening date has been issued.

Staff must wait for rains to stop – not a problem we often have in Austin – before they can remove debris, clean the pool and assess its condition. 

Transportation
1:54 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

Drought Takes Toll on State Highway 130

Construction of State Highway 130 is underway near its intersection with U.S. Highway 183 near Mustang Ridge.
State Highway 130 Concession Company

Despite setbacks, State Highway 130 is still set to open in its entirety by November. The toll road will connect the North Austin area with Interstate 10, hopefully easing traffic on Interstate 35.

But SH-130 was the victim of drought-induced damage to its structural integrity. Once-moist clay dried out and contracted, causing shifts in the ground underneath the asphalt and cracking the road on top. Parts of the 41-mile stretch of road between Mustang Ridge and Seguin need to be redone and preventative measures are being taken to keep the damage from reoccurring.

SH-130 is being constructed by a private company, acting as a proxy for the Texas Department of Transportation. Chris Lippinpott is the spokesman for the State Highway 130 Concession Company, the organization in charge of the design, construction, finance, operation, and maintenance of the highway. Lippincott says the cost of the road will total nearly $1.325 billion.

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Austin
2:08 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

What Happens When Iconic Austin Street Art is Defaced?

Found on the Drag, this iconic frog was painted by singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

As home to the state capitol, a flagship university and natural treasures like Barton Springs, Austin isn’t hurting for landmarks. But there’s also an underground placemaking collection: the city's street art.

There’s the “Greetings From Austin” mural on South First Street, movie stills on the old Varsity Theatre building across from campus, even the “I Love You So Much” scrawled on the side of Jo’s Coffee on South Congress Avenue.

There’s also “Jeremiah the Innocent,” more commonly known as the “Hi, How Are You?” frog. Painted by songwriter Daniel Johnston, the design was famously worn by Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.

Earlier this week, the frog was defaced by taggers. And while it’s not the first time that’s happened, it raises an interesting question: What happens when unofficial landmarks like Johnston’s frog – which, with its charmingly crude design could itself be mistaken for graffiti – get tagged?

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Austin
4:21 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

Bats Gone Wild: Congress Street Bridge Bat Found with Rabies

Austinites and tourists watch bats take off in droves from the Congress Street Bridge at sunset.
KUT Staff

Thinking about watching the bats on Congress Street Bridge the evening?

The Austin/Travis County Health and Human Service Department released information today that a bat from under the Congress Street Bridge has tested positive for rabies.

Carole Barasch is with the Health and Human Service Department. She says it isn’t unusual to find a bat with rabies – problems arise when these bats come into contact with humans. The Health and Human Service Department is on alert because it's received word from a third party that an adult female came into contact with a rabid bat at 10:15 p.m. on Tuesday, July 3.

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Austin
11:42 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Honoring Austin's Music Legends

The Austin Music Memorial honors deceased musicians' contributions to the Austin music scene.
KUT News

The City of Austin Music Division is accepting nominations from the community for its 2012 Austin Music Memorial.

The memorial program has been around since July 2007 and honors deceased artists for their contributions to the Austin music scene. Notable artists that have been honored include Kenneth Threadgill, Townes Van Zant, Janis Joplin, and Clifford Antone. But the memorial also honors artists that may not be so recognizable.

Anyone can submit a nomination. Applicants are required to detail the artist’s impact on the Austin music scene, the artist’s lifetime achievements, and how the community has recognized the artist since his or her death.

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Animals
10:24 am
Fri July 6, 2012

Austin Humane Society to Waive Adoption Fee

Humane Society animals Angel, an American Eskimo/Golden Retriever mix; and Huey, a short hair kitten.
Austin Humane Society

The Austin Humane Society will offer free adoptions this Saturday. Adoption fees are typically over $80 for dogs and cats.

All animals will be spayed or neutered with current vaccinations and microchips. And the pets come with 30 days of pet health insurance and a bag of food.

The Humane Society will be open from noon to 7 p.m. Those wishing to adopt will need to fill out an application and pass an interview.

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AM Update 7/6/12
7:28 am
Fri July 6, 2012

AM Update: Study: APD Needs More Officers, Ft Hood Shooting Jury Questions, Texas Special Ed Numbers

With Austin's population projected to reach over 923,000 by 2017, a study advises APD to grow with the city.

Study Advises APD to Grow with City

A new study commissioned by the City of Austin recommends the Austin Police Department increase its staffing numbers by over 250 by 2017.

The study, released by the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit organization which has studied police departments around the nation, suggested APD increase its officer-to-population ratio to 2.11 officers per one thousand residents. Right now, Austin has 2.08 officers per one thousand residents.

The department spends 57 percent of its time responding to calls, leaving little time “to engage the community, solve local crime and disorder problems, or patrol hot spots,” says the report. The study recommends aiming to drop the time spent responding to calls to 45 percent.

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Economy
3:30 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Austin Area Home Prices Keep Rising

Home prices grew almost six percent in the Austin area over last year.
KUT News

Home prices have again increased in the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos area.

Prices rose 5.7 percent since last May, and 2.3 percent since last month, according to a home prices index released by a real estate data company.

Amand Nallathambi is the president of CoreLogic, the company that released the report.  "The recent upward trend in U.S. home prices is an encouraging signal that we may be seeing a bottoming of the housing down cycle," he says in a press release. "Tighter inventory is contributing to broad, but modest, price gains nationwide and more significant gains in the harder-hit markets, like Phoenix."

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AM Update 6/29/12
7:26 am
Fri June 29, 2012

AM Update: Drought Improves Texas Beaches, Another Ft. Hood Trial Delay?, Deep Eddy Re-Opens

The Deep Eddy Pool closed in November to undergo renovations.
Austin Parks and Recreation Department

Less Rain is the Texas Beach-Goer’s Gain?

Turns out, there may be a positive side to the state's historic drought. Less rain means less polluted runoff – so Texas beaches are cleaner than they have been in years. It's all detailed in a report released this week by the National Resources Defense Council.

The report details the testing done on hundreds of state beaches around the nation and evaluates the levels of certain bacteria found in the water. Texas’ South Padre Island was rated one of the nation’s twelve cleanest beaches, though Nueces, Matagorda, Kleberg, Harris and Aransas beaches exceeded the daily maximum bacteria standard. 

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Austin
3:19 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

No More Cars on the Green: APD Steeping Up Enforcement

Blues on the Green is held on Zilker Park's Great Lawn every other Wednesday during the summer.
Nathan Bernier, KUT Staff

Parking is becoming a problem at Zilker Park.

The Austin Police Department is trying to curb citations and towings at large events there like Blues on the Green, KGSR’s free biweekly concert event. The last concert saw 22 citations for illegal parking.

Police held a press conference today warning concert-goers to avoid tow-away zones like residential driveways, and stay off  lawns and high grass.

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AM Update 6/22/12
7:29 am
Fri June 22, 2012

AM Update: Cesar Chavez Closure, a Slew of Quirky Festivals, Heat Take NBA Finals

Admirers of Leslie Cochran marched through downtown in memory following his death.
lesliefest.com

Cesar Chavez Traffic Closures

Traffic on Cesar Chavez Street will be disrupted this morning as crews repair a broken water main.

Early this morning, the water main that serves businesses on Cesar Chavez between Brazos Street and Trinity Street burst. Eastbound traffic between Congress Avenue and Red River Street is down to one lane. Westbound traffic will be detoured northbound on Brazos Street, then westbound on Second Street.  

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Austin
12:03 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

What if a Terrorist Attack Happened in Austin? City Officials Plan Response

Ronnie Taylor, with Texas Emergency Extension Service, engages city officials on their role during both natural and man-made disasters.
Kelly Connelly for KUT News

Here's one heck of a lunch topic: Responding to a terrorist attack in downtown Austin during South by Southwest.

That was one of the noontime subjects city officials considered yesterday, in a workshop discussing their role in case of catastrophe – such as terrorism, an infrastructure collapse or a natural disaster.

Attendees, including the members of the Austin City Council, considered a range of worst-case scenarios. One was that SXSW attack: “It is a beautiful morning in Austin – bustling, with SXSW in full swing,” a planning scenario posited. “Without warning a large explosion rocks downtown Austin … Confirmed fatalities – 83; Injuries – 200+ (some key officials and staff are known to be among them.)”

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AM Update
8:06 am
Fri June 15, 2012

AM Update: Texas Earthquake, Juneteenth Celebrations, Heat Burn OKC

Juneteenth 2010 parades through Austin; Earthquake strikes north Texas; Kevin Durant leads Thunder with 32 points.
Mose Buchele, KUT News; Photo courtesy US Geological Survey; Photo by Layne Murdoch NBAE

North Texas Tremor

An earthquake shook part of North Texas early this morning.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the 3.1 magnitude earthquake happened about 16 miles south of Fort Worth and just over 150 miles north of Austin.

The local sheriff’s office says so far there are no reports of injuries or damage.

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Austin
2:25 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

More Deaths on Austin Roads This Year

The streets of Austin are dangerous this year.
Emily Donahue for KUT News

Fatalities from traffic crashes in Austin are up this year – especially in incidents involving pedestrians.

After the deaths of three motorcyclists and one pedestrian over the weekend, the number of people killed in Austin crashes has reached 36 on the year. Those deaths coincided with the Republic of Texas Biker Rally.

Half of this year's 36 deaths have been accidents involving pedestrians. That’s up from 41 percent (22 deaths) in 2011 and 20 percent (10 deaths) in 2010. Austin Police say 10 of the pedestrians killed this year were under the influence of drugs or alcohol and one driver was impaired. 

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