Kelsey Sheridan

News Intern

Kelsey Sheridan is a news intern at KUT. She currently studies religion and journalism at Northwestern University.

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

After three months at work, Front Steps Executive Director Jim Ormand was fired August 5 after just three months on the job.

Front Steps is a non-profit organization that operates the city-owned Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, one of the largest homeless shelters in Central Texas.

People got a chance to climb aboard the possible future of Austin's mass transit system on Thursday. Kinkisharyo, a Japanese-based streetcar manufacturer, is taking its new prototype on an American tour.

The streetcar runs on a combination of power from batteries and overhead wires, storing energy when the train brakes and eliminating the need for overhead wires in parts of the route, Kinkisharyo project manager Bill Kleppinger said.

For the past sixteen months, a project to beautify East 7th Street has plagued local businesses.  Construction to improve safety and utilities limited access to restaurants, tax consultants, and convenience stores.  Now that the streets look nicer with fresh paint and new plants, some business owners are wondering if it was all worth it.

 

One person was killed this afternoon when an 18-wheeler crashed into a small car in Oak Hill on US 290 near Scenic Brook Drive.  The crash occurred at 2:38 p.m.

Police are directing traffic around the accident scene, according to the Sheriff's office. All the lanes are closed in both directions. A Department of Public Safety representative said she didn't know how long the lane closures would last.

Photo by Marie Sophie-Creamarie-Kazamarie http://www.flickr.com/photos/planetevivante/

A Haitian city devastated by the 2010 earthquake has been designated as Austin's newest "Friendship City".  Mayor Lee Leffingwell says Jacmel, Haiti has a lot in common with the Live Music Capital. It's a creative city, famous for its arts scene, film institute and scenic beauty.

Friendship cities are supposed to foster cooperation between their respective residents and businesses. It's not quite as big a deal as the "Sister City" designation, which typically involves more collaboration between local governments and a more formalized agreement.

Photo by Kelsey Sheridan

A University of Texas study found that 90 percent of bag lunches brought to school by preschool students were kept at temperatures that could result in food-borne illnesses.

The researchers took the temperatures of 700 preschoolers lunch's at nine different Texas child care centers. Forty-five percent of the lunches had at least one ice pack and 39 percent had none.

AISD Misses AYP

Aug 4, 2011
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Texas Education Agency released preliminary results for the federal ratings of school districts today. Austin Independent School district did not meet federal standards, known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). It is a federal designation as part of the No Child Left Behind program.

Photo by KUT News

There are more than 25,000 daycare operations and homes in the state of Texas.  And as the school year looms, parents have to choose among them to find safe child care that's a good fit for their family's needs.  But a warning from the state: be careful when choosing; 524 Texas operations have been found guilty of abuse or neglect.

Photo by Suelen Pessoa http://www.flickr.com/photos/suelenpessoa/

Fun Fun Fun Fest released its 2011 lineup today. Organizers expect to sell more than 15,000 tickets and have added an extra day to the festival. This year it will be held at Auditorium Shores because it outgrew its previous venue of Waterloo Park. 

Photo for KUT News

The Austin Police Association is holding a ceremony to dedicate a hall in their new facility to the people who worked to restore safety during the Texas Tower shooting. Today is the 45th anniversary of the shooting.

The shooter, Charles Whitman, was a student at the University of Texas. A former Marine who grew up with an abusive father, he admitted to killing his mother and his wife in a suicide note.

The next day, Whitman began shooting people from the top of the Texas Tower with a sniper rifle. He climbed up to the top of the tower with hundreds of rounds of ammunition, water and food supplies.

A federal appellate court dismissed the lawsuit brought against Austin Community College's proposed Hays County campus. The new campus was approved by voters in 2009. It would have been partially funded by a property tax increase and federal stimulus money.

Photo for KUT News

The Texas Education Commissioner will release this year's school ratings at 1 p.m. Austin ISD will hold a news conference to talk about its results at 2 p.m.

The annual accountability ratings helps parents compare their children's schools to others in the district or state. Consistently low performing schools risk being shut down.

The ratings are compiled through a combination of standardized test scores, graduation rates and drop-out rates.  Schools are categorized as exemplary, recognized, academically acceptable and academically unacceptable.

Check back on kutnews.org as the ratings are released.

Photo by Dan Reese for KUT News

There are CowParade exhibits in 75 cities in 30 countries on 6 continents. And now, in Austin. Forty-seven cow sculptures were installed all over town last night to the surprise of Austinites this morning. Before the exhibit's finished there will be 100-150 cows all over Austin. The cows were all created by local artists and will be auctioned off to raise money for the Dell Children's Medical Center in the fall.

Photo by KUT News

A recent Pew Research Center analysis of federal data found that the wealth gap between whites and African American and Hispanics is at a 25 year high. Nationally, the median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households. The study also found that minority families were hit harder by the recession:

Time is running out for the debt ceiling debate, and Austinites are watching.  KUT freelancer Jeff Heimsath produced this video to constrast local opinions with those of a University of Texas economist. 

Here's the issue: there's a legal cap on how much money the United States is allowed to borrow.

Right now it's $14.3 trillion, which the government says it will exceed by early August. To prevent this, the United States either needs to cut spending drastically or raise that ceiling. Otherwise, it means the U.S. will default on its loans.

Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Protection

A new state law passed by the 2011 Legislature requires any college student under 30 who attends classes on a Texas campus must be vaccinated against meningitis. Previously only students who lived on campus needed one.

 

Video courtesy of MTV

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

It's every baseball player's dream: To be picked from the crowd at an open tryout at your hometown ball park to play for your favorite Major League team.

Scouts for the defending American League Champion Texas Rangers did just that Wednesday morning, holding  open tryouts for all positions at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock. Not surprisingly, many came out for a chance to show their talents to professional baseball scouts. The Horton family came from Crawford, Texas for the opportunity.

Photo by Dan Reese for KUT News

Conservation work is underway on three of the dresses worn by Vivien Leigh in the movie, "Gone with the Wind." The work at UT's Harry Ransom Center comes after the institution raised $30,000 for the restoration.

Photo by slayerphoto http://www.flickr.com/photos/slayer23/

A University of Texas study funded by the Texas Department of State Health Services says expanding sexual health education in public schools could help reduce teen births in Texas, a state with one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country.  Texas dropped a health education requirement for high school students in 2009, making it one of the only states in the country not to require it.

Traditionally, it was thought that the best way to prevent teen pregnancy was to encourage kids to wait until they finish school and get a job before having kids. The report found that teens and parents of all ethnic groups tend to agree. Yet teenage girls are still getting pregnant and having babies.

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