Kevin Lindsay

12:56 pm
Tue December 6, 2011

Facing Budget Crunch, Texas Parks and Wildlife Pleads For Help

About half of the operating costs are generated by entrance fees, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is asking the public to visit state parks like this one, Garner Park, to help eliminate a $4.6 million deficit.
Photo by Mathew High

Did you like to go camping in triple digit heat? Would it be more appealing if campfires were banned? Apparently most people don't like to sweat in the dark, even if it's in a beautiful natural surrounding,  and that's helped blow a $4.6 million hole in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's (TPWD) budget.

Now that the weather is more mild and burn bans are being lifted across Texas, TPWD is pleading for people to visit state parks and to make donations.  The agency is holding eleven news conferences across the state today, reminding people that close to half of state park revenue -- about $69 million of the operating budget -- comes from park entrance fees.

“A ‘triple whammy’ of record heat and drought, devastating wildfires and a corresponding decline in visitation and revenue has created a critical need for Texas State Parks,” announced TPWD exective director Carter Smith in a news release. “We are reaching out for help.”

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3:36 pm
Tue November 22, 2011

13,000 People Being Fed Free Thanksgiving Dinner Today

H-E-B employees prepare approximately 13,000 plates for tonight's Feast of Sharing Event.
Photo by KUT News

The Palmer Events Center will host a massive cooking effort today. H-E-B employees and volunteers expect to serve over 13,000 people there for the 21st annual Feast of Sharing.

Each plate is free of charge and includes traditional Thanksgiving dishes, including cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and turkey.

While on site at the event, coordinators said volunteers were still welcome. Just show up and be ready to serve a lot of food.

Here's the event, by the numbers: 

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2:31 pm
Thu November 17, 2011

Austin-based Coin Marketer to Pay $5 Million in Restitution

The Texas Attorney General's office and an Austin coin marketing company have agreed to settle a lawsuit, charging the company with making false claims in their advertisements. The company will pay out $5 million in restitution.
Photo by kevin dooley

An Austin-based coin marketer agreed to pay out at total of $5 million in restitution to customers to settle a lawsuit filed by the Texas Attorney General's office. State attorneys charged that U.S. Money Reserve making of false claims in their commercials, in violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

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1:13 pm
Thu November 17, 2011

I-35 Improvements Ahead, City Asks for Public Participation

Transportation officials will take input on ideas to ease congestion along I-35 through Austin at an open house today.
Photo by Callie Hernandez/KUT News

City and state transportation officials are holding an open house this afternoon to take public input of the first ideas to improve the I-35 corridor through Central Austin.

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3:54 pm
Thu November 10, 2011

Confederate Flag License Plate Blocked By Texas DMV

Texas DMV Board voted unanimously against the bid for a confederate flag license plate
Photo by J. Stephen Conn

After nearly two hours of public testimony, the Texas DMV, appointed by Governor Rick Perry, voted unanimously to strike down a state license plate celebrating the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  The group sought to use the proceeds to build new memorials honoring Southern soldiers.   From the beginning, the plate has sparked public controversy with the NAACP at the forefront of opposition.

Last month, Governor Perry expressed that he would not support the license plate.  In an interview with Bay News 9 after a fundraiser in Florida, Perry commented, "We don't need to be scraping up old wounds."

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2:10 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Electronic Traffic Signs Hit Downtown Streets

Similar to those found on freeways, Austin's Dynamic Message Signs will provide drivers with current traffic information.
Photo by KUT News

Ever wish you could know about a major traffic jam before you get stuck in one? The City of Austin's Transportation Department hopes it can help you do that by installing 13 electronic signs around the city.

By March of next year, drivers passing by these intersections will be informed of real-time traffic jams, construction, weather conditions, special events, as well as detour routes.

"One of the challenges with downtown Austin is that we are at capacity," Transportation Department spokesperson Leah Fillion said.

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12:48 pm
Thu November 3, 2011

Water Main Leak Could Affect North Austin Residents

Fixing the water main will take about three weeks. Meanwhile, a small detour route has been set up near the repair site on MLK.
Photo by KUT News

Reduced water pressure in North Austin is a concern for Austin Water Utility as they begin repairing a leak in a 6-foot water main on Martin Luther King Dr. They reassured us today that so far, the pressure drops are virtually unnoticeable.

"We had to shut that main off and reroute water through some different transmission mains, so there could be some reduction in pressure on weekends," Austin Water Utility spokesperson Jill Mayfield said. "But last weekend there was no noticeable drop when we shut it off. We expect this will be the case throughout the repair."

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3:50 pm
Tue November 1, 2011

Zilker Tree Lights Are Strung But Won't Turn On Till December

The Zilker Tree was strung today. It will not be switched on until December 4th, 2011.
Photo courtesy of maddcow

An Austin Energy tradition going on 45 years continued today as the power company hung Christmas lights around the park's moonlight tower. The Zilker Tree will not be lit, however, until December 4. 

Meanwhile, the Trail of Lights is back this year was cancelled again this year. Check out the story here.   

10:43 am
Fri October 28, 2011

Galveston Island's West End Threatened By Erosion

The west coast of Galveston is eroding while the east coast remains resilient.
Photo by KUT News

Researchers at Rice University say urban development in Galveston Island should be more focused towards its east end. The island's length, width, and thickness sets a far stronger foundation in the long run than its west coast, according to the study, which was funded by the Shell Center for Sustainability.

"The west end of the island is low, and that makes it more susceptible to storm surge and breaching,"  Rice University oceanography professor John Anderson said. "It's also experiencing erosion rates of three to five feet a year, and during major storms those rates can easily be ten times that amount in a single event."

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1:31 pm
Thu October 27, 2011

Fewer Counties Keeping Burn Bans in Place

Several counties have lifted bans on outdoor burning, but the Texas Forest Service says that doesn't mean the fire danger isn't still quite high.
Image courtesy of Texas Forest Service

At one point in in August, a record 251 out of the state's 254 drought-stricken counties banned outdoor burning. But thanks to last week's cold front and showers, that number has dropped to 220 according to the Associated Press. All the counties around Austin still have bans on outdoor burning. Travis County just readopted one earlier this week.

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11:51 am
Thu October 13, 2011

FEMA Ineligibility Letter Not Necessarily "No"

FEMA encourages survivors of Texas wildfires to make an appeal, if they're told they are ineligible for relief.
Photo by KUT News

FEMA is trying to get the word out to Texas wildfire victims that, if they get a letter saying they're ineligible for federal aid, it's may not be the final word.

Ericka Lopez is a FEMA Public Information Officer in Bastrop. She says people can submit a formal appeal within 60 days, if they believe the feds made error.

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4:22 pm
Tue October 11, 2011

Aggie Conservatives Petition Against Perry's DREAM Act

Conservative students from Texas A&M, Rick Perry's alma mater, want the governor to call a special legislative session to repeal the Texas DREAM act.
Photo by Ben Philpott for KUT News

The Aggie Conservatives at Texas A&M University have posted an online petition demanding that Governor Rick Perry call a special session in the Texas legislature to put an end to the Texas law that allows children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at the state's colleges and universities. According to the student organization, over 200 have signed as of last night.

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12:13 pm
Tue October 11, 2011

Cap Metro Train Hits Pedestrian

A MetroRail commuter train struck a man near Mopac and Parmer Lane late Monday afternoon.
Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

A man was hit by the MetroRail train yesterday. Officials say the man was walking on the tracks near Parmer Lane and Mopac at around 5:45 pm. Capital Metro spokesman Adam Shaivitz says that this is the first train-pedestrian incident since MetroRail opened in March 2010.

"The most important thing here is the rail safety reminder. It is illegal and highly dangerous to walk on or near railroad tracks, and this was a very serious example that demonstrates these dangers," said Shaivitz.

4:07 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

Incoming Cold Front Prompts Wildfire Worries

From this past year, NASA showing high winds spurring fire.
Photo by Nasa Goddard Photo and Video

Gusty winds, dry air and vegetation, high chance of thunderstorms and warm weather are all contributing factors to the critical fire forecast released today by the Texas Forest Service (TFS). Pretty much everything south of the Texas Panhandle is considered to be at risk. 

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Arts and Culture
12:18 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

Drought Plagues Dallas State Fair

Photo by Scutter

People can expect to see thinner animals at the Texas State Fair in Dallas this weekend. The fair's Vice President of the Agriculture and Livestock, Daryl Real, says that this year's extreme drought has made it harder for ranchers to feed their cattle. 

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3:59 pm
Thu September 22, 2011

UT Will Build New Supercomputer with Dell and Intel

UT, Dell and the National Science Foundation are working together to build a new supercomputer, to be named "Stampede."
Photo by Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News.

By January 2013, the University of Texas at Austin will be the host of a new world-class supercomputer as part of a National Science Foundation grant. "Stampede" will be built in a partnership between the Texas Advanced Computing Center, Dell, and Intel and kept at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus - home of another NSF-funded high-performance computer system, Ranger.

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Arts and Culture
10:40 am
Thu September 22, 2011

Wildfire Benefit Concert

Lyle Lovett, shown performing with John Hiatt at the KUT studios, will be one headliners at a benefit concert for victims of the Bastrop County wildfires.
Photo by KUT

Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, the Dixie Chicks will headline a benefit concert for Central Texas wildfire victims. Emmy winner Kyle Chandler of the TV show "Friday Night Lights" will host. "Fire Relief: the Concert for Central Texas" is set for October 17 at the Frank Erwin Center. Organizers say every dollar of a single $25 ticket will go to relief efforts. Tickets will be available for purchase at tomorrow at noon.