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Austin
4:01 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Valerie L. Phillips, KUT and KUTX Fundraiser, Dies After Battle With Cancer

Valerie Phillips, KUT's Leadership Circle Manager, with her longtime partner Bob Mann in a November 3, 2012 photo.
Paul Woodruff/KUT

Valerie Louise Phillips, KUT and KUTX's major gifts officer and a popular personality in Austin’s philanthropic and political circles, died Tuesday, after a three-year battle with breast cancer.

As leadership circle manager at KUT, Valerie dealt daily with Austin’s best, brightest and most powerful -- always with a touch of joy, efficiency and enthusiasm.

Originally from Fort Worth, she was a talented writer, arts and literature lover and noted for a keen and quick wit.    

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Free Week
4:00 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

20 Surefire Shows to Check Out During Austin's Free Week

The Mowawk will host plenty of free shows this week on both the inside and outside stages.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/rogerho

It's a new year with plenty of new resolutions. And, if your resolutions involve saving money, getting active and/or catching more live music, we've got just the thing: Free Week, a magical time of year when free music fills the streets of Austin for half a fortnight. 

With that in mind, we've put together a list of the shows to check out in this year's annual installment. 

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Austin
9:09 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Austin's Sizzling Housing Market May Cool in 2014

The number of Austin homes on the market in 2013 were at a 13-year low, while home buying was at an all-time high.
Credit KUT News

Austin's housing market had one of its hottest years on record in 2014, but some economists are looking for things to slow down in 2014.

Even without December's numbers, the Austin area recorded more home sales than ever in 2013 — almost 31,000 single-family homes, condos and townhomes were sold, a 20 percent increase over 2012. The average home sales price was higher than ever as well at $286,000. 

But as the city continues to grow, the market is becoming more competitive and some say a 2014 dip in sales will benefit Austin's market in the long term.

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Sports
9:58 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Longhorns Fall to Oregon in Mack Brown's Final Game as Head Coach

UT Head Coach Mack Brown at a press conference in 2012.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: The Longhorns got trampled 30-7 by the University of Oregon Ducks tonight in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. 

The Ducks ran two interceptions for touchdowns, spoiling what was the farewell game for Longhorns' Head Coach Mack Brown, who is retiring after 16 seasons with UT.

Despite the loss -- and a 30-21 record in his final four seasons -- the crowd gave Brown a warm send-off. UT athletic director Steve Patterson has said the team intends to name Brown's successor by January 15th. 

Original story: It's not unusual for the University of Texas at Austin's football team to appear in a post-season bowl game. But tonight, when the Longhorns take on Oregon in the Alamo Bowl, there is one twist: it is the last game as Head Coach for Mack Brown.

Brown became the Longhorns' 28th head football coach on December 4, 1997.

On December 15, 2013, after months of speculation, Brown made the announcement that he will retire at the end of the 2013 season.

After a few disappointing seasons since 2010, many fans and observers have considered the team to be underperforming and were clamoring for change.

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Health
5:00 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

H1N1 Causes Early Spikes in Flu Cases

Five deaths have been attributed to the flu in Texas, one of the hardest hit states in the nation.
CDC

The flu season has hit unusually early this year, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, Texas is one of the states hardest hit. Physicians are urging everyone to get a flu shot. 

Typically, the flu season peaks in January, but so far this year at least five deaths have already occurred in Texas. At a press conference Monday, medical experts at Seton Medical Center Austin said the number of positive flu tests has doubled over the past two weeks.

Dr. Irfan Hydari, the medical director of emergency services at Seton, said the flu strand that is responsible for the vast majority of illnesses is H1N1, or swine flu. That strand became notorious in 2009 when it caused a flu pandemic

But Hydari said vaccine technology continues to improve, and this year it has been adapted to combat H1N1.

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University of Texas
4:50 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

UT President Bill Powers Survives Regents' Scrutiny, Keeps Job

Callie Richmond, flickr.com/thetexastribune

Bill Powers, president of the University of Texas at Austin, is staying in that job for the time being.

UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa announced his recommendation at this afternoon’s meeting of the Board of Regents in Austin. Cigarroa said he has had conflicts with Powers, but hopes that they can be overcome.

“There are problems,” he said. "I’ve addressed these problems. And it is my hopeful expectation that together President Powers and I will work towards resolving them and moving ahead.”

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Libya
3:16 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Teacher Slain in Benghazi Has Austin Ties

The International School Benghazi, photographed Dec. 5, 2013. Gunmen shot dead an American chemistry teacher working at the international school, medical and security sources said on Thursday.
Reuters/Esam Omran Al-Fetori

Update: Smith's Austin Church in Mourning; Listen to One of Smith's Sermons

The Austin Stone Community Church say they are grieving the loss of their friend Ronnie Smith, who was killed jogging in Benghazi, Libya this morning. 

The church says Smith was preparing to fly home this month to spend time here over the Christmas holidays. Smith grew up in Detroit and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan.

The church confirms Smith's wife and son were not in Libya when he was shot. The church says Smith remained in Libya to help his students with their midterm exams. Smith and his family moved to Libya in December 2011.

Several archives of Smith's sermons are housed on the community church website. Below is one recording dated June 2010; in its beginning, he discusses a health scare his family faced just before their move to Austin. 

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County Primaries
2:01 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

In Fact Daily & KUT News Present: Travis County Candidates Forum, Monday, Dec. 9

In Fact Daily, its parent group The Capital of Texas Media Foundation and KUT News are pleased to present a forum for candidates in contested Travis County Democratic primaries. The forum is Monday, Dec. 9 at The North Door, just east of downtown Austin.

The event begins with a 6 p.m. happy hour. At 7 p.m., the forum begins.

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Affordable Care Act
4:02 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Under 3,000 Texans Sign Up for Insurance on Obamacare Website

Fewer than 3,000 people in Texas signed up for health plans in the first month of enrollment through the Affordable Care Act website, according to data released today [PDF] by the Health and Human Services department.

Other Texas findings in the data:

  • 11,682 Texans were determined to be eligible for CHIP and/or Medicaid through the federal health care marketplace, HealthCare.gov.
  • Almost 54,000 Texans actually completed applications. Those applications would cover more than 108,000 individuals.
  • Most of those applicants – over 80,000 – are eligible to enroll in a health insurance plan available through the federal marketplace– but they haven’t done so yet.  
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Halloween Floods
8:08 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Where To Get Help If You've Experienced Flood Damage (Update)

City crews help clean up the Dove Springs neighborhood on Monday Nov. 4 after over 600 homes were damaged in flooding over the weekend.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Update (Wednesday): State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez and State Sen. Judith Zaffirini are hosting the second of two Austin-Travis County flood relief fund town halls tonight. The event is at Mendez Middle School in Dove Springs, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.  

On Facebook, Rep. Rodriguez writes a warm dinner will be served, and that Capital Metro shuttle service between Mendez Middle School and Perez Elementary School will be available. 

Travis County is hosting a meeting on home buyouts for the Timber Creek area tonight. “Buyout applications are used to seek additional funding, apply for grants, and advise the Commissioners Court on budgetary needs for buyout,” the county says.

The meeting, for Timber Creek residents only, is tonight at the South Rural Community Center in Del Valle, at 6:30 p.m.

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Philippine Typhoon
10:43 am
Tue November 12, 2013

How Austin Can Aid Philippines Typhoon Survivors (Update)

The coastal town of Ormoc in Leyte province, Philippines.
European Commission, Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection, http://flic.kr/ps/24ujFF

Update (Tuesday): A typhoon being called one of the  worst in recorded history has rocked the Philippines, with officials fearing as many as 10,000 people dead and  tens of thousands of homes destroyed.

The southeast Asian country is home to nearly 100 million people, and nearly one-in-four families live in poverty. Super-typhoon Haiyan reportedly destroyed between 70 to 80 percent of structures in its path. The destruction has caused many relief organizations to mobilize.

Make a Local Contribution:

Austin-based Circle of Health International works with women in crisis areas to provide access to family, newborn and reproductive care, ensure womens’ safety and combat sexual assault and sex trafficking. 

Circle of Health International founder Sera Bonds recently spoke with KUT about their plans to assist in the Phillipines following typhoon Haiyan.  You can donate here.

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Halloween Floods
6:38 am
Mon November 11, 2013

How You Can Help Austin's Flood Victims (Update)

Anna Vallejo cries as she looks at the damage to her flooded house on Bluff Springs Road in Austin, Texas, on Thursday October 31, 2013. She lost all her belongings in the flood.
Jay JannerMCT /Landov

Update (Monday): The city has released new information regarding the Halloween floods that claimed five lives. Here’s some numbers conveying the extent of the damage:

  • 659: Number of homes damaged
  • 259: Number of homes that received major damage                           
  • 15:  Number of homes destroyed
  • 1,300: Tons of debris removed from the affected area

Residents of southeast and southwest Austin are still in need of help. Fortunately, there’s several ways you can lend a hand.

Volunteer:

The Austin Disaster Relief Network is looking for volunteers to help with demolition and cleanup of affected areas. Volunteers are asked to wear jeans, gloves, masks, and hard sole shoes, and bring shovels, utility knives, and hammers if possible.

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Election 2013
11:09 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

HD 50 Special Election Headed for a January Runoff (Update)

Dr. Mike VanDeWalle could be headed towards a run-off against Democrat Celia Israel who leads Democrats with 31 percent in early voting numbers.
Ben Philpott for KUT News

Update: Mike VanDeWalle lead a crowded field in the race to finish out Mark Strama's (D-Austin) term as State Representative. But the local chiropractor only hovered around 40 percent of the vote.

VanDeWalle was the only Republican in the race. So even though he came in first he’s still easily trails the cumulative Democratic vote. That’s something VanDeWalle knows his team will have to address during the runoff.

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Election 2013
10:57 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Austin Voters OK $65 Million Affordable Housing Bond by Wide Margin

Apartments at M Station, an affordable apartment complex financed and operated by nonprofit Foundation Communities.
Wells Dunbar for KUT News

Election day returns show Austin’s $65 million affordable housing bond passing by a wide margin, with nearly 61 percent of voters approving the measure.

It’s the second time in a year affordable housing has been on the ballot in Austin. Last year, a similar bond proposition was narrowly defeated.

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Halloween Floods
3:01 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Austin, Travis County Works to Rebuild From Devastating Halloween Floods

A house on South Pleasant Valley Road suffered heavy structural damage as a result of the weekend flooding
Kate McGee for KUT News

Update (Monday): Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell has filed a resolution to declare a state of disaster in Austin in an effort to secure state and federal funding for affected areas. 

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Austin City Council
9:40 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Council Preview: Putting Austin Cemetery Changes to Rest?

The Austin City Council is seeking guidance on how and when to clean up city-run cemeteries today.
Phoebe Ann Flanigan for KUT News

Earlier this month, Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department took on a difficult task – cleaning up Austin’s five city-owned cemeteries. But the cleanup policies have rankled some families of the dead.

The city received a barrage of complaints after it began citing graves adorned with extra objects for code violations: benches, birdbaths, vegetation, wind chimes, stones and more.

Today, the Austin City Council will look to revise the city’s strategy and finally put the issue to rest. The cleanup, which was slated to begin Nov. 1, could be delayed another six months.

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Austin Weather
1:00 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Austin Showers Taper Off; City Opens Roads, Parks Still Closed; APD Officer Killed in Crash

The City of Austin warns drivers to avoid flooded roadways.
Emily Mathis for KUT News

Update: While Central Texas did not receive another deluge of rain like it saw over the weekend, rainfall Tuesday night and Wednesday morning still created dangerous flooding and driving conditions that forced some road closures, and left Austin’s parks shuttered until at least later this afternoon.

An off-duty APD officer died earlier this morning in a collision, according to KXAN.

Several low water crossings closed this morning, but as of now, they have all reopened. City of Austin and Travis County officials ask drivers to proceed with caution, and urge drivers not to cross flooded roads.

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Affordable Housing
8:46 am
Thu October 3, 2013

Learn More About Austin's $65 Million Affordable Housing Vote Tonight

Affordable housing bond dollars would go to new construction, rental assistance, home ownership initiatives and repair programs.
flickr.com/dymllc

A year after voters narrowly rejected the proposal, the Austin City Council is once again asking voters to approve tens of millions of dollars for affordable housing.

The City of Austin will host the first of four community information sessions today about this November’s $65 million affordable housing bond.

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Affordable Care Act
9:33 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Obamacare Marketplace Open in Texas: How to Enroll, Where to Get Help

The federal health insurance marketplace opens today.
healthcare.gov

Today marks the opening of the Affordable Care Act’s federal health insurance marketplace – healthcare.gov.

Beginning today, consumers can begin purchasing health insurance plans, with coverage beginning Jan. 1. It’s a signature component of the insurance changes collectively known as "Obamacare."

KUT has been covering the run-up to today’s marketplace opening. Here’s some answers to common questions about the marketplace: the types of coverage offered, how to navigate the marketplace and more, including an interactive guide.

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Austin City Council
8:26 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Austin Council Update: EMS Contract OK’d, Trails Kept Open 24 Hours, and an Airport Pet Hotel

Austin-Travis County EMS had their first civil service contract approved today.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

Update: Austin City Council members unanimously approved a rental registration program early this morning (Items 11, 12).

Council members were considering two different proposals. One would have required the owners of rental property in certain areas of the city to register. But the proposal the council approved will require rental properties with multiple health and safety violations to be registered – no matter where the properties are located in the city.

The program requires properties on the registration list to be periodically inspected.

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