Laura Rice

Producer, Morning Edition

Laura joined the KUT team in April 2012. She works with Jennifer Stayton each weekday morning to bring you the latest local news during Morning Edition, hosts the noon newscast and reports for on-air and online. You'll also hear Laura with the morning news headlines on KUTX and filling in for Jennifer during the morning drive-time. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.

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Austin
2:54 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Austin the 'Nation's Capital of Population Growth' in New Census Data

New census information has Central Texas leading the way in percentage of population growth.
flickr.com/rhubarble

There’s no shortage of news on how rapidly Austin is growing, but a new report puts that expansion in a larger context, dubbing Austin "the nation’s capital for population growth."

New U.S. Census data shows much of the nation's growth is concentrated in Texas, with Austin at the epicenter. Austin-area cities San Marcos, Georgetown and Cedar Park are all recognized for high percentage growth.

For the city of Austin, that growth meant 21,000 new residents between 2012 and 2013. State Demographer Lloyd Potter says it doesn't look like that growth will slow down anytime soon.

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Life & Arts
1:08 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

UT Filmmaker Wins Top Prize at Prestigious Cannes Film Festival (Update)

Writer/Director Annie Silverstein reacting to her win at Cannes.
facebook.com/pages/SKUNK/501052066618739

Update: Annie Silverstein's "Skunk" won first place in the Cannes Film Festival Cinéfondation competition.

Her film was singled out from 1,631 entries coming from 457 film schools worldwide. Silverstein's win comes with a €15,000 prize – that's more than $20,000. She is also guaranteed that her first feature film will be presented at the Festival de Cannes.

Original Story (7:17 a.m.): The Cannes Film Festival is one of the world’s most prestigious. Films that screen there are often instantly propelled to a level they might otherwise never reach.

Annie Silverstein is learning all about that first hand. She earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in UT's Radio-Television-Film Department in 2013. Her thesis film “Skunk” was one of 16 chosen from over 1,600 film school submissions.

Silverstein will find out today if “Skunk” will be picked as one of the top three.

Annie Silverstein stopped by KUT to talk about the journey of “Skunk.”

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Elections 2014
7:15 am
Mon May 19, 2014

A May 27th Primary Runoff Election Primer

The statewide candidates in primary runoffs.

Early voting starts today for the May 27 primary runoff election.

What's on the Ballot:

The Republican ballot includes a runoff for the Lieutenant Governor nomination between incumbent David Dewhurst and State Senator Dan Patrick and also runoffs for Attorney General, Commissioner of Agriculture and Railroad Commissioner.

On the Democratic side, voters will pick a U.S. Senate candidate and a candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture.

Who Can Vote:

Those who cast a ballot in the March 4 primary election can only vote in the same party’s primary runoff. Those who didn’t vote in the primary may choose which primary to vote in.

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West Plant Explosion
8:28 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Report: West Responders Weren't Prepared to Fight Fertilizer Plant Fire

Some of the aftermath of the West Fertilizer plant explosion. A new report says the blast was preventable.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

The Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office says the deaths of 12 people responding to last year’s explosion at the West Fertilizer plant could have been prevented.

The Fire Marshal’s report [PDF] released Thursday night says the first responders killed in the April 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in West,Texas  were not prepared or equipped to deal with such a dangerous situation.

The report says that is not because the first responders failed to perform their duties as they had been trained, but due to a “systemic deficiency in the training and preparation” of the firefighters.

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Sriracha
11:58 am
Tue May 13, 2014

The Texas-California Sriracha Brawl is Now a Taiwanese Cartoon

Governors Jerry Brown & Rick Perry hold a pho showdown over Sriracha in this animated clip.
youtube.com/NMAWorldEdition

Attempts to lure the makers of Sriracha to Texas aren’t going unnoticed – although this latest round of attention may not be what the popular hot sauce is after.

Yesterday, a bipartisan group of Texas politicians, business people and agricultural representatives visited Huy Fong Foods in Irwindale, California – the company that makes Sriracha sauce.

The company is staying in California for now, despite complaints from neighbors. But it may open a second plant in the Lone Star State.

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Weather
6:47 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Flash Flood Watch Canceled, All Low Water Crossings Now Open

National Weather Service

Update 6:45 a.m.: The City of Austin has now opened all of the low water crossings on Spicewood Springs Road around Loop 360. Low water crossings at Terry-o Lane near Ben White Boulevard.

The Lower Colorado River Authority says some rain did fall in the watershed, which will help with low lake levels. Right now, Lakes Travis and Buchanan are still sitting at about 36 percent full.

Austin Firefighters are blaming lightning on at least three overnight fires – including one at an apartment building in southeast Austin. No one was injured in the fires.

About 1,500 Austin Energy customers are without power this morning.

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Seaholm District
2:47 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Building Austin's New Central Library Takes 1,000 Concrete Trucks. They're All Coming This Weekend.

Approximately 1,000 concrete trucks are needed to pour a five-foot foundation for Austin's new central library. The 24-hour pour starts tonight at 10 p.m.
Reddit user TheKnitro, http://redd.it/252o03

Here's a reason to avoid the Seaholm area near Cesar Chavez Street tonight: over 1,000 concrete trucks from Austin and surrounding cities constantly rotating through the area for over 24 hours.

The City of Austin is building a new central library at 701 W. Cesar Chavez, near the former Seaholm power plant. Tonight, construction crews are putting in a five-foot deep concrete slab to create the building’s foundation. That’s a big project – requiring a total of 1,020 concrete trucks.

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Life & Arts
12:30 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Cine Las Americas Brings Films to Austin You Won't See Anywhere Else (Update)

A still from "Pelo Malo" / Bad Hair by Mariana Rondón.
Cine Las Americas

Update: Today Cine Las Americas announced the award winners for the 17th Cine Las Americas International Film Festival. The grand jury awards went to:

  • Best Narrative Feature: MATEO, Dir. María Gamboa, Colombia/France
  • Best Documentary Feature: ROQUE DALTON, ¡FUSILEMOS LA NOCHE! (Roque Dalton, Let's Shoot the Night!), Dir. Tina Leish, Austria/El Salvador/Cuba
  • Best Narrative Short: PADRE (Father), Dir. Santiago 'Bou' Grasso, Argentina/France
  • Best Documentary Short: TRAZOS EN LA CUMBRE (Drawing on the Heights), Dir. Alejandro Victorero, Carlos Alejandro Molina, Venezuela

There's details on other winners and the audience awards on the Cine Las Americas website.

Original Story (April 22, 2014): The 17th Cine Las Americas film festival gets underway today.

The nearly week-long fest focuses on films by or about Latinos, indigenous peoples of the Americas and those from Spain and Portugal. They’re films you probably won’t see making the rounds later on in theaters.

KUT sat down with the festival’s Executive Director – Eugenio del Bosque to learn more.

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Tweets from Mack Brown
11:46 am
Wed April 30, 2014

After Coaching, Mack Brown Now Fields Questions on Twitter

Mack Brown hooks 'em in this Jan. 30. photo as the city declares "Mack and Sally Brown Day." Brown has been especially active on Twitter since stepping down as Longhorns head coach.
Sam Ortega for KUT News

How is Mack Brown spending his free time theses days? Check out his Twitter page for an update.

At a charity event for his Mack Jack and McConaughey foundation, joined by county musician Jack Ingram and Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey, the former UT-Austin head football coach admitted he's enjoying some of the free time and freedom that comes with no longer coaching the Longhorns. And Twitter is a big part of that.

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Austin
10:04 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Election Time: Early Voting For Municipal Elections Begins, Voter Registration Ends

flickr.com/ldcross

Early voting starts today for the May 10 municipal elections in cities across Central Texas.

Voters in Bee Cave, Manor, New Braunfels, Round Rock and West Lake Hills are choosing mayors and city council members. Several school districts are also holding bond elections. 

Early voting continues through Tuesday, May 6. Election Day for the municipal elections is Saturday, May 10. A valid photo identification is required to vote in person.

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Life & Arts
2:47 pm
Sun April 27, 2014

Award-Winning UT Student Films on Display in Annual Showcase

Filmmaker Elizabeth Chatelain says she wanted to make a film about her sister's story for some time and the thesis film project for her master's program provided the opportunity to do so.
Elizabeth Chatelain

It has been a good several months for the University of Texas at Austin's Radio-Television-Film Department. Recent graduate Brian Schwarz won a Student Academy Award for his short film "Ol' Daddy," Texas Ex Elizabeth Chatelain won a prestigious documentary award for "My Sister Sarah" (story below) and now Annie Silverstein is going to Cannes with her thesis film "Skunk."

"My Sister Sarah" and "Skunk" are among the short films chosen to be highlighted in this year's Longhorn Denius Film Showcase – which features work by graduate and undergraduate students.

The showcase is free and open to the public. It starts at 6 p.m. at the Student Activity Center Auditorium on the UT campus.

Original Story (March 3, 2014): Elizabeth Chatelain graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Master’s degree from the Radio-Television-Film Department last May. In December, she won an International Documentary Association Award for her short film – "My Sister, Sarah."

The documentary follows Chatelain’s sister – Sarah – a recovering meth and crack addict who has felt true pain and tragedy. 

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Austin
8:02 am
Fri April 25, 2014

PHOTOS: Mack Brown, Jack Ingram & Matthew McConaughey Raise Funds for Kids

Actor Matthew McConaughey is one of the founders of MJ&M, a foundation that aims to empower kids.
Laura Rice, KUT News

Three of Austin’s most famous residents kicked off an effort last night to raise money for charities that help young people.

Former UT-Austin Head Football Coach Mack Brown, county musician Jack Ingram and Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey make up “Mack Jack and McConaughey" – or MJ&M.

The trio’s inaugural fundraising campaign in 2013 raised more than $1 million.

"We thought this would be a home run," Mack Brown said. "Because when you get Jack Ingram and Sheryl Crow and when you get Matthew McConaughey to come in, it's special. And it's all for kids."

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Education
6:38 am
Fri April 18, 2014

It's Good Friday – But Some Area School Districts Are Holding Classes

Several area school districts have to make up classes missed due to bad weather this winter.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Most Austin area school districts are closed today for the Good Friday holiday. But some students will be attending class.

That’s because they’re making up days off for bad weather earlier in the school year.

DO have school:

  • Burnet ISD will have regular school hours today.
  • Del Valle ISD is holding classes today.
  • Dripping Springs ISD is holding classes today and on Memorial Day to make up for canceled classes.
  • Eanes ISD is holding classes today. The rest of the school year will continue as planned.
  • Lockhart ISD will hold regular school hours today and on Memorial Day.
  • Manor ISD is holding classes today as a make-up. There will not be classes on Memorial Day.
  • Texas School for the Deaf will have regular school hours today.
  • Wimberley ISD is also holding classes this Good Friday.

DO NOT have school:

  • Austin ISD is off today. AISD has no make-up days scheduled for the rest of the school year.
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Life & Arts
7:01 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Movies Unplugged: Fest Brings Live Music to Silent Film for One Night in Austin

A screening/performance in New York of Alexander Payne's film "Carmen."
Kim Schlechter

Seth Boustead started the Sound of Silent Film Festival in Chicago almost 10 years ago. It features newly composed music performed live to modern silent films.

Think about that: newly composed music to modern silent films.

Boustead is in Austin for a one-day event featuring this concept. He sat down with KUT to explain what it's all about.

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LBJ Civil Rights Summit
11:30 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Watch President Obama's Address at the Civil Rights Summit

President Barack Obama is speaking this afternoon at the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in Austin.

The summit, gathering four U.S Presidents and dozens of other speakers, marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Civil Rights Act.

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LBJ Civil Rights Summit
8:07 am
Thu April 10, 2014

President Obama's Coming to Austin: How to Hear His Address & Avoid Traffic Troubles

President Obama during a previous visit to Austin.
Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

President Barack Obama will be in Austin today to give the keynote address at the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Library. The event is marking the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

How to Hear Obama's Address:

While it is not possible to get into the auditorium to see the President’s address unless you already have a ticket – there is an opportunity to see some of the other summit panels.

A standby line will begin forming at 1:30 p.m. on the east side of Sid Richardson Hall – next to the LBJ Library. Open seats for the panels starting at 2, 3 and 4 o’clock will be filled with people from the standby line.

KUT 90.5 will air Obama’s address at the Civil Rights Summit live starting around 11:30 a.m. This is made possible with a partnership with the Longhorn Network. UT will also stream the address online at KUT.org.

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Street Closure
7:40 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Water Main Break Causes Continued Closures

Austin Water crews work on the main break at 2222 near MoPac.
twitter.com/AustinWater

Update: Some lanes remain closed on 2222 Thursday morning after a water main break Wednesday caused part of the roadway to collapse.

Eastbound 2222 is closed between Parkcrest Drive and Balcones. The westbound lanes are open – and traffic on Balcones is open.

Update (April 9, 12:13 p.m.): Austin Water crews are still working to determine the cause and location of the break. Once that is done they can determine some sort of timeline for when repairs will take place, says Austin Water's Jason Hill.

"We brought the water pressure down, so there are a number of customers with low pressure or without water – not a lot at this particular point," Hill says. "Once we get to where the break is we’ll have a better idea of what needs to happen and how many people will actually be shut out during the repair."

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LBJ Civil Rights Summit
5:50 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Watch: Jimmy Carter Speaks at the LBJ Civil Rights Summit

Former President Jimmy Carter is in Austin today as part of the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum. The event marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Civil Rights Act.

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Health
6:24 am
Tue April 8, 2014

This Musician Has a Unique (and Maybe Lifesaving) Message for Kids With Food Allergies

Kids clap along to the music of Kyle Dine.
Laura Rice, KUT News

It’s becoming more common for kids at school to share a classroom – or a lunchroom – with a student with food allergies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says as many as one in 15 kids in the U.S. have food allergies – and those numbers appear to be on the rise.

The issue is a serious one because kids can become very sick or die from exposure to certain foods. But kids also may feel isolated or be bullied because of the precautions they have to take.

Some local schools and parents are taking a unique route towards promoting awareness and acceptance.

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Fort Hood
7:25 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Fort Hood Update: Obamas to Attend Memorial Service Wednesday

Pres. Barack Obama speaking at a memorial ceremony at Fort Hood, Nov. 10, 2009. Pres. Obama and first lady Michelle Obama return to Fort Hood on Wednesday.
U.S. Army, flickr.com/soldiersmediacenter

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are expected to attend a memorial service Wednesday to honor the three soldiers killed in last week’s shooting at Fort Hood.

Obama visited Fort Hood in November 2009 under similar circumstances following the shooting by Maj. Nidal Hasan that left 13 dead and 32 wounded. Hasan was convicted in August 2012 of those killings and was sentenced to death.

The Obamas were already planning to travel to Texas this week. On Thursday, the President will speak at the LBJ Presidential Library’s Civil Rights Summit to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act.

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