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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Crime
10:06 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Austin, Don't Be Duped by This Phony Salvation Army Bell Ringer

How to make sure your donations are going to the Salvation Army.
KUT News

The Austin Salvation Army is warning people to keep an eye out for imposter bell ringers after a man was spotted with a red kettle at the corner of Parmer and Metric yesterday.

The Salvation Army says bell ringers who are collecting money legitimately for the organization will have necessary signage and identification and won't be positioned on street corners. Instead, Salvation Army bell ringers are located at stores and malls.

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Education
8:40 am
Tue December 4, 2012

New AISD Board To Examine IDEA Charter Contract (Update)

Allan Elementary school
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Update: The Austin School Board will continue to talk about the district’s contract with IDEA Public Schools at its regular meeting later this month.

Right now, IDEA is just operating at Allan Elementary. But the charter will grow to include more grades and expand into Eastside Memorial if the board doesn’t make a decision to end or change the contract before the end of the year. Board member Rev. Dr. Jayme Mathias proposed that the contract continue but be changed to keep IDEA from expanding into Eastside Memorial next school year.

Under his proposal, IDEA would continue to include more grades but, instead of moving on to the Eastside Memorial campus, seventh graders would stay at Allan.

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Public Safety
4:13 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

EMS, Homeless Issues and Eyewitness Testimony Before Public Safety Commission Today

The Public Safety Commission will weigh in on recent EMS findings today.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

Austin's Public Safety Commission will stay busy this evening discussing a medley of public safety topics:

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Sports
8:19 am
Mon December 3, 2012

Going Bowling: UT, Other Texas Teams Head Into Post-Season Play

Mack Brown at a November press conference.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Texas Longhorns will play Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio this post-season.

The Longhorns have played the Oregon State Beavers twice. UT won both times. Oregon State does have a better record and a higher rank this season. The game is Dec. 29.

Some expected the Longhorns to head to the Cotton Bowl. Instead, that’s where UT’s Big 12 rival Oklahoma will play former Big 12 rival Texas A&M on Jan. 4.

The Sooners lost out on a chance to play in a BCS bowl when Mid-American Conference champ Northern Illinois moved up in the rankings and earned an automatic bid.

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Arts and Culture
2:52 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Postal Service Delivers Stamp Honoring Lady Bird Johnson

Lady Bird Johnson's stamp is modeled after her official White House portrait.
United States Postal Service

The U.S. Postal Service unveiled new stamps Friday honoring Lady Bird Johnson. The First Lady would have celebrated her 100th birthday next month.

The set features Johnson’s official White House portrait along with adaptations of five stamps first issued in the 1960’s. Those commemorate her legacy for preserving nature and beautifying cities.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center hosted a dedication ceremony for the stamps today. The center's officials say it's an important honor for Johnson and one that she deserves.

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Environment
1:25 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Austin Finishes its Driest November in 100-Plus Years

The drought's impact on McKinney Falls State Park.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

It didn’t rain at all in Austin this month, making it the driest November in more than 100 years. Only three other years on record show no rainfall for the month, all in the 1800’s: 1861, 1894 and 1897.

In fact, it hasn't rained 0.03 inches or less in Austin in November since 1950.

So will the dry weather stick around? The latest forecasts don’t indicate either an unusually dry or an unusually wet winter for Texas.

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Health
8:16 am
Fri November 30, 2012

Texas Cancer Research Agency Gave Out $11M Without Review

A new controversy faces CPRIT.
Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The state’s cancer research agency has revealed it handed out an $11 million grant without reviewing the proposal.

It’s the latest challenge facing the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, or CPRIT.

The grant was awarded to Peloton Therapeutics in June 2010, making it one of CPRIT's first grants.

The cancer research institute says the oversight was discovered during an internal review.

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Texas
10:50 am
Thu November 29, 2012

New Police and Fire Chiefs For Cedar Park

Top public safety positions are shifting in Cedar Park.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The City of Cedar Park is hosting a meet-and-greet tonight with the two finalists for Chief of Police.

Austin Police Assistant Chief Sean Mannix and Irving Police Assistant Chief Jeff Spivey are the top two out of 76 initial applicants.

According to the Hill Country News, current chief Henry Fluck gave notice in February that he would be leaving the department at the end of the year. He has served as chief since 1999.

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Environment
10:22 am
Wed November 28, 2012

Eww... There's Too Much Fecal Bacteria in Four Austin Creeks

A storm drain empties into Waller Creek.
City of Austin Watershed Protection Department

The City of Austin and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) are asking the public to come out tonight to be involved in finding solutions for cleaning up four Austin streams.

Walnut Creek, Waller Creek, Taylor Slough and the Spicewood Tributary of Shoal Creek all exceed the acceptable standard for E. Coli. The high levels of fecal bacteria make the streams potentially unsafe for people to get in the water.

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Education
9:37 am
Tue November 27, 2012

AISD Superintendent Takes Stand in School Finance Trial

AISD Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Austin Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen is expected to take the stand again today in the school finance trial.

AISD is one of about 600 Texas school districts suing the state. AISD says the state has increased academic requirements, but failed to provide funding to pay for it.

The Texas Legislature cut $5.4 billion from public education last year.

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Austin
7:30 am
Tue November 27, 2012

Three of Austin's Biggest Names Come Together for One Cause

Matthew McConaughey at an event for his just keep livin Foundation.
MJ&M Facebook Page

An actor, a musician and UT’s head football coach are joining forces to help kids in need.

Mack Brown, Jack Ingram and Matthew McConaughey are putting together an event they’re calling “Mack, Jack & McConaughey" or "MJ&M."

There's not a lot of information right now—even the event's website says "additional details to be announced."

What we do know is that MJ&M will be a two-day, celebrity-filled special event held in Austin in April to raise funds for various children’s charities. The only charity already listed by name as one that will be supported is McConaughey’s just keep livin Foundation.

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Economy
1:00 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

Canned Goods are Great - But Food Banks Really Need Money

Food banks are able to get food at better prices than consumers.
KUT News

Canned food drives are common around the holiday season. But food banks across Texas have placed a few other things a little higher on their wish lists this year.

The Texas Food Bank Network (TFBN) is made up of the state’s 20 food banks. The network says if you’re looking to help this holiday season, a financial gift will go further than an in-kind gift. That’s because food banks can work with corporations and farmers to get more for the money.

"We work with farmers to get them to donate their surplus product. And we can do that by giving them as little as ten cents per pound to help them offset the costs of getting that surplus produce out of the ground and to food banks. We have lots of corporate partnerships with big food retailers. And so we can really turn that dollar or ten dollar contribution into so much more because of the relationships that we have," Celia Cole, TFBN CEO, says.

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Austin
12:26 pm
Fri November 23, 2012

'Coats for Kids' Aims to Provide Warmth, Confidence

Coats in a collection barrel at Jack Brown Cleaners.
Laura Rice, KUT News

It hasn’t been too cold in Austin so far this season. But kids whose families can’t afford to buy them a good winter coat have already felt the chill of fall.

Coats for Kids is collecting new and gently used coats to pass out to those children in need. Donations can be dropped off at any Jack Brown Cleaners in the Austin area. The dry cleaning company will make sure the coats are in tip top shape so the kids who receive them aren’t just kept warm but are also proud of their new coat.

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Health
8:59 am
Wed November 21, 2012

Pflugerville Lifts Boil Water Notice (Update)

Some Pflugerville residents should boil tap water or drink bottled until further notice.
flickr.com/ag2r

Update: The City of Pflugerville says “The boil water notice is now lifted. Chlorine levels are now at required levels and water is safe to drink.” You can read more here.

Original post (Nov. 20, 7:02 a.m.): The City of Pflugerville is telling people in several subdivisions to boil their water until further notice. The city says a routine check of  the water revealed the chlorine level is too low.

People who live in Pflugerville Heights, Spring Trails, Springbrook and Enclave should boil tap water for at least two minutes before drinking, cooking and making ice.

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