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.

Ways to Connect

Update: The National Weather Service has extended flood advisories for rivers and creeks in central Travis County and south central Williamson County until 9:30 a.m.

Flooding at Bull Creek at Loop 360 is minor, but has reached 7 and a half feet. Officials advise drivers to be cautious when approaching the F.M. 2222 bridge.

Waters may run high at Gilleland Creek, Shoal Creek, Walnut Creek and Wilbarger Creek for the next few hours.

Update (5:35 a.m.): The National Weather Service has issued an urban and small stream flood advisory for Central Travis County and South Central Williamson County until 7:30 a.m. Friday.

The National Weather Service canceled a flash flood watch that been in effect for Central Texas through the early morning hours of Friday. However, there is still a 40% chance of rain in the forecast for today.

The combination of heavy rains again and an already-saturated ground could potentially produce some problems with flooding. Thursday's downpours brought several inches of rain to parts of the region and caused low-water crossing closures across the area. Thirty-one low water crossings are still closed Friday morning

Courtesy Radius-TWC

Mark Duplass is an actor best known for his role in television's "The League" and a director/producer made famous by "The Puffy Chair" – a film he made with his brother Jay.

He produced and stars in a new film in theatres now  – "The One I Love."

KUT's Laura Rice had a chance to talk with Duplass about the film, about his ties to Austin and about one of his heroes: Austin-based filmmaker Richard Linklater.

Ron Mrowiec

Austin-based filmmaker Jeffrey Radice's first feature film is now in theaters.

"No No: A Dockumentary" follows the life of Dock Ellis, a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates from the late '60s through the mid '70s who is best known for pitching a no-hitter on LSD.

KUT's Laura Rice spoke with Radice about about Ellis' life on and off the field, the use of drugs in the MLB before the steroids era and Ellis' impact on the game.

Canine Soldiers Film

A dog is more than a man’s best friend on the battlefield.

Nancy Schiesari, a radio-television-film professor at The University of Texas at Austin, is working on Canine Soldiers, a documentary that investigates the relationship between American soldiers and their canine partners.

KUT’s Laura Rice talked with Schiesari about exploring the bond between handlers and their canine companions and why Schiesari chose to make the documentary in 3D.

Cody Rea for KUT

Austin Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez shared his latest film with his hometown Wednesday night. "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" hits theaters across the country Friday but Austin audiences can see it today.

"Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" is Rodriguez's second collaboration with comics artist Frank Miller. The two first teamed up to co-direct the first "Sin City" back in 2005. On the red carpet Wednesday night, Rodriguez told reporters a third part to to the series could come if audiences respond well to this release.

Mose Buchele, KUT News

Travis County is under a burn ban for the first time this summer.

Fire Marshal Hershel Lee says the area has been getting drier over the past few months and yesterday’s rain just wasn’t enough to make a significant different in the soil moisture.

“There’s very little moisture in the top eight inches of soil for plants to grow so the plants have lost their fuel moisture and are more susceptible to fire starting easily," Lee said. "With all of these factors taken into consideration, long-term forecast of 10 to 12 days of 100 degree weather, we felt it was time to implement a burn ban.”

Courtesy "Two Step"

Update: Austinites have another chance to see "Two Step" on the big screen. After showing at SXSW and the Little Rock Film Festival, the Austin Film Society is screening Austin-based writer/director Alex R. Johnson's dark feature.

KUT talked with Johnson about the film back in March.

Original Story (March 10, 2014): The Texas drama "Two Step" debuts at SXSW Film. It is Austin-based writer/director Alex R. Johnson's first feature-length film. It has a "No Country for Old Men" vibe – along with a memorable villain who you're better off not running into.

Johnson is pretty new to Austin. He talked with KUT about "Two Step" and how moving here inspired him to make it.

The rental market in Austin is hot. The Austin Board of Realtors says more units are being leased than last year and the prices are higher.

But the City of Austin says it can be hard for people who use housing vouchers to find a place to live. Now, some city commissions are considering adding “source of income” discrimination [PDF] to a list of banned landlord behavior.

A study found fewer than 10 percent of rental units in Austin currently accept vouchers – a move that critics say contributes to a concentration of poverty in the northern and eastern parts of the city.

As the conflict between Israel and Palestine in Gaza continues, officials with the University of Texas International Office say they've been in close contact with graduate students and faculty conducting research in Israel.

“None of our students are anywhere near the Gaza Strip or the West Bank,” UT International Office risk analyst Erin Wolf says.

Wolf says six graduate students and a handful of faculty are doing research projects in Israel and that in addition to providing academic support, local universities are also giving them direction.

Sara Combs, courtesy the UT-Austin International Office

Some young people in Africa are struggling with problems that many Americans take for granted – including serious unemployment and access to basic needs.

A group of 25 young Africans from 18 different countries have been at UT-Austin this summer to bring to life their business plans for addressing some of the challenges in their countries.

It’s part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. The national program is in its fourth year but this is the first time participants have spent time at a university prior to a summit in Washington.

Ben King

Update: Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater's much-anticipated 12-year film project "Boyhood" opens in theatres across Austin today. KUT talked with star Ethan Hawke when he was in town for South by Southwest.

Original Story (March 11): Actor Ethan Hawke is in not one but two films that headlined SXSW Film this year.

“Boyhood” is the 12-year-long film project about growing up by Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater. “Predestination” is a time-travel sci-fi thriller.

KUT sat down with Hawke to talk with him about the films and about his Texas ties – Hawke was born in Austin.

Cody Rea for KUT

Update: Those who weren't able to check out the play "All the Way" during its run on Broadway will have a second chance when Bryan Cranston reprises his role of President Lyndon B. Johnson in an HBO adaptation (an air date has not yet been announced).

Cranston researched the role at the LBJ Library and Museum in Austin – and it must have paid off – he won a Tony Award for his performance. The play itself also won a Tony. It was written by Austin playwright Robert Schenkkan. Click Here to check out KUT's interview with Schenkkan.

Highlights from a November press appearance with Cranston are below:

KUT News

Update: Water service is still not fully restored at Fort Hood. The post is on limited supply because of a problem with its main water line.

Military personnel will report to the Central Texas Army post today a little later than usual and physical training is canceled.

Other parts of the post are starting to get back to work. Child care centers at Fort Hood and the Darnall Army Medical Center will be open today as usual.

Fort Hood is under Stage 4 water restrictions until the supply problem is resolved. And people there should boil water before drinking it or cooking with it – until the quality can be tested.

Original Story (July 14, 7:04 a.m.): Fort Hood is in an extreme, but temporary, water shortage. The Central Texas Army post's water supply has been interrupted as a result of a Stage 4 critical emergency conservation order from the Bell County Water Control and Improvement District.

Austin Chronicle

If there’s one thing you hear consistently from Austinites, original and transplanted, it’s how much the city has changed over the years.

One interesting gauge of that might be the Austin Chronicle’s “Best Of Austin” poll, which is now in its 25th year.

Chronicle Special Issues Editor Kate X Messer has been around for almost 20 of those years. She sat down with KUT to talk about what she's seen over that time.

Laura Rice/KUT

With school out of session, lots of kids are filling their time with summer camps. But they’re not just playing with water balloons and eating s’mores. At the Austin Film Festival summer camp, some kids are learning how to make claymation movies.

KUT showed up on day four of the five-day camp … so we asked some kids if we could borrow their notes:

LBJ Presidential Library and Museum

Update: President Barack Obama will give a public address during his visit to Austin this week.

Obama will be at The Paramount Theater on Thursday for a speech on the economy. Tickets are free and available to the public. They’ll be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 8:30 Tuesday morning at The Paramount (713 Congress Ave). The White House will only distribute a limited number of tickets.

Doors will open for the speech on Thursday at 9:45 a.m. Tickets are required for entry and are not for sale or re-sale. The White House says all attendees will go through airport-like security.

Original Story (July 2, 2014): Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez will host a fundraiser for President Obama on Wednesday, July 9, according to a Democratic Party source who wished to speak on background. Tickets for the event will range from $5,000 to the legal limit of $32,400. The proceeds will go to the Democratic National Committee.

LBJ Library photo by Cecil Stoughton

This post has been updated to include portions of an interview with LBJ Library Director Mark Updegrove.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act fifty years ago today.

"It's hard to realize that 50 years ago, people of color in many parts of this country, particularly in the Deep South, would not be accommodated at restaurants or at hotels or at motels, there were separate educational facilities and separate water fountains – we essentially lived in an apartheid state," LBJ Library Director Mark Updegrove says.

Both the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in Austin and the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall are celebrating the anniversary of the signing.

Update: Houston media is reporting that Genesis Haley was found early this morning. 

Original story (7:11 a.m.): Police in Houston have issued an Amber Alert for an infant girl.

Mengwen Cao for KUT News

KUT reporters are in “Summer School.” Every Friday, KUT reporters will learn a new skill or craft from folks around town who are experts in that field.

In this class, KUT's Laura Rice takes Beekeeping 101 with a local hive owner.

Lily Rosenman was our teacher. She's been beekeeping in Austin for four years. Right now, Rosenman keeps her hive at her friend Anne Woods's home in East Austin.

It’s not yet autumn but fall webworms are showing up on trees across Central Texas.

The caterpillars form webbing on leaves – and spend much of their lives eating those leaves.

"Typically people notice they have fall webworms when they start to see the webbing actually starting to cover the tips of the branches and, if they look closely at those webs or they break open those webs, they'll actually see the caterpillars inside," Wizzie Brown says.