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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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.

flickr.com/seabamirum

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.

Laura Rice/KUT

The United States is taking on Ghana today in its first game of the World Cup. The two teams have only met twice before – and Ghana has won both times.

I was in Ghana earlier this year for a journalism exchange program sponsored by the U.S. State Department. There, I met Gary Al-Smith a journalist at Citi FM  – who, though only in his 20’s, is considered his country’s foremost soccer – or football – expert.

Jack Plunkett

Henry Winkler – better known as Arthur Fonzarelli in iconic 1970s sitcom “Happy Days,” and Barry Zukerkorn in cult favorite "Arrested Development" – was in Austin recently, accepting the first-ever Achievement in Television Excellence Award from the ATX Television Festival.

Winkler talked about his battle with dyslexia, the struggle to get casting directors to see beyond the Fonz, and his love for Austin barbecue. He also offered a lot of advice.

We've collected his best advice in this 90-second clip. Listen: 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Update: Check out our photos from the first ever Austin X Games in the slideshow above. And see more on the KUTX Flickr page.

Original Story (June 6): The X Games are underway for the first time in Austin.

Most of the extreme sports events are happening at the Circuit of the Americas track.

Morgan Wade has competed in the X Games before. But this year will be different… because he’s practically a hometown boy.

“It’s always nice to have a hometown crowd cheering you on," Wade says. "It’s different than all the other places we’ve been, obviously, because Texas is bigger and better than everywhere else we’ve already been.”

Shutterstock, KERANews.org

Update: The City of Kyle has banned the possession of e-cigarettes by minors.

The Kyle City Council voted unanimously to pass the ordinance – making it illegal for minors to use e-cigarettes and for businesses or individuals to sell or distribute them to anyone under 18.

The ordinance was researched and development by the Kyle Youth Advisory Council – made up of local high schoolers – who say they were concerned about the trend.

Those who break the rule could face a fine of up to $500 and be required to perform community service or attend a tobacco-awareness program.

atxfestival.com

Television is getting a bit more respect these days. For one, it’s where Academy Award winners such as Matthew McConaughey and Kevin Spacey have recently focused their talents.

TV’s resurgence includes getting its very own festival – which kicks off today in Austin.

Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson founded the ATX Television Festival. They talked with KUT about the third annual fest – which they’re calling “Season Three.”

Tina Rowden

Texas is the setting of a new AMC show touted as the next “Mad Men.”

Halt and Catch Fire” made its television debut last night. The show follows an unlikely group of computer geniuses in the early 1980's in the so-called "Silicon Prairie."

KUT talked with the show’s creators – Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers – at a busy downtown Austin restaurant when they premiered the program at South by Southwest.

National Weather Service

Update: A Flash Flood Watch remains in effect for much of Central Texas until noon.

Original Story (5:44 a.m.): Central Texas is getting some much-needed rain. The numbers and affected areas are changing constantly. So here's a roundup of how to find the latest information for your neighborhood:

1. Road Closures/Low Water Crossing Closures

ATXfloods.com: Current flood information and emergency road closures in the City of Austin, Travis County, Sunset Valley and Cedar Park. Information is automatically updated. Red dots indicate low water crossing closures and the list on the right provides details. Updates are also posted to Twitter.

2. Rain Totals

Some parts of Central Texas have received as much as an inch and a half of rain since midnight – including Llano and Elgin.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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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