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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Special Coverage
12:53 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Gone to Ghana: KUT's Laura Rice Heads to West Africa With Journalism Program

Rice, left, with Ghanian journalist Lorrencia Nkrumah.
Bob Branson, KUT

KUT hosted a Ghanian journalist late last year as part of an exchange program through the International Center for Journalists. To complete the exchange, I'm heading to Ghana  for a couple of weeks.

While I'm there, I'll be meeting with journalists at a variety of media outlets, taking lots of pictures and gathering information on stories that are unique to Ghana as well as those that tie West Africa to the U.S. and, specifically, Texas!

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Education
12:39 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Only 15 Percent Pass English I Writing in Latest STAAR Tests

A sample English I writing question, released from the 2011 STAAR test.
Texas Education Agency

The English I writing exam is giving Texas students trouble.

According to the Texas Education Agency, only 15 percent of students who took the writing exam in December – part of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR test – passed. And most of those students were taking it for the second time.

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Transportation
1:22 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Blocking One of Austin's New Bus Lanes Could Cost You $500

MetroRapid's 60 foot articulated buses hold up to 100 people at a time.
Spencer Selvidge for KUT News

The Austin City Council is considering an ordinance that would set rules for the city’s new transit lanes.

Bus-only lanes for Capital Metro’s new MetroRapid service are on Guadalupe and Lavaca streets between Martin Luther King Boulevard and Cesar Chavez Street. Other vehicles are only allowed to use the lanes to make right turns.

The new ordinance would make it against the law to stop or park in the lanes. Currently that could be punished with a $25 dollar parking ticket – but the city wants to up that fine to as much as $500 dollars.

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Weird
8:05 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Find an Insect Like This? Don't Kill It – It's Killing Your Cockroaches

If you see an ensign wasp in your house, it likely means cockroaches are also there.
flickr.com/DocJ96

Story originally published Jan. 2, 2014.

It’s that time of year when insects want to get out of the cold and into your house.

Most people aren’t big fans of sharing their space with these creepy-crawlers. But if you see one particular insect – you’re better off not grabbing the bug spray.

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Texas
12:00 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Texas Singer-Songwriter Steven Fromholz Dies

Steven Fromholz was inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame in March, 2003.
George Brainard, Austin, TX

Texas singer-songwriter Steven Fromholz died after a hunting accident this weekend near Eldorado, Texas. He was 68.

The Schleicher County Sheriff's Office told the Associated Press Fromholz was shot when a rifle discharged as it fell to the ground while being transferred from one vehicle to another.

Steven Fromholz was well-known in the Austin music scene and among fans of 1970s outlaw country. He was named a Texas Poet Laureate in 2007.

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MLK Day
8:34 am
Mon January 20, 2014

MLK Day 2014 Events and Closures

Marchers in the annual MLK Day community celebration will meet at the statue of King on the UT campus.
http://www.mlkcelebration.com/

Austin’s Annual Community Celebration:

The annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march from the University of Texas at Austin campus to Huston-Tillotson University starts at 9 a.m. Marchers will meet at the MLK statue near Speedway and West 23rd Street at UT.

An MLK Day festival begins at Huston-Tillotson after the march. It runs until 3 p.m.

There will be some road and lane closures for the march and festival – affected roadways include the I-35 frontage roads, North Congress Avenue and 11th Street.

Click here to see the full parade route.

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Crime & Justice
3:17 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Amber Alert Discontinued for 16-Year-Old North Texas Girl (Update)

Police say the man suspected in the abduction of Inez Ramirez is driving a red 2006 Chevy Silverado.
Texas Department of Public Safety

The Ellis County Sheriff's Department has discontinued this Amber Alert.

Law enforcement authorities across Texas are looking for a missing 16-year-old girl. Inez Ramirez was last seen in Red Oaks, Texas – south of Dallas.

Ramirez is 5'2" and weighs about 130 pounds. She has brown shoulder-length hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a green shirt and black shorts.

Police believe she may be with 23-year-old Edger Barron. He’s 5'9", weighs about 145 pounds and has black hair and brown eyes.

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Life & Arts
6:00 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Interview: Redhead Looking For Love And Confronting Past Bullying in New Film

Scott Harris discussing his romantic pursuits in a still shot from his film "Being Ginger."
Scott Harris

A film is holding its U.S. Premiere in Austin Monday night. It’s a documentary called “Being Ginger” and it’s all about what it’s like to be a redhead – or as they say across the pond – a “ginger.” Texas Ex – and redhead – Scott Harris directed, produced and stars in the film.

The premise of “Being Ginger” is a redhead – Harris – looking for love. Harris says he wanted to make the documentary because of some of the strange, even disturbing experiences he's had that were based solely on his hair color.

On Some of His Strange "Ginger" Experiences:

"I was walking down the street one night... and these two, random drunk girls come out of a club and they start calling me 'ginger' and sort of harass me – it's playful harassment – but it was a little harassment and I ignored it and I kept walking. And eventually they caught up to me and one of them eventually says, 'You're quite sexy for a ginger.' And I was standing there thinking, 'Is that even a compliment, what do you mean for a ginger?' And then while I was thinking about it she said, 'Do you wait to kiss me?' And I was like, yeah, sure so we kissed for about two or three seconds in the street and then she walked off with her friend going, 'I kissed a ginger, I kissed a ginger.'"

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Science
6:00 am
Mon January 6, 2014

How Do Infants Understand and React to Music? – UT Professor Investigates

Andrea and Magdalene Robison partipate in a study at UT's Infant Music Lab.
Laura Rice, KUT News

For many people, most days would not be complete without music. Whether it's exercising to your favorite playlist or jamming along to the radio on your way home for work. 

But how much do infants get out of music? And are there types of music that babies prefer?

A professor at the Children’s Research Laboratory on the University of Texas at Austin campus is trying to find out.

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Texas
11:14 am
Mon December 30, 2013

New Texas Law Protects Collateral Victims of Domestic Violence: Pets

The Texas Federation of Animal Care Societies say pets can also be victims of domestic violence.
flickr.com/tudor

The holidays are a time for gift-giving and celebration but, for some, it's also a time of increased family and financial pressure. Some mental health health professionals say this pressure can lead to a spike in domestic violence. 

In Texas, domestic violence victims who find the courage to leave an abusive situation can now have their pets included in protective orders.

Patt Nordyke of the Texas Federation of Animal Care Societies fought for eight years to pass the law in the Texas legislature.

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Texas
11:05 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Amber Alert: Police Seek Woman Driving Lexus Who They Say Took 5 Year-Old Boy

Police believe Jagger Curry may be in danger.
DPS

Police across the state are looking for a missing five year-old boy and the woman who they believe took him. She was last seen in North Richland Hills – near Fort Worth.

Five-year-old Jagger Curry is white. He has brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a blue shirt, grey-and-white striped pajama pants and cowboy boots.

Police believe he’s with 30-year-old Jennifer Lynne Echeverria. She’s also white with brown hair and brown eyes. She’s about 5-foot-9 and weighs around 140 pounds. She was last seen wearing a black short-sleeved t-shirt and jeans. She has a tattoo of angel wings with eyes on the inside of both arms. The back of her head is shaved.

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Texas
11:28 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Amber Alert Canceled for Baby Girl Abducted Near Corpus Christi

Photos of Natalie and Ronnie Jasso were not provided.

Update: The Amber Alert for Natalie Jasso has been canceled. Information about her condition was not immediately available.

Original Story: (6:03 a.m.): Law enforcement agencies across the state are looking for a two week-old baby girl who they believe was abducted by a male family member.

There’s an active Amber Alert for Natalie Jasso. The infant was last seen last night in Robstown, Texas – near Corpus Christi.

Natalie is Hispanic and has black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a white beanie and a white onesie with pink flowers on it.

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Lt. Gov. Primary
4:27 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

3 out of 4 Lt. Gov. Candidates Agree: Teach Creationism in Texas Schools

From left to right: State Sen. Dan Patrick, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples.
State of Texas

The four major Republican candidates for Texas Lieutenant Governor met in the first televised debate of the race last night.

Current Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst faced off against the men who want his job: Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, State Sen. Dan Patrick and Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples.

Three of those candidates spoke out in support of teaching creationism in Texas public schools – a move that would be unconstitutional.

The debate on Waco TV station KCEN focused on border security, the role of the Tea Party in Texas politics and education.

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Weather
7:24 am
Fri December 6, 2013

Update: Winter Weather Advisory Issued, Roads May Be Hazardous

A Winter Weather Adivsory has been extended for the Austin area.
National Weather Service

Update, Saturday PM: Late Saturday evening, the National Weather Service issued a Winter Weather Advisory for Austin and the surrounding area. Light ice accumulation and freezing drizzle are making road conditions hazardous. The Austin Police Department is urging people to stay off the roads as much as they can, and if you must drive, to do so slowly and with caution, avoiding bridges and overpasses. APD is reporting nearly two dozen crashes. The weather advisory is in effect until 6 a.m. Sunday. 

DELAYS:

  • The Austin Independent School District is delaying classes & bus routes by two hours. The district says tardies due to weather will be excused.
  • Other area districts on two-hour delays: Manor, Eanes, Del Valle, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Hutto and Leander -- all morning Pre-K has also been canceled at Leander.
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Transportation
3:31 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Report: More Austinites Working from Home, Commuting by Bike or Bus

This map from TexPIRG plots urban areas with the largest changes in commuting by car. Austin has the nation’s third largest decline in individual car commuters.
Credit TexPIRG

Austinites are driving less and using public transportation more.

That’s a finding in a new report [PDF] by the Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG), a nonprofit research organization.

According to census data, the proportion of Austin workers that commute by private vehicle fell by 4.5 percent from 2000 to 2011. That’s the third largest decline in the country for an urban area.

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Holiday Giving
11:11 am
Fri November 29, 2013

'Santa to a Senior' Brings Holiday Cheer to Austin's Elderly

The program encourages Austinites to spread a little holiday cheer to an older person in need.
flickr.com/davekellam

The holidays can be a difficult time of year for older people. Many live alone and are on fixed incomes.

The local Home Instead Senior Care offices are encouraging Central Texans to “Be a Santa to a Senior” by purchasing gifts for area seniors in need.

The group has identified more than 1,000 older people in the Austin area who could use a little holiday cheer. Many have lost a spouse or don’t have immediate family in the area.

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Philippine Typhoon
7:46 am
Wed November 27, 2013

PHOTOS: Central Texans Hold Vigil for Typhoon Haiyan Victims

Members of Austin's Filipino community and others gathered downtown last night to honor Typhoon Haiyan victims.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT

The Network of Asian American Organizations estimates there are about 4,000 people in the Filipino community in the Austin metro area. Some had direct ties to the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan.

Central Texans involved in the Network of Asian American Organizations and other supporters gathered at Austin City Hall on Tuesday to hold a candlelight vigil for the victims and to raise money for the recovery.

KUT's Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon took these photos at the candlelight vigil:

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Geographic Representation
7:49 am
Tue November 26, 2013

MAP: With 10-1 Map In the Books, Austin Concludes Redistricting (Update)

Update: Austin’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission voted unanimously last night to certify the district maps for future city council elections.

The group split the city into ten districts. Starting next November, voters in each district will elect a single city council member. Previously, all council members were elected at-large.

Check out this interactive version of the district map:

View Larger Map

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Winter Weather
12:27 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Winter Weather Advisory Canceled; Warmer, Drier Weather Ahead (Update)

Temperatures are expected to rise in the Austin area over the next few days.
National Weather Service

Update: Rain is expected to continue today through the Austin area but our chances of freezing precipitation have gone down considerably.

While sleet is still possible, forecasters don’t expect any of that frozen precipitation to accumulate.

Corey Van Pelt is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Austin/San Antonio. He says the outlook is warmer and drier as the week continues.

“It looks like by tomorrow afternoon this upper low moves through, so then we’ll get some drier weather behind it. It’ll still be cool though, Wednesday and Thursday mornings we’re expecting temperatures down in the 20's in the morning but then they warm back up into the 50's during the today. And it looks like by next weekend we’re back in the 60's, close to 70.”

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Weather
6:15 am
Fri November 22, 2013

Cold, Wet Weather in the Forecast

A winter weather advisory is in effect from noon Friday until noon Saturday for parts of the Hill Country.
National Weather Service

Parts of the Northern and Western Hill Country are under a winter weather advisory beginning at noon today. This includes the cities of Kerrville and Fredericksburg.

The National Weather Service says an Arctic blast of cold air is bringing near-freezing temperatures and light rain to the area. That could turn into light freezing rain tonight and into tomorrow morning. The weather service doesn’t expect the ice to accumulate – but still warns roads could be slick – especially bridges and overpasses.

The winter weather advisory is in effect for parts of the Hill Country through noon on Saturday.

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