Mary Mattia

Starting this Sunday, Capital Metro and UT shuttle bus routes are changing with the seasons. Cap Metro says the changes are an attempt to improve the system and make it more efficient.

Major route adjustments will include changes to 30 Barton Creek, which will no longer serve the Barton Hills/Hollow Creek neighborhood, and the 323 Anderson lines, which changes alignment from Ed Bluestein Boulevard to Springdale Road and Tuscany Way.

Minor schedule adjustments will made to the following routes to improve reliability: 4 Montopolis, 7 Duval/Dove Springs, 19 Bull Creek, 30 Barton Creek, 101 N. Lamar/S. Congress, 151 Allandale, 243 Wells Branch, 323 Anderson, 338 Westgate/45th and 383 Research. Several Night Owl routes will also be realigned.

West Nile Death in Williamson County

West Nile virus is being blamed for the death of a Williamson County woman. It’s the county’s first West Nile virus related death of the year. One person in Travis County died late last month.

Both patients were over 60 years-old; the woman in Williamson County was over 90. A total of six people in that county have been infected with West Nile virus. At least 16 people in Travis County have contracted the disease.

So far this season, Texas has seen the worst of the West Nile virus outbreak. Ten people have died from the disease in Dallas County. Eleven cities in Dallas County have agreed to fight the mosquitos via aerial spraying. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins declared a state of emergency.

flickr.com/gammaman

Starting today, Dallas County and the City of Dallas will begin spraying for mosquitos in an attempt to combat West Nile virus.

Officials in Dallas County have declared a public health emergency after the virus has killed nine people and infected more than 180 in the area.

Local leaders resisted spraying at first but now the mayors of Dallas, Highland Park and University Park all agree with truck spraying and additionally support aerial spraying. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins is urging surrounding cities to approve these safety measures.

flickr.com/west_point

Perry Sends Military Aid to Combat North Texas Wildfires

Governor Rick Perry is sending Texas Military Forces aircraft and personnel to help fight wildfires in North Texas. Fourteen local and volunteer fire departments have been fighting the fires.

Two large fires are burning in Palo Pinto County, about 75 miles west of Ft. Worth. Together, they’ve burned more than 3,000 acres. The dry conditions, terrain, and high winds have allowed the wildfires to spread quickly.

As of yet, there are no reports of injuries or homes lost.

twitter.com/SanyaRichiRoss

Watch What You Eat

A Minnesota company is recalling more than 15,000 pounds of ready-to-eat meat and poultry products – some of which was sent to a distribution center in Texas.

The meat products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The recall affects:

  • 5.6 oz. packages of "Armour Active Packs Turkey & Cheese Wrap" Package Code 1026090112 or Case Code 27815-17994
  • 5.6 oz. packages of "Armour Active Packs Ham & Cheese Wrap" Package Code 1026090112 or Case Code 27815-17995

flickr.com/grahamsblog

The City of Austin has agreed to participate in the first ever Google Place API Developer Challenge.

If you’re a developer, designer or generally tech-savvy, you’re officially invited to the challenge. But there’s something quite different about this event. It is specifically designed to help communities and governments run more efficiently through the use of technology. The idea is to make public information more accessible and useful, so developers will have access to Google’s database to make it easier to build applications on services like Google Maps.

flickr.com/steveritchie

A San Antonio scientist looking for possible causes of autism is taking an unusual approach. University of Texas Health Science Center epidemiologist Dr. Raymond Palmer is using baby teeth to try to root out some answers.

The project is nicknamed “the tooth fairy studies” because to conduct his research, Dr. Palmer collects old, donated baby teeth from kids with and without autism. He is trying to discover how environmental effects  -- from as early as conception – can determine whether a child develops autistic traits.

flickr.com/countylemonade

Speed Limit Increase on 183A Toll Road

You’ll soon be able to drive faster on the 183A toll road.

The speed limit is going up from 70 to 75 miles per hour this morning. The new speed limit goes into effect as soon as the new signs are installed.

The speed limit increase affects more than 11 miles of highway stretching from RM 620 in Northwest Austin through Cedar Park and Leander.

Monik Marcus/flickr http://bit.ly/ODQleE

Starting today, millions of women are going to receive birth control coverage at no upfront cost, a change supporters say gives women greater access and control over their own health care.

Through a provision in the Affordable Care Act, “non-grandfathered” insurance plans must provide eight new, free prevention-related health services for policies renewed or issued on or after September 23, 2012.

The new services, provided with no cost-sharing, include: well-woman exams, screening for gestational diabetes, HPV DNA testing, domestic violence screenings and counseling, HIV screenings, breastfeeding supplies, contraception and family counseling services. 

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

New Record Set for July Power Usage

Keeping the A.C. on all day may be a good way to stay cool, but not to help Texas' electric grid.

A new July record was set yesterday when the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) reported that demand on their electric grid peaked at 65,790 megawatts (MW). The previous record was set last July, during one of the hottest summers on record, at 65,432 MW.

Rune Mathisen, Texas Tribune

A UT professor has released research that could be a big problem for state testing.

Walter Stroup is a UT professor in charge of a pilot math program for middle school students in Dallas. The Texas Tribune writes that Stroup and two other researchers have compiled studies on the TAKS standardized test, which they say demonstrates an error related to the statistical method used to assemble the tests – suggesting that the tests are essentially useless at measuring effective classroom instruction.

Education company Pearson has a $468 million contract to write the state’s standardized tests through 2015. It is also responsible for the controversial STAAR test.

Laura Rice, KUT News

KUT Has Officially Moved

After more than three decades, KUT has emerged from Communications Building B on the University of Texas-Austin campus – to a brand new building right across the street.

The new KUT Public Media Studios is on the corner of Guadalupe and Dean Keeton. Finally visible, with windows and with an environmentally responsible building, the new location is home to a 72-seat performance studio, outdoor stage, and production studios.

We’re happy to finally have a space to match what we strive for in innovation, responsibility, and interaction – and to be able to see outside!

Texas Department of Motor Vehicles

Texas license plates are receiving a retro makeover.

Called the “Texas Classic,” the new plate is decidedly basic: white with black text, the Texas star, a state silhouette and “Lone Star State” emblazoned at the bottom.

Many of those design decisions are driven by security: The Texas Classic has bigger letters and a new pattern – letters and numbers group together instead of interspersed – which makes for easier reading. There are also two anti-counterfitting threads embedded into the plates.

But there’s something about the monochromatic design that goes beyond security. With its throwback design, the plate arguably falls into the realm of “hipster branding.”

KUT News

AFD Gets Money to Hire More Firefighters

The Austin Fire Department is getting more than $5 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to hire 36 firefighters.

The FEMA grant will help AFD staff four people on every engine – that’s the standard set by the National Fire Protection Agency.

The money will cover the salaries of the firefighters for the first two years. AFD will take over the cost in year three.

Austin Organization Charged With Providing Unlawful Services

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has charged an Austin group with providing unlawful immigration services and defrauding its clients.

Austin Youth River Watch

Stakeholders Consider Colorado River's Future

A public meeting today will focus on the future of the Colorado River in Travis and Bastrop Counties.

Data released by Austin Youth River Watch earlier this month suggests that the health of the river’s ecosystem might be in jeopardy. The group discovered low levels of oxygen in the water and that could be bad for fish and other wildlife.

U.S. Drought Monitor

Recent rain has lifted much of the Austin area from “severe” to “moderate” drought.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows an improvement across almost all of Central Texas. Williamson County went from extreme drought down to severe. And areas around Bastrop have improved to abnormally dry.

In fact, 12 percent of the state – much of Eastern Texas – is now classified as completely out of drought conditions.

Victor Murphy is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. He says it will still be a while before all of Texas sees long-term drought recovery.

Caleb Miller for KUT News

The House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures met Wednesday to take a look at streamlining the alcoholic licensing and permitting process.

According to the Texas Tribune, interim Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) director Sherry Cooke told the committee that her agency wants to consolidate the processes for beer and liquor licenses.

The issue is that there are two separate processes for receiving a beer license and liquor licenses. Some of the applications for those permits can be processed through TABC, but others have to involve county courts.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Texas Inmate Put to Death Using Single-Drug Concoction

The State of Texas executed Yokamon Hearn yesterday evening. He was put to death for the 1998 carjacking and murder of 23-year-old Frank Meziere in Dallas.

Hearn was the sixth prisoner executed in the state so far this year.

He was the first put to death using a single drug lethal injection procedure. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice switched to the single drug because of a shortage of the two other drugs normally used in lethal injections.

WFAA

Leppert Endorses Dewhurst Following Debate

Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert endorsed Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst after last night's debate between Dewhurst and former Solicitor General Ted Cruz.

Cruz and Dewhurst are in a runoff for the Republican nomination to vie for retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's seat.

During the debate in Dallas, Dewhurst and Cruz traded barbs about each other’s honesty and fitness for the senate seat. While they found some common ground in their disapproval of the current federal healthcare reform, Dewhurst, unlike Cruz, expressed support for providing assistance to the “elderly, frail, disabled and children.”

KUT News

Sunday's Storm Affects Austin Roads, Power

As much as four to five inches of rain fell over Austin and Round Rock last night.

About two and a quarter inches were recorded in downtown Austin.

Heavy rains required the Lower Colorado River Authority to open some floodgates at the Tom Miller Dam to keep Lake Austin within its operating range.

About 20 Austin Energy customers remained without power late this morning. At 8 p.m. Sunday, the storm knocked out power to as many as 5,000 Austin Energy customers.

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