Robb Jacobson

News Intern

Robb Jacobson is a news intern at KUT and a recent graduate of Indiana University.

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The release of the 2012 Austin City Limits Music Festival’s schedule grid wasn’t the only big Austin City Limits news today: Music festival producers are in talks with Austin officials to extend the popular three-day event by an extra weekend starting next year.

C3 Presents, the company that produces ACL Fest and other big events nationwide, would also donate some of the increased revenue it would gain each year, in addition to the amounts they already give, to help improve Austin parks.

“We’ve been discussing working with Auditorium Shores for almost two years,” Austin Parks and Recreation Director Sara Hensley tells KUT News. “It’s dusty, it’s truly muddy, there’s no grass there. For me, it’s just an opportunity to take a park area that’s just heavily used and make it a lot better and a lot more vibrant for the community and visitors.”

Robb Jacobson for KUT News

After the collapse of a second-floor walkway at the Wood Ridge Apartments on Burton Drive in Southeast Austin, the city ordered several residents to evacuate. Residents say apartment management failed to respond to complaints of deterioration.

As a result, the City of Austin’s Building and Standards Commission ordered certain parts of the Wood Ridge building exteriors be brought up to code in a 75-day window.

Though today isn’t the 75th day, a meeting tonight will contain an update on the status of the repairs. 

KUT News

A committee of university presidents, including University of Texas President Bill Powers, stood together on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. and said ‘No more.’ The committee approved a plan from Bowl Championship Series (BCS) leadership  calling for a four-team playoff system in college football, set to start in two years.

The move completes a six-month process for the BCS commissioners, who have been working on a new way to determine a major college football champion after years of griping from college football fans.

What does this mean for the Texas Longhorns?

KUT News

Crime rates in Texas, and particularly in Austin, have been in decline over the past few years.

Most Texas jurisdictions saw declines in reported violent and property crime in the first six months of 2011 compared to 2010.

The decline comes despite a faltering economy and rising wealth disparity; despite increased gun ownership; despite lofty drop-out rates in high schools; despite depopulating Texas youth prisons, reducing their inmate numbers from 5,000 to 1,100 since 2007; despite Texas releasing more than 70,000 adult inmates per year from prison back into their home communities.

To the surprise of some criminologists, none of these factors have prevented crime rates from going down nearly across the board.

Photo by Andy Uhler for KUT News

Today, family members of Austin Police Officer Jaime Padron joined Police Chief Art Acevedo in paying tribute to Wal-Mart employees whose quick reaction likely prevented further bloodshed in the incident that claimed Officer Padron’s life.

Chief Acevedo gave certificates of recognition to several Wal-Mart employees before recognizing Archie Jordy and Lincoln Le Mere specifically for stepping in and helping tackle the shooter. 

The two were presented with glass trophies which included Officer Padron's badge number. Since the shooting, Acevedo has called the actions of the two men the silver lining in a tragic event.

KUT News

As the Texas heat rolls in, some local organizations are trying to figure out how to help the elderly and homeless weather extreme temperatures. 

“Water shouldn’t be a luxury,” says Steve Luteran, Executive Director of Front Steps, which provides assistance for the homeless. “Hydration is a fundamental need of the human body. Without it, Austin’s homeless face heat exhaustion, stroke and permanently disabling conditions.”

Front Steps will begin distributing roughly 76,000 bottles of water to the homeless on Wednesday.

And what of the elderly? Family Eldercare has a different method to help them stay cool. They’re planning to deliver around 7,000 fans and 100 air-conditioners to individuals and families in need. 

White Water Baldy Complex

A little more than nine months after wildfires devastated parts of Central Texas, new fires are spreading through New Mexico, burning over 278,000 acres of forest. Twenty-five states, including Texas, have sent support to help fight the blaze.

April Saginor with the Texas Forest Service says some cities in Texas like San Antonio can afford to send firefighters and aid because the state has fewer fires to battle themselves.

 

“It’s happening, but they’re much smaller than they were last year, and we were able to contain them rather quickly,” she said. “So we’re in good shape right now, but we’re waiting to see what kind of rain we get later this month.”

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

One problem many freelancers, the self-employed and would-be entrepreneurs face is the challenge of balancing child care and a productive work life.

When Amy Braden had her son three years ago, she struggled with the same issues until hitting upon a solution of her own: creating a “coworking” space that also offers child care.

“Our tagline is: Make your life work,” Braden said of her new work-life center, Plug & Play. “I thought that there had to be a better way for working parents with young children to enjoy their children while they’re young and also be committed to their careers.”

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Since its creation in 1970, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has experienced blackouts (or in its vocabulary, rolling outages,) only three times. With the majority of that burden falling on residential properties, the community has cause for interest – but not concern – according to ERCOT’s leaders.

“We don’t expect this summer to have to resort to rotating outages,” said ERCOT Director of System Planning Warren Lasher. But, he says, “if we have another summer like 2011, the most extreme summer we’ve experienced, then we’re likely to have at least one day in which we start running short on reserves.”

Reserves are generators dedicated to picking up the slack when other generators fail, or when there is a greater electrical demand. ERCOT has enough reserves to generate over 3,000 megawatts (MW). To put that in perspective, one megawatt of electricity can power about 200 Texas homes during the hottest day of the year. Overall, ERCOT has a 74,000 MW capacity.

Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

In Texas, nearly one million households still are not using the Internet. More than 38 percent of Texans are still not connected to high-speed Internet at home, even though they could be. And with 11 percent of the Texas population completely unconnected, a lack of digital literacy is a real issue.

The Connected Texas Broadband Summit, being held today in Dallas, is for anyone who wants to address those issues. 

“We want to help plan to create initiatives and momentum behind expanding broadband in areas where it remains gapped, and in areas where digital literacy and broadband adoption lag behind,” explained Jessica Ditto, Director of Communications for Connected Nations.

Photo by Robb Jacobson for KUT News

A city commission may determine the fate of over 150 residents of a dilapidated apartment building tonight – and issue orders to “vacate, repair, demolish or secure” the complex.

After the collapse of a second-floor walkway at the Wood Ridge apartments on Burton Drive in Southeast Austin, the city ordered several residents to evacuate. Residents say apartment management failed to respond to complaints of deterioration.

Several mishaps have occurred in the evacuation process. City officials have since told the Austin American-Statesman apartment managers failed to adequately supply residents with resources following their displacement. The City of Austin’s Building and Standards Commission is holding a public hearing this evening.

Photo courtesy flickr.com/rutlo

The city of Austin has cut the number of car crashes at ten of its most dangerous intersections in half. But how?

Red-light cameras that electronically photograph cars running red lights have been set up all over Austin. Over the past three years, these cameras have provided means to give almost 35,000 citations to those dangerous drivers.

Photo by Robb Jacobson for KUT News

The 16th floor of the Omni Hotel will now be a shared workspace for start-up technology companies.

The Austin Chamber of Commerce announced the initiative today. They’re calling it Austin TechLive.

The facility will provide entrepreneurs with office, meeting and event space in exchange for monthly membership. And with over 4,000 tech companies responsible for over 100,000 jobs in the Austin area – and that number expected to grow by 5,000 jobs this year – the city's tech community is burgeoning. 

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

On some days, you might have more success finding buried pirate treasure than a parking spot in downtown Austin. Enter: iPhones.

KUT News

Biking this week will save you more than just gas money. Bike-to-Eat Week (BTEW) is a project giving cyclists discounts at certain locally owned restaurants in Austin. All you have to do is show up on a bike to automatically receive a 10 percent discount on any of these restaurants.

“The idea is to bring restaurants which are part of the local community, the Austin community, on the radar of the cycling community,” says Christopher Stanton, executive director and founder of the Ghisallo Foundation, which created Bike-to-Eat Week. “This will as a result bring the idea of engaging with that cycling community at large to the restaurant.”