Trey Shaar

Producer, All Things Considered

Austin resident, on and off, mostly on, since 1986. Covering news of Central Texas and beyond since 1994. Father since 2010. Maker of sounds, informational and otherwise, since longer ago than any of the above.

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Texas Department of Public Safety

An Amber Alert is in effect for 16-year-old Tanner Jordan, who was last seen Sunday morning in the Nacogdoches County town of Appleby. He’s 5’ 10”, 115 pounds, with blue eyes and brown hair. The suspect is 34-year-old Katie Miller, 5’11”, 170 pounds, with brown hair and eyes. They may be in a White 2005 Dodge Ram 3500 four-door pickup, with Texas plates, AE8 5145. Anyone who sees them is asked to call the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office at 936-560-7777.

Austin Monitor

Austin will remain in Stage 2 water restrictions despite above average rainfall for the year and the historic amount that fell in May. The city is also examining whether to adopt those restrictions permanently.

Trey Shaar / KUT News

Update Sunday 3:30 p.m. University officials say that the commencement fireworks ceremony has been rescheduled for 10 p.m. tonight (Sunday), weather-permitting. Check back here for updates.

The University of Texas at Austin has cancelled the outdoor commencement ceremony planned for 8 p.m. Saturday due to inclement weather. UT said just before 5 p.m. that lightning had impeded the set-up for the outdoor event and that the threat of continuing inclement weather led the university "regretfully" to cancel the ceremony. 

Liang Shi / KUT News

A point of order from state representative Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso) delayed a vote on a bill that would remove a key function of the Public Integrity Unit. Among the duties of the Unit, a division of the Travis County District Attorney's Office, is investigating allegations of corruption leveled against state-level officials, such as members of the Texas Legislature or employees of state agencies.

Under the bill authored by state representative Phil King (R-Weatherford), that function would go away. Investigation would be the responsibility of the Texas Rangers, an elite division of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Prosecution would be handled by the District Attorney's Office in the home county of the accused.   

Adam Voorhes

The University of Texas at Austin made international news in recent weeks over confusion about what happened to hundreds of donated human brains. Now the university is forming a special three-member committee to look into the case.

Last month, a KUT story highlighted the mystery of 100 missing brain specimens that had been donated from the Austin State Hospital, what they used to call the Texas State Lunatic Asylum.

Tyler Pratt/KUT

It’s a big day for supporters of same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to take up the issue this year, which means same-sex marriages can continue in five states that currently ban the practice.

But where does that leave Texas? 

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision against weighing in on same-sex marriage means it will soon be legal in 30 states and the District of Columbia. 

But, in Texas, the marriages will not be allowed. A federal district judge ruled earlier this year that the Texas constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman relegates same-sex couples to second-class citizenship. But the judge also allowed the ban on same-sex marriages to continue while the case winds through the appeals process.


Holding a phone while rolling on Austin streets is about to become against the law, but not just for Austinites driving cars and trucks.

Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

For the first time since September, state officials have declared today an Ozone Action Day in the Austin-area. The declaration means weather conditions are expected to be conducive to lower-than-normal air quality.

The Air Quality Index is forecast to bad enough to affect sensitive groups, such as those with asthma or heart disease, elderly people and children. The general public should be okay. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets a minimum standard for ozone of 75 parts per billion. 

“Our standard last year, we ended the 2013 ozone season at 73 parts per billion, so we’re actually okay, for now, but EPA expects to announce a new ozone standard in December of this year,”  Clean Air Force of Central Texas director Sarah Holland says.

Austin Toddler Abducted

Aug 8, 2014

Final update on this story (Saturday 10:00 a.m.): The Austin Police Department and  the Texas Department of Public Safety say this Amber Alert has been canceled. They say two-year-old Cheyenne Johnson is now safe and the suspect, Jesse Thomas, is in custody after a standoff with authorities in northwest Harris County.

UPDATE (10:00 p.m.):  An Amber Alert has now been issued for Cheyenne Johnson. Anyone who may have information about this abduction is asked to call the Austin Police Department at (512) 297-0825 or 9-1-1.

Austin police are asking for help from the public in locating a child who was last seen at 1:54 Friday afternoon on the 1800 block of Anita Drive in South Austin.

Two-year-old Cheyenne Johnson is about two-and-a-half feet tall, weighs 25 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes.  She was wearing a navy blue shirt with flowers on it and navy blue shorts. She was last seen with 33-year-old Jesse Thomas, 6'01", about 220 pounds.

A major transportation plan took a significant step forward Thursday when the Austin City Council voted unanimously to put it on the November ballot.

It’s a billion-dollar proposition. Voters would agree to a $600 million bond for a 9.5-mile urban rail line, contingent upon two conditions: matching funds from the Federal Transit Administration or another federal or state source, and a future city council securing $400 million dollars for road projects. The ordinance does not specify a source for the additional $400 million.


The state of Texas is offering $2.3 million to SpaceX, a commercial spaceflight company with plans to build a spaceport along the Gulf Coast.

The plan to build a rocket-launch facility in South Texas has been years in the making, and while there are still a few finishing touches to put on the plan, it looks like everyone is on board.

Texas Department of Transportation

Austin City Manager Marc Ott has asked the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to reconsider its environmental impact study on State Highway 45 Southwest.

The proposed extension would connect South MoPac and FM-1626 in northern Hays County.

In a letter to TxDOT, Ott also asked the department to expand the public comment period ahead of tonight's final public input meeting at Bowie High School.

Lorne Matalon / Marfa Public Radio

The ongoing surge of Central American immigration into Texas was the focus of a field hearing Thursday of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security. Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R - Austin) invited Governor Rick Perry to testify at the hearing in the Rio Grande Valley.

The governor laid out a four-point plan for handling the situation, including increasing National Guard operations, screening immigrants for medical conditions and federal reimbursement of the money Texas has spent on border security.

Sgt. Ken Scar / Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System

The offices of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Rick Perry were quick to release statements lauding Monday’s Supreme Court decision on contraception. The ruling said family-owned and other closely held companies can opt out of an Affordable Care Act provision requiring they provide insurance coverage of birth control.

Ben Philpott/KUT

Texas politicians are getting a close-up look at how border authorities are handling an influx of Central American immigrants – many of them children who came here without family members.

Sen. Ted Cruz and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott got a tour Monday of one facility housing immigrant children after they’re processed near the border: Joint Base San Antonio, where children wait for judicial hearings or to be placed with relatives.

Both Abbott and Cruz blame the increase in immigrants on the Obama administration’s deferred action for childhood arrivals policy, which offered a delay of immigration proceedings for children brought to the U.S. before 2007.

Callie Hernandez for KUT

The City of Austin and the U.S. Justice Department have agreed to a settlement in a complaint over hiring practices at the Austin Fire Department (AFD).

The settlement follows an investigation finding that the AFD selection process had the effect of unfairly discriminating against African-American and Hispanic applicants.

Under the agreement, which still needs approval by a federal court, the Austin Fire Department would change its hiring process to bring it in compliance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Title VII forbids the use of employment practices such as written tests resulting in disparate impact against any group, based on factors like race or national origin.

Marijuana advocates will march on the Texas Capitol Saturday as part of the annual Worldwide Marijuana March. In Austin, the marchers will include members of Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism (MAMMA), a newly-founded organization which describes itself as a conservative Christian group calling for the legalization of medicinal marijuana use in Texas.

“We are working now with Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition. They’re a group out of Harris County. They are drafting a bill,"  says MAMMA co-founder and executive director Thalia Michelle. "We believe that Marijuana Policy Project will also be introducing a medicinal cannabis bill."

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall is now the subject of a criminal investigation.

The Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office has opened an investigation into Hall after receiving a complaint from a legislative committee considering impeachment proceedings against the regent.

Hall is accused of improper handling of student records as part of extensive open records requests of UT-Austin documents. Critics have accused Hall of conducting a "witch hunt" on behalf of Gov. Rick Perry to oust UT-Austin President Bill Powers.

DPS 2014 Texas Gang Threat Assessment

The Texas Department of Public Safety released its annual report on criminal gang activity in Texas this week.

This year’s Texas Gang Threat Assessment found that gangs continue to pose a substantial threat to public safety. Central Texas is home to some of the most established gangs in the state. The report estimates that with more than 4,600 gangs, overall gang membership in this state is more than 100,000.

Deborah Cannon, American-Statesman

Former President Bill Clinton spoke Wednesday night at the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in Austin. The summit, gathering four U.S Presidents and dozens of other speakers, marks the 50th anniversary of Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson’s Civil Rights Act.

Clinton lamented last year’s decision from the U.S. Supreme Court to weaken another part of the LBJ legacy, the Voting Rights Act. Clinton singled out the Texas law requiring voters to show photo ID.