Tyler Pratt

Pages

Politics
9:47 am
Fri December 14, 2012

Pflugerville ISD Extends Domestic Partner Benefits to Employees

Same sex couples welcomed the announcement from PISD.
flickr.com/jdhancock

Last night, Pflugerville ISD voted to approve insurance benefits for domestic partners. This makes Pflugerville the first school district in Texas to offer domestic partner health benefits.

The school board voted 5 to 1 to uphold the district’s October decision. The district now joins the cities of Austin, San Antonio and El Paso, along with Dallas County, in offering domestic partner benefits for its employees. But State Senator Dan Patrick has asked Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to issue an opinion on whether these policies are valid.

Read more
Austin
4:35 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

AG Says Grinch 'Steals Christmas' - But Blue Santa Saves the Day

Blue Santa volunteers Mr. and Mrs. Claus at the charity's food bank. The organization is bouncing back after a partner folded amid mysterious circumstances.
bluesanta.org

The Austin Police Department hosted its Operation Blue Santa breakfast this morning. All proceeds will benefit the department’s Blue Santa initiative, which delivers hot meals and toys to underprivileged families each holiday season.

By all accounts it was a success: Police Chief Art Acevedo tweeted this afternoon that the event raised over $190,000. And Blue Santa can use all the help it can get.

Read more
City Council
1:12 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Reluctantly, City Council Gives Up $15M for Water Treatment Plant 4

Under-construction WTP4, as photographed last year.
Jessie Wang for KUT News

Austin City Council begrudgingly parted with $15.5 million Thursday to help complete construction of Water Treatment Plant No. 4  in northwest Austin.

The controversial plant was designed to provide the city’s growing population with more drinking water. But it’s been controversial since its proposal as environmental groups opposed its construction. Now many of those activists are saying I told you so.

Read more
City Council
9:56 am
Thu December 6, 2012

Council Preview: Visa Deal, City Ponders Partnership with State, Water Treatment Plant 4 & More

The gang's all here: Council convenes to a crowded agenda this morning.
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

The Austin City Council dusts off the cobwebs for its first full meeting in nearly a month. And it’s let quite a backlog pile up: today’s 120 item agenda is stuffed with items sure to inspire discussion. Here’s a look:

  • The main event: a $1.5 million economic incentives deal with credit card giant Visa.

The company plans to expand its operations in Austin and promises almost 800 new jobs. The city is offering $1.5 million in tax incentives; the state is offering some $8 million more.

Read more
Public Safety
4:13 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

EMS, Homeless Issues and Eyewitness Testimony Before Public Safety Commission Today

The Public Safety Commission will weigh in on recent EMS findings today.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

Austin's Public Safety Commission will stay busy this evening discussing a medley of public safety topics:

Read more
Terrorism
2:17 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Photos: Urban Shield, Austin’s Terrorism Preparedness Exercise

Austin Fire Department repsonders rescue a "victim" as a part of terrorism-response exercise Urban Shield.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Today, Austin began the first exercises of Urban Shield, a full-scale regional preparedness training.

Over the next forty hours, Central Texas public safety agencies will assess the region's ability to successfully respond to and manage multiple terrorist events and emergencies throughout Travis, Hays and Williamson Counties. It’s a massive event with over a dozen scenarios; earlier this month, the City of Austin was looking for 1,000 volunteer “victims” to take part in the demonstrations.

Read more
Austin
10:39 am
Fri November 30, 2012

On World AIDS Day, Travis County Youth See Rising Cases of HIV

Red ribbons are a symbol of AIDS awareness.
Trinn Suwannapha, via flickr.com/worldbank

Saturday is World AIDS Day. Here in Austin, the Department of Health and Human Services in holding a day long AIDS conference. This year’s focus is on how HIV is affecting young people in Travis County, among whom HIV infection is increasing.

Worldwide, deaths from AIDS are down since 2005. Rates of HIV infection are also falling. But HIV is on the rise among young people, including those in Travis County.

“In the last four or five years, we’ve seen a very sharp increase in the number of cases of HIV infection in among youth,” said Joe Barnes with Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services. “We define that as between 13 and 24.”

Read more
Texas
5:23 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

Lawmakers Consider Changes to Public Information Law

Lizzie Chen for KUT News

Texas lawmakers met today to discuss possible changes to the Public Information Act due to advances in technology. With the confluence of available data and technologies, elected officials may redefine what is public information and what isn't.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has asked the Senate Open Government Committee to take a look at possible revisions to the Public Information Act. Today, that committee heard testimony about how technologies are creating public information and how access to that information can affect government contractors.

As it currently stands, the language of Texas Public Information Act presumes that government information should be available to the public. The Act was instituted in 1993 to ensure that all government information is available to the public with the exception of information that is either confidential or protected.

In actuality, there are plenty of exemptions, it can take a long time to get some information and often there are fees involved.

Read more
Business
4:02 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Hostess No More: Texas-based Twinkies Maker Closes Shop (Updated)

Twinkies were long thought to last forever. It turns out they may not.
Tyler Pratt for KUT News

Update: Company spokesperson Tammy Taylor tells KUT News that “Hostess Brands had 230 employees in Texas. All facilities are shut down, with the exception of retail outlets, which will remain open for about a week to sell remaining product in going out of business sales.”

Taylor says that “severance will not be paid at this time” to the laid-off employees; “funds for these amounts are not in the ‘Wind Down’ budget that Hostess lenders approved.”

Original post (1:25 p.m.): It’s the end of Hostess Brands, the Texas-headquartered maker of Twinkies, Wonder Bread and Ding Dongs.  This morning Hostess said it filed a motion in bankruptcy court to request permission to liquidate its assets.

Read more
Formula 1
4:15 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Photos: Austin-Bergstrom Busy, But Not Overwhelmed, by F1

Car service drivers await their arrivals at ABIA as F1 roars into town.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Austin’s airport certainly looks a lot different from a normal day. There’s additional security, several car service drivers, and a bunch of people in yellow shirts speaking a bunch of different languages.

But it’s not the insane crush many expected for Formula 1.

Despite the anticipated arrival of 18,000 visitors today, “things seem to be running fairly smoothly,” says Jim Halbrook with Austin Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA). “We’ve got customer service representatives throughout the terminal helping people find their way, helping people find their ground transportation." 

Read more
Formula 1
2:42 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

What Austin Needs to Know About the Actual F1 Race This Weekend

An F1 racer parked in downtown Austin promotes the race.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Ready or not, Formula 1 has arrived.

As Austin readies for an onslaught of some 100,000 visitors, we’ve heard lots about traffic planshelicopter permits, and even counter-terrorism measures.  But what about the actual race: the cars, the drivers and the sport itself? Confused? KUT News has assembled a primer on this weekend’s Formula 1 race.

  • What Sort of Cars Are These?

The FIA Formula One World Championship is the highest class of single-seater auto racing that is authorized by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile.

The "formula" in Formula 1 refers to a set of guidelines that each racing car must adhere to. The results are state-of-the-art.

Read more
Transportation
11:19 am
Mon November 12, 2012

After Weeks of Free Rides, Texas’ 85 mph Tollway Now Charging

Drivers can hold onto their quarters: SH-130 drivers pay via TxTag or through the mail.
courtesy SH 130 Concession Co.

It's been almost three weeks since the new stretch of State Highway 130 opened on Oct. 24. Now the temporary freeway is officially a tollway. And that's how it's going to stay, for the next 50 years or so.

The new segments of SH-130, which run just south of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to Seguin, were free to motorists until Nov. 11. Now the the toll rate has been set at $0.15 per mile for passenger vehicles with TxTag service. Vehicles without a TxTag can also use the tollway, and will be billed through a pay-by-mail service.

"With this new road, motorists can travel 90 miles of toll road and bypass I-35 congestion between Seguin and Georgetown for about $12," the Texas Department of Transportation says in a press release.

Read more
Veterans Day
8:24 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Veterans Day Celebrations and Closures

This year Veterans Day observations will be two days, Sunday and Monday
KUT News

Sunday, Nov. 11 is Veterans Day. On Monday, city, state and federal government offices will be closed in observance of the holiday.

There are several events planned over the two days to celebrate the service of U.S. military veterans. 

On Sunday, Austin and Travis County will host a Veterans Day Parade downtown. The parade will kick off at 9 a.m. on the South Congress Bridge and head to the Texas Capitol.  At 11 a.m., the Commemorative Air Force of San Marcos will hold a memorial and flyover at the south steps of the Capitol. (You can find information about street closures here.)

Read more
Arts and Culture
5:04 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Eastward Bound: Art Tour Takes Over Austin's East Side

Letters on display at the Pump Project during last year's EAST tour
Tyler Pratt for KUT News

The East Austin Studio Tour (EAST) returns this weekend.  So grab a bicycle, some friends and (maybe) some cash, then head over to the east side to see work showcased by hundreds of Austin artists.

The tour runs Nov. 8-18, but is free and open to the public this weekend (Nov. 10-11) and next (Nov. 17-18), from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Since the tour will be taking place over the crowded Formula 1 weekend, it is possible the EAST tour may be a great recreation alternative for locals looking to avoid to the congestion and traffic the festival will bring in downtown.

Read more
formula 1
7:29 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

Safety First: City Unveils Public Safety Plans for F1 Weekend

Police Chief Art Acevedo and City Manager Marc Ott talk about the increased public safety measure taken for F1 weekend
Tyler Pratt for KUT News

The City of Austin says it’s prepared to handle any and all public safety issues that may arise during the upcoming F1 weekend 10 days from now.

“I’m smiling because I’m ready,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. “We’ll absolutely have a tremendously positive impact in terms of public safety and in terms of the enjoyment of our residents and our visitors.”

Read more
2012 Presidential Election
2:05 pm
Fri November 2, 2012

Early Voting is Underway - Here’s Where and When You Can Vote (Updated)

Early voting starts today and runs through Nov. 2.
flickr.com/athrasher

Update 2 (Nov. 5): Early voting is over in Austin, but on Election Day (Nov. 6) Austin voters can cast ballots at any polling place in Travis County.

Update (Nov. 2): Today is the last day to cast a ballot during early voting. Most early voting locations are open until 7 p.m. but the "Mega Voting Site" at Highland Mall will be open until 9 p.m.

So far, more than 202,000 Travis County voters have cast a ballot—that’s about 32 percent of registered voters.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Capital Metro is offering free rides on all buses and the MetroRail throughout the day on Election Day to help people get to the polls.

On Election Day, Travis County voters do not have to cast a ballot at their precinct but can vote at any polling location in the county.

Read more
Fun Fun Fun Fest
1:01 pm
Fri November 2, 2012

Now This is Fun (Fun Fun): Fest Grows to Three Days, Four Stages, 160-Plus Performers

The banner for iconic rap group Run DMC, performing tonight at Fun Fun Fun Fest.
facebook.com/funfunfunfest

Austin's has another big event this weekend. The seventh annual Fun Fun Fun Fest is taking place all weekend long at Auditorium Shores. The eclectic three-day festival promises underground music from all genres, along with comedy, extreme sports, food, fashion, and art.

Stay tuned to KUT News for updates from the festival, and maybe even a Ryan Gosling sighting or two. Until then, here's a preview of some of the events taking place at Fun Fun Fun Fest, along with fest-related aftershows. 

Friday

Night: For the hip-hop lovers, rap legends Run DMC and Bun B will take the stage. Hipsters will rejoice to the sounds of Santigold and Twin Sister. If that's not enough, a series of skateboard and BMX sessions are kicking off, and will run all weekend.  Each day of the festival also promises two hours of Anarchy Championship Wrestling.

Read more
Transportation
7:30 am
Fri November 2, 2012

The Good and The Bad of More Cabs in Austin (Updated)

Cab drivers say more cabs on the street means less income and working longer hours.
Tyler Pratt for KUT News

Update (Nov. 2, 7:30 a.m.): Austin City Council members voted 5 to 2 Thursday to grant a total of 30 new taxi permits to two of the city’s cab companies.

Members of the Taxis Drivers Association of Austin had argued that there are too many cabs on the road and that they’ve seen a decline in income.

But the two cab companies say the new permits are necessary to help level the playing field between them and their larger competitor.

"[We are in favor of the vote] In order to improve our company's service to not only our passengers, but to our drivers. We've been waiting since December of last year to find out if were receiving 10 additional permits," Bertha Means of Austin Cab said.

Read more
Texas
5:36 am
Wed October 31, 2012

Little Piggies + 85 MPH = Wee Bit of a Problem

Feral Pigs are being blamed for crashes on the new stretch of SH 130.
flickr.com/agrilifetoday

Update: Oct. 31, 5:36 a.m.: The Central Texas toll road with the nation's highest speed limit will get signs warning drivers about wildlife. The move comes after at least three incidents of vehicles hitting animals in the first few days of the new 85 mph zone.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, the private company that runs the 41-mile portion of State Highway 130 says temporary electronic message boards will be used until permanent signs can be installed.

Original Story: Oct. 26, 1:57 p.m.: A new section of State Highway 130 opened Wednesday. It runs from Mustang Ridge to Seguin and allows drivers to go 85 mph. But the same night the highway opened, there were a handful of crashes involving local wildlife.

Read more
Austin
10:09 am
Mon October 29, 2012

The Lead: Austin Preps for F1, Hogs on SH130, Texas Wants More Medicaid Control

Good morning! It may be in the chilly this morning, but we'll see a high of around 70 this afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. Here are some stories KUT News has been working on:

Austin Is Revving Up For F1 Weekend

Formula 1 is only three weeks away. The City of Austin is making some big preparations as race weekend approaches.

Satellite Monitors Texas’s Water Supply

A satellite called GRACE, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, is monitoring the water situation in Texas. And there’s a couple of disturbing trends in the data: a Southeastern drought trend and a lot of a lot of groundwater depletion in the Panhandle.

Crashes on New Stretch of SH130

The new, high-speed section of State Highway 130 opened last Wednesday. That first night, wildlife caused a handful of accidents.

Read more

Pages