Wells Dunbar

Senior Online Editor

As  online editor for KUT News, Wells Dunbar covers news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond. Before joining KUT, Wells served as staff writer and news blog editor at The Austin Chronicle, and covered the Texas Legislature for Gallery Watch. Hailing from El Paso, Wells is a longtime Austin resident whose interests include technology and social media, film and music, and spending quality time with his wife, child and cat.

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Austin
2:34 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

KUT News Tries Out Austin's 'Budget in a Box'

It's time to play everyone's favorite game!

The city's Budget in a Box gives folks outside city hall a chance to learn about the city's budgeting process, then try on the shoes of a city budgeter, cutting, padding and managing programs and agencies that keep the city humming along.

KUT News acquired a copy of the game and we gave a two reporters and a few interns the chance to give the budgeting process the old college try. Click the video below to see how we fared.

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Education
11:42 am
Wed June 5, 2013

Ann Richards HS Grad Raises Funds for a Path to Citizenship

Ann Richards School graduate, and former KUT News intern, Ana González is helping undocumented students continue their education.
Courtesy of The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders

The first graduating class at the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders receives their diplomas this Saturday.

Among the graduates is 17-year-old Ana González, who was the subject of an Austin American-Statesman story profiling the school’s first grads.

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Science
12:20 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

Longhorn Astronaut Karen Nyberg Returns to International Space

The latest International Space Station crew (including Nyberg) blasted off from Kazakhstan on May 29, 2013 (Kazakh time).
NASA/Bill Ingalls

There’s a UT Longhorn in space right now.

This week, Karen Nyberg blasted off to the International Space Station. She was the sole NASA astronaut aboard the Russian Soyuz rocket that left May 28. She was joined by Fyodor Yurchikhin with the Russian Federal Space Agency, and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency.

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Austin
5:05 am
Fri May 31, 2013

A Fresh Look at the 512 As an Upstart Moves In

Austin musician Gerald G, also known as Mr. 512, is cool with the new area code about to drop.
Marisssa Bartnett for KUT News

Starting tomorrow, you’ll need to dial ten or dial again. Austin is getting a new area code, 737, and from now on, everyone needs to dial all 10 digits of a local number, area code included.

For many, Austin’s 512 area code is so much more than a prefix.

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Austin
1:54 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

How Many 'Austin Bashing' Bills Made It Out of the Lege? (Update)

With five Austin-centric bills this session alone, lawmakers are keeping a keen eye on the Austin City Council this legislative session.
flickr.com/atmtx

Update: The legislative session adjourns Monday – and Austin City Council members can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

All of the bills below disappeared into the legislative black hole – that is, they either never made it out of committee, or were never cleared for a vote.

Update (March 26): Here’s some additional bills that meet the Austin City Council’s definition of “Austin bashing” – legislation that would defang local policies.

  • HB 1858, Rep. Paul Workman (R-Austin)

The bill would ban cities from restricting the removal of trees if a developer or land owner deems the tree to be a fire hazard. Opponents worry the bill provides a work-around the city’s Heritage Tree Ordinance, and point to an additional piece of Workman legislation, HB 3087, as creating additional development loopholes for removing trees.

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Austin
10:20 am
Fri May 24, 2013

Report: City Employee Accused of Taking Bribes to Speed Permitting

A City of Austin employee is suspected of taking bribes to expedite permit requests.

The Austin American-Statesman reports a city employee, Edward D. Vigil, is suspected of taking $200 payments from parties seeking to have their construction permits approved, in the midst of a months-long backlog at the city. The backlog was finally cleared in April of this year.

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AFFORDABLE HOUSING 101
6:05 am
Fri May 24, 2013

Under One Roof: Where Is the Public and Political Will for Affordable Housing?

Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Under One Roof, Part Four: The Politics

For many, Election Night 2012 was a great night.

At the Driskill Hotel, Travis County Democrats toasted President Obama’s victory. But Walter Moreau with Foundation Communities, one of Austin’s largest affordable-housing providers, wasn’t celebrating.

“All the other bonds passed, so it’s hard to say why …” Moreau began.

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Texas
11:41 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Clean Up in North Texas: 10 Tornadoes Struck Area Overnight

A tornado completely demolished this house in Granbury, Texas last night.
National Weather Service

Cleanup is underway in North Texas after devastating tornadoes claimed six lives and multiple injuries.

The National Weather Service’s preliminary count says 10 tornadoes stuck North Texas last night. The Fort Worth suburb of Granbury, Texas took some of the worst damage, with damage showing signs of wind gusts up to 260 MPH.

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Texas
10:38 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Reports: 'Multiple Fatalities' After Tornado Strikes North Texas

Severe weather in North Texas has left confirmed fatalities it its wake. 

CNN cites a spokesperson from the Hood County sheriff's office saying "multiple fatalities" occured in Granbury, 35 miles outside of Fort Worth. Other news outlets report the Rancho Brazos subdivision and nearby areas along Lake Granbury took the brunt of the storm. Smaller tornados were reported in multiple North Texas counties.

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West Plant Explosion
4:32 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

West Responder Arrested for Possession of 'Destructive Device' (Update)

The West memorial service at Baylor University.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Update: The “destructive device” Bryce Reed was said to possess was a pipe bomb.

U.S. District Court charging documents for Bryce Reed state that on May 7, an unnamed person called the Sheriff’s Office regarding components Reed had left with them – components an ATF agent says form a pipe bomb.  You can read the documents here.

Update (11:56 a.m.): StateImpact Texas notes there are now two investigations into the West plant explosion: one existing investigation into the origin and cause of the fire, lead by the State Fire Marshall’s Office office and the ATF; and the new, DPS-helmed investigation into any potential criminal activity, spurred by the arrest of West paramedic Bryce Reed. 

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Politics
4:31 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Video: Watch Obama Speak at Applied Materials

Pres. Obama landing in Austin. Obama is visiting Manor New Tech High School today.
Ben Philpott, KUT News

Update: President Obama's remarks have concluded. You can see KUT News' continuing coverage of Obama in Austin here

Original post: President Barack Obama is schedueld to speak momentarily at Applied Materials in northeast Austin. It's part of his first stop on his “Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour.” The White House says Austin was picked as the place to start the tour because it leads the country in manufacturing and tech job growth.

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Austin
2:32 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Austin is Reddit's No. 1 City for Views Per Capita – Worldwide

The ubiquitous Reddit alien. Austin is one of the heaviest users of the social website.
flickr.com/kylegarrity

Here’s news that may strike fear into the hearts of local employers: Austin users of Reddit – the news and entertainment website where anyone can create a “subreddit” on a topic of their choosing – rack up the most pageviews per capita of any city in the world.  

And in an unweighted, raw count of total visits by city worldwide, Austin comes in tenth. 

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Austin
12:42 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

A Timeline of Obama’s Visits to Austin (Photos)

President Obama, speaking outside the State Capitol in 2008.
KUT News

President Barack Obama’s got a thing for Austin.

The President is kicking off his “Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour” in the Capitol City today. The White House says Austin was picked as the place to start the tour, because it leads the country in manufacturing and tech job growth. (And we’re sure Austin’s reputation as a Democratic city in a solidly Republican state doesn’t hurt either.)

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City Hall Hustle
4:13 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

City Hall Hustle: Council Talks Austin Energy, Ethics & Obama

There's plenty of council action both inside and outside City Hall this week - including a meeting with President Obama.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Hustle on a surprisingly busy week for the Austin City Council.

How powerful should an independent Austin Energy board be?

That’s the question the Austin City Council is asking itself. Right now, the council governs the city-owned utility. But council members are talking about turning over that power to an independent board. And haggling over the power of this unelected panel continues to dominate talk at City Hall.

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Austin
12:19 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Here’s Five Historic Pieces Up for Auction at RunTex Tomorrow

Credit txauction.com

Tomorrow, Austin running emporium RunTex will have its assets auctioned off.

It’s the end of the road for the local store, which once counted five locations. After RunTex was evicted from its location at Riverside Drive and South First Street, county tax assessor Bruce Elfant revealed the company owed over $17,000 in back taxes.

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Food
5:33 pm
Fri May 3, 2013

A Permanent Farmers Market, and 5 Other Ways Austin Can Become A Foodie Capital

City of Austin officials visited Pike Place Market in Seattle to see how a permanent farmer's market might operate.
flickr.com/stilli00

Interview with Margaret Shaw of the City of Austin's Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office

The City of Austin is thinking about helping to create a permanent farmers' market that would operate seven days a week. It was the first recommendation in a recent report produced for the city by Texas Perspectives, a local economic analysis and consulting firm. 

"Permanent food markets and food hubs could well speak to all the major findings of this report," TXP wrote, "as they offer the possibility of enhancing the Austin food sector in a way that appeals to both tourists and locals." 

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Westlake
9:09 am
Fri May 3, 2013

Westlake HS Open After Scare

Westlake High School is open for classes, after a written threat discovered on campus yesterday lead to an extensive overnight search.

Officials didn’t reveal the exact nature of the threat, but an email from Westlake principal John Carter says “School will operate as normal, with an increased security and adult presence in and around the campus. The first period bell just sounded moments ago and classes have started.”

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Texas
6:25 am
Fri May 3, 2013

Amber Alert: Missing Kingsland Teens Found (Update)

Keith Mize (left) is suspected in the possible abduction of Savannah Sloan (top) and Misty Sloan (bottom).

Update: The Department of Public Safety deactivated the amber alert late Thursday night after the two teens were found.

Original Post (3:24 p.m.): Police in Kingsland, Texas have issued an Amber Alert Two for two teenaged girls who may have been abducted.

One is 13-year-old Savannah Sloan. She is 4'5", weighs 85 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes. The other is 15-year-old Misty Sloan. She’s 4'10", weighs 95 pounds, and has brown hair and brown eyes. They were last seen yesterday at 1 a.m. 

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Parks and Recreation
4:16 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Turf Improvements Could Close Auditorium Shores for a Year

Fun Fun Fun Fest will have to find a new home if park improvements shutter Auditorium Shores.
KUT News

Popular park and festival spot Auditorium Shores could close for a whole year if the Austin City Council approves a proposal from the Parks and Recreation Department.

The changes include an improved irrigation system, new turf grass and an enhanced off-leash area for dogs. The cost would be shouldered via a $3.5 million donation from the Austin-based promoters C3 Presents. The company has worked out similar deals to improve the grounds at Zilker Park, which hosts C3’s Austin City Limits Festival.

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Texas
3:16 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Reports: Shots Fired Inside Bush Intercontinental Airport Terminal

An aerial view of Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport.
flickr.com/caribb

Update: Reuters is also reporting the unnamed susepct is dead. 

Original post (2:33 p.m.): A terminal at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport is closed, after a man allegedly fired a gun in ticketing area before shooting himself.

The San Antonio Express-News cites a Houston Police Department statement “that an armed male suffered at least one gunshot wound at 1:35 p.m. Thursday near a ticket counter in the pre-screening area of Terminal B.”

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