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.

Pages

Austin
1:26 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Austin's 'Matrix Retold by Mom' Filmmaker Mines Viral Video Gold

The Austin filmmaker behind some of the web’s funniest viral videos is at it again.

Austin filmmaker Joe Nicolosi is currently owning Reddit with his viral video, “The Matrix Retold by Mom.” In the clip, Nicolosi’s mother narrates a rather fast and loose retelling of the Wachowskis' sci-fi epic, while animation makes her hilariously fuzzy retelling come to life.

Read more
College Football
8:59 am
Thu May 2, 2013

A&M OKs $450M Remodel of Kyle Field Into Texas' Biggest Stadium

The Texas A&M Board of Regents voted to expand Kyle Field into the most "expensive" and "extensive" field in college football.
kylefield.com

Update: The Texas A&M Board of Regents approved the university’s $450 million plan to redevelop Kyle Field into the biggest stadium in Texas (by seating capacity). Demolition work on the existing stadium is slated to begin in November this year, with plans for a grand opening in time for the 2015 football season.

You can read a press release, and view a photo gallery here.

Original post (May 1): Football is big at Texas A&M and it could be getting bigger – even bigger than it is at UT Austin.

Read more
Austin
8:15 am
Thu May 2, 2013

'Trash Dance:' Documentary Puts Austin Waste Workers in Limelight

A scene from the climactic, nighttime performance in "Trash Dance."
trashdancemovie.com

If the film "Trash Dance" has a mantra, it’s simple: Power to the people. Those people and that power, however, don’t conjure up the familiar themes of power through politics but, strangely enough, dance.

And garbage trucks. 

The film follows choreographer Allison Orr’s work with Austin Energy and Solid Waste Services to make meticulously synchronized dance routines featuring everyday utility service vehicles. So it’s power to the people, who give you power and haul your trash.

Read more
Austin
11:53 am
Fri April 26, 2013

Austin - Soon You’ll Be Able to Irrigate the Yard With Your Washing Machine Wastewater

An upscale greywater garden, built in Los Angeles.
flickr.com/jeremylevinedesign

In an eco-friendly city like Austin, you’d think reclaimed water systems for the home would be a no-brainer. Instead, the entire city has only one fully licensed greywater system. But that could soon change.

Greywater systems (or graywater, or grey water – there’s no universally accepted spelling) take used water from sinks, showers and washing machines and funnel it to uses like landscaping instead of sending it down the drain. (Greywater doesn’t include toilet water.)

Read more
Austin
3:14 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

All Austin Restaurants Will Start Composting Food Scraps by 2017

An Austin composter takes his pile's temperature.
flickr.com/smreilly

Taking out the trash is a thing of the past: All Austin restaurants will have to start composting by 2017, and restaurants 5,000 square feet and up only have until 2016. The Austin City Council approved the ordinance change today.

Don’t worry: your favorite restaurant isn’t tearing up the parking lot and turning it into a compost heap. Restaurants will be allowed take their pick of private contractors to pick up their food scraps and haul them off for composting.

Read more
West Plant Explosion
1:56 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Timeline: Memorial for West, TX Blast Victims (Update)

One scene of destruction in West, Texas.
facebook.com/TexasAttorneyGeneral

Update: The memorial for West has concluded. For an overview of the ceremony, see NPR's take: "Texas Town Honors Dead From Fertilizer Plant Blast."

Original Post: A memorial service for the victims of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, is being held at Waco's Baylor University today.

Scheduled to speak: Gov. Rick Perry, Baylor University President Ken Starr, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, and Pres. Barack Obama.

Read more
George W. Bush
10:02 am
Thu April 25, 2013

Obama, US Presidents Dedicate George W. Bush Library (Update)

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: The library dedication at the George W. Bush Library has concluded.

Here’s more coverage from KUT News and NPR:

Original Post: Pres. Barack Obama will help dedicate the George W. Bush Presidential Library today.

Read more
City Hall Hustle
4:17 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

City Hall Hustle: Hazy Outlook for Austin in 2014 City Budget

Contract negotiations with Austin’s public safety responders cloud a complete picture of the 2014 budget.
Polcie photo Nathan Bernier; EMS photo Daniel Reese; Fire photo Callier Hernandez

The Hustle on the city budget, Austin Energy and more

Last week, the Austin City Council got its first look at the numbers for next year’s budget.

The financial outlook? Well … we’ll get back to you about that.

The thing is, Austin’s currently negotiating its three public safety contracts – police, fire and EMS. And budget staff call those contracts a wild card in the city’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

Read more
Geographic Representation
10:22 am
Tue April 23, 2013

Interview: Volma Overton Jr. Describes Austin’s Long Struggle for Geographic Representation

Volma Overton Jr., photographed on the University of Texas campus.
Marissa Barnett for KUT News

Volma Overton Jr. on 10-1, Austin and his father's legacy

Volma Overton Sr. was a civil rights pioneer in Austin. He brought a hard-fought lawsuit to desegregate Austin schools – and brought his school-aged children with him to Austin’s segregated places, pushing against the racial boundaries of the time.

One of those children is Volma Overton Jr. KUT News recently sat down with him to talk about another front his father fought on: changing Austin’s form of at-large elections, where all candidates for City Council have to run citywide.

Read more
Capital Metro
2:43 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

'Dark Days:' Austin Bus Hijacker Was Capital Metro Employee

A Capital Metro employee hijacked a bus this weekend before killing himself.
flickr.com/geolobo

This weekend, a man hijacked a Capital Metro bus – resulting in a police pursuit that lead to Bastrop before the hijacker killed himself.

Today, Capital Metro announced the man that took the bus was one of their own: Salvador Martinez, a bus operator employed by Cap Metro contractor McDonald Transit. Martinez’s tenure with Cap Metro dated back to 1998.

Read more
Austin
10:54 am
Mon April 22, 2013

The Top 10 Austin Top 10 Lists

The Internet's list makers ceretainly haven't given up on Austin.
flickr.com/dingatx

If you asked the Internet, it might tell you that Austin's a hipster-loving, small business-starting, traffic-riddled, undiscovered yet overrated place that keeps it weird. The web's traffic-baiting list-makers rank Austin as a leader in categories from fitness friendliness to porn consumption per capita.

But you're not asking the Internet, you're asking KUT News. And, as has been done a couple times now, KUT News has compiled a list of lists honoring, tweaking and trashing Austin over the past few months. Here's the third installment of The Top 10 Austin Top 10 Lists:

  • Big time for small business: Business website Thumbtack.com saluted Austin for business-friendly regulations and low licensing fees, ranking the city tops in the U.S. for small businesses. But the crowning stems partially from the state’s spartan regulation, as the survey also named Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio in its top 10.
Read more
Texas
12:16 am
Thu April 18, 2013

Powerful Explosion Rattles Small Town of West, Texas (Updated)

Public safety responders in West, Texas, following a blast Wednesday evening.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

UPDATE (12:15am): A Texas Department of Public Safety official says there were fatalities in a massive explosion in the town of West, Texas Wednesday evening. 50 to 75 homes were damaged, along with a 50-unit apartment complex, in the explosion at a fertilizer plant there.

DPS Trooper D.L. Wilson says all of the roughly 100 people injured have been removed from the scene. He could not say how many people may have died in the blast, though he did say there were fatalities.

Read more
City Hall Hustle
2:55 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

City Hall Hustle: The Long, Winding Road to 10-1

A detail of a map plotting the applicants for the city's Applicant Review Panel, which will help select the group that draws Austin's districts.
Wells Dunbar, KUT News

The Hustle on the move toward geographic representation

After seven tries and several decades, geographic representation is finally coming to the City of Austin. And as the city prepares, the vortex of activity swirls around … none other than three certified public accountants.

That’s the Applicant Review Panel. It’s a group of three CPAs, randomly selected from a group of applicants, who will vet applicants for the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. That’s the group that will ultimately draw the district lines.

Read more
Austin
12:25 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Report: Suit Seeks to Sink Travis Co. DA Over 'Intoxication'

The booking photo for Travis County D.A. Rosemary Lehmberg.
Travis County Sheriff's Office

An Austin citizen has filed a lawsuit seeking to remove Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg from office, arguing that her recent DWI arrest provides grounds for removal.

The Austin Chronicle reports that the lawsuit, brought by local attorney Kerry O'Brien, seeks to have Lehmberg temporarily removed from office until a verdict is reached in her DWI arrest. That verdict should come easily, as Lehmberg has penned a letter pleading guilty “without any request for leniency or consideration of any type.”

Read more
Boston Marathon Bombings
9:14 pm
Mon April 15, 2013

Austin Reacts to Boston Marathon Bombings (Update)

Flickr/HaHaTango http://www.flickr.com/photos/hahatango/

Update (9:14 p.m.): Close to 200 people from Central Texas are in Boston for Monday's marathon, according to the marathon's athlete tracker. Explosions near the finish line, which claimed at least three lives and reverberated across the nation, sent Austinites scrambling to check on the status of family and friends participating in the race.

“We were texting people, emailing them," said Michael Madison, a business manager with the local running group Gilbert’s Gazelles, who was back here in Austin.  "We were just keeping tabs on who had said they were okay or who they were with, because we had a couple people staying at the hotel where the first blast came out of.” 

Read more
Transportation
11:05 am
Wed April 3, 2013

One Big Way to Cut Austin Traffic: Have I-35, SH 130 Trade Places

Motorists stuck in downtown Austin. Freeway congestion has a ripple effect throughout the entire city.
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

It’s no secret Interstate 35 congestion takes a toll on Austinites.

Out of a list of Texas’ 100 most congested roadways, the portion of I-35 running through central Austin is the fourth most congested in the state. Meanwhile, State Highway 130, out east of I-35, is open for business.

Read more
Austin
3:28 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

APD: 250 More Cops by 2017?

Austin Police are teeing up their budget request to the City Council.
Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Austin Police Department is recommending the city hire as many as 250 more officers by 2017 to meet population growth. The suggested number came from a study by the Police Executive Research Forum.

Austin follows a rough ratio of two officers per thousand residents as a staffing guideline. Currently there’s just over 1,700 APD officers meeting the staffing guideline. 

Read more
Austin
2:22 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

'Target Austin, Texas' is the Bomb (Update)

Update: With Austin in North Korea' s sights, now’s as good a time as ever to revisit Cactus Pryor's 1960 civil defense classic "Target … Austin, Texas." Its depiction of the “usual mid-morning traffic” on Congress Avenue is just as funny than anything to be found under the hashtag #whyaustin.

Original Post (July 13, 2012): Here’s some Friday the 13th viewing: “Target … Austin, Texas,” a civil defense film from 1960. Produced by the storied KTBC TV station, the 20-minute film is a fevered remnant of the cold war-era.

Read more
Austin City Council
11:17 am
Fri March 29, 2013

What’s Next After Austin Repealed its Project Duration Ordinance?

Construction cranes in downtown Austin. While the City Council voted to repeal the Project Duration Ordianance, the city will work quickly on a replacement.
flickr.com/joeyparsons

The Austin City Council voted 5-2 last night to repeal the city’s Project Duration Ordinance, rules limiting how long a development can remain “grandfathered” under land-use rules in place at the time of the project’s conception.

In contrast to last week’s hearing, which featured hours of citizen testimony, public input was closed this time. The council discussion lasted just 15 minutes. Council members Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo voted no.

Read more

Pages