AM Update
8:14 am
Fri April 20, 2012

AM Update: Willie Nelson Immortalized, Cap Metro Fatality, LCRA Reduces Staff

Willie Nelson Statue Unveiled

A statue of famed country musician Willie Nelson will be unveiled today.

The eight-foot tall, one-ton statue will stand on the plaza located on Willie Nelson Boulevard (aka Second Street) and Lavaca Street, at the foot of the Austin City Limits Live Theater. Capital Area Statues has worked on the project over the past several years and as board president Lawrence Wright describes it, the statue will be another fixture of Austin’s culture.

“This gift to Austin will become an instant, iconic representation of our great city and its love affair with music.” 

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, who worked to honorarily rename Second Street to Willie Nelson Boulevard, agrees.

“Willie Nelson has arguably done more to cement Austin’s reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World than anyone, so it seemed only fitting to rename the street in honor of Willie.”

The ceremony, which gained traction when City Council reviewed and approved it earlier this month, is open to the public and will take place at 4 p.m.

Nelson is also set to perform at a Johnny Cash tribute at the ACL Live Theater tonight.

22-Year-Old Struck by Cap Metro Bus

Update: Police have identified he young man killed Friday morning as Andy Ching-Nien Wang. Police say Wang and another person got off the bus at the stop on Crossing Place. Witnesses told police that Wang appeared intoxicated, lost his balance and fell underneath the bus as it was departing. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

A 22-year-old man is dead after he was hit by a Capital Metro bus early this morning.

Police are still investigating exactly what happened, though we do know that he was struck around 2 a.m. in the 1300 block of Crossing Place, just off East Riverside Drive near the University Estates apartment.

“We at Cap Metro are terribly saddened by the news that one of our riders has passed away today and we are assisting APD in an investigation and will be conducting our own investigation as well,” says Capital Metro Spokesperson Misty Whited.

“I know that [the driver] will be immediately taken off the route. Depending on the accident post checklist that we have, they may be tested for drug and alcohol. And then, of course, in circumstances like this they may even need some counseling.”

Earlier this year, a Cedar Park woman died after she was pinned underneath a bus. That was the first pedestrian fatality in Capital Metro’s history.

LCRA Reduces Staff

In an ambitious effort to create funds for new water supplies, LCRA approved a business plan this week that involves a significant staff reduction from Fiscal Year 2013 to Fiscal Year 2012.

The goal: To save $39 million. The method: Eliminating 314* of 2,298 staff positions (many through attrition and voluntary buyouts). The reason? Compensating a major revenue drop that won't be fully felt until 2017. 

LCRA sells electricity to utilities, and that task alone accounts for 70% of its revenue. But a third of its corporate customers have withdrawn their business. From Austin American-Statesman:

In 2011, 10 customers, including the City of Georgetown, the Guadalupe Valley Electric Co-op and New Braunfels Utilities, said they would not be renewing their contracts, citing electric rates that were not competitive. This was the first time those customers' contracts had come up for renewal since 1991. 

If all 10 find other suppliers, the LCRA anticipates a one-year electric generation revenue drop of $291 million, to $692 million, from 2016 to 2017 ...

To try to lure those customers back and keep remaining ones, the LCRA has said that except for changes due to fuel costs, it will keep electric rates flat for the next four years.

LCRA also plans to acquire 100,000 acre feet of new water supplies by 2017.

*Clarification: From July 1, 2011 to April 9, 2012 (before the most recent reductions in force), LCRA had 33 involuntary reductions in force, 19 retirements, and 132 departures because employees chose to participate in the voluntary severance program.