Austin

Life & Arts
10:10 am
Thu May 29, 2014

Austin Favorite Sarah Bird's New Novel Travels New - and Old - Ground

Austin novelist Sarah Bird's new book is entitled, "Above the East China Sea."
Filipa Rodrigues

Austin novelist Sarah Bird has been writing for a while. Long enough to become beloved in Austin and build a loyal following for her fun, easy stories with an Austin flair. But this month, Sarah Bird's about to ruin her reputation. Her new novel, Above the East China Sea looks at life from a completely different perspective. 

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Rising Property Values
3:36 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Can Anything Be Done to Lower Austin's Property Taxes?

Many people in Travis County were shocked to learn how much their property values – and consequently, their property taxes – might go up this year.
flickr.com/polymerchemist

The deadline to file a protest regarding your property tax appraisal is fast approaching – Monday, June 2.

Many people in Travis County are shocked to learn how much their property values – and consequently, their property taxes ­– might go up this year. County officials say valuations have risen roughly 15 percent on average this year. But as seen in this local Reddit discussion, many homeowners are facing 25 percent and 30 percent increases ­– and higher.

Sticker shock is so prevalent, Travis County Commissioners say their phones haven't stopped ringing from residents calling, asking for help. 

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Austin
2:44 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Austin's the Only Fast-Growing City in the Country Losing African-Americans

Charles E. Urdy Plaza on E. 11th Street – gateway to the former "negro district" in Austin's 1928 city plan. Austin is the only city with double-digit growth from 2000-2010 to have a net loss in its African-American population.
flickr.com/wallyg

The overall Austin population exploded between 2000 and 2010, growing by more than 20 percent. But a University of Texas study [PDF] finds that Austin was the only U.S. city experiencing double-digit population growth that saw its African-American population not only not keep pace, but actually decline.

"Among the ten fastest-growing major cities in the United States, Austin stood out in one crucial respect: it was the only such city that suffered a net loss in its African- American population," says study author Dr. Eric Tang. "Indeed, between 2000 and 2010, Austin was a statistical outlier; it was the only major city in the United States to experience a double-digit rate of general population growth coincident with African-American population decline." 

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Turning The Corner
11:55 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Gentrification or a Renaissance in Austin's Dove Springs Neighborhood?

The new Arbor Ridge development located on Nuckols Crossing Road has some homes finished and some under construction.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Dove Springs in Southeast Austin is just six miles from downtown – what many real estate agents consider a prime location. But the area is also one of the poorest parts of Austin. And for decades, it's had a less than desirable reputation.

Despite all that, change is coming to Dove Springs – with some believing they're witnessing the beginning of gentrification.

The area has traditionally been filled with low-income renters, many who are recent immigrants and don't speak English. Data may still point to those facts. But on the ground, the neighborhood is going through what many believe is a fast transformation.

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Austin
10:53 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Five Things You May Not Have Known About Eeyore’s Birthday

The scene at Eeyore's 2013 celebration in Peace Park.
Marissa Barnett for KUT News

Update: See some photos from Eeyore's 2014 bash below.

Original story (April 25):  It doesn’t get much more Austin weird than Eeyore’s Birthday Party – the annual Pease Park bacchanal known for outrageous costumes and booming drum circles.

This Saturday, April 26 is the 50th anniversary of the party. To mark the occasion, KUT News puts down the turkey leg to bring you five things you may not have known about the long-running festival.

  • It started as a UT thing.

Scott Sexton is the president of the Friends of the Forest foundation, the Austin nonprofit that puts on Eeyore’s birthday. He notes that the first celebration was dreamt up by UT English major Lloyd Birdwell Jr. and his fellow students.

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Boston Marathon, One Year Later
7:48 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Austin Runner Returns to Finish Boston Marathon

Michael Breen was 150 yards away from the finish line for the Boston Marathon last year before two explosions cut him off.
flickr.com/marc_buehler

Nearly 300 runners from the Austin area will be participating in the Boston Marathon today. It’s a group undeterred by two explosions that ripped through the crowds at the race last year, killing three spectators and wounding more than 260 others.

For many runners, the marathon ended abruptly. Race organizers invited most of those athletes back to run again this year. One Austinite isn’t passing up that chance.

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American Youthworks
9:01 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Austin Dropout Recovery School Faces Closure After 30 Years

Parc Smith is American Youthworks' CEO. He stands by a tree that highlights the achievements of his students. Students follow a self-paced program until they finally graduate high school.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News.

The fate of an Austin charter school that has run a dropout recovery program for more than 30 years will be decided later this month.

American Youthworks faces closure under a new law that allows the Texas Education Agency to revoke licenses from underperforming charter schools, thus opening those licenses to other organizations.

TEA spokesperson Debbie Ratcliffe says Senate Bill 2 is pretty clear. That’s the law passed last year that, among other things, gave TEA teeth to revoke the licenses of failing charter schools. “If a school has received the state’s lowest, either academic or financial, rating for three straight years, it automatically is closed,” Ratcliffe says.

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Austin
12:00 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Historic Architects Look to Preserve a Rapidly Changing Austin

Anthony's Laundry & Dry Cleaning in Austin's Clarksville neighborhood. Architectural historians from all over the country will be gathering in Austin this week.
Ilana Panich-Linsman, KUT News

Austin's growth has been fast and furious. And due to the speed with which the city is growing, many historic structures have disappeared.

That's why all this week, historic architects from across the world are in Austin, focusing on the city as a sort of case study: what’s OK to demolish and what deserves to be preserved.

Historic architecture can range from churches to bridges and businesses. One historic business is Anthony’s Laundry & Dry Cleaners off of West Lynn Street, in the Clarksville neighborhood.

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Toy Joy Closing
4:39 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Why Some Stores Fail and Others Thrive in Austin's Second Street District

Austin's Second Street District, seen in 2010. The nascent neighborhood has seen lots of tenant turnover since it launched.
Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Update: Toy Joy was bought Monday by Fred Schmidt, owner of Wild About Music on E. Sixth Street. Schmidt told Time Warner Cable News he plans to keep the store downtown. "We're going to continue with this business as it has been — only make it more successful than it has [been] in recent years,” Schmidt said. “We're very committed to Toy Joy, its concept, its premise and what it has been in Austin for several decades now."

Original story (March 31): Toy Joy will be auctioned off today. The iconic Austin store closed its doors on March 16, after struggling for the last few years.

In 2013, the owners thought a new location in a hip part of town would help, so they moved from Guadalupe Street – close to the Drag – and into downtown’s Second Street District. But Toy Joy didn’t make it.

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Austin
9:08 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Austin Toy Museum Looks to Open Next Year

Over 200,000 toys line Caleb Zammit's home. He's one of a group of collectors looking to open a toy museum in Austin next year.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

A new museum is getting ready to open in Austin, but this one doesn't focus on art or state history. This one is all about toys.

A group of Austin collectors are creating a home to display vintage toys, ranging from the 1900s to the 1980s.

Caleb Zammit is part of the group putting together the museum. He's been collecting toys for years. Right now, his collection of over 200,000 toys is neatly arranged in almost every room of his house.

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Austin
3:45 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

In Time for SXSW, a Brief History of Austin's 'Don't Move Here' T-Shirts

An artist's rendering of the back of the Wannabes' 1997 t-shirt.

The story of Austin's various "Don’t Move Here" t-shirts is, in many ways, the story of Austin itself: the transformation of an undiscovered secret into something much bigger. 

While the "Don’t Move Here" meme certainly predates its first recorded t-shirt printing – not to mention the concept of a "meme" itself – modern history posits spring 1997 as the time it was first put to cotton.

It was then that Austin pop-rockers The Wannabes minted a batch of merch bearing the slogan.

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Education
12:46 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Austin Drivers Should Slow Down in School Zones Today Though Lights May Not Flash

City crews are working to program lights to flash today.
commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Lan56

Many area school kids are in class today despite the Presidents' Day holiday. They’re making up for a day missed due to winter weather.

City of Austin Transportation crews are working to manually re-program flashing school zone lights warning drivers to slow down. But only about one-sixth were ready before the start of school this morning.

“If a driver comes up to a school zone and they know that the school is in session and the flasher aren’t going, they should use that same level of caution, drive slower and be aware of students in the area," city spokesperson Samantha Park said.

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Austin
8:20 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Presidents to Gather in Austin this Spring for Civil Rights Summit

President Lyndon Johnson meets with Martin Luther King in the White House Cabinet Room in 1966. April's summit will highlight the changes that the civil rights movement brought to America.
Yoichi R. Okamoto Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum

The history and the current state of the civil rights struggle will be examined at a three-day summit in Austin this spring. The conference will focus on President Lyndon Johnson’s civil rights legacy.

The Civil Rights Summit will be held April 8-10 at the LBJ Presidential Library – and will mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act by President Johnson.

Mark Updegrove, director of the LBJ Presidential Library, says two former presidents have confirmed their attendance: Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. President George W. Bush has not yet confirmed, and there is the possibility of President Barack Obama attending.

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Austin
2:13 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Why This Austin Professor's Living In a Dumpster For a Year

Jeff Wilson will be spending 2014 in a 33-square-foot dumpster in the name of sustainability.
Jeff Wilson

An Austin professor has survived the first night in his year-long plan to live in a dumpster.

Dr. Jeff Wilson – aka “Professor Dumpster” – is an environmental science professor at Huston-Tillotson University. He’s also the face of The Dumpster Project, an educational experiment that aims to transform a 33-square-foot trash dumpster into a fully sustainable space.

"There was no mint on the pillow," he says, "and it wasn't exactly the W, but I did stay warm."

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Open Data
2:23 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Interactive: Austin is Mapping New 3-1-1 Call Data Online Every Day

A screen shot of 3-1-1 data visualized on the City of Austin website. New 3-1-1 data is refreshed on the site daily.
data.austintexas.gov

The City of Austin has started uploading information on 3-1-1 service calls – citizen requests for things like animal services, graffiti abatement, making noise complaints and more – in hopes software developers utilize the data for public apps.

In 2001, the City of Austin established 3-1-1 as a way for citizens to make non-emergency calls separate from police calls. According to austintexas.gov, Austin 3-1-1 receives over a million calls a year, which translates into some 200,000 departmental service requests each year. Citizens are also able to submit service requests online.

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Life & Arts
6:00 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Austin PBS Series Showcases Texas, 'One Square Mile' at a Time

The Austin city limits sign on Highway 71. Austin is one of nine cities profiled in “One Square Mile: Texas,” a new series from KLRU Austin PBS.
One Square Mile: Texas

What does Texas look like one square mile at a time? That’s the question producers of a new series airing on PBS stations across the state are asking.

Texas is made up of more than 268,000 square miles. A new series produced by KLRU Austin PBS, “One Square Mile: Texas,” focuses on just nine of them – from the Texas Panhandle to the Gulf Coast and several places in between, including Austin.

The 26-minute documentaries follow eight to 10 people in each place: teachers, police officers, pastors and artists. And it does so with the requirement they all live or work within one square mile of each other.

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Austin
8:16 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Even An 85 MPH Highway Can't Fix Austin's Traffic Tangle

Texas Highway 130, a new Austin bypass toll road, is so far east of the city that it sees little traffic. The state recently raised the speed limit there to 85 mph in hopes of boosting its use.
Wikipedia

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:30 pm

Four decades ago, Austin, Texas, had a population of 250,000 and a reputation as a laid-back oasis of liberal politics and live music. Today, the Austin metro area is home to 1.8 million people and has some of the nation's worst traffic congestion.

For years, the city has done little to address the growing problem. But most in the Texas capital now agree something has to change if Austin is to save what's left of its quirky character.

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Mopac Improvement Project
12:05 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Weather Postpones New MoPac Construction (Update)

Construction work this week on MoPac includes restriping lanes.
Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

Update: Austin's latest surge of winter weather means postponement of lane restriping work on MoPac.

While lane closures continue, lane restriping  probably won't begin until after Friday's expected rains, and possible freezing precipitation on Saturday. See the tweet below:

Original story (Dec. 9): Construction work on MoPac is about to get underway. Overnight lane closures begin tonight as crews install construction signs in preparation for restriping portions of the road.

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JFK Assassination: 50 Years Later
4:23 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

After Dallas, Austin Would Have Been JFK's Next Stop on Texas Tour

Among the stops planned for President Kennedy in Austin: a fundraiser at the Municipal Auditorium and Convention Center, where the Long Center for the Performing Arts now sits.
Austin History Center/Image No. PICA 07067

It was supposed to be a five-city tour of Texas.

Over the course of two days in November 1963, President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline were scheduled to visit San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth and Dallas – ending with a stop in Austin. 

The Kennedys arrived in San Antonio Thursday, Nov. 21. From there, they traveled to Houston and before packing it in at the Texas Hotel in Fort Worth.

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JFK Assassination
4:37 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Where Were You? Austin Recalls the JFK Assassination

As a teen DJ, John Aielli broke the news to Killeen that President Kennedy had been shot.
KUT

As the country marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, KUT asked Austinites to share their personal stories about where they were on that day.

From Boulder, Colorado to Tripoli, Lebanon, Austinites remembered precise details from what could have been another normal Friday in November, fifty years ago.

KUTX's John Aielli was a 17-year-old DJ at a local station in Killeen when he had to break into programming to announce the president had been shot in Dallas.

"I'll never forget it." 

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