Austin

Austin
2:23 pm
Fri May 3, 2013

Despite Viral Video Notoriety, UT's Foam Sword Friday Continues (With Nary a Bus in Sight)

University of Texas students at Form Sword Friday today.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

It’s the last day of regular classes for the spring semester at the University of Texas. And as it happens every last day of class on UT campus, some students are celebrating with Foam Sword Friday, helping students relieve stress before finals.

The campus tradition used to consist of students charging at one another from either side of Guadalupe Street in front of the University Co-Op. That is, until one student was hit by a bus last spring.

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Austin
8:02 am
Thu May 2, 2013

Money Talk: Austin City Council to Hear Budget Needs Today

Not all the action in City Hall today centers on City Council: the Charter Revision Committee is set to recommend a scheme for future elections.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

The Austin City Council begins budget talks today after hearing a financial forecast for the city two weeks ago. This morning, the council will discuss budget presentations by city departments.

For the first time, those presentations are available for everyone to watch on the city’s YouTube channel. The city also included a video describing how revenue from taxes and utilities equate to city services.

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Austin
12:34 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

The X Games Could Come to Austin Next Summer

Motocross jumping could become a familiar sight at the Circuit of the Americas, if Austin secures a three year X Games contract.
flickr.com/mustmoto

Update: It's official: The X Games are coming to Austin. Read more here from KUT News.

Original post: Austin could be getting extreme in the summer of 2014.

The Circuit of the Americas announced yesterday that the 1500 acre racetrack and concert venue is on a list of four finalists to host the 2014 Summer X Games and enter into a three-year contract with ESPN, the event’s sponsor.

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Austin
3:29 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

New Hike & Bike Trail Toilet Celebrates With a First Flush

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Runners and bikers can breathe a sigh of relief – now that they can relieve themselves in a brand new, site-specific restroom on the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail.

The new restroom features stylized concrete and carefully placed rebar. But it’s also sited on one of the most populated sections of the trail – the Johnson Creek trailhead, just below the MoPac bridge.

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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.

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Austin
5:46 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Spring Showers: More Oak Wilt?

Austin live oaks and red oaks could see higher levels of oak wilt infection this summer.
flickr.com/photos/nieve44/

Austin live oaks have benefited from recent rains, but that rain could also put them at risk for oak wilt, a fungus that spreads quickly through trees’ root systems and can kill them in as little as six weeks. 

Chris Dolan, head of oak wilt prevention for the City of Austin Arborist’s office, said oak wilt enters a tree through open wounds from pruning and forms “fungal mats,” which infect trees and make them susceptible to parasites.

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Austin
11:00 am
Wed April 24, 2013

City Conference Looks to End Unfair Housing Practices in Austin

Texas Workforce Commission investigator Robert Sumner said that these seminars benefit those fighting unfair housing practices in Austin and across the state.
Andrew Weber for KUT News

The City of Austin investigates about a hundred claims every year of so-called “unfair housing.” That’s when people are denied a place to live based on their race, disability or other factors.

The City of Austin and the Texas Workforce Commission held a conference yesterday in an effort to prevent that.

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Austin
9:14 am
Wed April 24, 2013

What's Next for Seaholm Intake Facility? Austin Wants Your Input

The Seaholm Intake Facility sits right on Lady Bird Lake.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The City of Austin is holding the first of three public meetings today over what to do with the Seaholm Intake Facility.

The city wants the community’s ideas for how to incorporate part of the old power plant along Lady Bird Lake into the park and trail system.

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Austin
11:47 am
Tue April 23, 2013

The Austin Program That Offers Down Payment Cash for Homes

Guadalupe Alcalá bought her home with assistance from a city program. She was recently able to refinance her home without having to pay a penalty to the city.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

There’s a little-known program run through the City of Austin that provides down payment money to low-income people free of charge. Of course, there's a catch: homeowners must live in the property for 10 years, or pay the city back.

Those who bought in when interest rates were almost twice what they are today, now wonder how can they refinance their mortgage without having to repay the city.

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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.
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Austin
5:08 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Austin Police on 'Heightened Alert' for MotoGP

Police Chief Art Acevedo advises Austinites to stay "vigilant" in light of the attacks in Boston.
Andrew Weber for KUT News

Austin Police say they will step up security this weekend as the city gets ready to host a major international sporting event.

Moto GP comes to the Circuit of the Americas for three days, and organizers say they expect tens of thousands of people to show up. Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo says the explosions at the Boston Marathon will lead to more awareness this weekend as the motorcycle racing fans roll in.

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Austin
8:10 am
Fri April 12, 2013

First Step Towards (Weak) Austin Energy Independent Board

Ihwa Cheng for KUT News

The Austin City Council took the first step last night towards moving the governance of Austin Energy from the council to an independent board.

The council unanimously approved the transition on first reading – with council member Kathie Tovo absent. The ordinance will have to be approved on three readings.

Council members did make several changes to the original proposal last night – weakening the power of the independent board and giving more oversight back to council.

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Austin
11:21 am
Thu April 11, 2013

Has the Austin Backlash Begun?

An ACL fest goer in 2012. Michael Corcoran compares Austin growth to a popular nightclub: “Next thing you know it’s so crowded that it’s not fun anymore.”
Tamir Kalifa for KUT News

Has the afterglow worn off?

The doting South by Southwest masses have slinked back to Williamsburg and Echo Park, doubtless telling tales about this “locals only” barbecue joint called The Salt Lick. But as they stumble out of their Austin-induced atrophy, some might ask the harsh question: Is Austin really that great?

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Austin
5:00 am
Thu April 11, 2013

Austinite Turns Story of Brutal Attack on Her Into Novel

Karin Richmond works in the arenas of tax incentive policy and economic development. "Blood on the Threshold" is her first novel, though the story is a very real one for her.
Photo by Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News.

Mirabelle Garret works in economic development in the Rio Grande Valley. In 1983, she takes a business trip to Austin and is the victim of a brutal attack in her hotel room. How brutal? Mirabelle is stabbed twelve times; a plastic garbage bag is stuffed down her throat; and she is hit in the face and temporarily blinded. Mirabelle thought she was going to die. But she lived. And worked hard to heal.

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Austin
12:53 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Austin Commission Considers Ban on 'Painful' Circus Animal Tools

The ban would specifically affect the use of "painful devices" on elephants.
flickr.com/wolfsavard

Austin’s Animal Advisory Commission is considering a recommendation at its meeting tonight that would ban the use of so-called “painful devices” – such as whips and electric prods – on elephants. The policy would mostly affect animals in town for the circus.

The idea was brought forward by a group called Action for Animals. Last year, commission chair David Lundstedt says the same group approached the commission about banning circuses with animals from coming to Austin altogether.

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Health
7:19 am
Thu April 4, 2013

Austin and Travis County Partner for National Public Health Week (Update)

National Public Health Week goes from April 1 to April 7.
flickr.com/proimos

Update: The Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department is holding a meeting this afternoon to present and outline key goals and objectives of the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP).  The action-oriented plan is designed to improve the health of Austin and Travis County residents. It will highlight community health issues like obesity and access to primary care.

The meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. at City Hall.

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Austin
10:49 am
Wed April 3, 2013

North Lamar DPS Office Vandalized (Updated)

The North Lamar DPS office will be closed until further notice due to a break-in last night.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

UPDATE: The Texas Department of Public safety has arrested the man responsible for breaking into a DPS license office last night.

DPS spokesman Tom Vinger says 40-year-old Kenneth James Vanlue was arrested on charges of criminal mischief and burglary of a building.

“Both charges are felonies. No evidence that sensitive information was compromised. However, there was extensive property damage inside the building," Vinger said.

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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. 

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Austin
8:20 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

Funky Chicken Coop Tour

South Austin Chicken Coop
Flickr, Todd Dwyer http://www.flickr.com/photos/ret0dd/5656222910/sizes/m/in/photostream/

How about farm fresh eggs without leaving your yard?

Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., it’s the Funky Chicken Coop Tour, the fifth annual tour of local neighborhood chicken dwellings in Austin.

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economy
7:18 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

Austin Unemployment: 5.4 Percent

Construction saw the largest percentage gain in Austin metro job growth.
KUT News

The Austin metro area’s unemployment rate is down almost one percentage point from a year ago, according to numbers released Friday. The jobless rate in the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos area was 5.4 percent in February. That compares with 6.2 percent from a year ago.

The industry sector with the largest percentage gain was construction. For real estate analyst Mark Sprague with Independence Title, it comes as no surprise.

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