Austin

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.

Austinite Karin Richmond has turned the real-life story of a brutal attack on her into a novel. KUT's Jennifer Stayton talks with Richmond about "Blood on the Threshold" and her road to physical and psychological recovery.

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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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.

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Austin
5:27 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Austin Architects, Ecologists Create Site-Sensitive Edgeland House

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

In Austin, a group of architects and ecologists have created a house and landscape design that celebrates the unique climate, living species, and cultural traditions of Central Texas.

It’s perched on an east Austin bluff overlooking the Colorado River, on a reclaimed industrial site. KUT’s Cathy Byrd toured the home, called Edgeland House, with architect Thomas Bercy, of Bercy Chen Studio, and ecologist Mark Simmons, director of the Ecosystem Design Group for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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2013 Legislature
2:42 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Senate Moves to Block Capitol Complex Developments

The State Senate will soon vote on a bill that would require developers wishing to build in the Capitol Complex to submit a bill in the legislature to gain approval.
Liang Shi for KUT

UPDATE (4/4/13): Senate Bill 507 by State Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) passed the Senate unanimously today.

The bill would limit public private partnerships, or P3’s, in the area around the Capitol grounds.  The bill is closely related to SB 894 by State Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston).

Last month Watson even likened his bill to a failsafe for Whitmire’s initial bill in a committee hearing last month. 

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Austin
7:51 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

Travis County Commissioners Hope for Property Tax Flexibility

Jillian Schantz Patrick, KUT News

Travis County Commissioners met today and spent a lengthy amount of time discussing a bill that may not see legislative light of day.

HB 3348 from Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, would amend the Texas Constitution to give cities and counties flexibility in setting property tax rates – allowing them to set a tax rate of a specific dollar amount instead of the 20 percent traditionally used for property tax exemptions.  

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Drought
3:10 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

As Drought Persists, Grocery Prices Rise

The effects of drought caused a rise in grocery prices this year, as Texas and other agriculture producing states grapple with dry farming and ranching conditions.
flickr.com/roofless

The cost of groceries in Texas has gone up as a result of drought conditions in Texas and across the country.

A survey from the Texas Farmers Bureau finds that the price of a uniform basket of goods for an average Texas shopper is $46.40, a five and a half percent rise over last fiscal quarter.

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Austin
8:53 am
Tue March 26, 2013

It’s Official: Barton Springs Pool is Reopening This Saturday

Barton Springs Pool is scheduled to reopen Saturday after being closed since mid-December.
KUT News

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story erroneously said the repairs to the bypass tunnel and dam at Barton Springs Pool was part of the Master Plan process.

Barton Springs Pool is scheduled to reopen this Saturday.

The swimming hole has been closed since December, as the city made repairs to the pool's bypass tunnel and the dam on the downstream side of the pool.

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Austin
6:40 pm
Fri March 22, 2013

March 25th: A History of Hail in Austin

Hail in the Jollyville area of Austin, March 25, 2009
Flickr/Chelsea Gomez http://www.flickr.com/photos/pyxopotamus/3385869861/in/photostream/

This Monday, March 25, has a date with a dark recent history here in the Austin area. The last three major hail storms we’ve had all have been on March 25, in 1993, 2005 and 2009.

“It is kind of unusual that three of the costliest storms have occurred on that individual date,” says Mark Hanna of the Insurance Council of Texas

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