Austin

Totally Overrated?
12:00 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Listen: The Worst Yelp Reviews of Barton Springs and Mount Bonnell

Is Barton Springs totally overrated? According to these contrary Yelp reviews, apparently so.
Flickr user David Ingram, flickr.com/dingatx

Mount Bonnell and Barton Springs are two of Austin's eternal treasures –unblemished reminders of Austin's natural beauty.

But to a handful of reviewers on Yelp, they're totally overrated.

Mount Bonnell's scenic overlook rates a solid four stars on Yelp; Austin's crown jewel, Barton Springs Pool, clocks in at four-and-a-half.  But proving you can't please everyone, a collection of contrary reviews offer an antithetical take on these two Austin institutions.

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Austin
8:27 am
Mon June 23, 2014

How Colony Park Wants to Face its Challenges as Development Looms

The proposed plan covers 208 acres in northeast Austin.
Carrie Powell for KUT News

Colony Park, out near the Travis County Expo Center, is one of those neighborhoods in Austin that’s a mixed bag. The area is getting nicer in some ways, but it’s also facing some hard-to-fix challenges.

During the last couple of years, the community has been studying the positive aspects of Colony Park in order to take advantage of them.

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Austin
8:19 am
Sat June 21, 2014

PHOTOS: Hillary Clinton Book Tour Comes to Austin's Long Center

Hillary Clinton appeared at the Long Center last night to promote her book "Hard Choices."
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

More than 2,000 people came to the Long Center for a conversation with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Clinton made Austin her 10th stop on her book tour promoting "Hard Choices," an autobiography covering a series of political events and crises  Clinton faced during her four years as Secretary of State.

The keynote address was full of lessons and accomplishments from Clinton's term. It mentioned her failures as well. 

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KUT's Summer School
3:30 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

We Learned What It's Like to Be a Beekeeper (and Only Got Stung Once)

Beekeeper Lily Rosenman blows smoke on her hive to calm the bees.
Mengwen Cao for KUT News

KUT reporters are in “Summer School.” Every Friday, KUT reporters will learn a new skill or craft from folks around town who are experts in that field.

In this class, KUT's Laura Rice takes Beekeeping 101 with a local hive owner.

Lily Rosenman was our teacher. She's been beekeeping in Austin for four years. Right now, Rosenman keeps her hive at her friend Anne Woods's home in East Austin.

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Austin
11:12 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Why the City's Cracking Down on Code Violations in Southeast Austin

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

For years, many Austin residents have made structural changes to their homes  like turning their garage into an apartment  without a permit. But the City of Austin has been taking a more proactive approach to code compliance lately, especially in Southeast Austin. 

"Austin Code is in the neighborhood daily," says Alanna Reed, a spokesperson with the city's Office of Code Compliance.

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Hmm...
1:00 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

What Is That Webby Stuff on Austin Trees?

Fall webworms don't typically do permanent damage but they may further stress already drought-stressed trees.
flickr.com/seabamirum

It’s not yet autumn but fall webworms are showing up on trees across Central Texas.

The caterpillars form webbing on leaves – and spend much of their lives eating those leaves.

"Typically people notice they have fall webworms when they start to see the webbing actually starting to cover the tips of the branches and, if they look closely at those webs or they break open those webs, they'll actually see the caterpillars inside," Wizzie Brown says.

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East Austin
4:24 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

What's Next for Kenny Dorham's Backyard? City Weighs Fate of East Austin Club

"Trust Your Struggle Collective," a painting by Shaun Burner on display at Kenny Dorham's Backyard. A city panel is set to decide whether to renew the clubs lease.
facebook.com/diversearts

UPDATE: The Urban Renewal Board has granted DiverseArts a three-month license extension for Kenny Dorham's Backyard, contingent on compliance with the issues described below.

A mainstay of East Austin's African-American cultural scene may soon find itself homeless.

Kenny Dorham’s Backyard – a two-acre outdoor space named for the bebop trumpeter who once lived in Austin's East End – has hosted all-ages concerts, poetry events and film screenings on East 11th Street since March 2005.

But tonight, city staff will recommend to Austin's Urban Renewal Agency that the annual agreement granting the Backyard use of its land be denied. The Urban Renewal Board, made up of citizen volunteers, will then vote on whether or not to renew the license agreement.

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Austin
2:57 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Austin Lifeguard Shortage Leaves Many City Pools Closed

An unidentified lifeguard watches over Barton Springs Pool in this 2011 photo. Austin's aquatic office is hustling to fill several empty lifeguard posts.
KUT

Update: The City of Austin opened three more pools over the weekend. 24 city pools are now open, while 10 remain closed.

All pools were originally scheduled to open Friday, June 6.  The city is still hiring and training lifeguards to staff the remainder of the pools.

Original story (June 12): Outside Shipe Pool Wednesday afternoon, two-year-old Redding McArdle wore two blue, inflatable arm floats – one on each arm.

But instead of splashing in the pool, Redding ran around the playground in his swim trunks because the Hyde Park neighborhood pool he’d come to swim in was closed today.

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KUT's Summer School
4:15 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

From Log to Bowl, Learning How to Turn Wood

Jim Philpott uses a flat chisel to even out the rim of a bowl in the garage workshop behind his house in Kyle.
Joe Capraro/KUT

School is finally out across Austin. But here at KUT, class is in session.

All summer long, KUT reporters will learn a new skill or craft from folks who are experts in the field. We're calling it "Summer School" and we hope you'll learn something too along the way. 

In this class, KUT's Ben Philpott gets schooled by his father, Jim, in the art of bowl turning.

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Turning the Corner
9:33 am
Fri June 13, 2014

Dove Springs: Turning the Corner in Southeast Austin

Paula Aguilar, Leonor Vargas, George Morales, Eliseo Ramos, Bob Larson and Bene Jacobs (l to r)
KUT News

Welcome to Dove Springs. 

Driving through the neighborhood, you may not realize you’re in the same city that’s home to Franklin Barbeque, Barton Springs or the Continental Club. Five miles down I-35 from the Texas Capitol lies a modest residential area in the city’s southeast corner, one of the last neighborhoods many Austin residents pass as they head to the airport. 

It’s also one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods with a history of gangs and drugs, poverty, teen pregnancy and obesity.

But it's a neighborhood filled with hardworking parents, multi-generational families and cultural diversity. There’s always been a lot of pride, but recently, residents are giving the neighborhood a voice. They’re advocating for better services, organizing events and this fall, they’ll elect a city council member to specifically represent their district.

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Turning The Corner
2:50 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

This Teen's Looking Beyond Dove Springs – But Not Forgetting Where He Came From

Isay Medrano performs with the Mendez Middle School Varsity Orchestra during their Orchestra UIL competition at Austin High School. The orchestra achieved "sweepstakes" status for superior performance three times in a row.
Sam Ortega/KUT

Mendez Middle School lies in the heart of Dove Springs. It’s the only middle school in the neighborhood – so if you grow up in the area, it’s more than likely you’ve walked these halls.

Students here deal with lots of challenges. For one, more students at Mendez have at least one parent in jail than any other school in the district. Nearly 95 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Most students are being raised by just one parent. Others are undocumented – or their parents are.

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ROT Biker Rally Weekend
4:31 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Austin Police Target Drunk Driving Over ROT Biker Rally Weekend

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

The Austin Police Department announced today two traffic safety initiatives for this weekend’s Republic of Texas Biker Rally, the largest ticketed-admission motorcycle rally in the United States.

The first initiative, Arrive Alive Central Texas, is a joint venture between APD and 21 other area law enforcement agencies that will increase police presence throughout Austin from Thursday morning until Sunday night. APD is also instituting a "No Refusal" initiative from Friday night until Sunday morning. The two measures are designed to ensure safety on the road from drunk drivers.

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Austin
7:16 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Justice Department Announces Settlement With Austin Over Firefighter Discrimination Claims

Credit Callie Hernandez for KUT

The City of Austin and the U.S. Justice Department have agreed to a settlement in a complaint over hiring practices at the Austin Fire Department (AFD).

The settlement follows an investigation finding that the AFD selection process had the effect of unfairly discriminating against African-American and Hispanic applicants.

Under the agreement, which still needs approval by a federal court, the Austin Fire Department would change its hiring process to bring it in compliance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Title VII forbids the use of employment practices such as written tests resulting in disparate impact against any group, based on factors like race or national origin. 

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View From the Boardwalk
5:18 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Photos: New Views of Austin From Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk

Downtown Austin, as seen from the Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk. Photograph by Earl McGhee.
flickr.com/ejmc

The Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk opened June 7. The 1.3 mile boardwalk completes a 10-mile loop of trail around the lake.

While a boon to runner and cyclists, the new boardwalk also lets users view downtown Austin from a fresh vantage point. Many in Austin have already utilized the boardwalk to capture new perspectives of the city after this weekend’s grand opening.

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Austin
2:58 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

How to Sound Like You're From Austin (in 90 Seconds)

Daniel Johnston's famous mural "Jeremiah the Innocent" by Guadalupe Street.
Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

What do you think of when you think of Austin?

Live music, hot summers, breakfast tacos and the people come to mind for starters. But spend a little time here, and another thing jumps out at you – the "Austin correct" pronunciation of local streets and landmarks.

Take Guadalupe Street across from the UT Campus ­– pronounced Gwad-a-loop by generations of students and residents.

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KUT's Summer School
4:00 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

We Spent a Day Blowing Glass. It'll Only Take 3 or 5 More Years to Get It Down

Joy and Wimberley Glassworks owner Tim deJong.

School is finally out across Austin. But here at KUT, class is in session.

KUT is kicking off our new "Summer School" series. Every Friday, KUT reporters will learn a new skill or craft from folks who are experts in the field. 

First up: Art class.

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Austin
2:06 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Austin's New Boardwalk Leads to This Cramped Bridge With 'Poor Safety'

A cyclists crosses the Longhorn Dam on the narrow western sidewalk that links the north and south lake trails.
Credit Mose Buchele/KUT

It's a safe bet that the new boardwalk opening along Austin's Lady Bird Lake will attract throngs of people. It’s a sleek, modern, structure. At about 14 feet wide and around a mile long, it provides plenty of space for joggers, cyclists, and people who want to take in a view of the city.

But if those people walk east, intent on realizing the boardwalk's promise of closing the loop of trails around the lake, they will find themselves at the Pleasant Valley Bridge over the Longhorn Dam– a river crossing that is neither sleek nor modern.

For years city officials have considered it potentially unsafe, and worry it could become more so with added foot traffic from the boardwalk. So far efforts to improve the crossing have failed. 

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Travis County
2:43 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

With This App, Your Pics Could Get Handicapped Parking Violators Ticketed

Parking Mobility’s founder Mack Marsh says a previous test in Travis County generated 300 tickets, so the system will generate more revenue than the program costs.
flickr.com/neilconway

Advocates for the disabled are calling out drivers for parking illegally in handicapped spaces – and they now have both technology and government on their side.

A new app called Parking Mobility allows citizen volunteers to submit photos of handicapped parking violators directly to authorities. Today, the Travis County Commissioners Court voted unanimously to move forward with a six month pilot program allowing qualified volunteers to become deputies whose submissions can turn into citations. The current penalty for illegal parking in a handicapped space is a minimum fine of $500.

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Austin
10:05 am
Mon June 2, 2014

Seen These Signs in Downtown Austin? We Met the Guy Behind Them

You may have seen them on your morning commute: handmade signs, around Lamar and Barton Springs, offering services and sentiments that seem more than a little bit off.

Public Notice: That Rash Won't Just Go Away

R.I.P. Weird, 1969 – 2014. We Will Miss You!

If You Lived Here, You'd Be Homeless By Now

Some even have a phone number attached:

I Buy Broken Dreams: 512-333-1984

They're the work of one person – a homeless man in his 30s named David. Not that he refers to himself by that name. "I go by the name of Liar, which has nothing to do with the instrument," he says.

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Turning the Corner
5:47 am
Fri May 30, 2014

For Dove Springs Principal, Data Are 'X-Rays' to Diagnose Ailing School

Student test scores have been improving at Mendez under Principal Ron Gonzales. Still, less than half of the seventh graders at Mendez passed the state assesment for Reading and Language Arts.
Bryan Winter for KUT News

This article is part of KUT's yearlong series Turning the Corner, taking a look at Austin's Dove Springs neighborhood. For decades, the neighborhood has had a negative reputation. Now, many community members are trying to change the perception of the 78744 zip code. Listen to those stories here.

Ron Gonzales loves numbers. It makes sense: he used to be a math teacher before he became a principal. His love of hard data is obvious when you enter Mendez Middle School, where he has been the principal for the past four years.  One of the first things you see is a bulletin board with each grade’s daily attendance rate. Next to it, he posts how much money the school lost due to absences that day.

“For example, yesterday we had 23 sixth graders and we also know lose $45 per scholar per day, so we lost $1,035 just for grade six," Gonzales says, pointing to the bulletin board.

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