Austin

Formula 1
11:20 am
Thu November 14, 2013

MAP: F1 Fan Fest Road Closures in Downtown Austin

A scene at last year's Austin Fan Fest on F1 weekend.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: Austin's second Formula 1 weekend has come and gone. Now comes the exodus of fans and visitors.

Read more here: Record Airport Travel Expected as Austin F1 Ends; Downtown Road Closures Persist (MAP)

Original story: It’s Grand Prix weekend in Austin, and that means tens of thousands of visitors coming to Central Texas. It also means a free downtown festival focused on racing activities, vintage vehicles and live music.

Austin Fan Fest starts today and runs through midnight every day, except Sunday when it ends at 8 p.m.

Road closures for the festival began Wednesday and will continue through Sunday. Street closures stretch from Congress Avenue to San Antonio Street and between Second and Fifth Streets.

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Halloween Floods
8:08 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Where To Get Help If You've Experienced Flood Damage (Update)

City crews help clean up the Dove Springs neighborhood on Monday Nov. 4 after over 600 homes were damaged in flooding over the weekend.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Update (Wednesday): State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez and State Sen. Judith Zaffirini are hosting the second of two Austin-Travis County flood relief fund town halls tonight. The event is at Mendez Middle School in Dove Springs, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.  

On Facebook, Rep. Rodriguez writes a warm dinner will be served, and that Capital Metro shuttle service between Mendez Middle School and Perez Elementary School will be available. 

Travis County is hosting a meeting on home buyouts for the Timber Creek area tonight. “Buyout applications are used to seek additional funding, apply for grants, and advise the Commissioners Court on budgetary needs for buyout,” the county says.

The meeting, for Timber Creek residents only, is tonight at the South Rural Community Center in Del Valle, at 6:30 p.m.

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Geographic Representation
7:20 am
Wed November 13, 2013

MAP: The Newest Changes to Austin's Proposed City Council Districts (Update)

A new map of Austin’s proposed council districts is ready for input, before final adoption later this year.
Credit Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission

Update: Austinites have just two more opportunities to weigh in on a proposed city council district map.

A citizens group is dividing Austin into 10 geographic districts. Starting next November, each district will elect one city council member. Everyone will vote on the mayor.

The district-drawing group is expected to approve the final map soon.

Wednesday's public meeting is at The Lodge on Dawson Road in south Austin. It starts at 6:30 p.m.

Thursday's public meeting is at the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex on Hargrave Street in east Austin. It also starts at 6:30 p.m.

Click here to see an interactive version of the "official proposed final map" drawn by the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.

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NPR
1:49 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Interview: The Outgoing 'Voice of NPR' on His Austin Ties

Frank Tavares won't be idle when his work as the "voice of NPR" is done. He is a professor of communication at Southern Connecticut State University and an author.
Richard Glinka

You know Frank Tavares. You just don't know that you know Frank Tavares.

For over 30 years, Tavares has been the authoritative but friendly voice of those NPR underwriting announcements. You know, the ones that say "Support for NPR comes from …"

Starting this month, Tavares will be stepping away from those duties to make way for a new voice. Sabrina Farhi, the new voice of NPR underwriting, will be based at the group's headquarters in Washington, D.C. Tavares lives and teaches in Connecticut, and records the announcements remotely.

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Homelessness
4:55 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Here's What Austin's Newest Housing For the Chronically Homeless Looks Like

Each home will have its own garden. The idea is to have beauty all around the property.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

Plans are moving ahead in the Austin area to house about 200 people who are chronically homeless.  Community First Village has been about a decade in the making and in just a matter of months, it will break ground.

The property is 27 acres, with little cottages, mobile homes and even some teepees dotting the landscape. A three-acre community garden is also on-site. 

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Veterans Day
11:56 am
Mon November 11, 2013

America's Oldest Veteran Richard Overton Gets Standing Ovation from Obama

Richard Overton, the oldest living veteran of World War II, receives a standing ovation after U.S. President Barack Obama paid tribute to him today during a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
Reuters /Kevin Lamarque /Landov

America’s oldest living World War II veteran lives in Austin. And today, he was the guest of honor for a very notable host: President Barack Obama.

Today wasn’t the first time 107-year-old Richard Overton made the trek to Washington D.C. For this May’s Armed Forces Day, Overton was part of an Honor Flight to the nation’s capital. Nonprofit group Honor Flight Austin flies World War II veterans to D.C. to show them the national memorial built in their honor.

As USA Today reports, when Overton visited the capital this spring, he expressed a wish to meet President Barack Obama. “The president was out of town that day,” the paper writes, but Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s office facilitated a return visit to D.C. this weekend. And this time, Overton’s request came true.

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Veterans Day
8:47 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Veterans Day 2013: What's Open, What's Closed and What's Going On

Most city offices are closed Monday for Veterans Day.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Veterans Day Parade:

Travis County and the City of Austin are holding the annual Veterans Day Parade on Monday to honor service men and women.

The Grand Marshal of this year’s commemoration and parade is Austinite Richard Arvine Overton, who, at age 107, is the oldest living World War II veteran in the United States.

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Halloween Floods
6:38 am
Mon November 11, 2013

How You Can Help Austin's Flood Victims (Update)

Anna Vallejo cries as she looks at the damage to her flooded house on Bluff Springs Road in Austin, Texas, on Thursday October 31, 2013. She lost all her belongings in the flood.
Jay JannerMCT /Landov

Update (Monday): The city has released new information regarding the Halloween floods that claimed five lives. Here’s some numbers conveying the extent of the damage:

  • 659: Number of homes damaged
  • 259: Number of homes that received major damage                           
  • 15:  Number of homes destroyed
  • 1,300: Tons of debris removed from the affected area

Residents of southeast and southwest Austin are still in need of help. Fortunately, there’s several ways you can lend a hand.

Volunteer:

The Austin Disaster Relief Network is looking for volunteers to help with demolition and cleanup of affected areas. Volunteers are asked to wear jeans, gloves, masks, and hard sole shoes, and bring shovels, utility knives, and hammers if possible.

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Halloween Floods
3:19 pm
Sat November 9, 2013

Over a Week Since Flooding, Dead Animals Litter Onion Creek

Flooding in Onion Creek left massive amounts of debris that volunteers are now removing.
Credit Mose Buchele, KUT News

A dead horse, dog, goat, and deer were among the putrefying animals that clean-up volunteers found today along a small strip of Onion Creek in the Bluffs Springs neighborhood of Travis County. 

"Somebody should be helping, at least coming and getting these animals out of here. I mean, they're decaying where [people] live," said Lina Meaux, a volunteer helping in the cleanup efforts.

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Halloween Floods
5:35 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

FEMA Finishing its Flood Assessments – But a Declaration Could Take Months

Richard Rivera inventories some of the things he could salvage from his home. FEMA investigators are looking to conclude their assessments soon.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

In Onion Creek, the sun shone brightly Friday morning. It’s a welcome change from a week ago, when flood waters devastated the southeast Austin neighborhood.

But that’s not what’s giving survivors hope. The hope comes from seeing FEMA investigators taking pictures and measurements.

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Halloween Floods
3:30 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Firefighters' Dog Rescue Goes Viral, But Pets Still Lost After Austin Flood

This photo of Austin firefighters Matt Harvey and Michael Cooper rescuing a dog named Panda went viral on Facebook – but the Humane Society has still yet to identify the dog’s owner.
Preston Culver, Austin Fire Department

More than 120 pets have been brought in to the Austin Humane Society since the city's Halloween floods.

Some were rescued from the water – as seen in this photo of a dog rescue that’s been shared 7,700 times on Facebook. Others were dropped off by their owners, who need a safe place for their animals to stay while they get back on their feet.

Humane Society spokesperson Kelly Hanes says dozens of animals have been reunited with loved ones. But many others remain unclaimed – including Panda, the German Shepherd-type dog seen hugging an Austin firefighter as he carried her from the flood waters.

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Turning the Corner
10:13 am
Fri November 8, 2013

What Blockbuster Video Can Tell Us About Austin’s Digital Divide

While Blockbuster Video has fallen due to online video, the stores are doing well in a less digitally-connected part of Austin.
Flickr user trebomb, http://flic.kr/ps/dmXZU

Update: This week, Blockbuster Video announced it is closing its 300 remaining retail stores. It’s a bitter end for the rental chain, founded in Dallas, which once had 9,000 stores.

Austin’s Dove Springs neighborhood contains two of the city’s three final Blockbuster stores. And unlike the company as a whole, those stores are thriving.

In the story below, KUT examines how forces behind the chain’s closure – the Internet and the rise of streaming video – are the same forces that have kept Dove Spring’s Blockbuster stores open for years.

Original story (Oct. 4): When was the last time you rented something from a Blockbuster Video?

Austin City Council member Laura Morrison’s recollection probably speaks for most of us. “My memory doesn’t go that far these days,” she says.

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Austin
6:30 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Fun Fun Fun Fest: Staying True To Its Roots

Fun Fun Fun Fest prides itself on unexpected antics, seen here at the 2012 Festival
Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Fun Fun Fun Fest kicks off as at Auditorium Shores starting today.

The festival began eight years ago as a small music showcase in downtown Austin. Since then, it’s become one of the top independent festivals for music lovers. Known for its relaxed and creative atmosphere, the festival now includes comedy, action sports and flying tacos.

Given all it takes to put on a music festival, you wouldn’t expect as much laughter and humor from festival organizers, Transmission Events, this close to their event. But the vibe over at the temporary small east Austin office was anything but serious. It’s clear that fest creators like to have, well, fun.

“We had half-pipe diaper changing stations last year,” says Transmission and Fun Fun Fun Fest co-founder, James Moody. “They are all miniature half pipes. One time we tried to run the stats about how many black t-shirts are at our fest. I would say it’s 65 percent more than that of ACL Fest. I don’t know what it means but I know it’s true [laughing]. So, we could sit here for an hour and talk about all those little differences – it’s one big difference if you roll them all up.

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Halloween Floods
6:00 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Nearly 200 Austin Students Are Homeless Because of Onion Creek Flooding

Bene Jacobs cradles her disabled ten-year-old son Isaac as he is fitted for a replacement wheel chair. Their Onion Creek area home was devastated by the Halloween floods.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

The floods last Thursday in Onion Creek and Dove Springs damaged or destroyed more than 1,000 homes, displacing families – many of them with children. 

Bene Jacobs, her partner Lawrence, and their three children are one such family. They were rescued from the roof of her neighbor's home.

“My five year old was holding my 16 month old on top of the roof," she says.

While her family is okay, her home has been condemned.

“All of the walls are buckled and the tree fell on top of the roof so they said it’s no longer safe to enter the premise, so it’s fenced off," she says.

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Halloween Floods
11:20 am
Thu November 7, 2013

Rebuilding After Austin Floods? Watch Out For These Health Hazards

Ricardo Fabian removes damp insulation from the walls of his house in Dove Springs. Volunteers are needed to help clean up after the recent flooding in southeast Austin, but experts urge people to head down prepared.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

The Halloween flooding in Onion Creek devastated an already underserved community in southeast Austin. Now, people like 18-year-old Frank Amaya need help with the cleanup of their streets and neighborhoods.

"My home was flooded. All three cars were totaled. My Dodge ended up in a forest all crushed with other cars," Amaya said. He was one of the hundreds of people who came to Perez Elementary School Tuesday night to vent frustrations with city officials and learn about recovery efforts.

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Colony Park
4:14 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Survey Asks Colony Park Residents What They Need from the Neighborhood

Residents participate in a public input meeting for Colony Park planning last month.
Carrie Powell for KUT News

The southeast Austin neighborhood of Colony Park is being re-imagined as a model civic space. And the city’s asking the neighborhood for input on the changes.

A door-to-door survey of Colony Park residents starts today. Through the middle of the month, volunteers hope to complete 450 surveys. That’s about 10 percent of the number of households in the five Colony Park census tracts.

As KUT News previously reported, a new master plan for the Colony Park neighborhood will use a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to remake the area. The city’s in the process of planning the use of 200-plus acres of vacant, Austin-owned land near Overton Elementary School.

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Halloween Floods
11:28 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Austin Police Chief Acevedo Apologizes for Onion Creek Flood Response

More than 500 people came to Perez Elementary School in Dove Springs to learn about flood recovery efforts on Nov. 5, 2013.
KUT

More than 500 people crammed into the cafeteria of Perez Elementary School in Dove Springs, where city officials — including Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Austin Police Department Chief Art Acevedo and Deputy City Manager Michael McDonald  — answered questions about recovery efforts.

Dove Springs residents expressed anger when City Deputy Manager Michael McDonald said Red Cross and Austin Fire began rescues early Thursday morning, with one resident shouting, "No! No one came to my house!"

But the tone of the meeting shifted visibly when Police Chief Art Acevedo took to the microphone and apologized for inconsistencies in the city's response.

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Election 2013
11:09 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

HD 50 Special Election Headed for a January Runoff (Update)

Dr. Mike VanDeWalle could be headed towards a run-off against Democrat Celia Israel who leads Democrats with 31 percent in early voting numbers.
Ben Philpott for KUT News

Update: Mike VanDeWalle lead a crowded field in the race to finish out Mark Strama's (D-Austin) term as State Representative. But the local chiropractor only hovered around 40 percent of the vote.

VanDeWalle was the only Republican in the race. So even though he came in first he’s still easily trails the cumulative Democratic vote. That’s something VanDeWalle knows his team will have to address during the runoff.

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Election 2013
10:57 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Austin Voters OK $65 Million Affordable Housing Bond by Wide Margin

Apartments at M Station, an affordable apartment complex financed and operated by nonprofit Foundation Communities.
Wells Dunbar for KUT News

Election day returns show Austin’s $65 million affordable housing bond passing by a wide margin, with nearly 61 percent of voters approving the measure.

It’s the second time in a year affordable housing has been on the ballot in Austin. Last year, a similar bond proposition was narrowly defeated.

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Books
2:59 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Why Superman's Origins May Be Steeped in Judaism

Superman and author Larry Tye. Tye says part of Superman's appeal originates with the trials and tribulations of his creator.
Larry Tye

It's a bird … it's a plane … it's … you guessed it: Superman.

The high-flying Son of Krypton has been been a cultural force for 75 years and, while he's graced the panels of comic books and the silver screen, his humble beginnings and evolution over the years have reflected changing political and cultural tides, says Superman biographer Larry Tye.

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