Austin

Austin
2:18 pm
Tue July 26, 2011

Wealth Gap Rises Nationally and in Austin

Disproportionate levels of home foreclosures have led to an increased wealth gap between whites and African Americans or Hispanics.
Photo by KUT News

A recent Pew Research Center analysis of federal data found that the wealth gap between whites and African American and Hispanics is at a 25 year high. Nationally, the median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households. The study also found that minority families were hit harder by the recession:

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parks and recreation
5:00 pm
Mon July 25, 2011

City Needs Help Saving Park Trees From Drought

A tree in Bull Creek District Park
Photo by KUT News

The record drought is imperiling Austin’s trees. But the city’s Parks and Recreations Department only has about 120 employees to maintain about 15,000 acres of parkland. So the Austin Parks Foundation is hoping it can convince friendly neighbors to help its trees survive.

Their preventive measure is simple but it will require you to break a sweat: spreading mulch around the base of the tree.

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parks and recreation
12:41 pm
Mon July 25, 2011

Turner-Roberts Recreation Center to Close Until January

The Turner-Roberts Recreation Center is located on Colony Loop Drive in northeast Austin.
Photo by City of Austin

The Turner-Roberts Recreation Center in Northeast Austin will be shut from August 1 until early 2012 so the city can conduct a structural investigation on the 7,700 square foot facility.

Last year, the building experienced some “structural movement”, according to David Smythe-Macaulay, a project manager with the City of Austin’s Public Works Department.

“We brought in the architect and a forensic engineer to look into the cause of the movement,” Smythe-Macaulay said. “And hopefully come up with repairs and get those done.”

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News Brief
7:47 am
Mon July 25, 2011

Top Morning Stories Monday, July 25, 2011

Warren Jeffs faces sexual assault charges in San Angelo. Jury selection in the high-profile case begins today.
Photo courtesy Reagan County Sherriff's Department

Warren Jeffs Trial seeking Jurors

Jury selection starts in San Angelo today in the sexual assault trial of polygamist religious leader Warren Jeffs. Jury selection in the high profile case is expected to be difficult, since few people in the town are unfamiliar with the case. If convicted, Jeffs faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for sexual assault of one child and aggravated sexual assault of another. He will face bigamy charges in a separate case in October.

Leffingwell to Announce Possible Ban on Plastic Bags

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Austin
4:59 pm
Sat July 23, 2011

APD Reaches Out to North Austin Community

The Austin Police Department hosted an event near Rundberg as a part of their outreach efforts launched this summer.
Erika Aguilar, KUT News

Austin Police say they are trying to get to know the Rundberg and North Austin community better. The department invited residents to a meet-and-greet event Saturday in the Northgate Boulevard area.

Austin Police say crime in the neighborhood is higher than other parts of Austin, but is often not reported.

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Austin
4:55 pm
Sat July 23, 2011

Planetarium Hosts Space Day

The Austin Planetarium says they are celebrating the old successes of the space shuttle era and the new breakthroughs to come.
Photo Courtesy of the Austin Planetarium

Austin Planetarium hosted an Austin Space Day event to honor the end of the space shuttle era. The shuttle Atlantis returned to Earth on Thursday, capping the program's final mission.

Texas has played a large role in NASA’s history. Austin Planetarium director Torvald Hessel said he isn’t worried about citizens losing interest in space missions.

“ [From] the kids, parents and scientists that I talk to, there is so much innate interest in  science, astronomy, engineering and also human space flight,” Hessel said. "I really see this as a new opportunity."

Austin
10:29 am
Sat July 23, 2011

Some Council Members Want To Postpone WTP4

Photo by Liang Shi for KUT News.

The debate over Water Treatment Plant Four returns to City Hall this week. Council members will direct city staff to figure out how much it would cost to postpone building WTP4, which is under construction now.

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Austin
2:41 pm
Fri July 22, 2011

City of Austin Organizes Thriller Flash Mob

Over a hundred children gathered in Zilker Park this morning to be part of a Thriller flash mob.
Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

Little zombies invaded Zilker Park this morning.

Over a hundred children gathered for a flash mob as part of National Park and Recreation Month. Children were called to perform the dance from Michael Jackson's Thriller music video for submission in a contest. The National Recreation and Parks Association invited cities  to submit a video of their best flash mob. 

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Austin
2:30 pm
Fri July 22, 2011

Austin Unemployment Rate Rises in June

Despite a net gain of 1400 new jobs in Central Texas in June, the area's unemployment rate jumped to 7.6%.
Photo by Jessie Wang for KUT News

The Texas Workforce Commission puts the Central Texas jobless rate at 7.6 percent in June, up 0.8 percent over May.  Despite that, the Workforce Commission reports that 1,400 new private sector jobs were created in Austin last month. Lisa Givens, a commission spokesperson, says it's not uncommon to see both the unemployment rate and the number of newly-created jobs rise at the same time.

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HOMELESS
10:45 am
Fri July 22, 2011

Group Helps Homeless Cool Down

"House the Homeless" is trying to round up hats with tails that drape down over the neck and ears to help homeless people, like these lined up outside Caritas in Austin, defend themselves against 100-plus degree temperatures
Photo by KUT News

House the Homeless is trying to find hats with tails to help homeless folks to try to help keep them cool on these blistering summer days.

The Swap-A-Hat program is looking for hats that have a fabric sheet, or tail, that hangs down and covers the back of the wearer's neck and ears. The group is also giving out UV-rated sunglasses for dollar donations.

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Top Morning Stories
9:00 am
Fri July 22, 2011

Top Morning Stories for July 22, 2011

Perry Points Finger at Obama for Ending Era

Governor Rick Perry criticized President Obama over the cost-saving decision to end the space shuttle era Thursday. He accuses the Obama Administration for  “leaving American astronauts with no alternative but to hitchhike into space.” NASA is set to have astronaut expeditions to an asteroid by 2025 and later to Mars. Perry said in a statement yesterday that President Obama is leading federal agencies astray through his  plans.

Poultry Giant Recalls Two Products

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Austin
12:17 pm
Thu July 21, 2011

Wildflower Center Pays Tribute to Namesake

Sunday will be the fourth year the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center will pay tribute to their namesake with a free all day event for children and families.
Image courtesy of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center will pay tribute to the woman who got the center started.

To commemorate the day former President Lyndon Johnson presented his wife with 50 pens he used to sign beautification laws she inspired, the center will offer free admission and several activities this Sunday.

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Austin
12:14 pm
Thu July 21, 2011

Austin Energy Considers Wind Power Deal

Austin Energy plans to seek approval from the Austin City Council to contract with wind turbine companies along the Texas coastline.
Photo courtesy of Austin Energy

Officials at Austin Energy are studying a couple of bids that could let the utility buy wind power generated along the Texas Coast.

City Council approval by mid-September could move the utility toward negotiations for 20 or 25-year contracts with two undisclosed companies.

Current prices for wind power fall between $35-$45 per megawatt hour, compared to the current price for natural gas at $36-$44 per megawatt hour.

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News Brief
5:52 am
Thu July 21, 2011

Top Morning Stories July 21, 2011

Texas executed Mark Stroman late Wednesday night. Stroman went on a racially motivated shooting spree shortly after 9/11, leaving two people dead and one injured.
Photo courtesy of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Texas Executes Man Convicted in Post 9/11 Shootings

The State of Texas executed a man last night who went on a shooting spree after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Mark Stroman was put to death for killing Dallas-area convenience store clerk Vasudev Patel. Stroman also killed Waqar Hasan and injured Rais Bhuiyan. Stroman said he was targeting people who he thought were of Middle Eastern descent. 

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News Brief
5:45 am
Wed July 20, 2011

Top Morning Stories July 20, 2011

Rais Bhuiyan (center) was shot by a stranger shortly after 9/11. He's trying to stop the shooter's execution scheduled for Wednesday.
Photo by Erika Aguilar for KUT News

Hate Crime Victim Trying to Delay Attacker's Execution

A federal court in Austin this morning will hear the case of a man who is trying to stop the execution of his attacker. Rais Bhuiyan survived a hate crime shooting after 9/11. He’s suing the State of Texas to halt the execution of Mark Stroman, who also shot and killed two people in the Dallas area in October 2001.

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