Austin

News, events, and entertainment happening in and around Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

WTP4
Image courtesy City of Austin

Not a drop of rain in the sky, but it was a wet day at City hall, with the debate over Water Treatment Plant 4 flooding out other items set for the morning’s agenda. 

With a series of close votes, City Council dedicated $300 million dollars to the completion of Water Treatment Plant 4. It effectively gives the project a final green light.  The votes came after hours of sometimes emotional public comment and council discussion. Water Utility Director Greg Mazaros said it made sense for council to approve the remaining funds all in one go.

Vintage radio
Photo courtesy bricolage.108 http://www.flickr.com/photos/bricolage108/

Stories you may have heard on 90.5 FM over the past 24 hours.
KUT's Matt Largey reports on how people fleeing drug violence from the Mexican border town of Ciudad Mier are asking for help from Texas.

Meanwhile, KUT's Crystal Chavez spoke with Julian Aguilar with our reporting partner the Texas Tribune about his recent visit to a shelter housing people who fled drug violence in Ciudad Mier.

KUT's Mose Buchele tells us how shabby roads in Texas are damaging our cars to the tune of more than $20 billion a year.

Dinosaur bones under I35 in downtown Austin
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Thousands of people drive over the I-35 bridge in downtown Austin everyday, and many are probably wondering about the large metal beams poking from underneath. Some people have compared them to dinosaur bones or whale bones.

Travis Justice Complex
Photo by Erik Reyna for KUT News.

TCEQ Sunset to be Released

The Freebirds Expansion will bring 1,000 new jobs to the area
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Kramer

Traveling Austinites with a taste for “Monster” burritos can rejoice as Freebirds World Burritos will be opening twenty more locations in Texas by the end of next year. The expansion of the Austin-based (although it was founded in Santa Barbara, CA) Mexican food chain will add in between 1,000 to 1,500 jobs to the state, the company stated in a press release.

City Officials are Wondering What to do with MoPac
Photo courtesy of Google Maps

Many Austin motorists have found themselves stopped on MoPac Expressway, the North-South road that is intended to alleviate traffic on its cross-town alternative, Interstate 35.

Four Loko
Photo courtesy of Kyle James, http://www.flickr.com/photos/jameskm03/5162509741/

Back to Class in RRISD Following Bomb Threat

Students at Deerpark Middle School and Live Oak Elementary School in the Round Rock Independent School District are having classes as usual today.  The schools were evacuated yesterday after a bomb threat was made on the Internet. Superintendent Dr. Jesus H. Chavez posted this update online last night:

Here is a partial transcript of a news conference held with reporters this afternoon concerning the evacuation of Deerpark Middle School and Live Oak Elementary School in the Round Rock ISD

Sgt. John Foster with the Williamson County Sheriff's Office and Round Rock ISD spokesperson JoyLynne Occhiuzzi addressed reporters.  First, John Foster's comments. (You can download audio of his remarks here.)

John Foster: Throughout the day we found this internet connection has gone to more than just one student. We have other information that we don't feel comfortable sharing right now because obviously what we want to do, what I want to do, and what everybody wants done, is somebody needs to go to jail for making this threat. If it's legitimate or if it's not legitimate, somebody needs to go to jail.

Updated at 4:45pm: Round Rock school officials say the school is still being searched.  The WilCo Sheriff's Office is giving them a tentative re-opening time of 7 pm.  As of now, the search has not yielded anything out of the ordinary.   RRISD officials say, as far as they can tell, school is still on at Deerpark and Live Oak as usual on Wednesday.

Updated at 2:45 pm: Bomb sniffing dogs are searching Deerpark Middle School and Live Oak Elementary School in Round Rock. Both schools were evacuated around noon due because of a bomb threat.

Texas-based Lacks Stores, Inc. is filing for Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy.  Lack’s has been in business for 73 years.  In a press release, the Victoria-based furniture company said, while it's been profitable this year, lenders no longer want to help the company finance customer purchases. 

Lacks also gave some information about how it was affected by the recession:

Cathedral of Junk
Photo by Mose Buchele for KUT News

The City's Planning & Development Review Department issued a news release this morning saying that the City of Austin and the Cathedral of Junk reached an agreement to keep the structure on the property.

KUT News reported in June that the Cathedral of Junk would be allowed to remain, after city inspectors initially told owner Vince Hannemann to destroy the bizarre attraction.

ABIA
courtesy flickr.com/dawilson/

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport officials are scrambling to deal with longer security lines brought on by the continued growth in passenger traffic. Meanwhile, the Transportation and Security Administration began implementing more "thorough" pat-down procedures at the beginning of the month.

recycling plant
Photo by KUT News.

Give Your Input on Trash & Recycling

The City of Austin’s inviting people to a workshop tonight to talk trash and recycling.  The city’s looking for input on its Solid Waste Management Master Plan.  That plan outlines the programs, infrastructure, staffing, and funding needed for Austin to reach zero waste by 2040, the city’s goal to drastically reduce the amount of waste going to landfills.  Tonight’s workshop is from 6:30 to 8 at Fiesta Gardens.

Austin City Hall
Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Two first-term Austin City Council members announced they will seek reelection in May 2011. Place 3 council member Randi Shade was first to market with her press release at 2:15 p.m. today. Less than an hour later, at 3:11 p.m., Place 1 council member Chris Riley announced that he too would be seeking reelection.

Aston Kauai Beach at Makaiwa
Image courtesy promotional video (below)

Local real estate firm JMI Realty is pitching in to buy a Marriot hotel on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The Austin Business Journal first reported it today based on a news release issued this morning, although the deal was first announced back in late-October.

JMI Realty is acquiring the 10 acre property in what is its first joint venture with Dallas-based Behringer Harvard. The price was not disclosed.

Fort hood ceremony
Photo by KUT News.

Key Hasan Hearing Wrapping Up

The Article 32 military hearing for the accused Fort Hood shooter resumes today.  Major Nidal Hasan’s hearing has been on hold for about three weeks.  This hearing will be determine whether he will be court-martialed for last year's mass shooting on the Army post that left 13 dead and 31 wounded. 

Gretch Sanders for KUT News

Building Blocks for Learning

Lego bricks literally came to life at the Delco Events Center Saturday, as kids from across Central Texas took part in a First Lego League competition. News 8 Austin reports the Legos were married with electronics, to give budding engineers a chance to create task-oriented robots.

Report Highlights License Suspension Work Around

Austin should have a new police monitor next month. It’s a civilian position responsible for promoting good relations between the police department and the public. The police monitor’s office, created in 2002, also takes complaints about officers.

Six semifinalists are interviewing for the position today.

homeless man in austin
Photo by Erik Reyna for KUT News

Austin City Manager Marc Ott made news this week when he revealed that he voluntarily went homeless for 24 hours a few months ago. Ott said he wanted to experience firsthand what it was like to live on the streets.

Bobcat
Photo courtesy of Texas State University-San Marcos

Austin Police Monitor Interviews Today

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