Austin

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

Hex Rally
Photo courtesy RODAN1 http://www.flickr.com/photos/68686644@N00/

University of Texas football loyalists will gather in burnt orange tonight for a mega-pep rally aimed at cursing their fierce rivals, Texas A&M University. The "Hex Rally", as it is known, is a 25 year tradition held before the customary Thanksgiving Day game between UT and A&M.

The Texas Exes explains what to expect:

Cowboys Stadium
Image courtesy Cliff Baise http://www.flickr.com/photos/cliffbaise/

HKS, an architectural firm in Dallas, announced this morning that it will lead the team assembled to build a new Formula One track in Austin. HKS designed and built the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington and the Dell Diamond in Round Rock.

Criminal Justic Complex
Photo by Erik Reyna for KUT News.

Lawyers to Make Final Pitches in DeLay's Trial

Closing arguments are set for today in Tom DeLay's money laundering trial in Austin.  Prosecutors say the former U.S. House majority leader helped illegally funnel $190,000 in corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002.  DeLay's attorneys say the money swap at the center of the case was legal.  He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Dallas Firm to Design Formula 1

Image from KUT news.

UT Longhorns Back on Winning Track

vintage radio
Image courtesy monogatari http://www.flickr.com/photos/monogatari/

Here are some of the audio stories we've produced over the last 24 hours.

KUT's Erika Aguilar reports on body scanners at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. We don't have 'em yet, but most Texas airports do. And we'll be getting them soon.

gowalla disney pins
Image courtesy Gowalla

Austin-based Gowalla announced this morning that it's teaming up with Disney Parks to create a bunch of unique Disney themed locations for the social networking service.

Gowalla is an app that runs on smartphones and allows people to "check in" when they visit any location, from a restaurant, to a park, to a long line at a movie theater. Anyone can create locations, but some are custom made by Gowalla and have their own unique symbol. Checking in earns you a stamp on your virtual Gowalla passport.  Users can also earn pins and various other digital rewards.

KUT News called Gowalla today to talk about the new deal. We spoke with Andy Ellwood, their director of business development.

Four Loko
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning yesterday to the makers of potent caffeinated alcoholic drinks like Four Loko. The New York Times says the FDA warned them to remove the caffeine in 15 days or stop selling the products.

These popular bevearges are marketed heavily at college students. KUT News took a stroll outside our studios and talked to some undergrads about their impressions regarding the ban. Check out the video below.

The Round Rock Independent School District says a bomb threat that led to the evacuation of two schools earlier this week originated in the Saudi Kingdom.

Homeless woman
Image courtesy Arty Smokes http://www.flickr.com/photos/artysmokes/

How Domestic Violence Often Leads to Homelessness

It's National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week, and the local non-profit SafePlace is hosting a discussion this afternoon about the relationship between domestic violence and homelessness. 

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.

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