Austin

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

Moontower at night
Image courtesy Matthew Rutledge

Two historically significant moonlight towers, or moontowers, were removed to make way for the development of two downtown high-rise buildings, but both structures were completed months and neither moontower has been returned to its original location.

The annual Coats For Kids Program reports a record breaking number of donations this year. More than 35,000 coats will be distributed to low income children tomorrow at the Palmer Events Center.

All the coats are new or gently used.

Some of the audio news we've produced over the last 24 hours.

As Austin Lures Business, Some Fear For Blue Collar Workers

Facebook, Hangar Orthopedics, and solar power giant SunPower are a few of the big fish Austin has recently reeled in, but as KUT's Mose Buchele reports, for all that success, the long-term unemployment trends for large swaths of Austin's workforce look dire.

Economists Predict Solid Growth For 2011

What might the future hold for Austin’s economy? A panel of economists, hosted by the Austin Chamber of Commerce Thursday, tried to answer that question. KUT's Matt Largey was there.

Photo courtesy of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

Teacher Retirement System Earns 12.6% Return Rate

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas Trust Fund earned 12.6 percent this year.  TRS says it ranks first among its pension fund peers across the nation.  The fund's total value is more than $100 billion, up about $9 billion from September 2009.  The return meant a big pay out for the TRS' investment team.  They were awarded $9.7 million in performance bonuses.

Prison System Bracing for Cuts

Callie Hernandez, KUT News

Austin City Council members are voting on some big items today.

Image courtesy Kevin Trotman http://www.flickr.com/photos/kt/

Some of the stories we've produced in the last 24 hours.

Neighborhoods Worry Over "Imagine Austin"

Friday is the last day to take the survey on the City of Austin’s effort to draft a new comprehensive plan, which will focus future growth in Austin. Early next year, the city council will adopt the map that will guide that plan. But as KUT's Matt Largey reports, some neighborhood groups are saying, “Not so fast.”

Tribcast: Congressional Redistricting

Texas lawmakers will have to redraw the state’s election maps during the 2011 legislative session.The redistricting includes drawing a map with three or four new congressional seats. On this week’s KUT News-Texas Tribune Tribcast, Evan Smith, Ross Ramsey, Elise Hu and Ben Philpott go over what those maps could look like and what Congressmen could be affected.

KUT News

Machete Film Incentives Denied

Dollar bill
Image courtesy peasap http://www.flickr.com/photos/peasap/

The latest sales tax collection numbers show the state collected $10.56 million in Austin last month. That's an increase of about 0.11 percent from the $10.54 collected in the same month last year. But it's substantially less than the $11.56 million in sales tax collected in Austin in November 2008.

The numbers suggest the Austin economy is more active than it was 12 months ago, but still has yet to recover from the pain inflicted by the national recession.

Children splash in Liz Carpenter Fountain
Image by Nasha Lee for KUT News

The Liz Carpenter Fountain in Butler Park is a victim of its own success. Austin Parks and Recreation assistant director Kelly Snook says when the splash fountain was first installed three years ago, they never expected that 400 to 1,000 people a day would use it.

"We've had many, many more bathers than we anticipated. The existing filtration system, pump and all the equipment is simply not large enough to accommodate the capacity," Snook told KUT News.

Groupon and similar sites like Localiter, GivShop, LivingSocial, TheLunchDeal, EverSave, and ADealio are already competing to appeal to Austin spendthrifts. Do we really need another website offering daily deals?

The answer is yes, if you ask Boston brothers Casey and Jesse Rankin. They run the site DealGator. They announced today they are expanding service to include more cities, including Austin. But wait, they say, their service is different!

KUT building
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

During our mini-crisis this morning, when the power was cut to several dozen buildings at the University of Texas and KUT went off the air, some people on were wondering, "Why don't y'all have some backup power?"

Our 100,000 watt transmitter does have a backup generator, which is why you would have heard silence if you tuned in this morning between 7 and 8:30. If the transmitter lost power, you would have heard nothing but radio static.

Image courtesy Scorch07 http://www.flickr.com/photos/scorch07/

Some of the audio news we've produced in the past 24 hours.

Public Hearing Will Address Shipping Radioactive Waste to Texas

A public hearing in Austin tomorrow will address a proposed rule allowing 36 other states to ship their low-level radioactive waste to west Texas. As KUT's Erika Aguilar reports, the rule has environmentalists and the new governor of Vermont raising their eyebrows.

State Looks To Preserve World War II Internment Camps

69 years ago yesterday, the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor propelled the US into World War II. The War also led to the internment of thousands of Japanese, German and Italian Americans. As KUT's Matt Largey reports, researchers are now trying to preserve and memorialize those sites in Texas.

Photo by Crystal Chavez for KUT News

Update at 9:40am: Apologies for the ill-timed site maintenance, our hosting service chose the wrong time to take the site offline.  Power has been restored to the UT campus and KUT is back on the air.  Thanks for bearing with us while we dealt with the situation.  UT says the cause was an animal getting into the switching gears at the University power plant.

Photo by Tiffany Jenkins for KUT.

Elizabeth Edwards Passes Away at 61

Elizabeth Edwards, the estranged wife of former Senator and Vice Presidential hopeful John Edwards, died Tuesday at her home in North Carolina.

Mrs. Edwards was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, the day her husband’s running mate conceded defeat to George W. Bush in that year’s presidential election.

JetSuite
Image courtesy JetSuite

It might be too down market for the ultra-rich who read magazines like Elite Traveler and JetSet, but those who live off a mere seven-figures a year may be interested in a new service coming to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Women owned business Census Bureau map
Image courtesy US Census Bureau

Texas has the second highest number of women-owned business in the country, according to new US Census Data released this afternoon. But the percentage of women-owned businesses in Texas still falls slightly below the national average.

Jason Brady
Image courtesy NFT

A man from Hutto is appealing for public help to pay for the double lung and kidney transplant he needs to survive. Jason Brady was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was just 3 months old.

CF is a "life-threatening genetic disease that causes mucus to build up and clog some of the organs in the body, particularly the lungs and pancreas," according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Doris Miller
Image courtesy National Archives

Today is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, and one of the celebrated American sailors who fought the surprise Japanese attack on the US Naval Base was from the Central Texas town of Waco.

War historians will have to pardon the pop culture training wheels, but many people may know Doris Miller best from Cuba Gooding Jr.'s portrayal of the Pearl Harbor hero in the 2001 film about the attack.

Nathan Bernier / KUT News

Austinites have two chances to meet the finalists for the role of Police Monitor today. At 3 p.m. and again at 6 p.m., the four contenders for the job will answer questions at the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex. 

The Police Monitor's office takes complaints about police from the public, and offers policy recommendations to the Chief of Police on some matters.  It does not have the authority to investigate police behavior.

Michael Hamilton booking photo
Image courtesy APD

Austin Police Department sent us this statement from Chief Art Acevedo about the arrest of an APD SWAT officer last week on DWI charges:

The Austin Police Department is currently investigating the crash and subsequent arrest for DWI of APD SWAT officer Michael Hamilton on Friday, December 3, 2010. The Department’s zero tolerance stance on DWI is well known throughout the APD and the community we serve. Consistent with our stance, we are investigating Officer Hamilton’s actions leading up to and following the crash.

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