Austin

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

Bouldin creek cottage
Image coutesy Zanthan http://www.flickr.com/photos/zanthan/

The Travis County Tax Office wants you to know you can pay your property tax bill as late as January 3 and still get a December receipt. That's important to people who want to claim their property tax as a deduction on their 2010 tax return.

"That's because we are closed on the last day of this month, December 31st," tax office spokesperson Tina Morton told KUT News. "By law, when the deadline falls on a business day and we're closed, it automatically moves to the next business day."

Frog sculpture
Image courtesy City of Georgetown

The City of Georgetown emailed us to let us know a 130-pound frog sculpture, stolen from San Gabriel Park in late-October, had been returned on Christmas Day. Surveillance camera footage from December 25 shows two people unloading the sculpture from an SUV and then driving away.

Georgetown Parks and Recreation superintendent Glenn Moss just happened to be strolling through the park yesterday and noticed the sculpture had been returned.

Echelon building after plane attack
Image by KUT News

The National Transportation Safety Board has released its final report into the attack on an IRS building launched earlier this year by Joe Stack, a man believed to be frustrated with the federal government.

Nasha Lee for KUT News

10:50 a.m. UPDATE--Austin Police have identified the man shot to death by an APD officer who was stabbed in the neck during a struggle in north Austin late last night.  Maurice Pierce, who was one of the men charged in the "Yogurt Shop Murders" of 1991, reportedly died at the scene near Parmer Lane and McNeil Road.  Pierce was charged in 1999 with the rape and murder of four teenage girls at a north Austin yogurt shop.   He was later cleared of the charges.

Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Christmas Vacation's Clark Griswold meets his match in a dazzling Clarksville lights display.

Each December, there's one tradition that just sort of defines what it means to "Keep Austin Weird." And you can find it right in front of 66 year-old Willis Littlefield's Clarksville home on 12th street just west of West Lynn. If you stop by, you're sure to get a candy cane... and a tour of the dazzling light show from the man himself.

Photo courtesy Town Lake Animal Center

Austin City Manager Marc Ott has named Abigail Smith the sole finalist for the chief animal services officer position.  In a memo to the Mayor and City Council Members, Ott said the city received many positive comments about Smith -- who's currently the executive director of the Tompkins County SPCA in Ithaca, NY.

Photo courtesy the City of Austin Website

The Trail of Lights has hit a wall...at least for this year and until the city's budget recovers.  But Austin’s Zilker Tree is lighting the Zilker hill side up, as it has since 1965. Each year, thousands of Austinites travel to the historic holiday display to take a spin, and then another, and another under its lights.

The city website says the Zilker tree is 155 feet tall and has 39 streamers. Each holds 81 multicolored, 25 watt bulbs, totaling 3,309 lights.

The Zilker Tree is lit every night through December 31. If you can’t make it there, take a spin here.

Photo by Nasha Lee for KUT News

Ever see flashing red and blue lights of a police cruiser on your block and wonder what they are doing over there? Here's how to find out.

The Austin Police Departments' Public Information office is open during normal business hours. You can start by calling them directly at 512-974-5017.

Photo courtesy Liza Lagman Sperl at flickr.com/kodamakitty

Katz's Deli and Bar, the downtown restaurant with the iconic sign, "Katz's Never Kloses," will close January 2.

Owner Marc Katz confirmed the news for KUT this afternoon, saying that after 32 years, "It's time."  The restaurant at West 6th and Rio Grande, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last summer -- the second time in the past six years.

Katz said their last hurrah will be Christmas and New Year's weekends, but that the deli will close after the New Year's weekend.

Austin police say the stretch of southbound I-35 around William Cannon is now open. A portion of southbound I-35 had been shut down this morning because of a fatal traffic accident that happened earlier today. Southbound traffic had been diverted off of I-35 at the William Cannon exit onto the frontage road while police were on the scene investigating.

AISD Seeks Budget Input

The Austin Independent School District will take public comment on next year's budget at a meeting tonight at AISD headquarters.  The Austin American-Statesman reports that the district could be as much as $60 million short in revenues for the 2011-2012 school year.  Budget writers expect to present the proposed plan at the end of February.

Fireworks Go On Sale Today

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rafaelmarquez/2947247065/

 

Armadillo
Sue Clark www.flickr.com/photos/perpetualplum/

Austinites have until the 24th to check out the City's annual holiday market. It's happening this year at the Palmer Events Center, but it wasn't  always so.

Check out a history of the Armadillo Bazaar here.

Photo by KUT News.

Busy Day at Austin's Airport

Alfie and Oreo put aside their differences in an effort to get adopted
picture courtesy the Austin Humane Society

Workers and volunteers at the Austin Humane Society will spend the night at the shelter to honor all of the animals that will be homeless during the holidays.  The 5th annual sleep over starts tonight at 7 with a visit from Santa.  After the jolly fat guy poses for pictures with the shelter pets, the dogs will be allowed to run around an indoor dog park.  While all cats will be allowed to roam around the shelter as well.  Shelter staff and volunteers will spend the night all around the shelter, including dog kennels, cat rooms and play areas

Jennifer Gale resting under a tree in Austin TX
Photo courtesy flickr.com/Patrick Dentler

The Austin city council opened today's council meeting with a tribute to Jennifer Gale.  Gale was ever-present at council meetings and ran for Mayor and several other elected positions over the years.  She was also homeless.  Gale was found dead two years ago tomorrow in front of a church near the UT-Austin campus.

Photo courtesy of Texassports.com

City May Support Payday Lending Legislation

The City of Austin will consider a resolution today to endorse state legislation to regulate payday and auto title loan lenders.  These lenders often have high interest and fees that consumer advocates say can trap people in a spiral of debt.  Right now there is a loophole that allows these stores to run without oversight.  If the resolution is passed, the city would officially endorse Rep. Eddie Rodriguez's House Bill 212. 

On Santa's lap
Image courtesy Joe Shlabotnik http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/

If you want a picture of your kid with Santa but can't brave the mall before catching a flight out of town, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has got you covered.

ABIA is hosting Santa at the airport at various times throughout the day from December 17th until the 20th. He'll be behind security, so you'll have to be a ticketed passenger. There is no cost to having your picture taken, but you'll probably have to look at Southwest Airline's logo, as they're sponsoring the event.

The New York Times has produced this map that plots data from the US Census Bureau's American Community Survey on a map. It lets you see the results of your neighborhood down to the census tract, providing a fascinatingly high level of granularity.

Mino the parrot
Image courtesy Will Zhang

This missing pet notice was too unusual to ignore.

Downtown resident Will Zhang is trying to find his beloved African Grey Parrot, Mino. Zhang bottle fed Mino since he was a baby in 1995. Cutest of all, the parrot speaks both English and Mandarin.

"He just gets freaked out by moving objects and sudden sounds," Zhang told KUT News. "We had some guests over and he wasn't familiar with them, and opening the door, he just took off out the glass window."

Zhang says it's been emotionally difficult for him.

Pages