Austin

Austin
10:05 am
Mon June 2, 2014

Seen These Signs in Downtown Austin? We Met the Guy Behind Them

You may have seen them on your morning commute: handmade signs, around Lamar and Barton Springs, offering services and sentiments that seem more than a little bit off.

Public Notice: That Rash Won't Just Go Away

R.I.P. Weird, 1969 – 2014. We Will Miss You!

If You Lived Here, You'd Be Homeless By Now

Some even have a phone number attached:

I Buy Broken Dreams: 512-333-1984

They're the work of one person – a homeless man in his 30s named David. Not that he refers to himself by that name. "I go by the name of Liar, which has nothing to do with the instrument," he says.

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Turning the Corner
5:47 am
Fri May 30, 2014

For Dove Springs Principal, Data Are 'X-Rays' to Diagnose Ailing School

Student test scores have been improving at Mendez under Principal Ron Gonzales. Still, less than half of the seventh graders at Mendez passed the state assesment for Reading and Language Arts.
Bryan Winter for KUT News

This article is part of KUT's yearlong series Turning the Corner, taking a look at Austin's Dove Springs neighborhood. For decades, the neighborhood has had a negative reputation. Now, many community members are trying to change the perception of the 78744 zip code. Listen to those stories here.

Ron Gonzales loves numbers. It makes sense: he used to be a math teacher before he became a principal. His love of hard data is obvious when you enter Mendez Middle School, where he has been the principal for the past four years.  One of the first things you see is a bulletin board with each grade’s daily attendance rate. Next to it, he posts how much money the school lost due to absences that day.

“For example, yesterday we had 23 sixth graders and we also know lose $45 per scholar per day, so we lost $1,035 just for grade six," Gonzales says, pointing to the bulletin board.

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Austin
12:45 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Austin Has $300K Available for Neighborhood Projects - Want to Build a Community Garden?

flickr.com/chiotsrun

If you've ever taken a look around your neighborhood and had an idea for a project, this might be your chance to make it happen.

Right now, the City of Austin has a little over $300,000 for projects – and it wants to stretch this money even further by partnering with neighborhoods.

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SXSW 2014
6:05 am
Thu May 29, 2014

Austin Releases SXSW Survey Results, But Offers Few Opinions

Rosechild, a band from California, performs in a front yard on E. Sixth during SXSW Music, Mar. 15. A post-event survey of SXSW has just been released.
Jon Shapley for KUTX

The City of Austin's special event office Wednesday night presented the results of a feedback survey on this year’s South by Southwest music festival.

Bill Manno, Corporate Special Events Program Manger for the City of Austin, hinted at possible changes they're discussing, but some meeting attendees say they still aren't sure of the point of the survey and felt it was vague and the questions were ambiguous.

“What are perceived as the problems that we’re addressing here?" asked Jimmy Stewart, owner of Do 512, an event listing and RSVP site in Austin. "That’s where I’m unclear. This questionnaire is passed, we went over the results, but what are the problems? What are the objectives?”

When Stewart asked that question to the panel, they didn’t have a specific answer.

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Rising Property Values
3:36 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Can Anything Be Done to Lower Austin's Property Taxes?

Many people in Travis County were shocked to learn how much their property values – and consequently, their property taxes – might go up this year.
flickr.com/polymerchemist

The deadline to file a protest regarding your property tax appraisal is fast approaching – Monday, June 2.

Many people in Travis County are shocked to learn how much their property values – and consequently, their property taxes ­– might go up this year. County officials say valuations have risen roughly 15 percent on average this year. But as seen in this local Reddit discussion, many homeowners are facing 25 percent and 30 percent increases ­– and higher.

Sticker shock is so prevalent, Travis County Commissioners say their phones haven't stopped ringing from residents calling, asking for help. 

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Weather
6:55 am
Tue May 27, 2014

Where to Go for Information on Road Closures, Rain Totals and Power Outages

A Flash Flood Watch is in effect until noon today. Scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms are expected.
National Weather Service

Update: A Flash Flood Watch remains in effect for much of Central Texas until noon.

Original Story (5:44 a.m.): Central Texas is getting some much-needed rain. The numbers and affected areas are changing constantly. So here's a roundup of how to find the latest information for your neighborhood:

1. Road Closures/Low Water Crossing Closures

ATXfloods.com: Current flood information and emergency road closures in the City of Austin, Travis County, Sunset Valley and Cedar Park. Information is automatically updated. Red dots indicate low water crossing closures and the list on the right provides details. Updates are also posted to Twitter.

2. Rain Totals

Some parts of Central Texas have received as much as an inch and a half of rain since midnight – including Llano and Elgin.

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Austin
4:59 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

PHOTOS: Here's a Sneak Peek of the Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk

Daniel Olivera puts the finishing touches on the boardwalk.
Mose Buchele/KUT KUT

The Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk is set to open to the public on June 7.

The 1.3 mile boardwalk will complete a ten-mile loop of trail around the lake. Howard Lazarus with Austin’s Public Works Department says the boardwalk will play a key role in expanding biking and pedestrian options throughout the region.

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Austin City Hall
7:12 am
Fri May 23, 2014

City Council Members Concerned About Handling of $231K Employee Overpayment

Spencer Selvidge for KUT News

This story comes to us from our city hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor.

Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and Council Member Bill Spelman, who both sit on the Council’s Audit and Finance Committee, as well as a local attorney with expertise in employment law, have expressed concern over the city’s handling of an employee who received more than $200,000 in salary overpayments but was only required to repay $6,000 of it.

Cole, chair of the audit committee, told the Austin Monitor, "It is unacceptable for this error to have occurred in 2004 and not be discovered until 2011. The fact that it took two additional years to address the matter adds to my deep frustration upon being made aware of this issue. The employee should be required to repay these public funds to the extent legally pursuable."

An aide in Cole’s office told the Austin Monitor Thursday that she plans to put the matter on next Wednesday’s Audit and Finance Committee agenda.

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Austin
2:54 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Austin the 'Nation's Capital of Population Growth' in New Census Data

New census information has Central Texas leading the way in percentage of population growth.
flickr.com/rhubarble

There’s no shortage of news on how rapidly Austin is growing, but a new report puts that expansion in a larger context, dubbing Austin "the nation’s capital for population growth."

New U.S. Census data shows much of the nation's growth is concentrated in Texas, with Austin at the epicenter. Austin-area cities San Marcos, Georgetown and Cedar Park are all recognized for high percentage growth.

For the city of Austin, that growth meant 21,000 new residents between 2012 and 2013. State Demographer Lloyd Potter says it doesn't look like that growth will slow down anytime soon.

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Austin
7:43 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

This Downtown Austin Bridge Could Be Named A National Landmark

Ted Lee Eubanks http://www.tedleeeubanksphotography.com

An easy-to-miss bridge on W. Sixth Street could be added to the National Register of Historic Places. The West Sixth Street Bridge sits over Shoal Creek, between West Avenue and Wood Street (near Hut's Hamburgers). It was built by hand in 1887. 

"It doesn't look like much when you go over it, and people use it all the time." says Joanna Wolaver, executive director of the Shoal Creek Conservancy. "But if you take a minute to walk down the dirt path to the Shoal Creek trail, it's just gorgeous." 

Last Saturday, the Texas Historical Commission approved an application to recommend nomination of the bridge to the National Register of Historic Places. The U.S. Parks Service will have the final say and could decide by the fall. 

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Austin
2:44 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Austin's the Only Fast-Growing City in the Country Losing African-Americans

Charles E. Urdy Plaza on E. 11th Street – gateway to the former "negro district" in Austin's 1928 city plan. Austin is the only city with double-digit growth from 2000-2010 to have a net loss in its African-American population.
flickr.com/wallyg

The overall Austin population exploded between 2000 and 2010, growing by more than 20 percent. But a University of Texas study [PDF] finds that Austin was the only U.S. city experiencing double-digit population growth that saw its African-American population not only not keep pace, but actually decline.

"Among the ten fastest-growing major cities in the United States, Austin stood out in one crucial respect: it was the only such city that suffered a net loss in its African- American population," says study author Dr. Eric Tang. "Indeed, between 2000 and 2010, Austin was a statistical outlier; it was the only major city in the United States to experience a double-digit rate of general population growth coincident with African-American population decline." 

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Turning The Corner
11:55 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Gentrification or a Renaissance in Austin's Dove Springs Neighborhood?

The new Arbor Ridge development located on Nuckols Crossing Road has some homes finished and some under construction.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Dove Springs in Southeast Austin is just six miles from downtown – what many real estate agents consider a prime location. But the area is also one of the poorest parts of Austin. And for decades, it's had a less than desirable reputation.

Despite all that, change is coming to Dove Springs – with some believing they're witnessing the beginning of gentrification.

The area has traditionally been filled with low-income renters, many who are recent immigrants and don't speak English. Data may still point to those facts. But on the ground, the neighborhood is going through what many believe is a fast transformation.

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Austin
6:17 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Clerical Error Causes City of Austin to Overpay EMS Employee by $200,000

The Austin Monitor reports the overpayment happened because of a clerical error in 2004 – and was not corrected for eight years.
Spencer Selvidge for KUT News

This story comes to us from our city hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor.

The City of Austin has overpaid a former Austin/Travis County paramedic by perhaps as much as $200,000 over an eight-year period that began in 2004. Though the problem was first discovered in 2011, it took until 2013 for the city to correct it.

According to a memo from Assistant City Attorney Lee Crawford, the city is legally entitled to “recover the amount of overpaid wages that (the employee) received for the last two years,” as of 2013. Crawford puts that figure at $68,014.55. However, under an agreement between the city and the overpaid employee, the employee was only required to return $6,240.00 of the total.

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Weather
6:47 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Flash Flood Watch Canceled, All Low Water Crossings Now Open

National Weather Service

Update 6:45 a.m.: The City of Austin has now opened all of the low water crossings on Spicewood Springs Road around Loop 360. Low water crossings at Terry-o Lane near Ben White Boulevard.

The Lower Colorado River Authority says some rain did fall in the watershed, which will help with low lake levels. Right now, Lakes Travis and Buchanan are still sitting at about 36 percent full.

Austin Firefighters are blaming lightning on at least three overnight fires – including one at an apartment building in southeast Austin. No one was injured in the fires.

About 1,500 Austin Energy customers are without power this morning.

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Austin
2:59 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Austin Police Detective Indicted in Larry Jackson Jr. Shooting Death

KUT News

A Travis County grand jury is indicting a now-retired Austin Police detective in the shooting death of Larry Eugene Jackson Jr.

Detective Charles Kleinert is reported to have said that his gun discharged accidently in a struggle with Jackson in July 2013. As KUT reported at the time:

Brian Manley, assistant chief at APD, says the incident began as a detective was inside the Benchmark Bank at 1508 W. 35th Street, investigating a robbery that occurred at 8:19 A.M. Friday. The subject came to the front door and tried to open it, but the door was locked, Manley said.

"The subject walked away for a minute and then came back to the front door and attempted to open the door again … At this point, he got the attention of the bank management staff that was inside."

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Asian-Pacific American Heritage
8:08 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Austin's Asian-American Community is Diverse and Growing

Connie Kim adjusts Kyong Ah's hair before they take the stage to perform "Uh Woo Dong." a traditional Korean dance. The Korean United Pentecostal Church hosts a Parents Day celebration for parents and senior citizens of the community.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

There’s a common misperception about Austin’s fastest-growing minority group.

Most people would think that title belongs to Hispanics. But while Hispanics are the largest minority group, they are not the fastest-growing. Although their numbers are still relatively small, Asian-Americans are the fastest growing group in Austin.

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Seaholm District
2:47 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Building Austin's New Central Library Takes 1,000 Concrete Trucks. They're All Coming This Weekend.

Approximately 1,000 concrete trucks are needed to pour a five-foot foundation for Austin's new central library. The 24-hour pour starts tonight at 10 p.m.
Reddit user TheKnitro, http://redd.it/252o03

Here's a reason to avoid the Seaholm area near Cesar Chavez Street tonight: over 1,000 concrete trucks from Austin and surrounding cities constantly rotating through the area for over 24 hours.

The City of Austin is building a new central library at 701 W. Cesar Chavez, near the former Seaholm power plant. Tonight, construction crews are putting in a five-foot deep concrete slab to create the building’s foundation. That’s a big project – requiring a total of 1,020 concrete trucks.

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Turning the Corner
10:59 am
Fri May 9, 2014

How Teen Pregnancies at Mendez Middle School Were Cut Down to Zero

Last year 22 middle school students in Austin ISD became pregnant, but none were at Mendez Middle School, despite its location in the Austin neighborhood with the highest teen pregnancy rate. So what happened?
flickr.com/dongkwan

This article is part of KUT's yearlong series Turning the Corner, taking a look at Austin's Dove Springs neighborhood. For decades, the neighborhood has had a negative reputation. Now, many community members are trying to change the perception of the 78744 zip code. Listen to those stories here.

In the 2012-2013 school year, the Austin school district reported 303 student pregnancies districtwide. 22 of those pregnancies were middle school students.

Despite its location in the neighborhood with the highest rate of teen pregnancy in Travis County, none of them were at Mendez Middle School. So what happened? 

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Austin
2:51 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Austinites Optimistic About City's Future: Results from the Inaugural Zandan Poll

Zandan Poll shows majority of Austin residents are proud of Austin, would recommend the city to others.
Zandan Poll Results Zandan Poll, KLRU, Cambia Group, Hill + Knowlton Strategies

Despite worries over the city’s growth, traffic issues, and affordability, a new poll shows majority of Austinites feel their city is headed in the “right direction.”

The Zandan Poll comes from KLRU, the Cambia Information Group, Hill + Knowlton Strategies, and the poll’s founder and namesake, Peter Zandan.

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Austin
10:40 am
Thu May 8, 2014

The Money Race for Austin City Council Starts Today

Credit Photo by KUT News

Today is the first day that campaigns and candidates for the Austin City Council can start soliciting or accepting political contributions. Although many things will be radically different this election cycle, asking for money will remain practically the same. 

When Austin voters changed the city’s form of government in 2012, they did not change anything when it comes to campaign contributions. Still, the city’s clerk Jannette Goodall says campaign contribution limits are adjusted every election cycle according to inflation.

For instance, the charter says 300 dollars “and I believe the current amount is 350,” says Goodall.

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