Austin

Micro-units
10:30 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Tiny Apartments Could Be Big Answer to Austin's Housing Crunch

A micro-unit development in Seattle. Austin is calling for a zoning study to ensure micro-units don’t face big hurdles.
Seattle Department of Planning & Development

Micro-units – apartments of 500 square feet or less – might be Austin's next big building trend.

As the city's population continues to climb, troubles have mounted with providing affordable housing. To address the issue, the Austin City Council is asking the city manager to study the feasibility of micro-unit projects.

"Micro-units will allow people to live closer to downtown at a more affordable cost," says council member Bill Spelman.

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Homelessness
9:27 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Photos: Inside Austin's Annual Homeless Count

Tivas, a homeless man who lives under the RM 2222 and Mopac Expressway overpass, jokes with ECHO team leader Edward McHorse. A federally mandated "point in time" count of Austin's Homeless takes place each January.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Update: KUT's was on hand to document the homeless count this weekend. Take a look in the photo gallery above. You can see more photos on the KUT Austin Flickr page.

Original story: (Jan. 25) It’s the annual Point in Time Count of the Homeless here in the Austin area. Hundreds of volunteers were out Friday and again before dawn Saturday, finding out how many people are living here without permanent shelter.

Ann Howard is the Executive Director of the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, known as ECHO. She says the counts are going on across the country in the last week of January, as mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It’s just coincidence that this year’s falls on a night in Austin when temperatures are below freezing and extra shelters are open.

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Halloween Floods
9:39 am
Sun January 26, 2014

Perry Appeals Denial of FEMA Benefits for Halloween Flood Victims

Mike Espinoza gets help pulling damp sheetrock from the kitchen of his home. He and his wife waited out the sudden flood in the second floor of their Onion Creek home.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Gov. Rick Perry is asking President Barack Obama and the Federal Emergency Management Administration [FEMA] to reverse a decision denying benefits to individual victims of southwest Austin’s Halloween floods.

Fast moving floodwaters in the early hours of Oct. 31 last year – concentrated in the southwest Austin neighborhood of Onion Creek – claimed six lives and ruined hundreds of homes.

In a letter to the President, Gov. Perry writes:

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Winter Weather
12:05 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Winter Weather Snarls Austin; Schools and Universities Cancel Classes

An overnight freeze brought much of Austin to a standstill this morning. Here, pedestrians brave the Congress Avenue bridge over Lady Bird Lake.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Update: The winter weather advisory for the region has expired. While temperatures are rising about freezing this afternoon, and freezing temperatures are expected again tonight, which will re-freeze any leftover wet spots.

While emergency services say they’ve responded to more than 250 crashes since the freeze began, no fatal crashes have been reported.

Capital Metro will remain on a Saturday schedule for the rest of the day.

The Austin school district says it will resume normal operations at 5 p.m.  The district also says it will make up today’s cancellation on June 6. Austin Community College says it will reopen tomorrow. 

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Turning the Corner
9:40 am
Fri January 24, 2014

How Music Kept This Dove Springs Student in School

Isay Medrano's absences to care for his ill mother put his school orchestra playing into jeopardy.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

  Chronic absenteeism is a common problem among low-income schools; Austin’s Dove Springs neighborhood is no exception. The neighborhood has the largest concentration of high absenteeism students in the city – and teachers say there are some students who miss up to 40 days of school in one semester.

But many students aren’t skipping class to avoid schoolwork. Some lack transportation; others are dealing with health issues. Still, other have responsibilities like raising siblings or working to support their families.

Isay Medrano is one of those students.

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Austin City Council
2:00 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Candidates Are Already Declaring for Austin Mayor

Austin's switch to geographic representation is drawing a slew of candidates – well ahead of November elections.
Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Austin City Council elections are still some nine months out – but the races are already heating up.

Today saw one of 2014’s first official announcements for mayor: Patsy Woods Martin, a former executive with the United Way for Greater Austin, and founder of umbrella charity organization I Live Here, I Give Here. (Disclaimer: Martin also launched online giving campaign Amplify Austin, which KUT participated in last year.)

Martin is the latest in an increasingly crowded field of official and unofficial candidates. The Austin Chronicle has a comprehensive rundown of candidates. Martin is joined officially by Bill McLellan, whom the Chronicle describes as a “former 3M executive, chief development officer at Family Eldercare, and longtime civic activist.”

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Halloween Floods
6:01 am
Wed January 22, 2014

First Floods, Now This: Onion Creek Residents Face Break-Ins, Thefts

Julian Arrianga returned to his Onion Creek home to find his fence ripped out.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

The holidays can be prime for home break-ins – after all, that’s when people go out of town for a few days and leave their homes unattended.

But imagine what happens when an entire neighborhood is forced out of their homes – and the vast majority of houses remain uninhabited for almost three months. That’s the situation in flood-stricken Onion Creek in southwest Austin.

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UT Austin
2:01 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

UT Names Dean for Dell Medical School

Dr. Clay Johnston will lead UT’s Dell Medical School. He comes to Austin from the University of California, San Francisco.
KUT News

The Dell Medical School has a dean.

Ending a months-long search, UT President Bill Powers announced this morning that Dr. S. Claiborne “Clay” Johnston has been named inaugural dean of the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Dr. Johnston, a neurologist who currently serves as the Associate Vice Chancellor of Research at the University of California, San Francisco, says that he is excited to have the rare opportunity to build a medical school from the ground-up.

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Weird
8:05 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Find an Insect Like This? Don't Kill It – It's Killing Your Cockroaches

If you see an ensign wasp in your house, it likely means cockroaches are also there.
flickr.com/DocJ96

Story originally published Jan. 2, 2014.

It’s that time of year when insects want to get out of the cold and into your house.

Most people aren’t big fans of sharing their space with these creepy-crawlers. But if you see one particular insect – you’re better off not grabbing the bug spray.

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Austin
3:06 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

MLK Day Cleanup Rids Flood-Stricken Onion Creek Park of Debris

Onion Creek Park in southeast Austin was covered with debris after the flood in October 2013. The playground area is still inaccessible.
Joy Diaz/KUT

The flood-stricken neighborhood of Onion Creek honored the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today by cleaning a community park that’s been covered with debris since last year’s Halloween flood.

Metallic doors, glass from broken windows, gas tanks were among the many items strewn about the park. Mary-Lee Plumb-Mentjes filled an entire bucket with broken glass. “I’ve always picked up trash,” Plumb-Mentjes said. “We’ve been given two hands [and] I feel we should use [them] when we see something,”

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MLK Day
8:34 am
Mon January 20, 2014

MLK Day 2014 Events and Closures

Marchers in the annual MLK Day community celebration will meet at the statue of King on the UT campus.
http://www.mlkcelebration.com/

Austin’s Annual Community Celebration:

The annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march from the University of Texas at Austin campus to Huston-Tillotson University starts at 9 a.m. Marchers will meet at the MLK statue near Speedway and West 23rd Street at UT.

An MLK Day festival begins at Huston-Tillotson after the march. It runs until 3 p.m.

There will be some road and lane closures for the march and festival – affected roadways include the I-35 frontage roads, North Congress Avenue and 11th Street.

Click here to see the full parade route.

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Halloween Floods
8:12 am
Mon January 20, 2014

After Unwanted Towing, APD Orders Most Tow Trucks in Onion Creek to Back Off

Neighbors in the Onion Creek area are putting signs on their cars to prevent them from being towed.
Joy Diaz, KUT

In the days following last year's Halloween floods, tow trucks were indispensable to the Onion Creek community in Southeast Austin.

The flood disabled hundreds of vehicles and left them scattered throughout the area — some were in the middle of the road, while others careened into people's homes. But, after the waters receded, some say towing companies have developed a habit of towing cars — even when they’re not asked to do so.

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Austin
4:19 pm
Sat January 18, 2014

Former KUT DJ Larry Monroe Has Passed Away (Update)

After a life-long career in Central Texas radio, Larry Monroe passed away on Jan. 17, 2014.
KUT

Update:  KDRP founder Daryl O'Neal confirmed to KUT News that Larry Monroe died from complications due to the lung disease chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) early Friday morning.

A funeral will be held Thursday, January 23 at Keplinger Funeral Home in Hartford City, Indiana, according to KDRP. Pastor Gary Hall will officiate. Monroe will be buried at Hartford City Cemetery

Below you can listen to our remembrance of Monroe from KUT's Ben Philpott.

 

 

Original Post: We are sad to report long-time broadcaster and former KUT host Larry Monroe has passed away at the age of 71. Monroe worked for nearly 30 years at KUT and during his tenure he helmed the popular "Phil Music," "Blue Monday,"  "Texas Radio" and "Segway City" programs. 

Monroe became a fixture in Austin radio and in the music scene, as well — singing gospel songs on Easter Sunday with Willie Nelson, hanging out with Townes Van Zandt at The Hole in the Wall and, of course, providing eager audiences a constant source for Texas Music.   

Monroe was a native of Hartford City, Indiana, and began working in radio since the age of 13. In 1977, he came to Texas. He started his popular "Phil Music" program as a way to kill time during KUT broadcasts of Austin City Council meetings — filling time and keeping listeners enthralled between council sessions. 

After leaving KUT in 2010, Monroe went on to host at KDRP in Dripping Springs, continuing his much-loved programming with his signature style. KDRP founder Daryl O'Neal says they don't make broadcasters like Monroe anymore.

"He was an absolute legend and our patriarch," O'Neal says. "He was the patriarch of our radio station. If it weren't for Larry Monroe, KDRP would not exist in the vein that it does today."

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Austin
3:10 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

After a ‘Perfect Storm’ of Cedar, Pollen May Level Out

Fortunately for allergy sufferers, cedar levels will be lower this weekend.
flickr.com/photos/23959586

These days, "cedar fever" is nothing to sneeze at. The severity of the cedar allergy season we’re in right now is near record-highs, with a count of over 21,400 parts per million on Wednesday – the second highest reading in history. In Austin, it’s common to experience a bout of cedar fever in winter months. But  allergist Dr. Seth Hollander says the weather over the past few years has made it even worse.

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Halloween Flood
6:48 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Why Some Flood Homeowners Think Twice Before Selling to the City of Austin

The aftermath of the Halloween flooding in the Onion Creek neighborhood.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT

The city of Austin has made offers to buy at least two dozen homes damaged by the Halloween flood. Why then, are some homeowners refusing to sell?

Floods are nothing new in South East Austin’s Onion Creek neighborhood. And neither is the city’s buyout program. It began back in 1998. The idea has always been to buy homes in the floodplain using taxpayer money to avoid future loss of life and property damages.

Terry Morris, a contractor and a real estate agent in Austin, owns a duplex in Onion Creek that’s been on the city’s buyout list for years. He recently opted out of the program.

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Austin
5:44 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Austin Authorities Follow Strict Protocol After Safety Scare at Women's Clinic

Lieutenant Katrina Pruitt holds up an envelope that caused a safety scare at a North Austin Whole Woman's Health clinic on Jan. 15, 2014.
KUT

What can happen when a delivery to a women’s health clinic in Austin doesn’t follow protocol? Today we found out when the Austin Police Department blocked off the Whole Woman’s Health on North Interstate 35. It happened after clinic staff found two envelopes taped to two different doors of the facility early this morning.

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Halloween Flood
10:28 am
Wed January 15, 2014

11 Weeks After Flooding, Animal Carcasses Removed From Onion Creek (Update)

Deceased horses still litter the Onion Creek area after the Halloween flood.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Update: Austin Resource Recovery confirms that all 5 horse carcasses on public land were removed Tuesday afternoon.

Original Post: More than two months after flooding in Southeast Austin killed several people and caused millions of dollars in damage, the clean up continues. But some things left behind by the floodwaters are particularly disturbing: at least half a dozen dead horses.

The city has yet to retrieve the bodies of horses killed in the flooding which, in some cases, lie a short distance from people’s homes—people like Lydia Huerta. She says there are moments where the stench from the dead animals is unbearable. Her backyard is directly in front of a city park where some carcasses still remain.

Editor's Note: You can view photos of some of the animals in question here, though the photos are gruesome and may not be suitable for some.

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SXSW
3:20 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Julian Assange to Speak at SXSW Interactive (Update)

Assange speaking at a 2010 conference in Sweden.
flickr.com/photos/newmediadaysdk/

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange will speak via satellite at SXSW Interactive in March. In a rare public interview, Assange will discuss the "pervasive spread of surveillance, advantages and abuses of the digital age, and the future of democracy," according to a statement from the festival. 

Assange will speak with Benjamin Palmer of New York-based web marketer The Barbarian Group at 11 a.m. on Mar. 8, the second day of the Interactive portion of the festival. 

Palmer told KUT that his conversation with Assange at South By will be more of a conversation about the future of the Internet and international communication, and less of a formal interview. 

"This is where everyone that's inventing all the next platforms goes to kind of hear thought leadership, you know?" Palmer said. "And I feel like Julian's point of view — where the Internet has come from, where it's going and what's generally happening — is a really important conversation to have at a place like South By Southwest."

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Austin
12:42 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Fun Fun Fun Fest to Stay at Auditorium Shores in 2014

Jurassic 5 performing at the 2013 Fun Fun Fun Fest at Auditorium Shores.
Mary Mang/KUTX

Transmission Events announced their annual Fun Fun Fun Fest will stay at Auditorium Shores this year, despite the city's ongoing renovation of the park that initially put the fest's location up in the air. 

The ninth annual fest will be held Nov. 7 to Nov. 9 this year.  

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Austin
7:00 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Starting Next Week, HD 50 Voters Head to the Polls for Special Election

The HD 50 special election will head to early voting next Tues., with Mike VanDeWalle taking on Celia Israel
Photo by KUT News

Democrat Celia Israel and Republican Mike VanDeWalle emerged as the leaders in a four person race in November. VanDeWalle leads the pack with about 39 percent of the vote. On election night, he said the win was driven by energy from Republicans who want a change after nine years of Democrat Mark Strama.

“Yes I think there’s been a pent up excitement waiting to happen," VanDeWalle told KUT. "And I think we’re seeing it now.” 

But the concern for VanDeWalle’s campaign is that the November victory could be his ceiling—the remaining 61 percent of voters picked one of the three Democrats in the race. With Israel getting the majority of that support, the long-time Democratic activist and real estate agent knows a special election runoff brings its own set of problems for her.

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