travis county

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Travis County is under a burn ban but fireworks are still on sale. The county is allowing fireworks but not recommending their use.

Keith Cooper sells fireworks for an “American Fireworks” stand. He thinks the burn ban is keeping some customers away.

“Sales have started off a little slow this year. People are a little leery of fire. But they’ve been fairly well,” said Cooper. “Of course it always picks up during the holiday. The third and the fourth are always our best days.”

Vendors met with the Fire Marshal’s office yesterday and agreed not to sell winged fireworks, rockets and missiles – that’s because they pose the biggest fire risk.


About 45 fireworks stands will be operating in Travis County ahead of the Fourth of July. Travis County Fire Marshal Hershel Lee says the Keetch-Byram Drought Index is currently at 378, and a fireworks ban requires a drought index of 575.

“We anticipate an increased number of calls this year, just because of an increased level of awareness of people because of last year’s wildfire,” Lee told Travis County commissioners this morning. He urged people to follow these safety guidelines if they use fireworks. Better yet, he said, they should just attend one of several public displays that are planned.

“Every year when consumers have fireworks, the number of fires increase in the unincorporated areas,” he said. “That’s generally due to people not using them appropriately.”

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

While the writing’s on the wall in the Travis County D.A.’s race, it appears that’s not the only county race where early voting tells the tale.

In the race for Travis County Sheriff, incumbent Greg Hamilton handily leads challenger John Sisson in early voting, 71% (11,825) to 29% (4,799).

Sisson tried to make an issue out of Hamilton’s participation in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions at the jail.

Photo by KUT News

Polls Open for 2012 Texas Primaries

After being pushed back repeatedly, the Texas primary elections are here.

Voters in the Republican and Democratic primaries will nominate candidates for offices ranging from the President and U.S. Senate to county positions like District Attorney and Tax Assessor-Collector.  You can view the parties’ sample ballots online.

Polls opened at 7 a.m., and although early voting numbers have been low, Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade is hoping for a higher election day turnout.

Photo by KUT News

It's time to vote – again. On the heels of Austin's city election Saturday, early voting for the state and county primaries starts today, and runs through May 25.

The primary was originally scheduled for March but was pushed back because of disagreements over redistricting. Voters will get to choose the party nominees for President, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, among others.

In Travis County, voters will cast primary ballots for offices including district attorney, sheriff, and more.

Photo courtesy

The Travis County Commissioner’s Court has approved an incentives package for computing company Apple to expand operations in Austin.

As reported earlier today,Travis County is estimated to give Apple between $5.4 and $6.4 million dollars in tax rebates over 15 years. This comes on top of Austin's estimated $8.6 million in tax rebates over the next ten years, and the state's $21 million in incentives. In return, Apple says it will bring well over 3,000 jobs to the Austin area.

County commissioners said Apple should consider economically disadvantaged individuals for employment. However, that’s not stipulated as part of the contract’s requirement.

Image courtesy Travis County

Austin’s Mayoral and City Council elections are just about a month away – and if you haven’t registered to vote, time is running out.

The last day to register to vote in Austin's May contests is this Thursday, April 12. You can find the voter registration form here, along with instructions where to mail the form. To register in person, visit the Travis County Clerk’s office, located at 5501 Airport Boulevard.

To check your registration status and verify that it’s current, click here. Need to make updates to your voter registration? Check out this page for more information.

Photo courtesy Craig O'Neal,

Springsteen Delivering Keynote at SXSW Music

Need another sign South by Southwest Music is underway? 

Bruce Springsteen will give his SXSW keynote speech tomorrow at the Austin Convention Center, noon.  KUT will stream the talk live, and later than night, Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band will perform in Austin via a special ticket drawing.

You can follow KUT’s continuing SXSW coverage on this blog and at

A federal court in San Antonio has issued maps for United States House and Texas House seats that, barring further appeals, will be used for elections this year. 

The new maps boost the number of congressional House districts that dip into Travis County to five, dramatically changing the district for long-time Austin Democrat Lloyd Doggett. Uncertainty over how the districts would be drawn (in turn leading to postponement of the Texas primary date) have thrown a wrench in election plans for candidates, including Doggett, who currently represents District 25.

Doggett is widely expected to run in the new District 35, which stretches from eastern Travis County down to San Antonio.

Photo courtesy

The burn ban is back.

At their meeting this morning, the Travis County Commissioners approved a recommendation from county Fire Marshall Hershel Lee to reinstate the ban.

Photo by Eric Reyna/KUT News

Travis County wants assistance in planning their new civil and family courthouse. “We are currently analyzing how to finance and build the new courthouse and develop the site in the way that is most cost-effective and responsive to the community,” they write in a release promoting a community meeting next week. But it sounds like there’s also dissension on the Travis County Commissioner’s Court about how to proceed.

In December 2010, the county purchased land at 308 Guadalupe, a parking lot bounded by Third, Fourth, Guadalupe and San Antonio. The Austin American-Statesman reported the purchase price at $22 million.

The following spring, the county asked for pitches from developers on how to build – and more importantly, how to finance – the project.

Photo by Hill Country Conservancy

Eastern Travis County may be on the cusp of a development boom, but a new 285-acre swath of land will be off-limits to developers. The Brockenbrough Ranch (pronounced BROE-ken-broe) has been placed under a protected conservation easement.

Photo courtesy of Circuit of the Americas

Planners for the proposed Formula One race track in Southeast Travis County are a step closer to starting construction on some of the buildings at the track.

Officials met with several Travis County agencies last night, including the Transportation and Natural Resources and Sheriff's Departments and Fire Marshal’s Office, to discuss transportation and safety planning. County authorities are issuing building permits for more structures at the track today.

KUT News

Travis County wants to become an economic stimulator. At their regular meeting, county commissioners discussed a proposal to amend the county tax code in order to offer an incentive for businesses that want to relocate to Travis County. The City of Austin and the State of Texas have similar programs, but commissioners are proposing something different.

Image by Mose Buchele for KUT News

In unincorporated parts of Travis County, outdoor burning is back on.

County Commissioners voted earlier this week to cut short the current burn ban, ending it at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.  In a release from the Travis County Fire Marshal Hershel Lee's office this morning, the ban is being suspended Saturday through Monday, to allow for he what terms, "necessary burning operations to be conducted."

Commissioners' Court will vote on Tuesday on whether to reinstate the prohibition on any outdoor burning.

Erika Aguilar/KUT

Cold weather, no matter.  Recent rain, no matter.  Conditions are still dry enough for Travis County Commissioners to extend the current outdoor burn ban another month.

According to a release from Travis County Fire Marshal Herschel Lee,

Parking lot
Image courtesy Google Street View

Travis County Commissioners didn't take any moves to block the planned purchase of a lot in downtown Austin, clearing the way for the deal to close tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock.

As KUT News reported two weeks ago, the county will pay $21,750,000 for the downtown block next to Republic Square Park.

County Judge Sam Biscoe says that’s half a million more than the appraised value.

“But I think that the location, more than justifies that. Plus it’s the size that we need,” Biscoe told KUT.