Jimmy Maas | KUT

Host and Reporter

I grew up in Austin and studied journalism at the University of Texas.  I began my radio career making fun of headlines on Austin sports and news-talk shows. I moved to New York City to be a comic. Found some pretty good "day jobs” managing a daily news radio show for the Wall Street Journal and later, producing business news for Bloomberg Television.  Now I bring you sports, business and oddball stories from around town, host afternoons and help with special projects. 

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UT Austin is considering allowing 25% capacity at football games this fall.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Big 12 is planning to move forward with football, volleyball and soccer seasons in the fall.

The conference will continue with its football plan: playing nine conference games and just one nonconference game. Meanwhile, volleyball and soccer seasons will be limited to Big 12 opponents only.

The facade of the original Threadgill's on North Lamar, which closed in April.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin’s musical, cultural and some culinary history can be had Saturday in what is being billed as the last auction from the personal collection of former Threadgill’s and Armadillo World Headquarters owner Eddie Wilson. 

A field hospital is set up at the Austin Convention Center to handle coronavirus patients if hospitals in the area get overwhelmed.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin Public Health officials say Austin and Travis County residents have done a great job to help lower COVID-19 numbers over the last few weeks, but caution there is still a lot to be done – especially with colleges and schools reopening in the coming weeks.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Read this story in English.

Esta noticia fue actualizada a las 6:00 p.m. del lunes 27 de julio. 

El representante estatal, Eddie Rodríguez (D-Austin) ha abandonado la carrera por la segunda vuelta electoral contra la exjueza del condado de Travis, Sarah Eckhardt, para el puesto de senador estatal que dejó vacante Kirk Watson.

 

Julia Reihs / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, has dropped out of the runoff with former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt for the state Senate seat left vacant by Kirk Watson.

Tesla's Cybertruck model.
Tesla Inc.

Tesla’s new $1 billion electric vehicle factory will be built just east of Austin, the company’s CEO Elon Musk announced Wednesday.

A Pflugerville flag flies outside the building housing City Council chambers downtown.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Pflugerville will be home to Amazon’s next order fulfillment center in Central Texas.

The company made official Wednesday what has been an open secret since January. A day earlier, the Pflugerville City Council approved an economic development agreement to improve roads and infrastructure near the site at a cost of $3.8 million. That was the final hurdle for the Amazon warehouse to build just west of SH 130 on Pecan Street in Northeast Travis County. 

Sarah Eckhardt
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Editor's note: Vote totals from the state and Travis and Bastrop counties now match. Sarah Eckhardt currently has 49.66% of the vote.

Former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt took home the most votes in the special election Tuesday to replace Kirk Watson in the Texas Senate, but whether she got enough to win outright or must face state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez in a runoff is unclear.

The confusion comes from a discrepancy between vote totals from the state and Travis and Bastrop counties.

After calls to address racism, UT Austin announced plans to rename some spaces on campus and improve efforts to recruit Black students, faculty and staff.
Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Read this story in English.

La Univerisdad de Texas (UT) en Austin anunció que planea renombrar ciertos espacios de su campus, añadir monumentos que honren a los defensores de derechos civiles y trabajar más duro para reclutar estudiantes, profesores y personal negros.

Tesla Inc.

Travis County Commissioners approved a property tax rebate Tuesday for Tesla, Inc., aimed at luring the electric car maker to develop land near SH 130 and Highway 71 for its new truck factory. 

After calls to address racism, UT Austin announced plans to rename some spaces on campus and improve efforts to recruit Black students, faculty and staff.
Martin do Nascimento / KUT

UT Austin says it plans to rename certain campus spaces, add monuments that honor civil rights advocates and work harder to recruit Black students, faculty and staff.

Tesla has targeted an area off State Highway 130 and Harold Green Road as the site where it could build its electric truck factory.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Del Valle Independent School District’s board members agreed to a property tax abatement with Tesla, Inc., Thursday night.

The electric car maker is looking to build a $1 billion factory in Eastern Travis County. If the company meets all of the criteria while bringing its new factory online, it could save as much as $50 million in property taxes over 10 years.

The Texas Capitol
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Six candidates are contending for the office held for the last 13 years by state Sen. Kirk Watson. The longtime senator and former mayor of Austin moved to a position with the University of Houston in April.

Tesla's factory in Fremont, California.
Courtesy Tesla

Travis County could be the home of Tesla's planned truck manufacturing plant, but the electric-car maker has said tax incentives will play a role in the decision.

"The Eyes of Texas" is dispayed at the University of Texas football stadium in 2018.
Jimmy Maas / KUT

"The Eyes of Texas" may be closing for good.

The school song of the University of Texas is under scrutiny – and it didn't just begin last week with social media posts by football players or a petition signed by thousands in the community. There have been decades of discomfort over the song, so a discussion about it is long overdue.

Saraneka Martin with her husband, Kenneth Martin, outside Austin Police Department headquarters.
Michael Minasi / KUT

A 24-year-old pregnant protester who was shot with a lead-pellet bag by Austin police two weeks ago is calling for accountability.

Saraneka Martin, who is seven weeks pregnant, said she was sitting with other demonstrators during the first weekend of protests downtown when police began using the so-called less-lethal ammunition.

The UT baseball stadium is empty on a summer evening.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Pandemic or not, for better or worse, organized sports in the U.S. are bounding their way back to a field, court and television near you. For months, sports fans have substituted live sports for Michael Jordan documentaries, celebrity video gaming and competitive cornhole to fill the void. But soon things will be different.

People swim laps in a pool
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The City of Austin will begin reopening libraries, pools and other services that have been shuttered during stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic. Starting next week, the city said, it will try to strike a balance between offering services as the state reopens and lingering health concerns due to the coronavirus. 

Thousands of donated masks were dropped off at the Mexican consulate Monday to be distributed to construction workers in Austin.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Read this story in English.

Miles de máscaras están en camino para los trabajadores de la construcción en Austin.

Las 100,000 máscaras fueron donadas este lunes por la Fundación de Suministros de Emergencia de Austin, una nueva organización sin fines de lucro formada por líderes empresariales con experiencia específica en suministros médicos y de logística.

Thousands of donated masks were dropped off at the Mexican consulate Monday to be distributed to construction workers in Austin.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Thousands of masks are on their way to construction workers in the Austin area.

The 100,000 masks were donated Monday by the Austin Emergency Supply Foundation, a new nonprofit made up of business leaders with specific medical supply and logistics expertise.

Path Salon in South Austin
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Read this story in English. 

Dos clientes se arreglaban el cabello  el viernes en el Path Salon en el sur de Austin. Las citas previas son la manera en que su dueño, Ryan Driggers, prueba los nuevos protocolos de seguridad en el salón de belleza.

Driggers dijo que la reapertura llega con muchas emociones.
 

Path Salon in South Austin
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Two clients are getting their hair done at Path Salon in South Austin today. The appointments are owner Ryan Driggers' way of testing new protocols at the salon.

Driggers said the reopening comes with a lot of emotions.

Shoppers line up to enter Barton Creek Square mall in Austin as shopping centers reopen across the state.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Barton Creek Mall opened for the first time in weeks Friday, as phase one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to reopen the Texas economy went into effect.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The federal government is adding another $310 billion to help small businesses hold onto workers through the coronavirus pandemic. The first round of $349 billion ran out in less than two weeks. And, perhaps, as with the first round, where businesses bank could be a big factor in whether they get a loan.

 

Dr. Zhao Chen, a graduate student at UT Austin, has been stuck in Dubai since February.
Courtesy of Zhao Chen

Zhao Chen arrived in Austin four years ago to do cancer research at UT. He gave up a lot for the experience, leaving his wife and newborn son in China. He also suspended his ophthalmology practice in hope of advancing a different area of medicine. 

SPIbelt Founder Kim Overton wears one of the fabric face masks her company has started making since the coronavirus outbreak.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak hit Kim Overton’s company like it did many others.

“We had to let go four people and a lot of our retail partners have had to shut their doors,” she said.

A hearse is parked outside Mission Funeral Home. Funeral homes in Austin must comply with local and statewide orders that limit how many people can gather during the coronavirus pandemic.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Click here to read this story in English. 

Terry Shockley recuerda a su madre, Patsy Hopper, como una persona fuerte. 

"Ella tenía que serlo," dijo Shockley. "Eventualmente tuvo cuatro hijos. Éramos una familia militar, así que nos mudamos bastante. Ella tuvo que empacar muchas veces, tener mucha organización, mucha disciplina. Mi papá estaba ocupado con su carrera. Ella era fuerte."

A hearse is parked outside Mission Funeral Home. Funeral homes in Austin must comply with local and statewide orders that limit how many people can gather during the coronavirus pandemic.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Terry Shockley remembers her mother, Patsy Hopper, as a strong person.

"She had to be.” she said. “She eventually had four children. We were a military family, so we were moving a lot. She had to do a lot of packing, a lot of organizing, a lot of discipline. My dad was busy with his career. She was strong.”    

UT announced Thursday that it is suspending all events at the Erwin Center for the immediate future.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Rodeo Austin and Willie Nelson's Luck Reunion will not be held this spring.   

Organizers received word from Travis County officials Thursday that the public health risk was too great.

There will also be no fans at Austin sporting events for the near term amid concerns over the coronavirus. As of Thursday evening, there were no confirmed cases in Travis County, but officials are playing it safe and planning as if there were.

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