Kelly Connelly

News intern
KUT News

The City of Austin Music Division is accepting nominations from the community for its 2012 Austin Music Memorial.

The memorial program has been around since July 2007 and honors deceased artists for their contributions to the Austin music scene. Notable artists that have been honored include Kenneth Threadgill, Townes Van Zant, Janis Joplin, and Clifford Antone. But the memorial also honors artists that may not be so recognizable.

Anyone can submit a nomination. Applicants are required to detail the artist’s impact on the Austin music scene, the artist’s lifetime achievements, and how the community has recognized the artist since his or her death.

Austin Humane Society

The Austin Humane Society will offer free adoptions this Saturday. Adoption fees are typically over $80 for dogs and cats.

All animals will be spayed or neutered with current vaccinations and microchips. And the pets come with 30 days of pet health insurance and a bag of food.

The Humane Society will be open from noon to 7 p.m. Those wishing to adopt will need to fill out an application and pass an interview.

Study Advises APD to Grow with City

A new study commissioned by the City of Austin recommends the Austin Police Department increase its staffing numbers by over 250 by 2017.

The study, released by the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit organization which has studied police departments around the nation, suggested APD increase its officer-to-population ratio to 2.11 officers per one thousand residents. Right now, Austin has 2.08 officers per one thousand residents.

The department spends 57 percent of its time responding to calls, leaving little time “to engage the community, solve local crime and disorder problems, or patrol hot spots,” says the report. The study recommends aiming to drop the time spent responding to calls to 45 percent.

KUT News

Home prices have again increased in the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos area.

Prices rose 5.7 percent since last May, and 2.3 percent since last month, according to a home prices index released by a real estate data company.

Amand Nallathambi is the president of CoreLogic, the company that released the report.  "The recent upward trend in U.S. home prices is an encouraging signal that we may be seeing a bottoming of the housing down cycle," he says in a press release. "Tighter inventory is contributing to broad, but modest, price gains nationwide and more significant gains in the harder-hit markets, like Phoenix."

Austin Parks and Recreation Department

Less Rain is the Texas Beach-Goer’s Gain?

Turns out, there may be a positive side to the state's historic drought. Less rain means less polluted runoff – so Texas beaches are cleaner than they have been in years. It's all detailed in a report released this week by the National Resources Defense Council.

The report details the testing done on hundreds of state beaches around the nation and evaluates the levels of certain bacteria found in the water. Texas’ South Padre Island was rated one of the nation’s twelve cleanest beaches, though Nueces, Matagorda, Kleberg, Harris and Aransas beaches exceeded the daily maximum bacteria standard. 

Nathan Bernier, KUT Staff

Parking is becoming a problem at Zilker Park.

The Austin Police Department is trying to curb citations and towings at large events there like Blues on the Green, KGSR’s free biweekly concert event. The last concert saw 22 citations for illegal parking.

Police held a press conference today warning concert-goers to avoid tow-away zones like residential driveways, and stay off  lawns and high grass.

lesliefest.com

Cesar Chavez Traffic Closures

Traffic on Cesar Chavez Street will be disrupted this morning as crews repair a broken water main.

Early this morning, the water main that serves businesses on Cesar Chavez between Brazos Street and Trinity Street burst. Eastbound traffic between Congress Avenue and Red River Street is down to one lane. Westbound traffic will be detoured northbound on Brazos Street, then westbound on Second Street.  

Kelly Connelly for KUT News

Here's one heck of a lunch topic: Responding to a terrorist attack in downtown Austin during South by Southwest.

That was one of the noontime subjects city officials considered yesterday, in a workshop discussing their role in case of catastrophe – such as terrorism, an infrastructure collapse or a natural disaster.

Attendees, including the members of the Austin City Council, considered a range of worst-case scenarios. One was that SXSW attack: “It is a beautiful morning in Austin – bustling, with SXSW in full swing,” a planning scenario posited. “Without warning a large explosion rocks downtown Austin … Confirmed fatalities – 83; Injuries – 200+ (some key officials and staff are known to be among them.)”

Mose Buchele, KUT News; Photo courtesy US Geological Survey; Photo by Layne Murdoch NBAE

North Texas Tremor

An earthquake shook part of North Texas early this morning.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the 3.1 magnitude earthquake happened about 16 miles south of Fort Worth and just over 150 miles north of Austin.

The local sheriff’s office says so far there are no reports of injuries or damage.

Emily Donahue for KUT News

Fatalities from traffic crashes in Austin are up this year – especially in incidents involving pedestrians.

After the deaths of three motorcyclists and one pedestrian over the weekend, the number of people killed in Austin crashes has reached 36 on the year. Those deaths coincided with the Republic of Texas Biker Rally.

Half of this year's 36 deaths have been accidents involving pedestrians. That’s up from 41 percent (22 deaths) in 2011 and 20 percent (10 deaths) in 2010. Austin Police say 10 of the pedestrians killed this year were under the influence of drugs or alcohol and one driver was impaired. 

Photo by Robb Jacobson for KUT News

A city commission may determine the fate of over 150 residents of a dilapidated apartment building tonight – and issue orders to “vacate, repair, demolish or secure” the complex.

After the collapse of a second-floor walkway at the Wood Ridge apartments on Burton Drive in Southeast Austin, the city ordered several residents to evacuate. Residents say apartment management failed to respond to complaints of deterioration.

Several mishaps have occurred in the evacuation process. City officials have since told the Austin American-Statesman apartment managers failed to adequately supply residents with resources following their displacement. The City of Austin’s Building and Standards Commission is holding a public hearing this evening.

Photo courtesy texas4000.org

A group of students called Texas 4000 will embark tomorrow from Austin on the world’s longest annual charity bike ride – all the way to Anchorage, Alaska.

Riders from the community can join the group on the first leg of their 4,687 mile journey this Saturday morning. They leave from Running Brushy Middle School in Cedar Park at 8 a.m. There are several other events leading up to the kick-off that provide opportunities for the community to interact with the riders.

This is the group’s ninth year to make the ride. To date the organization has raised more than $3 million for the Livestrong Foundation.

Photo courtesy flickr.com/bwmicklejr; Image courtesy National Weather Service; Photo courtesy San Antonio Spurs

Hurricane Season Could Bring Texas Much Needed Rain

Today is the official start to hurricane season.

So far this year we’ve seen two named tropical storms – Alberto and Beryl. Neither caused widespread damage. The 2011 season brought seven named hurricanes.

Regional climatologists tell KUT News that a good amount of rain from a tropical storm or hurricane this summer could be the quickest way for Texas to recover from the worst drought in state history.

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

Should schools be able to keep tabs on a student’s location?

Because Texas schools are funded per student in attendance, budgets hinge on the accuracy of morning roll call. The use of Radio Frequency Identification tags, or RFIDs, can certainly improve accuracy, but some consider them an invasion of privacy.

RFIDs are small beacons that both transmit and receive information. They’re often used to track product inventory. But some school districts have attached RFIDs to students’ photo ID cards, letting administrators know which students are on campus.

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