Kelsey Sheridan

News Intern

Kelsey Sheridan is a news intern at KUT. She currently studies religion and journalism at Northwestern University.

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

After three months at work, Front Steps Executive Director Jim Ormand was fired August 5 after just three months on the job.

Front Steps is a non-profit organization that operates the city-owned Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, one of the largest homeless shelters in Central Texas.

People got a chance to climb aboard the possible future of Austin's mass transit system on Thursday. Kinkisharyo, a Japanese-based streetcar manufacturer, is taking its new prototype on an American tour.

The streetcar runs on a combination of power from batteries and overhead wires, storing energy when the train brakes and eliminating the need for overhead wires in parts of the route, Kinkisharyo project manager Bill Kleppinger said.

For the past sixteen months, a project to beautify East 7th Street has plagued local businesses.  Construction to improve safety and utilities limited access to restaurants, tax consultants, and convenience stores.  Now that the streets look nicer with fresh paint and new plants, some business owners are wondering if it was all worth it.


One person was killed this afternoon when an 18-wheeler crashed into a small car in Oak Hill on US 290 near Scenic Brook Drive.  The crash occurred at 2:38 p.m.

Police are directing traffic around the accident scene, according to the Sheriff's office. All the lanes are closed in both directions. A Department of Public Safety representative said she didn't know how long the lane closures would last.

Photo by Marie Sophie-Creamarie-Kazamarie

A Haitian city devastated by the 2010 earthquake has been designated as Austin's newest "Friendship City".  Mayor Lee Leffingwell says Jacmel, Haiti has a lot in common with the Live Music Capital. It's a creative city, famous for its arts scene, film institute and scenic beauty.

Friendship cities are supposed to foster cooperation between their respective residents and businesses. It's not quite as big a deal as the "Sister City" designation, which typically involves more collaboration between local governments and a more formalized agreement.

Photo by Kelsey Sheridan

A University of Texas study found that 90 percent of bag lunches brought to school by preschool students were kept at temperatures that could result in food-borne illnesses.

The researchers took the temperatures of 700 preschoolers lunch's at nine different Texas child care centers. Forty-five percent of the lunches had at least one ice pack and 39 percent had none.


Aug 4, 2011
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Texas Education Agency released preliminary results for the federal ratings of school districts today. Austin Independent School district did not meet federal standards, known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). It is a federal designation as part of the No Child Left Behind program.

KUT News

There are more than 25,000 daycare operations and homes in the state of Texas.  And as the school year looms, parents have to choose among them to find safe child care that's a good fit for their family's needs.  But a warning from the state: be careful when choosing; 524 Texas operations have been found guilty of abuse or neglect.

Photo by Suelen Pessoa

Fun Fun Fun Fest released its 2011 lineup today. Organizers expect to sell more than 15,000 tickets and have added an extra day to the festival. This year it will be held at Auditorium Shores because it outgrew its previous venue of Waterloo Park. 

Photo for KUT News

The Austin Police Association is holding a ceremony to dedicate a hall in their new facility to the people who worked to restore safety during the Texas Tower shooting. Today is the 45th anniversary of the shooting.

The shooter, Charles Whitman, was a student at the University of Texas. A former Marine who grew up with an abusive father, he admitted to killing his mother and his wife in a suicide note.

The next day, Whitman began shooting people from the top of the Texas Tower with a sniper rifle. He climbed up to the top of the tower with hundreds of rounds of ammunition, water and food supplies.

A federal appellate court dismissed the lawsuit brought against Austin Community College's proposed Hays County campus. The new campus was approved by voters in 2009. It would have been partially funded by a property tax increase and federal stimulus money.

Photo for KUT News

The Texas Education Commissioner will release this year's school ratings at 1 p.m. Austin ISD will hold a news conference to talk about its results at 2 p.m.

The annual accountability ratings helps parents compare their children's schools to others in the district or state. Consistently low performing schools risk being shut down.

The ratings are compiled through a combination of standardized test scores, graduation rates and drop-out rates.  Schools are categorized as exemplary, recognized, academically acceptable and academically unacceptable.

Check back on as the ratings are released.

Photo by Dan Reese for KUT News

There are CowParade exhibits in 75 cities in 30 countries on 6 continents. And now, in Austin. Forty-seven cow sculptures were installed all over town last night to the surprise of Austinites this morning. Before the exhibit's finished there will be 100-150 cows all over Austin. The cows were all created by local artists and will be auctioned off to raise money for the Dell Children's Medical Center in the fall.

Photo by KUT News

A recent Pew Research Center analysis of federal data found that the wealth gap between whites and African American and Hispanics is at a 25 year high. Nationally, the median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households. The study also found that minority families were hit harder by the recession:

Time is running out for the debt ceiling debate, and Austinites are watching.  KUT freelancer Jeff Heimsath produced this video to constrast local opinions with those of a University of Texas economist. 

Here's the issue: there's a legal cap on how much money the United States is allowed to borrow.

Right now it's $14.3 trillion, which the government says it will exceed by early August. To prevent this, the United States either needs to cut spending drastically or raise that ceiling. Otherwise, it means the U.S. will default on its loans.

Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Protection

A new state law passed by the 2011 Legislature requires any college student under 30 who attends classes on a Texas campus must be vaccinated against meningitis. Previously only students who lived on campus needed one.


Video courtesy of MTV

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

It's every baseball player's dream: To be picked from the crowd at an open tryout at your hometown ball park to play for your favorite Major League team.

Scouts for the defending American League Champion Texas Rangers did just that Wednesday morning, holding  open tryouts for all positions at the Dell Diamond in Round Rock. Not surprisingly, many came out for a chance to show their talents to professional baseball scouts. The Horton family came from Crawford, Texas for the opportunity.

Photo by Dan Reese for KUT News

Conservation work is underway on three of the dresses worn by Vivien Leigh in the movie, "Gone with the Wind." The work at UT's Harry Ransom Center comes after the institution raised $30,000 for the restoration.

Photo by slayerphoto

A University of Texas study funded by the Texas Department of State Health Services says expanding sexual health education in public schools could help reduce teen births in Texas, a state with one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country.  Texas dropped a health education requirement for high school students in 2009, making it one of the only states in the country not to require it.

Traditionally, it was thought that the best way to prevent teen pregnancy was to encourage kids to wait until they finish school and get a job before having kids. The report found that teens and parents of all ethnic groups tend to agree. Yet teenage girls are still getting pregnant and having babies.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT News

Small businesses that offer wireless connections to their customers could be on the hook for illegal downloads that happen on their networks, according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)

Record labels, movie studios and other industry groups recently struck a deal where participating internet service providers (ISPs) will issue warnings to customers whose accounts are allegedly used to steal content. The NFIB says small business owners could be charged, fined or worse.

Photo by Erik Reyna for KUT News

People in charge of recommending bond-funded improvements to Travis County infrastructure like roads and parks have slashed their original recommendation from 120 projects to 36. But they still couldn't bring the price tag down to the $150 million county commissioners had requested.

The county's 2011 Citizens Bond Advisory Committee submitted its finalized list of recommendations today. The total cost would be $205 million.

Photo courtesy of Southern Foodways Alliance

When a shrimper goes out on the Gulf of Mexico for a day's work they are supposed to bring a laminated "Mayday" card in case of emergency. The card has instructions on how to call in an emergency from the sea by radio. It also includes a conversation guide printed in English and Vietnamese.

Image courtesy Brit_2

The Travis County Republicans announced they would provide buses to next month's prayer and fasting meeting at Houston's Reliant Stadium, The Response,  on a first come, first served basis today.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

The mission of KUT News is to bring you news about the issues important to people living in Austin. But we also know that news just can't always compete with everyone's favorite bespectacled wizard. The last Harry Potter film opens at midnight tonight. KUT News brings you a roundup of reviews for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.

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.

Photo by Jessie Wang for KUT News

Netflix customers received an email yesterday explaining a new pricing system. Starting Sept. 1 customers will have to opt to receive unlimited DVDs by mail for $7.99 or unlimited streaming for the same price. If you want both you’ll now have to pay $15.98, which is a 60% increase from the current cost.

The announcement has many customers reeling all through the blogosphere. But it's music to the ears of local video stores, like I Luv Video.

Photo by KUT News

The Texas Education Agency announced another 178 employees will be laid off this week. This is in addition to the 91 employees that were laid off in February of this year.

In addition to the 269 terminated employees, 58 employees retired or resigned and 16 were transferred.

The layoffs mean TEA will see a 32% reduction in staff due to a $48 million--or 36%--budget cut from the state.

Photo coutesy

A new Schiltterbahn water park will open in two years in Cedar Park. It’s slated to be smaller than the New Braunfels location. Officials say plans for the park take into consideration frequent drought conditions in Central Texas, much like the region is experiencing now.

Photo by KUT News

Many tennis fans were disappointed to learn that star player Rafael Nadal would not be coming to Austin this weekend for a Davis Cup quarterfinal match between Spain and the USA. Nadal announced he would not play in the tournament in late June because he wanted to recover after Wimbledon.

Before the announcement, the match had sold out.

In addition to individuals who wanted to see Nadal’s performance, some of the seats were purchased by ticket resellers such as Ticket City who were estimating the price they could sell the tickets at based on Nadal’s participation.