Austin

News, events, and entertainment happening in and around Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

Photo by Erik Reyna for KUT News.

Texas Senators Investigating Power Outages

Two Senate committees will hear testimony this morning about the state’s power emergency earlier this month that led to rotating power outages. Senators are hoping to get to the bottom of why so many power plants went offline on February 2 and why the state's grid operator was slow to communicate about it.  KUT's Matt Largey has more in his story below.

AISD's Board Takes Up Job Cuts

A delegation of nine Boy Scouts from across America delivered their annual Report to the Nation to House Speaker John Boehner this morning. Austin Eagle Scout Jonathan Hillis was among them.  

Hillis is shown in the picture above. He's directly to the right of Speaker Boehner.

AISD Considers 1,000 Job Cuts

Tonight the Austin Independent School District's Board will consider a plan to cut more than 1,000 jobs.  771 would be campus based positions, and 246 would be Central Office positions.  The District says it has to cut jobs to close a budget shortfall, estimated to be nearly $100 million. 

IH 35 Reopens

After weekend construction at the intersection of Ben White and IH35 had drivers taking detours, TxDOT said the intersection will be reopened by this afternoon. Meantime, area tollways are still toll-free during construction.

AISD Emergency Work Session Monday

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has stepped down, according to NPR and many other news agencies.

KUT is providing NPR's live coverage on 90.5 FM and through our online stream.

Here are other resources to follow the news from Egypt.

PBS Newshour is providing the video feed above.
NPR is live blogging the event.
BBC is providing live video and simultaneously live blogging.
CBC is providing a live video feed from Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Al Jazeera English has live video from its team of reporters in Egypt.
CNN has live video.
The UK's Guardian Newspaper is live blogging and providing a video stream.

Twitter feed of the #egypt hashtag and the #cairo hashtag

Image from Austin Energy. Map enhanced by Torrie Hardcastle for KUT News

Not all parts of Austin are created equal when it comes to rolling blackouts. 

As you may have heard, the power outages that hit the city on February 2nd left some parts of town in the dark for hours, while other areas were spared completely. 

Robert Schenkkan, the founder of KUT and KLRU, passed away this week.  KLRU produced this video tribute for his 90th birthday in 2007. It's still as relevant and moving today.

KUT News

Former TYC Inmates Speaking Out About Abuse

Testimony continues in Lubbock today in the trial for a former administrator of a West Texas youth lockup.  The Associated Press reports a third former inmate of the State School in Pyote is expected to testify against John Paul Hernandez. Hernandez is accused of sexually abusing young inmates in closets and classrooms. 

Erika Aguilar for KUT News.

Austin is a music town, sure, but naming a city department after Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst? Why not? More than 29,000 votes have been cast to rename the City of Austin’s Solid Waste Services Department the “Fred Durst Society of the Humanities and the Arts. ” 

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Republican leaders in the US House unveiled a list of proposed spending reductions that would cut more than $74 billion from President Obama's budget request for the current fiscal year. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers today said he would like to increase that cut to $100 billion.

KUT founder Robert Schenkken passed away Wednesday.  It was his  hard work and fierce determination played a big role in public broadcasting as we know it today. He was also a driving force in the creation of public TV station KLRU. Schenkkan worked long and effectively for the enactment of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967.  No funeral arrangements have been announced yet.

KUT's Founder Bob Schenkkan Has Passed Away

Schenkkan died yesterday afternoon.  His hard work and fierce determination played a key role in public broadcasting as we know it today.  In the mid 1950s Schenkkan was a professor of Radio Television and Film at UT Austin’s School of Communications.  He was also a driving force in the creation of public TV station KLRU.  Schenkkan's efforts also led to the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967.  No funeral arrangements have been announced yet.

Photo by Crystal Chavez for KUT News.

It’s frigid and windy in Central Texas! Don't expected it to get any warmer today.  Daytime highs will only be about 30 degrees.

Then try a City Council Work Session!

In what may become a regular feature of Austin city business, the City Council meets today for a pre-council meeting "work session." The sessions, which may precede every Thursday council meeting, allow members to discuss council business in a public forum.

Photo by Addie for KUT News.

UPDATE at 8:20 a.m.:  Radar shows much of the rain forecast for Central Texas has passed to the southeast, though there may be some leftover precipitation in some spots.  The National Weather Service says a winter weather advisory is in effect in Central Texas until 1 p.m.  A wind advisory is in effect until 6 p.m.  Be careful on your morning commute, as ice has already been spotted on some Central Texas roads and overpasses. 

Image by Chris Kosho for KUT News

Texas Governor Rick Perry just gave his State of the State speech before a joint session of the Legislature. He was optimistic and praised the comparative strength of Texas’ economy.  And he had a message for those who’ve been painting a doom and gloom picture for Texas because of the state’s multi-billion dollar budget hole, "The core elements of our economy are strong and Texas is still the envy of the nation."

Image courtesy Devil's Rancher http://www.flickr.com/photos/cvreeland/

Former PEC Exec Sentenced

The former general manager of the Pedernales Electric Cooperative has been sentenced to 300 days in jail.  A state district judge Monday also sentenced Bennie Fuelberg to five years of probation.  He's required to do community service and to pay $126,000 in restitution.  

Report logo courtesy of the Texas Comptroller's Office.

Obesity in Texas could cost businesses in the state more than $30 billion a year by the year 2030, if obesity rates and health care costs continue to increase as expected.  That’s according to a report released Monday morning by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs.

Photo by KUT News

Former TYC Administrator Headed for Trial 

Jury selection is expected to start today in Lubbock for a former Texas Youth Commission official accused of sexually molesting teenage inmates.  John Paul Hernandez was the principal at the West Texas State School in Pyote.  The Associated Press reports Hernandez pleaded not guilty.  His trial comes six years after the investigation began into sex abuse at the TYC.

Texas Education Budget Cuts Back in the Spotlight Today

Photo by Mose Buchele for KUT News

The snow is melting but freezing conditions overnight could make travel difficult. Here' s a developing list of cancellations and delays for tonight and tomorrow. If you would like to add anything, post it in the comments below.

Photo submitted to KUT News by Tamir Kalifa

We have some creative KUT listeners! We asked you during Morning Edition to send us photos of the snow in Austin, Texas and our inbox was flooded.  Thank you for sharing your photos with us!  Our first slideshow was here. Check out all the rest below: 

Travis Heights residents woke up to a blanket of snow this morning / Photo courtesy of KUT Listener Mary Parmer

Updated at 12:15 pm: People are out in the streets playing in the snow this morning! A winter storm warning is in effect until noon today.  Austin police say there is ice on some roads and that some cars are slipping and sliding.  APD says there are more accidents out there this morning than usual.  Police have closed eastbound SH 71 in the 19500 block, due to icy conditions.  APD have also barricaded the intersection of East 8th St. and San Jacinto Blvd., because of icy condition at that hilly intesection

Most streets in Austin are clogged with compacted snow and ice, making for very slick conditions. In the past 12 hours, Austin Fire Department has responded to about 100 collisions.

AFD reports 50 alarm activations, many of which were related to broken water pipes.  Learn how to shut off the water to your home by watching this video.

There are some flight delays and cancellations at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, as well.  Check with ABIA or your carrier for up-to-date information.  Capital Metro busses are operating on a Sunday service level.  No MetroRail or UT shuttles service today.

Read our list of closures here:

Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The National Weather Service released snowfall totals for towns and cities in Central Texas. (Here's how they measure it.) These numbers are from 10:42 a.m. 

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.

Here are photos from our users. We have even more here.

Here are photos of snow downtown and the State Capitol Austin from KUT's Nathan Bernier.

KUT's Ben Philpott took video of this truck that got stuck.

Slipping and sliding on Lavaca St.

The city is urging people to locate the shutoff valve for their water mains in case pipes burst and begin spewing water. City of Austin crews have responded to at least 335 calls for lost water service since Tuesday.

Callie Hernandez for KUT

People are being urged to continue conserving energy, as temperatures remain below freezing.  ERCOT, the state's grid operator, says the state's electric emergency situation has ended.  Energy generation reserves are in better shape today than they were yesterday.  Still, folks have a lot of questions about Wednesday's rolling power outages.  Specifically, some KUT listeners thought Austin Energy did a bad job of communicating what was going on Wednesday. 

Nasha Lee, KUT News

The rolling power outages are over, but the state's energy regulator would still like for you to conserve electricity.  The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) says it is ending the emergency procedures it put in place early yesterday mornin

Photo of National Weather Service map

An updated forecast from the National Weather Service suggests the snowfall may be so light that it melts as soon as it touches the ground.

SNOWFALL TOTALS OF A DUSTING TO AROUND ONE INCH ARE FORECAST OVER THE EASTERN HILL COUNTRY AND AREAS ALONG THE I-35 CORRIDOR.

You certainly shouldn't expect to be doing this.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

An ice or snow storm that wouldn't even slow a northeastern city can cripple Austin, as it did in 2007. Our highway overpasses stretch into the sky, making them easily ice over when temperatures drop. And because it snows so infrequently, we don't have a legion of trucks ready to clear the streets.

"We have three sand trucks on standby right now, with another twelve available, if necessary," City of Austin spokesman David Matustik told KUT News.  That amounts to about one truck for every 47,000 Austin residents.

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