Austin

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

Four Loko
Photo courtesy of Kyle James, http://www.flickr.com/photos/jameskm03/5162509741/

Back to Class in RRISD Following Bomb Threat

Students at Deerpark Middle School and Live Oak Elementary School in the Round Rock Independent School District are having classes as usual today.  The schools were evacuated yesterday after a bomb threat was made on the Internet. Superintendent Dr. Jesus H. Chavez posted this update online last night:

Here is a partial transcript of a news conference held with reporters this afternoon concerning the evacuation of Deerpark Middle School and Live Oak Elementary School in the Round Rock ISD

Sgt. John Foster with the Williamson County Sheriff's Office and Round Rock ISD spokesperson JoyLynne Occhiuzzi addressed reporters.  First, John Foster's comments. (You can download audio of his remarks here.)

John Foster: Throughout the day we found this internet connection has gone to more than just one student. We have other information that we don't feel comfortable sharing right now because obviously what we want to do, what I want to do, and what everybody wants done, is somebody needs to go to jail for making this threat. If it's legitimate or if it's not legitimate, somebody needs to go to jail.

Updated at 4:45pm: Round Rock school officials say the school is still being searched.  The WilCo Sheriff's Office is giving them a tentative re-opening time of 7 pm.  As of now, the search has not yielded anything out of the ordinary.   RRISD officials say, as far as they can tell, school is still on at Deerpark and Live Oak as usual on Wednesday.

Updated at 2:45 pm: Bomb sniffing dogs are searching Deerpark Middle School and Live Oak Elementary School in Round Rock. Both schools were evacuated around noon due because of a bomb threat.

Texas-based Lacks Stores, Inc. is filing for Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy.  Lack’s has been in business for 73 years.  In a press release, the Victoria-based furniture company said, while it's been profitable this year, lenders no longer want to help the company finance customer purchases. 

Lacks also gave some information about how it was affected by the recession:

Cathedral of Junk
Photo by Mose Buchele for KUT News

The City's Planning & Development Review Department issued a news release this morning saying that the City of Austin and the Cathedral of Junk reached an agreement to keep the structure on the property.

KUT News reported in June that the Cathedral of Junk would be allowed to remain, after city inspectors initially told owner Vince Hannemann to destroy the bizarre attraction.

ABIA
courtesy flickr.com/dawilson/

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport officials are scrambling to deal with longer security lines brought on by the continued growth in passenger traffic. Meanwhile, the Transportation and Security Administration began implementing more "thorough" pat-down procedures at the beginning of the month.

recycling plant
Photo by KUT News.

Give Your Input on Trash & Recycling

The City of Austin’s inviting people to a workshop tonight to talk trash and recycling.  The city’s looking for input on its Solid Waste Management Master Plan.  That plan outlines the programs, infrastructure, staffing, and funding needed for Austin to reach zero waste by 2040, the city’s goal to drastically reduce the amount of waste going to landfills.  Tonight’s workshop is from 6:30 to 8 at Fiesta Gardens.

Callie Hernandez for KUT

Two first-term Austin City Council members announced they will seek reelection in May 2011. Place 3 council member Randi Shade was first to market with her press release at 2:15 p.m. today. Less than an hour later, at 3:11 p.m., Place 1 council member Chris Riley announced that he too would be seeking reelection.

Aston Kauai Beach at Makaiwa
Image courtesy promotional video (below)

Local real estate firm JMI Realty is pitching in to buy a Marriot hotel on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The Austin Business Journal first reported it today based on a news release issued this morning, although the deal was first announced back in late-October.

JMI Realty is acquiring the 10 acre property in what is its first joint venture with Dallas-based Behringer Harvard. The price was not disclosed.

Fort hood ceremony
Photo by KUT News.

Key Hasan Hearing Wrapping Up

The Article 32 military hearing for the accused Fort Hood shooter resumes today.  Major Nidal Hasan’s hearing has been on hold for about three weeks.  This hearing will be determine whether he will be court-martialed for last year's mass shooting on the Army post that left 13 dead and 31 wounded. 

Gretch Sanders for KUT News

Building Blocks for Learning

Lego bricks literally came to life at the Delco Events Center Saturday, as kids from across Central Texas took part in a First Lego League competition. News 8 Austin reports the Legos were married with electronics, to give budding engineers a chance to create task-oriented robots.

Report Highlights License Suspension Work Around

Austin should have a new police monitor next month. It’s a civilian position responsible for promoting good relations between the police department and the public. The police monitor’s office, created in 2002, also takes complaints about officers.

Six semifinalists are interviewing for the position today.

homeless man in austin
Photo by Erik Reyna for KUT News

Austin City Manager Marc Ott made news this week when he revealed that he voluntarily went homeless for 24 hours a few months ago. Ott said he wanted to experience firsthand what it was like to live on the streets.

Bobcat
Photo courtesy of Texas State University-San Marcos

Austin Police Monitor Interviews Today

Veteran's Day Parade Austin
Photo by Matt Largey for KUT News.

Thousands of people marked Veteran’s Day with a parade this morning in downtown Austin.  Gabriel Galindo served two tours in Iraq.  He now supports other veterans through the Texas Veterans Commission.   Galindo says when veterans leave the service, they often don’t want to talk to someone who hasn’t been through what they’ve been through.

Simrat Sharma/KUT News

Veteran's Day Closures

City of Austin offices are closed today for Veteran's Day. But garbage, recycling and yard trimmings collection will be picked up as usual.  All recreation centers, cultural centers, and senior centers are closed. 

Veteran's Day Parade

On Thursday, we'll take a minute to pause in appreciation for the men and women who put their lives on the line for the United States without asking any questions. 

Veterans are never immune to aging or poverty, and as we see in this video produced by KUT News intern Sobia Lodhi, local agencies like Meals on Wheels are there to lend a helping hand when others are not.

LifeWorks East Austin Youth and Family Resource Center
Image courtesy LifeWorks

The Austin non-profit LifeWorks broke ground today on a new East Austin family resource center. The social services organization says it will increase its ability to serve young people and families in crisis by 25 percent.

LifeWorks already helps about 10,000 families a year through housing programs, counseling and education. They have surpassed their capacity to serve more people, so this will allow them to expand in a community with increasing need.

bus
Photo by KUT News

Quintana Arrested For Domestic Dispute

Former Austin police officer Leonardo Quintana was arrested by Leander police yesterday.  He was charged with four misdemeanors connected to a reported domestic violence incident last year.  Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo fired Quintana (for the second time) over the incident late last month.  The first firing was for a DWI arrest.  An arbitrator ruled that punishment was too severe.  Quintana is the APD officer who fatally shot Nathaniel Sanders in northeast Austin last year.

Austonian
Photo courtesy Visualist Images http://www.flickr.com/photos/visualistimages/

People who live at the Austonian can now enjoy an exclusive distinction beyond the downtown condo's luxurious modeling. The Austonian has been granted a four-star energy ranking under Austin Energy's Green Building program. It's the first downtown condo to earn the recognition.

A statement issued today by the developer, Benchmark Development, lists the reasons why. Here are some highlights:

Newsweek is the latest national publication to give Austin's economy high praise for being pretty awesome compared to everywhere else.

In its list of the 10 American cities best situated for the recovery, Newsweek repeats the familiar refrain of reasons why Austin's economy rules.

Austin Memorial Park Cemetary
Photo courtesy City of Austin

Someone walked through Austin Memorial Park Cemetery last night kicking over gravestones and smashing amenities like a park bench, according to Austin police and Austin Parks and Recreation.

Preliminary estimates peg the damage at $20,000, according to Parks and Rec spokesman Victor O'Valle. He said about 25 gravestones were damaged.

"I think the emotional damage is probably the greatest damage that those vandals are causing," O'Valle told KUT News. "A lot of people spend their hard earned money to provide memorials for their loved ones."

Ben Philpott/KUT

President Bush Kicks Off Book Tour

Former President George W. Bush will be at a Borders bookstore near his Dallas home today to sign copies of his newly released book "Decision Points".  In the book, President Bush writes about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Hurricane Katrina.  

Just hours before a public meet-and-greet scheduled for this evening, the City of Austin announced one of the five candidates for Chief Animal Services Officer has dropped out of the race.

City spokesperson Patricia Fraga told KUT News that Abigail Smith withdrew her name for "personal reasons." As executive director of a "No Kill" shelter in Ithaca, New York, Smith was a favorite of some "No Kill" advocates.

Oscar Brockett
Photo courtesy of UT Austin's Department of Theatre and Dance.

Oscar Brockett Passes Away

University of Texas at Austin Professor Emeritus and internationally known theater historian Oscar Brockett has passed away.  He died Sunday morning after suffering a stroke.  In the late 60s he wrote “History of the Theatre”.  The website for UT's Department of Theatre and Dance says:

The festival starts tonight and goes through Sunday
Photo Courtesy of FunFunFun

The 5th annual FunFunFunFest is set to kick off tonight at Waterloo Park. The weekend long festival is a smaller, more eccentric alternative to the Austin City Limits Music Festival, and while it primarily focuses on music, other activities ranging from professional wrestling to veggie hot dog eating contests to comedy acts give the event more of a rollicking, carnival-like feel than its heavily-sponsored big brother.

The city will interview the six finalists on November 12
Photo Courtesy APD

The City of Austin has selected six semifinalists today for the police monitor position. The nominees, who will be interviewed for the position on November 12th, are:

Cristina Beamud, who is the executive director of the City of Atlanta Citizen Review Board.

Rebecca Bernhardt, a contact researcher at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation in Houston. She is also a policy director of the Texas Defenders Service.

Ann del Llano, a family law attorney and owner of the Capitol City Solutions.

The Texas Rollergirls move to the Austin Convention Center for the 2011 seasons
Photo Courtesy of Jason Bechtel

The Texas Rollergirls, self-proclaimed “godmothers of modern flat track roller derby,” are leaving the Playland Skate Center and headed to the Austin Convention Center for the 2011 season. The group is hoping to roughly triple capacity, increase visibility for the organization, and enhance the fan-going experience with the move.

Photo by KUT News

Fort Hood Marks Anniversary of Shootings

Fort Hood is holding ceremonies today to mark the one-year anniversary of the shootings on post last year.  A private award ceremony will start at 10:00 a.m. to recognize soldiers and civilians who Army commanders say went above and beyond the call of duty that day. 

recycling
Photo by KUT News.

Texas House District 48 Race Still in Limbo

Democratic Incumbent Donna Howard maintains her position by only 15 votes.  Many wonder when or if her Republican challenger Dan Neil will ask for a recount.  Neil released a comment on his Facebook last night:

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