Reporting Texas
News and features from UT-Austin's School of Journalism

Central Texas

Oh, Rats! Rodents on Campus Are UT’s Hidden Nightlife

 The sun has yet to rise. There is a stillness outside the G.B. Dealey Center for New Media, home to the University of Texas’ Moody College of Communication. The sidewalks are devoid of students — it’s far too early for them to begin their sleepy shuffle from dorm rooms to their 8 a.m. classes. The only sounds that disturb the silence are the occasional whoosh of a car speeding down Guadalupe Street and the piercing, steady clap ringing out ominously in the otherwise tranquil pre-dawn hours.
On this early morning, a university custodian walks toward the Dealey Center with arms outstretched. Despite the cover of darkness, his presence is clearly announced by the loud clapping of his hands as he approaches the building. 
The custodian claps to scatter the rodents that live in the south-facing courtyard of the communications building.

Texas Christmas Tree Farmers Persevere Through Droughts to Keep Holiday Spirit Untruncated

Far in the countryside of Elgin, away from the congested city of Austin, is Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm, a 40-acre farm where families can choose or cut down their own Christmas tree. Large and small rows of Virginia pine trees cover the land Beth and Mike Walterscheidt call home. 
This family-friendly farm has been growing and selling trees for 30 years, but it hasn’t always been easy.
“What was grueling was the summer,” Beth Walterscheidt said. “It was so hot, and that was really hard for us and hard on our trees.”

Art From the Streets Takes a Creative Approach in Addressing Mental Distress 

This year’s show of works by homeless artists came as Art From the Streets achieved two milestones that signify new beginnings for the 32-year-old organization — settling into a permanent home that it moved into in 2021 and an expansion of its mental health programs. 

Amid the Roar of Motorcycles, Veterans Find Comfort and Community

Soaked by pouring rain, a group of Harley Davidson riders’ fire up their engines and begin their journey to Heroes Memorial Park in Kyle. Undeterred by the adverse weather, this group of military veterans takes pride in their shared passion and cherishes the brotherhood they’ve developed.
 “As veterans, we always look forward to events like this,” said Allen Deaver, an Air Force veteran. 
The bikers and psychologists say rides like this can provide an invaluable community for veterans to connect with others with shared experiences.
 “I think veterans need to be around other veterans,” said Deaver,

Nov 05, 2023

‘Protect the Children’ Rally Clashes with Trans Rights Protesters

Dozens of people calling for legislators to protect American children from sex trafficking, ideological indoctrination and drag queen storytime competed with counter-protesters advocating for transgender rights at the Texas Capitol on Saturday. 

Oct 24, 2023

Little Amal: A 12-Foot-Tall Puppet Visits Austin with a Larger-Than-Life Message

Children’s faces lit up as they looked up to the 12-foot puppet made of cane and carbon fiber with long brown hair made of Tyvek tied with a red string. Phones were raised in the air to capture the sight as “Little Amal” visited Austin for the first time to call attention to the plight of refugees around the world. 
“She’s made larger than life so that people also can look up to refugees,” said a programming associate for The Walk Productions.

Oct 15, 2023

Can’t Eclipse the Fun: How Central Texans Experienced a Rare Celestial Show

After a summer spent trying to get away from the sun, Central Texans couldn’t take their eyes off of it Saturday — safely, of course.
Through protective glasses, they watched a solar eclipse in which the moon covered 93 percent of the sun just before noon.
Reporting Texas reporters documented how some Austinites celebrated and experienced Saturday’s heavenly event.

Oct 05, 2023

At Barton Springs, a Celebration of Life and a Final Goodbye to a Tree Named Flo

As the sun went down over Barton Springs Pool, dozens of people said goodbye to “Flo,” a 120-year-old pecan tree set to be cut down the next day.
“I think of Flo as a symbol of our love for trees and our love for nature and Mother Earth,” Austin arborist Don Gardner told the crowd. “We used to always be a lot more connected to trees than we are now, and I’m so happy to see those who still have some sense of that.”
Flo has leaned over Austin’s spring-fed pool since 1925, but the city’s parks department and tree experts determined it must go because of Kretzschmaria deusta, a root and trunk fungus known as brittle cinder that weakens trees and has no treatment. 

Oct 03, 2023

Slideshow: Mermaids Float Through Downtown San Marcos

Mermaids and other seafaring people and creatures descended upon San Marcos to celebrate the annual Mermaid Capital of Texas Festival on Sept. 23.
The festival celebrates the history of the Aquarena Springs Aquamaids, women who dressed as mermaids and performed underwater acts when the Aquarena Springs amusement park operated in San Marcos more than two decades ago.
The festival also celebrates the San Marcos River, which runs through the city, and promotes the conservation of the river.

Apr 24, 2023

Coloring Austin’s Walls With Latino History

Austin’s Gus Garcia mural one of dozens of art works that dot the city on the walls of buildings, parking decks, underpasses and fences — some created by non-commissioned street artists and others by professional artists funded by the city’s Art in Public Places program and by organizations such as the Austin Downtown Alliance Foundation and the Austin Parks Foundation.

Austin’s cultural diversity is represented in these vibrant artistic expressions, and the murals such as the painting of Garcia showcase the city’s Hispanic community and are an integral aspect of the city’s identity. 

Apr 14, 2023

A Senate Bill Could Crack Open Opportunities for Egg Farmers 

Senate Bill 481, authored by Sen. Nathan Johnson, D-Dallas, would allow farmers to sell their ungraded eggs directly to businesses such as restaurants and grocers, which currently is illegal. 

Apr 09, 2023

Soaring: Kite Fest Takes Flight Over Austin

Hundreds of kites of all shapes, sizes and colors filled the skies over Zilker Park during the 95th ABC Kite Fest in Austin on April 1, 2023. Austinites of all ages sprinted across Zilker’s lawn trying to get their kites airborne as part of the event that has been around since 1929. Started by the […]

Mar 26, 2023

Trump Doubles Down on Explosive, Insult-laden Rhetoric During Rally in Waco

Trump blasted his political rivals during a rally at the Waco Regional Airport in Waco.

Mar 10, 2023

Experts Say Focus on Water Infrastructure Vital for Texas’ Future

For more than 37 days, Julie Walker, 53, and her neighbors in the Channel Oaks II subdivision outside of Marble Falls, Texas, have had to boil their water, which often comes out of the tap a dark, murky brown.  Walker rents a home in Channel Oaks II, high on a hill south of the Colorado […]

Feb 07, 2023

Driven: Race Champ Overcomes Challenges

Photo Gallery by Ry Olszewski Since he was 4, Chris Morris loved to race. He was a motocross competitor for 16 years, but in 2016, he broke his back while practicing for a race. Even though he now needs a wheelchair, he still wanted to race and was determined to find a way to do […]

Feb 06, 2023

Following Ice Storm, Arborists Say Focus on Better Tree Placement, Care

Falling limbs and sagging power lines have been the leading cause of power outages from the recent ice storm.

In addition to the loss of power for many residents, the city’s urban tree canopy suffered significant damage, and many Austinites and area arborists have been left questioning what the city can do better to protect both power lines and the renowned urban tree canopy.

First and foremost, better tree placement and care could lessen damage from ice storms, experts say.

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