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

Central Texas

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 […]

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 […]

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.

At Austin MLK March, Activists Implore Crowd to Continue Fight for Racial Justice

Hundreds of community members, activists, students and several state politicians marched from the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. statue on the University of Texas at Austin campus through the state Capitol grounds to historically Black Huston-Tillotson University in East Austin Monday.

Many of the attendees of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day march said they were there not only to honor King’s legacy, but also because there is much work left to be done when it comes to ending racial injustice.

Jan 18, 2023

UT Bans TikTok Due to Security Concerns, But Some Professors Wary

Some UT professors said they understand the concern over TikTok but voiced anxiety about the ban affecting their ability to study and teach.

Dec 11, 2022

Alex Jones in Her Courtroom Is the Least Interesting Thing About Judge Maya Guerra Gamble

The world came to know Maya Guerra Gamble last summer as the no-nonsense judge presiding over the Texas defamation trial of Austin-based conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars media company.
“It seems absurd to instruct you, again, that you must tell the truth while you testify,” the Travis County district court judge lectured Jones at one point. “But here I am. You must tell the truth while you testify. This is not your show. You need to slow down and not take what you see as opportunities to further the message you’re wanting to further.”
Speaking directly is a trademark of Gamble’s personality. “I’ve always been a pretty direct person. … And in both directions. I have never enjoyed false praise. I would rather hear the truth. Whatever it is,” Gamble said.

Dec 07, 2022

Construction Funding, New School Board Bring Changes, Optimism to Austin Public Schools

Travis High School was built in 1953, making it the oldest high school in South Austin, and a broken heating system is hardly the first issue to arise in the aging facilities. The school will soon get a major renovation to fix much more than the heating. The Austin Independent School District is set to receive $252 million to construct a modern facility completely replacing the old Travis High. 
The renovation of Travis High is part of $2.44 billion in bonds that Austin voters approved in November, when they also elected five former teachers to the district’s board of trustees. With the district facing stagnant state funding, a teacher shortage and decreased enrollment, AISD leaders see the election results as setting a new course for Austin public schools. 
“The community said they are willing to pay to improve our schools, but simultaneously they said they want new leadership on the board to guide this money,” said Ken Zarifis, president of Education Austin, the labor union for Austin school employees.

Dec 06, 2022

From the Military to the Kitchen, These Veterans Are Choosing a Career That Brings Out Their Passion for Food

The smell of spices and chicken had people lining up at an Austin food festival to get Shirley Newell’s Dominican food. The U.S. Army veteran was rapidly taking orders, flipping her marinated chicken and packing food to-go. “Food is my comfort, my passion and how I express myself,” Newell said. “When I was in the military is when I actually started cooking.”
Now, cooking is her livelihood. She started Phatty Boy food truck nine years after she left the Army as an automated logistics specialist. For some Texas veterans, opening food-service businesses feels like a natural step after their military career.

Oct 27, 2022

Award-Winning Chef Edgar Rico’s Taqueria Is Giving Back, One Free Meal at a Time

Edgar Rico, chef and co-owner of the taqueria, hosts the biggest community fridge in East Austin, a project born of the financial struggles of the COVID pandemic.

“Hundreds of people a day were coming to our door to ask for food,” recalled Rico, a second-generation Mexican chef who recently appeared on Time magazine’s “100 Next 2022” list of influential people. 

In June, Rico won a James Beard Award — the so-called “Oscars of the food world” — as best emerging chef, and his restaurant continues to appear on “best of” lists. That success traces to his love of the culture of his parents’ home country and a desire to inspire and help others through food, both through his restaurant and through the community fridge it stocks. 

Oct 18, 2022

Congressman joins Austin protest for Iranian human rights

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett joined over 200 protesters outside the Texas Capitol in solidarity for Iranians and to raise awareness of the 22-year-old woman who died last month after being arrested for wearing her headscarf too loosely.
“I admire the courage of Iranians and Iranian-Americans,” Doggett, D-Austin, said after his speech on the south steps of Capitol. “It is vital to stand up for human rights and the horrors that women are facing.”
Though Doggett was appearing for the first time, it was the fourth consecutive week that Austinites have rallied at the Capitol after the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman who was arrested by Iran’s morality police for having her hair visible under her hijab. Amini’s death in custody on Sept. 16 triggered protests in Iran and around the world, creating viral videos of women defiantly cutting their hair and throwing their head coverings into fires. 

Oct 14, 2022

Austin City Council Approves $15 Monthly Electricity Bill Increase Starting Nov. 1

The Austin City Council voted to increase the average monthly residential electricity bill by about $15 starting Nov. 1.
In voting for the increase, Council Member Allison Alter said the increases are “primarily driven by external market factors beyond our control.” 
The increase is one of two rate increases proposed by Austin Energy, the city’s nonprofit publicly-owned electric utility company. The $15 increase will cover rising costs from the record-high price of natural gas, increasing energy demand and regulatory changes coming from ERCOT, Texas’ grid operator, according to Austin Energy.

May 31, 2022

Austin Mounted Patrol Making Most of New Home

Like many Central Texas residents, Austin police officer Dawn Leonard has bad memories from Winter Storm Uri in 2021. Not only did she have to keep herself warm, but she had to ensure the survival of the horses of the Austin Police Department’s mounted patrol unit.

 “It was a horrible week,” Leonard said. “So 24/7, every two hours, I got up and scooped poop.”

In the end, the storm turned out to be a blessing for the 16 horses in the mounted patrol unit. Because of a lack of water and sewer issues caused by the storm, the Austin Police Department moved the animals from a stable in Manor to the Austin Equestrian Center in Cedar Creek.

May 15, 2022

Kirk Watson, Running Again for Mayor, Wants Austinites to Look Forward

Watson, who was mayor from 1997-2001, says Austin needs a mayor with long-term, forward-looking direction —  not someone simply reacting to the day-to-day issues facing one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. 

May 04, 2022

Protesters Rally in Austin Against U.S. Supreme Court Threat to Roe v. Wade

Several hundred protesters marched from the Texas Capitol to the United States Federal Courthouse in Austin in protest.

Apr 24, 2022

With White Tablecloths and a Storied History, Headliners Club Seeks to Maintain Relevance in Changing Austin

Founded in 1954, the Headliners Club has remained a powerful institution in Austin for almost 70 years despite the many changes in the city’s demographics, and its leadership is confident it can sustain that relevance as Austin experiences rapid growth led by the tech industry. 

Members include the state’s most prominent leaders in government, business, higher education and journalism. While critics say such organizations can reinforce class privilege and in practice often exclude people of color, the Headliners Club has maintained its reputation as an exclusive stronghold of the elite in Texas’ politically progressive state capital.

Mar 25, 2022

Central Texas Mycology Spawns a Network of Mushroom Enthusiasts 

In a distinctly similar way to mycelia, the small, savvy team behind Central Texas Mycology Society has built a vast and growing network of enthusiastic volunteers to help distribute the mushroom blocks across Central Texas. Their distribution points stretch from Georgetown to New Braunfels and Bastrop to Cedar Park.  

“We want people to realize that we would not be here unless fungi did all the work helping us become a networked planet,” said one of the society’s leaders.

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