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

Central Texas

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. 

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.

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.

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.

Mar 16, 2022

Invasive Aquatic Species Are Threatening Texas Waterways

Across the street from Sewell Park, while most people tried to get a suntan or go tubing on a cloudy day, a group of researchers worked to capture suckermouth armored catfish, an invasive species in the San Marcos River.

Invasive aquatic species such as the suckermouth armored catfish compete with native species for food, cause erosion and wreck ecological damage, experts say.

Feb 28, 2022

After Statements From Texas Leaders, Protesters Take to the Streets for Transgender Rights

A student-led march for transgender rights briefly turned violent Sunday when an Austin police officer slammed a protester to the ground.

Feb 10, 2022

During Rally in Austin, O’Rourke Denounces Abbott Over Jan. 6 and Electric Power Grid

O’Rourke is traveling around the state and hosting a series of rallies dubbed the Keeping the Lights On: A Statewide Drive for a Brighter Texas campaign.

Dec 15, 2021

Advocates Say Electric Cooperatives Adopting ‘Unfriendly’ Solar Policies

Liberty Hill resident Richard Hrabik has debated installing solar panels on his home since he moved in 38 years ago.  “I’ve always been interested, but it was never really affordable,” said Hrabik, a retired computer software engineer. “Now panels have gotten to where you can afford them. So, I decided to go for it.”
Not long after Hrabik had his panels installed, the Pedernales Electric Cooperative’s board of directors in December 2020 proposed a significant rate increase for its customers who have solar panels — a 20-25% increase, according to some estimates.

Kaiba White, an energy policy and outreach specialist with Public Citizen Texas, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, said PEC didn’t explain these moves adequately to customers. She’s been helping Hrabik and dozens of other PEC solar customers challenge the increases since the summer.

“When members started to find out about this, especially those with solar or who were considering solar, there was an outcry,” White said. 

Dec 13, 2021

Austin Amps Up Communication to Answer Concerns About Feared Return of Deadly Winter Storm

No one could have seen it coming. In a state like Texas, bitter cold temperatures are common during the short winter months, but what happened on Valentine’s Day of 2021 was almost as likely as hell freezing over. The storm, that has come to be known as Winter Storm Uri, brought unprecedented low temperatures to […]

Dec 08, 2021

Climate Change Impacting Austin Real Estate Not So Hard to Fathom

After graduating from the University of Texas in May 2021, Sami Sparber ran into the same issue many Austin residents are facing – too few places available for rent or sale. “If you found a place to live, you had to apply right away because within hours or days that unit could be gone,” Sparber […]

Dec 08, 2021

Despite Higher Prices and Short Supply, Texas Heritage Turkey Farms Are Thriving 

Across the country, the demand for heritage turkeys — a variety of domestic turkeys retaining historic characteristics from the mid-20th Century — has been on the rise since 2005 with the popularity of the slow food movement.

Nov 29, 2021

From Pulpit to Pandemic: How Historically Black Texas Churches Spread the Word on Vaccinations

Black churches in Texas have been at the forefront of encouraging their congregations to get vaccinated and change the narrative for Black health.

Nov 24, 2021

After COVID Put Students Behind, Central Texas Schools Are Working to Catch Up

Several studies have shown students, especially those from low-income families, fell behind academically during the pandemic.

Nov 24, 2021

Central Texas Christian School Enrollment Surges Amid Curriculum, COVID-19 Concerns

Enrollment at conservative Christian schools in Central Texas is booming. School administrators attribute the increase to parental anxieties surrounding COVID-19 policies, discussion of systemic racism in the classroom and the inclusion of curriculum with sexual content.

Nov 24, 2021

Small Towns Around Austin Struggle with Big-City Housing Costs

Driving into Taylor, the vibe is rural but not the usual trope of a dying, small town. The city has seen a gradual increase in its population in the past 10 years, and with that has come a renaissance of sorts. Now comes news that Taylor will soon be home to a $17 billion Samsung microchip making plant, which is also expected to bring a lot of newcomers. Residents of Taylor and other once-rural towns around Austin are already feeling the effects of the city’s growth. With skyrocketing of housing prices during the pandemic, smaller communities are grappling with big-city issues like affordability and gentrification. 

Nov 05, 2021

I-35 Expansion Plan Sparks Discussion Over Historical Barrier

Clearing neighborhoods and bulldozing businesses to expand an existing concrete barrier that has divided communities or digging deep into a reimagined urban core; these are the choices up for debate in the struggle to find a plan for modernizing I-35 through the center of Austin. Following a public comment period that ended Sept. 24, the […]

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