Austin’s Top News – February 3, 2021 | KLBJ-AM

Wilco’s judge responds to a homeless hotel

The Williamson County Commissioners Court has officially asked the city of Austin to postpone the purchase of the Candlewood Suites on Pecan Park Boulevard for 180 days and to meet with them to discuss the matter. District Judge Bill Gravell says he, like many others, was very surprised on the spot.

“I was only made aware of this last Friday by one of our good commissioners who communicated with me. And until I saw the Sunday night news program, I wasn’t even aware of where the place was, ”Gravell says.

Other district officials say they want to know what Austin is up to and say the city has not been transparent about its intentions.

The residents speak out against a homeless hotel

Many Williamson County’s Austin residents are still looking to purchase the Candlewood Suites. The town is to buy and turn it into a homeless shelter, resident Phillip Herring told Williamson County Commissioners Court, he lives next door and his family has already had interactions with the homeless.

“My daughter, who is six years old, was approached at Fr. Terry’s, and my two children (my eight year old and my six year old) were yelled at and asked about things. Basically just kind of pushed away from the parks they grew up with, ”he says.

He adds that there are a full number of day care centers and a dozen public schools within just five miles of the proposed location.

A virtual town hall discussion is scheduled for 6:30 a.m. tonight for tomorrow’s expected purchase of the Candlewood Suites. Councilor Mackenzie Kelly will host it along with members of the Austin Police Department, the Real Estate Department, and various homeless service providers. Kelly isn’t up for the $ 9.5 million purchase, but most of the rest of the council is.

New forensics laboratory

This week, Austin City Council will also vote on the establishment of a new forensic laboratory separate from the Austin Police Department. Councilor Alison Alter says the discussions really started in 2016 when APD’s DNA backlog reached massive levels. “

“Long before all the measures we took in August to address the Council’s request, and we have a lot of material that supports the direction that will be taken on Thursday,” says Alter.

Private and government laboratories have done the work for the city in recent years. According to the agenda, nearly $ 12 million that the council reallocated by the Austin police last year, along with nearly 90 full-time positions, will be allocated to the new lab.

Abbott is considering a nationwide camping ban

Homelessness remains on Governor Greg Abbott’s radar. He tells KVUE that there are no easy solutions. As part of a nationwide camping ban he is considering, he says the homeless won’t just be thrown back into the shadows.

“We want to help them find a way to have a better life, be it helping them get out of an addiction they might be having, helping them find a home or a place to live when they need it” says Abbott.

He says the plan would also include vocational training and access to food and / or health care. But he says what cities like Austin did only made things worse, which is why he believes a nationwide ban is necessary.

Security on the west campus

The security of the West Campus remains a concern for the people in the area as police investigate another attack this week. Emily Crone of the Horns for Safety student group tells CBS Austin that life on their campus just isn’t worth the risk.

“Sometimes I felt very uncomfortable when I went home. I definitely think the lighting needs to be improved, ”says Crone.

Two years ago, the city announced that 228 new lights were needed on the West Campus, costing up to $ 2.3 million. The city planned to install the lights over a period of five years. But at this point, Austin Energy says it is still working on hiring an engineer.

COVID-19 update

Now for the coronavirus, which has seen some very noticeable drops and Travis County’s metrics this week. The capacity of the intensive care beds increased last day as the number of people in the intensive care unit decreased by 147. The total number of hospitalizations is now 504. It is very likely that they will fall into the 400s by tomorrow. There are nearly 60 less active cases today, and that number stands at 5,144.

Austin Public Health is still focused on vaccinating people age 65 and older, but certain people with underlying health conditions are now also qualified. Austin public health director Stephanie Hayden says approximately 189,000 people meet the criteria but only 12,000 doses have arrived each week.

“We’ll probably be away in 16 weeks before we can get vaccines in place, and that’s if we just stick with those 12,000 vaccines a week,” says Hayden.

The city and Travis County are working on a new call center to make registration easier.

There are more than 50 hospital beds available in Williamson County than there were a day ago as the total hospital capacity there has grown to 21%. The bed capacity in the intensive care unit has now increased to 14%. As of March, Williamson County has reported 32,565 cases. Currently 1,636 are active and 30,600 are restores.

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