statesman season for caring

Star Furniture fills family’s Round Rock apartment with new furniture
Andy Sharp

Star Furniture fills family’s Round Rock apartment with new furniture

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Christmas came early for the McCullar-Herrmann family. On Saturday afternoon, they came home to an apartment full of new furnishings thanks to Star Furniture.

The family is one of 11 featured in this year’s Statesman Season for Caring program, which helps hundreds of families through local nonprofit agencies. The McCullar Herrmann family was nominated by Care Communities, which supports people and families living with cancer or HIV/AIDS.


Abbott’s $4 billion pledge for TxDOT could be hard to fulfill

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott made the pledge repeatedly throughout his successful run this year to the governorship: His transportation plan would put an additional $4 billion a year into Texas highways “without raising taxes, fees or tolls.” Once elected, he made the $4 billion pledge one of his top legislative priorities.

But the governor-elect’s tantalizing proposal may be illusory.


austin history

Where in Austin is the statue of Stephen F. Austin?
Jay Janner

Where in Austin is the statue of Stephen F. Austin?

The bronze version of musician Stevie Ray Vaughan stands vigil on the edge of Lady Bird Lake.

A likeness of civil rights icon Barbara Jordan greets those disembarking at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

And an immortalized version of singer Willie Nelson sits, guitar across his lap, at Second and Lavaca streets, having been unveiled precisely at 4:20 p.m April 4, 2012.


continuing coverage: george h.w. bush

Former President George H. W. Bush

Ex-President George H.W. Bush to stay hospitalized

Former President George H.W. Bush will remain overnight Wednesday in a Houston hospital where he was taken after experiencing shortness of breath, a family spokesman said.

The 90-year-old Bush had been taken by ambulance to Houston Methodist Hospital on Tuesday evening as a precaution, spokesman Jim McGrath said. Bush had a "good day" and his prognosis "remains positive," McGrath said in an email late on Wednesday.

veterans affairs

Some Texas disabled veterans have foster families

Half a dozen Christmas packages lay in front of the fireplace in Eileen Merize’s home in Katy. There were some wrapped for her, others for her husband, Rudolph.

In the middle lay another, intended for a newer member of their family: 93-year-old Harold Utsler, the World War II veteran who moved in with them two years ago.

Utsler is one of three veterans who live in her home through the Medical Foster Home Program, a program through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that helps disabled elderly veterans live with “foster families” rather than in large nursing homes.

northwest austin

The University of Texas Longhorn stadium that gingerbread built
Claire Osborn

The University of Texas Longhorn stadium that gingerbread built

Forget gingerbread houses. The Williamson County courthouse is home to a gingerbread metropolis, with a scaled-down version of Royal-Memorial Stadium where the players run on green-dyed coconut turf and the stands are filled with orange and blue gummy bears.

A Santa figurine stands on the corner with Bevo, the Longhorn mascot. And a sign outside the foot-high stadium says: “Dear Santa: All I want is for the Longhorns to win the championship.

austin public safety

Shortage of lab techs hampering Austin burglary investigations

Shortage of lab techs hampering Austin burglary investigations

The odds aren’t good that burglary victims in Austin will see their belongings again.

Austin police solve fewer than 10 percent of the city’s residential burglaries, a little less than the national average of 12.7 percent, according to the federal government’s Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The low number of cases “cleared” — by indicting suspects or recovering stolen property — has persisted despite 20 years of declining crime rates.

texas economy: housing

Are Texas home prices overvalued, as report claims?

Is Texas’ hot housing market in danger of a downturn?

One of the country’s top financial ratings firms says it is — but some state and Austin-area housing experts say otherwise.

In a new report, New York-based financial analyst Fitch Ratings contends that Texas has the most overvalued home prices in the country and that a correction could be coming due to falling oil prices.

politifact texas

PolitiFact: Congress both unproductive, unpopular
Andrew Harrer

Congress both unproductive, unpopular

Calling for less partisanship, a Texan leaving the U.S. House lamented the bickering and pettiness around him. But one-term Democratic Rep. Pete Gallego of Alpine also made a grander claim, saying in his Dec. 10 floor speech: “This Congress made history as the least productive, most unpopular Congress in the history of this proud nation.”

We’ve gotten into congressional productivity before, rating True a May 2014 claim by Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, that with only 67 bills or so passed into law, “2013 was the least productive year in congressional history since we’ve been keeping record.”


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