Friday, October 30, 2020

Downtown Buildings to Light Up Green to Promote Good Health During COVID-19

For immediate release: October 30, 2020
Contact: Austin-Travis County Joint Information System, 512-974-0699,

Advisory: Downtown Buildings to Light Up Green to Promote Good Health During COVID-19 

WHAT: Buildings throughout Austin, including Austin City Hall, Central Library, Fairmont Hotel, Frank Erwin Center, The Catherine, JW Marriott Austin, 300 W. 6th, Gables Republic Square, W Austin, ACL Live, Canopy by Hilton, DoubleTree Suites, Inn Cahoots, Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel, Embassy Suites, and The Carpenter Hotel will be turning their lights green to promote solidarity of good health and wellness during COVID-19.  

The Paramount Theater, Frank Erwin Center, Austin Convention Center, and Palmer Events Center have also lent their marquees to promote "Spread Kindness, Not COVID" messaging. 

Some buildings will be projecting #AmplifyHopeATX images, which the public may use. Video, images, and copy can be found here.

WHEN: Friday, Oct. 30, 6-10 p.m. 

WHERE: Downtown Austin 

MORE: Pandemic fatigue is a real issue. Austin Public Health staff, along with City and County departments, have been responding to COVID-19 since February and understands firsthand the need for normalcy. The lighting represents that we are in this together. As Halloween weekend nears and more holidays approach, we need everyone to do their part to keep our community safe and remember the 3Ws: Wash your hands, Wear a mask, and Watch your distance. 

For more COVID-19 information and updates, visit   

Parks News 10/30/2020

City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department

Parks News

Carver Museum Hosts Art and Business Conversation Series


The George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center, in collaboration with Capitol View Arts, will present its fourth installment of the Art and Business Conversation Series. This collaborative project was started in 2017 with the goal of providing professional development to early-mid career creatives, and takes place during the first three weeks of November. This series was founded to address the challenge that Black and Brown creatives in the Greater Austin area face in regards to launching their careers. The organizers of this series seek to provide practical skills that will provide motivated artists insight into the business of art and the cultivation of sustainable full-time careers.
Guest speakers and presenters for 2020 include: Lise Ragbir, Director of the Christian-Green Gallery and the Idea Lab at UT Austin, Andrea Mellard, Director of Public Programs and Community Engagement for The Contemporary Austin, Shani Hebert, President of Herbert Tax Consulting, LLC., visual artist Ryan Runcie, and Texas Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts attorney, Adrian Resendez.
All of the presentations will take place from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Thursday, November 5, 12, and 19 via ZOOM webinar. Participants are encouraged to register via Evenbrite for additional details and updates about Vol. 1, Vol. 2, and Vol. 3.

Volume 1 - November 5
The first installment will be co-presented by Andrea Mellard and Lise Ragbir who will discuss the essential elements of developing a competitive arts application for funding and exhibition.

Volume 2 - November, 12
Ryan Runcie and Adrian Resendez will discuss the Legal and Logistical Intersection of Public Art Contracts.

Volume 3 - November 19
The final installment of this year's Art and Business Series will conclude with a presentation and Q&A from Shani Herbert who specializes in tax consulting services for creatives.

Read the rest of this story...

More to read:
Hancock Golf Course Community Meetings Postponed
George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center Celebrates 40 Years
City of Austin - Park Fire Restrictions Effective October 21
Romeo and Katrina: Virtual Performance of Opening Scene Oct. 10
Austin Parks and Recreation Department Lifts Burn Restrictions

Thanks for your interest in the Parks and Recreation Department for the City of Austin, Texas.

Visit for more information about these and other services.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Austin Water Reaches Milestone in Management of Zebra Mussels

Austin Water Reaches Milestone in Management of Zebra Mussels

For Immediate Release: October 26, 2020
Contact: Emlea Chanslor,, 512-972-0145

AUSTIN, TX – Austin Water has achieved a significant milestone in its efforts to manage Zebra Mussels at its three water treatment plants.  The utility has completed inspection and cleaning of the raw water intakes at all three treatment plants and commissioned new systems to deter future infestations this month.

Zebra Mussels were first detected in Lake Travis in 2017 and have since infested Lake Travis and Lake Austin, which are the source of Austin's drinking water. The invasive species attaches to surfaces such as grates, screens, pipes and valves, interferes with operations and increases energy required to pump water through the process. Their presence also can affect taste and odor of drinking water.

In response, Austin Water has established a multipronged approach to managing its raw (lake) water infrastructure, including:

  • Routine cleaning and removal of Zebra Mussel shells on screens and other infrastructure;
  • Using contracted divers to inspect underwater infrastructure and pressure wash grates and under water infrastructure at least annually;
  • Using rovers with cameras to inspect pipelines and underwater infrastructure not readily accessible by divers;
  • Enhancement of protocols to evaluate taste and odor of drinking water more frequently; and
  • Installation of chemical systems to feed liquid copper sulfate pentahydrate into the water pipes to deter infestation in the pipes that take water from the lakes to the water treatment plants.
Austin Water completed construction and commissioning of chemical feed systems at Ullrich Water Treatment Plant and Davis Water Treatment Plant in early October 2020. A similar system began operation at Handcox Water Treatment Plant in September 2019. The systems will feed a low dose of liquid copper sulfate pentahydrate to kill off any Zebra Mussels in the pipes and deter others from attaching to the water treatment infrastructure. Austin Water worked to get these temporary systems at Davis and Ullrich water treatment plants in operation quickly and is beginning construction to enhance the systems by adding bulk storage tanks, buried piping, containment structures and other elements.

"Austin Water is working to counteract the impacts of this invasive species in a responsible way with the health and safety of our employees, customers and environment at the forefront. These chemical feed systems include safeguards to ensure chemicals remain within the pipeline. Additionally, our robust treatment processes continue to remove chemicals from the water and provide high quality drinking water every day," said Rick Coronado, Assistant Director of Operations at Austin Water.

Looking toward the future, Austin Water is working to design a Copper Ion Generator system that will use electricity and copper electrodes to release copper ions into the raw water pipelines. This proposed system will eliminate the need to deliver, handle, and store large amounts of copper sulfate chemicals onsite.

"We know that Zebra Mussels are here to stay in our water supply. Establishing a sustained approach to managing them is a vital part of our ongoing operations," said Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros.  "This work is an important part of our mission to maintain a resilient utility that provides high quality services to our customers amidst changing conditions."

For more information and a video about Austin Water's Zebra Mussels mitigation efforts, visit

Friday, October 23, 2020

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Coalition Launches in Austin-Travis County

For immediate release: October 23, 2020
Contact: Austin-Travis County Joint Information System, 512-974-0699,

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Coalition Launches in Austin-Travis County

Planning for the future COVID-19 vaccine commences to ensure successful rapid distribution 

Austin, Texas – Today, Oct. 23, Austin Public Health (APH) launched a COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Coalition. The coalition, which is comprised of local health care and community partners, will assist APH in developing strategies to reach the desired level of COVID-19 vaccination coverage for our community once a vaccine is readily available. 

Coalitions within local jurisdictions were identified by the federal government as a best practice and are key to successful rapid vaccine distribution planning.  

"Slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Austin-Travis County has been a community effort since the beginning," said APH Director Stephanie Hayden. "Planning for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine will once again require many stakeholders and a community effort to be successful. We still have a long road ahead of us, but the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Coalition marks the beginning of a new chapter in our response." 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations, which includes information about COVID-19 vaccination program planning and implementation considerations and guidance.  

Notably, COVID-19 vaccine supply is expected to be limited at the beginning of distribution, so the allocation of doses may need to be prioritized for critical populations such as critical infrastructure workers, people at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness, people at increased risk of acquiring or transmitting COVID-19, and people with limited access to routine vaccination services. 

"As a community, we need to recognize that even when a vaccine becomes available, initially it will not be widely available for the general public,"  said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "We will need to prioritize our most vulnerable and ensure equitable distribution across our community." 

Initial coalition meetings will focus on identifying these critical populations as well as strategizing for distribution channels, vaccine temperature storage and management, and community messaging and engagement efforts.

For COVID-19 information and updates, visit  

Thursday, October 22, 2020

54th Annual Zilker Holiday Tree Installation and Virtual Tree Lighting Ceremony

For immediate release:
Oct. 22, 2020
Tree Installation: Austin Energy, Jennifer Herber 512-299-1740
Ceremony/Visitation: PARD, Media Line 512-974-5723


54th Annual Zilker Holiday Tree Installation and
Virtual Tree Lighting Ceremony

WHAT: Austin Energy crews will string lights to transform the Zilker moonlight tower into the Zilker Holiday Tree. The tree lighting ceremony will be virtual in 2020; see more information below.

WHEN: Friday, Oct. 23, 2020

Best time for visuals: 9 - 11 a.m.

On-site contact: Austin Energy PIO, Jennifer Herber, 512-299-1740

WHERE: Zilker Park, south of Barton Springs Road near Andrew Zilker Road

MORE: Austin Energy crews will string the 155-foot-tall Zilker Holiday Tree in preparation for the first-ever virtual lighting ceremony.

Most of the bulbs on the Zilker Holiday Tree in 2019 were LED bulbs, with the exception of the yellow ones, which were harder to find in stock. However, this year, all of the lights on the tree will be LED bulbs. LEDs consume less electricity and are longer lasting.

The tree is decorated with 39 strings of light, each containing 81 red, yellow, green and blue bulbs. The strategic placement of the yellow bulbs on each string gives the tree its distinctive and dizzying swirl pattern.

The moonlight tower in Zilker Park is one of the original 31 towers that provided the City of Austin its first urban lighting system in 1895. Only 17 of Austin's original moonlight towers remain and serve as the only working moonlight towers in the world. Over the years, the moonlight towers and the Zilker Holiday Tree have become Austin icons and a beloved community tradition.


Over the years, the Tree Lighting ceremony has become Austin's official kick-off to the holiday season. In response to COVID-19, this year's event will be a virtual celebration for all to enjoy!

The virtual lighting ceremony will take place on Sunday, Nov. 29 at 6 p.m. The ceremony will be streamed on ATXN Channel 6 as well as the social media channels for Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD), City of Austin and Austin Energy.

The tree will be on display from Nov. 29, 2020, through Jan. 1, 2021, from 6 p.m. until midnight.

Due to the pandemic, on-site access will be assessed by the City of Austin and announced closer to the event date in order to work from the most current public health information available. 

Find more information at

As in years past, the young winners from PARD's annual Zilker Holiday Tree art contest will be helping to flip the switch and light up the tree. View this year's winning art pieces, and congratulations to this year's winners:

JUNIOR DIVISION WINNERS (5 – 7 years old) 

  • First Place: Neil Bhokare
  • Second Place: Anna-Caterina Tsai
  • Third Place: Anamaria Banda

SENIOR DIVISION WINNERS (8 – 10 years old)

  • First Place: Aaliyah Webb
  • Second Place: Ava Wessels
  • Third Place: Ayin Park
About Austin Energy 
Customer Driven. Community Focused. 
Austin Energy, the City of Austin's electric utility, lights a brighter future for more than 500,000 customer accounts and more than one million residents in Greater Austin. The utility's commitment to providing value powers the community and the innovation and culture that has made Austin a destination city. Austin Energy has powered the community for 125 years, delivering safe, affordable, reliable energy and excellent customer service. The publicly owned utility will continue to shine a light into the future. For more information about Austin Energy, visit
About the Austin Parks and Recreation Department
The Austin Parks and Recreation Department is an award-winning park system with more than 300 parks, 227 miles of trails and more than 20,000 acres of greenspace. The Department serves the public by providing, protecting and preserving a park system that promotes quality recreational, cultural and outdoor experiences. The Austin Parks and Recreation Department offers an essential public service and demonstrates economic value, health and environmental benefits, and social importance by improving the overall quality of life for Austin residents and visitors.  For more information, visit


APH Reinforces Close Contact Quarantine and Case Investigation Cooperation After National Clarification

For immediate release: October 22, 2020
Contact: Austin-Travis County Joint Information System, 512-974-0699,

APH Reinforces Close Contact Quarantine and Case Investigation Cooperation after National Clarification

Reinforcement follows update of close contact definition by the CDC

Austin, Texas – Austin Public Health (APH) continues to urge the Austin-Travis County community to complete full quarantine periods and cooperate with case investigators to successfully identify close contacts and slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a clarification in the definition of a "close contact" to include someone who was within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of at least 15 minutes across 24 hours. Under the updated definition, a person could be exposed three separate times for five minutes each for a cumulative of 15 minutes, rather than only including single exposures of 15 minutes or more. 

The CDC announcement does not change APH case investigator efforts. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, APH has included close contacts who were exposed for a cumulative total of at least 15 minutes in contact tracing.  

"Our staff at Austin Public Health is making every effort to get information from those who tested positive for COVID-19 to identify close contact and quickly get them into quarantine," said APH Chief Epidemiologist Janet Pichette. "But we can't do this alone. We need community cooperation and understanding to reduce disease transmission."  

If you are someone who APH notifies as being in close contact of a COVID-19 case, you must quarantine for 14 days after your last contact with that person. During the 14-day quarantine, you should watch for symptoms such as a fever, cough, or headache, among others. If you develop symptoms, you should seek testing.  

However, you cannot test your way out of quarantine. If you are tested during your 14-day quarantine period and the test returns negative, you must still complete the remainder of the 14 days incase the virus is still in its incubation period. 

"We're at a point in our response where we are beginning to see another increase in cases," Pichette added. "As cases go up, it is going to be even more important for people to follow public health prevention measures and abide by quarantine and isolation practices." 

Potential Scammers 

As a reminder, APH case investigators will never ask for Social Security, Medicaid, insurance, immigration, or financial information. If you believe you are receiving a scam call, request the name, title, and call back number and you can verify the information with the City of Austin by calling 311 to ask for that person. 

For COVID-19 information and updates, visit  

Monday, October 19, 2020

Austin Public Health Hosting Two Upcoming Flu Vaccine Events

For immediate release: October 19. 2020
Contact: Austin-Travis County Joint Information System, 512-974-0699,

Austin Public Health Hosting Two Upcoming Flu Vaccine Events

Oct. 24 and Nov. 7 events will serve as vaccine distribution practice for future COVID-19 vaccine 

Austin, Texas – Austin Public Health (APH) is hosting a walk-up flu shot event on Saturday, Oct. 24, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Southeast Branch Library, 5803 Nuckols Crossing Road. 

The event will distribute approximately 200 flu shots, which will be available on a first-come, first-served basis with priority for those who are uninsured. APH is encouraging those who have insurance to visit to find a location near them offering flu shots. 

"This year it is more important than ever to get your flu shot," said APH Director Stephanie Hayden. "Getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself, your family, and our community." 

The Oct. 24 event will be the first of two flu shot events, with the second operating as a drive-thru event on Nov. 7, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Travis County Expo Center, which will distribute approximately 600 flu shots. Both events are serving as practice for distributing a future COVID-19 vaccine. 

"We have begun planning for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine and these flu shot events will help us understand the processes we need to have in place to ensure successful rapid distribution," said Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority.   

Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu shot every year. In addition to your annual flu shot, you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy by following these simple steps: 

  • Wash your hands often 

  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or tissue 

  • Avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth 

  • Avoid others who are sick 

  • Stay home if you are sick 

  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects 

  • Wear a mask and social distance in public 

Due to space limitations at the Southeast Library, media will not be allowed on-site. ATXN will film b-roll and natural sound to send to media outlets following the event. Additional information about media participation at the Travis County Expo Center event will be sent closer to Nov. 7. 

COVID-19 Testing Site Closures 

The Southeast Branch Library COVID-19 neighborhood testing site will be closed on Saturday, Oct. 24 to accommodate the flu shot distribution. On Saturday, Nov. 7 all neighborhood testing sites will be closed (Givens Recreation Center, Little Walnut Creek Branch Library, Montopolis Recreation Center, and Southeast Branch Library). For both dates, drive-thru testing options will still be available. 

For additional flu information and updates, visit  

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Council Members Propose Support for Austin Legacy Businesses as Iconic Tourist Destinations Through a Visitor Information Centers Program

For immediate release:
Oct. 15, 2020
Jason Lopez, Office of Council Member Ann Kitchen,, 512-978-2105

Council Members Propose Support for Austin Legacy Businesses as Iconic Tourist Destinations Through a Visitor Information Centers Program

On the October 15, 2020 City Council Agenda (Item 80), Council Members Kitchen, Pool, Tovo and Alter propose creating a Visitor Information Center Fund and developing, as an initial project, distributed Visitor Information Centers at various tourist destinations around town.
The Visit Austin website ( identifies several tourist destinations and lists them as "Iconic Austin Music Venues" and "Iconic Austin Restaurants", and this proposal recommends assessing their need for assistance to avoid loss, their interest in participating as a recognized iconic tourist destination, and other criteria to evaluate their potential to function as Visitor Information Centers for Austin's tourist economy. The draft resolution is available here:
This proposal aligns with previous City Council action (Resolution No. 20200326-091) to consider other possible options for uses of existing Hotel Occupancy Taxes (HOT), and creates an opportunity to redefine Austin's Visitor Information Centers as destinations that provide an authentic Austin experience in their original locations, both informing and entertaining visitors with authentic Austin culture.
"These iconic businesses make Austin a world-renowned destination," said Council Member Alter. "As we navigate the economic impacts of this pandemic, the City should explore every opportunity to support the places that make Austin a special place to visit."

"We have a duty to be as courageous and innovative as Austin itself in order to save our city's unique character. It's our live music and cultural vibrancy that attracts visitors from around the world, and we have the means and the money to do it. We just need the will to make it happen," said Council Member Pool.

Council Member Tovo added, "Austin is a premier tourist destination in large part because of the unique legacy of the local businesses that have long made the Capital of Texas a vibrant spot for visitors from around the world. We should consider innovative and bold measures to ensure their survival."

"These places are the heart and soul of Austin.  They draw people here from around the world to enjoy Austin's one-of-a-kind sights, sounds, and experiences," said Council Member Kitchen. "Let's be creative and take this opportunity to both ensure our City's reputation as the best place to visit while helping these places be more sustainable for generations to come."

City of Austin asks for input towards reaching zero waste

City of Austin asks for input towards reaching zero waste

Oct 15, 2020 09:05 am

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Austin Resource Recovery (ARR), a department of the City of Austin, wants to hear your ideas on reaching its zero waste goal. Adopted in 2011, Austin's Zero Waste Goal includes keeping 90% of unwanted items out of local landfills by 2040. From October 15, 2020, to November 15, 2020, Austin residents can provide their zero waste feedback and thoughts through an online survey.

ARR is in the process of developing a Comprehensive Plan as an update to the 2011 Master Plan. The Master Plan, unanimously adopted by the Austin City Council in December 2011, established the City's roadmap to reach zero waste by 2040. It provided recommendations for policy implementation, citywide services, program development, and other initiatives. As of 2015, the City has been able to keep 42% of discarded items out of local landfills.  

"Taking care of the environment is everyone's responsibility; for us, it starts with keeping these valuable, reusable materials out of the landfill," said Austin Resource Recovery Director Ken Snipes. "The public's input will help inform our new comprehensive plan and identify opportunities, initiatives and programs for a waste-free Austin." 

Austinites can take the ARR Comprehensive Plan survey from October 15, 2020, to November 15, 2020. Austin Resource Recovery will announce additional input opportunities at a later date. 


About Austin Resource Recovery 
Austin Resource Recovery provides a wide range of services designed to transform waste into resources while keeping our community clean. Services include curbside collection of recycling, trash, yard trimmings and large brush and bulk items; street sweeping; dead animal collection; household hazardous waste disposal and recycling; and outreach and education. Austin Resource Recovery offers free, voluntary, and confidential consulting services to help Austin businesses reduce waste and comply with the City's recycling ordinances. In December 2011, the Austin City Council approved the Austin Resource Recovery Master Plan, which is the City's roadmap to Zero Waste. The City of Austin is committed to reducing the amount of waste sent to area landfills by 90 percent by 2040. Learn more at

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Residents Urged to Fill Out Census in Final Hours of Campaign

For immediate release:
October 14, 2020
Contact: Communications & Public Information Office, 512-974-2220,


Residents Urged to Fill Out Census in Final Hours of Campaign

Census to end on Friday following Supreme Court ruling


Austin-Travis County residents who have not yet filled out their Census are being urged to do so now before the new, final deadline of 5 a.m. Friday, Oct 16.

Campaigners had been working on the basis that the survey would stay open until the end of this month - providing crucial extra time to help communities be counted. However, a Supreme Court ruling yesterday cleared the way for the Census Bureau to end the count earlier.

"There may be only moments left!" said Austin Mayor Steve Adler, commenting upon hearing the Court is allowing the Census to end early. "Complete your Census NOW. A fair democracy requires a fair Census process that seeks to count everyone."

"This is unfortunate," added State Senator Sarah Eckhardt. "I agree with Justice Sotomayor that we will be irreparably harmed by rushing the Census count. Anyone who has not already done so should go to right now and complete their Census." 

Senator Eckhardt and Mayor Adler are co-chairs of the Austin-Travis County Complete Count Committee (CCC), the goal of which is to ensure that every Travis County resident is counted in the 2020 Census.

The latest Supreme Court decision is the culmination of a month of federal court rulings, appeals, and confusion, during which the 2020 Census deadline was initially extended from September 30 to October 31.

Local leaders of the Austin-Travis County CCC continue to urge residents to take the Census immediately online at, and encourage their neighbors to do so as well, for the final few hours the survey remains open.
Committee Spokesperson John Lawler said: "We are currently reviewing the Supreme Court's ruling with our attorneys. As of this afternoon, the self-response questionnaire is still available online at My2020Census.Gov. Please – if you have not already done so – complete your Census online immediately."

As of the end of September, Austin and Travis County were the largest pair of Texas cities and counties to surpass their 2010 Self Response Rates together, even as the State of Texas still lagged behind their own.

As of today, October 14, self-response rates are as follows:
Texas Self-Response - 62.6% (2010 - 64.4%)
Travis County Self-Response Rate - 67.1% (2010 - 66.2%)
Austin Self-Response Rate - 66.9% (2010 - 66.7%)
Every 10 years, the federal government is constitutionally required to count every person - regardless of origin or status - who is living in the United States in order to provide an accurate count of all people in the country. The results of the Census are far-reaching and impact federal funding for public schools, transportation dollars for roads and buses, reimbursement for healthcare programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, among other services. Census data also informs the way political districts are drawn for Congress, State House seats, and school board members.