BJ Austin | KERA News

BJ Austin

Reporter

BJ Austin has more than 25 years of broadcast journalism experience, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.

At KERA, BJ was runner-up for Texas Health Journalist of the Year in the 2013 Anson Jones, M.D., Awards from the Texas Medical Association. She earned a 2009 Texas Associated Press Broadcasters honorable mention for best specialty/beat reporting and a 2010 honorable mention for best general-assignment story for "Zoo Poo." She has also shared several awards, including a a 2010 TAPB first-place trophy for KERA’s radio series "Living with the Trinity: Thirsty"; a 2009 TAPB second-place honor for best continuing coverage for "Family Values: What Voters Want"; and a 2010 regional Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association for "The Economy Project."

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BJ Austin

The sixth annual National Festival of Young Preachers wrapped up Monday in Dallas.  About 130 participants -- ranging from 14 to 28 years old -- stepped up to the pulpit at what’s known as Preachapalooza.

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

Seismologists from SMU plan to install equipment in Irving Monday after a recent rash of minor earthquakes around Highways 114 and 183 – near the old Texas Stadium site and the city’s only producing gas well.

BJ Austin

The fifth season of "Downton Abbey" makes its U.S. premiere Sunday night on PBS.  That’s KERA-TV, Channel 13, in North Texas. The British miniseries chronicles the lives of the uppercrust Crawley family and their cadre of servants downstairs. Across North Texas, "Downton Abbey" fans are planning proper commemorations.

BJ Austin / KERA News

The new Dallas carry-out bag ordinance went into effect Thursday. 

Customers at Dallas stores will be charged a nickel for every single-use plastic or paper bag they take home. The goal is to be “greener” and cut down on plastic-bag litter.

Neff Conner, flickr.com

A federal civil rights complaint was filed Thursday against the city of Dallas and the Dallas Police Department.  The group Dallas Communities Organizing for Change wants the Justice Department to investigate use of excessive force by Dallas police officers.

BJ Austin

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings made a "come together’" plea Wednesday morning regarding the Trinity Parkway.

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Another big score for North Texas and college basketball.  Six months after Arlington hosted the NCAA Men’s Final Four, the city of Dallas landed the Women’s championship for 2017. It’s part of a plan to make Dallas a go-to destination for college hoops.

Trinity Corridor Project dallascityhall.com

After another setback last week, the plan to build a toll road inside the Trinity River levees could be in for a makeover. The Regional Transportation Council refused to ask lawmakers to fund the nine-mile stretch past downtown Dallas. And now Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings hopes to win over toll road opponents by unveiling a new Trinity Parkway design summit. 

BJ Austin / KERA News

At Dallas Love Field, starting Monday, you are now free to move about the country nonstop on Southwest Airlines and Virgin America. The Wright Amendment flight restrictions are expiring. 

BJ Austin

It’s Texas-OU weekend in Dallas. That means a flood of burnt orange and crimson rolling into downtown tonight.  

NIAID / Flickr

State lawmakers today demanded details about how the first U.S. diagnosed case of Ebola has been handled. The CDC is working on new screening procedures for air travelers.

Meanwhile, Ebola patient remains in critical condition at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. He’s on a ventilator and is undergoing kidney dialysis.

JoshuaMHoover / Flickr

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday said it would not weigh in on gay marriage appeals in five states. That means same-sex weddings could soon take place in those states, including Oklahoma. Monday's court action could have an impact in Texas, where a judge’s order striking down the gay marriage ban is on appeal. 

Twitter/Mayor Mike Rawlings (@ Mike_Rawlings)

Dallas’ poor population has exploded.

From 2000 to 2012, the number of poor people in Dallas rose by 41 percent. That far outweighs the city's overall 5 percent population growth during the same period.

The LBJ Express Project / Texas Department of Transportation

A new stretch of TEXpress toll lanes will open Saturday on I-35E. It’s the second segment of so-called managed lanes in the $2.7 billion LBJ Express Project

Arlington Police Department

Last month’s Facebook posting of Arlington Police Sgt. Gary Carter’s gentle handling of a pit bull on the loose went viral and has had more than 12 million views. Now, Sgt. Carter has saved the same pit bull again.

mrfiza/Shutterstock

State health officials have confirmed the first human case of chikungunya in Texas.

It’s a mosquito-borne illness that can cause very severe joint pain, a rash, and high fever. But it’s rarely fatal.

BJ Austin / KERA News

A year ago Thursday, the most powerful North Texas tornado in two decades ripped through Granbury, southwest of Fort Worth.  It devastated one neighborhood in particular: Rancho Brazos. Six people were killed and several dozen were injured. A year later, the rebuilding continues.

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

Critics of gas drilling will hold a public meeting in Azle Monday night.

The meeting comes as more earthquakes continue to rock the area northwest of Fort Worth. A 2.2-magnitude quake struck near Azle on Saturday. And yet another earthquake hit near Azle Monday morning, registering 3.1.

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It took hours, behind closed doors, but Dallas City Council members narrowed their list from six candidates to three -- interim Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez, former North Carolina county manager David Cooke, and Deanna Santana, a city administrator in California.

A second round of interviews will begin next week.

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A vote of the Plano City Council Tuesday night could open restaurant patios to diners and their dogs.

The issue was raised by the Katy Trail Ice House Outpost that opened last summer in Plano. The original Ice House in Dallas is a popular spot for Fido and friends, and operators wanted to do the same in Plano.

TxDOT

Update, 2:57 p.m. Monday: A wreck involving an 18-wheeler caused big problems on westbound Interstate 30 near Sylvan Avenue in Dallas this morning.

“A car was trying to exit on Sylvan and hit the barrier," said Katrina Keys with TxDOT’s Horseshoe Project. "And then an 18-wheeler was trying to swerve out of the way and that’s when the 18-wheeler tipped over.  And that’s really what caused all the traffic backup.”

LBJ TEXpress

Last Saturday, you could start going faster on part of the chronically congested LBJ Freeway in north Dallas. But it’s going to cost you.

The so-called “managed toll lanes” are part of the $2 billion LBJ Express project and promise speeds of at least 50 miles an hour. The first segment of the so-called TEXpress managed toll lanes on LBJ is the 3-mile stretch between Preston Road and Greenville Avenue. 

Here are three things you need to know:

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As we enter influenza season, the flu is hitting Texas hardest, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Its website shows that levels of the illness are higher in Texas and Mississippi than all other states. That’s as of the latest report from the last week of November.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

The Dallas City Council passed a new, more restrictive gas drilling ordinance this afternoon. It includes a 1,500-foot setback from homes, businesses, schools and other so-called protected uses.

An 11th hour amendment was approved that requires a tougher two-thirds majority council vote to reduce the setback.

Star-Telegram/Ross Hailey

The ice storm that’s blanketed North Texas streets and highways has spawned a new name: cobblestone ice.

Cobblestone ice – sounds poetic, doesn’t it?

Not if you’ve had to drive through it.

Irving Police

A 36-year-old man from Dallas has been charged with negligent homicide after his gun went off and the bullet killed a woman in the motel room next door.

BJ Austin / KERA News

Throughout November, KERA will mark the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination by taking a closer look at that fateful day, what it meant to the country, how it changed Dallas, and more.

Today, we take a look at Dr. Red Duke, who worked to save the life of John Connally, the Texas governor who was wounded after bullets struck Kennedy's motorcade. Connally sat in front of Kennedy. KERA's BJ Austin has the story:

Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines wants to expand its presence at Dallas Love Field now that American Airlines is giving up two gates as part of its merger with US Airways.

In a statement today, Delta says it has asked the U.S. Justice Department to allow it to bid on the Love Field gates.

BJ Austin / KERA News

Throughout November, KERA will mark the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination by taking a closer look at that fateful day, what it meant to the country, how it changed Dallas, and more.

Today, we take a look at an Oak Cliff businessman who has created his own personal tribute to JFK. KERA’s BJ Austin sat down with Ralph Isenberg.

Null Value / Flickr

Terrell police have released recordings of 911 calls that came in the night Charles Brownlow Jr. killed five people at four locations. 

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