The placid Lake Austin shorefront has a new resident.
The Holdsworth Center, a $200 million public educator training center, announced the opening of its 44-acre campus on Wednesday.
Built on one of Lake Austin's last large undeveloped tracts, the center features an outdoor amphitheater, boat dock, walking trails and 186 guest rooms.
H-E-B Chairman Charles Butt invested $100 million in the nonprofit, which is named after his mother, Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Butt, a former Hill Country school teacher. It broke ground in 2018.
"My hope is that the (Holdsworth) Campus will provide an inspiring place for educators to enhance their self-reflection, skills and creativity," he said in a statement. "Our objective is to be part of a strong future for all Texas students."
Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth, third from the right in the top row, pictured with her class in Center Point in 1923. (Holdsworth Center)
The Holdsworth Center has partnered with 13 Texas public school districts across two cohorts, including Round Rock ISD, and will welcome a third cohort of six additional districts in July. By the end of the year, it is on track to serve as many as 40 districts.
Over five years teachers, assistant principals, principals and administrators in participating districts will attend learning sessions with leadership experts from the business and education sectors to strengthen the school leader pipeline.
The center's mission is to improve the quality of K-12 public education in Texas by developing educational leaders. (Holdsworth Center)
"Being able to develop your own talent and grow your own leaders is critical for any successful organization, from the U.S. military to Google," Board Member and former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said in a statement. "School districts are no different."
All programming and support are covered at no cost by Butt and other philanthropic supporters at an estimated cost of $6 million per district. When not being used for Holdsworth programming, the campus serves as a private event venue, with revenue benefitting the center.
"As we begin the multi-year effort to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 across the state, educators are facing an extraordinary moment," President Lindsay Whorton said in a statement. "It will demand incredible leadership, and we are honored to invest in educators at such a critical time."
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Austin police have charged Kaitlin Marie Armstrong, a local cyclist, for the murder of Moriah "Mo" Wilson.
Wilson, a rising star in the gravel and mountain bike community, was found dead with gunshot wounds inside an East Austin home on the night of May 11 when she was in town for the weekend Gravel Locos race in Hico, Texas.
Police believe Wilson was having a relationship with a man Armstrong was also in a relationship with. The man, another gravel cyclist, Colin Strickland, has since issued a statement on the murder.
In his statement, he said he had a brief romantic relationship with Wilson in October 2021 before he resumed his relationship with Armstrong, but that he remained friends with Wilson. "There is no way to adequately express the regret and torture I feel about my proximity to this horrible crime. I am sorry, and I simply cannot make sense of this unfathomable tragedy.
NEW: Austin professional cyclist Colin Strickland has just released a statement about the murder of cyclist Moriah Wilson, clarifying his relationship with her and expressing “torture about my proximity to this horrible crime.” pic.twitter.com/KnIna3mWrE
— Tony Plohetski (@tplohetski) May 20, 2022
Wilson, a 25-year-old Vermont native living in Colorado, had won a slew of races becoming a fan favorite. She had just become a full-time racer this year.
Anyone with information on this crime can contact Austin police at 512-974-TIPS or contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 512-472-8477.
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Austin has added 24-hour security to the city-owned Pecan Gardens property, which will be converted into supportive housing for people exiting homelessness, after the former hotel was found with months of damage and vandalism May 5.
The building, which was broken into and stripped of copper and had people illegally sleeping inside of it, has been secured, Kelly said in a Friday press conference. Kelly said the city confirmed a measure to implement 24-hour security, including updates every 60 days until the property opens up as supportive housing.
"We cannot let this happen to any vacant city-owned property ever again," Kelly said. "This blatant act of disregard and criminal behavior will not be tolerated in our community."
The city bought the former hotel in August 2021 for $9.5 million with plans to renovate the property into a 78-unit supportive housing property. Those 55 or older that are experiencing chronic homelessness can qualify to live at the site once it is completed in late 2022-early 2023.
While the council was set to discuss a $4 million deal with Family Eldercare to begin converting the property Thursday, Kelly pulled the item for a later executive session due to security concerns. But the council did approve an item to authorize city leaders to begin negotiating other renovation contracts.
"I want to thank my colleagues for pumping the brakes on this contract and realizing that we owe the community not only an apology, but reassurance that the protection of the assets the city owns is vital to the success of achieving our intended goals," Kelly said.
When the building was found vandalized May 5, Kelly, who presides over the district containing the property, said damage included:
- Damage spanning all three floors of the building and is in nearly every room.
- The entire hotel was stripped of copper.
- Destroyed washers, dryers, air conditioners and electrical wiring.
- People sleeping at the hotel without permission.
On Tuesday, Austin’s Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Gray apologized and said there was no security due to a delay in processing the request.
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