Gov. Greg Abbott and the Governor's Commission for Women announced Monday that they are inducting six "extraordinary" Texas women, including one Austin face, into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame for 2020-2021.
The women are chosen for their outstanding achievements in their fields; filling in the business category, jewelry designer and entrepreneur Kendra Scott will represent Austin this year in the hall. The induction ceremony will be held on Nov. 4 at Texas Woman's University in Denton, Texas.
"The Texas Women's Hall of Fame recognizes and celebrates remarkable Texas women not only for their individual achievements but also for their contributions to an even stronger Texas of tomorrow, and I am honored to welcome these six accomplished women as inductees," Abbott said. "Each of the honorees is recognized as a trailblazer, an inspiration for the next generation of leaders who will follow in their footsteps."
Kendra Scott, business
As founder of the jewelry empire of the same name, Scott is being recognized for her "extraordinary entrepreneurial spirit," strong leadership abilities and continuous philanthropy in support of women and children's causes.
Lauren Anderson, arts
A lifelong ballerina and one of the first Black dancers to become a principal dancer for a major dance company, the Houston Ballet, Anderson's artistic achievements, philanthropy "inspiring children to reach for the stars," and barrier-breaking accomplishments earned her a spot in the hall.
Charlye Ola Farris, legal profession
(Wichita County Historical Commission)
Born in 1929 in Wichita Falls, Texas, Farris would go on to become the first female lawyer in her hometown and the first Black woman to serve as the Special Wichita County Judge in 1954. Though she passed away in 2010, Farris is being inducted into the hall for her "pioneering role" in the legal sphere and "paving the way for others by overcoming adversity with dignity and perseverance."
Dawn Ferrell, military service
(National Guard Biography)
A retired Major General in the U.S. Air Force, Ferrell was a principal advisor to the Adjutant General of Texas for all Air National Guard issues and is being recognized for her military service and contributions to higher education.
Elaine Stolte, community service
Known for her advocacy for decades of service connecting child sexual abuse survivors to help services, Stolte, strategic policy and partnership advisor for The Children's Assessment Center Foundation in Houston, was inducted for her work as a "tireless advocate" who gives a voice to children.
Ofelia Vasquez-Philo, civic leadership
(San Marcos Public Library)
A prominent figure in nearby Hays County, Vasquez-Philo founded the Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos community center and was an active promoter of Hispanic heritage. She passed away in 2017 but will be remembered for her "legacy of community service and trailblazing leadership in support of civil rights and the preservation of Hispanic arts, culture and heritage."
All six women, joining former First Ladies, astronauts and other significant women, will be forever immortalized with a photo and biography in the Hall of Fame at Texas Woman's University. Women have been nominated for the list biennially since 1984.
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The Austin airport is warning travelers to “pack your patience” as it expects this Memorial Day weekend to be the busiest in airport history.
This weekend will kick off a period of more than 4.8 million passengers passing through Austin-Bergstrom International Airport by the end of summer—contributing to a projected record-breaking year of 22 million passengers at ABIA.
The surge in traffic at the airport comes as ABIA considers itself officially recovered from the pandemic's impact, an airport spokesperson ABIA Public Information Specialist Bailey Grimmett told Austonia. Additionally, the population growth in Central Texas and more service offered from ABIA has meant more people at the airport, she said. However, it has come under fire for increasingly long wait times at TSA and not having enough parking.
Flying soon? Here’s how to prepare for a busy airport this summer.
Arrive hours early for your flight, especially if it's in the morning
Summer travel lines in September 2021. (Austonia)
The busiest passenger traffic days in summer 2021 were Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays and Mondays, according to a release but each day of the week is expected to see increased traffic this summer. Lines tend to be longest before 8 a.m. and sometimes mid-morning hours.
Grimmett told Austonia the average person should arrive at the airport two-and-a-half hours before boarding time for domestic flights or three hours early for international flights. You might want to tack on extra time if…
- You need to park or are returning a rental.
- You’re traveling with a big group, children or those who require assistance.
- You’re checking in baggage.
Familiarize yourself with TSA requirements
The worst thing while traveling is getting stuck in security and having to repack all of your belongings. If you’re traveling with a carry-on of toiletries, medication or food, double-check with TSA.gov if you’re not sure.Security screening checkpoints open at 3 a.m. and Grimmett said don’t hesitate to ask a staff member if you need help. Faster screening is available by applying for TSA PreCheck or Clear screening for an extra fee.
Rather wait for the rush to die down?
Grimmett said to expect near-constant high traffic through August, when students return to school and tourist season ends. The lull is short-lived though—ABIA typically sees another travel uptick in October for events like F1 and ACL Festival.
Once you’re inside, refer to our complete guide to ABIA for a look at the amenities.
By Kali Bramble
Calls for firmer regulation of the dockless scooters, mopeds and e-bikes scattered about the city may hit the desks of City Council in coming months, as a recommendation from the Downtown Commission makes its way to the agenda.
The recommendation proposes stricter requirements for providers to remove devices blocking sidewalks, crosswalks and other rights of way and increase fees for subsequently impounded vehicles. The proposal also calls for implementing a ticketing system for riders who violate municipal traffic code or state law.
Since 2018, the steady influx of electronic scooters has left Austin’s Transportation Department scrambling to integrate the devices into city infrastructure. As of this year, companies Bird, Lime, LINK, and Wheels collectively operate a total of 14,100 micromobility devices, many of which are concentrated in Austin’s urban core.
“I walked out of my office at Sixth and Congress today at noon and counted 65 scooters laying on their side,” Texas Monthly founder Michael Levy said in a public comment. “It looks like a war zone.”
Critics of the exploding scooter market cite incidents of devices blocking pedestrian walkways for days on end. Under the commission’s proposal, improperly discarded devices would be subject to impounding within two hours, with the time limit reduced to one hour in the downtown area. A $100 release fee along with a $5 per day storage fee would go toward investment in infrastructure solutions, such as augmenting the 25 existing parking corrals throughout the city.
Detractors also cite episodes of reckless and inebriated scooter riders as an increasing public health problem. While restrictions like in-app speed reduction technology have sought to mitigate such incidents, emergency room workers anecdotally report an alarming number of scooter-related injuries, especially on weekends. Preliminary data from Austin Public Health supports such claims, though it is still a challenge to quantify.
Micromobility advocates, on the other hand, argue that scooters provide an important service to those navigating Austin’s patchwork public transportation system. The Transportation Department considers such short-distance mobility options another solution in its toolbox to combat the city’s over-reliance on cars.
Still, scooter skeptics wonder if these benefits outweigh consequences. Levy noted that cities like San Diego have responded very differently to the burgeoning industry, instituting strict regulations and penalties that have reduced the presence of scooters without banning them entirely.
The Downtown Commission’s recommendation proposes citations for scooter riders violating municipal parking and traffic laws amounting to $100 for first-time offenders, followed by $250 for subsequent offenses. The proposal would also ban scooter-riding on a number of highly trafficked sidewalks, though these remain unspecified.
The commission hopes such tools could work alongside efforts by the Transportation Department to ramp up enforcement, including the recent establishment of 10 full-time mobility service officer positions charged with regulating scooter use. Increased revenue from licensing fees and ticketing could also serve to finance infrastructure solutions.
“It’s shocking to me that we currently only get around $1 million a year out of these fees,” Commissioner Mike Lavigne said. “I did some rough math … and figure we’ve maybe gotten $6 million since this thing started. It seems to me like we could be getting a whole lot more to invest in making it more sustainable, like more docking stations and corrals, so there’s somewhere for these scooters to go.”