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Starting Monday, all of Austin is invited to watch The Moody Amphitheater come alive with lights in replacement of the annual Waterloo Greenway Creek Show but also in celebration and anticipation of Waterloo Park opening next spring.
Though Creek Show, an annual community-wide festival of light-based art installations along Waller Creek, was canceled this year, Waterloo Greenway is using its legacy to unite people in a safe way.
From 6-10 p.m. nightly until Nov. 22, the public can catch a sneak peek and drive through the site of Waterloo Park, Austin's newest and largest park, lit up by the new Moody Amphitheater.
CEO of Waterloo Greenway Conservancy Peter Mullan said though he wishes Creek Show could go on as planned this year, there is still cause for celebration.
"This will be the first time for many in the community to get a glimpse of what's to come; to see Moody Amphitheater lit up at night is a true display of what Waterloo is all about—a wonderfully immersive and inclusive urban space that is rooted in and surrounded by nature," Mullan said.
The park, located along Red River Street between 12th and 15th Street, will cover 11 acres of land and host the site for the Moody Amphitheater, a concert and event venue with the capacity to hold 5,000 people.
Designed by architects Thomas Phifer and Partners, the amphitheater is shaped to become a new Austin landmark. When not in use, park visitors will have access to the shady stage.
A close up of the colorfully-lit Moody Amphitheater.
"We want the Moody Amphitheater to be a moment of celebration in the heart of this amazing city," Phifer said. "The city of Austin and its lively culture is a tale of two distinct worlds woven together—an active urban core paired with peaceful respites grounded in nature—all with plentiful trails and waters."
Creek Show has been in production since 2014, dazzling thousands of Austinites with light installations from dozens of local artists. Last year, Creek Show's traffic hit an all-time high with 60,000 visitors and seven light installations.
Creek Show will also live on through virtual conversations with past artists, a look at past shows and giveaways on the Waterloo Greenway Facebook page. Creek Show is still set to take place as usual in 2021.
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that Texas will opt out of further federal unemployment benefits related to the pandemic effective June 26, citing the number of current job openings and concern about potentially fraudulent unemployment claims. The benefits include a $300 weekly supplement.
"The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring communities across the state," Abbott said in a statement. "According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment jobs."
TWC listed 837,273 job openings as of Monday afternoon compared to 226,849 unemployment insurance claims filed statewide between March 31 and May 1. An estimated 1 million Texans were unemployed as of March, according to latest estimates released by the state agency.
Some local business owners, including Doc's Backyard Grill owner Charles Milligan, suspect unemployment benefits are deterring Austinites from returning to work. But others agree with economists who say multiple factors are at play, including health concerns and child care availability.
We're seeing lots of posts about how nobody wants to work right now. Just wanted to share our experience.
We received over 60 resumes for a taproom bartender position we posted last week. Every applicant we've set up an interview with has shown up.
People want 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥 work.
— Austin Beerworks (@AustinBeerworks) May 11, 2021
Abbott also cited fraudulent unemployment claims. Between March 2020 and April 2021, TWC received 4.48 million unemployment benefit applications, 611,000 or around 14% of which were tagged as suspicious. Most of those tagged were blocked before any benefits were paid out, according to an April 29 press release.
Federal law requires the effective date of such benefits change to be at least 30 days after the U.S. Department of Labor is notified.
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