Here are the top stories in Northwest Austin that you missed over the holidays

Toll rates are increasing on three Austin-area toll roads, including Toll 183A.

Toll rates are increasing on three Austin-area toll roads, including Toll 183A.

As the new year begins, take a look at our list of stories that rounded out the end of 2017 that you may have missed during the holiday break.

Changes coming to Austin ISD
Two upcoming updates to Austin ISD will affect some Northwest Austin-area schools. One is a $4.5 million grant from the state for mental health services aimed at helping victims of crimes and their families. Cook, Guerrero-Thompson, McBee, Wooldridge and Wooten elementary schools are Northwest Austin AISD campuses that will each have two staff members to deliver therapeutic services. The other update addresses AISD’s overcrowding concerns. Doss Elementary School, Hill Elementary School and Murchison Middle School, all part of Northwest Austin's AISD feeder pattern, will be frozen to transfers in the 2018-19 school year due to overenrollment.

Increases reported in Travis County area health care enrollment
As the health insurance open enrollment period came to an end Dec. 15, an Austin-area nonprofit that works with Central Health reported a 97 percent increase in individuals seeking assistance with signing up for health care plans when compared to the same time period in 2016.

Round Rock ISD sees leadership changes and assesses areas in need of improvement
Round Rock ISD underwent two changes in leadership in separate positions as Chief Operating Officer Bob Cervi stepped down and new trustee Steve Math was officially sworn in. The school district also continued discussing what could be included in a potential May 2018 bond election at its meeting in late December. Trustees have called this potential referendum as a “critical needs bond,” which would be smaller in scale than what was included on the failed May 2017 bond.

Changes in federal tax code set to affect Texas taxpayers
An overhaul of the federal tax code was signed into law by President Donald Trump. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a 1,101 page piece of legislation with implications that will be sure to be felt in 2018. Here is what you should know about how the law will affect Texan taxpayers.

Toll road prices increase in 2018
Austin-area toll roads are seeing an increase in prices starting in 2018. The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority board approved increases in mid-December based on the Consumer Price Index increase of 2.23 percent. Increases amount to 1-3 cents per toll plaza and went into effect Jan. 1.

A new high speed internet option comes to Austin
Charter Communications announced the launch of Spectrum Internet Gig, a high-speed fiber network in Austin, on Dec. 20.

By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.


Screen shot of Dr. Desmar Walkes speaking
Austin ICUs remain crowded with COVID-19 patients, delaying some critical care

Within the past week, there was a waiting list of patients to be transferred into Austin-area ICUs, Austin Public Health leaders said.

The city of Austin this summer cleared four unregulated homeless encampments and shifted dozens of residents into shelters. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Plan to house thousands of Austin's homeless people taking shape, but outlook for local success, project funding still unclear

The strategy's first housing benchmark fell short in June, and updates on how the estimated $515 million needed for housing and services will be spent are overdue.

 Busy Nurse's Station In Modern Hospital
Williamson County seeking input on community health needs

The Williamson County and Cities Health District is holding two focus group sessions through September with the goal of collecting public feedback on community health needs throughout the county.

DATA: How population changed in Texas counties between census counts in 2010, 2020

Texas added nearly four million people between 2010 and 2020, according to the latest Census data.

Dream Bakery
Wells Branch cake expert Dream Bakery celebrates 5-year anniversary

Dream Bakery specializes in custom cakes and gluten free baked goods.

The widening project is on track to finish this fall and the bypass project by early next year. (Courtesy Texas Department of Transportation)
TxDOT projects near RM 2222 and RM 620 intersection approaching completion after delay

The southbound bypass lane connecting the two roads is on track to be complete later this fall, weather permitting. The northbound bypass lane opened over the summer.

Barkin' Creek Domain Northside
Barkin’ Creek sets up shop in Domain Northside

The dog spa and pet supply store offers bath and grooming services alongside its signature homemade dog food.

New homes in North Austin
Northwest Austin housing market continues to cool after early summer peak

The median price of homes in Northwest Austin dropped by more than 7% from its summer peak in June.

The Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission considered a finalized draft of an updated map for Austin's 10 City Council districts Sept. 15. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
UPDATED: Draft map of Austin's redrawn City Council boundaries ready for community review

Volunteer city redistricting commissioners have unanimously passed an initial outline to update all 10 City Council districts set to go into effect next year.

Photo of a sign in a field
3 weeks before first weekend, ACL Music Festival awaits permit, final health and safety procedures

Austin City Limits Music Festival has not yet received a permit for its multiweekend music festival, but the city of Austin said this is a normal timeline.

A Texas Education Agency Monitor has been installed at Round Rock ISD as part of a corrective action plan stemming from a complaint lodged against the board during the 2018-19 school year. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)
TEA installs monitor for Round Rock ISD, citing 2019 complaint against former board president

A Texas Education Agency Monitor has been installed at Round Rock ISD as part of a corrective action plan stemming from a complaint lodged against the board during the 2018-19 school year. 

The Austin Transit Partnership approved a $312.8 million budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. (Benton Graham/Community Impact)
Project Connect’s $312.8M budget receives approval for FY 2021-22

The budget will largely be spent on advancing the 30% designs for the Orange and Blue MetroRail lines.