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Well Aware, Fallout from Shelter Story, F1’s Yacht Club and more

Michael Barnes
mbarnes@statesman.com

CHARITY: Well Aware now fixing water systems as well as building them. We’ve written about Austin-based charities whose work spans the globe — Nicaragua, Mexico, Peru, Cambodia, India, Burundi, Ethopia, Uganda, among other places. Sarah Evans, who lives in Driftwood, founded Well Aware, which has for some time been providing clean water for thousands of people in Kenya. Sometimes, her group teams up with another Austin charity, Turk and Christy Pipkin’s Nobelity Project. They were all at Well Aware’s Dine for Good event at Olive & June on Wednesday. I met Mike Mutuku, who handles the group’s efforts on the ground in Kenya and who expressed awe about the good condition of American roads. Also spent time with Melanie Fish of EnviroMedia and her wide-traveling mother, Joyce Faye Cox. The big announcment: Well Aware, whose projects all work swimmingly, will branch out into fixing other water systems that have gone wrong. (Expect a profile of dynamic Evans in the not-too-distant future.)

STYLE: Fallout from shelter story. My article in Thursday’s Statesman: “A report on a fully outfitted fallout shelter — discovered in a West Lake Hills backyard owned by Craig Denham and Ellen Lampl — generated wave after wave of reader response after it appeared in this section Oct. 2. Some personally recalled the sealed-up 1961 bomb shelter and the mid-century modern house up front, outfitted with extra security by retired Air Force Col. E.V. Robnett Jr., who died in 1984. Carol Johnson writes that the Robnetts were her great-uncle and aunt. “I have many fond memories of them and the house,” she says. “Robbie’s security measures were always interesting!” Tina Buck reports that she and her kids discovered another shelter from the Cold War period behind an A.D. Stegner-designed home in nearby Rollingwood. “It’s still there at the end of Brady Lane,” Buck says. “I never went in it and banned my kids from contemplating it. There is a small iron door and a 15-foot enameled passageway. What amazed me after we discovered the door was that there is a light switch just inside the door and a deadbolt on the inside.” http://shar.es/INZ76(More responses came in today from bomb shelter lovers.)

SPORTS: The ‘spirit of F1’: My article in Thursday’s Statesman: “Nicholas Frankl attended his first Formula One race before he was born. In 1971, the mother of the British event promoter showed up at the bone-rattling race in Monaco. “She was hugely pregnant,” Frankl says. “Jacky Ickx, the great Belgian racer, said, ‘June, I think you will have twins.’ My dad said: ‘What the heck do you know about twins? Leave my wife alone!’” Three weeks later, June Wells Frankl, a champion dog breeder, delivered twins, Nicholas and Annabelle. “Two months after that, we attended a race in a pram,” Frankl, now 42, says. “We wore little baby earplugs. Jacky said: ‘You see, June, I told you you’d have twins. And I did it without touching!’” Formula One racing — along with other high-end sports and even higher-end socializing — have been a part of Frankl’s life ever since. Last year, during the first United States Grand Prix in Austin, this dapper man, who mingles as easily with royalty as with everyday folks, staged perhaps the most talked-about theme party, promoted under the initially perplexing name of My Yacht Club. http://shar.es/INlVY(Fun to report.)

LAW: U.S. Senate OKs gay rights bill. Reported by Donna Cassata of AP: “The U.S Senate has approved a bill outlawing workplace discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. The vote reflected the nation’s rapidly evolving attitude toward gay rights nearly two decades after Congress rejected same-sex marriage. The final tally was 64-32. Despite the bipartisan vote, the measure’s chances in the House are dim. House Speaker John Boehner calls the shots, and he opposes the bill. Gay rights advocates hailed Senate passage as a major victory in a year of significant change. The Supreme Court in June affirmed gay marriage and granted federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. Illinois is on the verge of becoming the 15th state to legalize gay marriage along with the Washington district.” http://shar.es/INJtP(Big step. Now for the next one.)

SCHOOL: Running against higher education in Texas. Reported by Reeve Hamilton in the Texas Tribune: “Tom Pauken, in his long-shot bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, is the only statewide candidate who has made higher education a central issue in his campaign thus far. But his approach to the issue is drawing criticism from within the higher education community. In a recent web ad, Pauken, a former chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission, criticized the state’s “elitist educational system pushing everybody to go to a four-year university.” It’s an argument that staffers at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board have heard before, but Texas Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes insists that it is “absolutely not true.” http://trib.it/19ENoE0(I hope this is not a trend: Bashing ‘elitist’ education.)