• Batten down the hatches, wrap the pipes, and bring the outside dogs inside: Weather forecasters and Austin Energy have issued warnings of wickedly cold winds arriving Thursday morning, with the big chill expected to hold steady through the early part of the weekend. AE customers should report power outages to 322-9100.
• With winter temperatures dropping into the teens, Council Member Laura Morrison is encouraging Austin's homeless to find shelter, either at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless or the Salvation Army. In a similar vein, charity organization House the Homeless is still accepting contributions to its thermal underwear drive. Donate at www.housethehomeless.org.
• Filing for the March 2 primaries closed Jan. 4 with a flurry of last-minute paperwork by Travis County Republicans in legislative races and some race-switching among Democrats seeking judicial seats. See "And They're Off!."
• Dallas-based PBS affiliate KERA has invited sometime-secessionist and Republican gubernatorial hopeful Debra Medina to join Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in its televised Jan. 14 primary debate. No word yet if there will be any such event for the seven Democrats who've filed for their party's nomination.
• Austin's new laws restricting drivers from texting, surfing the web, and indulging in other distracting behavior when they're supposed to have their hands on the wheel took effect Jan. 1.
• Travis County Democrats were saddened by the unexpected Jan. 4 death of seasoned campaign pro and respected strategist Kelly Fero. A respected journalist, author, and musician before he took to politics, Fero was 57. See "Fero Helped Make, Break Political Careers."
• IBM Corp. and the state of Texas have agreed in principle to restructure the $863 million contract for two new data centers, intended to centralize and simplify records management for 27 state agencies. The project has been plagued with delays and security concerns, as well as agency dissatisfaction with its progress.
• Between jobs? The Census Bureau is looking to hire a few thousand short-term workers to assist in the collection of 2010 data in the Austin area. See www.2010.census.gov/2010censusjobs for more info.
• Austin has recorded its first murder of the year; police say Justin Jamal Mendez was found Jan. 6, shot to death in his car in the 4600 block of Bandera Road.
Quote of the Week
"I should have shot him when I had the chance."
– Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, quoted in Quorum Report, after learning he had drawn former state Sen. Hector Uribe as a challenger in the general election. The two had minor roles in The Alamo, filmed near Austin.