Photo Credit: Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

Bearded festivalgoers and Austinites in need of a quick trim found what they needed on the corner of Seventh and Trinity during South By Southwest. They congregated in what appeared to be a food truck, but was actually Rough Cut Trims: a fully functioning barbershop complete with three barber chairs and hairstylists from the Austin area.

Jared Vincent, a Round Rock resident, opened up the shop a week before SXSW despite having no prior experience with hairdressing. He was looking for a unique business idea and happened to find the mobile barbershop trailer for sale online. Over the course of two weeks, he got the licensing and permits necessary to open Rough Cut Trims for the SXSW crowds.

“It was an opportunity that I felt like I had to pursue,” Vincent said. “The stars aligned, and it’s been explosively positive over the last eight or nine days.”

The staff saw a wide variety of customers over the course of the week, including members of the hip-hop group Three 6 Mafia and Desus Nice from MTV2’s Guy Code. Hairstylists at Rough Cut Trims cut hair until 1 or 2 a.m. throughout the week.

While some passersby went to the truck for a simple trim, shampoo, shave or neck massage, others requested unique hair designs. One customer asked for a guitar shaved into his beard.

“Having it on the street is a different experience,” Vincent said. “When they’re sitting in the chair and they’re getting all groomed up, they’re able to see the South By crowds and hear the music. It’s their time to enjoy themselves and be pampered a little bit.”

Vincent said after just four days of business, the team was already thinking about opening up more locations in different cities in the future. He said he hopes to move the truck to an area by Fourth Street and Congress so it can continue operating even after SXSW.

“We want to have the best barbers in Austin,” Vincent said. “We’re not just a trailer truck that cuts hair. We want to be a professional, well-designed place.”

Carson Otter, a senior at the University of Mississippi, was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries following an assault near the intersection of Trinity and Seventh Street Saturday night. Otter is being treated for brain trauma at the University Medical Center Brackenridge in Austin where he remains in critical condition.

Candy Otter, the mother of Carson Otter, posted on Facebook on Sunday that Carson was showing signs of progress.

“Today Carson was able to breathe on his own for a few hours, still on ventilator but showing great signs!” Candy Otter said on Facebook Sunday. “Considering his surgery was only 30 hours ago, he is doing fantastic!!”

In the post, Candy Otter said that the doctors caring for him were pleased with his progress and that he had been responsive, opening his eyes and nodding at her.

According to Veneza Bremner, a spokeswoman for the Austin Police Department, Otter was attacked by an unidentified assailant at 2:08 a.m. Saturday following an argument. Otter was punched in the face and sustained major head trauma upon hitting the ground. The assailant returned to his vehicle and fled the scene. Investigators at APD cannot say what initiated the argument.

Bremner said the assailant was a passenger in a silver or white four-door sedan. Police have no leads in the investigation.

According to Ole Miss’ campus newspaper, the Daily Mississippian, Otter received emergency brain surgery at the hospital. 

On Facebook, dozens of Otter’s friends have changed their display pictures to the Ole Miss “M” with the phrase ‘Prayers for Carson Otter’ emblazoned across the “M.”

Ole Miss played Texas in football on Saturday night at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. The Rebels beat the Longhorns 44-23.

Andy Skelton takes a break from picking through the remains of his parents' RV home that was destroyed, as well as their car, in a brush fire at Top of the Hill RV Resort just outside Boerne, TX, Monday, June 20, 2011. (San Antonio Express-News, Bob Owen)

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

STONEHAM, Texas — State fire officials said Tuesday they are seeking federal help in fighting wildfires that have forced hundreds of residents to evacuate and blackened tens of thousands of acres in forested East Texas.

The Texas Forest Service said a federal management team is needed to help coordinate efforts in Polk and Trinity counties, where a 20,000-acre blaze is burning. Assistance was also sought for a 3,500-acre fire in Jasper County.

Because of a shortage of aviation resources, four National Guard Blackhawk helicopters and two Chinooks have been activated, the forest service said.

The request for federal assistance didn't include a 5,000-acre fire in Grimes County, about 60 miles northwest of Houston. The blaze had already burned about a dozen homes before it jumped containment lines Monday, leading to the evacuation of about 1,800 homes and businesses.

Help could be on the way, though. Rain was in the forecast Tuesday, with light showers falling in parts of the Houston area.

The fire in Polk and Trinity counties was 60 percent contained, and officials were optimistic that weather conditions would help firefighters, said Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Greg Sanches.

"The humidity is up," Sanches said. "We're just kind of waiting to see what's going to happen."

The East Texas fires are among 22 large blazes the forest service is handling across the drought-stricken state, and they have burned nearly 135,000 acres, according to agency figures.

All but 28 of the state's 254 counties had outdoor burn bans in place Tuesday, and more than 3 million acres have been torched since the Texas wildfire season began in November, the forest service said.

Scarce rain and low humidity have fueled conditions in southeast Texas, where heat is common but the ground in the heavily forested area usually remains moist. Brisk dry winds more associated with West Texas buffeted the area Monday.

At least seven mobile homes were burned in a 150-acre Kendall County fire in Central Texas that also led to mandatory evacuations of a subdivision and a park for recreational vehicles.

In the Texas Panhandle, where wildfires killed a firefighter earlier this year, three firefighters sustained minor injuries battling a blaze south of Amarillo.

This winter, the University United Methodist Church at 24th and Guadalupe streets may join a growing list of Methodist churches across the country that are officially open to GLBT Christians. The church’s leadership will vote in December or January on whether to join the Reconciling Ministries Network of the United Methodist Church, a group of 300 churches that explicitly accept gay congregants. It’s a move that has been a long time coming, said senior pastor John Elford. The official law of the United Methodist Church says homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teachings. “One of the struggles the early church had was whether gentiles had to be included, because Jews weren’t supposed to spend time with gentiles,” Elford said. “The early church was stretched at that point just like we are stretching now, but our stretch is how to include women, people of other ethnicities and people of diverse sexual identities.” Only two of the 300 Methodist Churches in the Southwest Texas Conference are members of the Reconciling Ministries Network, one in San Antonio and Trinity United Methodist Church in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Austin. Trinity joined the network in 1992 under the leadership of Pastor Sid Hall, who has worked to include GLBT Christians into the Methodist Church since the early 1980s. Hall said in the early years he received threats of damnation from anonymous Methodists and came into conflict with his overseeing bishop, but now the Reconciling Ministry is simply a part of Trinity’s culture. University United is well-suited to join the network, especially under Elford’s leadership, he said. He added that the more churches that join the network, the more pressure there will be on the larger Methodist Church to change its laws to accept homosexuals. “Having a church-wide polity that says you must not discriminate based on sexual orientation, that time is coming,” said Hall, who is still pastor at Trinity. University United’s bulletin each week includes a statement of acceptance to all sexual identities. Joining the network will help the church and its members to fully embrace an environment of inclusion, Elford said. University United’s young adult ministries pastor Bill Frisbie said the church’s campus ministry has always welcomed GLBT students. “We’ve had GLBT people in our group, and it doesn’t change what we do,” said chemical engineering senior Linda Conway, the church’s co-chair of campus ministry. “The problem is that young GLBT people in college see our church and may assume that it’s just another church like back home. By signing onto [the network], it’s showing we are actively open.” For Christian students who identify as GLBT, there are several churches around campus whose ministries say they actively include GLBT individuals, including the Lutheran Campus Ministry on San Antonio Street. The University Catholic Center has a student group called Prism that works to bring GLBT Catholic students, allies and those with questions together for discussion. Although it is currently inactive, group leaders said they are hoping to reenergize it in the spring.