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The Lead: Helicopters OK'd for F1 (But Cap Metro Could Strike); SXSW Music and More

Good Friday morning to you. Austin’s in for a warm and breezy weekend until a cold front blows in Sunday night, according to the National Weather Service. Here’s some stories KUT News has been working on.

“Though it’s only November, the springtime music conference that takes over Austin each year, South by Southwest, is already beginning to take shape.  Thursday, organizers released the initial lineup.”

“Austin-based singer-songwriter Darden Smith is working to do something about the thousands of service members affected by PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). … Smith is the founder of a new program to help promote soldiers’ healing through music. Texas Music Matters’ David Brown reports from a camp outside Fort Hood, site of a recent Songwriting with Soldiers retreat.”

“Long lines at polls across the country were the stars Tuesday night, from polls that closed after midnight in Florida, to backups in Austin, to a mention by President Obama during his victory speech. ‘Whether you voted for the very first time. Or waited in line for a very long time,’ he said. ‘By the way, we have to fix that.’ Any fixes are going to have to start at the local level, where county election officers have the best view of what’s working, what’s not, and what changes can be made.”

“Trucks transport pipe, sand, water, and chemicals to thousands of new drilling sites. Drilling just one well can use more than 1,100 truckloads of material. Some of the trucks are overweight. They are supposed to pay a special fee to compensate for the extra wear and tear they do to roads and bridges. But do they?”

And here’s more Austin news:  

  • Cap Metro Union Clears Way for Strike; May Effect F1 Weekend (KXAN)
“With the Formula 1 events just around the corner, the Capital Metro bus drivers union, by an 86 percent vote, have authorized a strike if negotiations do not go well with their new management group in Fort Worth.”

  • City Council Approves F1 Helipads Over Neighbors’ Objections (KEYE)
“Just how noisy it will be for residents is up in the air says pilot Blake Bryam. ‘Depending on how heavily they're loaded and the type and how many blades there are and how fast the rotor is spinning, there's a bunch of different variable that decide on the noise,’ he says.”

  • Council Takes No Action on East Riverside Corridor Plan (Statesman)
“After about two hours of public discussion, the council did not vote on a plan that would require new development in the corridor to include a mix of residences and shops, as well as walking-friendly storefronts. … The city has spent more than four years discussing and crafting the plan with residents, property owners and neighborhood groups, finally gaining approval of the city’s planning commission last month. The council may vote on the plan Dec. 6.”

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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