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The Lead: F1 Debrief, Road Safety and Pedestrian Deaths

Good morning. Austin can expect partly cloudy skies and a seasonably warm high in the 80s, according to the National Weather Service. Here’s some stories KUT News has been working on:

“The Austin Chamber of Commerce is calling Austin’s first Formula 1 race a ‘smashing’ success. While the chamber acknowledges that there will be some lessons learned and that some businesses didn’t get the crowds they’d hoped for, officials say it all went pretty smoothly.”

“For many Austinites, Formula One meant road closures, traffic jams and roaring choppers. But for some local nonprofits, it also meant an uptick in donations. The Boys and Girls Club of the Austin Area and Austin Partners in Education each walked away with $26,000 in donations from F1 weekend, thanks to an agreement between Circuit of the Americas andHotels for Hope, a local hotel broker that raises money for charities.”

“Texas lawmakers are once again heading into a legislative session with concerns over the fiscal health of the state’s major pension systems, and changes to retirees’ health insurance may play a role. Let’s start by saying the state’s Teacher Retirement System is not out of money. As of August the fund was valued at $111 billion, about $41 billion more than just three years ago at the height of the recession. But the fund’s long-term stability is in question.”

“More than 3 million Texans are expected to take road trips this Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA Texas. A little preparation can go a long way in making travel more pleasant. Getting there is supposed to be half the fun, but crowded roads and mechanical failure can turn a great road trip into a travel nightmare. The Texas Department of Transportation is gearing up for the expected Thanksgiving travel rush.”

And here’s more local and state stories people are talking about:

  • Auto-Pedestrian Deaths in Austin Reach a Record High (Statesman)
“Austin has posted 28 auto-pedestrian fatalities and three auto-cyclist fatalities this year — the latest was a bicyclist hit from behind on East Riverside Drive earlier this month. There was one auto-cyclist death in 2011. The deaths from crashes between motor vehicles and people are occurring at twice the average annual toll in Austin during the past eight years — and despite new police initiatives aimed at lowering those numbers.”

  • Council to WTP4 Executive: ‘Where Did All the Money Go?’ (YNN)
“Controversial Water Treatment Plant Number Four is costing the city more money, after more than one million hours of manpower has been put into the project. Right now the WTP4 construction budget sits at $359 million. Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros is asking the city council for an additional $15 million – this after almost $44 million worth of construction was cut out of original plans.”

  • NTSB to Re-Enact Deadly Veterans Parade Crash (AP)
“Federal investigators plan to re-enact the factors that converged in a West Texas train crash into a parade float that killed four veterans. The National Transportation Safety Board has scheduled the test for Tuesday afternoon at the Union Pacific railroad crossing in western Midland where the crash happened.”

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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