Wells Dunbar

Online Editor

As  online editor for KUT News, Wells Dunbar covers news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond. Before joining the KUT family, Wells served as staff writer and news blog editor at The Austin Chronicle, and covered the Texas Legislature for Gallery Watch. Hailing from El Paso, Wells is a longtime Austin resident whose interests include technology and social media, film and music, and spending quality time with his wife and cat.

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Formula 1
8:38 am
Mon November 19, 2012

The Lead: Formula 1 Rides Off

Good morning. The National Weather Service says to expect some clouds and mild winds with a high in the mid 70s – decent weather for all the F1 fans flying out of Austin today. Here’s some stories, race related and not, that KUT News has been working on:

“Thousands of F1 fans are now headed to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Officials say today could be one of the busiest days ever at the airport. To help with increased demand, airlines added seven flights today and a total of more than 2,500 additional seats.”

Almost 83,000 people traveled to the Circuit of the Americas track in southeastern Travis County today to watch German driver Sebastian Vettel seize the pole position for Sunday’s Grand Prix. And while the track has received positive reviews, transportation to and from it was not without a few bumps in the road.”

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Formula 1
2:55 pm
Sun November 18, 2012

F1 Traffic and Safety Survey (Update)

A line of shuttles waits to transport fans to the Circuit of the Americas track.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: The Grand Prix has just finished at the Circuit of the Americas track. Regional officials share the following regarding traffic conditions leaving the track: 

Today marks the inaugural United States Grand Prix for Austin and through mid-day no major incidents have occurred this race day, according to City of Austin and Travis County officials. ... 

When departing the race, officials recommend State Highway 21 as an alternate route to State Highway 130 or  IH 35, if southbound;  or Texas 71, if eastbound.

After the race all lanes will be westbound on Pearce Lane.  On  FM 812, three lanes will be westbound and one eastbound.

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formula 1
11:27 am
Sun November 18, 2012

Formula 1 in Austin: Sunday

Circuit of the Americas

It's the last day of Formula 1 racing action. After two days of practice runs and qualifying races, the first U.S. Grand Prix since 2007 gets underway at 1 p.m. today.

KUT News is compiling the best tweets, pics and more about the race, expected to draw some 120,000 people to the Circuit of the Americas.

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formula 1
12:58 pm
Sat November 17, 2012

Formula 1 in Austin: Saturday

racing photos Charles Coates, via flickr.com/caterhamf1/; ticket photo by Mark dewey for KUT News

After a day of practice yesterday, it's qualifying races at the Circuit of the Americas today. That mean more Formula 1 crowds, as folks on Twitter are attesting. One issue at the COTA track is the lack of credit card acceptance. (If you're going, bring cash.) But it also means mounting excitement, both at the track, at the Austin Fan Fest downtown, and elsewhere.

KUT News is compiling a Storify timeline of news, photos and reactions this Saturday. Keep refreshing this page for updates.

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formula 1
12:02 pm
Sat November 17, 2012

Photos: Austin Fan Fest

An artist works on a F1-emblazoned kiosk at Austin Fan Fest.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas isn't the only big event this weekend: event organizers have also launched the Austin Fan Fest this race weekend. Located in the Warehouse District downtown, the festival features music, food and drink, and lots of displays and promotions for Formula 1 gearheads.

Photographer Filipa Rodrigues took in the scene Friday evening for KUT News. Take a look at her photos, posted to KUT's Flickr page.

Formula 1
11:59 am
Fri November 16, 2012

Austin's Formula 1 Survival Guide: Here's What You Need to Know

An F1 racer parked in downtown Austin.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Just two years after the idea was first floated, Formula 1 is a go in Austin.

The U.S. Grand Prix at Elroy, Texas’ Circuit of the Americas track is this Sunday, Nov. 16.  But a full weekend of practice sessions, qualifying races and more will entertain an estimated 300,000 attendees over the entire weekend.

Meanwhile, local officials and regular citizens alike are prepping for visitors. City management has activated its emergency area command to monitor traffic and public safety in conjunction with additional state and federal authorities. Regular Austinites are facing a choice: batten down the hatches and avoid the madness, or embrace it. Even without F1 tickets, the latter should be easy with events like Austin Fan Fest closing downtown streets and offering free entertainment.

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Formula 1
8:24 am
Fri November 16, 2012

Map: F1-Related Street Closures (Update)


View Formula 1 Closures for Nov. 15 in a larger map

Update: The city has partnered with the University of Texas to allow Centennial Park to be a shuttle pick-up and drop off location. As a result, UT says there may be heavy traffic in the area bound by the perimeter of Trinity Street, MLK Boulevard, I-35 and East 15th Street.

"R" Permit holders for the Trinity Garage will need to relocate for the weekend. "F" and "S" permit holders are not required to relocate, but the University has suggested it. "F" and "S" permit holders may park free of charge at any of university garage, with the exception of the Conference Center Garage (CCG) and Manor Garage (MAG). For more information, check out UT's Formula One parking guide.

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Formula 1
2:58 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Video: What Does Austin Really Think of F1?

While the Formula 1 Grand Prix’s Austin debut has inspired excitement among racing fans, many Austinites are wary. Since the announcement, questions over public investment in the race and the Circuit of the Americas track have largely dominated the discussion over F1.

Promoters initially asked the city to pay millions into a trust fund to cover fees associated with the event, before private investors offered up the cash themselves. Brinksmanship between local promoters and F1 bosses nearly derailed the project as well.

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University of Texas
12:49 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

UT System Approves $102 Million Office in Downtown Austin

There's a new tower coming to UT: a nine-story office building downtown. (You're safe, Main Building.)
KUT News

A major new tenant is moving into downtown Austin: not a hot new tech company, but the University of Texas System.

Today the UT Board of Regents approved construction of a nine-story, $102 million building and parking structure downtown “to consolidate UT System offices.” According to a press release, the system’s buildings are currently “located in five antiquated buildings,” and despite the hefty price tag, regents say the consolidation will save money in the long run: between $60 million and $240 million, in UT’s admittedly imprecise math.

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Reagan High
4:58 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Not Without Honor: Reagan High Football Gunning For $25K Grant

The Reagan Radiers were profiled in a series of underdog high school football teams.
sportsillustrated.cnn.com/specials/underdogs

Correction: Voting ends Thursday, Nov. 15, at midnight. KUT News has since corrected this post. 

Reagan High School’s football team is in the running for a $25,000 grant.

The Reagan Raiders are currently bringing up third place in Sports Illustrated’s “Underdogs” competition. An online video series highlighting struggling high school football teams that push on despite the odds, Reagan’s installment in the “Underdogs” series – “The Long Road Back” – documents the school’s attempt to rebuild.

The Raiders took home state championships in 1967, 1968 and 1970. But recent years haven’t been as kind to the team, which went 0-10 in 2011. “The Long Road Back” follows new coach Keith Carey and his team as they attempt to rebuild.

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Formula 1
2:42 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

What Austin Needs to Know About the Actual F1 Race This Weekend

An F1 racer parked in downtown Austin promotes the race.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Ready or not, Formula 1 has arrived.

As Austin readies for an onslaught of some 100,000 visitors, we’ve heard lots about traffic planshelicopter permits, and even counter-terrorism measures.  But what about the actual race: the cars, the drivers and the sport itself? Confused? KUT News has assembled a primer on this weekend’s Formula 1 race.

  • What Sort of Cars Are These?

The FIA Formula One World Championship is the highest class of single-seater auto racing that is authorized by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile.

The "formula" in Formula 1 refers to a set of guidelines that each racing car must adhere to. The results are state-of-the-art.

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The Lead
8:31 am
Wed November 14, 2012

The Lead: Austin Homeless Question Police Push Downtown

Good morning. After a chilly start, Austin should warm to highs in the mid-60s, according to the National Weather Service. Here’s some stories KUT News has been working on.

"Violent crime in Austin’s downtown area has risen by nearly 17 percent, according to the latest FBI statistics, although Austin police say the city remains one of the safest in the nation.  Police have ramped up their downtown presence. And that’s raising its own set of concerns among advocates for the city’s homeless."

"Texas Governor Rick Perry has given his support to a bill that would have recipients of unemployment benefits submit to drug tests. Those failing a test would be denied benefits for 12 months, or until they completed a drug treatment program."

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Weather
6:48 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Freeze Warning for Central Texas

National Weather Service

The National Weather Service has issued a freeze warning for Central Texas tonight.

Temperatures are expected to keep falling this evening into early Wednesday morning, leading the NWS to issue a freeze warning for Travis County and surrounding counties. It begins at 3 a.m. and currently runs through 9 a.m. Austin is expecting highs in the mid-to-high 60s tomorrow, according to AccuWeather.

You can stay up on current conditions through the NWS website.

Formula 1
4:48 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

EPA Plane Surveying Downtown and F1 Track, On the Lookout for 'Dirty Bombs' and More

An aerial view of the Circuit of the Americas racetrack. The EPA is testing air samples from the track and downtown.
twitter.com/Austin_Police

An airplane will be taking a low-altitude flight over downtown Austin and the Circuit of the Americas Formula 1 track tomorrow. But it’s doing more than sightseeing: the plane is monitoring for chemical and radiological levels to ensure safety over F1 weekend.

A plane from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will monitor chemical and radiation levels tomorrow. The idea is collect a baseline for when the EPA flies over those sites again during F1 activities. By comparing the levels, the EPA will have an idea whether air quality is acceptable – and whether radioactive material, like the kind found in a dirty bomb, is present anywhere.

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2012 Presidential Election
10:40 am
Tue November 13, 2012

Online, Texas Secessionists Petition the White House (Updated)

Houston Tea Partiers at a rally in 2009. Petitioning for secession is only a mouse-click away.
flickr.com/luna715

Update: Gov. Rick Perry has weighed in on the online secession petition. The Dallas Morning News has posted a comment from Perry press secretary Catherine Frazier, who says the Governor believes "nothing should be done to change" the union. 

Update (Nov. 12, 3:07 p.m.): This afternoon, Texas' petition broke the 25,000 signature requirement needed for the White House to issue a (certainly perfunctory) statement in response. 

On Twitter, some users are encouraging Texas to take the rest of the South with it. Meanwhile, others are asking whether a bargain can be struck to keep Austin in the union. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below and let us know. 

Original Post (Nov. 12, 12:08 p.m.): After any presidential election, you hear chatter from folks threatening to the leave the country since their candidate didn’t get elected. Now, an Arlington man is asking to leave the United States – and take the whole State of Texas with him.

The White House website features a Petition page, where citizens can raise issues with the executive branch. Over the weekend, Arlington resident "Micah H” petitioned the newly re-elected Obama administration to “Peacefully grant the State of Texas to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government.”

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