Brady Taylor is the new Rusty Garrett.

The veteran meteorologist will become the fifth lead forecaster in the 64-year history of KWTX-TV channel 10, succeeding Garrett effective July 1, according to a press release from the station.

Garrett recently announced he would retire after 30 years in the role.

Taylor graduated from Goldthwaite High School, then got a meteorology degree from Texas A&M University in 2005, according to the press release.

“We launched a nationwide search to fill this very important role in the KWTX family but all along we knew the most experienced and trusted person for the job was already part of our award-winning team of meteorologists,” KWTX general manager Josh Young wrote.

Memorial Day travel

An estimated 3.4 million Texans will travel for Memorial Day, which would be the second-highest travel volume since AAA started tracking it in 2000, according to a press release.

“The Texas economy remains strong and many families continue to prioritize travel,” AAA Texas Vice President Kent Livesay wrote in the press release.

The Texas Department of Transportation advises motorists to use caution through Waco, where crews are widening Interstate 35 between Bellmead and near South 12th Street.

Take a rest

Gas prices locally have stabilized at about $2.46 per gallon on average for regular unleaded, about 17 cents less than the $2.63 norm just before Memorial Day last year, according to gasbuddy.com.

Bathroom breaks and car travel go hand-in-hand, and a newly released GasBuddy survey conduced between September 2016 and this April crowns Texas-based Buc-ee’s as having the highest rated restrooms in the country among gas stations.

Buc-ee’s is a perennial No. 1, and Utah-based Maverik claimed “the top spot in six states,” according to a press release on the results.

Besides a single spot in Alabama that opened this year, Buc-ee’s operates exclusively in Texas. Its closest store to Waco is near Interstate 35 and H.K. Dodgen Loop on the north side of Temple. Buc-ee’s fans view it as a great spot to people-watch, stock up on snacks or something more substantial, and browse for Texas-themed knickknacks and souvenirs.

“Clean, quality restrooms continue to be a concern for motorists on the road,” according to the GasBuddy press release. “According to our 2019 summer travel survey, 40% of travelers fear needing to use the restroom but not knowing where to find a clean one, an increase of 3% from the previous year.”

A regular anecdote in this column is John Fletcher, a longtime local public relations professional, once said he never eats in a new restaurant until first visiting the restroom. If it looks unkempt or neglected, he moves on.

George’s mural

George’s Restaurant Bar & Catering, 1925 Speight Ave., within earshot of the I-35 widening project, is getting an update with a wrap featuring famous famous Georges: Former U.S. Presidents George Washington, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush; boxer George Foreman; country music legend George Strait; and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, grandson of the late George H.W. Bush, according to an email from owner Sammy Citrano.

Baylor University journalism, public relations and new media graduates Bradi Zapata and David Humphrey had a hand in the creation, and much credit goes to Carol Perry’s media design class and especially student Britain Seago, whose drawing was chosen, Citrano said.

Funeral home board appointment

Josh Blake, chief operating officer at Wilkirson-Hatch-Bailey Funeral Home, has been appointed to the board of Selected Independent Funeral Homes, an Illinois-based organization founded in 1917 to assist independent funeral directors and funeral homes nationwide, according to its website.

Blake grew up in Waco, studied architecture one year at the University of Southern California, then received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Baylor University. He spent four years locally working as a mental health caseworker, taught for a year in Thailand, then joined Wilkirson-Hatch-Bailey at the request of top executive Hatch Bailey. He started in 2014 as a funeral director’s assistant, and worked in at the downtown location.

He became COO in 2017, filling a newly created position, according to information provided by a public relations firm.

Business roundup

  • San Antonio-based Whataburger, now privately held, may be pursuing a buyer to help it expand beyond its 800 locations. The San Antonio Express-News and The Dallas Morning News have reported Whataburger hired Morgan Stanley, an international investment bank, to assist in weighing options.
  • Florida-based I Heart Mac & Cheese, a restaurant chain selling customized macaroni and cheese bowls, has signed a franchise agreement with Fidelity Enterprises LLC to place two locations in College Station and one each in Waco and Lubbock, according to a press release. The Waco location is expected to open by March, and more restaurants are planned to follow.
  • Local Airbnb locations will welcome 1,300 guests and generate $148,000 in income related to Baylor University commencement exercises over the weekend, according to an Airbnb press release.

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