Joy Bonala

News Director

Ways to Connect


This legislative session, some Texas lawmakers are pushing bills that would increase per-student funding for public charter schools. Each year, these charters schools currently receive $1400 dollars less per student than traditional public schools. Backers of the proposed changes want give charters more money, specifically for maintaining and updating school facilities. 

Amid the national conversation surrounding President Trump’s ban on refugees and immigrants, Abilene area residents are turning to a local non-profit to see how they can help refugees. For almost 20 years Global Samaritan Resources in Abilene has been sending aid to people in many of the countries included in the ban.


For college students practicing Islam it can be challenging to keep a class schedule and pray five times a day, which is required by the faith. McMurry University is making it easier for their Muslim students to worship by providing a prayer room on campus. 

Sultan Albogami and about 45 other Muslim students from Saudi Arabia are very grateful that McMurry granted their request for a prayer room. Now Albogami has a place for his daily prayers and the room helps him show others that Islam is a peaceful religion. 


If you’ve never heard of something called “change ringing,” you’re not alone. Change ringing is a musical performance that requires a team of people pulling ropes that ring giant bells in a precise order. It’s more popular in eastern states, but Texas has five churches with a bell tower built for change ringing – including one in Abilene. 


Abilene Mayor Norm Archibald said the time has come for him to step aside and let someone else serve the city. Archibald announced his decision not to run again during a city council meeting today.

"I’ve been elected 5 times, I’m very honored, I’m very humbled to have served in this role," Archibald said. "I love Abilene very much." 


All Independent school districts in Texas used to be elected at-large, or city-wide. But many districts have switched to a single-member system, saying it creates more diversity among representatives. Abilene ISD has remained at-large despite pressure to change. With an open seat on the board of trustees, the issue has resurfaced. 

At an Abilene ISD public board meeting in June there were a handful of recognitions for successes in athletics, band competitions and leadership experiences. Then it was time for community members to speak. 

Coming up this Sunday, the Abilene Reporter-News will publish the second part to their series, "Too Many Cries," an investigative report on why Abilene’s region ranks highest in the state for child abuse and neglect. 

The Abilene Public Library’s South Branch is scheduled to reopen on Nov. 19. Previously on South Fourteenth Street and Danville Drive, the South Branch has been closed since the end of September while library staff transitions to the new location inside the Mall of Abilene.

The Taylor County Expo Center office is busy these days with people stopping by to grab “Grow Expo” yard signs that promote the $55-million-dollar bond election that, if passes, will pay for renovations to the Expo Center.

A line of people stretched out the door of Hastings Monday morning as people waited to meet Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.  He's on a state-wide tour to promote his book, “Broken But Unbowed: The Fight To Fix A Broken America.”

Donna Draper was one of the first people in line to meet Gov. Abbott and have her book signed.

“I think he’s a very good man, he’s a very conservative, moral, Christian man and I just wanted the opportunity to shake his hand and affirm that I appreciate him,” Draper said. 

If you’re a cyclist or know someone who rides throughout Abilene then you’re probably familiar with the risks that come with sharing the roads. Some area residents are taking part in the worldwide Ride of Silence bike rally Wednesday to raise awareness for safety and honor cyclists killed in accidents.

The first Ride of Silence was held in 2003 in Dallas after endurance cyclist Larry Schwartz was killed by a passing bus on an empty road. Since then it’s been in over 350 locations, 49 US states, 20 countries and seven continents.

The Taylor County Health District and the city of Abilene are working together to launch a Zika prevention campaign this summer. Their goal is to educate residents about how to minimize risk of contracting the virus.  

According to the Texas Department of Health, Texas has had 33 confirmed cases of Zika this year. Most of those have been related to people becoming infected while traveling abroad but that is expected to change soon. The mosquito that will transmit Zika is already in Taylor County and that means the virus be transmitted any day.

On a recent Friday morning in Abilene, Phil McCauley and Lou David Allen were sitting in McCauley’s home in a room that could be a guest bedroom, instead its filled with hundreds of thousands of stamps. Old, new, faded or shiny, valuable and worthless alike.

The hobby is known as Philatelics.

“But we just usually say stamp collecting,” Allen said.

Allen lives in Merkel,Texas and he visits McCauley about once a week to talk stamps. The friends met five years ago after McCauley put an ad in the newspaper offering to trade or sell duplicate stamps.

When Jim Barr was growing up in Abilene his taste in music was different than his peers. While everyone around him tuned in to country music, he actually sought out the blues. His early influences were Ray Charles, James Brown and the Supremes.

“About 1977 I discovered a blues artist named Freddie King and I really fell in love with it,” Barr said. “I would go listen to it whenever I could but it was kind of hard to find.”

Abilene’s number one tourist attraction is expanding, and the growth is expected to draw an additional 20,000 visitors per year. The new 3.8 million Giraffe Safari exhibit opens Saturday, which doubles the space of the giraffes’ old habitat. It’ll also change the way visitors interact with the zoo’s popular residents.