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Joy Bonala

News Director

Ways to Connect

A constant stream of relief is making its way to south Texas from Abilene as individuals and organizations do what they can to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. A tractor trailer full of supplies was packed today at Global Samaritan Resources, it will be delivered in Corpus Christi this weekend. McMurry University students and faculty were volunteering to sort and pack goods inside the Global Samaritan warehouse.

Jeremy Leech wants to give back to the woman who saved his life.

“I got a kidney transplant on December 21 and my donor lives in Rockport,” Leech said. “Once the hurricane hit we knew we needed to help her in some way.”

He posted on social media about his efforts to collect donations and the response has been great. People have been dropping of donations at his business, J. Shea’s Jewelers in Abilene.

“We’ve got water, pet food, dog food, canned goods, blankets, cleaning supplies, peanut butter, gas cans and trolling motors,” Leech said.

Today kicks off the new school year for for Abilene ISD, it’s also meet the teacher day at Abilene’s early learning center. Abilene consolidated its Woodson, Reagan and Locust campuses, moving everyone to Long Early Learning Center where more than 800 students, all 3- and 4-years-old, will attend the renovated facility.

Teachers like Beverly Self are overjoyed to welcome students into brand new classrooms

“I have so much room, I have so much storage and we have a beautiful window in the back and I’m just really excited to see all we can do in this school,” Self said.

Two-a-days are well underway at Texas high schools as football teams prepare for the upcoming season, only a few weeks remain before those Friday night lights illuminate starry Texas skies. And If you’re a football fan, you may have heard of the Mighty Matadors. In 1968, Lubbock’s Estacado High football team won the Texas Class AAA championship in their first year playing varsity football. Estacado also happened to be Lubbock’s first integrated school. A new book tells the story of the team that overcame racial division to become state champions.

The City of Abilene is asking community members to join committees in an effort to reduce crime. Mayor Anthony Williams held a meeting at the Abilene Convention Center Monday night asking for volunteers to help the efforts of two local groups; ACT (Accept responsibility, Collaborate and Take action) And Stop The Violence.

He was joined by representatives from local law enforcement, the Chamber of Commerce, AISD, local pastors and victim advocacy groups. Over a 100 people came to the meeting to hear more about how they can do their part to make a difference.

It’s been almost a century since a total solar eclipse was visible across the entire lower half of the United States. For those of us living in West Texas, we’ll be lucky to witness the August 21st eclipse... but we won’t hit the jackpot.  Only part of the natural phenomenon will be visible from this region, that’s because the Abilene area is nowhere near the path of totality. But what exactly is the path of totality?

U.S. Rep. Jodey Arrington and fellow Republican and Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Mac Thornberry, visited Dyess Air Force Base yesterday to hear from airmen and learn more about their needs. The congressmen toured a C-130J Super Hercules and a B-1B Lancer.

“This was a big day for West Texas and for Abilene and Dyess,” Arrington said. “The Chairman has tremendous demands on his time, bases and military facilities all around the world and he chose to spend his time with us today.”

About 5,000 people live in the West Texas town of Coleman. When he moved there in the early 90’s, Dr. Sandip Mathur was struck by one characteristic:

“I guess in a word, its openness,” Dr. Mathur says. “The land is wide open, the skies are big and the people are open-hearted.

The special session is underway, and of the 20 items Gov. Greg Abbott says he wants lawmakers to tackle, one is getting a lot of attention from teachers.

"I want legislation on my desk that increases teacher pay by $1,000,” Abbott said. “To achieve that, Texas doesn’t need to spend more, it just needs to spend smarter.”

The Abilene Boys and Girls Club has consolidated for the summer, keeping just one club open. Inside, hundreds of kids were busy playing. Far in a corner several elderly women sat at a table surrounded by quiet children with their little fingers trained on crochet hooks.

“So we’re going to go yarn under, over, and pull it out,” Marian Rivas said as she helped a young girl learn the basics.

“It’s real easy, let’s try it sweetheart,” Rivas said.

Abilene’s new mayor, Anthony Williams, was sworn in Monday surrounded by his family and supporters. There has been plenty of celebration lately, but back when he announced his candidacy, the mood wasn’t so optimistic. Many of his family members didn’t think a win was possible. 

“I thought that we could do this and at the end of the day we did this,” Williams said. “And I use we very deliberately because we could not have been successful without the team that we assembled.”

Abilene is moving forward with plans to build a downtown convention center hotel. City officials gathered yesterday to celebrate the passage of House Bill 2445, legislation that will allow Abilene to keep some of the hotel-motel tax revenue that would otherwise go to the state. Rep. Stan Lambert said there were many other communities that wanted a similar legislation passed in their communities. He called the bill an economic driver and said the sales tax we’ll keep for ten years will later revert back to the state.  

When Abilene native Andrew Penns became involved in the Taylor County Historical Commission, he discovered that much of the African-American history of this city wasn’t being recognized.

“I would see markers being placed, see history being talked about and very little centered around the black community and African Americans who contributed to history,” Penns said.

Sienna Miller keeps a photograph of her great, great, great grandmother, an African-American woman named Harriet Vaughn Sims. In the photograph, a bouquet of flowers covers her left hand, Miller says that’s because three of her fingers were cut off as a way to brand her.

“There are some true, hard realities of what the slaves had to go through in order for us to all be where we are today,” Miller said. “We’re still on that path of journey, a journey of healing and becoming free both physically and mentally.”

Mayoral candidates Anthony Williams and Robert Briley have been busy since the May 6 election that resulted in a runoff. A lot of block walking, social media posts and television advertisements all in an effort to reach more voters. For Briley, all that socializing has given him a greater appreciation for his city.

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