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Abilene

Monday night the Abilene ISD board voted against changing the board election process to single-member districts. After months of public discussions, they voted against changing the election methodology, despite pressure from community members. Timothy Chipp, education reporter for the Abilene Reporter News, joins me to talk about what the vote means for the district.

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?

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 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.

Millennial Men Do Quilt

May 31, 2017

It’s easy to assume that all the quilters in West Texas are women old enough to collect social security. However, the treasurer of the Abilene Quilters Guild is a millennial who has entered several quilts in the upcoming 23rd Annual Stars Over Abilene Regional Quilt Show. 

“A lot of people tell me, ‘Oh! You’re a quilter!’,” laughed Jud Beall.

In many ways Jordan Click is like any typical 27-year-old; she likes shopping, enjoys sports and dreams of owning a boutique. However, her limitations are anything but normal. It’s been seven years since the Abilene native was paralyzed from the shoulders down. Now she’s seeking specialized treatment to regain some ability. It’s not always easy to ask for help, but that’s exactly what Click’s family is doing.  

If you stop by Abilene’s Convention Center you’ll find busy city maintenance workers, landscape artists planting flowers and volunteers painting rebar. People are working overtime to get the Adamson-Spalding Storybook Garden finished in time for the Children’s Art and Literacy Festival.

Few people feel the weight of that deadline more than Pam Tippen. She’s an Abilene Cultural Affairs Council board member and she’s overseeing the garden.

The Abilene Zoo is investigating how one of the Zoo’s jaguars escaped its exhibit on Monday. The incident happened early in the morning before the Zoo was open to the public. Staff found two-year-old Estrella perched above the neighboring exhibit where she had attacked a spider monkey. She was sedated and put into her off-exhibit quarters. The spider monkey had to be euthanized.

"There have been jaguars in that facility since 1995," said Zoo Director Bill Gersonde. "So, that’s probably the frustrating thing for us is, how did this happen?"

West Texas Veterans and their loved ones are sharing their stories with historians for the project, “War Stories: West Texans Experience War.” Historians from Angelo State University are working to preserve these stories by recording interviews, digitizing photographs, documents, letters, diaries and other artifacts.

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