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The latest news for Abilene and the surrounding communities.

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.

Some say the place is like a magical forest, others call it refuge for tie-dye addicts and one person likens it to a real life Candy Land.

Play Faire Park leaves a unique impression on every visitor. Established in 1947, the park is well-used and that’s just how the owner prefers it.

“I like old things, keeping them going, things that I think are good and real,” said owner Chris England.

Khamisie Green understands that issues surrounding race can sometimes be uncomfortable- and his play titled, “Testify” is going to cause a lot of discomfort for the audience. Green is the president of the Black Students Association at Abilene Christian University. He wrote the play for this year’s Black History Production, which will be performed at 7 p.m. March 4 at the Paramount Theatre.

Stan Lambert won 52 percent of Republican primary voters in the Tuesday primary making him the Republican nominee for District 71 in the Texas House. He took victory over four other Republicans, Isaac Castro being his closest rival, with 21.6 percent of votes. Chris Carnohan took 12.3 percent, Brian Scalf 7.1 and Stacey Scaief 7.1. Lambert will face Democrat Pierce LoPachin in the November general election. 

Texas is recovering from one of the worst droughts in state history thanks to record rainfall last year. But the impact of sustained drought doesn’t just affect water levels. One biologist in Abilene is investigating how changes in climate affect the ecosystem of reservoirs in Central West Texas.

Clack Middle School students are learning to celebrate diversity through art. Pre-AP Art students spent over a month creating the “Colors Unite” Black History Month exhibit, designed to celebrate diversity and lesser-known individuals who contributed to the Civil Rights movement. Clack art teacher, Jaclyn Burch, came up with the idea.

“I wanted them to see that art could take them places, I wanted to show them that art can make a difference,” Burch said.

When you think about aging, what issues that come to mind? If home health care quality, social security stability or a complex Medicare system is among your concerns then you’re not alone.

About 4.6 million Texas seniors age 60 and older often deal with similar problems and have few resources to turn to for help. That’s where the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature comes into the picture. Ninety-one members represent 28 districts in the state. They gather with constituents at town hall meetings to identify and discuss current issues faced by an aging population.   

Jade Ford dipped a cup into a plastic bin, scooped out a portion of dehydrated vegetables, then poured them into a plastic bag while peers surrounding her did the same.

She was among 100 Abilene Christian University students volunteering in an assembly line at the Global Samaritan warehouse on Wednesday, January 25, 2016. They measured out components of a dehydrated, fortified casserole meal that will be shipped to refugees in the Middle East.

At 96 years old, certain memories escape Ivy Paul Lucas, but others remain clear. He remembers growing up with 10 brothers and one sister on a cotton farm in West Texas. He also recalls some of his experiences on the battlefields in World War II when he served in the First Special Service Force.

His niece and care-giver, Jeanette Pursley, helps him by retelling the stories he told her about those years of service.

A lot of people enjoyed coloring as a kid but just like other fun activities in childhood, the habit wore off. Now it’s making a comeback for adults. You can find a large variety of adult coloring books in craft stores and major booksellers.  Adult coloring books are either intricate or simple. Ann Mount has both types.

“The detailed pages may take me like weeks to finish but one of the simpler ones will take me maybe an afternoon,” Mount said.  “It’s just whatever I’m in the mood for.”

McMurry University Band members are resting and recovering this week after returning from England where they performed for a live audience of 650,000 in the London New Year’s Day parade.

Karissa Means plays trumpet in the band, she remembers how different each part of London was from the next, she appreciates that her group was able to dive into the culture.

“You could hear several different languages spoken on any corner at one time,” Means said. The volume of people everywhere impressed her. “It was amazing, I’d never been around that many people,” Means said.

Open carry is now legal but the details surrounding the law are still a little fuzzy for some. Many grocery stores and restaurants in Texas are choosing to allow only concealed carry rather than open carry. APD Sgt. Lynn Beard said it’s up to citizens to check for signs at the entrance of a business before openly carrying.

College Students Celebrate Hanukkah Even Away From Home

Dec 11, 2015

Just after sundown, Rachel Ross sits at the kitchen table in her college apartment with her brother.  She lights the fourth candle of the Hanukkiah, and begins a traditional Hebrew blessing. 

By now you’ve certainly noticed representatives from the Salvation Army set up around town, even if your eyes missed them, your ears would not.

Bells are ringing at the entrances of your neighborhood grocery store and pharmacy.  The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign is underway at 22 locations throughout Abilene. Where do all those coins and bills end up after the holiday fundraiser is complete?