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The latest news for Abilene and the surrounding communities.

Four Dyess Air Force Base Airmen assigned to the 317th Airlift Group died Friday in Afghanistan when their C-130J crashed during initial takeoff from Jalalabad Airfield. Dyess officials are not releasing the names of the Airmen until 24 hours after the families have been notified.

Col. Stephen Hodge, Commander of the Airlift Group, is asking the Abilene community to continue offering thoughts and prayers for service members.  During a press conference on Friday he described the atmosphere on base as "overwhelming and humbling."

People were packed inside Miguel's Mex Tex Café waiting to meet Gov. Greg Abbott Thursday as he stopped in Abilene on a nine-city tour to update Texans about the accomplishments of the 84th Legislature.

He started out by thanking Republicans in Taylor County for their work during his race for governor.

“Not only did you ensure that I won Taylor County, you also set Texas history because you gave me a higher percentage of vote than any governor has ever received as a Republican in Taylor County Texas,” Abbott said.

State Representative Susan King told a room full of supporters Monday that she is the most qualified person to serve in Senate District 24 in part because of her experience working as the chairman of the House Defense and Veteran’s Affairs Committee.    

King made her announcement at the Center For Contemporary Arts in downtown Abilene. She’s the seventh person to announce for the senate seat currently held by incumbent Troy Fraser. The district stretches nearly 250 miles covering parts of 17 counties.

One by one the walls are going up in the College Heights Friendship House and by Friday the home located at 1500 block of Orange Street will close to done. It’s Abilene’s third Friendship House from the non-profit, Connecting Caring Communities. The previous two are in the North Park and Valley View neighborhoods.

Larry Zelisko is a columnist and the content editor at the Abilene Reporter-News. His column, Larry The Answer Guy, responds to reader-submitted questions on a wide range of topics. 

Does Abilene have a sports museum?

"Well there's no Texas Sports Hall of Fame like in Waco or there's no International Bowling Museum like in Arlington, there's not even a Texas Basketball Museum like in Carmine but we do have the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame. It's in the school administration building at North Second and Pine Streets. 

Showing Heifers Is Family Tradition

Sep 15, 2015

The West Texas Fair and Rodeo brings hundreds of farmers and ranchers to the annual Angus show where their cattle are judged on body conformation and muscle structure.

Teri Hollis and her eight-year-old daughter, Ryli, were putting the finishing touches on their heifers Monday at the Taylor County Expo Center. They brushed their hair, kept them calm and relaxed before the start of the Angus show.

"We grew up in a family that my parents showed, my grandparents showed and it's kind of a family generational deal," Hollis said.  

September fifteenth through October fifteenth is National Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States. These weeks are set aside to celebrate Hispanic and Latino Americans like Abilene’s own Lupe Hernandez.

On a recent summer day Lupe Hernandez scoops up a fistful of dough, folds cheese and shredded zucchini into the center, then she slaps the mixture between her hands to flatten and drop onto a sizzling grill.  

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee stopped in Abilene today and met with the media before speaking at a fundraising luncheon. He repeated his reasons for defending Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk recently jailed for not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

"She’s operating under Kentucky law, which is by the way the law under which she was elected and the Kentucky by 75 percent of the voters, by constitutional amendment is that marriage is one man, one woman," Huckabee says. 

Best in show ribbons were fanned out like a deck of cards and spilling over the edge of the kitchen table in Janice Hargrove’s home.

Her ribbon collection is the result of entering The West Texas Fair & Rodeo for the past 40 years. This year’s fair theme is “Making Memories,” Hargrove has made a lot of memories at the fair over the years. She is known for the sweet treats she cooks up each year.

Hundreds gathered today to honor the life of Abilene Police Officer Don Russell Allen. Law enforcement personnel from across the state joined citizens at Beltway Park Baptist Church for Allen’s funeral. Allen was killed Monday at his home in Clyde. Two people have been arrested and charged with murder in connection with his death. Allen was remembered as outgoing, caring, respectful and a man with zeal for life. Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge shared memories from Allen’s work as an officer. 

The Abilene Police Department​ is encouraging citizens to line the route of APD Officer Don Allen's funeral procession on Friday, September 4. Police say people should be cautious about where they stand and park to be safe.

Funeral arrangements for Officer Allen will be Friday at 10 a.m. at Beltway Park Church located at 4009 Beltway South in Abilene. Graveside will follow at the Clyde Cemetery in Clyde, Texas.  

Council Votes To Keep Animal Ordinance The Same

Aug 27, 2015

[story updated Thursday, August 27, 2015.   

Abilene’s animal ordinance will stay the same after proposed revisions were rejected by the city council today. The council voted unanimously to keep the current ordinance after about 30 people spoke out against the changes during a public hearing. Revisions to the ordinance included limitations on the number of animals a person can keep, new guidelines for tethering dogs and restrictions on keeping roosters. 

[original story Wednesday, August 26, 2015]

Cynthia Simmons is a first-year teacher at Bowie Elementary School. 

"I've wanted to be a teacher since I was a child, since I was in the third grade because of my third-grade teacher," Simmons said.  "I love that she involved the students, she had such a love for teaching."

Alec Finch is a first-year teacher and coach at Abilene Cooper High School. 

"A good part of teaching and coaching in general is just teaching kids good citizenship and I think that kind of get's lost in the mix sometimes between wins and losses," Finch said.

He wants students to come to school each day with a positive mindset and begin building a community with their fellow teammates and coaches. Finch said he'll strive to lay core foundational values and help students to realize that it's all about the team effort and not the individual effort. 

Alexia Closner is first-year teacher at Jackson Elementary School. 

"I just love being able to live life and to share life with the littles,” Alexia Closner said.  “It’s one of those things, never a dull moment and just getting to share life with them and knowing that you have had a deep internal impact on their lives and their development and their heart is really rewarding and comforting to me.”