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Heather Claborn

News Director

Heather Claborn joined KACU as news director in January 2018.  She oversees daily newscast and feature reporting and works with KACU’s news anchors to develop newscasts.  She also conducts two-way interviews, reports for newscast and feature stories and maintains the station’s social media and website content.

Claborn began working in public radio in 1998 as a fill-in "All Things Considered" host at WFCR in Amherst, Massachusetts. She then accepted a position with Connecticut Public Radio (WNPR) in Hartford, Connecticut as the "Morning Edition" host. Over the years, Claborn assumed more responsibility and shifted roles to become the daily news editor. She also continued reporting, filing feature stories for NPR news programs and contributing regularly to NPR’s business and hourly newscasts. During her time with with the Harford station, Claborn produced television news reports for CPTV, and served as a panelist on CPTV’s election debates. Heather Claborn won awards from the Associated Press and the Society for Professional Journalists in Connecticut.

After moving to Illinois in 2006, Claborn taught Radio News and Interviewing and other journalism and communications classes at Olivet Nazarene University.  Kankakee Community College began operation of public radio station WKCC in 2007, and the fledgling station added Claborn to its staff soon after. She hosted the daily morning news programming and produced two-way interviews and feature reports for the station. She also contributed reports to the statewide collaborative of pubic radio stations.

Claborn earned her BA at the University of North Texas, majoring in Radio, TV and Film and Political Science. During her college years, she worked for the short-lived KEWS, all-news, FM radio station in Dallas, and the USA Radio Network.  She also interned for KDFW FOX 4 news in the Fort Worth office.

 Claborn returned to central Texas in 2017 with her husband, David and children Cal and Molly. She enjoys the landscape and scenery that is unique to this part of the state, and is acclimating to the difference in the weather.

Ways to Connect

United States Postal Service

Tomorrow morning the United States Postal Service officially issues a new collection of Western Wear stamps.  Abilene post offices are among the first to offer the set of Forever stamps, designed by a hometown artist.  

For the second time this year Democrats have broken quorum in an effort to block their Republican colleagues from passing legislation that they say would restrict access to voting.  Supporters of the legislation say it will ensure election integrity.  The Democrats this time have left the state and are vowing to remain gone until the special session ends on August 7th.  McMurry University Political Science Professor Paul Fabrizio discusses the history of quorum breaking, the big picture in the current standoff, as well as the consequences of choices being made now.

Heather Claborn / KACU

February’s record-breaking winter storm knocked out power to millions of Texas residents, and hit other utilities hard.  Officials in Abilene had to cut off the flow of water to city taps when Abilene’s three plants lost power.  It was the first time in memory that backup power to the plants failed.  It prompted some residents to demand better protections.  City officials will look at the possibilities during this month’s budget process.

Heather Claborn / KACU

Abilene welcomed Marcus Dudley as the new Chief of the Abilene Police Department in late January.  In his first few months he has faced some unique challenges, including a historic winter storm that shut down the city.  He’s also working on some new initiatives, such as the recent restructuring of some positions, adding a victim advocate for adult crimes, and adding cameras in the downtown area.  Our conversation addresses the recent police-involved shooting, as well as his plans for dealing with the challenges of filling the openings in the department.

Life is starting to feel more normal in the Big Country as the usual schedule of events gets going for the summer season.  The Friends of the Abilene Public Library will host its annual book sale this coming weekend.  Like most other annual events organizers had to cancel last year’s book sale.  It’s the largest fundraising event the group hosts each year, and 2020 would have marked the 30th sale.

shared courtesy of Stan Lambert

The 87th Texas Legislative Session is set to wrap up on May 31st.  Lawmakers have been busy in Austin.  They’re close to passing a final budget for the next two years.  They’ve passed a number of bills dealing with fall out from the pandemic and from February’s winter storm.  71st District State Representative Stan Lambert talks about what has been accomplished so far, and what remains to be done.

Dana Glover / KACU

The small ballot with just two races for Abilene’s City Council has drawn few early voters this year.  But those who are casting ballots in the Joint City General Election are deciding who will serve in the Place One and Place Two seats on Abilene’s city council for the next three years.   Stephen Hunt ischallenging Four-Term city council member Shane Price.

Courtesy of Texans for Stan

The 87th session of the Texas legislature will not only have a full slate of emergency items that Governor Greg Abbott wants addressed, it's time to redraw political lines.  KACU's Andrew Norsworthy talked with Rep. Lambert about his new committee assignments; the emergency items, which include broadband availability, a top priority for Lambert, as well as police funding and liability protections for businesses; and the feel of the new session, with a new speaker.  

Courtesy of International Rescue Committee-Abilene

Yesterday we heard from Susanna Lubanga, director of the Abilene office of the International Rescue Committee, about anticipated changes for refugee programs under the new Biden Administration.  Our conversation turns to how local refugee community has navigated the COVID-19 pandemic.  Many have come from homes that have experienced health crisies before, so the pandemic and its restrictions were somewhat familiar to them.  Several in Abilene's refugee community were affected early on with the outbreak at Abimar Foods.

West Texas Homeless Network

When COVID-19 first began to spread and affect employment, advocates for the homeless worried that there would be a significant increase in the local homeless population.  But a moratorium on evictions has helped to prevent that.  The pandemic is affecting the annual Point In Time count of the homeless, which is happening in communities across the country today and tomorrow.

courtesy of International Rescue Committee-Abilene

Some of the first actions President Biden took after his inauguration were aimed at reversing the course President Trump had set on immigration.  He halted work on the border wall, lifted a ban on travel from Muslim countries, and restored DACA, a program President Obama initiated.  But refugees are still waiting for action on their behalf.  Refugees apply for entry into the U.S. seeking escape from war, persecution, or personal threats in their home countries.  President Trump had lowered the maximum number of refugees that would be accepted by the U.S.

Abilene Taylor County Public Health District

Taylor County is seeing large numbers of new cases of the coronavirus, sustained high levels of COVID-19 hospitalizations and new reported deaths many days.  The Abilene Taylor County Public Health District added 44 staff members to help handle the workload of contact tracing.  But when the new positive test results are so high, the people who track those cases have their hands full.   The health distric's lead contact tracer, Julia Agawu says they're calling in extra help from other departments within the health district.  

Haley Remenar / KACU

Protestors left a rally with President Trump Wednesday, and besieged the U.S. Capitol building.  Congress was in the process of certifying the Elector College vote in the 2020 Presidential Election.  KACU’s Heather Claborn spoke last night with U.S. Congressman Jodey Arrington.  He described what it was like inside the House chamber, calling it surreal.  Critics claimed on Twitter that Arrington bears some of the blame because of his rhetoric, but he defends his decision to object to the certification of the Electoral College vote for the 2020 presidential election.

Used with permission of Canva

The Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony on documented increases in suicides, substance abuse, and depression, related to COVID-19.  The pandemic has affected every part of life, from health to isolation and job loss.  The families of more than 300,000 Americans are grieving their loss.  

Hendrick Health Systems

The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Abilene today.  The hospital officials who received the initial doses were excited and enthusiastic about opening the deep-chilled package.  Pharmacy Clinical Manager Greg Perry wore special, protective gloves as he pried the doses of Pfizer vaccine out of the dry ice it was packed in.  “You can definitely feel the chill, even with these cryo-gloves.  This is chilly, chilly!”   As he held up the small boxes containing the vials of vaccine, Perry described what they contained, “We have 195 multi-dose vials.