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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

Dana Glover / KACU

At Thursday evening’s meeting City Manager Robert Hanna will ask the Abilene City Council to consider some adjustments to the 2021 fiscal year budget.  The city is trying to fill a hole in the budget that was only partially caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  In September Abilene’s City Council adopted a surplus budget for the next fiscal year that provided for unknown expenses related to the pandemic.

Abilene Taylor County Public Health District

As Taylor County tracks 2,249 active cases of COVID-19, Abilene and Taylor County officials are urging locals to do their part to slow the spread of the virus.  Local ICU beds are full, and the hospitals are now treating 83 patients for the coronavirus.  Abilene may be seeing hospital capacity stretched to the limit by COVID-19, but some other Texas cities have been completely overrun.  That’s led some cities to try enacting curfews, stay at home orders, and business closures, only to be challenged in court by Governor Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton.  Last week an appeals court ove

Courtesy Dr. Dawn Buckingham Campaign

District 24 in the Texas State Senate stretches from Killeen to Abilene.  The district has been represented by a Republican since 1996.  That’s also the last year a race for the seat was actually competitive.  State Senator Dawn Buckingham is a doctor and a member of the Health and Human Services Committee in the state senate.  She's running for a third term.

Find out more about Dr. Dawn Buckingham:

Dr. Dawn Buckingham's Campaign Website

Ballotpedia

DeWayne Crable

Clayton Tucker is the Democrat who’s challenging Republican Texas State Senator Dawn Buckingham for the seat in the 24th district.  Tucker is a rancher in Lampassas.  His experience includes environmental research in China, teaching kindergarten in Taiwan, and advocating with former Texas Agricultural Commissioner Jim Hightower for healthcare for all.  We spoke over Zoom.

Find out more about Clayton Tucker:

Clayton Tucker's Campaign Website

Ballotpedia

Courtesy of Texans for Stan

Stan Lambert represents Taylor, Jones, and Nolan Counties in the Texas State House.  He’s running for reelection to a third term, after being targeted by the Republican Speaker of the State House, Dennis Bonnen, for a challenge this election.  The upcoming legislative session promises to be a busy one with a number of new issues to tackle, brought about by the events of 2020. We spoke with State Representative Stan Lambert by Zoom.  

Find out more about Rep. Stan Lambert:

Zach Snyder

Democrat Sam Hatton is taking a second shot at unseating Republican State Representative Stan Lambert.  Hatton jumped into the race in 2018, and is on the ballot again for the 71stdistrict seat.  His campaign website highlights three issues that he sees as key to creating a "Competitive, Compassionate Texas": public education, roads & infrastructure, and rural healthcare.  KACU's Heather Claborn spoke with Sam Hatton  by Zoom.

Find out more about Sam Hatton:

Sam Hatton's Campaign Website

Heather Claborn / KACU

The 2016 Presidential Election brought a strong showing for President Trump in several parts of Texas.  One of the regions with the largest turnouts for Trump, in the state and the nation, was in the Big Country.   

A number of voters at the West Texas Fair and Rodeo last month shared their opinions on the presidential election.  Retiree Jim West described the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden as “crazy as a runover dog”.  And when he was asked who he would vote for, he responded enthusiastically, “Trump!  There ain’t but one candidate as far as I’m concerned.”

Dana Glover / KACU

Abilene Christian University is bringing staff back onto campus after most employees have spent more than three months working from home.  The university is on track to welcome students back to campus August 24th.

Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, ACU established three working teams focused on different aspects of the university’s response.  Recent positive test results at ACU's clinic have given the university a chance to start practicing contingency plans.

Heather Claborn / KACU

Tape on the floor of the polling center at the Taylor County Plaza shows voters how to keep six feet of distance while waiting in line.  A hand sanitizer dispenser stands just inside the door, and jugs of it sit on tables.  This election, poll workers are offering voters disposable gloves and face masks. 

Heather Claborn / KACU

The U.S. police force is in the headlines and under scrutiny, and that’s affecting police departments’ ability to recruit new officers.  Today, as some cities discuss whether to defund or reduce police department budgets, Abilene, Texas is trying to fill a police academy class.  

Heather Claborn / KACU

Several hundred people turned out in a field near Abilene's Martin Luther King Bridge Thursday night to protest the death of George Floyd and to call for a unified local response to the problems that surround racial injustice in America.   

Naoemi Loredo / COVID.325

A photography project on Facebook is documenting the experiences of Abileneans during the COVID-19 pandemic.  It's kind of like Humans of New York with a COVID-19 twist.  Naoemi Loredo and her partner Dante Wehe started the project to help locals process their own feelings about the pandemic, and to document history as it happens.  The pictures capture everything from frustrated business owners who had to shut down for weeks, to skateboarding kids, and essential workers concerned about putting their families at risk.

Courtesy of Coy Chew / Whiskey Girl

 

The Whiskey Girl bar in Abilene opened Monday night, four days before Gov. Greg Abbott’s order allows bars to do so.

Abbott’s Phase Two plan for reopening the state’s economy allows bars to resume operations at 25% capacity on Friday. But that’s not soon enough for Coy Chew, who announced on Facebook Monday that he was unable to wait another week to reopen the Whiskey Girl. Chew said he’ll open his bar daily this week at 4 p.m.

Courtesy of Annette Lerma

Taylor County’s daily reporting on COVID-19 numbers has changed in format and content  several times since March 26th, when officials announced the first local positive test result.  

Last week the number of cases being reported dropped sharply after officials removed more than 90 cases of positive prisoners at the Middleton and French Robertson Units, which are both in Abilene, but officially in Jones County.  That same day, state officials instructed Taylor County health officials to pull dozens of cases identified by serology blood tests as well.

Heather Claborn / KACU

Texas hair salons joined restaurants and movie theaters in reopening on Friday.  They’re opening with safety and cleaning protocols that will affect how much profit those in the industry will make at first. 

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