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Wolfabilene Updates Archives for 2019-04

Abilene went crazy for 'Avengers: Endgame,' contributing to movie's box-office domination

"Avengers! Assemble!"

It's an iconic line from the comic books from which the world's most successful film franchise draws its inspiration.

In Abilene on Friday night, they did. On the big screen, with the premiere of "Avengers: Endgame." But they also assembled in front of the Cinemark Abilene theater on East Overland Trail.

There, a group of about a dozen costumed actors gathered for fun. Sure, they were heading into the 7 p.m. showing of the most anticipated movie of the summer season. They also wanted to make a little magic beforehand.

"It adds another element to (seeing the movie)," Jonathan Baker said. "When you're there and you see the kids, you see their faces light up when they see the person they're about to go watch, it's worth the price of some of these costumes."

 

Baker, 20, dressed as Captain America, in the movie played by Chris Evans. He started cosplaying (costume playing) thanks to his being hired as a birthday party entertainer. At first, he was not dressing as superheroes.

Eventually, Captain America fell in his lap and he ran with it.

 

Kaden Kerby, dressed a Star-Lord of the Guardians of the Galaxy, joined Jonathan Baker (Captain America) and Christian Jay (Spider-Man) in costume for a showing of "Avengers: Endgame" at Cinemark Abilene Friday. The latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was the talk of the world this past weekend while earning a record $1.2 billion in its opening five days.

Kaden Kerby, dressed a Star-Lord of the Guardians of the Galaxy, joined Jonathan Baker (Captain America) and Christian Jay (Spider-Man) in costume for a showing of "Avengers: Endgame" at Cinemark Abilene Friday. The latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was the talk of the world this past weekend while earning a record $1.2 billion in its opening five days. (Photo: Contributed photo)

 

Christian Jay, 20, and Peyton Scroggins, 19, were part of the group with Baker.

Jay, who dressed as Spider-Man, said he remembers his favorite Marvel character's introduction to the movie universe like it was yesterday.

 

First appearing in a trailer for "Captain America: Civil War" in 2016, Jay said he rushed to show his sister the video. Both students at Wylie High School at the time, he burst into her lunch period to share the joy.

 

"I ran out of my class and into my sister's lunch period," Jay said. "I showed her the trailer and at the end, when Spider-Man shows up, we both screamed."

It's that level of appreciation from fans such as Baker and Jay that catapulted the movie Marvel universe into the stratosphere. "Endgame" beat box office records after just one weekend.

Worldwide, the movie earned more than $1.2 billion, by far the highest-grossing first weekend in cinema history. In Abilene, all three major showplaces — Cinemark, Premiere Lux Cine 10 and Century — offered multiple showings.

The three-plus hour run-time couldn't possibly scare away any of these die-hard fans.

 

It's an important series of movies, offering more than just entertainment to those who invest their time and money in the films being produced.

"It’s an escape, a place to go when I don’t have one, a family and friends when I don’t have any," Scroggins, 19, said. "It’s nice that no matter what is happening, be it stressful or sad or whatever, I have that place to escape to, these characters that I relate to and love so much.

"I grew up reading comics so it’s also my dreams kind of coming true, and reliving a sense of childlike wonder."

 

by Timothy Chipp, Abilene Reporter-News.Copyright © 2019, Abilene Reporter News. All Rights Reserved.

Things to do next week: AirFest flies again

Dyess Big Country AirFest 2019 will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 4 at Abilene Regional Airport, 2933 Airport Blvd.

Opening ceremonies will begin at noon, followed by an air show from 12:30-4 p.m., with performances by Ron Cain and High Sky. Static displays, vendors and demonstrations also will be available.

Admission is free.

For information, go to bigcountryairfest.org.

Big Day Downtown

The Abilene Downtown Association will conduct Big Day Downtown at 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. May 4 in downtown Abilene. This year's theme is "Star Wars." Activities include a crawfish boil, vendors and a children's area.

For information, go to abilenedowntown.com.

Superhero 5K

Big Country CASA will conduct its third annual Superhero 5K Fun Run at 8:30 a.m. May 4 at the Williams Performing Arts Center at Abilene Christian University. Participants are encouraged to dress in costume.

Registration is $25 for adults and free for children. To register, or for more information, go to BigCountryCASA.org.

Celebrations Singers go country

The Celebration Singers will present its annual spring show, "Whole 'Lotta Country Goin' On!," at 7 p.m. May 3 at the Paramount Theatre, 352 Cypress St.

The choir will highlight more than 25 pieces of music in ensembles, duets and solos. Admission is free.

'Music City Hit Makers'

The Abilene Philharmonic will present its "Pops III" concert, "Music City Hit Makers," at 7:30 p.m. May 4 at the Abilene Convention Center, 1100 N. Sixth St. Rivers Rutherford and Brett James will be the featured guest artists.

For tickets or information, go to abilenephilharmonic.org or call 325-677-6710.

'Wings on the Wind'

The Big Country Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists will conduct its third annual "Wings on the Wind" festival from 1-4 p.m. May 4 at Abilene State Park, 150 Park Road 32 in Buffalo Gap.

The festival will celebrate everything that flies or floats in West Texas, and will include information on birds, bees, planes and weather. Games, art activities and concessions will be available.

Regular park admission of $5 per car will apply.

Book signing

Chris Christian, who grew up in Abilene before making it big as a singer-songwriter and music producer, will sign copies of his new book, “A Grandmother’s Prayer: Moments in a Music Life,” from 4-6 p.m. Tuesday at Texas Star Trading Company, 174 Cypress St.

For information, call 325-672-9696.

Prayer breakfast

In celebration of National Day of Prayer, a community prayer breakfast will begin at 7:30 a.m. Thursday in Mabee Gym at Hardin-Simmons University. Kevin Roe and the Prodigal Sons will perform.

Mother-son dance

A dance for mothers and sons will begin at 7 p.m. May 3 at the Rose Park Senior Activity Center, 2625 S. Seventh St.

Tickets are $8, and space is limited. For tickets, go to abilenetx.gov/signup.

And more ...

-STEPHENVILLE — The Tarleton State University Jazz Ensembles will present "The Night Sky" at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center on campus. Tickets are $5, or free with Tarleton ID.

-The local AIA, Texas Society of Architects chapter will conduct a tour of buildings designed by David S. Castle from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 4 at The Grace Museum, 102 Cypress St. Admission is free.

- Praise Fest, a night of community singing featuring choirs and gospel groups from around the area, will begin at 6 p.m. May 4 at the Red Dirt Pavilion, 1302 Pecan St. in Buffalo Gap. Proceeds will go to Camp Able. Admission is free.

Nathaniel Ellsworth Abilene Reporter-News.Copyright © 2019, Abilene Reporter News. All Rights Reserved.

DoubleTree by Hilton announced as franchise for Abilene's downtown hotel project

ABILENE, Texas — The City of Abilene has announced which hotel franchise has been chosen for the city’s downtown hotel project.

On Thursday, the Abilene City Council will vote on whether to enter into a Master Development Agreement with Garfield Public-Private for the development of a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel.

“What that means is, this sits out the term of the agreement. It’s really the foundation document that we will move forward with the downtown hotel," said Deputy City Manager Mindy Patterson. "Once council approves this agreement, we'll wait for confirmation from the comptroller’s office saying that we are approved and these are eligible funds. Once that happens, then we will submit a franchise application to Hilton for a DoubleTree hotel.”

This is a three-phase project.

During the first phase, construction drawings and plans will be completed. That could take up to nine months to complete.

The second phase is the construction phase, which could take up to 18 months.

The grand opening of the hotel will be the during the final/post-construction phase.

The city’s financial commitment for the downtown hotel is $23.1 million.

According to the city’s agenda memo, the downtown hotel project will be funded by “$7.5 million in grants from our local foundations, approximately $4 million in cash on hand from the City of Abilene and approximately $11.6 million in proceeds from a $12.4 million debt issuance by the city.”

The $12.4 million will be repaid by state and local hotel occupancy taxes, and state and local sales taxes generated by the convention hotel.

This project includes public conference rooms, meetings spaces, ballroom, parking facility, and hotel.

The hotel will have a minimum of 206 rooms.

by Lindsey Ragas

KTXS 12.Copyright © 2019, KTXS 12 ABC News. All Rights Reserved.

A quiet Easter weekend in Abilene

1. Easter happenings. Easter weekend is one of the quietest in Abilene during the year, with few competing events scheduled. Egg hunts are popular, as are daybreak worship services. Every other year, Pioneer Drive Baptist Church stages its pageant at the Abilene Convention Center. The final two performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday. It's free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Call 325-692-6776 or go by the church, 701 S. Pioneer Drive, before noon Friday.

The Adamson-Spalding Storybook Garden could be a nice Easter weekend destination. (Photo: Joey D. Richards/Abilene Reporter-News)

 

2. How about art? With a light entertainment schedule this weekend, it may be a good time to check out the exhibitions at The Grace Museum or Center for Contemporary Arts, both downtown. And if the weather is nice, perhaps a stroll to visit the sculptures at Everman Park and the Adamson-Spalding Storybook Garden. 

3. Time for a movie. With "Avengers: Endgame" looming on the horizon (next weekend), no big movies are planned to open against the blockbuster. Until then, there's "Captain Marvel" and four movies related to pets — "How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World," "Dumbo," "The Mustang" and... "Pet Sematary." The latter may not be exactly family entertainment.

Copyright © 2019, Abilene Reporter News. All Rights Reserved.

9th annual Cajun Fest to help Abilene Education Foundation

 

 

ABILENE, Texas — Over 700 plates of crawfish were served at the round building on the fair grounds, all to raise money for the Abilene Education Foundation. 

"All that money will go back to the students." said Jason Darby, Cajun Fest Chair.

The foundation hopes to raise over $30,000 to help teachers with supplies.

"Teachers give a lot of love to the students every year and we want to give back," Darby said.

According to the National Center for Education, an average student pays over $19,000 for college. If a student chooses to attend a private university, that cost jumps to $40,000 a year.

Funds from the event are also going to help with scholarships for some who graduate from Abilene ISD.

Kids were able to hold the sea creature for the first time and several volunteers came out to help.

"Wonderful cause you can see the folks behind me here it’s well attended." Darby said.

Several bands from Abilene ISD were out to provide entertainment along with bands from Hardin-Simmons and McMurry University.

 

by Justin Bradshaw , KTXS 12.Copyright © 2019, KTXS 12 ABC News. All Rights Reserved.

Around Your Town: Taste of Abilene

The Rotary Club of Abilene will present its annual Taste of Abilene all-you-can-eat food showcase from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Abilene Convention Center, 1100 N. Sixth St. Around 50 area restaurants and vendors will offer food and drink samples.

Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the door, with proceeds going to community organizations and culinary scholarships. For tickets or information, go to tasteofabilene.com.

Abilene StrEATs

The annual Abilene StrEATs outdoor fundraiser meal benefiting the United Way of Abilene will be served at 7 p.m. June 1 on the 200 Block of Cypress Street. Food and wine will be provided by Cypress Street Station, The Local, Taylor County Taphouse, Birdie and Rancho Loma Vineyards. Participants must be at least 21 years old.

Tickets are $125, and must be purchased by May 24. Tickets are available at eventbrite.com. For information, call 325-677-1841.

Piano recitals

Piano students of Kathie Goodrich will present spring piano recitals at 5 p.m. May 12 in the Amy Graves Ryan Recital Hall at McMurry University. The high school showcase will begin at 7:30 p.m., followed by an awards ceremony. Admission is free.

Robert E. Howard Days

Project Pride will conduct the annual Robert E. Howard Days June 7 and 8 at locations around Cross Plains. Events include panel discussions, tours and a symposium. A banquet and auction featuring guest of honor David C. Smith will begin at 6:30 p.m. June 7.

Registration is $15. For information or registration, go to rehupa.com or email ProjPride@yahoo.com.

In conjunction with the event, the Barbarian Festival Parade will begin at 6 p.m. June 6, with the festival open from 9-4 p.m. June 8 at Treadway Park.

Nathaniel Ellsworth, Abilene Reporter-News.Copyright © 2019, Abilene Reporter News. All Rights Reserved.

Abilene Police Chief honored with Hero Award

Abilene Police Chief honored with Hero Award

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) - Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge has been honored with the Hero Award from Interested Citizens of Abilene North (I-CAN).

Mayor Anthony Williams presented Chief Standridge with the award at the I-CAN luncheon.

Standridge issued the following statement about receiving the award.

 

"This award is a direct reflection of the daily efforts of our Police staff, sworn and civilian. I am convinced of this truth: for this City to be successful, its Police Department must be successful. We are linked, precisely because “we” are community.

I work very hard to be inclusive. I echo our Mayor’s belief that people need a seat at the table. The issues facing us are huge and require authentic partnerships. You will see such partnerships in our alliance to end domestic violence, our homelessness initiatives, our radical changes to mental health response and crisis prevention, our Child Advocacy Center, and the increasing use of technology to enhance efficiency.

I-CAN is a group of dedicated leaders who believe they can make a difference. So is your Police Department, and we are committed to working alongside our neighbors to bring about change, one family at a time."

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

By: Joey Hollingsworth

Abilene ISD waging war on youth homelessness; hope to tear down barriers to education

No barriers.

That's Darrin Cox's goal for the homeless student population in the Abilene Independent School District.

Cox, the district's homeless student liaison, welcomes the responsibility to make sure no student has an excuse for not attending class.

So far, he said, the hard work is paying off in segments. Much more work, momentum and money is needed to transform his efforts into tangible success.

"I'm counting this year as an improvement," Cox said. "Our attendance vs. the overall attendance is about one percentage point below the general population. For me, one of the first things I set out to do was remove barriers.

"And it's happening."

A numbers game

Cox and social worker Heather Melchor — a team of two under the federal programs umbrella of the school district  — have seen increases in homeless students each year they've been involved.

Melchor serves as the district's McKinney-Vento social worker. She works exclusively with students who qualify under federal law as homeless.

The position originated under the McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, a federal law that provides federal money for homeless shelter programs and determines if a student is considered homeless by school district standards.

These federal regulations are far broader than simply not having a permanent roof overhead at night.

Through February, Cox said 1,216 students from early childhood education through to 12th grade have been identified. And there's more to come in the final months of the school year.

Last May, Cox reported 1,495 students identified. The year before that, 1,217 students. Fewer were identified the year before that.

According to Cox's data, the overwhelming majority of the students are in elementary school in "doubled-up" situations.

Doubled-up means the student possibly is couch surfing or the family lives in another family's home or apartment. Slightly less than 90 percent of the total homeless student population in AISD is in this type of dilemma.

So far in 2018-19, kindergarten has been hit the worst with 113 students reported homeless. Of those, 102 are listed as doubled up.

Data also tracks students who are unsheltered, living in a motel or hotel or in homeless shelters.

Cox's numbers show Hispanic students account for the most homeless situations.

As of February, 485 Hispanic students (40 percent of the total homeless student population) reported being homeless. Meanwhile, 330 white students and 265 black students reported the same situation.

Mixed race/ethnicity students account for 110 homeless students, while small numbers were reported for Asian, Native American and Hawaiian within the district.

Melchor said boys suffer more in elementary while girls catch up in the later grades, as serious issues such as sex trafficking key on young women at higher rates than young men.

Melchor focuses much of her attention at the high school level, she said. Those students find themselves in situations where they can't or won't be at home, either because something happened to prevent being there or they've been pushed out.

"They've been kicked out for any reason," Melchor said. "They don't have anywhere to go. They end up couch surfing where they have to worry about getting kicked out again from where they're staying."

Melchor said one of her students was kicked out of the house because the student consumed the last doughnut at breakfast. Just like that, a student becomes a statistic, as long as he or she reports their situation.

Cox and Melchor hope more and more students, and their families, follow through on reporting, not just to track the numbers, but also to receive some of the benefits they can take advantage of while they're in these messy situations.

Less of a problem to the south

While Abilene ISD figures continue to increase each year, Wylie ISD said its homeless student population is not an issue.

Superintendent Joey Light said there are students in the district who are using the services the district provides, but the numbers are small.

"There has been no problem I'm aware of, and we haven't had difficulty working with the kids," Light said. "The numbers are low but we do have options to meet the needs of those kiddos. We just don't have many."

Finding hope

One of the most publicized benefits Abilene ISD can offer its homeless population is access to its store.

However, these items aren't for sale — they're available to everyone.

New socks and underwear, shirts and shoes, backpacks and school supplies. They're available thanks to a number of donors who have stepped up over the course of the past three years to turn the store into a full-fledged shopping experience for anyone who walks through the district's administration center doors at 241 Pine St.

"There's not a day where somebody doesn't bring me something," Cox said. "And there's not a day someone doesn't come in to get something."

Cox started the store small, with whatever he could gather in an effort to provide some form of support to some of the neediest students who came through his office.

As word spread throughout the community of Cox's efforts, donations started coming in by the truck load. With the increased support, those emotional barriers to success started coming down and students became supported in ways they struggled with before.

"We've moved forward a lot," Cox said. "Everything a student needs to go to school is here, and we have help for them every day. There's no reason anymore for a basic need to get in the way of going to school."

Always needed

Cox said the store, which now occupies multiple rooms in the district's Federal Programs offices and a storeroom in the administration building's bottom floor, is completely incapable of holding on to enough socks and underwear for the student needs it faces.

It's always running short in that department, he said.

School supplies are another struggle, as students continue to go through paper, pens and pencils throughout the school year.

Part of Cox's inability to keep the shelves stocked might be his attitude toward providing these items to those who ask.

"I don't say 'No,'" Cox said. "Every time someone asks. It's crazy, it's fun and I'm enjoying my job."

Hierarchy of needs

In 1943, Abraham Maslow proposed a new look at human motivation. It's a scientific theory that permeates all aspects of the student homelessness issue within the district.

Maslow believed that human needs best fit on a triangle. The base of the shape is where basic, physiological needs reside. Above are the security needs, such a food, water and shelter.

You have to climb the triangle to the top to find areas where education becomes a need, with self-actualization being the peak. This is where a person studies morality, creativity and is able to concentrate on fact-finding.

Maslow's theory suggested people — young children or adults — need base needs fulfilled before they are motivated to seek these higher goals such becoming educated.

"When a child is coming from that sort of situation, when they come to school, the first thing on their mind is not learning," one AISD first-grade teacher said.

(The Reporter-News granted anonymity to focus on the issue, not the teacher's school).

"If they don't have a place to sleep that's warm in the wintertime or comfortable in the summertime, they're not going to sleep," she said. "If they're exhausted, they're not able to learn. Many times, these kids are way behind where they should be when they're coming in."

This is where Cox's store comes in, the teacher said. Maybe it's getting the students clean clothes to wear so they're not ridiculed or their own set of crayons so they feel they belong. But each barrier that's broken allows the students to focus on education a little more than the day before.

The teacher said day-to-day work with these students to build relationships with them. Working in small groups helps, allowing them to form relationships not just with the teacher but with a few others in the class.

The goal is to make sure the student feels accepted in the classroom.

"Often, their behavior issues are the result of something that's gone on at home," the teacher said. "It's something they have no control over. So, before we can close those gaps, we have to build those relationships so they trust us.

"Often, we modify some of our expectations to get that relationship going. We start where they are and get them to where we need them to be. It's helping them understand that we all make mistakes, we're not perfect. We help them feel safe  here, that they're not going to have this held over their head all day or all week.

"We know if those basic needs aren't met, their minds are on those things and not in a place where they're ready to read."

Big need, big ask

While day-to-day life requires undergarments and students need new tools to complete their school work, there's a much bigger problem at play that both Cox and Melchor said needs immediate attention.

"The biggest thing Abilene needs is a youth shelter," Melchor said. "A 17-year-old kid who leaves home because his mom is on drugs goes to a friend's house, then is told they have to leave because of an argument or something.

"You don't want to put a 17-year-old in the system. But they're just regular kids, just like all of the rest, from the valedictorian on the tennis team to the kid in trouble. They're all the same with the same basic desires."

Abilene has created facilities for homeless adults. And the foster care system addresses needs for young children. It's the teens who fall through the cracks, Melchor and others say.

It's like that all around the country and throughout the world. Abilene is no different than other communities, they say.

Cox also is working on expanding some of the programs that help get food into the hands of the students who need it the most. It's another barrier that could come down if he's able to expand programs such as the Taylor Snack Pack program, which provides students food for the weekend.

Improvement, but not finished

Abilene ISD has taken steps to address its homeless population's needs.

And with interest brewing in expanding the food programs and building up a new youth and teen shelter, there might be hope for bigger things in the future.

"We need to take some serious steps in the next two years," Cox said. "We've seen drastic improvement over the last two years but we still have some who are below where we can even help them. Some of our students are in drastic situations."

That's where getting the word out, spreading the message of AISD's programs, can help, Cox said.

Community groups have played a tremendous role in helping expand the store. He's enjoyed having an intern, Samantha Pennese of Hardin-Simmons University, spending part of her time organizing and restocking the store when she's not working directly with Melchor.

The more the word spreads about the school district's efforts and what they want to do in the future, the more they'll be helping, Cox said. And it'll end whatever negative stigma gets attached to seeking help when unable to help yourself.

"It's not a disgrace or an embarrassment to come in here for help," Cox said. "We don't want anyone to feel that way, because it's not. We're just here to help. We just want to help."

, Abilene Reporter-News 

Copyright © 2019, Abilene Reporter News. All Rights Reserved.

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