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Wolfabilene Updates Archives for 2019-08

Things to do next week: Sneak a peek at the fair


Weekend Roudup in Abilene and The Big Country



The West Texas Fair & Rodeo will kick off with a sneak-a-peek night from 5-11 p.m. Thursday at the Taylor County Expo Center. Gate admission is free for the sneak-a-peek, and armbands allowing admission to rides sold for $25.


The fair gates will be open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily Sept. 6-14, with free admission until 2:30 p.m. on weekdays. The carnival midway will be open from 5-11 p.m. on weekdays and from 1-11 p.m. on the weekend.


Adult admission is $8 on weekdays and $11 on the weekend. Student admission is $4 every day. For information, go to



Apple of His Eye


A production of "Apple of His Eye" will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 6, 7, 13 and 14, and at 2 p.m. Sept. 8 and 15, at Abilene Community Theatre, 809 Barrow St.


Tickets are $15. For information, go to



Audslinger Fun Run


The ninth annual Big Country Mudslinger Fun Run will begin at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 7 at Sea Bee Park on FM 600. The three-mile course includes 16 challenges and four mud pits.


For information, or to register, go to



Swimming for dogs


Doggie Splash Day will be open from 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 7 at Adventure Cove Aquatic Center, 2742 S. Ninth St. Dogs must be at least 6 months old and have current vaccinations.


Admission is $3 per dog. For information, go to



And more


TYE — A "Refresh and Renew" square dance will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Wagon Wheel. Tracey Dowell will be the caller.


A multi-part lecture series on the history of the United Kingdom under Queen Victoria will begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the South Branch of the Abilene Public Library, in the Mall of Abilene. Retired history professor Fred Bailey will be the presenter.


The Cattle Baron's Ball Style Show benefiting the American Cancer Society will begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the 201 Mesquite Event Center. Tickets are $50, and include food, drinks and a commemorative wine glass.


As a part of Discovery Adventure Theater, a showing of "The Receding Floodwaters" will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday at The Discovery Center, 810 Butternut St. Admission is free. For reservations or information, call 325-673-5050.


By Nathaniel Ellsworth

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


Live on Abilene, area stages: Chris Colston rocks the Zoo


As part of the Rock and Roar summer concert series, Chris Colston will perform from 6-9 p.m. Thursday at the Abilene Zoo. Food, beer and wine vendors will be available.


Adult tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door, child tickets are $10. Admission is free for children age 2 and under. For tickets, go to


If you’re a musician who has a gig, or you’re a venue owner who has a musician playing, send us your information. It’s FREE to be listed here, but we can’t tell everyone who’s playing if no one tells us.


Send your information to; or via mail in care of the Reporter-News, 101 Cypress St., Abilene, TX 79601.


Deadline is one week before publication.





  • Abilene Zoo, 2070 Zoo Lane. Chris Colston, 6-9 p.m. Thursday, $20.
  • Firehouse Bar & Grill, 2074 Butternut St. The Meeting Place, 7 p.m. Friday.
  • The Grace Museum, 102 Cypress St. Jonathan Tyler, 6-8 p.m. Thursday, $40.
  • Homer's Bar & Music Venue, 4201 N. First St. Mie, 9 p.m. Saturday, $5. Gwapmizzle and Phee6z, 8 p.m. Aug. 31.
  • Maslow Coffee Company, 1694 Campus Court. Weston & The Evergreen, 7-9 p.m. Friday.
  • Mezamiz Deux Coffee House, 3909 S. 7th St. Happy Fat and Lou Ivie, 7:30 p.m. Friday. Stevie G, 7:45 p.m. Saturday.
  • The Mill Winery, 239 Locust St. Chourtney Penry, 7 p.m. Friday. Christy Patton, 7 p.m. Saturday. Matt Ellis, 6 p.m. Thursday and Sept. 5. Josh Westman, 6:45 p.m. Aug. 31
  • La Nueva Luna, 1082 S. Second St. Kevin Fowler, 10:30 p.m. Friday, $25.
  • Paramount Theatre, 352 Cypress St. All Hands on Deck, 2 p.m. Saturday, $25. Peace & Love Tour, 7 p.m. Tuesday, $20.
  • Play Faire Park, 2300 N. 2nd St. Lori Sealy Concept, 7:45 p.m. Friday. Urban Pioneers, 8 p.m. Saturday. MerKaBa, 7:45 p.m. Aug. 31.
  • P.T. Event Center, 5126 Brick St. Looks 2 Kill, 7 p.m. Aug. 31.
  • Rose Park Senior Center, 2625 S. Seventh St. Last Dance Band, 7-10 p.m. Thursday, $5.
  • Tequilas, 133 Eplens Court. AJ Castillo, 7 p.m. Friday, $20.
  • VFW 6873, 1049 Veterans Drive. Last Dance Band, 7 p.m. Wednesday. Cody Joe Hodges, 8 p.m. Sept. 4.






  • Denton Valley's Backyard, 11949 FM 604. Anaka Grace, 6:30 p.m. Friday.



  • Cottonwood Community Center. Musical, 5:30 p.m. Friday.



  • Old Glory Community Center. Musical, 6 p.m. Saturday.



  • The Lumberyard, No. 7 Cypress. Jon Wolfe, 5 p.m. Friday. Wade Bowen, 9:30 p.m. Aug. 30.


By Nathaniel Ellsworth

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

4 things that may help you boost your retirement savings


Saving for retirement is a great start. These strategies could help you save even more.


Regardless of your age or financial know-how, planning for retirement is a necessary venture. There are many things to consider, such as estimating how much money you will need during retirement; planning for changes in lifestyle, health and retirement; planning for changes in lifestyle and health; inflation; and other factors that may exist years beyond the present day.


Because of this, many Americans are unsure of the best ways to save, or they’re hesitant to retire even if they do have a nest egg. But with proper research and planning, it is possible to beef up your savings, so you have more to work with in your golden years. Here are a few retirement-related issues to consider:



Do you still have student debt?


The perception of the demographic affected by student loan debt is out of date: Significant college debt is no longer an issue only for young and middle-aged Americans. In fact, people 60 and older are racking up billions in student loan debt, and that number is expected to grow as young Americans carry their debt further into their futures. With that in mind, folks should try to understand the best ways to approach student debt at any age if they want to optimize their retirement savings.


Many loan servicers automatically enter borrowers into a repayment plan in which costs start low and increase gradually, in anticipation of a recent graduate starting with a lower salary and slowly increasing their income. This makes sense for younger borrowers; however, for borrowers close to retirement age, it may work better to find an alternate route that’s a better fit for their predicted future income and needs.



Can you downsize now to reduce stress later?


Downsizing works at any age to start beefing up retirement savings. Younger people may want to adhere to the following rules of thumb: Try to spend money on the things that matter most to you, and practice frugality on things that don’t enrich your life or support future growth. When making a purchase, ask yourself, “Is this a need or a want?” Consider things in the want category carefully and decide if the money is better spent or saved.



What’s your retirement destination?


Not all places are created equal when it comes to retiring. Retirees face choices such as location of family members, optimal weather, housing costs and availability of health services. In addition to those personal choices, some states have more-enticing tax codes than others for retirees.


States like Texas, for instance, don’t have a personal income tax, so those particular states won’t be taking a big bite out of the income from your 401(k), IRA, pension or Social Security benefits.



Are your accounts in order?


Many companies offer 401(k) accounts, which allow you to invest money pre-tax. That means you may not have to pay taxes* on that money until you withdraw it in retirement. Some employers will sweeten the deal by matching your contributions up to a certain percentage.


You can also choose to open an IRA. This option could be especially appealing to younger people because of the penalty-free withdrawal option for first-time homebuyers. Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs may also have tax benefits for retirees.*


It’s never too soon or too late to think about beefing up your retirement savings. Call 325-674-1885 or visit First Bank Texas to start planning your financial goals.


First Bank Texas Member FDIC Equal Lending Provider

*First Baird Bancshares and its subsidiaries, including First Bank Texas, do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. The information here is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisers before engaging in any transaction.



Members of the editorial and news staff of the USA Today Network were not involved in the creation of this content.


By Violet Bauske

Copyright © 2019, Abilene Reporter News/First Bank Texas. All Rights Reserved.

Savings waiting - and crowds, too - for annual sales tax-free weekend


Don’t expect to run into Nicole Fletcher on Friday during the sales tax holiday weekend sales.


For one thing, she already has done the back-to-school shopping for her four kids.


Perhaps more significantly, she usually avoids the crowds looking to save the 8.25  percent sale tax.


“We’ve already done our shopping, but that usually isn’t the norm,” she said. “We usually don’t shop (during the sales tax holiday weekend) because of the crowds. It’s like my husband says: it’s just eight percent off. If you walked past a sale that was 10 percent off, you wouldn’t be impressed.”



However, plenty of other people will be out starting Friday, whether it’s to save the money or if it’s because the start of school is getting perilously closer.


Savings are available Friday-Monday throughout the state. Many stores also offer discounted prices, adding to shoppers' savings.


“It’s huge,” said Michelle Parker, Mall of Abilene marketing director. “It’s not as big as Black Friday (the Friday following Thanksgiving) or Christmas Eve, but it’s big.”



How much is saved not known


The sales tax holiday weekend is one of the three designated by the state.


In April, people can save the sales tax on certain emergency-preparedness items and Memorial Day weekend, Texans pay no sales tax on water-efficient products and Texas EnergyStar-designated products. But those two weekends pale in comparison to the weekend in which people can save on items for back-to-school shopping.


For years, the state said the event was not to save parents of schoolchildren money, but the timing certainly helps with efforts. Over the years, more school-related items qualified for savings.


The state comptroller’s office estimates that Texans pocket about $102 million in savings.


Though the holiday has been around since 1999, most of the information you get about it is anecdotal.


The comptroller’s office doesn’t break down the savings by cities or region, and Mike Rains, the finance director for the city of Abilene, said he doesn’t know how much money stays in people’s pockets rather than go into the city’s coffers.


“The money we don’t get is the unknown,” he said. “I guess we could break it down store by store, but we haven’t done that. We know what we usually get in August and we budget for that. We’re just grateful to get it.”



Some items will sell quickly


Sarah Moore, manager of the Shoe Department store at the mall, said the weekend is the biggest of the year for her store, surpassing even Black Friday. The days leading up to the weekend are big for her store as well as the Salvation Army will bring children there for school shoes.


If you’ve been window-shopping a pair of shoes at the store, you might want to grab them early.


“We get more stock from corporate for this weekend, but, yeah, you might want to go ahead and make sure you get them,” she said.


Walmart, which one would assume would do a big back-to-school business, said it didn’t calculate the impact of the sales tax holiday on its individual stores.



Make sure your purchase qualifies


The sales tax exemption applies to certain items priced under $100. It might not apply to everything on a child’s school supply list. For instance, notebook paper wouldn’t be taxed, but hand sanitizer and a box of tissue would be. If you buy school supplies already bundled, only the approved items would be untaxed.


When it comes to clothing, the same $100 limit applies and certain items aren’t exempted. For instance, a golf cap wouldn’t be taxed, but a pair of golf shoes (if dad is trying to sneak in a pair) would be taxed.


Using Moore’s store as an example, the shoes and socks would be exempt from the sales tax, but not bags and wallets or shoe polish.


The state’s comptroller’s website,, has a list of items that are exempt and those that aren’t.


A store cannot advertise that it will pay the sales tax for non-exempted items, but it could include the sales tax on the price of an advertised item.



What is tax free?


School/office supplies: Eligible items include backpacks (limit 10 per purchase), book bags, calculators, chalk, crayons, erasers, folders, glue, highlighters, index cards, legal pads, lunch boxes, markers, notebooks, paper, pencils, pens, protractors, rulers, school supply kits, scissors, writing tablets.


Clothing: Aprons, athletic socks, baby clothes, belts, blouses, boots, bras, caps, children's novelty costumes, coats, diapers, dresses, earmuffs, employee uniforms, gloves, gym suits, hooded shirts and sweatshirts, hunting vests, jackets, jeans, jerseys, jogging apparel, leotards and tights, neckware, pajamas, pants, raincoats/ponchos, religious clothing, scarves, scout uniforms, shawls and wraps, shirts, shoes, shorts, skirts, slippers, socks, suits, suspenders, sweatshirts, sweaters, swimsuits, undershirts and uniforms.


What is not tax free?


School/office supplies: Computers, textbooks and other items not in the above list.


Certain bags, cases and luggage: Athletic, duffel or gym bags; briefcases; computer bags; framed backpacks; luggage; and purses.


Clothing: Accessories (barrettes, belt buckles, bobby pins, elastic ponytail holders, hair bows and clips, handbags, handkerchiefs, headbands, jewelry, key cases, purses, wallets and watches), alterations, bulletproof vests, buttons and zippers, embroidery, fabrics, gloves (gardening, protective, rubber, sports, surgical or work), goggles, hair nets, helmets, insoles, life jackets, pads, paint, safety clothing, scuba equipment, shoelaces, skates, sports shoes and equipment, umbrellas.


By Scott Kirk

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

Abilene ISD approves big raises for teacher contracts ahead of setting budget


Abilene ISD teachers, nurses, counselors and librarians are in for a large pay increase, no matter their experience level.


School district trustees approved, in a 4-3 vote Monday evening, to give at least 6% increases to every teacher this coming school year.


It was a plan proposed by Trustee Samuel Garcia that won barely enough support to become the adopted salary schedule, thanks to board President Randy Piersall giving his approval despite vocally advocating for a different plan.


"In the end, I wanted teachers to get as big of a raise as possible," Piersall said after the vote. "The issue I had was with beginning teachers making close to what experienced teachers make. And after conversations, I realized that's not a problem that's going to be fixed overnight."


Piersall and Garcia were joined in their support by trustees Angie Wiley and Billy Enriquez. Trustees Danny Wheat, Daryl Zeller and Cindy Earles voted against the plan, though they openly supported the other alternative that promised one percent lower increases to teachers with 10 years of experience or less.


The difference between the two plans was less than $230,000 in a spending plan of almost $140 million.



Under the approved plan, new teachers starting with zero years of experience, will earn $47,000. This past school year, that starting salary was $45,000.


Calculating everyone else's increase will be easier, thanks to the district eliminating a confusing midpoint pay raise plan started two years ago.


Teachers with five or less years of experience will receive a 6% bump in pay. Those with six through 15 years of experience will get a 7% bump. The largest pay raise, 8%, is reserved for teachers with 16 or more years of experience.


So, a teacher who just finished their first year in May will collect $47,700 next school year, $2,700 more than last school year. Likewise, a teacher with 10 years of experience will receive $51,360 ($3,360 more than last school year) and those with 25 years experience will be paid $60,588 ($4,488 more than last school year).


There is some concern among trustees, and among state lawmakers, that the funding formula in the house bill might not be feasible long-term.


Wheat said he was happy to hear those on the board discuss the viability of the current system and be aware that it might not be the same situation for teachers in two years when the next legislative session reevaluates school funding.


While Wheat voted against the eventually adopted plan, he said both of the options were great.


As for those on contracts other than teachers, counselors, librarians and nurses, trustees approved separate raises for them which include midpoint calculations.


What's next?

These raises are part of the state's plan for House Bill 3, which provided Abilene ISD with about $13 million in additional state revenue.


In that law, lawmakers demanded district use 30% of the extra money to give raises to every employee aside from administrators. Of that 30%, 75% must be given to teachers and those with similar contracts.


In Abilene ISD, teachers, librarians and nurses share a contract. Counselors were also given the same raises approved by the board. 


Under the rules of House Bill 3, AISD needed to provide about $4 million in new money. The approved plan includes more than $6 million in raises.


With the employee compensation plan out of the way, trustees will next meet during a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 26 to approve the district's tax rate, revenue budget and spending plan.


The district's finances are almost ironed out, with estimated $141.6 million in revenues and $139.1 million in expenses expected to be decided by trustees.


The tax levy, affected by the district's recent approval of a $138.7 million bond and the state's reduction of the maintenance and operations tax from $1.04 per $100 valuation to 97 cents per $100 valuation, will be finalized before the meeting.


By Timothy Chipp

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

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