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Wolfabilene Updates Archives for 2020-02

Council meeting reveals more details of proposed new animal shelter


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – After February’s final city council meeting, we’ve learned more about the new animal shelter that’s being planned for Abilene. The Council took a closer look at the plans, and although there weren’t any votes or final decisions made, there does seem to be a path forward.


“This is a dream come true”, said animal activist Robert Sudbury. “This is a facility, it’s more than a dream, it’s something that’s been needed for the last 20 years.”


The dream may not be a reality yet, but a virtual walkthrough of the building makes it feel just a bit more real. As reality sets in, however, real life concerns are raised.


Councilman Kyle McAlister had one concern about the high-end building: “That facility looks nicer than some office buildings that I have seen. So my only concern is that we try to do our best to make it palatable to the taxpayers.”


Much of the nearly $9 million estimated cost comes from the specialized use of this building, designed as a safe, secure, and long-lasting structure.


“If we’re going to build a structure that is durable and aesthetically pleasing, you’re not going to shave a million dollars off this project”, explained City Manager Robert Hanna. “You just won’t, because of the type of construction you have to do to create the durability of the structure.”


The shelter is being called an adoption center, and is likened to a retail space instead of an old-fashioned pound.


Architect Tim Rice McClarty said, “It runs the dollars up because you have more people space, and the people space needs to look good, but it does allow our citizens to get into all those places.”


The new building is some ways off, but if public opinion indicates the future of the building, then animals should have a new temporary home soon.



By: Nathan Greve

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved

Taylor County Expo Center and Taylor Telecom seal naming agreement for multi-purpose arena


The Expo Center of Taylor County and Taylor Telecom announced a 10-year agreement Monday to name the Expo's multi-purpose arena the "Taylor Telecom Arena."


The Taylor Telecom Arena will be the future home to the Western Heritage Classic Ranch Rodeo, West Texas Fair PRCA Rodeo, Texas State High School Rodeo Finals, Youth Bull Rider World Finals, and various other regional and national events.


Part of a recent $55 million bond election, work being done at the facility includes a new multi-purpose arena, midway, and livestock barn, in addition to renovations to the Taylor County Coliseum and covered outdoor arena.


The Taylor Telecom Arena is among projects in the second of three phases of construction, with a slated completion date of April 2020.


The Taylor County Expo Center's Rochelle Johnson and Taylor Telecom's Steve Singletary sign Monday a 10-year agreement for sponsorship rights to the Expo Center's multi-purpose arena.

The Taylor County Expo Center's Rochelle Johnson and Taylor Telecom's Steve Singletary sign Monday a 10-year agreement for sponsorship rights to the Expo Center's multi-purpose arena. (Photo: Taylor County Expo Center)


The Western Heritage Classic will be the first event in the new arena. Taylor Telecom is a major sponsor for that event.


Steve Singletary, general manager/chief executive officer of Taylor Telecom, said that the company believes its mission and that of the Expo Center are similar.


Both entities were "started out of a need to provide necessary services that were lacking in the rural communities in and around Taylor County," Singletary said.


Taylor Telecom was formed in 1952 to provide telephone services in rural areas.


"We have been avid supporters of the Expo and its events for a long time, and we feel passionate about continuing to support the growth and future of the Expo grounds," Singletary said.


Expo Center General Manager Rochelle Johnson said that there was "much potential for growth for both our organizations through this partnership."


A rendering of the new multi-purpose arena at the Taylor County Expo Center, which will bear the name of Taylor Telecom.

A rendering of the new multi-purpose arena at the Taylor County Expo Center, which will bear the name of Taylor Telecom. (Photo: Taylor County Expo Center)


The Taylor Telecom Arena will feature signage on its east and west sides, meeting room signage, VIP parking spaces, box office naming, venue space, a Legends of the Expo plaque, its name on ticketed events pertaining to the arena, and a website listing.


Naming partners for the Expo Center's livestock barn and covered outdoor arena will be revealed soon, according to a news release. 



By: Brian Bethel

Copyright © 2020, Abilene Reporter News. All Rights Reserved








Helicopter on display at Abilene farm show was flown into place inside Coliseum


Unable to demonstrate their helicopter outside due to FAA restrictions, the crew from Cedar Ridge Aviation this week was able to fly inside the Taylor County Coliseum.


During the two-day Texas Farm Ranch Wildlife Expo, it was hard to miss the helicopter sitting atop a tanker truck in the Coliseum. It overlooked the tractors, feral hog trappers and ranch land agents in the trade show.


Passersby look at the helicopter sitting atop a trailer owned by Cedar Ridge Aviation during Tuesday's Texas Farm Ranch Wildlife Expo. The helicopter was brought into the building, then flown into position.

Passersby look at the helicopter sitting atop a trailer owned by Cedar Ridge Aviation during Tuesday's Texas Farm Ranch Wildlife Expo. The helicopter was brought into the building, then flown into position. (Photo: Ronald W. Erdrich/Reporter-News)


The top of the truck stands at least 10 feet from the floor. The helicopter stood about six to seven feet above that.


But no crane or team of men lifted it into place. According to Abilene Chamber of Commerce President Doug Peters, the helicopter was flown into position from a trailer after the airship was brought inside the building.


“They were insured, and it was it was approached a lot like the monster trucks being inside the Expo Center, (it was) handled kind of the same way,” Peters said. “Everybody was clear, they lifted it off of a trailer and just sat it on top of that thing. It didn't move more than probably 15 feet.”


Peters said the short flight was Saturday, before any other vendors had set up. Rochelle Johnson, Taylor County Expo Center’s general manager, confirmed the helicopter was flown inside the building.


“They provided me with a certificate of liability insurance in regard of doing that. I don't know if it's legal or not,” she said. “They provided me with a certificate of liability insurance from their insurance company, so that if in any way, shape or form the Coliseum was damaged, they were liable.”


Justin Tiemann, fire marshal for the Abilene Fire Department, said the AFD was asked to sign off on the vendor area but it's the Federal Aviation Administration that OKs helicopter requests.


Permission was granted, he said. 


"The FAA gave their full permission. It was legal on their end," Tiemann said. The Reporter-News was unable to reach the FAA for more information on the process.


Johnson said the distance from the floor to the ceiling inside the Coliseum is 40 feet. Given the combined height of the truck and the helicopter, that left just over an 24 feet from the top of the aircraft to the overhead ceiling tiles once it had landed on the truck.


A Cedar Ridge Aviation helicopter rests atop a tanker truck as visitors stroll past it and tractors Tuesday a the  Texas Farm Ranch Wildlife Expo. It has been reported that a pilot flew the helicopter onto the truck while inside the building.

A Cedar Ridge Aviation helicopter rests atop a tanker truck as visitors stroll past it and tractors Tuesday a the Texas Farm Ranch Wildlife Expo. It has been reported that a pilot flew the helicopter onto the truck while inside the building. (Photo: Ronald W. Erdrich/Reporter-News)


“I was not alarmed by it; the helicopter obviously was going into the Coliseum,” she continued. “They had been here before and had looked at various places to actually have the helicopter, whether it be in the building or staged outside on the grounds somewhere.”


The FAA Code of Regulations 91.119, Subpart B--Flight Rules allows that helicopters can be flown closer than 500 feet to any structure “if the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface.”


“They are precision flyers, I can tell you that,” Peters said. “But we made sure that they were insured in case there was some damage to the building, and there wasn't.”


During Thursday’s Agriculture Scholarship Luncheon, emcee Lynn Lawhon alluded to a video circulating of the flight. Peters said he had not seen the video, nor had he witnessed the flight itself.


“I think it was probably the fastest dusting of that building in the last 50 years, it (probably) looked like a sandstorm,” Peters said.


The Coliseum is due upgrading with funds approved by Taylor County voters. The $55 million project was organized into three phases, with the Coliseum improvements coming last.



By: Ronald W. Erdrich

Copyright © 2020, Abilene Reporter News. All Rights Reserved








Abilene Christian University looking to help high school students set sail for England


Want a trip to London? What about an opportunity to study at Oxford?


Abilene Christian University is looking to send a few lucky high school students overseas in a new program.


It's the brainchild of ACU's vice president for enrollment, Tamara Long, who will help lead the crew the program recruits on a week-long sojourn across the pond.


Who's eligible? Simple. Sophomores and juniors in high school, not just from Abilene or Texas, but from across the country, can apply. They don't even need to be considering ACU for higher education, Long said, but that wouldn't hurt.


"Ultimately, we'd like them to choose ACU, but it's not required," Long said. "We're interested in engaging with these students, but doing it in an appropriate way. We've found those students aren't really ready to talk about college yet. They're focused on their high school life."


Long said the program's first year will accept between 12 and 16 students. 


They'll be in England from July 12-18 and take a college-level class on issues in global communication, a single credit hour course led by Long and ACU Vice Provost Susan Lewis — who also serves as associate professor of journalism and mass communications.


Abilene Christian University's satellite office in Oxford, England.

Abilene Christian University's satellite office in Oxford, England. (Photo: Contributed photo)


Oh, and they'll also be on-hand for ACU's big ceremony opening a satellite campus in Oxford on July 14.


It's $500, covering all travel expenses, plus the cost of passports, books and souvenirs. And snacks, though major meals are part of the listed cost.


"There are other study abroad options out there," Long said, "but they're more expensive.


"We know when students study abroad, when they experience the culture and everything that goes along with it, that's when growth happens in and out of the classroom. We know this; we see this."


Education Reporter Timothy Chipp

Education Reporter Timothy Chipp (Photo: Reporter-News file photo)


Trip highlights (outside of the classroom) include visiting Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Blenheim Palace, London's West End for a theater production, the British Museum and Oxford's medieval center.


While this first opportunity takes the students only to England, Long said her ultimate goal once the program is established would bring students both to England and to ACU's satellite campus in Leipzig, Germany.


She said students would spend a week at each for even more experiences.


Lone star of Brownwood


Loralei Briley, of Brownwood, was named one of four winners of the Texas Association of School Boards' Student Voice scholarship.



Briley (Photo: .)


Briley, a senior at Brownwood High, will study chemistry at Angelo State University in the fall with an ambition of becoming, eventually, a brain surgeon.


The scholarship's dollar amount was not immediately available.


She serves as parliamentarian for Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) and does public relations for the National Honor Society, Brownwood ISD said in a news release announcing Briley's scholarship.


Some of the teachers at who went above and beyond encouraging her, she said, were English teacher Krista Bronniman, AP Calculus and OnRamps teacher Telise Murray and Health Science teacher and HOSA advisor Bonita Deen.


Aside from collecting the scholarship, Briley will participate in TASB's upcoming conference Feb. 28 in Galveston. Participating school board members will hear from high school students among other topics.


Singing their hearts out


With love in the air Friday, it was only fitting there was a little serenading going on at Abilene High School.


Principal Michael Garcia, joined his musical better halves — Assistant Principals Lee Hatch and Roy Sharp — to serenade some of the students for about an hour on Valentine's Day.


The three made their way through a number of classrooms armed with nothing but their voices. Sharp let loose with "My Girl," by The Temptations. Hatch hit the students with "Brown-Eyed Girl," by Van Morrison.


Garcia? He sang "Saw Her Standing There," by the Beatles. Well, he said, he tried to sing it. He joked that the other two carried him throughout the performances.


"Mr. Hatch is the ringleader," Garcia said. "They're both musically inclined. They coach me up to where I can carry something. With some support."


Previously, the three sang Christmas carols in December. It's becoming a trend at the school. So much, they might need a name for their grouping.


Any suggestions?



By: Timothy Chipp

Copyright © 2020, Abilene Reporter News. All Rights Reserved


Abilene woman spreads love by giving flowers to Key City residents


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Right now Alyssa Hartley’s house looks a bit like a flower shop, with dozens of roses on the table and scissors in her hand.


This year however, these flowers won’t be going to her valentine, but instead to those whose mailboxes might be a little empty.


“Any chance I can give to others, I want to be able to help out with,” said Hartley. “We’ve delivered to Wisteria Place on Saturday and Sunday, and then Mesa Springs.”


KTAB/KRBC tagged along with Hartley on her next stop, Adaptive Recreation Services, where we met John Lewis.


“I loved it, I thought it was very nice,” Lewis said after receiving a rose. “The rose is my favorite flower.”


Whether or not it was a favorite of others, the gesture definitely put smiles on faces and showed those at the center that people care.


“If someone were to reach out to me when I wasn’t feeling very loved, or I felt like an outcast, or just no one seemed to care and if someone just did something so subtle like giving a flower, that would mean the world,” said Hartley. “If I can for somebody else, just to make their day, just to have them genuinely smile just for a split second, that would make me happy.”


It’s not just the happiness it brings to others, but to herself that keeps these flowers in bloom.


“I question if it’s a bigger blessing to me than it is for the people that I give it to,” said Hartley.


Hartley will be delivering nearly 500 flowers to different community members throughout the week and says she hopes next year will be bigger and better.



By: Jessica Ranck

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved

8 B-1s could be retired at Dyess AFB; Minimal effect on base personnel


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Under the President’s proposed budget, 17 B-1 bombers could be retired, eight of which are stationed at Dyess Air Force Base.


U.S. Rep. Jodey Arrington, who represents Abilene, said Dyess is projected to lose eight B-1 bombers and Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, will lose nine.


As for the projected loss of personnel at Dyess, Arrington said the initial amount would be 25-30 airmen.


The proposal to retire the 17 bombers came after a review of them following last year’s safety stand down, Arrington said.


“The Air Force has been conducting a conditions review and analysis,” Arrington said. “Based on those analysis, they came up with the number 17. They said it would compromise our mission and compromise the safety of our airmen.”


Dyess Airmen complete BACE exercise
Photo by Staff Sgt. David Owsianka
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


Dyess Airmen complete BACE exercise
Photo by Staff Sgt. David Owsianka


Team Dyess competes in Global Strike Challenge
Photo by Airman 1st Class Mercedes Porter
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


Dyess Airmen complete BACE exercise
Photo by Staff Sgt. David Owsianka
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


Arrington said he will continue to work with military and government officials to determine a final number of B-1s to be retired.


Arrington told KTAB/KRBC the bombers had been overflown. He said 80 percent of the fleet was beyond its life cycle.


“The B-1 is a critical component of our arsenal,” Arrington said.


Arrington stressed that airmen’s safety was a major factor in the proposal, along with national security.


Dyess received its first B-1 in June 1985, and has since played a crucial role in global strike and national defense.


The B-1 fleet thinning proposal absolutely does not threaten the future of Dyess’ mission, Arrington stressed. The decision for the B-21 to be based at Dyess secured the future of Dyess.


Statement from General Tim Ray, Air Force Global Strike Commander:
Dyess and the Abilene community continue to be amazing supporters of our Airmen, our Air Force and our national defense mission. Over the last 35 years, the B-1B Lancer community has continuously reinvented itself as a premiere long-range precision strike platform, and I know that first-hand from when I commanded there. 


However, continuous bomber support operations over the last 20 years have taken a toll on the B-1 airframe’s structure due to overuse in a manner not commensurate with its planned design. 


Currently a small portion of the B-1Bs, from Dyess and Ellsworth in SD, are in a state that will require tens of millions of dollars per aircraft to get back to a status quo fleet in the short term until the B-21 Raider comes online. Because of this, we’re moving to retire 17 structurally deficient B-1Bs in 2021 so that maintenance dollars and manpower can be focused on the healthiest aircraft in the fleet. 


Additionally, in coordination with our contractors, the Program Office, Combatant Command planners and our most advanced weapons’ school Airmen, we have changed various flight employment tactics of the remaining B-1Bs to preserve the longevity of the aircraft. These changes will significantly extend the life of the remaining B-1B fleet and reduce costs associated with potential structural repairs during the transition to the B-21.


My goal is that our bases will be bomber bases, not B-1, B-52 or B-21 bases, but bomber bases. Dyess remains an important component to our national defense.


Statement from Congressman Jodey Arrington:
“Over the past four years, the Trump Administration and House Republicans have worked together to rebuild our nation’s military with an unprecedented investment in our armed services of over $2 trillion. As the voice for the Big Country, I am proud to have fully funded Dyess Air Force Base and it’s priorities, including the design, development, and acquisition of the B-21 bomber. Together we have helped provide our men and women in uniform the tools and resources they need to be safe and successful in carrying out our nation’s most important mission. As a result, our citizens are as safe and our country is as strong as ever before,” 


“Now more than ever, our military needs additional combat power to meet the threats identified in the National Defense Strategy and, as a result, both the Air Force and Congress understand the need to accelerate the deployment of the new B-21 Raider as a fundamental part of that mission. Ultimately, Congress is responsible for establishing the budget; therefore, I will be closely reviewing the administration’s recommendation and analyses and working with them to arrive at the right resources and plan for transitioning from the B-1 to the B-21 bomber in a way that ensures the most cost-effective strategy for defending our nation, the highest safety for our airmen, and the least disruption to base operations.”


B-21 artist rendering


In 2019, Dyess Air Force Base was selected to house both the new B-21 bomber aircraft and the weapons school for it.


Congressman Jodey Arrington made the announcement in March 2019 saying, “this decision not only secures the future of Dyess as a bomber base in the 21st Century, but it will also bring hundreds of new jobs and families to the Key City. Most importantly, it ensures the U.S. Air Force maintains air dominance into the future.”


The B-21 will replace the B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit aircraft. Dyess AFB will house both the operational test squadron and the weapons training school for the B-21.


According to the Military Affairs Committee of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, 1,400 jobs are expected with the arrival of the B-21.


The B-21s was described as being “a long-range, highly survivable bomber aircraft capable of carrying a variety of mixed conventional munitions or nuclear ordinance. The B-21 will join the nuclear triad as a visible and flexible nuclear deterrent; assuring our allies and partners while also supporting national security objectives.”


The B-21 is expected to arrive in the late 2020s.



By: Travis Ruiz

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved






Cross country walk brings veterans to Abilene just in time for snow


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – As snow and ice melt away, life returns to the Big Country. For two men, the weather hasn’t made a difference as they’ve pushed their way across the country.


John Ring and Jimmy Mathews are walking from sea to shining sea, or more accurately, pier to pier. They’re headed to Santa Monica Pier in California, after starting at Tybee Island Pier in Georgia.


John Ring explained his reasons for the walk: “To raise awareness for veterans’ issues such as PTSD, TBI, MST, which is Military Sexual Trauma, addiction, homelessness, and basically everything that’s leading veterans to commit suicide at a horrific rate.”


Ring set off from Georgia, but Jimmy Mathews didn’t. In fact, they didn’t know each other until after the walk had started.


“As he was coming through Mississippi I reached out and told him I wanted to join him, and here I am”, said Mathews.


They’re around halfway between the start and end point of the walk, and they really picked a great time to stop in Abilene.


“We were planning on leaving today, so the snow came at the right time”, laughed Ring. “This is the first snow of our trip, and hopefully the last.”


When the walk first started, Ring says he had to sleep outside many nights. Luckily, the duo now rarely doesn’t have a warm bed. For their stop in Abilene, the Whitten Inn provided three complimentary days of lodging.


With each stop, and each step, the pair raises a little more awareness about the issues facing veterans.


“We’re not the first ones to do this”, said Ring. “We definitely won’t be the last. We definitely want to leave our footprint for future people to make this adventure, you know, this journey across the country.”


To keep an eye on John and Jimmy’s progress, and to learn more about their cause, you can visit their website at



By: Nathan Greve

Copyright © 2020, KTAB/KRBC Nexstar Broadcasting. All Rights Reserved



Winter Storm Watch/Warnings for our region


ABILENE, Texas — A Winter Storm Warning has been issued forTaylor, Jones, Callahan, Nolan, Haskell, Throckmorton, Fisher, and Shackelford counties from 6pm Tuesday until 6pm Wednesday.


The warning was already in place for Kent, King, Knox, Mitchell, Scurry, and Stonewall Counties.


A strong cold front brought colder air and breezy north winds into our area on Tuesday morning.


Rain Tuesday evening is forecast to switch over to sleet, then snow as temperatures fall below freezing Tuesday night into Wednesday.

There is a Winter Storm Watch that will be in effect from 6 pm Tuesday until 6 pm Wednesday for Eastland and Stephens Counties.


The National Weather Service also extended the Winter Storm Watch for our southern areas.


This Watch goes into effect at midnight until 6 pm Wednesday for Brown, Coke, Coleman, Concho, Runnels, Sterling, and Tom Green Counties.


Winter Storm Watches and Warnings


We are still thinking that areas north of I-20 will see heaviest snowfall accumulation. These areas could see anywhere from 5 to 8 inches.


Along and just south of I-20, snowfall accumulations could be around 3-6 inches of snow.


In our southern areas, we may see a wintry mix develop overnight. This means that we could see sleet and light snow accumulate by Wednesday morning.


Into the Concho Valley, there may be sleet accumulation on surfaces that is then topped by 1 to 3 inches of snow.


The Heartland area looks to be where we are going to see the lightest accumulation. If you live in these areas, you could see sleet or snowfall accumulation up to about an inch.


Temperatures south of I-20 will be a little more marginal. This is where there will be a possibility of a mixture of rain, sleet, and snow.


(National Weather Service)


The biggest concern is that an area of sleet develops and lasts long enough to stick to the ground, followed by a little bit of snow.


This combination would quickly make a mess of roadways even if ice or snow totals themselves are not particularly high.


Any accumulation of sleet or snow can make traveling hazardous. If you don't have to be on the roads tomorrow, it is best to stay indoors.


You can check latest road conditions for Wednesday at



By KTXS Staff

Copyright © 2020, KTXS12 ABC. All Rights Reserved




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