DA to Dismiss Ticket in Wreck that Killed Family
MONROE, LA. (AP/STAFF) — A northeast Louisiana prosecutor says he’s dismissing the ticket issued to a Terrell, Texas teenager who apparently fell asleep at the wheel, causing a wreck that killed five members of his family. District Attorney Jerry Jones tells The News-Star that the 16-year-old has been punished enough, and there’s no need to add to his pain. KNOE-TV reports that Jones has dismissed the misdemeanor ticket for careless driving. State police say the sport utility vehicle veered off Interstate 20 in Ouachita Parish near Calhoun and flipped, ejecting six of the eight occupants. Three children and two adults were pronounced dead on the scene. The eight people were a blended family traveling to Disney World for a Thanksgiving vacation.
The dead include three children: Kaci Hardman, 4, Adam Hardman, 7, and Dakota Watson, 15, as well as two adults, Michael and Trudi Hardman, ages 42 and 31, respectively. The Associated Press reports the two adults were from Terrell. 16-year-old driver Andrew Hardman, who was properly restrained, was taken to a local hospital with minor injuries. Two additional passengers identified as Aaron Hardman and Hunter Watson, both sixth graders, were taken to local hospitals with moderate injuries. None of the ejected passengers were wearing seatbelts.
Trudi was a kindergarten teacher at Wills Point ISD and had been an educator for 14 years. Her husband, Michael, taught at Terrell ISD. Officials in Wills Point said family was active in the school and in the Wills Point Baseball Association. Troopers suspect the driver may have fallen asleep prior to the crash. Although impairment is not suspected, a toxicology sample was obtained from the driver and will be submitted for analysis as required by law. The crash remains under investigation.
Michael Hardman’s brother Timothy Hardman said, going to Disney World was his brother’s family’s “dream trip.”
Old School Destroyed in Sunday Blaze
WINONA — Multiple Smith County fire crews responded to then scene of a massive structure fire in Winona. The fire sparked at a former elementary school in the 600 block of Dallas Street. According to KETK, a man who was living near the building smelled smoke early Sunday morning. It’s not known what sparked the blaze. The building was reportedly destroyed. One firefighter was injured while battling the fire. He was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for minor injuries. Crews from Winona, Hawkins, Jackson Heights, and Dixie Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene.
Fire Destroys Bullard Home
BULLARD – A wood frame home in Bullard has been destroyed by fire. It was reported around 3:30 Sunday morning on County Road 150. The home was being remodeled and no one was at home when the fire started. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Authorities Identify Hawkins Couple Found Fatally Shot
HAWKINS — The Department of Public Safety has released the names of the two people found shot to death in Hawkins on Wednesday afternoon. Jean Dark, DPS spokeswoman, said the two are identified as Shannon McNabb, 67, and Daniel Lee Faulk, 60. According to Mayor William Rogers, Hawkins police responded Thursday afternoon to the scene in the 100 block of Estelle Street after a home health care worker couldn’t get anyone to answer the door. Officials found that the couple and three dogs dead had been fatally shot. The door was reportedly unlocked and there were no signs of forced entry or theft. The bodies were sent to Dallas for autopsy.
Investigators from Spring Search for Missing Man 6
EAST TEXAS — Two private detectives from Spring are searching the Jacksonville area for clues in a missing person’s case filed this past summer. According to the Jacksonville Daily Progress, investigators Barbara and Martin Renteria said the Spring man’s car was found June 6 on U.S. Highway 79 west between Jacksonville and Palestine.
“The windows were down, the battery was gone, and the hood was up,” Barbara Renteria said. “It was at mile marker 382.”
According to Barbara, the 2000 silver Chevy Malibu was destroyed by the towing company. However, a note was found on it that read “Please don’t tow my car. Friends are picking me up.” The note is supposedly from 31-year-old Brian Patrick Miller, last seen June 1. He has been a Spring resident for about the past five years, Barbara said. Before leaving town, she said he withdrew approximately $18,000 from his trust fund, and gave his belongs away to friends.
“He left is belongings on his best friend’s front porch with a note (about whom to distribute the items),” Barbara said.
She added that Miller’s friends believe he may have been planning to commit suicide, and they noted that he has a history of depression. Miller, whose family lives on the upper East Coast, is not known to be connected to any drug cartels or suspicious activity, Barbara said.
Palestine Business Robbed
PALESTINE – Palestine police are looking for the man that robbed a convenience store. The robbery occurred shortly before 9:45 Saturday night at the Chanel Stop and Go, 1907 West Oak Street. The suspect pointed a small handgun at the store’s clerk and then fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of money. No injuries were reported. The suspect was described as a black male about 5’9” with a thin build. He was said to have been wearing gray sweat pants and a gray hooded top. One witness said he was wearing some type of Halloween mask.
TXDOT Projects This Week in East Texas
EAST TEXAS — Here’s a quick look at work planned in the Tyler District during the next two weeks: Officials remind drivers that many area roadways have high traffic volumes and that only increases during the holiday season. TxDOT is reminding motorists to slow down, put away the cell phones and pay attention when traveling through work zones so that everyone can safely reach their destinations.
Heightened awareness is requested for the safety of the traveling public as well as workers. A local flagger recently sustained serious injuries on the SH 64 project between Chapel Hill and Arp when a driver collided with stopped traffic. Remember, there can be as many as 2,500 active highway construction or maintenance work zones at any time on the 80,000 miles of roadway that TxDOT maintains. Drivers not paying attention and speeding are the two most common causes of crashes in work zones. Join TxDOT in making safety a commitment every day.
SMITH COUNTY, Texas – Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) maintenance crews
in Tyler this week will be doing edge work on FM 2813 between U.S. 69 and FM 2493.
Look for the roadway to be reduced to one lane with flaggers directing traffic
through the work zone.
Use caution when traveling through the following construction projects in Smith County:
SH 31E Widening Project
* Limits: From FM 757 to FM 1639
* Contractor: Reynolds & Kay, LTD
* Cost: $7.8 million
Scheduled to begin Thanksgiving Week, this project, approved by the Texas
Transportation Commission in August, consists of widening SH 31 to add passing lanes
for multiple sections of roadway in both the eastbound and westbound directions.
Once the widening is complete, a seal coat and final surface will be applied.
Motorists should expect delays as wells as a daily construction speed limit of 60
mph when work is being performed on this job which is expected to about 18 months to
SH 31E Widening Project
* Limits: From FM 850 to FM 757
* Contractor: East Texas Bridge, Inc.
* Cost: $3.4 million
This widening project runs from FM 850, east of Tyler, to FM 757. It is scheduled
for completion next spring.
Off-System Bridge Replacement Projects
* County Road (CR) 448
* County Road (CR) 46
* Contractor: $490,000
Barricades will be set on November 10th for the CR 448 project which carries traffic
to the popular Sky Ranch. Motorists should look for message boards put in place with
closure and detour information. The work is expected to take a couple of months to
complete. CR 46 will then be shut down for its bridge replacement, which is also
expected to take about two months to complete.
* Limits: Tyler’s West Loop and SH 31
* Contractor: Longview Bridge and Road, Ltd.
This widening and railroad bridge replacement project continues with the contractor
constructing the shoofly bridge. Motorists should expect intermittent delays during
this work. Look for new speed limit signs in this area as it has been reduced to 45
mph from SH 64 to Shaw Street on Loop 323.
* Limits: from Chapel Hill to Arp
* Contractor: Drewery Construction
* Cost: $3.9 million
TxDOT is asking motorists to use extra caution and watch for flaggers providing
traffic control when traveling through this work zone. This Super 2 widening project
continues and consists of clearing and grading. The dirt work is currently being
performed from CR 299 to just west of Arp where the work zone speed limit is set at
60 mph. This is a daily speed zone reduction and will only be posted when workers
are present. Expect lane closures.
ANDERSON COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) maintenance
crews in Palestine plan to continue ditch work on FM 837 as well as the moving mill
and inlay operation on the northern side of Loop 256 between U.S. 84E and FM 320W.
The resurfacing work includes milling (grinding) two inches of the existing pavement
off of the loop and replacing it with two inches of asphalt pavement. The work will
be performed in various locations from U.S. 84E to FM 320W. Traffic will be reduced
from four lanes to three lanes at the work locations. Once completed, the operation
will move to SH 19N with work being conducted at numerous areas between Montalba and
U.S. 287. Motorists should expect lane closures at that location as well. Slow down
and be safe when traveling through these work zones.
CHEROKEE COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) maintenance
crews in Jacksonville and Rusk are conducting base repairs on various roadways
around the county this week. Watch for signage put in place as well as flaggers to
help navigate through the work zones.
GREGG COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) maintenance crews
in Longview will spend the next couple of weeks working to widen the shoulders of
the southbound lane of U.S. 259N just north of Spur 502. Another crew will be doing
patch work on U.S. 259 from the area of Henderson Lane north to the county line.
Slow down and pay attention when traveling along this area.
Construction projects in Gregg County are as follows:
FM 2275 George Richey Extension (Segments II & III)
* Limits: McCann Road to U.S. 259
* Contractor: East Texas Bridge, Inc.
The clearing between Judson Road and Airline Road continues. Excavation, embankment,
bridge construction and storm drain work are ongoing between McCann Road and Judson
Road. This is new location construction work and is not expected to impact traffic.
FM 2208 (Alpine Road) at Smelley Road
* Limits: From North Loop 281 to FM 2879
* Contractor: Longview Bridge and Road, Ltd.
The newly installed traffic signal will be in operation at this intersection
starting Monday, November 24. The traveling public is urged to use caution as
motorists get acclimated to the upgrades. Remember, this job includes installing a
turn lane and upgrading the flashing yellow lights to a full traffic signal. Slow
down and pay attention when traveling through this work zone as the project
Loop 281 at FM 2087 Overpass
* Limits: SH 31 to approximately one mile south of SH 31
* Contractor: Longview Bridge and Road, Ltd.
This project is in Phase III of construction with traffic moved off the existing
Loop onto the detours. The contractor is constructing a temporary retaining wall,
the bridge headers and storm drain. Traffic can expect some delays during the peak
evening hours. Caution advised during travel through this work zone.
* Limits: From SH 31 north to I-20
* Contractor: Reynolds & Kay, Ltd.
Current work includes constructing curb and gutter and forming and pouring concrete
driveways. Drivers can expect minimal impacts at this time. The project includes
constructing a turn lane at Hillcrest Road, and guardrail work. As the project
continues motorists can expect to see nighttime operations being implemented. Slow
down and pay attention when traveling through work zones.
Spinks-Chapman County Road
* Limits: At the Rabbit Creek Bridge just east of Meadows Lane
* Contractor: Massana Construction, Inc.
Construction of the bridge continues on Spinks Chapman Road southwest of the I-20
and SH 31 interchange near Kilgore. Spinks-Chapman Road is closed to through traffic
between Meadows Lane and Norris Road while the bridge is under construction. Work
this week includes constructing the roadway leading up to the bridge. Motorists must
use alternative routes to reach their destinations.
I-20 Dynamic Message Signs (DMS)
* East of FM 1255 westbound – Van Zandt County
* West of FM 849 eastbound – Smith County
* Derrick Park westbound – Smith County
* Contractor: Highway Intelligent Traffic Solutions Corp.
The contractor is installing these DMS’s at the aforementioned locations. This work
will have minimal impact on the traveling public.
HENDERSON COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews in
Athens are continuing edge work on FM 1667 in Trinidad from SH 31 to the End of
State Maintenance and on FM 764. A second crew will be doing drainage work on
various roadways including, FM 85, SH 274 and SH 334. Look for and obey flaggers
conducting traffic control in this work zone. The work includes using heavy
equipment. Slow down, use caution and expect lane closures with flaggers handling
traffic control when traveling through the work zone.
* On the FM 317 widening project from FM 607 to FM 314, the contractor is
backfilling pavement and culverts with plans to begin laying hot mix in about a
RUSK COUNTY – If weather permits, Texas Department of Transportation
maintenance crews in Henderson will be placing an overlay on FM 225 between FM 1798
and U.S. 84 this week. The work requires reducing the roadway to one lane with
traffic controlled by a flaggers and a pilot car. Use caution when approaching and
driving through this work zone which includes the use of heavy equipment.
Here’s a look at construction project in Rusk County:
* Limits: 0.173 miles west of BU 64E (N. Marshall St.) east to 0.2 miles west of
U.S. 79 (The Traffic Star)
* Contractor: Lonestar Equipment Company, Inc.
Work has resumed on this $2.1 million construction project on SH 64 in Henderson
which initially began got in August 2013. The project has experienced some delays
due to utility adjustments and other unforeseen issues, but is expected to be
completed in summer 2015. It consists of widening the existing two-lane roadway and
constructing a four-lane facility along with a continuous Left Turn Lane. The
contractor, L.S. Equipment Co., of Henderson, will perform the majority of the work
outside the existing travel lanes, thereby lessening the impact on traffic.
VAN ZANDT COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews in
Canton will continue to perform level up operations followed by placing an overlay
on FM 1805 from SH 110 for three and a half miles eastward. Use caution as daytime
lane closures will be in effect.
To avoid interrupting the flow of holiday traffic, TxDOT contractors will not
implement lane closures on the following construction projects from Wednesday
through Sunday of Thanksgiving Week:
* Beam, rail and deck work are in the plans on the CR 2702 Bridge Replacement
Project at Lacy Fork Tributary for the next couple of weeks. The roadway is closed
* Culvert work continues on the SH 198 project from SH 243 southwest to 0.4
miles northeast of FM 316 near Phalba.
* On FM 314 from I-20 to the Van Zandt/Henderson County Line, the contractor is
setting barricades and conducting culvert work south of Edom.
WOOD COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews in Mineola
will continue base repair work on FM 14 at FM 49 this week. Expect a lane of this
roadway to be closed during the work. Mineola Maintenance will also be conducting
erosion pair on FM 2966 about a mile south of FM 515 as well as moving operations on
FM 49 to cut high shoulders, and routine edge repairs on FM 2869. Use caution when
traveling in these locations as they are active work zones
Meanwhile, final cleanup is under way on the U.S. 69 widening project in Mineola.
The roadway is being widened from Loop 564 in Mineola to FM 779 in Golden. Final
cleanup is also being conducted on the SH 154 project from Lake Fork to Quitman. To
allow for the steady flow of holiday traffic, there will be no lane closures at
either of these locations Wednesday through Sunday of Thanksgiving Week.
Abbott Promises Lawsuit Over Immigration Action
AUSTIN (AP) — Governor-elect Greg Abbott is again vowing to sue the Obama administration for lifting the threat of deportation from millions of immigrants living illegally in the United States. The Dallas Morning News reports that Abbott called the president’s executive action “the epitome of lawlessness” while appearing on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. As Texas attorney general, Abbott has sued the Obama administration about 30 times, mostly over environmental regulations and the White House’s signature health care law. He and outgoing Gov. Rick Perry said last week that Texas would likely sue Obama over immigration. Abbott said Sunday that Obama’s order violated the U.S. Constitution. He said it dispensed “with the immigration law as it currently exists and is rewriting that law.”
Fort Sam Houston Lockdown Lifted; 1 in Custody
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Officials at Fort Sam Houston say they’ve taken into custody the driver of a suspicious vehicle that sparked a lockdown at the San Antonio Army base. Alex Delgado, spokesman for the 502nd Air Base Wing, says in a statement that the lockdown was lifted Sunday night after officials decided it was safe to return to normal operations. It wasn’t clear how long the person taken into custody would be held or if charges would be filed. Nobody else was in the vehicle. No other information was released. According to the city of San Antonio’s website, the base was established in 1910, the ninth-oldest Army installation in the country. Fort Sam Houston now encompasses 3,000 acres and is home of military medicine and part of Joint Base San Antonio.
Report: At Least 1 Dead in Small Plane Crash
AUSTIN (AP) — At least one person has been killed in a small plane crash east of Elgin. The Austin American Statesman quotes a Department of Public Safety spokesman in saying that the crash occurred shortly before 10:00 Sunday morning along County Road 305. Elgin is about 25 miles east of downtown Austin. The cause of the crash was not immediately clear. The DPS spokesman told the newspaper that authorities secured the crash site, but that the Federal Aviation Administration will handle the investigation.
Irving Man Charged with Killing 2-year-old Stepson
DALLAS (AP) — Police have jailed an Irving man accused of beating his 2-year-old stepson to death, then claiming the baby had a seizure. The Dallas Morning News reports that Michael Mercado, 25, was alone at an apartment on North Belt Line Road with his stepson for hours Wednesday. About 3:00pm, Mercado called 911 and said the child was having a seizure. Investigators say the child had no previous medical conditions and was otherwise healthy. He was taken to Children’s Medical Center Dallas and placed on a ventilator. There, officials found internal and external injuries that didn’t match Mercado’s story. The child died Saturday afternoon, after three days on life support. Mercado was being held Sunday on a capital murder charge.
Detective’s Medical Leave Delayed Child Porn Case
AUSTIN (AP) — Police say they were investigating a man now accused of attempting to exploit children by having a 17-year-old pose as a 6th grade student months ago, but delayed the case because a detective was on medical leave. The Dallas Morning News reports that police in Hurst, near Fort Worth, were following a June tip linking Randy Ray Wesson to child pornography. But the detective assigned to Wesson’s case was injured and out for 10 weeks. In the meantime, authorities say Wesson enrolled a 17-year-old runaway in a Hurst elementary school. That is believed to be an effort to target children there. Wesson was arrested this week and faces federal charges of transporting and shipping child pornography. Investigators say the teen pretended to be Wesson’s 12-year-old son using phony documents.
Report: Plant’s Chemicals Not Listed in 911 Call
HOUSTON (AP) — Four workers killed by poisonous gas during a recent Texas chemical leak were trapped inside the pesticide plant for an hour before 911 was called, and no one told dispatchers what substances were inside. The Houston Chronicle reported Sunday that the DuPont plant in La Porte typically housed as much as 250 tons of highly flammable methyl mercaptan. But it also contained at least some methyl isocyanate. That’s the same chemical that escaped a Bhopal, India, pesticide plant in 1984, killing more than 2,200 people in the world’s worst industrial accident. On November 15, DuPont’s shift supervisor Jody Knowles gave no details about the presence of methyl isocyanate and methyl mercaptan in a 911 call to the fire department. Knowles also attempted to downplay risk to the general public.
$300K in El Paso Hospital Bonuses Draw Scrutiny
EL PASO (AP) — Bonuses of $300,000 given to the CEO and other executives at University Medical Center in El Paso are coming under scrutiny after layoffs and claims the hospital was struggling economically. The El Paso Times reported Sunday that UMC’s President and CEO Jim Valenti said the bonuses for 26 executives were deserved. Valenti’s bonus was about $120,000. The hospital’s board of managers approved Valenti’s bonus because of contractual obligations. Valenti approved bonuses for others. UMC board member Nick Gonzalez said Valenti and his staff earned their bonuses. However, El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar thinks UMC officials and the hospital’s board don’t understand how bad it looks that executives are getting bonuses after laying 56 people off four months ago. Valenti defended the layoffs as effective management.
Mother of Former San Antonio Mayor Dead at 90
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Elvira Cisneros, a longtime San Antonio community leader and mother of former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros, has died after a long illness. The San Antonio Express News reports that the 90-year-old Cisneros died early Saturday. She immigrated to San Antonio from Mexico with her family at age 2, and met her future husband, George Cisneros, while he and her brother were serving at the city’s Randolph Air Force base during World War II. The couple had five children. The oldest, Henry, was mayor from 1981 to 1989 and later served as President Bill Clinton’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Elvira Cisneros’ community leadership included roles in the Alamo Area Council of Governments, the Avenida Guadalupe Association, AVANCE and Project Learn to Read. Funeral arrangements were pending.
2 Texans Selected as Prestigious Rhodes Scholars
AUSTIN (AP) — Two Texans have been selected as Rhodes Scholars. A Rhodes Trust release Sunday said University of Texas senior Sai P. Gourisankar and Abishek K. Kulshreshtha, a senior at Brown University in Rhode Island, were selected. Both will attend the prestigious program at Oxford University in England beginning next fall. Gourisankar is from Atlanta and Kulshreshtha is from Grapevine. They were among those chosen from 877 students who earned endorsements from their colleges and universities. At Oxford, Gourisankar plans to do master’s work in mathematical modeling and scientific computing, and in mathematical and theoretical physics. Kulshreshtha plans doctoral work in theoretical physics. Selections are based on intellect, character, leadership and service commitment. Applicants can be made through home states or where students attended college for at least two years.
Small North Texas Quake Triggers Social Media Stir
IRVING (AP) — A magnitude-3.3 earthquake has shaken North Texas strong enough to draw reaction during a Dallas Stars hockey game. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake occurred about 9:15 Saturday evening and was centered about 2 miles beneath east Irving, around 6 miles northwest of Dallas. No injuries or damage was reported. But The Dallas Morning News reports a social media stir. That included a tweet from the Stars, who were playing the Los Angeles Kings in downtown Dallas, reading: “That was . odd. Thanks for bringing an earthquake, @LAKings.” It was the sixth and strongest quake centered near Irving in two months. Small quakes have become more common recently in Texas. Last month, state officials amended rules for disposal well operators amid concerns that high-pressure injections can trigger earthquakes.
You Tell Me Texas by Paul Gleiser
Ivy Leaguers (not all but many) tend to consider themselves superior, particularly Ivy Leaguers who go on to careers in government. And right now our government is awash in Ivy Leaguers. Read More | Visit The You Tell Me Texas Blog
Ebola made the news in a big way in the early fall of 2014, but it is by no means the only serious infectious disease about which we should be concerned. In this post to HealthConnection.TV, UT Health Northeast infectious disease expert Dr. Jeana Benwill answers questions an explores the topic of dangerous infectious diseases. Go to: http://www.uthealth.org/healthconnection/