Local News

Firefighter Injured While Battling Blaze

winonafire_ketkWINONA — Multiple Smith County fire crews are on 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 in the building smelled smoke early Sunday morning. At this time, it’s unknown 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 are still at the scene putting out hot spots.

Authorities Identify Hawkins Couple Found Fatally Shot

dps-texasHAWKINS — 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.

Trial Date Set for Gilmer Murder Suspect

Jonathan Ray Shepherd2GILMER — A trial date has been set in the case of a man charged with capital murder in a September 2013 shooting death that occurred at a Gilmer sub-varsity football game. According to the Longview News-Journal, the judge set a Feb. 3 trial date for Jonathan Ray Shepherd, who was arrested in connection with the Sept. 26 shooting death of 29-year-old Cheyenne Green. Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Feb. 2. The decision came during a hearing Friday in which Shepherd, 33, was seeking to have his $1 million bond reduced and in which he was requesting a change of venue for his trial. The judge denied both requests. (more…)

Smith County Robbery Suspects Arrested

Smith County Sheriffs DeptTYLER – Quick work by the Smith County Sheriff’s Department has resulted in the arrest of two robbery suspects. Taken into custody early Friday morning was Jacob Lee Roper, 20, of Tyler and Jacobi TyWan Washington, 21, of Tyler. The two have been charged with aggravated robbery and burglary. Their bonds total $120,000 each. (more…)

Jacksonville Businesses Robbed

police-car-lightsJACKSONVILLE – Jacksonville police are looking for the man who held up CJ’s Quickstop, located at 613A East Rusk Street. It happened shortly after 7:30 Thursday night. The man took, showed the clerk a handgun, took an undisclosed amount of money, and fled. A “large-bodied” maroon car was seen near the gas station about the time of the robbery. That matches the description of a car used in the robbery of the Rite Track #7 gas station on November 15th. The investigation into the robberies is continuing.

TXDOT Projects This Week in East Texas

TxDOT logoEAST 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. (more…)

Hayes to Retire as Provost Emeritus at TJC

Homer Butch HayesTYLER — After a 38-year career in community college education and administration, Tyler Junior College Provost Dr. Homer “Butch” Hayes will retire in early 2015. TJC President Dr. Mike Metke made the announcement to TJC faculty and staff this week and bestowed Hayes with the title of “provost emeritus.” “The title of ‘emeritus’ is only given to a person of outstanding merit,” Metke said, “and it is most appropriate to recognize Dr. Hayes in this way, for his many outstanding contributions to Tyler Junior College.” For now, Metke said, there is no plan to initiate a search to replace Hayes. Instead, day-to-day operations in the academic affairs office will be transferred to Dr. Juan Mejia, TJC vice president of student affairs. In January, a transition period will begin and Hayes will begin transferring his provost duties to Mejia, who will become acting provost and assume duties of both academic and student affairs. Hayes will officially leave his post in March 2015. (more…)

Investigators from Spring Search for Missing Man 6

546fdccbd539c.imageEAST 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. (more…)

Peterson’s Hearing Date Set with the NFL

Adrian PetersonMINNEAPOLIS (AP/STAFF) — Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson has a date for his hearing with the NFL. The league has announced the Peterson will be able to appeal his suspension on December 2 with longtime hearing officer Harold Henderson. Commissioner Roger Goodell has the authority to decide whether to hear the appeal by himself or appoint someone else. Goodell suspended the Minnesota running back for the rest of the season earlier this week after Peterson, who is from Palestine, Texas, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault for injuring his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch.

State News

Magnitude-3.3 Earthquake Shakes North Texas

IRVING (AP) — A magnitude-3.3 earthquake has shaken North Texas. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake occurred about 9:15 p.m. Saturday and was centered about 2 miles beneath east Irving, and 6 miles northwest of Dallas. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. The USGS said it was at least the fourth earthquake recorded in Irving in the last two months, the Dallas Morning News reported. Small earthquakes have become more common recently in Texas and Oklahoma. Last month, the Texas Railroad Commission amended rules for disposal well operators amid concerns that high-pressure injections can trigger earthquakes. Geologists say earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 to 3.0 are generally the smallest that are felt by humans and that damage is not likely as a result of quakes below magnitude 4.0.

Storms Bring Flooding, Outages to Parts of Texas

AUSTIN (AP) — Powerful thunderstorms have flooded low-lying roads in Austin and knocked out power to thousands in San Antonio. Downpours throughout the day and night Saturday brought as much as five inches of rain and hail to some parts of Central Texas. Farther south, most of San Antonio saw the heaviest rains and strong wind gusts in the evening. The Austin American Statesman reports that the fire department rescued three people unhurt from a flooded vehicle in South Austin on Saturday. San Antonio officials reported two downed power lines and 150 power outages that affected nearly 12,000 homes. But the fast-moving line of storms largely cleared out before dawn. Both Austin and San Antonio were left dry and windy, with highs temperatures near or in the 80s expected for Sunday.

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 Nov. 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.

Abbott Promises Lawsuit Over Immigration Action

AUSTIN (AP) — Gov.-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.”

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 a.m. 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.
A call to DPS seeking further details was not immediately returned.

Texans Prep to Travel Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend

IRVING (AP) — A travel group predicts about 3.6 million Texans will head out this week to celebrate the long Thanksgiving period. AAA Texas expects holiday travel Wednesday through next Sunday will be the highest volume since 2007 and about 5 percent more than last Thanksgiving. Travel is described as going 50 miles or more away from home. Automobile travel will continue to be the primary mode this Thanksgiving in Texas. About 3.3 million people are expected to hit the road. Air travel is second, with about 235,000 Texans likely to catch a flight. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport projects more than 2.25 million Thanksgiving holiday passengers through Dec. 2. The airport reporting period began Thursday. AAA Travel nationally projects about 46.3 million Americans will take a trip for the Thanksgiving holiday.

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.

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 25-year-old Michael Mercado was alone at an apartment on North Belt Line Road with his stepson for hours Wednesday. About 3 p.m., 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.

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.