AUSTIN (AP/Staff) – The grassroots advisory board Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick set up as a sounding board for his tea party constituency is dissolving after a legislative session that left the leadership of that constituency dissatisfied. In a joint statement issued Friday, Patrick and board chairwoman JoAnn Fleming said they mutually agreed to dissolve the board and work together on a less formal basis. Fleming (pictured) is a state tea party leader who heads Smith County-based Grassroots America – We the People. Patrick said the decision came after several board members “expressed a desire for greater independence” from Patrick and the Legislature. The Texas tea party network is the nation’s strongest with four dozen major conservative groups representing thousands of active members. The recent legislative session left movement activists openly unhappy.
TYLER — The Tyler Police Department is seeking a missing person. 23-year-old Dvontae Tramond Oliverires was last seen at 1:30 Friday afternoon on foot in the 2100 block of West Erwin in Tyler. He is African-American, 5’ 11”, 175 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing only a pair of black shorts with white stripes and socks. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Tyler Police Department at 903-531-1000.
LONGVIEW — A fund has been set up to honor an East Texas student-athlete who died this week. KETK reports you can donate to the Josh Warren memorial fund at any Austin bank location. The 16-year-old Pine Tree football player died Wednesday after becoming ill the previous day following a workout session. (more…)
SALT LAKE CITY (AP/Staff) – Seven years after a massive police raid on a remote polygamous group’s ranch in Texas, a small-town sheriff is mowing the lawn and irrigating the orchard as the state tries to sell the expansive property. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran is tasked with making sure the property stays intact, including the gleaming white temple built by the Utah-based group led by Warren Jeffs. Jeffs (pictured) remains imprisoned at the Louis C. Powledge Unit near Palestine. Texas authorities assumed control of the $20 million property over a year ago. While the state pays the utility bills, there’s no extra money set aside for maintenance and Doran ends up doing much work himself. Prosecutor Allison Palmer is selling the property and is willing to consider a number of possible uses, including a law enforcement training center or a juvenile holding facility.
MARSHALL — Officials with Marshall-based Rio Ammunition have announced the opening of the company’s new manufacturing facility in Marshall and call it a boon to the local economy. In a news release, officials say the plant has added over 40 new jobs to the community and has the ability to double that in coming years. Rio is a subsidiary of the Spain-based MAXAM firm, and Spanish officials were on hand for the ribbon cutting at the new East Texas facility. According to the news release, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, and Gov. Greg Abbott believe the opening “also signals that the state is open for business to future international investment as well.”
SAN ANTONIO (AP) – Authorities say about 250 immigrant children were given an adult dose of a Hepatitis A vaccine at a Texas detention facility where they are being held with their mothers. U.S. Immigration and Customs spokesman Richard Rocha says health care professionals will monitor the children over the next five days for any potential side effects, though no adverse reactions are expected from the incorrect dose. Rocha says ICE and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Health Affairs is investigating how the mix-up at the detention center in Dilley occurred and how such mistakes can be avoided in the future. As of Wednesday, the center about 70 miles southwest of San Antonio held about 2,000 women and children. Most are from Central American and entered the U.S. via Mexico.
GALVESTON (AP) – A Houston activist is campaigning to have Galveston officials take down a statue in front of the local courthouse that honors Confederate soldiers. Isaac Fanuiel tells the Galveston County Daily News that the monument is inappropriate on an island where federal troops announced the freeing of slaves at the end of the Civil War – a day commemorated as Juneteenth. Confederate symbols have received new scrutiny in Texas and across the South after the South Carolina church shooting last month that left nine black people dead. A white man linked to supremacist groups is charged with murder in their deaths. The Galveston statue is named “Dignified Resignation” and features a man holding a Confederate flag and a broken sword. A scroll at his feet reads, “Glory to the Defeated.”
IRVING (AP) – Inspection records show the pool where three children drowned had been cited for years as having cloudy water and lacking safety equipment. Family members gathered Friday to mourn the deaths of 10-year-old August Smith and her two brothers, 9-year-old Treshawn Smith and 11-year-old Anthony Smith. The three sunk at a pool at the Macarthur Place at 183 complex, and rescuers had trouble immediately finding the children due to the pool’s poor visibility. The Dallas Morning News reports the city of Irving issued several notices that the pool’s drains weren’t visible and, in one case, that a life pole was held together with electrical tape. The pool had a permit issued in August after initially being denied. City officials say the complex’s management is responsible for operating the pool correctly.
BAY CITY (AP) – Six fishermen are safe after being rescued overnight when their fishing boat capsized six miles off the Southeast Texas coast. The Coast Guard said in a statement Saturday that the fishermen were in a boat tied to an unmanned oil rig at around 3:30 a.m. Saturday, about six miles away from Bay City. When their boat began to take on water, three of the men were able to climb on the rig and call for help. The other three men were in the water. The Coast Guard says it dispatched a helicopter and response boat to track down the men. They were found drifting near each other about half a mile away from the rig. Bay City is about 20 miles south of Houston.
AUSTIN (AP) – Forget Fort Knox or the Federal Reserve. Texas has decided to keep its gold holdings within in its own borders. But what makes sense politically in such a sovereignty-loving place is creating a logistical conundrum. Texas is the only state that owns an actual stockpile of gold. That’s not just gold futures, but approximately 5,600 gold bars worth around $650 million. It’s currently stored at a New York bank. The Legislature’s decision to bring its gold cache home was hailed by many conservatives who are suspicious of national government. But the Texas comptroller’s office is now trying to figure out how to create a depository, for which no funding was appropriated. The bill’s sponsor says he hopes private companies will offer to open one in exchange for charging storage fees.
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) – The University of Mississippi has hired Lee Cohen as the next dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Cohen, professor and chairman of Texas Tech University’s psychological sciences department, will start Aug. 1. He will also teach psychology. The hiring was announced by the school in a news release by acting Ole Miss Chancellor Morris Stocks. Cohen has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California at San Diego. He earned his master’s degree and doctorate in psychology from Oklahoma State University. For the past 15 years, he’s been a faculty member at Texas Tech.
DALLAS (AP) – Police in North Texas are investigating a brisket bandit who caused a fire at a barbecue restaurant. KXAS-TV reports that the owners of Bet the House BBQ in Denton lost more than $1,500 in sales when a grease fire broke out early Friday morning. Surveillance video shows someone in a blue or red Honda Fit pull up to a smoker behind the restaurant, grab a brisket cooking inside, and drive away in 32 seconds. The thief left the door to the smoker open, allowing oxygen inside and causing a fire. Bet the House’s owners lost a catering order and almost a full day’s worth of sales. Denton is about 30 miles north of Dallas.