Local News

Former State Representative Berman Dies

Leo BermanTYLER — After a long battle with lymphoma, former Texas state Representative Leo Berman died Saturday. He is survived by his wife, Lou Ann Berman, five children, seven grandchildren, three great-grandsons, one sister, and two brothers. He is predeceased by wife, Cara Sue Hughey Berman. Funeral services are pending with Christ Episcopal Church. (more…)

Possible Tornado Reported in Harrison County

lighteningMARSHALL — Damage from what may have been a tornado has been reported in Harrison County. Harrison and Marion Counties were under a tornado warning for nearly an hour starting at 11:36 Sunday morning. The storm was spotted on Farm Road 2625 near U.S. Highway 59. There have been reports of homes and trees damaged. A golf course near Airport Park reported damage. Power outages were also reported in the area. There have been no report of any injuries.

One Killed in Marshall Wreck

Marshall Police ShieldMARSHALL — A two vehicle accident in Marshall has left one person dead and three injured. The victim has been identified as Todd Lane Davis, 19, of Waskom. The injured were taken to Good Shepherd Center-Marshall for treatment. The wreck occurred around shortly after 3:15 Saturday morning. It was reported at the intersection of U.S Highway 59 and U.S. Highway 80. It is said to have occurred when a vehicle ran a red light and hit Davis’ vehicle. The accident remains under investigation.

Body of Missing Lufkin Teen Found

Ayanna AustinLUFKIN — The body of a missing Lufkin teenager has been found in a Lufkin ditch. Ayanna Austin, 13, was reported missing Thursday morning. The body was located in the rain flooded ditch behind Lufkin Middle School and off Virgil Avenue. Her body was said to have been found Saturday afternoon around 4:30 by family and friends who had been aiding in the search effort. Her body has been sent to Beaumont for autopsy.

Roadwork Scheduled for Rice/Shiloh Road

Tyler logo2TYLER — Milling and resurfacing of failed pavement in various areas along Rice/Shiloh Road will be this week. Construction is expected to last a week and is dependent upon weather. Three locations will be resurfaced, including the curves of Shiloh Road around Sweetbriar Lane, Rice Road around Kinsey Drive and Rice Road around Plantation Drive. Lane closures are to be expected in these locations from Tuesday, May 26 to Friday, May 29. Drivers should use caution due to possible uneven pavement conditions.

TxDOT Road Projects

TxDOT signTYLER – Here’s a look at work planned in the district during the Week of May 25, 2015. Schedules are subject to change due to weather, equipment or other unforeseen issues. Slow down and pay attention in these and all work zones.

SMITH COUNTY – Tyler Maintenance is conducting base repair work on Farm Road 2015 between Farm Road 16 and Farm Road 14 with traffic reduced to one line and controlled by flaggers. A second crew will be on Ranch Road 2767 cutting high shoulders between Farm Road 2908 and the Gregg County line. Some of this work will be done as a moving operation while some will require reducing the roadway to one lane with flaggers providing traffic control. (more…)

State News

House Delays Vote On Cutting Veteran Education Benefits

John ZerwasAUSTIN (AP) — A Texas lawmaker has pushed back a vote on a much-watched bill that would make cuts to a free college tuition program for veterans’ children. The bill, meant to address the program’s rising costs,was briefly discussed Friday. But Republican Representative John Zerwas (pictured) postponed debate until Sunday, citing the measure’s “complexity and emotion.” Before floor discussion even began, Democratic Representative Joe Farias made an impassioned plea opposing Zerwas’ bill. The Vietnam veteran told colleagues, “Think twice, and open your heart to those that have endured the most.” Already Senate-approved, the bill tightens veteran eligibility requirements, cuts the number of free tuition hours and stipulates that benefits expire. The program’s cost to Texas public universities has climbed from $24.7 million in fiscal year 2010 to $169 million last fiscal year.

Pick-a-Pal’ Grand Juries Closer to Reform, But Fight Looms

grand jury roomAUSTIN (AP) — The House has voted to ditch the state’s controversial “pick-a-pal” grand jury system, but the proposal’s author is predicting a fight before it clears the chamber. Without debate Saturday evening, lawmakers approved a bill changing a system where judge-appointed commissioners nominate prospective jurors, rather than picking randomly selected residents. The U.S. Supreme Court has criticized the current system. But small-county judges oppose changing it, worried that jury pools may get too small. The proposal to change it has already passed the Senate, but still needs final House approval Sunday. Sponsor and Houston Democratic Representative Harold Dutton says he’ll accept exceptions for under 500,000-resident counties so it advances. But he says he may oppose other exceptions. Dutton says, “We’ll see the real blow-by-blow tomorrow. Today was a sort of shadow box.

Texas Senate Approves Open Carry of Handguns

Open CarryAUSTIN (AP) — Texas lawmakers pushed closer to approving the licensed open carry of handguns, but only after a fierce Senate debate over restricting police powers to question people carrying guns if they are legal. The open carry bill was expected to easily pass the Republican-majority Senate but got tangled in a bipartisan move to add a ban on police from stopping someone solely because they are visibly carrying a handgun. Senate approval came less than a week after a biker shootout in Waco killed nine. The bill still needs a final House vote. That chamber has already passed a nearly identical version. Supporters say the ban prevents police harassment of law-abiding citizens and racial profiling. Police groups say they must be allowed to determine who is legally carrying a weapon.

Lawmakers OK Bill Offering Fines for Posting ‘No Guns’ Signs

No Guns allowed signAUSTIN (AP) — The Texas Legislature has approved fines for governmental entities that post signs prohibiting the carrying of concealed handguns in areas where licensed Texans are allowed to carry them. Authored by tea party-backed Republican Sen. Donna Campbell, the plan passed both chambers with little debate, despite opposition from some municipal groups. Saturday’s House approval 116-23 sends it to Gov. Greg Abbott to be signed into law. Local governments and other official entities would be fined if they post signs that might intimidate license-holders who are within their rights to carry weapons. Fines of up to $1,500 are assessed for a first offense and $10,000 maximum for repeat violations. The Texas attorney general’s office would receive complaints and investigate. Offending governmental bodies would have 15 days to remove signs before being fined.

The Latest on Waco Shooting: Funeral Held in Texas for Biker

Richard Kirschner JuniorWACO (AP) — The family of one of nine people killed in a shootout outside a Waco restaurant has held a funeral for the man. The funeral for Richard Kirschner Junior was held at a funeral home in the Dallas suburb of Plano. The 47-year-old motorcycle enthusiast was among those killed when a dispute at a gathering of different motorcycle gangs erupted in gunfire on May 17th outside a Waco restaurant. Waco police spokesman Sergeant W. Patrick Swanton has said all those killed or injured were members of five criminal motorcycle gangs at the Twin Peaks restaurant for a biker meeting. About 170 people remain jailed in Waco on $1 million bond each, charged with engaging in an ongoing criminal enterprise.

2 Killed in Early-Morning Houston-Area House Fire

fire-investigationLA PORTE (AP) — Two juveniles have died in an early-morning house fire southeast of Houston. La Porte police Sgt. John Krueger said in a statement that two adults and two children were able to escape the flames early Sunday. But attempts by officers to reach the two juveniles on the second floor were unsuccessful because of smoke and flames. Police did not provide the ages and names of the two victims. The two officers who tried to reach the pair were later treated for smoke inhalation. Firefighters later found the juveniles but one died at the scene and the second on the way to a hospital. The cause of the fire wasn’t immediately known and the investigation is continuing.

3 Killed in 2-Vehicle Collision at Dark Rural Intersection

Police-night fatalRED OAK (AP) — Three people were killed when a sport utility vehicle slammed broadside into a pickup truck at a dark rural intersection south of Dallas. The Texas Department of Public Safety says the crash happened shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday on Farm Road 664 at Batchler Road near Red Oak, about 20 miles south of Dallas. DPS Trooper James Colunga says an SUV driven by 19-year-old Juan Mancilla of Red Oak ran a stop sign on Batchler Road and slammed into a pickup truck driven by 19-year-old Ethan Woods of Ferris. Both were killed, as was Mancilla’s 21-year-old brother, Jose Mancilla, a passenger in the SUV.

3 Killed in 1-Vehicle Plunge from Bridge near Fort Worth

Hurst police patchHURST (AP) — Three people have died when the pickup truck in which they were riding plunged from a freeway bridge near Fort Worth. The crash happened shortly before noon Saturday on Interstate 820 northbound at Texas 10 in Hurst. MedStar spokesman Matt Zavadsky said the truck rolled off the bridge and tumbled down an embankment to rest on Texas 121 northbound.

3 Dead, 2 Hurt in West Harris County Rollover Crash

DPS badgeHOUSTON (AP) — Three people have been killed and two others hurt in a single-vehicle rollover crash in west Harris County. Police say the wreck occurred about 5:00am Saturday when the driver of the small SUV ran off a road and into a ditch about 20 miles west of downtown Houston. The driver and a front-seat passenger were killed when the top collapsed as the truck rolled. Three other passengers were taken to a hospital, where one of them died. Houston police spokesman Kese Smith tells the Houston Chronicle the five people in the SUV were male but their ages weren’t immediately known. The crash remains under investigation.

Pregnant Mom, Unborn Child, Die in Houston Wreck

Houston Police patchHOUSTON (AP) — A Houston man has been taken into custody after he lost control of his car and crashed into a tree, killing his wife who was seven months pregnant and injuring their 10-month-old child. Police say the man failed a field sobriety test and was undergoing a blood test. He could face intoxication manslaughter charges. His 19-year-old wife’s unborn child also did not survive the early Saturday crash. Police say the woman was riding in the back seat of their speeding car. When officers arrived, she was on the ground and her husband was attempting CPR on her. Their 10-month-old was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries. Police say the child was not in a car seat at the time of the wreck

Train Runs Over Person in Conroe

Union PacificCONROE (AP) — One person has been killed after being struck by a train north of Houston in Montgomery County. Conroe authorities tell The Courier of Montgomery County they received a call early Saturday from the Union Pacific Railroad that a conductor believed his train had run over someone that was laying on the tracks. Police and paramedics responding to the scene found the body of a person who had suffered fatal injuries.

Arlington Red Light Camera Vote Means $2 Million Budget Hole

red light camerasARLINGTON (AP) — Arlington officials are cutting police jobs and severing ties with the company that managed the North Texas city’s red light camera system after voters this month decided the cameras should go. The vote May 9 has left a projected $2.17 million revenue hole for the next fiscal year. City officials have submitted a 90-day contract termination notice to Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions, which managed the camera system since 2007. But the city also has trimmed 23 police positions. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports money from red light runners caught by the cameras had been spent on traffic safety programs, paying for three program administrators and 23 officers assigned to drunken-driving and patrol units.

Residents Along Blanco River Urged to Evacuate

high water rescueWIMBERLEY (AP) — Authorities say they are urging residents in a small Central Texas community to evacuate as the nearby Blanco River continues to rise and cause flooding. Hays County sheriff’s Lt. Jeri Skrocki said late Saturday that numerous water rescues are underway in Wimberley, about 40 miles southwest of Austin. She says the specific number of rescues or how many people are affected isn’t clear. She says no serious injuries have been reported and that emergency shelters have been set up for residents at schools, a church, a nursing home and a community center. Skrocki says the river is at a record-high level.