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Missing Gregg County Teen Contacts Family

Paiglynn RaymondLIBERTY CITY – A Gregg County teen, who has been missing for over seven months, has been in contact with her family. The Longview News Journal reports that Paiglynn Raymond’s grandmother, Vickie Raymond, posted on her social media page that the teen has been communicating with her family and “expressed a desire to reunite” with the family.

Paiglynn last was seen April 17 when she was dropped off at school in Liberty City. Investigators with the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office said she left the campus, was picked up by a truck driver, and was dropped off at a bus station near Dallas. On June 1, a person matching her description was spotted near Leadville, Colorado. Colorado state police confirmed multiple sightings of the girl matching Paiglynn’s description between Leadville and Copper Mountain, prompting a statewide alert by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Recently a man who grew up with Paiglynn’s father has doubled the reward to $10,000 in the hopes it may encourage someone to come forward with information about the girl.

North Texas Families Sue Drillers Over Contaminated Water

oil wellGRAFORD (AP) – Two families in rural North Texas have sued oil and gas drilling companies for contamination of their water wells. The state’s oil and gas regulator, the Texas Railroad Commission, said in a report that one family’s well water contained chemicals that may pose “adverse health effects” and an “explosion hazard.” WFAA-TV of Dallas-Fort Worth reports the agency attributed the contamination to a “natural occurrence in the groundwater” and recommended the family vent its water well. However, a study published by University of Texas at Arlington scientists earlier this year inferred a link between water well contamination and hydraulic fracturing in the Barnett Shale, the massive natural gas field beneath North Texas. UTA scientists said water samples throughout the Barnett Shale showed elevated levels of cancer-causing chemicals.

Remains May be a Missing Wharton County Girl

Rosemary Diaz-missing teenWHARTON (AP) – Sheriff’s officials say they have discovered human remains believed to be those of a 15-year-old girl missing for 25 years, after receiving a tip from the family of a man considered a suspect in her death. Wharton County authorities said during a news conference Wednesday that the tip led them to property owned by the suspect’s family about 70 miles southwest of Houston, where the remains were found. Officials believe the remains found Tuesday are those of Rosemary Diaz, who went missing in 1990 from the general store where she worked. A ring was found that Diaz’s family believes belonged to her. Authorities have not released the identity of the suspect who died months ago, but say comments led his family to believe he played a role in Diaz’s death.

Guy V. Lewis, Coach of Phi Slama Jama Teams, Dies

Guy Lewis2HOUSTON (AP) – A legendary college coach, who was born in Smith County, has died. Former University of Houston men’s basketball coach Guy V. Lewis, who was born in Arp, has died at the age of 93. The school said Thursday he died Thanksgiving morning. Lewis coached the Cougars for 30 years but was best known for leading the Phi Slama Jama teams in the 1980s. He guided Houston to back-to-back NCAA title games in 1983 and ’84 but never won the national championship, losing to underdog N.C. State in the 1983 final on Lorenzo Charles’ last-second shot. Lewis won 592 games and reached five Final Fours. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.

Kilgore Coach-Teacher Arrested

Brian BirdKILGORE – A Kilgore coach is out on bond after being charged with having an improper relationship with a student. Arrested Wednesday was Brian Bird, 33. His residence is listed as Gladewater. Besides being the boys and girls golf coach and assistant boys basketball coach at Kilgore High School and is also a geography teacher. His bond was set at $50,000.

Ex Cowboys RB Joseph Randle Arrested at Kansas Casino

Joseph RandleWICHITA, KAN. (AP) – Former Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle has been arrested after an altercation at a Kansas casino. The Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission says Randle was asked to leave the Kansas Star casino in Mulvane on Tuesday night after causing some unspecified concerns. Randle left, but returned and got into a scuffle with security. The Sumner County attorney’s office said Wednesday that no formal charges have been filed, and he remains jailed on a $25,000 bond. He was booked on suspicion of criminal threat, assault of a law enforcement officer, battery, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and interference with a law enforcement officer. Randle was suspended four games by the NFL under the league’s personal conduct policy earlier this month, one week after he was released by the Dallas Cowboys.

Houston Zoo Reinstalls Signs Prohibiting Guns

Houston Zoo entranceHOUSTON (AP) – The Houston Zoo has reinstalled signs that prohibit carrying firearms into the zoo, three months after they were removed due to threat of legal action. The Houston Chronicle reports Attorney Edwin Walker with Texas Law Shield sent a demand letter to the Houston Zoo, its corporate entity and the city’s parks and recreation department on Sept. 3 asking they take down all guns-prohibited signs at the zoo. Houston Zoo spokeswoman Jackie Wallace said the signs were put back because the zoo is an educational institution that exempts if from being forced to allow firearms within its gates. Walker was notified Tuesday of the reinstallation, and he said he plans to file a complaint with the Office of the Texas Attorney General.

The FBI Investigating Smith County Commissioners Court

smith county sealTYLER — The FBI is the latest agency to begin an investigation of the Smith County Commissioners Court. The Texas Attorney General’s Office had earlier announced it was looking into the commissioners’ executive session where the commissioners approved purchasing traffic cameras for some school zones. KETK reports commissioners Cary Nix and Terry Phillips confirm the FBI is looking into the matter. Both could not discuss the matter on advice of the county’s attorney.

Smith County commissioners first announced the plan back in April. County Judge Joel Baker said, “Smith County is focused on public safety and limited enforcement to ensure the safety of the community’s school children,” Baker said at that time. “I believe it is a more efficient way to enforce laws that are already in place.” The program was suppose to include five cameras rotating in county school zones. The cameras were then delayed in early May following an uproar from the public.

Judge Baker went on to say, “As county judge I should have done a better job of public outreach and education regarding this program. As the presiding officer of the commissioners court, I take full responsibility for not leading a more robust public discussion on this topic prior to entering into the program. I am sorry for this error in the process. Therefore, I have asked the School Safety program vendor, ATS, to pause and delay the start of the program to allow us to do a better job with communication and outreach. ATS has also agreed to survey school zones around the county and to provide data regarding speeding in those locations. It’s now important that we restart the public conversation with facts.”

A few days after Baker made those comments, Grassroots America – We The People, a Smith County watchdog group, filed a formal complaint with the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

Johnny Manziel Benched by Browns for Off-Field Antics

Johnny Manziel-Browns uniformBEREA, OHIO (AP/STAFF) – The Browns have benched quarterback Johnny Manziel because of his off-field behavior. Coach Mike Pettine said former Jacksonville Indian Josh McCown will start Monday night’s game against Baltimore in place of Manziel, the Tyler native, who was recently given the starting job but has now been demoted to third string. Manziel’s benching comes in the wake of a video surfacing of him partying last weekend in Texas. He had promised not to bring any embarrassment to the team during its bye week, but Pettine said he was both disappointed and frustrated by Manziel’s actions. Pettine said owner Jimmy Haslam and general manager Ray Farmer support his decision. In a statement, Pettine said “everyone in this organization wants what is best for Johnny just like we do for every player in our locker room. I’m especially disappointed in his actions and behavior because he has been working very hard.” Manziel spent 70 days during the offseason in a rehab facility specializing in treatment for alcohol and drug addiction.

Texas’ Abbott Will Visit Cuba

Gregg Abbott2AUSTIN (AP) – Texas Governor Greg Abbott is heading to Cuba in the wake of a relaxed U.S. trade embargo with the country. The Republican said Tuesday that Texas can economically “capitalize” on a new relationship between the two nations. He is scheduled to arrive in Havana on Monday and stay for three days. Abbott is not the first U.S. governor to make the trip since the former Cold War foes reopened embassies in their respective countries in July. Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson went in September, joined by officials from Tyson Foods and other private companies. Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also visited Cuba earlier this year. Abbott will be joined by Texas business and economic leaders. It will be his second international trip after visiting Mexico in September.

Man Gets Life Sentence in Texas “Stand Your Ground” Retrial

Raul RodriguezHOUSTON (AP) – A jury has sentenced a Houston-area man to life in prison for killing his neighbor during an argument over loud music. The Harris County jury sentenced Raul Rodriguez Tuesday in state district court in Houston. The jurors previously rejected Raul Rodriguez’s self-defense claim under Texas’ “stand your ground” law, finding him guilty of murder Friday in the death of 36-year-old elementary school teacher Kelly Danaher. Rodriguez’s attorney argued that he feared for his life. Prosecutors alleged Rodriguez provoked Danaher, lured him outside and shot him while recording the incident on his cellphone. That video was shown to the jury. It was second time Rodriguez was convicted of murder for the 2010 slaying. He served two years of a 40-year term when a Texas appeals court overturned his 2012 conviction.

Texas Teacher’s Aide Accused of Hitting Student With Bat

Kenneth Justin LattimoreBRENHAM (AP) – A 61-year-old Central Texas junior high teacher’s aide is jailed on an aggravated-assault charge accused of hitting a student with a small bat. Kenneth Justin Lattimore was in the Washington County Jail in Brenham on Tuesday with bond set at $50,000. A police affidavit says the incident happened about 10:00 Monday morning at the in-school suspension building at Brenham Junior High School. According to the affidavit, students reported Lattimore, after starting a confrontation with the student by shoving him, escalated the altercation to the point that he hit the student with a baseball bat. Police spokeswoman Angela Hawn said the bat was a small, promotional-type bat. The student returned to class Tuesday. School officials haven’t responded to messages seeking comment.

Muslim Teen in Clock Incident Says He Misses Texas Home

Ahmed MohamedDALLAS (AP) – The Muslim teenager arrested after bringing his clock to a suburban Dallas school says he hopes to return to Texas one day. Ahmed Mohamed told Dallas television station KTVT Tuesday that he feels safe in Qatar, the Middle Eastern country where he now lives. Mohamed received worldwide attention after Irving police arrested him for bringing what he said was a homemade clock to school. While he was invited to the White House, Mohamed’s family said they received threats and no longer felt comfortable in Irving. Attorneys for his family are demanding $15 million from the school district and the city. Mohamed told KTVT he wants to come back to Irving eventually and see “people I grew up with,” not just people who know him due to the clock controversy.

Blue Bell Resuming Ice Cream Sales in Louisiana, Mississippi

Blue Bell TruckBRENHAM (AP) – Blue Bell ice cream will be available in Louisiana and Jackson, Mississippi, on Dec. 21 after listeria contamination halted sales and prompted cleanup of production plants. Blue Bell on Tuesday also announced the return of 115 workers put on paid furlough after the April voluntary recall of all products. The company will have about 1,000 employees, including at plants in Alabama and Oklahoma now supplying consumers in those states, plus Texas. The company this month resumed production in its hometown of Brenham, 70 miles northwest of Houston. Sales from that plant have not yet resumed amid continued regulatory scrutiny. Blue Bell was linked to 10 listeria cases, including three deaths in Kansas. Listeria bacteria can cause serious illness, especially in older adults, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

Texas Solar Panel Company to Pay $8.5M in Fraud Case

solar panelsAUSTIN (AP) – A Texas solar company must pay $8.5 million for importing unsafe panels from China and falsely labeling the items as U.S. made. The Texas Attorney General’s Office on Monday announced the penalties and permanent injunction against 1 SolTech Inc. of Richardson. The Dallas-area company filed for bankruptcy last year amid the 2013 lawsuit. The company and three executives agreed to stop misrepresentations on origin and certification of solar panels labeled “Made in the USA.” Investigators determined the China-made panels, including some installed at American military bases and airports, represent a fire hazard for not conforming to U.S. safety standards. American-made materials were required to be used for the taxpayer-funded projects. The AG’s office says 1 SolTech will pay $5.8 million in penalties and legal fees, plus $2.7 million to customers

New President Named at Kilgore College

Brenda KaysKILGORE — The new president of Kilgore College will be Dr. Brenda Kays. The school’s board of trustees unanimously voted Monday night to appoint Dr. Kays as the 9th president of the college and the first woman president of the school. She will succeed Dr. William M. “Bill” Holda who has served as president of Kilgore College since July 2, 1992. He will retire as president at the end of January.

Dr. Kays is a former Vice President of Student Learning and Success at Guilford Technical Community College North Carolina and former Chief Academic Officer and Dean of Instructional Services at Vernon College in Texas. She earned a Master of Education in counseling from Midwestern State University and a Doctorate of Education from the University of North Texas in Denton. She will start work at Kilgore College the first part of January.

Texas Seeking Delay in Supreme Court Immigration Case

Supreme Court BuildingWASHINGTON (AP) – Texas is asking the Supreme Court for more time to answer the Obama administration’s immigration appeal, a delay that probably would prevent the plan to shield millions of immigrants from deportation from taking effect during Barack Obama’s presidency. If the justices agree to the state’s request that was filed Monday, the administration’s plan that mainly affects the parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents would miss the court’s informal deadline for a decision by the end of June. Unless the court were to take the rare step of scheduling an argument in May, the issue would not be heard by the justices until the fall or decided before spring 2017. Texas says in its letter to the court that the administration is opposing the request for a 30-day delay.

Detroit, Austin Welcome Syrian Refugees Despite Governors

Steve Adler-Austin MayorDETROIT (AP) – The mayors of Detroit and Austin are welcoming Syrian refugees despite pushback by their states’ Republican governors following the deadly attacks in Paris. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says his city can support 50 Syrian families annually for the next three years. Mayor Steve Adler (pictured) says Austin has accepted three Syrian refugees in the past two years and another is coming. The Democrats spoke during a White House-arranged conference call Monday, a week after numerous Republican governors spoke out against federal refugee policies. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has instructed refugee-resettling organizations to stop helping Syrians. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who initially lobbied for refugees, has urged a pause in the resettlement program until security concerns are addressed. Duggan says he’s comfortable with the refugee-vetting process. Adler says refugees are terror victims.

Agents in Texas Rescue Immigrants From Refrigerated Trailer

border patrol patchFALFURRIAS (AP) – Border Patrol agents in South Texas have rescued 11 immigrants being smuggled in a closed refrigerated trailer hauling produce. Officials on Monday announced the rescue that took place at the Falfurrias checkpoint. The tractor-trailer rig was being inspected Saturday when a law enforcement dog drew attention to the trailer. Border Patrol agents found 11 immigrants being smuggled in the load, with trailer interior temperatures of around 50 degrees. The Border Patrol says the driver, who’s a U.S. citizen, was arrested. Authorities did not immediately provide additional information on charges or the status of the detained immigrants.

Report Finds Racial Bias in Traffic Stops by Texas Troopers

DPS imageAUSTIN (AP) – An analysis of reports from the Texas Department of Public Safety says black drivers are consistently searched by troopers at a higher rate than white drivers. The Austin American-Statesman reports that academics from the University of Texas and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill looked at DPS annual reports from between 2003 and 2014. The analysis finds DPS consistently misinterpreted statistics showing the racial and ethnic breakdowns of the number of Texas drivers who have been subject to traffic stops. According to the analysis, white drivers are more likely to be released with only a warning than minority motorists. The agency had published its annual numbers, indicating that DPS troopers treat motorists of different races equally. DPS Director Steve McCraw said that he would be on board if lawmakers prefer that his agency change the way it analyzes traffic stops.

15 Texas Counties Declared Disasters From October Storms

flooding2AUSTIN (AP) – Fifteen Texas counties have been declared state disaster areas after October storms and flooding left seven people dead. Governor Greg Abbott’s disaster declaration covers Bastrop, Brazoria, Caldwell, Comal, Galveston, Guadalupe, Hardin, Harris, Hays, Hidalgo, Liberty, Navarro, Travis, Willacy, and Wilson counties. The declaration, which clears the way for more government assistance, applies to damage from storms Oct. 22 through Oct. 31. The late-October heavy rain and flooding was blamed for seven deaths in the Austin, San Antonio and Houston areas. The Austin area received more than 16 inches of rain during storms that began October 30. Texas is also seeking federal assistance for individuals in affected counties.

Couple Who Sued Over Texas’ Gay Marriage Ban Tie the Knot

Marriage license2SAN ANTONIO (AP) – One of the same-sex couples who had challenged Texas’ constitutional ban on gay marriage has finally tied the knot. The San Antonio Express-News reports Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss were married in North Texas on Saturday. The couple was married by Charlie Gonzalez, a former San Antonio congressman and longtime friend of the two. In October 2013, Holmes, a retired Air Force major, and Phariss, an attorney, were denied a marriage license in Bexar County. They filed a federal lawsuit challenging Texas’ ban on gay marriage. A federal judge in San Antonio ruled in their favor in 2014, but issued a stay pending appeals. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal across the country. The wedding was attended by about 300 friends and family members.

State Legislator Sentenced to 1 Year in Jail for Barratry

Ron Reynolds booking photoHOUSTON (AP) – A jury has sentenced Houston-area state Representative Ron Reynolds to the maximum penalty of a year in jail a fine following his conviction of misdemeanor barratry. The Democrat was convicted Friday on five counts of illegally soliciting clients in an ambulance chasing scheme. The Houston Chronicle reports that Reynolds was stoic as his sentence was read late Monday. He plans to appeal, and the court will hold a hearing Tuesday on his request to remain free pending that. Reynolds, a lawyer elected to a third term last year, denies violating state law barring attorneys from soliciting clients for accident or disaster claims until at least 30 days after the incident. Reynolds originally was convicted on six counts of solicitation of professional employment last year, but that was eventually overturned.

Two North Texas Detention Officers Indicted in Inmate’s Death

grand jury roomFORT WORTH (AP) – A grand jury has indicted two North Texas detention officers in connection with the death of a man who died while in custody at the Arlington city jail. The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday that Stephen Schmidt and Pedro Medina were each indicted on a charge of criminally negligent homicide for the death of Jonathan Paul. The 42-year-old Paul died on March 13, four days after being arrested in his apartment complex on a disturbance call. Witnesses had said that Paul was screaming and throwing items. Police said they had to restrain Paul while in jail and placed him in an isolation cell, where he was later found unresponsive. He died at a hospital.

Two Men on Texas 10 Most Wanted List caught in Houston, Dallas

jail cellAUSTIN (AP) – Two gang members on the Texas Department of Public Safety 10 Most Wanted list have been captured. DPS on Monday announced the arrests of Roy Edward Arevalo Jr., 19, and Markeith McWright, 32. Arevalo was caught November 16 during a traffic stop in Houston. Investigators say Arevalo conspired with a jailer and an inmate to have drugs delivered into the Brazos County jail. Arevalo has drug-related convictions and was wanted for engaging in organized criminal activity.

Dallas police received a tip leading to McWright’s arrest last Wednesday. DPS says McWright was wanted for assault, parole violation and probation violation. His criminal history includes convictions related to assault, robbery and drugs.

Church’s Chicken Franchisee With Unpaid Taxes Found in Texas

Lyndon Johnson-Church's ChickenTULSA, OKLA. (AP) – The Church’s Chicken franchisee who was reported missing after 15 of his Tulsa- and Oklahoma City-area restaurants closed in early November has been located. Police say Lyndon Johnson, 54, was found Sunday morning in Farmers Branch, Texas, about 15 miles north of his hometown of Dallas. The Oklahoma Tax Commission says Johnson, the owner of Reciprocity Restaurant Group LLC, closed restaurants in Nov. 3 because of unpaid sales taxes. The commission says the group owes more than $434,000 in overdue sales taxes and interest from February through August. Church’s Chicken officials previously said they were working with the commission to reopen the restaurants and pay employees. The Tulsa World reports that the chain’s parent company, Cajun Operating Co., has appointed a receiver to take control of the restaurants.

Ex-Dallas Hospital Imploded, Owned by UT Southwestern

St. Paul University Hospital-Dallas implosionDALLAS (AP) – A former Dallas hospital has been imploded. Explosives on Sunday brought down former St. Paul University Hospital in less than a minute. The 300-bed hospital closed last year. It’s been replaced by the William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital. The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center owns the property.

Man Arrested for Practicing Home Dentistry Without a License

Richard MontoyaEL PASO (AP) – El Paso police have arrested a man for allegedly practicing dentistry without a license. Police say Mission Valley tactical officers arrested Richard Montoya, 63, in a San Elizario residence. The El Paso Times reports that the he faces two counts of practicing dentistry without a license, along with a traffic warrant. Montoya remained in jail Monday with a bond of more than $20,000. The man, who was a dentist in Juárez, Mexico, is suspected of performing dental services for patients in El Paso-area homes. Police were notified of the cases after patients complained that they had allegedly given the man money for dental work that was never done. The man was featured on El Paso’s most-wanted fugitives list three weeks ago.

Investigation Continues after Hit and Run Injures Two

DPS badgeANGELINA COUNTY – There is still no trace of a car involved in a hot and run accident in Angelina. Two were injured while riding a horse on Farm Road 2251 around 6:15 Saturday evening. KETK identified the injured as Jamari Hodges, 19, and Keon Taylor, 11, both from Lufkin. Taylor is in stable condition at a Houston hospital. Hodges was treated at the scene and released. The horse survived the accident. The Department of Public Safety says vehicle that fled the scene a 2007 to 2011 silver Toyota Camry with possible front end damage.

Kilgore College Closer to Naming a New President

Kilgore College signKILGORE – We could learn tonight who the new president of Kilgore college will be. School trustees have scheduled a meeting this evening at 6:30. They are scheduled to go into executive session to discuss a successor to retiring President Bill Holda. The lone action item on the agenda is “to consider the appointment of a new college president.” Holda is scheduled to step down at the end of January.

The four finalists for the position were interviewed earlier this month. They are:
Kyle Wagner, vice president of instruction and economic development at Coastal Bend College in Beeville.
Mark Smith, vice president of educational services at Temple College in Temple.
Brenda Kays, president of Stanly Community College in Albemarle, North Carolina.
Lynn Moore, president of Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College in Cumberland, Kentucky.

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