TYLER — Due to inclement weather, the Bergfeld Summer Showcase has been moved to next Thursday, June 29, at 6:30 p.m. The event had been set for Thursday of this week to celebrate the redesign and reopening of Bergfeld Park’s Amphitheater and the new Centene Stage. Tyler Civic Theater and the City of Tyler are collaborating on the show. City personnel say everyone’s invited to watch and sing along to songs and scenes from the shows “Rock of Ages,” “Peter Pan Jr. the Musical” and “Legally Blonde the Musical.” Food trucks will be on site, and attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and portable seating.… Read More
COPPELL (AP) – Retail gasoline prices across Texas have dropped a nickel this week. AAA Texas on Thursday reported the average price at the pump statewide was $2.09 per gallon. Nationwide retail gasoline prices are also down, dropping 4 cents this week to reach an average $2.28 per gallon. The association survey found Amarillo has the cheapest gasoline in Texas this week at an average $1.91 per gallon. Drivers in Dallas-Fort Worth and Galveston face the most expensive gasoline in Texas at an average $2.11 per gallon. AAA experts say gasoline prices have declined during the first half of June. Analysts note high oil production rates in the U.S., along with news that Libya and Nigeria have increased output – adding inventory to an already oversupplied global market.
ARLINGTON (AP) – Investigators say a body has been found at a North Texas landfill. Arlington police Lt. Christopher Cook says authorities are seeking to identify the body located Wednesday afternoon by a waste collection worker. An autopsy was ordered. Cook says detectives are checking for reports of missing persons as part of the death investigation. Further details weren’t immediately available.
BRANDON, Fla. (AP) – Investigators are still trying to determine how two Texas siblings drowned in a pool at a Florida motel while on a Father’s Day outing with their church. Bystanders pulled 17-year-old Kesha Greco and her 12-year-old brother, Sebastano, from the Clarion Inn and Conference Center pool in Brandon on Sunday afternoon. Their parents, Kelly and Monique Greco, told Hillsborough County Sheriff’s officials that both children could tread water but weren’t strong swimmers. The Tampa Bay Times reports Sebastano Greco was declared dead Sunday. His sister died on Tuesday at a Tampa hospital. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Crystal Nunez tells the Times foul play isn’t suspected but investigators don’t know whether one sibling was trying to help the other. The family is from Dallas and had traveled to Florida with the New Life Church of North Texas.
HOUSTON (AP) – A Houston man must serve 99 years in prison after being convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in an attack he recorded with his cellphone and the video was used against him at trial. Prosecutors say a Harris County jury on Wednesday convicted 30-year-old Darias Lacour of aggravated sexual assault in the 2015 parking lot attack. A judge then sentenced Lacour to 99 years behind bars. Investigators say a Houston police officer saved the woman after walking up to a car parked in an abandoned lot. Prosecutors used the cellphone video as evidence to help convict Lacour. The victim also testified against him.
DALLAS (AP) – A Texas police officer charged with murder in May in the fatal shooting of a black teenager leaving a party is facing two aggravated assault charges in an unrelated incident. Court records show a Dallas County grand jury recommended Thursday that former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver be charged with two counts of aggravated assault related to an April traffic accident that happened while he was off-duty. A previous statement from the Dallas Police Department said Oliver had drawn his gun and pointed it at the ground after he was rear-ended. Dallas officers at the time of the accident in April determined no offense had occurred. Oliver was fired and charged with murder after the shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards while he was a passenger in a car.
TYLER — The United Way of Smith County will host the 24th annual Day of Caring this Friday. Over 400 volunteers are donating their time and skills to complete multiple projects that can be “done in a day” for local nonprofits. The day begins at 7:30 a.m. with breakfast at First Christian Church and the dispensing of work assignments for 33 projects that are scheduled at local nonprofit organizations. The work day is over by 1:00; volunteers then return to First Christian for lunch and to celebrate and draw for door prizes provided by local merchants. According to a news release, the United Way sponsors the Day of Caring to showcase the value of volunteers and the impact their collective efforts can have on the community.… Read More
TYLER — State Representative Matt Schaefer of Tyler says his office was misled by a group claiming to be a veterans organization. Schaefer said the group sought logistical help with a political rally at the state Capitol, and he initially agreed. But he tells KTBB he withdrew the offer after learning the rally organizers have participants with a reputation for racist rhetoric. Schaefer added that an Austin restaurant was misled in a similar fashion. Jim Brennan is with The Texas Coalition of Veterans Organizations and said such problems are all too commonplace. He encourages people to contact his coalition with any questions about the legitimacy of anyone claiming to be part of a veterans’ group.
TYLER — Due to ongoing questions and concerns about the operation of golf carts on public roadways, the Tyler Police Department is issuing a reminder about the legal requirements and expressing its own safety concerns. According to a police department news release, Texas State Law (Transportation Code 502.001) defines a golf cart as a motor vehicle. The legal requirements for motor vehicles apply to the use of a golf cart on a public roadway. This includes the requirement that the operator be a licensed driver and obey all traffic laws.… Read More
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Tropical Storm Cindy has brought heavy winds and rain to southeast Texas but minimal damage as the storm system moves northeast. Street and other flooding was reported in places such as Port Arthur, along Sabine Pass and the border with Louisiana, where Cindy made landfall early Thursday. Winds in the Galveston County town of San Leon exceeded 50 mph but were slightly weaker along other parts of the Texas coast southeast of Houston. The Houston area was expected to get a couple inches of rain through Thursday. A flash flood watch was issued for parts of East Texas. The Texas Department of Transportation says all state roads and bridges are open in the area.
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – The University at Albany’s next president will be Dr. Havidan Rodriguez of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. The State University of New York’s board of trustees announced Wednesday that Rodriguez will start in Albany in September. Rodriguez, 58, is the founding provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at UTRGV. He will be the first Hispanic president of any SUNY four-year college in state history. The University at Albany’s former president, Robert Jones, left in September to become chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. James Stellar has since been serving as interim president.
KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (AP) – The annual George H.W. Bush Golf Classic has raised about $100,000 for a Maine nonprofit that provides a place for families to stay when loved ones are hospitalized. Now in its 15th year, the event at the Cape Arundel Golf Club in Kennebunkport is a family affair. The nation’s 41st president was joined Tuesday by his son, former President George W. Bush. Actor Patrick Dempsey also attended and said there’s “so much love” in the community for the family. WGME-TV reports George and Barbara Bush lost their first daughter to leukemia in 1953, and it’s her legacy that got them involved with the fundraiser for Portland’s Gary’s House. The event has raised more than $2 million to date.
AUSTIN (AP) – A police officer has been suspended for 20 days without pay after an internal investigation of a handcuffed suspect who killed himself in the back of the officer’s patrol car. Officer Iven Wall was suspended for violating the Austin Police Department’s pat-down procedures before 19-year-old Zachary Anam’s January death. The Austin American-Statesman reports interim Police Chief Brian Manley imposed the punishment after a disciplinary hearing Wednesday. Anam was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting at Barton Creek Square Mall. While en route to police headquarters, Anam was able to draw a gun he had hidden on himself and fatally shot himself.
HOUSTON (AP) – Officials say a pilot ejected from an F-16 fighter jet that caught fire and crashed during takeoff from Ellington Airport in Houston while on a training flight. Authorities say the pilot was treated for minor injuries following the crash around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. The cause of the fiery accident is under investigation. The pilot’s name wasn’t immediately released. A statement from the North American Aerospace Defense Command says the plane was from a detachment of the Oklahoma Air National Guard’s 138th Fighter Wing. The jet was assigned to Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base, which includes the Texas Air National Guard’s 147th Reconnaissance Wing. A city statement says Ellington Airport, part of the Houston Airport System, was evacuated for several hours Wednesday amid the initial investigation.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) – A former Texas nurse who prosecutors say may be responsible for the deaths of up to 60 young children has been indicted on a murder charge for the second time in recent weeks. Prosecutors in San Antonio said in a statement that 66-year-old Genene Jones was indicted Wednesday in the 1981 death of 2-year-old Rosemary Vega. She was charged with a separate count of murder last month in the death of an 11-month-old boy. Jones is serving a lengthy prison sentence for the 1982 killing of another toddler. But she was scheduled to be released in March under a mandatory release law in place when she was convicted. Authorities have linked her to many more deaths of children who died under unusual circumstances during or shortly after her shifts.
DALLAS (AP) – Dallas’ search for a new police chief has narrowed to eight candidates. City Manager T.C. Broadnax named the finalists Wednesday to replace David Brown, who retired in October. Three internal candidates include Deputy Chief Malik Aziz, the executive director of the National Black Police Association. Other contenders include Seattle Deputy Chief Carmen Best; Detroit Deputy Chief U. Renee Hall; Los Angeles First Assistant Chief Michel Moore; Montgomery County, Maryland, Assistant Chief Luther Reynolds; and Steven Dye, chief in the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie. David Pughes, interim Dallas police chief, has said he doesn’t want the job. Brown’s leadership was lauded after the fatal shootings last July of four Dallas officers and one transit officer. He also drew criticism during his tenure over the department’s response to a surge in violent crime.
TYLER — Identities have been released in a recent officer-involved shooting in Smith County. Sheriff Larry Smith says the suspect, Kenneth Alan Carner, is a Larue resident in his mid-fifties. Smith says Carner remains hospitalized and criminal charges are still pending. The deputy is Lauren Fite, who has been employed by the Smith County Sheriff’s Office for several years, first in the jail and in the Patrol Division since November 2014. In a news release, Smith says, “Deputy Fite has an exemplary record with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office and has excelled both as a Detention Officer and as a Patrol Deputy.”… Read More
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – The health insurance company co-founded by the brother of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law says it wants to return to New Jersey’s health exchange marketplace and expand in four other states, including Texas. Oscar announced Wednesday it has applied to return to 14 of New Jersey’s 21 counties in 2018 after not offering plans there in 2017. Oscar also announced plans to seek regulatory approval to sell insurance with the Cleveland Clinic in northeast Ohio, and expand to Nashville, Tennessee, east Los Angeles County in California, and Austin and San Antonio, Texas.… Read More
LAREDO (AP) – A South Texas police chief says a murder suspect who wounded three police officers in an exchange of gunfire had taken the service weapon of one officer to fire on the others. Laredo Chief Claudio Trevino said during a news conference Tuesday that suspect Antonio Geraldo Rodriguez used his own weapon during a June 2 confrontation outside a convenience store to wound officer Mario Casares. Rodriguez then took Casares’ weapon and kept firing. It’s not clear whether the others were injured by Rodriguez’s own weapon or the officer’s. Trevino says the video reveals that Rodriguez likely died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound rather than being shot by an officer. Rodriguez was being sought in the shooting death of his girlfriend. The officers were treated and released from San Antonio hospitals.
NEW BRAUNFELS (AP) – Police say a second South Texas boy has been charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old male during a disturbance in a neighborhood. New Braunfels police on Wednesday arrested a 16-year-old boy at his home in connection with the weekend slaying of Conrad Kuntz of New Braunfels. A police statement says a 15-year-old boy from nearby Marion, who was earlier arrested on a murder charge, remains in juvenile custody. Police haven’t released a possible motive for Saturday night’s attack. Officers responding to reports of gunfire discovered the victim. Emergency personnel were unable to save Kuntz. Police didn’t immediately release information on attorneys to speak on behalf of either juvenile suspect.
HOUSTON (AP) – A Houston-area task force focusing on internet crimes against children has arrested more than a dozen men for attempting to solicit sex with children they met online. Another three men caught up in the two-month-long operation are facing charges of possession, promotion or distribution of child pornography. Authorities say the men arrested range in age from 19 to 66. One of them, 42-year-old Juan Pena, of Houston, already is a registered sex offender. Each of the men could get up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the charges.
HOUSTON (AP) – Houston city leaders have voted to join a lawsuit trying to halt a Texas law that would crackdown on “sanctuary cities.” Houston City Council voted 10-6, with one abstention, Wednesday to join the lawsuit, filed in San Antonio federal court. Houston joins Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, El Paso County and several organizations, which are also challenging the law. The law, which takes effect in September, would let police ask people about their immigration status during routine stops. It also threatens elected officials with removal from office if they don’t cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Mayor Sylvester Turner said Houston is not going to act like Immigration and Customs Enforcement and “if there is any bill that says I could be removed because I make that pronouncement, I’m concerned with that.”
KILGORE – A Kilgore teenager died Saturday from injuries sustained in a car wreck the night of April 29. KETK reports Jeremy “Jay” Cox, 16, suffered a traumatic brain injury in the wreck after he dropped off his prom date. Since the wreck, Cox had spent the last seven weeks in the Intensive Care Unit at Dallas Children’s Hospital. Cox’s mother, Rachel Rowe, serves as the Kilgore Police Department dispatch supervisor. Jeremy’s stepfather, John Rowe, is a detective with the department. Following the accident, friends of the family held fundraisers, including a benefit bass fishing tournament, in order to assist the family with its needs.… Read More
NEVADA COUNTY, Ark. – A Quitman man was killed in a crash Monday in Nevada County, Arkansas. According to KETK, Arkansas State Police say around 8:35 a.m., 48-year-old Lee Thomas Wise was killed along Interstate 30 when his pickup truck went off the roadway. Officials say Wise’s vehicle went into a ditch before hitting a tree. Authorities say it was raining at the time of the accident and the crash remains under investigation.
GILMER — Four East Texans have been indicted on murder charges related to a March homicide in Upshur County. Devontay Hunter, 20, of Lone Star; Xavier Mumphrey, 19, of Kilgore; Alize Sharda McFall, 20, of Kilgore; and Decorian Quantez Robbins, 19, of Avinger were indicted by an Upshur County grand jury, according to information released Tuesday by Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd’s office. KETK and the Longview News-Journal report each is charged with murder in connection to the death of 29-year-old Kendrick Lemichael Jackson.… Read More
LONGVIEW — Voting just got a little easier in Gregg County. KETK reports that come Election Day, people can cast their votes at any polling location within the county — a service that until now was only available to early voters. It’s a move that had earlier been made in Smith County. Gregg County Elections Administrator Kathryn Nealy and her team have been on a mission. to simplify voting. Nealy says, “We’ve had so many elections so close it could throw it into a run off and those one or two votes could make all the difference.” Gregg County finally got the OK from the Texas secretary of state to implement countywide balloting.
HEMPSTEAD (AP) – Authorities say four people were killed when their car was struck by another vehicle and burst into flames northwest of Houston. The Texas Department of Public Safety says the wreck occurred early Wednesday morning and involved a Chevy Impala speeding along Highway 290 just east of Hempstead. Preliminary findings indicate the Impala struck the rear of a Volkswagen that then caught fire. The bodies of four people were found in the Volkswagen after firefighters extinguished the flames. The driver of the Impala was taken to a hospital and the person’s condition was not immediately known. Authorities as part of the investigation will determine whether drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash.
LONGVIEW — A beloved Longview businessman from one of the city’s most historic families has passed away. KETK reports Keith Anderson Castleberry, better known as “Buster,” died early Monday morning in Longview at the age of 77. The lifelong Longview resident and graduate of Spring Hill High School played a pivotal role in developing the Spring Hill area in northern Longview alongside his brother, Larry, through their company, Castleberry Construction.… Read More
TYLER – Four East Texas lawmakers are ranked among the best as Texas Monthly releases its annual list identifying its picks for the state’s Best and Worst Legislators of 2017. Here’s the rundown as reported by our news partner KETK:
Representative Matt Schaefer (R, Tyler – pictured)
Rep. Schaefer represents House District 6, which encompasses Smith County.
What Texas Monthly says:
“The (Texas) Freedom Caucus has become surprisingly effective. As the caucus leader, Schaefer has clearly learned how the game is played at the Capitol, and for better or worse, he was surprisingly good at it this session.”… Read More
CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) – Authorities say a Texas man and his son reported missing on a hike in the area of the Carlsbad Caverns National Park have been found dead. New Mexico State Police say the search for 57-year-old of Robert Stuart Pluta and his 21-year-old son Robert Jr. began Monday. Both men were avid and experienced hikers from Corpus Christi. State Police were notified Monday afternoon after Pluta’s wife says she had been unable to contact her husband or son for days. Park Service staff located the men’s vehicle on a trailhead northwest of Carlsbad Caverns. State Police say one dead body was found about 10 p.m. Monday about two miles northwest of the caverns and the other body was located a mile away Tuesday morning. Eddy County authorities are investigating the deaths.