2/26 – Blu Daniels and Jen Cook, discussing the upcoming Rose City Chili Cookoff and its beneficiary, Ragan’s Hope
3/5 – Dr. Michael Tidwell, President, the University of Texas at Tyler
COLLEGE STATION (AP) — State fire officials say a drone being operated near a wildfire southwest of Fort Worth hampered firefighting efforts by forcing aircraft carrying retardant to be grounded. The Texas A&M Forest Service says two air tankers were grounded Thursday in Erath County when the drone appeared at the wildfire’s perimeter. Authorities in other states have reported similar problems with drones.
EL PASO (AP) — The Border Patrol has asked for an internal investigation of the circumstances leading up to the arrest of a transgender woman in an El Paso courthouse. Irvin Gonzalez was as she was seeking court-ordered protection from an abusive boyfriend. The arrest has led to questions about what lengths authorities will go to apprehend people under newly stepped-up immigration policies.
UHLAND (AP) — A Texas sheriff says investigators encountered dangerously high levels of ammonia from animal urine in a home where about 430 animals were seized this week Caldwell County Sheriff Daniel Law said Thursday that the animals taken from the Uhland home earlier in the week included dogs, goats, pigs, chickens, snakes, lizards, ferrets, and ducks and other fowl. The SPCA of Texas says many of the animals suffered from various health ailments.
PASADENA (AP) – Police in the Houston suburb of Pasadena say the man who fatally shot his estranged wife at a restaurant has died of injuries suffered when he later shot himself. Pasadena police spokesman Vance Mitchell said Friday that the gunman died overnight at a hospital where he was taken following the shooting Thursday evening. Authorities say the man walked into the Tierra Caliente restaurant and ordered everybody out. He shot his wife and also shot and injured the woman’s sister, who still was able to flee the restaurant and call police. Mitchell says the injured woman was shot in the arm. The unidentified gunman was airlifted to a Houston hospital after he shot himself. The motive for the shooting remains unclear.
HOUSTON (AP) — Immigration officials have begun deportation proceedings against a Houston-area father of two who had lived for years in the U.S. under a protected status given to some immigrants. Jose Escobar, 31, was notified Wednesday when he went to federal offices in Houston to provide immigration officials with an annual update on his work status. His wife says immigration agents told them they were complying with new rules enacted by President Donald Trump. He was detained years earlier after failing to file paperwork with immigration authorities but later released.
AUSTIN (AP) — A long-running lawsuit over Texas’ contentious voter ID law will move forward in federal court, even as the Republican-controlled Legislature considers how best to modify it. A federal judge on Friday denied a request from the U.S. Justice Department and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to delay the case.
GREGG COUNTY — A Longview man arrested for prostitution has been identified as a former East Texas school district superintendent. According to KETK, Jerry B. Roberts, 64, of Longview, was arrested Thursday and booked into the Gregg County Jail. Roberts was the Kilgore ISD superintendent from 1993–2007 and previously served as principal and assistant principal at Kilgore High School, as well as assistant middle school principal, counselor and teacher. Before Kilgore, he held the position of elementary school principal at New Boston ISD and was superintendent at Leverett’s Chapel ISD. Currently, Roberts serves as a Field Representative for the Texas Association of School Boards, according to the TASB website. He represents ESC Region 7, as well as parts of 8 and 10. Bond has not been set.
AUSTIN (AP) – The Texas agriculture commissioner has approved the use of a poison that he says may herald a “feral hog apocalypse” in a state where an estimated 2.5 million hogs roam. Commissioner Sid Miller said this week that bait food will be laced with warfarin, which is used as a blood thinner but has proven lethal to hogs. Hunters already are allowed to kill the animals from land or air – Miller as a state senator authored legislation that allowed for the aerial killing of hogs. The animal, which can produce three litters in two years, has long been seen by farmers as a nuisance that shreds fields and pastures. It’s estimated they do $50 million in damage to crops and property each year.
WASHINGTON (AP) – A West Texas Republican is criticizing women who carried explicit signs at the Women’s March in Washington last month. Rep. Mike Conaway said women were carrying signs and wearing costumes “in the foulest, nastiest, crudest, crassest manner possible, talking about female body parts.” Conaway acknowledged some of the signs were a reaction to the October release of a recording from 2005, in which now-President Donald Trump made a series of vulgar and sexually predatory comments about women. In the tape, Trump bragged to then-“Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush that his fame allowed him to force himself on women. Conaway said Americans have to be a “moral, religious people.” He made the comments Thursday at an annual government forum on the agricultural economy that turned into a political discussion about values.
AUSTIN (AP) – A federal appeals court says Texas landlords and humanitarian workers shouldn’t fear prosecution under a sweeping state border security law that targeted people “harboring” immigrants who are illegally in the U.S. The decision Thursday was unusually celebrated by both Republicans who drafted the 2015 law and civil rights attorneys who sued over concerns it could sweep up people other than human smugglers or kidnappers. Some landlords and shelters worried the anti-smuggling crackdowns could make them criminally liable for renting an apartment or offering a bed to undocumented immigrants. Republican state Rep. Dennis Bonnen called the lawsuit “a joke” and says that was never the intent. But the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund says the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has now assured their clients they won’t be targeted.
DALLAS (AP) – Immigration officials have confirmed that a Salvadoran woman seeking asylum was returned to a Texas detention center after spending almost two weeks in a hospital. Attorneys for 26-year-old Sara Beltran Hernandez say she was being treated for a brain tumor after collapsing at the detention center earlier this month. Paralegal Melissa Zuniga says Beltran Hernandez has waited 13 days to have surgery and the lawyers in her asylum case are asking for a humane release to receive that care. A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Thursday that Beltran Hernandez was returned to the detention center to await a medical appointment Monday because doctors had decided she was in stable condition. Zuniga says the woman’s condition is worsening with nosebleeds, loss of memory and other symptoms increasing.
PASADENA (AP) – Police in the Houston suburb of Pasadena say a man walked into a restaurant and ordered everybody out, then shot two women, killing one. Pasadena police spokesman Vance Mitchell says the incident happened about 7:45 p.m. Thursday at the Tierra Caliente restaurant. Mitchell says the slain woman apparently had a relationship with the gunman. Mitchell says the slain woman’s sister also was shot but was wounded in the arm and her life isn’t thought to be in danger. The man then shot himself. He was airlifted to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. His condition isn’t known, but Mitchell said he appeared to be critically wounded at the crime scene. No motive has been established, and Mitchell says no identities have been established.
WASHINGTON (AP/Staff) – Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords – who survived an assassination attempt – is urging members of Congress to “have some courage” and face their constituents. Her comments Thursday are in response to Republican Louie Gohmert of Tyler, who this week invoked Giffords’ 2011 shooting in explaining why he’s currently only holding telephone town halls. Gohmert says there are groups “from the more violent strains of the leftist ideology” who are attending town halls to wreak havoc and threaten public safety. Giffords says town halls were a hallmark of her time in Congress, and she continues to meet with the public today in campaigning for stricter gun laws.… Read More
COPPELL (AP) – Retail gasoline prices in Texas have dropped by 2 cents while the national average price remains unchanged. AAA Texas on Thursday reported the average price at the pump statewide fell to $2.08 per gallon. Nationwide gasoline prices remained at $2.28 per gallon. The association survey of metro regions in Texas found that drivers in El Paso are paying the most on average at $2.13 per gallon, while motorists in Corpus Christi and San Antonio are paying the least at $2.02. AAA experts say prices continue to remain flat due to low driving demand and an oversupplied market as a result of increased U.S. production. Gasoline prices are expected to increase with the arrival of spring as more people take to the road and drive up demand.
RED SPRINGS – A Lindale woman is killed and another Lindale resident injured in a wreck north of Tyler. Killed in the accident, Just after 5:00 Thursday morning, was Jolene Ellis Robinson, 42. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Her passenger, Adron Thomas, 42, is hospitalized. The accident occurred on Farm Road 16 at County Road 3165. The Department of Public Safety reports their SUV left the road on a curve, hit several trees and then rolled over and caught fire. The crash remains under investigation.
LAREDO (AP) – A South Texas sheriff says a police officer whose body was found at a law enforcement shooting range had suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar said Wednesday the gunshot wound to the chest of Lt. David Medina was “not consistent with foul play.” The Laredo Morning Times reports the findings are based on a preliminary investigation by the Webb County medical examiner’s office. Medina’s body was found Tuesday at the shooting range by a U.S. Border Patrol agent. Authorities at the time didn’t categorize the death as a suicide and said only that they weren’t looking for any suspects. Medina was a 13-year veteran of the Laredo school district police force and was the second in command.
EL PASO (AP) – An El Paso woman will remain in jail after a federal magistrate denied bond following testimony that she abducted another woman because her “lifestyle brought shame to the Muslim community.” The judge determined Wednesday that 35-year-old Norma Juarez Taha was a flight risk and a danger to the community. Court records show Taha was charged with one count of kidnapping after allegedly abducting the 20-year-old woman from her home, drugging her and taking her to Juarez, Mexico. People in the home where she was taken took her to the border crossing earlier this month and turned her over to U.S. officials. A court-appointed attorney for Taha says the victim’s allegations are a fabrication and that Taha has always been law-abiding. Taha is a naturalized U.S. citizen who’s described in court documents as Mexican-Muslim.
HOUSTON (AP) – Houston police say an 18-year-old sandwich shop employee has been fatally shot during an attempted robbery as he tried to protect his mother, who also worked at the store. Police say Javier Flores and his mother were the only people in the southeast Houston Subway restaurant near closing time Wednesday night when two assailants rushed in and pointed a gun at the woman. Detective David Crowder says Flores “attempted to push (her) out of the way as the suspect was firing, and he was hit and the mother was not.” The high school junior was pronounced dead at a hospital. The robbers fled empty-handed. Crowder says authorities hope Flores’ distraught mother can help them with information about the attackers but it’s “very hard for her to talk about this.”
SMITH COUNTY — A Central Texas man was arrested in Smith County for multiple sex crimes. According to KETK, Chesley Dean Hayes, 42, of Gatesville, was arrested around 8:45 Wednesday night by Smith County Sheriff’s Officials. Hayes is charged with six counts of indecency with a child by contact and six counts of sexual assault prohibited/purport spouse. He was booked into the Smith County Jail on $1,350,000 bond.
AUSTIN (AP) — Gary Cartwright, a former North Texas sportswriter whose features and profiles became part of the foundation of Texas Monthly magazine, has died at the age of 82. Close friend and fellow Texas Monthly writer Jan Reid says Cartwright died Wednesday morning in the Seton Hospital in Austin. Reid’s wife, Dorothy Browne, said Cartwright had fallen in his home Feb. 10 and remained on the floor for four days before neighbors found him during a welfare check. He had been in hospice care since. Cartwright was a young police reporter with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram before moving to the now-defunct Fort Worth Press, where he joined a legendary sports department run by Blackie Sherrod. He later moved to The Dallas Morning News, where he reported on the Don Meredith-era Dallas Cowboys. He launched his magazine career with Harper’s and Sports Illustrated before joining the newly launched Texas Monthly in 1975.… Read More
AUSTIN (AP) – Texas wants a long-running voter ID lawsuit put on hold now that Republican lawmakers are proposing legislation that would comply with a federal court’s ruling last year that found the existing law discriminatory. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday asked a federal judge to delay an upcoming court hearing until summer. The request comes after Senate Republicans this week introduced a revised voter ID bill that could address problems courts have identified with the existing Texas law. The bill would permanently put in place an option allowing people without an accepted ID to vote by signing an affidavit declaring that they have a reasonable impediment. The U.S. Justice Department, which contested the Texas law under the Obama administration, joined the state in asking for a delay.
AMARILLO (AP) – Forecasters say parts of the Texas Plains face critical wildfire danger conditions through Friday. The Texas A&M Forest Service on Wednesday announced the areas of concern are Abilene, Amarillo, El Paso, Fort Stockton, Lubbock, Midland-Odessa, San Angelo and Wichita Falls. The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center issued an alert describing western portions of Texas as having an extreme threat for wildfires. Experts raised concerns about sustained winds of 30 to 35 mph, above normal temperatures and low relative humidity. Officials also noted a dry line – a boundary that separates moist air mass from dry air – forming over the region. Texas A&M Forest Service officials advise against outdoor burning until conditions improve. Drivers are urged to avoid parking and idling in tall, dry grass.
AUSTIN (AP) – A collection of Democratic state senators has proposed legislation prohibiting police from enforcing federal immigration laws in hospitals, schools, churches, courthouses and colleges and universities across Texas. Houston Sen. Sylvia Garcia announced her “safe zones” bill Wednesday flanked by co-sponsors. She said such places “are supposed to be safe for everyone.” The proposal follows authorities recently detaining on immigration charges a woman who was at an El Paso courthouse seeking a protective order against her allegedly abusive boyfriend. The Texas Senate already has approved a bill banning “sanctuary cities” which calls for criminal charges against law enforcement officials who refuse to help federal authorities deport immigrants in the country illegally. The measure must still clear the Texas House, where the provision seeking criminal charges for non-compliant officials may not survive.
CHANTILLY, Va. (AP) – The Apollo 11 command module, which traveled more than 950,000 miles to take Americans to the moon and back in 1969, is going on a road trip, leaving the Smithsonian for the first time in more than four decades. On Wednesday, officials announced a four-city road tour ahead of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in 2019. The capsule will visit museums in Houston, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Seattle as part of a new exhibit: “Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission.” The capsule, named “Columbia,” went on a tour of U.S. capitals following its historic role in the mission to the moon. But since then it has made its home at the Smithsonian in Washington.
CORPUS CHRISTI (AP) – Investigators say a South Texas jailer has been arrested and charged with smuggling crack cocaine into the lockup. Nueces County jail records show 22-year-old Ryan Rodriguez was being held Wednesday on a felony charge of taking a prohibited substance into a correctional facility. Bond was set at $10,000. Prosecutors say an informant last week tipped officers about a jailer allegedly transporting cocaine into the facility in Corpus Christi. Sheriff Jim Kaelin says Rodriguez, who joined the jail staff four months ago, was arrested Tuesday. Rodriguez faces allegations he smuggled crack cocaine to an inmate, who then allegedly sold the drugs to other prisoners. Authorities didn’t immediately announce additional arrests in the continuing investigation. Jail records Wednesday didn’t immediately list an attorney to speak on behalf of Rodriguez.
CONROE (AP) – Sheriff’s deputies responding to a 911 call made by an 11-year-old child north of Houston have shot and killed a knife-wielding man who investigators say had fatally stabbed his wife. Montgomery County sheriff’s officials said in a statement that the boy alerted authorities early Wednesday morning to say his father had stabbed his mother. Responding deputies found the child with blood across much of his body. When deputies entered the home they found the man in a bedroom and officials say he was shot when he moved toward the deputies while holding the knife. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the child suffered any physical injuries. The incident occurred at a home in a housing development south of Conroe near W.G. Jones State Forest.
HOUSTON (AP) – The sheriff of Harris County says he intends to end a partnership with federal immigration officials that had county jailers identify inmates who are in the country illegally and detain them for possible deportation. Sheriff’s officials said in a statement Wednesday that Sheriff Ed Gonzalez notified U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement a day earlier of his plans. Gonzalez told the Houston Chronicle that his decision was not motivated by politics but instead by the need to have ICE-trained deputies focus on other concerns, such as staff shortages at the overcrowded county jail that has led overtime costs to soar. ICE officials will still screen inmates to determine their immigration status. As Harris County decides to opt out of the ICE program, Tarrant County recently indicated it will train its jailers in order to join.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court has ordered a new court hearing for a black Texas prison inmate who claims improper testimony about his race tainted his death sentence. The justices voted 6-2 Wednesday in favor of inmate Duane Buck. Buck had tried for years to get federal courts to look at his claim that his rights were violated when jurors were told by a defense expert witness that Buck was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is black. Chief Justice John Roberts said in his majority opinion that the federal appeals court that heard Buck’s case was wrong to deny him a hearing. Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented. Buck was convicted of killing his former girlfriend and another man in 1995.