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Some Will Not be Charged for Using Toll 49

Loop 49TYLER — Drivers who used Toll 49 between Interstate Highway 20 and State Highway 31 on the following days and times will not be charged for their tolls. Specifics:
*Monday, September 15th during the hours of 8 a.m. to 7:10 p.m.,
*Tuesday, September 16th during the hours of 7:10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
*Wednesday, September 17th during the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 7:35 p.m.
Maintenance work was being performed on the toll road which caused some delays and lane closures. “We appreciate drivers’ patience while we performed the road work,” said Everett Owen, Interim Executive Director of the NET RMA. “We are being supportive of our customers. Whenever there is work performed that might slow traffic, the NET RMA will consider not charging for road utilization on a case by case scenario.” The NET RMA does use message boards to alert drivers of any potential delays.

Harrison County Accident Kills Two, Highway Re-Opened

thumb_DPS-carSCOTTSVILLE (AP) — A section of Interstate Highway 20 in Harrison County has been reopened following fatal accident. Two residents of Monroe, North Carolina were killed in the crash between of two 18-wheelers. Following the crash, one of the trucks caught fire. The accident happened around 2:30 Friday morning just west of the Scottsville exit. That’s about eight miles west of the Texas/Louisiana state line. All westbound traffic was diverted off of I-20 onto Exit 628 until the site could be cleared. State troopers say one 18-wheeler was traveling west when it rear-ended another 18-wheeler. The semi that caused the crash then caught on fire. Killed was the driver, Joel Bird, 55, and his passenger, Constance McCumbee. The accident remains under investigation and authorities have not released the names of the victims.

Company Responds after Construction Fatality

mariottaxTYLER — The management company of a hotel under construction in South Tyler is responding after an accident claimed the life of a worker at the site. The firm is offering its condolences to family of Michael Castillo. In a statement, the company says, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time. Safety is a primary concern for all our sites. We are looking into how this event occurred. We will also be taking all precautions to ensure something like this does not happen at this or any of our other properties in the future.” Read the rest of this entry »

East Texas State Fair Begins

East Texas Fair LogoTYLER — Today’s the first day of the East Texas State Fair, and it’s designated as Senior Citizen Day. That’s just one of numerous attractions as the fair kicks off a ten-day run, wrapping up Sunday, Sept. 28. Free nightly concerts are featured, with nationally-known and local entertainment. There’ll also be carnival rides, food, shopping, livestock shows, and more. You can go to for a complete rundown. Read the rest of this entry »

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Staples to Resign

thumb_toddstaplesAUSTIN (AP/Staff) – State Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples says he’s leaving office to become president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association. Staples said in a statement released Thursday that he’ll step down sometime within the next two months. His departure was expected, following a failed bid for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. His political career began as a city councilor in his hometown of Palestine. He went on to serve in the state House and then the Senate before becoming agriculture commissioner He received attention earlier this month when he raised objections to a school district pilot program that encourages kids to eat meatless lunches once a week. Staples said the effort by Dripping Springs was part of an “activist movement” advocating a vegetarian diet for Americans. Read the rest of this entry »

One Arrested, One Sought in Home Burglary

sheriffsearchketkTYLER — One person has been arrested and one is still sought after a home burglary Thursday in Tyler. According to the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, at approximately 12:20 p.m., sheriff’s detectives requested assistance from Tyler Police Department on initiating a traffic stop after seeing a vehicle suspected of involvement in a residential burglary case. The two men driving a gold Chrysler 300 led officers and detectives on a brief pursuit ending when the vehicle wrecked into a curb at the 2800 block of Pine Burr Road near downtown Tyler. Read the rest of this entry »

Cruelty Charge Dropped against Ex-Deputy

dooleymiddletonfamilyvidEMORY (AP/Staff) – An animal cruelty charge has been dropped against a former Rains County sheriff’s deputy who was fired after shooting a farm dog that was later euthanized. Jerrod Dooley appeared in court Thursday in Emory and said he’s permanently surrendered his law enforcement license. Dooley also apologized for shooting the blue heeler named Candy. Dooley said he was bitten before by another dog and that left him fearful of an attack. Dooley in April answered a burglary call near Point. Dooley has said the dog charged at him before he fired. The distraught owner then euthanized the wounded animal. Dooley was fired after he and the sheriff’s office received threats following the incident, part of which was recorded by patrol car video.

Couple’s Appeal Denied in Child Injury Case

thumb_Lady-JusticeTYLER — A Tyler husband and wife have been denied an appeal after the two were both sentenced to 25 years in prison for injury to a child. KETK reports the Twelfth Court of Appeals denied an appeal for Kenneth and Shelley Walker, who were sentenced October 3, 2012. They’d been found guilty of placing their two-year-old granddaughter, Bridget Walker, into a bathtub filled with scalding water. The toddler was severely burned on her feet and ankles and was flown to a Dallas hospital for treatment. Read the rest of this entry »

Captured Fugitive Guilty of Health Care Fraud Violations

Vivian YusufTYLER — A 44-year-old captured fugitive has pleaded guilty in connection with a federal health care fraud scheme in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales. Vivian Yusuf, formerly of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud on Sep. 17 in Tyler before U.S. Magistrate Judge John D. Love. Yusuf, a fugitive, wanted since March 2011, was arrested on June 3, 2014, at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. Yusuf had been indicted for conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud, and aggravated identity theft on Jan. 12, 2012. Read the rest of this entry »

Man Indicted for East Texas Murder Released on Bond

jasonwaltersmugQUITMAN — A man accused of murdering a Mineola teenager has been released on bond. Jason Russell Walters, 41, also of Mineola, turned himself in after being indicted by a Wood County grand jury. According to KETK, District Attorney Jim Wheeler says Walters was indicted on Friday. He was booked into the Wood County Jail Wednesday. Walters allegedly killed Christopher James Griffin, 19, with a gunshot wound to his neck. A judge upped his bond amount to $250,000 following the jury’s decision. The shooting occurred at 11:30 p.m. June 15 at the E-Z Mart in the 100 block of North Pacific Street in Mineola. The suspect was initially released following his arrest on June 16 after posting $100,000 bond.

Pedestrian Dies After Being Struck by Truck

LONGVIEW — One man has died following an accident involving a truck and a pedestrian. According to Longview Police, it happened Wednesday night around 9:40 in the 2100 block of East Marshall Avenue. Authorities said Herman Procell, 73, Longview, reportedly stepped out into the roadway in front of a truck driven by a 26-year-old man. Procell was transported to Good Shepherd Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries. No charges are expected to be filed.

Elderly East Texas Man Charged with Sexual Assault

MOUNT PLEASANT (AP) – An elderly East Texas man has been charged with sexually assaulting a disabled person at an assisted living facility. Mount Pleasant Police Chief Wayne Isbell says 84-year-old L.C. Terry was arrested Wednesday and charged with four counts of first-degree aggravated assault of a disabled individual. He says the assaults occurred over several months at the Mount Pleasant facility and were reported on Saturday. Isbell has not released other information about the alleged assaults. Terry is being held at the Titus County Jail. Bond has not been set. The Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune reports Terry is the pastor of the Spring Hill Missionary Baptist Church.

Accused Bank Robber Pleads Not Guilty

lone ranger banditWACO – A man accused of numerous bank robberies, including two in Tyler, has pleaded no guilty. The infamous “Loan Ranger” entered the plea in federal court in Waco yesterday. Richard Swicegood, 37, of Waxahachie, is charged with 11 counts of aggravated robbery, three counts of property to facilitate a crime, and one count of unauthorized use of another person’s property. He was arrested on July 1, during a traffic stop following the alleged robbery of two Benton, Arkansas, banks. KETK reports Swicegood will be re-arraigned on November 6 and jury selection will begin on November 17. Among the financial institutions he is accused of robbing are Altra Federal Credit Union, 5523 Troup Highway, on August 31, 2011; and BBVA Compass 6910 South Broadway Ave., on May 17, 2012.

Mother: Peterson “Trying Hard to be a Good Parent”

thumb_adrian_petersonHOUSTON (AP/Staff) — Adrian Peterson’s mother is defending the Minnesota Vikings running back in the wake of child abuse allegations against him, saying that he is “trying hard to be a good parent.” In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Bonita Jackson of Spring, Texas, said she and Peterson’s father, Nelson Peterson, were “big disciplinarians” who used hands, switches, and belts to occasionally spank all six of her children. Jackson, who is 50, said most parents discipline their children a little excessively sometimes, but they are trying to prepare their children “for the real world.” In her words, “When you whip those you love, it’s not about abuse, but love.”

Suspect Identified in Palestine Post Office Shooting

Stephanie YarbroughPALESTINE — The Palestine Police Department has identified the woman who allegedly shot at her ex-boyfriend at the local post office last week. According to KETK, police say Stephanie Yarbrough, 33, of Palestine, was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The incident happened last Friday at around 4:00 p.m. at the post office, located in the 1200 block of North Link Street. Officials say the woman ran from the building, jumped into a vehicle, and left the scene before police arrived. A short time later, Yarbrough turned herself in to police. She was taken into custody following questioning. Yarbrough faces up to 20 years in prison. She remains in the Anderson County Jail on a $150,000 bond. The investigation is ongoing, and other charges may be filed at a later date from an investigation carried out by the U.S. Postal Service.

UT Tyler Once Again Recognized for Online Education Efforts

thumb_uttylerTYLER — The University of Texas at Tyler has once again been recognized for creative uses and support of distance learning technology in the classroom, Dr. Ross Sherman, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, announced. Dr. Wesley Hickey received an “Outstanding Distance Learning Faculty” Award at the 2014 Northeast Texas Consortium of Colleges and Universities Distance Learning Conference. Read the rest of this entry »

Justice Sam Griffith to Retire Next Year

Sam Griffith-Justice 12 Court of AppealsTYLER — Justice Sam Griffith has announced his plans to retire from the Twelfth Court of Appeals early in 2015. According to a news release from the Twelfth Court of Appeals, Griffith, 63, was elected to serve on the court in 2000. He began his service on January 1, 2001, joining then-Chief Justice Leonard Davis and Justice Jim Worthen. In his first term, he also served with Louie Gohmert, before his election to Congress, and former Justice Diane DeVasto. In 2006, Griffith was unopposed as he was reelected to a second six-year term. That same year, he and Worthen were joined on the court by Justice Brian Hoyle. The three have now served together for over eight years. Griffith was again reelected in 2012 unopposed. Read the rest of this entry »

Ex-Husband of Missing Kilgore Woman to Be Extradited to Colorado

davisoncraiglnjMARSHALL — A man who has been named a person of interest in the disappearance of a Kilgore woman will be transferred to Arapahoe County, Colorado, after a Marshall judge found no probable cause to hold him. According to KETK, Judge Brad Morin’s Office reports Craig Deallen Davison, 48, of Hallsville, appeared in court on Tuesday. The court ruled Harrison County did not have sufficient evidence to hold the suspect on an assault family violence charge, a felony because of a 2005 conviction in Gregg County for the same crime. However, Harrison County District Attorney Coke Solomon said the case is still pending. “At this time there isn’t sufficient evidence to hold him on the charge. Once additional evidence is available, then we can present the case to the grand jury,” stated Solomon. Read the rest of this entry »

Supreme Court Justice Thomas Appears in Tyler

clarencethomasTYLER (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court justice best known for his silence on the bench stood before an East Texas audience to entertain questions. Justice Clarence Thomas appeared Tuesday night at the University of Texas at Tyler for a question-and-answer session. The 66-year-old Thomas has served on the bench since 1991. It’s been more than eight years since he asked a question in the courtroom during arguments in the case. On Tuesday, he expressed firm belief in the strict construction of the Constitution. As a judge, he says he’s “not into creative writing.” And he said he’s motivated by the belief that if the country “is not perfect, it is perfectible.” Thomas is one of the court’s conservatives and has been part of narrow majorities on several key issues in recent years.

Tyler Man Free on Bond Following Longview Arrest

Billy DeWayne PinkeLONGVIEW – A Tyler man is free on bond after being arrested in Gregg County on a charge of aggravated assault family violence with a weapon. Freed on a $15,000 bond was Billy DeWayne Pinke, 46. The Longview News-Journal reports he was arrested shortly before 5:30 Monday afternoon in the 900 block of Fourteenth Street. Pinke is said to have entered a home demanding his four year old son from a woman. After the woman said he hit her in the head twice he then got a shotgun from his truck. He is said to have pointed it at the woman, the child and a neighbor who witnessed the incident. After threatening to kill them, he left in his pickup. Police arrested him as he tried to get onto Interstate Highway 20.

Man Indicted for Tampering in Young Girls’ Deaths

Thomas LilesQUITMAN – The Wood County Grand Jury has indicted a Quitman man for tampering with evidence in the deaths of two young girls. The indictment is against Thomas Liles, 19. Witnesses told investigators Liles was seen running from the Dogwood Villa Apartments where the two deaths occurred. They also saw the man throw a “large item” into a dumpster near the building. The items were consistent with having come from the children’s apartment, said police. Read the rest of this entry »

Two More Fired During County Jail Probe

Smith County Jail-SideTYLER – Two more persons have been fired as a result of the investigation of misconduct among personnel at the Smith County Jail. The remaining two persons who had been placed on administrative leave pending investigation for misconduct have had their employment terminated as of Tuesday, September 16. The former detention officer and detention sergeant have ten days to appeal the termination with Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith. Read the rest of this entry »

East Texas State Fair Traffic Advisory

East Texas Fair LogoTYLER — The East Texas State Fair will open this Friday and the day is designated as Senior Citizen day. Tyler Police Department advises drivers that on West Front Street in front of Harvey Hall traffic will be shut down to one lane of traffic in both East and West directions all day Friday starting at 8:00am until midnight. After Friday all lanes will be open until 4:00pm each day and then the traffic will revert back to one lane of traffic flow in each direction until closing time of the Fair. Tyler police encourage everyone crossing West Front to cross at the approved cross walk in front of the main gate. Officers will provide traffic control at this cross walk for your safety. Please use extreme caution in this area due to the large volume of pedestrian traffic and officers directing traffic in the street. Drivers not attending the Fair on Friday and after 4:00pm each day may consider taking an alternate route.

Marshall Capital Murder Suspect Pleads Guilty

Eric Alexander MillsMARSHALL – A man charged with capital murder in Marshall has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of murder. Eric Alexander Mills pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to the December 7th 2012 murder of Domino’s Pizza employee Raymond Gomez. He received a life prison sentence. As part of the plea bargain agreement, Mills also pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery of the business’ manager and was sentenced to 60 years in prison. He was also sentenced to 20 years in prison for the aggravated robbery of one of the restaurant’s employees. All three sentences will be served concurrently. Read the rest of this entry »

One Killed in Smith County Accident

DPS badgeWHITEHOUSE – A two car accident in Smith County has killed one person and injured two. The accident happened around 9:45 Monday morning on Farm Road 349, about two miles west of Whitehouse. Killed was Joann Giles, 68, of Flint. Her 8 year old grandson is listed in stable condition at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. The driver of the other vehicle, Larysa Boggiss, 37, of Tyler, is in stable condition at Tyler’s Mother Francis Hospital. According to the Department of Public Safety, Giles car which was traveling at an unsafe speed, hydroplaned on the wet road and veered into the path of the other vehicle.

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