ATHENS – A memorial service has been set for an East Texas man who went missing following an oil rig explosion in Louisiana. According to KETK, Autry’s Carroll-Lehr Funeral Home says visitation for Timmy Lee Morris, 44, will be held on Sunday from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., at the First Presbyterian Church in Athens. A memorial service is slated for 3:00 p.m., following the visitation. On October 15, an oil rig exploded on Lake Pontchartrain, just west of New Orleans. Eight people were on an offshore platform when it exploded. Seven were able to make it to shore and were hospitalized. Timmy Morrison’s body was found about 3 miles from the platform location, west of the St. Charles and Jefferson Parish Line. A helicopter found him on the shoreline around 1 p.m. Friday. Morrison was born in Tyler. He was a resident of Katy, but was raised in Athens, which he considered his home.
LONGVIEW — Several streets are closed to allow for the Rockers Riders and Ribs event Friday and Saturday in downtown Longview. Street closures have been done in phases in preparation for the event.
Street closed from 8:00 a.m., Friday, October 20 – 2:00 p.m., Sunday, October 22:
Methvin Street from Green Street to First Street … Read the rest of the article…
AUSTIN – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recently completed a report regarding a fatal sailboat accident on Lake O’ the Pines that resulted in the deaths of three Boy Scouts. The report was prepared by Texas Game Wardens who responded to this incident and by the agency’s statewide boating accident reconstruction and mapping team that handled the investigation. A TPWD statement says although TPWD has received a request for this report from the media, there are specific laws about what information TPWD can release regarding accidents involving juveniles, and to whom that information can be released. To ensure compliance with these laws, TPWD says it has requested an opinion from the Office of the Texas Attorney General. … Read the rest of the article…
GILMER — A Gilmer carnival worker is accused of operating a ride while drunk. KETK reports it happened at the East Texas Yamboree. Gilmer police got a complaint about 63-year-old Darrell Wayne Clayton. He flunked a field sobriety test and blew nearly twice the legal limit on a breathalayzer. Chief Mark Case says Clayton was running the merry-go-round. Case says this is a first for his town. Clayton was booked into jail and charged with assembling or operating an amusement ride while intoxicated.
TYLER — A 30-year-old Longview man has been convicted for his role in a student financial aid fraud scheme. Robert Brisco was found guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, four counts of mail fraud, and 16 counts of student financial aid fraud and aiding and abetting. From 2013 to 2015, Brisco and others conspired to use wire communications and the mail to fraudulently obtain student financial aid funds through the Pell Grant Program and William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. Brisco faces up to 20 years in federal prison, pending a sentencing hearing yet to be scheduled. Brisco’s mother and sister pleaded guilty in July to student financial aid fraud and each face up to five years in federal prison at sentencing. Six others have been charged in the scheme. All have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
UNION GROVE — An East Texas man is getting all kinds of attention over a 417-pound wild hog. Joe Clowers was spending the night at a deer stand on his property in Union Grove when the giant hog appeared. He shot it with an AR-15 rifle. Then his friend, who is the Gregg County game warden, posted it on their Facebook page — And it’s gone viral. Clowers says he’s “still somewhat in shock. He says the shooting happened as part of an eradication effort and he “never knew people cared that much about a big pig.” He mounted the head as a trophy for his daughter. He also processed the meat to feed homeless animals.
CARROLLTON — Carrollton police have made an arrest connected to a large theft ring involving credit card skimmers — and according to KETK, the suspect reportedly has criminal ties to East Texas. Yoandi Valdez will be charged with criminal activity and credit or debit card abuse. Police say the ring stretched from North Texas to East Texas, hitting people and businesses. Police say Valdez and his associates used internal skimmers to steal card information. The scheme involved using stolen data to produce fraudulent credit cards, later used at gas pumps to steal diesel fuel. Tyler police say Valdez is “loosely” connected to Tyler but they’re still investigating his ties to the area.
LINDALE — An East Texas church staff member has been arrested for sexual assault. According to KETK, Clinton Brackett, 32, of Lindale, was arrested on a sexual assault warrant out of Runnels County, near Abilene. Brackett is listed on the First United Methodist Church in Lindale’s website as the Director of Student Ministries. Brackett has been booked into the Smith County Jail on $100,000 bond.… Read the rest of the article…
LONGVIEW — One man has been taken to the hospital and another detained by police after they said the person ran over the man on Henderson Street Thursday afternoon. According to the Longview News-Journal, police are investigating the incident as an aggravated assault family violence. Police were called around 1:30 to Henderson Street on a “jaws of life” call. That’s when they discovered a man had been run over by a car and was suffering life-threatening injuries. The person driving the car is said to be a relative of the victim. Police have detained the suspect, but no official arrest has been made.
ARP – An Arp ISD faculty member has been placed on administrative leave due to accusations of an improper relationship with a student. According to KETK, Superintendent Dwight Thomas says the district is conducting an investigation, and the local police department confirmed it is doing likewise. No arrests have been made, and the name of the staff member has not been confirmed by law enforcement or school administration. We’ll provide more information as it becomes available.
POMPANO BEACH, Florida — A federal jury in Florida has convicted an ex-East Texas businessman of filing fraudulent tax returns, wire fraud, and filing false monthly reports with the U.S. Probation Office. Timothy J. Beverley, 61, the former president and CEO of Tyler Jet, worked as an airplane broker at Majestic Jet Inc., a Pompano Beach, Florida, company that provided aircraft charters. KETK reports Beverly also owned a NASCAR team. From 2010 through 2013, Beverley stole more than $1,500,000 from Majestic Jet by directing airplane escrow agents to wire funds from the sale of planes to nominee bank accounts that Beverley controlled. Beverley also stole funds directly from Majestic’s business bank accounts and used the money to pay for personal expenses including his boat and rent. Beverley did not report this income on his 2010 through 2013 personal tax returns.… Read the rest of the article…
LONGVIEW — Gregg County officials say Kilgore/Liberty City area resident Jessie Clifford Brown has been arrested in a murder dating to May 20, 2015. Authorities got a 911 call that night reporting a single vehicle crash in the Liberty City area. Responding officers found the vehicle in a creek. While rendering aid to occupants, officers discovered the driver, John Allen Franco, had suffered a gunshot wound. Franco died before he could get to a hospital. The 35-year-old Brown is held in the Gregg County jail on a $250,000 bond. The investigation is continuing.
LONGVIEW – Longview police have identified one suspect and released a photo of another in connection with vehicle windows being shot out. KETK reports over 70 parked vehicles were hit early Monday morning with a BB gun during drive-bys. Police did not immediately release the name of the person they have identified. Anyone with information on the suspect in the photo is asked to contact Det. Doug Pickering at 903-237-1156, Gregg County Crime stoppers at 903-236-7867, or http://www.greggcountycrimestoppers.org and reference case #17-16266.
HOUSTON (AP) – A Houston-area school district has apologized for altering an image of a high school homecoming queen. Ebony Smith had purple hair when she was crowned North Shore Senior High School’s homecoming queen last month. But Galena Park Independent School District shared a photo of Smith online last week where her hair had been altered to appear brown. Smith says the image was poorly edited and embarrassing. The school district has apologized for posting the incorrect photo and has since replaced it with a black-and-white version of the picture. The district’s student handbook says bright hair colors are unacceptable in the classroom, but Smith planned to dye her hair brown after homecoming. Smith’s mother says the situation is upsetting because the district changed her daughter’s appearance.
LARUE – Citing concerns voiced by a local resident and former student, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is calling out the LaPoynor school district. KETK reports the foundation wants all religious symbols removed from campus, including a Christian flag. The Wisconsin-based organization sent a four-page letter to LaPoynor Superintendent James Young October 11. Despite the call, the Christian flag remains on campus. Some students are fighting back by buying their own flags and flying them on their personal vehicles. Young says school officials are in the process of reviewing the concerns and will take any action deemed necessary.
HUNTSVILLE (AP) – The state’s top criminal court has stopped next week’s scheduled execution of an Ore City man convicted of killing two men during a 450-mile crime trek across the state nearly 16 years ago. Clinton Lee Young was set for lethal injection Oct. 25, but the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has sent his case back to his trial court in Midland for review. Attorneys for the 34-year-old Young argue false testimony from an accomplice was used to convict him of the November 2001 fatal shootings of 41-year-old Doyle Douglas in Longview and then 52-year-old Samuel Petrey a day or two later in a Midland oilfield. Petrey had been carjacked in Eastland, about 50 miles east of Abilene.
TYLER – The 84th Texas Rose Festival is officially under way. It started Thursday morning with a ribbon cutting and prayer service at the Rose Garden Center. Reigning over the festivities is Queen Emily Kaye Evans. She says she was surprised when asked to be queen. Her parents surprised her with the invitation when they came to where she was going to school at Belmont University in Nashville. She said she was so surprised, she didn’t have words, and she gasped and started crying. At first she said she wasn’t sure she would be able to do it. But after praying about it, she accepted the invitation. And she said she is very happy that she took on this role.… Read the rest of the article…
KILGORE — Two people were injured and Kilgore College briefly put on lockdown Wednesday afternoon after a shooting outside an apartment complex near campus. According to KETK, Kilgore police were called around 2:45 p.m. to South Street outside of several apartments near the intersection of Houston to reports of numerous gunshots. Witnesses told officers a suspect fled the scene in a truck. The two injured men were taken to a Longview medical center with injuries that were not life-threatening. One victim was shot in the abdomen, while the second was shot in the leg. the shooter was described as a black male with dreadlocks. No arrests had been made. Contact Kilgore Police with any information.
LONGVIEW — The Longleaf Pine Protection and Restoration Exhibit runs through October 28th at the Gregg County Historical Museum on North Fredonia Street in Longview. There will be a lecture on “Pinus Palustris: The Longleaf Pine” by Ellen Anderson today from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the museum’s Ann Lacy Crain Exhibit Center. For more information, go to their website, http://gregghistorical.org or call 903-753-5840.
GILMER — Gilmer ISD officials are considering selling a piece of land to the East Texas Yamboree Association. KETK reports board members voted Monday night to make a counter offer to the Yamboree. Under the deal, the Yamboree would get the land, but both entities would contribute $50,000 for a splash pad within the city. This year’s Yamboree celebrations kicked off Wednesday in Gilmer. This year’s queen-elect is Madison Dean (pictured with Yamboree President Brandon Garmon). Headlining the festival’s barn dance this year is country music star Jack Ingram.
PITTSBURG – Twelve persons were injured when a pickup hit the rear of a Pittsburg school bus. The bus had stopped to pick up students at the time of the accident. The accident happened around 7:00 Wednesday morning on Highway 271 south of Pittsburg. Nine students were taken either by ambulance or private vehicle to a Pittsburg hospital for treatment of minor injuries. The students ranged in age from 7 to 18.The pickup’s driver, 29 year-old Angelika Resendez, of Mt. Pleasant, was treated at relesed at the Pittsburg hospital. Two children in the pickup have been flown to a Dallas hospital. The accident remains under investigation.
TYLER – The 84th Texas Rose Festival, begins its 4 day run in Tyler on Thursday. This year the festival will be celebrating with displays of roses and activities such as the Rose Show, the Coronation, Queen’s Tea, and of course, the Texas Rose Festival Parade on Saturday. Activities get underway Thursday morning at 10:00 with the ribbon cutting and prayer service at the Rose Garden Center. Presiding over this year’s activities is Queen Emily Kaye Evans. Last year, around 46,000 out of town visitors attended the various rose season activities. The estimated economic impact for the community was $2.5 million. You can go to http://www.texasrosefestival.com for more information and a complete schedule of activities.
TYLER – The Smith County Commissioners Court Tuesday approved an interlocal agreement with Tyler Junior College’s Veterinary Technology Program to provide services to the Smith County Animal Shelter. Animal Control Coordinator Lekisha Stinecipher said she believes the agreement with the TJC North campus in Lindale will improve the shelter’s adoption rates and reduce the amount of times dogs stay at the shelter. County Judge Nathaniel Moran said the agreement won’t only benefit the students at the new TJC facility in Lindale with education, it will also benefit the county by getting dogs out of the shelter more quickly. Moran said he wanted a report in six to eight months about how the program is progressing.
LONGVIEW — Gregg County has been placed under a burn ban due to what officials term the lack of rainfall that has placed the community in drought-like conditions. Citizens are being asked to use any open flame cooking appliances such as BBQ grills and propane cookers with extreme caution. It is highly recommended that when cooking outdoors, citizens have a water hose or some other type of fire extinguishing capability available. Citizens of the City of Longview are reminded that once the burn ban is lifted it is still illegal to burn within the incorporated city limits. A fine for unauthorized burning can be up to, but cannot exceed, $2,000 per citation issued.
KILGORE — Kilgore College has been selected to receive a U.S. Department of Education 2017 Part F Title III Strengthening Institutions grant worth $2,998,352 over a five-year cycle. College officials say KC was one of only two two-year colleges to receive a Part F grant and the only Texas college to be awarded a grant from either of the two Title III programs. Only seven colleges nationwide received the Title III grant out of 103 institutions that applied. According to a news release, the grant will be used at KC to upgrade the college’s technology infrastructure, improve student retention, and drastically increase the number of online class options at KC with about 50 online courses being designed or redesigned.
LONGVIEW – Authorities say the number of incidents has increased from 60 to about 72 as they continue to investigate numerous vehicle windows shot out in the Longview area. Police say the estimated damage is about $18,000. Most of the crimes happened early Monday morning. Police have released a surveillance photo that shows what they say is a suspected truck. The vehicle, caught on surveillance in two locations, is a light-colored Chevrolet extended cab pickup, roughly between a 1997 and 1999 model. According to KETK, police said a suspect or suspects used an airsoft gun to break windows in vehicles parked outside residences. Investigators are asking anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers at 903-236-7867 or the Longview Police Department at 903-237-1170.
KENNER, La. (AP/Staff) – The Coast Guard has suspended its search for the East Texas native who was unaccounted for after an explosion on an oil platform in Lake Pontchartrain near Kenner, Louisiana. Forty-four-year-old contractor Timothy Morrison of Katy, Texas, was still missing after the Sunday night explosion. According to KETK, Morrison spent his childhood in Athens. Seven other people were injured, three critically. Cmdr. Zac Ford said in a statement Monday night, “The decision to suspend a search is never an easy one. We send our thoughts and prayers to the Morrison family and all those affected by this incident.” The fire on the platform, which is owned by Clovelly Oil Co., was extinguished Monday morning.
LONGVIEW — The Longview Police Department is investigating a murder committed on Bertha St. around 11:53 Monday night. Arriving officers found 61-year-old Lonnie Halton with multiple gunshot wounds. Halton died shortly after arrival at Christus Good Shepherd Medical Center. According to police, the initial investigation indicates the suspects targeted this location and it was not a random act. Police continue to seek suspects and witnesses. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Longview Police Department at 903-237-1170 or Gregg County Crime Stoppers at 903-236-7867.
LONGVIEW — A suspect believed to be connected to a weekend killing has been arrested. According to KETK, Cody Dewayne Fortman, 21, of Longview, was apprehended around 1:30 Monday afternoon. Investigators identified the suspect through the cooperation of a witness. Fortman has been charged with the murder of Nicholas Trevion Johnson, 22, of Longview. The victim was found early Sunday morning inside a home on Annette Drive with multiple gunshot wounds. The suspect was booked into the Gregg County Jail. His bond has been set at $175,000. Johnson’s death marked the sixth recorded homicide in Longview in 2017.
TYLER — Residents of nine units at a Tyler apartment complex have been displaced by fire. Firefighters headed to the Bullard Creek Apartments on Old Bullard Rd. around 12:30 Monday afternoon. Fire officials say crews were able to bring the flames under control in about 30 minutes. Bullard Creek management has been working to get the residents another place to stay. Investigators believe the fire started on the patio of a first floor unit. The tenant had discarded a cigarette in the trashcan just moments before the fire, which entered the chimney space and quickly spread to the second floor. After investigation, this matches the area where investigators believe the fire started. There were no injuries reported.