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Senate Passes Bill Approving Keystone XL Oil Pipeline

Keystone XL Pipeline2WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-controlled Senate has passed a bipartisan bill approving construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The 62-36 vote on Thursday advanced a top priority of the newly empowered GOP, which championed the legislation despite a presidential veto threat. Keystone is the first of many battles with the White House over energy and the environment. The measure fell short of the threshold needed to override a veto. It also needs to be reconciled with the House version. The bill authorizes construction of the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline to carry oil primarily from Canada’s tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries. It runs through eastern Smith County. Critics argue the $8 billion project would spell disaster for global warming. Supporters call it a jobs bill that would boost energy security.

Man Executed in 1996 Tyler Slaying

Robert LaddHUNTSVILLE (AP/Staff) – 57-year-old Robert Ladd was executed Thursday night in Huntsville after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to stop the execution. Ladd was convicted of strangling and beating Vickie Ann Garner, 38, before setting her body on fire in her Tyler apartment in 1996. Lawyers claimed he was mentally impaired. Ladd had pleaded guilty in 1980 to a similar slaying in Dallas, where a woman’s body was burned in a blaze that also killed her two children. Although he received a 40-year prison term, he was paroled after serving only about a third of his sentence. Ladd’s attorneys said juvenile records show that a psychiatrist determined a 13-year-old Ladd had an IQ of only 67 and that he couldn’t fully function on his own.

BBB Announces Award, Scholarship Recipients

Better Business BureauTYLER — The Better Business Bureau Serving Central East Texas held its 2015 Awards Ceremony Wednesday at The Ornelas Activity Center in Tyler. The organization presented the BBB Awards for Excellence to three companies and one nonprofit organization that exemplify ethical behavior and display integrity in all aspects of their operations, according to a news release. Winners are chosen by an independent panel of judges. “Today more than ever it’s necessary that we spotlight and celebrate companies in our region who operate with integrity in all aspects of their operations,” according to Mechele Agbayani Mills, president and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. Read the rest of this entry »

Wanted Sex Offender Captured in Marshall

damoncovingtonMARSHALL — A man wanted for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender was captured at a Marshall home Thursday afternoon. According to KETK, the Marshall Police Department says at 12:45 p.m., officers searched a house in the 1800 block of South Street in an attempt to locate a wanted felon. Police found Damon Covington, 36, inside the home. The suspect had been wanted for over two years. Covington is required to register annually as a sex offender because he had sexually assaulted a juvenile. The suspect also had an outstanding Marshall PD warrant for assault family violence with previous conviction and also a warrant out of Harrison County for criminal non-support.

Kilgore PD Seeks Person of Interest in Murder Investigation

marcus_whitikerKILGORE — The Kilgore Police Department is currently searching for Marcus Demois Whitaker, 35, of Kilgore. KETK reports Whitaker is considered a person of Interest in the shooting death of Franciosa Jackson on December 28, 2014, in Kilgore. Whitaker is currently wanted by Texas Pardons and Parole for an alleged parole violation stemming from a burglary charge in Gregg County. Whitaker should be considered armed and dangerous and the public should not attempt to approach or apprehend him, according to officials. Read the rest of this entry »

Grand Jury No-Bills Suspects in Jail Record Falsification Case

thumb_Larry-SmithTYLER — Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith (pictured) says he plans to focus on future prevention now that a no-bill has been returned in a jail records falsification case. It was learned this week that a Smith County grand jury had declined to return indictments on over a dozen jail workers who had been implicated. According to accusations, the jailers faslely indicated they had performed regular cell checks. The case dates to last August. Read the rest of this entry »

UTT Breaks Ground on New Musical Arts Center

UT Tyler Center for the Musical ArtsTYLER — The University of Texas at Tyler has begun construction of a two-story addition to the R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center that will become the future home of the UT Tyler Center for the Musical Arts, President Rodney H. Mabry announced. A groundbreaking ceremony was held Thursday to celebrate the occasion at the Cowan Center White Lobby. Expected opening date of the $6.5 million addition is Spring 2016. Read the rest of this entry »

Gohmert Co-Sponsors Regulatory Overreach Protection Act

thumb_louiegohmert-3WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republican East Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert is again targeting the Environmental Protection Agency. In a statement regarding the introduction of H.R. 594, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, Gohmert says, “It is critical that this bill is brought to the House floor for passage then sent to the Senate for passage then on to the President. This bill is critical to reining in federal agencies who have engaged in a power grab to snatch Constitutional rights away from property owners, as well as local and state governments. The EPA is attempting to illegally expand the Clean Water Act (CWA) and grasp jurisdiction over water that is currently under control of states and private ownership.” Read the rest of this entry »

Robert E. Lee on Lockdown for over Two Hours Thursday

REL_PIC.1422555989TYLER — A lockdown was lifted Thursday afternoon at Robert E. Lee High School. Officials say the campus went on lockdown at approximately 11:00 a.m. Thursday after a fight broke out among several students. Administrators felt it was necessary to take the precautionary measure until the situation was resolved, according to a statement from Tyler ISD. Students remained in the classroom and classes were in session until the lockdown was lifted at approximately 1:30 p.m. Further details on the case weren’t immediately given out by the school district.

Motion Filed to Dismiss Theft Charge against Bernie Tiede

bernie_tiede_news_journalCARTHAGE — The attorney for convicted killer Bernie Tiede argues in a motion filed in Carthage that a pending theft charge against him should be dismissed because the former assistant mortician’s homosexuality played against him some 15 years ago. “Times have changed greatly since Mr. Tiede was charged with this theft,” attorney Jodi Cole argues in her motion filed in the 123rd District Court, according to KETK and the Longview News-Journal. Among other things, Cole’s motion cites evidence she says reveals a deal offered Tiede to plead guilty to murder in exchange for a 20-year sentence to avoid the release of details regarding his homosexual relationships in Carthage. Read the rest of this entry »

Official Cause of Mineola Restaurant Fire Deemed “Undetermined”

rancherorestaurantketkMINEOLA — The cause of a fire at a beloved Mineola restaurant has been deemed “undetermined” after an official investigation. Last December 2, six fire departments responded to a blaze that caused heavy damage to the Ranchero Country Buffet. The initial call came in around 12:30 a.m. The Mineola Volunteer Fire Department and the other units battled the flames at the restaurant in the 1000 block of North Pacific Street for about an hour. Mineola Fire Marshal David Madsen tells KETK the investigation has come to a close and officials weren’t able to learn how the fire started. Madsen also said there is no indication arson was a factor in the blaze. No injuries were reported, but the restaurant remains closed.

Tyler Man Sentenced for Drug Trafficking

micolsearsmugTYLER — A 39-year-old Tyler, Texas man has been sentenced to federal prison for drug trafficking violations. Micol Jauron Sears pleaded guilty last September to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine. He was sentenced yesterday to 168 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider. Sears was also ordered to submit to forfeiture of $25,000. Federal prosecutors say on April 9, 2014, a federal search warrant was executed at Sears’ residence in Tyler during which law enforcement officers located 1.8 kilograms of crack cocaine, six firearms and a safe containing $39,900 in cash.

Tyler Police Issue Scam Alert

thumb_police-tyler-badgeTYLER — The Tyler Police Department has received information of a possible scam. According to a police news release, individuals are receiving phone calls from someone indicating that the individual has won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes and then requesting personal information. The Police Department reminds you never to divulge personal information to anyone you do not know.

Filings for Longview City Elections

longview-cityof LONGVIEW – There was a flurry of activity on the opening day to file for the Longview city elections in May. Five persons filed on the opening day Wednesday. Two of those are running for Mayor. They are Dr. Andy Mack, 54 and business owner Richard Manley, 60. The filing period runs through February 27th. Also on the ballot are Council Districts 1 and 2 and special election for the unexpired term of district 5. Filing Wednesday for the District 1 position were Ed Moore, 60, and Jearl P. Morris, 79. No one has yet filed for the district 2 spot. One person filed Wednesday for the unexpired term in District 5. He is Ben Stone, 34.

Officials: Escaped Prisoner Arrested in Marshall

fuller_orie_rayMARSHALL — Authorities say they’ve rounded up an escaped prisoner in Marshall. Tuesday afternoon just before 3:30, members of the Marshall Police Department’s SWAT team assisted the U. S. Marshals Service in carrying out a warrant in the 200 block of Enola Mae Drive. KETK reports Orie Fuller, 19, was arrested on a charge of escape while in custody. Fuller was in a work release unit in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, and had been evading authorities since December, according to authorities.

Video Released, Officers Named in Fatal Longview Police Shooting

lv_pd_shooting.1422476765LONGVIEW — The Longview Police Department has released the surveillance video and names of the officers involved in the fatal shooting of a teen in the department lobby. KETK reports that according to the video, (see below) last Thursday at 6:28 p.m., 17-year-old Kristiana Coignard entered the police station, picked up the after-hours phone, called public safety communications, and asked for help. When asked what she needed, she refused to tell the operator what the problem was. Police officers were dispatched to the lobby a short time later. When Officer Glenn Derr arrived, Coignard indicated to him she had a gun. According to police, the words “I have a gun,” were written on her hand. This resulted in a physical confrontation when Officer Derr attempted to secure Coignard. Read the rest of this entry »

Palestine Man Arrested on Drug, Weapon Charges

danielcummingsiiiPALESTINE — A Palestine man is behind bars after being arrested on drugs and weapons charges. Shortly after 6:45 Tuesday evening, members of the Palestine Police Department Drug Enforcement Unit along with three DPS teams, ATF agents, and TDCJ K-9 units served a warrant in the 300 Block of Variah Street. According to KETK, officials say Daniel Cummings III, 25, was located inside the house when SWAT made entry. SWAT members were forced to chainsaw the door to make entry, as the persons inside barricaded the front entry door, according to authorities. Palestine PD Patrol Commander Jeff Powell said, “We had a lot of complaints about the activity there. We just continue to ask for the public’s assistance in identifying and ridding Palestine of these and other problem areas within the neighborhoods.” Read the rest of this entry »

One Dead in Longview Shooting

longviewshooting012815ketkLONGVIEW — One person is dead following a shooting in the 1700 block of Sandlin Street in Longview. This is the fourth fatal shooting in Longview this year. According to the Longview News-Journal, the victim was identified as Garrett “G” Neal, by neighbors. The newspaper reports a neighbor noticed the door to Neal’s house was open and his dog was running around in the front yard Wednesday morning. The neighbor then went to check on Neal, walking through his house and calling him by his nickname, when she found him in the dining room with an apparent gunshot wound. “There was blood everywhere,” she said. The investigation continues, and there’s no word on any suspects or the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

Former Capital One Employee Gets February Plea Hearing in Bank Heist

danielbursonmug2TYLER — A McKinney man who was arrested for allegedly robbing Tyler’s Capital One Bank last August 11 will be in a Tyler court February 12 for a plea hearing. KETK reports a joint investigation between the Tyler Police Department and the FBI led to the arrest of Daniel River Burson, 37. Burson was a corporate security consultant-investigator for the bank. At 7:52 a.m. August 11, Tyler police received a 911 call of a robbery from an employee of the bank, located at Copeland and Loop 323. The bank employee said she and another female employee were walking back towards the drive-thru building door when they were approached by a man telling them to drop the black night deposit bag. The man then grabbed the bag and fled in a dark Mercedes Benz four-door sedan with no license plates. Burson faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

Longview Police Continue to Probe Drive-By Shooting

thumb_police-longview2LONGVIEW — The Longview Police Department is still investigating a drive-by shooting that happened Monday night. Around 6 p.m. police responded to a gunshot call on the 300 block of Nikki Drive, according to KETK. Police say a male was driving the car and the shots likely came from a female passenger, who allegedly shot at a house and vehicle. One bullet struck the vehicle. Police say this was likely an isolated incident stemming from a previous conflict between the shooter and the car’s owner. Public Information Officer Kristie Brian said drive-bys are not very common in Longview. Anyone with any information is asked to call Gregg County Crime Stoppers or the Longview Police Department.

Man Shot Dead in Rusk

thumb_police-lights-3RUSK — The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office reports one person is dead after a shooting in Rusk. According to KETK, officials said a woman reported her husband was threatening to kill her and himself at a house on the 100 block of Joplin Street. The Rusk Police Department said officers responded to reports of a shot fired at around 2:00 yesterday afternoon. When officers were getting out of their patrol car, a shot was fired from within the home, according to officials. Police say they entered the building and found a man dead. His identity was not immediately released. The body has been sent for autopsy.

Preliminary Autopsy Reports Come In on Two Longview Deaths

longviewshootinghomeLONGVIEW — Preliminary autopsy reports have come back in connection with two deaths in Longview. That’s according to KETK and the Longview News-Journal. On January 13, police discovered the body of Philander Carlton Peters, 48, of Longview, at the scene of a Tuesday evening shooting in the 1600 Block of Hawthorne Street. An eyewitness at the scene reported hearing four gunshots and seeing a black male running from the home. The preliminary autopsy report states Peters died from a gunshot wound to the head with perforation of the brain, deeming the death a homicide. The shooting remains under investigation. Detectives are still asking that anyone with information on the identity of the person seen running from the scene come forward and help solve the crime. Read the rest of this entry »

Officials Report on Conditions at Klein Animal Shelter

animalshelterpicJACKSONVILLE — State officials have released a detailed report of Klein Animal Shelter conditions following concerns brought to their attention at the Jacksonville facility. That’s according to our news partner KETK. In the unofficial quarantine facility inspection, presented by Dr. Melinda Hergert and Angela Hopkins, officials said the shelter passed the “Q inspection” on January 14 but “failed miserably” on the impoundment of animals. Inspectors say they found two dead dogs and two injured dogs in the compound. One of the animals, a Schnauzer, was discovered lying in its own feces, according to the report. Read the rest of this entry »

Flashing Yellow Arrow Signals Installed at Canton

thumb_TxDotCANTON – The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is advising motorists of changes to the traffic signals this week at I-20 and SH 19 in Canton. Flashing yellow arrow left-turn signals have been installed to improve safety at the intersection and were due to be operational Tuesday, according to a TxDOT news release. The flashing yellow arrows replace the traditional circular green lights used to let drivers know that they must yield on green to turn left. The project called for periodically closing the intersection’s left turn lanes Tuesday while the conversion to the flashing yellow arrows was conducted. Read the rest of this entry »

Fleming Named to Chair Patrick’s Grassroots Advisory Board

joann_fleming_ketk_picAUSTIN – Flint resident JoAnn Fleming has been selected to chair Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s newly-created Grassroots Advisory Board. In 2011, then-Senator Patrick created the Tea Party Caucus of the Texas Legislature and its citizen advisory committee. The caucus met regularly with members of the advisory committee to discuss public policy. Today, Patrick continues his practice of coordinating with grassroots leaders, according to a news release from his office. Read the rest of this entry »

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