Category: Local News Archive

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Tyler Area Partners for Literacy Is Launched

TYLER — Various individuals and agencies have launched a project known as Tyler Area Partners for Literacy (TAP for Literacy). According to a news release, the effort “is a coalition of community partners advocating, promoting and supporting initiatives aimed at improving literacy for all residents of the Greater Tyler Area.” Read the rest of this entry »

Upshur County Inmate Files Suit, Claims Violations

brandonmorganucsoMARSHALL — A Gilmer man serving a life sentence for murder is suing the Upshur County District Attorney’s Office, claiming he is being deprived of his liberty based on the office’s failure to release evidence used as part of his case, and that his appeal was sabotaged. That’s according to KETK and the Longview News-Journal. But District Attorney Billy Byrd said last week that Brandon Dean Morgan waived his right to an appeal when he pleaded guilty to murdering James Lance Evans with an axe after breaking into Evans’ home. Morgan was originally charged with capital murder but pleaded to the lesser charge of murder, said Byrd, who was not the prosecuting district attorney on the case. Read the rest of this entry »

TxDOT Project Updates

TxDOT signTYLER — Here’s a quick look at other work planned in the Tyler District of the Texas Department of Transportation.

SMITH COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to continue base and pavement repairs on State Highway 135 between Troup and Arp. A second crew is scheduled to continue edge repairs on Farm Road 2710 between Farm Road 16 in Lindale and Farm Road 14 near Red Springs. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic. Read the rest of this entry »

Split over $2 Billion State Water Infrastructure Fund

thumb_David-SimpsonAUSTIN (AP/Staff) – An East Texan is in the spotlight as early voting continues on whether to tap the state’s rainy day fund to create a $2 billion water infrastructure fund. While the constitutional amendment enjoys widespread support, there is vocal conservative opposition that could derail it in a low-turnout election. Conservative activists Empower Texans and Longview Rep. David Simpson (pictured), a top tea party leader in the Legislature, are urging voters to oppose Proposition 6. Simpson believes the money will be used to distort the bond market. The measure would allow the state to use the money to buy down the cost of bond financing for massive water development projects. Gov. Rick Perry, House Speaker Joe Straus, and dozens of business and environmental groups support creating the State Water Infrastructure Fund.

Fitzhenry, Student’s Mother Sound Off on Coach’s Resignation

fitzlnjLONGVIEW — Both sides of the story continue to be heard after Pine Tree head football coach and Athletic Director Derek Fitzhenry recently resigned under fire. According to KETK and the Longview News-Journal, Fitzhenry claims he’s been lied to, lied about, and “crucified” for events that were misconstrued. Fitzhenry blamed an atmosphere of secrecy he says was created by the district, with officials allegedly failing to confirm fact or deny fiction, for the three-month saga that led to his departure. And he said what district officials told him in private failed to match what they later said in public. Read the rest of this entry »

Longview Police Continue to Seek Leads on Dead Body

thumb_police-9LONGVIEW — Police in Longview have developed some possible leads after a dead body was found earlier this month, but they’re seeking more help. On October 14 shortly before 1:45pm, police were investigating suspicious activity in the 1000 Block of Sabine Street. An officer was walking back to his car after completing his assignment when he noticed something that caught his attention. The officer went over to investigate further and discovered a dead body lying a short distance away. Police have since identified the victim as Maria Raquel Johnson, 41, of Longview; they continue to investigate the cause of death. Read the rest of this entry »

Beware of Gold and Silver Scams Hitting East Texas

goldLONGVIEW — An advisory is being issued after a Longview Police Department investigation into counterfeit gold and silver coins and bullion bars resulted in the arrest of James Leroy Frattarola on October 4. Federal authorities have also been asked to assist in the investigation since some of the items counterfeited were U.S. coins. Longview Police learned that in the course of events related to the case, local gold and silver outlets were sold fake items. Several of these items were, in turn, sold to unsuspecting retail customers. One dealer reports recovering all the fakes that he sold to customers, but it is unknown if other counterfeit coins or bullion bars have been circulated. Read the rest of this entry »

Victim Shot during Robbery

thumb_police-longviewLONGVIEW — Police in Longview are seeking a a person who robbed and shot a victim Saturday. Officers were dispatched at 1:00 p.m. to the 500 Block of Aurel Boulevard, where the incident had just occurred. The victim, a black male who was shot in the leg, was transported to Good Shepherd Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries, according to police. The case remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Longview Police Department at 903-237-1199. If the tipster wishes to remain anonymous, he or she can submit a tip online at or call Gregg County Crimestoppers at 903-236-STOP(7867).

Longview Man Dies after Being Hit by Truck

thumb_police-longview2LONGVIEW — Longview police say a man died after being hit by a truck. It happened just before 11:00 Friday night. Officers were dispatched to an accident with injuries in the parking lot of the Globe Inn Motel at 1300 East Marshall Avenue. When officers arrived they found a man identified as Andy Ray Stryker, 27, of Longview, trapped between a building and a white 1991 Chevrolet Silverado truck. According to witnesses the owner of the truck, Michael L. Box, 50, of Longview, was inside the truck with the engine running, the transmission in gear, and his foot on the clutch. Stryker was attempting to work on the truck’s engine. Box’s foot slipped off the clutch and the truck rolled forward trapping Stryker and killing him. Stryker was pronounced dead at the scene. The investigation into the accident continues.

Bishop Strickland Contracts Hepatitis A

bishop-stricklandTYLER (Staff/AP) — Bishop Joseph E. Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler has been diagnosed as suffering from hepatitis A. KETK reports Bishop Strickland attended Bishops’ School for newly ordained Catholic bishops in Rome in September and contracted the disease at that time. Bishop John Folda of the Fargo Catholic Diocese in North Dakota, who was also in attendance, has been diagnosed with Hepatitis A as well. According to the Facebook page for Tyler’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the cause was contaminated food. The page says, “Bishop Strickland is doing well, but will be taking extended time off to recover.” Read the rest of this entry »

Two Arrested in Family Violence Incident

thumb_police-8NACOGDOCHES — Two East Texans were arrested after officers responded to a family violence call which involved weapons Thursday evening. According to KETK, Nacogdoches police officers responded to a home in the 2200 block of Lola around 5:00 p.m. to find a couple had allegedly assaulted each other. The male suspect was also detained for allegedly interfering with the woman’s ability to contact authorities. Both parties sustained minor injuries and were booked into the Nacogdoches County Jail. The names of the suspects have yet to be released.

Teacher on Leave for Alleged Texts

TATUM — A Tatum Independent School District teacher has been placed on administrative leave after it was reported the teacher sent inappropriate text messages to a student. According to Drenon Fite, Jr., Director of Human Resources and Community Relations for Tatum ISD, the teacher is alleged to have used electronic media off-campus to contact a student with improper messages and was placed on leave Thursday. The district has launched an investigation into what exactly went on, if anything, between the high school teacher and the student. School officials tell KETK, “Many teachers use their personal cell phones to communicate with students and it’s up to the teachers to use good judgment in what they do and do not send or engage in. So, we are investigating the matter.”

Brittany Childs Named UT Tyler Director of Alumni Relations

thumb_uttylerTYLER — Brittany Childs will serve as director of alumni relations at The University of Texas at Tyler, effective Oct. 29, Jerre Iversen, vice president for advancement, announced. She follows Derrith Bondurant, who accepted a position as the associate vice president of institutional advancement and chief development officer for UT Health Northeast. Serving UT Tyler since 2008, Childs is the Greek life coordinator within the Department of Student Life and Leadership and has served as assistant director of student life and leadership since 2010.

T-Shirt Raises Concerns in Spring Hill

LONGVIEW — A Spring Hill Junior High student was told to “take off that shirt” after the school deemed its message “controversial.” KETK reports it read, “Guns, God, Country” on one sleeve. When he refused to turn the shirt inside out or change, his father says he was given in-school suspension — a punishment his dad calls “very unfitting.” But Spring Hill’s superintendent, in a Facebook quote, says that never happened. In his words, “No student has been suspended or placed on in-school suspension for wearing a shirt related to weapons. however, we will enforce our dress code as necessary.” Calls and emails to the father, Andy Davidson, and Superindendent Wes Jones have yet to be returned.

Wiley Travels to USC for Rematch of 1935 Debate

MARSHALL (AP/Staff) – Debaters from Marshall’s Wiley College have traveled to California for a rematch of a 1935 debate that served as inspiration for the movie “The Great Debaters.” The exhibition debate is set for this evening on the University of Southern California campus. In the 1935 debate, students from Wiley, a small, historically black school, prevailed over USC, a nationally known powerhouse, at a time when the U.S. was heavily segregated. The 2007 movie climaxes with a fictional debate against Harvard that was modeled on the real match in California. Last year, USC traveled to Wiley’s campus for an exhibition debate. Wiley had ceased to have a debate team by the time movie rekindled interest and the team was resurrected in 2008.

Vehicle Chase Covers Two Counties

thumb_DPS-car-2TYLER — State troopers put handcuffs on a driver Thursday afternoon after the man reportedly led them on a chase through a couple of East Texas counties. KETK reports the chase started around 4:30 in Cherokee County and ended in Smith County just after 5:00 at the intersection of Toll 49 and I-20. Troopers say the driver was arrested and first taken to a local hospital for evaluation, then placed in the Smith County Jail.

2014 Cattle Barons’ Gala Logo, Location, Honorary Chairs Unveiled

image003TYLER — The 2014 Tyler Cattle Barons’ Gala committee unveiled the theme for next year’s event, “Wranglers & Roses,” at the annual Branding Party Thursday at Outback Steakhouse. The logo, termed a vibrant combination of inked-style roses around a denim pocket, represents the essence of the Gala, this year’s chairs agreed. “We chose this theme because ‘wranglers’ refers to not only men, but to our Little Wranglers,” explained Gala Co-Chairwoman Tanya Merritt. “The ‘roses’ refer to our ladies, the ‘Circle of Roses’ and also makes reference to Tyler, Texas.” Little Wranglers are children who are fighting cancer. One child is honored each year as part of the event. The Circle of Roses serves as a memorial to those who have passed away while fighting the disease. “It brings our theme full-circle,” Co-Chairwoman Melissa Braswell said. Read the rest of this entry »

Southeast Tyler Armed Heist under Investigation

Varsity Place ApartmentsTYLER — The Tyler Police Department is investigating an armed robbery that occurred at the Varsity Place Apartment complex early Thursday morning. According to KETK, around 12:37 a.m., two unknown black males knocked on the door of a unit, and when the two residents answered the door, the men forced their way into the apartment. Following the initial two males, four other black males also made their way in. One suspect had a semi-automatic pistol with which he hit one of the victims in the head, leaving a huge gash, according to Tyler Police Public Information Officer Don Martin. The suspects took numerous electronic devices, and police were called after they left the scene. No arrests have been made, and we’re waiting for a further description of the suspects. If you have information regarding this incident, you’re asked to call the Tyler Police Department at 903-531-1090.

Young Conservatives Endorse Two Area Lawmakers

thumb_matt-schaeffer-1AUSTIN — Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) has announced its endorsements of 18 members of the Texas Legislature in their upcoming 2014 election campaigns — and East Texans Matt Schaefer (pictured) and David Simpson made the list. According to a news release, “YCT endorsed these legislators for their consistent high scores on YCT’s legislative ratings, and the promises they kept to their constituents once they arrived in Austin.” Read the rest of this entry »

One Jailed after Report of Shots Fired in Kilgore

truckshotsfirekjcKILGORE — A man apparently angry about breaking up with his girlfriend landed in jail Tuesday night after police say he vented his frustrations by firing a gun in the air. Officers were dispatched shortly after 10:00pm to the 100 block of U.S. 259 after someone reported hearing gunshots, according to Assistant Kilgore Police Chief Roman Roberson. KETK and the Longview News-Journal report that the officers found a Dodge pickup in the parking lot near the Whataburger and the driver, Kevin Philip Simon, 19, of Kountze. “He wasn’t shooting at anyone,” Roberson said. “He had some kind of break up with his girlfriend or something and was upset.” Police arrested Simon and booked him into the Kilgore Municipal Jail on charges of discharging a firearm in the city limits.

Tyler Wins 2013 Municipal Excellence Award

thumb_cityoftylerTYLER — At the recent Texas Municipal League Annual Conference and Exhibition, held Oct. 8-11, the City of Tyler was presented with the 2013 Municipal Excellence Award in Management Innovations for cities with a population of more than 25,000. The award recognizes the City for its City University training program. According to a city news release, the award recognizes and encourages the achievements of Texas cities in meeting the challenge of municipal governance. Read the rest of this entry »

Agencies Investigating Injuries to Twins

Texas Department of Family and Protective ServicesTYLER — Three-month-old Tyler twins have been released from a Dallas hospital after suffering broken ribs that Child Protective Services thinks stem from child abuse. Don Martin with the Tyler Police Department tells KETK CPS notified the police of the possibility of child abuse after the twins were taken to Children’s Hospital in Dallas for treatment. “We are very early in the investigation, but it may be considered a child abuse case,” Martin said. According to Martin, reports state the children were taken to the Dallas hospital at the request of their local doctor. The twins and a one-year-old were all in the household. All have been placed with family members. The full injury report has not been released, but we’ll update information as it becomes available.

Area Bank Robbery Suspect Arrested

kilgorebankerKILGORE — A man wanted for a Kilgore area bank robbery has been arrested in Wood County. Randall L. Wikert, 60, of Kilgore, was arrested by a state trooper around 10:15 Wednesday night at a Sonic Restaurant in Hawkins. Kilgore police say Wikert was paroled in April 2010 stemming from a June 1980 murder for which he was serving a life sentence. He had been named in an arrest warrant for the robbery of the BankTexas in the Gateway Travel Plaza just before 12:30 Tuesday afternoon. After taking some money, he is said to have run into some nearby woods. Police K-9s were used to try and establish a scent. Taking part in the manhunt were officials from the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office, DPS, Longview and Kilgore Police Departments, and the FBI.

Lufkin Man Guilty of Killing Gator

American AlligatorBEAUMONT — A Lufkin man has pleaded guilty to violating state and federal wildlife laws. Michael Wayne Scoggin, 38, pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing an animal protected as an endangered species before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith F. Giblin. Scoggin faces up to one year in federal prison and a $100,000.00 fine. A sentencing date has not been set. Read the rest of this entry »

Former Henderson Teacher Sentenced for Child Pornography Violations

James Brent Malone2TYLER – A 43-year-old Henderson man has been sentenced to federal prison for child pornography violations. James Brent Malone, a former Henderson high school English teacher, pleaded guilty on June 11 to possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to 121 months in federal prison Wednesday in Tyler by U.S. District Judge Leonard E. Davis. According to federal prosecutors, on January 10, federal and local law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at Malone’s residence. A laptop computer and two DVDs were seized during the search and found to contain more than 1,200 images and 40 videos of child pornography. Some of the material included prepubescent children under the age of 12 engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Malone was indicted by a federal grand jury on March 27 and charged with child pornography violations.

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