Category: Local News Archive

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Man Rescued after Boat Capsizes

thumb_gamewarden-texasLAKE PALESTINE — A Man’s boat capsized on Lake Palestine near Coffee City Monday evening. Luckily, the East Texan is safe. According to authorities, eyewitnesses say a large wave threw the driver out of his boat. Two search and rescue teams then traced the shoreline just east of the bridge near the Smith County-Henderson County line. Game wardens tell KETK they called off the search after two men on a boating dock said they saw it happen, so they jumped in, and saved the man. Strong wind gusts are blamed for the accident. The Coffee City Volunteer Fire Department assisted in the search.

Smith County Deputy Constable Dies of Heart Attack

Steven MurrayTYLER – Smith County Precinct 1 Deputy Constable Steven Murray has died of a “massive” heart attack. He was rushed from his home to the hospital Monday afternoon where he later died. Murray, who was serving as a K9 handler, had been with the precinct since 2006. The following announcement was posted around 9:00 last night on the sheriff department’s Face Book Page, “Thanks for the many thoughts and prayers for Deputy Constable Murray. We are sad to announce we just received word that he is now in the loving arms of God. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers as they go through these difficult times.”

LETU to Sign Agreement with SkyWest for Pilot Cadet Program

LeTourneau Logo6LONGVIEW — LeTourneau University and SkyWest Airlines will sign a letter of agreement to provide a direct pathway for selected LETU flight students to find employment with SkyWest Airlines after graduation. The signing will be at 12:15 Wednesday afternoon in the Grand Hall at LeTourneau University’s Abbott Aviation Center at East Texas Regional Airport.

LETU Provost Dr. Philip A. Coyle said this partnership with SkyWest Airlines provides LETU flight students a direct path to pursue their aviation careers. “LETU’s aviation program is built on excellence and on great partnerships like this one with SkyWest,” Coyle said. “This agreement will facilitate a pathway for qualified LeTourneau University pilots who graduate from our flight program to pursue a career as an airline pilot with SkyWest Airlines. It is a testament to the quality of the pilots our school produces.” Read the rest of this entry »

BBB Warning about “Cryptolocker” Malware

Better Business BureauTYLER – The BBB is warning consumers of a malware program that accesses your personal computer and holds it hostage. A release by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) explains that “Cryptolocker” encrypts all your personal documents, photos and files so you can no longer open them. Con artists then demand money in order to give you access again.

The FTC reports that Cryptolocker is spread mostly through downloads by way of email. The email might look like a normal message from an authentic company, similar to a tracking notice from a shipping company. However, when you click the hyperlink in the email, Cryptolocker encrypts everything on your hard drive and in your shared folders. Read the rest of this entry »

Victims Identified after Chase Leads to Fatal Smith County Wreck

DPS-PatchBULLARD – Department of Public Safety officials released the names of one person who was killed and another who was severely injured in a high-speed Smith County chase over the weekend. KETK reports that according to DPS Trooper Jean Dark, the driver, Christopher Blake Lucas, 26, was killed Saturday evening in a chase off Farm Road 346 near County Road 188 in Bullard. A passenger, Travis Allen Holley, 24, is currently in serious condition at a local hospital. Read the rest of this entry »

Annual Memorial Day Service Held at Memorial Park

Memorial Park CemeteryTYLER — An annual Memorial Day ceremony was held Monday at Tyler’s Memorial Park. One guest speaker, Sheriff Larry Smith, told KTBB we shouldn’t remember the military just one or two days a year. “It’s something we need to think about as often as we can,” said Smith. “Every time we see a veteran, or every time we see someone in uniform, we need to tell them how much we thank them.” Another keynoter, State Representative Matt Schaefer, told us Memorial Day is about remembering past sacrifices, but also being aware “that we still live in a dangerous world, and the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform are still ongoing and still so important to remember.” Schaefer is also a Navy Reserve lieutenant commander.

Two Accused of Making False Police Report

Landon Keith BrownTYLER – Two men have been arrested by Tyler police after being accused of making a false report of a robbery. Taken into custody was Landon Keith Brown, 17, and Stephen Dwight Woldt, 22, both of Tyler. Shortly after 4:00 Sunday afternoon a call to 911 reported the robbery of an individual. The caller stated that he and another victim had been beaten and then robbed at gun point by three men who then fled into a wooded area near the Valero station at 403 Loop 323 SSE. Both victims had multiple cuts, bruises, and abrasions on their faces and arms. The victims reported that their money and drivers licenses were stolen, as well as a vial containing 60 Xanax pills which were recently obtained by prescription. Read the rest of this entry »

Woman Injured in Tyler Incident

police-car-lights2TYLER – Tyler police are investigating a report of a woman who was cut on the hand. The incident occurred around 8:30 Sunday night in the 200 block of South Fannin Street. The woman’s wound was said to be a non-life threatening injury.

Tyler’s Memorial Day Ceremony

Memorial Park CemeteryTYLER — Tyler and Smith County remember fallen military members, and all veterans. A major annual Memorial Day service is set for Monday morning at 11:00 at Tyler Memorial Park on Highway 64 West. Guest speakers are Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith and Lt. Commander Matt Schaefer of the U.S. Navy Reserve, also the Tyler area’s state representative. Other touches include a fallen warrior ceremony procession, a rifle salute, and patriotic music. Organizers encourage the public to join in the ceremony. Read the rest of this entry »

TxDOT Project Updates

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

HENDERSON COUNTY – As early as Wednesday this week, TxDOT contract crews are scheduled to perform seal coat operations on the following roadways:
* West Loop 7 between FM 59 and FM 1616
* FM 59 between SH 19 in Athens and FM 753
* US 175 east of Athens between FM 804 and FM 315 (Saturday) Read the rest of this entry »

Longview Drowning Victim Identified

swimming pool waterLONGVIEW – A young boy, swimming in his grandparent’s pool, has drowned in Longview. It happened Saturday night around 8:00 in the 2000 block of Lillie Street. The Longview News-Journal identified the boy as Tywone Jackson, 10. Gregg County Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Arthur Fort told the paper family members found the boy unresponsive in the back yard pool. They had been unable to locate the youngster for around 20 to 45 minutes. The boy was rushed to Longview’s Good Shepherd Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 9:00. His body has been sent to a Tyler lab for autopsy.

One Killed in Wreck Near Frankston

DPS badgeFRANKSTON – One person has been killed and two injured in a three vehicle accident in Anderson County. The wreck occurred on U.S. Highway 175 about a mile west of its intersection with State. Highway 155 around 1:00 Saturday afternoon. The accident remains under investigation and no information is available at this time.

Smity County Jail Inmate Back in Custody

Adam BowersTYLER – Freedom was brief for a Smith County Jail inmate. Adam Bowers, 34, of Tyler, escaped from the central jail rooftop recreation yard shortly after 10:30 Saturday morning. Although the incident is still under investigation, it appears that other inmates on the recreation yard intentionally blocked the view of the yard detention officer while Bowers unraveled the wire on the recreation yard fence and slipped through a hole. The inmate stripped off his jail uniform and ran across the roof and climbed down scaffolding that is in place as part of the jail construction project.

A recreation yard officer observed Bowers run across the roof and immediately announced the escape via the newly purchased jail radio system which was acquired primarily for such incidents. Jail staff immediately pursued the inmate and after a foot chase lasting around 20 minutes, recaptured Bowers 4 blocks north of the central jail. Read the rest of this entry »

Former Longview Teacher Headed to Prison

Robert Craig VarnellLONGVIEW – A former Longview teacher has been sentenced to 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual assault of a child. Robert Craig Varnell, 57, of Holly Lake Ranch, pleaded guilty and was sentenced on Friday in 124th State District Court in Longview.. When arrested, Varnell was a high school science teacher and one of the district’s University Interscholastic League coordinators. Varnell started working for Longview ISD in fall 2009 and was in his second year as a teacher. Prior to working for Longview ISD, he taught at LeTourneau University. He resigned from his Longview job following his arrest in May of 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

Manziel Passes First Test with Browns

Johnny ManzielCLEVELAND (AP) — Tyler’s Johnny Manziel spent his first weekend in the NFL hanging around other rookies and unsigned free agents. He’s about to take the field with the bigger boys. Manziel, who had a “positive” rookie minicamp with Cleveland, will practice this week with the club’s veteran players, including Brian Hoyer, the quarterback he’ll try to unseat as starter. Browns first-year coach Mike Pettine made it clear that Manziel and Hoyer realize what’s at stake and that their competitive juices are already flowing. Read the rest of this entry »

TISD Scores in UIL Arts Competition

TISD Logo5TYLER — Tyler ISD middle and high schools received high marks and top honors at University Interscholastic League (UIL) fine arts competitions this spring. Nine programs across four Tyler ISD campuses earned Sweepstakes honors. These programs include the Hubbard Middle School varsity choir; Moore MST Magnet School varsity choir, non-varsity orchestra and varsity orchestra; John Tyler High School varsity orchestra; and the Robert E. Lee High School varsity and non-varsity bands, as well as varsity and non-varsity orchestras. Read the rest of this entry »

Woman’s Disappearance Labeled Suspicious

christina_davison_from_lnjKILGORE — The Kilgore Police Department has labeled an East Texas woman’s disappearance as suspicious. KETK reports authorities are asking for the public’s assistance in locating Christina Rea Davison, 43, who has been missing since May 17. Police first learned of her disappearance when Davison failed to show up for work and co-workers reported her absence. After searching Davison’s home, police believe she may be missing under suspicious circumstances. Read the rest of this entry »

Eight Dogs Found Dead in Upshur County Creek

creekpictureketkUPSHUR COUNTY — Authorities are investigating the deaths of eight dogs found dead in southern Upshur County. They were found by a man Friday morning in a creek on Poplar Road off Farm Road 2685. Most of the animals were pit bulls used for fighting while the others were mixed breeds, including two small ones likely used as “bait” dogs. The Longview News-Journal reports some of the bodies were found Friday in garbage bags. The animals may have been in the creek for as long as a week.The burned animals were turned over to a local veterinarian. The doctor will attempt to learn more details surrounding the dogs’ death and possibly locate microchips to find an owner or owners. Upshur County Constable Gene Dolle described the cruelty involved in the deaths as “mind-boggling.” He says the discovery coupled with the smell was nauseating.

Human Remains Found in Northeastern Smith County

sheriffpic1TYLER — Smith County authorities are following up after discovering a carpet containing human remains in the northeastern part of the county. Shortly after 7:00 Friday morning, Smith County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch received a 911 call regarding an object wrapped in carpet which was smoldering and lying in the road on County Road 371 just north of Farm Road 1252. A deputy advised the burned carpeting appeared to be wrapped around human remains. Read the rest of this entry »

East Texas Law Officers Participate in Click It or Ticket

thumb_click-it-ticket-2TYLER – East Texas law enforcement agencies remind you they’re participating in the statewide Click It or Ticket campaign, with enforcement continuing through June 1. The Smith County Sheriff’s Office and Tyler Police Department are just two of the agencies taking part. “Safety belts save lives and the Smith County Sheriff’s Office will be working to emphasize safety this holiday weekend,” said Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith. “Our deputies will continue to focus on responding to the needs of our citizens when they contact us for assistance, but during our routine patrols we will also be looking for citizens not wearing safety belts in both the front and back seats of the vehicle.” Read the rest of this entry »

Accused Wife-Killer Indicted

adrianmatamugTYLER — A Smith County man who police say shot and killed his wife has been indicted by a Smith County grand jury. KETK reports Adrian Mata, 29, was in court Thursday night according to judicial records and was indicted on the charge of first degree felony murder. At his Tuesday, March 11, court date, Ronnie Van Baugh was appointed as his public defender. The suspect is accused of fatally shooting Jennifer Mata, 30, in the head on Tuesday, February 25, at their home on County Road 333. When authorities responded to the scene of the shooting, Adrian Mata had reportedly fled in his car. He was later arrested at a home in The Villages subdivision. Mata is currently being held in the Smith County Jail on $1,000,000 bond.

Smith County Standoff Ends

Smith County Sheriffs DeptSMITH COUNTY – A suspect wanted in Collin County has been arrested following a standoff with Smith County authorities. Shortly after 6:15 Thursday night, the Department of Public Safety requested assistance from the Smith County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team. The DPS was executing a search warrant out of Collin County and the suspect had barricaded himself inside a home on County Road 167 in the southwest part of Smith County. A SWAT team member was able to contact the suspect by phone and he surrendered around 7:15. His identity has not been released.

East Texas Suspect May be in the Longview Area

Terrence HouckLONGVIEW – A man wanted by police in Hughes Springs may be in the Longview area. Terrence Houck is wanted for assault family violence. He is accused of strangling and water boarding his wife after an argument over money. KETK reports he is from Longview and may be back in that area. He is driving a 1995 Dodge pickup, with Texas license plate: AG69100.The pickup is painted blue with painted silver stripes. You are asked to contact authorities if you see this man.

Early Voting in Primary Runoffs Continues through Today

thumb_voting-computerTYLER — Early voting polls in Smith County for the May 27 Runoff Election ends today at five locations. All early voting times and locations are listed below. Visit the Elections page of the Smith County Web site at to view sample ballots or look up your voting precinct. You can also call the Smith County Elections office at 903-590-4777. Read the rest of this entry »

Superintendents Publicly Criticize State Testing

thumb_TEA-texas-education-logoDALLAS (AP) — Several Texas superintendents, some from East Texas, are publicly criticizing the state’s standardized testing system in advance of the upcoming release of score results. Paul Jones, superintendent of the Paris school district says in a recent letter to parents that the tests known as the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness are “punitive.” He criticizes a “one-size-fits-all” system. The Dallas Morning News reports superintendents in Longview and Van and the Dallas suburb of Coppell also recently sent letters to parents critical of the mandatory testing. Statewide STAAR results for grades three through eight are scheduled to be released next week. Critics of the assessments have argued that preparing for STAAR, including a concentration on test-taking strategy, has hurt classroom teaching.

Man Accused of Shooting Brother

kyeraibonmugTYLER – Smith County authorities have arrested a man accused of shooting his brother. According to information from the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, Wednesday evening shortly after at 7:15, the sheriff’s office dispatch was contacted by Henderson County, which had received a 911 call regarding a disturbance. On the call, Henderson County authorities reported hearing a female yelling about a firearm and someone bleeding. The call was traced to Smith County, and shortly before 7:30, a Smith County deputy was dispatched to a residence in the 16800 block of County Road 1112, where the disturbance occurred. Read the rest of this entry »

Upshur County Man Sentenced for Indecency with a Child

mcclaincharlesupshurcoGILMER — An Upshur County sex offender was sentenced to 25 years in prison for indecency with a child. On Wednesday, Charles Douglas McClain, III, waived a trial by jury. The judge found him guilty of indecency with a child by touching after hearing evidence against the suspect. The crime occurred July 4th of last year at the Hidden Bend Apartments in Gilmer. McClain and his wife were staying with family members there, when a 12-year-old child awakened to the defendant inappropriately touching her. Read the rest of this entry »

Former Councilman Jailed for Theft

DocumentFragment_4474280KILGORE — The Kilgore Police Department arrested a former Longview city councilman on Monday on a theft of property charge. According to KETK, Thomas “Tommy” Finklea, 44, of Kilgore, was jailed after a warrant was issued by Gregg County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace B.H. Jameson stemming from a December 17, 2013, incident. It’s not the first time Finklea has been charged with this specific crime. He was also locked up September 3, 2013, for theft but was released the same day. Finkela, who served as the Longview District 6 councilman before resigning after a two-year stint in 2006, was released Monday on $5,000 bond.

Suspected Car Burglars Arrested after High-Speed Chase

LONGVIEW — Authorities chase two suspected car burglars from Longview to Shreveport overnight. According to the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office, Longview Police were tailing the suspects early Thursday morning when the men took off on Interstate 20 traveling east. According to KETK, officers followed them and a high speed chase ensued with speeds reaching up to 100 mph. Eventually Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Deputies and Shreveport Police joined in on the pursuit. The chase ended when the two suspects jumped out of the car in a Shreveport neighborhood. Both men were taken into custody. Officers were able to recover several stolen items from the car.

10 Year Old Wrecks Grandfather’s Truck

police-car-lightsTYLER – A 10 year old boy escaped injury after wrecking the truck he had been driving at Tyler’s Discovery Science Place. Shortly before 6:00 Wednesday afternoon Tyler police received a call concerning a child driver. Officers say the child had been waiting in a doctor’s office waiting room with the vehicle’s keys and his younger sibling. Following an argument with his younger sibling the child decided to leave the doctor’s office. The child then drove his grandfather’s vehicle south on Fleishel Avenue and west on 5th Street where he was noticed by the caller. Read the rest of this entry »

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