SMITH COUNTY — Smith County Commissioners voted to accept more than $500,000 in road improvement funds from the state of Texas this week, through a TxDOT grant to aid counties with road damage caused by the oil and gas industry. The County Transportation Infrastructure Fund (CTIF) grant program was created by the state during the last legislative session to provide more than $450 million to Texas county roads.… Read More
TYLER – Testimony began Wednesday morning in the trial for the accused Tyler Broadway Square Mall parking lot shooter. Ricky Neal Jr. allegedly shot dead a former Chapel Hill and Stephen F. Austin athlete on February 9, 2013. Neal faces an additional charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after police determined he shot at Jonathan Lamone Dews, 29, of Tyler. The jury will also be responsible for the punishment phase of the case. According to both lawyers, Neal and the victim, Chris Mass, 23, of Tyler, were allegedly affiliated with opposing gangs: Neal with the “Bloods” and Mass with the “Crips.” They also pointed out Dews was a known and convicted drug dealer.
TYLER – Former state trooper Joe Don Abernathy has been sentenced to 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated. The charge stems from an accident Abernathy had while driving his patrol car to work. It was first reported that Abernathy crashed on November 5, 2012, after allegedly swerving to miss a deer on Old Omen Road in Tyler. It happened near the Arrowhead Golf Course. The car reportedly sustained substantial damage. Abernathy resigned from his position as a DPS trooper the next day. A blood test showed his blood alcohol level was over twice the legal limit.
KILGORE — Authorities happened on an unusual case in East Texas early Tuesday morning. A Kilgore police officer spotted a man, dressed in women’s clothing, riding a bike on a dead end street. Assistant Chief Roman Roberson says Larry Lynn Wheeler, 57, had committed a traffic offense, so the officer decided to stop him. Roberson says during the ensuing investigation, methamphetamine was located on Wheeler, and he was hit with drug charges. Roberson doesn’t know who made the drug but thinks Wheeler was trying to sell it.
TYLER — The University of Texas at Tyler has begun construction on the W.T. Brookshire Hall, the future home of the UT Tyler Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy, President Rodney H. Mabry announced. A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday to celebrate the occasion at the UT Tyler Robert R. Muntz Library, near the construction site. The three-story, $26.5 million UT Tyler Brookshire Pharmacy Hall is designed to encourage student-faculty interaction and support the college’s innovative teaching methods, according to a UTT news release. Officials say it will provide students with various classrooms and study areas as well as skills labs for hands-on training. … Read More
LONGVIEW — Sheriff Maxey Cerliano and the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office request assistance in obtaining information regarding a robbery of an individual that occurred April 16 at the Zippy J’s convenience store at 5136 Estes Parkway. Sheriff’s officials say around 4:20 a.m., a patron of the store was at the fuel pump when a man with a silver colored revolver sat down next to him in the passenger seat of his vehicle. The suspect took two cell phones (a Samsung Galaxy S4 and an I Phone) and a small amount of cash, then fled the scene in a vehicle driven by another male. As the suspects were leaving the parking lot, the victim obtained his firearm and fired four shots at the suspects. It is believed that there may be one or more bullet holes in the right side or back of the suspect vehicle. … Read More
KILGORE — An East Texas man is behind bars after a traffic stop revealed him to be in the possession of drugs, according to authorities. The stop of Jeremy Dakota Murrieta, 30, of Henderson, by the Kilgore Police Department allegedly resulted in a seizure of 10.1 grams of methamphetamine, digital scales, packaging materials, and syringes. KETK reports Murrieta was arrested for driving while license invalid with previous convictions and manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance. He is currently incarcerated in the Gregg County Jail with a bond total of $50,500.
LONGVIEW — Police in Longview say two alleged burglars have been arrested after reportedly taking between $20,000 and $100,000 worth of property. Shortly after 12:15pm on April 28, police were dispatched to the 900 Block of West Marshall Avenue to investigate reports of a building that had been burglarized. When officers arrived they were told several storage buildings behind the business were broken into and various items, some worth thousands of dollars, had been stolen.… Read More
TYLER — An arrest has been made in a Smith County infant injury case. On April 24, shortly after 10:30pm, Jarrod Deray Phillips, 33, of Tyler, the father of the injured infant, was booked in to the Smith County Jail on an outstanding charge of possession of marijuana. On April 25, representatives of Children’s Medical Center in Dallas told Smith County Sheriff’s Office Detective John Shoemaker that the injuries the infant sustained were not consistent with the story provided by Phillips. Upon further investigation and an interview with Phillips, he was charged with injury to a child. Smith County authorities report Judge Christi Kennedy of the 114th District Court set Phillips’ bond at $750,000. He remains in the Smith County Jail. … Read More
TYLER – Southside Bancshares, Inc., parent company of Tyler-based Southside Bank, and OmniAmerican Bancorp, Inc., the holding company for Fort Worth-based OmniAmerican Bank, announced Tuesday that they have signed a definitive agreement under which OmniAmerican will merge into Southside. The combined company will have nearly $5 billion in assets and will be the ninth-largest bank headquartered in Texas, by deposits, according to information from Southside. … Read More
LUFKIN (AP) – An East Texas man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for using a spear-like object to threaten workers during a 2012 convenience store robbery. A judge in Lufkin on Monday sentenced 45-year-old Calvin Rushing of Alto. Rushing in March was convicted of aggravated robbery in the May 2012 holdup. Investigators say Rushing held the spear-like object and had a towel on his head when he forced unharmed employees into a back room while stealing money and beer. Surveillance video helped lead to Rushing. Records show he has previous convictions for robbery, burglary and escape.
NACOGDOCHES – A Nacogdoches woman who tried to drown her daughter last year has been found not guilty by reason of insanity by a state district judge in Nacogdoches. Shari Kamile Brandon, 38, will now be sent to a state hospital further evaluation. After the evaluation it will be up to the court to determine the next course of action. The incident happened in June of 2013 along Farm Road 1878 and County Road 228. State troopers say Brandon tried drowning her 6 year old daughter in a creek after a crashing into a motorcyclist. After the crash, Brandon grabbed her daughter from the car and jumped into a nearby creek. Troopers say while Brandon and her daughter were in the creek, she tried drowning her daughter. The girl says she played dead and survived. Brandon’s had been charged with attempted capital murder.
TYLER — An Anderson County man has been sentenced in federal court in Tyler for the sexual exploitation of children. Robbie Newby, 46, was indicted by a federal grand jury on April 17, 2013, and pleaded guilty on January 9, 2014. Newby has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison by United States District Judge Leonard E. Davis. According to Federal prosecutors, on or about March 14, 2012, Newby knowingly used and coerced a minor under the age of sixteen to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing visual depictions of such conduct.
HENDEDRSON – One person has been killed in a two vehicle wreck in Rusk County. It happened around 3:15 Sunday afternoon on U.S. Highway 259, about 7 miles north of Henderson. Killed was Kenneth Willard Sprague, 72, of Henderson. He died shortly before 9:45 Sunday night at Tyler’s Mother Francis Hospital. Sprague, who was not wearing his seat belt, is said to have pulled into the path of a pickup driven by Donna Carroll Cole, 66, of Overton. She was not injured.
WILLS POINT – A two vehicle accident in Van Zandt County has left one person dead. The accident occurred around 1:00 Sunday afternoon on Farm Road 1504 about five miles north of Wills Point. Dead at the scene was John Wellington Harroun, 63, of Wills Point. The Department of Public Safety reports his south bound car drifted into the north bound lane and hit a car driven by George Michael Row, 66 of Wills Point. Row, and his wife Bessie are said to be hospitalized in stable condition.
TYLER — Beckham Avenue, between Front Street and Line Street has now been reopened to through traffic. This section of Beckham Avenue has been closed since April 14 for the repair of the sanitary sewer at the intersection of Beckham Avenue and East Erwin Street.
WHITEHOUSE — Child Protective Services says a mother who disappeared with her infant son has been found and the baby has been placed in a foster home. According to the CPS there was a concern since Kimberli Tennison, 26, of Whitehouse, has a history of drug use. Her two month old son Michael had been placed into a temporary managing conservertorship with CPS last week. Kimberli was arrested last night and her son was located and is safe.
TYLER — Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass has been awarded the Champion of Trees Award at the Arbor Day Foundation’s 2014 National Awards Competition for her work with the Tree Tyler Initiative. This award is presented to a government official or employee for demonstrating leadership in advancing forestry public policy at a community, state or national level. Mayor Bass was recognized and honored for her outstanding work at the Arbor Day Awards Ceremony held April 25-27 in Nebraska City, Nebraska.… Read More
LONGVIEW — This fall The University of Texas at Tyler Longview University Center will expand the number of courses taught in the field of criminal justice. “We are working with Dr. Barbara Hart, Interim Chair of the Department of Social Sciences and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, to eventually bring a criminal justice program to the Longview campus,” said Dr. Van Patterson, UT Tyler LUC director. “This fall we will offer three new junior level courses which include Criminology, Probation and Parole, and Law and Society.”… Read More
TYLER — Michael Donley has been named The University of Texas at Tyler’s first legal attorney, effective May 1, President Rodney H. Mabry announced. Donley comes to UT Tyler from Loewinsohn Flegle Deary, a significant Dallas litigation firm. In this newly developed role, he will handle contracts and also be a part of UT Tyler’s top leadership team. “As our university has expanded in size and complexity, so has our need for legal advice on the ground here in Tyler,” President Mabry said. “These needs are in such diverse areas as writing contracts, buying land, building schools, protecting intellectual property rights and simply understanding rules and regulations.” … Read More
TYLER – The Northeast Texas Public Health District (NET Health) will administer immunizations at three Tyler ISD middle school campuses beginning this week. The clinics are intended to give parents an opportunity to update their children’s required school immunizations before the last minute rush in August. “The more people who are immunized, the less chance of vaccine-preventable diseases,” Sylvia Warren, immunization and TB director with NET Health, said. “Waiting until August will cause nothing but long waiting periods, frustration and anger. This can all be avoided if parents take this opportunity to get their children’s vaccinations now.” … Read More
TYLER – Early voting is now underway in municipal elections around East Texas. Early voting continues through May 6, and the elections are May 10. In Tyler, Martin Heines faces Joel Rando in the race for mayor; Don Warren and Eleno Licea square off in the bid for City Council District 4, which Heines represented until recently. In the Tyler school board elections, incumbent Orenthia Mason faces Cedrick Granberry in District 2, while incumbent Ross Strader is challenged by Barbara Smith in District 5.
LINDEN — On the heels of losing the T-Bone Walker Blues Fest to Longview, the town of Linden is now taking another hit. It’s losing its hospital and its local drug store. The hospital is owned by Good Shepherd Health System and has been struggling to stay afloat since the company took over operations in 2006. It’ll close Wednesday, leaving its clinic in the dust. Town fathers managed to negotiate to keep that open. Linden Mayor Clarence Burns tells the Longview News-Journal that he feels the clinic is viable and makes money for Good Shepherd, and is badly needed in the community. The nearest emergency room and rehabilitation clinic is now a 15-minute drive into Atlanta.
HAWKINS – A two vehicle accident in Wood County has left one person dead and one injured. It was reported around 10:45 Friday night on Farm Road 14, south of Hawkins. Dead at the scene was Billy Ray Tant, 61, of Hawkins. The driver of the over vehicle,Stacie Lynn Warren, 37, of Combine, was taken to a Tyler hospital for treatment. The Department of Public Safety says Tant’s car crossed over into the opposite lane of traffic and collided with Warren’s SUV.
SMITH COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to make base and pavement repairs on State Highway 64 between West Loop 323 and Farm Road 724 near Tyler Pounds Regional Airport. Meanwhile, a second crew is scheduled to continue base and pavement repairs on East Loop 323 between the Loop 323 Extension and Commerce Street. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress, and motorists should be prepared to reduce speed and merge in and around the work zone. … Read More
TYLER — Tyler ISD continues to move forward with construction and renovation projects as a result of the multimillion dollar bond package passed by voters last May. BOND 2013 projects include a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center, two new middle school campuses at the existing Moore MST Magnet School and Boulter Middle School locations, one new middle school at the Three Lakes location in South Tyler and renovations and additions to Dixie and Rice (pictured) elementary schools.… Read More
MARSHALL – Marshall police are investigating after a pellet gun was found at Marshall Junior High School. According to School district communications officer David Weaver, “School administrators at Marshall Junior High School confiscated an Airsoft pellet gun brought on campus by a student on Friday, April 25. Police were contacted and parents of the students involved were notified.”
TYLER – The injury to a Smith County infant is under investigation. Around 4:30 Thursday afternoon, authorities were dispatched to the 16000 block of Farm Road 2767 in reference to an unresponsive 6 month old infant. The child was transported by ambulance to Trinity Mother Francis hospital in Tyler, and was then flown to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas to receive treatment. There has been no update on the infant’s condition. Deputies were told by family members that the child fell from a bed and received an injury to the head. The investigation is ongoing, and more information will be released as it becomes available.