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Company Clears First Incentive Hurdle; Could Add 200 Jobs to Tyler

thumb_tom-mullinsTYLER — The Tyler City Council has approved an incentive package for the Italian company Tazza Pronto — tossing in some incentives of its own. Tyler Economic Development Council chief Tom Mullins says the company’s been looking in Seattle, Kentucky, and Tyler. If it chooses Tyler, it will partner with Distant Lands Coffee on a popular single-serve product, operating in the old Carrier plant. Next up: submission for approval next week by county commissioners and TJC trustees. Mullins remains confident the deal will go through; he says Tazza Pronto could start up operations in Tyler later this year, bringing in up to 200 jobs within three to five years.

Longview Police Arrest Man Allegedly Found Sniffing Paint in Parking Lot

williamwalkerlnjLONGVIEW — A Longview police officer responded to an unusual scene Wednesday morning when he was dispatched to the 3200 Block of Fourth Street regarding a man lying in a parking lot inhaling paint from a Sprite bottle, according to police reports. Dispatch advised that the reporting party had almost run over William Walker, 25, of Longview, according to police reports. KETK and the Longview news Journal say according to the report, when the officer arrived, he observed Walker sitting on the ground wearing a green flight suit and spraying gold paint into a Sprite bottle. The officer reported Walker had gold paint all over his clothes and mouth and appeared to be in a “euphoric state.” The officer also reported Walker could not remember where he lived, how he got to Fourth Street, was slurring his speech, and had glossy eyes.

The officer transported Walker to Longview Regional Medical Center for medical clearance, at which time Walker told the officer, “I’m so high, I could start a paint farm” and “I’m over the limit.” When Walker was asked to define what he meant by limit, he said, “Over the paint limit,” according to police reports. The officer arrested Walker, charging him with inhaling, ingesting, and possession of a volatile chemical with the intent to inhale, ingest, apply, or use the chemical in a manner contrary to its labeling to cause intoxication, hallucination or elation, according to the police report. Williams was placed in the Gregg County Jail on $500 bond.

Westwood ISD Chief Discusses Armed Staff

PALESTINE — An East Texas school district makes it known: you better not mess with their kids. Signs posted at all four Westwood ISD campuses in Palestine read, “Notice: staff may be armed to protect students.” Superintendent Ed Lyman says the signs went up after the Sandy Hook Shooting. He says no one’s complained, but some parents are concerned. According to Lyman, “We pray that there’ll never be an accident, just like we pray there’ll never be an assault on our schools. But if there is, we want to be ready to defend ourselves.” He says the staffers who have had special training are armed, and some are former military or police officers. He tells news media the plan is adapted from one used by the Harrold ISD near the Oklahoma border.

Lake Tyler Dam Leaking

thumb_cityoftylerTYLER — Tyler Water Utilities plans to take a remediation action plan for the Lake Tyler Dam to City Council on April 24, and officials hope the remediation effort can be under construction in late summer 2013. According to city press materials, the Lake Tyler Dam was constructed in 1948-1949, using the best engineering practices at the time. Due to the foundation material used in the original construction, it is believed that there has always been seepage along the downstream toe of the embankment. This seepage is actually documented as far back as 1978, and has had no observable effect on lake elevations.

“The Lake Tyler system has an extremely small drainage basin,” said Greg Morgan, Managing Director of Utilities and Public Works. “As a result it requires substantial rainfall, almost directly on the lake to affect the lake level. This is compounded by the number of ponds and private lakes upstream of the Lake Tyler system, which are also low and intercepting runoff before it has a chance to reach the Lake Tyler system. This is the primary reason Lake Tyler remains low, despite recent rains.”

During the 2010 Dam Inspection, Tyler Water Utilities (TWU) discovered a boil (water transporting soil) in addition to the seepage. A weir was set up to measure the flow from the boil. TWU has been working with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and consulting engineers to develop plans for remediating this maintenance issue. “The leakage flow rate measured at the weir is approximately 30 gallons/minute,” said Morgan. “At that flow rate it would take approximately 91 years to lower the lake elevation one foot.”

TJC’s Phi Theta Kappa Chapter Ranked 5th in World

thumb_tjc-signTYLER — Alpha Omicron, the Tyler Junior College chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges, received an overall ranking of fifth in the world during the honor society’s recent 95th International Convention in San Jose, April 4-6. The chapter also received numerous other awards. Alpha Omicron was ranked fifth by virtue of its selection as Fourth Finalist for 2013 Most Distinguished Chapter.

According to a TJC news release, a total of 1,904 chapter entries were received for the 2013 Phi Theta Kappa International Hallmark Awards. These awards, based on judged applications, recognize individuals, chapters and regions for excellence in the Society’s Hallmarks of Scholarship, Leadership, Service and Fellowship as exemplified through Honors in Action activities.

Alpha Omicron’s Windsor Grove Restoration Project, an effort chaired by Officer Kyle McDougal, scored the highest in that service category, and also won a Distinguished Honors in Action Project Award for “excellence in academic research, leadership roles, leadership development, service learning and collaboration.” TJC’s Alpha Omicron was also recognized as an International Distinguished Chapter, which is bestowed only to the top 10% of chapters worldwide.

Advisor Gigi Delk was also honored with a Continued Excellence Award for Advisors. Advisors Shannon Cross and Felecia Neely-Morris received Horizon Awards for advisors at the regional level. “Any of the 1,300 Phi Theta Kappa chapters worldwide would be thrilled to win even one International Hallmark Haaward,” Delk said. “It is quite an honor to return to Tyler with five.

Upshur County Heroin Ring Busted

heroinGILMER — Seven persons, accused of being part of a heroin smuggling ring, have been arrested in Upshur County. They were arrested on federal charges ranging from possession of heroin to distribution of heroin and conspiracy to distribute. An eighth suspect was arrested on a firearms violation. The arrests stems from an investigation Gilmer police started around nine months ago. Since then the investigation expanded to include local, state and federal authorities.

The suspects are identified as William Avery “Preacher” Griffin, 56, Lindsey Noel Rawls, 23, Denise Stewart Driggers, 55, Ruby Faye Cooper, 55, Paul Allen Wiggington, 55, Lidia Gail Brooks Olivares, 32, Jerry Milton Bryant, 58 and Carlos Lopez Brooks, 45. All of the suspects are from Gilmer.

Authorities say there has been other indictments in the case. The names of those suspects will not be released until the indictments are unsealed.

Governor Appoints Wiley District Attorney of Kaufman County

Erleigh Norville WileyAUSTIN – Governor Rick Perry has appointed Erleigh Norville Wiley of Forney as Kaufman County district attorney for a term to expire at the next general election. The appointment was made after DA Mike McLelland and his wife were shot to death in their home. No suspects have been named in the case. Brandi Fernandez has been serving as interim district attorney.

Wiley is judge of the Kaufman County Court at Law, an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas, and a former supervising attorney for the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. She is a member of the State Bar of Texas and Kaufman County Bar Association, a past member of the Dallas County Bar Association, and a graduate of the Texas College of Judicial Studies, National Drug Court Institute, and National College for DUI Defense. She is also president of the Kaufman County Juvenile Board and Kaufman Indigent Defense Board, a board member of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Kaufman and the Amanda F. Norville Children’s Shelter, and a member of the North Texas Chapter of Jack and Jill Clubs of America. Wiley received a bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University and a law degree from The University of Texas School of Law. This appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

Cornyn Introduces Bill to Improve Prosecutor Safety

thumb_johncornynWASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Cornyn has introduced legislation in the wake of shootings that killed the Kaufman County district attorney, his wife, and an assistant prosecutor. Cornyn says the Line of Duty Act of 2013 would allow local governments to use existing funds to provide security details for prosecutors and judges who are in danger of retaliation or intimidation. He says the measure would also extend the rights of these officials at the state and local level to carry weapons for self-defense purposes.

In a statement, Cornyn said, “Public safety officers like prosecutors put their lives on the line every day, and they deserve the peace of mind to go about their work without fearing for their safety. This legislation would provide prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement officials more flexibility in how they choose to protect themselves and their families, as well as create stronger offenses for those who target our public officials.”

Monthly City Sales Tax Figures

thumb_MarkMcDanielTYLER — Tyler’s sales tax revenues deposited for the month of April have grown .82% as compared to April 2012. According to the state comptrollers office, this has resulted in a cumulative year-to-date increase of 2.99%. The reported revenue of $2,724,516 comprises $1,816,344 general sales tax revenue and $908,172 half-cent sales tax revenue. The figures represent receipts from February 2013 collections as there is a two-month lag before taxes are reported and remitted back to the City from the State.

“At this point, we are at a three percent fiscal year-to-date increase,” said City Manager Mark McDaniel. “Last month it was encouraging to see sales tax up in several sectors, like manufacturing, utilities, construction, wholesalers, apparel stores and general merchandise. We will continue to monitor sales tax collections and individual tax payers closely, but so far it is yet to be seen if there is a significant impact from beer and wine sales. At this early stage, it could be timing of remittances to the state since some sales began at different times since January, or any increase may be masked by other sectors being down in any given month. We will just have to wait and examine the data when it is available, but an overall increase of less than one percent for April is disappointing.”

City of Tyler Amends Alcohol Ordinances

alcohol salesTYLER — The Tyler City Council has approved an amendment to the city’s alcohol ordinances for certain locations in the city. KETK reports all members voted in favor of an amendment that changed the previous city rule, which limited alcohol sales to distances more than 300 feet from a school, day care, church, or hospital. The city on Wednesday voted to allow buildings that were at least 20,000 sq. ft. in size and had a natural buffer or fence to sell alcohol. The businesses in Tyler that would be affected by the change are Sam’s Club and Super Mercado Monterrey Grocery Store.

Gilmer Man’s Conviction Upheld

Kevin Leray HendersonTEXARKANA — An appeals court has upheld the conviction and sentence of a Gilmer man who had been charged with exposing himself to a young girl. The 6th Court of Appeals in Texarkana has upheld the conviction of Kevin Leray Henderson, 45. He had been sentenced to 80 years in prison. A jury had convicted Henderson in the case. He decided to let the judge set his punishment. The judge sentenced him as an habitual offender. He could have gotten up to life in prison.

Gohmert’s Statement on President Obama’s Budget

thumb_louiegohmert-3WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert of Tyler is viewing President Obama’s budget proposal with disdain. In a statement, Gohmert says, “We are in a very grave economic situation because of the bloated government and massive overspending. Now, two months after the legally mandated deadline for the President’s budget, President Obama offers his belated solution — more massive government deficit overspending, more government workers, more IRS agents, less people actually providing healthcare, more government employees explaining the limited healthcare choices, and less money for taxpayers to keep of what they earned – a great belated proposal.”

Texas Bill Criminalizing Airport Pat-Downs is Considered

thumb_David-SimpsonAUSTIN (AP) – A bill that made national headlines for unsuccessfully attempting to criminalize excessive touching by agents during airport security pat-downs two years ago is back in the Texas Legislature. The measure by Representative David Simpson of Longview would make the intentional touching of travelers’ private parts by security officials illegal.

The tea party Republican introduced a 2011 proposal making it illegal for anyone conducting searches to touch travelers’ private parts, even though clothing. It also would have prohibited searches considered offensive “to a reasonable person.” That bill died after a threat from federal officials to close airports statewide for security purposes if it were approved. The new measure should be less contentious since it clarifies that security agents must be deliberately touching inappropriately, rather than such contact happening incidentally during pat-downs.

Tyler Police Department Implements New Online Reporting for Citizens

thumb_police-tyler-badgeTYLER — The Tyler Police Department will be providing a new online police reporting option for the public. This web-based reporting system will allow the public to file certain incident types (Theft, Theft from open garage or shed, Vehicle Burglary, Harassment, Criminal Mischief, Graffiti and Lost Property) over the Internet at their convenience. According to a news release, the Tyler Police Department expects this Internet-based reporting service to be very popular among citizens who have come to expect police services to be provided immediately and conveniently online.

The service will allow the public to file a report at a time that is best for them without having to wait for an officer to respond or call them back. The public will be able to print a temporary copy of the report upon submitting the report. The report will be reviewed by police personnel, and once approved, the filing person will receive an email with a copy of the report attached without cost. Officials say the report will transfer into the Tyler Police Department’s records management system and receive the same investigation and statistical analysis ability as if the report had been filed by a police officer. Police say this web-based reporting option will allow officers more time to address community needs while keeping pace with the public expectancy for complete services via the Internet.

The Tyler Police Department will be using the Desk Officer Online Reporting System from San Ramon, California-based software company Coplogic, Inc. You can go to http://www.Coplogic.com to learn more about the firm. The web based crime reporting service is now available; you can go to http://www.Tylerpolice.com to access the service.

Slaying Suspect Moved to Jail

Deion ReedLONGVIEW — A juvenile arrested in connection to a May 15th shooting that left a former Kilgore College football player dead is moved to the Gregg County Jail. According to KETK, Deion Reed, 17, was originally booked into a juvenile detention center after he and his brother, Torry Reed, were arrested and charged in the shooting death of DeAundray Rossum, 23. He was shot to death in a vehicle at a South Longview apartment complex. Deion Reed is being held on bonds totaling $500,000, charged with murder and aggravated robbery

Sequester Cuts Affecting Gregg County

thumb_maxey_cerliano-1LONGVIEW — Washington’s sequester cuts are leaving their mark in Gregg County. The county is now responsible for transportation costs associated with moving federal inmates within the Eastern District of Texas. The U.S. Marshals Service used to reimburse the county for those costs, but due to its budget cuts, the service is now asking sheriffs’ departments to pickup the tab. Sheriff Maxey Cerliano tells KETK those costs will be about $48,000.

Victim of Building Explosion Remains Hospitalized

fire across from T.K. Gorman 4-3-13TYLER — Tyler fire officials say Jose Juanchi-Pineda, the victim of the explosion at 1430 ESE Loop 323 on April 3, remains in critical condition at Parkland Hospital. Officials say the cause of the explosion will remain under investigation until such time as investigators can speak with Pineda. Officials say they hope that can happen in the near future. No further information is available at this time, according to a news release from the Tyler Fire Department.

Three persons were hurt in the incident. According to the Tyler Fire Department, Juanchi-Pineda was said to be on fire and running down the street. Witnesses reported that several citizens stopped to render aid. Two were also injured and transported to area hospitals with non-life threatening injuries. Investigators believe Juanchi-Pineda was renovating the home when the incident occurred. It appears that he was using solvents to refinish the floor in the structure. According to fire officials, vapors ignited, causing the explosion and resulting fire. The actual ignition source has not been determined.

TISD Held Public Meeting on Upcoming Bond Proposal

TYLER — Tyler ISD held a meeting Tuesday night at St. Louis Baptist Church to discuss the ‘Bond 2013′ with the community before the May election. A bond that will be on the May 11th ballot. According to KETK, Tyler ISD Superintendent Gary Mooring spoke about building new schools, projects, remodeling, timelines and enrollment.

David Stein, Spokesperson for Tyler Proud, says, “It’s a good decision to pass the bond because it will create a better learning environment.” He says, “It’s great for the kids, it’s great for the teachers, it’s great for the community, it’s just a good to decision.” Opponents of the bond say they want the school district to address academics and discipline before considering facilities improvement.

The board of trustees called for a May bond election to ask voters whether or not to approve a 160.5 million dollar bond.

Mineola Construction Accident Kills One

MINEOLA — An investigation continues into a fatal Wood County construction accident. Killed in the Mineola accident, on Loop 564 and U.S. Highway 69, was Romualdo Gonzalez-Paramo, 40, of Waskom. He was a member of a work group drilling a hole under the road for a utility line. Paramo was crushed to death when a large piece of construction equipment overturned and fell into the hole on top of him. The accident happened Monday evening.

Home Sustains Smoke Damage from Power Line

tyler-fire-dept-logoTYLER — A Tyler home has received minor fire damage. It was reported just after 3:15 yesterday afternoon at 1319 East Front Street. A caller reported that a tree limb had fallen on a power line and the line had fallen on a house. According to the caller the house started to smoke after the wire fell on it. No one was home at the time of the incident. Three engines and one Ladder Company, along with a District Chief and an Investigator, responded to the scene. The house apparently only sustained slight smoke damage in the living areas and light smoke damage in the attic area due to smoldering insulation in the attic.

Relatives Talk about Fatal Winona Fire; Family Gets Help

photoSMITH COUNTY — More details on a fatal weekend fire. Relatives connected with the fatal Winona house fire spoke exclusively with KETK Monday. Nina Torres and Katherine Parker are the mother and aunt of Bryan Dear, respectively. Dear’s house caught fire around 3 a.m. Sunday in the 200 block of Kay Street. Fire officials said a candle caused the fire, but further investigation is needed. Dear and his wife Heather, along with eight children, were inside the house at the time. Six of the children were related. Two friends were sleeping over that night. The two adults and five of the children were able to make it out okay. Heather’s sons, 9-year-old Colby Watson and 6-year old Riley Hickman, were killed. Family friend 4-year-old Jax Davidson also died in the fire.

Parker says Colby died in the fire while trying to save one of his brothers. “Colby was a sweet, sweet baby,” Parker said. “He’d do anything for anybody … And Riley was always smiling. Always ready to give you a hug.” Torres says Bryan, Heather and Bryan’s son, Colten were taken to the hospital and treated for burns. Bryan has been released. Colten is still in ICU at the LSU burn unit. Heather remains in critical condition at a Tyler hospital. Torres and Parker say the children’s bodies are undergoing autopsy. When results are complete, a funeral date will be set. Lloyd James Funeral Home in Tyler has offered to pay for the entire cost of the funeral, coffins and plots. Torres and Parker say the funeral for all three children will be done together. The boys will be buried next to each other at New Harmony Cemetery.

The family lost everything, including both of their cars. There are a number of funds set up to help the family:
– First Bank of Hughes Springs
P.O. Box 570 Winona, TX 75792
903-877-2501
“Dear Fire Victim Memorial Fund”
– Capital One Bank (any location)
“Brian Dear Donation Fund”
– First Baptist Church, Winona, TX

Wood County Woman Guilty in Gun Case that Went International

thumb_FederalCourthouseTYLER – A 51-year-old Yantis woman has pleaded guilty to federal firearms violations in a case that led to the Philippines. Andrea Jaine Burns London pleaded guilty to conspiracy to not keep required records Tuesday in Tyler before U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith Guthrie.

London and Lucretia Beth Brown, 45, also of Yantis, were indicted on July 11, 2012, and charged with gun trafficking violations. Federal agents executed search warrants at their home and business in November 2011. A warrant was issued for their arrest, but it was soon discovered that the pair had left the United States for the Philippines in February 2012.

Assistance was requested from the International Investigations Branch and a lead was sent to the Diplomatic Security Service in Manila. On Oct. 9, 2012, Philippine Immigration Agents arrested London and Brown in Cebu without incident. Both subjects were transported to Manila to begin the deportation process. On Nov. 8, 2012, London and Brown were escorted by Philippine Immigration Agents from Manila to Los Angeles, where they were taken into custody by the Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force.

According to information presented in court, from January 2011 to July 2011, London and Brown transported guns from the inventory of Lake Fork Gunslinger & Outdoors in Emory, Texas, to gun shows in Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas. Officials say the two then sold the guns without properly recording the name, age, and place of residence of the buyers. Brown pleaded guilty on Feb. 14, 2013, to conspiracy to fail to perform backgrounds checks and is awaiting sentencing. London faces up to 10 years in federal prison at sentencing. A sentencing date has not been set.

Son of Slain DA Says Guns Put Away before Killing

Mike McLellandWORTHAM (AP) – The son of slain Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland says his father kept a gun “in every room of his house” but couldn’t reach one when his killer or killers slipped into his home because he had put the weapons away hours before. J.R. McLelland told The Dallas Morning News the guns had been stored for the protection of visitors attending a party the night before. McLelland says he believes that, had the weapons been in their normal spots, his father likely would have tried to reach one. Mike McLelland (pictured) and his wife Cynthia were found shot to death March 30. Those slayings occurred two months after Assistant DA Mark Hasse was gunned down outside the county courthouse. No arrests have been made in either case.

Abbott: Kaufman County Killers Will Be Brought to Justice

thumb_greg-abbott-3GRAPEVINE — The state’s top law enforcement officer makes his first comments about the murders of public officials in Kaufman County. Attorney General Greg Abbott made a promise during remarks at a Tarrant County Tea Party event in Grapevine. Abbott said, “We are going to track down these murderers and bring them to justice to protect the men and women who prosecute these criminals in the first place and put them behind bars.” Meanwhile, at the capitol, a bill that would make killing a district attorney in Texas a death penalty offense got a House committee hearing. If passed, though, it would not apply to the murders of DA Mike McLelland and Assistant DA Mark Hasse.

Arrests Made in 2012 Wells City Hall Burglary

Cherokee County Sheriff's Department BadgeWELLS — Investigators with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department have made two arrests in connection with the burglary of the City Hall building in Wells. KETK reports that on November 26, 2012, deputies were called to the scene at City Hall, where the glass had been broken out of the front door, and burglars had entered the building. Once they gained access, the burglars stole an undisclosed amount of cash, checks, and money orders.

Authorities suspect that Willian Todd Pounds, 47, and Joshua Kerry Rains, 27, both of Wells, may have been involved. Investigators arrested Pounds and Rains at their house in Wells, and charged them with burglary of a building. The charge is a state jail felony offense. They could face up to two years behind bars if convicted. In addition to confinement, they could be fined up to $10,000.

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