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Heart of Tyler Celebrates 25 Years

thumb_tyler-mainstreetTYLER — Heart of Tyler, Inc., Tyler’s only non-profit solely dedicated to the revitalization of downtown Tyler, will celebrate its 25th anniversary at its annual meeting tonight. The event is set for 6:00 to 8:00pm at Regions Bank, 100 East Ferguson. The event will include a report on 2012 accomplishments and election of board members. Among the evening’s highlights will be presentation of the Brick Award for outstanding support of downtown revitalization. A social hour will begin at 6:00. with live music, hors d’oeuvres and beverages. The program will commence at 7:00pm. The event is free and open to the public, though RSVPs to 903-593-6905 are encouraged.

Longview to Participate in Great Texas Warrant Round-Up

thumb_longview-cityofLONGVIEW — Longview joins the ranks of communities participating in The Great Texas Warrant Round-Up. It’s time for anyone with outstanding city warrants to contact the Longview Municipal Court to make arrangements to pay the warrant. Taking care of the outstanding warrants now could mean not spending the night in the Gregg County Jail and saving the embarrassment of being arrested in the future, according to officials.

According to Longview Municipal Court Director Sally Rees, the day is approaching that officers will be canvassing the city attempting to locate anyone with outstanding city warrants. If these officers locate someone with warrants that person will be arrested and taken to the Gregg County Jail. If you would like to take care of your warrants while you still have time, you are strongly encouraged to contact the Longview Municipal Court clerks at 903-237-1186 or go to 302 West Cotton Street, Longview between 8:00am and 4:30pm Monday through Friday.

Order Adopted on Pools, Spas, Fountains, Water Features

Fun Forest PoolTYLER — Public swimming pools and public spas in Smith County are required to obtain a permit to operate. Officials say the purpose of the permitting process is to protect the public from illnesses, injuries and deaths associated with public swimming pools, spas, interactive water features and fountains. Services are provided to inspect existing facilities and issue, deny, suspend, or revoke permits. The services include plan review for new facilities, inspection of existing facilities, investigation of complaints and education programs for owners and operators of these facilities.

The Northeast Texas Public Health District Board of Directors approved District Order 2013-1 on January 24; the regulation will become effective March 15. A public swimming pool, public spa, interactive water feature or fountain is a facility open to the public located at hotels, motels, apartment complexes, homeowner associations, municipal parks, country clubs, therapeutic institutions, fitness centers, child care facilities, schools and universities. Owners of these facilities maintain an annual permit for each pool, spa, interactive water feature or fountain.

District Order 2013-1 supersedes District Order 2009-1 that provided the rules for implementing the Texas Department of State Health Services Public Swimming Pool and Spa regulations. It was updated to include the interactive water features and fountains now set out in state law and rule. Permit fees for public pools, spas, interactive water features and fountains were also addressed.

The water in a public swimming pools, spas, interactive water features or fountains must be routinely tested to ensure the chlorine residual and pH levels prevent the growth of disease causing bacteria. Regulations require proper depth markers on the pool deck and on the inside of the pool wall to keep swimmers from jumping into unknown water depths. To prevent head and spinal injuries as well as deaths, “No Diving” signs must be permanently placed along the pool deck to warn swimmers it is unsafe to dive.

Proper pool yard enclosures will also be inspected to provide adequate barriers to keep small children away from public swimming pools and spas. Fences must be the proper height, designed to prevent climbing and have a self-closing latching gate. Doors or other openings directly onto pool decks must also have self-closing latching devices. Emergency phones must be clearly marked and available in case of an accident. Safety equipment such as a throwing buoy with rope attached, a shepherds hook and in some cases a backboard must be available at all times.

A copy of District Order 2013-1 is available on the web at or contact Paul Adams, R.S., at 903-535-0037 for more information.

Suspect, Victim Identified in Fatal Henderson Shooting

joe_travis_watleyHENDERSON — Authorities Monday identified two Henderson men involved in a fatal shooting in that city. KETK and the Longview News-Journal report Joe Travis Watley, 60, is being held without bond in connection with the shooting death of 53-year-old Roy Lee Moore. The shooting happened at the Henderson American Legion Hall, at 601 Sand Street, just after 12:15 Sunday morning. According to Henderson Police, Moore had gotten up to go to another part of the building when he was shot. Watley (pictured) was later arrested in the 300 block of Garden Lane Road. EMS was taking the victim to a Longview hospital. Because of his condition the ambulance was diverted to a Kilgore hospital, where Moore died.

Tyler Fire Department HazMat Team Responds to Tanker Spill

thumb_tyler-fire-dept-logoTYLER — A Tyler road was closed for a while Monday following a tanker truck accident. The tank truck which had driven off Loop 323, just north of the Commerce Street intersection. It is believed that the truck was fully loaded with Jet A fuel and was carrying approximately 7500 gallons. Upon leaving the roadway, valves and piping beneath the truck contacted a guardrail, which caused fuel to spill onto the ground. The front tank compartment was affected and leaked approximately 700 gallons of fuel.

With fuel leaking, the Tyler Fire Department Hazardous Materials personnel worked quickly stop the leak and contain the fuel that was already on the ground. A crew got busy vacuuming the fuel that remained on the ground, and another crew was called in to complete the clean-up. Also, a transport unit was brought onsite to off-load the remaining fuel from the affected truck. Officials said the driver of the vehicle would be cited for the incident.

Half-Cent Sales Tax Begins Call for Projects

image002TYLER — The City of Tyler is asking for citizen input about potential future half-cent sales tax projects. Two public open houses will be held.

* Feb. 21, noon -1:00pm in the Bluebonnet Room of the Rose Garden Center, 420 Rose Park Drive.
* March 19, 6:00 to 7:oopm in the Rose Room of the Tyler Rose Garden Center, 420 Rose Park Drive.

On Tuesday, Feb. 12, the Half-Cent Sales Tax Board opened the annual half-cent sales tax call for projects. The call for projects will run from Feb. 12 through March 31 and provides the citizens of Tyler, community leaders, Tyler City Council, and staff the opportunity to bring capital projects forward to be considered for half-cent sales tax funding. Staff from each of the funded categories; Police, Fire, Parks, Airport, Traffic, Engineering and Drainage will be available to talk with the public and gather data for possible future half-cent funded projects. “If residents have an idea for a project, now is the time to communicate it,” said Carter Delleney, city engineer.

The City of Tyler collects half-cent sales tax revenue and utilizes it to fund capital improvement projects, such as the recent construction of Earl Campbell Parkway and the new Fire Station 5. The program was approved by voters in 1995 as a way to fund capital infrastructure projects that enhance the community and attract economic development opportunities. For more information, contact Carter Delleney, P.E., or Amy Downey at 903-531-1126.

Tyler Joins Statewide Warrant Sweep

thumb_cityoftylerTYLER — Tyler has joined other Texas cities and counties in participating in a statewide warrant sweep. Agencies will work together during this time to make arrests and collect fines for outstanding warrants. Officials say the Tyler Marshal’s Office is one of the most technologically advanced agencies utilizing License Plate Recognition cameras and warrant mapping software to locate and track wanted persons. The Statewide Sweep runs for two weeks. During this time, according to officials, marshals will concentrate their efforts to serve as many warrants as possible. Tyler Municipal Court will actually extend this Warrant Sweep for two additional weeks after the Statewide Warrant Sweep has ended.

Tyler Municipal Court will have extended hours during the sweep, 7:00am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday. Any persons with warrants for their arrest are encouraged to contact their local court to pay the warrants before an arrest is made. In Tyler, you can pay online at or at the physical Court located at 813 N. Broadway. Also, you may call the court for more information at (903) 531-1266.

Local State Representative Debates School Evaluation System

matt-schaeffer-1EAST TEXAS — State Representative Matt Schaefer, District 6, is in deep discussion about House Bill number 5 at the State Capital. Schaefer told KETK, right now, the way the school system’s are evaluated, is not realistic and things need to change. He said this education reform bill would take the number of standardized testing required for end of course exams down from 15 to 5. He says that reduces the emphasis on standardized testing. It also would change the way schools are graded. Schaefer says the discussion is ongoing.

Crimestoppers Approved Rewards for Tipsters

VAN ZANDT COUNTY — Van Zandt County Crime Stoppers has authorized $900 in rewards for tips that led to the recent arrests of five people, including three suspects wanted in connection with the fiery explosion at an oil storage tank facility north of Van. A single $600 reward was approved for an anonymous caller whose tip led to the arrest of two Edgewood brothers. One brother was wanted on a bond forfeiture warrant for assault with a deadly weapon. The other brother was wanted on a felony drunk driving charge.

Multiple tipsters will share a $300 reward for information they provided that helped identify three suspects in the January 29 oil tank explosion, caused when a lit cigarette ignited fumes. The three suspects subsequently turned themselves in to authorities.

“We’re very pleased that this oil tank explosion prompted numerous calls to Crime Stoppers to help point authorities to the individuals involved,” said Andy Flowers, president of Van Zandt County Crime Stoppers. “It shows that people are increasingly aware that they can provide this information to us anonymously, and get a reward for doing that.”

Flowers wanted to emphasize to tip callers that in order to collect on their cash reward at the bank, they must know the entire code number. Each caller is given a four-digit number when they call in the tip, then must call Crime Stoppers back once a reward is approved to get the complete reward code number.

Tyler Traffic Fatality Reported

Ramon Duran-LedesmaTYLER — A Tyler wreck has left one person dead and one person in custody. It was reported shortly before 1:15 Sunday morning at the intersection of Highway 31 West and County Road 1248. Police Sgt. Daniel Richardson identifies the victim as William Craig Little, 56, of Tyler. Investigators say a car driven by Ramon Duran-Ledesma (pictured), 22, of Ben Wheeler, hit Little’s pickup from behind. Ledesma was uninjured. He has been booked into the Smith County Jail on a charge of intoxication manslaughter. His bond is set at $250,000.

Two Teens Injured in ATV Accident

police-car-lights2CHAPEL HILL — An ATV accident in Smith County has injured two persons, one critically. It happened just before 5:00 Sunday afternoon on private property at 11749 Highway 64 East near Chapel Hill. Witnesses tell Smith County Sheriff’s deputies the two teenagers were traveling at an unsafe speed when they lost control of the ATV and overturned, tossing both girls from the vehicles. The one most seriously injured was pinned under the ATV. She sustained a severe head injury and has undergone surgery at East Texas medical center. She is said to be in critical condition. The second girl received moderate scrapes and bruises.

Suspicious Item Found in Longview

Albertsons LongviewLONGVIEW — A suspicious device found in a Longview parking lot turned out to be a pipe filled with papers. The pipe was found in the bed of a pickup in the parking lot of Albertson’s on Loop 281. The bomb squad from Bossier City shot water into the device to find out what was inside the mysterious, but harmless device. Just over three hours after the device was found the parking lot and store were reopened.

TxDOT Project Updates

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

WOOD COUNTY – Construction crews from TxDOT contractor Longview Bridge and Road on Monday and Tuesday this week are scheduled to place bridge beams on the State Highway 154 bridge just west of Quitman, which will require traffic to be stopped periodically. Also in Wood County, construction crews are scheduled to resume resurfacing work in various locations on State Highway 182 between Alba and Quitman in preparation for a seal coat application later this summer. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

RUSK COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to make ditch and edge repairs on State Highway 135 between Kilgore and Farm Road 918 in Sexton City. A second crew is scheduled on Wednesday to make pavement repairs near the State Highway 135/Farm Road 850 four-way stop in Overton. Elsewhere in Rusk County, TxDOT maintenance crews this week are scheduled to continue base and pavement repairs on Farm Road 782 northeast of Henderson between Farm Road 1716 in Oak Hill and State Highway 149 near the Gregg County Line. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

Looking ahead to March 4, TxDOT construction contractor Longview Bridge and Road is scheduled to close Farm Road 1798 to all traffic on either side of U.S. Highway 259 between Henderson and Mount Enterprise so crews can begin building the overpass structure across US 259. The work is scheduled to be completed by July 4, but meanwhile traffic will be unable to access FM 1798 from US 259. Marked detours will be in place.

SMITH COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews on Tuesday are scheduled to do approximately one day of pavement repair work on Farm Road 848 between Spur 248 and State Highway 64 east of Tyler, followed by similar work on Farm Road 757 between Farm Road 2767 and State Highway 31 east of Tyler. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

HENDERSON COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to make storm-related repairs on State Highway 334 between U.S. Highway 175 and State Highway 198 in Gun Barrel City, and on US 175 near Poyner. A second crew is scheduled to make edge repairs on State Highway 274 near Seven Points. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

VAN ZANDT COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to continue fog seal operations on Interstate Highway 20 frontage roads between Farm Road 1255 and Farm Road 16. Daytime lane closures will be in effect while the work is in progress, and flaggers and pilot vehicles will control traffic.

CHEROKEE COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to make base and pavement repairs on Farm Road 343 east of U.S. Highway 69 in Rusk, and continue edge work on Farm Road 855 near Mount Selman. Daytime lane closures will be in effect while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

ANDERSON COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to resume edge work on Farm Road 1137 east of Palestine. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

2012 Record Year for Charitable Giving

TYLER — The Board of Directors of East Texas Communities Foundation (ETCF) is reporting the foundation ended 2012 with a record $53 million in charitable assets. 2012 marked the first year foundation assets surpassed the $50 million milestone. ETCF also reported surpassing another major milestone with record grants of over $5 million during 2012, which reflects the priority of donors and fund advisors to make significant distributions to support the important work of hundreds of charities serving numerous communities.

The Bullard Rotary Club established a new charitable fund at ETCF in 2012, one of 23 organizations and families that helped break another record for ETCF with the highest number of new charitable funds established in a single year. Bullard Rotary Club used their fund to collect over $130,000 in public contributions to support the construction of Bullard Kid’s Park, which opened in January. “Certainly political uncertainty and tax concerns caused a significant amount of year-end personal financial planning, including the establishment of several charitable funds, but the vast majority of new funds were established much earlier in the year,” said foundation president, Kyle Penney. “We welcomed several new charitable funds which will benefit important nonprofits in our communities such as, the Louis and Peaches Owen Endowment for English as a Second Language (benefiting Literacy Council of Tyler), Camp Tyler Outdoor School Endowment Fund, Brownsboro ISD Education Foundation, Nacogdoches County United Way Endowment Fund, three new endowment funds set up by a donor’s estate to support East Texas Crisis Center, Azleway, and PATH, and many others.”

East Texas Kidnapping Trial Nearing an End

SAN AUGUSTINE (AP) — Closing arguments are set for Tuesday in the East Texas trial of two women accused of kidnapping a Houston boy when he was 8 months old and hiding him for eight years before he was found. Krystle Tanner and her mother, Gloria Walker, have been charged with kidnapping and injury to a child in the 2004 disappearance of Miguel Morin. The women are being tried in San Augustine.

At trial, prosecutors have tried to show that Tanner and Walker repeatedly lied about the boy’s identity to authorities. KTRE-TV of Lufkin reports that defense attorneys say Miguel was sold by his biological mother to Tanner, not kidnapped. The boy is now living with a Houston-area couple that’s also taking care of his siblings.

Tyler Policemen Honored

Ethan JohnsonTYLER — Tyler’s police officer of the year is officer Ethan Johnson. That was one of the many awards handed out Friday night at the department’s annual awards banquet. Employees of the Tyler Police Department along with civilians were honored for their actions and service to the City of Tyler.

In honoring officer Johnson, he was described as an officer who is respected and exhibits the utmost professionalism in the image he presents for the Tyler Police Department. Johnson has only been with the department for 3 years but in that short time has exhibited his strong work ethic and willingness to help others. He works well with both citizens and officers and strives to make the city a better place. He works well in a team environment and continually strives to be a better officer. This officer always takes the time to help new officers and offer assistance wherever he can.

In other awards:
Rookie of the Year: Brandon Lott
Plainclothes Officer of the Year: Detective Royce Jordan
Sworn Supervisor of the Year: Lieutenant Russell Jacks
Unit of the Year: Bike Unit
Civilian Employee of the Year: Michael Cox
Civilian Supervisor of the Year: Erin Walker
Volunteer of the Year: Chaplin Jerry Page

Tyler Patrolman’s Association Awards:
President’s Award: Roddey Hogan-CPA
Excellence in Policing Award: Detective David Cook

Tyler Police Department Awards:
Life Savings Awards:
Officer Jason Compton
Officer Johnny Green
Public Safety Officer Rebekah Hill

Certificate of Merit:
Officer Clay Allen
Communications Evening Shift Supervisor Erin Walker

Citizens Certificate of Merit:
John Craig

School Bus Involved in Crash

TYLER — No injuries are report in an accident involving a Tyler school bus. It happened around 4:00 Friday afternoon in the 5500 block of the Old Jacksonville Highway. Investigators say the bus was north bound on in the outside lane. A white Ford Mustang, driven by Brandi Branson, was north bound in the inside lane beside the bus. The Mustang had a mechanical problem, causing it to swerve toward the bus, hitting the back tire. There was no damage to the bus. The car received minor damage. There was one student on the bus at the time. Branson was cited for failure to maintain a single lane.

Tyler Police Investigate Aggravated Robbery

thumb_police-tyler-car2TYLER — Tyler police are investigating the robbery of a man and woman. It happened around 3:45 Friday afternoon in the 600 block of West Houston. The couple told officers they had gone to that location to meet an acquaintance under the pretense of renting an apartment. They brought the deposit money for the apartment with them in cash. The acquaintance produced a knife and demanded the money. After getting the money, he fled south bound on Kennedy street. No injuries were reported.

Smith County Road and Bridge Project Update

TYLER — The Smith County Road 230 bridge replacement project is on schedule and set for completion at the end of March. According to a county news release, crews have removed the old bridge and have completed the north and south walls for the new structure. Crews are preparing to install the main beams for the bridge at this time.

Crews are working across the county to patch roads and clear trees from rights-of-way this week. Officials ask you to report potholes and downed trees to the Smith County Road and Bridge Department at 903-590-4801 or use SeeClickFix; that’s a free phone app that allows you to upload pictures and reports directly to the county from your phone or home computer. Click here for a link to the Smith County SeeClickFix Website:

Former Mt. Pleasant Officer Gets 50 Years for Sexual Assault of Child

ericcampbellGILMER — A former Mt. Pleasant police sergeant has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for sexually assaulting a child. Eric Jason Campbell, 51, after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child, was sentenced by Judge Lauren Parish of the 115th District Court. He is not eligible for parole until after serving 25 years, according to the Upshur County District Attorney’s Office. KETK reports Campbell accepted a plea bargain at the request of the victim and family.

After witnessing the courtroom proceedings, the child, who was younger than 14 at the time of the crime, gave a statement in which she told the defendant that this would haunt her for the rest of her life. The victim also stated she felt the sentence would keep the former officer in jail and allow her to avoid testifying on the horrific events. Campbell must also register for the rest of his life as a sex offender and forfeit his peace officers’ license.

Whitehouse Police Officer Resigns Following DWI Arrest

robertson_darrellWHITEHOUSE — A Whitehouse police officer resigns following his arrest on for allegedly driving while intoxicated. According to Whitehouse Police Chief Craig Shelton, Darrell Desmon Robertson, 39, resigned Thursday morning. According to KETK, Smith County Judicial records show Robertson was booked into jail early that morning and released on $500 bond just over an hour later. Robertson was stopped in his personal vehicle on Farm Road 756 near Loop 49 after a trooper spotted his vehicle allegedly weaving and crossing the center line. After speaking with Robertson, the trooper arrested him for DWI with probable cause, according to Department of Public Safety Spokeswoman Jean Dark.

Master Plan Approved for Rose Garden Upgrade

thumb_tyler-rose-gardenTYLER — Tyler’s City Council approves a master plan to upgrade the Rose Garden. KETK reports Parks and Recreation is looking for a way to attract visitors to the venue all year long. The famous garden will be expanding and adding some new programs very soon. The goal is to make the Rose Garden a year long attraction for tourists. MHS Design and Planning Team will be leading the project. MHS President Mark Spencer says, “The days of coming home from church on Sunday and Dad saying, ‘Let’s go to the Rose Garden and have a picnic’… times have changed. We tend to live a little more programmed life.”

The planning and design team and the city have been talking for 4 years about upgrades. The City Council approved a master plan this week, with talks of adding an outside restroom, a possible area for outside concerts, and other features. Parks and Recreation Director Stephanie Rollings says officials hope the new additions and the expansion will hopefully bring more people to the garden all year round. “It’s already a huge tourist destination and just really beginning to add more to the facility so more people will come and visit and continue to be that valuable attraction to the city of Tyler,” says Rollings

The upgrades will cost $36,000 and will be paid for through a capital improvement fund with the city. The Texas Rose Festival also donated $15,000 for the project. Spencer says they want to add features that will attract more people to the garden as well as features that will fit with the people of Tyler. According to Spencer, “We’re going to try and look to see what uses will be compatible with the garden and see what the people have to say about that.”

Suspects Sought in Merchandise Theft

thumb_police-longview2LONGVIEW — Longview Police are looking for the thieves responsible for stealing over $1,500 worth of merchandise from a local store. According to KETK, police described them as a man and woman pushing a small child in a shopping cart. They’re believed to be driving a gold GMC Yukon with Louisiana plates, which authorities say may be temporary tags. Police believe the man is armed.

Alcohol Measure Placed on May Ballot in Longview

thumb_longview-cityof LONGVIEW — The Longview City Council has voted to place a local alcohol option on the May 11 ballot. The move was required by state law due to the number of verified signatures collected on the petitions. The proposition would allow beer and wine sales for off premise consumption. According to KETK, the Longview News-Journal, and city spokesman Shawn Hara, City Secretary Shelly Ballinger had earlier verified the minimum 5,375 signatures of registered Longview voters on the petition to call the election. If the proposition passes in May, grocery and convenience stores in the historically dry areas of west and north Longview would be able to sell beer and wine, but not hard liquor.

Smith County to Participate in State-Wide Warrant Round Up

thumb_smithcounty-sealTYLER — Smith County is combining forces with 300 other jurisdictions across Texas to participate in one of the largest joint warrant round ups in the state. Anyone with outstanding court costs and fines has until March 2 to arrange for payment before the warrant sweep begins. On March 2, officers will begin visiting homes, neighborhoods, and places of work to arrest anyone who has not settled his or her debt with the county. “Save yourself the expense and embarrassment of being picked up during the warrant round up. Call the Smith County Collections Department and make arrangements to pay your outstanding fees today,” Sheryl Keel, Smith County Judicial Compliance Supervisor, said. You can check to see if you have unpaid court costs or fines online at or by calling the Smith County Collections department at 903-590-4620.

Citizens are encouraged to take advantage of the grace period between February 15 and March 1, during which time they may resolve their case without penalty of arrest. Beginning March 2, the Enforcement Period will begin and individuals will be “rounded up” at their homes, work, and around town and brought to the court to address their outstanding warrants before a judge.

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