Category: Local News Archive

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Tire Slashings in Whitehouse

thumb_police-whitehouse-carWHITEHOUSE — There were multiple reports of tire slashings all over Whitehouse overnight. According to KETK, Police Chief Craig Shelton says calls started coming in Thursday morning. He is estimating around 15 vehicles were hit — but it might be more. Shelton says police have a few leads, but don’t want to comment on any suspects just yet. He believes that the county also has had some calls.

Texas 31 Deaths Spur Calls for Safety Changes

hwy_31_lvGREGG COUNTY — A wreck on Texas 31 that set off a chain of events leading to the deaths of two men Friday has spurred a push for improvements to the stretch often referred to as “Bloody 31.” That’s according to KETK and the Longview News-Journal. Witnesses to the wreck and people who work at establishments along Texas 31 west of FM 2767 this week are calling for the road to be widened, a reduction in the speed limit, installation of lighting, and addition of a turn lane. One employee of an area business says he and his general manager have discussed starting a petition for such changes; he said Friday night’s events made it more important than ever.

TxDOT spokesman Larry Krantz said, “We investigate each fatal crash on our system and are constantly looking for ways to make our system safer and easier to use. We are open to any suggestions from the public and welcome those.”

Van ISD Voted To Allow Employees To “Pack Heat”

VAN — The Van Independent School District has become the second East Texas school district and the third in the state to allow authorized faculty to carry firearms on campus. According to a press release from the district, “Board-authorized specific school employees and other persons” will be allowed “to possess certain firearms on school property, at school-sponsored or school-sanctioned events, and at board meetings.”

According to KETK, the district’s campuses are spread across the city, northwest of Tyler, and, according to the statement, there was concern of effective and timely response to emergency situation. The district’s new policy states that only school employees who have a current license to carry a concealed handgun would be eligible to carry on campus. Last Thursday, administrators at Union Grove ISD, a rural Upshur county district, approved a similar measure to allow select, licensed and trained teachers and administrators to have a firearm on campus.

Hallsville Man Sentenced In Burglary Spree

MARSHALL — A 19-year-old man involved in a string of burglaries in Hallsville was sentenced to four years in prison Wednesday by a Harrison County jury. According to the Longview News-Journal, Nathan R. Freeman of Hallsville was 16 years old when he, along with several other teens, engaged in a spree of burglaries throughout Hallsville in 2010, police said. Freeman told jurors he had a heavy drug addiction at the time. Freeman, who pleaded guilty to burglary of a habitation, said the role he played in the crime was taking the stolen goods and trading them in for drugs.

Federal Grand Jury Returns Indictments in Tyler

thumb_Federalcourthouse2TYLER – A federal grand jury in Tyler returned several indictments Wednesday. Cloyd Ray Knight, III, 57, of Arlington, was charged with making and passing counterfeit $100 bills. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison. According to the indictment, in December 2012, Knight is alleged to have forged $100 bills which he reportedly used at various retail stores across East Texas. In separate cases, Pastor Sanchez-Ortuno, 38, and Pedro Gallegos-Perez, 31, a Mexican national, were indicted for being present in the United States after having been previously deported. If convicted, each faces up to 10 years in federal prison followed by deportation.

Human Needs Network Conducts Homeless Survey

TYLER — The East Texas Human Needs Network Thursday conducts a survey of the local homeless population. The network’s Christina Fulsom says it’s part of an ongoing effort to address the homelessness issues in Smith County and around the state. Other agencies throughout Texas will be conducting similar efforts on Thursday. According to Fulsom, “We have to truly understand the scope of the problem in order to improve our ability to plan and implement effective housing and service programs.” Fulsom says last year’s survey turned up 257 homeless people, including 55 children — and “there were many others we did not find that night.” Volunteer registration is now closed, but you can go to http://www.ethnn.org to learn more.

Jacksonville City Manager: Lon Morris Property Auctioned without Consent

thumb_Lon-Morris-SignJACKSONVILLE — Confusion has engulfed the sale of Lon Morris college this week. KETK reports several properties were allegedly auctioned off by AmeriBid, the company handling the sale, that were not to be sold — but rather handed over the city of Jacksonville. According to Jacksonville City Manager Mo Raissi, the rodeo grounds, a recreation center, and a practice field were bid on and won by Jacksonville-based office supplier 11 x 17 Inc. He claims real estate auctioned by AmeriBid must have approval of city management, but they never gave approval to the auction company for those properties. Though the real estate has not technically been sold, the sale is scheduled to be finalized February 4. The winning bids were announced Tuesday.

AmeriBid Spokesman Carl Carter responded to KETK via phone. According to Carter, “All [AmeriBid] did was let people bid on it. Nothing is sold until February 4, unless the city wants to sell [the property]. All we did is generate an offer for a property the city wanted sold. [The City of Jacksonville] doesn’t have to take it,” said Carter. “This was a unique situation, a unique sale with different lenders involved. Everything was done with everybody’s knowledge.” Lon Morris, the oldest junior college in Texas, filed for bankruptcy back in July 2012.

Man Charged with Sexual Assault in Van Zandt County

sexassaultvanzandtCANTON — A woman was sexually assaulted in Van Zandt County Tuesday night. It happened in the area of Interstate 20 and Highway 64. The sheriff’s department tells KETK after following up on leads, investigators were able to issue an arrest warrant for 29-year-old, Christopher Lee Pruitt. At around 1:00 a.m. Wednesday, sheriff’s deputies along with the Texas Department of Transportation executed a search warrant in the 2000 block of Payne St. in Hunt County and arrested Pruitt.

City of Tyler Agrees to Accept Trail Grant

thumb_cityoftylerTYLER — The Tyler City Council hasvoted unanimously to accept a Trail Grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife in the amount of $189,200 and to execute a Trail Fund Agreement. The grant project includes construction of approximately 3.75 miles of crushed granite trail in addition to a bridge crossing over Black Fork Creek. This trail will be an extension of the concrete trail currently located at Woldert Park, around Glass Recreation Center. The trail will continue from the original concrete trail back bone around the lake area and will be approximately five-feet wide. “This trail will be similar to the trail currently located at Faulkner Park,” said Parks Director Stephanie Rollings. “We are so pleased that we are able to add to our City trail system with this project.”

The grant is an 80/20 percent match grant with the state funding $189,200 and the City funding $47,300. The City will use general funds and an in-kind match of $20,000 which includes in-house engineering services and design for the project to cover the 20 percent match. Now that the grant has been approved by Council, the City will begin discussions with the adjacent property owner for easements so that work can begin on design and construction plans for the project. Signing the contract is the first step in the process.

Council Approves Online Police Reporting System

thumb_tyler-city-hall-1TYLER — Tyler’s City Council has approved the purchase of software from Coplogic, Inc. for the purpose of implementing online police reporting. “This service will provide a convenient way to report minor incidents, crime tips and submit forms through an online service, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” said Police Chief Gary Swindle. “Plus, it provides a user friendly interface that even the most novice computer user can navigate.”

The new system will allow citizens to make their own report of certain specified incidents both criminal and non-criminal in nature. Additionally, citizens may file reports in various languages so that reporting is accessible to communities who may have been reluctant to file their reports previously.

According to officials, benefits include convenient online reporting to citizens while also freeing up time for Officers to pursue other duties and responsibilities. Processing time will decrease in the records division, and officers will be able to reallocate resources to proactively focus on crime trends and decrease response time for priority calls, according to officials. “Incident specific messages will provide the citizen with the same information an officer would in the field,” said Chief Swindle. “So there will be no difference between the interactions with the Police Department online or with an officer on scene.”

Once the software has been installed, citizens will be able to go to http://www.TylerPolice.com to file their reports online. Once a report has been submitted, citizens will be issued a temporary report which is traceable in the online system as well as the agency’s Records Management System.
“This is an outstanding example of demonstrated results from our Lean Six Sigma program,” said Tyler City Manager Mark McDaniel. “I am so proud of Lt. David Long for his work on this project.”Upon approval, reports will be issued a permanent case number and an email will be sent to the citizen with a PDF attachment of the report that is suitable for insurance claims.

Coplogic, Inc. requires a one-time set up fee of $12,500 plus $10,000 annually for License and Maintenance. In return, this software will save the department and city $42 per report filed online, in addition to time savings for both officers and citizens, according to officials.

$25,000 Reward Offered in Murder Case

GREENVILLE — Bolstered by a bigger reward pot, investigators in Greenville are hoping money will shake loose the information they need to solve November’s murder of a teenager. The reward now stands at $25,000 for Alicia Moore’s killer. She was last seen alive stepping off a school bus near her home. At first police did not investigate the case as a crime — only a missing teenager. Since then no suspects have been identified. Jessica Byrd, Alicia’s aunt, hopes the reward will give the police chief what he needs. Byrd says he might have something, but perhaps it’s not time for it to be made public. She says officials are trying to “make sure their ducks are in a row, since they dropped the ball on us” from the beginning of the case. The body of the 15-year was stuffed in a clothes trunk and left along a Van Zandt County road about 40 miles away.

Suspected Robber Surrendered To Authorities

darrTYLER — Tyler Police say a second suspect wanted in the January 16th robbery of the Food Fast – Exxon, 4201 University Boulevard has surrendered to authorities. On Tuesday, Darryl Earl Daniels Jr. (pictured) turned himself in to authorities on a charge of engaging in organized criminal activity. The 23-year-old was booked into the Smith County Jail with bond set at $100,000.

Authorities are still searching for a third suspect, Ashad Rael Coats, 25, in connection to the robbery. A warrant has been issued for his arrest. Jaqun Dawson is still in a local hospital and will also be charged with engaging in organized criminal activity.

According to authorities, the clerk said he was outside of the store smoking around 4:30 in the morning when he was approached by several black males wearing ski masks. The suspects took the clerk inside the store and demanded cash from the register. A customer walked into the store during the robbery and was not harmed. The suspects fled on foot to the rear of the store when police were called. Upon searching the area behind the store with a police K-9 they located Dawson lying in the wooded area. He had been shot in the lower right leg. Officers located a gun and other evidence linking him to the robbery.

Anyone with information about the suspect involved in this crime is urged to contact the Tyler Police Department at 903-531-1000, or Crimestoppers at 903-597-CUFF (903-597-2833).

Tyler Lawmaker Proposed To Discontinue Bonds For Cancer Research

kevin_eltife_senatorTYLER — Senator Kevin Eltife (R – Tyler), on Tuesday filed a proposed constitutional amendment to discontinue issuing bonds for cancer research. According to KETK, a 2007 voter-approved constitutional amendment created the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, or CPRIT, and authorized the state to purchase bonds to fund $3 billion in cancer research grants over 10 years. Eltife says that the proposed amendment would not abolish CPRIT, the agency created to approve research grants to pharmaceutical companies and other entities. Research and prevention activities could be supported by other state revenue, he says.

“Like many Texans, I have lost a loved one to cancer and I understand the importance of research for cures and treatments,” said Senator Eltife. “However, I do not support the State of Texas going into debt to accomplish these objectives, and would prefer that it be funded on a ‘pay as you go’ basis.”

Senator Eltife did not support the constitutional amendment submitted to the voters in 2007 because of the funding mechanism. Recently, CPRIT has been beset by reports of improprieties in the grant awarding process. Proposals have already been filed in an attempt to address those problems.

Teens Arrested After Reported Robbery

DocumentFragment_3845068GREGG COUNTY — Two Longview teens were arrested Monday, one charged with armed robbery and the other with possession of marijuana. It happened after police stopped a vehicle that matched the description of one involved in an armed robbery at Parkway Garden Apartments. According to the Longview News-Journal, witnesses and victims identified Conan Lars Rowley, 19, as the person who robbed them at gunpoint. An officer found a loaded .22 caliber pistol inside his vehicle.

Zane Cooper Selman, 17, was a passenger in the vehicle and was arrested and charged with possession of less than five pounds of marijuana. The officer found 4.3 ounces of pot in Rowley’s vehicle. Selman was held under $5,000 bond on the charge. Rowley was charged with aggravated robbery and held under $10,000 bond.

Toll 49 Bicycle Item Tabled

49_meetingTYLER — Tyler-area cyclists will still be allowed to use Toll 49 for now. KETK reports the Northeast Texas Regional Mobility Authority Board tabled a motion during its meeting Tuesday afternoon that would have banned cyclists from the road. The ban was considered due to safety issues concerning cyclists and motorists sharing the road. NET RMA received several letters both for the ban and against the ban.

Several Tyler cyclists traveled to Henderson to attend and speak about their concerns if the board decided to ban bicyclists. After about 30 minutes of discussion, the Smith County representative on the board made the motion to table the item for 60 days, and it was seconded and passed. If necessary, the board can call a meeting to decide the fate of cyclists before the 60 days are up.

Tyler Dentist Re-Arrested in Midst of Murder Trial

Bobby NicholsTYLER (AP) – A retired Tyler dentist on trial in the shooting death of his wife has been returned to jail after he was accused of violating the terms of his bond. Bobby Ray Nichols, who’s under a murder charge, was returned Sunday to Smith County Jail on his murder charge, and his bond increased to $3 million. He had been free on $750,000 bond. Tyler police Officer Don Martin confirms that the 76-year-old ex-dentist is accused of violating a bond provision prohibiting him from possessing alcohol. Nichols is on trial on a murder charge in the June 29 killing of his 71-year-old wife, Rosalind Nichols. His defense attorney was scheduled to begin presenting evidence today. If convicted, Nichols could be sentenced to up to life in prison.

Toddler Run Over, Killed by Chapel Hill School Bus

CHAPEL HILL — Authorities say a toddler was run over and killed Tuesday at around 3:25 p.m. by a Chapel Hill school bus on Pearl Street near the intersection of Gallion Avenue. According to KETK, Justice of the Peace Mitch Shamburger says the bus was dropping off a child as the child’s mother walked across the street. Shamburger says the mother did not realize her 1 1/2-year-old daughter had come out of the gate and gone in front of the bus. That’s when the bus ran over the toddler, identified as Arra Preciado. Witnesses tried to stop the bus, and Shamburger says the vehicle proceeded some 75 feet before stopping. The investigation continues.

Memorial Service Set for Cassity Jones

cassityjonesLONGVIEW — A memorial service for Longview businessman and civic leader Cassity Jones is set for Wednesday at 2:30 at First United Methodist Church of Longview. According to the website of Kilgore’s Rader Funeral Home, interment will follow at Longview’s Rosewood Park.

Jones died Monday at his Longview home. He was 94, according to KETK and the Longview News-Journal. Best known in East Texas for the lumber company that carried his name, he had worked as a building contractor, developer, automobile dealer, grocer and wholesaler, among other pursuits. Those who knew him said Jones was a caring but quiet and hardworking man who loved his family, friends, and business associates. The Cassity Jones family of companies includes Cassity Jones Lumber, Home Plus Floors, A-1 Rental, Winn Tile Co., and CJ Commercial. The companies have stores in Longview, Carthage, Tyler, Henderson, Marshall, Nacogdoches, Terrell and the Dallas area.

Nebraska Governor OKs Keystone XL Route through State

thumb_Keystone-Pipeline-map2LINCOLN, Neb. (AP/Staff) – Environmentalists are looking ahead to what they say will be the first test of President Barack Obama’s commitment to fight climate change — a commitment he made in Monday’s inaugural address. They say that test will come as Obama decides whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast. On Tuesday, the Republican governor of Nebraska gave his approval to a new route for the pipeline through his state — a move that adds to the pressure for the White House to approve or reject the project without delay.

Opponents have urged Obama to deny a federal permit for the project — a permit that would be needed because the pipeline crosses an international border. A coalition of landowners and environmental groups say it would contaminate a massive groundwater supply. Canadian pipeline developer TransCanada and some workers’ unions say the project is safe and will create thousands of jobs. Work has already begun on the pipeline’s southern route, which would carry it through much of East Texas — a region that continues to see its share of battles over the pipeline.

East Texas Sheriff Offers His View on Arming Teachers

thumb_Harrison-County-Sheriffs-DepartmentMARSHALL — An East Texas sheriff says he could support gun-carrying teachers — under certain guidelines. Teachers and administrators carrying firearms in Texas schools is being hotly debated statewide. In rural Harrison County, Sheriff Tom McCool says he’d support teachers carrying firearms if they received advanced firearm training “equal to any law enforcement officer, if not even more so.” McCool says friendly fire is not acceptable in a school.

Auction Of Lon Morris Campus Completed

Lon-Morris-SignJACKSONVILLE — The auction of Lon Morris College property has been completed with major purchases by the Jacksonville Independent School District and an office supply company. The winning bids for the multi-day auction totaled nearly $2.2 million. According to KETK, Jacksonville ISD agreed to purchase the Wilson Administration Building, in addition to the Lon Morris College gymnasium, swimming pool and athletic fields. Jacksonville-based office supplier 11 x 17 agreed to purchase most of the school’s academic buildings, Memorial Chapel and student residences. The list of all winning bidders and the individual properties are detailed in a filing submitted to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Tyler on Jan. 22, 2013.

Lon Morris College, Texas’ oldest junior college, filed for bankruptcy protection last summer. Dawn Ragan of Bridgepoint Consulting in Dallas is the chief restructuring officer for the school’s bankruptcy estate, which is represented by Houston attorney Hugh Ray III and other lawyers from the Texas offices of McKool Smith. Proceeds from the sale will be used to pay creditors and the school’s former employees, according to Ms. Ragan.

The sale is subject to the approval of the bankruptcy court, which has scheduled a hearing on Feb. 4 to review the auction results.

Lufkin Police Search For Audio Equipment Thieves

LUFKIN — Lufkin Police are searching for two thieves who took audio equipment from a department store. According to KETK, it happened at Walmart on the 2500 block of Daniel McCall Dr. in Lufkin on December 4th. The store’s surveillance video shows two men working together to steal two Kicker brand “sub in a box” car audio speakers. They put the speakers in their cart and then left the store without paying. One of the men wore a brown t-shirt and blue jeans. He has collar-length brown hair and a goatee. The other man wore a blue t-shirt and khaki shorts. He was clean shaven. The store’s loss prevention employee told authorities that the same men are believed to have stolen from the store again on December 17th. If you can identify either of the suspects, or provide any information concerning this crime or the location of the stolen property, call Crime Stoppers of Lufkin at (936) 639-TIPS or submit an anonymous tip at http://www.LufkinCrimeStoppers.com

Tyler Honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

TYLER — Hundreds turn out for Tyler’s annual observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The activities began on the downtown square, continuing with a march down Broadway and an interfaith service at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Guest speaker Fred McClure told KTBB that Dr. King’s message of freedom “also includes a message of responsibility and the importance of commitment, and to being able to have an impact on the societies in which we live.” McClure heads up the George H.W. Bush Library foundation at Texas A&M. He added that the responsibility of keeping King’s dream alive goes “back to the very depths of our communities,” including schools and houses of worship. “And there,” he said, “I think we have the opportunity to impact and influence the lives of generations yet unborn.”

Longview’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Activities

LONGVIEW — Longview’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Citywide Celebration featured a parade from Broughton Recreation Center to Mt. Olive Baptist Church. A Memorial Service followed at noon at the church, with guest speaker Reverend J.H. Creal Sr. Under the theme “The Dream, From the Community to the World,” Longview held several events in Dr. King’s honor. Monday’s activities began with the Table of Brotherhood Breakfast at Johnny Cace’s Seafood and Steakhouse.

Dog Killed in Fire

housefiredavidTYLER — Investigators are looking into the cause of a major Tyler house fire Monday afternoon that took the life of a dog. Firefighters were able to save the house from destruction, but not before extensive fire and smoke damage was done. KETK reports dispatchers received a call for help around 1 p.m. on the 800 block of David Street in south Tyler. One man was home when the fire broke out, but he was unable to extinguish the flames and was forced out by heavy smoke, according to Deputy Fire Marshal Tony Gumber. Besides the dog’s death, there were no injuries.

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