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Emergency Exercise at East Texas Regional Airport

East Texas Regional AirportGREGG COUNTY — Federal Aviation Administration regulations require all FAR Part 139 Certificated Commercial Service Airports to conduct a full scale emergency exercise every three years. East Texas Regional Airport will conduct its Tri Annual Emergency Exercise today, from 10:00am until around 3:00pm. Airport Director Roy Miller says, “The site is away from the highway and the terminal area so there is no conflict or inconvenience to the public. They may see emergency response vehicles proceeding to the airport and some smoke. TxDot is providing an electronic sign near the airport entrance stating that an emergency drill is in progress and not to be alarmed.”

Two Jailed after Big East Texas Drug Bust

naccocaineNACOGDOCHES COUNTY — Two men a jailed following a major drug bust. 94 grams of cocaine were seized by the Nacogdoches County Sheriff’s office during a traffic stop. According to KETK, Sheriff Jason Bridges said deputies stopped an SUV near Appleby on Highway 59N that was occupied by two Guatemalan men. The deputies were suspicious of Joselito Sical, 22, and Oscar Xitumul, 31, due to their nervousness and conflicting stories about their trip. Authorities then searched the vehicle and discovered 94 grams of powder cocaine underneath the passenger seat. Both men were arrested for possession of a controlled substance and taken to the Nacogdoches County Jail. Sheriff Bridges stated the street value of the cocaine is $4,200.

County: Statewide Record Services Off to a Good Start

thumb_smithcounty-sealTYLER — Citizens in need of a copy of their birth certificate, no matter where they were born in Texas, can now purchase those copies at the Smith County Clerk’s office — and officials say the move is paying off. According to a county news release, the County Clerk’s office is making it more convenient than ever for citizens to have access to their personal records with the addition of a Remote Birth Access program that has the capability of tapping into state-wide electronic records.

Before the addition of the Remote Birth Access program, the County Clerk’s Office could only provide a copy of a birth certificate for those who were born outside the city limits of Tyler but within boundaries of Smith County or for delayed births that occurred in Smith County. Having remote access to the State’s records now gives the County Clerk’s Office the ability to print a record for anyone born in the state of Texas from 1926 to the present.

“We saw the frustration of our customers leaving with nothing in hand. People thought if they needed a copy of their Birth Certificate they could go to the County Clerk to receive it yet our records were limited,” Smith County Clerk Karen Phillips said. “Smith County is now able to print a birth certificate for anyone born in the state of Texas using Remote Birth Access.” Mrs. Phillips says the program was an added expense in the beginning but paid for itself in less than 2 months. “On January 2, 2013, we began providing birth certificates for our customers and to date have sold over 153 Certified Remote Birth certificates,” she said.

SPCA Gets Spay/Neuter Grant, Seeks Foster Families

thumb_spcaTYLER — The SPCA of East Texas has received a $98,000 targeted grant from PetSmart Charities to spay or neuter dogs living in the 75702 zip code for a discounted rate of $25 which includes rabies. The program is called SNIPPET, or “spay neuter initiative partnership project of East Texas.”

“The 75702 zip code of Tyler has the highest percentage of strays according to City of Tyler Animal Control. The major reason being pets not spayed or neutered and having multiple litters of puppies or kittens each year,” said Deborah Tittle-Dobbs, SPCA of East Texas Board President. “For many families the joy of pet ownership is also a burden when it comes to the cost of spay/neuter, vaccinations and other needed medical care. We hope this grant will help families keep their pet but also prevent the hundreds unwanted litters born each year in our community.”

In other news, the SPCA of East Texas is seeking loving and safe homes to take care of the dozens of homeless and abandoned animals that are waiting to be adopted. Dobbs hopes the adoptions will alleviate the challenges the SPCA faces until it can build a community animal shelter. The SPCA continues to seek private donations to build the shelter in the Tyler area. Contact the SPCA of East Texas at 903-596-SPCA or 596-7722 or visit our website at http://www.spcaeasttx.com for more information.

Deuell Seeks to Clamp Down on Abortion Facilities

Bob Deuell3AUSTIN (AP) — A Republican in the Texas Senate is proposing tighter rules for abortion facilities. Greenville Senator Bob Deuell, whose district covers portions of North and East Texas, says he wants to protect the safety of women seeking to end pregnancies. Abortion rights supporters say it’s a back-door attempt to force clinics to close.

Jail Now Offering Video Visitation and Online Bond Service

thumb_sheriff-smithcountyTYLER — With expansion projects recently completed at the Smith County Jail’s Low-Risk Facility, located off of Highway 69 North, officials with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office recently unveiled a new video visitation service at the facility that now connects visitors with inmates at both Low-Risk and the Central Jail downtown. A new kiosk is also now available that allows visitors to post bonds online and deposit funds for inmates to access for commissary purchases. Now, all visitors will travel to the low-risk facility to use one of the 30 private video screens and phone handsets for inmate visitation. Previously, visitors traveled to whichever location housed the inmate they wanted to visit.

“Technology has allowed most of us to communicate through computers, smart phones, iPads and other devices. This same comfortable form of communication is now available to those who want to visit with inmates at either jail location,” said Sheriff Larry Smith. Visitation hours remain the same, but all visitation now takes place over a private, secure video link instead of in person. Sheriff’s Office officials said the change streamlines the 20-minute visits and provides easier parking for visitors.

A kiosk is now located in the visitor’s lobby at Low-Risk that provides visitors the capability to go online and post bond for an inmate or deposit funds that an inmate can access for commissary purchases for items such as snacks, drinks and sundries. Smith said the new system, including five stations that are built to accommodate those in wheelchairs, went online March 14. Currently, only 20 of the 30 visitation booths are available pending the installation of the last of the communication links. Smith says the remaining 10 will be in service soon.

The video visitation system and online kiosk were provided for and funded through the new jail construction project. The deputies who previously manned the visitor’s desk at the Central Jail downtown are now available 24/7 at the Smith County Sheriff’s Office administration building, located at 227 N. Spring Street to answer questions and assist the public.

About Smith County Jail Visitation:
Visitation is established for visitors to communicate with inmates who are incarcerated in a Smith County jail. All visitors must go to the Low Risk facility, located at 2811 Public Rd, Tyler, Texas.
Visitation for Women is Monday, Thursday and Saturday
Visitation for Men is Tuesday, Friday, Sunday
Visitors must sign up at the Low-Risk facility the day of visitation between 12:30pm and 4:30pm
Visitation is 1PM to 5PM
Visitation is limited to 20 minutes

Northeast Texas Man Sentenced for Bank Robbery

Justice Department logoTEXARKANA — A 19-year-old Texarkana, Texas man has been sentenced to federal prison for bank robbery. Temetrius Manning pleaded guilty on October 30, 2012, to bank robbery. He was sentenced Tuesday to 84 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider. Manning was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,490.99.

Federal prosecutors say on August 27, 2012, Manning entered the Wells Fargo Bank in Texarkana and presented a threatening note to a bank teller demanding money. Manning then fled the bank with the money before being apprehended s short time later. Manning admitted to the charges following his arrest.

Suspect Arrested in 2012 Smith County Murder

Natalio GurrusquietaTYLER — Smith County authorities have arrested a suspect in the June 2012 shooting death of Jose Alfredo Sanchez. The shooting took place at a home on County Road 37 in Northern Smith County. Two persons were wounded in the incident, including the suspect, Natalio Gurrusquieta, 72. He was arrested Monday by Smith County sheriff’s deputies and agents of U.S. Homeland Security Investigations. Gurrusquieta was taken into custody without incident in the 600 block of East Queen Street in Tyler.

An arrest warrant for Gurrusquieta was issued Monday by 241st State District Court Judge Jack Skeen, Jr., charging Gurrusquieta with murder. After his arrest, Gurrusquieta was booked in to the Smith County Jail. Bond has been set at $1,000,000.00.

Jury Trial for Deceased Toddler’s Parents Moved to May 3

jacob_kimbleyTYLER — The parents of the Smith County toddler found dead near their home after a lengthy overnight search last August are now set for trial May 3. 241st State District Judge Skeen set the new date as the couple appeared in court Monday. According to KETK, David and Sabrina Kimbley face multiple child endangerment charges. Their son, Jacob Kimbley, was found dead in a septic tank near their home after they claim he went missing during a game of hide and seek.

Two Arrested, One at Large Following Weekend Chase

thumb_DPS-carCHEROKEE COUNTY — A man is on the run after a weekend chase in Cherokee County. Sgt. Patrick Dark with Cherokee County DPS tells KETK the chase began following a routine traffic stop on Highway 110, about 5 miles north of New Summerfield, just after 7:00 on Saturday night. DPS Trooper Tim Hatch approached the driver, who began acting in a suspicious manner and fumbled for his driver’s license, according to officials. There were two women in the vehicle with him. Officials say when Trooper Hatch asked the driver to step out of the vehicle, the man sped away. He reportedly made it a considerable distance before the trooper was able to make it back to his vehicle and pursue the driver.

Trooper Hatch spotted the driver a few times during the pursuit, but the driver turned down several roads, and eventually was lost on Farm Road 264, according to DPS. However, law enforcement was notified some time later by nearby residents who claimed they were contacted by a man and two women. The three people reportedly asked the residents if they could be hidden at their house on Cherokee County Road 4912. When the homeowners refused to provide them with a place to hide, all three reportedly ran into a nearby wooded area.

DPS helicopter units were dispatched and were able to locate two women in the woods around 9:00pm. They were arrested, and their abandoned vehicle located. However, according to authorities, the man who had been driving the vehicle managed to get away. Authorities are still looking for him. The names of the people involved have not been released at this time.

Traffic Signals Back in Operation On the SSW Loop

lightsoutTYLER — The traffic signals on SSW Loop 323 at Highway 31 west are back in operation this morning. The went back in service last night. The traffic lights were knocked out of order following a traffic accident Monday afternoon. Tyler police officers directed traffic in the intersection until the lights began operating last night.

As Odds Grow Long, Opponents Move to Stop Pipeline

Keystone Pipeline map2MARTELL, NEB. (AP) — Now that a recent environmental report has cleared the way for a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, a diverse band of activists is mustering a new effort to kill the project. The opponents hope to make a big showing at a public hearing on the pipeline in Nebraska this spring. They say they are also appealing to new Secretary of State John Kerry to recommend that federal approval be denied.

The activists include both veteran environmentalists and conservative ranchers angry about intrusions on their property.

The pipeline would transport 800,000 barrels of oil per day from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. The route carries the pipeline through eastern Smith County.

The TransCanada oil company says the project would create jobs and further North American energy independence.

Accident on I-20 near Jim Hogg Road

interstate_wreck_2SMITH COUNTY — Emergency crews were dispatched to the scene of a major accident involving two 18-wheelers on the eastbound lanes of Interstate 20 Monday afternoon. According to the Smith County Department of Public Safety, the crash took place at mile marker 559 near Jim Hogg Road around 3:30 p.m. One of the semi trucks involved in the wreck was attempting to get back onto the interstate from the shoulder when another 18-wheeler hit the vehicle from behind. KETK reports traffic began flowing again at around 5:15 p.m. No major injuries were reported. A man was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital.

Accident Knocks Out Lights at West Loop and Front Street

lightsoutTYLER — Due to a traffic accident at SSW Loop 323 and 31 West, the traffic lights were knocked out of order Monday afternoon. Officers headed to the scene and began directing traffic in the intersection. They asked all drivers to avoid the area if possible, due to heavy traffic back-up. According to KETK, police said the lights were not expected to be operational again until sometime Monday evening.

Four Dead in Three-Vehicle Crash near New Summerfield

wreckNEW SUMMERFIELD (AP/Staff) – Four Palestine men were killed when the car in which they were riding slammed into another vehicle and a semi-truck while on the wrong side of a Cherokee County highway. The DPS says the crash happened just before 8:00 Saturday morning on U.S. Highway 79, 1.4 miles south of New Summerfield. Cherokee County Constable Eddie Lee says the vehicle with the four people in it was on the wrong side of the road when it sideswiped a sport utility vehicle and slammed head-on into the truck. No other injuries were reported.

The dead are identified as driver Michael Estrada, Christian Chavez, Jaime Benitez, and Saul Mancera. All died at the scene. All were 24 years of age except Mancera, who was 22. The DPS says Chavez was the only one wearing a seatbelt. According to KETK, Highway Patrol Officer Steven Crosby said it appeared that Estrada fell asleep. The highway was closed for almost nine hours as officials cleaned the area of debris and oil.

Fatality Accident in Angelina County

DPS badgeLUFKIN — A car-pedestrian accident in Angelina County has killed a Nacogdoches man. Pronounced dead at the scene was Jayson Wayne Moore, 36. He died after being hit by a pickup pulling a boat. It’s not known why Moore was in the roadway. The accident happened around 6:45 Sunday morning on State Highway 103 East.

Murder Trial Begins in Marshall

MARSHALL — In 71st State District Court in Marshall, jury selection gets underway in the murder trial of Charles Ray Owens Jr., 37, of Longview. He was involved in a traffic accident in November, 2010, in which Robert Smith, 62, of Longview was killed. The Department of Public Safety reports Owens was fleeing from a state trooper when his car ran through a stop sign and crashed into Smith’s vehicle. The officer had been trying to stop Owens for speeding. The accident occurred at the Intersection of Loop 281 and Paige Road, on the Harrison County side of Longview.

Garage Damaged after Vehicle Catches Fire

garage_fire_pic.1363549527SMITH COUNTY — Noonday, Dixie, and Flint fire departments were called to put out a vehicle fire that sparked Sunday afternoon in Smith County. The fire started just after noon inside the garage at a home in the 13000 block of County Road 1113. The homeowner tells KETK he was welding on the vehicle when the fire first started; however, Noonday Fire Lieutenant Kevin Londoff says they are still investigating the cause of the fire. The fire did not damage the house, but the garage was heavily damaged. No injuries were reported.

One Arrested in Gambling Raid

jvilleraidJACKSONVILLE — Authorities arrested one person in a Jacksonville gambling raid Friday. Officers took into custody Saeed Oehme, 58, of Jacksonville, for allegedly keeping a gambling place in the 1200 block of West Rusk Street at D C Wholesale Supply Company, according to the Jacksonville Police Department. KETK reports one person was playing on a gaming machine when the arrest happened but was later released. On Thursday, police became aware of the alleged infraction after responding to a disturbance around 1 p.m. The responding officer took photos of slot machines inside and returned the next morning with a search and arrest warrant.

Authorities confiscated 15 video slots gambling machines. Six were found up front and nine in a back room. The suspect had a $500 house limit, according to police. Oehme, who lives at the store, has owned the business for five years. He was placed in the Jacksonville Police Department Jail pending transfer to the Cherokee County Jail Saturday.

Smith County Precinct 1 Meeting On The County’s Needs

thumb_smithcounty-sealBULLARD — Smith County is continuing to seek public input and priorities from citizens on all county related services and issues, and that includes a get-together tonight. It’s a Precinct 1 Community Input Meeting (in conjunction with the Bullard City Council Meeting) at 6:30pm at Bullard City Hall.

Commissioners are holding a series of community meetings to encourage public input, information and ideas concerning county services. You can also go to the Smith County Website — http://www.smith-county.com — for a short questionnaire that’s included in the Public Input Project. County officials plan to use the information gathered during the Public Input Project for the upcoming budget year and in long-term comprehensive planning. A countywide meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 9th, at 6:00pm. at 304 East Ferguson.

Two Busted with Alleged Mobile Meth Labs

mobile_meth_labNACOGDOCHES COUNTY — Nacogdoches County authorities Thursday night busted two people allegedly traveling with mobile meth labs. According to the Nacogdoches County Sheriff’s Office, a vehicle with two passengers was stopped on County Road 405 in the Melrose community. During the traffic stop, both the man and woman inside appeared nervous and gave conflicting statements, according to officials. Authorities say they asked for consent to search the vehicle and discovered 25 plastic bottles that were being used to make methamphetamine. Other chemicals that are used to produce methamphetamine were also found inside of the vehicle, according to officials. Sheriff Jason Bridges stated this method is growing in popularity, as it makes it easy to hide and produce meth.

Deputies also allegedly found a half gram of crystal meth inside the vehicle along with methamphetamine oil and several other chemicals that have not been identified at this time. KETK reports the Drug Enforcement Administration was dispatched to the scene and helped with the disposal of hazardous chemicals. Kevin King, 27, and Christie King, 28, both from Melrose, were taken into custody and booked into the Nacogdoches County Jail. Kevin King was charged with possession of certain chemicals, possession of controlled substance, possession of marijuana and a warrant for theft. Christie King was charged with possession of certain chemicals, possession of controlled substance, and possession of marijuana.

Azalea and Spring Flower Trail Continues

thumb_azaleas-1TYLER — Tyler’s 54th Azalea and Spring Flower Trail continues after getting underway Friday. This year’s event runs through April 7, featuring ten miles of azaleas, dogwoods, and other spring blooms, along with a host of activities. You can go to http://www.visittyler.com/ for much more information.

TxDOT Roadwork Update

TxDOT logoSMITH COUNTY – Beginning as early as Wednesday this week, Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews are scheduled to make pavement repairs in various locations on Interstate Highway 20 between U.S. Highway 69 and Farm Road 14. Daytime lane closures will be in effect while the work is in progress. Motorists are encouraged to be prepared to reduce speed and merge in and around the work zone.

Car Crashes into Children’s Dentistry

coolsmilesTYLER — Emergency crews headed to the scene of a major accident in Tyler, where a car crashed through a local business. Shortly before 3:45 p.m. Friday, officers were dispatched to 1900 block of ESE Loop 323 near the intersection of Paluxy Drive. KETK reports the car drove through the entrance of Kool Smiles, a children’s dentistry. Luckily, no one was injured in the accident. The vehicle’s owner claims he was not in the car at the time of the crash, but had started the vehicle with his wireless remote. The man believes that his after-market remote is defective. The device was bought just a few weeks ago. The owner claims his parking brake was engaged when the car was started.

Wings of Freedom Tour

vlcsnap_2013_03_15_20h24m14s177TYLER — The Wings of Freedom Tour of the WWII Vintage Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Consolidated B-24 Liberator, North American P-51 Mustang, German Me 262 fighter jet, and Huey Helicopter remains at Tyler’s Historic Aviation Memorial Museum through today. In honor of WWII veterans, the Collings Foundation’s Wings of Freedom Tour brings an extremely rare bomber and fighter aircraft for the local living history display as Part of a 110-city Nationwide Tour.

The B-17 is one of only 8 in flying condition in the United States; the B-24J and Full Dual Control P-51C Mustang are the sole remaining examples of their type flying in the World. The Me 262 is a very rare flying replica aircraft with what’s termed unparalleled authenticity from the original legendary WWII German jet. The legendary Huey is flying in honor of Vietnam veterans. Visitors are invited to explore the aircraft inside and out. $15 for adults and $8 for children under 12 is requested for access to up-close viewing and tours through the inside of the aircraft; that includes entrance to the museum.

Visitors may also experience what’s termed the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually take a 30-minute flight aboard these rare aircraft. Flights on either the B-17 or B-24 are $425 per person. P-51 flights are $2,200 for a half hour and $3,200 for a full hour. Flights in the Huey are $80 bench / $100 front. Me 262 flights are available; certain prerequisites are required. For reservations and information on flight experiences call 800-568-8924.

The Wings of Freedom Tour arrived at Tyler Pounds Regional Airport at 2:00pm on March 15 and will be on display at the museum until the aircraft departs today after 5:00pm. Hours of ground tours and display are 9:00am through 5:00pm. The 30-minute flight experiences are normally scheduled before and after the ground tour times.

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