Category: Local News Archive

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East Texas Medal Recipient Posthumously Honored

VETERAN_MEMORIAL.1364182740GLADEWATER — An East Texas war hero for whom a stretch of U.S. Highway 80 may soon be named was honored Saturday at the Gladewater Memorial Cemetery to mark Medal of Honor Day. According to KETK, Master Sgt. Travis E. Watkins, who died near Yongsan while defending his unit during the Korean War, is the only known Medal of Honor recipient buried in Northeast Texas. The ceremony included a proclamation by Gladewater’s mayor and the reading of Watkins’ citation for the Medal of Honor. State Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, has filed a bill in Texas House to name U.S. 80 from U.S. Highway 271 to Big Sandy the Sergeant Travis E. Watkins Memorial Highway.

UT Health Northeast Wins “Beauty and Business Award”

TYLER — As part of Keep Tyler Beautiful’s mission to encourage the ongoing beautification of Tyler, the board has selected UT Health Northeast to be awarded the Beauty and Business Award. According to a Keep Tyler Beautiful news release, board members select businesses that show pride in the community through the efforts of business owners to be good community neighbors. The board presented the award Monday morning.

“We are honored to receive this award from Keep Tyler Beautiful because it recognizes our efforts to preserve and maintain the scenic beauty that surrounds us,” UT Health Northeast President Dr. Calhoun said. “At UT Health Northeast, our focus is on caring for the whole person. Studies show that patients with a view of nature tend to recover faster. Patients and visitors to our campus often comment on its beauty and how peaceful it is.”

The grounds of UT Health Northeast were extensively landscaped during the construction of its new Academic Center, which houses the Cancer Treatment and Prevention Center. The landscaping included the planting of more than 7,800 azalea bushes. Construction of the Academic Center’s shell and first floor were completed in September 2011.

Part of Highway 69 in Jacksonville Reopened after Wreck

roadblockhwy68jvJACKSONVILLE — A major wreck in Jacksonville on Sunday night caused authorities to block off part of Highway 69 from Quevado Street to Jeanine Street. KETK reports that as a result of the accident, utility poles were knocked down and are in the roadway. The section of roadway was reopened around 11:30 Monday morning.

New Beer Distribution Rules Clear Senate

thumb_Kevin_EltifeAUSTIN (AP/Staff) — The Texas Senate has approved new rules to help small brewers expand. Under a bill sponsored by Tyler’s Kevin Eltife and passed 31-0 Monday, changes to the beer industry’s pricing structure would accompany an overhaul of regulations that apply only to craft breweries. The bill still must pass the House. Current laws prohibit some pubs from packaging their beer for retail stores and selling beer to tour visitors.

Bonds Set for East Texas Man Charged with Capital Murder

Larry Michael MaplesVAN ZANDT COUNTY — A man has been arraigned in a Van Zandt County shooting that left his wife dead and her boyfriend critically wounded. Larry Michael Maples, 34, of Ben Wheeler, is held without bond on a capital murder charge. Bond was set at $100,000 on a second-degree felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The incident happened around 6:00 Sunday morning at 2642 Farm Road 26, west of Canton. According to the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office, Maples contacted authorities and confessed to shooting the two individuals. Investigators determined that Maples had arrived at the residence and shot the owner, identified as Moses Clemente, 47, of Canton, following a brief altercation. Authorities say Maples then shot and killed his wife, Heather Maples, 34, of Ben Wheeler.

Heather Maples was pronounced dead at the scene by a Van Zandt County Justice of the Peace. Clemente was transported to Mother Francis Hospital in Tyler where he was treated for a single gunshot wound to the abdomen. He is listed in critical condition and is expected recover fully. Sheriff Lindsey Ray says Heather Maples and Clemente had a relationship before she married Larry Maples. The Texas Rangers were called in to assist with the investigation and the processing of the crime scene. Maples was transported to the Van Zandt County Jail in Canton.

Part of Highway 69 in Jacksonville Closed after Wreck

roadblockhwy68jvJACKSONVILLE — A major wreck in Jacksonville on Sunday night has caused authorities to block off part of Highway 69 from Quevado Street to Jeanine Street. KETK reports that as a result of the accident, utility poles were knocked down and are in the roadway. City officials are investigating the crash and are unsure when the road will reopen.

More Info Released on Wednesday Fire

thumb_tyler-fire-dept-truck-2TYLER — Officials have released more information on a fire that struck a Tyler home Wednesday. According to the Tyler Fire Department, occupants admitted using candles to light the house due to the power having been disconnected to the residence. Apparently the fire started due to a lit candle that was left unattended. Firefighters responded to the two-alarm blaze just before 1:45 Wednesday morning at 318 Saunders Avenue. One firefighter was injured at the scene, but was treated and released from a local hospital. The fire apparently originated in a front room being used for a bedroom.

Longview Wreck Leaves One Dead, One Injured

LONGVIEW — One person is killed, one injured in a weekend accident in Longview. Saturday evening around 8:15 Longview police responded to a Jaws Call in the 2700 Block of East Marshall Avenue. When Officers arrived they found the victim, identified as Roberto Ramirez-Garcia, lying in the roadway. He had been ejected from the 2004 Chevrolet truck driven by Jesus Perez, 34. Perez was still trapped in the vehicle. Both occupants of the vehicle were transported to Good Shepherd Medical Center with life threatening injuries. Garcia later died at the hospital. The crash remains under investigation and alcohol is believed to have been a factor.

Flynn’s Concealed Handgun Bill under Consideration

Dan Flynn2AUSTIN — The process of getting a concealed handgun license may go through a streamlining if two bills make it through the State Capitol, including one from an East Texas lawmaker. In order to get a license, DPS mandates the completion of a minimum ten-hour class, taught by a DPS certified CHL instructor. A bill from State Representative Dan Flynn of Van would cut that course down to only four hours. According to Flynn, “Students would still be required to pass a written exam as proof of competency in the classroom instructional portion. That would be, I think, the core element there, that, if they passed the test, they’ve obviously learned the course.” Opponents would like to see more ongoing training. State Senator Donna Campbell has filed a similar bill in the Senate.

Woman Charged with Abandoning Children

DocumentFragment_3927386LONGVIEW — A Longview woman has been arrested and charged with three counts of abandoning or endangering a child causing imminent danger or bodily injury and a handful of other charges. Jimmeshia Latasha Nelson, 27, of Longview was arrested about 9:30 Friday Friday morning in the 1500 block of Ray Street. According to the Longview News-Journal, Nelson was also charged at the scene with failure to identify fugitive, evading arrest and with six outstanding traffic warrants. She was held Saturday in the Gregg County Jail on just less than $25,000 in bonds.

Man Arrested after Stealing Vehicle from Car Wash

Roy Lyn SmithLUFKIN — A Lufkin man is now behind bars after evading arrest and and accused of stealing a vehicle. On Friday afternoon around 5:00, Roy Lyn Smith, 45, was at Excel Car Wash in the 300 block of Timberland Drive. One of the employees had reportedly left the key in the vehicle when Smith got into the car and drove off. Smith was found a short time later and arrested. He was booked into Angelina County Jail on charges of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and evading arrest.

ETX Man Evades Arrest, Found with Drugs

jecoreyrichardLUFKIN — An East Texas man has been arrested on drug and evasion charges. Around 1:00 Sunday morning, Jecorey Ramone Richard, 34, is said to have fled from an officer in a vehicle and was caught a little while later. Lufkin police found Richard in the 900 block of Sayers Street. Authorities also found him in possession of illegal drugs. Richard was booked into Angelina County Jail.

Tyler Airport’s Control Tower Tabbed for Closure

Pounds Field Control TowerTYLER — Tyler Pounds Regional Airport’s control tower is on a list of towers tabbed for closure in the near future by the FAA. It’s part of federal cost-cutting measures under the sequestration process. The FAA will conduct a four-week phased closure of the 149 federal contract towers April 7. East Texas Regional Airport in Gregg County is not on the closure list. Tyler Pounds Manager Davis Dickson has said the Tyler airport will remain open even without its tower, with air traffic control duties shifted to other area facilities. But The Jet Center of Tyler, located on the old airport grounds, tells KETK it fears it will lose customers who want the control tower in place. And airport officials say the move could back up traffic and could discourage some fliers.

TxDOT Project Updates

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

SMITH COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to continue base pavement repairs in various locations on Interstate Highway 20 between U.S. Highway 69 and Farm Road 14. A second crew is scheduled to perform edge repairs on Farm Road 849 between Lindale and IH 20. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress. Motorists are encouraged to be prepared to reduce speed and merge in and around the work zone.

VAN ZANDT COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to perform surface-sealing operations on Interstate Highway 20 in various locations between Farm Road 1255 east of Canton and the Smith County Line. Elsewhere, a contract crew is scheduled to continue several weeks of base and pavement repairs on Farm Road 773 between IH 20 and Ben Wheeler. Also in Van Zandt County, construction work has resumed on Farm Road 17 between IH 20 near Canton and State Highway 110 in Grand Saline, and on Farm Road 2339 between Farm Road 1861 and Farm Road 773. Both projects are scheduled for completion this summer. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress, and flaggers and pilot vehicles will control traffic.

RUSK COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to continue base and pavement repairs on Farm Road 782 between Farm Road 1716 in Oak Hill and State Highway 149 near the Gregg County Line. Daytime lane closures will be in effect while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

WOOD COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to perform resurfacing operations in various locations on Farm Road 1801 east of Mineola and on Loop 564 in Mineola. A second crew is scheduled to make pavement and edge repairs in various locations on Farm Road 779 northeast of Mineola. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

GREGG COUNTY — Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to perform resurfacing operations in various locations on Farm Road 1252 between State Highway 135 and State Highway 42. 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.

HENDERSON COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to perform resurfacing operations on Farm Road 773 at its intersection with State Highway 31 in Murchison. Daytime lane closures will be in effect while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

CHEROKEE COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to continue base and pavement repairs on Farm Road 1910 between Farm Road 2138 south of Lake Jacksonville and Farm Road 347 in Dialville, and on Farm Road 855 between Farm Road 3198 and U.S. Highway 69 in Mount Selman. Daytime lane closures will be in effect in each location while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

ANDERSON COUNTY – Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews this week are scheduled to make base and pavement repairs in various locations on Farm Road 2419 between U.S. Highway 287 south of Palestine and State Highway 294 east of Elkhart. Daytime lane closures will be in effect while the work is in progress, and flaggers will control traffic.

Warrant Round-Up Deemed a Success

thumb_longview-cityofLONGVIEW –The Longview Municipal Court has deemed the recent warrant round-up a success. Sally Rees, Director of the Municipal Court, released these figures:

Total Number of Warrants Cleared: 1945
Money Collected: $ 425,062.93
Arrests Made: 197
Brought to Court to Pay Instead of Booking into Jail: 54

The total number of warrants cleared includes those where a Police Officer or Warrant Officer either made an arrest or brought the defendant to the court to pay his or her fine. Police say the majority of the warrants cleared were due to the defendant coming to the Court Office to take care of the warrant. The round-up was part of a statewide effort.

Active Warrants As of March 20, 2013: 15,456
Dollar Value: $ 7,819,187.18

Changes at the City of Tyler Recycling Center

thumb_cityoftylerTYLER — Starting Monday, March 25, the City of Tyler’s Recycling Center will be open six days a week to enhance accessibility for area residents. The center will be open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. “We are looking for ways to optimize the recycling center and will be making more changes in the near future,” said Russ Jackson, Solid Waste manager. “Our goal is to identify strategies that allow our visitors to have more options for recycling.”

In addition, the center will start accepting rinsed tin and steel food cans, along with any steel or copper products on March 25. “We accept tin cans in our curbside collection program, so we want to see how it will work to collect them at the center,” Jackson said. “One of the key elements to this will be for citizens to rinse the cans, since they usually contain food products. This will help us minimize the pests that may be attracted by the smell of food.”

The City’s Recycling Center is a joint project shared by the Solid Waste Department and Keep Tyler Beautiful. “I hope our area residents will take notice of these changes and make the most of this great facility,” said Keep Tyler Beautiful Board Chair Phyllis Carlyle. She said the center is a good place for renters to recycle since they do not have access to the City’s Curbside Recycling Service. The center opened in 1992 and is located in a “recycled” fire station at 418 N. Bois D’Arc Ave. This free drop-off facility serves approximately 4,000 area residents per year.

Starting Monday, the center will accept the following:

* Tin and steel cans (rinse and crush please)
* Any steel products (scrap steel, automotive wheels, kitchen appliances just to name a few)
* Any copper products (damaged electrical extension cords or electrical wiring)
* Electronics (including cell phones)
* Newspaper, junk mail, magazines and phone books
* Aluminum cans (rinse and crush please)
* Office paper
* Cardboard (both brown corrugated and single layer cardboard, such as cereal boxes)
* Clear, green and brown glass bottles
* #1 plastic containers (soda and water bottles rinsed)
* #2 plastic containers (milk jugs, laundry and fabric softener bottles rinsed)

For more information go to http://www.TylerRecycles.com or call Special Projects Coordinator Gary Lynch at (903) 531-1348.

Longview-Area Restaurant Goes Up in Flames

tblancoLONGVIEW — A popular Longview-area restaurant was destroyed before dawn Friday when a fire occurred in the kitchen. The Elderville Lakeport Volunteer Fire Department responded to a blaze at T. Blanco’s Mexican Cafe around 12:20 a.m. KETK reports firefighters were able to extinguish the flames and cleared the scene at 4:54 a.m. According to T. Blanco’s Facebook page, flames were sparked by an electrical fire that happened after business hours in the kitchen. Fire officials have not released a cause at this time. No injuries were reported. The restaurant will be closed for repairs until further notice.

CR 230 Reopens

SMITH COUNTY — Smith County Road 230 in the Arp area reopened Friday morning after bridge repairs were completed. A portion of CR 230 approximately 2.5 miles south of Highway 64 was closed in November to allow for repairs and for Smith County Road and Bridge crews to address safety issues. This is a frequently traveled road, and officials say full traffic flow has been restored.

One Dead in Upshur County Wreck

UPSHUR COUNTY — One person is dead after a wreck in Upshur County. It happened Thursday morning on FM 2454, near Toad Road about half a mile north of Union Hill School. State troopers tell KETK an SUV headed northbound crossed into the southbound lane and collided with a Brookshire’s grocery truck. The driver of the SUV was killed. The driver of the truck was not hurt.

Smith County Man Arrested On Parole Violation

Brandon Kyle SmithSMITH COUNTY — Smith County Sheriff’s Deputies arrest a man wanted on a parole violation. It happened early Thursday morning in the 23,000 block of Pine Drive in Smith County. Officials, in conjunction with the U.S. Marshal Service, served an arrest warrant on Brandon Kyle Smith, 28, Mineola. He was arrested without incident on a Governor’s Blue Warrant on a parole violation for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Smith was previously arrested on numerous other charges, including assault on a public servant, aggravated robbery, and possession of a controlled substance. Three others were at the residence at the time of Smith’s arrest. No charges are expected to be filed against them. The arrest was the result of a month-long investigation.

Girl Hospitalized after Collision

TYLER — The sun was to blame for a crash that seriously injured 18-year-old Katelin Sikes Wednesday evening in Tyler. Tyler Police tell KETK it happened when Sikes, driving westbound on 5th Street, was “blinded by the sun” and ran a red light at the intersection of Golden Road. She was then t-boned by another car and was taken to a local hospital, where she was last reported in serious condition. The other driver was unharmed.

Jail Inmate Dies; Investigation Begins

Bobby Madewell JrLONGVIEW — Gregg County Sheriff Maxey Cerliano announced that an investigation has been initiated into the death of jail inmate Bobby Madewell Jr., a 51 year old Longview man who died Thursday. Madewell had been in custody at the Gregg County Jail since his arrest by deputies on March 12. He was charged with Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Bond Forfeiture and had been booked into the Gregg County jail 16 times for various charges. Sheriff Cerliano advised that the inmate was housed in a separation cell and exhibited erratic behavior about 12:40 am. According to a news release, officers interacted with the inmate and he began to resist and became extremely violent.

Following policy and procedures, officers used a TASER and attempted to apply restraints to control the inmate, according to the release. Officials say Madewell became unconscious and was immediately assisted by staff as well as medical staff on duty. Longview Fire EMS responded, and the inmate was transported to Good Shepherd Medical Center. Madewell was later determined to be deceased at 2:09 am. Justice of the Peace #1 B.H. Jameson conducted an inquest. Judge Jameson ordered an autopsy to be performed at the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Texas Rangers Todd Martin and Jay Womack along with Gregg County Sheriff’s Investigators are conducting the investigation. Officials say the completed investigation will be forwarded to the Gregg County District Attorney’s Office for review. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards was notified, and authorities say reports will be filed with TCJS as well as the Office of the Attorney General.

Sheriff Cerliano advised that all documents, reports, logs, and electronic recordings are under review by Investigators. Cerliano stipulated that the investigation is ongoing and the autopsy report is pending. According to the news release, the public and the news media will be informed as information becomes available and is released by Sheriff Cerliano, Texas Rangers, and the Gregg County District Attorney’s Office.

Rabid Bat Found in Longview

BatLONGVIEW — The Texas Department of State Health Services has confirmed a bat captured in Longview has tested positive for rabies. The bat was found around midnight Tuesday at the Hidden Hills Apartments. It is not believed that the any residents had exposure to the bat.

This is the first positive rabies case in the City of Longview since 2007. “It is possible that the bat entered the apartment through a door that was left open for some period of time that evening. We believe this was an isolated incident at the apartment complex; however, we are working closely with the management of the apartment complex to take all precautionary measures and inform the other residents,” said the Environmental Health Farrar, Buck Farrar.

Farrar also reminds citizens to always refrain from touching wild animals, especially those that appear sick or injured. In the Longview area, bats, skunks, and raccoons are the most common carriers of the rabies virus, but caution should be used with any wild animal. Household pets should also have current rabies vaccinations in case the animals come in contact with wildlife. If someone encounters a bat or other wild animal, please contact the Environmental Health Department at 903-237-1285. If the event occurs at night or during a weekend, please contact the Longview Police Department non-emergency number at 903-237-1199.

Second Suspect Arrested in 2012 Murder

Horacio GurrusquietaTYLER — On March 20, Horacio Gurrusquieta, 33, turned himself in to authorities in Dallas County in connection with a murder warrant for his arrest related to a June 3, 2012 shooting which claimed the life of Jose Alfredo Sanchez. That news came Thursday from the Smith County Sheriff’s Department. Horacio Gurrusquieta is the nephew of Natalio Gurrusquieta, who was arrested on March 18 in Tyler on the same charge for the same crime. Smith County Sheriff’s Office officials said that Horacio Gurrusquieta would be transported to the Smith County Jail. The homicide took place at a private residence on County Road 37 in northern Smith County. Two other individuals suffered gunshot wounds during this incident, including Natalio Gurrusquieta.

Tyler Airport Facing Cut In Funding

Pounds Field Control TowerTYLER — Twenty-five Texas airports could face major cuts by the end of the week. The reason is the sequestration. One of those airports is Tyler-Pounds Regional. If the cuts do go into affect, the funding for the air traffic control tower will be cut. According to KETK, that will cause airport delays and, according some businesses owners, a cut back in the local economy. The air traffic control tower operator is the first one pilots call as they prepare to land at any airport.on the runway.

Mark Leathers is pilot from Austin who has been using the Jet Center of Tyler for nearly a decade. He says, if that tower is no longer operational, it will force many pilots to find other stops. If the military, and other aircraft decide not to stop in Tyler because of the sequester, it will have a chain reaction in East Texas. But among air traffic delays, Randa Conner from the Jet Center of Tyler feels it will increase the possibility of major accidents on the runway.

But no matter what decision is made, officials at Tyler-Pounds say the airport will remain open. The city of Tyler has already sent a letter to Washington, making the case why the Tyler-Pounds control tower should not lose funding, and why the airport is a big part of not just East Texas travelers, but travel across the state, and the country.

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