Category: Local News Archive

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Minor Injuries after School Bus Collision

bus_crash_cropped_ketkLONGVIEW — Several Longview students received bumps and bruises but no serious injuries were reported in a school bus accident. It happened around 8:00 yesterday morning. The driver of a Spring Hill ISD school bus had just finished dropping off students at Johnston-McQueen Elementary for the Regional Day School for the Hearing Impaired, when she ran into a Longview ISD school bus. The driver told Longview police her brakes had failed and as she attempted to make a turn, she hit the Longview school bus. There were no students on the Spring Hill bus but there were students on the Longview bus.

Former Longview Teacher’s Trial is This Month

Robert Craig VarnellLONGVIEW — A trail date has been set for a former Longview High School teacher facing multiple sex charges. Robert Craig Varnell, 57, is scheduled to appear in 188th State district Court on September 23rd. Varnell was arrested in May 2011, and released six months later. He was arrested again in September of last year after prosecutors presented evidence he violated terms of his bond by contacting a former student, the alleged victim of sexual assault. He remains in the Gregg County Jail on $1.25 million bond. Jail records show he is facing charges of indecency with a child by sexual contact and sexual assault of a child. Read the rest of this entry »

North Texas Men Guilty of Federal Firearms Violations

Federal Courthouse-ATYLER — Two North Texas men have appeared in Tyler federal court to plead guilty to firearms violations. Colten David Barrow, 22, of Quinlan, and Craig Marcus Cooper, 42, of Farmersville, each pleaded guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge John D. Love. Barrow pleaded guilty to attempting to sell a machinegun and Cooper pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a machinegun. Barrow and Cooper each face up to 10 years in federal prison at sentencing. A sentencing date has not been set. A third defendant is awaiting trial. Read the rest of this entry »

Rabies Case Reported in Tyler

Rabid BatTYLER — A bat found in Tyler has tested positive for rabies. The bat was found near the 7100 block of Cherryhill. This is the first laboratory confirmed case of rabies in the Tyler city limits this year. The Northeast Texas Public Health District says it is critical for people not to handle bats, skunks, raccoons or other wild animals. Anyone who knows of a person who has been bitten by an animal must report the bite incident to the Smith County Rabies Control Authority for proper investigation. Read the rest of this entry »

Driver Runs Off Road into Lake Palestine

car_lake_ketkSMITH COUNTY — A driver ran off the road and into Lake Palestine early Wednesday afternoon. KETK reports it happened on Highway 155 South, near County Road 189 in Smith County just after 2:00 p.m. Authorities with the Department of Public Safety say the woman who was driving managed to get out of the vehicle. Witnesses say the woman was leaving the area in a rush, and accidentally put the car in drive, rather than reverse. The car went down the ramp and into the lake. It slowly drifted further into the water, until it was almost completely submerged.

East Texas Woman Accused of Ricin Letters Held in Jail

Shannon Richardson2 TEXARKANA (AP) – The East Texas woman accused of mailing poison-laced letters to President Barack Obama and others has been ordered to remain behind bars until her trial. Richardson appeared Wednesday morning for a detention hearing in federal court in Texarkana. U.S. Magistrate Caroline Craven denied Shannon Guess Richardson’s request for bond, ruling that Richardson was a serious flight risk. Authorities say the New Boston, Texas, actress sent ricin-laced letters to Obama, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and a leader of the mayor’s gun-control group. Court documents state she then tried to frame her husband for the crime. Richardson was arrested in June in Mt. Pleasant. She’s charged with two counts of threat by mail and one of threatening the president. She remains jailed after giving birth in July.

Large Tree Falls through Longview House

tree_in_house_ketkLONGVIEW — Storms moved through parts of East Texas Wednesday afternoon, bringing with them strong winds and rain. A large tree fell through one house on the 600 block of Oakdale Ave. in Longview causing serious damage. Authorities tell KETK crews on scene that there was one person at home at the time the tree fell, but there were fortunately no injuries involved. Firefighters helped the family cover their belongings with tarps.

East Texan Arrested after High-Speed Chase

Jimmy Dewayne LeeATHENS — Authorities say an East Texas man led Chandler police, Tyler police, and Smith County officers on a high speed chase early Wednesday morning before being arrested. According to KETK, Jimmy Dewayne Lee, 53, allegedly began leading Chandler officers on a chase around 2:45am. Officials say the pursuit began in the southbound lanes of FM 315 and Highway 31. According to law enforcement reports, Lee began to take off after Officer Rick Smith tried to pull him over for going 47 MPH in a 30 MPH zone. Chandler Police Chief Ron Reeves says throughout the chase, speeds of 100 MPH were reached. Read the rest of this entry »

City Council Hears Concerns about Yum Yum’s Site

yum_yum_cleanup_pic_ketk.1377575450JACKSONVILLE — Business owners and others in Jacksonville continue looking for answers. After first raising the question earlier this summer, they still want to know why the old Yum Yum’s Restaurant site has not been completely cleared. The eatery was destroyed by fire in April. According to KETK, people voiced their concerns again at Tuesday’s city council meeting. Many believe the council is not willing to work with them. Some accuse the council of not acting in the public’s best interest. Read the rest of this entry »

Council Approves Tyler 1st Vision

thumb_tyler-city-hall-1TYLER — An updated Tyler 1st Vision and set of principles was approved by the City Council during its meeting Wednesday at City Hall as part of the five-year update to the city’s comprehensive plan. According to a news release, the vision and principle statements will be the basis for future steering committee decisions and recommendations as the five-year comprehensive plan update is finalized. “Extensive public input was sought to arrive at these new statements, including a citywide survey, eight open houses, comments on the Tyler Speaks page as well as smaller focused online surveys,” said City Planner Heather Nick. Read the rest of this entry »

TxDOT Executive Director: Turnback Program Is Voluntary

Heines - 1769TYLER — Tyler leaders have learned that the Texas Department of Transportation’s “Turnback” program is voluntary. The program has been under consideration by the State Transportation Commission. Mayor Pro Tem Martin Heines (pictured) and City Manager Mark McDaniel traveled to Austin Tuesday to present Tyler’s case against the program and to ascertain the status of TxDOT’s current position on the proposal.

According to a city of Tyler news release, the original communication from TxDOT suggested the transfer of 1,900 miles of state highways in urban areas to local governments. The impact to municipalities could be significant depending upon the amount of roadway under consideration in a particular city. Read the rest of this entry »

Pastor Bonds Out on Child Sex Assault Charge

Glenn BartonKILGORE — A Kilgore pastor charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child is out of jail on bond. KETK reports 62-year-old Glenn Barton is accused of sexually assaulting a child within the last four years. Barton has been the pastor at Calvary Way Church since 1999. The church declined to comment about Barton’s arrest.

Van Zandt County Issues Burn Ban

thumb_burn-ban_4CANTON — Van Zandt County has joined the long list of East Texas counties prohibiting outdoor burning. The order covers unincorporated areas of the county. Commissioners have instituted the ban until at least September 24, when they’ll reconsider it. There are a few exceptions to the Van Zandt County ban. You can go to and click on the “Burn Ban” link to get all the details.

Texas Woman Accused of Ricin Letters Due in Court

TEXARKANA, Texas (AP/Staff) – The East Texas woman accused of mailing poison-laced letters to President Barack Obama and others is due in federal court. A detention hearing for Shannon Guess Richardson is scheduled for today in Texarkana, Texas. Authorities say Richardson tried to set up her husband for sending letters laced with ricin to Obama, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and to a leader of the mayor’s gun-control group. She was charged with two counts of mailing a threatening communication and one count of making a threat against the president following her arrest in Mt. Pleasant. Richardson is an actress from New Boston, Texas, near Texarkana. She remains in custody after giving birth in July.

Graduation Tonight at the Kilgore College Fire Academy

Kilgore College Fire AcademyKILGORE — The Kilgore College Fire Academy will pay tribute to the memory of the 343 firefighters who died on 9/11 at its 88th graduation today in the Bert E. Woodruff Adult Education Center in Kilgore. The ceremony is set for 6:30 this evening, the twelfth anniversary of the deadly attacks on New York City. Fifteen fire academy students are set to graduate. Read the rest of this entry »

Two East Texans Get CMA Award Nominations

Kasey MusgravesNASHVILLE — Two East Texans have received nine nominations from the Country Music Association for the 2013 CMA awards. The list is led by Mineola native Kasey Musgraves who has received six nominations. She is nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year, Single of the Year (“Merry Go ‘Round”), Album of the Year (“Same Trailer, Different Park”), Song of the Year (“Merry Go ‘Round) and New Artist of the Year. Her sixth nomination is for co-writing Miranda Lambert’s hit song “Mama’s Broken Heart.” Read the rest of this entry »

Rains County Man Missing

Larry Jones Culberson JrEMORY — The Rains County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in locating a missing man. He is Larry Jones Culberson Jr., 56, of Emory. He was last seen at his home on County Road 4320 on September 3rd around 6:00pm. The next morning his car was found abandoned near a wooded area near his residence. Culberson is described as being 6’4″, medium build, blonde hair and blue eyes. He has a medical condition that has caused his lower leg to be swollen and he may be walking with a limp. If you have any information about Culberson, you are asked to contact the Rains County Sheriff’s office or the nearest law enforcement agency.

Pine Tree Football Coach Conditionally Reinstated

Derek FitzhenryLONGVIEW — Pine Tree head football coach and Athletic Director Derek Fitzhenry has been conditionally reinstated. The action was taken following a three hour meeting by school trustees. The school board said it supported action for the superintendent to carry out conditional reinstatement. Fitzhenry was at football practice Tuesday afternoon. School officials said they would not disclose the conditions of the reinstatement because they were legally and ethically bound to not discuss personnel matters. Read the rest of this entry »

Henderson County Shooting Victim Dies

Daniel Richard VasquezPAYNE SPRINGS — A man shot by a Henderson County Sheriff’s deputy Monday night, has died. He has been identified as Daniel Richard Vasquez, 33. Around 9:15 Monday evening, deputies executed a narcotics search warrant in Hidden Hills Harbor. The shooting occurred during the execution of that warrant. Details concerning the circumstances surrounding the shooting have not been released. The Texas Rangers have been called in to investigate the shooting.

Gas Leak in Downtown Tyler Repaired

tyler-fire-dept-logoTYLER — The Tyler Fire Department was dispatched to a natural gas leak in the downtown area Tuesday afternoon. The initial call was received shortly after noon at the new Smith County Jail construction site when a construction crew contacted a 4 inch gas line while digging, causing it to rupture. Along with the Tyler Fire Department, officers with the Tyler Police Department and representatives with CenterPoint Energy were on-scene throughout the incident. Air monitoring was conducted in the area and the atmosphere was deemed safe for area residents, workers, and visitors. Area streets were blocked off while personnel worked to repair the line. CenterPoint Energy crews successfully stopped the leak around 1:30pm. Work at the site has resumed and there were no reported injuries.

Public Invited to 9/11 Ceremony

TYLER — Tyler police invite the public to join them this morning at 9:00 at City Hall to witness a special ceremony commemorating the 12th Anniversary of September 11, 2001. The ceremony will be conducted by Mayor Barbara Bass, the Tyler Fire Department Honor Guard, and the Tyler Police Department Honor Guard. The ceremony will be held outdoors on the east side of City Hall, weather permitting. The ceremony will be moved into the Council Chambers if inclement weather is present.

Road Work on Hollytree Drive

Road Closed1TYLER — Due to construction, Hollytree Drive from West Grande Boulevard to Royal Oak Drive in Tyler will be closed to traffic Sept. 16-20. Traffic on Grande Boulevard will be detoured to Shady Oaks Drive, then to Royal Oak Drive, and then continue on to Hollytree Drive. Traffic on Hollytree Drive will be detoured to Royal Oak Drive, then to Shady Oaks Drive and continue on to Grande Boulevard.

Lee Changes Public Hours for Track Use

thumb_TISD_Logo_NewTYLER — Citing security concerns, Tyler ISD officials announce new hours for runners and joggers who like to use Robert E. Lee’s track. Since the school built a new fence around the perimeter, the hours have changed. Lee’s athletic facilities will still be open to the public, but only during specific hours of the day. TISD spokesperson Dawn Parnell says, “The new hours of the track this year will be from 6:00 to 8:00am, it will be open for the public to use, and it will not be open again until the last coach leaves in the afternoon, and the public is welcome to use it then as long as it’s not being utilized by students.” Parnell added the fence was installed to ensure the safety of the students.

Rusk County Urges, “Pay Attention East Texas”

HENDERSON — Fatal accidents are becoming a regular occurence in the city of Henderson.and in Rusk County. Henderson Fire Department Captain Cody Crawford tells KETK, “We’ve seen at least a double in fatality wrecks in the last year and a half to two years.” Since January, 20 people have died in car accidents on Rusk County roads — four in the last two weeks. Crawford and his crew are usually the first on scene of a wreck. And he says there have been many more fatal crashes this year than in years past.

County Judge Joel Hale and other county leaders have called meetings to address this issue. Now they plan to implement the mission from an organization called “Pay Attention East Texas.” According to Hale, “Their mission is something that we will adopt, and we’re still in the process of how we are going to get the word out, and how we are going to disseminate information to people.” Read the rest of this entry »

Superintendent to Rule on Pine Tree Coach

fitzLONGVIEW — The Pine Tree school board leaves the case of football coach and athletic director Derek Fitzhenry in the hands of the school district’s top administrator. KETK reports Fitzhenry was placed on administrative leave last week, accused of mistreating student athletes. The board meeting drew a packed house, the majority of them supporting the coach. Four speakers were allowed to give their thoughts. Even some of his players spoke in favor of Fitzhenry. Around 11 Monday night, the board decided any punishment should be doled out by the superintendent. Officials say a decision is due today.

Cherokee County Notes Increasing Number of Pertussis Cases in Texas

JACKSONVILLE — Some East Texas health officials are taking note as pertussis continues on the rise in Texas. As of August 27, Texas has reported 1,935 cases to the CDC. If the trend continues, Texas may report the highest number of pertussis cases it has had in over 50 years, officials say. According to a news release, the Cherokee County Public Health Department is monitoring the situation. Under State law, health care providers, hospitals, laboratories, schools, childcare facilities and others are required to report patients who are suspected of having pertussis. Officials say the Cherokee County Public Health Department will complete an epidemiologic investigation on all suspected pertussis cases that are reported and work to ensure that control measures are implemented for those exposed to pertussis. One case of pertussis has been confirmed in Cherokee County. Read the rest of this entry »

Smith County Fire Contained

grassfire FM 2767 9-8-13TYLER — Smith County fires that burned over 400 acres over the weekend have finally been contained. What started as 8 small grass fires grew to a blaze that destroyed a mobile home, an empty home and a barn, multiple cars and out buildings. No injuries were reported. While the cause of the fire is thought to be from a spark from a shredding tire, the cause remains under investigation.

TISD Officials Working on Property Sale

TISD Admin Sign1TYLER — Tyler school trustees are in the process of selling the old Jones Elementary School property. The sale was discussed at a board workshop yesterday. While the name of the buyer was not announced, school officials say the price tag on the property is $465,000. The sale of the property is expected to close later this month.

Police Academy Excels in Annual Evaluation

Kilgore College Fire AcademyKILGORE — The East Texas Police Academy at Kilgore College, passed its annual inspection by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) with “no areas of non-compliance.” In the report delivered to the academy, TCOLE noted that the ETPA had also maintained a 99.23% pass/fail rate for the last three years for the academy’s Basic Peace Officer Course. Out of 622 students over the three-year period, 618 passed the state exam on the first attempt. Read the rest of this entry »

Grants for Three Scientists at UT Health Northeast

TYLER — Three biomedical researchers at UT Health Northeast recently received separate grants of more than $300,000 each to fund important studies in the areas of lung disease and blood clotting. The grant recipients and the amounts of their three-year grants are Amir Shams, Ph.D., $325,500 from the Flight Attendants Medical Research Institute (FAMRI); Sreerema Shetty, Ph.D., $325,500 from FAMRI; and Hema Kothari, Ph.D., $308,000 from the American Heart Association. Read the rest of this entry »

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