TYLER — A watchdog group is not happy with Smith County Court at Law No. 2 Judge Randall Rogers. Rogers made headlines when he offered a 20-year-old man who’d punched his girlfriend’s ex either 15 days in jail or probation — which included marriage to his 19-year-old steady. He was also forced to copy Bible verses. The accused took the latter option. Sarah Jones with Americans United for the Separation of Church and State says, “He needs to refrain from imposing any further conditions that require any sort religious activity.” The group has written the judge a letter asking him to stick to the law. A call to the judge was not returned.
ATHENS — Athens city officials are asking for the community to band together and help one of their own who serves the public. According to KETK, officials say Police Officer Jonathan Hutchison’s home caught fire early Thursday morning. Hutchison, his wife, and their 2-year-old, Maddox, were able to escape without injury. Unfortunately, all their belongings were lost in the blaze. A relief account has been set up at Prosperity Bank under the name of Jonathan & Kelsey Hutchison to help with immediate needs. Donations can be made at any branch location. A GoFundMe account — http://www.gofundme.com/yypsb5jv — has also been established.
JACKSONVILLE — Employees at Century Industrial Coatings are back at work after the industrial plant just south of Jacksonville exploded early Wednesday morning. KETK reports no one was inside when one of the buildings went up in flames. Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the explosion. The Assistant Director of Sales and Marketing for Century Industrial Coatings, Justin Rains, said the company is trying to move forward. “We’re leaning on our industry partners as we put together some backup plans,” said Rains. “From there, we are going to start to ramp up our production and get back on our feet.”… Read the rest of the article…
TYLER — A Tyler woman was sentenced Wednesday afternoon in Tyler for her involvement in an East Texas theft ring. KETK reports Ahteuhna Taylor was sentenced to 12 years in prison for two burglary charges, two years in state jail for credit card abuse, and 10 years in prison for fraud. All the sentences will run concurrently. The theft ring involved stealing guns and cars throughout several counties, as well as taking credit cards and personal identification. Another thief involved, Tyrell Choice, 18, was sentenced to 10 years in prison earlier this week after entering a guilty plea in the same court. A third defendant is due to be sentenced August 20.
TYLER — People across Texas interested in the mobile food truck industry met in Tyler Wednesday. KETK reports they talked about the best practices for zoning ordinances and building requirements, as well as a focus on health and safety. They also heard the pros and cons from several food truck owners. One woman from Jacksonville is planning to open up her own mobile food truck park in October. Emily Griffin says the discussion answered many of her questions.
TYLER – Smith County is one of only eight counties in Texas and one of 47 in the United States and Canada to receive an award from the National Procurement Institute, according to a news release from the county. The Smith County Purchasing Department earned the 2015 Annual Achievement of Excellence in Procurement Award. County officials say the continuously evolving criteria to receive the award measure state-of-the-art best practices. Smith County Purchasing Director Kim Gould says she’s honored to receive the recognition, adding that it means her department “is continually striving for excellence,” according to the release. Gould will attend the National Procurement Institute’s national convention in Las Vegas in October to formally accept the award on behalf of Smith County.
TYLER — Drivers had to work a bit harder to get around in part of South Tyler Wednesday night and early Thursday morning after a stretch of New Copeland Road was shut down due to a gas leak. Tyler police report the road was closed in both directions between the intersections with Shiloh and Rieck Roads after a construction crew struck the gas line. The problem was first announced shortly after 5:30 Wednesday afternoon; police reported the problem fixed and the stretch reopened a little after 1:15 a.m. Thursday.
TYLER — Tyler police report New Copeland Road has been shut down in both directions between the intersections with Shiloh and Rieck Roads due to a gas leak. A construction crew struck the gas line earlier in the day. Shortly after 5:30 Wednesday afternoon, officials reported Police and Fire were standing by pending completion of repairs. There was no estimate as to when the road would be reopened but repairs were expected to take several hours. Police said motorists would need to find alternate routes and were urged to avoid the general area if possible until further notice.
TYLER — The Lynn family is one of many who suffered storm damage from Tuesday’s afternoon thunderstorm in Tyler. More specifically, a tree is now lying on their house, according to KETK. They immediately made a call to their insurance company, who gave them some tips on using a reputable repair business. Tyler Lynn was in his house when the tree hit. “I was in my room, which is right there where the tree’s kind of falling on, and all of a sudden I saw a flash of lightning and I heard a big crunch,” said Lynn. “Next thing I know I come out and see that there’s a big tree laying on our house.” … Read the rest of the article…
LONGVIEW — A Longview man has been arrested on a charge of tampering with evidence and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon in connection with the death of 2-year-old Ariyana Gonzales Aug. 3. KETK and the Longview News-Journal report Devetrick Tramel Johnson, 27, was held on bonds totaling $100,000 Wednesday. The girl was reported dead in a unit at the Huntington Hills apartments in the 2500 block of North Eastman Road in Longview. Johnson, who was convicted of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base in 2009, was seen carrying two rifles wrapped in a towel or blanket at the scene, according to the arrest warrant. … Read the rest of the article…
TYLER — The Smith County 2016 fiscal year is right around the corner and Commissioners Court met Tuesday to talk budgets. KETK reports they also selected the committee that will hear objections from seven elected county officials. If you compare these elected officials’ salaries to counties similar in size, some say it’s not enough. One Smith County commissioner, all justices of the peace and one constable are asking for more reasonable pay. … Read the rest of the article…
CHEROKEE COUNTY — Investigators say nobody has been hurt in an overnight fire and explosions at a paint-related industrial plant in East Texas. Authorities are trying to determine what sparked the fire early Wednesday at Century Industrial Coatings Inc. near Jacksonville. Officials say the fire was brought under control by around dawn. Jacksonville Fire Department Chief Keith Fortner says several explosions happened as the fire produced flames visible throughout the city. Hazardous materials crews were helping with cleanup at the company, which manufactures paint and coatings. Law officers were rerouting traffic in the area.
LONGVIEW — LeTourneau University has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration as the first Christian university to offer aircraft dispatcher courses to prepare students to take and pass needed exams to receive their FAA Aircraft Dispatcher Certificates. To date, six of six students who took the inaugural dispatch course during the summer have passed the practical test on their first attempt with the FAA, according to Laura Laster, director of flight operations. “I am thrilled with the success of our first six Aircraft Dispatcher students!” Laster said. “That’s a great testament to the work ethic and caliber of the students in our LETU School of Aviation.”… Read the rest of the article…
Seven people are displaced following an early morning house fire in Tyler. According to the Tyler Fire Department, crews were called to the scene of a structure fire around 3:30 yesterday morning in the 1400 block of North Bois D’Arc near the intersection of West Cedar Street and North Broadway Avenue. Officials said one resident was treated for smoke inhalation. The house sustained heavy smoke and fire damage. believe the fire started in the kitchen in the area of the stove. Burn patterns suggest that the fire started either on top of the stove or close to it. After talking to the residents, food left cooking on the stove cannot be ruled out. The tenants were also having electrical issues with the vent above the stove.
TYLER — Due to the Tuesday afternoon storm, Tyler had several traffic lights out and trees down. The traffic signals eventually came back on. Plus, four Smith County roads were closed due to downed trees after yesterday’s brief storm. County Roads 1125, 1292, 2194 and 178 are all in the southern part of the county. The trees were cleared and the roads were re-opened. No injuries were reported in the storms.
SMITH COUNTY — As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, four Smith County roads were closed due to downed trees after Tuesday afternoon’s brief storm. County Roads 1125, 1292, 2194 and 178 are all in the southern part of the county. Road and Bridge crews headed out to the affected areas and hoped to have the trees cleared and the roadways reopened by sometime Tuesday.
TYLER — A Tyler man, Tyrell Choice, 18, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for his involvement with an East Texas theft ring. KETK reports the judgment was handed down Monday after Choice entered a guilty plea. On March 3, the Smith County Sheriff’s Office received reports of seven vehicle burglaries in the Flint area. Sixteen firearms, including handguns, rifles, and shotguns, were taken from the trunk of one of the reported burglaries. Another vehicle burglary was reported in which two handguns were taken. The additional five vehicle burglaries reported miscellaneous items taken including credit cards and personal identifications.… Read the rest of the article…
HUNTSVILLE (AP/Staff) – A Whitehouse man set to die this week for his mother’s slaying more than 11 years ago has won a reprieve from Texas’ highest criminal court. Tracy Beatty, 54, had been scheduled for lethal injection Thursday evening for the death of 62-year-old Carolyn Click in November 2003. Beatty recently had been paroled. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, in a brief order Tuesday, stopped the execution pending further orders from the court. It gave no timetable. Click’s body was found buried near her trailer home outside Tyler. By then, Beatty already was in jail on auto theft and weapons charges. His attorneys argued Beatty had deficient legal help at his 2004 trial and during early appeals and that prosecutors used improper testimony at his trial.
EAST TEXAS — Three more East Texas counties have issued burn bans. KETK reports Nacogdoches, Henderson, and Van Zandt counties now prohibit outside burning as hot, dry conditions persist. Anyone who breaks the orders could face a substantial fine. A significant majority of East Texas counties now have burn bans in place.
HOUSTON (AP) – A 48-year-old East Texas man on death row for the 2002 slaying of his 2-year-old daughter has lost a federal court appeal, moving him a step closer to execution. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Monday rejected arguments that the rights of Robert Roberson III were violated when his trial judge in Palestine refused to allow a neurologist during the guilt-innocence portion of the trial to testify about organic brain syndrome and poor impulse control. Roberson was convicted of the death of his daughter, Nikki Curtis, at their Palestine home. His attorneys contended the physician would have said Roberson didn’t deliberately kill the child, a key element in his defense. Lawyers said the child likely was fatally shaken or dropped. Roberson doesn’t yet have an execution date.
HAWKINS — It started when the Freedom From Religion Group sent a letter asking the City of Hawkins to remove a sign. After more than two months of controversy, Hawkins held a special city council meeting to determine whether or not the ‘Jesus Welcomes You to Hawkins’ sign is on city or private property. According to KETK, Attorney Alvin Flynn declared in Monday’s council meeting that it appears the sign is not and has never been on city property. As for now, despite the controversy, the sign remains welcoming you to the city of Hawkins.
LINDALE — The Lindale School Board has approved a 3.5 cent tax cut. Monday night’s action means school trustees have cut the tax rate three times now in the last five years. Director of Finance Michelle Tate says “Lindale ISD is blessed with a supportive community, that has approved prior tax increases to fulfill the past needs of the school District.” an she said they “are pleased to be able to lower the tax rate 3.5 cents this year due to the growth of the district and financial planning of the district’s finances.”… Read the rest of the article…
AUSTIN — Texas is one step closer to hiring marijuana growers. That word as the state moves toward manufacturing its own CBD oil, following passage of a bill co-sponsored by Tyler State Senator Kevin Eltife. Extracted from marijuana to be grown in Texas, the state has approved the use of CBD oil for epilepsy patients. DPS will oversee the growers and manufacturers. They’ll be selected after the rules of the law are first approved in December. The law takes effect in September 2017.
LAKE PALESTINE — Smith County officials have identified a man who died in a weekend drowning. According to KETK, authorities said Perry Deloney, 54, of Temple, died in the accident at the Villages Marina on Lake Palestine. Game Warden Chris Swift says at around 8 p.m. on Friday, a man without a life vest attempted to help a woman kayaking get back to shore. In the process, the man sank to the bottom of the lake for about four minutes before he was rescued. CPR was immediately initiated and Deloney was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9 p.m.… Read the rest of the article…
LONGVIEW– Longview City Manager David Willard is recommending Interim Police Chief Mike Bishop as the full-fledged replacement for recently retired Police Chief Don Dingler. According to a city news release, Bishop has served in a variety of capacities, including assistant chief, since he joined the Longview Police Department in 1989. Willard’s recommendation will be presented to the City Council August 13. According to the release, Willard says he has “the utmost confidence” in Bishop’s ability to lead the department. Willard cites Bishop’s “great working relationship with the department and the Longview community,” singling out Bishop’s efforts in community policing.
HENDERSON — Rusk County has joined a long list of East Texas counties now prohibiting outdoor burning. According to KETK, the Rusk County Office of Emergency Management says the Commissioners Court enacted the ban on Monday. Anyone who violates the order is subject to a large fine. The OEM said outdoor cooking in a closed container is still allowed.
LAKE TYLER — A local restaurant owner was uninjured in a plane crash at Lake Tyler Monday morning. Tyler Police Public Information Officer Don Martin tells KETK that according to reports, the aircraft went down in the lake in the 17000 block of Eastside Road near Sandy Beach Park at around 9 a.m. The Federal Aviation Administration says a boater picked up the pilot — and lone passenger — following the crash. The pilot, identified as Sam Wells, is the owner of Coyote Sam’s Bar and Grille in Tyler.FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford says the plane crashed while doing touch and go landings. The amphibious ultralight, an Aventura II, is registered to Stall Out Multiple Sclerosis LLC in Navarre, Florida. The FAA will continue to investigate the accident.
TYLER — A suspect wanted in a Tyler shooting has been arrested. Robert Jerrail Mitchell, 26, Tyler, is charged in the August 5th shooting of Raul Chevez, 61, Tyler. Tyler police responded to the 300 block of Beckham on a report of shots fired. They found Chevez with several gunshot wounds to the legs. He was treated at a nearby hospital. Chevez and two other witnesses told officers that a verbal altercation occurred between them and an unknown male. The suspect momentarily left, but returned several minutes later, armed with a handgun. Mitchell was placed in Smith County Jail on a $200,000 bond for aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury.
SMITH COUNTY — A burglary suspect has been arrested by Smith County sheriff’s deputies. He is accused of breaking into the United States Postal Service Center located in the 12600 block of Farm Road 3311. He is identified as Jess Dean Spencer, 23, of Kilgore. He is being charged with burglary of a building and evading arrest.… Read the rest of the article…
Here’s a look at work planned in the district during the Week of August 10. These schedules are subject to change due to weather conditions, equipment failure or other unforeseen issues. Motorists are reminded to put safety first by slowing down and paying attention when driving through work zones.
Districtwide Seal Coat Operations continue in several counties this week as follows:
*FM 1805 in Smith County from the Van Zandt County line northeast for 1.8 miles to FM 1253
*FM 1805 in Van Zandt County from SH 110 going NE to 1.8 miles W of FM 1253 (Smith County line)
*FM 16 in Van Zandt County from SH 64 east to I-20
*FM 316 in Van Zandt County from SH 198 at Phalba south to FM 1861 (Henderson County Line)
*FM 756 in Smith County from FM 346 south to FM 344
*FM 13 in Cherokee County from Smith County line going southeast and east to Rusk County Line
*FM 13 in Smith County from SH 135 in Troup going south to the Cherokee County line
*FM 13 in Rusk County from the Cherokee County line to SH 42… Read the rest of the article…