TYLER — Dr. Juan E. Mejia, who joined Tyler Junior College as vice president for student affairs in October 2013, has been appointed to serve as TJC provost and vice president for academic and student affairs. Mejia served as a founding member for South Texas College in McAllen, where he had served as chief academic officer since 2003. STC grew to six full comprehensive campuses and an enrollment of close to 33,000 students, making it the 8th largest community college in the state of Texas, according to a TJC news release. In addition, it had the largest dual enrollment in the state, with close to 13,000 students from its participating school districts. … Read More
GRAND SALINE — Law enforcement officials are seeking tips in a recent theft at Grand Saline ISD. According to KETK, police said more than $2,000 worth of Grand Saline High School baseball equipment was taken over the weekend. If you have any information on this crime, contact the Grand Saline Police Department at (903) 962-3145. Parents are urged to be on the lookout for equipment not given to their children.
LONGVIEW — The City of Longview website, LongviewTexas.gov, is currently unavailable. “We realize this is an inconvenience for customers and we will be working to restore a web presence as soon as possible,” according to a city news release. “In the meantime, we encourage customers needing to do businesses with the City of Longview to contact in person, by phone, email, social media, or using the CitySend mobile app.” Residents are reminded that water utility payments may be made in person at City Hall, by mail, by phone, or at Fidelity Express locations. According to KETK and the Longview News-Journal, the website issues are related to a week’s worth of hacking that started with a group purportedly concerned about the recent police shooting death of 17-year-old Kristiana Coignard. … Read More
WASHINGTON (AP/Staff) – House Republican leaders say the House will vote next week on legislation to construct the Keystone XL pipeline and send it to President Barack Obama. Obama has threatened a veto. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday that the House will consider the Senate-passed bill, which also included provisions stating that climate change is not a hoax. The House passed a version of the bill last month. The Senate voted 62-36 last week to build the $8 billion project that would connect with existing pipelines to carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to refineries along the Texas Gulf coast. That vote was short of 67 votes needed to override a presidential veto. One of the existing pipelines runs through much of East Texas, including eastern Smith County.
TYLER — The University of Texas at Tyler celebrated a preliminary nine percent enrollment increase for spring 2015, President Rodney H. Mabry announced. With a preliminary headcount of 7,889, this marks the second consecutive year UT Tyler has seen this percentage increase during a spring semester, according to a UTT news release. Last spring, the total headcount was 7,193. “We’re very excited to see another increase in the spring semester,” said Sarah Bowdin, assistant vice president for enrollment management, “and we attribute that to our continued retention of enrolled students and the recruitment of new graduate and transfer students.”
EAST TEXAS — More layoffs will be hitting the East Texas oil field industry, with a Canadian-based company telling state regulators it will lay off 125 in Longview and GE saying it will cut 330 jobs in Lufkin, according to the Longview News-Journal. Continuing signs of the collapse of petroleum prices that are forcing oil companies to jettison workers as they adjust to leaner profits. The U.S. benchmark crude oil price has been cut in half since June.… Read More
TYLER — A 44-year-old woman, formerly of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, has been sentenced to federal prison for a health care fraud scheme. Vivian Yusuf pleaded guilty on September 17 to conspiracy to commit health care fraud. She was sentenced yesterday to 87 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Michael Schneider. Yusuf was a fugitive for several years before her arrest June 3, 2014 at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.… Read More
LONGVIEW — An East Texas man has received a life sentence stemming from a 2012 double murder. KETK reports jury selection had begun in Longview January 20 for the trial of Joshua O’Steven Reese. He was accused of killing La Toya Nicole Reese, 28, and 11-year-old Mya Rosetta Nichol Sebron. Judicial records show Reese later pleaded guilty to two counts of capital murder and will spend the rest of his life in prison. … Read More
TYLER — The father of a Smith County toddler who died after being found in a hot vehicle last year has received probation. According to KETK, Smith County court records show Russell Lindstrom, 33, of Flint, was sentenced to 10 years adjudicated probation for two counts of injury to a child. Lindstrom, who was indicted October 2, was originally charged with one count of manslaughter and one count of injury to a child; those charges were modified in October, and Lindstrom pleaded guilty January 9. … Read More
CLEVELAND (AP/Staff) – Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel has entered treatment for an unspecified condition. An advisor for the Tyler native said in a statement released by the team Monday that Manziel decided to enter treatment during the offseason. Brad Beckworth says Manziel knows there are areas he needs to improve on to be a better family member, friend and teammate. Browns general manager Ray Farmer says the team fully supports Manziel and respects his initiative in entering treatment. He says the team will respect Manziel’s privacy during treatment. Beckworth says the former Heisman Trophy winner and his family are asking for privacy until he rejoins the team in Cleveland. Manziel has faced questions for several years about a penchant for partying, with some critics saying he’s not ready to lead an NFL team. Manziel mostly backed up Brian Hoyer last year for the Browns and struggled in two starts before getting hurt.
SMITH COUNTY – Three people are dead, including a toddler, after a devastating crash in Smith County. DPS Trooper Jean Dark says it happened around 11:30 Sunday night. Dark reports a Lincoln MKZ driven by Roderick Erwin, 39, was traveling north on State Highway 110, four miles north of Tyler, when it attempted to pass another vehicle in a no-passing zone. Also in the car with Erwin were Latonya Hambrick, 34, and three-year-old Jaiyen Erwin. When Roderick tried to pass the traffic in front of him, he collided with an Infiniti driven by Reginald Jimmerson, 41, of Irving, who was driving south on 110.
Trooper Dark says the Lincoln left the roadway toward the right and flipped before landing upright and catching fire. Jaiyen was ejected from the car. Roderick, Latonya, and Jaiyen, all of Tyler, were pronounced dead at the scene. They were not wearing seatbelts, according to Trooper Dark. Jimmerson was injured in the wreck and was taken to a local hospital to treat a broken leg and ankle. The bodies of the deceased were taken to Dallas for autopsies.
AUSTIN — An East Texas lawmaker is drawing attention with a couple of bills he’s filed. In one measure, Republican Chris Paddie of Marshall says hunters should get a couple of tax-free holidays. The bill would create two such holidays, which would coincide with the openings of dove and deer seasons, the last weekends of August and October. Paddie says Louisiana has a similar holiday, making it a competitive issue. He says he wants to encourage hunters to “shop at home rather than going across the border” to get their supplies. Paddie thinks the bill will sail through. It would cover firearms, ammo, hunting blinds and stands, gun cases, safety equipment, and more. Paddie hopes the measure will encourage more folks to hunt. … Read More
SMITH COUNTY – The Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT’s) Tyler maintenance crews will be performing pavement repairs on State Highway 110 North just south of Interstate Highway 20. The job will be conducted with traffic reduced to one lane and controlled by flaggers.… Read More
TYLER – A woman reports to Tyler police she was attacked as she jogged Saturday morning. The attack occurred between 5:30 and 6:00 in the 8100 block of Karen Drive. The woman told officers she was approached by 2 Hispanic males in what was described as a late 90’s model red Chevrolet S-10 pick-up truck. The victim said that the passenger got out and assaulted her. As the two struggled, a light came on across the street at which point the assailant left. She described him as a Hispanic male, approximately 25-33 years of age and wearing dark tan work shorts and a light colored shirt. She said he had black and curly hair and was about 5’08. She was taken by private vehicle to East Texas Medical Center where she was treated and released.
LONGVIEW – A Longview man is arrested in connection with an international child pornography ring. Arrested at his home in the 3100 block of Quail Lane was Edwin Volcik. He was booked into the Harrison County Jail for aggravated sexual assault of a child and is being held on $1 million bond. ICE released the following statement to KETK: “Special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and officers from Harrison County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office and Longview Police Department executed a search warrant Wednesday night in Longview and made one arrest for possessing child pornography. This is an ongoing investigation.”
MARSHALL – A Harrison County man has been arrested in a land dispute that left a man injured. Bryce Gisselback, 53, was arrested after allegedly ramming a man with his truck and then dragging him. He has been charged with aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury and bond was set at $75,000. KETK reports the dispute began when Gisselbeck saw Randall and Ronnie Garrison were removing the fence allegedly built on the front of their property by the suspect. Gisselbeck is said to have rammed Ronnie Garrison’s vehicle numerous times. He is then said to have pinned him between the two automobiles. He is then said to have dragged Ronnie Garrison with his vehicle. He was taken to a hospital by private vehicle.
AUSTIN (AP/STAFF) — The Texas Department of State Health Services has named an interim commissioner to temporarily replace David Lakey, who helped coordinate state response to the first case of Ebola in the U.S. The department announced Friday that its associated commissioner, Kirk Cole, (pictured) will replace Lakey effective Sunday. Forthcoming is the appointment of a chief medical executive licensed to practice medicine, who will advise Cole on health issues. Lakey was in charge of the department when Liberian Thomas Duncan was confirmed to have Ebola and later died in Dallas. Lakey announced his resignation January 7 and joined the UT Health Northeast in Tyler and The University of Texas System. Dr. Lakey will serve as Senior Vice President for Population Health at UT Health Northeast and as Associate Vice Chancellor for the UT System. His stepping down wasn’t related to an ongoing no-bid contract scandal at Health and Human Services that has prompted the resignation of several officials.
ATHENS — State District Judge Carter Tarrance of Athens sentenced a man Monday to 20 years in prison for severely beating his wife and, in a separate incident, shoving feces down her throat. According to KETK, District Attorney Scott McKee says Marc Jimson Woodcock, 45, of Waxahachie, will serve the maximum sentence for the attack on Karen Woodcock. McKee said in July 2013, the suspect pleaded guilty and chose to have the court punish him. He was indicted the following year. … Read More
TYLER — 2015 marks the Tyler ISD Foundation’s 25th anniversary, and the milestone was celebrated Thursday during a luncheon at Willow Brook Country Club. Speakers included Tyler ISD Board President Rev. Orenthia Mason, TISD Superintendent Dr. Marty Crawford, TISD Foundation President Marc Loredo (pictured), and TISD Foundation Executive Director Maya Bethany. One of the organization’s founding directors, former mayor Barbara Bass, delivered an address as well. The celebration was also the kickoff for the Foundation’s 2015 Annual Fund Campaign. … Read More
LONGVIEW — A Mexican national living in Kilgore has been indicted by a Gregg County grand jury this week for the alleged sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl in the Kilgore area. KETK reports Jose Sandoval, 32, was taken into custody on November 10, 2014, by Gregg County deputies. Officials say Sandoval also had misdemeanor traffic warrants out of Kilgore for no driver’s license and no insurance. The suspect is currently being held in the Gregg County Jail on an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) detainer.
KILGORE — Residents at 303 West North Street got an early, unexpected wakeup call from Kilgore police officers Friday morning. According to KETK, officers had a warrant in hand to search the residence for drugs. The Criminal Investigation Unit had received information about a person or persons at the residence allegedly dealing crack cocaine. Narcotics Investigator Chitwood opened a case on the residence and soon determined a large amount of crack cocaine was in fact being sold, according to police. … Read More
GILMER — Jury selection set for Monday for a capital murder trial in Upshur County has been postponed until April. KETK and the Longview News-Journal report jury selection for Jonathan Ray Shepherd’s trial will now be held April 13. District Attorney Billy Byrd said Friday that new evidence came in this week, forcing the delay. Shepherd is charged with capital murder in the Sept. 26, 2013, shooting death of 29-year-old Cheyenne Green at a Gilmer sub-varsity football game. A witness told police the two were arguing about custody of their child.
TYLER — A traffic stop led to a manhunt and ended in an arrest Thursday night in Tyler. According to KETK, officers say they pulled the man over around 7:45 near the intersection of Mineola Highway and Loop 323. After stopping the car, the man reportedly got out of the vehicle and ran into some nearby woods. After an hour-long search, officers found and arrested him, according to police. The police department hasn’t released the suspect’s name or any motive he may have had for allegedly running from officers.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-controlled Senate has passed a bipartisan bill approving construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The 62-36 vote on Thursday advanced a top priority of the newly empowered GOP, which championed the legislation despite a presidential veto threat. Keystone is the first of many battles with the White House over energy and the environment. The measure fell short of the threshold needed to override a veto. It also needs to be reconciled with the House version. The bill authorizes construction of the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline to carry oil primarily from Canada’s tar sands to Gulf Coast refineries. It runs through eastern Smith County. Critics argue the $8 billion project would spell disaster for global warming. Supporters call it a jobs bill that would boost energy security.
HUNTSVILLE (AP/Staff) – 57-year-old Robert Ladd was executed Thursday night in Huntsville after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to stop the execution. Ladd was convicted of strangling and beating Vickie Ann Garner, 38, before setting her body on fire in her Tyler apartment in 1996. Lawyers claimed he was mentally impaired. Ladd had pleaded guilty in 1980 to a similar slaying in Dallas, where a woman’s body was burned in a blaze that also killed her two children. Although he received a 40-year prison term, he was paroled after serving only about a third of his sentence. Ladd’s attorneys said juvenile records show that a psychiatrist determined a 13-year-old Ladd had an IQ of only 67 and that he couldn’t fully function on his own.
TYLER — The Better Business Bureau Serving Central East Texas held its 2015 Awards Ceremony Wednesday at The Ornelas Activity Center in Tyler. The organization presented the BBB Awards for Excellence to three companies and one nonprofit organization that exemplify ethical behavior and display integrity in all aspects of their operations, according to a news release. Winners are chosen by an independent panel of judges. “Today more than ever it’s necessary that we spotlight and celebrate companies in our region who operate with integrity in all aspects of their operations,” according to Mechele Agbayani Mills, president and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. … Read More
MARSHALL — A man wanted for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender was captured at a Marshall home Thursday afternoon. According to KETK, the Marshall Police Department says at 12:45 p.m., officers searched a house in the 1800 block of South Street in an attempt to locate a wanted felon. Police found Damon Covington, 36, inside the home. The suspect had been wanted for over two years. Covington is required to register annually as a sex offender because he had sexually assaulted a juvenile. The suspect also had an outstanding Marshall PD warrant for assault family violence with previous conviction and also a warrant out of Harrison County for criminal non-support.
KILGORE — The Kilgore Police Department is currently searching for Marcus Demois Whitaker, 35, of Kilgore. KETK reports Whitaker is considered a person of Interest in the shooting death of Franciosa Jackson on December 28, 2014, in Kilgore. Whitaker is currently wanted by Texas Pardons and Parole for an alleged parole violation stemming from a burglary charge in Gregg County. Whitaker should be considered armed and dangerous and the public should not attempt to approach or apprehend him, according to officials.… Read More