AUSTIN (AP/STAFF) — Marijuana supporters are on the brink of a small victory they say is nonetheless significant in the conservative Texas Legislature. The Republican-controlled House on Monday approved Senate Bill 339, from state Senator Kevin Eltife of Tyler, legalizing trace amounts of a marijuana plant extract for medicinal purposes. The cannabis oil wouldn’t produce the high associated with other parts of marijuana. Parents of children with intractable epilepsy have pleaded with lawmakers all session, saying the oil helps control seizures. A doctor would have to provide a prescription if the law is signed by Republican Governor Greg Abbott. Since current Texas law doesn’t allow any form of medical marijuana, advocates say this has been their most successful Texas legislative session in history. Other proposals to decriminalize marijuana penalties are unlikely to pass, but made notable progress after years of being stymied.
LONGVIEW — A Longview man is arrested on an arson complaint. Jason Virgil Hadley, 39, is also charged with resisting arrest or transport. His bonds total $21,000. He is accused of setting the fire that caused moderate damage inside a closet and minor smoke damage in a hall. The home owner had the fire out when firemen arrived. There were no injuries.
LONGVIEW — A Palestine woman has been arrested in Longview on a charge of aggravated assault/family violence. Bond for Joy Laquinneius Nelson, 22, was set at $5,000. She’s accused of hitting a man in the face with a shovel. She told a sheriff’s deputy, who is said to have witnessed the incident, that she was defending herself.
AUSTIN (AP/STAFF) — Republican Governor Greg Abbott has issued his first veto, striking down a ceremonial resolution saluting mental health professionals statewide. A House Concurrent Resolution by Nacogdoches Republican Representative Travis Clardy (pictured) commended mental health professionals as part of National Mental Health Month, observed each May. But Abbott said in a veto proclamation Monday that the Texas Constitution “requires all laws to be passed as bills” and “new law cannot be made by concurrent resolution.” He said the resolution “purports to direct the actions of state agencies in the manner of a law,” thus going “beyond the proper bounds of a concurrent resolution.” Abbott took office in January. As governor, he has 10 days to sign or veto laws approved by the Legislature, though any he takes no action on become law automatically.
TYLER — A come and go open house will be held at Tyler’s Glass Recreation Center today from 5:30 to 7 p.m. regarding the Palace, 26th, and Grand projects. City officials say members of the community are invited to view proposed plans for the area. Those include improvements along North Palace Ave. from West Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard to West 29th Street; North Grand Avenue from West Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard to West 29th Street; and West 26th Street from North Broadway Avenue to North Grand Avenue. … Read More
TYLER — Drivers will want to plan ahead for some roadwork coming up later this month. City officials say milling and resurfacing of failed pavement in various areas along Rice/Shiloh Road will begin the week of May 24. Construction is expected to last a week and is dependent upon weather. Three locations will be resurfaced, including the curves of Shiloh Road around Sweetbriar Lane, Rice Road around Kinsey Drive, and Rice Road around Plantation Drive. Lane closures are to be expected in these locations from Tuesday, May 26, to Friday, May 29. Drivers should use caution due to possible uneven pavement conditions.
VAN (AP) – School has resumed in an East Texas town more than a week after a tornado killed two residents and left at least 40 people hurt. Students in grades four through 12 reported for classes Monday at three schools in Van. The other two schools in Van, 70 miles southeast of Dallas, were severely damaged in the May 10 twister and remain closed. Students in pre-kindergarten through third grade will not have to return this term due to that campus damage. Van schools spokeswoman Lynsey Admire says the Texas Education Agency has granted a waiver, so classes missed last week won’t be made up. Graduation will be held May 29 at Tyler Junior College. The last day of school is June 2, a date not changed by the tornado. … Read More
TYLER — Trinity Mother Frances Hospital facilities experienced a power surge that temporarily disabled several of their internal network systems Saturday. It included electronic medical records, transmission of orders and lab requests, according to KETK. The medical center enacted manual downtime procedures system-wide. All systems have been restored and validated for standard use. The exact cause of the power surge is being investigated. A team of technicians and specialists worked to diagnose and restore all systems to full capacity. Some elective procedures were canceled and the patients were notified.
WHITEHOUSE — The Whitehouse City Council has called a special meeting for tonight after Mayor Charles Parker released a statement Friday announcing multiple city employees are under investigation. According to KETK, Parker says as of May 15, five employees, including the city manager and police chief, were placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into possible violations of city personnel policies by an outside and independent entity. According to City Secretary Stefani Wright, Reserve Officer Dan Finkelstein with serve as acting police chief.
LONGVIEW — Blue Bell Creameries Inc. announced a massive round of layoffs and furloughs Friday as it confronted the reality of long-term plant closures after a deadly listeria outbreak prompted a nationwide recall of its products. The cuts reach into Longview, where Blue Bell operates a regional distribution center at 3800 S. Eastman Road. According to the Longview News-Journal, two full-time workers in Longview will be laid off, a spokeswoman said. Another 25 will be furloughed, told to stay home without pay but retaining their jobs. The Longview distribution center had 39 full-time employees before Friday. Employees essential to the ongoing cleanup and repair efforts will continue working but have their pay reduced, Blue Bell said.… Read More
TYLER — Texas Ranger Brent Davis is investigating the death of a man in his Smith County jail cell. Jasen Mosley, 24, of White Oak, was found dead in his cell Saturday morning. He had reportedly been placed in a holding cell after he was found to be uncooperative. He was found unresponsive in the cell around 3:00. According to the Sheriff’s Office, Mosley hung himself from the divider in the toilet area of the holding cell. He was in the cell alone at the time of the incident. Mosley was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead by Precinct #1 Justice of the Peace Quincy Beavers. His body was transported to Southwestern Institute of Forensic Science in Dallas for autopsy.
SMITH COUNTY — Two burglars are behind bars after being held at gunpoint by a homeowner. The Smith County Sheriff’s Department received a call about a burglary in progress in the 5400 block of Twin Lakes Drive. The homeowner told deputies he saw a gray Dodge Durango in the carport of his storage building next to his house. He reportedly saw a man and a woman in the storage building and held them at gunpoint. The woman fled the scene in the Durango, narrowly missing the homeowner. … Read More
VAN — A Van man claimed he was falsely accused of looting and now wants his name cleared. He’s been a van resident for years, but recently, a video of “Isidro Hernandez” surfaced on a local media site, claiming he was a looter, taking advantage of the items left in the rubble from damaged houses in Van, but that wasn’t the case. According to KETK, Mr. Hernandez said he was actually with his family, helping to clean up the debris. Since the false report, the Hernandez family claims they are sending him death threats on social media. Several people have jumped to the defense of Mr. Hernandez.… Read More
SMITH COUNTY — U.S. Marshals in Spokane, Washington arrested Robert Dean Reese, 54, a Smith County fugitive that has been on the run for thirteen years. According to KETK, since 2002, Reese has been wanted by the Smith County Sheriff’s Office for Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child, bond forfeiture, and several Indecency With a Child Warrants. On April 20, the Joint East Texas Fugitive Task Force (JETF) in Tyler received a tip that Reese was in Tacoma, Washington. The tip was initiated through the John Walsh show “The Hunt.” After verifying the information, a request for assistance was sent to the USMS in Tacoma, Washington.… Read More
BROWNSBORO — A Brownsboro Independent School District teacher has been placed on paid administrative leave after an allegation of striking a student on the arm with a ruler. According to KETK, officials say the student reported the allegation to the campus administration and the teacher was promptly removed from the classroom and placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation. The student was evaluated by campus personnel, and campus administration is working with the parent to coordinate support for the student and parent, according to officials. “The safety of our students is our first priority and we are taking this allegation very seriously,” Superintendent Dr. Chris Moran stated. “An investigation will be conducted to determine what factually has occurred and we will respond accordingly.”
TYLER — A Smith County jail inmate has lost his trusty status after walking away from a county facility and then being caught, according to Sheriff Larry Smith. Smith says around 10:30 Friday morning, 42-year-old Shawn Lynn Grossman escaped from custody from the Smith County Animal Shelter (12828 FM 3311), where he was assigned as a trusty. Grossman was in the custody of the Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office, which oversees the facility. According to Smith, Grossman was picked up by his girlfriend, Amanda Brownlee, outside the facility, and both fled in a vehicle. Grossman had been a trusty for over a month. Jail trusties have been utilized at the animal control facility for several years to perform duties such as cleaning and feeding the dogs. … Read More
WHITE OAK — White Oak police served a search warrant Thursday afternoon at a Longview residence in connection with allegations a White Oak ISD employee exchanged inappropriate text messages with a student. According to KETK, the Longview News-Journal is not naming the suspect because he has not been arrested or charged in a court of law. The warrant states that the student told police the employee sent her text messages of a sexual nature and an explicit photo — in addition to attempting to arrange a sexual encounter. A different student also told police the employee sent him photographs of nude women about two years ago. Police seized more than 20 computer, photo and memory storage devices while executing the warrant in the 600 block of Milligan Drive.
TYLER — Smith County has been added to the state’s list of counties declared disaster areas following recent storms. KETK reports Governor Greg Abbott made the announcement Friday morning. A local disaster declaration was issued by County Judge Joel Baker on Wednesday, and a letter was sent to Governor Abbott asking him to include Smith County in the state-wide disaster declaration. Meanwhile, the Smith County Office of Emergency Management has completed a door-to-door survey of the Jamestown Providence area of the county affected by last weekend’s tornado outbreak. All residents have been accounted for and cleanup operations are currently underway, according to a news release. No injuries were reported as a direct result of the storm in Smith County. Damage estimates are still pending but are expected to be well into the millions. … Read More
AUSTIN — Governor Greg Abbott Friday signed Senate Bill 788 (Eltife, R-Tyler; Paddie, R-Marshall), also known as “Kari’s Law,” to require direct dialing of 9-1-1 from multi-line telephone systems across the state. According to KETK, Abbott was joined by members of Kari’s family at a signing ceremony hosted in the Governor’s Public Reception Room. “There’s a lesson virtually every parent teaches their child – if you face an emergency, call 9-1-1,” Governor Abbott said. “I am signing Kari’s Law to ensure that whenever there is an emergency, any child and any adult who dials 9-1-1 is going to be able to connect with emergency personnel to ensure they come to the rescue of those who need help the most. Today cements in history the important role Kari Hunt has played and I’m thankful for her and her family in changing the course of the future of the State of Texas.” … Read More
VAN — Save Us From The Storm, an animal rescue organization, has found three dogs in the Van area and is seeking to reunite them with their owners. Two of the dogs were found 10 miles north of Van on Jamestown Highway. The white/brown hound/terrier mix is male, and the brown pitbull is female. … Read More
AUSTIN — Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced Friday that businesses affected by the recent severe weather in certain Texas counties can postpone filing and paying state taxes. The affected counties are Van Zandt, Bosque, Clay, Denton, Eastland, Gaines, and Montague. Businesses needing additional time to file or pay can simply call the comptroller’s office to request a 90-day extension. “I want those affected by the severe weather to be able to focus on cleaning up the damage and getting back to normal,” Hegar said. “These businesses are important to the Texas economy and deserve the benefit of additional time to file and pay state taxes if they need it.” … Read More
VAN — On Friday morning, Van city officials announced the American Red Cross has closed the shelter for tornado victims at First Baptist Church in Van. As of Thursday morning, all displaced residence had been placed in temporary housing. People still in need of assistance are urged to go to the Van Church of Christ, Van Assembly of God or the Van Community Center. According to KETK, all volunteers are to report to the Van baseball and softball fields located on North Maple Street. Food donations can be taken to the East Texas Food Bank, in Tyler, but please specify if you want your donations going toward Van residents. Clothing donations can be taken to a large warehouse located at 901 South Oak Street in Van.Monetary donations can be made at any Austin Bank or Van Community Ministries Tornado Relief Fund.… Read More
VAN – In a heartfelt message Thursday, Van Superintendent Don Dunn reflected on the past, the current and the future of their school and community, according to KETK. “The last several days have been unbelievably intense and busy. This is the first time I have had a chance to sit down and communicate to our faculty and staff, our parents, our students, and our community. First and foremost, we are grieved at the loss of David and Brenda Tapley. They were both active in our community and will be missed tremendously. Van ISD would like to send our sincere condolences to their family. As for our buildings, we are still in the process of assessing the extent of the damage.… Read More
HENDERSON — Funeral arrangements are pending today for First Assistant Rusk County District Attorney Richard Kennedy. The husband of Smith County’s 114th Judicial Court Judge Christi Kennedy died unexpectedly early yesterday morning. Kennedy, who was 55, began his career in Tyler under District Attorney Jack Skeen, who is now a district court judge. He returned to prosecution in 2008 after he was appointed by Rusk County D.A. Micheal Jimerson as the only First Assistant District Attorney in the county.
LONGVIEW — The Gregg County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help identifying a person and vehicle recently spotted at multiple burglaries. According to KETK, Officials said the incidents took place on the north side of Longview. Anyone with information is asked to contact Inv. Craig Harrington at 903-237-2529 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 903-236-STOP.
TYLER – The Texas Department of Transportation is closing Farm Road 3204 east of State Highway 31 in Brownsboro today for emergency repairs. The emergency contract to replace the box culvert has been awarded to East Texas Bridge. According to TxDOT, the contractor was to set barricades, close the roadway on both ends to through traffic, and start work this morning, weather permitting. It is expected to take about three months (late July) to remove and replace the existing structure. Motorists must use alternate routes to reach their destinations. The cost to replace the culvert is $474,700.
TYLER — The main streets of Tyler will have hundreds of motorcycles visiting the city for the 2015 Texas State Hog Rally at Harvey Convention Center Thursday through Saturday of this week. The Tyler Police Department is asking motorists to make a special effort to share the road and look twice for motorcycles. Drivers who are involved in striking a motorcycle usually say that they simply didn’t see the motorcycle until it was too late. Due to a narrow profile, a motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spots or masked by objects or backgrounds outside a car (bushes, fences, bridges, etc.).… Read More
EAST TEXAS — Help continues to be offered after residents across East Texas were pummeled by severe storms and tornadoes Sunday. The Salvation Army went into action Monday with disaster teams onsite in Van to provide services in the wake of the devastating tornado that occurred there. The disaster canteen (mobile kitchen) from the Tyler Corps was deployed and has been providing breakfast, lunch, dinner, refreshments, hydration, and spiritual and emotional care to survivors and first responders. Approximately 1,000 servings were given on Tuesday to the first responders as well as those who were affected by the tornado. The Salvation Army expect to continue this service through Saturday or longer, to be determined by the local Emergency Management Office. … Read More
TYLER — Smith County Judge Joel Baker has penned a letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott seeking state and/or federal aid following Sunday’s tornado and other storm activity. According to Judge Baker, about 35 homes were affected by the EF-1 twister and/or flooding, and roads and bridges sustained significant damage to the tune of $200,000. The roadways will remain closed for a prolonged period of time.… Read More
VAN — Funeral services for an East Texas couple killed during the Van tornado are today. Services for David and Brenda Tapley will be held at 11:00 this morning at Van United Methodist Church with Rev. Mark McClanahan officiating. Visitation will be held from 10:00 to 11:00, before the service at the church. A graveside service will follow in Malakoff. Mr. and Mrs Tapley died May 10 during the tornado that struck their home in Van.