In an ongoing effort to improve safety, the Texas Transportation Commission, at its March 27 meeting, approved more than $500,000 for the installation of a two-way turning lane on U.S. 69 at the German Pellet Mill. Moore Brothers Construction Company was awarded the project that will extend the current southbound right turn lane to C.R. 1040N and add a left turn lane immediately after C.R. 1040N.
"Hundreds of trucks come in and out of County Road 1040 North from U.S. 69 every day," said Tucker Ferguson, TxDOT district engineer for the Beaumont District. "This will give them a safer way to enter and exit onto the main highway."
The project is approximately 0.5 mile long on U.S. 69. Construction is expected to begin in May and take approximately three months to complete.
According to Assistant District Attorney Dan Hunt, Vaughn Longino likes to steal fishing reels from Walmart.
On February 14, 2013, Heather Mullican, an Asset Protection Officer for Walmart, observed Longino select several fishing reels and place them in a blue cooler he had sitting on top of his shopping cart. Longino then went to the hardware department and cut open the fishing reel packaging, putting the reels in his pockets. He left the packaging and the cooler on a shelf in the hardware department and exited the store. Mullican had already called for help, and Megan Schofield, another Asset Protection Officer, confronted Longino just outside the store.
Longino forced his way past Schofield, injuring her in the process, and ran to his truck. Mullican was able to get a description of the truck and a license plate number.
On May 2, 2013, Longino carried out a similar theft at the Walmart in Jasper. In that incident, he drove away from the store in the same truck, and was pursued by Jasper Police, Jasper County Sheriffs, DPS Troopers, Angelina County Sheriffs and San Augustine Sheriffs. He was eventually arrested and charged with Theft, as well as Evading Arrest with a Vehicle. He was charged in Tyler County with Robbery, due to the injury to Schofield in the process of the Theft.
Dan Hunt, Assistant District Attorney, was preparing the case for jury trial. Hunt offered Longino 10 years in prison in exchange for a guilty plea. Longino was facing up to 20 years if convicted by the jury.
"Longino has a long history of Theft convictions, and has been incarcerated in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice on nine prior occasions," Hunt said. "He will add to that now."
He pled guilty in front of Judge Jerome Owens in Tyler County District Court on April 10, 2014 and was sentenced to 10 years.
Texas voters must show a photo ID to vote in elections in Texas, unless they are exempt. There is an official Election Identification Certificate (EIC) that can be obtained at no cost from the Drivers License office in Woodville.
"Some of our senior citizens had a real problem with this during the primary election," said Tyler County Clerk Donece Gregory. "If a person does not have a current driver's license and no official identification, they cannot vote. Because the drivers license office is so busy in Woodville, I recommend calling the state at (512) 424-2600. They are required to come to your home at no charge to do your voter identification card if you are in need."
The following is a list of acceptable forms of ID. If you already have any of the following forms of ID, you are not eligible for an EIC: Texas driver license—unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting; Texas personal identification card—unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting; Texas concealed handgun license—unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting; U.S. passport book or card—unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting; U.S. Military identification with photo—unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting; or U.S. Citizenship Certificate or Certificate of Naturalization with photo. If you are voting by mail, you do not have to submit a photo ID. If you have a documented disability, you may apply at the county clerk's office for a permanent exemption from the photo ID requirement. If approved, you will not need a photo ID to vote. For more information go to: www.txdps.state.tx.us/driverlicense/electionid.htm.
Lawrence Hicks with the Woodville Police Department was recently able to save the city about $25,000 after applying for a grant through DETCOG for five new high-tech dash cameras for city police cars, and then doing all of the installations himself.
According to Woodville Police Chief Scott Yosco, the video systems that the cars had were at the end of their life and did not have the clarity or quality that the district attorney would prefer.
"Our department answers 450 to 750 calls for assistance, 30 to 40 arrests and transfers 30 to 40 offense reports to the district attorneys office per month," said Yosco. "With our local district attorney requesting and sometimes requiring video evidence on traffic stops and disturbances, we believe that the new technology will assist in capturing statements as well as on-scene atmospheres and actions during traffic stops and disturbances that will help the district attorney prosecute cases more effectively."
Yosco said that all the credit goes to Officer Lawrence Hicks for getting the grant used to purchase the cameras and then installing them himself to save the city money.
The cameras have HD Video and can pick up audio from long distances, and will assist in jury trails and cases that require clear audio and video.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the Board Members of the Tyler County Child Welfare Board, along with Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, displayed numerous crosses near the Tyler County Ballpark representing the many children who have been killed in Texas due to child abuse. Although the number of deaths are down from last year, it is still important to remember that child abuse can be deadly, and even one death is too many.
A Tyler County drunk driver pled on two cases, including a DWI 2nd, on April 4 in Tyler County Court and was sentenced to 80 hours community service, a large fine and other stipulations.
The plea was the result of an arrest from 2011. According to Dan Hunt from the District Attorney's office, Officer John Fuller of the Woodville Police Department, who is now Constable Fuller of Precinct 2, was dispatched to a reckless driver coming south on Highway 69 from the Doucette area into Woodville on August 9, 2011. Officer Fuller observed a vehicle matching the description stopped on the southbound shoulder of the highway just inside the Woodville city limits. The driver was standing beside the pickup truck attempting to put gasoline in the vehicle. Officer Fuller made contact with the driver, and immediately smelled a strong odor of alcohol on the driver's breath. He also noticed the driver was swaying when standing and was slurring his speech.
Officer Fuller identified the driver as Elie John Fruge III and called for a DPS Trooper to assist. Trooper Buck Odom of the Highway Patrol arrived and immediately noticed the odor of alcohol, swaying, and slurred speech, as well as bloodshot eyes. Fruge admitted to drinking one and a half beers before driving.
"The Trooper administered Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, and Fruge performed poorly," Hunt said. "Fruge submitted to a breath test at the Tyler County Jail. The results showed Fruge's Blood Alcohol Level was more than 4 times the legal limit."
Fruge was present in court on April 4, and pled on two cases, including the DWI 2nd from 2011. According to Assistant District Attorney Dan Hunt, Fruge got 2 years probation, including a fine of $1,000, 80 hours community service, an ignition interlock for the duration of probation, and an Alcohol/Drug Assessment and compliance with all recommendations, on the DWI 2nd. Three days incarceration in the Tyler County Jail were a condition, and Mr. Fruge received credit for three days he has already served. He also got 1 year probation on a unrelated Criminal Trespass case.