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Courthouse Restoration Project progresses

On April 12, 2013, the Commissioners Court voted to approve a project needed for the Courthouse Restoration Project. Architect John Volz of Austin is scheduled to begin detailed measurements and an archeological survey/study of the building in early May.

Commissioners Court also approved a request of the Friends of the Courthouse, an arm of the Tyler County Historical Commission, to fund brochures of information and mail-outs to local citizens and others originally from Tyler County who, after receiving information on the courthouse project, may be interested in making donations.

The Friends of the Courthouse is an arm of the TCHC with a mission to: (A) get information about the Courthouse project out to the public and (B) raise donations from citizens, groups and corporations to assist in funding the project.

On Wednesday, May 15, the commissioners will meet in a workshop to discuss funding for the Courthouse Restoration Project.

Bess Graham of the Texas Historical Commission, John Volz, architect, and a Houston based field agent representative of the National Trust Foundation will be present for the meeting and provide possible funding resources to be considered for the Courthouse Restoration/Preservation Project.

All citizens are welcome to attend the meeting.

Felon charged with unlawful possession of firearm

by Emily Waldrep

A convicted felon is now in the Tyler County Jail after illegally firing a gun to "relieve stress."

According to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, deputies received reports that an individual was shooting a gun on the Frog Pond spillway in the Colmesneil area on April 28.

"When deputies arrived, they were met by a male who identified himself as Billy Joe Ott, from Willis," Weatherford said. "The subject admitted to shooting the weapon, a lever action .22 magnum rifle, to relieve some stress."

Upon checking the criminal history of Ott, it was discovered that he was a convicted felon and he was placed under arrest for the unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon and transported to the Tyler County Jail.

"While it isn't illegal to shoot a firearm within the county on your own property in a safe manner, felons are not allowed to fire or possess firearms," Weatherford said.

Unlawful possession of a firearm can be a third degree felony and, if convicted, comes with a 10 year jail sentence and up to $10,000 in fines.

Bodies found at Dam-B missing woman and son

Emily Waldrep

Two bodies found near Magnolia State Park near Lake Steinhagen (Dam-B) on March 31 have been positively identified as Lettie and John Fisher, Jr., the two individuals who went missing during a fishing trip during the summer of 2012.

"We sent the remains to the University of North Texas for Human Identification in Fort Worth," Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford said. "On April 26, chief investigator Bud Sturrock and Texas Ranger John Duff traveled to Fort Worth to receive the written report that the remains did in fact belong to the Fishers."

According to Weatherford, the bodies were identified through dental records.

"We believe that it is possible that Mrs. Fisher became ill or dehydrated, and the conditions of the terrain made it impossible to continue on to their vehicle," Weatherford said. "John Fisher probably stayed with his mother, and became ill or dehydrated as well. That's just an educated guess, but it is a highly possible situation. We don't suspect any kind of foul play whatsoever."

The remains were found approximately 5/10's of a mile from where the vehicle was parked.

"In this terrain in condition, covering that amount of distance would have been very tough," Weatherford said. "Dehydration or heat exhaustion could have very well played a factor in their death."

Weatherford and all of the investigators are glad that the family can now have closure.

"That's the best feeling we can have," Weatherford said.

Warren native dies from burns

Dustin Creekmore is shown with his daughter.by Emily Waldrep

Friends and family in Warren, Tyler County and all of Southeast Texas are mourning the loss of Warren native Dustin Creekmore who died April 27 due to injuries he received during a flash fire at the Exxon Mobile refinery in Beaumont.

Dustin graduated from Warren High School in 2006.

Creekmore, along with 12 other refinery workers were hospitalized after the devastating fire on April 17.

Friends and family have set up a benefit page for Creekmore called "Never Tap Out" to help with expenses. Donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/2pbosg. T-shirts can also be purchased at the Shirt Shack in Warren to help support the family.

Visitation for Creekmore will be Friday, May 3 from 5-8 p.m. at Broussard's Funeral Home, and the funeral will be Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Village Mills cemetery. Creekmore's Facebook page is flooded with comments from friends and family who say he was a bright, driven, and loving brother, son and soon-to-be father.

Spurger man charged with arson

by Emily Waldrep

After a three month long investigation, a Spurger man has been arrested for arson after admitting to setting a truck on fire using accelerants earlier this year.

"Deputies were dispatched to a vehicle fire at a residence on FM 92 South in the Dam-B area on January 26, 2013 at approximately 3:40 a.m. in the morning," said Sheriff Bryan Weatherford of the Tyler County Sheriff's Office. "Once they arrived at the scene they observed that an extended cab Chevy truck was on fire at the residence."

According to Weatherford, the owner of the truck was identified as Joshua Kurbo, age 18, of Dam-B.

"Kurbo said that he awoke to a loud noise around 3:30 a.m. and looked outside and saw the truck on fire," Weatherford said. "The next day, deputies met with arson specialist from the state Fire Marshalls office. Investigators used a K-9 dog to investigate the fire, and the dog alerted to the presence of accelerants."

Deputies and investigators then collected additional evidence from the vehicle and surrounding area.

After an ongoing investigation, investigators met with Johnny L Cunningham, age 18 of Spurger. At that time, Cunningham admitted to starting the vehicle fire.

"Apparently, the vehicle used to belong to Cunningham and he made a comment that stated that if he couldn't have the vehicle, nobody would," Weatherford said.

Cunningham was booked into the Tyler County Jail with a charge of Arson and his bond was set at $20,000.

Leaf blower stolen from vehicle

by Emily Waldrep

Officers were called to the Woodville Exxon Jiffy Mart concerning a reported car burglary, Woodville Police Captain Mike McCulley said.

"Officers were advised by store management that a gas powered leaf blower had been stolen from a vehicle," McCulley said. "The store employee told officers that just prior to noticing the item missing, he had observed a female actor acting suspicious, walking around the vehicle."

McCulley said that officers viewed the store's surveillance cameras and observed a female actor take the item from the victim's vehicle and place it her vehicle. They also observed a male acting suspiciously before the female took the leaf blower from the truck bed.

"Officers were later informed that the stolen item had been pawned at a local pawn shop," McCulley said. "Officer Dees of the Woodville Police Department recovered the stolen item at the pawn shop, where it was identified by the owner. The Pawn Shop employees confirmed the identity of the female actor and a warrant of arrest was issued on Spring Williams Rivera, age 33 of Colmesneil,Tx."

Rivera was arrested shortly after.

"Officers were able to obtain additional information and identified the male actor and later arrested Thomas Walter Hanson, age 44 also of Colmesneil,Tx," McCulley said.

Both were charged with Burglary of a Vehicle. Bond was set for Hanson and Rivera at $2,000.