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Commissioners change parties

Commissioners change partiesState Representative James White welcomed two long time Tyler County Commissioners, Pct. 2 Commissioner Rusty Hughes and Pct. 4 Commissioner Jack Walston as they officially joined the Republican Party last Tuesday October 29 at the Tyler County Courthouse. Commissioner Hughes has served the citizens of Tyler County and Pct. 2 for the past 14 years as their commissioner. Commissioner Walston has served the residents of Pct. 4 for 24 years with the last 14 years serving as commissioner.

Deputies respond to shots fired in Fred area

On November 4 Tyler County Sheriff deputies responded to CR 4890 in the Fred area to a disturbance involving weapons. While in route, deputies were advised shots had been fired.
When deputies arrived, suspects and victims were not at the scene. Deputies spoke with witnesses who told them they looked outside and saw a man walk back towards a truck with a rifle in his hand. Witnesses heard the man fire a shot at a truck as it was backing up. Witnesses identified the man with the gun as Brandon Carter, 29, of Silsbee. More witnesses came forward and identified the driver of the truck as Jesse Sallas, Carter's father. They observed Carter running beside a red chevy truck, hitting the windows and firing shots.

Sallas came back to the scene and told deputies he saw Carter assaulting a woman known as "Courtney" in the yard of the residence. Sallas also observed Carter chasing the female victim down the road and that is when he got in his truck and followed. Sallas also saw Carter assaulting the female victim a second time and she was able to escape to a neighbor's house. "Brandon started hitting my vehicle with his fists," Sallas said.

Witnesses saw Carter walking back to his house and return with a rifle. Shots were fired and witnesses went inside their home. Sallas drove away from the scene.

Deputies later located the suspect and Carter was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon/family violence. Carter admitted to the deputies he did fire a rifle during the altercation. Carter was taken into custody without incident and transported to the Tyler County Justice Center.

A .22 magnum rifle was taken into evidence. As of press time, deputies have been unable to locate the female victim.

Log Truck driver uninjured in Woodville rollover

Log Truck driver escapes injury in Woodville rollover (Emily Waldrep Photo)by Emily Waldrep

A log truck rollover November 4 on the 700th Block of Pine Street near the TxDot office led to the shut down of portions of the highway for a few hours while crews worked to clean up logs and debris and flip the truck back upright. The truck, driven by a 47 year old man from Vidor, had overturned and lost its load of logs along the south side of the highway.

According to Woodville Police, the truck skid for several hundred feet before landing onto its side on the shoulder of the highway. There was only a single driver in the vehicle and he was able to walk away from the accident without any injuries. The load of logs came to rest along the property fences of several homes, causing damage to sections of fence in that area. Department of Public Safety Troopers, Texas Department of Transportation and A-1 Wrecker Service responded to assist.

"Although the vehicle and its load was not blocking the street, the traffic was detoured for over an hour to allow for the Wrecker Service to Safely pick up the damaged log truck and to reload the logs onto other trucks," said Captain Mike McCulley of the Woodville Police Department. "This process took approximately 4 hours to complete."

Officers remained at the scene for traffic control, and TXDot also assisted in setting up detours to help with re-routing traffic.

"The cause of the accident is still under investigation by the Woodville Police Department," McCulley said. "It was first reported to possibly be mechanical problem with the trucks steering."
Special thanks to TXDot for their assistance with traffic control and to Prime Acres Trucking in assisting with reloading the load at the scene.

Tyler County women arrested on drug charges

by Emily Waldrep

Tyler County women arrested on drug chargesA search warrant in the Summit Trace Subdivision in Colmesneil on October 22 led to the arrest of three Tyler County women after they returned to the home during the search.

According to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, Sheriff's Deputies arrived at the Colmesneil residence and discovered no one was home. Deputies made several attempts to get someone to come to the door but forcible entry was made.

"Once deputies entered the home and conducted a search, they observed white powder that tested positive for cocaine, multiple syringes, and multiple small baggies with residue that tested positive for meth," Weatherford said. "They also located separate pill bottles with other people's names on it and plastic bottles with hoses attached that were used to cook meth. Also found were all the components used to make meth and all equipment in the home indicated that the residents were manufacturing and distributing meth, along with the possibility of other drugs."

While deputies were still conducting the search of the home, they observed a vehicle pulling up in the driveway and the owner of the home, identified as Donna Pitts, age 36, of Colmesneil, exited the vehicle. The driver was identified as Clara Beshea, age 52, of Colmesneil.

A driver's license check of Beshea through the Tyler County communication center revealed she did not have a valid drivers license. Another female passenger in the back seat was identified as Kandle Hatten, age 36, of Colmesneil. Beside Hatten in the back seat of the vehicle was a black purse that she identified as hers. A search of the purse contained two syringes and a piece of paper that contained cocaine.

"A female deputy present during the search preformed a pat down search of all three females and discovered a white bottle that contained two plastic baggies with a white crystal like substance that tested positive for meth hidden on Hatten," Weatherford said. "A white Visine bottle with substance that tested positive for meth was also found on Pitts. Deputies believe this to be liquid methamphetamine and will be sent to the DPS lab for verification."

All three female occupants in the vehicle were taken in for questioning and brought to the Tyler County Justice Center.

Search of the vehicle revealed more drug paraphernalia, three more syringes and a clear plastic baggy that contained a white powdery substance that field tested positive for cocaine. One syringe was loaded with a clear liquid that is believed to be methamphetamine.
All the evidence from the residence and the vehicle were taken to the sheriff's office to obtain current weights and for storage.

Charges as a result of the search warrant

Donna Pitts was arrested and charged with Manufacture and Delivery of Substance Penalty Group 1 (Methamphetamine) State Jail Felony, Possession of a Controlled Substance (Cocaine) State Jail Felony, and Unlawful use of a Criminal instrument State Jail Felony with additional charges pending awaiting lab results on the clear liquid in syringes and Visine bottle.

Clara Beshea was arrested and charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance Penalty Group 1 (Cocaine) State Jail Felony and Driving with No Operators License with additional charges pending awaiting lab results on the clear liquid.

Kandle Hatten was arrested and charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance (Cocaine) State Jail Felony and Possession of a Controlled Substance (Methamphetamines) State Jail Felony.

"The Tyler County Sheriff Department also filed the appropriate paperwork with the Defense Attorney to legally seize the home and vehicle of Donna Pitts," Weatherford said. "All items in the home and around the property were consistent with the manufacture, delivery and sell of various controlled substances and that will not be tolerated."

With the info obtained during the search warrants and arrest the Tyler County Sheriff fully suspects more arrest warrants forthcoming.

Once weights and types of all substances are back from the DPS lab, the charges may increase.

Colmesneil Fire Chief Indicted

by Emily Waldrep

Major discrepancies in Colmesneil Volunteer Fire Department's forensic auditing report conducted in June of last year led to an investigation by the Texas Rangers, and the indictment of Colmesneil Fire Chief, Stephen Bell.
According to First Assistant Criminal District Attorney Lou Ann Cloy, the case was reviewed and the Texas Rangers, along with other state agencies and an auditing firm, were contacted to conduct an in depth investigation.
"When the investigation was completed, that evidence was presented to the Grand Jury and Stephen Bell was indicted for Theft by a Public Servant of more than $1,500 dollars but less than "$20,000 dollars," Cloy said. "The case of more than $1,500 dollars but less than $20,000 dollars is a state jail felony which carries the range of 6 months to 2 years in prison. However, Stephen Bell is a public servant; he is the Colmesneil Fire Chief, therefore the charge is raised a degree, and Stephen Bell is facing a Third Degree Felony which carries a range of punishment of 2 years to 10 years in prison and a possible fine of $10,000 dollars."
Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette said that after the signing of SB 917 into law, commissioners wanted to be sure that Volunteer Fire Departments were in compliance with the accountability requirements set forth by the law, which required Fire Departments to keep documentation of where tax dollars were spent within the department and submit an audit. A county auditor conducted an internal audit of the VFD's books and ultimately informed the commissioners that she could not complete the audit on four of Tyler County's fire departments because they did not provide sufficient documentation. With this information, commissioners voted to call in outside forensic auditors to attempt to construct an audit trail from individual records.
Their report noted that Colmesneil deposited 82.52 percent of the tax proceeds and spent a total of $139,364.12 from January 4, 2010 until September 27, 2011. Only 19.5 percent of that money had valid support while 69.37 percent had no support at all.
Bell turned himself in at Tyler County Justice Center October 16. His bond was set at $75,000.

Chester ISD buildings vandalized

by Emily Waldrep

Deputies were called to the Chester School on October 12 in reference to a report of criminal mischief. Once they arrived and met with school officials, they determined that the school had received damage to the weight room building, profanities painted inside the elementary school and several broken windows and doors. Most of the damage seemed to be done with spray paint.
The school is equipped with a video surveillance system, but the person or persons involved in the crime were able to cover their face(s) and spray paint over the camera lenses.
Deputies obtained the video and are currently reviewing the footage to get some identification of the actor(s) in the case.
"We do have suspects in this case and we are following all leads to get warrants issued for the person or persons involved," said Sheriff Bryan Weatherford. "We would also like the public's help to gain any information."
The investigation is currently ongoing, and Tyler County citizens who have any information about the vandalism should leave tips with the Tyler County Sheriff's Department. No names or personal information will be taken.
"I feel confident that there will be an arrest made in this case," Weatherford said. "We want to make sure we get everybody who was involved in the incident."
Deputies believe the actor(s) are someone familiar with the layout of the school.
Call the Sheriff's Department at 283-2172 to leave an anonymous tip.