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Jasper man arrested for two recent Woodville robberies

Marion Dave Adamsby Emily Waldrep

A Jasper resident accused of robbing two Tyler County convenience stores earlier this year has been arrested and is now in jail awaiting formal charges from Woodville Police Department and Tyler County Sheriff's Department.

Marlon Dave Adams, age 29, admitted to robbing the Woodville Exxon Jiffy Market in March of this year and the Colmesneil Exxon Jiffy Market in May of this year. Adams was arrested in Jasper County after the investigation of another store robbery in the city of Jasper.

During an interview with Adams, investigators reported that Adams admitted his involvement in the Tyler County robberies, as well as the Jasper robbery. Adams is also linked to two other robberies in Lufkin and Newton.

Sergeant Borel and Sergeant Bud Sturrock of the Tyler County Sheriff's Department discovered that Adams was responsible for both Tyler County robberies as well as the Jasper robbery due to his physical description and mannerisms.

"During the robberies, Adams held up the store clerk at gunpoint," Captain Mike McCulley said. "He then took cash from the cash drawers and ordered the clerk to the bathroom, then immediately left the scene."

Adams remains in the Jasper County Jail under a $250,000 bond. Formal charges are pending.

Captain Mike McCulley of the Woodville Police Department and the Tyler County Sheriff's department say that an arrest couldn't have been made without the help of local agencies.

"The sharing of all the facts in these robberies with other agencies was vital in solving these robbery cases," McCulley said.

Woodville ISD Campuses get new principals

WISD gets new principalsWoodville ISD Campuses get new principals—John Cooley, Intermediate Principal, Neil Hennigan, High School Principal, Morgan Wright, Middle School Principal, and Charles Lowery, Wheat Elementary Principal. Changes in campus administration started late this spring when high school principal John Clements and middle school principal Wayne Ivey left the district to pursue opportunities in other schools.

Burglary, theft rates rise near Labor Day

by Emily Waldrep

Burglary, trespassing and theft rates in Tyler County have risen over the past month, and are expected to continue rising throughout the Labor Day holiday. In the past week, approximately seven arrests in Tyler County have been made as a result of criminal trespass and burglary of a habitation.

The spike in these charges usually happens around Labor Day weekend, and Clint Sturrock of the Tyler County Sheriff's department says that residents coming back to their deer camps has a lot to do with the larger than normal number of burglaries, trespassing and theft.

"An increased number of people come into Tyler County for Labor Day weekend and cause an increase in burglaries every year," says Sturrock. "Add in the people who are coming back to Tyler County to set up deer camps and explore the woods for hunting spots, and that can equal a large amount of trespassing and theft related arrest."

From August 13 through August 20, the Sheriff's Department, along with the Woodville police, made seven theft and trespassing arrests.

Elie John Fruge III, age 43, of Colmesneil, Elie John Fruge, Jr., age 64, of Colmesneil, and Jessica Elaine Williams, age 28, of Woodville were all arrested and charged with Criminal Trespass. Jacob Robert Jones, age 22 of Warren, James Thomas Reynolds, age 24, of Woodville, Charles Robert Riley, age 44, of Bronson, and Virginia Riley, age 28, of Bronson were all arrested and charged with Burglary of a Habitation.

Since 2005, the rate for solving theft and burglary have been low, but have been rising due to the community actively reporting stolen items. Most residents don't know that every single stolen item, no matter how insignificant, should be reported to the police so that the thief can be caught and charged. The more tips that police have, the more likely the burglar will be caught.

Residents should keep in mind that deer camps are a hot spot for criminal activity, and should always keep their things hidden and locked up whenever they are not being used or supervised. Padlocks and security systems are also a good way to keep thieves at bay. Some residents even take special care to remove valuables from uninhabited deer camps or property during Labor Day weekend, when crime rates skyrocket.

Commissioners Report...

by Martin Nash

The Court has been very busy over the last few weeks. It is budget time; that time of year when the Commissioner's Court has the opportunity to visit with every elected official, every department head, every employee and every organization that has ties to the county. Most officials understand the constraints of the taxpayer's dollar and will only ask for things that are truly justified. We actually have a few officials that are reluctant to ask for things that are needed. The court goes through the budget line by line and determines if that particular line item should be cut, increased or left the same. Many factors become involved in making the determination and the responsible official has an opportunity to make their case.

This has been one of the most productive budget sessions that I have had the pleasure of being involved in. We trimmed the budget quite a bit last budget session but still had to vote for a small tax rate increase due to a loss of property values. The good news this year is the property values are up and the court has the opportunity to lower the tax rate a little. By going through each line item and questioning its relevance we were also able to decrease the budget enough to offer our employees a decent salary increase. Lower tax rate and a raise- it doesn't get any better than that. It has been many years since we have been able to adjust for a cost of living increase. There are still some discussions and some of this could change, however I do not perceive an increase in the tax rate. The final budget has not yet been approved but I feel the court has done an outstanding job and continues to budget in a very conservative and responsible manner.

Actions at the August 13th Commissioners Court meeting:

Approved Minutes from previous meeting.

Approved Monthly reports, Probation, District/County Clerks, Extension office, Auditor, Treasurer and Justice of the Peace. These are reports that are required on a monthly basis.

Voted to approve the Appointment of Election Judges and Alternate Judges. Donece Gregory (Tyler County Clerk) is responsible for the election process and submitted a list of folks who were willing to assist the county and help facilitate one of our most precious rights (the right to vote).

Voted to move the Early Voting Polling Place from the Tax office to the Tyler County Nutrition Center. There have been some issues since the remodeling of the tax office and it was felt that after the completion of remodeling of the Nutrition Center it would handle the election more effectively.

Approved payment of the Tyler County Bills and Budget amendments/line item transfers requested by Jackie Skinner (Tyler County Auditor)

The Court also took no action in appointing someone to fill the vacant Tyler County Hospital At Large board position

The 2011 Independent Audit by Belt, Harris, & Pechacek was presented to the court and represented by Darla Dear. The county is in the process of changing accounting procedures. We were operating on a cash basis which is not in conformance with the Government Auditing Standards as required. It has been a real challenge and our Auditor Jackie Skinner and her staff has done an outstanding job in facilitating this change. One of the major issues was that the December bills which were paid previously out of the January budget would now come from the December budget. This meant that we would be paying for 13 months instead of 12 out of the 2011 budget. This would happen only for the 2011 budget cycle. WOW, what a hassle. The audit indicated that the process has been completed, and we are on track to finally being in the 21 century. When asked by Judge Blanchette how she would rate the county financially Mrs. Dear gave us a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being excellent. Mrs. Dear also explained that the normal amount required for contingency is 20 percent or from 3 to 6 months expenses to be held in reserve. Tyler County currently has reserves of 32 percent which is very good for these difficult times.

Keep safe and take care! As always if I can be of service please do not hesitate to give me a call.

Colmesneil man sustains multiple injuries in crash

(Emily Waldrep Photo)by Emily Waldrep

A Colmesneil man was transported by helicopter to a Houston area hospital on August 13, after he wrecked his vehicle into a culvert. Members of the Woodville Police Department were dispatched to the single vehicle accident near the 1400 block of West Bluff Street at approximately 1:30 p.m. on Monday, where they discovered a 1992 Chevrolet S-10 Pickup truck had left the highway and crashed into a large culvert.

According to witnesses and police reports, the vehicle driven by Arnold Topham, age 74, of Colmesneil, was traveling east on West Bluff Street into Woodville when it appeared to drift over both oncoming lanes of traffic. The vehicle then continued to travel down the westbound shoulder of the highway, where it ran off the road and struck several small trees and a road sign. The small truck traveled approximately 400 feet before striking a large culvert and coming to a stop in a deep ditch.

Texas Department of Public Safety, Tyler County Sheriff's Department, Dogwood EMS and the Woodville Fire Department JAWS team all responded to the scene of the accident. Topham was trapped inside of the vehicle, and had to be freed with the Jaws of Life.

After assessing Topham's injuries, Dogwood EMS requested Air Rescue to assist and transport Topham to a Houston hospital to receive treatment.

The cause of the accident is unknown at this time.

Mr. Topham is currently listed in stable condition after suffering several broken bones and lacerations. The Topham family would like to thank everyone in the community for their concerns and prayers.


Missing person investigation leads to murder charge in White Tail Ridge slaying

Leonard Anthony CowanA report Tyler County Sheriff's office was investigating as a missing person case turned into a murder investigation last week when family members of Alvin William Cowan told Chief Deputy Trisher Ford that he was not in Tennesee working out of state as originally reported.

According to a release from TCSO, family members were told August 2 by a family member who was a "person of interest" in the case that there had been an altercation between he and the victim about six weeks ago. Leonard Anthony Cowan told the other family members that he had hit the victim on the head and that he was dead. He went on to tell them that he had buried the victim in the back yard of the residence.

Chief Deputy Trisher Ford, Deputy Chuck Marshall, Deputy Tony Reynolds, St. A Sturrock and Chief Administrator Clint Sturrock responded to the residence in the White Tail Ridge community in Tyler County and searched the garden area of the back yard. They found a freshly dug site with a strong odor. The burial site had been covered with corn stalks and long couch cushions. They found human skeletal remains at the location.

Tyler County Justice of the Peace Bryan Weatherford was notified, and held an inquest on the victim, ruling the death a homicide and ordering an autopsy be performed on the victim. The autopsy was performed Friday, August 3, at Forensic Medical Management Services in Beaumont with Sgt. A Sturrock in attendance.

DNA was collected from the victim during the autopsy and DNA collected from a family member for comparison and the DNA samples sent to a lab in Brandon, Mississippi. The test should be compete this week.

Leonard Anthony Cowan was arrested and taken to Tyler County jail without incident, and after further investigation, was charged with the murder of Alvin William Cowan and booked into the jail.

Cowan was charged with murder and placed under a $350,000 bond by Judge Weatherford.

The Tyler County Sheriff's Office case is still active and under investigation at press time by Sgt. A. Sturrock.