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Outstanding warrants lead to arrest

by Emily Waldrep

A wanted Tyler County man was arrested on five different outstanding warrants, as well as new drug charges, on February 22 after the Tyler County Task Force received information disclosing the man's whereabouts.

Deputies from the Tyler County Sheriff's Office were contacted by Chief Deputy Phil Ryan on February 22 in reference to the wanted subject in Warren.

"Tyler County Task Force knew the whereabouts of the subject, identified as Robert Key, Jr., age 37, of Silsbee, who was staying at a residence on County Road 4525 in Warren," said Ryan.
Sheriff's Deputies met with multiple officers and agencies, including Game Wardens, State Troopers and the Task Force, and gained entry into the residence where Key was reported to be staying.

Key was asleep in the master bedroom and was placed in restraints and escorted out of the residence. A small plastic canister was recovered from Key's pocket that contained several empty plastic baggies typically used to sell narcotics.

A consent to search the residence was granted and deputies found an eye glasses case that contained a glass pipe and a small plastic bag with a white substance that field tested to be methamphetamine.

Key admitted that the methamphetamine belonged to him, and he was transported to the Tyler County Justice center and booked on outstanding warrants from Liberty and Hardin Counties.
Charges included Theft Of Property, Possession of Controlled Substance Penalty Group 1, Theft of Firearm, Burglary of a Building, and Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon.

A large amount of stolen property was also found on the residence and further charges may incur.

Woodville parent charged after serving alcohol to minors

by Emily Waldrep

A Woodville parent has been charged with three counts of Furnishing or Purchasing Alcohol to a Minor, a Class A Misdemeanor and a serious offense, after she served alcohol at a party meant for her underage teens.

Mike McCulley of the Woodville police department said that, while it is legal to serve alcohol to your own teens that are under 21 in your home, stiff fines and consequences could come from serving alcohol to underage friends.

According to McCulley, the Woodville Police received a welfare concern call regarding a 15-year-old walking down the road in Woodville who had almost completely undressed and was highly intoxicated. The minor was transported to the justice center, and further investigation revealed that he had been invited to a party thrown by a friend's parents, and while at the party drank for the first time and got highly intoxicated.

Officers interviewed several people at the party and discovered that the parent had planned the party for a while and had bought approximately 100 alcoholic beverages meant for her kids, but everyone at the party drank, including two 18 year old minors and the 15 year old minor.

The mother who had bought the beverages and served the minors was identified as Kelly Marie Smith, age 44, of Woodville.

"Nobody knew where this 15 year old went," McCulley said. "Here you have a kid wondering around the streets and at that point he had undressed himself. He could have gotten run over on the road, run over by a car, wondered off into the woods and who knows what. It is a huge liability for parents to serve alcohol to minors. There are all sorts of bad things that could happen."

McCulley said that while he understands the sentiment of well meaning parents who want to have parties for their kids safe at home, alcohol should always be left out.

"If a parent is making the decision and taking responsibility of having a party at their house, I say they need to reconsider," McCulley said. "There are all sorts of liabilities. Realistically you cannot watch teenagers when they are intoxicated."

Thankfully, the minor in this case was not injured, but Smith now has a potential criminal record.
Three warrants were obtained for Smiths arrest. Her bond was set at $7,500 and she could face community service, no drivers license, stiff fines, and alcohol awareness classes if charged.
According to McCulley, if the minor had been injured, Smith could have been charged with Endangering a Child, which is a charge no parent should risk just to host a party.

State Grant Funds Colmesneil Street Improvements

City of Colmesneil has completed a $275,000 street improvement project through a Texas Community Development Block Grant. The grant, implemented through the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA), provided cost of engineering, administration and construction for the paving of five city streets.

Mayor Don Baird said, "Several people have asked why we paved the streets we did. I want citizens to know that although there were additional streets that have higher traffic and need repairs, the state had certain requirements that had to be met. The City had to do door to door surveys and sites had to meet specific low-moderate income specifications. I am just glad to have the opportunity to pave any of the streets, regardless of state control, when they are funding the project." Utility Director Keith Barnes added that "Grant funds had to be used as specified by the state, but as local funds are available the city plans to make street improvements in accordance with the Street Improvement Plan passed by City Council."

Due to a small annual budget, it would have taken 11 years for the city to pave the five streets with local funds. The City Council (which included Mayor Pro-tem Duane Crews, Rhonda Harris, Charlie Branch, Bubba Sheffield and Kenneth Davis) appreciate TDA and Representative James White for their involvement in the funding and implementation of projects for small communities in Texas.

"There is a lot of overhead, and a lot of things myself and the council would like to see the state do different," Baird said. "But when you are able to pave streets without it costing your citizens, it's hard to complain!"

Chester Post Office looks to cut hours

Lufkin Post Master Robert Austin and Chester Post Master Sarah Bourne met with Chester residents Monday to discuss likelihood of a four-hour dayLufkin Post Master Robert Austin and Chester Post Master Sarah Bourne met with Chester residents Monday to discuss likelihood of a four-hour dayby Michael G. Maness

Chester Post Office will likely reduce hours from the current seven hours to four hours, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., Monday through Friday soon.

The U.S. Postal Service hosted a community information meeting Monday night, March 3, at Chester school cafeteria. The USPS's POST Plan had reviewed the Chester Post Office and presented the results of a survey sent out to Chester residents over a month ago.

Lufkin Post Master Bob Austin was there to lead the meeting with Chester Post Master Sarah Bourne. The survey was sent to 397 residents, and 96 responded. Among the responses, the top three results on recommended hours included 28 residents preferring 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., 20 preferring 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and nine preferring 10 a.m. to 2 pm.

Chester Post Office is currently open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Austin said that when one looks at the number of transactions and the amount of revenue earned, "you are looking at a four-hour operating window." Among the operational demands, the mail has to be distributed to the carrier by 10 a.m. and Post Office mail has to be up by 10:30 a.m.

There are a lot of reasons to consider the change. As many know, the USPS is self-sustaining and reduction is a nationwide necessity to keep the service running. If the Chester office was closed, the current closest alternatives are Camden at 9.7 miles, Corrigan at 14.8 miles, and Colmesneil at 15 miles away - none of which are very convenient alternatives.

Austin mentioned that there was the possibility of a Village Post Office, where a local business might decide to sell stamps and such, with the USPS providing the stamps at a reduced rate to allow the business to recover some costs.

Austin said the likelihood of Chester going to the four-hour window of 8 a.m. until 12 noon soon is "very good," the final decision coming from headquarters in Washington D.C.

One resident asked if this was a step in the direction of closure of the Chester Post Office. Austin emphasized that this was not the first step to a potential closure. Rather, this was the POST Plan procedure with no foreseeable closure in the works.

Bourne has plans to stay on as post master after the changes that likely could come about in a week or two.

Babin tops votes locally,Cloy leads Hunt in close D.A. race

Tyler County voters went to the polls Tuesday, and the counts are in. Don't forget that these results are provisional, and potential changes are subject to recounts. To win the primary in Texas, the candidate has to poll over 50 percent of the vote, regardless of how many votes received.

There were a few closely watched races in Tyler County. In the Criminal District Attorney race, Lou Ann Cloy narrowly taking 50.62 percent of the votes, polling 1,230 votes to Hunt's 1,200.

In the County Treasurer race, Sue Saunders took 69.23 percent of the vote, 1, 474 to Kathryn Bergold's 655. Saunders will run against incumbent Treasurer Sharon Fuller in the General Election.

County Commissioner Precinct 2 race resulted in James "Rusty" Hughes drawing 481 votes to Terry Riley's 409. Hughes took 54.04 percent of the votes.

There was no clear winner in the Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 race. Michael Maness drew 332 votes, Greg Dawson 323 and Royce Hill 177. None of them had over 50 percent, which sets up a runoff May 27.

Woodville dentist Dr. Brian Babin pulled the most votes among the large slate of contenders for U.S. Representative, District 36. Babin drew 1,892 county votes, and 17,167 state wide. Ben Streusand was his closet competitor, polling 12,009 votes.

No other local races were contested.

A PDF of all the local election returns is here.

Letha Westfall now suspect in Nathan and Krystal Maddox murders

by Emily Waldrep

Tyler County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Phil Ryan says that Letha Westfall is now officially a suspect in the murders of Nathan and Krystal Maddox that occurred at Mount Caramel Baptist Church in January.

Tyler County Sheriff's Office was notified this week by Jasper Police Department that Letha Westfall, a resident of Tyler County, had an outstanding felony warrant  for Possession of a Controlled Substance by Fraud, issued by Judge Barbara Jackson of Jasper.

"Westfall, a suspect in the murders of her ex son-in-law Nathan Bradley Maddox and Krystal Maddox, was arrested at her residence without incident and booked into the Tyler County Jail," said Ryan.

The Tyler County Sheriff's Office, Texas Ranger and the FBI continue the investigation of the murders that took place on January 18 on the front steps of the secluded Colmesneil Church.

"The double homicide investigation continues to progress each day but anyone with additional information is urged to contact the Sheriff's Office," Ryan said.

The arrest of Westfall was unrelated to the Tyler County homicide investigation.