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Congressman Brian Babin cuts ribbon for Woodville District Office

Brian Babin Distrct Office Ribbon Cutting (Jim Powers Photo)

Congressman Brian Babin cuts the ribbon Friday, May 29, for his Woodville District Office. The office is located in Room 100 of the Tyler County Courthouse. A large crowd gathered to get a look at the recently remodeled office, watch the ribbon cutting and enjoy cake and refreshments.

Governor Abbott adds Tyler County to 'state of disaster' declaration

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today declared a state of disaster in 24 additional counties, bringing the total number of counties under Texas' state disaster declaration to 70. The counties added to the declaration are: Angelina, Burleson, Cherokee, Edwards, Ellis, Fayette, Gillespie, Kaufman, Lamar, Liberty, Leon, Lynn, Madison, Milam, Real, Refugio, Rusk, Sabine, Travis, Tyler, Uvalde, Victoria, Waller and Wharton. Additional counties may be added as the situation develops.

"The large number of Texas counties currently experiencing a state of disaster is an indication of how severe this ongoing weather situation is, and I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for everyone to heed local officials' warnings," said Governor Abbott. "Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all those affected, and I strongly urge all Texans to take all precautions to protect themselves and their families and neighbors."

To view Governor Abbott's disaster declaration, click here.

The following 70 counties have been declared in a state of disaster: Angelina, Archer, Bastrop, Blanco, Bosque, Bowie, Burleson, Caldwell, Cass, Cherokee, Clay, Collin, Comal, Cooke, Denton, Dewitt, Eastland, Edwards, Ellis, Fannin, Fayette, Gaines, Garza, Gillespie, Grayson, Grimes, Guadalupe, Harris, Harrison, Hays, Henderson, Hidalgo, Hill, Hood, Houston, Jasper, Johnson, Kaufman, Kendall, Lamar, Leon, Liberty, Lynn, Madison, Milam, Montague, Navarro, Newton, Nueces, Parker, Real, Red River, Refugio, Rusk, Sabine, San Jacinto, Smith, Travis, Tyler, Uvalde, Van Zandt, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Wharton, Wichita, Williamson, Wilson, Wise and Zavala

Texans are encouraged to follow these safety tips during this weather event:

When severe storms threaten, the safest place to be is indoors.
Avoid areas already flooded and avoid any fast-flowing water.
Be extremely cautious of any water on roads or in creeks, streams, storm drains or other areas – never attempt to cross flowing streams or drive across flooded roadways and observe road barricades placed for your protection.
Remember that dangerous waters can seem deceptively calm, and if you encounter flooding, move to higher ground.
Monitor weather radios and news broadcasts for updated information on current and anticipated severe weather in your area.

Keep in mind that flood dangers are even harder to recognize at night.
· Be mindful that rising and moving water can also threaten people on foot and individuals near recreational waterways impacted by significant rainfall.
Monitor weather radios and news broadcasts for updated information on current and anticipated severe weather in your area.
Stay informed and heed warnings by local officials.

For additional safety tips related to tornadoes, thunderstorms and flooding, see:

http://dps.texas.gov/dem/ThreatAwareness/weather_aware_severe.htm

The American Red Cross has established the following website for individuals in impacted areas: https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php

The following resources are involved in the state's continued response to this weather event:

Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS): Assisting with reconnaissance, search and rescue efforts, and providing personnel and resources as needed.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD): Conducting search and rescue missions during flash flooding/water incidents in affected areas.

Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS): DSHS have mobilized resources, equipment and personnel to provide medical assistance as needed.

Texas Military Forces (TMF): TMF has deployed aircraft and high-profile vehicles, and continues providing assistance with search and rescue missions as needed.

Texas Task Force 1 (TTF1): Air and boat rescue squads have been deployed for search and rescue missions as needed.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ): Continues to monitor dams and river levels in the affected areas.

Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT): Crews have deployed resources to address flooding conditions and debris cleanup impacting roadways.

Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC): Personnel continue to work with utility companies to resolve power/utility issues.

Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA): Assisting communities to apply for funds administered by TDA that will help with storm cleanup and rebuilding.

Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD): Organizations continue to provide shelter and other mass care needs as requested.

Additional partners and resources include: Texas A&M Forest Service; Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service; Civil Air Patrol; Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs; Texas Department of Criminal Justice; Texas General Land Office; Texas Health and Human Services Commission; Texas Department of Insurance; Railroad Commission of Texas; Texas Education Agency; Department of Aging and Disability Services; Department of Family and Protective Services; Texas Workforce Commission; Texas Animal Health Commission; Texas 2-1-1; and Texas Department of Information Resources.

Rising water levels at Steinhagen Dam threaten homes

Dam

by Emily Waldrep

Southeast Texas has been facing record rainfall for the past several weeks, and the local rivers and lakes are starting to feel the effect of all the extra water. According to Emergency Management Coordinator Dale Freeman, the river and lake levels are reaching an all-time high and could start to impact structures along the waterways.

On Tuesday, May 26, the river level downstream of Steinhagen Dam near Town Bluff was 69.07 feet and rising. At 70 feet, water will reach homes and camps in Barlow Lakes Estates near Spurger and the river forecast expects levels to peak at 71 feet. But, according to Freeman, those levels could change with more rainfall, which is forecasted every day this week.

Lake Sam Rayburn Dam was measured at 171.33 feet on Tuesday morning, and the all-time record high for the Dam is 172.2 feet. Sam Rayburn is approaching its record high and water will need to be released into the already full Angelina and Neches rivers to ease the burden on the dam.

With water levels in all local waterways approaching a record high, and more rain slated in the forecast, the Corps of Engineers are working diligently to manage water flow, but according to Freeman, there is only so much they can do.

On May 25, the Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster in 37 Texas counties, including Jasper and Newton, and claimed that this is the biggest flood Texas has ever seen.

"Nature is more powerful than anything man can do," Freeman said.

Officials warn citizens to stay away from flooded areas and not to drive their vehicles into standing water because there is no way to tell how deep it might be. Those living in flood prone areas should remain vigilant in watching the river levels.

Tyler County Judge declares local state of disaster

WHEREAS, the County of Tyler, on the 27th day of May, 2015, is in imminent threat of widespread or severe damage, injury, or loss of life or property resulting from countywide conditions created by torrential rainfall over an excessive period of time, affecting Tyler County by causing flooding in populated areas as well as major infrastructure damage preventing access to or the safe passage on various roadways. Such conditions create a public safety hazard .

WHEREAS, the County Judge of Tyler County, Texas has determined that extraordinary measures to protect or rehabilitate property are necessary and hereby ordered.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT PROCLAIMED BY THE COUNTY JUDGE OF TYLER COUNTY:

• That a local state of disaster is hereby declared for Tyler County, Texas pursuant to Section 418.108(a) of the Texas Government Code;

• Pursuant to Section 418.108(b) of the Texas Government Code, the state of disaster shall continue for a period of not more than seven days from the date of this declaration unless continued or renewed by the Commissioners' Court of Tyler County, Texas;

• Pursuant to Section 418.108(c) of the Texas Government Code, this declaration of a local disaster shall be given prompt and general publicity and shall be filed promptly with the County Clerk.

• Pursuant to Section 418.108(d) of the Texas Government Code, this declaration of a local state of disaster activates the county/city Emergency Management Plan.

EFFECTIVE this 27th day of May, 2015.

Jacques L. Blanchette, Tyler County Judge

Local sex offender arrested for failing to follow conditions of probation

John Paul MorrisonJohn Paul MorrisonJohn Paul Morrison, 70, of Woodville was arrested last week after, according to District Attorney Lou Ann Cloy, he failed to follow the conditions of his probation., which required him to complete a sexual offender therapy course. Morrison chose not to complete the therapy.

Morrison received a five year deferred adjudication in January of 2014 after pleading "no Contest" to the charge of Indecency to a Child by Contact. He was originally indicted by a Grand Jury in 2011 after a three month investigation by Woodville Police Sgt. Jathan Borel.

According to Cloy, Morrison will face a stricter sentence and possible prison time now that the probation has been revoked.

Two Woodville drug stores broken into May 13

by Emily Waldrep

On May 13 at approximately 5:30 a.m, the Woodville Police Department received a call that the security alarm had gone off at Woodville Drug on the 1000th block of West Bluff Street. Officers arrived on the scene and noticed that a window had been broken out of Bob Boykin Photography, which is located in the same shopping center building as Woodville Drug.

According to Captain Mike McCulley with the Woodville Police Department, the actors gained entry into the shopping center through the window of Bob Boykin Photography and broke through several walls until they reached Woodville Drug.

McCulley said that the alarm went off when the actors entered the Woodville Drug Store and they left out the back door after taking several bottles of prescription medication.

"It appears that they took a while to get into Woodville Drug," McCulley said. "Once they entered Bob Boykin Photography they took a sledgehammer and busted a wall through the bathroom into Gail's Salon. Once there, they busted a hole in a cinder block wall to get into the pharmacy."

Once the actors were in the pharmacy, the motion detectors activated and the alarm went off. The actors also took an undetermined amount of cash out of the register at Bob Boykin Photography.

"Because they went through three different businesses, we have three different burglaries that occurred," McCulley said.

The next morning at approximately 3 a.m., officers were called to Jarrot's Pharmacy when an alarm went off there as well. According to McCulley, someone had thrown a large rock through the window but no entry was made into the building.

"We suspect that they were trying to see how long it would take us to get there after the alarm was tripped," McCulley said. "We believe that whoever is involved in both of these incidents are still in the area and if anyone sees anyone outside any kind of pharmacy in town late at night, please contact us."

The Woodville Police Department also asks residents to report any tips or information regarding these incidents. Names will be kept confidential and can be called into 283-5262.