U.S. Attorney John M. Bales said that a man identified as Anthony Welborn Jones, age 53, of Warren, pled guilty on February 25, 2014 to making a false statement to federal agents. Jones was sentenced to 12 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $114,433.37 in restitution.
Bales announced the court's decision on August 10. According to court documents, Jones was hired by the Hardin County Disaster Recovery Alliance as a building contractor to assist victims of Hurricane Rita damage. After an investigation, it was discovered that Jones was paid for jobs and repairs that he was never awarded or never completed. Jones also lied to federal agents and said that he was never paid for work that he had completed.
Tony Lynn Thorton, Sr, age 51 of Kountze was also originally indicted in the case and also pled guilty to a charge of theft of government property of a value of less than $1,000 on April 17, 2014.
David Wesley Jordan, 32, of Spurger, died August 9 when he lost control of the ATV he was driving.
The accident occurred at approximately 6:30 a.m. on County Road 4550 in Tyler County near Spurger. According to Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Stephanie Davis, Jordan was driving a 2014 Suzuki King Quad All-Terrain Vehicle and was traveling west bound on the county road when he rounded a corner at an unsafe speed.
"The vehicle left the roadway at that point and traveled into the woods," Davis said. "The driver was ejected from the vehicle."
Jordan was not wearing a helmet and was the only person on the ATV. He was pronounced dead at the scene by Justice of the Peace Gregory Dawson.
"It's dry, and getting dryer," said Emergency Management coordinator Dale Freeman. "We (Tyler County) are already experiencing extreme drought conditions." Commissioners voted to ratify the current week-to-week burn ban and make it effective for 90 days. "We will keep it on the court docket, so we can release the burn ban order at any time," said county judge Jacques Blanchette.
Commissioners agreed to spend $17,446 of data processing funds, to upgrade security on computers in the county judge's office and the county treasurer's office. A new server will be installed in each of the two offices, and they will be segmented. "The current system was recently tested and we discovered county bank accounts and communications could be compromised with very little effort," said Blanchette. "If it is that easy, we definitely need the security," said commissioner Mike Marshall.
Vending machines in the courthouse and nutrition center are up for sale, and commissioners were offered the opportunity to purchase them. "I just don't think we should be getting in the vending machine business," said commissioner Martin Nash.
The motion to purchase failed from lack of support.
The tax office will be getting a new currency scanner, which according to county tax assessor collector, Lynette Cruse, will save several hours of labor for each deposit. "All checks and cash can be loaded into the scanner, and it automatically prepares the deposit," said Cruse. "Several months out of the year, our staff spends days on the deposits, due to the large volume of revenue received. The scanner will give us time to work on other projects." The total cost to the county is $4,095 for the purchase of the scanner and $675 for a three-year maintenance agreement. Commissioners also approved the renewal of the tax office copier lease agreement and maintenance contract for the copier and printers.
Deep East Texas Council of Government (DETCOG) will be offering free training services to Tyler County 9-1-1 dispatchers at the Tyler County Sheriff's Department. "The training will help dispatchers with medical emergency calls," said Blanchette. "We are definitely interested in this service," said Sheriff Bryan Weatherford. The service has not been offered since 2012 and will ultimately benefit Tyler County 9-1-1 callers.
Tyler County Clerk, Donece Gregory, presented for approval, one joint election for all cities and school districts to be held on the same day at the same location for Tyler County voters. Commissioners approved the joint election and commended Gregory for the extra work involved in making these elections more convenient for the voters, acknowledging the labor intensive process to make it happen.
In other business, the court approved the July 23 minutes, extension agent reports, approved budget amendments for audit report, a lease/purchase deal for Pct. #1 and approved the VINE victim's notification system. Also, commissioners approved the same rates as last year for sheriff and constable fees, DMV auto registration optional county fees, road and bridge and child safety fees, etc. The local 9-1-1 DETCOG Board, chaired by Nash, renewed their annual agreement with the county.
The next meeting of commissioner's court will be Thursday, August 20 at 8:30 a.m.
Over 16,000 people live outside of a city limits in Tyler County. As a resident, what do you do when someone dumps a stray animal in your yard?
What I have learned: You don't keep the animal for more than a day, unless you can afford to have the animal spayed or neutered and are willing to feed and shelter him or her forever or at least until you can find a suitable home. What can happen? If you delay, you may find out your drop off stray is already pregnant and then you are obligated to keep through birth, you fall in love, and then you have another entire set of little animals who need to be spayed, neutered, fed, sheltered and suitable homes found.
Why do people delay? Well, from experience, where exactly does a person take a stray animal in Tyler County if you live outside the city limits of Woodville?
I personally have two indoor dogs and two indoor cats who are all family. I love them. My office also has a brother/sister cat family who have been spayed and neutered and call the office "home"...lucky cats.
My heart hurts to see pets who never get any attention from their owners, but my heart hurts even more to see unwanted animals with no place to go.
Every family is not capable of caring for animals properly. Some are on a very limited budget and cannot afford the food and care. Some are unable to have animals due to health issues, work and/or travel constraints. And then some, like myself, already have as many animals as they can manage properly. Drop offs or wandering strays who arrive at the home of people like these need to have some place to be taken immediately.
I prefer no kill shelters, but as you can imagine, if animals are not spayed, neutered and handled with responsibility, this problem can become (and in fact already is) out of control.
I have also learned, there IS no one to call in Tyler County. There is no place to take strays if you are not in the city limits of Woodville. Other counties say "Every county should take care of their own...we have all we can handle".
The absolute only thing a person in Tyler County can do, is take the animal to the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). All other regional SPCA locations I have contacted are full.
On Saturday, July 11 at approximately 9:30 a.m., a Tyler County Deputy conducted a traffic stop on County Road 4090 in the Dam-B area. According to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, the deputy made contact with both the driver and passenger of the vehicle.
"Both males were identified by name and date of birth as neither subject had any identification on them," Weatherford said. The passenger was identified as Michael Morgan, age 19, of Silsbee. A computer check through the Tyler County
Communications Center showed Morgan to have an active warrant out of Hardin County for Failure to Register as a Sex Offender.
"As the deputy began to place handcuffs on Morgan, Morgan took off running from the deputy towards FM 92," Weatherford said.
The deputy secured the driver in his patrol unit and began to search the area as other deputies, including Chief Deputy Steven Sturrock and Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, arrived on scene. Deputies were unable to locate Morgan but learned that he had family living in the area. According to Weatherford, deputies checked the residence several times and reminded the family that harboring a fugitive is a Felony.
Morgan is currently charged with Failure to Register as a Sex Offender and Evading Arrest or Detention. The driver was issued citations and released. If you know the whereabouts of Michael Morgan, please contact the Tyler County Sheriff's Office at 283-2172
U.S. Representative Brian Babin held a Town Hall meeting Monday, July 20, at the Lions Club building in Woodville. Town Hall meetings are an interesting dynamic, a relatively unstructured opportunity for constituents to interact directly with their representative. That interaction has always been hard to convey with the written word. The written story is either a list of dozens of questions and answers, which many readers will not look at, or a short summary of the main points with context missing.
The Booster has for several years tried to overcome that limitation by covering political events with video posted to Facebook and our YouTube channel. We planned to cover Representative Babin's public Town Hall meeting by shooting video of the event. Because the meeting was held at 7 p.m., which might prevent some older people from attending, video would allow them unfiltered access.
A couple of hours before the meeting, we received an email from Representative Babin's Press Secretary telling us that we would not be allowed to shoot video during the Q&A part of the meeting. The expressed concern was that people would not feel comfortable asking questions if a video camera were present. Ultimately, after a couple of email exchanges, I received an email from Babin's District Director, saying that an audio recording was o.k., (but still not video) and that they had "worked out a way to handle the privacy of folks."
I have shot video at numerous political forums in Tyler County. In none of those events have folks in attendance seemed intimidated or uncomfortable because a video camera was present. These events have at times been contentious and frank. Most people do not attend a public Town Hall format meeting with any expectation of privacy. Government representatives should seek transparency when dealing with constituents. Because this was a public meeting, open to anyone, with no expectation of privacy for those in attendance, it is unclear why Representative Babin chose to prohibit shooting video. When I questioned the decision, I got a reply only restating the prohibition.
The Tyler County Booster is committed to using the full range of technology available to provide Tyler County citizens with the news. We offer coverage in print, through our website, through a digital edition of the Booster, on Facebook and through video on our YouTube channel. Many people, in fact, prefer video to text and our video has proven very popular. A free press and transparent government are essential to a functioning democracy. Hopefully, Representative Babin will reconsider limiting media coverage of his public meetings.