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Chamber of Commerce awards banquet Feb. 3 in Woodville

The Tyler County Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the date for the annual Chamber Banquet. This year the banquet will be February 3, 2014 at the First Baptist Church, Woodville beginning at 6:00 p.m. The event will have a different feel from banquets in the past with a "Dinner Theater" feel. This year the Emporium of the Arts will be providing the entertainment with a excerpt from the play, Adam and Eve as well as having local artists from The Art Gallery on display. The play and art display will be taking the place of the guest speaker. This year the Chamber Board is hoping to give back to our members by giving them a banquet that truly celebrates business and entertainment in Tyler County,

Another change to the banquet the Chamber Board has adopted is the addition of a few more award categories. Awards such as Newcomer of the Year, Small Business of the Year and Hometown Hero will be given as well as the traditional Business of the Year and Citizen of the Year. This change is an attempt to recognize a few more outstanding Tyler County Citizens.

The meal for the evening will be catered by J-Bo's Smokin Ace's Catering. Tickets for the event will be $25 per person. Businesses will have the opportunity to purchase "table" seating for a table for eight at $175. For more information, please contact the Tyler County Chamber of Commerce at 283-2632. Tickets can be purchased from the Chamber office beginning January 12.

Man arrested for assault after fight in car

by Emily Waldrep

A man was placed under arrest for assault after someone reported seeing a woman crying and banging on the window of a car in Spurger and reported it to a nearby deputy.

According to Chief Deputy Phil Ryan, on January 1, a deputy was parked at the Exxon gas station in Spurger and noticed a gold colored passenger car with a defective headlight pull out of the parking lot and head south on HWY 92 towards Fred. Occupants from another vehicle in the parking lot approached the deputy shortly after the car left and informed him that a female was in the back seat of the gold car, beating on the window and screaming and crying.
The deputy left the parking lot, located the vehicle and make a traffic stop.

According to Ryan, the deputy saw a white female in the back and a white male in the drivers seat. He could tell the female was upset, and ordered the driver to exit the vehicle while explaining the reason for the traffic stop. The driver was identified as Collin Ray Wheeler, age 31. Wheeler had an expired and suspended drivers license.

Wheeler refused to tell deputies what was going on.

The female in the back seat was identified as Bonnie Camille Wheeler, age 29. She stated that everything was okay, but as she was speaking pulled down her scarf and marks could be seen on her neck, as well as a bruised eye, and clumps of hair on her sweater, according to Ryan. She told deputies that "he did this to me."

Deputies could detect an odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the driver, so Wheeler was detained.

According to Bonnie Wheeler's statement, she had been assaulted while going down the road and that she was beating on the window and screaming hoping to get someone's attention so she would get help, Ryan said.

When re-interviewed, Collin Wheeler denied an altercation took place.

Collin Wheeler was taken into custody for Driving While License Invalid and Assault Family Violence, which is a third degree felony.

Wheeler is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Man who molested 12 year old sentenced to 10 years in TDCJ

by Emily Waldrep

David Allen Price, age 19, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after being arrested for the sexual assault of a child in February and March of 2013. Price was 18 years old at time of the offense.

According to reports, Officers with the Woodville Police Department were tipped off that a 12 year old victim may have been abused by Price. After an investigation, the 12 year old was interviewed and a statement obtained stating that on six or seven occasions the defendant allegedly engaged in sexual contact with the 12 year old victim at a location in Woodville.

According to Captain Mike McCulley with the Woodville Police Department, allegations claimed that Price lured the 12 year old to a location and on each occasion Price engaged in sexual contact with the 12 year old.

"After interviewing Price, he admitted that the allegations were true," McCulley said.
Price was arrested and charged with Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child and held in the Tyler County Jail under a half-million dollar bond.

Price finally faced Judge Stover on December 19, 2014, and according to Assistant Criminal District Attorney Eric Hillman, Price accepted a plea bargain of 10 years in TDCJ.

"When we look at all the victims in all of Tyler County, we want to protect the children the most," Hillman said. "We hoped to settle with a plea bargain so that the victim would not have to be brought in and traumatized further by recounting the evidence in court."

Price will not be eligible for parole until he serves half of the 10 year sentence, and possibly will never be eligible for parole.

"He will be monitored by law enforcement for the rest of his life and will have to register as a sex offender for life," Hillman said.

According to Hillman, by accepting the plea bargain the young victim in the case would not have to go to trail and be further traumatized.

"Our office is committed, above all, to protecting children and their vulnerability," Hillman said.

Sheriff’s deputies catch thieves in Doucette who took Houston car during robbery

by Emily Waldrep

On Friday, December 26, at approximately 1:15 a.m., deputies with the Tyler County Sheriff's Department were on routine patrol on the north end of the county when they initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle on County Road 3050 in Doucette.

According to Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, the vehicle had been reported stolen by the Houston Police Department in a strong-arm robbery. Deputies observed three subjects in the vehicle and identified them as Demarcus Jackson, age 20 of Corrigan, Trashondra Walker, age 24 of Livingston and Versia Darcel Walker, age 24 of Lufkin. Trashondra Walker was the driver of the vehicle.

According to Weatherford, a search of the vehicle revealed 10 grams of synthetic marijuana. There was also identifying items linking the stolen vehicle to its original owner.
All three were arrested.

Demarcus Jackson was charged with Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle.

Trashondra Walker was charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Versia Darcel Walker was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance Penalty Group 2-A.

Walker, Walker and Jackson are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Woodville woman jailed after throwing hot grits on man

by Emily Waldrep

A Woodville woman landed in jail Christmas eve on charges of Aggravated Assault after burning her estranged husband with hot food. According to Mike McCulley with the Woodville Police Department, the incident happened on December 24 in Woodville on Railroad Street shortly after midnight.

Officer Zachary was dispatched to the disturbance and was told by dispatch that an intoxicated woman was reported to be throwing hot food on her estranged husband and threatening him with a hammer and a machete. Deputy Ross also arrived at the scene and made contact with the male subject at the home, and identified the female as Victoria Lynn "Cantrell" Lopez. Officers also observed that the male subject had burns on the left side of his face, neck and upper left shoulder and it was obvious he had been recently burned by something.

According to McCulley, the male subject stated that his common law wife had arrived from being out of town and they got into an argument over a computer, and that later on he was in the living room when Lopez threw a pot of hot grits on him before he ran outside the back door to escape. Lopez continued to pursue him with a hammer and a machete.

"A physical altercation occurred between Lopez and the man, and the man called 9-1-1," McCulley said.
An officer placed Lopez under arrest for Aggravated Assault Causing Bodily Injury Family Violence and she was later transported to Tyler County Jail.

Tyler County EMS arrived on scene to treat the male subjects wounds, and he was later transported to Tyler County Hospital and released.

"We often see a lot of family violence around the holidays because it tends to stress people out for whatever reasons, but that brings to light the fact that a lot of people assume that when we get to family violence situations most people think the male will be the aggressor," McCulley said. "Now, that is not the case. The female is the aggressor just as much as the man."

According to McCulley, these cases are difficult for law enforcement due to couples getting into altercations, filing protection orders or restraining orders, and then taking their significant other back, which is breaking the law.

"In this particular case, police were called back to the same residence three days later on a welfare check of the male subject only to find out that he had let Lopez come back and was hiding her in his house because after the Christmas Eve incident he had filed an emergency protection order against her," McCulley said. "Then four days later she is back in his house, and of course she was arrested again for violating the protective order."

Officers also encourage everyone, whether it is a man, woman or child, report family violence as soon as it's happening and not wait.

"These cases are so volatile and so unpredictable that anything could happen," McCulley said.
Lopez is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

District Attorney Joe Smith bids farewell to Tyler County

by Kelli Barnes

Tyler County District attorney Joe Smith attended his final Commissioners Court meeting as an office holder on Monday. Tyler County Judge Jacque Blanchette spoke for the county, honoring Smith with a special thank you.

Commissioners voted unanimously to accept the lease agreement conditions for Congressman-elect Brian Babin , as it pertains to office space in the courthouse. Following precedent set by other counties with hometown U. S. congressmen, there will be no charge for the space. "It will be an honor and a boost to Tyler County, for Babin to office in the courthouse," Blanchette said.

Commissioner Rusty Hughes stepped down from the position of Judge Pro-Tem, recommending Commissioner Jack Walston be appointed to this position for 2015. The vote was unanimous and Walston accepted the appointment.

Adult Probation Chief Matt O'Neal, requested a modification to the contract between Tyler County and the Tyler County Community Supervision and Corrections Department (CSCD). "The change will allow us to work community service workers a couple of times a month for a full eight hours at a time, instead of partial days every Saturday, O'Neal said." The court voted to approve the contract change and also thanked O'Neal for the community service worker's demolition efforts at the new Commissioners Court offices. "Their work saved the county $8000", said Commissioner Martin Nash.

Tyler County is without an Agricultural Extension agent beginning January 3. Jennifer Page resigned her position for personal reasons and will begin a teaching position closer to her hometown. "...please know that I will miss my time here. Thank you all for the support that you have offered over the last several months..." Page said in a resignation letter to the court.

Additional re-appointments to the Tyler County Historical Commission were voted on, along with honorary members being appointed. They are: voting members Chuck Davidson, Bob Morris, Billie Ratcliff and Donna Taylor; honorary members Mayme Brown, Peggy Burton, Jesse Collins and Manie Whitmeyer; plus Judge Jacques Blanchette as Ex-Officio.

In other business commissioners tabled the copy machine decision for the Tax office, and took care of general housekeeping items for the new year.

New Tyler County elected officials will be sworn in Friday, January 2 at 10 a.m. in the District courtroom. The public is invited to attend. The next Commissioners Court meeting will be Monday, January 12 at 10 a.m.