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TDCJ Correctional officers arrested, charged with Official Oppression

by Emily Waldrep

According to Jason Clark, Public Information Director at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, seven TDCJ Correctional Officers have been arrested for their actions related to an undocumented use of force on March 19 at the Gib Lewis Unit in Woodville.

Lieutenant Darrick Seale, Sergeant Frank Mraz, Sergeant Claude Kelley, Officer Andrea Creel, Officer Joseph Coons, Officer Jamie Christian and Officer David Spence were all arrested by the Office of the Inspector General.

Official Oppression is broadly defined as a public servant, under color of office or employment, intentionally subjecting another to mistreatment.

The case is currently under investigation, and there is no further information at this time.

Investigators await autopsy finding in Warren child’s drowning

by Emily Waldrep

A Warren child is dead, and investigators await an autopsy report before concluding the investigation.

On March 18 at approximately 2:45 p.m, Tyler County Sheriff's Office communication center received a 9-1-1 call reporting that a three year old had fallen into a septic hole being dug and that the child was not breathing. According to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, family members were performing CPR on the child, and EMS, along with Tyler County Deputies were notified that the family would meet EMS personnel at the Dollar General Store in Warren.
EMS transported the three-year-old male to Tyler County Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 3:45 p.m. Judge Trisher Ford ordered an autopsy through the South East Texas Forensic center in Jefferson County.

According to family members of the child, a hole had been dug for a septic tank. The hole had filled up with water during the recent rain. A family member was outside with the three year old, a one year old, and a two year old child, as well. Family members told investigators that the one year old was taken inside, and the family member returned to find the three year old missing. The child was later found in the septic tank hole and was not breathing. Family members began preforming CPR.

Investigators from the Tyler County Sheriff's Office processed the scene at the residence located off of County Road 1325 in the Warren area. At this time, it appears to have been a tragic accident.

Investigators will wait on final autopsy results to complete the investigation. As is standard practice in this type of case, Child Protective Services investigators were notified.
The name of the victim, as well as family members, cannot be released at this time.

Traffic stop leads to foot chase, drug charges

by Emily Waldrep

A simple traffic stop in Woodville led to a foot chase and drug charges on March 16. Officer Zachary with the Woodville Police Department conducted a traffic stop at the intersection of West Bluff Street and Sutton Street, making contact with the driver, identified as Jarvis D. Barlow, age 22, of Woodville. Zachary immediately smelled the odor of burning Marijuana coming from inside the vehicle.

According to Woodville Police Captain Mike McCulley, the driver showed noticeable signs of nervousness and was asked by the officer to step out of the vehicle. The passenger of the vehicle then opened his door and fled on foot. Zachary gave chase, caught up with and arrested the passenger about a block away. The passenger was identified as Christopher D. Montoya, age 19, of Woodville. Zachary was assisted by Sgt. Hicks and recovered a baggy of Marijuana that suspect Barlow attempted to hide during the foot chase.

After securing Montoya, Zachary noticed that the driver, Barlow, had also fled on foot. The vehicle was impounded and towed. A warrant of arrest has been issued out of the Woodville Municipal Court charging Barlow with Evading Arrest or Detention.

Montoya is charged with Evading Arrest or Detention, Possession of Marijuana, less than two ounces and several charges of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia after Officers recovered other items including scales, baggies and tobacco-papers in his vehicle. Bond amounts are pending.

Multiple DWI offender sentenced to seven years

by Emily Waldrep

Tyler County Assistant District Attorney Dan Hunt was prepared for trial Monday, but Charles Hadnot was not. Hadnot was facing a jury trial on a charge of Driving While Intoxicated 3rd Offense or More and but, instead, pled guilty and received seven years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Institutional Division.

According to Hunt, Hadnot was pulled over by Woodville Police Officer Lawrance Hicks on November 11, 2012, after a private citizen called 9-1-1 concerning a driver weaving all over the road. Hadnot was arrested and a blood sample taken at Tyler County Hospital. His blood alcohol content was 0.178, which is more than twice the legal limit of 0.08.

In January, Hunt made Hadnot an offer of five years in prison, and he refused. Hadnot was facing up to 20 years if convicted.

Ruth Houston is 2014 Tyler County Dogwood Festival Parade Marshal

Tyler County Dogwood Festival Executive Director Buck Hudson, has announced that Ruth Houston will serve as Parade Marshal for the 2014 Dogwood Parade. Hudson commented, "The Board selected Mrs. Houston in recognition of her efforts and commitment to the education and development of the youth of East Texas."

Born Ruth Arlee Ratcliff, Mrs. Houston was raised in Polk County, Texas. She graduated from Texas Southern University with a Bachelor of Music Education and did post-graduate work at the University of Texas in Austin and Stephen F. Austin State University. She married husband Melvin Houston and moved to Tyler County in 1967 thinking the move would be a wonderful springboard toward opportunities in "larger" cities. The couple fell deeply in love with the people of Woodville and Tyler County and before they realized it, had been here twenty-six years.

Ruth Houston served as a music teacher and choir director for 42 years, retiring from Port Arthur I.S.D. in 2001. She was employed by Woodville I.S.D. from 1967 until 1993, where her students consistently excelled in musical arts competitions. Over the years, she served as a board member for the Region X Texas Music Educators Association, Tyler County Teachers Association and Texas Conference of the United Methodist Choir. She directed countless school musicals and "After School Specials" and worked with many musical organizations throughout the county and region.

She and Coach Houston raised sons Melvin, Martin and Michael while living in Tyler County, and the entire family became involved in the Dogwood Festival, assisting with and participating in the parade, historical play and coronation ceremony. Mrs. Houston sang "Trees" during the opening ceremony of the coronation for many years and will return to the Amphitheater stage this year to sing once again.
Mrs. Houston currently resides in Port Arthur and serves as a consultant for school music programs. She serves as music director for McCabe Roberts Avenue United Methodist Church and co-director of the Port Arthur Area Children's Choir. She also spends time trying to keep up with and enjoy her four beautiful grandchildren.

Mrs. Houston will lead the 71st Annual Tyler County Dogwood Festival Parade Saturday, April 5, beginning at 2 p.m. Parade entry forms may be obtained via the Web at https://tylercountydogwoodfestival.org.

Can you buy drugs in Woodville?

by Sgt. Jathan Borel

Woodville Police Department will once again pay individuals to buy illegal drugs anywhere inside the City of Woodville. This unconventional program was originated several years ago when our officers saw an increase in illegal activity and has been very successful in identifying and prosecuting drug dealers. Some of the illegal activity included out of town drug dealers coming into our area to sell drugs, as well as the recruitment of our local teens to sell the drugs for them. We are again seeing an increase in illegal activity.

We will publish a series of articles that show the dangers of illegal drugs and the difficulties facing those who use and deal them. Also, we will provide updates on drug dealers who will be arrested throughout the duration of this program. To see if you are eligible to help us get these criminals off the streets, please call one of our sergeants at the Woodville Police Department, Lawrence Hicks or Jathan Borel, at 409-283-5262. You may qualify to earn some extra cash and improve our city.