Around East Texas 05/18/07

Gas Prices Escalating

Motorists driving around East Texas are getting the equivalent of sticker shock. Local gasoline prices went from an average of $2.95 per gallon for regular unleaded to $3.19 in a matter of hours for many stations. That's higher than the national average. The statewide gas price average is now $2.95. The weekly Triple-A Texas gas price survey shows regular-grade gasoline in Texas in the eleven Texas cities polled climbed an average of eight cents to $2.95 per gallon. That's just a penny a gallon from the record of $2.96 reached in the wake of Hurricane Rita. Nationally, the average climbed eight cents to $3.04 per gallon. The highest regular-grade gasoline was found in Amarillo at $3.21 per gallon and the cheapest was found in San Antonio at $2.86.


At least 51 Nacogdoches High School seniors will not be allowed to walk the stage on graduation night this year. N-H-S students who do not pass their courses and/or fail the TAKS exit exam are not allowed to walk the stage with their graduating class. Last night (Thursday), the school board held a public meeting to hear from parents and community members about the rule. Many parents believe students who failed the exit exam should be allowed to walk at the graduation ceremony simply because it's such a big moment in their lives. The board voted on a motion to change the rule, but the vote resulted in a 3-3 tie, with one member abstaining. That means the "No Walk" policy remains the same. Students will be given a certificate of completion and receive their high school diploma, if they pass the exit test this summer. Many school districts, including Lufkin, have adopted a more lenient rule.

Officers Killed

New information is coming to light in the shootout that left two Henderson County sheriff's deputies dead, one deputy injured and a suspect in custody. Investigators, including the Texas Rangers, are back on the scene piecing together the tragic events. The incident which we're told started as a domestic dispute began to unfold Thursday afternoon shortly after three o'clock. It was at a home at the intersection of State Highway 198 and County Road 2529, in the Henderson County town of Payne Springs. The alleged gunman, 48-year old Randall Wayne Mays, is expected to face charges for the shooting deaths of 61-year old deputy Tony Ogburn and 63-year old deputy Paul Habelt. Last night, 40-year old deputy Kevin Harris underwent surgery at a Tyler hospital to put a couple of pins in his leg and he is expected to recover. He's listed in fair condition today. The suspect's wife was not hurt. Of course, the town of Payne Springs is in disbelief and understandably members of the small Henderson County sheriff's department are visibly shaken. Payne Springs is located about fifty miles southeast of Dallas.

Red Light Delay

The installation of red light cameras in Lufkin is on hold, again. Lufkin city leaders tell us they originally planned to begin installing the cameras on May 25th, but now the camera installation will not occur until late July. Several permits still have to be obtained before the cameras can be installed. Construction plans also have to get final approval.

New Principal

John Tyler High School has a new principal. At Thursday night's school board meeting, Vanessa Choice was hired to take over for outgoing principal Michael McFarland. Choice is currently the principal of Boulter Middle School in Tyler.