Around East Texas 06/02/07

Special TAKS

Friday was graduation night in Corrigan. All students in the graduating class who did not pass TAKS were included in the ceremony. Those students received a certificate of complete instead of a diploma. The superintendent believes they've worked too hard to miss out on a night they can never get back. "Well, these are all students that have showed up, worked hard, their attendance has been good, the behaviors been good, they've passed their courses. They've done everything but pass that one exam." Texas state lawmakers have passed a bill to get rid of the TAKS test, replacing the state's high-stakes high school exit exam, known as the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, with end-of-course tests. That bill is now waiting for approval from Governor Rick Perry.

Bank Robbery

Authorities believe an East Texas bank robbery is an "inside job." It happened Thursday morning in Carthage. Officers responded to a call form the Farmers State Bank on the corner of Wellington and South Market streets. POlice say an armed, hooded man forced his way into a secure area behind an employee entering the building, grabbed some cash and took off. After questioning, authorities say an employee admitted his involvement and then turned his accomplice over to police. Both men are charged with aggravated robbery.

Missing Senior Citizen

Winnsboro police are asking for your help finding 89-year old Jamie Darby Milner, who was last seen around 3:30 Wednesday afternoon. Winnsboro police tell us she may be in a white, 1999 Grand Marquis with Texas handicapped license plate 2-X-T-X-V. They say Milner may have driven to the WalMart in Sulphur Springs. Contact the Winnsboro police department if you've seen her.

Tyler Shooting Arrests

Three people are behind bars in connection with a shooting in Tyler. Officers got a report that a man was shot in the 12-hundred block of south Lenox. Tyler police say the victim was stopping one of the suspects trying to burglarize his car. The suspects fled the scene and were caught at Hill and First streets. The victim was not injured.

Toothpaste Alert

Avoid toothpaste made in China. The F-D-A issued that warning on Friday, after some toothpaste tested positive for a chemical used in anti-freeze. The toothpaste was sold under the brands "Excel" and "Mr. Cool." So far, no cases of poisoning have been reported in the U.S. Again, if you use "Excel" or "Mr. Cool" toothpaste, federal health officials say you should throw it out immediately.

Scams against Military Personnel

Local authorities have discovered a scam where military spouses are called by people posing as Red Cross workers, saying their husband or wife has been hurt. The scam artists then ask for personal information, saying it's needed to start treating the wounded spouse. Red Cross officials say they don't call military families and it is unlikely that they would ask for personal aid. Another important note, if a military relative is ever injured on duty, the Department of Defense will contact families, not the Red Cross. Another scam that is circulating around East Texas is a bogus e-mail that says it's from an American soldier dying in Iraq, wanting the e-mail recipient to send found money.

Passport Headaches

It's a new travel requirement that's causing major headaches for those trying to go on vacation. At the beginning of the year, the federal government made it a requirement to have a passport in order to leave the country by air. That includes Mexico and Canada. If an international trip is part of your summer plans, you'd better hurry. Angry, frustrated and puzzled, thousands of Texans want to know where is their passport. In HOuston this week, the line at the passport agency wrapped around the Federal Building. Kissy Stanley of Flint, near Tyler, leaves for Cancun in 12 days. Her passport is somewhere between Houston and home. Kissy and her husband applied for their passports 12 weeks ago. They were told it would take 10 weeks. It's a problem travel agents say several of their clients are experiencing. Normal processing time for a new passport application is somewhere from 2 to 4 weeks and we have clients reporting to us that they have passports submitted up to 16 weeks and still do not have them back. Instead, many travel agents say they are having to turn away people wanting to travel abroad this summer. "They made the law. They should have been a little more prepared to handle the overload." The U.S. Department of State says in the last seven months more than eight million Americans have applied for passports. That's more than a 30 percent increase from last year. The government also says it's opened additional processing centers to help meet the demand, but suggests not making travel plans until you have your passport. For more information on passport requirements and how you can apply for one, go to the KnowMore section of

Nacogdoches Heritage Festival

The Nacogdoches Heritage Festival is underway. It kicked off Friday morning with the Old Timers' Hall of Fame breakfast. Old Timers is a complimentary reference for volunteers who go the extra mile for their community. This year four special women were honored. They are Tina Klein, Nanny Smith, Connie Lester and Jean Stephens. They were inducted into the Hall of Fame. They've supported the Heritage Festival since it began 26 years ago. The Festival continues today, culminating in the Queen's coronation tonight