Around East Texas 06/20/07

Proposed Biomass Power Plant

Governor Rick Perry has signed into law a bill designed to boost the use of biomass for power generation. The legislation provides grants for the use of waste, agriculture and forest materials to generate electricity. Nacogdoches Power, a proposed biomass-fired power plant was instrumental in pushing the legislation through. State Representatives Wayne Christian and Jim McReynolds jointly authored the bill. Yet, House Bill 1214 died following strong opposition from Temple Inland. That Bill would have provided subsidies for biomass plants. There's some uncertainty that Nacogdoches Power will succeed without the incentives.

Proposed Lufkin Energy Plant Opposition

Last week, a group representing north Lufkin took a trip to Minnesota to check out a power plant similar to one proposed for the city of Lufkin. But some north Lufkin leaders who are opposed to the plant say that group is not a fair representation of the people who live near the proposed plant site. Dr. Dallas Pierre with the NAACP says Aspen Power President, Danny Vines, didn't ask for input from him or anyone else who lives in the affected area. Pierre also questions Vines' claims that the plant will boost north Lufkin's economy.

Counterfeit Money

Look out! Counterfeiting is one of the oldest crimes in U.S. history and because of better technology it's becoming even easier to get away with. Here in East Texas, authorities are asking businesses to be on the look out for counterfeit bills, mainly twenties. Counterfeits are usually flat and dark. On a real bill, the Federal Reserve and Treasury seal is clear and sharp. Counterfeits usually have uneven, blunt or broken points and the paper usually does not have the tiny red and blue fibers found in real currency paper. Pay attention to your money. Don't assume with the markers that that's the safe system to check the bill. Authorities say the fake bills are coming from more than one source because there are many people out there who are experimenting with counterfeiting and using different technology to do so. Police say it has become the ultimate technology for people who want to get something for nothing. That's why police say the public must be aware of what cash they may have in their pockets.

Grand Jury Indicts former Teacher

The former Center Middle School computer teacher accused of inappropriate behavior with a former student has been indicted on a long list of sexual misconduct crimes. Janet Gallager Parker was indicted Tuesday for sexual performance by a child, sexual assault of a child and possession of child pornography for a total of 23 indictments. Authorities say the victim was a 14-year old boy who became involved with his teacher. Nude photographers of the 26-year old teacher were found on the boy's cell phone. More pictures were found on the teacher's home computer. A complaint affidavit says the photos are of Parker in the nude draped in a rebel flag. The teenager admits to taking the pictures and having sex with his teacher at least three times.

Missing Alzheimer's Patient

The Rusk County Sheriff's department needs your help finding a missing Alzheimer's patient. 72-year old Shirley Hunt was last seen Tuesday afternoon on County Road 454 near Carlisle. She is described as about 5-foot-4 and 120 pounds, with white hair and hazel eyes. If you have any information on where she might have gone, call the Rusk County Sheriff's department.

Bike Accident

A 7-year old boy is in critical condition after his bike was hit by a car. Tyler police say the driver tried to swerve when Caleb Weaver turned into the car's path. Caleb's head hit the car's windshield.  He was not wearing a helmet. Emergency workers flew Caleb to a Fort Worth hospital. No tickets were issued.

Man Feared Drowned

Still no sign of a man authorities believe drowned over the weekend. Henderson County officials say 43-year old Richard Edmundson was with a group on Cedar Creek Lake Saturday, when he went under the water. Witnesses say Edmundson, who is from Flower Mound, was not wearing a life jacket.

The Future of the Bald Eagle

Once on the verge of extinction, a symbol of American freedom is soaring toward an important new milestone. Eagles' nest have become somewhat of a tourist attraction in Smith County. The same breeding pair return to East Texas year after year, and people love catching a glimpse. Once protected as an endangered species, the eagle is now back in full force. "They're just doing tremendous right now. I think we have around 70 thousand nationwide, most of them in Alaska and some of them in B-C and the rest in the lower 48 states," says Warden Chris Green with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. By June 29th, the bald eagle will be officially removed form the endangered species list.

Daycare Changes

Your child's daycare is now required by Texas law to undergo additional security screenings. A new law signed by Governor Rick Perry requires all daycare employees and potential ones to have a $50.00 fingerprint background check. Director of Ebenezer Child Care Center in Tyler, Evelyn Allen, supports the new law, but is concerned, because this industry has a high job turnover and low pay, the law has the potential of creating a financial burden. But parents we spoke with said they would be happy to pick up the added cost. We also spoke with many other daycare centers in East Texas who think this law is unfair and that the added cost could cripple small centers.

Warrants Sweeps

There are several million dollars in unpaid "Class C" warrants in the Lufkin area. In a few days, police officers will hit the streets looking for residents who have not taken care of those citations. Anyone with an outstanding warrant can easily be arrested at home, or on the job. Those unpaid warrants are for assault, theft under $50.00, traffic violations and other minor offenses. This Friday, Lufkin police officers will come looking for the offenders. If you have an unpaid warrant, they are suggesting you turn yourself in. "We would rather them come up here and take care of their warrants, take care of their fines than have to go out and pick them up and it's much easier that way.  If they come up here and want to take care of their fines, I'm not going to arrest them," says Lufkin City Marshall, Brian Smith. Smith says if you wait until police arrest you and you cannot clear your warrant, you will go to jail instead of being released on a personal recognizance bond. That's because Angelina County recently signed a contract with the city to house "Class C" offenders in the county jail. How long you stay in jail depends on how much money you owe on your warrants. The warrants sweep is Friday, June 22nd. If you have an active warrant, you need to contact the City Municipal Court before that date to avoid getting arrested during the sweep. For more information, call City Marshall Brian Smith at 936-633-0315.

Nacogdoches City Commission

The Nacogdoches City Commission has approved a Longview contractor for the Maroney Street extension project. The firm can extend Maroney from the Kenbrook subdivision to University Drive for one-point-three million dollars. The street extention is vital for the Timber Springs Retirement Community. In addition to that decision, the Commission also voted to retire the Fredonia Hotel's obligation to pay back a more than one-point-two million dollar federal loan. The city has agreed to place that amount back into the city's revolving loan fund. The Office of Rural Community Affairs allows this kind of payback so other businesses within the city can be assisted.

Ellen Trout Zoo Expansion

The Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin is growing. The Lufkin City council Tuesday night approved projects that will help expand the Zoo's property. The Zoo is looking to construct an education/administration building on the existing property and to purchase a 150-thousand dollar tract of land to expand the Zoo park. The purchase would add more than 16 acres of property to the growing Zoo, which is celebrating its 40-year anniversary this year.

Law Enforcement Training Exercises

If you hear gunshots coming from the Hudson school area today, it's likely Angelina County Sheriff's officers. The Sheriff's department advises that it is holding a training session at the Hudson schools today.