Around East Texas 07/04/07

Texas: Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is shaping up to be another soggy day for much of Texas. The National Weather Service is predicting showers and thunderstorms from South Texas to Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston. Weeks of rain have already taken a toll on Independence Day festivities. Authorities closed lakes in Central Texas and residents of North and East Texas are cleaning up from flooding yesterday. Torrential downpours led to fast-rising water that forced the rescues of people from water-logged vehicles in Tarrant and Hunt counties. With more rain on the way, the Texas National Guard says it's was poised to offer additional assistance to Wichita Falls. The Texas State Guard has set up shelters. Storms are blamed for at least eleven deaths in Texas since mid-June. President Bush declared Texas a major disaster area Friday, ordering federal aid for six counties. Officials in Parker County have asked to be added to that list. Governor Rick Perry declared disaster areas in 37 counties.

East Texas: Fourth of July

Closer to home, You can enjoy your Fourth of July holiday at the traditional celebration being held at Ellen Trout Zoo & Park in Lufkin. Special festivities begin at 1 p.m. and will culminate with a spectacular fireworks display at 9:15 tonight. Part of Loop 287 near the Zoo will be closed off to traffic beginning tonight at 8. Meanwhile, Freedom Fest in Nacogdoches is going on beginning at 5 p.m. There will be live performances from some East Texas bands, and at dark, watch the fireworks show. Freedom Fest will be at the downtown Festival Plaza in Nacogdoches. If you're near Tyler, A fireworks celebration will be at Lindsey Park. Gates open at 4 p.m. with the fireworks going off just after dark. Tyler police want you to know some areas will be blocked off this evening. Starting at 9 p.m., a southbound right turn lane will be closed, as well as, east bound Spur 364. Residents along that area will be able to get through with identification. After the fireworks in Tyler, you will not be able to turn left on to the loop from Highway 31.

Dough to Celebrate

One local business is seeing a little extra dough this time of year. The Fourth of July holiday pumps up the demand on the bakeries that produce hotdog and hamburger buns. At Flowers Baking Company in Tyler, workers produce half a million packages of buns a week. During the holiday peak season, sometimes they have to borrow from other plants just to meet the needs of consumers.

Appeal of Convicted Murderer Denied

Susanna Arroyo was convicted in January of last year for her part in the 1999 beating and stabbing death of Adam Carrier in Tyler. Arroyo and five others were convicted in Carrier's murder. She is currently serving life in prison. She was a member of the Northside Crips gang at the time of the murder. Prosecutors say Carrier made a fatal mistake by trying to buy marijuana from Arroyo along with several other gang members. Testimony during the trial indicated that the gang members told Carrier to come back later. Prosecutors said the group was planning to rob Carrier and his friend. When Carrier returned they slashed the tires on his car and then beat Carrier with a car jack and spare tire from his trunk. At some point during the altercation, Carrier was dragged into a wooded area and was beaten and stabbed to death.

Smoke Inhalation

A woman is treated for smoke inhalation after fire sweeps through her home. Firefighters say it started around 7 o'clock Tuesday night on South Palace street in Tyler. The woman was not in the home at the time, but was overcome by the smoke after she arrived on the scene. The cause of the fire is under investigation, but firefighters believe it started in the kitchen. Rising Waters Severe thunderstorms moving across North Texas are causing flash flooding this week. Fast-rising water is complicating the evening commute in Tarrant County. Drainage ditches are working at capacity and steadily falling rain has no where to go. Roadways and entire neighborhoods are underwater due to excessive rain. One man died after jumping from a south Dallas highway bridge into the flooded Trinity River to avoid being hit by an oncoming car. Meanwhile, the Trinity River Authority confirms that Lake Livingston in Polk County is rising steadily, with expectations of levels increasing during the next week. The increased flow is caused by North Texas floodwaters. Every hour on the our, the Texas River Authority calculates how much to release. Currently, it's 24,000 cubic feet per second. Gradually, the release could go up to 40,000 cubic feet per second. "As far as downstream conditions below the reservoir, usually it causes what we consider minor to moderate flooding which can cut off road access to cattle operators and things like that," Bill Holder, Lake Livingston Project Manager. Aside from monitoring systems at the spillway, there are monitors along the Trinity River. The most significant rise has been near Trinidad.

Mosquito Threat

With heavy rains and recent flooding in parts of Texas, the State Health Department recommends that you take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Standing water is a breeding place for illness-causing mosquitoes. The best prevention against mosquitos is to drain standing water from around your home says Environment Health Manager Tommy Wheeler. "99% of the property where mosquitoes breed is on private property and that's where it starts and that's where it needs to be eliminated." Wheeler also recommends that you protect yourself with an appropriate insect repellent.

Fallen East Texas Soldier Remember

Final goodbyes and full military honors for an East Texas soldier who was killed in Iraq. 23-year old Staff Sergeant, Jimy Malone died in a roadside bomb attack nearly two weeks ago. Staff Sergeant Malone was just a senior at Wills Point High School when he enlisted in the Army. He went on to serve tow tours knowing full well the dangers of the job. His family was presented with the Bronze Star and Purple Heart that Malone earned in combat and the flag that draped his casket.

Motorcycle Accident Update

A Lufkin man who was involved in a three vehicle accident Monday night in Diboll has now been transferred to a Tyler hospital. Police say 54-year old Gerald Dean Ferguson, who was driving a red pick-up, pulled out onto Highway 59 from a side street. An ambulance and an 18-wheeler were driving southbound on 59. The driver of the 18-wheeler, 38-year old Charles Ellis of Houston, swerved to miss the truck and ended up hitting the ambulance and the truck. The driver of the 18-wheeler is OK. The three people in the ambulance, including the patient, are also OK. Police say Ferguson suffered multiple fractures. His condition remains unknown.

New Nacogdoches Businesses

Nacogdoches residents will have some new places to shop, hopefully by summer's end. Pet Sense is among the first to put up its signage. Also, start looking for a Fuddruckers and a Wing Stop. There will be several clothing stores, with Beall's being the largest. Bealls is relocating from the University Mall and should be the first to open. The commercial developer says he's looking at other Nacogdoches retail property. Local economic developers say there's currently more interested retailers than space available.

S-F-A Associate V-P Hired

There's another administrative appointment at Stephen F. Austin State University to tell you about. Danny Gallant has been named interim Vice President for Finance and Administration by S-F-A President Dr. Baker Patillo. Gallant has served as Associate Vice President for Budget and Finance since 2006. He's been responsible for preparing the annual university budget, managing investments and preparing legislative reports. He replaces Deborah Baisden who announced her resignation after a year at S-F-A.