Around East Texas 07/06/07

Lufkin: Flood Ready?

Retention basins and drainage systems have been added all over Lufkin to help ease flooding, but city officials say certain areas, like Frank Street and parts of the Brookhollow Subdivision, are prone to flood during heavy rains. They are working to help those areas. "We're actually going through a federal program buying out several homes that traditionally flood and we'll demolish those home and turn that into greenways, which will alleviate other homes from flooding," said Lufkin City Manager Paul Parker. City officials plan to buy out thirteen homes in the Brookhollow area and they plan to build more retention basins and drainage systems.

East Texas Logging

The East Texas logging industry is hit hard by all the rain. Industry leaders say it's the wettest summer since the early 1970's. G&S Lumber in Nacogdoches is cutting logs, but its inventory is way down. Muddy conditions prevent logging trucks from entering the woods. The mill has shut down four times this year from two to four days, according to Timber Procurement Manager Buddy Hawkins. "It has an impact on all employees down there because they go to the house. And no one gets paid, so it has an economic impact to the county and also the city of Nacogdoches or whichever one we're dealing with." Larger mills are hurting, too. International Paper's two paper mills are traveling as far as Grapeland and Arkansas for logs. Loggers say they need about six weeks or dry weather.

Tyler Flood Problems

There have been no evacuations ordered, but several roads are closed all over East Texas due to flooding. The creek flooded off Bason Road, just north of Whitehouse in Smith County. Some cars were having to turn around to avoid driving through the high waters. Several trees and power lines have been reported down all over East Texas. On Chilton street in Tyler downed power lines caused a power outage for local residents. A high water rescue occurred at 2200 E. Gentry and Martin Luther King Blvd. in Tyler. No word on how many people had to be rescued from a stranded truck, however, investigators say the victims are doing okay. Motorists should slow down and watch out for high water and barricaded roads and other trouble spots.

Marvin Zindler: Cancer Diagnosis

Marvin Zindler, a consumer affairs reporter for Houston television station K-T-R-K, has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Zindler, whose reports in the early 1970s helped close the Chicken Ranch brothel in Fayette County and were chronicled in the book and play "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," announced his illness in a report for K-T-R-K from his hospital room today. Zindler, who will be 86 years old next month, is undergoing chemotherapy.

Former State Senator Indicted

A Panola County grand jury charged former State Senator Drew Nixon, 47, with illegally committing acts of official oppression prior to the 2006 local election. The two-count indictment, which was unsealed Thursday, stems from an investigation by the office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. Earlier this year, officers with the Texas Attorney General's office began investigating several pre-election irregularities involving the May 2006 Panola County Fresh Water Supply District No. 1 board member elections. At the time the irregularities occurred, Nixon allegedly served as both accountant and election administrator for the district. The state's investigation revealed Nixon's attempts to impede two prospective water district board candidates from appearing on the election ballot.

Road Repair Delays

Across East Texas, excessive wet weather has slowed down county work crews. Consequently, the potholes they can't fix are slowing down motorists. Normally during the summer work season crews are busy maintaining and topping roads. Instead the excessive wet weather has run crewmen indoors. They're keeping busy cleaning up the shop, picking up limbs after the storms and repairing equipment. About a week of sun is needed to dry out materials. Dryer weather would also allow crews to get outside to spray and mow flourishing weeds, another summer project that's on hold. By the way, about half the roads in Nacogdoches County are oil topped. Despite all the setbacks, crews have managed to black top some roads that were previously dirt.

Rain and Motorists

With all the rainy weather in East Texas authorities warn drivers to drive more carefully. The chances of a driver having an accident increase when it rains. The main reason is because of hydro-planing. Experts tell us bad tires are one reason vehicles hydroplane. Drivers failing to adjust their speed to the wet conditions is another. " A lot of people say, well, it's raining, I'm driving the speed limit, I'm not breaking the law. But what they don't understand is at that time, the speed limit may be too fast for the conditions. They have to slow down to whatever they feel that vehicle can be controlled at," said DPS Senior Trooper Greg Sanches. Experts say streets and roads are most dangerous when rain first begins to fall and right after it stops raining. So, slow down and watch out.

Former County Employee Charged

Still no trial date set for a former Smith County employee charged with intoxication manslaughter and aggravated assault. Mary Dodgen, a former jury coordinator for the county, is accused of driving her car into a group of pedestrians, killing one man. That happened last year in Austin. Dodgen's family says the trial is still on hold because Dodgen is battling pancreatic cancer. The family of the man killed in the accident says they want Dodgen to be held accountable, regardless of her health.

Rainy Day Blues

If all of these grey days are giving you a case of the blues, you're not alone. It turns out that weather can have a big impact on your mood, but you should know when it's something more serious. Over the years, rain has inspired some great American songs, but when it keeps coming down day after day, there's just not much to sing about. East Texas has experienced a wetter than normal season so far this summer and some local residents say that's too much. "It's changing a lot of things that we would normally do during the summer. Limiting the types of activities," added Afred Lincoln. If the rain is starting to make you feel down and out, mental experts say weather-induced woes are pretty normal. "Yes, it's common for many of us to feel gloomy and to feel like wow we wish the sun would come out and to feel kind of lousy on the days when it's been kind of rainy like it's been for the last how many weeks now? But, that's gloominess," advises Leslie Benton, a Licensed Professional Counselor with East Texas Medical Center Behavioral Health Center. If you're feeling a little down these days, there are some ways to lift your spirits. "First and foremost, don't isolate yourself. Do the activities that you're already scheduled to do," said Benton. "Also, exercise is really important and proper nutrition." And, if all that fails, take a lesson from Hazel Millington and look for the silver lining in all of these clouds. "You know last summer it was so terribly dry and when I remember that I can't complain about the rain now." Mental health experts say people who already suffer from depression, may notice it worsen when the weather gets like this. "If it starts causing you a problem with your ability to function, then it's not something we would classify as depression or seasonal affective disorder," said Benton, and you should seek professional help.

Elijah Page: Appeals Exhausted

An East Texas man has been scheduled for execution in South Dakota. 25-year-old Elijah Page, of Athens, has ended all appeals and will be put to death sometime next week. Page was convicted of the March 2000 murder of 19-year old Chester Allan Poage of Spearfish, South Dakota. It will be the 16th execution on record in South Dakota and the first in 60 years. It's been nearly a year since the governor delayed it due to legal concerns over the lethal injection mixture. Governor Mike Rounds stopped it just hours before because of a conflict between the two-drug method written in state law and a three-drug combination that prison officials planned to use. This past winter, lawmakers changed the law to let prison officials use whatever lethal injection method they choose. Page is entitled to additional appeals but has chosen to forego them. His Sioux Falls attorney says the governor and the state Supreme Court chief justice have assured him that if Page wants to call off the execution even moments before, his verbal request will be honored.

Jacksonville Rodeo

Get out your cowboy hats and boots because the rodeo is coming to Jacksonville. The Tops-in-Texas Rodeo starts on July 11th at the Jacksonville Rodeo Arena. You can buy tickets at the door, or in advance at the Norman Activity Center in Jacksonville. All shows start at 8 p.m.


They're called the Swim Sharks and they're made up of all different age groups. They travel around, competing in swim meets. But the group that caught our eye is made up of five and six year olds. Not only do coaches teach them the concept of different swimming styles, but they can definitely have some fun, just trying to get young ones to focus. Get a bunch of five and six year olds in a pool together and you could have your hands full. "It can get really hard sometimes, they're out here with their friends, so easy to get distracted," said Rebecca Standevan, assistant Head Coach. The coaches have patience and they genuinely enjoy teaching the young swimmers. "The best part is probably seeing them (grow). You know these kids are young at beginning of the season they would be like "I'm only doing this because my parents are making me," and now you're seeing some with inner desire to do well for themselves, so that's cool." And whether they execute their dive correctly or not, their breast stroke is a little off, or they can't quite get the concept of the butterfly stroke, they're learning. The Swim Sharks will be competiting in Longview this weekend.