Around East Texas 07/11/07

Trinity Police Chase

A Trinity County woman is in jail after leading police on a chase that ended ina three car accident, involving a patrol car. 36-year old Tommie Renee Neal led police in the chase traveling as fast as 136 miles per hour at times. Originally, police tried to pull Neal over for a routine traffic stop, but Neal wouldn't stop. Police say she was weaving in and out of traffic on F-M 356 in Trinity County when she couldn't get past a car and rear-ended it. Police also couldn't stop and hit Neal. Three people were taken to the hospital and treated and released. The officers were uninjured. Officers say the found 28 grams of heroine in Neal's car. She has been charged with evading arrest and possession of a controlled substance. Both felony charges.

Neches River Bridge Woes

For years, the bridges on State Highway 94 that cross over the Neches River have been landmarks in East Texas. But many people believe the bridges are so old and narrow that they pose a safety threat. There are five bridges that the Texas Department of Transportation plan to replace. The plan is to build new bridges south of the current ones. Officials will then open the new bridges and roadway for drivers and tear down the old ones.

Regents Sworn

The three newest regents for Stephen F. Austin State University are sworn in. Judge Campbell Cox presented the oath of office to Governor Rick Perry's appointees, Carlos Amaral of Plano, James Hinton Dickerson Junior of New Braunfels and John Garrett of Tyler, all attended Monday's committee meetings. On Tuesday, they cast their first vote on the issue. All three are S-F-A graduates. They will serve through January 31, 2011.

Soldier Killed

A solider with East Texas ties has been killed overseas. 21-year old Jeremy Allbaugh was killed Thursday by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Allbaugh's family is originally from Oklahoma, but now live in Whitehouse (near Tyler). His mother says her son "strongly believed in what the U-S is doing in Iraq."

Construction Worker Killed

The identify of a Marshall construction worker, killed in a job related accident, has been released. The accident happened Tuesday afternoon on Highway 110, just north of New Summerfield. D-P-S says the worker, 26-year old Everado Reyes-Lopez, was on a street sweeper, when he took a turn too fast and the machine rolled on top of him. Reyes-Lopez was pronounced dead at the scene.

Teacher Investigated

An East Texas teacher is under investigation for what police are calling "questionable contact" with a sixth grade student. The woman, still unidentified, is a teacher at R-C Fisher Middle School in Athens. Right now, the teacher is under paid administrative leave.

Lufkin Bank Robbery

Surveillance video from a bank robbery in Lufkin has been released. Authorities say the two men took money from the register and then escaped in a stolen truck.  They later abandoned the truck for a stolen church van and then left the van for another vehicle.  The F-B-I believes this robbery at Bank of America last Friday is related to thefts at other East Texas banks, including recent robberies in Troup and Tyler.  If you have any information about any of the robberies, you should contact your local police or Crime Stoppers.

Storm Clean-up Continues

Some East Texans are still cleaning up debris today after severe winds rip through their town. The storm was reported early Tuesday morning in Talco. That's in Titus County, just northwest of Mount Pleasant. The winds were so strong, many trees were just shredded. Other trees fell on some houses. People around town say before the storm hit, the sky got real dark and then they saw debris actually funneling around in a cloud. Authorities say no injuries were reported. And, although the town of about 600 does have an emergency siren system, the Fire Chief says they did not receive any warnings from the National Weather Service until it was too late.

Church Flooded

An East Texas church is making plans to move today, after floods damage their sanctuary, for a third time. Pastors at the Kingdom Family Church in Tyler say on Friday and Sunday, the sanctuary flooded with as much as four feet of water. Making things worse, they had just finished repairing the damage from April, the first time the church was washed out.

Rained Out?

Today, rain is no longer a problem in East Texas, but now some people are facing the problem of standing water. It's the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. In Big Sandy, residents say a vacant pool has become a nest for the insects. They say the pool has not been taken care of for five months, when the house was foreclosed, creating a problem for the children at a day care next door. "You don't see the kids out playing very much because there are so many mosquitoes in this area. I feel truly it is because of the swimming pool that is next door to us," said Linda Blackstone, who is a neighbor. The realtor told us two large containers of shock treatment and ten chlorine tablets have been added to knock out the mosquito threat.

Alcohol and Crime

It's only been eight months since voters approved retail alcohol sales in Angelina County. Before the wet/dry election last November, opponents argued there'd be more drunk driving wrecks, violent crimes and assaults if alcohol sales were allowed in Lufkin. Lufkin Police Lieutenant David Young says that hasn't been the case. L-P-D received more calls of disturbance, violence and criminal activity last year than they have to date this year. The numbers may be a surprise to opponents of retail alcohol sales who argue alcohol equals crime, but not to law enforcement agents. Last year, police arrested 111 people for driving while intoxicated. Officers also made 111 arrests for public intoxication. This year, police have made 80 drunk driving arrests and 118 public intoxication arrests. "We didn't expect to see just a real big change. We didn't know if we would see a change with more alcohol-related incidents or not and it's proven so far to us to be that there's really very little difference; we don't notice any change," said Lt. Young. We should note, the number of citations written to minors in possession of alcohol has increased since the county went wet. Last year, 47 teenagers enrolled in the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Councils's M.I.P. class, compared to 65 this year. The course teaches young people about social responsibility and how alcohol affects the brain.