Gas Leak & Evacuation
Fire officials are back on the scene of a natural gas leak in Smith County. They say the leak has been going on since Tuesday afternoon around 5 o'clock. It happened on F-M 850, near Chapel Hill, that's about nine miles from Overton. Fire Marshals tell us they ordered emergency crews from Houston to come and help cap the well. We're told residents living in a half mile radius near the leak have been evacuated. Fire Marshals are urging people to avoid the area, if at all possible.
"So far the weather is holding good with us, we have a little wind which is dissipating the gas cloud a little bit. As long as we keep up we should be in good shape until we are able to get the well capped," said County Fire Marshal Jim Seaton. Investigators tell us a crew was working to cap the well when the incident occurred. People are urged to avoid the area if at all possible.
Meat Plant Closing
The closing of a Lufkin meat plant leave more than 100 people looking for a new job. Mayor Jack Gorden says that employees at Armour-Eckrich Meat Plant will be let go as early as next month. The Lufkin plant is scheduled to officially close next March. Economic Developer Jim Wehmeier says the city will help displaced employees find jobs in the community. "We never like to see any kind of announcement like that, but they're announcing I guess what we've read through the Dow, the Dow news regarding the company is that they're looking to close a plant in March, 160 employees out there, if they continue to move forward we will work with the company and make sure that we can get another productive company in that facility as quickly as possible," Wehmeier said. Wehmeier says the local economy is strong and he's optimistic that displaced workers will be able to find employment.
Charlie Wilson Update
Former Congressman Charles Wilson could be released from the hospital as soon as Friday after undergoing a heart transplant last week in Houston. Wilson is said to be recovering well. He is expected to remain in the Houston area over the course of the next three months as he continues to recover and as doctors monitor him during his anti-rejection treatment period. The 74-year-old ex-lawmaker has had cardiomyopathy. Wilson represented the Second District from 1973-96. He is the subject of an upcoming movie starring Tom Hanks. Hanks will play Wilson in the film, "Charlie Wilson's War," due out this Christmas.
An East Texas man is on trial this week for a 2005 kidnapping and rape attack. Authorities say Roberto Hilario Segura is accused of kidnapping a woman outside of a Lufkin nightclub. He and another man are said to have forced the victim into a car, raped and robbed her, and hit her over the head with a gun. Segura has been charged with aggravated sexual assault and robbery. Both are first degree felonies. Segura could face up to 99 years in prison.
Lufkin Zoning Woes
There was quite a bit on the agenda at the Lufkin City Council meeting Tuesday night. In fact, one topic brought dozens of Whisper Creek residents to the meeting. Residents addressed the proposed zoning change form large single family homes to medium single family homes. The residents did not want the change, citing the applicant would want to put too many homes on a small piece of land and there would be no room for parking. A spokesperson for the applicant said the homes would be at least 12-hundred square feet. But in the end, the council denied the zone change request.
Nacogdoches Zoning Woes
In Nacogdoches, council members discussed the zoning pros and cons on the southeast loop near McMichael Middle School and near a residential complex owned by George Millard. Millard wants to build a wood chip mill. In order to proceed he needs the single family residential zone changed to planned development. City planners want to put residents next door to schools, though Millard agreed to leave a 100 foot buffer zone between the school and the proposed mill, his request failed due to lack of a second to the motion. Millard says he is deciding whether to try again later.
Litter Abatement Ordinance
City officials say that litter is becoming such a problem, they're considering proposing a litter abatement ordinance. Tuesday night the council had a working session talking about litter around the city and what can be done about it. They're trying to come up with a way to get the community and schools involved. Litter in yards, in creeks and overflowing in receptacles is becoming a huge problem. "Litter in general is up I believe, but that being said, any type of litter pick-ups have been increased, I see a lot more people picking up after themselves anything that falls out of their picking up, which is where it starts I believe efforts are there to make this a very clean city, a very clean county," said Angelina Clean Director Tony Moline. If the city does approve an ordinance, litter violators could face fines of 500-dollars.
General solicitations for the Angelina County United way campaign have begun. This is the 60th campaign for Angelina County and volunteers are trying to raise $650,000 for 23 non-profit agencies. "It helps your neighbors and it helps your community. and unfortunately sometimes we may have something that affects us and it will personally help us. but it's what makes our community strong. it's what makes our community a place that we really love to live in," said Bob Quillin, Director of Lufkin Adult Learning Center. If you would like to make a donation, contact your employer, or the Angelina County United Way. All the money raised in Angelina County, stays in Angelina County and only seven percent is used for administrative costs.
One of the trains at the Ellen Trout Zoo may soon have a new home. It's the one on display inside the Zoo, not the train for the Z&OO railroad. The Lufkin City Council is considering donating Locomotive #110 to the Galveston Railroad Museum. Gordon Henley, the Director of the Zoo says the engine needs to be moved to allow room for the construction of an education center and administrative complex. The council tabled the item until their next meeting. During discussion they said the Galveston Museum is excited about the train and would pay the 20-thousand dollar cost to get the train moved. About 40 years ago, the train traveled back and forth from Angelina to Zavalla.
Shooting Suspect Arrested
A Lufkin woman who allegedly shot her husband is behind bars. Police say Annie Mae Martin shot her husband last Friday in the leg during an argument. A neighbor heard the gunshot and called 9-1-1. When police arrived, Martin had already fled the scene. This is not the first time Martin has had a run in with the law. In June, she was arrested on assault and family violence charges.
Thirty-three year old Shedric Mosley has been found guilty in the assault of a peace officer in Smith county. His punishment? Five years in prison. During a pursuit in September, the trooper said Mosley led him on a chase then jumped out of the passenger side of the truck and ran. When the trooper tried to grab his arm, Mosley rammed him with his shoulder and punched him.
Officer's Termination Upheld
Another setback for a former East Texas police officer, fired after contracting viral meningitis. The Longview city manager upheld the decision to fire officer Judy Ivory Gilliand. Officer Judy, as she is called, contracted viral meningitis after giving sick students a ride home form Longview High School. She is now looking into legal action against the city.
Shoppers today is opening day for 80 Kohls nationwide. That includes one location in Tyler on south Broadway and one in Longview on north Eastman Road. By the end of November, Khols will now have over 900 stores in 19 states.