Local News

Galveston Beaches Closed for July 4th Weekend

The City of Galveston just ordered beaches closed for Independence Day weekend.  The order can be viewed here.  The City issued this press release: Galveston beaches will be closed and parking will be blocked on both sides of Seawall Boulevard over the holiday weekend in response to recent increases in cases of COVID-19, and health and safety concerns for our residents and visitors. Beaches Beginning this Friday, July 3, at 5 a.m. through Monday, July 6, at 12:01 a.m., Galveston beaches will be closed to all traffic. People will not be allowed to access Gulf beaches at any location within the City of Galveston. Beaches will reopen Monday morning. Mayor Jim Yarbrough signed an executive order for the beach closure Wednesday after the city conferred with the Texas General Land Office. The decision to close beaches comes after much deliberation; however, the city feels it is in the best interest of our residents and visitors to close beaches ahead of the busy holiday weekend. Our local health officials have stated that we are at a critical juncture in this pandemic in Galveston County and the greater Houston region. The decision follows the guidance of medical professionals and comes after Texas Medical Center hospitals entered into Phase 2 surge plans for ICU capacity in neighboring Harris County. “At this time, based on the current health situation and the guidance of medical professionals, I do not feel it is prudent or responsible to have thousands of visitors descending on Galveston beaches,” Mayor Jim Yarbrough said. “Galveston has and always will be a welcoming destination, but the ongoing public health crisis demands our attention and response. We have to prioritize health and safety.” The order may be enforced by any peace officer of the Galveston Police Department or City Marshal’s office, and any member of Galveston Island Beach Patrol. Violation of the order is a Class C misdemeanor and carries an up to $500 fine. Seawall Boulevard The City of Galveston is also temporarily prohibiting parking on both sides of Seawall Boulevard from 5 a.m. Friday to 12:01 a.m. Monday. The city will place no parking signs beginning Friday morning; however, people will be able to exercise on the Seawall sidewalk. Chairs, picnics, tents, or any other type of tailgating on the Seawall sidewalk is not allowed. Additionally, there will be no parking on Boddeker Drive. Health We are in a pandemic and remain concerned about the health and safety of our residents and visitors. Whether you live here or are on vacation, remember the most effective ways to protect yourself: keep at least six feet distance from others, wear a mask in public spaces, wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face. The City of Galveston has a mask order in place, which effectively requires masks for people over the age of 10 at all Galveston businesses that serve the public. There are a few exceptions to this, such as when you are consuming food or drink or while at the beach or exercising. More information about the policy is available at galvestontx.gov/coronavirus. Public safety The Galveston Police Department will have additional police officers on duty this weekend to respond to calls and assist with traffic safety. The City Marshal’s office will have peace officers on duty working with businesses to ensure the mask order is being enforced. As a friendly reminder, unlicensed or unpermitted fireworks are not permitted within the City of Galveston. Fire Marshals will be working this weekend to enforce the prohibition on possession and/or discharging of fireworks within the city, which is a Class C misdemeanor. Violators caught setting off or in possession of fireworks can face up to $2,000 in fines daily. The Galveston Fire Department is urging the public to take every precaution to ensure a safe, fun holiday. For more information about fire safety, please contact the Galveston Fire Marshal’s Office by calling (409) 797-3870. Note, the July 4th parade and the public fireworks display were canceled earlier this summer because of concerns regarding COVID-19 and social distancing. For more information, please visit galvestontx.gov or follow us on social media @CityofGalveston.
Galveston Beaches Closed for July 4th Weekend

Log Truck Overturned on 87 in Sabine County

Daily News & More is reporting that a Louisiana log truck driver escaped without injury after his rig rolled over on Tuesday afternoon in Sabine County. It happened shortly after 3:00 on State Highway 87 about 2 miles south of Farm to Market Road 3315 in the Fairmount Community.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety Sergeant David Hendrey, 45-year-old Gordy Freeney, of DeRidder, was driving northbound in a 1996 Peterbilt and carrying a load of logs.

Hendrey said Freeney told investigating troopers that he met a car coming at him in his lane, so he took evasive action which resulted in the truck and trailer overturning on the roadway.

The driver that allegedly caused the accident did not stop, according to Hendrey.

Hendrey said Freeney was issued a citation for unsafe speed.


New Ward 6 Fire Station Opened in DeQuincy

A ribbon cutting ceremony and open house was held for the newest fire station of DeQuincy on Wednesday, July 1.

Ward 6 Fire Protection has placed their fifth station in the fire district at 4320 Edgerly Road in DeQuincy.

According to the District Captain, Teri Parker, it completes the goal for the department to have a station within five-miles of every home in their district.

Residents of the Edgerly Road and Bud Bennett Road areas are advised to contact their insurance companies to confirm they are receiving the insurance rates that coincide with the department’s class 4 fire rating.

“Some homeowners on Bud Bennett Road, located near the new station, are already reporting a savings of more than $100 per-month since the station has been built in the area,” says Parker.

125 square-miles around the DeQuincy and north Sulphur areas are protected by the Ward 6 Fire Department.


Human Remains Found in Search for Missing Fort Hood Private

U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command agents returned to “an area of interest” near the Leon River, CID Chief of Public Affairs Chris Grey said in a statement Tuesday.

“After receiving additional information, agents have discovered what has been described as partial human remains after analysis from a forensic anthropologist,” he said.

“Army CID agents are currently on scene with the Texas Rangers, the FBI and Bell County Sheriff’s Department,” he said.

“No confirmation as to the identity of the remains has been made at this point and we ask for the media and public’s understanding that the identification process can take time.”

A resident who smelled an unusual odor in the area Tuesday called the Bell County Sheriff’s Office, which found the remains in a shallow grave near where Texas Equusearch volunteers scoured the river earlier as part of their effort to find Guillen, who disappeared sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on April 22.

“The search is over,” the group’s founder, Tim Miller, told KWTX as he left to head for the scene.

Guillen was last seen in the parking lot of her 3rd Cavalry Regiment Engineer Squadron Headquarters.

Keys to her car and her barracks room and her ID card and wallet were later found in the armory room where she had worked earlier in the day.

She was last seen wearing a black T-shirt and purple fitness-type pants.

Guillen, an avid runner, is 5-foot-2, weighs 126 pounds and has black hair and brown eyes.


LSU Secures $10M Transmission Electron Microscope with U.S. Army and State Support

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced Tuesday that the U.S. Army has awarded LSU a $10 million transmission electron microscope. Kennedy, the only member of Louisiana’s congressional delegation on an appropriations committee, supported LSU’s proposal for the research partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense.

“If America is going to remain the world’s technological leader, we must increase our focus on the next generation of quantum cybersecurity and other tech fields,” said Kennedy. “Louisiana is doing its part to help the U.S. win the technology race. This transmission electron microscope will reinforce LSU’s position as a top research institution that attracts leading educators, research scientists, and students. The investment will also create economic opportunities for Louisiana through the cutting-edge research this microscope makes possible.”

Transmission electron microscopes are the only instruments that allow researchers to examine physical and chemical properties at levels smaller than the atom. These microscopes are a crucial tool in analyzing materials for biomedical research, micro-electronics, and nano-electronics research, as well as for superconductivity research and for the development and manufacturing of materials. Transmission electron microscopes can also advance next-generation quantum information science and technology as well as quantum cybersecurity.

“With this new instrument, we will be able to image and measure all kinds of natural and engineered materials—from cellular to molecular to subatomic scales—at a level of detail found at very few universities,” said LSU Vice President of Research & Economic Development Samuel J. Bentley. “This will form the basis for frontier research in partnership with the Army and other agencies and universities. It will also be a magnet for the best faculty and students to join our LSU team to continue to push the envelope of human knowledge.”

The new microscope will be housed at LSU’s Shared Instrumentation Facility at the heart of the main campus. It will benefit researchers in multiple disciplines, including faculty from the LSU College of Science and the LSU College of Engineering.

“We are excited to add such next-level instrumentation,” LSU College of Science Dean Cynthia Peterson said. “The transmission electron microscope will further advance the university’s research enterprise and support emerging technologies and research efforts in materials and manufacturing science.”

Dr. Dawanne Poree, program manager at the Army Research Office, an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory, described how the supported transmission electron microscope will help augment research projects of interest to the Army.

“The instrumentation could impact a wide range of research areas, ranging from biomaterials, catalysis, electronics, materials science, and quantum materials; thus, broadly impacting the education and research training of next-generation scientists and engineers in Army-relevant areas,” said Poree.


Mark Herford Sworn in as Beauregard Parish Sheriff

 Mark Herford is the newly elected sheriff in Beauregard Parish. Herford was sworn in Tuesday afternoon in a gathering outside the parish courthouse.

Herford thanked the people who showed up to watch the ceremony.

“We’re gonna serve you honorably, I promise you that,” Herford said. “I’m gonna provide you the most professional and best trained deputies in the state.”

Herford succeeds Ricky Moses, who did not seek re-election.

In Southwest Louisiana, incumbent sheriffs took the oath without any special ceremony due to the pandemic. Their new terms officially begin at midnight.

Arthrogryposis Awareness

June 30 is proclaimed  by Governor John Bel Edwards  as Arthrogryposis Awareness Month and June 30 as AMC Awareness Day.  AMC involves a variety of non-progressive conditions characterized by multiple joint contractures and involves muscle weakness found throughout the body at birth.  Pictured here is State Representative Rodney Schamerhorn presenting Paisley Langton with the Proclamation along with her parents, Blake and Crystal, and her brother, Ethan.  You cannot keep Paisley down! She will begin Kindergarten at Many Elementary School in August and has already attended Pre-school there for two years.  Her beautiful smile is contagious.  She is our hometown hero!

Local State Rep. Voices Frustrations with the Gov. Edwards

 Louisiana will remain in Phase II for the next three weeks, and one local State Representative is pushing back.

Chuck Owen, the District 30 State Rep., took the House floor Friday to express his frustrations with Governor John Bel Edwards and his transparency when it comes to reopening the state.

“My patience as a team member is running out. On three different occasions, our governor has given us limited to no warning about what he was going to do with regard to reopening the state. The first time it was a five minute email. The next two times it was a one hour email. As a co-equal member of the government, the legislature should have more input and should have more warning than that. If the governor is going to keep going forward, he can go forward much better if he will include us in these decisions, and we will be involved in it and we will know about it ahead of time. We have to be team members if we’re going to succeed in this in the state of Louisiana.”

Natchitoches Man Accused of Looking to Avenge Friend’s Death

Police in Duson, Louisiana, have arrested a Natchitoches man and accused him of threatening two women with a gun.

Jonathan Perry, 35, is accused of entering into a house on Toby Mouton Road and waving a gun at two women inside, demanding to know the whereabouts of a woman who is a sister to one of them, a spokesman said.

Police allege that Perry was attempting to avenge the death of a friend who had been shot in Lafayette on Saturday. Police said that friend was Kyle Romero.
Perry allegedly knew the sister he was seeking spent time with the person he believes killed his friend, police said.

Perry, who has a prior felony conviction and who is on parole, was found blocks away from the crime and taken into custody without incident, police said.

The gun was recovered in a vehicle Perry was driving.

Perry was booked into the Lafayette Parish Jail on a charge of home invasion, two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm and illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Perry’s bond has been set at $100,000.


State Fire Marshall Tips Ahead of Independence Day Holiday

The Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal issued safety tips ahead of the Fourth of July weekend so families who celebrate at home can enjoy displaying fireworks safely.

As many people opt to purchase fireworks in order to stay safer at home, the State Fire Marshal’s Office reminds residents of the danger of starting a fire.

The National Fire Protection Agency reports an estimated 19,500 fires in 2018, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires and 17,100 outside and other fires. These fires caused five deaths, 46 civilian injuries and $105 million in direct property damage, State Fire Marshal’s Office Ashley Rodrigue said.

If you choose to light fireworks at home, remember to:

· Detonate devices at least 200 feet away from structures, vehicles and rubbish

· Never allow children to light fireworks

· Never operate fireworks while impaired

· Light devices one at a time and monitor embers released with a bucket of water or hose nearby

· Discard detonated items by wetting them down to prevent re-ignition and not disposing of them in a trash container immediately

Although some public fireworks displays were either canceled or altered due to coronavirus concerns, the State Fire Marshal’s Office said to follow CDC and state health guidelines if attending a public display by wearing face coverings and maintaining social distance.

There is no prohibition on the sale of retail fireworks at the state level as a result of COVID-19. However, state law requires wholesale and retail fireworks business operators to be appropriately licensed by the SFM in the parishes and municipalities where they are legally allowed, Rodrigue said.


DeRidder Officer Resigns After Accusations of Pulling Over Women, Then Sending Friend Requests to Them

A DeRidder police officer resigned after being accused of pulling over female drivers and then friend requesting them on social media.

The DeRidder Police Department received a complaint on June 12 from the District Attorney’s Office against one of their own.

According to DeRidder police chief Craig Richard, two women, own of whom is a minor, filed complaints with the District Attorney’s Office against officer William Reed.

The women claim to have been pulled over by the officer in early June and then received friend requests on social media shortly after.

“The complainants advised that they did not know the officer and only knew him through being pulled over and stopped and being issued a summons,” Richard said.

On June 15, Chief Richard, DeRidder Mayor Misty Clanton, and the district attorney met with the complainants and a preliminary investigation began.

Officer Reed was notified of the complaints against him on June 16 and was put on administrative leave. Chief Richard said a few hours later Reed resigned. Richard said at this time internal affairs investigators have not informed the department of any possible criminal charges against Reed.

“Furthermore, that’s why the investigation is continuing so we can have a complete accurate file on this matter,” he said. “The integrity of the department is our top priority.”

Richard said he takes this matter very seriously. He referred to the former officer’s actions as unprofessional.

“I want anyone in the public to feel free to contact the police department if they feel unprofessional conduct has happened,” he said. “We will look into those matters, to keep our agency and our employees as professional as we can be.”

Man Who Swam with Bass Pro Fish Charged with Simple Criminal Damage

A bizarre scene unfolded June 25 inside of Bass Pro Shops in Bossier City.

A man climbed into a large aquarium and took a swim with the fish. The incident was captured on video which has since gone viral on social media with thousands of views.

That man seen taking a swim in the indoor aquarium at Bass Pro Shops earlier this week has now been arrested, according to the Bossier City Police Department.

Kevin Wise, 26, of Slidell, is charged with simple criminal damage to property, which is a misdemeanor offense.

He was given a citation and released on a summons to appear in court.


Tyler Police Investigating After Attempted ATM Theft at Southside Bank

Tyler Police are searching for suspects involved in attempt to steal an ATM machine from a South Tyler bank early Saturday morning.

The incident took place around 3:01 a.m. at Southside Bank’s drive thru location at the 2200 block of Three Lakes Parkway in Tyler for reports of a panic alarm.

Surveillance video shows an unknown number of suspects using a dump truck to pull the machine from the location, according to investigators on scene.

After the machine was removed from its cement base, it was abandoned a couple of blocks from where it was taken.

In addition, police found the abandoned white dump truck off the roadway behind the businesses in the 6900 block of Highlands Lane. Officials say it is believed that the vehicle was stolen.

At this time, police have not released any additional details on who they are looking for.

Lake Claiborne Drowning Victim Identified

The Claiborne Parish Sheriff’s Office has released the name of a Ruston man who drowned in Lake Claiborne Wednesday.

The victim has been identified as 38-year-old Lane McGaha, according to Claiborne Sheriff Ken Bailey.

The man’s body was recovered from the waters of Lake Claiborne after a fisherman discovered him in the water around 5 p.m. and notified authorities.

McGaha, who was operating a boat alone on the lake, may have accidentally fallen overboard, possibly due to a medical issue, Bailey told KTBS Wednesday.

The Claiborne Parish Sheriff’s Office investigation into this incident remains open.

McGaha’s body was sent to Little Rock, Ark. to undergo an autopsy. As of early Thursday afternoon the autopsy results were pending.


Louisiana Department of Education Releases 2020-2021 School Reopening Guidance

The Louisiana Department of Education released guidance on Thursday, June 25 for how schools across the state can reopen for the 2020-2021 school year.

The guidelines were released in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) and the Resilient Louisiana Commission and include actions that schools can take to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

LDOE says that each school district will ultimately decide how schools will operate, but that guidance will offer best practices to prepare for three possible reopening scenarios: traditional, hybrid or distance/remote learning.

The guidance will also explain how health requirements will change based on the three reopening phases and what to expect and how to respond to COVID-19 positive or presumptive cases on campuses.

The “Strong Start 2020: Guidelines and Resources for School Reopenings” is available on the LDOE website and includes a number of guidelines and best practices for districts including:

  • Bus capacity and student group size
  • Student symptom monitoring
  • Face coverings
  • Food prep and meal service

Along with the resources released Thursday, LDOE says schools and districts will have access to additional support through webinars and a hotline.