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Motorists must slow down, move over for emergency vehicles

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063022 move over for emsBe sure to look out for emergency vehicles this July 4.

AUSTIN – Drivers traveling for the July Fourth holiday should remember that state law requires them to slow down or move over when tow trucks and other emergency vehicles – police, fire, EMS and highway response trucks – are stopped on the side of the road with their lights activated.

Texas traffic laws require drivers to leave the lane closest to the emergency vehicles stopped on the road (if the road has more than one lane traveling in the same direction) OR to slow down at least 20 miles per hour below the speed limit.

“Please help keep our highway heroes – plus you and your family – safe by obeying traffic laws that require drivers to move over or slow down when emergency vehicles are stopped on the side of the road,” said Mike Arismendez Jr., executive director of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). “Let’s all enjoy the holiday weekend and get home safe.”

TDLR regulates the towing industry as well as the Driver Education and Safety program.

Safety tips for driving this July 4:

• Slow down and pay attention to what you’re doing. If you get tired, pull over in a safe spot and walk around to re-energize.

• Don’t drink and drive, even a little bit.

• Designate a (sober) driver.

• Stay off the mobile phone – this includes texting. Designate a “co-pilot” to oversee the phone while you’re driving so you can concentrate on the task at hand.

• Stay weather-aware. We’re not expecting bad weather, but this is Texas and you never know.

Leave plenty of time to get to your destination. Roadways are likely to be crowded.

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Fugitives added to Texas 10 Most Wanted

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063022 texas most wanted

AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has added two fugitives to the Texas 10 Most Wanted Lists. Raynaldo Farias Tijerina, of San Antonio, is on the Texas 10 Most Wanted Fugitives List. Cecil Colby Smith, of Dallas, is on the Texas 10 Most Wanted Sex Offenders List. Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to Tijerina’s arrest and up to $3,000 for Smith’s. All tips are guaranteed to be anonymous.


Raynaldo Farias Tijerina, 44, is affiliated with the Tango Blast gang. He’s been wanted since October 2021, when the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office issued warrants for his arrest for invasive visual recording and possession of child pornography. The Texas Board of Probation and Paroles issued a warrant for Tijerina’s arrest the following month for a parole violation.


In 1995, Tijerina was convicted of murder and was sentenced to 30 years in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) prison. While in prison, he was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to an additional 15 years. Tijerina was released on parole in January 2017.


Tijerina is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs about 195 pounds. He has tattoos on his face, neck, abdomen, left arm and left leg. He has brown eyes but may wear colored contacts. For more information or in the event of his arrest, view his wanted bulletin.


Cecil Colby Smith, 40, has been wanted since August 2021, when the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office issued a warrant for his arrest for child abuse by injury. The Dallas County Sheriff’s Office also issued a warrant in December 2021, for failure to register as a sex offender.


In 2002, Smith was convicted of violating a protective order/assault/stalking and was sentenced to four years of probation. In 2003, Smith was convicted of two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and sexual assault of a child for incidents with a 13-year-old girl and was sentenced to five years in a TDCJ prison. In 2011, Smith was convicted of murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to eight years. He was released from prison in 2017.


Smith is 6 feet tall and weighs about 185 pounds. He has tattoos on his left cheek, neck, chest, both arms, both wrists and left hand. In addition to Dallas, he also has ties to Longview, Amarillo and the state of Oklahoma. For more information or in the event of his arrest, view his wanted bulletin.
Texas Crime Stoppers, which is funded by the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division, offers cash rewards to any person who provides information that leads to the arrest of one of Texas’ 10 Most Wanted Fugitives or Sex Offenders. So far in 2022, DPS and other agencies have arrested 32 people off the lists, including 14 gang members and 18 sex offenders. In addition, $54,000 in rewards has been paid for tips that yielded arrests.


To be eligible for cash rewards, tipsters MUST provide information to authorities using one of the following three methods: Call the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-252-TIPS (8477).


Submit a web tip through the DPS website by selecting the fugitive you have information about and then clicking on the link under their picture.
Submit a Facebook tip by clicking the “SUBMIT A TIP” link (under the “About” section).


All tips are anonymous — regardless of how they are submitted — and tipsters will be provided a tip number instead of using a name.


DPS investigators work with local law enforcement agencies to select fugitives for the Texas 10 Most Wanted Fugitives and Sex Offenders Lists. You can find the current lists — with photos — on the DPS website.


Do not attempt to apprehend these fugitives; they are considered armed and dangerous.

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Texas leaders respond to Roe overruling

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062622 roe vs wadeState Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) called the decision “a monumental victory for protecting the innocent and unborn.” Ashby said that Texas, as “a pro-life state…will continue to lead the way in the post-Roe era.”

By Chris Edwards
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The news on Friday of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 overturn of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision sent shockwaves around the country.

The decision the overturn Roe came after the ruling to the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, on the grounds that the Constitution makes no reference to abortion. The 1992 ruling Planned Parenthood v. Casey was also overruled in the process.

The ruling came after a majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, was leaked in early May, stating that Roe and Casey must both be overruled.

Friday’s decision puts the issue before the states to decide, individually, as to abortion’s legality. In Texas, a “trigger law” will go into effect in 30 days after the ruling.

The law makes performing an abortion a felony, and only makes an exception to save the life of the mother or if there is a risk of “substantial impairment of major bodily function” present. Physicians who violate the law could face life in prison and/or fines of up to $100,000. The bill was authored by Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Keller.)

After news of the decision was announced, President Joe Biden expressed dismay, and said through his press secretary that his administration will “continue to find solutions” to ensure abortion rights.

Several Texas politicians responded to the ruling by way of social media and news releases.

State Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) called the decision “a monumental victory for protecting the innocent and unborn.”
Ashby said that Texas, as “a pro-life state…will continue to lead the way in the post-Roe era.”

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement on Friday, claiming SCOTUS “correctly” overturned the Roe decision, and added that Texas has “taken significant action to protect the sanctity of life,” by prioritizing women’s healthcare, and extending Medicaid coverage to six months after birth, as well as putting $100 million toward an “Alternatives to Abortion” program.

“Texas will always fight for the innocent unborn, and I will continue working with the Texas legislature and all Texans to save every child from the ravages of abortion and help our expectant mothers,” Abbott said.

Abbott’s Democratic rival for the gubernatorial seat, Beto O’ Rourke issued a statement after the decision. “The Supreme Court has sent this back to the states, and our state’s current governor has outlawed abortion beginning at conception with no exception for rape or incest,” he said.

O’Rourke added that he is the candidate in the upcoming November gubernatorial race most devoted to “protecting a woman’s freedom to make her own decisions about her own body, healthcare and future.”

Texas’s Democratic Party and state Republican Party issued respective statements, as well.

The state Democratic Party called Abbott’s approval of anti-abortion laws “draconian and brutal,” and stated that Friday’s ruling threatens “the reproductive liberty of millions of Americans.”

The state GOP’s chairman Matt Rinaldi called Friday a “historic day which Republicans and pro-life advocates have waited for a generation.”
Rinaldi added that the state GOP will continue to support facilitating adoptions and providing assistance to mothers in need, both during and after pregnancy.

Friday’s SCOTUS decision came in the wake of a finding, through a variety of public opinion surveys, that a majority of Americans opposed overturning Roe. Polls conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, as well as other pollsters, have shown that about one in 10 Americans want abortion to be illegal in all cases.

More than 90% of all abortions in the United States take place during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, and more than half are now done with pills, according to data and information compiled by the AP.

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Arrests made in tobacco robbery

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062322 tabacco robberyLANCE HARRIS, STACY HARRIS AND STEVEN SCOTT

By Jan White
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CROCKETT – At about 3:50 a.m. on Thursday, June 16, Officers with the Crockett Police Department and Houston County Sheriff’s Officer Deputies, responded to the Tobacco Barn, located in the 400 block of North 4th Street, in reference to a burglary alarm.

As officers arrived in the area, they noticed a brown 2015 Chevrolet Suburban leaving the area. Officers caught up to the vehicle on Durrett Drive and detained the vehicle’s three occupants. While doing so, the officers noticed that the vehicle was filled with loose cartons of cigarettes, as well as several large trash bags filled with cartons of cigarettes. Officers also located bolt cutters, walkie-talkies, pry bars and gloves in the vehicle.

Other officers went back to the Tobacco Barn and found that the front door of the business had been shattered and the building had been burglarized. Surveillance video from the Tobacco Barn showed the three subjects in question breaking down the door, entering the store, and stealing four large garbage bags full of cigarettes. While the investigation continued, Officers learned that the suspects had also burglarized a convenience store in Anderson County earlier in the night.

All three suspects, identified as Steven Jajuan Scott Jr. (age 20 from Ft. Worth), Lance Harris Jr. (age 21 from Ft. Worth, and Stacy Len Harris (age 45 from Ft. Worth), were all placed under arrest and charged with Burglary of a Building (State Jail Felony), Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity (3rd Degree Felony) and Unlawful Use of Criminal Instrument (Class A Misdemeanor). Additionally, Scott also had a warrant for his arrest out of Franklin County for Burglary of a Building.

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Rep. James White to headline DETCOG annual meeting

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061622 DETCOG james whiteRep. James White set to be the keynote speaker at the annual DETCOG meeting.

LUFKIN – Representative James White (R-Hillister) will be the keynote speaker for Annual Membership and Awards Luncheon of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments and Economic Development District (DETCOG) on Thursday June 23 in Lufkin. The event will be held at noon at the Pitser Garrison Convention Center.

Rep. White has represented the Deep East Texas region in the Texas Legislature since 2010. He serves as Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security & Public Safety and also sits on the Corrections and Redistricting committees. He believes in the fundamental values of strong families, constitutional government, and economic prosperity.

Another highlight of DETCOG’s annual meeting is the presentation of the prestigious Ralph W. Steen East Texan of the Year Award. The Steen award was named in honor of the beloved past president of Stephen F. Austin State University. It honors an individual who has played a major role in leadership and service to Deep East Texas.

Several other awards will be presented. The Key Contributor Award recognizes a staff member who has contributed greatly to the organization’s success. The President’s Award recognizes service on a DETCOG committee. The Star Partner Award honors an employee or official in a state or federal agency that works closely with DETCOG. The Employee of the Year and Program Director of the Year for 2021 will also be recognized.

“We are gathering to celebrate Deep East Texas and our regional collaboration through DETCOG,” said Roy Boldon, DETCOG President and Nacogdoches City Council Member. “We look forward to recognizing our award recipients and we are especially happy to have James White join us as our keynote speaker.”

A former Deep East Texas Legislator of the Year, Rep. White has been recognized with many other awards. Texas Monthly Magazine named him a 2019 Best Legislator. The Texas Justices of the Peace and Constables Association honored him as 2015 Legislator of the Year. The Texas Association of Business named him a Champion for Free Enterprise, and the National Federation of Independent Business in Texas recognized him with its 100% Rating. Rep. White and his wife, Gem, reside in Tyler County where he is a businessman and author. He attends and worships at Hillister Baptist Church. Additionally, he is an active member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and the Texas Farm Bureau.

DETCOG, organized in 1966, is a voluntary association of local governments in the 11-county region encompassing all of Angelina, Houston, Nacogdoches, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity, and Tyler counties.
DETCOG was established in November of 1966 as an Economic Development District under the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic

Development Administration. In 1968 the organization also became a political subdivision of the State of Texas as a Regional Planning Commission under state law. Current membership includes 11 counties, 34 cities, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, plus a number of other entities including school districts, river authorities, special purpose districts, and sustaining members.

“Above all, DETCOG is an organization of, by, and for the local governments of Deep East Texas,” said Executive Director Lonnie Hunt. “We exist to support our member governments and serve their residents.”

Luncheon tickets are $25 and reserved tables are also available. RSVPs are appreciated. Anyone needing information may contact Executive Assistant Lacy Sargent at the DETCOG office in Lufkin at (936) 634-2247 extension 5254.

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