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San Jacinto County News

Lufkin District set to begin largest project yet

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111223 road work

Special to the News-Times

A pre-construction meeting was held last week at the Lufkin District Office, signaling the start of an 8-year construction project that will be the largest project to date for the district.

Engineers, contractors, utility company representatives, consultants and other interested parties met to discuss the pending construction. Barricades will be set Dec. 7 with work scheduled to begin Dec. 11, weather permitting, on a 6.37-mile section of US 59 in San Jacinto and Liberty counties.

Webber LLC, The Woodlands, will serve as contractor for the $190 million construction project that is scheduled to be completed in 2031. The project is designed to upgrade US 59 to future I-69 standards and will include converting a non-freeway to freeway consisting of the construction of a four-lane freeway and two-lane frontage roads from FM 2914 in San Jacinto County to the Loop 573 interchange in Cleveland (Liberty County).

The construction will include 3.343 miles in the Lufkin District and 3.028 miles in the Beaumont District (Liberty County).

As this project begins, motorists are urged to reduce speed and obey all traffic control through the work zone. Stay alert for moving machinery and workers near the lanes of travel. Prepare for delays and obey a reduced work zone speed limit that will be posted near the area. Traffic fines double when workers are present.

For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (936) 633-4395.

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One killed in motorcycle accident

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SJNT staff

SAN JACINTO COUNTY — Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers investigated a fatal crash on Farm-to-Market Road 3081, near the 424-mile marker, that occurred, Wednesday.

Reports indicate that at approximately 4:15 p.m., a 2009 Kawasaki motorcycle was traveling north, and as the rider passed a school bus in a no-passing zone, he failed to negotiate a curve safely, causing the motorcycle to travel into the ditch and strike a tree.

The rider, 35-year-old Taylor Mitchell of Willis, was pronounced dead at the scene by a Justice of the Peace.

This is an ongoing investigation.


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Sheriff breaks up cockfighting ring

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SJNT staff

CLEVELAND — San Jacinto County Sheriff deputies made 19 arrests and confiscated 96 roosters after investigating a call of animal cruelty.

On Oct. 15, after receiving at call, three deputies found 250-300 people at what was described as a large-scale cockfighting operation at 100 Maxine Road, which is in the Oak Forests Subdivision of San Jacinto County.

According to reports, deputies found a large wooden structure and a round wooden cock fighting arena, wooden bleachers, and a working kitchen and concession stand. Also located under the covered structure were various items of gambling paraphernalia, including a dry erase board which indicated 44 fights had already taken place.

Deputies were able to detain 19 people, and the others fled into the surrounding woods. About 100 vehicles were abandoned, the reports state. Investigators found additional cockfighting items and numerous roosters, and 96 live roosters seized from vehicles, cages, and transport boxes. Also, officers found four trailers equipped with wooden pens, lights and air conditioning.

Other items seized include gaffs, vitamins, steroids, syringes, food and cages. Deputies also found several dozen dead roosters, and several live roosters were found still wearing gaffs in their cages.

In all, deputies seized 96 birds, 43 vehicles, four trailers, five pistols, some marijuana and more than $22,000.

United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement was contacted regarding the arrest of subjects suspected to be undocumented immigrants.

The investigation continues, and the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office is working to identify the suspects that fled the scene as well as those that were there to observe.

Arrested were:

Jonathan A. Briceno-Garcia, participating in a cockfight, possession of a controlled substance penalty group 1 greater than 1 gram but less than 4 grams, and possession of marijuana.

Alejandro Calztoncinth, attending a cockfight.

•Luis Alberto Castillo-Adame, attending a cockfight.

•Armando Delgado, attending a cockfight with a previous conviction.

•Elias Gallegos, attending a cockfight.

•Ruben Garcia-Meza, attending a cockfight.

•Daniel Gonzalez, attending a cockfight.

•Edgar Gutierrez, attending a cockfight.

•Alberto Martinez, attending a cockfight.

•Alejandro Mendoza, attending a cockfight.

•Alejandro Morales, attending a cockfight.

•Adrian Moreno, attending a cockfight.

•Michael Lakeith Potts, attending a cockfight.

•Armando Puga-Medrano, attending a cockfight.

•Ramon Robles-Mendez, attending a cockfight.

•Gerardo Santoyo, attending a cockfight.

•Jose Ortuno-Ortega, attending a cockfight.

•Emigdio Miranda-Perez, participating in a cockfight.

•Narciso Rios-Martinez, attending a cockfight.

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Vehicle fire closes highway

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A semi carrying hazardous material caught fire on Oct. 9. Courtesy photoA semi carrying hazardous material caught fire on Oct. 9. Courtesy photo

SAN JACINTO — The Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers investigated a crash on U.S. Highway 59, near Red Road, that occurred Oct. 9.

The preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 3 p.m., a 2011 Peterbilt truck tractor hauling hazardous materials was traveling south.

The driver, 39-year-old Jose Olvera of Houston, heard a noise and began to feel heat emitting from the floorboard. The driver pulled to the west shoulder and exited the vehicle shortly after it caught fire. No hazardous material escaped.

The driver was not injured.

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October is deadly month for Texas pedestrians

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Pedestrians STOCK

Special to the News-Times

AUSTIN — Fall and winter months bring shorter days and less light, making it harder for drivers to see — and safely avoid — pedestrians.

October saw the highest number of pedestrian crashes in 2022. That’s why TxDOT is using National Pedestrian Safety Month to continue its “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” campaign and remind Texans that pedestrians are our most vulnerable road users.

When he was 6 years old, Misael Rico was walking to school with his mother when a distracted driver crashed into them, dragging him underneath the car. That night, doctors told his parents he might never walk or talk again. After countless surgeries and years of physical therapy, Rico started college this year, and joins TxDOT to urge drivers to pay attention and watch for people walking.

Only 1 percent of crashes in Texas involve pedestrians, yet they make up 19 percent of all traffic deaths. In the last five years, pedestrian traffic fatalities in Texas increased 29.6 percent, reflecting nationwide trends. In 2022, 5,764 traffic crashes involving pedestrians occurred in Texas, resulting in 829 deaths and 1,526 serious injuries.

“As we shift to fewer hours of daylight, it’s up to drivers and pedestrians to adapt and help keep our roads safe,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “Motorists need to stay alert and look for people walking, and pedestrians can take measures to be seen by drivers who may be inattentive behind the wheel.”

TxDOT’s campaign includes TV and radio spots, billboards and digital advertising. TxDOT will also bring more than 30 walking billboards — street teams wearing sandwich boards — to towns that saw the highest numbers of fatalities from pedestrian-related traffic crashes. The street teams will be deployed to put pedestrian safety messages front and center in places where vehicles and pedestrians share the road.

TxDOT encourages everyone to follow these safety tips to prevent a deadly encounter:

For drivers:

•Stop and yield for pedestrians in crosswalks.

•When turning, yield the right of way to pedestrians.

•Be cautious when passing stopped buses or other vehicles that can block your view of pedestrians.

•Pay attention and put your phone away so you’re prepared if pedestrians enter your path.

•Follow the posted speed limit and drive to conditions.

For people walking:

•Cross the street only at intersections and crosswalks. Look left, right, then left again before crossing.

•Make eye contact with drivers before crossing. Don’t assume traffic will stop for you.

•Follow all traffic and crosswalk signals.

•When walking, put away electronic devices that take your eyes and ears off the road.

•Stay visible. Wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.

TxDOT’s “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” pedestrian safety campaign is a key component of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel to help end the streak of daily deaths. Nov. 7, 2000, was the last deathless day on Texas roadways. For media inquiries, contact TxDOT Media Relations at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (512) 463-8700.

The information contained in this report represents reportable data collected from the Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (CR-3). This information was received and processed by the department as of July 26, 2023. To view additional traffic safety data, visit TxDOT’s Traffic Safety Data Portal online.

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