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New officers take bite out of crime in Ivanhoe

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riley dogCHRIS EDWARDS | TCB Ivanhoe City Marshal Terry Riley with Yaya.

By Chris Edwards

IVANHOE – Much like the animated bloodhound in the 1980s named McGruff who reminded kids to “take a bite out of crime,” there are some canine law enforcers who are doing just that in Tyler County.

According to Deputy Marshal Michael “Mike” King with the Ivanhoe Marshal’s Office, the three recently added canine deputies to the department’s ranks are “earning their kibble.” The canine deputies, named Yaya, Baby and Duke, have, in the short time they’ve been active on the streets, netted three felony charges for possession of controlled substances and one of the canines (Duke) is certified in explosives detection.

Both Yaya and Baby are certified narcotics detection dogs and are the canine counterparts of Chief Marshal Terry Riley and King, respectively.

The human officer counterparts (K9s) and the dogs both endure rigorous testing and training on an ongoing basis in order to protect and serve their communities. Along with narcotics detection and explosive identification, the dogs are also extremely useful in search-and-rescue operations and pursuing fleeing suspects.

Riley and King also recently attended a canine first-aid course, which allows the dogs to be life-flighted by Hermann Memorial Life Flight if they are seriously injured in the line of duty.

2PHOTO COURTESY OF IVANHOE MARSHAL’S OFFICE Ivanhoe Deputy Marshal Mike King with Baby.

Yaya was obtained last November by Riley and trained by Ivanhoe resident Michael Hadnot. More recently, Warren resident and businessman Neil Alderman sponsored the narcotics training of Baby. Alderman said he learned during the last election cycle that there were no narcotics dogs working in the county, and said he wanted to ensure there were canine officers available to help out the different school districts in the county, along with other law enforcement agencies in tackling the drug issues facing the area.

The Marshal’s Office reported that it has responded to 130 calls for service, assistance or criminal activity for each month since the beginning of the year, and the presence of the canine officers has helped immensely.

Along with the canine officers, Riley recently added another officer to the department, longtime Tyler County lawman Jim Zachary, who will serve as a Deputy Marshal.

Zachary recently retired from his post as Pct. 4 Constable, which his son, Zach, won in the last election. “With the addition of Deputy Zachary, the Marshal’s Office personnel has over a combined 100 years of law enforcement experience,” Riley said.

The Marshal’s Office has also forged working relationship with other agencies, including the DEA Narcotics Task Force. According to King, although it is small in number, the Marshal’s Office of Ivanhoe is a full-service law enforcement agency capable of handling everything from traffic incidents to serious criminal violations, all on a small operating budget.

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Former NFL player, Crockett native drowns at Rayburn

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Pete Lammons trading card as a New York JetCOURTESY PHOTO Pete Lammons trading card as a New York Jet

By Chris Edwards

A man who drowned in Lake Sam Rayburn on Thursday was identified on Friday by authorities as that of Peter Spencer “Pete” Lammons, Jr., a 77-year-old Houston man who was once an NFL athlete.

Lammons, who was reportedly an avid outdoorsman, was fishing in the Major League Fishing’s Toyota Tournament when the incident occurred on Thursday. According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, the drowning occurred near San Augustine Park, which is located on the east side of the lake, seven miles southwest of Pineland. The drowning in the second that has occurred in the region during this week. On Sunday, 18-year-old Richard Tyler Johnston, of Hemphill, drowned in Dam B.

Texas Parks & Wildlife game wardens recovered his body by using sonar, but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, according to a press release from Major League Fishing. The accident occurred when Lammons fell overboard at the dock while preparing to fish in the tournament, according to MLF.

Lammons was a native of Crockett and played football for Jacksonville High School in the late 1950s and early ‘60s before he matriculated to the University of Texas in Austin and played as a Longhorn. He was drafted as an eighth-round pick by the New York Jets in the 1966 AFL draft, according to ESPN, where he played as a tight-end through 1971. He finished his career as one of the Green Bay Packers in 1972.

Pete Lammons as UT Longhorn courtesy of UTPete Lammons as UT Longhorn courtesy of UT

Lammons was a starting defensive player on the Jets’ Super Bowl III championship team, and he was also a part of the UT 1963 national championship team under legendary coach Darrell Royal.

Lammons also played for another legendary coach, Bum Phillips, as a high school freshman. Phillips was then head coach at Jacksonville High School. Years later, the two men met again on the sidelines of the 1967 AFL All-Star Game.

According to Lammons’s nephew Lance, his uncle had been fatigued from two recent stent surgeries and tripped as he was about to board the boat, fell into the lake and could not be saved.

After his football career, Lammons was involved in real estate and horse racing. He was also a professional angler, and had competed in more than 50 of the MLF tournaments.

On a story about Lammons’s death on the New York Jets’ official website, his nephew is quoted as saying that “Pete wanted Jacksonville to have his Super Bowl ring and his National Championship ring from the University of Texas.”

Lammons also has a scholarship named in his honor for Jacksonville HS graduates.

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Sabine County teen drowns at Dam B

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LE Flashing LightsFILE PHOTO LE Flashing Lights

By Chris Edwards

DAM B – A Sabine County teenager drowned on Sunday afternoon while fishing at Dam B, according to Jasper County Sheriff Mitchel Newman.

Richard Tyler Johnston, 18, of Hemphill, was reportedly fishing near the spillway at the reservoir. The incident was reported right before 7 p.m., and volunteers from the Jasper County Emergency Corps, as well as others, were dispatched to the location, on the lake’s south end. The volunteers, along with officers from the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife and the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department arrived on the scene, and game wardens from TPW recovered Johnston’s body.

According to Newman, the body was recovered from an area between the floodgates and the Willis Hydroelectric Unit. Johnston was pronounced dead at the scene by Jasper County Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Raymond Hopson.

Hopson said that he requested an autopsy be performed.

According to Newman, from the preliminary investigation, it appears that Johnston, along with others, walked to the location where the incident was reported, from the east side of the dam. Johnston was reportedly there on a fishing trip.

Johnston’s family has established a Go Fund Me page to raise money for his funeral expenses. According to the site, Johnston had turned 18 in December, and he had only begun working and had no life insurance.

His father preceded him in death, and the family wishes to bury him next to his late father, as they believe it is what he would have wanted.

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Family of missing man hoping for clues

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Missing Man Thomas ThorntonCOURTESY PHOTO Thomas Thornton

By Chris Edwards

TYLER COUNTY – Family members of a missing Town Bluff man have spread the word through social media, and given descriptions, along with photographs, of the 72-year-old Thomas Thornton. Thornton has been missing for a little more than a month now.

According to his family, Thornton is good-natured, likes to chat with people and has a distinctive, loud laugh. Like many men of his generation who saw combat in Vietnam, however, Thornton has a history of PTSD and a few other health issues that worry his concerned family members, since he did not take any of his medications with him.

Thornton went missing on March 24, when he was last seen leaving his Town Bluff home around 6 p.m. to head to Jasper, where he used his debit card at Brookshire Bros. According to the timeline of Thornton’s last known whereabouts, which were gleaned from security cameras and cell phone pings, he was last on the grid on March 26, when his cell signal was pinged in Shelby County, but lost after that. It is surmised that his cell phone lost its charge, and that is when his family and the Tyler County Sheriff’s Department attempted to get a Silver Alert issued for him, which was activated two days later.

The Silver Alert has since been discontinued, but Thornton’s family members are still asking the public to be on the lookout for the missing man. His niece Dana Lee Summerlin Hutto asked the public to check their hunting clubs and fish camps. “We are really hoping for some clues to lead us to him,” Hutto said.

Hutto said her uncle, who has lived in Tyler County for more than 20 years, enjoys fishing and walking in the woods, and of primary concern, medically, is the fact that he is in the early stages of dementia, which has caused his family to fear for his wellbeing since he initially went missing.

His sister, Norma Armstrong, said that her brother is dependent on his medications, and there is no evidence that he has had any of his meds since he took off. She also said that “Tommy,” as his family knows him, typically wears a baseball cap with a “Vietnam Veteran” patch on it, and usually sports T-shirts and carpenter-style blue jeans.

He stands 5’7” tall and weighs 255 lbs. Thornton drives a dark grey 2017 Ford Edge with the Texas license plate number NJJ-8580. He also has blue eyes and a visible scar on his right arm.

Hutto said the family is prepared for the worst but needs closure. Although there have been no updates in more than a month, she said that the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office has been nothing but caring and compassionate to the family during their ordeal. She praised the efforts of Sgt. Don Calhoon, deputy Travis Rice and Tracy Bump for working the case. Anyone with information regarding Thornton’s whereabouts is encouraged to call the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office at 409-283-2172

Hutto celebrated her birthday last week, and although she said she never asks for anything for her birthday, she wants to ask the public a “big favor,” and for people to be on the lookout for her uncle. She also said that if individuals work in, or visit, hospitals, nursing homes or homeless shelters, to be on the lookout for him and to spread the word.

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WISD discusses first step in long-range planning

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SHP Donation 042221CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB Wheat Elementary students present a check to Brian and Deborah Smith of Sleep in Heavenly Peace. The students raised the money through a coin drive fundraiser.

By Chris Edwards

WOODVILLE – At its regular monthly meeting, the Woodville ISD Board of Trustees discussed taking the first steps toward long-range planning involving its facilities.

The district recently went out for request for proposals from architects and construction managers and received eight submitted proposals. Superintendent Lisa Meysembourg said that in reviewing the materials and conducting interviews, it will be a matter of finding out who will be able to suit the district best. “This is the initial part of seeing what firm best fits the district’s needs,” Meysembourg said.

The board discussed the best method for reviewing the proposals and agreed to use a 10-day period for review, ranking and to schedule interviews on May 10.

Meysembourg emphasized that in gathering the proposals and reviewing them that was the first step toward whatever the district might need in the future; that there’s been no discussion of any expenditures concerning the facilities or other infrastructure concerns, and that needs might change years down the road.

Wheat Elementary students make presentations

At Monday night’s meeting, the WISD board convened with a full boardroom full of Wheat Elementary students, faculty and parents. Several Wheat second graders and gifted and talented students made presentations. Wheat Vice Principal Allison Mosley and second-grade teacher Bridgette Stott introduced the students.

The presentations by the second graders ranged from facts about flying squirrels to a discussion about what tigers eat. Stott said the students began their projects in March, with researching.

The GT students presented a check to the Woodville chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, which builds beds for children who do not have beds to sleep in.

The GT students, through a coin drive fundraiser, raised more than $1,200 to give to the charitable organization. SHP’s Brian and Deborah Smith were on hand to accept the donation. Stott said the fundraiser was helpful in teaching financial literacy to the students.

On behalf of the WISD board, Vice President John Wilson said the students’ efforts made the board, faculty and parents of the district proud.

Other Business

At its meeting, the WISD board also approved the following items:

  • The board approved a resolution regarding affordable broadband access. The resolution is one going through school boards across the state, Meysembourg said. She said broadband access has “a critical impact upon the education of our students.” The resolution will be sent to Gov. Greg Abbott and the state legislature.
  • The Texas Education Agency’s annual verification for TEKS certification was approved.
  • A two-year extension for WISD’s depository contract with Citizens State Bank was approved.
  • The next regular meeting of the WISD Board of Trustees is scheduled for 7 p.m., Monday, May 17.
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