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House fire claims 3 lives

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FiremenHC1702 source

By Tony Farkas
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TRINITY COUNTY — Three Trinity County residents were killed on Oct. 6 as the result of a house fire.

Emily Gideon, 36, and two daughters, Braley, 10, and Annabelle, 7, were killed.

According to a release from Sheriff Woody Wallace, emergency personnel were notified at about midnight on Oct. 6 about a house fire in the Camp Branch subdivision on Rustling Wind Street.

When firefighters and deputies arrived, the house was fully engulfed in flames, he said.

Multiple fire departments, including 356 Volunteer Fire Department, Onalaska Fire Department and Trinity Fire and Rescue were on scene battling the blaze.

Emergency personnel spoke with a 14-year-old resident of the home who escaped the fire through a window. He told officials he ran to the back of the house and tried to break windows to rescue his mother and two sisters but was unsuccessful; he then ran to the neighbors and asked them to call 911.

Emergency personnel arrived too late to rescue the other occupants.

Wallace said that the cause of the fire is currently unknown and is under investigation by the Sheriff’s Department.

Wallace also said that people should discuss with children a fire escape plan and check batteries in smoke detectors.

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DRIVERS MUST BE AWARE OF PEDESTRIANS AS DAYS GET SHORTER

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TxDOT GraphicLUFKIN – It will be more challenging to see pedestrians as days get shorter during the fall and winter months. That’s why TxDOT’s “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” pedestrian safety campaign is kicking off National Pedestrian Safety Month today, reminding drivers and pedestrians to stay alert and watch out for each other.

Pedestrian traffic fatalities increased by 15% in Texas in 2021. The state saw 5,366 traffic crashes involving pedestrians, resulting in 841 fatalities and 1,470 serious injuries. 
“The fall season means not only a shift to cooler temperatures but also fewer hours of daylight, and visibility becomes an issue,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “It’s important for motorists to pay attention and look out for people walking, and for pedestrians to make sure they take steps to be seen.”
TxDOT’s pedestrian safety campaign includes TV and radio spots, billboards and digital advertising. TxDOT will also be hitting the streets and bringing its walking billboards—street teams wearing sandwich boards—to the 10 districts that saw the highest numbers of fatalities from pedestrian-related traffic crashes. To address the high number of pedestrian-related crashes and fatalities in these areas, TxDOT is deploying more than 30 street teams to display pedestrian safety messages in places where vehicles and pedestrians share the road.
“In the Lufkin District in 2021, there were 49 traffic crashes involving pedestrians, resulting in 18 fatalities and 17 serious injuries,” said Rhonda Oaks, public information officer. “That number continues to rise this year. We urge motorists to stay alert and pedestrians to observe all safety protocol for walkers, especially as the days get shorter.”

TxDOT encourages everyone to follow these safety tips to prevent a deadly encounter:
For drivers:
Stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
When turning, yield the right of way to pedestrians.
Be cautious when passing stopped buses or other vehicles.
Pay attention and put your phone away, so you’re always 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 drivers see you.
Follow all traffic and crosswalk signals.
Use the sidewalk. If there isn’t one, walk on the left side of the road, facing oncoming traffic.
When walking, put away electronic devices that take your eyes and ears off the road.
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 more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (936) 633-4395.
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 May 4, 2022

 
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MacGinnis pleads guilty to 1988 murder

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PleaGuilty

By Chris Edwards
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PORT ARTHUR – Last Tuesday, Daniel Andrew MacGinnis pleaded guilty to the 1988 murder of Patricia Ann Howell Jacobs.

MacGinnis, a Warren man, was sentenced to 20 years for the slaying. That sentence will run concurrent with a previous 99-year sentence handed down on unrelated drugs and weapons charges in Tyler County.

The length of the sentence came as part of an agreement MacGinnis made with the prosecution in exchange for the plea.

The trial lasted three days and had to go into recess on Sept. 14 when MacGinnis experienced an unnamed medical issue.

According to reports from court, MacGinnis said to presiding Judge John S. Stevens, Jr., that he “just don’t care anymore” and “[does not] want to be here anymore.”

Mike Laird, a prosecutor for the state, said that he was happy there is some closure for Jacobs’s family, following MacGinnis’s sentencing.

MacGinnis’s 20-year sentence will run concurrently with the 99-year sentence. According to comments made by his attorney, he has numerous “very serious health problems” and has been hospitalized numerous times.

In a press release from the Texas Rangers Unsolved Crimes Investigation Program, when Jacobs’s body was found in the Neches River in Port Arthur, investigators had identified MacGinnis as a suspect, following two other incidents involving women, but did not have enough evidence at the time to charge him.

When the case was reopened in October of 2018, some of Jacobs’s clothing, which had not been DNA tested, as well as other items, were submitted to the Houston Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab for testing and re-testing, which identified a match with MacGinnis’s DNA profile.

The Rangers issued a word of thanks to the Port Arthur Police Department for assisting in the investigation, and for the Jefferson County DA’s office for prosecuting the case.

MacGinnis, who is listed as a registered sex offender, with numerous convictions, was also looked at as a suspect in other unsolved crimes, following his 2019 arrest for Jacobs’s murder.

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Colmesneil purchases new city truck

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A Peter Criss and Paul Stanley sighting in Colmesneil? Well, maybe not, but these two Colmesneil residents could’ve been mistaken as members of KISS at the recent homecoming parade. Can you guess who they are? There’s no prize or anything for the correct answer but give us your guesses and we’ll publish them in the next edition. COURTESY PHOTOA Peter Criss and Paul Stanley sighting in Colmesneil? Well, maybe not, but these two Colmesneil residents could’ve been mistaken as members of KISS at the recent homecoming parade. Can you guess who they are? There’s no prize or anything for the correct answer but give us your guesses and we’ll publish them in the next edition. COURTESY PHOTO

By Mollie LaSalle
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COLMESNEIL – The Colmesneil City Council held its regular monthly meeting last Tuesday and packed a lot of information into a short period of time.

Mayor Duane Crews was excited to announce that the city has (finally) purchased a new truck. After months of looking and stressing the need for one, Mayor Crews found one at Weaver Brothers in Jasper, a 2022 Dodge Ram. The total cost for the new vehicle was $33,569 and the city got $2,000 on trade in for the old truck. Council voted to transfer funds from the general account to the water and sewer account to cover the purchase of the truck. Mayor Pro-Tem Billy Andrus congratulated Crews on all his hard work in getting the new vehicle.

Two agenda items dealing with ordinances # 124 & 125 were approved in short order. Ordinance#124 was the declining of the rate change request by Entergy and ordinance #125 was the cancellation of the November 8 election for the city due to no opposition. Entergy’s rate change request is declined every year by the city.

Council opted to approve the purchase of a new ice machine for the Community Center at a cost of $469, and City Secretary Wendy Bendy reported that August 19 was the last day that the city offered the check free pay service. To date, no other business in town has expressed an interest in taking this service on. Bendy also reported that the city has four CDs which will mature Oct. 7, and after that date, she has 10 days to decide if they want to keep them where they are (Citizens Bank) or try to get better interest rates by moving them elsewhere. She also announced that the Fall Festival will take place Oct. 29 form 6-8 pm. This will be the third year, and it just keeps getting better every year; the last two years were well-attended, and a good time was had by all; this year promises to be bigger and better than ever.

Colmesneil held a parade prior to last week’s homecoming, and judging by some comments from council members, everyone had a great time. 

After approving all reports and minutes from last month’s meeting, and discussing all agenda items, council adjourned at 7:25 p.m. Colmesneil City Council will meet again on Oct. 11 at 7 p.m.

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Colmesneil student charged with terroristic threat

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Chassin TauschChassin TauschBy Chris Edwards
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COLMESNEIL – The Tyler County Sheriff’s Office is investigating terroristic threats made by a Colmesneil ISD student.

According to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, deputies with TCSO responded to a report of terroristic threat on Wednesday, Sept. 21. 

Weatherford said that while on the scene, the deputies gathered multiple witness statements and video footage, and were made aware of a 17-year-old student, Chassin Tausch, who had allegedly made threatening statements.

Tausch, according to Weatherford, had allegedly made threats to shoot other students following an argument earlier that day. 

“Deputies then interviewed multiple students who corroborated this threat,” Weatherford said. Also, the video footage showed the student appearing to mimic pointing a rifle toward other students.

CISD issued a statement via social media on Wednesday concerning the incident, stating that the district was aware of the comments, and that “school officials are continuing to investigate the comments,” as well as local law enforcement.

A probable cause affidavit signed by Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Ken Jobe resulted in an arrest of Tausch, who was arrested the same day.

Tausch currently remains in custody, charged with Felony Terroristic Threat. No bond amount has been set at this time.

Following the incident, CISD stated that its goal is to ensure the safety of all students and staff throughout the school day.

“Thank you for your concern and efforts in this matter as we strive to keep all students safe tomorrow and every day,” the statement issued on Wednesday read.

In the aftermath of the Uvalde school shooting in May, there has been an increased focus on safety in schools, and Weatherford committed to increasing the presence of law enforcement on all five of the county’s school districts.  

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