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Woodville man arrested on sex charge

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Gavin Wayne AllenGavin Wayne AllenBy Chris Edwards

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 LIVINGSTON – A Woodville man was arrested last week in Polk County on a sex charge.

According to Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons, 23-year-old Gavin Wayne Allen, of Woodville, was taken into custody last week and charged with Online Solicitation of a Minor (under the age of 14.) 

Lyons said his office had received a complaint from the parents of a 13-year-old female child, claiming that the child had received sexually explicit messages on social media from Allen.

Detectives with PCSO began investigating the complaint, and discovered nude photographs sent by Allen to the child. Allen, according to Lyons, served as a bowling coach for local youth at the bowling alley in Livingston. 

According to Lyons, when detectives were conducting interviews to gather evidence, and monitoring cell phone messages, they observed that Allen was attempting to meet the child later that evening (Monday, Oct. 18) to have sex. 

It was then, Lyons said, that detectives felt “for the safety of the child to further their attempts to locate Allen,” who was then found and taken into custody and booked into the Polk County Jail. 

The following day he was released on a $50,000 bond set by Justice of the Peace Sarah Rasberry.

Additionally, Lyons asked that any parent whose child had contact with Allen to contact and speak with Lt. Craig Finegan with PCSO’s Criminal Investigation Division at 936-329-9028.

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Unofficial voting totals from Tyler County reported

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Voting GraphicChris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Tyler County residents turned out to the polls during the early voting period and on Tuesday (Election Day) to vote in the statewide constitutional amendment election as well as several local elections.

Locally, voters who are serviced by the Colmesneil Independent School District as well as Woodville ISD had the opportunity to choose from candidates on the ballot.

The CISD election for two places on its board saw 566 total votes cast, with Becky Graham receiving 132; Kris Lindsey 124; Twyla Darder 112; Luke Wilkinson 111; Eric L. Lee 55 and Seth Fasske 32. 

On the WISD board of trustees, Richard “Kooter” Shaw, Jr., ran unopposed for the Place 3 position, and received 654 votes.

For the Place 4 seat, incumbent Bryan Shirley received 505 votes to challenger Shaun Dunn’s 194. Place 5 drew three challengers to fill the seat, with Kris Fowler getting 308 votes; Kevin McQueen 237 and Joshua A. Johanson 143.

In citywide elections, the leadership of Colmesneil will remain under Duane Crews as mayor, with 91 votes received to Russell “Rusty” Warner’s 29. Crews was appointed mayor after longtime mayor Don Baird’s stepping down earlier in the year.

Colmesneil city councilmembers Dennis Moffett and Gene Allen ran unopposed, and received 108 votes and 86 votes, respectively.

The Ivanhoe City Council had three at-large positions up, with Laura Cleland Fregia challenging incumbents David Herrington, Skip Blackstone and Tommy Morris. Blackstone received 126 votes; Morris 106; Herrington 105 and Freiga 52.

All the numbers tallied on Tuesday night are unofficial numbers, but do represent in-person, as well as absentee voting.

For the statewide constitutional amendment election, all eight of the amendments up for a vote passed. The amendments ranged from counties’ authorization to issue bonds to fund infrastructure projects (amendment 2) to homestead tax exemptions for surviving spouses of veterans (amendment 8). 

In this election, according to those unofficial results, there were 1,849 ballots cast, with 212 of them absentee. For early voting, 450 Tyler County voters took advantage of the early period, while 1,187 came out on Tuesday.

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Winning Powerball ticket sold in Colmesneil

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Lottery WinnerBy Chris Edwards
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COLMESNEIL – Someone who darkened the doors of the Colmesneil Jiffy Mart had Lady Luck on their side.

The Texas Lottery Commission reported that a winning ticket was sold at the store last week. The winning ticket was for the Powerball drawing, which took place on Saturday, Oct. 30. The winning amount was $2 million.

An employee of the store said on Tuesday morning that to her knowledge no one has claimed the prize, and calls to the state lottery office had not been returned at press time.

In order to claim the prize, the holder of the winning ticket must report to one of the claim centers in Beaumont or Austin.

The winning numbers of the prize were 5, 23, 28, 43 and 56 with a 19 Powerball and a 2 Power Play. The winner, according to the state lottery website report had opted for the Quick Pick, and got five of the five numbers correct, for the $1 million prize amount, with the Power Play number also chosen, which added another million atop the initial prize.

According to the Lottery Commission, tickets must be claimed no later than 180 days after the draw date, and tickets are not considered valid winning tickets until they are presented for payment and meet the Commission’s validation requirements.

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Early voting commences October 18

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Vote GraphicBy Chris Edwards
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The early voting period began on Monday, Oct. 18 and will last until Friday, Oct. 29. Voters across the state will decide several key propositions, either by showing up early during the window, or on Nov,. 2.

Locally, voters who are serviced by the Colmesneil Independent School District as well as Woodville ISD have the opportunity to choose from candidates on the ballot.

CISD voters are faced with at-large trustee positions on the board, with Eric L. Lee, Becky Graham and Seth Fasske running against incumbents Twyla Darder, Luke Wilkinson and Kris Lindsey.

WISD has three seats on the ballot. Richard “Kooter” Shaw, Jr., is running unopposed, while places 4 and 5 have drawn opponents. Incumbent trustee Bryan Shirley is facing Shaun Dunn for Place 4 and Place 5 is between challengers Kris Fowler; Joshua A. Johanson and Kevin McQueen.

Colmesneil also has some city leadership positions on the ballot, as Mayor Duane Crews is challenged by Russell “Rusty” Warner. Councilmembers Dennis Moffett and Gene Allen are running unopposed in their seats.

The Ivanhoe City Council has David Herrington; Skip Blackstone and Tommy Morris up for re-election and Laura Cleland Fregia on the ballot as a challenger.

Below are a list of the eight, statewide constitutional amendments on the ballot. In order to make changes to the state’s constitution, amendments must be voted in by a two-thirds majority in the state’s House and Senate, and then be approved by voters.

The amendments range from those that deal with COVID-19 related matters to tax exemptions for surviving spouses of military personnel killed in the line of duty.

Polling times begin at 8 a.m. and run through 4:30 p.m. from Oct. 18 through 22. On Oct. 23, the polls open at 2 p.m. and close at 6 p.m. They run 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. on the 25 and 26 and from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 27 through 29.

Important Dates to Know

• Oct. 18 – First day of early voting

• Oct. 22 – Last day to apply for mail-in ballot

• Oct. 29 – Last day of early voting

• Nov. 2 – Election Day

What you need to vote

To cast a ballot, you need to bring one of these forms of identification:

• Texas Driver’s License issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)

• Texas Election Identification Certificate (EIC) issued by DPS

• Texas Personal Identification Card issued by DPS

• Texas License to Carry a Handgun (LTC) issued by DPS

• U.S. Military ID Card containing the person’s photograph

• U.S. Citizenship Certificate containing the person’s photograph

• U.S. Passport

Except for the U.S. citizenship certificate, the form of identification you use must be current or have expired no more than four years before being presented at the polls.

If you don’t have any of these to use for identification, you can (1) sign a sworn statement explaining why you don’t have those IDs and (2) bring one of the following:

• Valid voter registration certificate

• Certified birth certificate

• Current utility bill

• Government check

• Pay stub or bank statement that includes your name and address

• Copy of or original government document with your name and an address (original required if it contains a photograph).

Mail-in voting

According to the Texas Secretary of State website, you can request a mail-in ballot if you meet one of the criteria: 

Be 65 years old or older

Be sick or disabled

Be out of the country on Election Day or during early voting

Be confined in jail but still eligible to vote

You can request an application for a mail-in ballot online here or print out the form. Once you fill out the form, you must mail it to County Clerk Donece Gregory at 116 S. Charlton, Woodville, TX 75979.

Constitutional Amendments on the ballot

Proposition 1 — If approved, professional sports team charitable foundations of organizations will be allowed to conduct charitable raffles at rodeo venues.

Proposition 2 — This would authorize counties to issue bonds to finance the development or redevelopment of transportation or infrastructure in underdeveloped areas.

Proposition 3 — This would prohibit government entities and institutions from enacting rules that would prohibit or limit religious services of religious organizations. This was passed by state policymakers as a response to some communities shutting churches down to avoid crowds gathering during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Proposition 4 — This is a judiciary-related measure that would update the eligibility requirement for Texas Supreme Court justices, a judge of the court of criminal appeals, a justice of a court of appeals and a district judge. Candidates for those judicial seats would need to be Texas residents and U.S. citizens. Candidates for state supreme court, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals or an appeals court would need 10 years of experiences as a practicing lawyer or judge of a state or county court and candidates for district court would need eight years of experience. Candidates whose license to practice law was revoked or suspended would be disqualified from office. These rules would apply to appointed or elected officials who assume their role after Jan. 1, 2025.

Proposition 5 — This is a judiciary-related measure that would authorize the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct to investigate complaints against candidates running for state judicial office, just as it can do for current judicial officeholders.

Proposition 6 — This would establish a right for people living in nursing homes or residents of assisted living facilities to designate an essential caregiver who cannot be barred from visiting in person. 

Right to caregiver visits in Texas nursing homes on ballot for November election 

Proposition 7 — This would allow the state to extend a homestead limitation on school district ad valorem taxes for surviving spouses of disabled individuals if the spouse is 55.

Proposition 8 — This would allow homestead tax exemption for surviving spouses of military members killed or fatally injured in the line of duty will also appear on the ballot. The constitution currently allows the exemption for spouses of members of the armed forces who are killed in action, but the expanded language would incorporate military members who die in military training or other military duties.

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Arrests made in church burglary case

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Jared Michael Saulsbury, left, age 17, of Silsbee and 20-year-old Justin Wyatt Chaison of Spurger. Jared Michael Saulsbury, left, age 17, of Silsbee and 20-year-old Justin Wyatt Chaison of Spurger.

By Chris Edwards
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SPURGER – Two young men found themselves charged with burglarizing a Tyler County church last week.

According to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, a combination of items that were identified and surveillance video helped toward the apprehension of two suspects, Jared Michael Saulsbury, age 17, of Silsbee and 20-year-old Justin Wyatt Chaison of Spurger. The two are charged with burglarizing that Oak Grove Church, which is located between Spurger and Fred.

The church’s pastor was able to identify items that were taken from the church from photos that were provided by an anonymous source, according to Weatherford.

When deputies with the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office were able to view surveillance video footage from the church, they observed and identified a male subject leaving the church on the Saturday, Oct. 9 date when the incident occurred. The subject was identified as Chaison.

The deputies were then able to obtain and execute a search warrant at a residence located along County Road 4550, where they were able to recover the majority of the items stolen from the church.

Weatherford said that while his deputies were speaking with individuals at the residence, Salsbury and Chaison admitted to the break-in. They were taken into custody and transported to the Tyler County Justice Center. They are both charged with Burglary of a Building, and their bonds were sat by Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Trisher Ford, with Chaison held on a $6,000 bond and Saulsbury on $5,000. Both have since bonded out of the jail.

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