Burn ban lifted for VZC, disaster declaration extended

County Fire Marshal Chuck Allen recommended that the burn ban be lifted Sept. 14.

The burn ban put in place for Van Zandt County Aug. 11 has been lifted.

County commissioners met Sept. 14 with County Fire Marshal Chuck Allen to hear his recommendation concerning the burn ban.

 A burn ban was placed on the county for a period of 90 days, as approved by the Van Zandt County commissioner’s court Aug. 11.

At that time, the Keetch-Bryam Drought Index used by the Texas A&M Forestry Service to predict fire danger for the area, rated that the county was in dangerous range and the level was expected to rise.

Allen told commissioners that the county was at a level of 700 with the max level being 800 and said without significant rains the county would remain under a ban.

But, due to recent rains, Allen told commissioners that he felt like the burn ban could be lifted.

“We are still dry, but we can allow people to go ahead and burn their big brush piles and stuff like that. There is still some green vegetation around also.”


Edgewood boy killed crossing Hwy. 19

A 12-year-old Edgewood boy was killed while crossing Hwy. 19 about 8:30 p.m. Aug. 28.

Shawn “Austin” Phillips was hit when he and two other youngsters where trying to cross 19 near Van Zandt County Road 1105, Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Brady Lunceford said.

“The kids were on the west side of Hwy. 19 and were running to the east side,” Lunceford said. “The other two made it across. He didn’t.”

The accident happened at 8:23 p.m. Aug. 23. “It was dark and (Austin) was wearing blue jeans and a dark shirt,” Lunceford said.

Austin was killed upon impact. Justice of the Peace Ronnie Daniell pronounced him dead at the scene.

Brenda Sue Smith, 56, of Emory, was driving the vehicle that hit Austin.  She immediately stopped to help and called 9-1-1, the trooper said. She was not speeding, was cited in the accident and no charges will be filed in connection with the death, he said.


Local law enforcement officials pay last respects

Courtesy photo

Interim chief of police John Turner, sergeant Rob Powell, officers Mike Samford, Adam Wall and Aaron Carroll, and Precinct 3 Constable Robert Tisdale joined countless law enforcement officials throughout the state to pay their respects to Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth by flashing their lights for one minute at 11 a.m. on Sept. 4.

Law enforcement officials throughout the state banded together on Sept. 4, answering a call from Governor Greg Abbott and paying their respects to a fallen Harris County Deputy killed late last month.

According to reports, Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren H. Goforth was exiting a convenience store at Houston gas station after filling his patrol car on Aug. 28 when a man, identified as Shannon Miles, walked up and shot Goforth to death. Miles was subsequently arrested.

Prior to Goforth’s funeral service on Sept. 4, Governor Abbott asked that people wear blue to show their support for law enforcement.

Additionally, Abbott requested that that all law enforcement officers turn on the emergency lights on their patrol vehicles for one minute and that all other Texans who are driving at that time show their support by pulling over and headlights and emergency flashers for one minute at 11 a.m. on Sept. 4 to mark the beginning of Goforth’s funeral.


Homecoming week, reunion planning continues

Organizers behind this year’s homecoming week festivities and annual five year reunion continued their hard work this week, putting some additional finishing touches on what is shaping up to be one of the busiest weeks on the Wills Point events calendar.

Homecoming Parade and Community Pep Rally

For the second consecutive year, Wills Point’s homecoming week festivities will kick off with a parade and community pep rally Sept. 21.

Last year’s event proved to be a success, with hundreds of attendees lining the brick streets of downtown to watch the parade and take pictures. To help traffic flow throughout the area, this year’s parade and pep rally will be moved to the Wills Point High School campus.

The parade route will begin next to the football stadium, and work its way around the entirety of the main campus before the pep rally takes place in the south end of the high school parking lot.


City sets tax rate, budget for fiscal year

September’s Wills Point City Council meeting leaned heavily on the bookkeeping side of operating a city, with council members approving both a budget and tax rate for the 2015-’16 fiscal year, and tackling a series of ordinances that will get the city one step closer to the construction of a new, city owned EMS station.

Business opened with a series of public recognitions, including several new city hires. Council members began by welcoming back John Turner as the city’s interim police chief.

In a statement made last week, Mayor Mark Turner (who was out of town during Tuesday night’s meeting) stated, “John served as our prior interim chief as well and I am so pleased that he has agreed to step up and do it once again. John knows our city and is respected as a leader and will hit the ground running. His service will provide city leaders with a much needed cushion of time to begin the selection of the next chief. We are truly grateful to John for his service.”


Texas Inmate Families Association sets Tyler Parole Packet workshop

The Texas Inmate Families Association will hold its next Parole Packet Workshop from noon to 3 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Freedom Fellowship Church, L2915 SSE Loop 323L in Tyler.

This workshop is for family members and friends who have loved ones in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice unit and would like to learn more about the parole process and how to put together a parole packet, organizers said.


Forage producers need to watch for Fall armyworms

If you are in the forage business whether it is the hay business or forage to feed beef or dairy cattle, horses, sheep or goats, then you need to be on the watch for fall armyworms.  With the wonderful rain we are starting to receive, we have already have received a few calls and with the rain last week producers need to be diligent in watching their pastures and fields. 


Residents invited to upcoming Watch meetings

The Van Zandt County Precinct Watch Program meets by precinct at the following times and locations in September:

Precinct One meets at 7 p.m. Sept. 15 at 304 S. Houston St. in Grand Saline.

Precinct Two meets at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Elm Grove Church, 979 VZCR 2708.


Precinct Watch grant

Courtesy photo

The TVEC Charitable Foundation has awarded a grant in the amount of $2,500 to the Van Zandt County Precinct Watch Program. The foundation is funded by donations from Operation Round Up, a voluntary program that allows TVEC members to round up their monthly electric bills to the next whole dollar amount. The portion that is rounded up goes to the TVEC Charitable Foundation and may be used to award grant requests to local charitable organizations.  TVEC Public Relations Representative Joy Long made the check presentation to PWP Chairman Buster Leavell, center, and Vice Chairman Tim Ball.



Genealogical group sets fall seminar Sept. 12, 13

The East Texas Genealogical Society's annual fall seminar will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Sept. 12 and 9 to 3:30 p.m. Sept. 13 in the Fellowship Hall of First Assembly of God Church, 5309 Rhones Quarter Rd. in Tyler.

Cost is $15 for the Sept. 12 session and $50 for the Sept. 13 event.


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