DPS enhances patrols for Labor Day enforcement period

AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety is increasing DWI patrols Aug. 21 – Sept. 7, which includes the Labor Day holiday weekend. During this period, DPS troopers will focus DWI patrols in high-risk locations at times when alcohol-related crashes are most frequent.

“Impaired drivers who take to the roadways put other travelers in harm’s way, and these increased patrols during the Labor Day holiday are designed to save lives by getting these dangerous drivers off the road,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “The department urges all drivers to do their part to keep our road and highways safe by obeying traffic laws and not drinking and driving.”

The increased patrols that target impaired driving are funded through a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation.

 DPS offers the following tips for safe travel during the Labor Day holiday:

•    Don’t drink and drive. Designate a driver or take a cab.


Labor Day balloon release rescheduled

The Van Zandt County Veterans Memorial Annual Balloon Release usually held on Labor Day has been rescheduled for November.

The event will be held around Veterans Day, organizers said.

More information will be available as the event draws near.

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Police chief retirement reception Aug. 27

Chief Mike Echols

A retirement reception for Canton Police Chief Mike Echols will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 27, at the Canton Senior Citizens Center, 200 W. Groves St.

Echols last day with the department will be Aug. 31. He has been with CPD since 1987 and has been chief since October 2007.

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Grand Saline ISD recognizes students, sets tax rate

Superintendent Trish Elliott recognized students at the recent Grand Saline ISD Board Meeting by awarding the Superintendent’s Award to 10 students for the 2014-15 school year. The award is presented to students who receive an A in all subjects during the school year.

Recipients by grade were: 10th grade – Kathryn Davis and Stephen LaPrade; eighth grade – Piper Fisher, Eleanor Geremonte, Luke Melton and Sunny Robertson; seventh grade – Gavin Foster and Delana Meyer; and sixth grade – Amanda LaPrade and Matthew McCormick

Grand Saline ISD received Met Standard at all campuses for their 2015 Accountability Summary from the state with no distinctions.


Proposed county budget reflects positive revenue figures County election locations, judges set

The Van Zandt County Commissioners met Aug. 18 in a special session to discuss the upcoming local elections and the 2015-’16 county budget.

A public hearing was held on the matter of the proposed budget for the fiscal year to end Sept. 30, 2016. No county residents spoke during the public hearing held for the proposed budget.

County Judge Don Kirkpatrick said he was “pleased that the proposed budget is balanced and that the revenue exceeds the expenditures by $144,924 without a tax rate increase.”

Kirkpatrick pointed out that the proposed tax rate of $0.485847 will raise the commissioner’s budget by 1 percent more in property taxes which will raise the road and bridge budget in VZC by $293,379.


Head-on crash injures one on 751

A 19-year-old Quinlan woman was serious injured about 9:30 a.m. Aug. 19 in a head-on collision on FM 751 near VZCR 3812.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Chuck Turner, Brooklyn Willett was northbound on FM 751 when her red Ford Focus crossed into the southbound and hit a silver Ford Ranger being driven by Denise Reed, 59, of Wills Point.

Willett, a 2014 graduate of Quinlan Ford High School, was unconscious and had to be extricated from the vehicle, Turner said. Although came to for a bit, she lost consciousness again before authorities could ask her about the incident. She was taken to the hospital by air ambulance.


Family remembers by giving to advocacy center

Derek Shane Hutson

Derek Shane Hutson died Oct. 17, 2011. He was 28.

Every year since, his family has gathered in his honor and hosted a fundraising dinner “in remembrance of his giving heart” to raise funds for the Van Zandt County Children's Advocacy Center.

“Unfortunately, due to a variety of circumstances, we will not be able to have the dinner this year,” Shane’s mother, Janet Hutson, said. “It is our hope that through this article we are bringing awareness and ask that if anyone would like to donate to the center they

may do so by sending their donation directly to the center.”

The children’s advocacy center’s mailing address is 503 W. Hwy 243, Canton, TX

75103. Those wishing to donate in this way, should specify that it is dedicated to Shane’s Legacy, Ms. Hutson said.


Edgewood ISD welcomes new teachers, keeps tax rate steady

Edgewood ISD welcomes several new teachers this year.

Middle School Principal Russell McDaniel welcomes Mike Villarreal to coach and teach seventh grade history and David Cook to coach and teach seventh grade math. Villarreal comes to Edgewood from Scurry Rosser and Cook from Winnsboro ISD.

Principal Terry Phillips welcomes Ronda Alaniz to the Intermediate Campus to teach third grade science and Christy Ishmael to teach fifth grade science. This will be the first year teaching for Alaniz and Ishmael comes to Edgewood from Rains ISD.

The Primary Campus welcomes Loni Kinsey as an ESL teacher.

The districts new website is up and receiving raving reviews, officials said. Technology Director Lori Roberts told board members that district associates all received new email addresses within the last month and the switchover went smoothly.

The placement of kiosks in the school entryways for announcements is on hold pending review of the contracts.


High speed pursuit ends in crash

Photo by David Kapitan A Terrell Police Department officer surveys the aftermath of a single-vehicle accident involving the suspect of an armed robbery attempt at a Terrell convenience store Aug. 18.

Law enforcement officials from both Kaufman and Van Zandt counties had their hands full on Tuesday afternoon after an attempted armed robbery of a convenience store in Terrell led to a high speed chase.

The chase ended when the suspect lost control of his vehicle just west of Wills Point.

According to reports, 22-year-old Matthew Colby Johnson, of Mineola, entered the GAS convenience and gas station on South Virginia Street in Terrell attempting to commit an armed robbery.

Store owner Fahed Fatayri then pulled out his own weapon, a .38 pistol, and fired a single shot that struck Johnson in the buttocks.

Johnson fled the scene, disposed of the weapon and set off on a high-speed chase that began with officers from the Terrell Police Department attempting to apprehend the suspect.

Johnson led authorities down Highway 80 going east at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour.


Drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians reminded to think school safety

Students return to classrooms across Texas Aug. 24 and that means motorists will be sharing the roads with school buses, pedestrians, bicycle riders and lots of new teen drivers taking their first car to school.

According to the National Safety Council, teen car crashes spike in September when they are driving to and from school.

The council also cautions drivers young and old to be vigilant because child pedestrians can be very unpredictable. “They’re easily distracted and can often run into traffic or out from behind parked cars. Looking out for children rather than expecting them to look out for us is our best defense as drivers,” the council said.


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