Dad hopes accident leads to parking safety

Don Bunch has spent most of his time since noon July 7 at Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler at the bedside of his 18-year-old daughter Jessica.

Jessica was seriously injured when a 79-year-old woman driving an SUV and pulling into a handicapped parking spot at the CVS in Canton hit the gas instead of the brake, jumped the curb and slammed into the teen who was standing in front of the Redbox movie rental machine.

The Edgewood girl who was scheduled to report to Marine boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., in September remains in intensive care having undergone surgeries to remove her appendix, gallbladder and part of her bowel, place plates to stabilize her broken pelvis and relieve pressure on her lungs from her crushed rib cage. Her left ankle was also broken and just this week doctors discovered her shoulder was out of socket.


Shooting death under investigation

About 12:30 a.m. July 18, Van Zandt County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a shooting incident off VZCR 4605 in the Ben Wheeler area.
Jimmy W. Stanger III, 24, of Ben Wheeler was pronounced dead at the scene due to one gunshot wound of the chest.
The sheriff’s office said in a statement July 22 that the investigation into Stanger’s death is ongoing; no arrests have been made and no further information about the incident was available.

Trip to get movie turns tragic for Edgewood teen

Photo by Kelly Baker
An 18-year-old Edgewood girl was seriously injured July 7 when an SUV jumped the curb at the CVS drug store in Canton and trapped her between the vehicle and Redbox movie rental machine.

A 79-year-old female driving a white 2011 Ford Expedition began pulling into a handicapped parking space in the CVS parking lot on the afternoon of July 7.

According to police reports, the driver accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake causing her vehicle to jump the curb, run over a handicapped parking sign, continue over the sidewalk and strike 18-year-old Jessica Bunch who was standing in front of the RedBox movie machine.

The Expedition hit both the teen and the RedBox.

Both Jessica and driver of the Expedition were both transported to the hospital:  The 79-year-old by ground ambulance. Jessica, her injuries life threatening, was flown by helicopter to Trinity Mother Frances in Tyler where she was immediately taken into surgery.



Road tax to be placed on November ballot

The Van Zandt County Commissioners Court tackled a heavy workload during their first meeting of July, accepting a donation to help with disaster relief, approving a grant from the East Texas Council of Governments, approving the purchase of a patrol unit for Precinct 4 Constable Pat Jordan, reallocating funds to help bring industry to the county, placing a potential road tax on the November ballot as well as several other items.


Road and Bridge tax

Of primary interest to many residents of the county, commissioners also briefly discussed a petition signed by many citizens requesting an Ad Valorem Tax not to exceed 15 cents per $100 valuation to be used for county road and bridge maintenance to be put on the November ballot for county voters.


Quinlan airport owner, passenger killed in plane crash

Photo by Larry Briscoe - Justice of the Peace David McNabb pronounced the pilot and passenger of this single engine plane dead at the scene Wednesday, July 1, after it crashed near the Rockin’ M Airport.

By Larry Briscoe

Correspondent - 

Two men including the owner of the Rockin’ M Airport were killed Wednesday, July 1, when their single-engine plane crashed near the Quinlan airport.

Department of Public Safety Trooper Kyle Bradford identified the victims. They are airport owner Walter Meziere, 54, of Quinlan and Joe Livingston, 49, of McKinney.

Justice of the Peace David McNabb pronounced the men dead at the scene at 4 p.m.

Dispatch received the call at 12:59 p.m. and notified emergency personnel the plane had crashed off the runway engulfed in flames.

Trooper Bradford’ said the plane crashed for a yet undetermined reason “into a grassy area located on CR 3511. It has been confirmed that the pilot and passenger did not survive.”


Photo recovery training coming to Van

National Disaster Photo Rescue Directors will travel to Van, Aug. 3 through 5 to train individuals interested in preserving and returning photos displaced by the recent tornado.

Volunteers wanting to participate in the Aug. 4 NDPR training should register online by July 17 at or contact the on-site director Nancy Stelmach at 713-725-4470 for more information.

The workshop will be located at the Van Chamber of Commerce and there is no fee.

The National Disaster Photo Rescue organization (501c3) formed after the May 22, 2011 Joplin Missouri tornado and is a ministry of First Baptist Church, Carthage Mo. 


Arrest Report

The Van Zandt Co. Sheriff’s Dept. reported the following arrests for June 30 – July 7, 2015

Roderick Roynell Allen, 29, Longview, was arrested on a warrant for possession of marijuana.

Angela Sue Ashcraft, 54, Canton, was arrested on a warrant for theft.

Kenneth Michael Barnhart, 36, Wills Point, was arrested on four warrants for no seat belt and failure to appear.

Billy Bob Basham, 24, Fruitvale, was arrested on a warrant for possession of marijuana, and on five Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 warrants for possession of drug paraphernalia and driving while license invalid.

Diane M. Baugh, 22, Fruitvale, was arrested on two Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 warrants for possession of drug paraphernalia.

Charles Neal Bennett, 22, Wills Point, was arrested on a warrant for burglary of a habitation.


Connells county’s first same-sex couple to wed

Courtesy photos
The Connells and their family.

By David Kapitan

Staff Writer


July 8, 2015, became a milestone day in Van Zandt County.

At his Wills Point office, Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Herbert Dunn officiated the wedding of Jerry Rosengartner and Paul Connell.

With the ceremony, Rosengartner and Connell became the first couple to be married in Van Zandt County since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling June 26 gave same-sex pair the right to legally wed.

The couple actually got their marriage license in Kaufman County but came back to Van Zandt County for the ceremony. Connell, 48, has been a resident of the Wills Point area for the past 15 years. Rosengartner, 24, has here six years. They have been a couple for the past six years.


I-20 shutdown

Facebook photo

An 18-wheeler crashed about 3:30 p.m. July 8 on eastbound I-20 shutting down both lanes near mile marker 540. The Texas Department of Transportation diverted traffic onto FM 16 through Van for several hours. The driver survived the crash, according to TxDOT spokesperson Jean Dark, but no further information was available at presstime.


Patriots on parade

Photos by Donnita Fisher - A Platoon of the Fallen – part of the Portrait of a Warrior Gallery by Ken Pridgeon of Bridgeport – made their inaugural debut in the Canton parade.

Canton parade includes portraits of heroes


By Donnita Fisher

Managing Editor - 


In addition to being the traditional red, white and blue celebration of patriotic pride and America’s birthday that it always is, the Canton Chamber’s Fourth of July parade served as the unveiling of a special memorial art gallery – “Platoon of the Fallen.”

 Marchers in the parade carried large paintings of Texas military men killed during the War on Terror. Canton was chosen as one of the first cities to host a platoon.


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