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Lake Amanda celebration planned

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By Chris Edwards
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COLMESNEIL – A day that many Tyler County residents undoubtedly thought would never arrive is coming.

The rebuilding of the Lake Amanda dam is nearing completion, and a celebration is planned, complete with a ribbon cutting for Saturday, June 8.

The event will celebrate the long road it has taken to rebuild the dam, which was lost during the Memorial Day flood of 2016. Kirwin Drouet, who serves as the Lake Amanda Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 (LAWCID) president said that the celebration will feature no speeches, but “just fellowship celebrating the completion of our beautiful Lake Amanda dam.”

Work on the project began last August with a Chester-based firm, HC Oilfield Services, handling the construction. The cost for the project came out to $980,263. The plans entailed a new dam that is structurally designed to withstand another disaster, according to Drouet. He referred to it as “the Taj Mahal of dams.”

The flooding caused a complete collapse of the dam, which led to severe flooding and a 100-foot section of it to wash downstream. Amanda’s sister lake, Frog Pond, escaped harm due in part to a horizontal concrete spillway that was a few feet lower than its dam and prevented water from spilling over it.

In the wake of the catastrophic loss, Drouet and other Lake Amanda property owners formed LAWCID, which was ratified in Nov. 2016. Along with the ratification of the district, voters also approved $1 million in bonds to repair the dam.

In May 2018, voters approved a half-million dollar increase to the bonds and that June, the Texas Water Development Board approved LAWCID’s application for a 30-year loan of $1.5 million. LAWCID received the proceeds from the loan on August 3 and ground was broken on the new dam on August 10.

The celebration of the new dam will take begin at 10:30 a.m. at the entrance to the boat ramp at the end of county road 3215 on the east side of the dam, where a cornerstone bronze plaque is set to be unveiled.

Following the cornerstone presentation, a luncheon celebration party, sponsored by the Lake Amanda Homeowners Association, will take place at the Gathering Place, located north of Colmesneil on U.S. 69.

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TCSO deputies make drug arrests

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WOODVILLE – In two separate incidents last week, deputies with the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office made a pair of arrests for methamphetamine possession.
The first incident occurred on the evening of Friday, April 26 when deputies initiated a stop on FM 1746 at County Road 4005 for a traffic violation. After speaking with the driver, identified as Travis Keith Carter 32, of Ivanhoe, the deputies obtained consent to search the vehicle, a Dodge passenger car. They discovered a small plastic baggie on Carter’s person during a pat-down. The baggie contained 8.2 grams of a crystal-like substance and field-tested positive for methamphetamine, according to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford.

The following day, at approximately 8:45 p.m. according to Weatherford, deputies made a stop of a Nissan passenger car for a traffic violation at the corner of Yorkshire and 14th streets in Ivanhoe.

While the deputies spoke with the driver, identified as James Wesley Moore, a 40-year-old Ivanhoe resident, they learned drug paraphernalia was inside the car. The items consisted of a pipe and “possibly some marijuana roaches,” according to Weatherford. During a search of the vehicle, the deputies located a .380 handgun and a small baggie consisting of 1.1 grams of a crystal-like substance that field-tested positive as methamphetamine.

Both Carter and Moore were arrested and transported to Tyler County Jail following the respective incidents. Both men were charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance, while Moore was also charged with Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Felon. He remains in the jail under a $15,000 bond, while Carter is out on a bond of the same amount.

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Hardin County man given 70 years for sexual abuse

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By Chris Edwards
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Michael Clint Wallace, Jr.Michael Clint Wallace, Jr.WOODVILLE – A Tyler County jury sentenced a Hardin County man to 70 years in prison last week for the charge of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Young Child.

Michael Clint Wallace, Jr., a 42-year-old man from Honey Island, was found guilty of the charge, a first-degree felony, after the jury deliberated for approximately 15 minutes. The trial began on Monday, April 15 and continued through Wednesday afternoon. District 1A Judge Delinda Gibbs-Walker presided over the trial at the Tyler County Courthouse.

The conviction stemmed from a charge made in 2014 following an investigation by the Tyler County Sherriff’s Office, according to a news release from Sheriff Bryan Weatherford.

The charge covered a range of time from 2009 until 2014 and incidents that occurred in both Hardin and Tyler counties. The state Attorney General’s Office, which prosecuted the case, produced a witness who testified that Wallace assaulted them as a child. For his defense, Wallace was represented by Bob Mann of Woodville and Henry “Bugs” Coe of Kountze.

Wallace is currently in custody at the Tyler County Jail while he awaits transfer to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice facility.

Weatherford said his office will continue to work with Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin in the investigation and prosecution of sexual offenses and child abuse. “The crimes have lingering effects on survivors and their perpetrators will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.

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Church bus wreck claims passenger’s life

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By Chris Edwards
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WARREN – A man is dead and several people were left injured from a wreck that occurred last Wednesday north of Warren.
According to a report by the Texas Department of Public Safety, a bus from First Baptist Church of Warren was travelling southbound on US Highway 69, when, according to witnesses, a silver 2018 Honda Pilot pulled out from a driveway in front of the bus. The driver of the bus attempted to avoid a collision with the vehicle, and tried to maneuver around it, but lost control. The bus left the roadway and struck a tree.

According to DPS, there were nine occupants on the bus, including six children ranging in age from 9 to 14. One of two adult passengers, James Craft, Jr., a 42-year-old Woodville man, was pronounced dead at the scene by Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Trisher Ford.

The driver, identified as Robert Craig, of Wildwood, was transported to Tyler County Hospital with serious injuries. Another adult passenger, Doug Sheffield, of Warren, was transported to a Beaumont hospital with serious injuries.

The children were transported to separate hospitals, and according to DPS, their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.
DPS later identified the driver of the vehicle that pulled out in front of the bus as 70-year-old Wayne Mentzel of Warren. Mentzel pulled onto the shoulder of the road and left his vehicle to help those who were injured.

All of the northbound and southbound lanes of the highway were closed for approximately two hours, as emergency personnel worked the site, according to DPS.

In the wake of the wreck, a wave of support for those injured and statements of mourning for Craft spread across social media.
At press time, there is no word on the conditions of any of the six children or on Sheffield. According to postings on social media by Craig’s wife, Audrey, he remains in critical condition with broken ribs, broken legs and lung contusion.

Craig serves as a youth pastor at Warren FBC and a GoFundMe page was set up to help with medical expenses. His wife posted on the page, which is found at the URL gofundme.com/help-the-craig-family, “I am asking if you cannot afford to help my family out that you offer them your prayers for a speedy and full recovery.”

This is an ongoing investigation, and all information from DPS is considered preliminary as they continue to investigate.

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