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August 2009

VOLUME 24 NO. 163 FRIDAY AUGUST 28 2009

 

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Truancy: The Texas Education Agency's accountability rating system targets student attendance and truancy can cause a district rating to drop despite high academic achievement. Liberty Co. JP #1 Bobby Rader said 45 % of students who start kindergarten do not graduate, 60 % of the state's prison population does not have a high school diploma. He said 66 % of male juveniles arrested while truant, tested positive for drug use. Missing class unexcused is punishable by a fine of up to $500, plus court costs and other punishments as well.

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AG Investigation: We reported in April Liberty County District Attorney Mike Little and Liberty County Attorney Wes Hinch had jointly requested the Texas Attorney General's Office conduct an investigation into allegations of misconduct by some Liberty County elected officials. While reliable sources say the Texas AG's office has been in Liberty reviewing assorted documents, contracts, invoices and more, public information personnel there refuse to confirm or deny any investigation.

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Hornet Stadium: Hardin School Superintendent Bob Parker said the new bleachers under construction at Hornet Stadium are not ready for use at tonight's season opener against Hull-Daisetta. However, he said the district is providing plenty of temporary seating to accommodate both Hornet and Bobcat fans. The temporary seating will be in use this week and next week, with the new bleachers expected to be finished by the Hardin Homecoming game against Trinity on Friday September 18.

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Dayton Chamber Luncheon: The Dayton Chamber of Commerce Monthly Luncheon is Tuesday at noon at First United Methodist Church of Dayton. State Senator Tommy Williams is the guest speaker. Cost for lunch is $10. Call 936-257-2393 for reservations.

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Funerals: Mary B. Politte Brown, 58 of Dayton. Services tomorrow 10 a.m. at Cornerstone Church in Liberty. John Henry Lowe, 60 of Mt. Belvieu. Graveside services Tuesday 2 p.m. in Hardin Chapel Cemetery. Douglas Earl Hughes, 43 of Thicket. Services tomorrow 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Batson. Bernice Bishop, 86 of Hull. Services tomorrow 10 a.m. at Allison Funeral Service in Liberty.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 1,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 5.79 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 162 THURSDAY AUGUST 27 2009

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Car in River: Liberty Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding a car found in the Trinity River Wednesday morning. A passerby reported the vehicle in the water under the Hwy 90 Bridge in Liberty at 6:15 a.m. No one was inside the car and investigators say it appears someone drove the vehicle down the Hwy 90 boat ramp, but it went off the side of the damaged ramp into the water. Police said the car registration shows it belongs to Wanda Patterson but there is no evidence to indicate she was the one who drove the car into the Trinity River.

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Liberty City Council: The Liberty City Council met Tuesday night and held brief public hearings on the new budget for Fiscal Year 2009-2010 as well as the proposed 59-cent tax rate. The hearing on the budget lasted 11 minutes and drew lots of city department heads but comments from only a couple of citizens. The hearing on the proposed tax rate, which is the same as the current rate, was over in 6 minutes.

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Bronco Volleyball: The Dayton Lady Bronco's volleyball team swept the Lumberton Lady Raiders Tuesday night, winning the three-game match 25-16, 25-14 and 25-14. Dayton's top server was Deanna Tousant. After a dominating performance Tuesday night, the Lady Broncos now prepare to travel to Beaumont Central on Friday.

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High School Football: The 2009-2010 High School Football Season cranks up tomorrow night. Dayton is at Bay City with a 7 p.m. kick off. Liberty is at Bridge City with a 7:30 p.m. kick off. Listen to both games on All Nine Split Channel Sports with Liberty on the left channel, Dayton the right. You can also listen on line at kshn.com. We will broadcast Hull-Daisetta's season opener at Hardin at 7:30 tomorrow on line only. Click on the "TeamLine" logo at our website for the game of your choice.

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Funerals: Bobby Ray Knight, 69 of Hull. Services today 4 p.m. at Faith and Family Funeral Service in Batson. Shirley Ann Ferguson, 73 of Daisetta. Graveside services today 10 a.m. at Guedry Cemetery in Batson. John Ezer Jr., 86, of Anahuac, Services Saturday at 2 p.m. at 1st United Methodist Church in Anahuac. Curtis Wright, 60, of Liberty, private service held at later date.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 1,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 5.87 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 161 WEDNESDAY AUGUST 26 2009

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Burn Victim: Steve Greene Liberty Co. Sheriffs Dept. PIO said Kenneth Holiday of Hardin was taken by Life Flight to Hermann Hospital in Houston with what was described as 2nd and 3rd degree burns after a fire he was starting flashed up.

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TVE Ranch Rodeo: The Trinity Valley Exposition has announced a big change in this year's TVE Ranch Rodeo Competition. This year the ranch rodeo is expanding to include a preliminary qualifying event. Then the top ten teams will advance to the TVE Ranch Rodeo finals on October 13. Ranch Rodeo Committee Chair Ernie Pickett said this would allow more local cowboys to compete. The Ranch Rodeo Prelims will be Saturday September 12 at 2 p.m. at the TVE Fairgrounds.

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Split Channel: This Friday marks another season of KSHN Radio's broadcasting of both Liberty and Dayton high school football games through our split channel sports system. Both the Dayton Broncos and Liberty Panthers games air at the same time on our station by splitting our stereo signal. Liberty is on the left while Dayton is on the right. To listen to the Dayton Broncos game, turn the balance control of your stereo radio all the way to the right. To listen to the Liberty Panthers, turn the balance control of your stereo radio all the way to the left. If your radio does not have a balance control, you can disconnect one speaker to listen to the game you want.

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Chamber Fundraiser: The Liberty Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce fundraiser held August 6, was a big success, with the 500 drawing, the auction, and steak dinner, Everywhere chamber board members went at the Elks Lodge, during the event, they got applause about the great food. David Chessher and his cooking team prepared it. The event was to raise money for the county's largest chamber of commerce's general operating fund. Total income was right at $40,000 leaving a $25,000 profit.

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Funerals: James Wallace Portier, 61 of Liberty. Services today at 4 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Liberty. Rodney Steven Bagley, 58 of Wallisville. Graveside services today at 10 a.m. at the Pavilion in Anahuac Cemetery. John Ezer, Jr., 86 of Anahuac. Services Saturday at 2 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Anahuac.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 1,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 5.72 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 160 TUESDAY AUGUST 25 2009

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No Cell Phones in School Zones: A new law goes into effect September 1 that bans the use of hand held cell phones while driving in a school zone through out the state of Texas. The new law says, texting and other uses of cell phones by a driver are prohibited within school zones unless the vehicle is stopped or parked. Fines can be as high as $200. District Attorney Mike Little said the new law applies to hand held cellular devices, hands free are exempt.

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Liberty Press Box: The State of Texas has denied a variance request from Liberty ISD to build a new 480 square foot press box without an elevator. We reported the old one was torn from atop the stadium last September and destroyed by Hurricane Ike. Federal disability law requires an elevator for any press box larger than 500 square feet. State law has a lower threshold of 300 square but allows variances. As a result, the district asked for and was denied the request. Liberty ISD is appealing the state's denial.

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Sales Tax Holiday: While all the retail sales totals are still being calculated, it appears predictions that this year's tax-free weekend might not be as successful as years past, might come true. Liberty Palais Royal Store Manager Jayna Swarthout said it seemed as if many shoppers did not wait for the tax-free weekend to do the majority of their back to school shopping. Ron Olson, Manager of the Wal Mart Super Center said the tax-free holiday falling on the last weekend before the start of school might have had an impact on sales.

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Parenting Classes: The Liberty County Agri-Life Extension Office will host another "Life Project" course to help folks improve their parenting skills. Extension Agent Alexis Cordova said this training is designed to help improve skills needed to be better parents. Registration is taking place now on a first come basis. There is a $30 fee for materials used in the six-week course. For information call the extension office in Liberty at 336 4558 or the office in Cleveland at 281 593 0405. The extension of both numbers is 221.

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Funerals: Lucy Jane Wilson King, 94 of Liberty. Services tomorrow at 2 p.m. at Forest Lawn Funeral Home in Beaumont.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 1,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 5.71 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 159 MONDAY AUGUST 24 2009

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FOOTBALL: This Friday is the start of the high school football season. Liberty Panther Coach Shane Deel said their last scrimmage was more positive then negative. They open the regular football season in Bridge City against the Cardinals Friday. Kick off is 7:30. The Dayton Broncos travel to Bay City with a 7 pm kick off. The Hull-Daisetta Bobcats go just down the road to the House of Sting to take on the Hardin Hornets.

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School Starts: Today is the first day of school in Liberty County and local law enforcement reminds motorist to use extra caution today and for the next several days. Liberty Police Officer Hugh Bishop said that includes watching for kids walking to and from school as well as those waiting for buses. Officer Bishop reminds drivers state law requires drivers to stop when a school bus is stopped.

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DCDC votes to sue: Earlier this month the Dayton Community Development Corporation Board voted to file suit against Michael Kapalski to recover a $20,000 economic development grant. DCDC Attorney Mike Fielder said the board directed him to file suit because the board felt when Mr. Kapalski closed the café several months ago, he had not met the provisions he agreed to when the grant was approved and awarded.

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Small Business Tips: Nationally known businessperson Frank Jordan was the speaker at this month Liberty Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce Monthly Luncheon. He spoke on the importance of small business in America and offered tips on making businesses more productive in tough economic times. He suggested being focused on the primary source of income, the product or service that makes a profit. Another point was observing employees. Standing around chewing gum, talking to friends on the phone, or a sour attitude is not the impression you want your employees to make on customers.

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Funerals: Ora Antonia Guillory Donatto, 88 of Ames. Services Tuesday 10 a.m. Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church in Ames. Visitation will be this evening 5-8 p.m. at Allison Funeral Service in Liberty. Billy Allen Vestal Sr., 66 of Rye. Services tomorrow at 10 a.m. at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Liberty.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 1,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 5.83 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 158 FRIDAY AUGUST 21 2009

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Tax Free: The Annual Tax Free Weekend is underway. Between now and midnight Sunday, Texas shoppers get a break from both state and local sales tax on clothing items and school supplies priced less than $100 each. Shoppers save $8.25 in sales tax for every $100 they spend on back-to-school merchandise. Local retailers have added extended hours, extra inventory and store sales for this weekend, to draw shoppers in for the savings. The sales tax exemption also applies to all eligible items placed on or removed from store layaway plans this weekend.

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Devers ISD: Monday is the first day of school for Liberty County districts. The top-rated Devers ISD is open to student transfers from outside the district this year. Even kids who do not live within the district's boundaries can transfer to the small, academically exemplary school district at no cost. Parents or guardians will be responsible for transportation to and from school if they don't live in the Devers ISD. Devers School Board President Robert Kirkland said recent changes in state school funding laws have hit his district hard and more students in attendance would help recover some of that lost funding. For more information, call 936-549-7135.

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Phony Bill Collectors: Consumers are being warned about a recent increase in the instance of phony debt collectors calling, claiming consumers have defaulted on a payday loan. The Better Business Bureau says these callers seem to have a lot of personal information, sometimes including social security numbers, drivers' license numbers and home addresses. It is feared these crooks managed to illegally get hold of personal financial data for thousands of people. If you receive a suspicious call about an outstanding debt, ask for official documentation and never confirm any bank account, credit card or other personal information over the phone until you confirm the call is legitimate.

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Funerals: Nancy Johnson, 62 of Lindale. Graveside service 4 p.m. Sunday at the Norris Cemetery – Dayton. Leroy "Chubby" Elledge, 58, of Baytown, Services at Earthman Baytown Funeral Home today at 10 a.m. Betty Jo Lloyd-Vaughn, 57 of Dayton. Services 11 a.m. tomorrow at Eastgate Church.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 1,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 6.01 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 157 THURSDAY AUGUST 20 2009

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Immunization Shortage: State officials say a sudden increase in the demand for those newly required immunizations for kindergartners and seventh graders the week before school starts has created a shortage statewide. Local doctors and health department officials say it could be another two weeks before some of the required vaccines are available again. Local school district officials say provisions will be made to allow seventh grade and kindergarten students to start school on time without those immunizations.

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Hospital Delinquent on Utilities - Again: Liberty City Council spent just over an hour in executive session Monday discussing pending litigation to collect delinquent taxes and utilities from the Liberty Dayton Community Hospital. We reported the city filed suit some ti8m ago against Frontier Healthcare for unpaid utility bills and property taxes. An agreement was reached, and according to Mayor Carl Pickett, the hospital had been current on their utility bill until about 3 months ago. Council took no action Monday night; however, City Attorney Randy Gunter said his understanding is the pending sale of the hospital would result in payment of all of the hospital's outstanding utility and property tax debt. For now, council is holding off renewing any legal action against the hospital.

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LISD Budget: Tuesday night, Liberty ISD trustees adopted a $21.92 million budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year. Trustees also approved a property tax rate of $1.1951 per $100 of valuation. As adopted, the new LISD budget has deficit spending of $835,000 that will be covered by monies in the district's $5.2 million fund balance.

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Liberty City Council: Liberty City Council met in special session Tuesday to discuss site locations and construction themes for a new tower to house the Liberty Bell. Several council members expressed their feelings the Liberty Bell and its tower should be relocated to the grounds of the city hall complex where it could be more visible. The legal agreement with the Woods Sisters who donated the bell, says the bell tower must remain on the grounds of the cultural center. Liberty Council agreed to have the city attorney examine the agreement toward finding a way to make changes in the bell tower location.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 1,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 5.82 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 156 WEDNESDAY AUGUST 19 2009

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Hit and Run: Former Liberty County Constable Jimmy Belt was injured yesterday morning in a hit and run accident. Just after 10 yesterday morning, while traveling south on Hwy. 146, an unknown driver turned into the path of Jimmy Belt. The vehicle, described as a 1980's model royal blue pickup left the scene. Jimmy Belt, a Special Ranger with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, was taken to San Jacinto Hospital in Baytown with non-life threatening injuries.

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Hospital District: Monday night, the Liberty County Hospital District Board set Sept 21 as the public hearing date for the proposed .09 tax rate. That is that same rate as last year. The public hearing will be at the hospital district office on Fannin in Liberty at 6 p.m. that Monday night.

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Fish Camp: Liberty High School will host freshman Fish Camp tomorrow starting at 8 am at the school. The camp is for all incoming 9th grade students who will attend Liberty High School during the 2009-2010 school year. The noon orientation event is mandatory for ninth grade students, however Fish Camp is held all day. Freshman will need to be in dress code.

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Former Anahuac Cheerleader Convicted: Katherine Nadal, 28, of Houston was sentenced to 99 years for cutting off her infant son's genitals in March 2007. She was convicted last Friday in Judge Denis Collins' 208th District Courtroom in Harris County. The jury deliberated for 2 hours before returning the sentence with a $10,000 fine. Katherine Nadal must serve 30 years before being eligible for parole. Nadal was a 1999 graduate of Anahuac High School where she was a cheerleader and on the homecoming court.

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Counting Swifts: The Lower Trinity Valley Bird Club has once again been counting Chimney Swifts this summer at the old American Rice Growers Dryer in Dayton. It is part of a continent-wide effort to monitor the birds declining numbers. The local bird club is now planning a special "swift night out" and is inviting the community to help count the swifts as they go to roost in the old Dayton rice dryer. That will be next Thursday, August 27 at 7 p.m. in the parking lot of the rice dryer at the corner of FM 1008 and S.H. 321.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 1,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 5.72 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 155 TUESDAY, AUGUST 18, 2009

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Lawsuit: Last Thursday, the initial stages of the lawsuit filed against Liberty County Judge Phil Fitzgerald by Jessica Vickery was to have been held in the 75th District Court of Judge C.T. "Rusty " Hight. That hearing didn't take place after Jessica Vickery, now in her late 20's, expanded her suit against her father. The Thursday hearing was to address the removal of Phil Fitzgerald as executor of Ms. Vickery's trust. The judge moved the suit to Oct. 12, allowing attorneys for Jessica Vickery more time to prepare the expanded suit.

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Bronco Tailgate: High school football kicks off across Liberty County Friday, August 28. As the season cranks up, so are the events planned to send teams into the 2009 gridiorn season with a bang. In Bronco country, the Dayton Chamber of Commerce is hosting a new event, Tailgate 2009, Thursday Aug 27. Executive Director Tammy Pratka said there will be BBQ plates and trimmings for sale, plus cotton candy, snow cones, and T-shirts. However, to attend is free. Organizers suggest you bring a lawn chair. The event is at Woodrow Wilson Jr. High in the parking lot starting at 5 p.m. August 27.

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Mercy Hospital: The old abandoned Mercy Hospital was to be sold in a property tax sale earlier this month. However, with no bidders offering the minimum bid, which was under $30,000, that hospital now belongs to the county. After the hospital closed more than 30 years ago, it became a nursing home before closing in the 1980s. For a period, it served as headquarters for the Spirit of Sharing, and then housed county records for a few more years. It was seized from the latest owner for non-payment of taxes. What will become of the eyesore and its increasing dangers' is still to be determined.

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Chadwick to Arkansas: Former Liberty ISD Superintendent Dr. Mona Chadwick has accepted a post in Russellville, Arkansas, at Arkansas Tech University. She joins the staff at the fast growing state-supported university in the capacity of assistant professor of education leadership.

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LISD Tax Rate: The Liberty ISD board will hold a public comment hearing tonight at 6 over the proposed tax rate for 2009-2010. The rate is the same used in the 2008-2009 budget.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 1,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 5.61 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 154 MONDAY, AUGUST 17, 2009

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Tropical Storms: Despite a very slow start to the 2009 hurricane season, this past weekend saw the formation of three named tropical storms – Ana, Bill and Claudette. The National Hurricane Prediction Center shows Tropical Storm Ana possibly entering the Gulf of Mexico early Thursday. When a storm is in the gulf, monitor your favorite radio or television station. For weather tips and emergency preparation information, go to our website – www.kshn.com – and click on the weather links.

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Kid Shoots Windows: A 12-year-old Liberty boy is facing criminal mischief charges after admitting to shooting windows at Tiremax on Main Street with a BB gun. The kid appeared before City Judge Bobby Radar and reportedly confessed to the incident and also to another the previous weekend. Estimates place damage at $4,000. The boy was released to the custody of his parents and will soon appear before a juvenile judge.

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Murder Conviction: Kenneth Dollery, a 28-year-old Baytown man, has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for his part in the 2006 murder of amputee Barney Goodman, a disabled Vietnam veteran. Another man, Hollis Buckley, 26, pled guilty last year for his part in the capital murder and is still awaiting sentencing. Buckley's mother, Shirley French, is also awaiting trial for that 2006 murder.

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Sales Tax: Sales tax collections statewide were down for the sixth consecutive month in July. The state comptroller reports a drop of 11.6 percent when compared to the same month last year. Summing up the situation locally for all of 2009, the cities of Cleveland, Liberty, North Cleveland and Plum Grove have all experienced year-to-date increases in sales tax allocations while all other Liberty County towns are showing decreases.

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Blood Drive: Lifeshare Blood Center will hold a blood drive Tuesday from 2-6 p.m. at Liberty-Dayton Community Hospital.

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Funerals: Robert K. Hopper, 68, of Dayton. Service 10 a.m. Tuesday at Pace-Stancil in Dayton. Robert "Don" Rawls, 69, of Kenefick. Services 2 p.m. Tuesday at PSFH. in Dayton. Chuck Burch, 74, of Kenefick. Service 10 a.m. Wednesday at Kenefick Southern Baptist Church under direction of PSFH in Dayton.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 1,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 5.9 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 153 FRIDAY, AUGUST 14, 2009

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Missing Woman Found: Yesterday morning, the body of a 71-year-old Crosby woman, missing since Thursday Aug. 6, was found in far western Liberty County. Liberty County Sheriffs Department Public Information Officer Steve Greene said the body of Doris King was found at 9:10 a.m. yesterday about one mile from her vehicle on a logging trail near the Kinder-Morgan Pipeline facility. At this time, investigators are awaiting autopsy results before making any statements about the cause of the woman's death.

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Panther Practice: Liberty Panthers first inter squad scrimmage is this Saturday at Memorial Stadium starting with the freshman at 5:30 p.m. followed by the JV and then the Varsity players. The athletic booster club will sell barbecue sandwiches as a fundraiser at the preseason scrimmage tomorrow.

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Ethics Policy: Liberty County Commissioners Tuesday discussed adopting an ethics policy introduced by Commissioner Norman Brown; however, the item was put off to allow the county attorney's office time to craft the new guidelines. While all court members agreed a plan was needed, Judge Fitzgerald, Commissioners Lee Groce and Todd Fontenot all expressed concerns immediate adoption would be placing the cart before the horse. Commissioners voted 3-2 against adopting Norman Brown's proposed ethics police with Brown and Commissioner Melvin Hunt voting in favor.

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Hunting / Fishing License: Hunting and fishing licenses for 09-10 go on sale tomorrow. Sportsmen are reminded all current Texas annual hunting and fishing licenses, except for the year to date fishing license, expire August 31. Resident hunting licenses now cost $25 while the super combo, all-inclusive license is $68. Texas Parks and Wildlife issues 2.1 million hunting and fishing licenses annually.

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Keep Watch: The 2009 Hurricane Season to date has been so quiet, it could be called dull, however experts say now is not the time to let down your guard. NOAA Forecaster Gerry Bell said there is a 70 % chance of 7-11 named storms forming during the remainder of the season. For info on hurricane preparedness, go to www.kshn.com and click on "disaster preparedness".

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*LAKE RELEASE: 1,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 7.32 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 152 THURSDAY, AUGUST 13, 2009

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Car Found: The car of a missing Crosby woman, Doris King was found in a field in the Conner Settlement area of Liberty County. That is in the Eastgate Community off FM 1960. The 71-year-old woman, who may suffer from dementia, is said to have last been seen when she left her Crosby home last Thursday evening. Public Information Officer for the Liberty County Sheriffs Department Steve Greene said a Texas Department of Public Safety Helicopter spotted the car yesterday, and contacted Liberty County. Tracking dogs from both Fort Bend County and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice were brought in to help in the search for the missing woman. As of late yesterday afternoon, Doris King had not been located.

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Liberty City Council: Liberty City Council held a lengthy 4 hours meeting Tuesday night, a good bit of that time being devoted to a presentation of the proposed new budget by Interim City Manager Larry Shaw. Mr. Shaw said the effective tax rate, the rate the city would have to asses in order to generate the same amount of revenue as last year is .6228 per $100 of assessed property value and council set that as the maximum tax rate they would go with. The public hearings will be August 25 and September 1.

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Hunger Buster: The Liberty ISD Hunger Buster Summer Meal Program will end tomorrow. The program has provided free lunches weekdays to kids 18 and under at several locations throughout the city over the summer, but now organizers say the last day will be Friday.

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Staggered Arrival: In Liberty ISD, as most school districts in our area, the first day of school is Monday August 24. At the San Jacinto Elementary students will have staggered arrival times on the first day. Students in the First Grade will arrive at 7:45, Kindergarten students at set to arrive at 8:45 and Pre-K at 9:45. Principal Stacy Cain said this is so parents will have a little extra time to spend getting the little ones settled in. The staggered start time is for the first day only. On Tuesday, all students are back to normal arrival between 7:30 and 7:45 a.m.

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Funerals: Luther C. Terrell, 81 of Dayton. Services today 11 a.m. at Pace-Stancil Funeral Home in Cleveland.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 1,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 7.65 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 151 WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12, 2009

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Commissioners: Liberty County Commissioners adopted a proposed property tax rate on Tuesday and set a public hearing for Thursday, August 20 at 8:30 a.m. Commissioners are proposing a property tax rate of .56 cents per $100 valutation-that is the same rate as used for the current fiscal year budget. However, because of an overall drop in property valuations, mostly related to minerals, the tax rate will result in a drop of 7.9 % in corresponding revenue.

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Dayton City Council: The Dayton City Council met Monday night and approved the annual contract with Liberty County EMS for emergency medical services to the city. EMS Director Mike Koen agreed to a 6 % increase rather then the standard 10% annual rate increase in this year's service contract. Mayor Steve Stephens applauded Mr. Koen for what he calls his "willingness to work with Dayton" in what has promised to be a tight budget year ahead.

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Murder Trial: Kenneth Dollery and another man are accused in the September 2006 death of disabled army veteran Barney Ross Goodman. Now the capital murder trial of 28-year-old Kenneth Dollery of Baytown is under way in the 253rd District Court of Liberty County. Investigators say the Viet Nam vet was beaten, likely with a baseball bat, before his prosthetic legs were taken and thrown into the San Jacinto River. Investigators say Goodman then made a heroic struggle up the river embankment to the road to seek help. The veteran died some 12 hours later of his injuries. The other suspect, Hollis Buckley pled guilty to capital murder last year and awaits sentencing.

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Burn Ban: Liberty County Commissioners voted yesterday to continue the countywide ban on outdoor burning. Liberty County Fire Marshal Jim Wilson provided a map from the Texas Forest Service highlighting conditions locally. As of Monday afternoon, the Keetch-Byram fire threat index is considered high, above 600 for the majority of the county, with some areas along the western and northern portions of the county in the extreme range, above 700.

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Funerals: Julia Mae Delzell, 88 of Daisetta. Services Friday 10 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Daisetta.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 3,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 7.68 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 150 TUESDAY, AUGUST 11, 2009

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Theft Ring: More details have been released on the investigation into an alleged theft ring in the Dayton area. We reported the arrest in July of three people and the recovery of several thousand dollars in stolen property. Each has been charged with delivery of marijuana though more charges are expected. According to Liberty County Sheriffs Department Public Information Officer Steve Greene, Antonio Jeffie Rangel, 21, has already pled guilty to a marijuana charge and was sentenced to 6 mo. in jail. Rudolfo Rangel, 19 remains in jail on a $7500 bond. 18-year-old Ariel Reynolds is free on bond. Officials say flat screen TV's, weapons, marijuana and cash were recovered. The investigation is ongoing.

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Burnham Classic: The 20th Annual Burnham Classic Golf Tournament was held this past weekend, and according to organizer Bruce Burnham, was very successful. Winners in the golf play were; in the championship flight; Kyle Jerome and Chris Reive. In the Presidential Flight is was Jerrod Burt and Jeff Williams. First Flight winners were Josh Cross and Logan Pickett. Second Flight Jeb Bate and Chad Ogden took top prize. Third flight honors went to Gene Arnold and Randy Egge. Finally, in the fourth flight it was Scott Parker and Eric Poole. Over the past 20 years, not including this year, the tournament has raised more than $350,000.

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Chamber Luncheon: This month's Liberty Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce Monthly Luncheon is set for Wednesday August 19 at the Liberty Center in city hall. Chamber President Mary Anne Campbell said the luncheon will feature nationally recognized health researcher, lecturer, author and media personality Frank Jordan. Tickets are $8. Make your reservations by calling the chamber office at 336 5736.

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Backyard Wildlife: Texas AgriLife Extension Service is holding a class to help interested folks learn more about the wildlife that inhabit our back yards. Dee Manshack, Texas A&M University Wildlife management will discuss bobcats, deer, raccoons and armadillos and what to do if they become a nuisance. That program will be Thursday August 20th at the Heritage Christian Academy in Cleveland. For reservations or information, call 936-336-4558 ext. 221.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 3,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 7.66 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 149 MONDAY, AUGUST 10, 2009

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Utilities Hold Up: Local utility services remain solid despite the strain caused by the heat. Officials with Entergy Texas, the company that serves most of the area, said their customers are using more electricity, but the company is not experiencing any problems meeting those increased power needs. Also, Liberty and Dayton officials report easily meeting the demand for water.

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Liberty Budget: Liberty's Interim City Manager Larry Shaw said the city's budget is in the advanced planning stages. According to Mr. Shaw, the tax base in the city has dropped 5 percent. Currently, the city of Liberty employs 112 full-time people with plans to hire three more. Interim City Manager Larry Shaw said his proposed budget, filed with the city secretary in late July, does not include a tax rate increase despite the drop in the tax base and planned increases in staff.

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DHS Registration: Dayton High School is holding registration for students new to Dayton today, tomorrow and Wednesday. Enrollment for new students only will take place from 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 2 p.m. in the high school counseling center. Parents or guardians will need proof of residency and a driver's license. Other required documents are the student's birth certificate, social security card and shot records.

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Hardin Stadium: The Hardin school board earlier this year authorized a major renovation project for Hornet Stadium, also known as the House of Sting. Contractors last week completed one part of the project – the installation of field turf. Next, workers will install new home bleachers on the west side of the field. That is scheduled for completion in about two weeks. Then, last Thursday, the board approved construction of a building to house two concession stands and new restrooms. That should be completed in about 120 days.

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Boy Scouts: Longtime Boy Scouts Executive Director Chad Srader has accepted a transfer-promotion from the local Trinity District to the nearby Sabine District. Srader is credited with expanding local scouting numbers and financial donations.

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Funerals: Robert "Jerry" Hopper, 68, of Dayton. Service at a later date under direction of Pace-Stancil of Dayton.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 3,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 7.69 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 148 FRIDAY, AUGUST 7, 2009

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Parks Hearing: KSHN has been reporting on the June 24 death of 28-year-old Dayton native Sarah Sheffield Parks in a Moscow, Idaho, house fire and the arrest of her husband, 26-year-old Silas Parks days later. A preliminary hearing set for yesterday has been rescheduled for September 3. According to Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson, the original public defender representing Silas Parks filed sealed papers with the court to be removed from the case. A new attorney appointed to represent the suspect said he needed more time to prepare. Silas Parks remains in jail, without bond, on two counts of murder and one count of arson.

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Blood Drive: Area blood supplies are very low at the current time, according to Debbie Madar, a regional executive director for LifeShare Blood Centers. As a result, she is urging southeast Texans to donate blood. The LifeShare blood coach will be in Liberty tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in front of the Wal-Mart on the bypass. Remember - your gift of one pint of blood can save three lives. For information, call 936-298-2689.

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DHS Registration: Dayton High School will hold its registration for new students to Dayton Monday through Wednesday from 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 2 p.m. at the high school counseling center. Parents or guardians need proof of residency plus a driver's license. Other required documents are the student's birth certificate, social security card and shot records.

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Story Time: Liberty Municipal Library will restart its Story Time program on August 26. This free program is for children 3 to 5 years of age and their parents. It is held each Wednesday at 10 a.m. and lasts about 45 minutes. It includes stories, finger plays, songs plus arts and crafts. For information on this free program, call the Liberty library at 936-336-8901.

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Funerals: Ronald E. Davis Jr., 30, of Deer Park. Funeral Sunday at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Anahuac, with visitation from noon until time of service, under direction of Pace-Stancil Dayton. Walter Lee "W.L." Gordon, 63, of Anahuac. Funeral Saturday at 10 a.m. at First United Methodist Church of Anahuac. Visitation today from 6 to 8 p.m. at Sterling Funeral Home in Anahuac.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 3,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 7.25 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 147 THURSDAY, AUGUST 6, 2009

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Dayton City Council: Tuesday night the Dayton City Council set Monday August 31 at 7 p.m. as the date for the public hearing on the proposed budget of $12.8 million. The proposed tax rate is .7256 cents per $100 of assessed property value. Dayton Council members also voted to raise the city's homestead exemption for homeowners over age 65 from $20,000 to $30,000.

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Hurricane Predictions: The 2009 hurricane season has not yet produced a single named storm in the Atlantic basin. Hurricane experts with Colorado State University's Department of Atmospheric Science said this week, El Nino conditions have decreased the likelihood of hurricane activity this year. These weather experts are now predicting 10 named storms with four hurricanes, and only 2 of those 10 becoming major storms.

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New Chief Deputy: Liberty County Sheriff Henry Patterson has named Jim Cooper as his chief deputy. That follows the retirement last month of Ken DeFoor. Jim Cooper came to the sheriffs department with Henry Patterson as a captain in January of this year. Jim Cooper is an 18-year veteran of law enforcement in Liberty County with Cleveland PD and now the sheriff's department.

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Belles: A Sumter South Carolina newspaper featured the Liberty Belles in a Monday article, for what the girls did off the diamond. The story reported that of the 52 teams competing at the national tourney, the Liberty Belle's girls softball team were the only squad to attend a special church service listed in the world series schedule.

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Opposing Health Care: State Representative John Otto of Dayton has taken a stand against federal health care reform efforts. The local state leader has signed onto a letter from the American Legislative Exchange Council that opposes both a Medicare modeled public plan and a national health insurance exchange. The state legislator said he could not support the federal government becoming what he called the decision maker of all health related issues. District 18 Representative John Otto's signature joins those of more than 1,800 state legislators from across the county.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 3,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 6.65 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 146 WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 5, 2009

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Shots Fired: Last June, Cheryl Moomy and two others were arrested in connection with an alleged kidnapping where the victim was held and tormented for several hours. Early this past Monday morning, an unknown person or persons fired two shotgun blasts at the home of Cheryl Moomy. No one was injured. Police say they do not have a suspect, and will not comment on whether the shooting was in retaliation or exactly what the motivation may be. Anyone with information is asked to call the Liberty Police Department at 936336 5666.

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Hardin School Board: The Hardin School board Monday night approved the accounting firm of Wiggins and Smith to do the audit in the 2008-2009 fiscal year. For the past several years, the accounting firm of Swaim Hanagriff and Associates has conducted the audit; however, one of their former audit managers, Julie Hebert was hired as the district's chief financial officer. Swaim, Hanagriff and Associates said in a letter sent to Superintendent Bob Parker, they felt it would be a potential conflict for them to continue as auditors and encouraged the district to seek another firm.

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Otto on Texas Finances: State Rep. John Otto said provisions in the state constitution to prevent rampant spending have allowed Texas to fair much better than most states during the current economic downturn. He said those include the one that requires the legislature turn in a balanced state budget as well as a cap on state debt.

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Crepe Myrtles: Longtime landscaper, Jay Knight, designed the planting pattern for the crepe myrtle trees in the Liberty-Dayton river bottom median of Highway 90. He said those trees on the Liberty side of the city limits have not died, as has been speculated, but are resting due to the extreme heat. Two years older, and two years more able to deal with the heat and drought like conditions, the trees on the Dayton side of the city limits are doing well and make an attractive addition to the drive.

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SNAP: The Spay and Neuter Assistance Program will be back in Dayton Monday, August 10 at Peoples Bldg Center. On Wednesday Aug 12, they will be in Cleveland at Stancil Park and on Monday Aug. 17 at Media Publishing-Liberty.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 3,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 6.19 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 145 TUESDAY, AUGUST 4, 2009

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Report on Drowning: Preliminary autopsy results indicate no sign of foul play in the drowning death of a North Liberty County man. We reported Bruce Payne was found dead in a pond behind his home last month. Liberty County Sheriffs Department Public Information Officer Steve Green said results from the Jefferson County Medical Examiner's office show no sign of blunt trauma to the body, nor anything else that might indicate the 47 year old was the victim of foul play. A final ruling is pending the results of a toxicology report.

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Fire: A two-story home at the corner of Milam at Lynch in Liberty was destroyed by fire Sunday evening with all of its contents. It is the home of Ronnie Burnham and his son. A neighbor, 26-year-old father of four, Justin Ezell, spotted the flames and woke the sleeping Ronnie Burnham to get him out of the house. Ronnie Burnham rents the house from Kerr Properties and told us he had no insurance on contents. The fire is said to have likely started from a kitchen stove fire.

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Immunizations: There will be two free clinics this week to provide Kindergarten and seventh grade students with the new required vaccination shots. The first is today in Liberty from 10 a.m. to 4 pm at 501 Palmer. Friday there will be a clinic at the Tarkington Community Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m... Confirmation on the required vaccinations will need to be turned in before the first day of school. That is August 24 for Liberty, Dayton and most other districts in the county.

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Social Security: For this month only, visits by representatives of Social Security to Liberty and Chambers Counties will be on the first Wednesday, tomorrow. Again, this is just for August. The representatives will be at the Liberty Center at City Hall from noon to 3 pm tomorrow.

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Liberty-Dayton 500: The Liberty Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce fundraiser is coming up Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Liberty Elk's Lodge on FM 563. Some $50 tickets for the big "500" reverse raffle drawing are still available. The ticket price includes a steak dinner. The top prize is a 2009 Polaris Ranger 4x4 valued at more than $10,000. For information or tickets, call the Chamber office at 936 336-5736.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 2,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 7.03 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 144 MONDAY, AUGUST 3, 2009

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Hospital Purchase: A Letter of Intent was signed Friday for the purchase of the Liberty-Dayton Community Hospital. The agreement is between three parities - the Liberty County Hospital District, T.I. Group, and Frontier Health Care. In short, it calls for the hospital district to own the hospital facilities while TI Group will own the license and critical access designation. TI will pay a monthly fee to lease the facilities, and if it defaults, the licenses will go to the hospital district. The letter calls for the deal to be done by Sept. 15. After that, T.I. Group plans to make upgrades to the facility and expand health care services locally.

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School Ratings: The Texas Education Agency released school accountability ratings Friday, and the top-rated district locally is Devers ISD, which is rated exemplary. School districts in Liberty County earning academically acceptable ratings are Cleveland, Hardin, Hull-Daisetta, Liberty and Tarkington. Dayton ISD is academically unacceptable, not because of test scores but as a result of the drop-out rate at Dayton High School. Dayton Superintendent Greg Hayman said they will implement programs to tackle the problem, including a G.E.D. course, better monitoring of truants, working to get seniors who don't graduate to return for a fifth year of school, and involving parents and the judicial system to target these at-risk students.

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Robbery Arrest: Liberty Police arrested John Mick, 30, of Liberty late Thursday after he allegedly threatened two Wal-Mart workers with a box cutter. Liberty Officer Hugh Bishop said the man pulled the weapon when he was confronted by two loss prevention personnel. Police used pepper spray to subdue John Mick when he would not drop the weapon. He has been charged with aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony. JP Bobby Rader set bond at $75,000. Mick remains in jail.

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Burnham Classic: The 20th Annual Burnham Classic is Friday through Sunday at Magnolia Ridge Country Club. The annual event benefits the physically handicapped and mentally challenged of Liberty County through Tri-County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services. This year's event also pays tribute to the late Baxter Dunagan. All the golfing spots are taken, but folks can still participate as a sponor. For information, call Kathleen Burnham at 336-7135.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 1,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 5.83 ASL

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