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December 2009

VOLUME 24 NO. 244 THURSDAY DEC. 31, 2009

 

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Former Employee Sues County: Cheryl Lyn Sanders, former court coordinator for 75th District Judge C.T. "Rusty" Hight filed a lawsuit against Liberty County claiming wrongful termination seeking some $50,000 in damages. The civil suit claims Ms. Sanders had numerous medical problems due to her exposure to mold found at various locations in the courthouse. The suit further claims she was forced to be off work for extended periods due to the exposure and eventually was fired.

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Chambers Co. Filing: Current officer holders in Chambers Co. that have signed up to run again include County Judge Jimmy Sylvia, District Clerk Patti Henry, County Attorney Scott Peal, and Commissioner Pct. 2 David "Bubba" Abernathy, & Comm. Pct. 4 Bill Wallace Jr. Also filing to run again are JP 1 Yale DeVillier, JP 2 Randy Van Deventer, JP 3 Tracy Woody, JP 4 Dennis McMurrey, JP 5 Bob Wallace Sr., and JP 6 Larry Cryer.

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New Years Eve: Law Enforcement across the state, in fact across the country will be on the look out this evening for all kinds of driving violations including driving under the influence. The message is simple, if you drink – do not drive. The City of Liberty Police Department is offering a safe ride home for citizens. Call the Liberty PD at 336-5666 and they will see you get home safely. Get stopped for drunk driving, and it's too late.

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Walder on Probation?: Suspected killer Stevie Ray Walder of Liberty was not on court ordered supervision by Liberty County Adult Probation Department when he is alleged to have shot and killed storeowner, Naushad Virani at Ridgewood Happy Chaps store on Christmas day.

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Obituaries: Melvin Eugene Shoemaker, 78. A memorial service will be Saturday 2 p.m. at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Raywood. Neva Rice, A memorial services will be held Saturday at 3 p.m. at Rural Shade Baptist Church in Tarkington. Myrtle Frances Mosley Henley, 70 of Liberty. Memorial service 10 a.m. today at Sterling Funeral Home in Dayton. Lynette Turner, 55 of Liberty. Services Saturday 2 p.m. at Trinity Valley Baptist Church in Liberty. Earl Lee Stephens, 86 of Liberty. Services Saturday 11 a.m. at Trinity Valley Baptist Church in Liberty.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 12,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 17.33 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 243 WEDNESDAY DEC. 30, 2009

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Tyler Co. Sheriff: In an interview with All Nine News, Tyler County Sheriff David Hennigan said Tuesday, Stevie Ray "Bubba" Walder, the man charged with capital murder in the death of Naushad Virani, did in fact admit to killing the store owner while in the back of a patrol car following his arrest. Sheriff Hennigan added Bubba Walder told arresting officers he surrendered to them because they were all white. The Tyler County lawman said the accused murderer made insulting remarks about the race of the victim to his officers. Now housed in the Liberty County Jail under a $2 million bond, local police say the known white supremacist is not cooperating with investigators.

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Probable Cause Hearing: A probable cause hearing was held yesterday morning in the courtroom of 253rd District Judge Chap Cain. According to Judge Chap Cain, Walder is charged with capital murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Judge Cain ruled there was sufficient evidence to hold Walder on the firearm charge and a second probable cause hearing is set for next Tuesday on the capital murder charge. When asked if he could afford an attorney, Stevie Ray Walder told Judge Cain he could not. With that, the 253rd District Judge appointed Chambers County Attorney Ed Lieck to defend him.

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Tree Pickup: There is a likelihood that residents of Liberty County will be taking down Christmas trees over the next few days. The officials with Liberty, Dayton and Cleveland have said Waste Management will be picking up Christmas trees and disposing of them on normal trash pickup days. If a tree is over six feet tall, officials ask those trees be cut in half.

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Closed: The Liberty County Courthouse and all city offices in Liberty and Dayton will be closed Friday for the New Year's Day holiday. Waste Management garbage service will not run on Friday, and all banks and post offices will be closed Friday for the holiday.

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Obituaries: E.B. Baker, 71 of Liberty. Services are pending at Allison Funeral Service of Liberty. James Bradford, 71 of Liberty. Funeral services are pending at Wells Funeral Service of Liberty.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 12,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 17.46 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 242 TUESDAY DEC. 29, 2009

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Murder: Yesterday, during an afternoon press conference, Liberty Police Public Information Officer Hugh Bishop addressed what he called misinformation. According to Officer Bishop, the suspect is not cooperating with the investigation, and while some reports indicate Stevie Ray "Bubba" Walder may have confessed to the crime when he was arrested, Officer Bishop said he has not done so to the Liberty Police investigators. Hugh Bishop said a search of the suspect's pickup truck found several weapons, however testing will have to be completed before it can be determined if the murder weapon is among those found. In addressing reports that Walder was on his way to kill others, LPD Officer Bishop said it appears he was only looking for a place to hide.

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Otto & Appraisal: House Bill #8 is one of several new laws aimed at reforming property appraisal authored by State Representative John Otto of Dayton. The legislation moves the state's annual property value study of county appraisals from an annual to bi-annual schedule. During the years where a district is not subject to the study, there will be an audit of that district's appraisal practices. Next year, according to Rep. Otto, about half the states county appraisal districts will be audited, however Liberty County's Central Appraisal District will not be a part of the new audit until 2011.

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Morefield Runs: Last week Mark Morefield threw his hat in the political ring for the first time. The long time local attorney announced, on KSHN, he would run on the Republican ticket for the 75th District Court. Judge C.T. "Rusty" Hight of Dayton has already announced his intention to run for reelection on the Democratic ticket. He is the District Judge for that 75th District Court.

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Free Shots: The Texas Department of State Health Services will offer free H1N1 flu vaccines to the General Public Monday Jan. 4th 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Cleveland Clinic at 300 Campbell. Then, on Tuesday Jan. 5th 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Liberty Clinic at 501 Palmer.

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Obituaries: Naushad Virani¸ 50 of Liberty. Funeral services today 1 p.m. at South Park Funeral Home in Pearland.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 14,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 17.63 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 241 MONDAY DEC. 28, 2009

Christmas Murder: After 10pm Christmas Day, what appears to be an armed holdup of the Ridgewood Happy Chaps Convenience store on far North Main Street in Liberty resulted in the cold-blooded murder of stores owner, Naushab Virani, 50 of Liberty. The suspect, identified from in-store video tape as Stevie Ray "Bubba" Walder, Jr., of Liberty was arrested early Sunday morning in Tyler County. Texas DPS and Woodville Police took the suspect into custody without incident. Liberty Police say the Walder has an ongoing affiliation with white supremacist groups including the notorious Aryan Brotherhood and has several arrests for violent crimes. Police Chief Billy Tidwell said investigators will try to determine if the murder may have been a hate crime. The victim is a native of Pakistan. Stevie Ray Walder, Jr. is being held in the Liberty County Jail charged with capital murder. JP Glenn Pruitt set bond at $2 million.

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Burglar Killed: Dayton Police Chief Pete Douzat said 19-year-old Jack Aaron Jackson was shot and killed early Thursday morning. Chief Douzat said a Dayton homeowner, Richard Wells, 63, confronted the teen trying to enter Mr. Well's Cleveland St. home. The apparent home intruder was shot and died from a gunshot wound to the chest. Dayton Police Chief Pete Douzat said following an investigation, information on the shooting would be presented to a grand jury.

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Assault: In the early morning hours of Christmas Eve, an argument between Juan D. Ruiz, 23 of Liberty and a still unknown assailant ended with Mr. Ruiz being airlifted to Memorial Hermann Hospital with head injures. According to Liberty Police, while others were trying to break up the fight and direct Mr. Ruiz into the home, the attacker struck Juan Ruiz in the head using a baseball bat as a weapon. As of Sunday, Juan Ruiz was listed in critical condition at the Houston hospital. The incident remains under investigation.

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Tornado: A small tornado touched down Thursday in the Linney Creek Subdivision in Dayton. While damage was not widespread, power was out in the area for hours and some roofs were damaged.

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Obituaries: Doris Mae Hales, 82 of Dayton. Services today 2 p.m. at Sterling Funeral Home in Dayton.

*LAKE RELEASE: 14,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 17.75 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 240 WEDNESDAY DEC. 23, 2009

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Vickery Trust: On Tuesday, 75th District Judge C.T. "Rusty" Hight signed a motion for a new trial in the civil suit over the Jessica Vickery Trust Fund. Then, Judge Hight signed an agreed upon settlement that dissolves the trust, gives Jessica Vickery all the assets, and eliminates any financial damages or further obligations assessed against Jessica's father, Glen Vickery, and County Judge Phil Fitzgerald, who served as the trustee for the trust fund. Phil Fitzgerald said the agreement is in the best interest of Jessica Vickery. With that, a new trial is not needed.

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Liberty Council: Liberty City Council approved the purchase of the old General Motors dealership located at 1100 North Main Street during a special meeting Monday night. The city intends to use that site for a new downtown electrical warehouse, offices and shop. That will replace the 1930's electric power plant building on Main Street that was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ike in September 2008. The city is paying property owner Elvin Hayes $496,000 for the just more than four-acre site.

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Find Santa Winner: With only three days to go until KSHN's "Find Santa" game wraps up for another year, Mike Carter of Dayton become our biggest winner in recent memory on Monday when he guessed correctly Old St. Nick was shopping at Dayton Trading Post. That lucky guess earned Mike Carter $275. Find Santa continues 10 times a day through Christmas Eve. When the final round is complete, KSHN will have given away $500 this holiday season.

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Nativity Moved: After more than five decades on Main Street, First United Methodist Church has moved its special live nativity scene to the back parking lot behind the church. The nativity scene is planned for today and tomorrow from 6 to 8 p.m. It includes costumed children from the church and live animals. It will now be set up under a small carport on the Methodist church's parking lot in the 500 block of Travis.

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Obituaries: Frank Frazar, 90, of Chambers County. Service today at 2 p.m. at Sterling Funeral Home in Anahuac under direction of Allison Funeral Service of Liberty. Sadie Joyce Strode Harrington, 89, of Conroe. Service is Saturday at 3 p.m. at Pace-Stancil Funeral Home in Dayton.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 3,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 10.45 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 239 TUESDAY DEC. 22, 2009

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Unemployment Rates: Unemployment rates have improved across both Liberty and Chambers counties in November, but the rate of those out of work locally still exceeds the state and national figures. The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced the national unemployment rate dropped from 10.2 to 10 %. Texas officials announced a decline from 8.3 % to 8 percent. In Liberty County, unemployment rates fell to 10.9 % in November, while in Chambers County the unemployment rate was 10.2 % for that same period.

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Lamar Honor Grad: A Liberty County student is one of twelve Lamar University graduates who finished their bachelor's degrees with top honors. Destiny Hanks of Hull graduated Summa Cum Laude from Lamar over the weekend. That means that she completed her collegiate work with a grade-point average between 3.8 and 4.0.

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Insurance Premiums: For businesses that are members of the Liberty Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, that membership can save them money. Some time ago, the Liberty Dayton Chamber joined what is called a health coalition. That membership allows members of the chamber to save on the cost of health insurance premiums for businesses that are members of the Liberty Dayton Chamber with from 2 to 50 employees. To learn more, go to the Liberty Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce webpage. You can get there by going to ours, www.kshn.com and click on the organizations link.

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Holiday Closures: The Liberty County Courthouse and all city offices in Liberty and Dayton will be closed Thursday and Friday for Christmas. Waste Management garbage service will run regularly scheduled trash pick up on Thursday, but there will be no garbage service on Friday. Banks and Post Offices will be closed Friday only for Christmas; however, the Post Offices in Liberty, Dayton, Cleveland, Hardin, Rye, and Devers will close at noon Thursday.

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Obituaries: Eldridge Thompkins, 81 of Hardin. Services today 1 p.m. at Olive Bethel Baptist Church in Hardin. Terry Eugene Elliott, 67 of Houston. Services 10 a.m. tomorrow at Sterling Funeral Home of Dayton.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 3,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 12.57 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 238 MONDAY, DEC. 21, 2009

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Fatality Wreck: A one-vehicle traffic accident on FM 1409 Saturday morning claimed the life of 36-year-old John Walter Kimball of Dayton. According to DPS Trooper Chris Richmond, Kimball was southbound on FM 1409 when he went off the roadway to the right, overcorrected and lost control of his pickup truck. The truck went back across the roadway, struck a private driveway, and went airborne before striking a tree. Justice of the Peace Pct. 4 Glenn Pruitt pronounced John Kimball dead and ordered an autopsy.

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Hospital District: During a special called meeting Friday, the Liberty County Hospital District board, on a 3-1 vote, moved another $300,000 into the account of the Liberty County Hospital District Number 1 - Corporation. That is the non-profit entity that owns and operates the Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center. The board running that non-profit group includes 3 hospital district board members – Paul Henry serving as president with Charles Kaemerling and Bruce Stratton as board members. Those three votes also made up the majority of the hospital district board's 3-1 vote to move the money. The other district board member, Cissy Drake, was the lone dissenting vote to move the money.

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Christmas Bikes: About 3,000 people were at the TVE Fair-grounds Friday as Liberty County Bikes for Christmas gave about 350 bicycles to kids who otherwise would not have one. Organizers intentionally gave fewer bikes this year by relying on teachers from area school districts to provide names of those who would not have had a merry Christmas without some help.

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Census Jobs: The U.S. Census Bureau is hiring locals for both full-time and part-time positions. In Liberty County alone, they will hire hundreds to conduct the 2010 U.S. Census. These jobs include paid training, an hourly wage, and authorized mileage reimbursement. Most of these jobs will last two or three months, but some will continue into next summer. For information about these jobs, go to our homepage at www.kshn.com and click on the Census Bureau logo or call toll-free at 1-866-861-2010.

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Obituaries: John Walter Kimball, 36, of Dayton. Services are private with Sterling Funeral Home in Dayton.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 3,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 13.37 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 237 FRIDAY DEC. 18, 2009

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Letters: Its been reported that four target letters notifying recipients they were under investigation by a federal grand jury related to storm debris cleanup in liberty county, were delivered or slated to be delivered to several people in Liberty County. Of the target letters from the U.S. Attorney's office, Lee Groce has received one. Others that may be targeted for a letter are Contractor Bobby Cassity of C & C Lumber and Sub-Contractor Mark Mitsch. A fourth letter may be slated for a courthouse staff member. Commissioner Lee Groce said he has made several attempts to visit with Stacy Hepner with the Office of Inspector General from the Department of Homeland Security, and she has never sat down to talk with him. However, in recent months, Mr. Groce said Stacey Hepner has visited with the other three commissioners – Melvin Hunt, Todd Fontenot, and Norman Brown. He said he was disappointed he was not afforded that same opportunity before he received a target letter.

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Death Update: We reported in November on the death of 32-year-old Michael Gooden of the Kenefick area. The Liberty County Sheriffs Department continues to investigate the man's death and according to Public Information Officer Steve Green, investigators are waiting on the results of D.N.A. testing being conducted by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Michael Gooden was found dead in a pasture near his FM 1008 home on November 4 after relatives reported him missing the night before. The Sheriffs Department has not released the results of the autopsy performed by the Jefferson County Medical Examiners Office. As previously reported, Steve Green did say they have a person of interest.

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Dayton Chamber: The Dayton Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual banquet on January 29 at 6:30 p.m... This year's keynote speaker will be Jim McIngvale, owner of Gallery Furniture. The night's activities also include a silent auction, dinner, music and dancing. The Dayton Chamber Banquet will be held at the new Dayton Community Center – 801 S. Cleveland. Cost is $30. For reservations, call the Dayton Chamber at 936-257-2393.

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Obituaries: Darlene M. Prevost, 62 of Dayton. Services Tuesday 11 a.m. at Galilee Baptist Church in Devers.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 7,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 16.92 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 236 THURSDAY DEC. 17, 2009

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Attendance Money: School attendance is important to both students and school districts. It is a key to a student's academic success. For a district, attendance also has a big impact on state funding. At the LISD board meeting Tuesday night, Chief Financial Officer Margaret Lee told trustees a 1 % absence rate, just 22 students across the district would result in a reduction of state funding by a staggering $122,496 a year. The district generally has a 95 % average daily attendance rate and that 5 percent absence rate results in a net loss to the district of more than $612,000 per year in state dollars.

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Otto: State Representative John Otto has joined with 30 other members of the Texas Conservative Coalition asking that Major Nidal Hasan be charged with a 14th murder in connection with the death of an unborn child. Reports indicate Private Francheska Velez was pregnant when she was shot and killed at Fort Hood allegedly by Major Hasan. The local republican said it is important the justice system value the life of Private Velez unborn child the same as they would the lives of the other 13 victims of Major Hasan's shooting rampage.

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Dayton Civic Center: There are now less than 30 days until the grand opening of the new Dayton Library and Civic Center. Dayton City Manager David Douglas said a full day of celebration is planned for the big day, including a ribbon cutting at 10:30 a.m. Friday January 15, then live music, tours of the facilities, a barbecue lunch and more. City Manager Douglas said it looks now as if the new gazebo as well as the veteran's Garden of Remembrance will not be finished by the grand opening day, the weather is just not cooperating on those two projects, but by in large the building and grounds will be ready for opening day January 15.

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Hayman to Retire: Dayton School District Superintendent Greg Hayman told his school board he would retire at the end of this school year. Greg Hayman joined Dayton ISD in August 1981 as an elementary music teacher, moving steadily up the ladder, he took the helm as Superintendent in December 2003.

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Obituaries: Royda Lorene Golver McGlothin, 83 of Daisetta. Services Friday 10 a.m. at Central Baptist Church in Daisetta.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 7,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 17.89 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 235 WEDNESDAY DEC. 16, 2009

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Stabbing: Early Sunday morning, the Liberty Police Department responded to a disturbance at the Highway 90 Inn at Liberty. When they arrived they found Kelvin Dixon had been stabbed with a kitchen knife, allegedly by his girlfriend Charnell Davie, age 32. The alleged attacker, who works at the Inn at Liberty as a desk clerk was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Kelvin Dixon is listed in critical but stable condition at Ben Taub Hospital in Houston

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Chamber Gift Ideas: If you are still looking for stocking stuffers or Christmas gifts the Liberty Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce has a few ideas, including books from local authors or gift certificates redeemable at most local stores. The chamber is also selling attractive commemorative plates of the Liberty Bell Tower and Plaza as it was in 1976. For information on any of these items, call 936-336-5736.

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Toy Drive: The Dayton Volunteer Fire Department is holding a toy drive to benefit local kids. Those wanting to help are encouraged to drop off donations of new unwrapped toys at the Dayton Police Station at 111 North Church Street by close of business Thursday.

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Appliance Rebates: The State of Texas plans to use about $23 million in federal stimulus funds for a mail-in rebate program for consumers who buy certain energy efficient household appliances during a 10-day period in April next year. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs said the rebates are for consumers who buy eligible energy star certified refrigerators, freezers, room air conditioners, central air conditioners, heat pumps, water heaters, clothes washers and dishwashers to replace old, inefficient appliances. The rebates range from as low as $45 for a room air conditioner to a high of $1,600 for certain heat pumps. To register for e-mail updates on the appliance rebate program go to www.sepco.cpa.state.tx.us.

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M. W. Ford: State Senator Tommy Williams presented a senate proclamation to Dayton Icon M. W. Ford at last week's Dayton Rotary Club Meeting. A Rotarian for more than 50 years, M. W. Ford is one of South Liberty County's best known and loved citizens.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 13,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 18.85 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 234 TUESDAY DEC. 15, 2009

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Veterans and Tolls: Starting this Friday, eligible veterans will get free toll passes on Harris County Toll Roads. The Harris County Toll Road Authority is participating in a new program that gives tolling entities statewide the option of offering discounted or free tolls to Texas registered vehicles with qualifying specialty plates for three groups, disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients and Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. When traveling in other parts of Texas, veterans can check with other tolling authorities to see if they offer similar toll discounts. For information on the Harris County Toll Road Authority, call 281-875-3279 or visit www.hctra.org .

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New TxDot Engineer: The Texas Department of Transportation has selected Cory Taylor as the new area engineer for Liberty and Chambers Counties. Mr. Taylor comes to the Beaumont District from Tyler where he served as assistant area engineer for the Longview area office.

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Williams: State Senator Tommy Williams speaking to Dayton Rotarians last week, said prescription drugs are a big problem in this area of Texas. In an attempt to address the problem, the state legislator added several drugs that are predominantly prescribed by pain management clinics to the Texas Department of Public Safety list of reported medications. He said they also changed the law to allow the Texas Medical Boards to more closely regulate pain management clinics.

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Airport: Liberty City Manager Gary Broz said they city has received a $700,000 grant from TxDot Aviation for work on the Liberty Municipal Airport. According to the city manager, the work will include a complete re-surfacing of the airport runway plus additional drainage work.

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Find Santa: The 27th KSHN Radio, "Find Santa" game rolls on weekdays through Christmas Eve. Yesterday, Sherri Jacobs of Dayton became the biggest winner this year when she guessed correctly the Jolly One was shopping at "Just for you". Sherri Jacobs won $70 in Christmas Cash.

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Obituaries: Roy Garcia Sr., 83 of Dayton. Services Thursday at 10 a.m. at Allison Funeral Home in Liberty.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 13,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 19.99 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 233 MONDAY DEC. 14, 2009

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Security State Bank: We reported several months ago that Security State Bank of Anahuac would open a bank in Liberty in the 1200 block of N. Main. Bank President Gary Van Deventer says they originally planned to open in late November, but rain & wet ground over the past 5 weeks played havoc with those plans. The new bank is expected to open about Dec. 21 in a manufactured structure. Work on a brick and mortar building should get underway in early 2010.

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Two Hwy 105 River Bridge wrecks: The first of two wrecks on the Hwy 105 River Bridge Saturday was being investigated when a second occurred. A Beaumont couple was stopped for a wreck to clear when a Pickup truck driven by Bruce Wayne Havard, 49, of Liberty plowed into the stopped car. Investigators say Havard had been drinking but injuries prevented a field sobriety test. At Liberty-Dayton Reg. Med/Ctr. Havard allegedly walked out rather than submit to a blood test. Trooper Ray Williams said no drivers license, no seat belt and failure to control speed charges are pending.

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Jingle Bell Ball: The 4th Annual Jingle Bell Ball was Saturday night at the Liberty Elks Lodge. Hundreds turned out for the party honoring 145 physically and mentally challenged kids and adults. Each were given gifts purchased from their wish lists. The event was sponsored by the local Elks and hundreds locally who contributed to the program.

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Paul Harris Fellows: Dayton Rotary Club, in a surprise announcement at last Friday's Christmas Party, honored three members as Paul Harris Fellows. Those are: Legend Bank President Arlene Langham, Josephine Perry-loan officer at Heritage Mortgage; and Dayton ISD Asst. Superintendent Tami Pierce. The honor is named for the Rotary International founder.

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Rev. Paul Cross: Funeral services have been set for Saturday, Dec. 19 at 11 a.m. at Turkey Creek Baptist Church for longtime pastor Rev. Paul Cross, Sr, 54. He died last Thursday. He will lie in state at the church from noon to 9 p.m. Friday.

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Obituaries: Jimmy Kelly Best,76 of Daisetta. Services today at 2 p.m. at Faith & Family FH in Batson.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 18,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 20.13 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 232 FRIDAY, DEC. 11, 2009

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CASA: Executive Director for the Liberty/Chambers Counties CASA Program, Kelly Horne, is holding an orientation meeting Saturday at 9 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church on Scout Street in Liberty. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. It is a program where volunteers work with kids in the foster care system and act as an activist for that child. The volunteer assists the child throughout the court process acting in the best interest of the child so they don't fall through the cracks of the legal system. To learn about tomorrow's session, call 936-334-9000.

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TxDOT: Texas Department of Transportation has selected Cory Taylor as its new area engineer for Liberty and Chambers counties. He will oversee construction and maintenance on all state-maintained highways in both counties.

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Mailing to the Military: Those sending gifts to military personnel need to get busy if they are to arrive in time for Christmas. Dayton Postmaster Michelle Stevenson said today is the deadline for sending first class cards and letters to most military zip codes. Parcels sent by first-class mail before next Friday, Dec. 18, are guaranteed to arrive by Christmas day; however, the deadline for mailing and shipping to military personnel in Afghanistan has already passed. Postal officials say delivery times differ based on the outgoing post office locations, so check locally for specific guarantees.

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Christmas under the Stars: North Main Baptist Church of Liberty will hold its annual free outdoor Christmas festival from 6-9 p.m. today, tomorrow and Sunday at the church on far North Main in Liberty. Church Pastor Dick Lintelman said the event, called "Christmas under the Stars", includes a wide range of activities from a wow light show and musical entertainment to a live nativity scene set in a recreated area of Bethlehem. There will be a Christmas tree forest, family portraits along with cookies and hot chocolate. Leave your wallets at home; it is all free, a gift from North Main Baptist Church to the community.

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Obituaries: Harold Carouthers, 60 of Batson. Services tomorrow at 10 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Batson. Melvin Rhodes, 80 of Liberty. Memorial service tomorrow at 2 p.m. at Votaw Worship Center.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 18,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 19.62 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 231 THURSDAY, DEC. 10, 2009

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Cleveland Officer Suspended: Cleveland Police Officer Bluett Blankenship is suspended with pay pending the outcome of an investigation into his possible involvement in the theft of more than $300,000. Officer Blankenship's wife, 25-year-old Loretta Blankenship, pled guilty in September to embezzling $367,000 from former employers John and Ezetta Dueitt of Montgomery County. A judge sentenced Mrs. Blankenship to 20 years behind bars and ordered her to pay restitution. Cleveland Police Chief Bradshaw said an investigation into Officer Blankenship's possible involvement in his wife's illegal activities is ongoing.

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Liberty City Council: Liberty City Council met Tuesday night and adopted what new City Manager Gary Broz described as an interim financing package that will cover two projects; the final cost of completing the Humphrey's Cultural Center Expansion project and the remainder of the financing package will cover the cost to rebuild the Liberty Bell Tower. This would be roughly $700,000 for the Humphrey's Cultural Center and approximately $250,000 would cover the bell tower project.

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Operation Noel: The Spirit of Sharing Annual Operation Noel Program provides Christmas gifts to those who would otherwise go without. Operation Noel trees are up at three locations - Wal-mart and Pizza Hut in Liberty, and Legend Bank in Dayton. Each tree contains cards with a child's gender and age along with three Christmas wishes. Purchase the items and drop off the unwrapped packages at the Spirit of Sharing on Beaumont Ave. in Liberty 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. All gifts need to be turned in by Tuesday Dec.15th.

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Theatre Camp: The Liberty High School Theatre Arts Department will offer kids a chance to experience theater for the first time while parents do some holiday shopping. The Theater Camp/Parents Shopping Day is Saturday Dec.19th from 9 to 4 at the LISD Auditorium. Cost is $35 and includes lunch. To register e-mail tjgardner@libertyisd.net or call 936-336-6483.

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Obituaries: Douglas Ervin Odom, 84, of Moss Hill, Services at 11 a.m. today at Allison Funeral Service. Eula Mae Walker, 85, of Vidor, Graveside Service today at Magnolia Park Cemetery at 3 p.m.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 18,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 18.59 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 230 WEDNESDAY, DEC. 9, 2009

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Dayton City Council: The Dayton City Council Monday night made some new appointments to the Board of Directors for the Dayton Community Development Corporation, better known as the "DCDC". Three advisory or non-voting members were promoted to full voting status. Those are Alma Lopez, Michael Guitierez and Richard Till. They will be filling positions currently held by Kenneth Voytek, Bill Fox and Troy Barton.

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Commissioners Court: During yesterday's meeting Liberty County Commissioners approved a TERP Program Rebate Grant to Commissioner Precinct 2 Lee Groce. Commissioner Groce said the emissions reduction program through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality saved his precinct more than $100,000 on a piece of equipment. He said the truck they purchased cost approximately $145,000 and he paid less than $30,000. The program is designed to help governmental entities take older vehicles and large equipment out of circulation, replacing them with newer models that produce less of the harmful emissions.

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Hospital District: The board of the Liberty County Hospital District again tabled an agenda item that called for the appointment of someone to fill out the remaining term of Kathy Dagle, who resigned due to health concerns in mid-November. Board members also learned from Case Manager Linda Ainsworth there are 297 people on the hospital district program and she said they expect to go over 300 shortly.

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Hilltop Inn: The Hilltop Inn in Moss Hill will have a grand opening celebration and open house tomorrow. The new 12-room inn is located at the corner of Highways 105 and 146. It is in the same building as Fitzpak Grocery. Thursday will start with a Liberty Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting at 10:30 with an open house until 2 p.m.

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Obituaries: Angela N. Nash, 29 of Dayton. Services today 10 a.m. at Pace Stancil Funeral Home in Dayton. Virginia Youngblood, 83 of Anahuac. Services tomorrow 10 a.m. at Earthman Funeral Home in Baytown. Florence Ann Fisher, 72 of Dayton. Services tomorrow 11 a.m. at Sterling Funeral Home in Dayton.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 18,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 16.66 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 229 TUESDAY, DEC. 8, 2009

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Employment Outlook: Nationally, the unemployment rate is 10 percent; however, Texas is faring somewhat better with an 8.2 percent unemployment rate. The Texas Workforce Commission reports unemployment in Liberty County higher than the national average at 11.3 percent while the jobless rate in Chambers County is at 10.7 percent. According to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, the employment situation is more favorable in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area where hiring at a moderate pace is expected during the first three months of the New Year, while the Houston area is predicted to have a slow hiring start in the New Year.

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Pounds House Open House: The Historical Society of East Liberty County invites the public to attend the open house at the G.W. and Nettie Canter Pounds House. This historic home, on FM 770 between Raywood and Daisetta will be open from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. this Sunday.

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Ricky Skarpa: Last Wednesday, a large crowd was at the liberty center in tribute to Liberty Police Officer Ricky Skarpa retiring after 35 years as a police officer in liberty. City Manager Gary Broze presented Sgt. Skarpa with a plaque conveying the city's gratitude for his service. Mayor Carl Pickett declared Dec. 2 as Richard Skarpa Day in Liberty, and his daughter Barbie, herself a Liberty Police Officer, presented her father with his city issued service revolver, paid for by his fellow officers of the Liberty P.D.

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Charlie Brown: The Liberty High School Theater Department will present "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" this weekend at the LISD Auditorium. Theatre Arts Department Director Tiffany Gardner said the popular family musical, based on Charles Schultz' Peanuts comic strip, will feature a cast of familiar and new faces. Performances will be Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. with an afternoon performance at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $5 and available from any cast member or at the door.

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Obituaries: Margaret Ann Edgerton Reinitz, 79 of Dayton. Services are 2 p.m. Thursday at Pace-Stancil Funeral Home in Dayton.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 16,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 15.83 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 228 MONDAY, DEC. 7, 2009

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Tank Fire: Three local fire departments were involved in battling flames from an oilfield separator tank fire near Daisetta Saturday. The fire was on Quail Creek Road across from the old Cooper Auto Parts off FM 770. Smoke and flames were visible for miles. Fire departments from Liberty and Hardin joined Hull-Daisetta in the successful effort to douse and cool that tank fire.

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Snow and Ice: Some weather records were broken Friday as snow fell on the Houston Region. It was the earliest recorded snowfall on record. The overnight low was 27 degrees. That also tied a record set back in 1897. Those weather conditions resulted in icy roads, which contributed to multiple traffic accidents Friday night. One involved a DPS vehicle. Cpl. Rob Willoughby and new Liberty County DPS Sgt. Delvin Davis were investigating an accident on U.S. 90 in Harris County just past the Liberty County line when another driver lost control on the icy roadway. That sliding vehicle slammed into the DPS car. Both peace officers were able to run away from the accident. Neither was hurt, but both vehicles sustained heavy damage.

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March Primaries: A record number of candidates have signed up for the March Republican primary election. So far, 18 Republicans have signed up or announced their candidacy. On the Democrat side, 14 candidates have filed for election. The filing period for both primaries continues through January 4.

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Christmas Festival: North Main Baptist Church in Liberty will present its annual "Christmas Under the Stars" festival this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 6 to 9 p.m. This free event includes a live nativity plus people dressed in period clothing wandering around a recreated area of Bethlehem. There will be live music and thousands of lights along with family Christmas portraits, cookies and wassail. Its all free, a gift to the community from North Main Baptist Church. Just look for the big star on the church flagpole on far North Main in Liberty.

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Broncos: Dayton's gridiron season ended Saturday when the Broncos fell to Brenham 24-30 in the state quarterfinals. It was another great year for the Broncos who have reached the play-offs in each of Athletic Director Jerry Stewart's 14 seasons as head football coach, the quarterfinals are better the last 3 years.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 12,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 15.9ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 227 FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2009

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Freeze Warning: A freeze warning as well as a winter storm watch is in effect for Southeast Texas. Dan Riley with the National Weather Service said while predictions are uncertain, forecast models indicate the heaviest precipitation, in the form of both rain and snow, could fall across a band of Southeast Texas that includes Liberty and Chambers Counties. Below freezing temperatures in this area are expected, in the overnight hours, to last around 3 to 5 hours. Remember the 3 P's, pipes, plants and pets. Myron Broussard with the Texas Department of Transportation said trucks will be spreading what is called freeze rock on bridges and overpasses as the weather dictates. He said they would focus on Highway 90 in the river bottom, the Hardin overpass, the overpass on Hwy 321 as well as the FM 770 overpass in Hull.

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Hometown Holidays: Tomorrow, the Dayton Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring their annual Hometown Holidays. The celebration kicks off at noon with a Bridghaven fun run, and then followed at 2 pm Saturday with the parade, fun, food and entertainment. Vendor booths will be set up for holiday shopping. The event culminates Saturday evening at 7 p.m. with the big fireworks display.

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Dayton-Brenham: Dayton plays the Brenham Cubs in the State Quarter Finals tomorrow night. Kick off is at 6 p.m. at Rhodes Stadium in Katy. Both teams enter the game 11-2 after coming from behind in their regional contests to advance to the final eight. The winner of the Dayton-Brenham match up will face the victor of the Kerrville Tivy – Port Lavaca Calhoun game. Our broadcast of the Dayton-Brenham game will start a little earlier this week with the pre-game show with Larry Wadzeck taking to the airwaves at 5:35 p.m.

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Republican Filings: Tomorrow morning at 10 a.m., all candidates running for office in Liberty Co. as a Republican are asked to be at the new party headquarters to complete paperwork to be on the ballot as a candidate in the primary. The G.O.P. Party Headquarters location is on the corner of Sam Houston Street and Travis in Liberty. Lester Ray Wisegerber, Liberty County Republican Party Chair said he expects 13 candidates to file locally as Republicans but hopes for more.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 12,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 16.70 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 226 THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2009

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Candidate Filings: Today is the first day for candidates seeking to run in the March party primary elections to file. Offices on the March primary ballot in Liberty County include County Judge, Precinct #2 and #4 Liberty County Commissioners, County Clerk, District Court Clerk, County Surveyor and District Attorney. Additionally all six Justice of the Peace precincts will be on the ballot. The office of 75th District Judge, Liberty County Court at Law and the judgeship of the 253rd District Court is also up for re-election. The filing period starts today and continues through January 4.

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Liberty Co. Bikes: The Liberty County Bikes for Christmas Committee is having a bike assembly day Saturday December 12 starting at 9 a.m. at the Sam's Distribution Center on FM 686 in Dayton. Volunteers are needed to help put together the several hundred bikes that will be given to deserving kids from all across Liberty County. For information on the assembly day, or to donate to the Liberty County Bikes for Christmas effort, call David Milam at Milam Discount Tire, 334-9500, Mike Koen at Liberty County Emergency Medical Services at 536-3080 or KSHN Radio, 336-5793.

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LISD Education Foundation: The Liberty Independent School District Education Foundation provides financial grants to teachers for educational projects beyond what the school district can provide. Teachers must apply for the grants, which are awarded following selection by the grant committee. This year as an added bonus, teachers are encouraged to apply together on projects that may be eligible for grants of up to $5,000. The LISD Educational Foundation is in their annual fundraising period now through mid January. If you would like to donate to the foundation, contact the LISD Administration office and they will get you in touch with the right people.

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Groce Announces: Liberty Co. Commissioner Pct. 2 Lee Groce yesterday announced his intentions to run for his seventh term as Commissioner for Pct. 2 on the Democratic ticket.

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Obituaries: Roma A. Hester Tarkington, 77 of Dayton. Memorial service 2 p.m. Wednesday December 9 at Pace Stancil Funeral Home in Dayton.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 12,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 16.62 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 227 WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2009

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Parks Trial: We reported on the June death of Dayton native Sarah Sheffield Parks in Moscow, Idaho and the arrest of her husband Silas Parks on murder charges. Latah County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Thompson said his office will not try this case as a capital murder, saying there are no mitigating circumstances under Idaho law that would allow capital murder charges. Silas Parks remains in the Latah County Jail, without bond, with a trail date set for March of 2010. A bond hearing has been set for Dec. 18. Prosecutors say Silas Parks is entitled to bond under Idaho law.

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Messiah Presentations: Two very special presentations of Handel's Messiah are set for Liberty. The first one will be this Sunday evening when the St. Stephen's Episcopal Church will have their Canterbury Chorale present the Messiah at 6 p.m. The second Handel's Messiah, a sing along worship experience will be Saturday December 19 in the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church in Liberty. That begins at 7 p.m.

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Dayton Country Christmas: The weather for tomorrow night's annual County Christmas celebration in Dayton should be much better. Liberty Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce President Mary Anne Campbell said the events for this year's Country Christmas would all in and around the downtown Dayton area near city hall north of Hwy. 90. All the fun kicks off at 6 p.m. while the weather is expected to cooperate, it is expected to be cold, so bundle up.

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H1N1 Vaccines: Brandon Smith, P.A.C., said his clinic, Firm Foundation Health Care Clinic on North Travis in Liberty currently has a surplus of H1N1 vaccine available. He said they have been providing the vaccine for several weeks to those in high-risk categories, but now because of the additional supplies said they are offering both the injectable and nasal vaccine to others in the community. For information on the H1N1 flu vaccine, call the clinic at 936-334-8800.

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Funeral: William Orebo, Jr., 70 of Liberty. Services tomorrow at 11 a.m. at Lily of the Valley Baptist Church in Liberty. Ivory Scott, 58 of Liberty. Services will be Saturday at 11 a.m. at Trinity Valley Missionary Baptist Church in Liberty.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 12,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 16.31 ASL*

VOLUME 24 NO. 226 TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2009

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Liberty Fire: Just before 5 a.m. yesterday, the Liberty Fire Department was called to a house fire on Bowie Street. The entire front of the structure was in flames, and to protect nearby homes, Liberty asked for mutual aid from the Dayton, Hull-Daisetta and Hardin volunteer fire departments. None of the surrounding homes were damaged, but the frame duplex was a total loss. The homeowner, Sandra Baldwin, moved out a few months ago and there were no utilities to the home. Assistant Fire Chief Brian Hurst said the cause of the fire remains under investigation; however, it is at this point being called suspicious.

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Another Hat in the Ring: Yesterday afternoon, Dayton Mayor Steve Stephens announced his intentions to run for Liberty County Judge on the Republican ticket. Now in his third term as mayor for the city of Dayton, Steve Stephens said at a press conference yesterday the county needs to prepare for anticipated growth from Houston. He pointed to his accomplishments as mayor along with his business background and community involvement when saying he was prepared to tackle that challenge. Jay Knight, a member of Dayton City Council, has already announced he will run for judge, also as a republican.

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Retailers: Local retailers report sales in the traditionally busy post Thanksgiving weekend were down compared to last year. The largest retailer in the county, Wal-Mart, reported while early Friday morning showed great promise shoppers did not come back as the weekend continued. Many of the other retailers in the Liberty area echoed that sentiment.

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Hometown Holidays: Dayton Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual Hometown Holiday Celebration Saturday in downtown Dayton. The event kicks off at 2 p.m. with a parade, followed by free games and prizes for children as well as other activities, including horse-drawn wagon rides, popcorn and cotton candy. All this is free; however, folks are asked to bring non-perishable food items as a donation. The city Christmas tree will be lit at 7 p.m. The day will conclude with a fireworks extravaganza shortly after the tree lighting.

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Funeral: Anna Denise Babb, 50 of Batson. Services today at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Batson.

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*LAKE RELEASE: 12,000 CFS LIBERTY BRIDGE: 16.17 ASL*

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