I-20 and Toll 49 closures


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I-20 has been closed and traffic moved to the ramps at FM 849 at Hideaway. Crews are currently working to remove the structure over the westbound lanes. Then they will move to the eastbound side.

After assessing conditions with the closure of I-20, it has been determined that to assist with traffic flow, northbound Toll 49 is being closed between SH 64 and  I-20. Toll 49 southbound traffic will still be able to pass through the area.


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Kilgore College Golden Z Club will be chartered Dec. 7


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Kilgore College will hold a ceremony 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, to charter a new college service club, the KC Golden Z Club.

The ceremony will be held in the Devall Room of the Devall Student Center on the Kilgore campus.

The club – the first and only Golden Z Club in East Texas – will be chartered as one of the youth groups of Zonta International, a leading global organization of professionals empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy.

KC has seven charter members under the direction of the club’s president, KC sophomore Raven Wiley.

The KC Golden Z Club will provide career guidance, promote leadership skills, promote international fellowship and participate in service projects benefiting the school, community and the world.

Terry McJilton, president of the Zonta Club of Greater East Texas, will present the charter Thursday to the new club.

Members are planning activities for Zonta Rose Day/International Women’s Day next March and will assist the Zonta Club of Greater East Texas with their annual antique show at Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Complex in Longview.

The Zonta Club of Greater East Texas will act in an advisory capacity for the KC Golden Z Club.

 Sponsors of the club are KC employees Schlunda Hall, Doris Johnson, Rene’ Wiley and Charleen Worsham.

 


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ETCOG Partners with Governor’s Office to Provide Grant Funding for East Texas Police Academy Driving Track Repairs


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 ETCOG, and the Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division are proud to announce the award of $200,000 in grant funding to Kilgore College (KC).  These grant funds will be used to resurface and repair KC’s East Texas Police Academy (ETPA) Driving Track used by regional peace officers, fire fighters and ambulance drivers for emergency vehicle operations training.
As one of only four driving tracks for police training in the state, the track, located at the Winfred J. Spear Training Center in Rusk County, is used by the ETPA to equip first responders in the surrounding 24-county area with the safe driving tactics needed to serve the public. In addition, nearly every jurisdiction within the 24 counties uses the track for supplemental driving skills training, as needs dictate.
The ETPA is the premiere training center for law enforcement students in East Texas and has been administered by KC, through contract with ETCOG, since 1970. The driving track has been in service for almost 30 years and needs major repairs. Local officials recently requested ETCOG’s assistance with this project.  ETCOG staff subsequently contacted the Governor’s Office to request assistance to help address this important need on behalf of our law enforcement community, and the Governor graciously agreed to help.
“I am extremely grateful for Governor Abbott’s willingness to help accomplish this important project,” said ETCOG Executive Director David Cleveland.  “Our peace officers deserve to receive the very best training and support we can possibly give them and this repair project certainly demonstrates his ongoing commitment to that objective.”
“This project will allow East Texas to continue to offer top-notch training for our peace officers,” said Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt. “As Chairman of the East Texas Council of Governments’ Board of Directors, I am grateful for the Governor’s generous contribution to our region and I am pleased that it will directly benefit both our first responders and the public.”
Total estimated cost for repairs to the driving track is $200,000. ETCOG will contribute $125,000 in regional public safety funds and the Governor’s Office will contribute $75,000. KC will manage the repair project.
I am very excited about the opportunities this funding will allow us to pursue in expanding our training capabilities, all while increasing the safety of our students,” said Joe Cassin, ETPA director. “This grant funding will help us continue to provide the highest quality Police Emergency Driver Improvement training to the region’s law enforcement officers for decades to come.”

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LOCAL SCHOOLS LISTED IN RANSOMEWARE ATTACK


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Summary of Ransomware Attack Incident and Recommended Action

On October 26, 2017, a Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) employee’s state-issued laptop computer was compromised through a
. As a result, students in school districts throughout Texas may have been potentially impacted by the breach. The information exposed on the employee’s laptop included names, social security numbers, home addresses, birthdates, and personal phone numbers of the affected students and their families. To date, TDA’s Information Security Officer (ISO) has identified more than 700 students whose sensitive personal information was, or is reasonably believed to have been, exposed to acquisition by an unauthorized person.

It is important to note that, to date, TDA’s ISO has not discovered any evidence to suggest misuse of the information that was compromised by the ransomware exploit.

To mitigate this potential exposure, TDA’s ISO recommends that the affected students, or parents of the affected students, if minors, contact the three major credit bureaus and activate a fraud alert on behalf of the students impacted by ransomware attack.

Guidance is available on TDA’s Square Meals website for individuals that are impacted by the ransomware attack. (Section 521.053(f) of the Texas Business and Commerce Code).

Please view list below of affected schools and school districts with students who have been potentially impacted by the successful ransomware.

Independent School Districts Impacted by ransomware attack

ALBA-GOLDEN ISD

KEENE ISD

ALVARADO ISD

KENNEDALE ISD

ARGYLE ISD

KRUM ISD

BIG SANDY ISD-DALLARDSVILLE

LAKE DALLAS ISD

BOLES ISD

MELISSA ISD

BOYD ISD

NECHES ISD

CENTRAL ISD

NEW DIANA ISD

CLEBURNE ISD

ORE CITY ISD

CORISCANA ISD

PARADISE ISD

CROWLEY ISD

PILOT POINT ISD

DALLAS COUNTY JUVENILE DEPARTMENT

PINEYWOODS COMMUNITY ACADEMY

ENNIS ISD PONDER ISD

ETOILE ISD

PRINCETON ISD

GILMER ISD

SLIDELL ISD

GLADEWATER ISD

ST MARY OF CARMEL SCHOOL

GUNTER ISD

ST GEORGE SCHOOL

HARLETON ISD

TERRELL ISD

HARRISON COUNTY JUVENILE SERVICES

UNION GROVE ISD

JEAN MASSIEU ACADEMY

UNION HILL ISD

KARNACK ISD

References – Applicable State Law:

Section 521.053(b) of the Texas Business and Commerce Code – requires notice to a person whose sensitive personal information was, or is reasonably believed to have been, acquired by an unauthorized person.

Section 521.053(f) of the Texas Business and Commerce Code – authorizes alternate notification via electronic mail, if the person providing notice has electronic mail addresses for the affected persons; conspicuous posting on the entity’s website; or broadcast on major statewide media.

Section 521.002(a) of the Texas Business and Commerce Code – defines PII as information that alone or in conjunction with other information identifies an individual, including an individual’s name, social security number, date of birth, government-issued identification number, mother’s maiden name, personal address, driver’s license number, etc.

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SWEPCO CONTINUES TO EDUCATE CUSTOMERS ON IMPOSTER UTILITY SCAMS


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SHREVEPORT, La, November 13, 2017 – Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) is proud to stand with its fellow electric, water, and natural gas utilities and trade associations in support of Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS). UUAS is a consortium of more than 100 U.S. and Canadian utilities and will observe the second annual Utility Scam Awareness Day, Wednesday, November 15, as part of a week-long advocacy and awareness campaign, November 13 – 17.

Many electric, water, and natural gas customers throughout the country are being targeted by impostor utility scams each day. Scammers typically use phone, in-person, and online tactics to target these customers. Scammers pose as electric, water, or natural gas company employees, and they threaten that customers’ services will be disconnected or shut off if they fail to make an immediate payment – typically using a prepaid card or other non-traceable form of payment.

Scammers can be convincing and often target those who are most vulnerable, including senior citizens and low-income communities. They also aim their scams at small business owners during busy customer service hours.

“Scammers are targeting local businesses, senior citizens and customers whose native language is not English,” said Brett Mattison, SWEPCO’s director of customer services and marketing. “We’re sharing this information so customers can protect themselves from this fraudulent activity.”

“SWEPCO employees will never demand immediate payment, insist a payment be made with a prepaid credit card or ask a customer to meet us in a parking lot to make a payment,” said Mattison.

 

Signs of Potential Scam Activity:

  • Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell the customer his or her utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made – usually within less than an hour.
  • Request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a prepaid card – widely available at retail stores – then call them back supposedly to make a bill payment to his or her utility company.
  • Request for prepaid card: When the customer calls back, the caller asks the customer for the prepaid card’s number, which grants the scammer instant access to the card’s funds, and the victim’s money is gone.

 

How Customers Can Protect Themselves:

  • Customers should never purchase a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. Legitimate utility companies do not specify how customers should make a bill payment and always offer a variety of ways to pay a bill, including accepting payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail, or in person.
  • If someone threatens immediate disconnection or shutoff of service, customers should hang up the phone, delete the email, or shut the door. Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification, typically by mail and included with their regular monthly bill. Companies never send a single notification one hour or less before disconnection.
  • If customers suspect someone is trying to scam them, they should hang up, delete the email, or shut the door. They should then call their utility company at the number on their monthly bill or the company’s website, not the phone number the scammer provides. If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 911.
  • Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud, or who feel threatened during contact with one of these scammers, should contact local law enforcement authorities. The Federal Trade Commission’s website is also a good source of information about how to protect personal information.

 SWEPCO serves 532,000 customers in western Arkansas, northwest and central Louisiana, northeast Texas and the Texas Panhandle. SWEPCO’s headquarters are in Shreveport, La. News releases and other information about SWEPCO can be found at www.SWEPCO.com. SWEPCO is an American Electric Power (AEP) company. AEP is one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity to nearly 5.4 million customers in 11 states.


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ARRESTS MADE IN EZ MART ROBBERY


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On October 22, 2017, at about 4:15AM, The Gregg County Sheriff’s Office responded to an Aggravated Robbery that occurred at the E-Z Mart located at 6420 Hwy 135 Kilgore, Texas. Gregg County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Matt Alford was assigned as lead investigator on this case. Since that time, Investigator Alford has been aggressively pursuing every lead and Crime Stoppers tip that has come in on this case.

On Tuesday November 21, 2017 The Gregg County Sheriff’s Office and the Longview Gregg County SWAT Team executed an arrest warrant for  Jonathan Zuniga (age 22 of Kilgore) and Clarence Bedford III (age 22 of Kilgore) at a home in the  Kilgore Liberty City area in connection to this Robbery. Both men were transported to the Gregg County Jail without further incident.

Jonathan Zuniga is being held in the Gregg County Jail on a $75,000.00 bond for the offense of Aggravated Robbery.

Clarence Bedford III is being held in the Gregg County Jail on a $75,000.00 bond for the offense of Aggravated Robbery.


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GILMER ATTORNEYS WIN $26M SETTLEMENT


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BY PHILLIP WILLIAMS/Corrrespondent

A Mount Pleasant woman represented by a Gilmer law firm has settled a personal injury lawsuit involving her husband in Titus County for $26 million, which attorneys in the case said is the largest single-party settlement in East Texas history.

Bessy Rodriguez, a former Upshur Countian, filed the suit on behalf of herself, her incapacited husband Jose Lara Sanchez and their two children in connection with an Aug. 10, 2015 two-pickup accident in Mt. Pleasant, attorneys said. The Gilmer law firm of Goudarzi and Young represented the plaintiffs in the suit, settled Sept. 22 in 276th District Court in Mt. Pleasant.

Defendants were Jonathan Cunningham, driver of a pickup which struck a pickup driven by Sanchez, and Cunningham’s employer, Troy Construction LLC.

The lawsuit alleged Cunningham, while working for Troy, negligently ran a red light at the intersection of West 16th Street and West Ferguson Road.and that the company-owned 2013 Chevrolet Silverado struck Sanchez’s 1993 Nissan pickup.

Plaintiffs said Troy was negligent for entrusting its vehicle to a driver the firm knew was incompetent or reckless, and failing to properly train Cunningham, attorneys said.

Sanchez suffered a traumatic brain injury, as well as an aortic injury. The aortic injury was surgically repaired.

In its response, the defendants had asserted that Sanchez’s injuries were proximately caused by his own “acts and/or omissions, including but not limited to not wearing his seat belt” and that they planned to “ask the fact-finder to assess proportionate responsibility among all parties,” including Sanchez.

Any damages awarded to the plaintiffs should thus be reduced, argued Dallas attorney John M. Pease, lead counsel for the defendant.

The case involved “extensive written discovery and 34 oral depositions taken all over the United States, as well as more than 20 highly contested court hearings” before the insurance company, Berkshire-Hathaway–owned by Warren Buffett–offered its $26 million insurance policy limit in response to the plaintiffs’ demand, about five weeks before a scheduled jury trial, attorney said.

Besides Pease, the defendants were represented by Dallas atttorneys D. Bowen Berry, Gary Lykins and Jonathan Spigel, and Houston attorneys Thomas Wright, Jessica Barger and Elizabeth Rivers. Pease was not immediately available for comment.

 


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Gladewater, Texas