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FINAL DEFENDANT IN GAMMAGE MURDER SENTENCED TO LIFE

BY PHILLIP WILLIAMS/Correspondent

GILMER--Andrew Conrad Norwine, the last of three co-defendants to plead guilty in the 2012 slaying of Ronnie Joe Gammage, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a judge June 16 after the charge against him was reduced from capital murder to murder.

Norwine, 23, of Arlington, will not be eligible for parole under current law for 30 years, and waived his right to appeal the sentence assessed by 115th District Judge Lauren Parish on a plea bargain. 

Norwine's co-defendants, Longview residents Daniel Paul Jones and Sarah Haslam, were sentenced to life without parole after pleading guilty to capital murder. Jones was sentenced in October 2013, Haslam in February 2014, both by Parish.

Gammage, 27, of Longview, was abducted in that city Dec. 5, 2012 before his throat was cut and his corpse set afire, Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd has said. The remains of the victim, who suffered from disabilities, were found that Dec. 19 in a pasture on Martin Road in Diana before the suspects were arrested that month, according to Byrd.

Byrd, who represented the state at Tuesday's sentencing, told this newspaperthe charge against Norwine was reduced because it would have been "very difficult to prove" he had a role in the kidnapping, which would have been required for a capital murder conviction. (Unlike murder, capital murder is punishable only by lethal injection or life imprisonment without parole.)

However, Norwine was with the other defendants when they abducted Gammage at gunpoint from a Waffle House on Loop 281, did nothing to stop it, later physically assaulted the victim, and encouraged Jones to cut Gammage's throat with a multi-purpose tool which included a knife, Byrd said.

All three defendants were "highly" intoxicated on a variety of illegal drugs, and Jones and Haslam sold drugs, the district attorney added. He said Jones and Haslam, who had met Norwine for the first time only a few days earlier in Dallas, targeted Gammage because they thought he "befriended a person they believed was a snitch against them."

After the abduction, Gammage was driven to a location off Tryon Road in that city, where Jones and Haslam assaulted him, said Byrd. The group then went to Upshur County, where all three defendants assaulted the victim before Jones cut his throat, the prosecutor said.

The defendants then drove to the home of Jones' parents in Longview and obtained a 5-gallon jug of gasoline, which Jones and Haslam poured on the body, Byrd added.

Longview attorney John W. Moore, who along with fellow court-appointed Wood County/Dallas County attorney Doug Parks, represented Norwine, told this newspaper thatthe murder was the "result of a very unfortunate circumstance that shows what drugs can do to a good person."

At the sentencing, Byrd said Gammage's mother, sister and brother had approved the plea bargain. He also said Norwine was absent without leave from the United States Army in Fort Polk. La., when the slaying occurred, and had been dishonorably discharged.

An aggravated kidnapping charge against Norwine in Gregg County was taken into consideration at the sentencing, meaning that county will not pursue it.

The bespectacled, clean-shaven, short-haired Norwine showed no outward emotion during the proceedings, which concluded with a victim impact statement from Gammage's sister, Angela Dees. She told Norwine "you had the chance to walk away" from the other two defendants, who she said Norwine hardly knew, to get help for her brother, "but you chose not to."

 

She said she hoped someone would also decline to get Norwine help sometime and told him "I hope and pray you will never, ever, ever see the light of day again."

 

WHAT'S HAPPENING -JUNE 17, 2015

Gladewater Museum reception June 22

The Gladewater Museum will host a reception honoring Lisa Worley from the Texas Historical Commission on Monday, June 22 from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. The community is warmly encouraged to attend the event. Worley will be spending two days at the museum assessing exhibits and contributing suggestions on way to enhance exhibits. 

The museum is located at 116 W. Pacific Ave. and is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and by appointment. For information please call 903-845-7608 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Saints United Choir to perform

The combined choirs of St. James Baptist Church and First Baptist Church invite the community to attend a night of praise and worship on Sunday, June 14 at 6 p.m. at First Baptist Church Gladewater at 300 W. Upshur Ave. There will be a family meal and fellowship following the service. Everyone is warmly invited to attend.

SFA to host bass fishing tournament

NACOGDOCHES  – Stephen F. Austin State University’s Campus Recreation will host the third annual Worsham Bass Fishing Tournament Saturday, June 27, at Jackson Hill Park and Marina on Lake Sam Rayburn in Broaddus.

 All proceeds will benefit the Dr. Raymond Lee Worsham Scholarship for SFA Campus Recreation, established by the SFA Alumni Association.

 Dr. Raymond “Ray” Worsham was director of the SFA Intramural Department for more than four decades. The scholarship honors Worsham’s dedication and his positive impact on the university. It will provide financial assistance to student employees of Campus Recreation.

 Tournament participants can register online at www.sfaalumni.com/event/Bass2015; mail a registration form to the SFA Alumni Association; or register at the Jackson Hill Park and Marina boat ramp before the start of the tournament on Saturday.

 Cash prizes will be given for first, second and third place, as well as in the “big bass” and “small bass” categories. Cost is $80 per boat with an optional $50 side pot. 

 For more information, contact Travis Lankford at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or the SFA Alumni Association at (936) 468-3407.

Legislators to speak in Gilmer

GILMER--U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Heath) and State Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) will be among speakers for the June 19 quarterly meeting of the Upshur County Republican Party’s Executive Committee, said county GOP Chairman Cynthia Ridgeway.

They, and potential candidates for Upshur County office in 2016, will speak at the 6 p.m. gathering at Indian Rock Baptist Church on Texas 154 west of Gilmer.

The meeting is open to the public. Attendees have the option of eating a meal for a $5 donation to help pay the church for using its building, Ridgeway said.

Ratcliffe, who held a town hall meeting in Gilmer in early April, is in his first term representing the Fourth Congressional District, which includes most of Upshur County. (U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Tyler Republican, represents the rest of Upshur County in his First Congressional District.)

Simpson, who represents Gregg and Upshur Counties, intends to announce his political plans for 2016 on June 22.

4H Safety Camp on tap June 30

A 4-H Safety Camp for youth ages 9-19 is scheduled June 30 at the Pritchett Community Center on FM Road 1404 near Big Sandy.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event, sponsored by the Upshur County and Camp County offices of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, will feature training in kitchen and food safety, and training concerning all-terrain vehicles.  

Following the morning session on kitchen and food safety, attendees will “make a healthy recipe for lunch,” according to a flyer promoting the event. The afternoon session on ATVs will not include riding one.

Fee to attend is $15, which includes the price of lunch. Registration and payment must be received by June 19 at the Upshur extension office, located in the old Gilmer National Bank motor bank building at 101 E. Cass.

All youngsters ages 9-19 are welcome to attend, regardless of where they live or whether they are 4-H members. For more information, contact the Upshur extension office at 903-843-4019 or the Camp County extension office at 903-856-5005.

Fried Chicken fund raiser slated

GILMER--Fried chicken lunches prepared by Norma Tomlin and Ann Glenn will be sold June 18 to raise funds for the Upshur County Community Fund.

The event is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Yamboree Exhibit Building, located at the Yamboree grounds on U.S. 271 a short distance north of Walmart.

Take-out orders will be available. For more information, contact the Gilmer Area Chamber of Commerce at 903-843-2413.

State historic sites offer free summer admission for active duty military, families

AUSTIN —This summer, active military personnel and their families get free admission to the Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) State Historic Sites through the Blue Star Museum Program.

From Memorial Day (May 25) through Labor Day (Sept. 7) the free admission program is available to any bearer of a Geneva Convention common access card (CAC), a DD Form 1173 (dependent ID), or a DD Form 1173-1 ID card.

THC’s 19 State Historic Sites are all participating in the free admission program. Many of THC’s participating sites have recently had improvements made including new Visitors Centers at Caddo Mounds State Historic Site in Alto and Fort Griffin State Historic Site in Albany. A number of the sites are dedicated to preserving the memory of military service in Texas, such as the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg and Fort McKavett in Fort McKavett, Texas.

Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and the Department of Defense. This year, more than 2,000 museums in all 50 states are taking part in the initiative, including more than 500 new museums.

For more information on the THC’s Historic Sites, visit www.texashistoricsites.com. To find participating museums and plan your trip, visit www.arts.gov/bluestarmuseums.

Upshur County Library Storytime

GILMER--Two books will be read to children at both of the Upshur County Library’s weekly “Storytime” sessions Thursday.

“Daddy is My Hero” by Dawn Richards, and “The Best Father’s Day Present Ever” by Christine Loomis, will be presented during the 10 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. sessions.

A craft will follow each Storytime at the library, 702 W. Tyler, said Debbie White of the Children’s Services division.

The events are free to the public, but children under age 12 must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, call the library at (903) 843-5001. 

 Juneteenth softball tourney June 20

A Juneteenth Softball Tournament is scheduled for June 20 at 8 a.m. at Broughton & Timpson Park in Longview. For information call 903-331-8271.

Glade FBC Vacation Bible School

First Baptist Church, Gladewater will host a “Journey Off the Map” Vacation Bible School June 22-26 from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. each night. Dinner will be provided.

On this “expedition of a lifetime”, children will discover how Jesus is the Ultimate Guide. The VBS is free and open to all children ages 4 through sixth grade.

There will be a Family Night event on Friday, June 26 with parents invited to join their children at 6:45 p.m. for a program followed by a free meal. 

First Baptist Church, Gladewater is located at 300 W. Upshur Ave. For transportation or more information, contact the church office at 903-845-2171.

Banks join forces to minister to military

Austin Bank, along with five other Texas community banks joined together with “Ministering Our Military” (M.O.M.) to support active duty service personnel. 

Throughout June until July 10 a donation drive will be held at Gladewater’s Austin Bank to collect items and raise money to send care packages. 

Donation items include Amazon and iTune gift cards, microwaveable food goods, olive drab T-shirts, crew or boot socks, foot powder, toothbrushes, seeds, nuts, trail mix, dried fruit, protein bars, beef jerky, electrolyte drink mixes and cotton swabs. 

Tax deductible financial donations may be made payable to “Ministering Our Military”. Items and donations may be dropped off during banking hours in the lobby of Austin Bank on Highway 80. 

For information call 903-844-2805.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GLADEWATER ROUND-UP RODEO - EXTREME BULLS

Simpson, Hughes seek senate seat

By Jim Bardwell

State Senator Kevin Eltife’s decision to not seek re-election has several hats being tossed into the Senate District 1 political arena - including state representatives David Simpson (R-Longview) and Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola).

Both candidates represent or have represented portions of Senate District 1, which covers Bowie, Camp, Cass, Franklin, Gregg, Harrison, Lamar, Marion, Morris, Panola, Red River, Rusk, Smith, Titus, Upshur and Wood counties.

Both Hughes and Simpson have been at odds with House Speaker Joe Straus and announced challenges to the seat going into the 2013 session.

“Taking the cause of everyday citizens to the floor of the Texas House, I have sought to govern with the principles of liberty and limited government. This is not popular with Austin insiders and the establishment, but it must be done if we are to be free and responsible for our own lives, to live in peace and to prosper. On June 22, I will announce the details of the next chapter in this campaign for Texas and liberty, and I look forward to working alongside each of you as we limit government to its proper role and promote individual liberty in Texas,” Simpson said.

Hughes said “After a lot of prayer and counsel from family and friends, today (Monday) I’m announcing my candidacy for the Texas Senate. I’ve had the privilege of representing much of East Texas already in the House, and I’m looking forward to visiting with old friends and meeting new ones all across this corner of Texas.  In the House I’ve gained a reputation as a conservative, independent voice for East Texas, and I want to continue that work in the Texas Senate.”

 Eltife decision not to run for re-election in 2016, brings to a close more than two decades in public service. Eltife said after 23 years, “I have to honestly say I need to take a step back, spend more time with my family and friends and recharge my batteries.”  While Eltife says he will not seek re-election, some political experts have suggested the Tyler native may launch a run for the US House of Representatives - the seat currently held by fellow Tyler resident Louie Gohmert. 

Both Simpson and Hughes are scheduled to address next Monday night’s monthly meeting of East Texans for Liberty. The event is set for 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Disabled American Veterans post No. 204 on U.S. 271, across from Walmart. 

The two legislators will report on the recently-concluded session of the 84th Texas Legislature and answer questions.

, said McMahan. They will be given equal time, she said, adding her organization plans to co-sponsor a Feb. 1 debate between candidates for the Texas Senate District 1 seat.

 

 

 

 

 

CITY PICKS HARALSON AS INTERIM CITY MANAGER

Gladewater City Secretary Melba Haralson was handed another hat to wear Tuesday night, as the City Council handed her the interim city manager’s job.

Haralson will replace city manager Sean Pate who is leaving to become city manager in Bonham. Pate's last day is July 2.
This will be Haralson’s third time to serve as interim city manager and she will be charged with guiding the city through the budget process this summer. It took the city council two hours in executive session to come to a conclusion after not making a decision last week.

Last week several names were pitched for the interim city manager's job, including councilwoman Lana Niemann and former mayor John Paul Tallent, among others. Niemann said she would serve as interim city manager, but did not want the job full-time. 
Haralson was hired by the City of Gladewater in 1994 and appointed City Secretary in 1996. She is a graduate of the Texas Municipal Clerks Certification Program through the University of North Texas and has over 30 years of financial and accounting background. She is a member of the Texas Municipal Clerks Association, Texas Municipal Human Resource Association, Texas Government Finance Officers Association, Gladewater Chamber of Commerce, past president of the Gladewater Lions Club, and serves on numerous committees and volunteers with various community projects and events.

As city secretary she attends and records proceedings of official meetings of the City and is the manager and custodian of official records. She also has been responsible for conducting city elections, including early voting and is the city treasurer, finance department supervisor, human resources and personnel director. Her duties also include directing all information systems and data processing efforts and provides control and consistency to the procurement of all supplies, material and equipment.

The city council has begun the recruitment process for a fulltime city manager by advertising with the Texas Municipal League.

GLADEWATER ROUND-UP RODEO ACTION RUNS THROUGH SATURDAY

To see all the Gladewater Round-Up Rodeo action go to: http://gladewaterrodeo.smugmug.com

UPSHUR COMMISSIONERS PASS ON MUTUAL AID AGREEMENT WITH GLADEWATER

BY PHILLIP WILLIAMS,Correspondent

GILMER--Upshur County Commissioners Court on Friday took no action on a mutual aid agreement proposed by the city of Gladewater after several commissioners said they were happy with their current interlocal agreement with the city.

Pct. 3 Commissioner Frank Berka, whose precinct includes the Upshur County portion of Gladewater, urged the court not act on the proposal from Gladewater City Manager Sean Pate after the three other commissioners expressed satisfaction with the current agreement.

The interlocal pact lets the county and city cooperate on road work and share expenses.

County Judge Dean Fowler opened the discussion by saying the proposal was the same type agreement Gladewater has with Gregg County Commissioners Court. Berka then said "it's just spelled out in legalese stuff" compared to the current agreement.

The commissioner said he had District Attorney Billy Byrd review the proposal and that Byrd said it was okay. Then the other commissioners--Paula Gentry, Don Gross and Mike Spencer--said they were happy with the current agreement before Fowler said "it doesn't matter to me" what the court did.

Berka said the current agreement states that aid is "subject to current funding."

Pate, who did not attend the commissioners' meeting, told this newspaper afterward in a phone interview that he proposed the agreement "to create some consistency" and allow "more flexibility." He said it was "just mimicking" the agreement the city made with Gregg County, which he said has worked well.

The city manager, who said Berka had called him to express his concerns with the proposal, said the city was not demanding a change and that it was a "simple suggestion." Pate said the city is "fine with the existing" interlocal agreement if that is what the court wants.

Berka said after the meeting that the current agreement is a "very simple one page" document with "not a lot of legalese language" and the proposed new one "basically is the same thing we're doing today."

Thus, he said, there was "no sense in making changes if they're not needed."