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Phone scammers strike Sulphur Springs

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A Sulphur Springs resident this week warns others to be aware of a phone scam in which people claiming to be IRS representatives make threats.

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Red Cross welcomes Passion for Pints Blood Drive as it partners with Dairy Max

Dairy Max, a nonprofit dairy council representing dairy families across Texas, is sponsoring a Passion for Pints blood drive during National Dairy Month to showcase dairy farmers’ community commitment.

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SB holds English as a second language summer program

Sulphur Bluff Independent School District will offer an English as a second language summer school program from kindergarten and first graders. Classes will go from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, June 9 through June 25.

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Duffey manslaughter trial set for Monday

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Opening statements and testimony is expected to begin at 9 a.m. Monday in the manslaughter trial of Roy Dean Duffey for the February 2011 stabbing death of David Harrison Cooper.

The trial will be held without a jury before Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Eddie Northcutt in the Hopkins County Courthouse. 

In an April 14 hearing, Northcutt ordered a new trial for Duffey, saying he would hear the full case on June 8.

In that hearing, Northcutt finally rejected a plea bargain deal that had been tentatively agreed to prior to the start of a trial two years ago in which Duffey had agreed to plead guilty to a lesser offense in exchange for a probated 10-year sentence and 180 days “shock probation” in prison before then-District Judge Robert Newsom.

Northcutt said he had reviewed a pre-sentence investigation to account for the planned sentence. He said he would try Duffey on the original indictment.

The district judge said he expects the trial to run through Wednesday.

District Attorney Will Ramsay said if Duffey is found guilty by the court, he will face five years to life in prison and will receive credit for the time already served from the original trial.

Attorney Frank Hughes now represents Duffey in the manslaughter trial.

Duffey, accused in the February 2011 stabbing death of David Harrison Cooper, was set for jury trial in July 2013; just prior to the start of that trial he agreed to a plea agreement that specified a sentence of 10 years in prison with a provision for “shock probation” which would mean 180 days in prison, including two months time already served, before Duffey would have been released to serve the remainder of his sentence on probation.

Attorneys for Duffey appealed the sentence after then-District Judge Robert Newsom rejected the plea agreement.

Newsom's rejection of the plea bargain came after members of Cooper's family met with the judge without defense and prosecution attorneys in what was termed an “ex parte” meeting.

Following that meeting, attorneys Chad Cable and Frank Long filed a motion to recuse or disqualify Newsom from the case.

That motion left Newsom with two options, he could have either removed himself from the case or asked the presiding judge of the First Administrative District to appoint another judge to hear the case. Newsom chose the latter.

Presiding Judge John D. Ovard rejected the motion to disqualify Newsom.

The conviction was then appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Appellate District of Texas in Texarkana.

“While the recusal testimony indicates the trial judge [Newsom] refused to discuss the details of the case during the ex parte meeting, he clearly listened to the concerns and objections of the Coopers and [Pastor Lavelle] Hendricks regarding a sentencing decision that was not yet final,” the appeals court wrote. “Allowing this trial judge, even if he were to sit mute, to meet privately with a crime victim's family and pastor regarding sentencing and finalized plea agreements would create a dangerous precedent that could prejudice injustice in other cases. Characterizing this behavior by a jurist [judge] as harmless would undermine public confidence in the judicial system.”

The appellate court, after reviewing the trial, sent the case back to the Eighth District Court.

Hopkins County Dairy Festival one week away

It’s time to “moo it, moo it” because the Hopkins County Dairy Festival is celebrating their 56th anniversary in a utterly awesome way. A week of sensational festivities will be held June 12-20. Here is a breakdown of all the events. 

At noon, June 12, head down to the Celebration Plaza for the annual opening ceremonies and ribbon cutting. 

“After the ceremonies the first thing no one should miss is the hot air balloon rally and glow,” said Dairy Festival Committee member Lynda Hager. 

The hot air balloons will launch from 6 until 9 p.m. Friday June 12 at Shannon Oaks Church at 1113  East Shannon Road, Sulphur Springs.

To add to the excitement, the 5K Milk Run will begin at 7 p.m. that evening as 35 hot air balloons drift over head to offer a view like no other. The 5K race was created to bring community awareness of dairy farmers in Hopkins County. 

“The race will have race chip timing and also begin at Shannon Oaks Church,” said Hager. 

On Saturday, the party continues as hot air balloons will continue flying from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., followed by the Dairy Festival Parade at 10 a.m.

More than a hundred floats will leave Buford Park and travel down Connally Street to Celebration Square, then turn down Gilmer Street to Lee Street before returning to the park. Unlike previous year, the parade will be an even mix different kinds of floats instead of grouping alike themes together. 

“We had a huge parade last year with 117 entrees last year. We will have past Dairy Festival Queens from five, 10, 25, and 50 years ago,” said Hagar. “Anyone can enter the parade. All they need to do is show up early on the day of the parade in Buford Park.”

Organizations or parties interested in entering the parade can contact David Watson at 903-439-5020. 

At the same time as the parade, the Junior Dairy Show will begin at the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center which is followed by the candidates, parents and balloon pilots at 3 p.m.

On Saturday June 20 at 4 p.m., the Texas Championship Ice Cream Freeze-Off will begin on the Civic Center grounds, and to round out the evening the hot air balloons will take their final voyages from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. 

The festival will pick up Wednesday with a carnival on the Civic Center grounds.

“The carnival is going to be so much fun this year with every ride you can imagine,” said Dairy Festival committee member Lonnie Fox. “It will be the same group as last year and tickets will be available at Super Handy in Sulphur Springs for a discounted rate. The tickets will be available to purchase in the store by Friday, June 12.”

Finishing off a week of celebrating the benefits of the dairy industry, Texas AgriLife Extension Office will be holding a Dairy Foods Contest at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 20, in their office. The festival will then wrap up with the Queen Coronation Pageant at 7p.m. Seven girls will be showing off their talents, evening dresses and speaking abilities during the evening.

“The pageant is my favorite part of the festival,” said Hager. “The pageant is something everyone has to come out to see this year.”

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