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Grand Jury returns 39 indictments

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A Hopkins County Grand Jury this month returned 39 indictments against 30 individuals, pushing the cases forward for further prosecution. Some implicate more than one individual as participating in the same offense and some individuals are named in more than one indictment.

The majority of the indictments signed during the Nov. 10 session were for drug offenses, with a burglary, stolen vehicles, felony drunk driving, organized criminal activity, and evading and hindering arrest charges in the mix too. 

Randall Hank Root and Kevin Ron Wooten Jr. were indicted for burglary of a habitation. They are alleged on Oct. 2 to have entered another man’s home without his permission to commit theft of two firearms, a pair of boots and a poker set.

Indicted for two separate charges of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle were Timothy Dale Kelly and Bradley Dean Couffer. Kelly is alleged to have taken another man’s automobile without the owner’s consent on Sept. 15. Couffer is alleged to have taken another man’s motorcycle on Oct. 7 without permission.

Dreda Renee Ford was indicted for hindering apprehension. Ford is accused of intentionally harboring or concealing a man to prevent his arrest, prosecution, conviction or punishment on a violation of probation charge on Oct. 7.

Indicted for felony driving while intoxicated, third or more offense, were Jerrel Donald Oliver and Bryan Keith Burkham. Oliver is alleged to have been driving drunk on Oct. 10; he was  convicted in 2006 and 2008 of offenses relating to he operating of a motor vehicle while intoxicated, the indictment alleges. Burkham is alleged to have been driving drunk on Oct. 12; he  was twice convicted in 2008 on offenses relating to the operating of a motor vehicle while intoxicated, the indictment alleges.

Patrick Dale Mollenhour was indicted for driving while intoxicated with a passenger younger than 15 years of age in the vehicle with him. The indictment alleges he was driving drunk with his 5-year-old in the vehicle with him on Sept. 18.

Nine individuals were indicted on two charges each, all except one for drug offenses.

Tyrone DaKeith McFarland was indicted for engaging in organized criminal activity and evading activity. McFarland is alleged on Sept. 21 to have collaborated to commit theft of cigarettes from another man’s property, then to have used a vehicle to flee from Sulphur Springs Police Officer Brian Shurtleff, who was attempting to arrest him.

Jimmy Don Smith and Heather Branch Carey were both indicted on two delivery of controlled substance charges each. They are alleged to have twice delivered less than one gram of methamphetamine on July 7 and on July 9.

John David McGee Jr. was also indicted for delivery of less than one gram of meth on July 9; a drug-free zone enhancement was added to his charge because the offense was alleged to have been committed within 1,000 feet of Sulphur Springs Independent School District Administration Building on Connally Street. McGee also was indicted for delivery of less than one gram of meth within 1,000 feet of Hopkins County Alternative Education Program school on Craig Street, a drug-free zone, on July 14.

Also indicted for delivery of a controlled substance on two separate occasions were Kendale Shawn Qualls and Steven Allen Bruce. Qualls is accused of delivering less than one gram of meth on Aug. 8 and delivering one gram or more but less than four grams of meth on Aug. 13; the latter charge includes a deadly weapon enhancement alleging he also used or exhibited a firearm during the commission of the controlled substance delivery. Bruce is alleged to have delivered one gram or more but less than four grams of the controlled substance morphine  on June 22 and on June 24; the latter charge includes a drug-free zone enhancement because the alleged offense is said to have occurred within 1,000 feet of Sulphur Springs Christian Daycare, a private youth center located on Bill Bradford Road.

Misty Leigh Evans and Anastasia Renee Ricker were both indicted for allegedly possessing on Aug. 22 less than one gram of meth and less than 28 grams of clonazepam without a prescription, within 1,000 feet of Sulphur Springs High School, adding a drug-free zone enhancement to both charges.

Also indicted on two possession of controlled substance charges in a drug-free zone was Donald Joseph Ballowe. He is accused on Aug. 3 to have been in possession of four grams or more but less than 20 grams of meth as well as 28 grams or more but less than 200 grams of hydrocodone, within 1,000 feet of Water Oak Elementary, a drug-free zone.

Others indicted on one controlled substance charge each included:

  •  James Arthur Baxley — possession of less than one gram of meth, within 1,000 feet of Sulphur Springs Christian Daycare, a drug-free zone, on Sept. 23;
  •  Timothy John Dillashaw  — possession of less than one gram meth, within 1,000 feet of Bright Star Christian School, a drug-free zone, on Aug. 31;
  •  Lauren Leighann Duckworth — possession with intent to deliver four grams or more but less than 200 grams of meth, within 1,000 feet of Doodblebug Day Care, a drug-free zone, Sept. 3;
  •  Taylor Maxlynn Fletcher — possession with intent to deliver four grams or more but less than 200 grams of meth, Aug. 14;
  •  Jackson Blaze Gilbreath — delivery of one gram or more but less than four grams of meth, within 1,000 feet of Doodlebug Day Care, a drug-free zone, July 21;
  •  Elza Noah Hensley — delivery of less than one gram meth, within 1,000 feet of Doodlebug Day Care, a drug-free zone, July 28;
  •  Christopher Matthew Lawrenz — possession of less than one gram meth, Sept. 22;
  •  Christina Marie Loudenslager — possession of one gram or more but less than four grams of meth, within 1,000 feet of Little Acorn Day Care, a drug-free zone, and to have used or exhibited a firearm, a deadly weapon, during the commission of the offense, Aug. 14
  •  Crystal Paige Lyon — delivery of less than one gram of meth, within 1,000 feet of Sulphur Springs Christian Day Care, a drug-free zone, Sept. 15;
  •  Lucas Eugene Sampson — possession of four grams or more but less than 200 grams of meth, within 1,000 feet of Doodlebug Day Care, a drug-free zone, Sept. 3;
  •  Joe Willard Thompson — possession of one gram or more but less than four grams of meth, within 1,000 feet of Doodlebug Day Care, a drug-free zone, Aug. 2;
  •  William Charles Vanwey — possession of less than one gram meth, Sept. 29; and 
  •  Kalyle Shundre Wright — delivery of one gram or more but less than four grams of meth, within 1,000 feet of Sulphur Springs Elementary, a drug-free zone, Aug. 30.meth on July 9; a drug-free zone enhancement was added to his charge because the offense was alleged to have been committed within 1,000 feet of Sulphur Springs Independent School District Administration Building on Connally Street. McGee also was indicted for delivery of less than one gram of meth within 1,000 feet of Hopkins County Alternative Education Program school on Craig Street, a drug-free zone, on July 14.
  • Also indicted for delivery of a controlled substance on two separate occasions were Kendale Shawn Qualls and Steven Allen Bruce. Qualls is accused of delivering less than one gram of meth on Aug. 8 and delivering one gram or more but less than four grams of meth on Aug. 13; the latter charge includes a deadly weapon enhancement alleging he also used or exhibited a firearm, a deadly weapon, during the commission of the controlled substance delivery. Bruce is alleged to have delivered one gram or more but less than four grams of the controlled substance morphine  on June 22 and on June 24; the latter charge includes a drug-free zone enhancement because the alleged offense is said to have occurred within 1,000 feet of Sulphur Springs Christian Daycare, a private youth center located on Bill Bradford Road.

Misty Leigh Evans and Anastasia Renee Ricker were both indicted for allegedly possessing on Aug. 22 less than one gram of meth and less than 28 grams of clonazepam without a prescription, within 1,000 feet of Sulphur Springs High School, adding a drug-free zone enhancement to both charges.

Also indicted on two possession of controlled substance charges in a drug-free zone was Donald Joseph Ballowe. He is accused on Aug. 3 to have been in possession of four grams or more but less than 20 grams of meth as well as 28 grams or more but less than 200 grams of hydrocodone, within 1,000 feet of Water Oak Elementary, a drug-free zone.

Others indicted on one controlled substance charge each included:

  • James Arthur Baxley — possession of less than one gram of meth, within 1,000 feet of Sulphur Springs Christian Daycare, a drug-free zone, on Sept. 23;
  •  Timothy John Dillashaw  — possession of less than one gram meth, within 1,000 feet of Bright Star Christian School, a drug-free zone, on Aug. 31;
  •  Lauren Leighann Duckworth — possession with intent to deliver four grams or more but less than 200 grams of meth, within 1,000 feet of Doodblebug Day Care, a drug-free zone, Sept. 3;
  •  Taylor Maxlynn Fletcher — possession with intent to deliver four grams or more but less than 200 grams of meth, Aug. 14;
  •  Jackson Blaze Gilbreath — delivery of one gram or more but less than four grams of meth, within 1,000 feet of Doodlebug Day Care, a drug-free zone, July 21;
  •  Elza Noah Hensley — delivery of less than one gram meth, within 1,000 feet of Doodlebug Day Care, a drug-free zone, July 28;
  •  Christopher Matthew Lawrenz — possession of less than one gram meth, Sept. 22;
  •  Christina Marie Loudenslager — possession of one gram or more but less than four grams of meth, within 1,000 feet of Little Acorn Day Care, a drug-free zone, and to have used or exhibited a firearm, a deadly weapon, during the commission of the offense, Aug. 14;
  •  Crystal Paige Lyon — delivery of less than one gram of meth, within 1,000 feet of Sulphur Springs Christian Day Care, a drug-free zone, Sept. 15;
  •  Lucas Eugene Sampson — possession of four grams or more but less than 200 grams of meth, within 1,000 feet of Doodlebug Day Care, a drug-free zone, Sept. 3;
  •  Joe Willard Thompson — possession of one gram or more but less than four grams of meth, within 1,000 feet of Doodlebug Day Care, a drug-free zone, Aug. 2;
  •  William Charles Vanwey — possession of less than one gram meth, Sept. 29; and 
  •  Kalyle Shundre Wright — delivery of one gram or more but less than four grams of meth, within 1,000 feet of Sulphur Springs Elementary, a drug-free zone, Aug. 30.

Travis principal retires early

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A long-time beloved educator has retired this week from Sulphur Springs Independent School District. Dr. Juan Harrison, principal at Travis Primary, turned in his notice of retirement a bit sooner than administrators expected.

Harrison “got an opportunity to work with his church” that required him to “take avantage of it” immediately, so he handed in his letter of retirement, SSISD Superintendent Michael Lamb said.

According to Lamb, Harrison had let administrators know well in advance his intention to retire in the near future, and even considered not coming back this school year. School officials thought they’d have a few more months to plan for a permanent replacement.

Lamb said the district will implement what will likely be a four-phase plan to fill the principal spot at the school.

The district will utilize staff who would visit the campus, only asking them to be there extra time, to finish out this week, and possibly the three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas break. For example, a counselor who normally visits there one day a week could be utilized an additional day or administrators or others who might visit the campus a day or two could be called on to fill in an extra day or two, or periodically until a more temporary replacement can be found.

“This week is easily workable. One person could do it for three weeks, or it could be three weeks and a semester,” said Lamb, noting the idea is to continue operations at the school in the least disruptive maner possible.

Who the temporary replacement will be will depend on who is available for those three weeks and possibly, ideally, through the spring semester, until the administrators can screen and interview 

applicants — most likely in the spring — to find a qualified candidate for the position.

“The goal is to find the right person so we can interview for it. We’ll do some calling and talking. We’ll try to maintain so we can go through a good interview process. We don’t won’t to find just anybody. We want a good pool,” Lamb said.

He noted that the temporary principal would most likely not be someone who is qualified for and would “try for the job.” 

“What we don’t want to do is not let someone do it temporarily, then have to turn around and say ,”No, thanks but you don’t get the job,’” Lamb explained. “Who we get to fill in will depend on availability.”

He said that also means current school personnel who might apply for the job would allow them to “stay active” instead of moving them from another “position of need” for a short time period, which could create another shortage.

“We are sad to see Juan Harrison go. We understand the quick turn around. He’s much loved. We wish him the best and thank him for his years of service. He’s a great guy. We are sad but certainly respect the decision he is making,” Lamb said.

Harrison has been an educator for 42 years, serving many decades with SSISD, including as principal at Houston and Austin Elementary schools, and most recently at Travis Primary School.

Parents of Travis students should be receiving a letter from the school district this week if they haven’t already notifying them of Harrison’s retirement, which is precipitating change in the prinicipal’s position.cants — most likely in the spring — to find a qualified candidate for the position.

“The goal is to find the right person so we can interview for it. We’ll do some calling and talking. We’ll try to maintain so we can go through a good interview process. We don’t won’t to find just anybody. We want a good pool,” Lamb said.

He noted that the temporary principal would most likely not be someone who is qualified for and would “try for the job.” 

“What we don’t want to do is not let someone do it temporarily, then have to turn around and say ,”No, thanks but you don’t get the job,’” Lamb explained. “Who we get to fill in will depend on availability.”

He said that also means current school personnel who might apply for the job would allow them to “stay active” instead of moving them from another “position of need” for a short time period, which could create another shortage.

“We are sad to see Juan Harrison go. We understand the quick turn around. He’s much loved. We wish him the best and thank him for his years of service. He’s a great guy. We are sad but certainly respect the decision he is making,” Lamb said.

Harrison has been an educator for 42 years, serving many decades with SSISD, including as principal at Houston and Austin Elementary schools, and most recently at Travis Primary School.

Parents of Travis students should be receiving a letter from the school district this week. if they haven’t already been notified of Harrison’s retirement.

Tuna Christmas Play comes to Sulphur Springs

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Main Street Theatre is getting ready to run the Texas-themed play “Tuna Christmas” in the second week of December. The comedic show stars four actors playing more than 20 characters and revolves around the third smallest town in the state, Tuna.   

  “We have already been getting reservation requests, which never happens three or more weeks before a performance,” said Phillip Bickford, director of “Tuna Christmas.” “This is going to be such a fantastic show and it’s hilarious.”  

The plot is about a small town’s Christmas yard display contest and a local theater producing a rendition of “A Christmas Carol.” Everyone in the hamlet knows that the contest has always been won by Vera Carp, but when a mysterious “Christmas phantom” starts vandalizing yard displays, the town is thrown into an uproar. For Main Street Theatre, four actors will play all 20 towns folks as they unravel the who-done-it plot.

“The play was written by Ed Howard, Joe Sears and Jaston Williams and performed by Joe and Jaston.” said Bickford. “We decided on four actors to cut down on all the memorization. We are going to be playing males, females and children — I think it’s going to be a very entertaining experience.”

“Tuna Christmas” was selected by the play committee last year, but they hit some speed bumps along the way. This production almost didn’t happen for the theater. 

“We thought that ‘Tuna Christmas’ was not going to happen because we were having difficulty obtaining the rights to the show,” said Bickford. “We kept calling their representatives and they kept telling us to wait.”

Bickford  was told a professional tour of the original cast was about to begin around the United States. The rights to the production said that another production of “Tuna Christmas” could not be performed within several miles from their tour locations. Until the tour dates were officially released, approval for the show was at a stand still for Main Street Theatre. 

As Bickford kept waiting for approval, the theater starting looking at another show to run for their Christmas season.

“I had already picked out another show and started to plan the audition process,”said Bickford. 

The day before they finalized the the new play, they got word from the “Tuna Christmas” publicist. 

“It was around May when we first contacted ‘Tuna Christmas’ and finally got the approval in September. That is really late in the game for us,” said Bickford.  

The  cast of Hopkins County locals will be David Woody, David Bryant, Bryan Deterding, Landon Mabe and play director Phillip Bickford.

“I get to play four characters in Tuna, which are some of my favorites in the show,” said Bickford. “I am very excited we are getting to perform ‘Tuna Christmas.’” 

“Tuna Christmas” runs Dec. 11, 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20 at 7 p.m. and on Dec. 14 and 21 at 2 p.m. at Main Street Theatre. For tickets, call 903-885-0107 or visit mainsttheatre.com. 

Andrew Babb achieves Eagle Scout rank; Court of Honor scheduled Saturday

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A Court of Honor recognizing Andrew Babb for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout is set for Saturday morning, Nov. 22, at the First United Methodist Church in Sulphur Springs.

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Hopkins County United Way exceeds goal, still going

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Hopkins County United Way has exceeded the $160,000 allocation goal by $24,000, but campaign workers aren’t done yet.

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