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Traffic stop ends with 3 drug arrests

LIVINGSTON – A Shepherd woman and two Livingston men were arrested late Monday, Dec. 22, on drug charges following what began as a routine traffic stop by Livingston police.

Traffic Stop ArrestVirginia Marie Simerly Tischler, 38, of Shepherd; Shawn Steven OBannon Jr., 40, of Livingston; and Kevin Wayne Cannady Jr., 27, of Livingston were taken into custody after officers found what is believed to be methamphetamine crystals in the vehicle in which they were traveling.

Tischler, who was the vehicle's driver, and OBannon were each charged with possession of less than one gram of the drug. Cannady also was charged with possession of less than one gram of methamphetamines as well as possession of a dangerous drug, failure to identify fugitive with intent to give false information and on outstanding warrants including theft of property valued at less than $1,500 (with two previous convictions), bond surrender and bond forfeiture.

Tischler was being held last week under a $10,000 bond, no bond was listed for OBannon and while bonds totaling $40,000 were set on most of the charges against Cannady, bail was denied on the bond forfeiture warrant.

According to Livingston Police Department reports, the incident began about 11:17 p.m. when Livingston police stopped a 1986 Chevrolet Camaro on Highway 59 South for a minor traffic violation. During the stop, the officer reported that Tischler acted extremely nervous and avoided making eye contact with him.
Due to her behavior, the officer obtained her permission to search the car during which he found a crystal substance that subsequently tested positive for the presence of methamphetamines.

At that point, Tischler and her two passengers were taken into custody on the drug possession charges.
However, during the investigation, police said they discovered that Cannady had initially given them a false name and date of birth and that he was wanted on multiple felony warrants. As the investigation continued, police said they found another controlled substance on Cannady and filed an additional drug complaint against him.

November’s jobless rate rises to 6.2 percent

LIVINGSTON – After declining for three consecutive months, unemployment took a slight upturn in November, rising to 6.2 percent, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

While the new rate is up from the 6.1 percent figure posted in October, it is still well below the 7.3 percent numbers recorded in both January and February of 2014. It also is down significantly from the 7.2 percent unemplyment rate listed for November 2013.

The 6.2 percent November rate – which is the latest rate available from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) – translates to mean that out of an estimated workforce of 17,955, there were 1,109 county residents looking for work during the month.

One month earlier, TWC's revised estimates put the local labor force at 17,954 with 1,102 looking for jobs.
Statewide, November's actual unem­ployment rate of 4.6 percent was down from October's 4.8 percent but well below the 5.8 percent jobless figure recorded in November 2013.

When seasonal factors are added to the equation, the state's November adjusted unemployment rate was listed at 4.9 percent, which was down slightly from the 5.1 percent posted for October but well below the 6.1 percent listed in November 2013.

The actual national unemploy­ment rate for November was listed at 5.5 percent, which was unchanged from October but well below the 6.6 percent figure posted in November 2013.

The November sea­sonally adjusted U.S. rate of 5.8 percent also was unchanged from October but down from the 7.0 percent rate listed for November 2013.

According to TWC officials, Texas employers added 34,800 seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs in November for a total of 441,200 jobs over the past 12 months.

"The Texas economy continued its record-breaking expansion, providing job opportunities across a wide range of industries," said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. "Texas employers set another record by adding 441,200 jobs over the year and we must continue to focus our efforts on expanding our state's skilled workforce to meet employer needs in high-demand industries."

Seven of 11 major industries added jobs in Texas over the month, including an additional 13,500 jobs in Professional and Business Services, 7,200 jobs added in Education and Health Services and 6,000 jobs added in Leisure and Hospitality.

"Texas continued to show its economic strength with steady job growth across several industries for several years now," said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Ronny Congleton. "We have a very strong labor market and job seekers are encouraged to take advantage of training opportunities and job-search tools available at www.WorkInTexas.com."

In November, employers added 4,500 Manufacturing jobs, marking the industry's largest monthly increase since January 2006. Construction grew by 3,600 jobs. The Information industry added 3,300 jobs in November and includes jobs in publishing, telecommunications, data processing, hosting and related services.

"Employers in the private sector continued to drive economic growth, adding 31,900 jobs in November for an impressive total of 409,700 jobs over the last 12 months," said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Hope Andrade.

From among the 25 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) monitored by TWC, the Midland MSA had the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 2.3 percent. The Odessa MSA was next at 2.8 percent while the Amarillo MSA was listed at 3.3 percent.

The MSAs with the highest jobless rate in November was the McAllen–Edinburg–Mission MSA at 8.2 percent. The Brownsville-Harlingen MSA was next at 7.7 percent and the Beaumont-Port Arthur MSA was third from the top after recording a rate of 6.9 percent.

Unemployment rates posted for other East Texas counties include:
NOV. %
COUNTY RATE CHANGE
Anderson 5.3 -0.4
Angelina 4.6 -0.2
Cherokee 5.9 -0.1
Grimes 4.3 -0.2
Hardin 5.5 -0.2
Harris 4.6 -0.1
Houston 6.6 -0.2
Jasper 7.0 0.1
Jefferson 7.3 0.1
Leon 4.2 -0.3
Liberty 5.6 -0.1
Madison 4.4 -0.1
Montgomery 3.9 -0.2
Nacogdoches 4.5 -0.2
Polk 6.2 0.1
Sabine 10.4 0.5
San Augustine 8.0 0.1
San Jacinto 5.0 -0.1
Shelby 4.7 -0.1
Trinity 5.1 -0.3
Tyler 6.9 -0.1
Walker 4.7 -0.2

Two drivers injured in separate mishaps

LIVINGSTON – Two people were injured in separate accidents on Polk County roadways Saturday.

One of the accidents occurred on Hwy. 146 near Capps Road. A 2000 Chevrolet Camaro driven by Brittanie Lyn Quinn, 30, of Livingston was southbound and slowed to turn left onto Capps Road. A southbound 2012 Dodge pickup truck driven by Glen Owen Dubose, 55, of Dayton was unable to stop in time and struck the rear of the Camaro, according to Trooper Kevin Burman.

Quinn, listed with incapacitating injuries, was transported by ambulance to CHI St. Luke's Memorial Hospital in Livingston.

Dubose and a passenger in his vehicle were listed as uninjured. Dubose was cited for failure to control speed in connection with the accident.

Also investigated Saturday was a one-vehicle accident on Sandy Ridge Lane near Oliver Street.

A 1994 Jeep Wrangler driven by Debra Antona Barr, 61, of Point Blank was northbound and, due to medical issues, she drove off the roadway into a deep ditch, according to Burman. The Jeep rolled onto its driver's side.

Barr was listed with non-incapacitating injuries, but the trooper's report indicated she was not transported by ambulance.

No charges were filed.

County’s sales tax income climbs 4.9 percent

LIVINGSTON – Following eight months of declining sales tax revenue, Polk County has now posted three consecutive months of growth including a strong 4.9 percent gain in December.

According toa report issued by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, Polk County's December rebate check totalled $175,906.07, a figure that was up from the December 2013 payment by $8,148.15 or almost 4.9 percent.

The increase follows a $319.99 or 0.2 percent gain in October and a $5,246 or 2.9 percent growth in November. The only other month the county sales tax posted a gain over 2013 was the January payment, which was up by $6,425.98 or 4.1 percent from the year before.

The lastest payment is the highest ever received by the county in December, topping the old record of $167,756.92 received in December 2013.

Since Jan. 1, the county has received almost $2.1 million from the sales tax, a figure that is down by $297,272.66 or almost 12.6 percent from the almost $2.4 million collected during 2013.
Combs' office collects the county and city sales taxes along with the state tax and sends the local entities a rebate for their share each month.

Polk County collects a 0.5 percent tax on sales while the cities of Livingston, Onalaska and Corrigan assess a 1.5 percent tax. Goodrich and Seven Oaks each have a 1 percent sales tax.

The December check represents taxes collected by local merchants in October and reported to the comptroller in November by monthly filers.

While the county's sales tax income increased in December, three of its five cities also reported gains. Onalaska's rebate was up by over 35.4 percent, Goodrich's total increased by almost 21.1 percent and Seven Oaks was up by 403.8 percent compared to one year ago. However, Livingston's rebate was dosn by 2.1 percent and Corrigan's payment fell by almost 22.9 percent.

Livingston received a December rebate totaling $262,766.61, a figure that was down by $5,663.36 from the $268,429.97 received in December 2013. During the year, the city has received $3.3 million from the tax, a figure that is down by $326,371.43 or 8.97 percent from 2013.

With a rebate of $39,354.40, Onalaska's sales tax check was up by $10,295.33 or 35.4 percent from the $29,059.07 reported one year earlier. During 2014, Onalaska received $495,757.10, a total that is up by $45,801.95 or almost 10.2 percent from 2013.

Corrigan's December sales tax rebate was $26,129.42, which was down by $7,752.32 from the $33,881.74 received in December 2013. Since Jan. 1, Corrigan has received $370,328.46 in sales tax income, a figure that is up by $8,555.20 or almost 2.4 percent 2013.

During December Goodrich received $2,677.36 in sales tax income, which was up by $466.32 from the $2,211.04 received in December 2013. The 2014 total for Goodrich now stands at $26,288.79, which is up by $3,691.03 or 16.3 percent from 2013.

Seven Oaks received $588.01 in December, which was up by $471.30 from the $116.71 received one year ago. The year-to-date total for Seven Oaks is $7,343.10, which is up by $4,094.68 or 216.6 percent from 2013.

In her report, Combs said the state received $2.66 billion in sales tax revenue during the month, which represented a 10.7 percent increase from one year ago.

"The growth in sales tax collections was fueled by increased remittances from both business and consumer driven sectors," Combs said. "The gains were led by oil and natural gas-related sectors, while collections from retail trade and restaurants also rose strongly."

Texas counties received $42.6 million in rebate checks, up by 11.5 percent compared to one year ago. Cities collected $417.3 million in rebates, which was up by 10.7 percent from December 2013.

In the latest report, Houston received the state's largest check for almost $55.2 million, which was up by 13.1 percent from the $48.8 million delivered one year ago.

San Antonio's sales tax allocation was almost $24.9 million, which was up by 9.4 percent from the $25.4 million received one year ago.

The $21.9 million issued to Dallas in December reflects a 9.3 percent increase from the $20 million received one year earlier.

The Austin sales tax allocation for December was $15 million, which was up by over 11.4 percent from the $13.5 million received one year earlier.

Other area counties that received November rebates included:
• Angelina, which collected $450,046.90, up by 8.8 percent from December 2013.
• Liberty, which collected $331,597.04, up by 18.3 percent from December 2013.
• San Jacinto, which collected $29,961.23, down by 0.6 percent from December 2013.
• Tyler, which collected $53,222.61, up by 2.6 percent from December 2013.
• Walker, which collected $316,435.12, up by 1.0 percent from December 2013.

Other East Texas cities that received November rebates included:
• Huntsville received a payment of $601,604.66, which was up by 13.2 percent from one year ago.
• Lufkin received a payment of $1.1 million, which was up by 9.7 percent from one year ago.
• Diboll received a payment of $36,701.60, which was down by 26.5 percent from December 2013.
• Cleveland received a payment of $256,360.06, which was up by 15.1 percent from one year ago.
• Liberty received a payment of $248,942.26, which was down by 0.7 percent from December 2013.
• Woodville received a payment of $81,734.44, which was down by 13 percent from December 2013.
• Chester received a payment of $1,914.78, which was up by 213.9 percent from the total collected one year ago.
• Trinity received a payment of $58,486.45, which was up by 17.4 percent from one year ago.
• Shepherd received a payment of $16,640.29, which was down by 15.1 percent from December 2013.
• Coldspring received a payment of $15,219.65, which was up down 19.6 percent from December 2013.

Raid by DA, sheriff sends couple to jail

LIVINGSTON – The manager of a local bail bond company and her husband were arrested Tuesday, Dec. 16, on felony drug charges as the result of an ongoing investigation by the Polk County Criminal District Attorney's office.

Juana Barnett, 60, and her husband, Bradley Barnett, 39, were taken into custody at their residence in the Yaupon Cove subdivision near Onalaska after investigators received tips that Juana Barnett was involved in the illegal use and possible distribution of narcotics from the residence.

Tips also were received indicating Barnett, who was employed as the manager of AA EZ Bail Bonds of Livingston, had been issuing bonds in exchange for property which she was storing at her residence in Yaupon Cove.

According to Criminal District Attorney Lee Hon, on the morning of Dec. 16, investigators from his office and detectives from the Polk County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigation Division executed a search warrant at Barnett's residence.

During the search of the residence, investigators located methamphetamine and prescription medication not prescribed to Barnett.

In addition, property belonging to individuals on bond was located at the residence.

Barnett and her husband were both arrested and charged with possession of controlled substance (methamphetamine). Juana Barnett was additionally charged with possession of controlled substance (penalty group 3) for the prescription medication and was issued a citation by Polk County Environ-mental Officer Darryl Oats for environ-mental violations.

Juana Barnett was subsequently released after posting bonds totalling $7,000 what Bradley Barnett was freed on a $5,000 bond.

Hon said the investigation is ongoing and more arrests could be made in connection with the matter.
The district attorney asked that anyone who may have provided property to Juana Barnett, manager of AA EZ Bail Bonds, or who might have information which would aid investigators in this case to contact D.A. Investigator Christopher Lima at (936) 327-6868.

Raid by DA, sheriff sends couple to jail

LIVINGSTON – The manager of a local bail bond company and her husband were arrested Tuesday, Dec. 16, on felony drug charges as the result of an ongoing investigation by the Polk County Criminal District Attorney's office.

Juana Barnett, 60, and her husband, Bradley Barnett, 39, were taken into custody at their residence in the Yaupon Cove subdivision near Onalaska after investigators received tips that Juana Barnett was involved in the illegal use and possible distribution of narcotics from the residence.

Tips also were received indicating Barnett, who was employed as the manager of AA EZ Bail Bonds of Livingston, had been issuing bonds in exchange for property which she was storing at her residence in Yaupon Cove.

According to Criminal District Attorney Lee Hon, on the morning of Dec. 16, investigators from his office and detectives from the Polk County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigation Division executed a search warrant at Barnett's residence.

During the search of the residence, investigators located methamphetamine and prescription medication not prescribed to Barnett.

In addition, property belonging to individuals on bond was located at the residence.

Barnett and her husband were both arrested and charged with possession of controlled substance (methamphetamine). Juana Barnett was additionally charged with possession of controlled substance (penalty group 3) for the prescription medication and was issued a citation by Polk County Environ-mental Officer Darryl Oats for environ-mental violations.

Juana Barnett was subsequently released after posting bonds totalling $7,000 what Bradley Barnett was freed on a $5,000 bond.

Hon said the investigation is ongoing and more arrests could be made in connection with the matter.
The district attorney asked that anyone who may have provided property to Juana Barnett, manager of AA EZ Bail Bonds, or who might have information which would aid investigators in this case to contact D.A. Investigator Christopher Lima at (936) 327-6868.