Camden man killed in highway accident

CORRIGAN -- A 65-year-old Camden man was pronounced dead at the scene of a truck-pedestrian accident shortly after noon on Friday, Oct. 31, in Corrigan.

Alvin Fred McQueen died after he was struck by an 18-wheeler at the intersection of highways 59 and 287 in Corrigan at about 12:15 p.m.

According to reports, McQueen was walking east across U.S. 59 when a Kenworth tractor-trailer rig driven by Billy Don Kendrick Jr., 56, of Grapeland struck him. Kendrick apparently did not see McQueen as he attempted to make a left turn from the northbound lanes of Highway 59. After the accident, the 18-wheeler began to drive away until it was flagged down by others at the scene.

Kendrick told investigators he did not realize that the truck had stuck the pedestrian.
Witness also told investigators that when the 18-wheeler began to turn, the light for northbound traffic was still red.

A medical helicopter was summoned to Corrigan to transport McQueen to a trauma hospital but was waived off before it arrived when the victim was pronounced dead.

Kendrick was taken to CHI St. Luke's Health Memorial-Livingston for a mandatory blood test.
The incident was still under investigation by the Corrigan Police Department.

In another traffic mishap, a U.S. Postal Service worker was injured Saturday afternoon in an accident that occurred as she was delivering mail on U.S. 59 South near Goodrich.

Shelly Renea Wiggins, 28, of Cleveland had stopped her 1994 Chevrolet mail truck on the improved southbound shoulder of U.S. 59, just north of Windham Road, to deliver mail, according to Texas Highway Patrol Trooper Ashlee McBride. As Wiggins attempted to pull back onto southbound U.S. 59, her vehicle was struck by a southbound 2014 Dodge pickup truck driven by Kerry Wayne Divin, 47, of Katy, which was towing a small flatbed trailer in the outside lane.

The impact caused the mail truck to spin counter-clockwise and Wiggins, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected in the inside lane of the highway, the trooper's report indicated.
Wiggins, listed with incapacitating injuries, was transported from the scene by medical helicopter to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.

Divin was listed as uninjured in the accident, which occurred at approximately 3:20 p.m.
Also investigated Saturday was a two-vehicle accident on FM 357 at U.S. 59.

A 2013 Cadillac Escalade driven by Kimberly Lynn Hendry, 42, of Lufkin and a 2011 Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Chris Allen Chiasson, 41, of Lufkin, were both eastbound on FM 357, with Hendry's vehicle in front. Both vehicles approached a yield sign at the intersection of U.S. 59. Hendry began to pull forward to merge onto the highway, but had to slow for oncoming traffic, according to Trooper Kevin Burman. Chiasson failed to notice the Cadillac slowing and struck the rear of Hendry's car, the trooper indicated.

Hendry and an 8-year-old passenger in Chiasson's pickup were listed with possible injuries and were transported by private vehicle to a Lufkin hospital.

Safety violations filed against GP; issues cited

CORRIGAN -- According to an OSHA report two violations have been filed against Georgia-Pacific in connection to the fire which claimed two lives in Corrigan in April and GP has been fined $14,000.

The fire occurred the night of April 26, when it broke out in the bag house, a grain silo-type structure on the plant.

Two men, Charles Kovar and Kenneth Morris, died from injuries sustained in the fire, weeks after the accident. Another man, Jimmy Williams, is still hospitalized.

The OSHA report cites two violations with a gravity score of 10 out of 10 for both and a violation type of "serious."

The first citation five issues:
* Dust collector bags impeded the venting area of the dust collector deflagration vents.
* No protection for employees from the fireball path.
* Dust collector vented and the deflagration traveled upstream to the sander.
* Main blower was not in operation.
* No choke between the sander dust collector and silo leading to the briquetter.

The second citation states employees were exposed to a struck-by hazard during the collapse of ventilation ductwork.

GP spokesman Eric Abercrombie said the company reached a settlement this week with OSHA by agreeing to pay the fine and signing a non-admission clause.

The Kovar and Morris families have each hired an attorney for civil action.

"This fire never should have happened and could have been reasonably prevented," said Anthony Buzbee, the Kovar family attorney. "We intend to aggressively pursue this effort to seek redress for the horrific loss of a very good man."

The Kovar family is suing GP and other third-parties who the petition states is responsible for the faulty equipment which did not aid and detect the fire before it got out of hand.

Republican candidates dominate in local, district elections

LIVINGSTON – In was a good day for Polk County's Republican Party candidates on Tuesday with local voters turning out to put most of them into office.

At the top of the local ballot, Sydney Murphy Brown of Livingston claimed the Polk County Judge's Office, defeating independent candidate Keith Anderson of Corrigan by a vote count of 7,414 (76.8%) to 2,241.

Brown will replace longtime Judge John Thompson, who did not seek re-election this year. She is scheduled to take office on Jan. 1, 2015 along with all of the other local winners.

At the district level, Republican nominee E.L. "Ernie" McClendon of Livingston was elected as the judge for the 258th Judicial District, edging out Democratic Party candidate Joe D. Roth of Livingston by a total vote of 15,329 (75.9%) to 4,876.

The 258th Judicial District includes Polk, San Jacinto and Trinity counties and McClendon carried the majority vote in all three. In Polk, he was favored by a margin of 7,982 (77.8%) to Roth's 2,284. San Jacinto County gave McClendon 4,562 votes (74%) to Roth's 1,601 and Trinity County supported McClendon by a margin of 2,785 (73.8%) to 991.

McClendon was appointed to the judicial post this past summer by Gov. Rick Perry after he won the Republican Party primary. He filled the vacancy created when former District Judge Elizabeth Coker resigned in December 2013.

In other contested local races, Pct. 2 Commissioner Ronnie Vincent of Onalaska was re-elected to a new four-year term, holding off challenges from two other candidates in the general election. Vincent, the Republican Party nominee, garnered 1,634 votes (72%) while Democratic Party challenger Ricky Joe Black of Onalaska received 297 votes (13.1%) and independent candidate Rick Andrews of Onalaska was given 339 votes.

The only other local race was for Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Office. The lone incumbent carrying the Democratic Party banner, Larry Whitworth, narrowly won his re-election bid by defeating Republican challenger Sean R. Burks of Corrigan. Whitworth received 884 votes (51.9%) while Burks garnered 818 votes (14.9%).

Also on the ballot this year, Texans were being asked to approve one amendment to the state's constitution. Proposition 1 would dedicate a portion of the state's oil and gas severance tax to the State Highway Fund to help pay for highway construction, maintenance and rehabilitation programs, not to include toll roads.

Polk County voters joined those around the state to approve the measure. Locally, it received 7,144 "for" votes (79.1%) and only 1,886 "against."

During the election, a total of 10,631 county residents went to the polls to cast ballot, a figure that is 28.6 percent of the 37,159 who are registered to vote here. In the early voting alone, 6,617 county residents cast ballots, which is 17.8 percent of the total eligible voters.

Although they were unopposed on Tuesday's ballot, a number of other candidates won local offices as a result of the general election.

Those re-elected to new terms include District Attorney William Lee Hon, District Clerk Kathy E. Clifton, County Clerk Schelana Meyers Walker Hock, County Treasurer Terri Williams, Pct. 4 Commissioner Tommy Overstreet, Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Darrell Longino and Pct. 2 JP David G. Johnson. All were Republican Party nominees.

Those winning their first terms without opposition included Tom Brown, who will replace the retiring County Court at Law Judge Stephen Phillips, and Jamie Richardson-Jones, who will replace the retiring Pct. 4 JP Steven B. McEntyre. Both Brown and Richardson-Jones were Republican Party nominees.