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Gov. Greg Abbott readies Texas for storm season

How serious is hurricane season in Texas? Well, Gov. Greg Abbott took part in a teleconference with President Trump this month on the subject.

Hurricane season began June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

On June 6, Gov. Abbott joined President Donald Trump, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, FEMA Administrator Brock Long, Cabinet members and Governors from across the country for a video teleconference briefing on hurricane preparedness.

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Drunk driving victims caution others against drinking and driving

Deputy Renae Brown thinks of 9-year-old Jade Stephens every day. She didn’t know Jade, but she feels like she does: a funny and animated young girl who once performed stand-up comedy alongside her dad and received a standing ovation. Deputy Brown met Jade on the day she died when a drunk driver T-boned her family’s car nearly four years ago on her way home.

“I drive by the intersection of the crash on my way to work every day and I think of Jade and her family,” said Deputy Brown, who was off-duty at the time, but one of the first on the scene of the crash. “People often don’t realize that a drunk-driving crash has a ripple effect. While it obviously leaves the immediate family devastated, a whole community is changed. First responders, friends, teachers — they all remember the crash and feel that loss.”

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TxDOT Tyler Update for the Week of June 18

Here’s a look at work planned in the district during the Week of June 18, 2018. Schedules are subject to change due to weather conditions, equipment failure or other unforeseen issues. Slow down and pay attention when traveling through work zones.

A new nighttime overlay project gets underway Sunday evening on SH 300/Gilmer Road in Longview. Work will be conducted from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., Sunday through Thursday nights until the project is completed at summer’s end. The project, which runs from US 80 to FM 2275/George Richey Road, does include nightly lane closures. Additional project information is available in the Gregg County section of this release.

Districtwide seal coat operations are ongoing in the Tyler District. Motorists should expect lane closures and delays during this work to seal and protect roadways from water, and provide a longer life cycle. Because the time to complete work on each roadway is estimated, these schedules are subject to change.

The schedule for the next week is as follows in Gregg County:

  • Monday, Tuesday – SH 135 from just south of I-20 going south for 2.5 miles
  • Wednesday – FM 1252 from SH 31 to FM 135
  • Thursday, Friday – SH 42 from US 80 going south to Sinclair Road
  • Saturday – SH 31 from US 259 in Kilgore to South Street in Longview

Anderson County

Crews will be conducting base repair work on SH 155 southbound between FM 2267 and FM 321. Expect lane closures with flaggers and a pilot car providing traffic control.

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New BBB report says lottery, sweepstakes scams target seniors

A new Better Business Bureau report says that sweepstakes, lottery and prize schemes bilked at least $117 million from people in 2017.

The report — “Sweepstakes, Lottery, and Prize Scams: A Better Business Bureau Study of How “Winners” Lose Millions Through an Evolving Fraud” — was released earlier this month.

The report found that seniors are the most frequent targets and suffer the largest losses by far in these scams. They are targeted through direct mail, cold calling, social media, text messages and smartphone pop-ups.

After learning of the report, attorney Jeff Weinstein renewed his vow to help people avoid being victims of these scams.

“Please run these opportunities by me before you send the money,” Weinstein said. “It’s almost impossible to ever get any of this money back. Once you send it, it’s gone. We don’t charge anything for a call to find out whether these requests are legitimate or not.”

Call Weinstein Law at 903-677-5333.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, these scams involve getting a notification you’ve won some prize.

“But here’s what happens next: they tell you there’s a fee, some taxes, or customs duties to pay. They ask for your bank account information, or ask you to send money via a wire transfer or to purchase gift cards and provide the card numbers.”

“Any way you send it, you lose money instead of winning it. You don’t get a big prize. Instead, you get more requests for money, and more promises that you won big. Scammers can be very convincing, and who wouldn’t want to win big!”

Key findings in the report include:

  • The majority of lottery or sweepstakes scam victims are between 65 and 74 years old. Among that age group, people who recently experienced a serious negative life event, and who expect their income in the near future to remain steady or decline, are even more likely to be victimized.
    Sweepstakes/lottery fraud can strike through many channels – phone calls, text messages, pop-ups on a smartphone’s Internet browser, social media, and mailings.
    In 2017, 2,820 individuals reported sweepstakes and lottery scams to BBB Scam Tracker. These reports show a median loss of $500, with wire transfer as the most common method of payment.

The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips for consumers to avoid lottery or sweepstakes fraud:

  • True lotteries or sweepstakes don’t ask for money before you claim a prize. If they want money for taxes, themselves, or a third party, they are most likely crooks.
  • Call the lottery or sweepstakes company directly to see if you won. Publishers Clearing House (PCH) does have a sweepstakes but does not call people in advance to tell them they’ve won. Report PCH imposters to their hotline at 800-392-4190.
  • Check to see if you won a lottery. Call the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries at 440-361-7962 or your local state lottery agency.
  • Do an internet search of the company, name, or phone number of the person who contacted you.
    Law enforcement does not call to award prizes.
  • Talk to a trusted family member or your bank. They may be able to help you stay in control of your money in the face of fraudster pressure.

TxDOT Tyler District Update for the Week of June 11

Here’s a look at work planned in the district during the Week of June 11, 2018. Schedules are subject to change due to weather conditions, equipment failure or other unforeseen issues. Slow down and pay attention when traveling through work zones.

Districtwide seal coat operations are ongoing in the Tyler District. Motorists should expect lane closures and delays during this work to seal and protect roadways from water, and provide a longer life cycle. Because the time to complete work on each roadway is estimated, these schedules are subject to change.

The schedule for the week is as follows:

– FM 838 from SH 135 eastward to just past the Rusk County line – Today

– FM 918 in Rusk County from SH 42 at Sexton City east to US 259 at Pitner Junction – Today

– FM 850 in Rusk County from SH 322 to US 259 – Saturday

– SH 322 in Rusk County from the Gregg County line moving south for about a half mile – Monday

– FM 1249 in Rusk County from SH 322 to the Smith County line – Monday

– Road segment to include SH 42, Business 259 and SH 31 through Kilgore – Tuesday through Thursday

– FM 1252 in Gregg County from SH 135 to SH 42 – Friday

– SH 135 in Gregg County from I-20 to SH 31 – Friday and Saturday

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TxDOT Tyler District Update for Week of June 4

Here’s a look at work planned in the district during the Week of June 4, 2018. Schedules are subject to change due to weather conditions, equipment failure or other unforeseen issues. Slow down and pay attention when traveling through work zones.

Motorists are encouraged to take alternate routes to avoid significant delays, Saturday, June 2, during a traffic switch for the SH 149 project at the Sabine River in Gregg County. Starting at 8 a.m., Saturday, the contractor will be moving traffic to the east side of the roadway, kicking off Phase III work for the project. The switch should be completed by mid-afternoon. Caution is advised as traffic acclimates to the change in traffic pattern. Additional information is available in the Gregg County section of this news release.

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Tyler District TxDOT Update for Week of May 28

Here’s a look at work planned in the district during the Week of May 28, 2018. Schedules are subject to change due to weather conditions, equipment failure or other unforeseen issues. Slow down and pay attention when traveling through work zones.

Note: All TxDOT offices will be closed Monday, May 28, in observance of Memorial Day. Normal business resume on Tuesday. To allow for more efficient travel during the long holiday weekend, TxDOT will not have any lane closures impacting traffic flow Friday – Monday.

Districtwide seal coat operations are in full swing in the Tyler District. After today, work will resume Tuesday on FM 225 in Rusk County from US 79 in Henderson going south to the Nacogdoches County line. Motorists should expect lane closures and delays during this work to seal and protect roadways from water, and provide a longer life cycle.

Anderson County

Palestine Maintenance crews, and the Special Jobs Crew, will be conducting seal coat operations on FM 645 between FM 3328 and FM 320. Expect lane closures at all locations with flaggers and a pilot car providing traffic control.

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TxDOT announces Summer Seal Coat program in Cherokee, Van Zandt and Wood counties

TxDOT’s Districtwide Summer Seal Coat program is underway in Cherokee, Van Zandt, and Wood counties. Seal coat operations will be conducted on roadways around the eight-county Tyler District for the next several months.

“Travel will be impacted during these operations,” said Kathi White, TxDOT spokesperson. “Motorists can expect to see lane closures and experience delays as this work is conducted to preserve the state’s roadways.”

Crews are currently working on US 69 in Cherokee County and finishing up today on Loop 564 in Mineola. On Saturday, May 19, work will continue on US 69 as well as on US 80 in Van Zandt County.

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TxDOT Tyler District Update for Week of 5/21

Here’s a look at work planned in the district during the Week of May 21, 2018. Schedules are subject to change due to weather conditions, equipment failure or other unforeseen issues. Slow down and pay attention when traveling through work zones.

A traffic switch is being planned for mid-week on the US 175 Phase III project between Poynor and Frankston to reconfigure the eastbound and westbound lanes. Eastbound will be moved to the north side of the roadway. Additional project information is available in the Henderson County section of this release.

Anderson County

Crews expect to finish mill and inlay operations on US 287 between FM 321 and SH 19 before moving to US 79 and Loop 256, and then, US 79 at the Neches River. Expect lane closures at all locations with flaggers and a pilot car providing traffic control.

Anderson County construction projects updates:

US 79 New Lane Construction Project

Limits: From 1.6 miles southwest of Loop 256 in Palestine south to the Trinity River
Contractor: Longview Bridge and Road, Ltd., of Longview
Cost: $42.7 million
Anticipated Completion Date: Summer 2018
The contractor continues to conduct closeout activities throughout the project limits. Expect lane closures. The project is expanding a 5.3-mile section of US 79 from two lanes to a four-lane divided highway with a continuous left-turn lane and a depressed median.

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Romance Scams: Call Jeff before sending money

Many people have learned it isn’t smart to send money to a Nigerian prince, but what about the nice man you meet online?

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which provides the public with a means of reporting Internet-facilitated crimes, romance scams result in the highest amount of financial losses to victims when compared to other online crimes.

In 2016, the FBI received 1,000 complaints in Texas from victims reporting more than $16 million in losses related to romance scams.

Attorney Jeff Weinstein doesn’t want to see you make that kind of mistake.

“Please run these opportunities by me before you send the money,” Weinstein said. “It’s almost impossible to ever get any of this money back. Once you send it, it’s gone. We don’t charge anything for a call to find out whether these requests are legitimate or not.”

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