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Scam Alert: Smith County Sheriff’s Office warns of jury duty scam

The Smith County Sheriff’s Office has received several complaints recently that residents are again being targeted by scammers. The newest scam is a phone call stating that you have a warrant out for missing jury duty.

The scammer’s say the person missed jury duty and a warrant has been issued. The scammer is using the names of current Smith County Sheriff’s Office employees to make the call seem official. The caller then states that you can pay a fine to avoid arrest.

The Smith County Sheriff’s Office is aware of the scam and is investigating. All residents are advised to not send any money to these scammers.

Child Saftety: Heatstroke kills, so don’t leave kids alone in a vehicle

NHTSA press release

It can happen in minutes. A child is accidentally left alone in a vehicle or gets in on his or her own, and the temperature inside the car or truck starts to rise. It doesn’t need to be a hot day; when the temperature outside is as low as 60 degrees, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach 110 degrees. If a child’s body temperature reaches 107 degrees, that child will die.

On average, 37 children die each year from vehicular heatstroke, according to noheatstroke.org. Already this year, long before people in many parts of the country are experiencing warm weather, a child in Miami died when accidentally left behind in a vehicle. This tragedy represents the circumstances of most heatstroke deaths: parents and caregivers who are overwhelmed and distracted unintentionally leave a child behind in a vehicle.

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TxDOT urges drivers to ‘Look Twice For Motorcycles’ to decrease motorcycles fatalities

As part of National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May, the Texas Department of Transportation’s “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” campaign is urging drivers to watch carefully for motorcycles. Crashes killed 501 and seriously injured another 2,101 motorcyclists in Texas last year.

“Nobody wants to take a life in a crash or lose a loved one,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “Motorcycles are small, they’re hard to see, and it can be difficult to judge their speed and distance. That’s why it’s critical that drivers take extra precautions to look twice for motorcycles, especially at intersections.”

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East Texas verdict points to importance of long-term impact of injuries

A Henderson County jury awarded more than $360,000 to the victim of a car crash last week.

This is significant considering the offer from the insurance company (Allstate) prior to putting the victim and the person insured by Allstate through a trial was just $1,500.

“Please remember, when the insurance company says all they can pay is medical bills or $500 in addition to your medical bills, they are usually not being truthful,” said attorney Jeff Weinstein of Weinstein Law.

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Van Zandt County TxDOT Update – Week of April 9

TxDOT (Canton) Maintenance plans to continue fog seal operations on FM 751. A second crew will perform base repairs on the I-20 Service Roads between Mile Markers 533 and 536. Expect lane closures with flaggers providing traffic control.

Ongoing Van Zandt County construction projects updates:

— I-20 Westbound Exit Ramp at FM 314 Relocation Project

Limits: From FM 314 WB Exit Ramp and Frontage Road
Contractor: Longview Bridge and Road, Ltd., of Longview
Cost: $4.6 million
Anticipated Completion Date: Summer 2018
Expect minimal delays as the contractor continues Phase III work installing the I-20 Exit Ramp. Use alternate routes to avoid delays. WB Frontage Road is open at CR 4930. The project consists of reconstructing the frontage road and building a new exit ramp 1.13 miles east of FM 314.

— I-20 Safety Work

Limits: From Kaufman County Line going east to SH 19, etc.
Contractor: FNH Construction, LLC
Cost: $2.4 million
Anticipated Completion Date: Fall 2018
Work to remove and install Metal Beam Guard Fence and concrete mow strip along the westbound, inside and outside lanes, going west from Jim Hogg Road to the Van Zandt/Kaufman county lines. Expect daily lane closures and delays.

— SH 243 Widening Project

Limits: From SH 198 east to SH 64 in Canton
Contractor: Longview Bridge and Road
Cost: $6.2 million
Anticipated Completion Date: June 2018
Structure and road widening work is ongoing on the north side of the road. Expect delays with a pilot vehicle and flaggers controlling traffic. The project is widening the roadway from two to four lanes with a flush median, curb and gutter, and storm drain.

— FM 1652 Rehab Project

Limits: FM 17 south of Grand Saline, southward to FM 1255 northwest of Oakland
Contractor: Highway 19 Construction, LLC
Cost: $4.48 million
Anticipated Completion Date: Fall 2018
The contractor is preparing to widen the roadway. Driveway and cross structure work is ongoing on this rehabilitation project that is widening the existing roadway. Expect lane closures with flaggers providing traffic control.

— FM 1653 Rehab Project

Limits: SH 64 near Ben Wheeler, southwest to FM 858 at Martin Mills
Contractor: Drewery Construction Company, Inc., of Nacogdoches
Cost: $3.97 million
Anticipated Completion Date: Fall 2018
The contractor is conducting work on cross structures. Expect lane closures and delays with flaggers providing traffic control. The project is rehabilitating and widening the existing roadway.

— County Road 1825 Bridge Replacement Project

Limits: CR 1825 at UPRR .01 miles S of US 80 to SW of Grand Saline
Contractor: Longview Bridge and Road, Ltd.
Cost: $1.5 million
Anticipated Completion Date: Fall 2018
The contractor is installing the retaining walls and preparing to set bridge beams on this project to replace the railroad overpass and approaches. There is minimal impact on traffic. The road is closed at this location.

Henderson County TxDOT Update – Week of April 9

TxDOT (Athens) Maintenance plans to conduct base and surface repairs on FM 2010 between FM 315 and the Van Zandt County line. A second crew will be performing edge work on various roads on the eastern end of the county. Expect lane closures with flaggers providing traffic control.

Ongoing Henderson County construction projects updates:

— SH 19 Widening Project

Limits: FM 1615 South to 0.3 miles south of Coon Creek
Contractor: A.L. Helmcamp
Cost: $ 4.95 million
Anticipated Completion Date: Spring 2019
Level-up hot mix operations are scheduled in various area of the project. Daily lane closures are possible with a pilot vehicle providing traffic control. The contractor is cement treating sub-grade, setting driveway pipes, extending cross structures, and conducting dirt work to build the shoulders. The speed limit has been reduced to 60 mph for the duration of the project which consists of adding 10-foot shoulders on both the northbound and southbound travel lanes.

— US 175 Widening Project (Phase I)

Limits: From 0.1 mile SE of FM 804 near Baxter SE to 1.1 miles E of Loop 60E at Larue
Contractor: A.L. Helmcamp, Inc. and Big Creek Construction
Cost: $39.2 million
Anticipated Completion Date: November 2018
Construction to realign Loop 60 at the intersection of US 175 in Laure continues. Expect short delays with construction equipment at work in the vicinity. Work is ongoing on the new westbound mainlanes a mile east of Larue. Caution advised as trucks enter and exit the work area throughout the day to deliver materials. Construction of new culverts continues along the old roadway (proposed westbound lanes) between Baxter and Larue. The speed limit is 55 mph on this project to expand US 175 from two lanes to a four-lane divided highway with a depressed median.

— US 175 Widening Project (Phase II)

Limits: From 1.1 miles E of Loop 60B at Larue to 0.85 mile E of FM 315 at Poynor
Contractor: Sundt Construction, Inc., of San Antonio
Cost: $37.8 million
Anticipated Completion Date: April 2018
Eastbound traffic remains in the inside lane as the contractor finishes ditch and slope repairs. Cleanup is ongoing on the south side of the roadway. Both eastbound travel lanes will open to traffic when work is finished.

The easternmost access to FM 315 and Downtown Poynor is closed as construction continues. Motorists must use the westernmost access for FM 315 and Poynor. Work continues on rock riprap for ditches on both the north and south sides of the roadway.

This Phase II project is expanding US 175 from two lanes to a four-lane divided with a depressed median. The project limits stretch 4.7 miles ending just east of FM 315 in Poynor. The speed limit has been set at 60 mph. A portion of this phase is being built on new location around the south side of Poynor. This is a mobility project to add capacity and improve safety and includes adding one lane in each direction.

— US 175 Widening Project (Phase III) in Anderson County

Limits: From 0.85 mile E of FM 315 in Poynor SE to .5 mile NW of SH 155 at Frankston
Contractor: A.L. Helmcamp, Inc.
Cost: $27.6 million
Anticipated Completion Date: October 2019
The contractor is maintaining storm-water control measures throughout the project limits. Hot mix operations continue from CR 301 to Cemetery Road. The project is expanding US 175 from two lanes to a four-lane divided highway with a depressed median.

Anderson County TxDOT Update – Week of April 9

TxDOT (Palestine) Maintenance, assisted by the Special Jobs Crew, plans to conduct mill and inlay operations on SH 294 between FM 228 and the Cherokee County line before moving to Slocum in front of the school. Expect lane closures with flaggers and a pilot car providing traffic control.

Ongoing 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: Spring 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.

— SH 19 Widening Project

Limits: From 3.6 miles N of FM 837 (Henderson Co. line) south to .4 mile N of FM 321 at Montalba
Contractor: Big Creek Construction of Hewitt
Cost: $12.5 million
Anticipated Completion Date: Summer 2018
Operations to place the final seal coat and surface are scheduled for May when warmer conditions are conducive. Meanwhile, the contractor continues daily operations that include maintaining signage, pavement markings, and performing other miscellaneous work. Expect occasional lane closures with flaggers and pilot vehicles. The project is widening the roadway with the addition of shoulders and passing lanes. The posted speed limit is 55 mph.

— US 79 at UPRR Overpass Project (New Project)

Limits: 1.5 miles cast of FM 2574 to 0.5 miles past UPRR Overpass
Contractor: Drewery Construction Company, Inc., of Nacogdoches
Cost: $1.6 million
Anticipated Completion Date: September 2018
Work is underway to upgrade the bridge with the contractor cleaning and painting the girders under the bridge. Motorists should expect daily lane closures with one-way traffic in both directions for the duration of the project. This project consists of cleaning and painting steel girders, bridge rail replacement, and a concrete overlay of the existing bridge deck.

Bill would take away your rights in favor of driverless vehicles

Congress is thinking about taking away your rights in favor of a computer.

A bill currently pending before Congress would eliminate nearly all the legal rights you would have if injured or killed in a vehicle crash if the other vehicle is driverless.

“This is horrible,” said Car Lawyer Jeff Weinstein. “Insurance limits barely cover the cost of a funeral, yet Congress wants to grant immunity to manufacturers of driverless cars. If a drunk driver harms someone, most of us agree they deserve jail time. If a corporation does the same thing, this law would absolve them of any responsibility.”

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Do not drive warning expanded for Takata airbags

Attorney Jeff Weinstein

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a consumer safety advisory about some Ford and Mazda trucks last month when the two companies expanded their ‘do not drive warning’ to include additional MY 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series trucks with defective Takata airbags based on new testing.

These vehicles have defective Takata airbags that are an immediate risk to safety. Affected owners are urged not to drive these vehicles and to contact Ford and Mazda immediately to schedule a free repair. Ford and Mazda have replacement airbags available now and will tow vehicles to a local dealership for repair, and provide loaner vehicles – all free of charge.

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