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More than 44,000 marijuana plants uncovered in Polk County

POLK COUNTY - from CBS News

Officers in Southeast Texas are clearing thousands of marijuana plants today. The crop is part of sophisticated operation that could end up being the largest bust of its kind in state history, CBS News' Tim Wetzel reports.

The grow was discovered in Goodrich, about 70 miles northeast of Houston.

When officials were alerted to the presence of marijuana in Goodrich, an isolated part of Texas wilderness, they stumbled onto an operation so advanced it had avoided detection for months.

Inmates from the Polk County jail joined over 70 officers from up to 12 different agencies. They uprooted nearly every marijuana plant discovered on the massive grow operation, and found an elaborate hydration system that made use of a nearby creek.

"They had pumps that were set inside the creek banks and a hosing system that ran back to the fields to where they just turned the pumps on. The pumps would run through the hoses and subsequently through the fields," said Polk County Chief Deputy Byron Lyons.

A deer hunter scouting the area discovered the plants over the weekend and immediately called police. Nearby, a makeshift campground was found littered with food, clothing, and equipment. Officials say the growers had likely been living there for at least five months, avoiding detection by land owners and law enforcement.

"They'll go inside the overgrown area and they'll clean out a spot inside of it, to where unless you're actually right inside the plant area, you won't even know it that they're there," Lyons said.

Operations like this are a growing problem in east Texas, where dealers have set up shop to avoid heightened security along the U.S.-Mexican border.

In 2012, 30,000 marijuana plants were discovered on an 800-acre property near Ollie, Texas.

So far, more than 44,000 plants have been cleared away, but an aerial search revealed the existence of up to 16 additional fields.

Once finished, the total haul could top 100,000 plants, making it one of the largest busts in Texas history.

One person has been taken into custody in connection with the operation, and police are now running forensic tests to help identify additional suspects. They say more arrests could be made in the coming days.

Two hurt in accident on Old Voth Road

BEAUMONT - Beaumont police are investigating a collision that injured two people early Tuesday morning.

Paramedics and police responded to the accident at about 3:45 a.m. Tuesday on Old Voth Road near Guess.

Two people were hurt. Paramedics transported them to Christus Hospital St. Elizabeth. We're checking on their conditions.

 

BISD board seeks ways to cut spending during budget workshop
BEAUMONT - A budget workshop for the new Beaumont school district board of managers included information on the way things used to be done and how they should be done.

Representatives from the district's financial consultant group WCL Enterprises made a presentation to the board detailing the role of the purchasing department.

The presentation included what the firm has uncovered since it was hired in November.

Colleen Wells says the practices -- though not illegal -- have cost the district thousands of dollars.

Even the process for vendor contracts has been revamped to try and save the district money.
   
She explained what the district was doing with contracts for paint and supplies.

"For six years, that contract went out and the minimum increase was 8 percent. Over 5 and 6 years, that's an increase of 40 percent in every item," Wells said.

She said those problems have been fixed and -- in that particular example -- saved the district significantly.

The board of managers is expected to talk about the voluntary separation agreement with the superintendent and the reduction in force list at Monday night's board meeting.

Five jobs are on the reduction in force list, including special assistant to the superintendent Jessie Haynes.

KFDM's Justin Hinton is covering the meeting and will have a report Monday night during the at 10 p.m. newscast.

Hardin County residents to vote on whether liquor can be sold

HARDIN COUNTY - Hardin County commissioners have approved a November 4 election to determine if wine and liquor can be sold in precincts two and 11, north of Silsbee.

Under current law, stores in those precincts can sell only beer.

The vote for the election was three to one. Commissioner Chris Kirkendall voted against setting the election date.

The election is for off-premise consumption only of wine and liquor.

Assistant Jefferson County district attorney stepping down
JEFFERSON COUNTY - An assistant district attorney in Jefferson County is stepping down from his position to concentrate on a new goal.

Perry Thomas is resigning from the Jefferson County District Attorney's office to focus on his campaign as the Republican candidate for district attorney.

Thomas serves as senior trial attorney and chief prosecutor of the 252nd Criminal District Court.

His last official day will be Thursday, July 31.

He faces Democratic Party nominee Bob Wortham in the November election for District Attorney.

Earlier this year, Wortham stepped down as judge of the 58th District Court to spend time on the race for district attorney.
  Wortham's background includes about 12 years as united states attorney for the eastern district of texas.

Large marijuana-growing operation seized in Polk County
POLK COUNTY - A major marijuana growing operation has been discovered in Polk County.
 
According to reports, a hunter stumbled upon 13 fields of marijuana plants with a sophisticated irrigation system.

Polk County chief deputy Byron Lyons says more dealers are choosing to grow their marijuana inside the U.S. because it's much easier than transporting the contraband across the border.
 
Authorities are investigating to determine who is responsible for the marijuana. 

This story comes to us through our media partnership with KJAS Radio in Jasper.

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