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Arrest made in connection with June fire in Port Arthur
PORT ARTHUR - An arrest has been made in connection with a June 3rd fire in the 3300 block of 12th Street in Port Arthur, according to the Port Arthur Fire Department.

Hillary Samuels was arrested Wednesday by Arson Investigators with the Port Arthur Fire Department on a Felony Arson warrant.

The fire occurred in a four-unit apartment building shortly after 11 p.m. following a possible domestic disturbance. Other people were home at the time of the fire, but no was injured due to the fire.

The arson charge is a second degree felony which could carry a penalty of 2 to 20 years in prison and can be raised to a 1st degree felony due to the building being a habitation. A 1st degree felony can carry a penalty of 5 to 99 years in prison.

Jury convicts Beaumont man; judge sentences him to 50 years for sexually assaulting child
A 40-year-old Beaumont man was found guilty by a jury Wednesday and sentenced to 50 years in prison by Senior Criminal District Judge Larry Gist for the March 2, 2012 sexual assault of a 9-year-old girl, Criminal District Attorney Cory Crenshaw said. The jury returned a verdict after less than 15 minutes of deliberation.

One witness stated during testimony that Stevie Blaschke Hanke "took away that little girl's childhood" and that the girl will forever remember what he did.

Following the sentencing, Assistant Criminal District Attorney Eric Houghton said: "We are very pleased with the jury's swift verdict and Judge Gist's sentence of 50 years.  Justice was served for this brave little girl and her mother today. This individual will never hurt another child again." 

The defendant must serve at least 25 years of his sentence before being considered for parole based upon current parole law. Should parole ever be granted, the defendant will be required to register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life.

Recognized sign taken down from in front of Carrol A. "Butch" Thomas Educational Support Center
KFDM News learned that the Recognized sign was removed from in front of the Carrol A. "Butch" Thomas Educational Support Center Wednesday.

The removal was ordered by interim Beaumont ISD superintendent Vern Butler.

BISD workers also knocked down the BISD Recognized sign in front of the administration building Tuesday morning on Harrison Street near Interstate 10.

BISD hasn't been a Recognized district in Texas for several years. The state lowered the rating from Recognized to Acceptable in 2011. Its state rating has remained Acceptable.

Some in the community criticized BISD for keeping the sign in place even though its rating was lowered. They said it was misleading and outdated.

The Texas Education Agency has been investigating complaints of cheating on state tests, the results of which are used to help calculate state ratings. That investigation remains open.

DA expects grand jury to return indictments in BISD investigation
DA Cory Crenshaw spoke to the Beaumont Rotary Club today and he told the crowd that he expects a grand jury to return indictments next week in the BISD investigation.

Stay with KFDM News at 6 for more information.

ATPE applaudes Commissioner's decision to seek extension of NCLB waiver and evaluation pilot
Association of Texas Professional Educators
News Release

AUSTIN, Texas — For several months, the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) has been fighting to prevent the hasty implementation of a new state teacher evaluation system that has not yet been piloted and perfected. The evaluation changes were mandated by the U.S. Department of Education as a condition for receiving a waiver of federal school accountability requirements in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), better known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Today, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced that Commissioner of Education Michael Williams has written to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, seeking an extension of the state’s waiver and requesting an additional year for pilot studies of the new evaluation system before it must be implemented statewide.

ESEA accountability provisions, which subject schools to harsh sanctions for failing to meet outdated and unrealistic criteria, have not been updated by Congress since their initial adoption in 2001.To qualify for an ESEA waiver, TEA recently announced plans to pilot a new evaluation system in nearly 70 school districts in the upcoming school year and implement the system statewide the following year. Without an extension from the federal government, state officials will not have sufficient time to analyze data gathered from the pilot and make any necessary revisions before implementing the new evaluations statewide in the 2015-16 school year.

“We appreciate the commissioner’s decision, because ATPE has worked hard to get more flexibility and time to ensure we are adopting a teacher evaluation model that will meet the needs of educators and students,” ATPE Executive Director Gary Godsey said. “We hope the Department of Education will approve the extension and give Texas more time to study the pilot results to determine what’s best for public education. The last thing we want is for a flawed evaluation system to be put into place.”

ATPE has also been working with the Texas Congressional delegation to communicate the need for more flexibility and time and to put pressure on the U.S. Department of Education to accept Texas’ request. “We hope the Department of Education in Washington will listen to educators and to our state and Congressional leaders and do the right thing for Texas students,” Godsey said.

Plane crash kills dozens in Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan (CBS) - A plane landing in stormy weather crashed outside an airport on a small Taiwanese island late Wednesday, and the transport minister said 47 people were dead.

Another 11 people were injured when the ATR-72 operated by Taiwan's TransAsia Airways crashed on Penghu, an island in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China, Transport Minister Yeh Kuang-shih was quoted as saying by the government's Central News Agency. The plane was arriving from Kaohsiung, a city in southern Taiwan.

The twin-engine turboprop plane crashed while making a second landing attempt with a total of 58 passengers and crew members aboard, according to Yeh.

The news agency had earlier quoted a local fire chief as saying 51 people had been killed.

The plane crashed in the village of Xixi outside the airport. Photos in local media showed firefighters using flashlights to look at wreckage in the darkness, and buildings and cars damaged by debris.

About 200 military personnel were sent to help recover the people who were on the plane, Taiwanese Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he said, according to the Central News Agency.

The ministry said military vehicles and ambulances were rushing people to hospitals and an air force rescue team was on standby to transfer survivors to Taiwan's main island if needed for treatment, the agency reported.

The flight left Kaohsiung at 4:53 p.m. for Magong on Penghu, according to the head of Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration, Jean Shen. The plane lost contact with the tower at 7:06 p.m. after saying it would make a second landing attempt.

Visibility as the plane approached was one mile, which met standards for landing, and two flights had landed before GE222, one at 5:34 p.m. and the other at 6:57 p.m., the aviation agency reported.

But the Central News Agency, citing the county fire department, said it appeared heavy rain reduced visibility and the pilot was forced to pull up and make the second landing attempt.

News of Wednesday's crash came as military transport planes carrying coffins bearing victims of last week's downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 landed in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. That crash killed all 298 passengers and crew.

Malaysia Airlines posted a message to Twitter conveying the carrier's concern for the TransAsia victims.

Taiwan was battered by Typhoon Matmo early Tuesday morning, and the Central Weather Bureau warned of heavy rain through the evening, even after the center of the storm had moved west to mainland China.

Shen said the plane was 14 years old.

In October 2013, a Lao Airlines ATR-72 crashed during a heavy storm as it approached Pakse Airport in southern Laos, killing all 49 people on board.

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IMF cuts forecast for US economic growth in 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The International Monetary Fund has shaved its forecast for U.S. economic growth this year, mostly because of a sharp contraction in the first quarter.

Consumer News

   WEST PALM BEACH, FL -- (Marketwired) -- 03/21/14 --
 Companies that pride themselves on being eco-friendly may have conflicted
 ideas between marketing with ad specialties and maintaining their green
 reputation. ...

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Call it a case of fighting water pollution with pop culture.

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SEATTLE (AP) -- It's one joint that won't go up in smoke.

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NEW YORK (AP) -- StubHub is the latest online seller to be hit by a security breach.

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