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BISD notifies employees of layoffs

BEAUMONT - From BISD

The Board of Managers voted to approve Phase I of the Reduction in Force (RIF) at its regularly scheduled meeting on July 28, 2014. Phase I of the RIF was employees from administration which included Project Director/Supervisor 21st Century Grant Lona Mitchell-Alexander, Special Initiative Supervisor/Grant Writer Veda Brown, Director of Communications Jessie Haynes, and District Lead Math Teacher Jeffrey Nelson.  According to Board President Dr. Jimmy Simmons, the board wanted to keep the planetarium open; hence the District Planetarium Lead Teacher Sharon Rigsby was not a part of the RIF. Chief Academic Officer Dr. Dwaine Augustine, who is also acting in the capacity of Interim Human Resources Director, in a report to the board on Monday, July 28, 2014, stated that of the 221 contracted positions slated to be riffed all but approximately six has been placed in vacant positions throughout the district. As of today, July 31, 2014 all but approximately one has been placed in positions.

At-will notifications will be sent by mail to affected employees today, July 31, 2014. A total of 110 at-will positions will be eliminated, and of the 110 positions, over 28 people in those positions have already retired or resigned. The decision to eliminate certain positions was based on staffing guidelines. "This is a very difficult time for all of us, but we had to make tough decisions that were in the best interest of the district," Butler said. In order to make this difficult process for affected employees, the district did give employees a two week notice. The last working day for employees affected by the RIF will be August 15, 2014. They will also be covered by the district's insurance until August 31, 2014. Employees will also have the opportunity to apply for vacant positions as they become available. The district is also in the process of working with Texas Workforce Solutions to provide support for employees affected by the RIF. Further details will be released upon confirmation.

During the 2013-2014 school year, the district had a total of 2829 employees, which cost a total of $138,654,934.09. For the upcoming 2014-2015 school year according to Chief Academic Officer Dr. Dwaine Augustine, the total amount of employees has decreased to 2496 which will cost the district approximately $121,852,275.06. From 2013-2014 to 2014-2015, the district will have reduced the total amount of employees by 333 which will save the district approximately $16,802,659.03. 

"As information becomes available and decisions are made regarding the RIF, I will make sure we keep staff and the community informed," said Butler. 

Attorney for Newton County Sheriff reacts to Eddie Shannon indictment

NEWTON COUNTY - The attorney for Newton County Sheriff Eddie Shannon tells KFDM News he's confident the sheriff will be exonerated of a felony charge of terroristic threat handed up Thursday afternoon by a grand jury.

The grand jury indicted Shannon on the Third Degree Felony charge of terroristic threat. If convicted, he could face punishment ranging from probation to between 2 and 10 years in prison.

In June, our media partner KJAS reported that Shannon had attended a Commissioners Court meeting in which he became frustrated with the court.  KJAS said a source told them Shannon had gone back to the Sheriff's Office and reportedly threatened to shoot the county judge and commissioners. Shannon's attorney, Blair Bisbey, called the accusations "absurd."

The Texas Rangers investigated and Tyler County Assistant District Attorney Lou Ann Cloy was appointed Special Prosecutor.

The attorney for Shannon says Shannon will continue to serve as sheriff to the best of his ability.      

However, KFDM News checked with the Newton County Judge Truman Dougharty. He told us he'll check with the special prosecutor before deciding what action, if any, to take on the sheriff's job status. The county judge did not want to comment on the indictment.

In a statement to KFDM News, attorney Blair Bisbey said, "We are disappointed that the grand jury reached what we consider an erroneous decision. Grand jury proceedings are secret, so we have no way of knowing what influenced that decision, but we do have complete faith in our system of justice and are confident that once we have the opportunity to present all the facts in open court in a public trial, that Sheriff Shannon's innocence will be obvious, and that he will be exonerated from these unfortunate accusations. In the meantime, he will continue to serve the people of Newton County to the best of his ability as their elected sheriff."

KFDM travels to Galveston to learn about Ebola vaccine research

GALVESTON - KFDM's Lauren Huet traveled to Galveston Thursday and spoke with a leading researcher into the Ebola virus. His work inspired a book and movie. Lauren investigates research into developing a vaccine and she was there on the day UTMB learned it had been awarded two grants totaling more than $6 million to develop a vaccine against Ebola.

Watch Live at 5 and KFDM News at 6 for Lauren's reports.

 

GALVESTON, Texas - from UTMB

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston researchers continue to lead the way in infectious disease research. Virologist Alex Bukreyev, professor of pathology at UTMB, has been awarded two National Institutes of Health grants and a U.S. Department of Defense grant totaling more than $6 million to develop experimental drugs against both Ebola and Marburg viruses. Each funded study involves collaborations among teams with different areas of expertise led by Christopher Basler, professor of microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The filoviruses Ebola and Marburg cause the most severe hemorrhagic fever known, with a mortality rate of up to 90 percent. With no approved vaccines or treatments, they are highly infectious. Both viruses potentially could be manipulated and used as weapons in acts of bioterrorism. The current deadly Ebola outbreak in Western Africa has resulted in more than 1,000 infections and more than 600 deaths, making it the largest outbreak ever of the deadly virus.

The first NIH-funded study will take an interdisciplinary approach that centers on the 1E7-03 experimental compound previously developed by the team. Although not toxic itself, this compound suppresses the replication of the Ebola virus. Further, there is a remarkable similarity between all species of Ebola and Marburg viruses, suggesting that the compound can be used for developing a universal filovirus drug.

"The team is attacking these viruses from several directions, including biochemistry and cell biology approaches to determine which compounds block replication of filoviruses best. The most promising compounds will be tested with animal models," said Bukreyev, the lead UTMB researcher. "The current outbreak of Ebola virus in Western Africa shows how helpless we are. I hope our studies will result in the development of therapeutics to effectively treat patients infected with filoviruses."

Bukreyev is the lead researcher in two of the award components. He is in charge of testing the drugs developed by all teams included in the consortium that require the Galveston National Laboratory, the only fully operational Biosafety Level 4 laboratory on an academic campus in the United States. This unique high-containment facility allows for the safe study of deadly diseases.

Bukreyev is also the lead researcher on the component aimed at optimizing the 1E7-03 compound as a drug against both Ebola and Marburg. This part of the research program will be conducted with Sergei Nekhai, professor of biochemistry at Howard University College of Medicine.

Bukreyev recently received federal funding for two other projects related to Ebola and Marburg viruses.

Another grant from the NIH will fund a project to investigate the mechanisms leading to immune system failure following filovirus infection. Bukreyev and UTMB professor Thomas Geisbert each will lead components of the project. They will both collaborate with consortium director Basler, who will also lead another component of the project.

"We are very excited," Bukreyev said. "One of the reasons that filovirus infections are so severe is because they disable various components of the immune system, leaving the infected person defenseless. All three components will complement one other to provide a broad picture of events that occur in the immune system following Ebola infections and will help us understand how Ebola disables it."

Bukreyev and Geisbert also will collaborate with Thomas Moran at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Gaya Amarasinghe, Michael Gross and Daisy Leung at the Washington University School of Medicine, Ilhem Messaoudi at the University of California, Riverside and Tian Wang at UTMB.

A related study newly funded by the U.S. Department of Defense will be undertaken by a consortium led by Basler. Bukreyev is the lead investigator of the funded studies conducted at UTMB. This project will be focused on the innate immunity of bats. "This is a very important project that we hope will help us understand why bats maintain filoviruses as well as multiple other emerging viruses without getting ill," Bukreyev said.

Average gasoline price in Beaumont second lowest in state

BEAUMONT - The average price for one gallon of unleaded gasoline in Beaumont has dropped three cents in the past week and is now the second lowest average in Texas.

 

It's $3.32. The average was $3.47 at this time last year. The record high in Beaumont was $4 in July 2008.

 

 

 

Irving - from AAA Texas

 

The statewide average for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel in Texas is now $3.37, according to the AAA Texas Weekend Gas Watch.  That price is four cents less than last week and 14 cents less than this time last year.  Of the major metropolitan areas surveyed in the Lone Star State, drivers in El Paso are paying the most at $3.45 per gallon while drivers in Amarillo are paying the least at $3.27 per gallon.  The statewide average in Texas is 15 cents less than the national average of $3.52 per gallon.

 

Amid continuing geopolitical tensions in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Northern Africa, American drivers are paying the lowest average retail prices at the pump since mid-March.   This is due to U.S. refineries running near their highest rates since 2005, according to the Energy Information Administration, and domestic demand that has reportedly dropped.

 

The global oil market continues to closely monitor the situation abroad, including tensions between Ukraine and Russia, Hamas and Israel, and production issues in Libya due to civil unrest.  Analysts say these events have not impacted global supply, but could be factors that may limit how far U.S. pump prices can fall.

 

"Now is a great time to take advantage of lower fuel prices and take one last summer road trip before school starts," said AAA Texas/New Mexico Representative Doug Shupe.   "Currently, Texans are paying about $47 to fill up a 14-gallon size fuel tank.  Vacationers can visit their nearest AAA Texas branch office and speak with an experienced travel agent for free to learn about even more ways to save on end of summer trips."

 

To help members and non-members identify quality auto repair shops that can assist in the maintenance and repair of their vehicles, AAA offers the Approved Auto Repair program as a free public service.  AAA-approved repair facilities meet and maintain high professional standards for training, equipment, cleanliness and customer service. Motorists can look for the Approved Auto Repair sign at local auto repair facilities, or search for a nearby AAA-approved shop online at AAA.com/Repair.  AAA Texas can be visited on the Internet at www.AAA.com.  Follow AAA Texas on Twitter: @AAATexas and Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAATexas.

 

 

Current 07/31/14

07/24/14

Difference

Year Ago 07/31/13

Difference

Record High Date

Record High Price

National

$3.52

$3.55

-0.03

$3.63

-0.11

07/17/08

$4.11

State

$3.37

$3.41

-0.04

$3.51

-0.14

07/17/08

$3.98

Amarillo

$3.27

$3.32

-0.05

$3.45

-0.18

07/16/08

$3.98

Austin-San Marcos

$3.36

$3.40

-0.04

$3.49

-0.13

07/17/08

$3.97

Beaumont

$3.32

$3.35

-0.03

$3.47

-0.15

07/16/08

$4.00

Corpus Christi

$3.37

$3.39

-0.02

$3.43

-0.06

07/15/08

$3.96

Dallas

$3.36

$3.41

-0.05

$3.55

-0.19

07/16/08

$3.98

El Paso

$3.45

$3.49

-0.04

$3.44

0.01

07/17/08

$3.97

Ft. Worth

$3.36

$3.41

-0.05

$3.55

-0.19

07/16/08

$3.97

Galveston

$3.38

$3.41

-0.03

$3.52

-0.14

07/14/08

$3.97

Houston

$3.38

$3.41

-0.03

$3.51

-0.13

07/17/08

$3.96

San Antonio

$3.35

$3.39

-0.04

$3.46

-0.11

07/16/08

$3.96

Texarkana

$3.38

$3.42

-0.04

$3.48

-0.10

07/17/08

$3.98

 

 


Investigators: Someone deliberately set a Beaumont home on fire, displacing family of seven

BEAUMONT - Investigators say someone deliberately set a fire that displaced a family of seven in Beaumont.

Watch KFDM News and stay with kfdm.com for updates.

Beaumont firefighters were on the scene at about 1 a.m. Thursday at 985 Avenue B. When firefighters arrived they saw that flames were covering one outside wall and spreading to the attic.

The family of seven was able to escape before firefighters got to the home. No one was hurt.

Firefighters were able to quickly control the fire with minimal damage.

Investigators say it appears someone deliberately set the fire on the outside of the home. Officers are searching for the arsonist.  

The Red Cross was called to help the family.

 

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