AUSTIN - President Bush on July 24 granted Gov. Rick Perry’s July 23 request for a Major Presidential Disaster Declaration as Hurricane Dolly walloped South Texas.
The declaration helps pay for emergency expenditures that occurred before, during and after the hurricane. But, Gov. Perry said, the declaration does not cover hurricane-related individual or business losses.
Perry wrote again to the president on July 31, to speed “individual assistance” to people whose homes were damaged but not covered by insurance and “public assistance” to fund the repair or replacement of damaged or destroyed public facilities or infrastructure.
Thousands of South Texans remained without power and hundreds were staying in temporary shelters, as of Aug. 1.
State releases mansion
Newspapers and broadcast media stations requested copies of videotapes recorded by governor’s mansion security cameras on the night of June 8, when the governor’s mansion was gutted by fire.
The Texas Department of Public Safety initially denied the requests, arguing that the videotapes relate to a pending criminal investigation and should not be released. The Texas Attorney General’s Office sided with the DPS and the videotapes were kept under wraps.
However, on July 29, state and federal investigators made two video clips from the videotapes available to the public and offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. One video clip shows a man walking on a sidewalk near the mansion. Another video clip shows a man running on a different sidewalk near the mansion.
The video clips and still images can be viewed at the DPS Web site, www.txdps.state.tx.us.
Indicted men turn
A Schleicher County grand jury on July 22 indicted five men, all members of the polygamist sect that occupies the Yearning for Zion Ranch near Eldorado.
On July 28, the men surrendered themselves to the Schleicher County
sheriff. The Texas Attorney General’s Office published their names and the
charges against them:
• Raymond Merrill Jessop, 36, charged with one count of sexually assaulting a child, a first-degree felony; possible sentence of five to 99 years or life in prison.
• Allan Eugene Keate, 56, charged with one count of sexually assaulting a child, a first-degree felony; possible sentence of five to 99 years or life in prison.
• Michael George Emack, 57, charged with one count of sexually
assaulting a child, a first-degree felony; possible sentence of five to 99 years or life in prison.
• Merrill Leroy Jessop, 33, charged with one count of sexually assaulting a child and bigamy, both first-degree felonies; possible sentence of five to 99 years or life in prison on each count.
• Lloyd Hammon Barlow, 38, charged with three counts of failure to report child abuse, a class B misdemeanor; possible sentence of up to six months in prison and a fine of $2,000 per count.
Also indicted was sect leader Warren S. Jeffs, 52, who is a Utah prison inmate convicted of two counts of being an accomplice to rape. Jeffs is serving two consecutive sentences of five years to life.
An anonymous allegation of domestic violence and sexual abuse prompted San Angelo State District Judge Barbara Walther to order the seizure and custody of more than 400 ranch children in early April.
State appellate courts overturned Walther’s order and the children were returned to their parents in early June.
Education ratings are released
The Texas Education Agency released accountability ratings for schools and campuses on Aug. 1. The agency also released dropout and completion rates for districts and schools serving students in grades seventh to 12th.
More Texas school districts and campuses earned the state’s two highest ratings, exemplary and recognized, in 2008, the TEA reported.
Statewide, the graduation rate for the 290,662 member class of 2007 was 78 percent. Between ninth grade and the end of 12th grade, 11.4 percent of the members of this class dropped out of school. Complete statistics can been found at www.tea.state.tx.us.