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West Orange Cove schools name Rickie Harris lone finalist for top spot

WEST ORANGE -- The West Orange– Cove CISD Board of Trustees met in a special called session this afternoon and announced Rickie Harris as the finalist for the position of WOCCISD Superintendent.Harris has been a public school educator since 2001.


He is currently an assistant principal in the Cedar Hill school system. He has experience as a High School Principal, a coordinator of Alternative Programs, a biology teacher, and a coach in the Cedar Hill, Itasca, Hillsboro, and Wilmer-Hutchins public school systems.


Additionally, he has coached football at the collegiate level.He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education and a Master’s degree in School Leadership, both from Abilene Christian University. He also holds a Superintendent’s Certificate from the State of Texas.


Pete Amy, President of the WOCCISD Board of Trustees, said, “I am very excited about bringing Mr. Harris to our District. He already has an entry plan developed and is ready to put it into place upon his arrival. He will also bring a great deal of enthusiasm."


“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Silvia Martinez for her leadership during this interim. She has kept the District on course during the time we have been searching for a superintendent,” Amy said.


Harris and his wife, Shalawn, have two children.
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Jefferson County residents can claim cash, set up college savings accounts at March 11 event

JEFFERSON COUNTY -- Jefferson County residents may have money waiting for them in the state's Unclaimed Property database, and they'll have an opportunity to search for it at an upcoming event hosted by the Texas Comptroller's office and Jefferson County Treasurer Tim Funchess.

In addition, Texans will have the opportunity to learn more about the state’s prepaid college tuition program, the Texas Tuition Promise Fund (TTPF).

Unclaimed Property and TTPF representatives from the Comptroller’s office will help people search for unclaimed property online, fill out claim forms and answer questions about the TTPF program from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11, in the Jefferson County Courthouse at 1149 Pearl St. in Beaumont.


Unclaimed property includes forgotten utility deposits or other refunds, insurance proceeds, mineral interest or royalty payments, dormant bank accounts and abandoned safe deposit box contents. The Comptroller estimates that one in four Texans has money waiting to be claimed.


"Texas has $4 billion in unclaimed property, and as Comptroller, one of my jobs is to get that money back in the hands of those who earned it,"said Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar. "I encourage Texans to search for their money online or contact my office to claim their rightful property."


The Comptroller's office reports that Jefferson County residents currently have more than $22 million waiting to be claimed.


The TTPF allows Texans to lock in the cost of undergraduate tuition and school-wide required fees at Texas public colleges and universities, protecting against future tuition inflation. A TTPF representative will be on hand to discuss the program and help interested attendees enroll. 


"Saving for a child's college education is one of the most important decisions a parent can make. As a parent three times over, I'm proud our state has the Texas Tuition Promise Fund, which can help Texans control the spiraling cost of college," Hegar said.


To search for unclaimed property at any time, or to view helpful how-to videos on the process, visit the Comptroller's unclaimed property website at ClaimItTexas.org. For phone assistance, please call 1-800-654-FIND (3463).


For additional information on the TTPF, visit TuitionPromise.org.

Man and woman with guns rob store in Orange

ORANGE - Police in Orange are searching for a man and woman who used guns to rob a store clerk.

Shortly after 9 p.m. Monday, the Orange Police Department received a call reported a robbery at 6892 FM 1130, Exxon Food Mart #2.

Witnesses describe the robbers as a man and woman, in dark clothing, both wearing cloths across their faces and both holding guns.

Orange Police officers responded to the area and began searching for the attackers but couldn't find them.

 

Netanyahu to use Congress' bully pulpit to assail Iranian talks

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seizing the bully pulpit of Congress to warn against trusting Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions, even as President Barack Obama's negotiators continue talking with the Iranians Tuesday in hopes of closing a deal this month.


Netanyahu insists he is privy to emerging details of a potential agreement and is expected to lay out his specific concerns in Tuesday's speech to a joint meeting of Congress.


The Obama administration has complained that congressional Republicans injected destructive partisanship into the U.S.-Israel alliance by inviting Netanyahu to speak. But the White House played down the controversy in the hours before the address in the House chamber.


Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett called it "a bit of a distraction" but told MSNBC the dispute wouldn't undermine Obama's commitment to Israel.


"We share a common goal of ensuring that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons," Jarrett said, and disagree with Netanyahu only over "the tactics of how to get there."


Netanyahu says he means no disrespect to Obama but is morally obliged to warn against any deal that might leave open the way to a nuclear-armed Iran.


The speech comes just two weeks ahead of a tight national election in which Netanyahu is fighting to hold onto his job. Obama does not plan to meet with Netanyahu while he's in Washington, saying he wants to avoid any perception that he is meddling in Israel's election.


In a warm-up address to America's leading pro-Israel lobby on Monday, Netanyahu said he would speak to Congress "about an Iranian regime that is threatening to destroy Israel, that's devouring country after country in the Middle East, that's exporting terror throughout the world and that is developing, as we speak, the capacity to make nuclear weapons - lots of them."


The Israeli leader is deeply suspicious of international efforts to reach a nuclear deal, fearing the U.S. and its negotiating partners will give Iran too many concessions.


That puts him on a collision course with Obama, who has put his prestige on the line to pursue a deal.

The U.S. and Iranian sides met for two hours on Tuesday morning in the Swiss resort of Montreux, according to U.S. officials. They likely will continue meeting through Netanyahu's speech. Both sides said they were making progress.


"We're working away, productively," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters.


Netanyahu believes that preventing a nuclear-armed Iran would be his crowning achievement - and that a bad deal would be a setback and far worse than no deal at all. While powerful, his speech to Congress also might sound a note of desperation as he appears almost out of options.


As many as 40 members of the House and more than a handful of senators are expected to skip the speech, which many have labeled a partisan political stunt. Vice President Joe Biden, president of the Senate, also won't be there. He's on a trip to Central America and his seat on the dais will be filled by Sen. Orrin Hatch, president pro tempore.


Many Democrats will be in the audience, however. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he would attend "to find out more about the prime minister's point of view on this."


Hatch, R-Utah, said Monday that Congress should complement the prime minister's address with the threat of more sanctions.


"I am deeply troubled that our president's solution won't work," Hatch said. "This administration has opted for a policy of conciliation that does nothing to curb this growing threat. And all the while, the threat to Israel grows stronger every day."


Netanyahu expressed frustration that his speech has created such controversy. He insisted that his speech to Congress was not meant to show any disrespect toward Obama or the Oval Office. He also said it was not intended to "inject Israel into the American partisan debate."


But that is what's happened.


Members of Congress who are expected to be no-shows at the speech blame House Speaker John Boehner for inviting Netanyahu without consulting with the White House or congressional Democrats. Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice has said the speech is destructive to the fabric of U.S.-Israeli relations.


Kerry has said Netanyahu should hold his criticism until he knows the details about a deal - if one materializes.


Kerry said Monday in Geneva that negotiators are seeking a verifiable set of commitments that its nuclear program is peaceful. He said that "any deal must close every potential pathway that Iran has towards fissile material, whether it's uranium, plutonium, or a covert path. The fact is only a good, comprehensive deal in the end can actually check off all of those boxes."


Kerry is meeting this week with Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.


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Mother convicted of killing her son, 5, by poisoning him with salt

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- A woman who blogged for years about her son's constant health woes has been convicted in New York of poisoning him to death with salt.


A jury on Monday found Lacey Spears, of Scottsville, Kentucky, guilty of second-degree murder in the death of 5-year-old Garnett-Paul Spears.


Prosecutors contended that Spears reveled in the attention Garnett's illness brought her and that she force-fed him heavy concentrations of sodium through a stomach tube.


Several doctors testified that there was no medical explanation for the spike in Garnett's sodium levels that led to his death.


Prosecutors say the 27-year-old Spears eventually killed the boy because she feared he would start telling people she was making him ill.


The defense portrayed Spears as a caring mother and Garnett as sickly.

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