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Longview police: Driver who hit, killed man in wheelchair is 16-year-old girl

Police have identified a 16-year-old girl as the driver in a hit-and-run in which a man in a wheelchair in Longview was killed.

Longview police made the announcement Monday in a post on its Facebook page.

Police did not release a name and said the case would be sent to the Gregg County District Attorney’s Office for review.

John Garnett Page, 65, was hit about 6:30 p.m. Jan. 17 while trying to cross in the 3300 block of North Fourth Street near Lowe’s in his wheelchair. He was taken to a Longview medical center where he later died.

The vehicle that hit him was described as a charcoal, dark gray or dark pewter 1999 to 2006 Chevrolet or GMC club-cab pickup with a chrome strip on the lower door guard, police said.

Police previously had said the driver in pickup that hit Page will face a hit-and-run charge if caught, but Longview police spokeswoman Kristie Brian said the driver wouldn’t have been cited if he or she had remained at the scene.

According to the report from police, Page was at fault because he didn’t use a crosswalk.

Multiple people stopped to render aid — one person performing CPR — before Page was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The police report also indicates the driver hit a second pedestrian, too. James Carl Frazier, 24, of Gilmer, was walking in the southbound inside lane of Fourth Street trying to help Page.

Frazier declined medical treatment, the report said.

Police records indicate that in each of the past four years, the city has had one traffic incident involving a wheelchair.

PHOTOS: East Texas Symphonic Band performs for area students

Dems off to poor start: Leadoff Iowa caucus results delayed

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Democratic Party said Monday night that results from the state’s first-in-the-nation caucus were delayed due to “quality checks” and new reporting rules, an embarrassing complication that added a new layer of doubt to an already uncertain presidential primary season.

The party said the problem was not a result of a “hack or an intrusion.”

The statement came as Iowa voters packed caucus sites across the state with at least four leading candidates battling to win the opening contest of the 2020 campaign, and ultimately, the opportunity to take on President Donald Trump this fall.

Democrats hoped that Iowa’s caucuses would provide some clarity for what has been a muddled nomination fight for much of the last year. But apparent technology issues delayed the results as the state party suggested turnout was on track to match 2016 numbers.

Party officials held a call with campaigns as concerns were growing over the delays.

“The integrity of the results is paramount,” party spokesperson Mandy McClure said. “We have experienced a delay in the results due to quality checks and the fact that the IDP is reporting out three data sets for the first time.”

Des Moines County Democratic Chair Tom Courtney blamed technology issues in his county, relaying precinct reports that the app created for caucus organizers to report results was “a mess.” As a result, Courtney said precinct leaders were phoning in results to the state party headquarters, which was too busy to answer their calls in some cases.

Linn County Auditor Joel Miller, who ran a precinct in the Cedar Rapids suburbs, said some app users probably did not get instructions on how to log into the system.

“If people didn’t know where to look for the PIN numbers or the precinct numbers, that could slow them down,” said Miller, who said that he had no problem using the system to report his precinct’s figures.

Meanwhile, Iowa voters were balancing a strong preference for fundamental change with an overwhelming desire to defeat Trump as they sorted through nearly a dozen candidates in a contest that offered the opening test of who and what the party stands for in the turbulent age of Trump. It’s just the first in a primary season that will span all 50 states and several U.S. territories, ending only at the party’s national convention in mid-July.

For Democrats, the moment was thick with promise for a party that has seized major gains in states since Trump won the White House in 2016. But instead of clear optimism, a cloud of uncertainty and intraparty resentment hung over Monday’s election as the prospect of an unclear result raised fears of a long and divisive primary fight in the months ahead.

Before the reporting issues surfaced, candidates fought to rally their supporters.

“I’m the one who can pull our party together,” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told supporters on a telephone call before voting began, suggesting her rivals could not. They said they were the ones to bring unity.

One unsurprising development: Trump won the Republican caucus, a largely symbolic victory given that he faced no significant opposition.

Pre-caucus polls suggested that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders might have a narrow lead, but any of the top four candidates — Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Warren and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg — could score a victory in Iowa’s unpredictable and quirky caucus system as organizers prepared for record turnout. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who represents neighboring Minnesota, was also claiming momentum, while outsider candidates including entrepreneur Andrew Yang, billionaire activist Tom Steyer and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard could be factors.

New voters played a significant role in shaping Iowa’s election.

About one quarter of all voters reported that they were caucusing for the first time, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of voters who said they planned to take part in Monday’s Democratic caucuses. The first-timers were slightly more likely to support Sanders, Warren or Buttigieg, compared with other candidates.

At the same time, VoteCast found that roughly two-thirds of caucusgoers said supporting a candidate who would fundamentally change how the system in Washington works was important to their vote. That compared to about a third of caucusgoers who said it was more important to support a candidate who would restore the political system to how it was before Trump’s election in 2016.

Not surprisingly, nearly every Iowa Democrat said the ability to beat Trump was an important quality for a presidential nominee. VoteCast found that measure outranked others as the most important quality for a nominee.

In Iowa, some 200,000 voters were expected.

Three senators in the field left Iowa late Sunday to return to the U.S. Capitol for Trump’s impeachment trial, but did what they could to keep their campaigns going from Washington.

While Warren held her telephone town hall, Klobuchar’s husband and daughter appeared at a canvass launch in Des Moines.

In suburban Des Moines, Buttigieg delivered about 100 volunteers a last shot of encouragement before they stepped out into the chill to knock on doors for him around midday Monday.

“We are exactly where we need to be to astonish the political world,” he said, igniting cheers for the 38-year-old former midsize-city mayor, who was an asterisk a year ago and is now among the top candidates.

Meanwhile, Biden and his wife, Jill, delivered pizza Monday to a few dozen volunteers working the phones at his south Des Moines field office.

“I feel good,” he said as he walked in, sporting his signature aviator sunglasses.

Iowa offers just a tiny percentage of the delegates needed to win the nomination but plays an outsize role in culling primary fields. A poor showing in Iowa could cause a front-runner’s fundraising to slow and support in later states to dwindle, while a strong result can give a candidate much needed momentum.

The past several Democrats who won the Iowa caucuses went on to clinch the party’s nomination.

The 2020 fight has played out over myriad distractions, particularly congressional Democrats’ push to impeach Trump, which has often overshadowed the primary and effectively pinned several leading candidates to Washington at the pinnacle of the early campaign season.

Meanwhile, ultrabillionaire Mike Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, is running a parallel campaign that ignores Iowa as he prepares to pounce on any perceived weaknesses in the field come March.

The amalgam of oddities, including new rules for reporting the already complicated caucus results, was building toward what could be a murky Iowa finale before the race pivots quickly to New Hampshire, which votes just eight days later.

New party rules may give more than one candidate an opportunity to claim victory in Iowa, even if they aren’t the official winner.

For the first time, the Iowa Democratic Party reported three sets of results at the end of the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses: a tally of caucus-goers’ initial candidate preference; vote totals from the “final alignment” after supporters of lower-ranking candidates were able to make a second choice, and the total number of State Delegate Equivalents each candidate receives.

There is no guarantee that all three will show the same winner.

The Associated Press will declare a winner based on the number of state delegates each candidate wins, which has been the traditional standard.

Many of the Democratic presidential candidates have possible weaknesses when challenging Trump, VoteCast found.

Some 4 in 10 Iowa voters said it would be harder for a woman to unseat the president. Almost 6 in 10 said a gay candidate would have more difficulty defeating Trump, a potential risk for Buttigieg.

Roughly the same share said a nominee with “strongly liberal views” would also face a harder time, while close to half said a nominee older than 75 — Biden and Sanders — would have a tougher time versus Trump.

Today in Longview history

Feb. 4, 1965: After several weeks of site preparation and foundation construction, the first of 2,000 tons of steel destined for the $15 million Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co. plant was erected. About 125 were employed on the site, with a peak of 600 expected in September.

Feb. 4, 1992: Longview City Council should regulate the city’s cable rates, according to a vote of the Longview Cable Television Citizens Commission. The commission should begin rate discussions with Longview Cable Television Co. on behalf of the council, it said.

Feb. 4, 2002: A new 403 area code was announced for 30 counties that had long been part of the 903 area code service area. “It’s a reflection of some very positive growth,” Rogers Pope Jr., chairman of the Longview Partnership, said.

Feb. 4, 2009: Longview Mayor Jay Dean and Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass convened a joint meeting of city officials to discuss ideas for new regional programs, services and cooperation between the two cities. The Tyler meeting was the first such gathering in nearly five years.

Long flu season for schools, but low impact on attendance

While Longview-area schools are experiencing cases of the flu, officials say the issue is less about attendance and more about longevity.

Local schools saw cases of the flu as early as August. Pine Tree ISD’s nurse, Jan Goldberg, said attendance records do not show a significant dip, but the flu season has lasted for months.

She said she is not sure why the flu started so early this season, but the district is seeing both Type A and Type B flu, which could make an impact.

“It could be that one’s more predominant and one has started early and then the other one jumped in there,” Goldberg said. “We don’t know, but we have been seeing both kinds.”

Kimberlie Dans, lead nurse at Longview ISD, said the district is experiencing similar circumstances with flu season.

Dans said while the flu has been mild, the district has been seeing it since the first week of school.

Despite an early flu season, she said the lowest attendance rate so far was 93%. That was at East Texas Montessori Prep Academy, which schools prekindergartners and kindergartners.

“And those are the little ones,” she said. “That’s very good, we’ve had really good attendance.”

Dans said she spoke with a doctor about the flu season, since it started so early. She said she was told the clinics started seeing the flu early, too.

“They said it’s like it never went away from the following year,” she said.

Spring Hill ISD’s lead nurse, Jaymie Walton, said in a written statement that the district’s first confirmed flu case was in the first week of September.

“Thankfully, our flu numbers have not been terrible and our attendance percentages have not dropped below the low to mid-90s thus far,” Walton said. “I do believe that we will see another wave of flu before the season is over, just my own personal prediction.”

When should a child stay home?

Part of keeping flu numbers low is preventing the spread of germs, health officials say.

Goldberg said any time a student has a fever, he or she needs to stay home. A temperature of 100 degrees and above is considered a fever.

“That means something’s really sick with them, and it’s not just nasal stuff or just a little increase, like a sinus infection,” she said. “That means there’s something really wrong with them.”

Dans said if a child has a temperature at 99 degrees or above, parents are called and can come pick up their child. But once it hits 100 degrees, a student needs to be fever-free for at least 24 hours before returning to school.

When a student has a high fever, the child is isolated in the nurse’s office until a parent or guardian arrives, to prevent spreading germs, Goldberg said.

Walton said for a school to shut down because of the flu, attendance would have to be 10% lower than the lowest percentage from the previous year. That standard is set by the Texas Education Agency.

So if the lowest attendance was 92%, it would have to hit 82% for classes to be canceled, Walton said.

Other sanitation efforts

Some districts — such as Longview and Pine Tree — have machines that can spray an entire area and kill the germs in the room.

Goldberg said the custodial staff will bring the machine into the nurse’s office at a campus after a student needs to be isolated. It also is used in classrooms.

Walton said the district encourages all students and staff to get their flu vaccine every year. Each October, an on-site flu vaccine clinic is offered for employees and families.

The district also encourages teachers to use disinfecting wipes daily to sanitize the classrooms.

“Our custodial staff is diligent and frequently sanitizing common areas and all touch points on each campus districtwide,” she said. “We promote good hand hygiene among staff and students by washing their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water throughout the day when it is available.”

Still, one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the flu is not exposing people to it.

“If your child feels bad, please check their temp before you put them on the bus,” Goldberg said. “Every morning, we send kids home coming off the bus with fevers, so that entire bus has been exposed.”

Hill Harper, Howard Hewett to headline Feb. 29 event in Longview

Hill Harper

Howard Hewett

Actor, author and philanthropist Hill Harper and Grammy Award winner Howard Hewett are coming to Longview this month.

An event Feb. 29 at LeTourneau University’s S.E. Belcher Jr. Chapel and Performance Center will feature Harper and Hewett under a partnership between the city of Longview and Eastman Chemical Co.-Texas Operations.

Pete Lamothe with Eastman and city Community Services Assistant Director Dietrich Johnson announced the event Monday at a monthly meeting of the city’s Unity and Diversity Committee at the Longview Public Library.

Tickets will be free to the public and will be available through the Belcher Center Box Office online, by phone or in person, but a maximum of four tickets per order will be allowed, Lamothe said.

“It’s just like purchasing a ticket except you don’t pay anything,” he said. “This will be the first big event that Belcher has put on for the 2020 season.”

Titled “City of Longview and Eastman Present the Longview Area Black History Month Public Program,” a Wiley College choir is also on tap, along with a memorized performance reading of the winning essay from an ongoing contest among high school students, Lamothe said.

Harper starred on the CBS TV drama “CSI: New York” for about a decade until 2013. He has authored four New York Times bestsellers and has earned seven NAACP Image Awards for his writing and acting, according the Penguin Random House publishing.

He graduated magna cum laude as valedictorian of his department with a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and cum laude with a juris doctorate degree from Harvard Law School. He also holds a master’s degree with honors from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and has honorary doctoral degrees from Winston-Salem State University, Cheyney University, Westfield State College, Tougaloo College, Dillard University and Howard University.

“We are excited that he was very willing and excited to come to our community and share the history,” Lamothe said.

Hewitt began his career as the male vocal lead in the group Shalamar, famous for dance favorites such as “The Second Time Around” and “A Night to Remember,” along with “This Is for the Lover in You.” The group won a Grammy for “Don’t Get Stopped in Beverly Hills,” which was featured on the soundtrack of the movie “Beverly Hills Cop.”

The centerpiece of the program will be the essay reading, Lamothe said.

This year, Longview High School students were invited to write essays about a prominent black person who contributed to a science, technology, engineering, arts or mathematics career.

The essays have been judged, Lamothe said, and writers of the top four essays will make oral presentations by memory to Eastman staff Feb. 11.

Each will receive a cash prize ranging from $200 to $1,000, with the first-place student presenting his or her essay at the Belcher Center on Feb. 29, Lamothe said.

Organizers are hoping to solicit contributing sponsors now until the event, he said.