Local News Headlines–4/19/2013

Recovery has already started in the aftermath of the fertilizer plant explosion in West.  The superintendent of the West school district is hoping to resume classes Monday, even though three of the four campuses were inside the explosion zone.  Waco Connelly I-S-D, which is ten minutes away, will open their doors to seventh through 12th grade students.  Search and rescue teams continue around the clock, methodically going through the five blocks of remains leveled by the explosion.  Chief Deputy Matt Cawthon of the McLennan County Sheriff’s office says chemical tanks still at the plant remain a threat.  Helicopter rides were taken over the town yesterday by the Governor and Attorney General.  Officials are discouraging donations of food, water, and other staples because there’s no place to store the merchandise. Cash donations can be made, among other places, to the Brazos Valley Media Giving Back Fund at any Bank and Trust Location in Bryan and College Station.

A suspicious fire before dawn yesterday morning destroyed a Bryan home.  William Bouse of the Bryan Fire Department says all that’s left of the home on Orleans Street is some partial outside brick walls and the slab. Bouse says there were no injuries because the family was staying with a relative who needed care, but all of their possessions were destroyed.  Bouse says the fact that the utilities were off provides no explanation for why the house might have accidentally caught on fire, and the investigation continues.

And, a Bryan man has confessed to smothering his 79-year-old mother with a pillow.  47-year-old Phillip Ortega made the confession after he was detained by Conroe Police on Wednesday in connection with an attempted theft.  Ortega says he had been smoking crack cocaine and had argued with his mother on the night of her death.  Velma Bryant was found dead in her home on April 4th.  A television, microwave and her car were missing which Ortega admitted he had stolen to sell for cash to by drugs.  Ortega remains in jail in lieu of a $99,000 bond.