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October 17, 2017 - The jury that has been summoned for Monday, October 23, 2017 for the 273rd District Court, Honorable Judge Charles R. Mitchell presiding has been cancelled due to the scheduled cases being resolved or passsed. Anyone receiving a summons for that day is released from jury service until they receive a future summons.

October 16, 2017 - Shelby County Sheriff Willis Blackwell reports that on Saturday, October 14, 2017 the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Communications Division received a call in reference to a deceased individual located at a residence on County Road 1470 in Center. The victim was identified as an Austin Underbrink, 23, of Center. The victim appeared to have succumbed to injuries sustained from a gunshot. Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 Melissa Crouch performed the inquest and an autopsy was ordered.

During the course of the investigation, it was discovered that Underbrink was shot and killed by a juvenile subject. The juvenile subject was located by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Investigators in Tenaha and taken into custody.

The juvenile subject received magistrate warning by Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 Melissa Crouch. The juvenile subject was released to Juvenile Probation.

This case is still under investigation by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

No further information is available at this time.

October 16, 2017 - Notice is hereby given that the automatic tabulating equipment that will be used in the  Constitutional Amendment Election for Shelby County held on November 7, 2017 will be tested for Election Day Voting on 10/27/2017 at 9am at the County Clerk's Office to ascertain that it will accurately county the votes cast for all amendments and on all measures.

A Viso Publico De Probar Eq Equipo Para Tabular Automaticamente
Se pace saber que el equipo de tabulacion automdtica que se utilizard en la Enmienda Constitucional de Elecciones para el Condado de Shelby celebrada el 07 de Noviembre 2017 se pondrd a prueba para la Eleccion Dia Votacion de 10/27/2017 a las 9am en la oficina del Secretario del Condado para cerciorarse de que contard con precision los votos emitidos a favor de todas las enmiendas y en todas las medidas.

By: Jennifer Fountain Shelby County Clerk Deputy Shelby County, Texas 

October 16, 2017 - (Notice) - Notice is hereby given that the polling places listed below will be open from 7am to 7pm, November 7, 2017, for voting in a special election to adopt or reject the proposed Constitutional Amendments as submitted by the 85th Legislature, Regular Session, of the State of Texas.

(Notifiquese, por las presente, que las casillas electorales sitados abajo se abriran desde las 7am pasta las 7pm el 7 Noviembre de 2017 para votar en al Elleccion Especial para adoptal o rechazar la enmiendas propuestas constitucional asi coma fueron sometidas por la 85a Legislatura, de la Estado de Texas.

Location(s) of polling places (Direccion(Es) De Las Casillas Electorales):

  • Precinct 1 N (Center) First United Methodist Church 211 N. Porter Street Center, Texas 75935
  • Precinct 1 SO (Center) Church of Christ 110 Hurst Street Center, Texas 75935
  • Precinct 1 SE (Center) Pineywoods Family Outreach Center 255 Haley Dr. Center, Texas 75935
  • Precinct 1 SW (Center) Center Community House 423 San Augustine Street Center, Texas 75935
  • Precinct 1 W (Center) JOI Ranch 5198 FM 2026 Tenaha, TX 75954
  • Precinct 2 (Aiken) Excelsior School 11280 St. Hwy 7 W. Center, Texas 75935
  • Precinct 3 (Campti) Campti Pentecostal Church 6153 FM 414 Center, Texas 75935
  • Precinct 4 (Huxley) Lydia Baptist Church Fellowship Hall 14998 FM 139 Shelbyville, Texas
  • Precinct 5 (Joaquin) First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall 175 Faulkville Road Joaquin, Texas 75954
  • Precinct 6 (Dreka) Dreka Pentecostal Church Fellowship Hall 1193 FM 2427 Shelbyville, Texas 75973
  • Precinct 7 (Shelbyville) First Baptist Church — Shelbyville Fellowship Hall 5030 SH 87 South Shelbyville, Texas 75973
  • Precinct 8 (Tenaha) First United Methodist Church Schiede Hall 256 N. George Bowers Drive Tenaha, Texas 75954
  • Precinct 9 N (Timpson) Texas State Bank 830 N. St. W. Timpson, Texas 75975
  • Precinct 9S (Timpson) Timpson School Gym Foyer 836 Bear Dr. Timpson, TX 75975

Early voting by personal appearance will be conducted each weekday at, (La votacion adelantada en persona se ilevara a cabo de lanes a vienes en.):

Shelby County Clerk's Office, 124 Austin Street, Center, Texas between the hours of 8am and 4:30pm beginning on October 23rd, 2017 and ending November 3rd, 2017.
(Entre las 8:00 de la manana y las 4:30 de la tarde empezando el Octobre 23, 2017 y terminando el Novembre 3, 2017.)

Application for ballot by mail shall be mailed to:
(Las solicitudes para boletas que se votaran adelantada por correo deberan enviarse a:)

Application for ballots by mail must be received no later than the close of business on October 27, 2017.
(Las solicitudes pant boletas vie se votaran adelantada por correo deberan recibirse para el fin de las horns de negocio el Octobre 27, 2017.)

Issued this the 16th day of October, 2017. (Emitada este dia Octobre 16, 2017.)

Order of Special Election
(Orden De Eleccion Especial)

An election is hereby ordered to be held on November 7, 2017 for the purpose of electing a trustee for the Center Independent School District Board Trustees. 

Filling one (1) unexpired term.
Una eleccion se ordena que se realizara el 7 de Noviembre del 2017 para el proposito de elegir miembros para 
la Mesa Directiva del Distrito Escolar Independiente de Center. 
Llenado una (1) posicion de termino no expirado.

Applications for a place on the ballot shall be filed by: September 6, 2017. 
Las solicitudes para un lugar en la boleta deberan ser sometidas al mas tardar: el 6 de Septiembre del 2017.

Early voting by personal appearance will be conducted each weekday at: 
La votacion anticipada en persona se Ilevara a cabo de Lunes a Viernes en:
Shelby County Clerk's Office, 124 Austin Street, Center, Texas
(location) (sitio)

between the hours of 8am and 4:30pm beginning on October 23, 2017 and ending on November 3, 2017. 
entre las 8am y las 4:30pm empezando el 23 de Octubre del 2017 y terminando el 3 de Noviembre del 2017.

Applications for ballot by mail shall be mailed to: 
Las solicitudes para boletas por correo deber6n ser enviadas a:
Jennifer Fountain — Shelby County Clerk
(Name of Early Voting Clerk) 
(Nombre de Secretaria de Ia Votacion Adelantada)
P.O. Box 1987
Center, Texas 75935
(City) (Zip Code) 
(Ciudad) (Zona Postal)

Applications for ballots by mail must be received no later than the close of business on November 7, 2017.

Las solicitudes para boletas por correo deben ser recibidas a mas tardar al cierre de las horas 
de negocio el 7 de Noviembre del 2017.

Issued this the 8th day of August, 2017 Publicado el dia 8 de Agosto del 2017

October 11, 2017 - The following persons recently were indicted for felonies in the 123rd Judicial District Court and failed to appear for the felony arraignment docket.  

  • Dennis Wayne Johnson
  • Randle Roydell Calhoun
  • Jacoby Dashun Ivy
  • Richard Elmo Coon
  • Sherry Jeannine Berwick
  • Corey Deon Wilson
  • Samantha Lopez
  • Timothy Orme

On October 5, 2017, Judge LeAnn Kay Rafferty of the 123 District Court ordered that the Defendants' bonds be forfeited and that a capias be issued for the arrest of each Defendant.


October 9, 2017 - Shelbyville Street just before Center Street was the scene of a two-vehicle crash Monday, October 9, 2017 from which two people were transported to the hospital.

According to Center Police officer Andrew Williams, at around 11am a black Honda Ridgeline 4WD driven by Virginia Lemoine, 82, of Center was southbound on Shelbyville Street when with the right front quarter panel of the truck struck the rear of a trailer. The Honda came to rest in the middle of the roadway and facing northwest. 

The trailer was attached to a Ford F-350 driven by Enedino Ramirez, 41, of Center which was parked on the shoulder of the roadway to perform lawn maintenance.

Virginia Lemoine and her passenger Julian Rock Lemoine, 82, were transported by ACE EMS to Nacogdoches Memorial hospital for treatment of non life-threatening injuries.

No citations were issues at the time of the incident.

Additional officers and detectives with the police department assisted with traffic control during the crash investigation.

Center Police Officer Brian Wright assisted officers by directing southbound traffic.

Center Police Detective Bobby Walker is seen directing traffic during the crash investigation on Shelbyville Street.

October 8, 2017 - Information filed in Shelby County District Court for abuse of official capacity implicates Sheriff Willis Blackwell in violating the law relating to his office by intentionally obtaining a personal benefit through said office.

The information was filed by Shelby County Attorney Gary Rholes on Thursday, October 5, 2017 and is in relation to a Texas Ranger investigation which began in January 2016 into the allegation of abuse of official capacity by way of keeping the Shelby County Sheriff's Department Command Center on a personal deer lease in Panola County, using materials from the Sheriff's Department evidence and using inmates to perform work on the lease including cleanup and performing welding work.

According to a Texas Ranger report, Texas Ranger Travis Brazil was first contacted by then Shelby County Chief Deputy Shad Sparks after he received the allegations from then Deputy Sgt. Derek Barbee. This was followed by Ranger Brazil being contacted by several other county officials, including Shelby County Judge Allison Harbison, who all provided varying pieces of information to Brazil such as the trailer had been photographed on the deer lease, and the Sheriff was allegedly using a Sheriff's Department utility vehicle for personal purposes.

Ken Florence, who was the District Attorney for Shelby County at that time, contacted Ranger Brazil who presented his evaluation of the allegations to Florence. It was requested first verbally by Florence the Rangers investigate the allegations and by way of a letter, which stated he would seek an indictment and prosecute any violations of Texas criminal law determined by the investigation.

Texas Ranger Ronald Duff, who has since retired but was in the Conroe Ranger office, was assigned to the investigation on March 23, 2016 and he interviewed Chief Sparks, Deputies Derek Barbee and Roy Bailey, as well as Sheriff Blackwell. Sparks indicated he did not have personal knowledge of Blackwell having taken inmates to his deer lease, only that he and the sheriff had previously had a conversation about possibly taking the trailer there for a fish fry and that the sheriff had taken the trailer there in 2015 where it remained. Sparks indicated Sheriff Blackwell informed him he had utilized pipe recovered by the Sheriff's Department and had taken trustys to his deer lease to work on a bridge.

According to the report, it was confirmed by Deputy Bailey during interview he had transported the trustys to the deer lease and had been to the property three times while on duty on work instructed by Sheriff Blackwell to be performed. Two of the occasions were to mow grass around the command center with mowers transported by Bailey from the Sheriff's Department and the third occasion was to tack pipe with a welding machine that had been found by the Sheriff's Department on an oilfield location.

It was also indicated in the report by Deputy Bailey, following Sheriff Blackwell's back surgery, he was instructed by Blackwell to use the same mowers to cut the grass at the sheriff's residence. Chief Sparks had indicated a black Jeep which had been awarded to the Sheriff's Department through a Federal investigation was kept at Blackwell's residence. Deputy Bailey was once required to go to the sheriff's residence and get the Jeep inspected, it was his understanding the Jeep was kept at the residence because it was used for undercover investigations. At the time Deputy Bailey procured the Jeep he saw the utility vehicle at the residence.

During his interview the report indicates, Sgt. Barbee recalled the date of the intended fish fry on the deer lease to have been July 30, 2015; however due to weather, the cooking instead took place at Sheriff Blackwell's restaurant near his residence. According to Barbee a substantial amount of pipe which had belonged to Devon Energy, and was kept in Sheriff's Department storage where evidence was normally stored, had gone missing from the Sheriff's Department. Barbee said he learned from a trusty the pipe was on the deer lease.

According to the report, Sheriff Blackwell told Ranger Duff he used his county issue vehicle to haul the command center to the deer lease where it stayed for three months. According to Blackwell, during that time the trailer was not used for anything and was once transported to Center for the Poultry Festival and was then returned to the deer lease. Blackwell stated the pipe had been magnetized and Devon Energy did not want the 14 - 15 pieces of pipe that had been recovered because it could not be sold, so the pipe was used around the Sheriff's Department. Blackwell informed Ranger Duff he had transported six or seven pipe joints in his personal truck and trailer to the deer lease in either September or October 2015 and the pipe was used for a bridge.

During his interview the report indicates, Blackwell admitted taking trustys to the deer lease once in addition to Deputy Bailey taking the inmates once, and that the welding machine was abandoned property kept at the Sheriff's Department. The report also says he admitted Deputy Bailey used a county vehicle and trailer to haul the welding machine to the deer lease. 

The report indicated Blackwell explained he took the pipe to the deer lease because it was in the way at the Sheriff's Department and he had been weed eating around it for three years. In addition, the report says Sheriff Blackwell admitted the utility vehicle had been at the deer lease before and it had been utilized to put corn out at a hog feeder which, according to Barbee's statement, had been built by inmates at the Sheriff's Department.

It was indicated in the original investigation report, the investigation would be forwarded to the Shelby County District Attorney's office for prosecution. Ranger Hicks contacted the District Attorney's office where Stephen Shires is the current DA and "discovered the case was still under review by the District Attorney." 

Related Articles:
Letter to the Editor (Borders Questions Location of Mobile Command Center) (January 15, 2016)

Letter to the Editor (Response From Sheriff Blackwell to Borders Query of Command Center) (January 15, 2016)

Sheriff, County Being Sued Over Allegations of Misuse of Property, Retaliation (February 16, 2016)

District Judge Dismisses Whistleblower Case Against Sheriff (February 24, 2017)

October 7, 2017 - (Sale Photos, Show Photos: Album1, Album2) - The 2017 Shelby County Poultry Festival Broiler Show Sale got underway Saturday, October 7, 2017 and raised well over $120,000 for Shelby County Youth.

The below results are unofficial. Once the official results have been released, buyer information will be included for all.

Grand Champion - Camille Greer (Shelby County 4-H) - Sold for $9,000 to ACE Hardware, East Texas Poultry Supply, and 4-C Electric.
Reserve Grand - Cale Hall (Center FFA) - Highest placing senior and received scholarship from Shelby Savings Bank. Sold for $5,500 to Farmers State Bank.
3 - Klayton LaRock (Center FFA) - $3,000
4 - Zoie Eberenz (Center FFA) - $2,750
5 - Addison Lloyd (Shelby County 4-H) - $2,500
6 - Wesley Wages (Shelby County 4-H) - $2,500
7 - Corey Smelley (Timpson FFA) - $2,500
8 - Mason Perry (Center FFA) - $2,800
9 - Grant Gregory (Center FFA) - $2,500
10 - Collin Lloyd (Shelby County 4-H) - $2,600
11 - Emilee Elliot (Center FFA) - $2,600
12 - Stormie Meyers (Joaquin FFA) - $2,250
13 - Logan Holloway (Center FFA) - $3,000
14 - Logan Speedy (Center FFA) - $2,600
15 - Colby Lout (Shelby County 4-H) - $2,600
16 - Laura Ann Scull  (Shelby County 4-H) - $2,500
17 - Camryn Crouch (Shelby County 4-H) - $3,200
18 - Megan Dunn (Shelby County 4-H) - $2,600
19 - Lance Holloway (Center FFA) - $2,900
20 - Trista Britt (Center FFA) $2,400
21 - Hollie Hamilton (Joaquin FFA) - $2,300
22 - Seth Shamblin (Center FFA) - $2,900
23 - David Barton Jr. (Shelby County 4-H) - $2,200
24 - Brayden Britt (Center FFA) - $2,100
25 - Chandler Pritchett (Joaquin FFA) - $2,400
26 - Alec Dykes (Shelby County 4-H) - $2,300
27 - Kaden LaRock (Center FFA) - $2,100
28 - Rylan Barbee (Shelby County 4-H) - $2,100
29 - Carsen Vickers (Center FFA) - $2,400
30 - Hannah Wages (Shelby County 4-H) - $2,400
31 - Samuel Ritchey (Shelby County 4-H) - $2,100
32 - Anna Holland (Tenaha FFA) - $2,200
33 - Evan O'Rear  (Shelby County 4-H) - $2,400
34 - Mason Hughes (Joaquin FFA) - $1,800
35 - Faith Alford (Joaquin FFA) - $1,900
36 - Maddox Hutchins (Joaquin FFA) - $2,100
37 - Lane Webb (Joaquin FFA) - $3,000
38 - Eli Lout (Shelby County 4-H) - $2,700
39 - Abi Hooper (Joaquin FFA) - $2,700
40 - Carter Tomlin  (Shelby County 4-H) - $3,000
41 - Britain Tyler (Shelby County 4-H) - $1,600
42 - Autum Andrusick (Shelby County 4-H) - $1,900
43 - Wade Collard (Shelby County 4-H) - $1,600
44 - Aspen Pritchett (Joaquin FFA) - $2,800
45 - Julie Bird (Shelby County 4-H) - $3,400

October 6, 2017 - Joaquin ISD received information regarding an anonymous text message from an unknown number containing a potential threat to the school. The authorities were contacted and an investigation is being conducted.  Upon initial investigation, it was determined there was no immediate danger to any of your children or Joaquin ISD staff. The anonymous text was not intended for Joaquin ISD. Authorities have contacted the out of state school where it was intended. 

Thank you for everyone’s quick response and orderly conduct.  We will continue to monitor the situation and take necessary safety measures to keep our students and staff safe.

Phil Worsham, Superintendent
Joaquin Independent School District

October 4, 2017 - The 400 block of CR 3801 outside of Joaquin was the scene of an alleged burglary of a habitation attempt Tuesday, October 3, 2017. 

Constables were alerted by the homeowner around 3:32pm and responded to the scene. Precinct 3 Constable Roy Cheatwood first arrived at the scene followed by Precinct 4 Constable Jake Metcalf. The officers then secured the location in attempts to insure the assailant no longer was on scene. Precinct 1 Constable Zach Warr also showed up to assist.

According to Constable Cheatwood, when the homeowner entered her home she was grabbed by an unknown black male subject who grabbed her by the throat and arms and threw her down in the house. He then exited the house through the back door carrying a safe which he dropped on the back porch.

The DeSoto Parish Sheriff's Department from across the river in Louisiana sent two deputies to the scene with dogs to trail the suspect. After the trail went cold, a third deputy with an aerial drone was requested from the department to make certain the suspect had left and was not hiding in the area. 

After the extensive search, and confirmation the suspect was no longer in the immediate area, the DeSoto Parish deputies returned to their side of the river.

Constables Metcalf and Cheatwood continued their examination of the crime scene and gathered evidence from within the home. 

The victim described the suspect as a black male, with a slender build about 5’10" tall and bald.