News

The story headline links to a better view of the story and share features.

July 27, 2015 - Due to the increasing number of security alarm calls, the Shelby County Sheriffs Office (SCSO) is requesting property owners register any security systems installed and existing in the county (outside the Center City Limits).

Forms to register the systems are available at the SCSO. An initial registration fee of $30 is required to register new systems or any existing systems. Property owners will not incur any additional charges unless the SCSO responds to more than three false alarms in a calendar year. After three false calls, a fee of $30 will be charged per incident.

Shelby County Sheriff Willis Blackwell suggests property owners have their alarms adjusted to prevent alarms from being set off falsely. Blackwell said deputies respond to numerous false alarm calls per night and with no more than two deputies on duty per shift, it is difficult to cover the false calls which average more than 200 per month.

This change will not affect Life Alert systems or similar systems used by the ill or elderly citizens in the county. For more information contact the SCSO at (936) 598-5601.

July 27, 2015 - The Shelby County Commissioners approved Debora Riley, Tax Assessor Collector, requested to hire a part time employee with a start date of mid August at the July 27th Commissioners Court meeting.  This part time employee then would go full time when another employee leaves.  This early hire date would enable training for the new employee.  

Motion was made by Commissioner Rogers and seconded by Commissioner Lout to pay monthly expenses.  Additional approved items on the agenda were the Interlocal Agreement between DETCOG and Shelby County for the year 2016-2017 for automatic location information and maintenance services for the 9-1-1 system.

A motion by Commissioner Lout and seconded by Commissioner Rogers was made to renew the current County Boat Agent agreement between Shelby County and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

The Court voted to retain the local optional fees for vehicle registration to continue at the present rate.  $1.50 of the collected fee is designated to be used by Shelby County Child Advocacy Center. Robin Connell, board member, thanked the Court for this assistance. With this assistance from the County, it helped the Advocacy Center in applying for grants.

July 27, 2015 - National Weather Service Shreveport, LA at 327 PM CDT Sun Jul 26, 2015 has issued that a heat advisory is now in effect until 7 PM CDT Monday evening for extreme Southeast Oklahoma, Southwest Arkansas, much of East Texas, and all of North Louisiana.

An upper-level high pressure system will remain anchored over the southern plains and Mississippi Valley through the start of the new work week. Very hot temperatures, combined with available low level moisture, will help produce dangerous heat index values this afternoon and again Monday. In addition, low temperatures will only fall into the mid-to-upper 70s briefly before sunrise Monday providing little relief at night. The heat advisory is in effect until 7pm CDT Monday.

* Event: Heat index values will range between 105 to 110 degrees over portions of East Texas late Monday morning through the afternoon. Light winds during the afternoon will further add to the heat stress conditions.

* Timing: Heat index values will be in excess of 105 degrees from late morning through the afternoon hours.

* Impact: The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity values will combine to create a dangerous situation in which heat illnesses are possible.

Precautionary/Preparedness Actions
Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing when possible and drink plenty of water.

A heat advisory means the combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible. Drink plenty of fluids. Stay in an air-conditioned room. Stay out of the sun. Check on relatives and neighbors.

July 24, 2015 - Shelby County Judge Allison Harbison would like to inform the public that a Disaster Survivor Assistance (DSA) crew with FEMA will be in Shelby County next week to register individuals for assistance. Please do not hesitate to contact the County Judge's office if you haven’t already. It is not too late to apply for assistance. The crew will be going door to door in neighborhoods that were affected. They will have ID badges and will introduce themselves as FEMA representatives.

Shelby County has also been added to the Tropical Storm Bill’s Disaster Recovery which extends the effective date to June 22, 2015. Again I urge anyone who has any type of damage to property, loss of job, or has been directly affected in any way by the disaster to please speak with a FEMA representative.

July 22, 2015 - The Tenaha City Council appointed Stacy Cranford Director of Public Works at their meeting on Monday, July 20, 2015. They also approved two new ordinances relating to truck traffic in the city and dogs and cats.

Cranford has been working for the City of Tenaha as a contractor to bring the water department into good standing with the state. He will receive the same income from the city, but now carries the title as an employee of the city. Following executive session, a motion was carried to give Cranford the title.

A motion was carried to approve two ordinances the city was considering involving dogs and cats and truck traffic. The ordinances were created by attorney Stephen Shires and were presented at a previous meeting. Before approving the ordinances Natalie Harris, Mayor Pro Tem, made some inquiries about the dog and cat ordinance. She wanted to know, once passed by the council, who would be enforcing the ordinance.

"We get to a certain point and we can't go anywhere else, but with this ordinance in place at least maybe these people would take notice," stated Claudine Howard, councilwoman. "Because, I had a personal thing that happened yesterday. We have dogs in our neighborhood that chases cars, bicycles and motorcycles."

Claudine Howard, councilwoman, and Natalie Harris, Mayor Pro Tem, deliberated about the dog/cat ordinance which was up for consideration.Howard stated she has talked with the owners a couple of times and they were going to keep them restrained, but she says this hasn't happened. Her son was riding down her road, which is a gravel road, and she says the neighbor's dog attacked him.

"The dog had his leg, he lost his bike and it's probably going to cost $3,000 to have it fixed, an estimate," said Howard. "So, this has got to be handled. What if that had been a child on a bicycle? Once a dog gets in this frenzy and that kid starts tearing away and screaming and hollering, that dog just by nature is going to go after them again."

Harris stated she had no issue with passing the ordinances, and reiterated she wanted to know who is going to enforce them.

"I do agree with you Natalie 100%, but at the same time it's really, as far as being able to enforce them, it's almost more of a county issue than it is a city issue," said councilman Tommy Rinkle.

Howard said all of the cities in the county are having the same problem, "Center is having the same problem, they have nowhere to take these animals, but at least they have an ordinance." She continued by saying if an ordinance had been in place when her son was attacked and he had been a child, the owners could have been fined.

"I probably shouldn't say this, I'm just saying it though, I mean honestly. I think what the ordinance does do if that dog creates danger, if he poses a danger, I think that it gives us the ability to kill him if that's what we have to do," said Rinkle. "That might be hard and cold, but honestly that dog's lucky I wasn't the one on that motorcycle."

Both ordinances can be seen at the following links: Dog and Cat Ordinance, Truck Ordinance.

During Department Head reports, it was reported the city marshal's office issued 128 citations, and had 12 calls for service. The Municipal Court report, as given by Judge Jenny Hicks, shows the court collected a total of $22,087.67 with the city keeping $13,625.70 and $8,461.96 being remitted to the state.

Cranford stated the new tractor has been acquired and they are training staff on its operation. Approval from the state is expected on the water department's pH levels. He also explained a sewer inspection went well. Rinkle stated he heard the water bill for Tenaha ISD was "huge" recently and Cranford explained his theory on why the water bill was high.

"I don't think the school water meter has been being read properly, they've been for years and years not paying much of a bill. Now that I've taught them how to read a compound meter correctly and add the usage together, they had an exorbitant usage," said Cranford.

Cranford stated it is very lengthy process to track down water problems in the city and some major problems they have discovered involve Pilgrim's Pride, "They've got 3-4 meters sitting out there and nobody ever knew which meter to read, and we had to come in and calibrate those meters and found out they've had a well tied in, a well's been running through a meter, one meter's not even registering, it's a mess."

Pilgrim's Pride is working with the city in installing a back flow preventer in a correct place and a new meter is being installed. Cranford says he has expected for years a lot of water usage has been going to Pilgrim's Pride,"They've been getting free water, a lot of free water."

According to Cranford, the Pilgrim's Pride plant manager told him their well has been down for a year and although not a lot of city water usage registered, it's the only other place from where they were getting water. Rinkle stated Tenaha ISD and Pilgrim's Pride have the ability to help solve a lot of the financial problems of the city.

Cranford stated Pilgrim's Pride has a land farming permit to dispose of their waste water and this may be something which helps the city financially. A representative of the company contacted Cransford and informed him there are plans to put in a $2 million plant to dispose of their water, which it would be their preference to invest the money in the city instead of having to build a plant that would require an operator.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Tenaha residents Thelma Moore and Eva Thompson expressed displeasure at their recent water bills being higher with claims city employees were not reading meters as they argued the meters are never uncovered.

Approved items on the agenda:

   1. Previous meeting minutes.
   2. June financial statements.
   3. Audit as presented by Norman White, CPA.
   4. Truck/Dog and Cat Ordinances.
   5. Stacy Cranford Contract Renewal, and named Director of Public Works.

July 22, 2015 - During May and June, flooding and storms caused major damage to homes and personal property of Shelby County residents.

Thankfully one couple was awake when the storm rolled through Center on the 11th of May and ran for safety as a large tree fell into the house they were renting on Houston Street during the early morning hours.Many Center residents spent days if not weeks cleaning up and removing trees which fell from a storm which rolled through on May 11th. In the Pine Terrace subdivision as well as other areas in town trees fell on houses, carports, vehicles, storage buildings, fences and for the lucky ones, they only fell to the ground. However, cleanup was a chore even for those who only had minor damage.

On May 18th, the Joaquin area experienced large amounts of flooding due to heavy rains and the already swollen river. Joaquin ISD was underwater along with many homes, apartments, and vehicles.

On June 18th flooding hit Shelby County again with Center Police Department officers and Center firemen having to make high water rescue for a vehicle stranded in a flooded roadway. Homeowners had rain waters enter their homes.

The federal disaster declaration for Shelby County, Texas has been expanded to include Individual Assistance as a result of the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding that occurred between May 4 and June 19 according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Did you have storm damage? August 27th is the deadline to register for individual assistance. Go online at http://www.disasterassistance.gov/ or call 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-621-FEMA to get registered today!

Programs and Services Available

Assistance programs available include Federal programs, State programs, SBA (Federal Disaster Loans for Businesses of all sizes, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters), and USDA programs.

Assistance for renters is available through the SBA for repair or replacement of personal damage including renters who are uninsured or under-insured that have incurred necessary expenses and serious needs caused by the disaster.

Even if you aren't sure about the extent of damage, storm survivors are encouraged to register with FEMA. Unseen damage can manifest itself next year and as long as you are registered, you can still apply for assistance.

Once registered with FEMA; keep in touch! The 800 FEMA number is a one stop number. It helps with registering, questions, and can answer questions concerning other programs whether it is SBA, State, or Department of Agriculture related.

Stay in touch! If you change phone numbers or move or relocate to a different location, let FEMA know so you can be contacted by FEMA concerning your application.

The individual assistance disaster declaration also has free legal services available through the State. The Texas State Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program hotline number is 800-504-7030. Storm survivors can call and speak to an attorney concerning legal questions such as assistance with insurance claims, landlord/tenant problems, consumer protection and foreclosure problems, replacement of wills and other important documents, and preparation of guardianships and conservatorships.

Another resource available is the National Flood Insurance Program which has a call center to answer Texas policyholders' flood insurance questions, 800-621-3362.

Disaster assistance may be available for storm survivors who are non-citizens as well. Call or call 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-621-FEMA. Or visit online http://www.disasterassistance.gov/

Juan AldacoJessica GriffinJoseph AldacoJuly 22, 2015 - Sheriff Willis Blackwell reported that on July 21, 2015 three arrests were made after the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation into a reported sexual assault of a child.

Joseph Aldaco, 23, of Center, Juan Aldaco, 26, of Center, and Jessica Griffin, 26, of Center, were each arrested for Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child without incident on Tuesday afternoon. Justice of the Peace for Pct. 1, Maxie Eaves, set the bonds for the suspects on Wednesday morning placing a $15,000 bond on each suspect.

Sheriff Blackwell would like to thank the Shelby County Children’s Advocacy Center for their help in the investigation.

July 21, 2015 - On Monday July 21, 2015 Center Police Department Officers responded to Farmers State Bank drive through. It was discovered two suspects broke into and entered the south window of the building and took a safe located in the office. The amount of money is undetermined at this time.

The Center Police Department is currently reviewing video surveillance of the incident. This case is being investigated by the Center Police Department with the assistance of the FBI. Additional information will be released at a later date.

Center Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information. Anyone who has information regarding this crime should call Center Crime Stoppers at 936-598-SAFE (7233) or submit a tip online at www.centercrimestoppers.com. Remember, you don't have to give your name. All calls and cash rewards are completely anonymous. Rewards will only be paid on tips submitted through the Center Crime Stoppers system.

July 20, 2015 - According to a press release from Shelby County Sheriff's Investigator D. J. Dickerson, Sheriff Blackwell reports that it has come to his attention that someone is impersonating officers from the Shelby County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Blackwell advises for the community to be aware that if anyone from his office comes to your home or business, the Officer is required to show a badge and an ID card from the Sheriff's Office before any investigation is done. They do not have the right to search anything of yours without your consent or a search warrant.

Report any incidents to the Sheriff's Office at 936.598.5601 immediately.

July 16, 2015 - A Center man was seriously injured Wednesday night, July 15, 2015 when he was struck by a vehicle on Tenaha Street.

According to eyewitness accounts the man, unofficially identified as Jorge Velazquez, was at a residence on Porter Street with a white Ford Explorer Sport when the vehicle began to roll backwards out of the driveway. As the Explorer entered Porter Street and traveled down a slight embankment, Velazquez could be seen trying to stop the vehicle.

As the Explorer entered Tenaha Street, a truck pulling a trailer was stopped at the traffic light and Velazquez was reported to have gotten behind the vehicle and ended up getting pinned between the Explorer and the trailer as they collided. Velazquez was able to walk a few feet away from the collision site and collapsed.

The truck pulling the trailer then left the scene. Center Police officers and ACE EMS were dispatched to the scene of the incident at 9:45pm located at the intersection of Tenaha Street and Porter Street where Velazquez lay in the median. The police officers began investigating the scene and seeing to the needs of Velazquez until EMS arrived.

Velazquez was transported from the scene by ACE EMS to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Center Emergency Department for treatment of unknown injuries.

Pages