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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."
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."
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.
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/
July 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.
July 16, 2015 - Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative is warning residents to be on the alert for a telephone scam targeting utility consumers.
Scam artists call a home or business posing as a Deep East Texas EC employee and threaten to shut off service unless the consumer provides immediate payment by credit, debit, or by purchasing a pre-paid debit card.
Please be aware that Deep East Texas EC will not call members and threaten immediate disconnection. Rather, Deep East Texas EC sends written notice and makes courtesy calls to delinquent accounts prior to disconnection.
Should you receive a call that seems like a scam, the cooperative encourages you to hang up and call Deep East Texas EC directly at 1-866-392-2547 or 936-229-4000 to be certain you are dealing with an official representative of the cooperative.
Those who have been contacted by one of these scammers, or are victims of a scam, should also report the call to their local Sheriff’s Department and to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP.
July 15, 2015 - Center Police Officer Jake Gross was presented with the Life Saving Award by Police Chief Jim Albers at the recent Center City Council meeting held on Monday, July 13, 2015.
The honor was presented to Officer Gross because of the life-saving efforts he made when he responded to two 9-1-1 calls on March 3, 2015. Shelby County Today was on scene the night of both incidents to which Gross was en-route. First he was en-route to an auto-pedestrian crash that proved fatal on Tenaha Street when he was diverted to another incident very close by at Center Place Apartments on Center Street.
Joann Lockett, 58, of Center was unresponsive when Officer Gross arrived at her apartment and with the assistance of family members she was moved to the floor where Officer Gross performed CPR on Lockett until ACE EMS personnel arrived and began providing care. Once a pulse was detected, Lockett was transported to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Center Emergency Department and thereafter to Nacogdoches Medical Center in Nacogdoches.
For his efforts, Gross was awarded the Life Saving Award, "Officer Gross was instrumental in saving a lady's life and performed resuscitation on her until the paramedics could get there, and she survived. We're real proud of him and we had this plaque made," said Chief Albers. He briefly showed the council members what the plaque looks like, "It turned out really nice and we're going to present that to him today."
Mayor David Chadwick congratulated Officer Gross on his actions and described his understanding of what the officers do everyday, "We certainly appreciate what you have done, we appreciate what our force does. I know that these are stories that can be told on a regular basis and we do realize how you put your life on the line every time y'all are called out. We don't take it lightly, we take it seriously and I know our public does and one lady in particular really does," said Mayor Chadwick.
A motion was carried and was approved for Resolution 2015-20 - Budget calendar for 2016 budget adoption. Chad Nehring, City Manager, elaborated on some differences in this budget calendar, "It does have to be a little bit different than the traditional year because of the way the tax calendar falls and the notice calendar falls. Instead of the last meeting in September which is normally our final approval of budget, we're actually having to shorten the process about two weeks."
During the meeting Nehring explained what has occurred of late with the progression of the Community Enhancement program. He explained how the Department of Agriculture has created a new program which Nehring stated the city was discouraged from participating. Any projects the city was considering in relation to this program were eliminated from consideration.
Nehring explained the city is looking at the potential of saving upwards of of $100,000 a year and alternative energy generation is one category for which the city will be making proposals for the water plant which according to Nehring has bills in a range of $240,000 a year. This would be a 100% grant and a resolution is expected to be presented to the council at the next meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:44pm.
Several Center Police officers were present for the council meeting to show support for Officer Jake Gross. Pictured are (from left) Sgt. Duane Gordon, Sgt. Scott Burkhalter, Officer Jake Gross, Chief Jim Albers, Lt. Jeremy Bittick and Sgt. Ricky King.
Items on the agenda receiving approval include: 1. Minutes of the June 22, 2015 meeting. 2. Resolution 2015-20 - Budget calendar for 2016 budget adoption. 3. Resolution 2015-21 - Disposal of Surplus Equipment. 4. Adjournment.
July 15, 2015 - The Center Fire Department was dispatched to an early morning fire on FM 417 Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at the residence of Joyce Kirkley at 2:48am.
When the fire first occurred at 2am, Kirkley could not make a phone call from her home and walked in the dark through rough terrain to the roadway, and then on to her son Richard Kirkley's house nearby.
The house was engulfed in flames, and partially burned to the ground, when firemen arrived at the residence just over 1/2 mile from U.S. 96. The fire was threatening to encroach on the surviving back portion of the house. The firemen worked to extinguish the flames and focused their attack on the rooms which remained standing.
As the firemen were battling the fire, assistance of the Shelbyville Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD) was requested in the way of a tanker truck of water. Once the fire was knocked back and the imminent threat against the remaining rooms was delayed, remaining resources of water on scene were used sparingly until SVFD arrived.
Once SVFD fireman Luke Matthews arrived on scene with the tanker, the firemen continued to barrage the fire with water until it was extinguished. The firemen returned to the station at 6am.
July 15, 2015 - U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced today that five individuals are in custody following a lengthy investigation into drug trafficking in the Eastern District of Texas.
On July 14, 2015, a combined task force of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies began executing federal arrest warrants for defendants indicted following a two year investigation into the distribution of methamphetamine in the Eastern District of Texas and elsewhere. The agencies also executed three search warrants in Diboll and one in Lufkin.
Two separate indictments were returned by a federal grand jury on July 1, 2015 charging 10 individuals with federal drug and firearms violations. Of those, five defendants were arrested on July 14th and the indictment was unsealed by a federal magistrate late that night. Those defendants in custody are:
Ruben Enriquez, 42 of Diboll, Texas;
Agustin Enriquez, 48 of Diboll, Texas;
Alonso Enriquez, 33 of Diboll, Texas;
Jorge Enriquez, 33, of Lufkin, Texas; and
Douglas Wayne Williams, 40 of Lufkin, Texas
Law enforcement officers seized eight firearms, approximately 26 pounds of methamphetamine, $20,000 cash and eight vehicles during the arrests. The remaining five defendants are being sought by law enforcement at this time.
According to the first indictment, beginning in 2013, Ruben Enriquez, Agustin Enriquez, Alonso Enriquez, and Jorge Enriquez are alleged to have conspired with each other and others to possess with the intent to distribute over 50 grams of methamphetamine. Nine of the defendants are charged with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute a controlled substance. One defendant is charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
According to the second indictment, on Jan. 15, 2015, Douglas Wayne Williams is alleged to have possessed with the intent to distribute methamphetamine and possessed a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
If convicted of the drug conspiracy charges, the defendants face a minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison. If convicted of the drug possession charges, Douglas Wayne Williams faces a minimum of five years and up to 40 years in federal prison. If convicted of the weapons violations, those defendants face at least 5 years in federal prison. The indictments also seek forfeiture of any property used to commit or facilitate the crimes or derived from proceeds of the conspiracy.
The cases are being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Texas Department of Public Safety – Criminal Investigation Division. The U.S. Marshals Service, DEA Aviation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations, Texas Department of Public Safety-Highway Patrol Division, Texas Department of Public Safety-Aircraft Division, Angelina County Constable Precinct 1 and Precinct 4, Angelina County Sheriff’s Office, Lufkin Police Department, Diboll Police Department, Houston Police Department, Conroe Police Department and the Nacogdoches County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the execution of the arrest warrants and search warrants in the Eastern District of Texas. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Gaston.