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January 14, 2015 - The Center City Council renewed a resolution for a grant to facilitate construction at Perry Sampson Park and approved the final payment of the $950,000 grant funded MLK Drive and Holland Street construction project.

The council approved Resolution 2015-2 Authorizing 2015 TCDP Application. A previous resolution, under a different title, at the December meeting addressed this same item; however, due to some requirements previously unknown and an error in the December resolution the council had to revisit this item. Chad Nehring, City Manager explained the reasoning for the revised item.

"You actually approved this similar resolution last meeting in December, we got a little bit ahead of ourselves.," said Nehring. "Department of Ag[riculture] changed some of the language that's required in the resolution itself and we had a number slightly wrong so we need to change a little bit of the financials."

A benefit of $275,000 in grant funding is possible should the grant be awarded to the city with a required local match of $71,000 in funds from its General CIP and/or Park Fund. Should the grant be awarded, Perry Sampson Park is intended to receive the benefit.

Resolution 2015-3 Accepting Construction & Approving Final Payment 2011 TCDBG DRS 2.2 Grant #20023 was approved by the council and this grant facilitated construction on MLK Drive and Holland Street.

"We do still have one construction issue that is going to be resolved as a warranty work item, they had a little bit of a concrete problem in one area and we're going to see exactly what we're going to make them do to make that fully compliant so we don't have a long term problem," said Nehring.

The state will not make any final payment on the project until the council accepts the final approved construction.

Center Police Sgt. Scott Burkhalter is seen above with K9 Officer Zitan who will soon be retiring. It was announced at the Center City Council meeting that a new K9 has recently been donated to the Center Police Department and following his retirement, Zitan will remain with Sgt. Burkhalter and his family.The council approved the administrative handling of athletic field use agreements by approving Resolution 2015-4 Approving Athletic Field Use Agreements. As the city staff has developed a standard form agreement for all athletic programs wishing to use the athletic fields in Center, each agreement will no longer have to annually be presented before the council for approval.

During the meeting the council approved ordinance 2015-1 establishing city limits. There was no alteration to the city limits which needed to be approved; however, the city does approve the current city limits annually.

The council approved the appointments of the Zoning Board of Adjustments. Those members whose terms were expiring this year agreed to continue to serve and they are as follows: John Bender, Don Stewart, Billie Sue Payne, Andi Foster and Larry Hume.

Due to the passing of Dr. Steve Oates, there is now a vacancy on the Hotel Motel Advisory Committee and Mayor David Chadwick stated an appointment of his position is necessary and advised the council to consider possible candidates who can be submitted at the next meeting.

An item of interest discussed during the ending portion of the meeting was the acquisition of a new K9 officer for the Center Police Department. Center Police Chief Jim Albers addressed the council about this new acquisition, "Our K9 dog Zitan developed cataracts and it would be extremely expensive to have that fixed. [K9 Officers] out of Houston donated us a brand new dog for free."

Chief Albers stated Sgt. Scott Burkhalter is currently getting associated with the new dog, which is part German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois, and will be traveling to Houston to train with him. Another added difference is the new dog understands commands in Czechoslovakian whereas Zitan understood commands in German or Deutsch. The Center Rotary Club and Center Lions Club made a combined donation of $10,000 to make the original purchase of Zitan and Chief Albers remarked on that being the purchase cost of Zitan.

Nehring gave an update on the much anticipated recycling program returning to Center," Today in the mail [we] finally got our recycling contract, so next council meeting we fully anticipate having you approve accepting that contract."

Agenda items approved during the meeting include:
1.Minutes of December 8 meeting.
2.Ordinance 2015-1 establishing city limits.
3.Resolution 2015-1 designating the Light and Champion as the official newspaper for city publications.
4.Resolution 2015-2 Authorizing 2015 TCDP Application.
5.Resolution 2015-3 Accepting Construction &
6.Final Payment 2011 TCDBG DRS 2.2 Grant #20023.
7.Resolution 2015-4 Approving Athletic Field Use Agreements.
8.MLK Parade Route and Request.

January 14, 2015 - A single-vehicle crash which occurred on FM 2694 involving a tree on Wednesday, January 14, 2015 caused some traffic delays early in the morning and required the assistance of TxDOT to help clear the area in between FS 165 and FM 3471.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Keith Jones, at 6am a grey 2006 Ford F-150 pickup truck driven by J.C. Vaughn, 78, of Shelbyville was traveling southbound on FM 2694 near mile marker 534 when he met with a large pine tree in the roadway. As it was predawn and still dark, Vaughn could not see the tree and struck it head-on, causing major damage to the front of the truck. Upon impact, the tree broke and the truck pushed the broken section of the tree off the roadway and continued into a tree line on the right side of the roadway where it came to rest.

Vaughn was complaining of some pain in his side at the scene and left the scene by private vehicle to be medically examined.

A TxDOT crew arrived on scene with a skid steer and chain saws and quickly cleared the debris from the roadway allowing traffic to return to a regular flow.

January 13, 2015 - Sheriff Willis Blackwell states that on January 11, 2015, Jailer, Randy Dickerson was assaulted by an inmate, Marquel Ealy, in the Shelby County Jail. Deputy Bradley Horton responded when dispatched to the jail for assistance. Sheriff Blackwell states that around 3:00PM, Marquel Ealy, arrested by Timpson P. D. Officer, Thomas Jernigan, was being booked into the Shelby County Jail for public intoxication.

While processing, inmate Ealy became very belligerent and combative with Jailer Dickerson and Jailer Jericka Moore. Inmate Ealy was ordered to a holding cell when he ran to another door and started beating on it. At that time, a struggle ensued and during the course of the struggle Jailer Dickerson received abrasions to his facial area causing injury.

Inmate Ealy was subdued and charged with Assault on a Public Servant, Felony 3.

January 13, 2015 - Sheriff Willis Blackwell reports the Shelby County Sheriff's Office for the 2014 year received a total of 7,991 calls for service. This is a decline from 2013 which had a total of 9,316 calls for service. (This number does not include walk-ins or on view incidents).

Sheriff Blackwell states a more active patrol with agencies working together and complete investigations, as well as help from the community, is credited for the decline. When you have law enforcement working together with the community support, a lot can be accomplished.

Sheriff Blackwell states there is still a lot that needs to be done, but we are working on it. The Shelby County Sheriff's Office also recovered stolen property totaling $129,670 for the year of 2014 and there were 716 civil papers served.

January 12, 2015 - The Center Fire Department (CFD) was dispatched to a house fire on CR 1490 (Upper Arcadia Road) at 7:32am on Monday, January 12, 2015 and the Timpson Volunteer Fire Department (TVFD) was called in to assist.

When Clay Crocker, the owner, arrived at the residence he discovered the house was on fire and contacted the fire department. As the Center firemen arrived at the scene, the driveway into the residence was very muddy and difficult for the large fire trucks to traverse. The brick house on the property was completely engulfed in flames upon their arrival.

After the supply of water was exhausted, and more water was required to help extinguish the flames, the assistance of the TVFD was requested and they delivered two tanker trucks to the location of the fire. CFD and TVFD firemen worked to extinguish the remaning blaze.

A CFD tanker truck became stuck in the driveway as it entered the property and had to be pulled free as the firemen departed the scene. The Center Police Department assisted at the scene by parking a vehicle at the entrance to the property to mark the location for approaching fire trucks.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

January 12, 2015 - U.S. 96 South was the scene of a passenger van fire on Sunday, January 11, 2015. Emergency crews responded immediately to the scene after receiving a 9-1-1 call.

The Center Fire Department was dispatched to the scene of the fire at 3:35pm and when they arrived the van was engulfed in flames. The firemen put water to the fire and were able to extinguish the flames. As the firemen worked to quench the flames, traffic on the northbound and southbound sides of the highway were blocked by emergency personnel.

According to the Center Fire Department, the vehicle was a maroon 2003 Ford van belonging to the House of Refuge Apostolic Ministry in Center.

Texas Department of Public Safety State Troopers Jade Lavergne and Keith Jones, Center Police Department Sgt. Scott Burkhalter and Shelby County Sheriff's Department Deputies Kurtes Lawrence and Bradley Horton assisted the Center Fire Department at the scene.

The cause of the fire was undetermined at the time personnel cleared the scene. The scene was cleared at 4:05pm.

January 12, 2015 - After much discussion Commissioners' Court approved a motion to move Indigent Health Care back to the County Judge's office which unfortunately eliminates one county employee's position.

Shelby County Judge Allison Harbison presided over her first Commissioners' Court meeting Monday morning, January 12, 2015. A main item of discussion on the agenda pertained to Indigent Health Care (IHC). Harbison said, "The Indigent Health Care program is up-to-date. It actually took one day, less than one day, for everything in there to be caught up through September forward. Because there were things from September that had not been put into the computer. We are staffing an employee and a half in a position that is a part-time position. And I just do not think that is wise use of county funds."

 Commissioner Precinct 1, Roscoe McSwain expounded on IHC explaining the results of research he has done concerning the office and how many applications are accepted, "On a year average, we average maybe 10 applications a week." He continued saying of those 10 applications maybe 6 of them is actually entered into the system because the other four applications are incomplete and the information isn't entered in the system until the application is complete. He estimated thirty minutes to key in each completed application. Roscoe finished, "With that being said, I think that is enough to explain its hard to justify having a person and a half do a part-time job."

Commissioner Precinct 3, Travis Rodgers, expressed concern saying, "How do you know for sure how many applications [the county is] going to get." He continued voicing his concern if an applicant comes into the judge's office needing help and the secretary is busy doing county judge work instead.

Harbison responded, "I've hired a secretary who is computer literate and is willing to learn the job. Back when Judge Watson was in office, the judge's office handled Indigent Health Care, 9-1-1, and secretary for the judge. Right now my secretary is twiddling her thumbs because there is just not that many things that come through that she needs to do. She is willing to learn this program. And the new treasurer said when she gets an assistant, she will learn the new program. I've actually looked at the new program and it is very easy to do. You just plug in numbers and names."

Harbison went on to explain she has set a time frame of two days for all completed applications to be entered into the system and feels that goal will not be a problem to meet especially with various county employees willing to step up and assist with entering the applications in the event her secretary isn't available. She finished saying, "I just think it would be better use for county funds to not have a full-time person in Indigent Health Care and spread the work around. Because the more people that are looking at it, the less problem you will have of things that have happened before in Indigent Health Care which has been misappropriations of funds. So, I'm offering up my secretary and when [County Treasurer Ann Blackwell] hires an assistant, I'm sure she is offering up her assistant to learn the program." She finished saying, "I have a hard time staffing a position that is not needed when there are things needed in other parts of the County."

McSwain made a multi-part motion, "Concerning Indigent Health Care, we are going to have the oversight being the (County) Judge and [Commissioner Travis Rodgers] and we are going to move Indigent Health Care back to the judge's office, judge's secretary and a part-time employee downstairs will receive the applications and process them as far as they can go and this will be effective January 16th, so, we will have to terminate one position, one full-time position, in Indigent Health Care." Commissioner Precinct 2, Jimmy Lout seconded the motion.

Rodgers asked for more discussion following which time, McSwain and Lout voted for and Rodgers and Commissioners Precinct 4, Bradley Allen voted against. With the tied votes cast by the Commissioners, Judge Harbison passed the motion with a for vote.

Prior to the IHC discussion, County Treasurer, Ann Blackwell, addressed the court. "When I saw the mountain of paper that y'all received every month, I was just trying to give you the same information without you having to go through so much paper work." She continued, "What I changed was instead of you getting a full, about 500 page detail budget, what I'm giving you is a cash flow analysis. This is every account that falls under the umbrella of the county. (It) has your beginning balance, all your receipts for the month, your expenses whether they were [accounts payable] checks, payroll checks or journal payments, and your ending balances and its broken down by checking account and there are actually a couple of different ways its broken down." Blackwell finished saying, "I want to give you what you need but not more than you need." The minimized report will save the county money in paper cost as well as use of copier machine.

McSwain responded, "I want to commend you on this spreadsheet. It's very knowledgeable and very easy to read."

Before returning to her seat in the audience, Blackwell said, "I would like to also just say publicly that I appreciate so much outgoing Treasurer Joan Rodgers for letting me come in early and help me and show me some things. I really appreciate her."

Next item mentioned was regarding the City of Center Electronics Recycling Day program scheduled for Saturday, January 24th. Commissioner McSwain and Commissioner Precinct 3, Travis Rodgers, will both have their dumpsters available to the public on the day of the recycling program to help with disposal of items which don't qualify for the Electronics Recycling program.

Agenda items receiving approval include:

1) Approved minutes of previous meetings, December 8th Regular Meeting and December 22nd Special Meeting
 2) Approved Officer's Report - County collected $1,216,662.96in the month of December 2014
 4) Approved to pay monthly expenses
 6) Approved Commissioner Rodgers to sell an FG85B maintainer to be sold "as-is"
 7) Indigent Health Care Program
 - Approved oversight of the Indigent Health Care (IHC) Program by County Judge and Commissioner Rodgers.
 - Approved County Judge to be in charge of the daily activities of IHC staff.
 - Approved moving IHC back to County Judges Office and eliminating one full-time position effective Friday, January16.
 8) Approved adjusting ambulance subsidy to come out of Indigent Health Care fund instead of the Contingency fund and to credit the Contingency fund back for one month payment.

Items reported to the court

3) County Treasurer Ann Blackwell presented a minimized financial statement to the court asking if they approved the new reporting format.
 5) City of Center Electronics Recycling Day scheduled for Saturday, January 24th.


January 12, 2015 - Emergency personnel was dispatched to the scene of a two-vehicle crash on the Logansport Bridge on U.S. Highway 84 East in Haslam on Saturday, January 10, 2015.

The Joaquin Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to the crash to provide traffic control as the westbound side of the roadway was blocked. The firemen were able to provide a safe travel area allowing vehicles to travel through as the crash scene was being investigated.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Jade Lavergne, at 7:36pm a white 2000 Ford pickup truck driven by Thomas Gibbs, 40, of Joaquin was traveling eastbound on U.S. Highway 84 when a medical issue occurred. Gibbs traveled into the westbound lane and struck a gold 2005 Dodge pickup truck head-on causing major damage. The Dodge was driven by Jamie Brenton McCardle, 27, of Malone Fl. and currently residing in Logansport.

No injuries were reported as a result of the crash. Gibbs was issued citations for driving while license invalid and driving on the wrong side of the roadway not passing.

The scene was cleared at 8:41pm.

January 12, 2015 - Several agencies are involved in an investigation stemming from events on late Friday, January 9, and early Saturday, January 10, 2015 relating to the possible theft of at least one vehicle and a wreck involving another.

Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) State Trooper Keith Jones was dispatched to a single-vehicle crash at 8am on Saturday, January 10, 2015 on State Highway 87 South one mile north of Shelbyville at Red Rock Construction.

A green 1998 Chevrolet Silverado Z71 registered to Jonathan Greer of Warren, Texas was traveling southbound on 87 South when the truck left the roadway to the right and the driver over corrected left. The truck traveled across the northbound traffic lane and then over an embankment where it traveled through a barbed wire fence. The truck then continued down the other side of the embankment where it rolled over two diesel tanks and into two large air compressors before coming to rest on its wheels.

When an employee with the company arrived at the scene he located the crash and no driver could be found. Another vehicle in the area of the crash was believed to have been stolen and was later located by Shelby County Sheriff's Deputy Cody Muse at a residence at the end of Spring Branch Road in Center on Friday night.

Officers with the Center Police Department and Shelby County Sheriff's Department interviewed residents at the house on Spring Branch Road following the discovery of the crash scene on 87 South. At this time the Texas Department of Public Safety, Center Police Department and Shelby County Sheriff's Department are continuing to investigate these incidents which appear to law enforcement to somehow be connected.

January 12, 2015 - The driver of a vehicle involved in a single-vehicle crash was transported from the scene by ambulance on Saturday, January 10, 2015.

Emergency personnel with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and ACE EMS were dispatched to the scene early Saturday near Flat Fork Creek on U.S. Highway 96 North.

According to DPS Trooper Keith Jones, at 6:55am Kevin Clinton Fulmer, 31, of Timpson was traveling northbound on U.S. 96 North in a grey Buick Century when he left the roadway to the right. Fulmer then over corrected to the left causing the vehicle to cross all of the traffic lanes of the highway and leave the roadway on the southbound side.

The Buick continued down an embankment, struck a fence causing minor damage and came to rest in a shallow body of water just near Flat Fork Creek facing north.

Fulmer was transported from the scene by ACE EMS to NMC Center Emergency Department for possible injuries. He was also issued a citation for wrong side of roadway not passing in a no pass zone and driving while license suspended.