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February 23, 2015 - Center firemen were dispatched to a house fire just before 11:30pm on Sunday, February 22, 2015 located at 2227 County Road 3047.
The residence, owned by David and Shana Whitton, was fully engulfed in flames when the firemen arrived and a strong wind was increasing the fire by the minute. The firemen engaged the blaze with water in attempts of knocking back the fire and saving some of the home.
As the inferno raged, more water was requested from the Center Fire Department and the assistance of the Shelbyville Volunteer Fire Department was requested, who provided an additional tanker truck of water by way of fireman Steve Dudley.
Although a large quantity of water was poured onto the fire in attempts of quenching the fire, the home was a total loss. The firemen were able to prevent the fire from traveling to a neighboring building housing hay bales.
David Whitton stated he was sitting on his couch when he heard a pop come from somewhere and then saw flames on his front porch. He evacuated his wife and children from their home and got them to safety before the fire engulfed the home.
The firemen cleared the scene and returned to their stations at 2am. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.
February 23, 2015 - Reports of a house fire had firemen and other emergency personnel en-route to 87 South early Friday evening, February 20, 2015
The Center Police Department held the scene 5:05 pm until the Center Fire Department arrived to fight the fully involved fire at the residence of Judie Shields located at 1136 State Highway 87 South. Flames were shooting from the middle of the roof of the home and the source appeared to emanate from the back side.
Firemen raced to the back of the house with hoses and began applying water to the flames which were raging from the area of the kitchen. The firemen worked to extinguish the flames and were able to prevent some portions such as the garage and one bedroom from burning.
A Federal Express driver initially discovered the fire and called 9-1-1.
No one was home at the time of the fire and a cause is unknown at this time. The fire remains under investigation.
February 23, 2015 - A two-vehicle crash during rainy conditions on U.S. Highway 96 North proved to be fatal for a Tenaha man on Saturday night, February 21, 2015.
First-responders were dispatched to the crash scene in front of the Center Country Club, five miles south of Tenaha and six miles north of Center, where the two cars collided leaving one on fire. Other travelers stopped to help those involved in the crash and the good Samaritans pulled the driver from the burning vehicle as well as extinguishing the fire. CPR was administered by the helpful travelers until emergency personnel arrived.
The Center Volunteer Fire Department arrived on scene with the Center Police Department and ACE EMS who saw to the treatment of the injured drivers.
Center firemen held the scene until Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) State Troopers Jade Lavergne and John Hallenbeck could arrive to investigate. According to the results of the DPS investigation, at 6:40pm Daurin Andres Chel-Sanchez, 23, of Tenaha was traveling southbound on U.S. Highway 96 North in a red 2005 Ford Mustang when he lost control of the vehicle causing it to travel left and into the northbound traffic lanes.
A teal 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix driven by Eduardo Antonio Perez, 19, of Center was traveling on the northbound side of the highway when the Mustang traveled into the traffic lane, which caused the Pontiac to strike the Mustang on the passenger side inflicting major damage on both cars and igniting a fire on the Mustang.
Chel-Sanchez and Perez were both transported by ACE EMS to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Center Emergency Department where Chel-Sanchez was pronounced dead on arrival by Jenny Hicks, Justice of the Peace Precinct 4. Perez was hospitalized and was treated for injuries which were not life threatening.
The crash remains under investigation and no citations have been reported at this time.
February 19, 2015 - The Shelby County grand jury for the January term of the 273rd Judicial District Court handed down indictments on 22 cases on Wednesday, February 18, 2015.
Kenneth Wayne Boyd, received two indictments pertaining to a November 14, 2015 arrest. These indictments included unlawful possession of a firearm, third degree felony habitual; and possession of a controlled substance, second degree felony habitual.
Christopher Rashad Martin, who was arrested with Boyd, also received two indictments for possession of a controlled substance, second degree felony habitual; and unlawful possession of a firearm, third degree felony habitual.
Tom Paul Chandler II was indicted on assault - prior conviction, third degree felony; and assault - family violence, second degree felony. Both indictments pertain to incidents on February 25, 2014 and September 25, 2014 for allegedly impeding the victim's breathing as well as punching and pulling their hair.
Daniell Roshundra Patton was indicted for theft, state jail felony. The indictment alleges Patton unlawfully appropriated currency in the amount of between $1,500 and $20,000 from Wal-Mart on March 14, 2014.
Thomas Justin Brown received an indictment for online harassment, third degree felony. Brown is alleged to have used the name of another individual on Facebook to post or send messages as that individual with the intent to harm or intimidate the person.
Craig Alan Borders and Emilee Sarah Champagne were each indicted for abandoning or endangering a child, state jail felony. They are each alleged to have exposed a child under the age of 15 to methamphetamine and not taking the child to an emergency infant care provider.
Thomas Justin Brown was indicted for theft, state jail felony. The indictment alleges Patton unlawfully appropriated a Magnum Light Plant valued at between $1,500 and $20,000 from Larry O'Rear on September 7, 2014.
Morgan Magee was indicted for burglary of a building, state jail felony. It is alleged in the indictment Magee attempted to commit or committed theft of property of James Cheshire with items including a 4500 watt generator, Stihl chainsaw, impact wrench, 12" sub-woofers, 2500 lb winch, 3 gallon compressor, Stanley toolbox and wheels/tires.
Larry Gene Barrett Jr. received an indictment for theft, state jail felony. Barrett is alleged to have unlawfully appropriated a Kubota tractor L-3400 valued between $1,500 or more but less than $20,000 from Paul Amos.
Ray Howard Neuwirth received indictments on multiple counts. Neuwirth is alleged on August 2, 2013 to have committed forgery, state jail felony, by writing a check in the name of Jimmy Dale Metcalf, who did not authorize the act, in the amount of $50 on a Farmers State Bank account. He also was indicted on 8 counts of credit card/debit card abuse involving a Diesel Advantage Fuelman card in the name of Jimmy Dale Metcalf. The dates of the alleged unauthorized usage are July 12, 2013; July 15, 2013; July 17, 2013; July 17, 2013; July 18, 2013; July 19, 2013; July 21, 2013; and July 22, 2013.
(Dates in parenthesis indicate the date of the alleged incident)
Charlie McCowin, driving while intoxicated, third degree felony (March 28, 2014).
Keri Shanai Harkness, aggravated sexual assault of child, first degree felony (February 28, 2014).
Alvin Jerome Davis II, evading arrest, third degree felony (June 16, 2014).
Thomas Justin Brown, possession of a controlled substance, state jail felony (January 28, 2014).
Larry Gene Barrett Jr., possession of a controlled substance, state jail felony (March 9, 2014).
Terris Lamone Scourton, evading arrest, third degree felony (February 8, 2014).
Mandel Roberts, driving while intoxicated with child passenger, state jail felony (March 21, 2014).
Arvin Taylor Mackey II, possession of a controlled substance, state jail felony (March 9, 2014).
Update: According to the Shelby County Jail arrest log, as of 7:32pm on Thursday, February 19, William Bryce Moore, 28, of Tenaha has been arrested on the charge of Capital Murder.
February 20, 2015 - The Shelby County Sheriff's Department reports the death of a 6-month-old infant occurred Monday morning in Tenaha.
According to a press release, the Shelby County Sheriff's Department received a 9-1-1 call on February 16, 2015 at approximately 3:49am regarding an infant who was unresponsive at a residence in the Kyle Parmer Trailer Park located on County Road 4356 in Tenaha. The 6-month-old infant was transported to the NMC - Center Hospital by ACE EMS and was pronounced deceased by Maxie Eaves, Justice of the Peace Precinct 1, who ordered an autopsy. This case is under investigation by the Shelby County Sheriff's Department Criminal Investigations Division.
When asked by Shelby County Today why the death was under investigation, Shelby County Chief Deputy Shad Sparks reported, "All deaths, but especially infant deaths, are investigated as suspicious until evidence proves otherwise."
The infant, Ariana Moore, is the daughter of William and Angela Moore and services are under the direction of Mangum Funeral Home.
February 16, 2015 - An 18-wheeler overturned on Sunday, February 16, 2015 as it traveled south of Tenaha during inclement weather.
According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Brian Barnes, at 10:45pm Daryal Nelson, 57, was traveling southbound in a 2012 18-wheeler for Transport Service Co. out of Illinois hauling yeast on U.S. Highway 59 South traveling from Memphis, Tennessee to Houston.
As Nelson was in the outside lane he was traveling at an unsafe speed for the wet condition of the roadway as he left the roadway to the right and the 18-wheeler overturned, coming to rest in a ditch.
As of the time of the crash investigation no citations had been issued and no injuries were reported.
First on the scene of the crash and assisting with traffic control were Tenaha City Marshal Jimmy Wagstaff, Tenaha Volunteer Fire Department firemen and Shelby County Sheriff's Department Investigator John Pope.
February 20, 2015 - (Photos by Shelby County Today) Timpson ISD evacuated students and staff from the district site when a company putting in telephone lines punctured a gas line causing a major leak. Student safety always comes first, therefore, the students and staff were quickly evacuated to the First Baptist Church in Timpson. A site evacuation is part of the Timpson ISD safety plan used when for any reason remaining on site is unsafe. It is important in a site evacuation to remove students and staff from the site as quickly as possible. All students and staff were evacuated from the campus in 10-15 minutes.
Parents were notified as soon as possible following the site evacuation through the Bear Update and news media. Anyone who wants to receive the Bear Update should send an email to Superintendent Mid Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org and put ‘Add to Bear Update’ in the subject line. Parents were able to pick up students at the church by signing them out. Parents were asked to come in the church building to sign students out to ensure student safety and that they would be leaving only with parents or persons who had parent permission to pick up students. Buses ran at 1:15 p.m. Students who did not have adults at home were brought back to the church so that they would not be left unattended.
The TISD staff did an outstanding job supervising students and ensuring they were quickly and safely evacuated from the district site. At the church, the staff supervised the students to ensure their safety and keep students calm. Once it was determined by the gas company, local law enforcement and district personnel, that it was safe to be on campus and enter the buildings, students, parents and staff were able to return to campus to retrieve personnel items.
Dr. Mid Johnson, TISD Superintendent, expressed his appreciation to staff, law enforcement, Timpson city workers and the Timpson Volunteer Fire Department for working together to ensure the safety of our students and staff. Dr. Johnson also expresses appreciation to First Baptist church’s pastor, Dr. Josh Walters, and the church membership for allowing the district to house students at the church during the evacuation.
He also expressed appreciation to the media who help the district keep parents informed and updated throughout the evacuation. District personnel, including substitutes, receive training on site evacuation each year. A practice site evacuation is also completed each year. The training and practice drill help prepare students and staff for a real evacuation when one is needed.
District personnel also appreciated the many positive comments parents and community members gave in person and on social media concerning how quickly and safely the evacuation took place.
UPDATE: On Friday, February 20, 2015 at approximately 1235pm, the mother of the victim, an Angela Marie Moore, a white female of 25 years of age was arrested and charged with Criminal Negligent Homicide, a State Jail Felony. Mrs. Moore was booked into the Shelby County Sheriff's Department jail for said charge and was arraigned by Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 Judge Maxie Eaves and bond was set at $50,000.
February 20, 2015 - Shelby County Sheriff Willis Blackwell reports that the Shelby County Sheriff's Department has been investigating the death of Ariana Moore, a 6 month old white female of Tenaha. A 911 call was received on February 16, 2015 at approximately 3:49am regarding the victim who was found unresponsive at a residence in the Kyle Parmer Trailer Park located on County Road 4356, Tenaha. The victim was transported to the NMC-Center Hospital by ACE EMS and was pronounced deceased by Maxie Eaves, Justice of the Peace Precinct 1.
During the course of the investigation it was found that the father identified as a William Bryce Moore, a white male, 28 years of age had inflicted injuries to the victim which resulted in her death. Mr. Moore was arrested for the charge of Capital Murder, a Capital Felony.
Mr. Moore was booked into the Shelby County Sheriff's Department on Thursday, February 19th for said offense. He was arraigned for said charge by Judge Marla Denby, Justice of the Peace Precinct 2, and Mr. Moore received a no bond. The case was investigated by Investigator Kevin W. Windham and Investigator D.J. Dickerson with the Shelby County Sheriff's Department.
February 18, 2015 - Timpson Police officers have once again received a reprieve from their possible loss of employment as the Timpson City Council, for the third time, presented the adoption of an amended budget and reduction of police during their regular meeting.
A large attendance of citizens, business owners and legal advisers populated the meeting room of the Timpson Council during their meeting on Tuesday, February 18, 2015 with the municipality's peace officers wondering for the fate of their jobs. Three speakers addressed the council on behalf of the officers and the need of 24-hour law enforcement in the city.
Those who spoke include Tony Smith, local business owner; Vaughn Myers, resident; and Noel Johnson, Lead Field Representative for the Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA). Smith issued a petition to the community in Timpson which garnered support by way of 114 signatures from citizens in support of the police officers (see related article). Myers warned that cutting down the police force would cause a rift in the department, make the officers that are not let go seek employment elsewhere, and officers who take their place would not be of the same ilk as officers currently on the force.
When Johnson addressed the council, he painted an ominous picture of what it would be like with a reduced police force and suggested the reduction was not entirely because of the budget.
"We are very concerned. The officers that work for this department want to be here, they want to serve the citizens of this community. The citizens of this community should be very concerned, because if you get rid of even one officer you will reduce your ability to have 24-hour coverage," said Johnson. "Shelby County [Sheriff's Office] on many nights just has one deputy on duty, a couple of their deputies have informed me it would easily be a 45 minute to one hour response time."
Johnson commented the TMPA had some of their staff review the city of Timpson budget and according to their review there is no reason to reduce the police force before the end of the budgetary year. There were other things which Johnson says piqued his interest as an 18-year investigator and he shared allegations about council members with the council.
"In July or August of 2014 Councilman [Ronnie] Wolfe approached Officers [Thomas] Jernigan and [Michael] Williams about hiring a Timothy Gibson, who owed Councilman Wolfe money for a bond he had paid on Mr. Gibson, to come to work for their side business which they have to have because they could make more money at other departments," said Johnson. "If it was insinuated or the idea that we're going to have a reduction in force came as a result of Officers Jernigan and Williams not hiring Mr. Gibson, that would be official oppression. We do plan to contact the Attorney General's Office and their office of public integrity and see if there are criminal charges that could be filed in that case."
Johnson stated undue liability would be brought on the city if the reduction were proven to be due to some kind of retaliation. In relation to this, he described an incident in which Councilman George Grace was issued a citation and a statement Grace made to a constable about his opinion of the police department.
"Councilman Grace on October 24, 2014 received a citation for parking in front of a fire hydrant. It's my understanding that Councilman Grace is a volunteer firefighter, so I would hope that would not be the case. After he contacted the [Justice of the Peace] on the citation he apparently told Constable Stanley Burgay, Precinct 5 Constable, that he supported the officers until he got the citation," said Johnson.
The council was presented with three budget options and over the course of three separate meetings failed to pass a motion to approve any of them. Instead, on more than one occasion including at this meeting Kyle Allen, Councilman, has made a motion to approve a budget that kept the five man police department; however, a second of his motion has not been heard at any time and the motion subsequently has failed.
Resulting from the council's failure to approve an amended budget which was presented the 2014-2015 budget was once again automatically adopted.
As the subject of the reduction in force of the Timpson Police Department was broached, Councilman Wolfe stated he obtained from Barbara Hunt a report of all of the expenses of the police department from January 1, 2014 to January 1, 2015. He then said he acquired a report of the revenue earned by the police department through the municipal court from Paula Mullins.
"When I subtracted those two figures we were $272,000 deficit in the police department. Now we've got when Mr. [Kent] Graham and [Mayor Debra Smith] brought to the council a four man department, we did it. I wish we had 10 policeman, all our guys do a great job. It's not about their job, it's not about having somebody to call, it's about money," said Councilman Wolfe. "We cannot continue to lose $240,000-plus a year, we can't continue to do that. If we've got $1 million, in about four years you're going to go broke."
Wolfe reiterated the issue is not about job performance, but is about money. He accused Mayor Smith of padding the budget and the exchange between Councilman Wolfe and Mayor Smith became somewhat heated, "You Mayor, back in November, you padded the budget with $175,000 sale of land out here that we did not have even an earnest money contract, we didn't really have a bonafide offer on it and you listed it as revenue to make the budget look better."
Mayor Smith disagreed with Councilman Wolfe and denied padding the budget, she explained how budgets by nature are plans and not guaranteed, "It's a plan, we had a plan to sell the land we spent money to sell the land, we paid for an appraisal to sell the land that came in at $100,000 and our council in their esteemed appraisal wisdom decided they didn't want anything less than $250,000. So we wasted $1,000 to get a certified appraisal for land. So, when you point your finger and tell me I padded something, no I didn't."
Councilman Wolfe referred to his time on the council beginning in 1980. He stated the city had just come off of being dead broke and there was a total of $22,000 in all accounts across the board. Wolfe then said that is where the city is heading again and he suggested a self-fulfilling prophecy scanario, "When Mr. Graham and you, Mayor, brought this five man department I told Mr. Graham and if he'd tell you, I told Mr. Graham, 'When this doesn't work, we're going to be back in here doing a [reduction in force].' It's in the minutes."
Kyle Allen, Councilman, cautioned against risking the safety of the citizens of Timpson and suggested the purpose of the funds in the bank is to put the money back into the community.
"What we're taking away is the insurance policy that all the citizens of this town has by reducing the force. I'll agree that it's an expense and that it's a large expense, but I don't feel that the safety of everyone in this community should be jeopardized on something that is not adversely affecting the budget in an overall manner. When we get to the end of the year and we've got more money in the account than when we got started, this isn't designed to make money. We shouldn't have more money each year in a city, we should put the money back out into the town to protect the citizens and to improve the city," said Allen. "Just because we've got a million bucks in the account that does not mean that we should try to have $1.2 million next year. This isn't a for profit business and if we came out with more money working with those officers this last year, I find it ludicrous to think that we need to get rid of them for any other fact than a budgetary reason which seems not to exist in my mind."
Wolfe referred one more time to the budget which contained $175,000 projected for the sale of .96 acres of land and stated that amount placed the city in deficit in November. Allen agreed with Smith's earlier statement that a budget is a plan and it can be reworked.
"When you look at last year working with these officers we came out with more money than what we started with, so I don't understand where the budgetary need comes from and that's just me personally," said Allen. "I understand down the road we might have a situation that arises where we have to get rid of officers, but I see in no manner, in no way that it is something that needs to be put on the table right now, and we've drug these guys along for three months talking about this and we have absolutely no reason to do it."
Allen and Wolfe continued to disagree on the police department having lost $240,000 because the budget covers all departments and needs of the city, not just one.
"Everything that happens in this office is an expense, every employee in this office is an expense that doesn't make us any money, so it runs as a whole, they're all parts of the same machine. So whenever we end up with more money at the end of the year than we started with, as a team we won, as a complete business entity we won," said Allen. "No matter if the police department's negative $240,000 or the electric company's negative $240,000, the one thing that I think that we're jeopardizing is the safety of the individuals that live in this town. I know for sure, we have a volunteer fire department, if my grandfather falls out with a heart attack a police officer's going to be there way faster than an ambulance, and that's just something that I don't want to jeopardize. Until we end up coming in here and we're looking on the bond market to buy municipal debt I don't think there's any reason to jeopardize what we have right now."
After Allen completed his statement it was met with resounding applause from the audience. Mayor Smith then shared with Wolfe a comparative report from January 2014 to January 2015 and across the board there were positive gains with such exceptions as the fire department purchased a vehicle, reflecting a decrease in funds. As another example, in the police account there was $13,785 in 2014 and in the police account currently there is $18,195.
"I just can't see how a lot of you people that's in this room are business people," said Wolfe.
No motion was ever made in reference to reduction in force of the police department.
Following the meeting Noel Johnson was available for comment on the outcome, "They're playing games with employees lives, so now the whole department will go for the next month, 'next month will I be out of the job?' and at some point there's got to be some accountability in local government. They need to be accountable to themselves and step up and make a decision," said Johnson. "I think the train is rolling and more and more people are noticing the inability of the majority of this council to make a decision. A couple of those council members will be up for election in May and I have a feeling the citizens of this community will un-elect them in May and get some skilled professional leadership in city council."
Police Activity Report for the month of January: 31 agency assists, 12 motorist assists, 4 escorts, 9 extra patrol requests, 3 calls for loose livestock, 4 animal complaints, 7 warrants served, 3 theft cases, 1 assault, 3 DWIs, 11 disturbances, 1 case of public intoxication, 3 calls for suspicious persons, 5 calls suspicious vehicle, 2 reckless driver calls, 1 resisting arrest, 1 disorderly conduct, 14 investigations, 1 case unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, 1 possession of a controlled substance. Total calls for service 117 with 9 arrests Municipal Court Report: 51 citations issued, 57 violations, 1 citation to a minor, 0 citations to juveniles. Total accrued money reported was $18,294.69 for the police department and municipal court. The city's portion 55% estimate $10,062.08
Items on the agenda receiving approval include: Consent agenda items A. Minutes from the regular meeting of January 20, 2015 with amendment from Ronnie Wolfe clarifying he requested a special meeting regarding the reduction in force to be held at the earliest possible time. B. Financial statement for January. C. Accounts payable for February. Award bid to Barry Webb for $17,900 for trimming/cutting down trees in the electric right-of-way with completion date of May 15, 2015. Standard holdback procedure of 10% to be paid at 30 days following the completion of the job. Resolution 021715-1 for the CDBG Block Grant application to the Texas Department of Agriculture for the Community Development Fund; and authorizing the mayor to act as the city's executive officer and authorized representative in all matters pertaining to the city's participation in the Texas Community Development Block Grant Program for the 2015-2016 funding cycle. Order of notice, General Election to be held on May 9, 2015 to elect three City Council members. Interlocal agreement between Timpson ISD and the City of Timpson to hold a General Election May 9, 2015. Accept resignation of Barbara Hunt as of April 30, 2015. Advertise and take applications for the position of City Secretary. Applications must be turned in to the city hall by March 10, 2015. Advertisements to be published in The Light and Champion, Our Town Times, Shelby County Today the City of Timpson website and TML for City Secretary. Interviews to be held on March 17, 2015 at the next regular meeting. Authorize the mayor to hire an election judge and clerk subject to approval by the council for the upcoming General Election early voting period, April 27 through May 5, 2015 and the May 9, 2015 General Election. Adjournment.
February 18, 2015 - Law enforcement and emergency responders were dispatched to a log truck and car collision on U.S. Hwy 96 South near the intersection of CR 1015 Wednesday evening, February 18, 2015.
According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Jade LaVergne, a red 1984 Peterbilt truck tractor driven by Cody Bryan, age 28 of Center, was hauling an empty log trailer southbound on U.S. Hwy 96 and slowed to a stop to turn onto CR 1015 when a white 2006 Chrysler 300, also southbound, failed to control speed.
The driver of the Chrysler, Juan Diaz, Jr, age 19 of San Augustine, slammed on his brakes leaving marks on the roadway and attempted to avoid a collision by passing on the right; however, the car struck the rear right side of the trailer with its front driver's side. The Chrysler received major damage to its front and came to rest partially in the roadway. The log truck received only minor damage but remained where it was until after law enforcement arrived on scene and the driver then pulled it out of the roadway onto CR 1015.
The Shelby County Sheriff's Department was first on scene to evaluate the crash scene and requested the assistance of the Center Fire Department to assist with traffic control. ACE EMS responded to the crash but no one required transport. Diaz was cited for failure to control speed.