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The West Shelby County Volunteer Fire Department fought a large pasture fire at the property of Huey Britt. The firemen were dispatched at 11:30pm and were assisted by the Center Fire Department. The firemen returned to their stations at 12:55pm. (Submitted photo)

January 29, 2018 - All fire departments in Shelby County, aside from Timpson VFD, have been dispatched and are currently fighting grass fires January 29, 2018. 

At this time a burn ban has not yet been presented for action at commissioners' court; however, residents should use extreme caution when burning, and when possible, consider burning at a later date to prevent fire from getting out of control.

(Submitted photo)

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From left: Tommie Thomas, treasurer, Carol McMillan, yearbook editor, and Becky Wiggins

January 26, 2018 - Delta Gamma members have been encouragers for other Delta Kappa Gamma members in Texas that were affected by Hurricane Harvey.  Local members have paid dues for some of those affected and sent cards to show their concern.  During the January meeting, members banned together to tie two fleece blankets to send to some of the ladies. Delta Kappa Gamma is an international organization of key women educators.

Submitted by Nora Robinson

January 26, 2018 - On January 19, 2018, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality required the Paxton public water system, 2100031 to issue a Boil Water Notice to inform customers, individuals, or employees that due to conditions which occurred recently in the public water system, the water from this public water system was required to be boiled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes.

The public water system has taken the necessary corrective actions to restore the quality of the water distributed by this public water system used for drinking water or human consumption purposes and has provided TCEQ with laboratory test results that indicate that the water no longer requires boiling prior to use as of 1/26/2018.

If you have questions concerning this matter, you may contact DEREK DIVERDI at 936-332-7683.


January 19, 2018 - Due to a water outage, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has required the Paxton public water system ID# 2100031 and 2100012 to notify all customers on Paxton Water System, to boil their water prior to consumption (e.g., washing hands/face, brushing teeth, drinking, etc). Children, seniors, and persons with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to harmful bacteria, and all customers should follow these directions. 

To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking, and ice making should be boiled and cooled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes. The water should be brought to a vigorous rolling boil and then boiled for two minutes. 

In lieu of boiling, individuals may purchase bottled water or obtain water from some other suitable source for drinking water or human consumption purposes. 

When it is no longer necessary to boil the water, the public water system officials will notify customers that the water is safe for drinking water or human consumption purposes. 

Once the boil water notice is no longer in effect, the public water system will issue a notice to customers that rescinds the boil water notice in a manner similar to this notice. 

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail. 

If you have questions concerning this matter, you may contact DEREK DIVERDI at 936-332-7683 

January 25, 2017 - The water on Denning Rural Public Water System no longer requires boiling. 

On January 17, 2018 the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality required the Denning Rural Public Water System, #2030004, to issue a Boil Water Notice to inform customers, individuals or employees that due to conditions which occurred recently in the public water system, the water from this public water system was required to be boiled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes.

Denning Rural Public Water System has taken the necessary corrective actions to restore the quality of the water distributed by this public water system used for drinking water or human consumption purposes and has provided TCEQ with laboratory test results that indicate that the water no longer requires boiling  prior to use as of January 23, 2018.

If you have questions concerning this matter, you may contact the office: 220 West Columbia Street, San Augustine, Texas; 936-288-0489 or Charles Sharp 936-201-5001. Thank you for your patience and cooperation.


January 17, 2018 - Effective January 17, 2018 until further notice.

Due to electrical issues at the plant, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has required the Denning Rural Water System PWS #2030004 to notify all customers on Denning Rural Water System to boil their water prior to consumption (eg., washing hands/face, brishing teeth, drinking, etc.). Children, seniors and persons with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to harmful bacteria, and all customers should follow these directions.

To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking and ice making should be boiled and cooled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes. The water should be brought to a vigorous rolling boil and then booiled for two minutes.

I lieu of boiling, individuals may purchase bottled water or obtain water from some other suitable source for drinking water or human consumption purposes.

When it is no longers necessary to boil water, the public water system officials will notify customers that the water is safe for drinkiing water or human consumption purposes.

Once the boil water notice is no longer in effect, the public water system will issue a notice to customers that rescinds the boil water notice in a manner similar to this notice.

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received the notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.

If you have questions concerning this matter, you may contact Denning Rural Water System at 220 W. Columbia Street, San Augustine, Texas, 75972 or call 936-288-0489 or Charles Sharp at 936-201-5001.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) can also be reached at 512-239-4691.

(Photo Courtesy Shelby Ucci)

January 24, 2018 - The Patroon County Store located on State Highway 87 South, at the intersection with FM 2261, was the location where a driver made an emergency stop before her vehicle was engulfed in flames Wednesday, January 24, 2018.

The image above appears to be the vehicle not long after it first arrived at the scene. (Photo Courtesy Shelby Ucci)

The Shelbyville Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to the scene at 12:55pm and when they arrived the fire was fully involved. Fireman Steve Dudley arrived in a fire department grass truck and got to work extinguishing the flames. The tank on the truck proved not to be quite enough to completely put out the fire.

Shelbyville VFD Chief Chris Koltonski arrived with a tanker full of water and the firemen used it to completely put out what little fire remained.

According to reports from the driver, her oil pressure dropped while traveling and she began to hear a noise from her 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer. She pulled off to the side of the road and that's when the vehicle began smoking.

No injuries resulted from the incident. Vail and Son Wrecker towed the vehicle from the scene.

January 24, 2018 - Loop 500 and FM 699 at the edge of Center was the scene of a three-vehicle crash Saturday, January 20, 2018.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Taylor Buster, at around 1pm a white Toyota Tundra driven by a 17-year-old driver of Mansfield, La. was southbound on FM 699 when he failed to yield right of way at a stop sign.

The Toyota traveled into Loop 500 and struck a white Ford 1-ton driven by Kevin Clark, 33, of El Dorado, Ar. The collision caused the Ford to lose control and travel into the opposing lane of travel where it struck a white Honda passenger van driven by Marcus Martinez Espinoza, 33, who was traveling with passengers Guerrero Chaires, 45, and Benavides Villanueva, 33.

Both the Ford and the Honda came to rest on the westbound side of the roadway. The Toyota drove to the other side and stopped, facing in the westbound direction.

Trooper Buster was assisted by several other DPS units, as well as Center PD officers who directed traffic until the scene was clear. 

The 17-year-old driver was issued a citation for fail to yield right of way. Espinoza was given a citation for no driver's license, and Villanueva was issued a citation for open container.

January 24, 2018 - Boil Water Notice for S. Augustine Rural Water System Rescinded

On January 19, 2018, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality required the San Augustine Rural Public Water System, #2030002, to issue a Boil Water Notice to inform customers, individuals or employees that due to conditions which occurred recently in the public water system, the water from this public water system was required to be boiled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes.

San Augustine Rural Water has taken the necessary corrective actions to restore the quality of the water distributed by this public water system used for drinking water or human consumption purposes and has provided TCEQ with laboratory test results that indicate that the water no longer requires boiling prior to use as of January 23, 2018.


January 19, 2018 - Effective January 19, 2018 Until Further Notice

Due to low pressure cold weather issues, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has required San Augustine Rural Public Water System PWS #2030007 to notify all customers to boil their water prior to consumption (eg., washing hands/ face, brushing teeth, drinking, etc.). Children, Seniors and persons with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to harmful bacteria, and all customers should follow these directions.

To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cookig and ice making should be boiled and cooled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes. The water should be brought to a vigorous rolling boil and then boiled for two minutes.

In lieu of boiling, individuals may purchase bottled water or obtain water from some other suitable source for drinking water or human consumption purposes.

When it is no longer necessary to boil the water, the public water system officials will notify customers that the water is safe for drinking water or human consumption purposes.

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received the notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.

If you have questions concerning this matter, you may contact San Augustine Rural Water System at 220 W. Columbia Street, San Augustine, Texas, 75972, or call 936-288-0489 or Charles Sharp at 936-201-5001.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) can also be reached at 512-239-4691.

January 23, 2018 - County Road 2571 south of Shelbyville was the scene of two crashes which occurred, oddly enough, at the same location and at the same time on Janaury 14, 2018 one mile west of FM 139.

Both vehicles traveled along the same path and had results not very disimilar from one another.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) State Trooper Keith Jones, at 10:58pm a silver 2014 Toyota Camry driven by Kenith Koby Yeager, 24, with passenger Sara Couerine, 17, and a 10-month-old male child in a car seat were northbound on CR 2571. 

The Toyota was traveling at an unsafe speed due to a curve in the roadway when the vehicle struck a muddy puddle. At that time Yeager applied his brakes and slid left of the roadway bfore striking a tree, causing major damage to the front of the car.

A private vehicle transported the 10-month-old to San Augustine Memorial Hospital Emergency Room where he was treated and released with no injuries.

Yeager was cited for unsafe speed.

The other crash, occurring at the same time, involved a tan 2004 Chevrolet Silverado driven by Donna Louise Harris, 56, with passenger Gaelen Keith Howard, 56. According to Texas DPS State Trooper Jones, the Chevrolet was northbound on CR 2571 at an unsafe speed due to a curve in the roadway when the vehicle struck a muddy puddle. 

At that time Harris applied her brakes and slid left of the roadway striking a tree, and over turning.

Harris was issued a citation for unsafe speed.

Trooper Jones was assisted at the scene by Trooper Dustin Ramos.

January 23, 2018 - The Shelby County Extension Office parking lot will get lighting now that the Shelby County Commissioners approved its installation during their meeting held Monday, January 22, 2018. 

Shelby County Judge Allison Harbison informed the commissioners, with all of the use the new County Extension office location is getting, a lot of events occur at night and there isn't sufficient lighting. This puts students traveling in the dark between buildings, especially during the winter time of year, and that could prove dangerous.

"When we took down half of that sidewalk, and the lighting was above it, and it is just a safety hazard. Especially for the kids," said Judge Harbison.

According to Judge Harbison, County Extension Agent Lane Dunn procured a bid from Scooter Clark with 4C Electric to add sufficient lighting to the campus at a cost of $4,238.40.

Harbison said she has been assured the plan for the lighting will provide lighting around the gymnasium, Extension office, surrounding buildings, and restrooms.

A motion carried to approve installation of the lighting with the funds to be taken out of the courthouse repair fund.

Changing the current meeting schedule for Commissioners' Court was up for discussion; however, it was determined the proposed change wasn't going to make enough of a difference at this time.

A motion carried to leave the schedule as is at this time.

The commissioners discussed an interlocal agreement with the City of Center for the purchase, and placement of a communications building that houses radio equipment for emergency services within Shelby County. This includes, but is not limited to, the Center Police Department, Shelby County Sheriff's Department and Center Fire Department radio equipment.

"The city will not pay their portion without an interlocal agreement," said Judge Harbison. "Hopefully they will get this passed at their meeting tonight."

According to Judge Harbison, the county has already paid their percentage of the building and now it is up to the city for their part.

"We have paid that electric bill and we will continue to pay that electric bill. It's just on paper what we have already agreed to do," said Judge Harbison.

According to Harbison, the county has already paid $2,690.04 and the City of Center is left to pay an equal figure.

A motion carried to move forward with the agreement.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:50am.

Agenda items approved during the meeting:
1. Pay weekly expenses.
2. Keep the two Regular meeting days for Commissioners’ Court as the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month.
3. In-Kind Match Commitment with DETCOG and the Deep East Texas Economic Development District for office space within the Courthouse to assist DETCOG and the District in obtaining an EDA Grant to fund a Disaster Recovery Coordinator for the 12-County Region.
4. Interlocal Agreement between Shelby County and the City of Center regarding the purchase, placement, and utilities for a Communication Building to house radio equipment for Emergency Service Agencies located within Shelby County.
5. Record the filing of the Vehicle Inventory Tax Fund Audit for January 2018.
6. Lighting for the County Extension parking lot at a cost of $4,238.40.
7. Record the Racial Profiling Report for the Shelby County District Attorney’s office.
8. Adjourn

January 23, 2018 - The implementation of wells to monitor a pentachlorophenol (PCP) groundwater plume in the Tenaha area was approved by the Shelby County Commissioners during their January 8, 2018 meeting.

Tim Wilberg with Ensafe, an environmental consulting firm, informed the commissioners about the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's desire to install four off-site wells to determine the extent of the PCP groundwater plume at a Tenaha Wood Treating Site.

He indicated the location of the wood treating site is off U.S. Highway 96 just south of Tenaha and it operated as a wood treating facility from 1980 to 1985.

"Sites like this are very common. It closed in 1985, they used chromated copper arsenate and pentachlorophenol," said Wilberg. "They had releases of both to soil, to surface water and eventually into the groundwater."

According to Wilberg, an investigation is ongoing by TCEQ since the early 2000s and two removal actions of contaminated soil from the site have been done during that time. 

"The work that's ongoing now is surface water and sediment and fish tissue sampling, and downstream surface water bodies to check on not only PCP, but dioxin which is a byproduct of wood treating facilities," said Wilberg.

He elaborated on the concern of the PCP groundwater plume and explained the concentration of PCP groundwater plume is well above the TCEQ health action level.

"The problem is, the groundwater flow direction is to the north-northeast. It's going off-site. By TCEQ rules, you have to completely assess the extent of contamination," said Wilberg.

A problem he says they have run into is a property owner to the north of the location is not providing permission to drill a monitor well. Wilberg said the next best option is off CR 4382. Wilberg explained the wells will each be a total depth of 20' to 25'. If the monitor wells don't provide the answers they are looking for, Wilberg suggests TCEQ may direct their attention back to the property owner.

"TCEQ does have the ability to force access on property owners, they don't like to do that," said Wilberg.

A motion carried to approve the installation of the monitoring wells.

Stephen Shires, Shelby County District Attorney, spoke with the commissioners about setting up an account for a Drug Court Fund for the purpose of placing monies collected by the probation department.

Shires presented the court with his case of why he thinks a Drug Court or Specialty Court would be great for Shelby County. Judge Allison Harbison suggested establishing an account was more akin to putting the cart before the horse and suggested a plan be established before setting up an account.

"I think the first step we're going to need to do, is we're going to need to establish the program before we establish the account," said Judge Harbison. "Under Government Code 123.02, the only ones that have the authority to establish the program is commissioners' court. So we probably need to establish the program."

Judge Harbison said a program needs to be put in place since the county is no longer a part of the regional program out of Panola County since the probation department split. She said a proper procedure would be to establish a program through the commissioners' court, then have a plan approved before approving an account.

To further advance conversation about the establishment of a drug court account Shires addressed a separate item on the meeting agenda, a Specialty Courts program grant funded by the office of the Texas governor. He explained this court would not only address drug court issues, but mental health issues, DWIs, and veterans' issues.

"I think that I would like to see a plan before we just establish something, so maybe before the next commissioners' court meeting if you can get us a plan on exactly what you're gonna do," said Judge Harbison.

Harbison referenced Government Code, Chapter 123, which outlines different possible uses of the drug court to even include intoxication offenses. She reiterated she would like to see a plan at the next commissioners' court meeting in two weeks. Shires said he would work on getting that done and stated he has a February 20 deadline to get the program established.

Judge Harbison suggested that since Panola County already has a working plan in place, perhaps Shires could ask Judge LeAnn Rafferty to get him a copy to work from in making a plan. 

Shires asked that the agenda items be worded differently the next time around, and Harbison suggested Shires email the preferred wording in the future for possible approval.

The commissioners chose to take no action on the two items until a plan has been presented for them to review.

Another item Shires requested of the commissioners was to allow the hire of an intern for his office paid for with the use of forfeiture funds. Shires explained the court of criminal procedure allows for this use of funds.

"The only no-no is that I cannot use funds, forfeiture funds in an employment context to substitute funds for the person's salary," said Shires. "In other words, if you're paying one of my legal assistants at the office, I can't supplement them and then y'all cut their pay by that amount."

Shires said all he wants is a part-time intern as he has had one before; however, he has paid them out of his own pocket. He used paperwork issues as an example of a need for an intern, and said he has a huge need. According to Shires, the District Attorney's office prosecuted 10 cases in 2017 and he expects to prosecute 12 more in 2018. 

There are three staff members with specific duties at the District Attorney's office working for Shires, and he explained he needs an intern to perform more menial tasks such as loading paper into printers.

The expectation is to have this individual working for 20 hours a week and earning possibly more than minimum wage. Shires expects to be replenishing funds in the forfeiture fund very soon.

A motion carried to allow the part-time hire of an intern for the District Attorney's office paid from the forfeiture fund as long as funds can sustain the hire.

The meeting went into an executive session from 10:35am until 11:02am and when the meeting returned to open session, no action was taken. 

The meeting was then adjourned.

Officers' report

Fees collected per office for December:
    Deborah Riley, Tax Assessor/Collector, office: Property: $1,797,140.13; Motor Vehicle: $34,522.83 for a total of $1,831,662.96
    Jennifer Fountain, County Clerk: $26,605.98
    Lori Oliver, District Clerk: $12,158.97
    Melissa Crouch, Justice of the Peace Precinct 1: $11,460
    Marla Denby, Justice of the Peace Precinct 2: $861
    Margie Anderson, Justice of the Peace Precinct 3: $6,932
    Jenny Hicks, Justice of the Peace Precinct 4: $1,196
    Mike Crouch, Justice of the Peace Precinct 5: $976
    Zach Warr, Constable Precinct 1: $355
    James Hagler, Constable Precinct 2: $0
    Roy Cheatwood, Constable Precinct 3: $180
    Jake Metcalf, Constable Precinct 4: $90
    Robert Hairgrove, Constable Precinct 5: $0

Grand total: $1,891,852.91

  Money Market CD#1 generated $246.63 total market value of $428,929.08
  Money Market CD#2 generated $215.76 total market value of $428,200.32
  Money Market CD#3 generated $245.93 total market value of $427,697.48
  Money Market CD#4 generated $280.17 total market value of $487,244.82
  Total CD Transactions $988.49 for a total market value of $1,772,071.70
    Shelby County Money Market generated $5.32 for a total value of $25,074.79
Total Interest earned on investments $993.81
    Total investments of $1,797,146.49
Total Interest from Interest Bearing Checking Accounts: $831.45


Agenda items approved during the meeting include:
1. Minutes of the December 8, 2017 Special meeting, December 11, 2017 Regular meeting, December 13, 2017 Special meeting, December 21, 2017 Special meeting, and the December 27, 2017 Special meeting of the Shelby County Commissioners’ Court.
2. Weekly expenses.
3. Officers Report.
4. Purchase new heaters for Sheriff’s Department at $49,000.
5. Move forward with four off-site monitor wells to determine extent of pentachlorophenol groundwater plume at Tenaha Wood Treating Site.
6. Resolution in support of original motion bringing suit on behalf of Shelby County, Texas, vs. various drug manufacturers, developers, suppliers and others of a class of pharmaceutical class of drugs commonly referred to as opioids and approval of Professional Services Agreement for Special Counsel.
7. Create a part-time internship at District Attorney’s office to be paid out of forfeiture funds as they are available.
8. Allow mounting of T.V. monitors in District Courtrooms.
9. Adjourn.

Tabled
1. Pct. 3 Commissioner to close County Road 3120.

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