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July 17, 2018 - Citizens from Joaquin and Tenaha attended the Joaquin City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 17, 2018 primarily because of item 8 on the agenda - discussion on Inter-local agreement between the City of Joaquin and City of Tenaha with respect to Joint Policing.

Council member Jessie Griffith who was the person which requested the item be added to the agenda commented saying there was some confusion. There would not be an inter-local agreement between the City of Joaquin and the City of Tenaha, but rather, officers with the Tenaha Police Department may be willing to offer advise to the City of Joaquin in establishing their own department.

Griffith said, "I put that on the agenda. Mr. Pope wasn't able to be here tonight because he had some personal business he had to take care of. There has been a lot of misinformation shared on that. There is not going to be a joint effort between Tenaha and Joaquin." Griffith then made a motion to remove the item from the agenda or rather to end the discussion and the motion carried. 

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Tammy Smith spoke to the council encouraging them to do anything which could help with the drug problem in Joaquin.

All the other items on the agenda for approval were approved. Action taken after executive session included two motions - one to give a 50 cent raise to Paula Guzman and one to give a 50 cent raise to Barbara Pridden with both being reconsidered when it is time to review the budget. Both motions carried and the meeting was adjourned.

Meeting Agenda: City of Joaquin Regular Scheduled Meeting July 17th Agenda

July 17, 2018 - The Texas Department of State Health Services is confirming three cases of West Nile disease reported last week by local health departments in Austin, Dallas and Galveston. The first three cases of the year are cases of West Nile fever reported by Austin Public Health and Galveston County Health District and a case of neuroinvasive disease reported by Dallas County Health and Human Services.

People can be infected by West Nile virus through the bite of an infected mosquito. Last year, Texas reported 135 cases of West Nile illness that resulted in six deaths. There have been more than 3,500 illnesses and 167 deaths in Texas over the last 10 years.

To protect themselves and their communities, people should take steps to avoid mosquito bites and reduce mosquito populations:

  • Regularly apply EPA-registered insect repellent while outdoors.
  • Dump out all standing water inside and outside homes and businesses so mosquitoes can’t lay eggs.
  • Use air conditioning or make sure window and door screens are in good repair to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Cover up with long sleeves and long pants to help prevent bites.

Most people who get infected with West Nile virus don’t get sick. About 20 percent develop West Nile fever, a fever that can be accompanied by headache, muscle and joint aches, nausea, diarrhea and fatigue. People with this form of disease usually recover on their own, though symptoms may last for several weeks. Less than one percent of those infected will develop the more severe West Nile neuroinvasive disease, in which the virus infects the nervous system. Symptoms can include those of West Nile fever plus neck stiffness, muscle weakness, vision loss, tremors, convulsions, disorientation, coma and paralysis. Recovery can take months, and some effects on the nervous system may be permanent. About 1 in 10 people with West Nile neuroinvasive disease die.

People experiencing West Nile symptoms should contact their health care provider for possible testing. There is no vaccine to prevent West Nile and no specific treatment, though over-the-couther and other medications may help relieve some symptoms.

Additional information on West Nile surveillance and a link to current human case counts is available at

July 14, 2018 - A spokesperson with Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative reports on the large area outage from Saturday morning, July 14, 2018.

Britney Ford reported, "The outage was the result of a transmission line lightning arrestor failure. A lightening arrestor is a device that helps protect the lines from lightning effects during storms. Transmission line equipment can be time consuming to locate and repair safely. As a result, this failure caused SWEPCO's transmission breaker to open which caused the widespread outage affecting Tenaha, Timpson, Prospect, Fitze, Central Heights, Shady Grove and Martinsville. Crews have isolated the issue and are working to make repairs as quickly and as safely as possible. Power has now been restored to all areas with the exception of Tenaha. Your patience and understanding is greatly appreciated as crews located the issue."

July 13, 2018 - Firemen from the West Shelby County Volunteer Fire Department and the Center Fire Department were dispatched to a single-vehicle crash on State Highway 7 West, Friday July 13, 2018 in the White Rock Community. According to a press release issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), they investigated the one-vehicle crash about 10 miles west of Center.

The preliminary crash investigation indicates at approximately 9:30am, Troopers were notified of the crash involving a grey 2005 Chevrolet Trailblazer. The driver of the vehicle reportedly fell asleep and drove off the roadway to the left and struck a concrete culvert.

The driver is identified as Bradley Fountain, 30, from Center. Fountain was transported to LSU Medical Center in Shreveport by medical helicopter for treatment.

This crash remains under investigation. No additional information is available at this time.

Firemen assisted Hughes Wrecker Service in gaining access to and extracting the vehicle from the creek bed where it came to rest. Additional units assisted in directing traffic on the highway. Shelby County Sheriff's Deputies were also on scene to assist.

Crash investigation was led by Trooper Cpl. Jimmy Faulkner.

July 12, 2018 - Jenny Hicks, Justice of the Peace Precinct 4, is the subject of a petition for removal of office from her position as Justice of the Peace. 

A petition filed in District Court by Shelby County Attorney Gary Rholes on Thursday, July 12, 2018 seeks the removal of Hicks from her office.

The document requests, Jenny Hicks should be removed from her office and alleges she is incompetent and has engaged in official misconduct as defined in the Texas Local Government Code. 

The document further alleges, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, Jenny Hicks does not keep any kind of office hours, making it impossible to file suits in Pct. 4., such as eviction suits, making it impossible for people to make any disposition of any traffic citations issued to them, and leaving citizens no means to regain the right to renew their licenses even after complying with all requirements to do so. The basic lack of a functioning J.P. Pct. 4, Shelby County, Texas is making a hardship on private citizens, other judges and law enforcement.

Petitioner further seeks the immediate suspension of Jenny Hicks from office, as authorized, because of the extreme hardship her conduct or lack thereof has caused innumerable people.

Along with suspension, petitioner seeks the appointment of a person as J.P. 4, Shelby County, Texas, pending further order of this honorable court.

Wherefore premises considered, petitioner requests that Jenny Hicks, respondent be served with a certified copy of this petition against her, and that the court call for a hearing on the suspension of Jenny Hicks, and for such further relief, including her permanent removal from office after a final trial and for all other relief to which petitioner may be entitled.

As previously reported by Shelby County Today on April 6, 2018, Hicks has been under investigation by the Texas Rangers and Shelby County District Attorney's office for the alleged offense of Theft by Public Servant/Official Misconduct involving her time as Municipal Court Judge for the City of Tenaha. The results of those investigations have yet to be produced.

Further information on those investigations can be found at the link following this article. Additional information involving this petition will be provided as the story develops.

Related article:
SC Justice of the Peace Under Investigation
JP Hicks Served with Temporary Suspension of Precinct 4 Office

July 4, 2018 - The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality required the Choice public water system on July 3, 2018, 2100005 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 7/11/2018.   

If you have questions concerning this matter, you may contact Derek Di Verdi at 936-332-7683

Due to a water outage, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has required the Choice public water system ID# 2100005 to notify customers on Hwy 96, Neuville and surrounding areas that were without water on 7/3 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

July 11, 2018 - The jury that has been summoned for Monday, July 16, 2018 for the 123rd District Court Honorable Judge LeAnn K. Rafferty presiding has been cancelled due to the scheduled cases being resolved or passed.

Anyone receiving a summons for that day is released from jury service until they receive a future summons.

July 9, 2018 - The intersection of Hurst and Foster Streets was the scene of a two-vehicle crash Saturday, July 7, 2018 which resulted in one driver making a water landing.

Officers with Center Police Department and emergency personnel with ACE EMS ambulance service were quick to the scene where the drainage ditch beside the roadway is quite steep along Foster Street.

According to Center Police Officer Brian Wright, at 8:45am a grey Ford Escape driven by Damaseno Benitez-Hernandez, 42, with passengers Dalia Benitez, 39, and Anacia Zamora, 17, was northbound on Hurst Street in Center.

Rita Corbell, 62, was traveling across Hurst Street from the Walmart entrance in the direction of Foster Street in a Pontiac G6. As the Pontiac crossed Hurst Street it failed to yield right of way to the Ford, causing it to make contact with the rear of the Pontiac and sending it into the ditch at the intersection of Hurst and Foster Streets.

No injuries or citations were reported at the time of the crash.

July 6, 2018 - The Center Water Utility is experiencing lower system pressures this morning. A water plant line repair initiated yesterday is taking longer than anticipated leaving the Pinkston Plant off line since early yesterday morning and resulting in lower than usual tank levels that control system pressure. The work is being completed and system should return to normal levels of operation later this evening. No system health notices are issued at this time but will be should pressures drop to the point they would be required.

July 5, 2018 - Sampson Street in Center was the scene of an incident Thursday, July 5, 2018 in which a man was reported to be unresponsive in a back yard.

Center Police Department officers were dispatched to the scene, as well as ambulance personnel at around 10:30am. When Shelby Country Today arrived at the location, officers had cordoned off the outside of the residence and the street.

Residents in the neighborhood surrounded the area and it appeared officers were investigating a possible homicide in the back yard of the residence and seemed to be focused on an area at the front of a pickup truck, which was facing away from the house.

According to a press release issued Friday, July 6, 2018 by Center Police Department Sgt. Nicole Faulkner, at approximately 10:23am July 5, Center Police Department responded to a call of an unresponsive person on Sampson St. Upon arrival, officers found Brakia Rashad Roland, 27, of Center deceased.

Mike Crouch, Justice of the Peace Precinct 5, conducted the inquest and an autopsy has been ordered. Community Funeral Home transported Roland from the scene and he was taken to a facility in Tyler for an autopsy.

The press release finished by indicating the case has been ruled a homicide.