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Judge Harbison (right) swears in newly elected District Judge James A. Payne, Jr. (left) while wife Jill Payne (middle) holds the Bible.

January 3, 2019 - An investiture ceremony was held Thursday, January 3, 2019 in the 273rd District Courtroom for newly-elected Judge, Honorable James A. Payne, Jr. with a courtroom full in attendance.

Shelby County Judge Allison Harbison started the ceremony saying, "I'm so honored that Judge Payne asked me to do this today." Judge Harbison then invited Clint Porterfield, County Auditor, to give an invocation.

She recognized elected officials present at the ceremony: Shelby County District Attorney Stephen Shires, SC District Clerk Lori Oliver, Shelby County Clerk Jennifer Fountain, SC Pct 1 Commissioner Roscoe McSwain, SC Sheriff Willis Blackwell, SC Tax Assessor/Collector Deborah Riley, City of Center Mayor David Chadwick, City of Center Mayor Pro Tem Leigh Porterfield, City of Center Manager Chad Nehring, Former County Judge Rick Campbell, Sabine County Sheriff Tom Maddox, District Attorney from Sabine and San Augustine Counties Kevin Dutton, and San Augustine County Judge Jeff Boyd.

Judge Harbison invited Judge Payne's wife, Jill, to hold the Bible as the pledge was recited, "I, James A. Payne, Jr., do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the duties of the office of the 273rd Judicial Judge of the State of Texas and will to the best of my ability protect, preserve, and defend the constitution and the laws of the United States and of this State so help me God."

From left: Charlotte Markowski, Jennifer Figge, James Payne, James Allen Payne, District Judge James "Jim" Payne, Maddie Payne, and Jill Payne.

After being sworn in, Judge Payne gave thanks to his family and recognized family members in attendance - cousins Polly Montemayor, Jeannie Gaines, and Emily Glass; sisters Jennifer Figge and Charlotte Markowski; and children James and Maddie Payne; and father James Allen Payne. He gave special recognition to his wife, Jill, "Thank you for everything you've done for me. I've got the best wife of all the wives. I would literally not be here in this position today if it were not for my wife Jill."

Judge Payne then shared a story about his father which is the man he is always trying to emulate.  He had just learned recently that his father representing Sabine County along with Bob Fairchild representing Shelby County and Charles Mitchell representing San Augustine County were the three attorneys who traveled to Austin to testify in front of the legislature about the need to form the 273rd Judicial District Court.

After sharing a few more stories with the audience about his time in the justice system, he said, "I'm very happy that I get to stay in the courtroom but serve on the bench. This is all I want to do... and hopefully I get to serve the remainder of my career here."

He finished by sharing a quote attributed to Socrates - “Four things belong to a judge: to hear courteously, to answer wisely, to consider soberly, and to decide impartially.” He said that is what he is going to aspire to do and he appreciates everyone giving him the opportunity. He plans to follow the quote with humility and East Texas common sense as well.

From left: District Clerk Lori Oliver, County Clerk Jennifer Fountain, County Treasurer Ann Blackwell, Pct 2 JP Marla Denby, Pct 5 JP Tracy Broadway, and Pct 4 JP Jackie Kirkwood.

January 2, 2019 - Eight newly elected officials were sworn-in during the Shelby County Commissioners' Court meeting on Wednesday, January 2, 2019.

Administering the oaths of office to the officials was Allison Harbison, Shelby County Judge. Officials sworn-in include Jimmy Lout, Precinct 2 Commissioner; Tom Bellmyer, Precinct 4 Commissioner; Lori Oliver, District Clerk; Jennifer Fountain, County Clerk; Ann Blackwell, County Treasurer; Marla Denby, Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace; Tracy Broadway, Precinct 5 Justice of the Peace; and Jackie Kirkwood, Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace. 

Once the officials took their oaths of office the meeting moved forward with other agenda items.

From left: County Judge Allison Harbison, Pct 2 Commissioner Jimmy Lout, and Pct 4 Commissioner Tom Bellmyer

The commissioners approved a motion to pay weekly expenses with the caveat to not pay two invoices to ASCO Equipment. 

Commissioner Bellmyer pointed out one piece of equipment from ASCO Equipment has yet to be received by the Commissioner 4 Precinct and he requested holding up on the payment until the equipment is received. It was agreed a check would be issued, and once the situation is straightened out Bellmyer will give the check to ASCO Equipment.

A motion carried by the commissioners to adopt a resolution designating authorized signatory's for the 2018 Texas CDBG program contract 7218440. Judge Harbison explained a resolution had previously been adopted by the commissioners; however, the grant program now requires two signatories be included. Clint Porterfield, County Auditor, will be added in addition to Judge Harbison's name.

Stephen Shires, Shelby County District AttorneyJudge Harbison explained for the benefit of the commissioners and representatives of the Shelby County Children's Advocacy Center (SCCAC), Capital Credits for Fiscal Year 2018 to be disbursed were requested of the Comptroller late in 2018. A check wasn't received and Ann Blackwell, Treasurer, contacted the Comptroller's office. They decided to cancel the original check and issue another. Judge Harbison stated, the cancelled check was finally received, but they have not yet received its replacement.

A motion carried to table the Capital Credits until the payment of $18,095.18 is received.

Anna RegisterThe SCCAC and CASA are designated to receive these funds whenever they are available. Stephen Shires, Shelby County District Attorney, spoke on behalf of the SCCAC board explaining the funds go to help education and prevention, investigation, prosecution and helping family and child heal after.

"We train every single teacher in Shelby County on how to recognize child abuse, and how to properly report it and what to do," said Shires. "We have Happy Bear Program where we can go in and see every elementary age kid in Shelby County and teach them about what the proper boundaries are."

Josh McAdams, SCCAC Board member, was also present for the meeting and he introduced Anna Register as a forensic interviewer and family advocate for the SCCAC.

Due to the abuse of the restroom facilities at the Shelby County Courthouse, and the regular need of a plumber for toilets clogged with paper towels, a motion carried for the replacement of the paper towel dispensers currently in the bathrooms on the second and third floor of the courthouse with two wall mounted hand dryers in each bathroom.

Conversation relating to the continuation of the reserve officer, Newton Johnson, Jr., for Constable Precinct 3 was had. Charles Barr, Commissioner Precinct 3, said he has spoken with several private citizens and civic organizations around the Joaquin area including the fire department, school and city about the usefulness of the reserve officer.

Mike Cummings Jr.

Mike Cummings, Jr. who is a member of the Joaquin City Council gave his opinion during the meeting about the use of a reserve deputy.

"Mr. Newton [Johnson] here for precinct 3 has been a real help for us, you know, controlling traffic in school zones and things of that nature," said Cummings. "Where Mr. Roy [Cheatwood] often isn't available, somebody's always there now."

Cummings asked for the arrangement to continue as it has been. Barr said all he has heard has been positive and Judge Harbison mirrored that opinion. 

A motion carried to continue the current arrangement with the addition the commissioners can end the arrangement anytime it needs to should any problems arise.

The meeting was adjourned.

Agenda Items approved during the meeting:
1. Swearing in of elected officials.
2. Bond for Justice of the Peace Precinct 1.
3. Approve and pay weekly expenses, issue a check to ASCO Equipment for Commissioner Bellmyer to pay at his discretion.
4. Current payroll.
5. Adopt resolution to designate authorized signatories for the 2018 Texas CDBG program contract 7218440.
6. Approve mileage rate change of .58 per mile in accordance with IRS Standard Rates.
7. Disperse Capital Credits for FY 2018.
8. Replace paper towel dispensers in the restrooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the Shelby County Courthouse with wall mounted hand dryers.
9. Install a wall mounted baby changing table in the ladies restroom on the 2nd floor, at a cost of $140.
10. Designate a room/private space just off the community room in the courthouse for nursing mothers.
11. Continue the reserve officer for Constable Pct. 3 with the additon of allowing the commissioners to end the agreement at anytime should any problems arise.
12. Adjourn.

January 2, 2019 - The jury that has been summoned for Monday, January 7, 2019 for the 273rd District Court, Honorable Judge James A. Payne, Jr. 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.

January 2, 2019 - Ann Forbes, U.S. Weather Service Observer, prepared and submitted the following weather statistics for the year 2018.

17 Days 32 degrees or lower
1 inch snow on 1-16-18
2 full moons: Super Blood Blue Moon and Lunar Eclispe

2 days 32 degrees or lower 
9.22 inches rain set New February Record 

March: 2 Full Moons 

April: Frost on 4-08-18 and 4-16-18

June: One day 100 degrees

July: 11 Triple Digit Days 

August: 5 days with 99 degrees 

First Frost / Freeze 29 degrees on 11-14-18
First Killing Frost 26 degrees on 11-16-18

December: Set Record Annual Rainfall with 82.18 inches 

OTHER High Annual Rainfall Years:
1957 - 72.79
1968 - 76.58
1991 – 70.29
1994 –75.24
1997 – 76.20
2004 – 70.15
2015 – 77.13

January 1, 2019 - Weather statistics for December 2018 are prepared and submitted by Ann Forbes, U.S. Weather Service Observer.

Highest Temp was 76 degrees on 12-02-2018
Highest Temp on Record was 84 degrees on 12-06-1956
Lowest Temp was 27 degrees on 12-11-2018
Lowest Temp on Record was 02 degrees on 12-24-1989

Rainfall Recorded was 12.79 inches
Average Monthly Rainfall is 5.43 inches
Above Average by 7.36 inches
Highest Recorded for this Month was 14.23 inches in 2002
Lowest Recorded for this Month was 0.87 inches in 1980

Yearly Rainfall is 82.18 inches - an ANNUAL RECORD RAINFALL
Yearly Average is 54.20
Above Average by 27.98 inches

Happy New Year!!!

Click here for full weathers statistics

January 1, 2019 - Flags that have been at half staff for the past 30 days (November 30 - December 30) in honor of the passing of President Bush should now be raised.

December 2, 2018 - In honor and tribute to the memory of President George H.W. Bush and as an expression of public sorrow, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation ordering the flag of the United States to be displayed at half-staff from now until sunset on December 30, 2018.

Further, a National Day of Mourning has been appointed for December 5, 2018.
Read the proclamation here 

December 31, 2018 - The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office has had several reports of a phone scam that started Saturday, December 29, 2018 and is still continuing. The scam reports that the caller states he is Detective Brooks of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. The caller is telling individuals that they have a warrant for their arrest and is requesting payment for the bonds through Google Play cards, Green Dot cards and other forms of prepaid cards and failure to pay the bond through he requested form of payment will result in their arrest.


The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office will never call and request payment of any kind. If you receive one of these calls, simply hang up and block the number if possible, as it is a scam. If you have experienced a call such as this and have given personal information or payment to the caller, please call 936-598-5601 to report the incident.

Submitted by Leah Chase, SCSO Media Relations

December 28, 2018 - US 59 at the railroad underpass in Timpson will be closed in both the north and southbound inside lanes today to begin repairs to the damaged road surface and concrete culvert beneath. Single lane of travel in each direction will be allowed until work is competed. Be prepared for possible delays. Stay alert for workers, nearby moving equipment and reduce speed through this work zone.

December 27, 2018 - Several roadways across Shelby County are currently flooded due to thunderstorms which began Wednesday evening, December 26, 2018 and continued through the night.

Roads that have been highlighted as having flooding conditions in the county include:

  • State Highway 87 South near the gas facility at CR 3008
  • State Highway 87 North at CR 1451
  • US Highway 59 at CR 4657
  • State Highway 7 West in the vicinity of Excelsior School, East and West traffic lanes are severely flooded
  • CR 1000 between State Highway 87 and Roughrider Drive in Center
  • CR 1488
  • CR 1165
  • US Highway 84 East at Joaquin ISD to the intersection with State Highway 7 East
  • Trees down on CR 1273
  • CR 3737 through the bottom areas
  • CR 3267 through the bottom areas
  • CR 3173 half to 2/3 mile off Hwy 7, roadway is flooded and impassable
  • CR 3254 water still rising, impassable
  • CR 3156 washed out
  • CR 2545 in Shelbyville (10:37am)
  • CR 3219 flooded and impassable (12:22pm)
  • CR 3520 underwater with water over bridge (1:01pm)
  • CR 3550 water is up to top of bridge and over the roadway some but very shallow. Car should be able to cross over but use caution. (1:53pm)

Roadways in the city of Center which have been indicated to have flooding conditions include:

  • Tenaha Street
  • Southview Circle (US 96) south of the intersection with State Highway 7 West
  • Hurst Street at the intersection of Crawford Street

The Southeast portion of Shelby County remains under a severe thunderstorm warning until 6:15am.

December 26, 2018 - Subsequent to search warrants of two separate residences located on Booker T. Washington Drive, Tenaha, where a felony amount of narcotics was located, an arrest warrant for Sirtonio Evans, 32, of Tenaha, was issued. 

Evans was taken into custody the following day, December 19, 2018 without incident and booked into the Shelby County Jail on the following charges: delivery of dangerous drugs, possession of marijuana, possession of dangerous drug, and possession of drug paraphernalia.