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September 19, 2017 - TxDOT has been on scene at the intersection of San Augustine and Austin Streets Tuesday, September 19, 2017. As of 1pm the lights have been restored to operation.

September 18, 2017 - Use caution traveling through the intersection of Austin Street and San Augustine Street on the downtown square in Center. A vehicle crashed into the utility pole around 4pm Monday, September 18, 2017 and damaged the power box to the street light. The intersection currently has temporary stop signs in place until the damage is repaired.

September 19, 2017 - The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office was informed of a post circulating on social media regarding a dog bite that occurred recently.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office responded to an incident at the NMC Center Emergency Department on Sunday, Sept. 17 regarding a dog bite that occurred on County Road 2501.

The complainant stated she and a friend were riding a golf cart when two dogs ran to the cart and started barking. The complainant stated she was not concerned with the dogs as she had never had problems with them before. As the complainant continued to travel on the roadway one of the dogs, a German Shepherd, bit her on the shin of her left leg. The laceration from the bite caused the complainant to receive treatment at the emergency room. The complainant was concerned if the animal had been vaccinated for rabies.

SCSO Patrol Sergeant Jeff Gogolewski spoke with the complainant who stated she had spoken with the owner of the animal. The owner told the complainant the animal had been vaccinated but the owner’s son was seen removing the dog from the residence where it was later destroyed.

Sergeant Gogolewski traveled to CR 2501 and spoke with the owner of the animal and she stated she obtained a rabies vaccination from a store in Louisiana and she administered the shot to the dog in Feb. 2017. Louisiana law states only licensed veterinarians may administer rabies vaccinations to animals.

The owner provided a tag with a vaccination number but no paperwork supporting the vaccination. The owner was issued a citation for improper vaccination of dogs and cats.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office handles animal bites with great concern. It is our obligation and duty to ensure the safety of the citizens of our county.

Updated 3pm, September 18, 2017 - The Shelby County Sheriffs Office has received information that Monica Marie Carter is in Mexico. Carter was carried across the border by 29 year-old Tommy Riley, JR and his father, Leo Riley.

September 14, 2017 - The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the whereabouts of Monica Marie Carter. Carter is described as a 16 year-old white female, 5’4” and approximately 200 pounds. She has brown hair, brown eyes and tattoos on both wrists. She was last seen at her residence located at 673 East Saddle Street, Lot #5 in Joaquin on Sept. 11 around midnight.

Anyone with information on Carter’s whereabouts is urged to contact Lt. Kevin Windham at the SCSO at (936) 598-5601.

Leah Chase,SCSO Media Relations

September 17, 2017 Lufkin – Improvements at the San Augustine County Airport are scheduled to begin next week that will include new pavement and lighting.

The Texas Transportation Commission in February approved $460,000 in Federal and state grant funding, earmarked for planned airport improvements that includes constructing pavement and lighting improvements. The project costs are funded through San Augustine County and TxDOT’s Aviation Facilities Grant Program, which preserves and improves the state’s general aviation system.

“San Augustine County is deeply grateful to TxDOT Aviation, KSA Engineering, Inc. and Drewery Construction Co., Inc. for their extraordinary efforts on behalf of our airport project,” said San Augustine County Judge Samye Johnson. “The 400-foot extension of our runway, asphalt resurfacing and expansion of our aprons will provide us with new options and opportunities for our facility. We realize we have an A-plus team and appreciate their excellence. We look forward to opening our ‘better than new facility’ by the first of the year."

In 2017, TxDOT expects to provide approximately $60 million in funding for planning, constructing and maintaining community airports statewide. There are 275 community airports in Texas currently eligible for the funding. In addition, community airports account for more than three million flight hours per year in arrivals and departures, providing aircraft facilities for agricultural, medical, business and commuter use.

For additional information, contact or call (936) 633-4395.

September 14, 2017 - Shelby County Sheriff Willis Blackwell reports that on Friday, September 8, 2017 that an arrest was made on a James Alford Tutt, Jr., 25 of Timpson, due to a narcotics investigation conducted by Chief Deputy DJ Dickerson.

Due to the narcotics investigation, an arrest warrant was issued for Mr. Tutt for Manufacture/Delivery of a Controlled Substance and on Friday, September 8, 2017 Chief Deputy DJ Dickerson located Mr. Tutt traveling on Highway 87 North and a traffic stop was initiated at the intersection of County Road 1456. Mr. Tutt was placed into custody for the warrant and additional narcotics were located on his person and within the vehicle.

Mr. Tutt was transported to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office jail facility by Deputy Kurtes Lawrence and Deputy Jordan Long who assisted in the traffic stop.

Mr. Tutt was charged and booked for the warrant for Manufacture/Delivery of a Controlled Substance, State Jail Felony and Possession of a Controlled Substance, State Jail Felony.       

Mr. Tutt was arraigned by Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Marla Denby with total bond set at $15,000. Mr. Tutt bonded out on Saturday, September 9, 2017.

So it continues…will you be next?

September 14, 2017 - A vehicle crash on FM 1645 East caused a power outage affecting a wide area of Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative (DETEC) customers Saturday, September 9, 2017.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Sean Smith, at 5:28pm a white 2001 Dodge pickup truck driven by John Richard Sparks, 73, of Nacogdoches was northbound on FM 1645 when the truck traveled off the roadway to the right.

After traveling for a distance off the roadway, the truck struck a utility pole head-on and snapped the pole in half causing power lines to come down on the roadway.

The Timpson Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to the scene of the crash where they directed traffic at either end of the roadway surrounding the incident scene.

No injuries were reported as a result of the crash. Sparks was issued a citation for failure to drive in a single lane.

Many DETEC customers were without power until after 12-midnight.

September 13, 2017 - A Center church pastor has been arrested on a charge of aggravated sexual assault and had bond set Wednesday, September 13, 2017.

According to the Shelby County Sheriff's Department arrest log William Earl Nash Jr., 45, of Center was arrested by the Center Police Department on a charge of aggravated sexual assault, felony 1.

Up until the time of his bond hearing Wednesday, September 13, information pertaining to the arrest of Nash was unavailable as a grand jury indicted him on September 7, 2017 and the indictment was sealed.

Following a hearing held Wednesday, the indictment was no longer sealed. According to the indictment on or about March 24, 2017 Nash is alleged to have had sexual relations with a child who was then and there younger than 14 years of age and not the spouse of the defendant.

Per order of Hon. Judge LeAnn K. Rafferty, 123rd District Judge, signed September 8 following the indictment the bond was initially set at $150,000 with a requirement for a hearing.

During the hearing Wednesday in Judge Rafferty's courtroom, the court set new bond of $50,000 with conditions for Nash including requirements he not leave certain jurisdictions without prior written permission of the court except for work or to visit his attorney.

If the case goes to trial it is expected to take place in March or April of 2018.

September 13, 2017 - DeSoto Parish Crime Stoppers Felon of the Week Program is asking for the public’s help in locating/identifying suspect(s) wanted from DeSoto Parish Area.

Ryan K. Jones of Logansport, La. Jones is wanted for Violation of Protective Order. Jones is described as a white male, 6’2” tall and weighing 250lbs. Jones is 42 years of age.

DeSoto Parish Crime Stoppers is offering a reward up to $1,000 for information that results in the suspects arrest, anyone with information is asked to call the Crime Stoppers line at 1-800-505-STOP(7867) all calls are confidential or contact the Desoto Parish Sheriff’s Office at (318)872-3956. Capt. James Clements.

September 13, 2017 - With all Commissioners and County Judge present, a Commissioners' Court meeting Monday, September 11, 2017 vetted county business including courthouse security and a possible energy audit. The court also heard from a Precinct 4 citizen concerning needed repairs to CR 4840.

Shelby County Judge Allison Harbison invited Mac Warren, a member of the audience, to give an invocation which was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance to the American and the Texas flags.

Discussion included placing a Courthouse Security monitor in the foyer, Judge Harbison said, "We had discussed this awhile back and kind of ran out of money in my budget for making improvements. Hopefully, in October we will work on some additional courthouse security but I just think it would be better if we are going to have a guard at the door that they have the monitor there to see what's going on." She continued, "What I propose is that an additional [monitor] to be out there and to move courthouse security out to the front, to the front counter."

Clint Porterfield, County Auditor, advised there were funds available in the Courthouse Security account to finance the expenditure. A motion was made and carried to install an additional security monitor in the front foyer with the funds coming out of the Courthouse Security account.

Janitorial services were on the agenda again for more discussion. Three bids were received which were from Joyce K. Horton, Angela Raybon, and Jo Stone. The discussion was whether to continue contracting the service or to hire an employee.

Porterfield advised new employee expenses would be approximately $6,700 per year for health insurance, retirement match is 7% which would be another $1,800 - $2,000 depending on pay, plus unemployment, life insurance, and worker's compensation. The total new employee expense would be around $9,000 plus the salary.

Judge Harbison also advised that if the county goes the route of hiring an employee versus having a contract for janitorial services, the county would be responsible for purchasing all of the supplies which in the past have been provided by the contractor. The county would also have to advertise for the position.

Commissioner Pct 4 Charles Barr responded, "I tend to lean toward having our own employee because otherwise, reading this contract, our services include this, this, and this, so on and so forth, when we really need to determine what those jobs are. I lean in that direction, I don't know how the other Commissioners feel, I'm kind of leaning in that direction."

Commissioners were presented the option to make a short contract agreement of 90 days for the time being and not to renew the full 1-year term until it can be decided to continue contracting the service or to hire an employee. Commissioners chose to table the item on Janitorial Services.

A presentation was made by Steve Smelley with the Way Companies regarding Energy Sustainability of county buildings. Smelley spoke, "We are a hundred year old company, privately held, and what we do and how we do it works. If you will look at counties across the state of Texas, building infrastructure is 50 years or older, most of your infrastructure is at the end of its life cycle. You have very high operating costs." He continued to talk about high operating costs and estimated what the outcome would be if the county followed through, "We are able to capture 20% to 40% of what you are spending on your utility spend and able to reinvest that back into your infrastructure." He stated the county is protected under Government Code section 302 (Energy Savings Performance Contracts for Local Governments.)

A heated discussion ensued concerning how the program works and what it would obligate the county to pay in the future if the county gave authorization to the company to perform an Energy Audit of the county buildings and present an action plan of their findings back to Commissioners' Court. Smelley said, "All I'm asking today is that you authorize the judge to sign my action plan which allows me to perform this audit for you at no charge to the county and we'll get that done and I've got all the dates here and I should be back in front of you with a November time frame."

Commissioner Pct 1 Roscoe McSwain asked, "Essentially, what you are talking about, the savings will come from the electrical bill?" and Smelley replied it would come from gas, water, and electric.

County Attorney Gary Rholes questioned the procedure and requested to see a contract before the county signed anything. McSwain expressed concerns about how the process will be paid for and if the results of the audit obligates the county to a future bill.

Following a long discussion, Commissioner Pct 3 Charles Barr made a motion to approve the authorization for the Energy Audit. County Judge Allison seconded the motion after no other Commissioners spoke. Upon voting, Commissioners McSwain, Jimmy Lout, and Bradley Allen voted against the motion and it failed.

Tonia Epperson addressed the court regarding her mother's road, CR 4840 also known as Prairie Street, which is in Pct 4, Commissioner Allen's precinct. After passing out a map, Epperson spoke on behalf of her mom, Betty Crump, who lives on the road, "She had numerous times asked Mr. Allen about a creek that crosses in front of her driveway to maintain that. He has stated to her just recently that it was not in the county, it belonged to the city and that he was not going to fix it." She presented evidence showing the section of the roadway where the creek is located is in the county and the court agreed it was in the county.

Allen argued he didn't say it wasn't in the county but that a large majority of the road wasn't in the county. A lively discussion ensued between Epperson and Allen concerning when the area of the driveway became part of the county. He advised he felt the problem was her driveway culvert, "Her problem is her driveway culvert. I've carried Commissioners (Charles Barr) out there and we looked at it. It's undermined, it needs to be tore out, and a new one put in."

"We can put a culvert in where the creek is. It may give you enough to turn out but it's not going to address your water problems," continued Allen.

"The problem is that when those culverts (across the roadway) were originally put in the road was wider on each side because the road came to the edge of those culverts. As it has washed, [the road] has narrowed and narrowed and narrowed so that you have this much culvert on each end sticking out because there is no retaining wall, there is nothing that is there to hold the material onto the top of the culverts. That road does get under water. That is why..." said Epperson. Allen interjected, "and it is going to continue doing so." Epperson understood the area will continue to have water issues but she felt if the side of the culvert was cleaned out it would help.

Allen advised he has plans to replace that culvert and already has it ordered but he could not say the exact day when the culvert would be put in. He would be replacing the two culverts which currently run across the road with a larger culvert. Epperson said thank you and expressed appreciation for the Commissioners' time.

Items approved in the meeting:
1. Minutes of the August 7, 2017 Budget Workshop, August 14, 2017 Regular meeting, the August 14, 2017 Budget Workshop, August 28, Special meeting, and August 31, 2017 Special meeting, of the Shelby County Commissioners’ Court
2. Payment of weekly expenses
3. Officers' report: (See below Ann Blackwell report)
5. 2018 Holiday Schedule: New Year's Day (Mon., Jan. 1st), Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Mon., Jan 15th), President's Day (Mon., Feb. 19th), Good Friday (Fri., March 30th), Memorial Day (Mon., May 28th), Independence Day (Wed., July 4th), Labor Day (Mon., Sept. 3rd), Columbus Day (Mon., Oct. 8th), Veterans' Day (Mon., Nov. 12th), Thanksgiving Holidays (Thurs., Nov. 22; Fri., Nov. 23), Christmas Holiday (Mon., Dec. 24th; Tues., Dec. 25th; Wed., Dec. 26th)
6. Placing Courthouse Security monitor in the foyer
7. Sheriff's and Constables fees for 2018
10. Approved the County Auditor to conduct audit of District Attorney Forfeiture/Seizure funds per code of criminal procedure 59.06(g).

Items tabled for another meeting:
8. Discuss and possibly take action on Janitorial Services.

Ann Blackwell, County Treasurer, presented her financial report as follows:

Debra Riley, Tax Assessor Collector - Total of $121,522.13
     Property Collections $90,830.66
     Motor Vehicles $30,691.47
Jennifer Fountain, County Clerk - $36,182.71
Lori Oliver, District Clerk - $17,111.45
Melissa Crouch, JP 1 - $7,385
Marla Denby, JP 2 - $943
Margie Anderson, JP 3 - $11,475
Jenny Hicks, JP 4 - $2,416
Mike Crouch, JP 5 - $3,036
Total fees office collections - $200,071.29

Zack Warr, Constable 1 - $1,008
Jamie Hagler, Constable 2 - $90
Robert Hairgrove, Constable 5 - $180

Investments earned a total $1,062.81 bringing the total value of investments to $1,792,838.51 for certificates of deposit and investments. Interest earned on interest bearing checking accounts was $740.09.

September 13, 2017 - The Center Fire Department was dispatched to a stock trailer fire on FM 138 six miles west of Center Friday, September 8, 2017 at 2:45pm.

When the firemen arrived at the property of Earl Kiddy, no one was on scene where the stock trailer and mobile home were both engulfed in flames.

The firemen were able to extinguish the trailer and majority of the mobile home before the owner returned. It appeared he had been doing some burning of debris which had gotten out of control and caught the trailer and mobile home on fire.