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Around Town

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February 1, 2023 - A large group attended Joe’s Italian Restaurant’s New Member and Grand Opening ribbon cutting on Wednesday, February 1, 2023. Chamber Ambassador President Stephanie Elswick welcomed owners, Ben Ponari and Linda Metaliaj, to the downtown square, “We are very happy to welcome [Ben] and Linda to our community. We are very happy to have another restaurant on the square, and that’s Italian food. And we all love Italian food.” Elswick then presented them their new Chamber of Commerce membership plaque to proudly display.

Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors had some questions for the new owners. One question was concerning lunch specials and Linda advised they do have daily lunch specials available from 11am until 3pm. Lunch specials are Lasagna, Manicotti, Cannelloni, Spaghetti, and Ziti Napolitan (spicy marinara sauce) for $9.99.

Joe’s Italian Restaurant is a family owned business and they have three other locations in Texas: El Campo, Temple and Killeen. Ben Ponari has been the owner for 8 years but has been in business for 10 years and is the manager of the Center location. They offer an extensive menu including appetizers, salads, pizza, subs, pasta, seafood entrees and dessert. They also have kid friendly menu options.

From left: Owners, Ben Ponari and Linda Metaliaj, and Chamber Ambassador President Stephanie Elswick

Joe’s Italian Restaurant is located at 130 Nacogdoches Street in Center on the Historic Downtown Square and is open Tuesday through Sunday 11:00 am until 9:00 pm. Available options are dine in or carry out. Catering available. Find them online on Facebook at Joe’s Italian Restaurant - Center, TX or call 936-427-5009.

February 1, 2023 - We will not have Preschool Story Time, February 1st, at the Fannie Brown Booth Library because of the cold and rainy weather. Hope to see all next week.

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January 31, 2023 - The Shelby County Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, community members, and family celebrated with Diamond B Coffee owners Marty and Codi Brandon on Friday, January 27, 2023. The celebration included the opening of the coffee shop and its new chamber membership as well as Marty's birthday.

Ambassador President Stephanie Elswick welcomed the business to the community and the chamber. "We are here, of course, to welcome Marty and his business to our community. Several of us have supported Marty and love everything that he does and we are so happy that you are a member of our Chamber." Elswick also announced it was Marty's birthday!

Marty Brandon started off by introducing his help who were able to attend the ribbon cutting. He introduced Hunter Gibson, Rebekah Mcghen, and Layla Hennigan. Brandon then introduced his family, wife Codi and son Shyloh, and told about their journey from Dallas to Shelby County and Diamond B Coffee. The move to East Texas was something Brandon had been wanting for years. He described visiting family when he was younger, "When I would come down here, I would build good memories... I was with my grandparents, you know the rare times you get to see your grandparents when you live a long way away, so, it just seemed like God's country to me then as a kid." He spoke about coming as an adult on long weekends hunting and that's how he got to know Center, "Ya'll are the best town!"

The coffee shop serves delicious coffee and espresso drinks, both hot and cold. Also available are homemade breakfast items, baked goods which pair perfectly with coffee, and lunch sandwich plates. A must try menu item is Marty's famous breakfast quiche.

Diamond B Coffee is located at 500 Hurst Street and is open Monday thru Friday 6am until 6pm and on Saturdays 6am until mid-day. Orders can be placed ahead via the Toast Takeout app.

History of Diamond B Coffee

Diamond B Coffee opened on October 17, 2022 by owners Marty and Codi Brandon. The shop was a realization of a long-held dream for Marty to move to God’s country, Deep East Texas!

Having grown up in the Dallas area with family in Timpson and Appleby, Marty visited the area on long weekends. As a young boy he dreamed of moving here and being a cattle rancher. As life would have it, this proved to be difficult. In high school he found a passion for haircutting, he got a scholarship for beauty school, had two great children and by 20 was a dad with responsibilities and bills and no way to uproot his life. Seemingly stuck in the big city forever he worked as hairdresser and later a general contractor.

In 2021 he found himself in a new set of circumstances, single with the kids grown and gone, and 9 grandchildren by the way, and thoughts of moving to the country were revived. For the last 20 or so years he had been hunting in the area to get at least some time in the country. His deer lease was in Neuville which meant going to Center for food and hunting accoutrement. It was during this time he fell in love with Shelby County and Center in particular.

Marty was and is a coffee addict and was a bit of a home barista, often making lattes for friends and family to show off his skills, he would say "wouldn't it be great to open a coffee shop.” Having the prospect of moving to the country in mind, the ideas started to flow. He felt, “I have to start over career wise because none of my businesses transferred.” With this in mind the idea of opening a coffee shop became a reality.

From left, front row: Codi and Marty Brandon with son, Shyloh

During 2021 while preparing to move Marty and Codi began dating and very soon it was apparent that Codi and her son Shyloh would be coming with him. They were Married on 2/22/22 at 2:00. (He should be able to remember his anniversary!!) So they closed up shop, sold his house, moved into their R.V., and put all they had into Diamond B's remodel and opening inventory. When they opened, Marty said, "The credit cards are full, the bank account is empty, and I have never been happier.” 

When thinking of a name for the coffee shop Marty remembered the dreams of moving to east Texas and that as a child he had drawn a brand for his "future" cattle ranch. Scratching it out for Codi he asked what she thought and immediately she concurred “that's it.” Though not a cattle ranch it is a registered brand in Shelby County now and is the inspiration for the coffee shop's theme.

Diamond B is in Marty's words, Artisan coffee made by folks who love to serve people. Diamond B focuses on technique and quality at every step of the process. Searching out the best roasts for each type of their coffees, hand prepping every espresso shot, even using a lever machine instead of the automated ones flooding the coffee world to pull the espresso shots. The "Drip" roast is a dark rich coffee that is great black or dressed up as you like. They even make their own cold brew coffee in house using another roast specifically for that taste profile.

Diamond B offers many food options for breakfast and lunch, ranging from sandwiches, breakfast tacos and kolaches to the now famous Keto Quiche and more. They make many pastries such as muffins, cakes, scones made from scratch, cinnamon rolls, and cookies.

Diamond B currently does not have a drive thru so they rely on technology to accommodate their customers in a timely manner. They use the Toast Takeout app for order ahead and have it ready and waiting for you. They have reloadable cards for gifting or just keeping loaded for your own convenience. Soon they will do curbside carry out and are experimenting with delivery.

Diamond B is not a ranch but it is still the vehicle that allowed the Brandons to get to east Texas. Marty often says "if Diamond B failed and I had to get a job, it was worth it because now I'm here. And who knows, maybe the Diamond B ranch is in my cards in the future!"

January 30, 2023 - On Friday, January 27, 2023, VFW Post 8904 and the Auxiliary visited Joaquin Jr. High School to present Lucinda David with her third place District 19 award she earned through the youth essay program "Patriot's Pen". She received an engraved plaque and a check for $100.

Last year Lucinda also won the Post 8904 competition and placed second at the district level. This next school year she will be eligible to enter the "Voice of Democracy" competition as a HS Freshman.

From left to right: Auxiliary Chaplain Joy Hutto, Auxiliary Treasurer Theresa Hume, Past Post Commander Gene Hutto, Post commander Richard Lundie, Luncinda, Jr. High Teachers Whitney Hooper and Rondalyn Neal.

January 30, 2023 - Shelby County Memorial Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8904, Center, Texas welcomes new members, husband and wife, Derrick, and Mary Roberts. Both are retired US Army Veterans. Mary earned her eligibility with service in Kuwait, Iraq, and Korea and was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, and the Korean Defense Service Medal. Derrick earned his with service in Korea, where he was awarded the Korean Defense Service Medal.

Administering the member’s obligation at the post meeting of January 16, 2023 is Post Quartermaster Larry Hume.

About the VFW: The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is the nation's largest and oldest major war veterans organization. Founded in 1899, the congressionally chartered VFW is comprised entirely of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, Guard and Reserve forces. With more than 1.5 million VFW and Auxiliary members located in nearly 6,000 Posts worldwide, the nonprofit veterans service organization is proud to proclaim “NO ONE DOES MORE FOR VETERANS” than the VFW, which is dedicated to veterans’ service, legislative advocacy, and military and community service programs. For more information or to join, visit our website at vfw.org.

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January 27, 2023 - VFW Post 8904 and Auxiliary observe the Vietnam Peace Accord of 1973 on its 50th anniversary Friday, January 27, 2023.

VFW Post 8904 Quartermaster Larry Hume welcomed everyone in present for the program at the Veterans Memorial and introduced Kenneth Ramsey, Post Chaplain, to give the opening prayer. The group then recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

"The Paris Peace Accord ending the Vietnam War was signed 50 years ago on January 27, 1973, and that was followed by the withdrawal of the remaining American Troops and the terms of the accord called for a complete ceasefire in South Vietnam. It allowed North Vietnamese forces to retain the territory that they had captured and it provided for the release of U.S. prisoners of war, you remember when all of the POWs came home. It also called for both sides to find a political solution for the conflict as an enticement to South Vietnam, President Nixon at that time offered U.S. air power to enforce the peace terms; however this was stopped in December 1974 when the Congress cut off all military aid to South Vietnam," said Hume.

"More than 58,000 Americans gave their lives in the Vietnam War and there are still 1,581 missing in action. Just FYI, that is three left than last year when we gathered here," said Hume. "Three families now have closure due to our POW/MIA accounting teams that continue to search around the world wherever there are missing Americans," said Hume.

Hume continued by stating the number of those from Shelby County who were killed in action or in training duing that time period.

"Right here in Shelby county, Texas we have 11 veterans buried who were killed in action in Vietnam and one who died while he was preparing to deploy to Vietnam, and we like to remember them this day by reading their names."

The names, which are listed at the bottom of this article, were then read by members of VFW Post 8904, members of the Post Auxiliary and civilians attending the observance.

VFW Post 8904 member Mike Wulf placed the tribute wreath on the Veteran's memorial in honor of these 12 Veterans and all those lost in the Vietnam War in honor of those who served, survived and have since passed; and in honor of all those who served.

After the reading of names of Shelby County Vietnam Veterans who died in service, everyone attending was offered the opportunity to say the name of someone they know who served in Vietnam.

Hume said, "FYI, you can see Taylor Johnson there he was killed in action it will be tomorrow January 28, 1966; and William Henry Eaden was the first from Shelby County to be killed in Action, November 12, 1965."

The program was closed with the playing of Taps by Past-Post Commander and bugler Gene Hutto.

Shelby County Vietnam Veterans who died in service to our Country

  • Ted Wayne Adams, Private First Class - Born in Beaumont, Texas, July 31, 1944. Inducted into the U.S. Army November 14, 1965. Killed in action on November 15, 1966, age 22. Buried in the Tennessee Cemetery, Timpson, Texas. Awarded the Purple Heart. His name on the Vietnam Memorial can be found at Panel 12 East, Line 76.
  • William Larry "Shorty" Andrews, Specialist Fourth Class - Born in Shelby County, Texas October 25, 1945. Inducted into the U.S. Army 1965. Killed in action on February 16, 1967, age 21. Buried in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Shelby County, Texas. Awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. His name on the Vietnam Memorial can be found at Panel 15 East, Line 38.
  • Jimmy D. Barnett, Private First Class - Born in Joaquin, Texas February 28, 1943. Inducted into the U.S. Army May 1967. Killed in action March 26, 1968, age 25. Buried in the Jackson Cemetery, Joaquin, Texas. Awarded the Purple Heart. His name on the Vietnam Memorial can be found at Panel 46 East, Line 28.
  • Mac Curtis Buckley, Private First Class - Born in Center, Texas November 7, 1945. Inducted into the U.S. Army 1967. Killed in action on July 5, 1968. Buried in the Westview Cemetery, Center, Texas. Awarded the Purple Heart. His name on the Vietnam Memorial wall can be found at Panel 53 West, Line 16.
  • Larry Stephen "Possum" Byford, Private First Class - Born in Center, Texas May 1, 1945. Inducted into the U.S. Army October 1965. Killed in action June 23, 1967. Buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Shelby County, Texas. Awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. His name on the Vietnam Memorial can be found at Panel 22 East, Line 52.
  • Ray A. Chatelain, Seaman First Class - Born in Louisiana May 6, 1946. Join the U.S. Navy Ocotober 1965. Killed in an explosion aboard the USS Forrestal on July 30, 1967. Buried in the Longstreet Cemetery, Longstreet, Louisiana. Awarded the Purple Heart. His name on the Vietnam Memorial can be found at Panel 24 East, Line 50.
  • William Henry Eaden, Sergeant - Born in Timpson, Texas August 12, 1939. Joined the U.S. Army December 13, 1961. Career soldier killed in action on November 12, 1965. Buried in the Mount Gillion Cemetery, Shelby County, Texas. Awarded the Purple Heart. His name on the Vietnam Memorial can be found at Panel 3 East, Line 42.
  • Jerry Lynn Hughes, Sergeant - Born in Center, Texas July 17, 1946. Inducted into the U.S. Army May 1966. Killed in action on July 12, 1967. Buried in Oaklawn Memorial Park, Center, Texas. Awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. His name on the Vietnam Memorial can be found at Panel 23 East, Line 59.
  • Taylor D. "Sonny" Johnson, Major - Born in Joaquin, Texas December 15, 1952. Joined the U.S. Army 1953. Career soldier. Killed in action January 28, 1966. Buried in the Joaquin Cemetery, Joaquin, Texas. Awarded the Air Medal and Purple Heart. His name on the Vietnam Memorial can be found at Panel 4 East, Line 103.
  • John B. Lightfoot, Corporal - Born in Shelby County, Texas July 27, 1952. Joined the U.S. Marine Corps June 14, 1971. Killed in a training accident on October 3, 1974 in Louisiana while preparing to deploy to Vietnam. Buried in the McClelland Cemetery, Shelby County, Texas.
  • Samuel R. Lynch, Specialist Fourth Class - Born in Nacogdoches, Texas May 26, 1949. Inducted into the U.S. Army 1969. Killed in action December 12, 1970. Buried in the White Rock Cemetery, Shelby County, Texas. Awarded the Purple Heart. His name on the Vietnam Memorial can be found at Panel 6 West, Line 130.
  • Calvin R. Patrick, Private First Class - Born in Houston, Texas November 23, 1950. Inducted into the U.S. Army November 30, 1968. Killed in action May 25, 1969. Buried in the Wimberly Cemetery, Shelby County, Texas. Awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. His name on the Vietnam Memorial can be found at Panel 24 West, Line 106.

January 27, 2023 - Community members and Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors celebrated with Amethyst Beauty Bar, a new member of the Chamber, on Friday, January 13, 2023 at their new member ribbon cutting event.

Chamber of Commerce Ambassador President, Stephanie Elswick, started the ribbon cutting with a description of Amethyst Beauty Bar, “[Alexis Pickett] is the owner and sole beautician in the shop. She has 10 years of experience. Services include coloring services, color corrections, hair cuts, Brazilian Blowout, flat tip extensions and hand tied extensions. She specializes in blonding, color corrections and Brazilian Blowouts. And we are very happy to have her.”

Alexis Pickett thanked everyone for coming and showing support for her business. She introduced some of her friends and supporters in attendance who were Taylor McDaniel, Tracee Fountain, Cat Fountain, Sabrina Ebenshaw, and Dustin Belrose. Pickett gave special appreciation to Cindy Furlow, Dustin Belrose, Stephen and Liz Andrusick, Dawn Pickett, Butch Battreall, and Joyce Smith for their support as well.

Alexis is excited to have her own salon and looks forward to helping everyone achieve all of their hair color and style needs.

Amethyst Beauty Bar is located at 1101 Hurst Street, #1. For more information or to book an appointment call 936-645-7680. Alexis is open Tuesday-Saturday 9am-6pm.

January 25, 2023 - The Center High School Class of 1973 seeks contact information for our classmates in preparation for our 50th class reunion. If you are a '73 graduate or know of someone who is, please send name and contact information to chsroughriders73@gmail.com

Chili Cook-off Winners - Ashley and Jeremy Snider

January 24, 2023 - The Shelbyville Volunteer Fire Department had a good turnout despite drizzling rain for their first Annual Community Night.

Three contests were held with the following top winners: Ashley and Jeremy Snider in the Chili Cook-off; Cody and Cayden Price in the Cornhole Tournament; and Blake Campbell and Megan Teske in the 42 Tournament.

42 Tournament Winners - Megan Teske and Blake Campbell

Thank you to all who signed up to play, who brought chili, or who made donations to the fire department. Your support is greatly appreciated and helped make Community Night a success!

A special thank you to the Chili Cook-off judges who were Sheriff Kevin Windham, Tom Jenkins, and Jon Collins.

The fire department hopes to see everyone again next year on the 3rd Saturday in January!

Cornhole Tournament Winners - Cody and Cayden Price

January 24, 2023 - The students listed on the Dean's List of Academic Honors at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, are undergraduates who have achieved a grade point average of at least 3.5 out of a perfect 4.0 in all work attempted while enrolled in not less than 12 semester hours.

The university would like to recognize the following students for earning the honor for the Fall 2022 semester:

  • Christian Berry, Timpson, TX
  • Katelyn Bolton, Center, TX
  • Christopher Byndom, Center, TX
  • Rachel Guidry, Center, TX
  • Kailan Randle, Center, TX