News

August 6, 2020 - State Highway 7 East and Loop 500 in Center was the scene of a major two-vehicle crash Thursday afternoon, August 6, 2020.

According to Center Police Officers Brian Wright and John Clevenger, at 1:30pm a grey Dodge Journey driven by a 15-year-old female driver of Center was westbound on State Highway 7 (SH7) East approaching the intersection of Loop 500.

As the Dodge turned onto Loop 500 heading toward State Highway 87 South, it failed to yield right of way to a silver Nissan Rogue driven by Edith Williams, 74, of Logansport which was westbound on SH7.

The Nissan then struck the Dodge and collided with a stop sign before both vehicles came to rest in the roadway.

Williams and her passenger Christopher Williams were transported by ambulance to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Shelby Emergency Department as a precaution.


August 6, 2020 - The Shelby County Emergency Management office reports as of 8:00am on Thursday, August 6, 2020, TxDSHS has reported 7 new cases raising the cumulative case count to 386. The death count is 14 for Shelby County. (The DSHS website dashboard shows 18 deaths for Shelby County as of Aug 5th.)

According to the state's algorithm to determine recoveries, 6 new recoveries were reported and the total of recoveries increases to 296. The number of active cases is now 76.

Breakdown of cumulative cases by zip code and ages:

Active Cases in each zip code: (Change in Data)

Center (75935) - 40 (4 new, 2 recoveries)
Joaquin (75954) - 5 (2 new, 2 recoveries)
Shelbyville (75973) - 6
Tenaha (75974) - 15 (1 new)
Timpson (75975) - 10 (2 recoveries)

Cumulative Cases in each zip code:

Center (75935) - 260 (4 new)
Joaquin (75954) - 22 (2 new)
Shelbyville (75973) - 24
Tenaha (75974) - 47 (1 new)
Timpson (75975) - 33

Ages of Confirmed Cases:

Ages 1 to 20: 36 cases
Ages 21 to 40: 127 cases (3 new)
Ages 41 to 60: 119 cases, 4 deaths
Ages 61 to 80: 65 cases (3 new), 4 deaths
Ages 81 to 100: 32 cases (1 new), 6 deaths
Age unknown: 7 cases

August 5, 2020 - The Shelby County Commissioners agreed to contribute $65,000 in CARES act funding to local schools during their meeting held Wednesday, August 5, 2020.

"We have a lot of money that we're probably not going to use," said Judge Allison Harbison. "Clint [Porterfield] and I discussed it and we hate to send this money back to the state."

Judge Harbison offered to reach out to the public schools in Shelby County to share CARES act funds with them.

"The protocol is, we can't just write them a check for their grant, they have to submit the billing to us. Clint's assured me and Ann [Blackwell's] assured me that they can keep up with that and they would send the bills to us and we would pay it through the CARES act."

According to Judge Harbison, Sabine County and other smaller counties are taking this action to help their schools. Judge Harbison stated Center ISD has almost half of the school children in Shelby County. She remarked the Superintendents may not even want the funding; however, she proposed allocating $20,000 to Center ISD; $10,000 to Timpson ISD; $10,000 to Tenaha ISD; $10,000 to Joaquin ISD; $10,000 to Shelbyville ISD and $5,000 to Excelsior ISD.

During a June meeting of the commissioners, Judge Harbison shared the county was to receive $188,000 in CARES act funding.

According to Judge Harbison, with groups such as Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) having provided such things as masks to the county, free of charge, funding hasn't been needed for those items.

"We have been supplying the volunteer fire departments and the [Police Department] and the [Sheriff's Department] and even some of the health clinics that are doing COVID testing as well as the [Emergency Room], we have been giving them masks and shields and whatever they need," said Judge Harbison.
 
A list of acceptable things the money can be spent on would be provided to the schools.

"I think it would be a great gesture to the schools to show that we are wanting to help them get going," said Judge Harbison.

Jennifer Fountain, County Clerk, stated as a parent she would appreciate and she felt a lot of parents would also.

A motion carried to offer the grants to the schools.  

The Center Police Department has recently lost access to their shooting range and Center Police Department Lt. Jeremy Bittick has requested the use of the Shelby County shooting range utilized by the Sheriff's Department. 

"They have evidently lost their range and they need to be able to qualify," said Judge Allison Harbison.

She recommended entering into an interlocal agreement with the agency, should it be approved to outline any rules for all to follow.

"I know that in the past that there's been issues about cleaning up after themselves and replacing targets and things like that. I mean they should leave it the way they find it," said Judge Harbison. 

According to a list of items relating to the shooting range presented by Sheriff Willis Blackwell, it was noted by Tom Bellmyer the backstop behind the targets needs to be renewed.

"Sounds to me like right off the bat we need to come up with a plan, I know that the city has had quite a bit of material on the streetscape that they have dug out and hauled away," said Commissioner Bellmyer.

Bellmyer said the Sheriff described the need of three loads of material for the backstop and for it to be contoured. Additionally Bellmyer would like to confirm with Shelby County Attorney Gary Rholes about the liability to the county and he agrees written guidelines need to be in place as well as a county representative being present when the site is in use.  

"We've got county tax payers across the county and we've got law enforcement groups across the county that in my opinion all need to be able to use it if we have a plan on how to use it and keep it up," said Bellmyer.

Judge Harbison said she could confer with other counties that have shooting ranges and contact the city about the potential of donating some of the concrete debris from the square.

Commissioner Charles Barr spoke with Keith Byndom, Center Fire Chief, about the possibility of burning the old Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 building, and he agrees with the fire chief it would likely be too small of an area to burn the structure.

Commissioner Bellmyer suggested contacting Sandhill, the company demolishing the old hospital/probation department building about the possibility of tearing down the old Justice of the Peace building while they are in town working on the old hospital.

This suggestion gives the county a potentially short window with the possibility of the demolition of the old hospital and parking lot being completed by the end of the week.

It was suggested whatever remains in the building needs to be removed by August 10 and for whatever utilities remain active to be disconnected.

Judge Harbison said she would contact Donna Hughes, Justice of the Peace Precinct 1, and Gary Rholes, County Attorney, to make sure they know to be completely out by August 10.

A motion carried to seek a quote for the demolition from Sandhill. 

Tax-Assessor-Collector Debora Riley addressed the commissioners on 2020 calculated tax rates. She reported no new revenue is the effective tax rate for the county and that rate is .6393 and for Road and Bridge it's .0794 for a total of .7187. Last year was .7027 as the total.

The rollback rate which is now called the voter approval rate, the county is .67 and the Road and Bridge is .0865 for a total of .7565. 

"Whatever we had of income last year, our rate was to give us the income. This year the automatic effective rate will be that rate to keep the same income, otherwise if we go back to last year's we're going to lose 100-something-thousand dollars," said Commissioner Roscoe McSwain.

The meeting entered executive session at 10:05am and returned to open session at 10:17am.

No action was taken regarding discussions in executive session.

Judge Harbison shared some information she recently received from the United States Forest Service. 

"Out of the timber sales from the Sabine National Forest we're going to be getting some funds, they're called 'Good Neighbor' funds and we're going to be getting between $25,000 and $50,000 worth of money," said Judge Harbison. 

She stated this money would be used for road work and encouraged the commissioners to get some projects together and named to utilize the funds.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:20am.

Agenda items approved during the meeting include:
1. Pay weekly expenses.
2. Current payroll.
3. Allocate funds from the County’s CARES Act Fund in the amount of $65,000 to the Shelby County School Districts to help them prepare and combat Covid-19.
4. Dispose of the old JP1 building located behind the County Jail by August 10, seek bid for demolition.
5. Reappoint Mr. John Howard for a two-year term as a board member of the Burke Board of Trustees representing Shelby County.
6. Sheriff and Constable Fees for FY 2021.
7. Adjourn at 10:20am.

Agenda items tabled during the meeting include:
1. Discuss and possibly take action on a request from the Center Police Department for use of the County owned shooting range.
2. Discuss the request from the Probation Community Service Department regarding additional fencing for the Community Service buildings.

August 5, 2020 - The Tenaha Constable Precinct 4 office reports the arrest of a Georgia man on drug charges Tuesday, August 4, 2020.

According to Constable Precinct 4 Taylor Fanguy, a traffic stop was initiated Tuesday afternoon on U.S. Highway 59 just outside Tenaha due to speeding. Upon contact, the driver was identified as Donald Walker, 33, of Atlanta, Georgia.

During the traffic stop, Constable Fanguy discovered over half a pound of marijuana, and multiple narcotic pills including Oxycodone and Xanax.

Walker was arrested and charged for possession of a controlled substance, felony 2; possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor a; and possession of marijuana, state jail felony.

Constable Fanguy states he appreciates the assistance of the Tenaha Police Department and Shelby County Sheriff's Department in this arrest.

August 5, 2020 - The Shelby County Emergency Management office reports as of 8:30am on Wednesday, August 5, 2020, TxDSHS has reported 2 new cases raising the cumulative case count to 379. The death count is 14 for Shelby County. (The DSHS website dashboard shows 17 deaths for Shelby County as of Aug 4th.)

According to the state's algorithm to determine recoveries, 5 new recoveries were reported and the total of recoveries increases to 290. The number of active cases is now 75.

Breakdown of cumulative cases by zip code and ages:

Active Cases in each zip code: (Change in Data)

Center (75935) - 38 (2 new, 4 recoveries)
Joaquin (75954) - 5
Shelbyville (75973) - 6
Tenaha (75974) - 14 (1 recovery)
Timpson (75975) - 12

Cumulative Cases in each zip code:

Center (75935) - 256 (2 new)
Joaquin (75954) - 20
Shelbyville (75973) - 24
Tenaha (75974) - 46
Timpson (75975) - 33

Ages of Confirmed Cases:

Ages 1 to 20: 36 cases
Ages 21 to 40: 124 cases (1 new)
Ages 41 to 60: 119 cases (1 new), 4 deaths
Ages 61 to 80: 62 cases, 4 deaths
Ages 81 to 100: 31 cases, 6 deaths
Age unknown: 7 cases

August 4, 2020 - (Photos by Talia Matthews) - The dollar store in Shelbyville was the scene of a single-vehicle crash Monday, July 27, 2020, which resulted in injury to the driver and property damage.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Keith Jones, at 8:30am a red 2016 Chrysler 200 driven by Jakaila Shaliece Swindle, 18, of Center pulled into the parking lot of Family Dollar in Shelbyville.

As the vehicle entered off State Highway 87 South, it did so at a speed greater than safe and struck the side of the building causing damage.

Swindle was transported to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Shelby Emergency Department where she was treated and released. She was later issued a citation for no driver's license.

Later that same day FM 139 was the scene of another crash investigated by Trooper Jones. According to Trooper Jones, at 1:10pm a black 2018 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck driven by Benjamin Howard Kyle, 34, of Choudrant, Louisiana was northbound on FM 139.

As he traveled behind a tractor just north of CR 3376, Kyle attempted to pass in a no passing zone which also coincided with the tractor turning left into a private driveway. Kyle steered left to avoid colliding with the tractor and traveled through a barbed wire fence. 

Kyle was issued a citation for passing in a no passing zone.

August 4, 2020 - Products contain wheat, a known allergen, which is not declared on the product label

H-E-B is voluntarily issuing an all-store recall for Blue Cheese Salmon Burgers due to an undeclared allergen. The products contain wheat, a known allergen, which is not declared on the product label. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to wheat run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

All affected product has been removed from store shelves. There has been one reported illness to date.

Blue Cheese Salmon Burgers affected by this recall were sold behind the seafood counter, in the seafood department and in the meal simple area in H-E-B retail stores throughout Texas. This voluntary recall impacts the following products with dates with dates up to and including 8/3/2020:

The following are the UPC number followed by the Item description - 
23757500000    Meal Simple SC SAL BURGER BLUE CHS 2CT
23759000000    Meal Simple SC SAL BURGER WILD BLUE CHS
23725500000    SALMON/BURGER BLUE CHEESE TP
22528700000    SALMON/BURGER BLUE CHEESE
23731100000    SALMON/BURGER WILD BLUE CHS TP
23711100000    SALMON/BURGER WILD BLUE CHEESE

Affected products can be returned to the store for a full refund. Customers with any questions or concerns can contact H-E-B Customer Relations at 1-855-432-4438 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Standard Time.

August 4, 2020 - The Shelby County Emergency Management office reports as of 8:00am on Tuesday, August 4, 2020, TxDSHS has not reported anything new so the numbers remain the same. Cumulative cases are 377. The death count is 14 for Shelby County. (The DSHS website dashboard shows 16 deaths for Shelby County as of July 30th.)

According to the state's algorithm to determine recoveries, no new recoveries were reported and the total of recoveries remains at 285. The number of active cases remains at 78.

Breakdown of cumulative cases by zip code and ages:

Active Cases in each zip code: (Change in Data)

Center (75935) - 40
Joaquin (75954) - 5
Shelbyville (75973) - 6
Tenaha (75974) - 15
Timpson (75975) - 12

Cumulative Cases in each zip code:

Center (75935) - 254
Joaquin (75954) - 20
Shelbyville (75973) - 24
Tenaha (75974) - 46
Timpson (75975) - 33

Ages of Confirmed Cases:

Ages 1 to 20: 36 cases
Ages 21 to 40: 123 cases
Ages 41 to 60: 118 cases, 4 deaths
Ages 61 to 80: 62 cases, 4 deaths
Ages 81 to 100: 31 cases, 6 deaths
Age unknown: 7 cases

August 3, 2020 - The Shelby County Emergency Management office reports as of 8:45am on Monday, August 3, 2020, TxDSHS has reported 6 new cases increasing the cumulative case count to 377.

The death count is 14 for Shelby County. (The DSHS website dashboard shows 16 deaths for Shelby County as of July 30th.)

According to the state's algorithm to determine recoveries, 6 new recoveries were reported and the total of recoveries is 285. The number of active cases remains at 78.

Breakdown of cumulative cases by zip code and ages:

Active Cases in each zip code: (Change in Data)

Center (75935) - 40 (3 recoveries)
Joaquin (75954) - 5
Shelbyville (75973) - 6 (1 new, 1 recovery)
Tenaha (75974) - 15 (3 new, 1 recovery)
Timpson (75975) - 12 (2 new, 1 recovery)

Cumulative Cases in each zip code:

Center (75935) - 254
Joaquin (75954) - 20
Shelbyville (75973) - 24 (1 new)
Tenaha (75974) - 46 (3 new)
Timpson (75975) - 33 (2 new)

Ages of Confirmed Cases:

Ages 1 to 20: 36 cases
Ages 21 to 40: 123 cases (1 new)
Ages 41 to 60: 118 cases (4 new), 4 deaths
Ages 61 to 80: 62 cases (1 new), 4 deaths
Ages 81 to 100: 31 cases, 6 deaths
Age unknown: 7 cases


Those attending watch as Judge Allison Harbison swears in Justice of the Peace Melba Rodgers.

July 31, 2020 (Video in the process of uploading) - Shelby County Judge Allison Harbison swore in the newly elected and appointed Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 Melba Rodgers.

In the July 15th meeting of the Shelby County Commissioners' Court, the court accepted the resignation of Margie Anderson and approved appointing Melba Rodgers since she had won the position in the March Primary Run-off Election. Her appointment to the position is effective today, July 31, 2020.

Judge Harbison said, "I am so tickled to swear Ms. Melba in. She is replacing a true legend (Margie Anderson). A women who has been there for years and who has done such a great service for that community and I feel like that this is going to carry over with another strong, smart independent women."


Judge Harbison (left) swears in JP 3 Melba Rodgers (right).

Prior to the swearing in, Rodgers' sister Kathryn Schillings gave an invocation. Judge Harbison led Rodgers as she gave her pledge to serve the county, "I, Melba Rodgers, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the duties of the office of Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 of the county of Shelby, State of Texas, and I will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the constitution and the laws of the United Sates and of this state, so help me God."

After applause, Judge Harbison advised lightheartedly JP Rodgers that she had just married this county and she now belongs to them.

"This is really full circle for me because Melba gave me my first big person, adult job. Right after I was married, she took a chance on a young, green girl and I went to work for the Headstart program," Judge Harbison explained. "I just want you to know I appreciate her faith in me back then and I have all the faith in the world in her now."


Melba Rodgers, her family, and other JPs listen to Judge Harbison as she speaks before the swearing in ceremony.

Newly sworn in JP Rodgers thanked her family and friends and community for their support during the election time and now, "I ask for your continued support and your prayers, especially your prayers, to go through this (job)."

Locally elected officials attending the swearing in ceremony and offering their congratulations were Constable Pct 3 Roy Cheatwood, District Clerk Lori Oliver, JP 1 Donna Hughes, JP 2 Marla Denby, JP 5 Tracy Broadway, Sheriff Willis Blackwell, and County Treasurer Ann Blackwell.


JP Pct 3 Melba Rodgers (left) and Constable Pct 3 Roy Cheatwood (right)


From left to right: JP 5 Tracy Broadway, JP 2 Marla Denby, JP 3 Melba Rodgers, and JP 1 Donna Hughes.


Melba Rodgers with her family.

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