News

The story headline links to a better view of the story and share features.

June 28, 2021 - According to the Texas DSHS Covid-19 Dashboard, over the last five days there have been 77 new cases and 80 new recoveries reported.

The estimated number of active cases is 15.

June 28 (2:20pm) Numbers: (changes since June 23)
Total Confirmed Cases - 1,071 (69 new)
Total Probable Cases - 781 (8 new) 
Total Fatalities - 71
Total Estimated Active Cases - 15
Total Estimated Recovered - 1,767 (80 new)

Reported June 2021 Numbers:
Total New Confirmed Cases - 125
Total New Probable Cases - 20
Total New Fatalities - 3
Total New Estimated Recovered - 145

June 28, 2021 - A reduction in the speed limit has been approved on two sections of roadway in Nacogdoches County and San Augustine and Shelby counties.

In Nacogdoches County, the speed limit on US 59 South will be reduced from 75 miles per hour to 60 mph for 1.58 miles just south of the city of Nacogdoches. This change extends the 60-mph limit for an additional 1.58 miles southward toward Lufkin.

In San Augustine and Shelby counties, the speed limit on FM 353 will be reduced from 50 mph to 45 mph from the San Augustine city limits to the Shelby County line. In Shelby County, on FM 353, the speed limit will be reduced from 55 mph to 50 mph from the San Augustine County line to SH 87.

The Texas Transportation Commission has approved these changes after considering results of engineering and traffic study/investigations that were conducted at each location.

For more information, contact Rhonda.Oaks@txdot.gov or call (936) 633-4395.

June 24, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) began accepting nominations for county committee members on June 15. Elections will occur in certain Local Administrative Areas (LAA) for these members who make important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally. All nomination forms for the 2021 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA office by August 2, 2021.

“We need enthusiastic, diverse leaders to serve other agricultural producers locally on FSA County Committees,” said Eddie Trevino Acting State Executive Director for FSA in Texas. “Now’s your time to step up and truly make an impact on how federal programs are administered at the local level to reach all producers fairly and equitably.”

Trevino said agricultural producers who participate or cooperate in a USDA program, and reside in the LAA that is up for election this year, may be nominated for candidacy for the county committee. A cooperating producer is someone who has provided information about their farming or ranching operation to FSA, even if they have not applied or received program benefits. Individuals may nominate themselves or others and qualifying organizations may also nominate candidates. USDA encourages minority producers, women and beginning farmers or ranchers to nominate, vote, and hold office. 

Nationwide, more than 7,700 dedicated members of the agricultural community serving on FSA county committees. The committees are made up of three to 11 members who serve three-year terms. Producers serving on FSA county committees play a critical role in the day-to-day operations of the agency. Committee members are vital to how FSA carries out disaster programs, as well as conservation, commodity and price support programs, county office employment and other agricultural issues.

LAAs are elective areas for FSA committees in a single county or multi-county jurisdiction. This may include LAAs that are focused on an urban or suburban area.

Urban and Suburban County Committees

The 2018 Farm Bill directed USDA to form urban county committees as well as make other advancements related to urban agriculture, including the establishment of the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. FSA established county committees specifically focused on urban agriculture. The urban county committees will work to encourage and promote urban, indoor and other emerging agricultural production practices. Additionally, the new county committees may address areas such as food access, community engagement, support of local activities to promote and encourage community compost and food waste reduction. 

Urban committee members are nominated and elected to serve by local urban producers in the same jurisdiction. These members are a vital link in the effective administration of USDA programs and are responsible for carrying out programs in full accordance with the regulations, national and state policies, procedures, and instructions. Urban county committee members will provide outreach to ensure urban producers understand USDA programs and serve as the voice of other urban producers and assist in program implementation that support the needs of the growing urban community.  Urban county committees must see that county office operations are supportive and that they receive timely and quality service by carrying out responsibilities effectively, efficiently, and impartially. Learn more at farmers.gov/urban

More Information

Producers should contact their local FSA office today to register and find out how to get involved in their county’s election. They should check with their local USDA Service Center to see if their LAA is up for election this year. To be considered, a producer must be registered and sign an FSA-669A nomination form or an FSA-669-A-3 for urban county committees. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available at fsa.usda.gov/elections

Election ballots will be mailed to eligible voters beginning November 1, 2021. To find your local USDA Service Center, visit farmers.gov/service-locator.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

June 23, 2021 - According to the Texas DSHS Covid-19 Dashboard, over the last five days there have been 48 new cases and 45 new recoveries reported.

Of the new confirmed cases, 16 are older confirmed cases reported to DSHS by labs which is why the active number of cases didn't increase as much as the number of new cases.

The estimated number of active cases continues to decline and is now 17.

June 23 (3:45pm) Numbers: (changes since June 18)
Total Confirmed Cases - 1,002 (44 new)
Total Probable Cases - 773 (4 new) 
Total Fatalities - 71
Total Estimated Active Cases - 17
Total Estimated Recovered - 1,687 (45 new)

June 2021 Numbers:
Total New Confirmed Cases - 56
Total New Probable Cases - 12
Total New Fatalities - 3
Total New Estimated Recovered - 65


Joaquin City Council (From left) Steve Cockrell, Jessie Griffith, Mayor Frankie Cooper, Cathy Atkinson, and Mike Cummings, Jr.

Mayor Frankie Cooper

June 22, 2021 - The City Council of Joaquin swore in their newly elected mayor, Frankie Cooper, during their regular meeting on May 18, 2021.

Frankie Cooper has served on the council since May 2016 and served in May 2017 as Mayor Pro Tem for former Mayor Pat Gray. He is married to Fannie Cooper and they have 3 children and 8 grandchildren. Their children are Demetris Cooper of Dallas, Michelle Cooper of Joaquin, and Fredrick Cooper of Dallas.

Mayor Cooper is the first elected black mayor for the City of Joaquin. He shared regarding his plans as Mayor, "I believe in trying to treat people fairly and bringing the community together with everyone working together to build up the community." Mayor Cooper first began his involvement with the City of Joaquin Council as a citizen back in September of 2010 when he requested Children at Play signs be posted on Saddle Street and that the speed limit be lowered to 25 mph. Now, instead of being the citizen bringing his thoughts and concerns to the city, he is the one listening and in charge of enacting change.

During the meeting, unopposed council members Cathy Atkinson and Mike Cummings, Jr. were also sworn in. Each recited the official statement of officer and their oath of office which was preformed by Amanda Treat, City of Tenaha Secretary.

The Utility Billing report was given: $63,626.10 billed and $52,921.26 collected. The remaining due is a little higher than normally outstanding.

The Public Works report was given: Testing of the fire hydrants have been completed. Completion of repairs have been delayed due to Weather. TCEQ sent a letter requiring the city to finish the elevated storage rehab, sandblaster and painted. TCEQ also wants the overflow pipe extended down to the ground. Railroad Commission paperwork has been submitted for an audit on the gas system. Wastewater updated included gas has been run to the new generator installed on Connell Ferry Road, the Woods lift station. There are two additional lift stations waiting for gas to be run to them. Rain has delayed progress.

On April 21st a proposed agreed order was sent from TCEQ on the wastewater plant. Background on the wastewater plant is nearly two years ago Joaquin did a major overhaul on the plant with lots of updates and changes. TCEQ fined the city in excess of $48,000 because of previous violations at the plant. All the paper work has been submitted with receipts showing the repairs have been completed. TCEQ will take into consideration the money the city has spent which is in excess of $50,000 which is more than the penalties. The city is waiting on the final determination from TCEQ for the next step.

Agenda items approved:
6. Previous month's minutes.
8. Payment of bills.
9. Move forward with Sheriff substation. Discussion did include possible partnership with Joaquin school to cover expenses such as phone, internet, electricity.
10. Purchase 3 (4' x 6') "Welcome to Joaquin" Signs.
11. Purchase playground equipment for City Park. Stacy Cranford will check on grant options with Texas Parks and Wildlife.
12. Closure of North Chalk Street.
13. Remove former mayor William Baker from ASB accounts.
14. Revised addition to Drought Contingency Plan.
16. Executive Session: The council came out of executive session and approved a motion to put a limit on overtime, no overtime unless it's emergency call in. A motion was approved for all spending for supplies goes through Casey Davis, City Secretary, and Stacy Cranford, Public Works Manager, and a P.O. system be used.

Tabled items:
15. Discussion and Council Action on Auditor.

June 21, 2021 - FM 3172 just before CR 2510 was the scene of a major two-vehicle crash between a dump truck and a tractor Thursday, June 17, 2021 around 4pm. 

Once dispatched, Huxley Volunteer Fire Department (HVFD) fire personnel responded quickly to the scene of the incident.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Daniel Dellenger, a John Deere 5100E tractor driven by Sawyer Hendricks, 20, of Shelbyville was north-westbound and Hendricks stated he used a left turn signal in preparation for entering a hay meadow.

A 2008 International SF547 dump truck with TxDOT markings driven by John Kyle Smith, 34, of Shelbyville was traveling the same direction behind the tractor and stated he only saw flashing hazard lights and didn't know the tractor was preparing to make a left turn. Smith made an attempt to pass the tractor in the left lane and the International collided with the front left wheel of the tractor as it turned left. 

The tractor ended up in the northbound ditch and the International continued down the roadway leaving the southbound side of the road and rolled, colliding with a tree.

No injuries were reported as a result of the crash incident.

No citations were issued at the time of the incident.

HVFD personnel provided traffic control until the tractor was removed from the roadway and the dump truck was towed from the scene.

June 21, 2021 - Multiple agencies from Texas and Louisiana joined forces to apprehend a wanted fugitive in the Timpson area Thursday, June 17, 2021.

According to Josh Tipton, Constable Precinct 5, he received an anonymous tip on the location of Charles Seth Alexander, 32, of Timpson, who was wanted on several warrants out of Nacogdoches County.
 
Charles Seth Alexander (Nacogdoches County Jail Photo)Constable Tipton reports surveillance of Alexander's location was initiated around 8:30am Thursday and he coordinated with Roy Cheatwood, Constable Precinct 3, to seek the assistance of DeSoto Parish Sheriff's Department in supplying a drone for aerial observation of the suspect location. 

The drone helped confirm activity on the property and Constable Tipton then continued surveillance in an unmarked vehicle from which he witnessed Alexander operating a tractor on the property.

From the command post established by the officers, they continued to observe Alexander until Tim Barton, Garrison Police Chief arrived with his K9 Madox to assist. Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Department investigators were also called to the scene.

As Alexander was exiting the property where he had been located, on the tractor he was operating, Constable Tipton and Chief Barton began to follow Alexander with intent to stop him and place him in custody; however, Alexander drove the tractor through a gate and exited the tractor, leaving it running.

Unaware of the direction Alexander fled in, Chief Barton Deployed K9 Madox who quickly tracked and located Alexander with ease. Alexander was located in a wooded area, and was laying down where officers wouldn't have been able to have located him as easily, and might have even missed him.

Officers report how invaluable K9 Madox was in locating the suspect quickly and safely.

"The dog alerted where he was, and therefore we were able to apprehend the suspect, Seth Alexander," said Constable Tipton.

After Alexander was located, Nacogdoches County investigators then took custody of Alexander and transported him to Nacogdoches.

According to Nacogdoches County Jail booking information, Alexander was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by felon, felony 3; theft of property >$2,500 <$30,000, state jail felony; burglary of a building, state jail felony; unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, state jail felony; criminal trespass, misdemeanor b; theft of property >$100 <$750, misdemeanor b; warrant - other: magistrate, misdemeanor a.

Constable Tipton offered a special thank you to Constable 3 Roy Cheatwood, Tim Barton Garrison Police Department K9 Unit, DeSoto Parish, Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Department investigators, and the Shelby County Sheriff's Office.


Chief Tim Barton is seen with K9 Madox as he gives commands to his suspect (Dillon Cook - training decoy) to surrender.

In light of the obvious effectiveness of K9 Madox in apprehending Alexander, Shelby County Today arranged to meet with Chief Barton and Madox during a K9 training event in Garrison. 

On that day, they were training with K9 Trainer Tony Villalobos, Jon Randolph, Mt. Enterprise City Marshal and his K9 Vana; and Dillon Cook, training decoy.

To insure K9 officers are always at the height of their effectiveness in helping protect the community, K9 handlers train with their dogs a minimum of four hours a week, but more often than not they train everyday.

"We try to make the situations and everything as real as possible, what they face out in the street," said Tony Villalobos, K9 trainer.

Villalobos explained criminals try and mask their illegal substances in a variety of ways, but that just seems to peak the K9's interest even more because they can still smell the substances they've been trained to locate.

"All it does is it attracts more attention to the dog," said Villalobos.


As K9 Madox is working to apprehend his suspect, Chief Barton is seen in the background giving him commands.

The training team traveled to different areas in and around Garrison to train on locating and apprehension. In a wooded area, Dillon Cook was the decoy for apprehension training and he donned a full body protective suit to prevent injury from dog bites, and allow the K9s to practice. In the instance of the apprehension of Alexander, K9 Madox didn't have to bite because he complied and came out of his hiding place. 

As the dogs trailed Cook through the woods where he was hiding, it was remarkable how quickly Madox and Vana were able to move in individually on their suspect with magnetic like force until they reached their target.

Each with their handler in tow, they advanced, and when their subject did not comply or fought, they would bite and pull down the suspect until he would comply. In addition to their training, throughout the altercation their handler is in constant communication giving them and the suspect commands.

Chief Barton explained Madox was purchased from Signal K9 LLC, with the funding being split initially between the city of Garrison and the police department seizure fund.

"He's seized narcotics and assisted in federal cases and assisted other agencies," said Chief Barton


Mt. Enterprise City Marshal Jon Randolph and K9 Vana have located their suspect in an abandoned building.

After that the Nacogdoches County District Attorney's office relieved the pressure on both accounts by providing the funds for the K9, which returned those funds to the police department and city.

"We have a forfeiture account and we reimbursed the City of Garrison and the Garrison PD," said Andrew Jones, Nacogdoches County District Attorney. "[Those funds] need to go to law enforcement purposes, and I have a hard time thinking of anything better than a K9."

DA Jones said he appreciates Chief Tim Barton and all he has done.


Chief Barton observes as K9 Madox searches a local feed store, one of the locations where the K9s recently trained.

June 18, 2021 - According to the Texas DSHS Covid-19 Dashboard, over the last 10 days there have been 10 new cases, 1 new death, and 16 new recoveries reported.

The estimated number of active cases continues to decline and is now 12.

June 18 (12:35pm) Numbers: (changes since June 8th)
Total Confirmed Cases - 958 (8 new)
Total Probable Cases - 769 (2 new) 
Total Fatalities - 71 (1 new)
Total Estimated Active Cases - 12
Total Estimated Recovered - 1,645 (16 new)

June 2021 Numbers:
Total New Confirmed Cases - 12
Total New Probable Cases - 8
Total New Fatalities - 3
Total New Estimated Recovered - 23

June 17, 2021 - The Center Police Department has confirmed they responded to a bomb threat at the Ace Hardware located at the intersection of U.S. 96 South and Loop 500 on June 10, 2021.

Detective Sgt. Ricky King, Street Crimes Division, states the initial threat was believed to have been made by a woman and an employee of the store was able to retrieve the number of the caller for the officers from Caller ID.

"Our investigation concluded that it was a child, prank calling random numbers," said Det. Sgt. King. "We've tracked down where the call came from."

Barksdale Air Force Base K9 officers assisted the Center Police Department in helping to determine the facility was clear of any threat.

Det. Sgt. King stated how much the Center Police Department really appreciates Barksdale Air Force Base sending out the officers to assist them in determining the location was safe, and the assistance of the fire department as well as the Sheriff's Depaqrtment.

"The quick response, and agencies working together, made that as painless as possible," said King.


June 10, 2021 - The Center Police Department is investigating a bomb threat at the Ace Hardware store located on Loop 500 at U.S. 96 South in Center June 10, 2021.

Employees were evacuated from the building and police officers are actively working to determine the threat.

Military Police K9 officers, which usually respond to bomb threats, were at the scene and went inside of the building at around 4:15pm. They completed their search inside at around 6pm and then mov to search another building located behind.

The search has been completed at this time and nothing of a threatening nature was located. The business is expected to be open again tomorrow during normal business hours.

Early on, traffic traveling north on U.S. 96 North was being diverted onto the loop and not allowed to travel into town via U.S. 96, but has since been allowed once again.

The Center Fire Department and Shelby County Sheriff’s Department were on scene assisting the Center Police Department.

Additional information will be updated as it’s made available. 

June 16, 2021 - The Shelby County Commissioners gave a green light to the Sheriff's Department to accept the donation of a 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe from the city of Timpson and to purchase a 2019 model from the city during their meeting held Wednesday, June 16, 2021.

"As y'all probably already know they've dissolved their [police department]  there and they want to donate this 2013 Tahoe," said Judge Allison Harbison.

She detailed the vehicle has over 140,000 miles on it, but is still in pretty good shape and needs a little repair. 

"I actually went out and drove both of them and of course the new one is in great condition, b ut this one is actually in a little bit better shape than some of the ones we're running right now," said Lieutenant Tanner Peace. "So we're going to incorporate it into patrol as well."

At the most recent meeting of the Timpson City Council, Mayor Debra Smith explained since the vehicle was acquired with the use of grant funds, it couldn't be sold, but could be donated to another department.

A motion carried to approve accepting the donation of the 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe from the city of Timpson.

"We definitely thank the city of Timpson for this, it's very gracious of them to do this," said Judge Harbison.

Judge Harbison indicated the 2019 Chevrolet Tahoe was being offered by the city of Timpson in the amount of $37,082.17 for the use of the Sheriff's Department. 

Judge Harbison confirmed with Lieutenant Peace, the 2019 Tahoe has 8,000 miles on it. She spoke to the mayor and said Smith was very excited that they were going to get a little financial boost out of the sale.

"What it is is their payoff cost ($22,082.17), plus $15,000 for a practically brand new vehicle," said Judge Harbison.

Judge Harbison inquired with Clint Porterfield, County Auditor, if previously received COVID relief funds could be utilized to make the purchase of the vehicle, and he confirmed it could if the court deems it so.

The decals will remein on the vehicles and the Sheriff's Department will remove the decals as they did with the Tenaha patrol vehicles.

"This will get us to within one vehicle on patrol that's not of a newer body style type," said Lieutenant Peace. "We've managed to work things around where all of our investigators are now driving the pickup trucks." 

Lt. Peace said the older Tahoes after they get to a certain point are being rotated through to administrative officers such as himself and the chief to keep the newer vehicles in patrol.

Commissioner Bellmyer asked if there would be additional expense in equipping the Tahoes and Lt. explained Deputy Gross is familiar with the equipment in the vehicle and they don't expect there to be further expenditure since the vehicles are already equipped.

A motion carried to approve the purchase of the 2019 Chevrolet Tahoe from the city of Timpson at a price of $37,082.17.

Tracy Rook with Texas Premier Communications updated the commissioners on the progress of the radio communications they are working on upgrading.

"We went and talked to Tenaha about the water tank on how we could mount, because I met with you Monday and told you that we were looking at about $30,000 in mounts," said Rook. "They're going to allow us to go to the legs or to the sides rails, as long as we use standoff brackets, so that'll cut out that price."

If the antennae can be mounted to the railing of the water tank, Rook said the county would be looking at $600 in extra mounts at the most. 

"All of the microwaves and everything are on order, but for some reason they're not allowing any air freight to come in from Israel or overseas right now. We're having to wait, it's coming on a boat," said Rook.

Current projections are for the equipment to be three to four weeks out. Additonal issues Rook said they are looking at now is mounting to the Shelbyville water tower. According to Rook, there is a cellular phone antenna on top of the water tower and the railing on the tower has rusted off. This leaves only one option currently of mounting to the legs of the tower, which is a lower altitude.

Bobby Daw announced to the commissioners a rodeo will be held in two weeks, June 26, at the Shelby County Expo Center, and it will be the first one held in several years.

"We've done a lot of improvements out there, we're painting the arena right now, and thanks to some of the inmates they're out there painting for us," said Daw. "We've had some dirt work done, and the new bleachers are up, and we've got horse stalls up right now. We're just kind of hoping it pans out next week."

Daw said there is a mule rodeo planned for September 6, which will be put on by Stillwater Church in Carthage. 

"We've got four more play days, this month, July, August, and September," said Daw. "We're just trying to do a little bit at a time, trying to bring it on up."

A motion carried by the commissioners during the meeting to approve the 2022 Shelby County Holidays and they are as follows:

  • December 31, 2021 (Friday) - New Year's Eve
  • January 17, 2022 (Monday) - Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • February 21, 2022 (Monday) - Presidents' Day
  • April 15, 2022 (Friday) - Good Friday
  • May 30, 2022 (Monday) - Memorial Day
  • July 4, 2022 (Monday) - Independence Day
  • September 5, 2022 (Monday) - Labor Day
  • October 10, 2022 (Monday) - Columbus Day
  • November 11, 2022 (Friday) - Veterans Day
  • November 24, 2022 (Thursday) November 25, 2022 (Friday) Thanksgiving Holiday
  • December 23, 2022 (Friday) December 26, 2022 (Monday) Christmas Holiday
Agenda items approved during the meeting include:
1. Pay weekly expenses.

2. Donation of concrete debris to Commissioner Pct. 4.

3. Donation of a 2013 Tahoe SUV (VIN# 1GNLC2E00DR214715) by the city of Timpson for the use and benefit of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department.

4. Purchase of a 2019 Tahoe SUV (VIN# 1GNLCDEC6KR330097) from the city of Timpson for a purchase cost of $37,082.17, the vehicle will be utilized by the Sheriff’s Department.

5. Acknowledge a verbal agreement with Commissioner Precinct 3 and Rodney Dean to have access to his property and purchase sand at $2 a yard.

6. Appoint Judge Allison Harbison and Commissioner Tom Bellmyer to represent Shelby County on the DETCOG Board of Directors.

7. Commissioner Pct. 3 to purchase a new Kobelco SK85CS Excavator in the amount of $108,598 with an initial $75,000 and finance for the remainder through First National Bank  Wichita Falls. 

8. County Holidays for 2022

9. Adjourn.

Pages