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July 10, 2020 - State Highway 87 South at the intersection of CR 2135 was the scene of a two-vehicle head-on collision Thursday, July 9, 2020.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Dustin Ramos at 6:50pm Troopers were dispatched to State Highway 87 (SH 87) South at the intersection of CR 2135 in reference to a two-vehicle head-on crash. 

When Troopers arrived at the location of the incident it was determined a grey 2012 Ford F150 pickup truck driven by Austin Gregory, 30, of Center with passenger Jodie Doggett, 30, had stopped at CR 2135 and failed to yield right of way when crossing SH 87 to a private driveway.

At the time Gregory crossed SH 87 a black 2011 Ford F150 driven by Horace Wilburn, 73, of San Augustine with passenger Virginia Wilburn, 73, was southbound on SH 87. When the grey Ford crossed SH 87 it did so in front of the black Ford causing the vehicles to collide with resulting damage.

The occupants of both vehicles were transported by ambulance to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Shelby Emergency Department for possible injuries.

Gregory was issued citations for driving while license invalid, failure to yield right of way, and failure to maintain financial responsibility.

Shelby County Sheriff's Department and Shelbyville Volunteer Fire Department personnel provided traffic control at the scene until the vehicles were cleared.

Update: July 8, 2020 - According to the East Texas Center for the Missing, the suspect in this investigation, Zenas Montre Whitaker, was located in Alto, Tx by Cherokee County Sheriff's office and is in custody.

Amber Alert Issued for Abducted Center Girl (Found)

July 7, 2020 - The Center Police Department is currently seeking a suspect in an alleged kidnapping which occurred at the intersection of Arcadia Road and Stephens Street at around 12:30pm Tuesday.

Officers and an ambulance responded to the scene and the ambulance left with one individual.

Center Police Department detectives cordoned off the location and began their investigation.

Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) State Troopers later located the vehicle which was being sought following the incident in Center. While Center Police Department officers were in town, Texas DPS Trooper Dustin Ramos tracked down the suspect vehicle, a GMC Denali Envoy, on Lake Pinkston Road where it had been left.

At that time the suspects were not at the scene and most likely fled in another vehicle.

Garrison Police Department Chief Tim Barton responded to the scene and utilized K9 'Maddox' to help search for clues. The scene was eventually cleared and Hughes Wrecker Service towed the vehicle to the Center Police Department.

According to a press release issued by the Center Police Department on Friday, July 10: The Center Police Department responded to a possible aggravated assault and child abduction, which occurred at 173 Arcadia Rd. on July 7, 2020. The Center Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit was assigned the case. 

The adult victim, Enedina Akins, in serious condition was transported to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Shelby Emergency Department and Diagnostic Imaging Center by EMS. She had apparently been severely beaten with a blunt object. Akins’ informed Officers that the father of the child and suspected assailant, identified as Zenas Whitaker of Nacogdoches, had taken her two-year-old daughter when he left. An Amber Alert was initiated which included the child and abductee’s information. Agencies from around the East Texas area relentlessly searched and followed leads throughout the rest of the day, night and into the following day.

With great assistance from these other agencies, the suspect and child were located in Cherokee County near Alto. After a brief stand-off, the suspect surrendered the child to authorities and gave himself up without further incident.

At this time, the suspect is being held in custody (without bail) for the following charges: Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon (Family Violence) (Felony 1); and Aggravated Sexual Assault (Felony 1).

The Center Police Department would like to extend much gratitude to first and foremost, the Center Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit for never giving up, Alto Police Department, Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, Garrison Police Department, Nacogdoches Police Department CID, Nacogdoches County Sheriff’s Department, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department, Texas DPS, Texas Rangers, FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Thanks to the combined efforts and teamwork of surrounding agencies and the public’s assistance, the missing child was located and returned unharmed within 17 hours of the initial call.

July 10, 2020 - The Shelby County Emergency Management office reports as of 9:30am on Friday, July 10, 2020, TxDSHS has reported no new cases; however, the state reported 3 more deaths which brings the total death count to 13 for Shelby County. (The state's COVID-19 dashboard still reflects 1 more death for a total of 14 on July 9th)

The total of cumulative cases of COVID-19 is 288 for Shelby County.

According to the state's algorithm to determine recoveries, 2 new recoveries were reported bringing the total to 239 recoveries. Shelby County has 36 active cases.

Breakdown of cumulative cases by zip code and ages:

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

Center (75935) - 25 (-3 cases)
Joaquin (75954) - 5
Shelbyville (75973) - 1 (-1 case)
Tenaha (75974) - 3
Timpson (75975) - 2

Cumulative Cases in each zip code:

Center (75935) - 207
Joaquin (75954) - 15
Shelbyville (75973) - 17
Tenaha (75974) - 28
Timpson (75975) - 21

Ages of Confirmed Cases:

Ages 1 to 20: 26 cases
Ages 21 to 40: 92 cases
Ages 41 to 60: 89 cases, 4 death
Ages 61 to 80: 48 cases, 4 death
Ages 81 to 100: 28 cases, 5 death (3 New)
Age unknown: 5 cases

July 9, 2020 - ALERT: Crews will apply a fog seal tomorrow through Saturday on SH 7 in Shelby County from Mount Herman to US 96. All lanes will be treated and motorists should expect alternating lane closures from 7 am to 7 pm each day.

Reduce speed and expect delays. Obey all traffic control in place and stay alert.

July 2, 2020 - The Primary Runoff Election is Tuesday, July 14, 2020 at the Community House in Center.

In the County races, which are on the Republican ballot, the yet to be decided candidates are in the Sheriff, Commissioner Pct 3, and Justice of the Peace Pct 3 races.

  • Sheriff candidates are Newton Johnson, Jr. and Kevin Windham. (All Precincts)
  • Commissioner Pct 3 candidates are Stevie Smith and David Cheatwood. (Precincts 1N, 3, 5 only)
  • Justice of the Peace Pct 3 candidates are Melba Rodgers and Darrell Alford. (Precincts 3, 5 only)

On the Democrat Ballot two races for State/Federal positions in the runoff are United States Senator and Railroad Commissioner.

  • United States Senator candidates are Mary "MJ" Hegar and Royce West. (All Precincts)
  • Railroad Commissioner candidates are Roberto R. "Beto" Alonzo and Chrysta Castaneda. (All Precincts)

If someone is disabled, over 65, or out of town during the below dates, call the County Clerk's office at 936-598-6361 and request a ballot by mail.

County Clerk Jennifer Fountain expresses, "Of course, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, if anyone that does not meet voting by mail criteria above but has an underlying health issue and feels unsafe to come inside the polling place to vote, we are more than happy to offer curbside voting, which means we will bring the ballot out to your car for you."

Early voting days and times:

  • Monday, June 29 - Thursday, July 2, 8am - 4:30pm.
  • Closed Friday, July 3rd, for the holiday weekend.
  • Monday, July 6 - Friday, July 10, 8am - 4:30pm.

Election Day is Tuesday, July 14 from 7am until 7pm.

Early voting will be conducted again at the Center Community House, thanks to the kindness of Chad Nehring and Tommy Hughes with the City Of Center. The Community House is located at 423 San Augustine Street, Center, Texas 75935.


Shelby County Republican Runoff Election Ballot

SHERIFF (All Precincts)  
  Newton Johnson, Jr.  
  Kevin W. Windham  
COUNTY COMMISSIONER PCT 3 (Precincts 1N, 3, 5)  
  Stevie Smith  
  David Cheatwood  
JUSTICE OF THE PEACE PCT 3 (Precincts 3, 5)  
  Melba Rodgers  
  Darrell Alford  

Shelby County Democrat Runoff Election Ballot

UNITED STATES SENATOR (All Precincts)  
  Mary "MJ" Hegar  
  Royce West  
RAILROAD COMMISSIONER (All Precincts)  
  Roberto R. "Beto" Alonzo  
  Chrysta Castaneda  

July 9, 2020 - The Shelby County Emergency Management office reports as of 8:30am on Thursday, July 9, 2020, TxDSHS has reported 3 new cases and the total to 288 cumulative cases of COVID-19.

According to the state's algorithm to determine recoveries, 4 new recovery was reported bringing the total to 238 recoveries. Shelby County has 40 active cases and the death count is 10 for COVID-19. (The state's COVID-19 dashboard did reflect 11 deaths for Shelby County on July 8th)

Breakdown of cumulative cases by zip code and ages:

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

Center (75935) - 28 (-3 cases)
Joaquin (75954) - 5 (1 New)
Shelbyville (75973) - 2
Tenaha (75974) - 3
Timpson (75975) - 2 (1 New)

Cumulative Cases in each zip code:

Center (75935) - 207
Joaquin (75954) - 15 (1 New)
Shelbyville (75973) - 17
Tenaha (75974) - 28 (1 New)
Timpson (75975) - 21 (1 New)

Ages of Confirmed Cases:

Ages 1 to 20: 26 cases (1 New)
Ages 21 to 40: 92 cases
Ages 41 to 60: 89 cases (2 New), 4 death
Ages 61 to 80: 48 cases, 4 death
Ages 81 to 100: 28 cases, 2 death
Age unknown: 5 cases

July 8, 2020 - A high-speed chase has resulted in an arrest of one individual and damage to two law enforcement vehicles involved in the pursuit Wednesday, July 8, 2020.

The chase began when the vehicle allegedly was traveling at a high rate of speed in the Joaquin area upon passing Constable Roy Cheatwood. 

According to Constable Cheatwood, when he first engaged the vehicle he turned around on it and attempted to stop the white 2013 Dodge Avenger on U.S. Highway 84. The driver continued without stopping. 

The pursuit then followed several county roads at speeds of up to 100 mph as it entered County Road 3267 to FM 414 where other law enforcement officers were actively giving chase. The line of vehicles traveled State Highway 87 to Loop 500 where the Dodge turned toward Joaquin.

As the driver continued to evade law enforcement, the Dodge traveled several miles down State Highway 7 East toward Joaquin in Moodyville before turning around to head back toward Center. At that time a Shelby County Sheriff's Department Tahoe and Center Police Department Malibu were involved in a collision with the Dodge as attempts continued to bring the vehicle to a stop.

A 1/2 mile from where it turned around the Dodge finally was stopped. Constable Cheatwood quickly took the driver into custody.

Constable Cheatwood was very appreciative of all law enforcement officers who responded to assist.

"I thank all law enforcement, they all came, I didn't know what I had," said Constable Cheatwood.

Constable Cheatwood also commented a lot of lives were put in danger by the driver until the pursuit ended.

Agencies which assisted in the pursuit included Constables Jamie Hagler and Zack Warr, Shelby County Sheriff's Department, Texas Department of Public Safety and Center Police Department.

According to the Shelby County Jail arrest log Rebekah Lyn Taylor, 48, of Joaquin has been charged wtih evading arrest with motor vehicle, state jail felony; aggravated assault on peace officer, felony 1; and reckless driving, misdemeanor b. Bond has not yet been set.


Recovered from the vehicle was a rifle with scope pictured above.

A Shelby County Sheriff's Department Tahoe was damaged during the pursuit.

Constable Cheatwood took the suspect into custody and transported her to the Shelby County Jail.

A line of traffic extended in both directions on either side of the location where the Dodge was brought to a stop.

Also damaged as a result of the incident was a Center Police Department vehicle.
 


(Left, middle photos) Zimia Ann Whitaker and (right photo) Zenas Montre Whitaker

Updated July 8, 2020 - According to the East Texas Center for the Missing, Zamaya Whitaker has been located safe, by the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, in Alto, Tx. The investigation is ongoing, but most importantly, Zamaya is now safe.


July 7, 2020 - The following message is transmitted at the request of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

This is a child abduction Alert issued by the Texas Amber Alert network.

The Center Police Department is searching for Zimia Ann Whitaker, White, female, 2 years old, 2 feet 6 inches, 3 pounds, blonde hair, blue eyes, and wearing a pink shirt.

Police are looking for Zenas Montre Whitaker, white, male, 27 years old, 5 feet 6 inches, 150 Pounds, black hair, brown eyes in connection with her abduction.

(Update) The suspect is now driving a 2014 Jeep Compass, blue with Texas license plate #MDD4900.

The suspect was last heard from in Center.

Law enforcement officials believe this child to be in grave or immediate danger.

If you have any information regarding this abduction, Call the Center Police Department at (936)598-2788.

July 8, 2020 - The Shelby County Emergency Management office reports as of 8:40am on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, TxDSHS has reported no new cases and the total remains at 285 cumulative cases of COVID-19.

According to the state's algorithm to determine recoveries, 1 new recovery was reported bringing the total to 234 recoveries. Shelby County has 41 active cases and the death count is 10 for COVID-19.

Breakdown of cumulative cases by zip code and ages:

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

Center (75935) - 31 (-1 case)
Joaquin (75954) - 4
Shelbyville (75973) - 2
Tenaha (75974) - 3
Timpson (75975) - 1

Cumulative Cases in each zip code:

Center (75935) - 207 (1 new)
Joaquin (75954) - 14
Shelbyville (75973) - 17
Tenaha (75974) - 27
Timpson (75975) - 20 

Ages of Confirmed Cases:

Ages 1 to 20: 25 cases
Ages 21 to 40: 92 cases
Ages 41 to 60: 87 cases, 4 death
Ages 61 to 80: 48 cases, 4 death
Ages 81 to 100: 28 cases, 2 death
Age unknown: 5 cases

July 7, 2020 - The Shelby County Emergency Management office reports as of 8:30am on Monday, July 7, 2020, TxDSHS has reported 1 new cases raising the total to 285 cumulative cases of COVID-19.

According to the state's algorithm to determine recoveries, no new recoveries were reported bringing the total to 233 recoveries. Shelby County has 42 active cases and the death count is 10 for COVID-19.

Breakdown of cumulative cases by zip code and ages:

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

Center (75935) - 32 (1 New)
Joaquin (75954) - 4 
Shelbyville (75973) - 2 
Tenaha (75974) - 3 
Timpson (75975) - 1 

Cumulative Cases in each zip code:

Center (75935) - 206 (1 new)
Joaquin (75954) - 14
Shelbyville (75973) - 17
Tenaha (75974) - 27
Timpson (75975) - 20 

Ages of Confirmed Cases:

Ages 1 to 20: 25 cases
Ages 21 to 40: 92 cases
Ages 41 to 60: 87 cases, 4 death
Ages 61 to 80: 48 cases (1 New), 4 death
Ages 81 to 100: 28 cases, 2 death
Age unknown: 5 cases

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