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August 24, 2019 - A traffic stop in Center resulted in an arrest on drug related charges. Center Police Officers and Detectives conducted an investigation Thursday afternoon at the end of Field Street where they discovered the illegal substance.

James Flow

According to Detective Kenneth King, on August 22, 2019 at around 1:18pm a Center Police Department patrol unit noticed a silver GMC Canyon pickup truck make a traffic violation in the area of Pine Street and King Street. 

The officer initiated a traffic stop, and the driver brought the truck to a halt at the intersection of Field and Baldwin Streets. 

As the officer was approaching truck, he noted the driver was making furtive movements toward the center of the vehicle. As the officer asked him to exit the vehicle, the driver continued the previous action toward the center of the vehicle.

Once he got out, the officer identified the driver as James Christopher Flow, 34, of Center with a female passenger.

While the officer was interviewing Flow, a second officer arrived to back him up and as the second officer noticed in plain view inside the truck a clear bag with a crystal like substance he recognized to be methamphetamine.

A probable cause search was conducted at that time, and it was determined Flow had been tearing baggies of methamphetamine and dumping it between the seats.

Flow was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance over 1G> <4G, and tampering with physical evidence.

The passenger in the vehicle was not determined at that time to have involvement and was released.

Although Murphree admitted to taking more than 30 documents, the above
photo is of those which were recovered including a check and money order
that found their way into a creek. 

August 23, 2019 - The case against a former deputy District Clerk who was arrested July 10, 2019 for tampering with a government record has reached a disposition as of August 20, 2019.

Documents which were meant to have been filed in the District Clerk’s office were instead thrown into a Shelby County creek and were later discovered by a resident who reported the find to authorities.

Murphree admitted to Texas Rangers she had taken the documents as well as 30 others.

According to Gary Rholes, Shelby County Attorney, Shelly Murphree pled guilty to Tampering with a Government record on August 20, 2019. The charge regarded records missing from the Shelby County District Clerk’s office.  

Murphree paid $500 up front to pay for a missing money order for a child support payment, though it was not alleged that Murphree cashed the money order. Immediate payment of this amount, however, will allow this child support to be quickly disbursed to the parent entitled to this amount.  

Additionally, Murphree was ordered to pay $500 fine, $262 court cost, perform 20 hours of Community Service and turn over any District Clerk records as conditions of her 12 month Community Supervision. Compliance with the terms of the probation would allow Murphree to avoid a sixth month sentence in the Shelby County Jail. 

Compliance would also allow Murphree to avoid a judgment making a formal finding of guilt on her record. The punishment assessed was agreed to by County Attorney Gary Rholes, Ryan Deaton, Murphree’s attorney, and was approved by Judge Allison Harbison. 

Rholes stated that he appreciates the citizen leading authorities to evidence in the case and the investigating work of Constable James Hagler and Texas Ranger James Hicks. Rholes also added that he hopes this sends a signal that official misconduct committed by public servants will not be ignored in matters over which he has jurisdiction. “Ignoring such misconduct sends the absolute wrong signal to everyone.”

Related article:
Former Deputy District Clerk Charged for Tampering with Government Record

August 22, 2019 - The water on Denning Rural Public Water System no longer requires boiling. On August 20, 2019, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality required the Denning Rural Public Water System, #2030004, to issue a Boil Water Notice to inform customers, individuals or employees that due to conditions which occurred recently in the public water system, the water from this public water system was required to be boiled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes.

Denning Rural Public Water System has taken the necessary corrective actions to restore the quality of the water distributed by this public water system used for drinking water or human consumption purposes and has provided TCEQ with laboratory test results that indicate that the water no longer requires boiling prior to use as of August 21, 2019.

If you have questions concerning this matter, you may contact Denning Rural Water System at 220 W. Columbia Street, San Augustine, Texas, 75972, or call 936-288-0489 or Charles Sham at 936-201-5001.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation.

If a customer, individual or employee wishes to contact the executive director, please call (512)239-4691.

Effective August 20, 2019 until further notice

August 20, 2019 - Due to electrical problems at the plant, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has required the Denning Rural Water System PWS #2030004 to notify all customers to boil their water prior to consumption (eg., washing hands/face, brushing teeth, drinking, etc.). Children, seniors and persons with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to harmful bacteria, and all customers should follow these directions.

To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking and ice making should be boiled and cooled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes. The water should be brought to a vigorous rolling boil and then boiled for two minutes.

In lieu of boiling, individuals may purchase bottled water or obtain water from some other suitable source for drinking water or human consumption purposes.

When it is no longer necessary to boil the water, the public water system officials will notify customers that the water is safe for drinking water or human consumption purposes.

Once the boil water notice is no longer in effect, the public water system will issue a notice to customers that rescinds the boil water notice in a manner similar to this notice.

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received the notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.

If you have questions concerning this matter, you may contact Denning Rural Water System at 220 W. Columbia Street, San Augustine, Texas, 75972 or call 936-288-0489 or Charles Sharp at 936-201-5001.

August 20, 2019 - Did you receive a letter in the mail about your Homestead Exemption?

How to make sure you are not being scammed when applying for your Homestead Exemption:

  • The Shelby County Appraisal District is the only entity that can add any property tax exemptions to your property.
  • There is NEVER a fee to apply for an exemption.  If you are ever asked to pay for an exemption, this is a SCAM.

If you ever have any questions about your property tax exemptions, contact the Shelby County Appraisal District office.

724 Shelbyville Street
Center, Texas 75935
(936) 598-6171

August 20, 2019 - The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in solving the 2012 murder of Ashton Randle.

On or about May 20th, 2012, the body of 23-year-old Ashton Randle of Logansport, Louisiana was located in a wooded area off of FM 139 in Shelbyville, Texas. It was discovered that Mr. Randle had been fatally shot.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office initiated a homicide investigation and the investigation has continued over the past 7 years with various leads and collection of additional evidence. Despite the passing of 7 years’ time, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office has not forgotten about Mr. Randle and his untimely death, nor did his family and friends.

Although the homicide of Mr. Randle is seven years old, there is no statute of limitations for homicide in the State of Texas. The pursuit for justice continues.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office is asking for any information that will lead them to further evidence in this case and/or further information that will assist in securing a conviction for the suspect(s) involved, so justice can be served and bring the much-needed closure for Mr. Randle’s family.

You are encouraged to please contact SCSO Cold Case Investigator DJ Dickerson at 346-233-3309. Any information will be greatly appreciated and remember that you can remain anonymous.

August 19, 2019 - Hurst and Foster Streets in Center were the scene of a two-vehicle collision Monday, August 19. Center Fire Department Firemen and Center Police Department officers were quickly dispatched to the location. 

According to Center Police Officer Chris King, at 12:40pm a white Nissan driven by Latoya Wallace, 35, of Shreveport, LA. was northbound on Hurst Street in Center approaching Foster Street. 

A blue Ford Expedition driven by Ruth Duke, 72, of Center crossed the roadway from the Walmart entrance to Foster Street and crossed in front of the Wallace causing the Nissan to collide with the right rear quarter panel of the Expedition.

The Nissan came to rest facing south and the Expedition traveled off the roadway into a culvert.

Duke refused medical evaluation at the scene by EMS.

Wallace and her passenger Angelina Smart, 35, were both transported by ambulance to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Shelby Emergency Department for treatment of their injuries. 

That particular location has been a common spot for traffic incidents over the years. According to TxDOT traffic statistics over a five year time period:

  • There were 21 Crashes including 43 units and 71 persons
  • 61.9% of those crashes occurred during clear conditions, 23.8% were during rain conditions, and 14.3% were reported as having been in cloudy conditions.
  • 57.1% of the crashes took place at a stop sign.
  • 61.9% of the crashes occurred on the northbound side of the street by Foster Street.
  • 52.4% of the crashes were reported to have no injury, 33.3% had possible injury, 9.5% had non-incapacitating injury, and 4.8% had suspected serious injury.

August 19, 2019 - On Thursday, August 15, 2019, officers with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO), operating off of a tip, went to a residence off of County Road 2703 in Shelbyville. The SCSO had received information regarding a fugitive being at the residence. Earlier in the week, officers were at the residence and a subject fled out of the back of the house and another was taken into custody on warrants.

Officers arrived at the residence and made entry into the home with the permission of the homeowner. Upon entry, officers recognized Christopher Askew, 34, of Shelbyville. Askew was wanted by the Board of Pardons and Parole in Marshall. At the time of contact, Askew appeared to try and go to a different area of the residence. He was immediately taken into custody.

Askew was found to be holding a bottle with a crystal-like substance believed to be methamphetamine. An additional search of Askew for weapons turned up additional bags of a crystal-like substance, small baggies, and pills in two unmarked containers. A set of scales along with the baggies were taken as evidence as well. These items indicate Askew was packaging the substance into smaller portions to distribute.

The crystal-like substance was field tested and tested positive for methamphetamine. The aggregate weight of the substance was 135.3 grams. The pills were identified as Ecstasy (MDMA), weighing .8 grams and Alprazolam (Xanax), weighing 11.4 grams.

Along with the parole violation, Askew was charged with Delivery of a Controlled Substance, Penalty Group 1 (F-1); Delivery of a Controlled Substance, Penalty Group 2 (F-3); and Delivery of a Controlled Substance, Penalty Group 3 (SJF).

The SCSO was assisted at the scene by Constable Pct. 3 Roy Cheatwood.

August 19, 2019 - The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department has released information about the body located off FM 1645.

The deceased has been identifed as Kurt Ebner, 33, of Orange who died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

The body was sent to Forensic Medical of Texas in Beaumont for autopsy. 

August 18, 2019 - Investigators with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department are investigating the discovery of a body on a natural gas location.

The body of a man was discovered early Thursday, August 15, 2019, off FM 1645 in the Arcadia Community. 

As deputies and Constable Roy Cheatwood directed traffic near the scene, investigators traveled through the woods and to the site of the body where a pickup truck was located. 

Melissa Crouch, Justice of the Peace Precinct 1, arrived at the scene to pronounce the individual deceased.

At this time, additional information has not yet been released by the sheriff’s department.

Updated - SWEPCO expects to restore power tonight to all East Texas customers affected by outages that began Sunday afternoon.

“We’re methodically energizing our substations to ensure we can restore power to all customers tonight,” said Gary Guin, SWEPCO Director of Risk & Reliability. “The SWEPCO team appreciates our customers’ patience.”

Customers who have turned off their air conditioners and appliances may turn them on again. SWEPCO has resolved voltage problems experienced earlier today.

Since 7 p.m., SWEPCO has restored power to nearly 25,000 customers. Approximately 85,000 customers were without power at the peak. The latest outage numbers are available at

Teams of SWEPCO employees continue their work to determine the cause of Sunday’s outage. Specialists patrolled power lines by helicopter. Power lines were patrolled by helicopter. Teams are downloading data from station equipment to help us better understand the cause of today’s event and prevent it from occurring in the future.

August 18, 2019 - SWEPCO is working to restore power to approximately 85,000 customers in East Texas after experiencing issues on its power grid that have led to voltage problems. SWEPCO’s power grid operated as it was designed and protected the integrity of the power lines.

Some customers who have power have experienced low voltage. We recommend turning off air conditioners and appliances to protect them.

Updated: As of 10 PM, power has been restored to DETEC Members.

August 18, 2019 - As of 8 PM, Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative is reporting approximately 5,900 Members without power in Panola, Shelby and Nacogdoches County. This outage is due to a problem experienced by our power supplier, SWEPCO. At this time SWEPCO has not given a cause and a restoration time has not been given.

To protect household appliances and equipment, it is recommend that you turn off the power source to those appliances.

Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative is a non-profit electricity provider serving 8 counties in Deep East Texas: San Augustine, Shelby, Sabine, Panola, Nacogdoches, Rusk, Jasper and Newton.