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Composed by Scott Flowers, Photos by J.J. Ford
One driver has been arrested for driving while intoxicated following a two-vehicle crash on State Highway 7 (SH7) East Saturday, December 27, 2014.
Emergency personnel was dispatched to the scene of the crash in the Moodyville area and when they arrived one vehicle was in the westbound shoulder and the other vehicle was in the woods.
According to Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) State Trooper Keith Jones, at 4:10pm a white 2014 Ford Explorer SUV driven by and registered to Amber Lavonne Mathews, 29, of Center with passenger Dorothy Annette Mathews, 75, of Joaquin was traveling east on SH7 East.
A maroon 2008 Ford F-150 driven by Cassandra Wilson, 30, of Logansport was also traveling eastbound at the same time.
Mathews related to Trooper Jones the F-150 got behind her Explorer on Loop 500 and was following too closely weaving in and out of her lane traffic. As they traveled east on State Highway 7 East the F-150 continued to follow and drive erratically all over the roadway following closely. The truck then pulled off onto the shoulder as Mathews continued east.
Trooper Jones stated Wilson then pulled back onto the highway, sped up and rear-ended the Explorer causing the Explorer to spin around and come to rest facing westbound in the westbound shoulder. The F-150 continued off the roadway striking a telephone junction box and then traveling through a barbed wire fence before striking a tree and coming to a halt.
Wilson was transported from the scene by ACE EMS to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Center Emergency Department where she was treated and released at which time she was arrested by DPS Trooper Jones and charged with driving while intoxicated - 2nd offense; failure to control speed; no driver's license; and no insurance. Wilson stated to Jones she had just gotten off an 8-hour shift at work.
During Shelby County Commissioners' Court, three items on the agenda received split votes by the Commissioners and required a tiebreaker vote by County Judge Rick Campbell. The three items pertained to moving the Indigent Health Care Coordinator employee out of the Shelby County Judge's office to its own office.
Judge Campbell spoke concerning Indigent Health Care (IHC), "We approved in budget to move [IHC Coordinator]. It's become 85% (of the work) in that office and I don't think it is fair to the new incoming County Judge to only get 15% of work out of somebody and they're spending 85% of the rest of their time or more, really more, its a full-time job. I think [IHC] needs to be a stand alone office."
Currently, the IHC Coordinator is also the Administrative Assistant to the County Judge and is funded through the IHC Fund. With the moving of the position into a separate office, the Shelby County Judge's budget would have to replace the Administrative Assistant position which was allotted for in the new 2014-2015 budget.
Discussion was held among the Commissioners. Roscoe McSwain said, "So, the Judge's office has got a new salary allowance setup?" to which Judge Campbell replied yes saying, "We budgeted for a new salary, $10 an hour."
A motion was made to approve by Travis Rogers and a second was made by Bradley Allen. McSwain and Jimmy Lout opposed the approval and Judge Campbell passed a "for" vote approving the item.
The next two items on the agenda also concerned IHC. During discussion for item 5 - hiring an employee to fill the vacancy. McSwain said, "I don't agree to a fact of hiring, creating a new position and then hiring them, because to me it isn't fair to, nothing about you or the court today, its about 30 days from now. What if that person doesn't have that employment, if the court says to change or Allison (Harbison) or something was different, well that is a dis-justice to the employee to have a job that's going to last 3 weeks, if it turns out that way."
More discussion was held concerning the position. With the approval of the agenda items, IHC would have a full-time and a part-time employee. Lout said, "My thought was that it didn't need a full-time and a part-time (employee)."
The current full-time employee, Deanne Sample, has already given her notice of leaving. It was expressed by the incoming Shelby County Judge Allison Harbison to the court about having the part-time employee become full-time and only having the one position. Judge Campbell replied he was informed the part-time employee had expressed they didn't wish to hold the full-time position and he felt often times the office needs both positions.
A motion was made to approve by Rogers and a second was made by Allen. McSwain and Lout opposed the approval and Judge Campbell once again passed a "for" vote approving the item.
The stand-off among Commissioners continued with the final item concerning IHC Fund which pertained to purchasing a new computer, fax/copy machine, and a new fax line for the Indigent Office to be paid for out of the IHC Fund. The item was approved with the same process as before - two approvals by Rogers and Allen and two votes against by Lout and MsSwain with the final vote of approval by Campbell.
Following approval of all agenda items. Commissioners and County Judge expressed words of appreciation to Sample as it was her last day working for the County.
Area residents helped a man narrowly escape a vehicle on State Highway 7 West when it became engulfed in flame on Friday, November 28, 2014.
Residents in the area and passersby rushed to help the driver as emergency personnel were on the way to the scene.
Jill Parker was on the phone when it happened and she described hearing a loud skid and a collision. She says she knew exactly what it was, as a crash occurred just recently on State Highway 7 near her home, "I took off and when I got down [to the wreck] he was unconscious in the vehicle, it was smoking," said Parker. She stated one of the passersby that stopped to help is an EMT, "We kind of both decided it was best, we asked him, to get him out because he was coming to."
Rachelle Bohannon and Roy Beck were driving by and Bohannon described what happened when they stopped to help, "We were driving [east] and he slams on the brakes," said Bohannon. "[Parker] was the only one [at the car] except the children that were [at the car] with her and she was all up inside the car trying to see if he was okay."
As Parker and Bohannon were trying to check on the driver, it became apparent he needed to get clear of the vehicle, "`That was my first thing is I was going to check his pulse and then I looked in the hood and saw flames, so I was like okay we've got to get him out first," said Bohannon.
Shelby County Sheriff's Deputy Adam Renfro was dispatched to the scene along with Center Police Officers Jim Blackwell, Michelle Ashworth and members of the Center Fire Department. When the firemen arrived, the vehicle was an inferno on wheels as it was completely engulfed in flames and the fire had spread to the woods. It was uncertain at that time if anyone else was involved in the crash and if they may have been inside of the car.
As the firemen began work to extinguish the flames, Jason Burch with Hughes Wrecker Service assisted them in putting water to the fire. Once the fire was extinguished the search continued to ensure no one had been inside the vehicle when it burned or ejected from the vehicle when it crashed.
Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Daniel Dellenger investigated the crash and according to him, at 7:10pm 1 mile west of FM 711 a blue 2001 Volkswagen Beetle registered to Manuel Contreras and driven by Daniel Morales Ruiz, 46, was traveling east at the time of the incident. For an unknown reason the Volkswagen traveled across the westbound traffic lanes and left the roadway before colliding with an embankment.
Ruiz was transported by ACE EMS to Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital for treatment of his injuries and alcohol is suspected to have been involved.
The crash remains under investigation.
Notice is hereby given that a Special meeting of the Governing body of the Shelby County Commissioners' Court will be held on the 8th day of December, 2014 at 9:30am in the Courtroom of the Shelby County Courthouse at 200 San Augustine Street, Center, Shelby County, Texas to deliberate and consider action on the following items:
1. Approve the minutes of the November 10th, 2014 Regular Meeting and the November 24th, 2014 Special Meeting of the Shelby County Commissioners' Court.
2. Approve Officers' Reports.
3. Approve and pay monthly expenses and amend budget line items accordingly.
4. Discuss and possibly take action on moving Indigent Health Care out of the County Judge's Office.
5. Discuss and possibly take action for the County Judge to hire employee to fill vacancy for the Indigent Health Care Office.
6. Discuss and possibly take action to approve to pay for a new computer, fax/copy machine, and a new fax line for the Indigent Office to be paid for out of the IHC Fund.
7. Discuss and possibly take action on passing a resolution in support of refundable deposits on aluminum,glass & plastic beverage container sold in the state of Texas.
8. Discuss and possibly take action to approve the 2015 Shelby County Indigent Defense Grant Program Resolution.
9. Approve bonds for newly elected officials.
Notice is hereby given that a Special meeting of the Governing body of the Shelby County Commissioners' Court will be held on the 22nd day of September, 2014 at 9:30am in the Courtroom of the Shelby County Courthouse at 200 San Augustine Street, Center, Shelby County, Texas to deliberate and consider action on the following items:
1. Approve and pay monthly expenses and amend budget line items accordingly.
2. Wayne Stolz with Stolz Engineering to address the Court regarding the Construction Completion for the Shelby Countywide Road Improvements. Discuss and possibly take action for the Court to accept the Construction Completion.
3. Kimpton Cooper with the National Forest Service to address the Court concerning the Cooperative Forest Road Agreement between Shelby County and the Sabine National Forest Service. Discuss and possibly take action on approving the agreement.
4. Discuss and possibly take action on camera purchase for Nathan Skeen, Shelby County Game Warden.
5. Discuss and possibly take action on approving a General Order Regarding Disbursement from County Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zone Increment Fund.
6. Discuss and possibly take action for a distribution to be made from Fund 78 - Family Protection Fund for FY 2014.
7. Record Audit Review Statement in regards to District Attorney Forfeiture Funds.
8. Discuss and possibly take action to resume maintenance on CR 1230 approximately 400 ft. from intersection of CR 1234.
9. Discuss and possibly take action to extend maintenance on CR 2375 by 370 ft.
10. Accept or reject bids on the following:
D. Custodial Services
The William Carroll Crawford Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas encourages its members and fellow citizens to reflect upon an event of historical significance that occurred during the revolutionary period leading up to Texas independence. On Saturday, September 20, Texian Navy Day will be observed as one of the ten Honor Days that receive special recognition each year.
The Texian Navy had an important role in the War for Independence. Much of the early Texas settlers’ unhappiness involved issues related to high tariffs on goods brought here by merchant ships. As discontent grew, the Texian Navy began to take shape. The first confrontation took place in September 1835 near Velasco between the privateer, San Felipe, and the Mexican cutter, the Correo Mejicano. The Mexican ship unconditionally surrendered; thus, The Texian Navy won its first battle in the War of Independence on the high seas. This event was one month before the first significant land battle of the Texas Revolution at Gonzales. The work of the Texian Navy has long been recognized as a contributing factor to the winning of the Battle of San Jacinto because it prevented the use of ships to bring supplies and men to the Mexican army in Texas.
Our Chapter goal is to inform school and community members of the significance of Texian Navy Day and its role in establishment of the Republic of Texas and the freedom we still enjoy as Texans today. Our hope is that this day, along with all Texas Honor Days, will continue to be remembered and celebrated well into the future. Events to commemorate this day will be encouraged in the Shelby County schools and community members may participate by displaying their Texas flags, discussing the importance of the day with family members and friends and by visiting their public libraries to learn more about the Texian Navy.
William Carroll Crawford Chapter
Due to water main break, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has required our water System, Paxton Water/ Jackson plant, to notify customers of the need to boil their water prior to consumption. This is for the customers that were out of water on 9/16 and 9/17/2014 in the lambert hill area on hwy 7.
To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking, and making ice should be boiled and cooled prior to use. The water should be brought to a vigorous, rolling boil and then boiled for two minutes. In lieu of boiling, you may purchase bottled water or obtain water from some other suitable source.
When it is no longer necessary to boil the water, the water system officials will notify you that the water is safe for consumption. Instructions to discontinue boiling will be issued in the same manner as this notice.
If you have any questions concerning this matter, you may contact Vince Di Verdi at 936-590-9177 or 936-591-1205.
Center High School Class of 2000 has lost another classmate. Chris Porter, age 33, was killed in a vehicle crash in South Austin on Saturday, September 13. To read an article about the crash on KVUE.com, click here.
August 30, 2014 - A residence located at 4110 County Road 1024 in Shelby County was the scene of a shooting death on Saturday, August 30, 2014. Shelby County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched at around 11:15am and began investigating the scene after the shooting victim was transported from the residence.
Evidence of the incident appeared to be being gathered from the front porch of the residence by Sheriff's Department investigators.
According to a press release issued by Sheriff Willis Blackwell, on August 30, 2014 the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call indicating that there had been a shooting accident at a residence on County Road 1024 in Shelby County.
The initial investigation revealed that Bret Anderson, 25, of Center and Taylor Keele, 21, of Center were handling a firearm, a 9mm pistol, when Anderson unintentionally discharged the firearm which struck Keele in the chest.
Keele was transported by ACE EMS to the hospital in San Augustine, TX, where he was pronounced deceased after arrival. Anderson was arrested on scene and transported to the Shelby County Jail on the charge of manslaughter.
At the time of the press release the incident is believed to be purely accidental but the case is still under investigation.
July 11, 2014 - Senator Robert Nichols hosted a meeting in Nacogdoches with Railroad Commission of Texas representatives and members of the public mainly made up of residents of Timpson and the surrounding area. The purpose of the meeting was to address the concerns of residents in and around the Timpson area in relation to earthquakes that have been experienced there.
Shelby County Today was one of the only two media sources fortunate to attend the meeting, to get an understanding of the status of the situation and to hear opinions of some of those affected by the tremors. Timpson and Tenaha News being the other media from the county. In an unusual development, Milton Rister, Executive Director of the Railroad Commission of Texas, was present for the meeting and he was accompanied by Gil Bujano, Director of Oil and Gas Division, Dr. David Craig Pearson, seismologist, and Michelle Banks, Railroad Commission of Texas Communications Specialist.
"I have a bunch of experts here and we want to try to listen to what you have to say, take that back and of course answer questions if possible," said Rister.
Some of the representatives of Timpson included Mayor Debra Smith and, her husband, Paul Smith, Timpson Area Chamber of Commerce President. Representatives of the Timpson Independent School District included Mid Johnson, Superintendent; Danny Hunt, School Board member, and Vernett Richardson, High School Go Center.
Mayor Smith thanked Jesse Bounds and everyone that participated in organizing the meeting, "Larry Burns is here with me from the city, he is our emergency management coordinator and we just are real interested in hearing what everybody has to say, because it's been kind of a concern of the city," said Mayor Smith.
Bounds was one of the first Timpson citizens to speak to the panel of representatives of the Railroad Commission. He stated that everyone's hope is that a solution can be found and that those present from Timpson are not seeking to shut down the oil and gas industry. Bounds read aloud a letter which Senator Nichols wrote to Barry Smitherman, Chairman of the Railroad Commission of Texas, earlier this year asking for an investigation into the cause of the earthquakes that have been felt in Shelby County in the past few years.
Bounds asked the representatives where the Railroad Commission is at this time on the issue of the earthquakes, and the study in response to the letter. Rister responded, "In response to the letter, first off we're here to listen to y'all, and we have hired a seismologist. We're taking the issue very seriously," said Rister.
Mayor Smith inquired if the Railroad Commission would issue permits at this time for fluid injection wells in the Timpson area. Bujano addressed this question and suggested that until evidence proves that the injection wells have anything to do with earthquakes in the Timpson area permits could still be issued; however, he stated that permits are not being issued for other reasons.
"I think the best way to answer is, if the evidence leads to the existence of wells causing or enacting the seismic event then I can't see how a Railroad Commissioner would issue a permit. We're trying to figure out if that's the reason and if it comes to that conclusion, then the Railroad Commission's going to take some action, "said Bujano.
Bujano stated that permits have not been issued in Shelby, Panola and Harrison Counties and the Oil and Gas division of the Texas Railroad Commission has not issued injection or disposal well permits since 2010 for various reasons not associated with seismic activity.
"If your question is, 'would you permit it because of seismic activity?' we haven't drawn that conclusion yet. But, would you permit it period? The answer right now is, for various other reasons, no, and we have not issued a permit since 2010 in that three county area," said Bujano.
Rister elaborated further during the meeting and explained one of the reasons why more permits have not been issued, "One of the main reasons that we're not permitting out in east Texas, at this point, is there's plenty of disposal wells. In fact if you were to look at these wells back when they were originally permitted, they were accepting almost 80% more fluids than they are today."
Residents shared stories of some of the damage they received due to the earthquakes and how their insurance will not cover the damage.
Mid Johnson, Superintendent, was asked if the school had received any pipe damage as a result of the earthquakes. He stated that there was $30,000 - $50,000 worth of damage.
"Not really pipe damage, but structural damage to the walls and things like that we've already repaired of course. We don't know, we had some extra water leaks after some of that but we don't know if it's related to that or not," said Johnson.
Mayor Smith also explained some of the issues that the city has had since the earthquakes occurred. According to Mayor Smith, well #2 on the Timpson water system received $36,000 worth of damage, when the scale was dislodged and collapsed the pump filter. This meant that the screen, pumps and motors for the well had to be replaced.
"We've had about a 30% increase in joint leakage and water lines under our streets. We've probably had more bell joint leaks in Timpson than we've ever had," said Smith.
Jerry Woods, downtown property owner in Timpson, remarked that some of the commercial properties that he has are over 50 years old and earthquake insurance is not available for buildings that old.
"The folks that have insurance on their houses and have got earthquake insurance, not only do they have a huge fee to pay for it, a huge deductible but that will not cover their brick veneer," said Woods. "Insurance problems are inherent here and I think that I could own a beach house, and probably some folks here have had them through the years, you can get Texas windstorm insurance and the state of Texas helps underwrite that windstorm insurance."
Woods said that he would like to see the legislature establish an insurance program that works the same way as the windstorm insurance does, but for earthquakes in the east Texas area providing affordable and effective insurance.
"The Texas Water and Hurricane bill's probably going to be up this session and we're going to have to renew that, and there will be an opportunity in there to try and address that," said Senator Nichols.
Woods made a suggestion of a way he feels the problem could be solved "My final comment here is, we came in earlier and we talked to the seismologist and he said, 'well all this, the report you have is not conclusive we'll have to look at other things," said Woods. "I have a friend around the corner here who has a sign in her office that says, 'what is is, and what ain't ain't,' I mean you can tell us that what we've got here is not a cause and effect and we can't prove it scientifically perhaps, but I think everybody in this room here believes that we've got a problem that's being caused by that saltwater injection. We can dance around the head of a pin as long as we want to, but the fact is we've got a problem and I think there are ways to solve it. One of the ways might be to quit injecting that water in the ground near these earthquake faults."
At the completion of the meeting, Senator Nichols thanked everyone for their presence and made some final points relating to the investigation into the possibility of injection wells causing a seismic reaction in the Timpson area.
"I would hope that you would take this area of the state, and raise it up into a priority status as far as trying to come to a resolve on the seismic activity. We all think we know what causes it, you the regulatory body does, so you're the ones who are going to have to reach the scientific evidence of how it connects," said Senator Nichols. "I encourage you to do that as fast as you can. If there's something we can do, Representative Paddy and I can do in the legislature to help you all do that if you need something passed this next session where you could have the authority to modify your rules, if that's what it takes, just let us know. But I think you have all the authority you know you need if you can come up and prove the science of how it works."