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September 11, 2019 - Patriot Day was recognized with a ceremony on the Center square at the Shelby County Veteran's Memorial Wednesday, September 11, 2019 with community members and first responders in attendance.

Pastor Randall Smith of Paxton Methodist Church gives the invocation.The event was hosted by VFW Post 8904 and Auxiliary with Larry Hume, Post Quartermaster, leading the ceremony. An opening prayer was given by Pastor Randall Smith of Paxton Methodist Church and following opening prayer the Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

"On September 11, 2001 America witnessed a brand of evil beyond comprehension. It was difficult for us to grasp the scope of the tragedies that day and it was one of the most single tragic days in our nations history. Many of us thought it was the worst day of our lives," said Hume.

Hume remarked it has been almost 20 years since the events of September 11, 2001 occurred; however, the memory of what happened on that day is vivid.

"That day we refused to allow evilness to triumph over good. The accounts of hope and heroism that emerged from the rubble of Ground Zero, the Pentagon and the rural Pennsylvania field inspired us all," said Hume. "To this day those remarkable acts of valor continue to serve as reminders of that is good and true in the human spirit."

Post Quartermaster Larry Home speaks as granddaughter of Post Member Travis Snider sits listening.He reminded everyone of the police, firefighters, airplane passengers and crew members who gave their lives to save their fellow man. Hume stated, the sacrifices of those individuals will never be forgotten by a grateful America nor the Veteran's of Foreign Wars.

"We've learned that we must combat terror and those who seek to deliver terror. Today we are fighting to ensure that the liberties we enjoy, the freedoms we cherish will be secured for future generations," said Hume.

Hume reminded everyone of three of Shelby County's own who died overseas during the war on terror and they are Larry E. Polley Jr., United States Army, killed in action in Iraq January 17, 2004; Kevin Casey Roberts, United States Army, killed in action in Afghanistan May 7, 2008; and Cory Bertrand, United States Army, killed in action at the age of 18 in Afghanistan October 14, 2008.

Hume remarked that as we remember the lives of 2,977 lives lost on 9/11 Americans know that our nation is more secure. 

"Right here in Shelby County Texas we are fortunate to have First Responders that continue the legacy born 18 years ago and they're with us this morning," said Hume.

Speaking on behalf of first responders in Shelby County were Keith Byndom, Center Fire Chief; Jim Albers, Center Police Chief; Kevin Windham, Shelby County Sheriff Chief Deputy; and Jessie Griffith, Allegiance EMS. 

Center FD Chief Keith ByndomCenter PD Chief Jim AlbersSheriff's Department Chief Deputy Kevin WindhamEMT Jessie Griffith with Allegiance Mobile Health EMS

After each spoke, Hume encouraged a round of applause for all of the First Responders in recognition of their daily sacrifice.

Placing the memorial wreath on the Shelby County Veteran's Memorial was Sheriff Willis Blackwell.

Hume wanted everyone to remember Mike Wood, who was a 41-year volunteer fireman, he had occasion to play the bagpipes at VFW ceremonies and funerals. A moment of silence was had in remembrance of September 11, 2001.

Taps was then played as presented by Gene Hutto, VFW Post 8904 Post Commander. Leigh Porterfield then led everyone in God Bless America.

Leigh Porterfield leads everyone in singing God Bless America

September 9, 2019 - The Flag of the United States is to be flown at half staff in honor of Patriot Day, Wednesday, September 11, 2019 from sunrise to sunset in memory of those killed in the attacks on this day, 2001.

All flags flying with the US Flag should also be lowered.  If you have a flag that cannot be lowered respect for the day can be displayed by tying a black ribbon or chord at the top of the flag staff.

September 5, 2019 - Due to a tree and power lines across the road, the Center Police Department has blocked off Hwy 7 east between the intersection of Creswell Street and Logansport Street and Sardis Road. Please use caution if traveling through the area.

September 4, 2019 - The Shelby County Commissioners are moving forward with the closure of a county road which connects U.S. Highway 96 North with FM 2026.

Josh McAdams addressed the commissioners about the closure of 696 feet of CR 1039. McAdams Propane Company, which belongs to his family, is located on U.S. Highway 96 at the intersection of FM 2026 (Folsom Chapel Road) and CR 1039 runs on the back side of the property.

McAdams now owns property on the other side of the roadway and is seeking to close 696 feet of the county road.

"We own the property on both sides of it, and we think it's a danger due to the sped of traffic off of FM 2026 and Highway 96. It's just a cut-through," said McAdams.

He said an additional problem they have had is people walking on the back side of the business' fence and stealing property.

"It's not going to close off anybody to their driveway, it would be past the last driveway," said McAdams.

Roscoe McSwain, Commissioner Precinct 1, said he is in favor of closing the road.

"One of my main reasons is the safety issue of the way people drive through there and enter 96 and cut off of 96 turning in front of people," said McSwain.

He said he has further concern of how McSwain will be blocking the end of the roadway where CR 1039 meets FM 2026. McAdams said he would pay for that and do what McSwain would require. McSwain said he would like them to add a turnaround, guardrail at the end of the road and a ditch.

"This don't affect no one elses land. Where the turnaround is, they own everything past it to the farm road," said McSwain. "So they're not affecting no one else."

McSwain stated if there are any utilities running through that area, they will still require their access. The two utilities McAdams knows run through that area are Centerpoint Energy and telephone line.

Bellmyer said he drives by that area everyday and he said he does wonder what it's going to look like when the roadway is closed.

"It's just a wild guess, there's probably 300 people a day run up and down that road. I mean you can't come around 2026 that there's somebody not coming to meet you, so I don't know how it'll be communicated that you're going to cut the road off," said Bellmyer.

Bellmyer was concerned about the necessity of signage to inform drivers the road will be closed. McAdams said he is willing to take on the expense at the pleasure of the court and do whatever they tell him to do.

Judge Harbison recommended McAdams speak with a title company attorney to find out what documentation is appropriate to be filed with the county clerk.

A motion carried to close the roadway in two weeks from the meeting, September 18, 2019.

Tom Bellmyer, Precinct 4 Commissioner, stated this subject of speed limit signs in Precinct 4 is one the commissioners have discussed several times and a public hearing was recently held to allow for public input on the matter.

"It's a process we have to go through to allow a commissioner in his precinct to set safe and prudent speeds on either segments of, or entire county roads," said Bellmyer.

Bellmyer said the process the county has been going through is out of the transportation code.

According to the interpretation of the commissioners, further public hearings won't be necessary for future consideration of roadway speed adjustment.

A motion carried to allow all four commissioners to establish safe and prudent speeds on either segments or entire roads in their precinct.

The commissioners considered amendments to the county travel policy and Judge Harbison stated it was regarding county vehicle use and prisoner transfer.

"To me this amendment, we shouldn't be having to do this, it should be common sense not to haul an inmate in a personal car," said McSwain. "If you would have an accident, what would happen?"

The amendments read as follows: 1) Any county employee that has an issued (or available) reliable county vehicle for travel use will not use their personal vehicle for county business. If the employee chooses to use their personal vehicle, expense will be reimbursed as if it is a county vehicle and that is to provide gas receipts for reimbursement. It will not be reimbursed at the personal vehicle rate. Any exception to this policy must be approved prior to the travel by the Commissioners' Court.

2) Any prisoner is to be transported in a county owned vehicle only - no exceptions other than an ambulance or approved law enforcement transport company (This amendment was approved by the Sheriff).

A motion carried to approve the amendments.

Don Eddings, U.S. Forest Service, spoke with the commissioners about a cooperative agreement between Shelby County and the U.S. Forest Service who owns the roads while the county maintains them. The county and the forest service equally blade the roadways and apply rock to them.

According to Eddings, this is the second agreement which has been made with Shelby County. Angelina, Sabine, Jasper, San Augustine and Shelby County all have agreements with the U.S. Forest Service. Judge Harbison stated the agreement is just stating the county will continue the partnership with the U.S. Forest Service as they have over the past five years.

A motion carried to approve continuing the cooperative road agreement with the U.S. Forest Service.

The meeting was adjourned at 10am.

Agenda items approved during the meeting include:

1. Pay weekly expenses.
2. Current payroll.
3. Allow all four commissioners to establish safe and prudent speeds on either segments or entire roads in their precinct.
4. Close 696ft off County Road 1039 September 18, 2019. 
5. Amendments to be added to the County Travel policy.
6. Cooperative Road Agreement between Shelby County and USDA, Forest Service National Forest and Grasslands in Texas.
7. Adjourn. 

September 3, 2019 - The Shelby County Commissioners heard from a local wrecker service during their meeting held August 28, 2019, about what he says are issues with the dispatch rotation at the Sheriff's Department, 

Larry Joe Eaves is the owner and operator of Sandhill Wrecker Service out of Center. 

He feels his business is being overlooked at the Sheriff's Department in the wrecker rotation. When an incident occurs, such as a crash, vehicle wreckers are at times needed and to ensure not any one particular company is called out by the Sheriff's Department more than another, they have a rotation of available companies.

His business is located in Shelby County and as a Shelby County tax payer, he doesn't believe the county is putting any money in it's pocket when large wreckers are called in from places like Nacogdoches.

"Using local companies puts money back into our own location economy and not Nacogdoches," said Eaves.

Eaves requested being added to the Shelby County wrecker rotation. Eaves said out of the 440 crashes that occurred in Shelby County in 2018 his company was only called by the Sheriff's Department six times.  

Judge Harbison asked Chief Windham who dispatches the wreckers. Windham said Sandhill is on the Sheriff's Department "big rig" rotation, but they aren't on the smaller vehicle rotation.

"The way rotation works at the Sheriff's Department is it's computer generated on rotation," said Windham.

He explained, if someone is in a crash incident they have the choice to request a wrecker; however, if they don't have a preference it's computer generated when a rotation wrecker is requested.

Eaves said he has heard his companies called to wrecker large trucks, meanwhile his company has been passed over. He says he has spoken with Sheriff Blackwell about the problem he's having.

"I asked him if he would go look [at the computer] and I can't even get him to go pull up the computer and see what's going on. I'm not saying it's the Sheriff, I'm not saying that, but it could be the person inside that's pulling it up that's leaving me off," said Eaves.

Eaves said it costs $96,000 a year for the six wreckers he says he has to serve the county. He said all he wants is a fair shot. 

"I live here, and I wanna work here. I'm on rotation in San Augustine and everywhere else," said Eaves. "The city here is perfect, they're fair, but if you can call somebody that's right here it's a lot better."

Judge Harbison said the court would talk with Sheriff Blackwell and see what could be done. 

There was one item in the weekly expenses the commissioners inquired about with Ann Blackwell, Treasurer. It was a travel expense turned in by the District Attorney Investigator Joey Haley for a trip to New Mexico with a reserve officer. 

Blackwell stated Haley traveled in his personal vehicle since the vehicle purchased for the District Attorney Investigator was in the shop at the time having lights installed. The trip took two days and only mileage was submitted. The reason stated for the trip was to pick up an individual on a Center Police Department arrest.

Haley said he was advised to claim mileage to cover all expenses. 

"I did advise him that was not the correct way to do this," said Blackwell. 

She said the county should have just paid for gas receipts for the newly purchased vehicle, meals and overtime for the travel.

Charles Barr, Precinct 3 Commissioner, stated it was his belief out of state trips like the one turned in are to be approved by the commissioners, and Blackwell agreed that is what is in the personnel policy.

Commissioner Jimmy Lout asked why the city didn't pay for the travel if the individual was a city prisoner.

"I believe the D.A. (Stephen Shires) offered to go get the prisoner. At this time I have it charged to his budget," said Blackwell. 

Lout asked if the inmate was in the county jail; however, Blackwell didn't know the answer to the question or the name of the inmate.

County Judge Allison Harbison reiterated the bottom line is any employee doing travel outside of the state is to seek pre-approval from the commissioners' court.

Blackwell stated Haley does understand the appropriate way to take such a trip in the future.

"That vehicle is for county business, and it was a county purchased vehicle and he's a county employee to perform county functions in state and preferably in county," said Tom Bellmyer, Commissioner Precinct 4.

Barr said he was sure Haley was doing what he was asked to do.

A motion carried to pay $787.64 out of the District Attorney budget and to pay the weekly expenses.

 Judge Harbison stated the next agenda item was to amend the work rules and employee responsibilities within the Shelby County Personnel Policy.

"We had some issues about people bringing animals, pets to work and we had to fumigate and spray. Also there was another office, not in the courthouse that had some issues that the cleaning lady would discuss with me," said Judge Harbison.

She said other counties are amending personnel policies relating to pets and animals. Her proposal was to amend the personnel policy under work rules and employee responsibilities to add pets are generally restricted from entering the courthouse or other county buildings where public business is conducted.

Employees and officials shall not keep house pets in county offices. The exception to this policy would be service animals providing necessary function regarding personnel, personal guidance and/or mobility. Service animals would be required to have proper documentation and/or certifications. Judge Harbison said the commissioners could take action on the item or give it time to see how things progress.

Lout stated the wording included all county buildings and grounds. He asked if that includes the rodeo arena. 

Lout said, "It should be exempt shouldn't it?"

A motion carried to table the policy amendment pending further adjustments and wording for the rodeo arena.

Barr discussed running tests on radios for emergency responders as was presented at a previous commissioners' court meeting. There are some areas in the county where coverage either doesn't exist or partially exists and Barr feels it creates a danger to law enforcement and other emergency personnel. (Related article)

"They're here to protect us, we need to try and protect them," said Barr.

Sheriff's Department Chief Kevin Windham agreed there are still some problem areas, and that it is a lot better.

A motion carried to run the test on the radio equipment to discover problem areas.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:14am.

Agenda items approved during the meeting include:
1.Pay weekly expenses.

2. Accept bid for Precinct 1 equipment from JB Raymond in the amount of $33,400 for a DHP865 Case Maintainer Serial #N5AF0432 and a bid from 96 Equipment in the amount of $61,300 for a 140H Cat Maintainer Serial #CCA1673.

3. Run test on radios for emergency responders.

4. Adjourn at 10:14am.

Agenda items tabled during the meeting include:
1. Amend the Work Rules and Employee Responsibilities within the Shelby County Personnel Policy.

September 3, 2019 - State Highway 7 East at the intersection of Loop 500 was the scene of a three-vehicle collision Tuesday, September 3, 2019. Traffic was delayed while officers investigated the crash scene and until all units involved were cleared.

According to Center Police Officer Angela Neal, at 3:20pm a white 2016 GMC Sierra pickup truck driven by Mark Brown, 65, of Tyler was northbound on Loop 500. 

Brown failed to yield right of way at a stop sign at the intersection of State Highway 7 (SH 7) and struck the bed of a white 2019 Chevrolet Silverado driven by Chasity Cooper, 39, of Center who was traveling east on SH 7. 

The impact caused the Silverado to spin around and strike a white 2018 Ford Taurus driven by Chad Smith, 51, of Hot Springs, Arkansas who was westbound on SH 7.

EMS personnel was on scene; however, all involved refused treatment. 

Brown was issued a citation for failure to yield right of way at a stop sign.

Center Fire Department fire personnel diverted traffic around the crash location while DPS and Shelby County Sheriff deputies also assisted at the scene.

September 2, 2019 - Weather statistics for August 2019 are prepared and submitted by Ann Forbes, U.S. Weather Service Observer.

Highest Temp was 101 degrees on 8-14 & 8-19-2019
Highest Temp on Record was 110 degrees on 8-18-1957 & 4 days in August 2011
Lowest Temp was 69 degrees on 8-01 and 8-28-2019
Lowest Temp on Record was 52 degrees on 8-31-1986

Rainfall Recorded was 3.20 inches
Average Monthly Rainfall is 3.52 inches
Below Average by 0.32 inches
Highest Recorded for this Month was 15.10 inches in 1997
Lowest Recorded for this Month was 0.00 inches in 1951

Rainfall through August is 41.98 inches
August 2019 had 3 Triple Digit Days

Happy September and Keep Your Eyes on the School Buses!!!

Click for full weather report.

August 30, 2019 - State Highway 87 South just outside Shelbyville was the scene of a major two-vehicle crash Friday, August 30, 2019. 

When emergency personnel arrived one vehicle remained in the middle of the roadway while another was in some trees with the driver trapped inside.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Jesse Fountain, at 3:08pm troopers were dispatched to a major two-vehicle crash on SH 87 in front of Double J's BBQ.

A grey 2014 Ford pickup truck driven by Justin Dale Wagstaff, 45, of Shelbyville was traveling north when stopped preparing to turn left into the parking lot of Double J's. 

At that time a white 2009 Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Ivan Perez, 17, of Center was also northbound in the same traffic lane when he failed to control speed and collided with the rear of the grey Ford pickup truck causing it to spin around.

The Chevrolet continued off the roadway to the left and into some trees where it came to rest.

Jamie Hagler, Constable Precinct 2, requested the Center Fire Department since Jaws-of-Life were needed and they are the closest fire department with the equipment. The firemen were able to help extricate Perez from the Chevrolet using Jaws-of-Life. Shelbyville Volunteer Fire Department assisted with traffic control at the scene until it was clear.

Perez was transported by ambulance to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Shelby Emergency Department for treatment of his injuries. Wagstaff went by private vehicle to the emergency room as a precaution.

Perez will be issued a citation for failure to control speed.

August 28, 2019 - State Highway 7 West was the scene of a two-vehicle crash which sent eight people to the hospital.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Dustin Ramos, at 4:40pm on August 19, a 2015 Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Larry Kopycinski, 39, of Garrison stopped at a stop sign at the intersection of CR 1245 and State Highway 7 (SH7) West. 

A 2007 Chevrolet Suburban driven by Larry Judd, 53, of Lufkin was eastbound on SH 7 when Kopycinski failed to yield right of way as he entered the path of the Suburban, causing both vehicles to collide.

Both vehicles came to rest in the middle of the roadway with damage.

Transported from the scene by ambulance for treatment of their injuries were Larry Judd; Faye Judd, 38; Frake Soto Cummings, 19; Robert Mantaneo, 18; a 16-year-old female, 11-year-old male, 5-year-old female and 2-year-old male.

No injuries were reported of Kopycinski. He was issued a citation for failure to yield right of way. 

August 27, 2019 - The portfolio of state historic sites operated by the Texas Historical Commission (THC) is set to expand.

Beginning Sept. 1, 2019, eight historic sites across the state of Texas will transfer to the THC.

Seven of the properties are currently managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). These properties were transferred by the 86th Texas Legislature on the recommendation of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission. The action will allow both the THC and TPWD to improve efficiency by focusing each agency on its core mission—THC’s role as the state historic preservation office, and TPWD’s as steward of the state’s impressive natural resources and hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation attractions.  

“Our primary goal as stewards of these sites has always been the preservation of these iconic landmarks for the enjoyment of current and future Texans. We entrust the future care of these notable parks to the capable hands of the THC and know they will continue these high standards of maintenance and operations going forward,” said Carter Smith, Executive Director of TPWD. “TPWD is proud to have been the caretakers of these historic sites for many decades, and we will continue to care for the hundreds of historic buildings, archeological sites, and other cultural resources that exist within state parks and natural areas across Texas.” 

TPWD sites transferring to the THC include San Jacinto Monument and Battleground in Harris County; Washington-on-the-Brazos and Barrington Plantation in Washington County; Kreische Brewery and Monument Hill in Fayette County; Lipantitlán in Nueces County; Fanthorp Inn in Grimes County; and the Port Isabel Lighthouse in Cameron County. 

“Texas Parks and Wildlife and their professional staff have done impressive work stewarding these historic places,” said Mark Wolfe, THC Executive Director. “We welcome this challenge to build on their legacy and continue the preservation of these unique sites for new generations of visitors to enjoy. We are pleased that we will be able to work with many of the same staff who have operated and maintained all the transferring sites. We welcome them and these sites to the Texas Historical Commission family.” 

Additionally, the 86th Legislature turned management of the Star of the Republic Museum in Washington County (part of the Washington-on-the-Brazos complex) to the THC, effective Jan. 1, 2020. The THC is working with the site’s owner, Blinn College, on management logistics. The THC may assume operation of the museum prior to the beginning of the year.

The addition of the new sites means that the THC now manages 31 state historic sites representing nearly every era of Texas’ storied history—from the legends and culture of the original American Indian inhabitants of Texas, to the epic stories of the state’s revolution and independence, to the humble birthplace of one of the nation’s greatest leaders, President Dwight D. Eisenhower. 

To learn more about these sites or to plan your next trip, visit StoriedSites.com. 

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