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March 16, 2015 - Sheriff Willis Blackwell reports that on March 12, 2015 a surprise inspection of the Shelby County Jail was preformed by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

Sheriff Blackwell is happy to report that the Shelby County Jail was compliant and there were no deficiencies noted. Sheriff Blackwell gives credit to Jail Administrator William Cox and all the hard working jailers that make this possible.

March 16, 2015 - Center Police Officers and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) State Troopers responded to a two-vehicle crash on Nacogdoches Highway (State Highway 7 West) Monday March 16, 2015 in front of Watlington Street.

When the officers arrived, one vehicle was blocking the outside eastbound traffic lane and the other was beside it off the roadway. ACE EMS was on scene and was providing medical care to the driver of the vehicle in the roadway.

According to Center Police Sgt. Duane Gordon and Center Police Officer Bobby Walker, a maroon Hyundai Elantra driven by Jacquelyn Elmore, 30, of Center with three minor male passengers age one, eight and 10 was traveling east on State Highway West in foggy weather conditions.

Elmore stopped for a school bus, which was traveling on the other side of the highway, and when she did a grey Dodge Charger driven by Kimberly Long, 41, of Center was traveling in the same lane as Elmore and struck the Elantra from behind, causing damage to both vehicles.

ACE EMS transported Elmore from the scene with minor injuries and her children were picked up from the scene by family members. Long was not reported to have received any injury and was issued a citation for failure to control speed.

Texas DPS State Troopers Dustin Ramos and Anthony Lacount assisted at the scene with traffic control.

March 14, 2015 - State Highway 7 East in the James Community was the scene of an early morning 18-wheeler rollover on Friday, March 13, 2015.

The Texas Department of Public Safety, ACE EMS, and later the Center Fire Department, were dispatched to the scene as Pinnergy LTD. representatives worked to clear the crash scene as the trailer of the 18-wheeler was loaded with frac mud and it had to be moved to another tanker before it could be righted.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Jade Lavergne, at 2:55am in the James Community near the RV Park a white 2015 Mack truck-tractor and trailer combination was driven by Marcus Danyell Robinson, 28.

Robinson was traveling west when he left the roadway to the right due weather conditions when he attempted correct back to the left, with the trailer being heavy it rolled to its right and rested on its top. He was seen by ACE EMS and refused treatment.

When mist and fog became more dense across the roadway, the Center Fire Department was dispatched to the scene at 5:33am to help with traffic control. The frac mud was pumped from the wrecked 18-wheeler to another tanker which came from Mansfield.

No injury was reported as a result of the crash and Robinson was cited for unsafe speed.

March 14, 2015 - Wet road conditions have plagued drivers all week causing a lot of slipping and sliding and contributed to a crash on State Highway 7 Friday, March 13, 2015.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Dustin Ramos, at 11:04am a Dodge Avenger driven by Jamica Bennett, age 24 of Nacogdoches, was eastbound on SH 7 and failed to drive in a single lane crashing approximately five miles west of Center. The driver lost control of the car which left the roadway, spun to the right and struck a tree with its back distributed and the left center of the vehicle.

Soon after the crash, several good Samaritans stopped at the crash scene and assisted Bennett until emergency medical services could arrive. The driver was transported by ACE EMS to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Center Emergency Department with minor cuts and scraps and possible unknown injuries. Bennett was cited for failure to drive in a single lane.

March 14, 2015 - The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), Joaquin Volunteer Fire Department and ACE EMS responded to a single-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 84 one mile from FM 699 on Thursday, March 12, 2015.

During the rainy conditions emergency personnel contended with a large number of traveling vehicles as they worked to handle the crash scene.

According to Texas DPS State Trooper Jade Lavergne, at 3pm a red 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier driven by Amie Trahan, 38, of Arp was traveling east to Logansport during heavy rain when the Cavalier traveled over standing water which caused the vehicle to hydroplane.

The Cavalier crossed the westbound traffic lane before leaving the roadway to the left and into a ditch where the front distributive struck the side of the ditch, flipping the car onto its roof coming to rest facing the roadway. Trahan was able to escape the Cavalier by climbing out the back window.

ACE EMS personnel examined Trahan at the scene and she refused any further treatment. She was issued a citation for unsafe speed.

March 9, 2015 - The Commissioners made their annual approval of money disbursement from the Child Safety Fee Fund to local child advocacy groups including the Shelby County Children's Advocacy Center (SCCAC), and the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Deep East Texas. The total fees for the year are estimated to be $42,000.

Proposed detour by TxDOTMunicipalities will receive $4,153.64 to distribute and the county retains $12,971.85. The county's portion to distribute will be $11,259.30. Allison Harbison, County Judge, explained how the process has worked in the past, "We've given 65% to the [Shelby County Children's] Advocacy Center and then 35% to CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and if we do that this time, it would give the Advocacy Center [$7,318.55] and CASA, it would give them $3,940.76."

Roscoe McSwain, Commissioner Precinct 1, commented that is the percentage which has been done in the past and he preferred to see it stay that way. A motion was carried to keep the same percentage and to distribute the available $11,259.30.

TxDOT representatives Ana Mijares, District Design Engineer, and Olga Flores spoke with the commissioners about the closure of FM 415 for repair of the Bear Bayou Bridge (Project Details). Mijares explained the project would take around four months for completion. She stated that there are some possible difficulties in dealing with Deep East Texas Electric Coop (DETEC) as TxDOT does not currently have a good relationship with DETEC and it would.

"We looked at going to the east with a temporary easement, and the issues we are running into that is that [DETEC] is on both sides of the road so even if we decided to go to the west, [DETEC] would have to relocate and they are on private easement so they would ask for relocation cost, which the county would have to participate," said Mijares. "So the county would have to participate in the relocation cost of [DETEC] plus the easement cost, it would be a percentage of what that cost would be."

A detour is what TxDOT is suggesting at this time, which according to Mijares would be easiest to do and would be the least expensive option. The projected detour would travel County Road 4123 for local traffic and Mijares explained the state can establish a detour route on state roadways only; however, not county roads and that is where the commissioners help is needed.

"What we are proposing now, is to build the proposed bridge on existing site and detour the traffic for about four months, it might be a little longer, depending on how long it takes the contractor. We wouldn't close the road until the beams are fabricated so that the road's not closed and it doesn't look like they aren't doing any work."

The state's portion of the detour would take in FM 138, FM 1645 and State Highway 87 back to FM 415 and would be 21 miles in length. If the county is to adopt their portion of the detour on County Road 4123, it would be a three mile detour from the north side of the bridge to the FM 138 side of the bridge. The current distance from the bridge without a detour is 1 1/4 miles.

A motion was carried to table the item so Bradley Allen, Commissioner Precinct 4, can look at the roadway which is being considered.

Three items on the agenda pertained to the office of Mike Crouch, Justice of the Peace Precinct 5, and all three of them were tabled until the next meeting. The first was in regards to a contract for lease agreement on the space currently being used by the Justice of the Peace. Judge Harbison and Gary Rholes, County Attorney, reviewed the lease and agreed the lease is not good for the county and would have to be reworked. The commissioners considered the possibility of establishing a building for the Justice of the peace office at the Precinct 5 Commissioner yard. The possibility of using City of Timpson property was also discussed as the city offered to make it available for free.

Utilities in the amount of $1,000 for the current space being used by Crouch were paid for out of his own pocket as an established method of payment was not yet made by the county.

The third item relating to Crouch's office was a digital radio as Crouch stated Constable Stanley Burgay suggest he acquire one as it would be useful to have. After discussion over the radio, it was suggested Crouch contact the Sheriff about the use of a radio.

A contribution of $6,000 to the Shelby Soil and Water Conservation District was approved by the commissioners. Judge Harbison explained to the commissioners the money is already budgeted. Janet Ritter was at the meeting on behalf of the District to address the commissioners.

"We do have six water shed lakes in this county, all of which are primarily in the Timpson area. Part of that $6,000 we do take and try and apply at least $1,000 per dam each year to some of the maintenance. Right now we're in the process of scheduling our mowers," said Ritter.

Ritter stated there is one dam which a request of the commissioners may be made next year to help with some erosion problems with one particular water shed.

Agenda items receiving approval include:

   1 Minutes of the February 9th Regular Meeting and the February 23rd Special Meeting of the Shelby County Commissioners’ Court.
   2 Officers’ Reports. Commissioners heard financial report from Anne Blackwell, County Treasurer.
   3 Pay monthly expenses.
   4 Bid on 2004 Suzuki for $55 from Jimmy Wagstaff.
   5 Bid on 2003 Ford Escape for $400 from Joe Shofner.
   6 Bid on 1998 Ford Expedition for $1,100 from Kevin Foster.
   7 Allow Bryan Gray, Constable Precinct 4, to seek a buyer for remaining vehicles to have them hauled off and then to haul them off if there is no buyer.
   8 Authorize the utilities for Constable and Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4 to be split between their budgets.
   9 Distribution of the Child Safety Fee Fund.
   10 Contribute $6,000 to the Shelby Soil and Water Conservation District.
   11 Adopt the Proclamation recognizing National Service Recognition Day.
   12 Purchase of Right of Way in Precinct 1 from Hancock Forest Management for TxDOT bridge project. Motion approved to purchase the land for $2,500 and to pay the outside legal fees.
   13 Adjournment at 10:36am.

Agenda items tabled during the meeting include:

   1 Lease Agreement and/or office space for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5.
   2 Payment of utilities for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5.
   3 Purchase of a radio for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5.
   4 Closing of FM 415 at Bear Bayou for approximately four months for new bridge construction

Family and friends gathered following the memorial. Pictured are (from left) Sandra Sorrells, Rick Gonzalez, Adam Edgar, Brandy Edgar, Shawn Edgar, Lori Greeno, Tammy Edgar Baker, Glen Edgar, Felix Holmes, and Raymond Edgar.

March 12, 2015 - The lives of three men lost while on duty in a helicopter crash in 2005 were honored at a memorial ceremony held at Boles Field in Sabine National Forest on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 to mark the 10th anniversary of the tragedy.

Eddie Taylor, Forest Supervisor Kisatchie National Forest, worked with Charles L. Edgar and he shared experiences from the day of the tragedy in 2005.Charles L. Edgar, fire management officer on the Sabine National Forest; John Greeno, Bald Mountain helicopter manager with the Mi-Wok Ranger District on the Stanislaus National Forest in California, and Jose Victor Gonzales, a pilot with Brainerd Helicopter Service in Minnesota; made up the crew of a Bell 206 BIII helicopter which was participating in a United States Forest Service prescribed fire mission.

Just near Shelbyville was the area of the burn within heavily wooded terrain. During the mission over the trees at 1:54pm a distress call of, "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, we are going down," was received by ground personnel indicating the helicopter was going down. All three men perished as a result of the incident.

Family members, co-workers and friends gathered at the Boles Field Pavillion on March 10, 2015 at 2pm to remember the men involved in the incident. Felix Holmes, a member of the U.S. Forest Service, was the master of ceremonies and he introduced different speakers as they took to the podium.

"Almost exactly 10 years ago about this time of day is when the accident occurred, so I'm proud to stand here and honor Charles [Edgar], [Jose] Gonzalez and Mr. [John] Greeno and thank them for the service they done, and I thank everyone for coming," said Holmes.

Eddie Taylor, Forest Supervisor Kisatchie National Forest, was the Forest District Ranger at the time of the incident and he shared some of what happened on that day, "When I heard the helicopter distress call I was standing next to Felix Holmes, District Dozer Operator, the district folks immediately went into action. What we found changed our lives forever."

Shelbyville Volunteer Firemen were some of the first on scene to help those who were involved in the crash and Taylor elaborated on their involvement, "We lost three great men, two on impact, one shortly thereafter. We had great support from the local volunteer fire department, such as Lewis Harbison and Britt Harbison trying to save the one survivor, Charles. We were not successful, although medevac was dispatched immediately. The entire event, the weekend, the funerals all seem like a large nightmare."

Adam Edgar spoke of his father, Charles L. Edgar, his family relationship at home and at work.Adam Edgar, son to Charles Edgar, shared how his father considered so many of his co-workers to be family, "A couple of things that have struck me is the care and the concern of his forest service family, how I've heard a lot of y'all tell me personally that he would bring me up in conversation a lot when I was younger. He would talk about me, he would always tell me how proud he was of me, but I want y'all to know that when he was with me and my family, you as Forest Service personnel are the ones he talked about. He always considered y'all family and always spoke very highly of every one of you."

Edgar stated that his father loved what he did and made him aware of the dangers involved in his job, "He most definitely told me that you don't know how long you're here and he basically prepped me and told me that he did a dangerous job and he understood the risks, but it was something he loved to do."

Raymond Edgar, brother of Charles Edgar, was emotional as he spoke of the celebration of the men involved in the crash as well as his brother and his love for his job.

"Hopefully today can be about saving the lives of these men, because there's a lot to celebrate," stated Edgar as he fought back tears. "I'm the older brother, Charles' older brother, and Charles just grew up out in the woods like most of us country kids did in East Texas. He developed a love for music early on and that was a lifelong passion, a lifelong vocation and he loved the Forest Service, he loved the woods."

Marsha Cooper, United States Forest Service Fire Prevention Officer, worked side-by-side with Charles for years and was available for comment about the event, "The families said it brought them a lot of closure that day, I thought some of the things Adam said were really touching. 10 years ago it was one of the hardest days I've had to go through."

 

March 9, 2015 - Presiding Judge Charles Mitchell granted a Protective Order for applicant, Florentina Gonzalez against her spouse, Marcos Aguilar, on Friday, March 6, 2015 after Court used online translator service for Cause#15CV33014, Florentina Gonzalez and Marcos Aguilar.

Marcos AguilarDuring the proceedings, neither Gonzalez or Aguilar spoke fluent English. In order for the Court to communicate with both parties, Karen Warr, Administrative Assistant to the Shelby County District Court, setup an online translator to assist with communication between the Court and both parties. Judge Mitchell swore in the translator who then through visual/audio conference on a laptop provided translation for the Court.

Gary Rholes, attorney for Gonzales had her take the stand and tell by way of the online translator what occurred on Monday, January 5, 2015 the day her husband allegedly stabbed her. She also spoke briefly about events from the day before.

Following her statement, Aguilar who was present without an attorney and represented himself was given the opportunity to tell his side of the events which occurred on January 4th and 5th. He disputed some of the details given by Gonzales; however, when asked by Rholes if he stabbed Gonzales, he replied, " Sí ".

Following hearing of evidence, the Court approved the Protective Order having found that all prerequisites of the law had been satisfied and that the Court had jurisdiction over the parties and subject matter of the case. The order prohibits Aguilar from committing family violence, as defined in section 71.004 of the Texas Family Code, he must not go near or within 500 feet of Gonzalez, as well as additional guidelines laid out in the order. The Protective Order shall remain in full force and effect until March 6, 2016.

The case against Aguilar has not yet been presented to a grand jury for indictment. He was taken into custody the same day as the stabbing incident and booked into the Shelby County Jail on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and a bond was set at $100,000 by JP 1 Maxie Eaves. As of March 6th, Aguilar has not made bond.

Marrch 8, 2015 - A single-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 96 North occurred early Friday morning, March 6, 2015 resulting in a life-flight for the driver.

ACE EMS was first to the scene of the crash located at the railroad overpass just south of Flat Fork Creek on Highway 96 and they determined a life-flight was necessary as the driver had been ejected from the vehicle.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Daniel Dellinger, sometime just before 4:42am Howard Lamon Hughes, 46, of Tenaha was southbound in a white 2004 Ford Ranger. As Hughes was beginning to climb the ramp leading up the overpass the Ranger traveled over an icy patch in the roadway.

The vehicle then left the roadway to the right and collided head-on with a tree causing Hughes to be ejected from the truck. A landing zone was established by the Center Fire Department and Hughes was life-flighted from the scene to LSU Hospital in Shreveport.

Firemen at the scene stated the area where Hughes traveled over ice is prone to icing when conditions are favorable as there is water runoff which travels across the highway. Unofficially, TxDOT is looking at repairing the roadway soon to help prevent future incidents.

Hughes' injuries were believed to be serious at the time of the crash; however, his condition is unknown at this time.

Commissioners listen to comments made at Public HearingApril 17, 2015 - Commissioners, County Judge, law enforcement, and members of the community attended a public hearing in the community room of the Shelby County Courthouse on Thursday, April 16, 2015 concerning trash and public nuisances in unincorporated areas of the county.

The prompting for the public meeting being held was because of the number of calls fielded by County Officials concerning trash and public nuisances. Shelby County Judge Allison Harbison explained, "We are aware of the (trash) problem and are very concerned about the problem."

Harbison opened the meeting up inviting the members of the audience who signed to speak to address the commissioners. First to speak was Donnis Adams who addressed health issues he says he has had as the result of dead chickens being dumped on his road. Adams said, "I was diagnosed with Avian TB (tuberculosis) from my neighbor dumping his dead chicken carcasses. If you go out by my driveway right now, I just mowed my yard, there is a pile of white chicken feathers right beside my drive. Now, I want to make sure anything you guys may do does encompass dead animals being dumped in the county." Adams listed health issues he states he now has because of Avian TB which included glaucoma and deteriorated vision leading to blindness in one eye, a hole in his lung the size of a golf ball, hearing problems which he said are the results of the treatments he has undergone to try and kill the Avian TB. He continued to speak about the dumped dead carcasses stating, "It's dangerous to you and it's litter."

Another concerned citizen spoke and also addressed an issue they are having with their neighbor who has farm animals. According to the concerned citizen, the neighbor is disposing of the guts of animals being slaughtered right next to the their property and at times on their property. Photographs were presented to Commissioner Jimmy Lout since it was occurring in his precinct.

Buren Lowe was the last concerned citizen to speak, "Its embarrassing to say that it seems like our county has become so trashy. It's heartbreaking to go down some of our back roads and see the amount of trash that is throwed out." Lowe suggested the county instigate some kind of program which would encourage people to not throw out trash much like the Texas litter campaign - Don't Mess With Texas. "We don't have any place in Shelby County for people to dispose of their goods. I commend the commissioners for being on board again about the recycling program which is a great asset to recycle some of our waste; its really great. I would love to see Shelby County have a landfill that would afford the people of Shelby County [a place] to take their goods because we've got to dispose of them somewhere, there's really no place to dump them," expressed Lowe. He finished saying, "It's just really, really embarrassing being a Shelby County person to drive down our roads and see how bad it looks."

Commissioner Precinct 2 Jimmy Lout spoke about the dumpsters being available; however, the dumpsters don't allow tires or household trash. Sheriff Willis Blackwell said, "That's mainly what we run into on the road is household garbage. That's were the problem is; they don't have anywhere to go with them black sacks coming out of the kitchen." Chief Deputy Shad Sparks expounded on the procedure the Sheriff's Department has when trash dumping is reported, which included, after the investigation reveals to whom the trash belongs, is to give them an opportunity first to pick it up. He said they often find that many of the people dumping don't have the funds to afford monthly trash pickup which means they are also not going to be able to afford a ticket for dumping either. Sparks said, "If they don't pick it up or they are repeat offenders, we write them a dumping ticket. If they can't pay for it, they get an FTA (Failure to Appear) and they go to jail."

The discussion of using prisoners to clean up on work detail was brought up and Sheriff Blackwell answered, "There has to be a certified peace officer to take those prisoners out of that jail and go somewhere with them, so it's not a question of whether a jailer could take them out and work them, we can't. It has to be a certified peace officer with them." Sparks added saying "We would love to have a work detail, that's not an issue with us, everybody is just short-handed right now." It was mentioned that cleaning up the roadways has been used for community service time for people who couldn't pay citations off or for teenagers who had gotten in trouble as a learning lesson or as a deterrent.

There were a number of citizens from Huxley who were unable to attend the meeting. Harbison said, "In the last three and a half months, the ones that I have heard the most about are close to Toledo Bend or on Toledo Bend... I have three or four different things (letters with photographs) here from the same community and I've done some research on it and I have a paper that was prepared by the legal council of the Texas Association of Counties and there are actually laws on the books already that covers public nuisance. It defines the public nuisance and everything that we've talked about today is classified in this as a public nuisance."

"I think that we probably just need to start an abatement program to utilize the laws that are already in the health and safety code. One of the laws says that it's a public nuisance if they're keeping, storing or accumulating rubbish including newspapers, abandoned vehicles, refrigerators, stoves, furniture, tires, cans on the premises in a neighborhood or within 300 feet of a public street for 10 days or more," stated Harbison. She continued, "There are laws already there and I think we should look at enforcing them. I think turning a blind eye to them is not the best way to do it. I just want to let the public know I empathize with their problems and that I really do want to work towards a solution."

Harbison spoke on behalf of the commissioners' court saying, "We really don't want to have a law that impedes anybody from doing anything on their private property because you bought that property and you paid for that property."

The way the law works would be a citizen would file a complaint with the commissioners and they would decided during commissioners' court if it is in fact a public nuisance. If it is approved to be a nuisance, the court would send out a notice giving the property owner a time period to clean it up. If the property owner fails to comply, they can be fined. In the long run the county could hire someone to clean it up and a lien could be placed by the county against the person's property. It would be a civil case.

"I'm not for telling anybody what to do on their property, but if you're living 300 feet of a public road, if it's dead carcasses by your property that is impeding your well being and your health, I think it's our duty to look into this and to do what we can to help the community. I may be dead wrong but I don't think it's infringing on anybody's private rights if the laws that are already on the books are enforced," stated Judge Harbison.

Take pride in your community and help keep it beautiful. Lowe suggested a new slogan - "Don't Trash Shelby County"

  •     Educate all your family and friends about littering and how bad it is.
  •     If you see a litterbug, you can report it on the Don't Mess With Texas and Texas will send the litterer a Don’t mess with Texas litterbag along with a letter reminding them to keep their trash off of our roads.
  •     Form a community service group to help with picking up litter.
  •     Foster respect for a clean city among school children, visitors to parks, patrons of fast-food, and smokers.

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