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July 31, 2015 - A power outage in Center was experienced by a large number of AEP SWEPCO customers on Thursday, July 30, 2015. Darkness enveloped a large portion of Hurst and Tenaha Streets, which are main thoroughfares, effecting businesses and homes in the area.

According to Scott McCloud, AEP SWEPCO Representative, the outage occurred as the result of a tree which fell on a power line close to Louisiana Street. Switches were broken which subsequently had to be replaced.

During the time of the outage, 1,100 customers were without power.

July 30, 2015 - The Board of Directors of The HOPE Project has voted to accept Mike Belgard's application as CEO after a special session held Tuesday July 21, 2015. Interim CEO Brandii Polley stepped down from her position July 22, 2015 and Belgard assumed his position immediately thereafter.

The Board appointed Mike Belgard as Chief Executive Officer after a search period. Mr. Belgard, who is a pillar in Shelby County's health services and community, has been a valued HOPE employee since 2013 and currently serves as Chief Medical Officer as well as the clinic's physician assistant.

"I am very excited about it," said Belgard when asked about his new position. "I look forward to taking on this challenge and plan on making HOPE more about the ministry from this point forward. Helping others not only with their physical needs but their emotional and spiritual needs, that is the goal. I look forward to seeing that goal realized."

When asked about the board's decision to hire Mr. Belgard, Ms. Kyndal Banks, Hope Project Director of Public Relations says it was a no-brainer. "This was an easy decision for them; after some deliberation, the Board felt that hiring Mike was the best thing for HOPE and its patients. He knows our community very well. We look forward to the exciting changes Mike will bring with HOPE's support behind him. He is already making some very beneficial changes," said Ms. Banks

"We have had several hard-working founders that put in a lot of time and effort into making HOPE the dependable health resource center that it is; choosing a new CEO was not taken lightly. Health Opportunities for the People of East Texas has done many great things for our community and now with Mike as CEO, the Board and staff are confident that the organization has the leadership and support it needs to continue to provide the services our community deserves. We are confident that with this change, in addition to other personnel changes, HOPE's greatest days are ahead. Our future is bright," she added.

The Board and new CEO are working to identify candidates for a variety of other essential positions that will allow the organization to move forward confidently. As decisions are made, updates will be provided to HOPE donors. Job postings can be found on their website, www.thehopeprojecttexas.org.

"We provide a vital service to our community. With the backing of our supporters, our goal is to not only continue to function as an organization, but to grow so that we can provide better services to more areas," said Ms. Banks.

"At our core, we are just trying to provide health care options and services to the people that need it. But the Board wants more for HOPE as an organization. Why settle? If given the opportunity, why not rise to the occasion to be the best version of ourselves so we can extend that to our patients? We believe Mike can provide that. This new chapter for the Hope Project will be the best one yet. We are excited about moving closer towards our goal of being the leading Health Care center in East Texas."

Ms. Banks said there will be no interruption in Wellness Center and Dental operations. For more information, please call 936.248.4648.

About The Hope Project

The Hope Project is a non-profit faith initiative established in 2003 by the Episcopal Church, with the primary mission of providing quality health care to the people of East Texas, regardless of race, religion, socio-economic status or ability to pay.

Since its inception in 2003, the HOPE project has provided cost-effective health care services to over 5,000 patients. HOPE currently has over 20 employees and more than half of the clinic staff is bilingual. We offer shuttle services for our patients; have established patient appreciations programs, and our actively seeking out new ways to continue to improve at our clinic and in our community. Through determination, hard work, and a deep love for ALL East Texans, the HOPE Project celebrates its 10-year anniversary in 2013. We are honored to have served East Texas for the past 10 years and plan to continue to provide quality health care to East Texans in need.

For more information, please visit www.thehopeprojecttexas.org

July 29, 2015 (Update) - On Wednesday, July 29, 2015 at approximately 6:11pm, Tony Pernell McCollister, Jr. turned himself in to Sergeant Investigator DJ Dickerson at the Shelby County Sheriff's Department and was booked into the jail facility for warrant of Burglary of a Habitation, Felony 2.

July 29, 2015 (Original Article) - Center Crime Stoppers is seeking information on the whereabouts of Tony Pernell McCollister, Jr., 21 of Center. McCollister has an active warrant for Burglary of a Habitation, a 2nd Degree Felony.

Center Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information. Anyone who has information regarding this crime should call Center Crime Stoppers at 936-598-SAFE (7233) or submit a tip online at www.centercrimestoppers.com. Remember you don't have to give your name. All calls and cash rewards are completely anonymous. Rewards will only be paid on tips submitted through the Center Crime Stoppers system.

If a caller does not wish to remain anonymous or receive a reward, they may call the Shelby County Sheriff's Department at 936-598-5600 and speak with Sergeant Investigator DJ Dickerson.

If anyone is found to be hindering the apprehension, harboring or concealing, providing or aiding with any means of avoiding arrest or effecting escape or warns Tony McCollister, Jr. of impending discovery or apprehension will be arrested and charged in accordance with Penal Code 38.05 Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution, a 3rd Degree Felony.

URGENT - WEATHER MESSAGE
National Weather Service Shreveport, La
233 PM CDT Wed Jul 29, 2015

July 29, 2015 - Heat Advisory in effect through 7pm today (Wednesday)

Hot conditions with dangerous heat index values will continue as the high pressure remains over the region and will produce very hot temperatures and allow for dangerous heat index values.

EVENT: Heat index values will range from between 105 to 110 degrees this afternoon and again on Thursday afternoon due to hot temperatures and high relative humidity values.

TIMING: Heat index values will be in excess of 105 degrees this afternoon and again on Thursday.

IMPACT: The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity values will combine to create a dangerous situation in which heat illnesses are possible.

OUTLOOK: Hot conditions will likely continue through Thursday.

Precautionary Preparedness Actions:.
Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing when possible and drink plenty of water.

A heat advisory means a period of hot temperatures is expected. The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible. Drink plenty of fluids. Stay in an air-conditioned room. Stay out of the sun. Check up on relatives and neighbors.

July 29, 2015 - The operation of a chicken fertilizer processing plant at the property once known as Armstrong (Bruce's) was approved by the Center City Council via an amendment of a zoning ordinance at their recent meeting held on Monday, July 27, 2015.

Brett Banner, representing a chicken fertilizer processing company, spoke with the council about the strong roots of poultry business in Shelby County over the past 65 years. He described how the efforts of John Moosberg, Mark Middleton, Mark Weaver and other individuals brought the industry to Shelby County and deliver $100 million input into the economy every year before the cattle and timber industries.

"These gentlemen that have come and offered to buy the property will be creating 30 to 35 jobs, I can speak to that, that's what he said but they will be injecting some capital into the facility to get it up and going again. It should increase our ad valorem tax property basis in bringing the property up to date," said Banner.

Banner feels very confident processing chicken litter and pellets is going to be very safe. He also expects the facility will drive up the price of chicken litter, which should help growers in the area, as there will be an increase in demand.

Mayor David Chadwick asked if there are similar plants in Texas to the one being proposed. Banner explained there is only one other similar plant located in the northeast part of the country. Councilman Howell Howard asked if the litter has to go through a compost process first.

"It goes through a composting process to take out the bad things that are in chicken litter, bad pathogens, wheat seed, things that irritate the farmers. So that's kind of the process with it," said Banner. "Pelletizing is no different than a feed mill; the same equipment and everything that's used in a feed mill."

Mayor Chadwick asked how the product would be shipped and Banner explained there are many forms in which the product can be shipped. Although some concerns have been voiced about an increase in flies around the facility due to the litter being in the area; however, preliminary tests have not received any complaints or shown evidence of a problem.

According to the City of Center zoning change/specific use permit application, two property owners voiced concerns over the possible facility. Cathryn Hall who owns vacant property opposite the railroad from the facility was concerned about the potential impact to her property value due to possible odor and the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas which took place in 2013 killing 15 people and wounding another 226. Ronnie Peace who owns, along with several siblings, a residence adjacent to the property mirrored the concern of Hall relating to West, Texas.

"Of course we always look for the bad, we always think of West, [Texas] when we hear fertilizer, and the damage there. By removing the ammonia is that eliminating, I don't want to say the word 'all' which I know can't be said, but does it eliminate 90%-95% chance of any kind of...," said Mayor Chadwick.

Banner provided assurances the process would be safe, "Absolutely, ammonium nitrate isn't bad, basically synthetic ammonium nitrate that has explosive capabilities. Oklahoma City, West, Texas both those had been using it. So we're the opposite end, we're going organic all natural side of things, we're going the other direction from synthetic."

The facility will accept "gunpowder" dry litter only and no litter from layer houses. Litter on site will be kept out of sunlight and moisture and is composted indoors.

During the meeting a motion carried and was approved amending the zoning ordinance relating to the property at 1100 Cotton Ford Road to Heavy Manufacturing, M-2.

City of Center Polling Places

District I - Senior Citizen Center: 3580 Loop 500 East

District III - First United Methodist Church: 211 N. Porter Street

At-Large - 
Senior Citizen Center: 3580 Loop 500 East
Church of Christ: 110 Hurst Street
First United Methodist Church: 211 N. Porter Street
Center Community House: 423 San Augustine Street

Early Voting Location - Shelby County Clerk: 120 Austin Street

Resolution 2015-22 ordering election for November 2015 was approved by motion. Up for election are the positions of Mayor, City Council District I and City Council District III. Designated as two 12-hour days for early voting are Monday, October 19, 2015 and Monday, October 26, 2015 between the hours of 8am and 8pm at the Shelby County Clerk's office. From October 19, 2015 through October 30, 2015 from 8:30am to 4:30pm. As of Monday, July 27, 2015 candidates may file their applications with the City Secretary, with the last day for filing being August 24, 2015 at 5pm. Election day November 3, 2015 voting hours will be from 7am to 7pm.

During public hearing, council was informed by Chad Nehring, City Manager, about a zoning change request made by Mike Cassell, the owner of Stump Jumper MFG, LLC. Cassell applied with the city for the zoning alteration to include a property at 810 Nacogdoches Street.

The Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission met last Thursday, July 23 and considered the application which requested changing the zoning from Commercial, C-2 to Manufacturing, M-1 to accommodate boat construction and repair. It was determined during the P&Z meeting the zoning for boat manufacturing and repair applies to fiberglass boats, and the boats Cassell manufactures are aluminum. The request was then amended to a specific use permit for metal fabrication which is allowed in a heavy commercial zoned area.

A motion carried and was approved to allow ordinance 2015-2 amending zoning ordinance 2015-5.

The meeting went into executive session and when the meeting returned to open session no motions were made resulting from the executive session.

Items on the agenda receiving approval include:

  1.  July 13th workshop and regular meeting minutes.
  2.  Ordinance 2015-2 amending zoning ordinance for decision on application 2015-5 for zoning change of 810 Nacogdoches Street from Commercial, C-2 to Manufacturing, M-1 – amended to Specific Use Permit for Metal Fabrication.
  3.  Ordinance 2015-3 amending zoning ordinance for decision on application 2015-6 for zoning change of 1100 Cotton Ford Road from Manufacturing, M-1 to Heavy Manufacturing, M-2 with Specific Use Permit for Fertilizer Plant.
  4.  Resolution 2015-22 ordering election for November 2015.
  5.  Resolution 2015-23 TDA Community Enhancement Grant Application.
  6.  Resolution 2015-24 Maximum Considered Tax Rate for FY 2016 of $0.54000 per $100 valuation.
  7.  Contract for household waste collection event with Rineco Environmental Service and Pineywoods RC&D. Tentatively scheduled for September 19th.
  8.  Award airport tree removal bid to Baldwin Tree Service for $15,995.
  9.  Plat of CP Homes Living 17 Addition to the City of Center.
  10.  Annual dues for DETCOG.
  11.  Center Police Department Reserve Officer Robert Shannon Brazeal, giving the police department 8 reserve officers.

July 30, 2015 - On Monday, July 27, 2015 Shelby County Sheriff's Department Deputies responded to the Cedar Creek subdivision in reference to several vehicle burglaries. Items stolen from the vehicles were firearms, purse, wallet, and cash.

Center Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information. Anyone who has information regarding this crime should call Center Crime Stoppers at 936-598-SAFE (7233) or submit a tip online at www.centercrimestoppers.com. Remember you don't have to give your name. All calls and cash rewards are completely anonymous. Rewards will only be paid on tips submitted through the Center Crime Stoppers system.

If a caller does not wish to remain anonymous or receive a reward, they may call the Shelby County Sheriff's Department at 936-598-5600 and speak with Sergeant Investigator DJ Dickerson at 936-572-1468 or Investigator Kevin W. Windham at 936.572.1972.

Sheriff Willis Blackwell would like to remind the citizens of Shelby County to be sure to lock your vehicles at home as well as when you are away. Over the past few months we have been working several burglaries where the vehicles that were locked were left alone and the vehicles that were unlocked had items stolen out of them. Don't make it easy for the thieves. We are living in desperate times where some people would rather steal than work for a living while they supply their drug habit.

If anyone has any information in regards to the burglaries or if anyone has been approached to purchase items from someone please call the Sheriff's Office at 936-598-5600.

Cadarius EvansTravor HubbardJuly 28, 2015 (Update) - Cadarius Evans turned himself in to Sergeant Investigator DJ Dickerson at the Shelby County Sheriff's Department on Monday, July 27, 2015 at approximately 7:51pm and on Tuesday, July 28, 2015 at approximately 1:00pm Travor Hubbard was stopped by Center Police Department and custody turned over to Deputy Kurtes Lawrence for transport to the Shelby County Sheriff's Department jail facility.

July 27, 2015 (Original Article) - Center Crime Stoppers is seeking information on the whereabouts of Cadarius Evans, 19, and a Travor Hubbard, 21, both of Center. Both Evans and Hubbard have an active warrant for Burglary of a Habitation, a 2nd Degree Felony.

Center Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information. Anyone who has information regarding this crime should call Center Crime Stoppers at 936-598-SAFE (7233) or submit a tip online at www.centercrimestoppers.com. Remember you don't have to give your name. All calls and cash rewards are completely anonymous. Rewards will only be paid on tips submitted through the Center Crime Stoppers system.

If a caller does not wish to remain anonymous or receive a reward, they may call the Shelby County Sheriff's Department at 936-598-5600 and speak with Sergeant Investigator DJ Dickerson.

If anyone is found to be hindering the apprehension, harboring or concealing, providing or aiding with any means of avoiding arrest or effecting escape or warns Evans or Hubbard of impending discovery or apprehension will be arrested and charged in accordance with Penal Code 38.05 Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution, a 3rd Degree Felony.

July 27, 2015 - TxDOT officials along with the City of Center and the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting celebration today, July 27, 2015.  A large group of citizens, dignitaries, TxDOT official were in attendance.

After the ribbon cutting, the group then met at the John D. Windham Civic Center for luncheon. Speakers for the event were Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville), Texas Transportation Commissioner Jeff Austin III, Mayor David Chadwick and Lufkin TxDOT District Engineer Cheryl Flood.

The Loop is not officially open until next week; James Construction Group is completing the striping on the new roadway and signage. The new portion should reduce congestion and improve safety around the square.

A group of concern citizens first addressed the need for the loop to help with traffic congestion in 1974. The group traveled to Austin and spoke with then Highway Commissioner, Robert Nichols.  The initial start of money for the loop for engineering, right of ways, and design was estimated at one million dollars for the county's share. The City of Center obligated 10 percent of the estimate construction costs toward the Northeast Extension of the Loop.

The existing Loop 500 has been constructed in several phases from 1982 to 1985.  The connection from Hwy 96 North to Hwy 7 East began with a feasibility study in November 1991 and revised in February 1993; however, the project did not advance to the planning stage due to it low-priority statewide project ranking at that time.  The project was reactivated at the request of local officials and past county judge, Rick Campbell, who were concerned about the frequency and severity of accidents in and around Center.

Permits were received and the project was let to James Construction Group in July 2012 for a bid of $11.9 million.  Work began on State Loop 500 in November 2012.

July 27, 2015 - Due to the increasing number of security alarm calls, the Shelby County Sheriffs Office (SCSO) is requesting property owners register any security systems installed and existing in the county (outside the Center City Limits).

Forms to register the systems are available at the SCSO. An initial registration fee of $30 is required to register new systems or any existing systems. Property owners will not incur any additional charges unless the SCSO responds to more than three false alarms in a calendar year. After three false calls, a fee of $30 will be charged per incident.

Shelby County Sheriff Willis Blackwell suggests property owners have their alarms adjusted to prevent alarms from being set off falsely. Blackwell said deputies respond to numerous false alarm calls per night and with no more than two deputies on duty per shift, it is difficult to cover the false calls which average more than 200 per month.

This change will not affect Life Alert systems or similar systems used by the ill or elderly citizens in the county. For more information contact the SCSO at (936) 598-5601.

July 27, 2015 - The Shelby County Commissioners approved Debora Riley, Tax Assessor Collector, requested to hire a part time employee with a start date of mid August at the July 27th Commissioners Court meeting.  This part time employee then would go full time when another employee leaves.  This early hire date would enable training for the new employee.  

Motion was made by Commissioner Rogers and seconded by Commissioner Lout to pay monthly expenses.  Additional approved items on the agenda were the Interlocal Agreement between DETCOG and Shelby County for the year 2016-2017 for automatic location information and maintenance services for the 9-1-1 system.

A motion by Commissioner Lout and seconded by Commissioner Rogers was made to renew the current County Boat Agent agreement between Shelby County and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

The Court voted to retain the local optional fees for vehicle registration to continue at the present rate.  $1.50 of the collected fee is designated to be used by Shelby County Child Advocacy Center. Robin Connell, board member, thanked the Court for this assistance. With this assistance from the County, it helped the Advocacy Center in applying for grants.

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