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May 19, 2015 - Margie Anderson, Justice of the Peace Precinct 3, swore in the newly elected City of Joaquin Mayor, Bill Baker and City Council Members, Joe Long and Mike Atkinson Monday, May 18th at the Joaquin City Council Regular Meeting.

From left: Council members Ben Brittain, Mike Atkinson, Joe Long, Lee Vern Stotts Gillian, and Mayor Bill Baker

Following the swearing, council discussed establishing a separate account for Public Safety Fees which are a voluntary donation of $3 included in water bills which goes to public safety or the fire department. The fire department would manage the account and take over payment of all bills. Steve Cockrell, representing the Joaquin VFD, said, "We are asking the Council to think about this $3 that comes in every month for public safety be put into a separate checking account, write us a check for it and we will take care of all the bills. We will pay for the insurance, the gas, the utilities, the phone bill, and anything else that comes up." He went on to say any additional bills which come in over the amount collected through the Public Safety Fee, the fire department would take responsibility for it and pay it out of the fire departments own personal funds. Council agreed it would benefit the city to let the fire department manage the funds and be responsible for their bills. Council approved the motion to put it into a separate account for the fire department to manage.

Council approved the previous month's minutes and payment of bills following a breakdown of the bills explained by Amanda Willey, City Secretary. Council member Mike Atkinson addressed Willey saying, "I can tell Amanda [Willey] has taken some time to try to rectify some stuff that has happened in the past so I appreciate your effort."

"Last month was the first month that I'm sure that some of y'all know that we weren't able to pay all the bills, this second month we did just about get all those caught up now," stated Mayor Baker.

Mayor Baker spoke to the council about annexation of Haslam Tire Company located on Highway 84. Mayor Baker said he spoke with the owner of Haslam Tire, Mr. Tinkle, and he expressed willingness to be annexed into the City. Baker discussed the annexation process with the Council members according to Texas Municipal Leagues' (TML) advisement and council approved moving forward with the process. Mayor Baker said, "That is tax dollars we need."

During open forum, Cedric Jones addressed the council concerning trying to allocate or find funding to repair roads. He was concerned with health hazards and safety issues. Two top roads mentioned to be some of the worst streets in the city was Coulter Street and Morris Street. Discussion did include plans to help including cleaning out a creek and ditches; however, none of it can be done to improve the roads until the rain stops and it drys out.

Agenda Items Approved
1) Approved Previous Month's Minutes
2) Approved Payment of Bills
3) Council member Ben Brittain was appointed to be Mayor Pro Tem.
4) Approved starting annexation process for Haslam Tire Company.
5) Approved establishing a separate account for Public Safety Fees.
6) Approved establishing a separate account for payment of USDA Loan.

Agenda Items Tabled
1) Tabled hiring a new part-time clerk
2) Tabled Utility Rate Increase until more information can be gathered from finances.

May 18, 2015 -  Residents on Gladstone in Center got quite a surprise when a large oak tree fell across the street Monday, May 18, 2015 at 11:30am.

City of Center crews clearing the tree from the roadway

In the process of falling, the tree broke a gas meter and struck some overhead power line. Center police, fire department and street crews were called out to the scene. Also notified was SWEPCO and Center Point Energy.

While Center PD blocked off the street firemen made repairs to the meter. Upon securing the scene and beginning clean up, it was discovered the tree had fallen on a small car parked along the curb on the opposite side of the street. The car at the time was unoccupied and received damage to its top as well as the front window being busted out.  As of 5:10pm the tree has been cleared from Gladstone and the roadway is back open.

Tree across Gladstone

May 18, 2015 - The Shelby County area has received a great deal of rain as the result of storms which have blown through. Joaquin and Haslam have a lot of flooding as a result. Shelby County Today captured, and viewers submitted, photos of roadways and homes in the area.

These photos have been included in a photo album on the Shelby County Today Facebook and can be viewed there.


The photos in this album include submissions by viewers as well as photos taken by Shelby County Today.

Posted by Shelby County Today on Monday, May 18, 2015

May 18, 2015 - As of 4 PM, Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative is reporting approximately 130 members remaining without power due to the severe weather.

    Nacogdoches Co: approx. 70 (with the majority located in the Etoile area)
    San Augustine Co: less than 5
    Sabine Co: approx. 55 (Hemphill)

As of 1 PM, Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative is reporting approximately 230 member without power due to the severe weather.

    Panola Co: approx. 85 members out
    Shelby Co: approx. 80
    Nacogdoches Co: less than 10
    San Augustine Co: approx. 50
    Sabine Co: less than 5

As of 11 AM, Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative is reporting approximately 1,300 member without power due to the severe weather.

Panola Co: 550 members out – due to an outage experienced by SWEPCO whom feeds the DETEC line.

    Shelby Co: 95
    Nacogdoches Co: 60
    San Augustine Co: 450
    Sabine Co: 150
    Jasper Co: less than 10

Crews are currently out working to restore power as quickly and as safely as possible. To report an outage, please call: 1-800-392-5986.

DETEC would like to remind members to be safe - STAY AWAY FROM ALL DOWNED LINES. Consider them all to be live and dangerous. Call DETEC at 1-800-392-5986 to report downed lines and outages.

May 17, 2015 - FM 699 was the scene of a two-vehicle crash outside of Tenaha on Sunday, May 17, 2015. Residents at the scene of the crash were first to check on those involved in the crash and to contact 9-1-1.

Jessie Griffith with ACE EMS arrived with law enforcement and the Tenaha Volunteer Fire Department and began treatment of injured parties.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Jade LaVergne, at 1:20pm a white 2012 GMC Sierra SLE pickup truck driven by Marion Jackson, 71, of Joaquin was traveling north on FM 699 1/2 mile from U.S. Highway 84. At the same time a blue 2013 Ford Fusion driven by Doyle Taylor, 83, of Joaquin was traveling south when he blacked out due to a medical condition and the Fusion crossed into the northbound traffic lane.

Jackson attempted to avoid colliding with Taylor by vacating his lane and entering the southbound lane, which is a legal action. Taylor regained consciousness and when he saw what was happening he attempted to veer the Fusion back into the correct lane; however, the vehicles still sideswiped each other head-on on the front right driver side and disabling both vehicles in the middle of the roadway.

Emergency personnel from the Joaquin Volunteer Fire Department and Tenaha Volunteer Fire Department provided traffic control at the scene while those involved in the crash were examined by ACE EMS.

Taylor was transported from the scene by ACE EMS to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Center Emergency Department for treatment of his minor injuries. Following examination by EMS, Jackson and his passenger Dewana Jackson, 38, of Joaquin refused transport to the hospital.

No citations have been issued at this time.

May 15, 2015 - On Friday, May 15, 2015 Shelby County Sheriff Willis Blackwell reports that Johanna Vickers, 36, was arrested for the offense of Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student and the offense of Sexual Assault of a Child, both 2nd degree felonies. The need for an investigation was reported to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office by Shelbyville I.S.D. who then fully cooperated with the Sheriff’s Office throughout the investigation.

Sheriff Blackwell would also like to thank the Shelby County Children’s Advocacy Center who has purchased and donated through a grant to local law enforcement earlier this year of a Universal Forensic Extraction Device which played a key roll in the investigation.

Mrs. Vickers was booked into the Shelby County Sheriff's Department jail facility and arraigned by Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 Marla Denby with bond being set at a total of $50,000 dollars for both charges.

May 15, 2015 - A Shelbyville ISD teacher has been arrested by the Shelby County Sheriff's Department on charges of improper relationship between educator and student and sexual assault of a child.

Johanna Vickers, 35, of San Augustine was arrested Thursday, May 14, 2015 on the aforementioned charges at 8:10pm and released at 9:50pm on two $25,000 bonds. At this time a press release is pending from the Shelby County Sheriff's Department.

Shelby County Today visited with Dr. Ray West, Shelbyville ISD Superintendent, to gather information from the district on the situation. Dr. West issued the following statement:

"Johanna Vickers, a teacher with Shelbyville High School, resigned Wednesday May 13, 2015 from the school district. She is no longer an employee of the school district. At the time of her resignation Ms. Vickers noted she was resigning for personal reasons and did not admit any wrongdoing related to the investigation for possible behavior involving her and a Shelbyville High School student. The investigation into the possible inappropriate conduct was initiated as an internal school investigation led by Jud Matthews, Shelbyville ISD Police Chief; however, early in the process Shelbyville ISD brought local law enforcement in to oversee the investigation since the case included the possibility of criminal wrongdoing by a school district employee.

"Since this is still an open and ongoing investigation the school district cannot offer comments regarding specifics of the case; however, it's to be noted that at the time of Ms. Vickers resignation nothing had been uncovered as far as an actual criminal act. This is a very fluid situation and it seems like with each passing day and maybe even each passing hour more things are being uncovered. It's my understanding as of this morning that she was actually arrested and charged. It's extremely troubling anytime something like this happens and it's something that disappoints all of us.

"We've got to remember that we have to allow enforcement officials to uncover facts for the investigation and not confuse things with rumors and speculation and allow the fact finding process to occur. Whenever any employee is accused of violating the trust that's given to educators that's a sad day for all of us. It doesn't change the fact that we must stay unyielding to our commitment to our students in providing a safe educational environment. Also, it doesn't take away from the fact that we stay committed to continuing the trust with our parents and stakeholders. Shelbyville ISD is a great place to be and will continue to be that and we will continue to cooperate with law enforcement and other enforcement officials from the state who will likely become involved with this because it is an educator who earned their certificate.

"From my seat we will do whatever we can to make sure that if something's been violated then that person is going to have to face the consequences at the state level."

In addition to his statement, Dr. West spoke further of the rapidly changing situation involving the investigation, "A lot of times these investigations drag on, this has been extremely rapid in terms of how investigations unfold. I haven't really been involved in a lot of investigations but [they do take some time] to the point of frustration with everybody that wants to know what's going on. In this case this has really moved. There's families involved, there's children involved and nobody wins when something like this happens and we've just gotta keep doing our best to try to safeguard against it happening in the future and trying to make that for everybody else that we help them get through it and we move forward, but it's a disappointing day it really is."

May 15, 2015 - Jordan Wagstaff, the grandson of James and Glenda Wagstaff of Center, will be participating in a special race honoring an FDNY fire chief who lost his life on September 11, 2001.

The special race is a first ever Stair-Climb Benefit at One World Trade Center to be held on May 17, 2015. Registration for the event was limited to 1,000 participants and Wagstaff will be amoung the few.

The race announced by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation is only open to first responders and military. Wagstaff, a petty officer in the U.S. Coast Guard who is stationed in New York, is a native of Lufkin, Texas and is one of the few to be representing Texas in the climb.

The First Annual Tunnel to Towers Tower Climb will take climbers up to the 90th floor which is 180 flights of stairs. For more information about the race visit the following links:
Tunnel to Towers, Tower Climb Honoring Captain Billy Burke
Lufkin native participating in first annual Tunnel To Towers Tower Climb in New York City
First Ever Stair-Climb Benefit At One World Trade Center To Be Held In May

To make a donation supporting Jordan Wagstaff's 'Coast Guard' team at the Tower Climb and proceeds benefit the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, click the following link -

May 13, 2015 - According to Superintendent Mid Johnson, the Middle School campus at Timpson ISD was evacuated Wednesday, May 13, 2015 due to an air conditioning failure which caused smoke inside the building. The campus was safely evacuated and everyone is safe and well. Johnson would like to thank everyone for their patience.

May 13, 2015 - A Logansport woman was injured in a crash Wednesday afternoon, May 13, 2015 in Joaquin resulting in her transport to the hospital. Emergency personnel including the Texas Department of Public Safety, Joaquin Volunteer Fire Department and ACE EMS were dispatched to the scene.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Cpl. Jimmy Faulkner, at 4pm a 2005 Chevrolet Suburban drive by Linda Blunt, 65, of Logansport was traveling from Houston east on U.S. Highway 84. Blunt did not recall what happened, and possibly fell asleep when she failed to maintain a single lane and left the roadway to the right. The Suburban traveled through a ditch and then over a culvert before the rear end skidded to the right and struck a utility pole on the right rear passenger door.

The Joaquin Volunteer Fire Department provided traffic control at the scene and assisted as ACE EMS administered treatment to Blunt. She was then transported to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Center Emergency Department for treatment of minor injuries.

No citations have been issued as of the time of this report.