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November 12, 2015 - Emergency first responders were dispatched to a single-vehicle crash early in the morning on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 on FM 139.

The Joaquin Volunteer Fire Department arrived at the crash scene four miles from State Highway 7 East and the driver was unable to escape from the vehicle, which was on its side. Firemen were able to cut the windshield out and free the driver.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Ricardo Segura, at 7:30am Bryon Douglas Jacobs, 25, of Center was traveling south in a white 2007 Dodge Ram pickup truck on FM 139 after dropping someone off at school. As he traveled through a curve in the roadway, Jacobs stated he believed he fell asleep.

The truck then left the roadway to the right and traveled over a culvert sending the truck slightly airborne before coming to rest on the driver's side.

Jacobs was transported by ACE EMS to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Center Emergency Department as a safety precaution. He was issued a citation for unsafe speed.

November 12, 2015 - Emergency personnel were dispatched to a two-vehicle crash in Timpson at the intersection of U.S. Highway 84 and U.S. Highway 59 in Timpson on Saturday, November 7, 2015 which has become a regular scene for recent crashes.

The Timpson Volunteer Fire Department provided traffic control while law enforcement officials and ACE EMS personnel checked on those involved in the crash.

According to Timpson Police Officer Robert Hairgrove, at 1:10pm a green 2003 Nissan Altima driven by Patricia Martin, 63, of Tyler with passenger Rita Harp, 79, of Tyler was eastbound on U.S. 84 and stopped at the stop sign.

A red 2012 GMC Acadia driven by Georgia Sharp, 59, of Yazoo, Mississippi was southbound on U.S. 59 when the Nissan pulled out in front of Sharp. Sharp made an evasive maneuver to avoid colliding with the Nissan by swerving to the left; however, to no avail and the front right quarter panel of the Acadia collided with the Nissan.

Martin was cited for failure to yield right of way at a stop sign. No injuries resulting from the crash were reported.

Shelby County Today confirmed with the Timpson Police Department, there have been four crashes at this intersection this year including one fatality. According to TxDOT, 2013 and 2014 each had four crashes as well. Often times, out of town drivers traveling into Timpson on U.S. Highway 84 are confused by the intersection as they are presented with two stop signs when they approach U.S. Highway 59.

November 12, 2015 - A vehicle/pedestrian incident occurred on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 on State Highway 7 East in Moodyville resulting in the death of one.

A Shelby County Sheriff's Deputy was en-route to a single-vehicle crash sometime before 6:30pm located in James Community when he was traveling through Moodyville and witnessed the incident occur 4.9 miles east of Center.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Troopers Keith Jones and Taylor Buster, at 6:30pm Demario Howard, 24, of Mansfield, LA. and Kadeshia Simone Barfield, 19, of Mansfield, LA. were in the middle of the eastbound lane on State highway 7 East when they were struck by a white 2010 Ford Fusion driven by Mitzi Rhey Baker-Kennedy, 47, of Joaquin.

Howard was transported by ACE EMS to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Center Emergency Department for treatment of his injuries. Barfield was pronounced dead at the scene at 7:05pm by Maxie Eaves, Justice of the Peace Precinct 1, and was transported by Watson & Sons Funeral Home. Kennedy was not reported to have received injuries resulting from the crash. Howard was treated and released from the hospital with non-incapacitating injuries.

Previous to the incident, Barfield and Howard were traveling with several other individuals in a white passenger van from Tyson Foods, when the van broke down. Another vehicle positioned itself in front of the van on the shoulder to provide lighting so someone could get the van running. The headlights from the car did prove to cause visual impairment for drivers traveling east. Witnesses at the scene stated Barfield had been arguing with another individual in the roadway when Howard was attempting to break up the fight to get Barfield out of the road and both were struck by the Fusion. The third individual was not reported to have been injured.

Sheriff Willis Blackwell had been at the scene earlier when the van was being worked on and stated he had instructed the people at the vehicle to get away from the roadway.

Authorities with the Shelby County Sheriff's Department; Jamie Hagler, Constable Precinct 2; and the Center Fire Department arrived at the scene to assist in the investigation and with traffic control. Traffic was brought to a standstill while the investigation was underway.

The crash remains under investigation at this time.

November 10, 2015 - Ken Florence, Shelby County District AttorneyA new filing software for the District Attorney's office and Wildfire Protection Plan were two items of note which the Shelby County Commissioners approved during their meeting held on Monday, November 9, 2015.

Although the intent of the county was to use Fund 49 to facilitate the purchase of the IDocket software, it was determined the software did not fit within the requirements of items eligible for purchase from the fund. Allison Harbison, County Judge, stated there are ample monies available in the contingency fund according to Clint Porterfield, County Auditor.

Judge Harbison explained the IDocket software is already in use by the County Judges office, County Attorney's office and the County Clerk's office. FullCase by Justice Systems was the software the District Attorney's office employed; however, according to District Attorney Ken Florence, the software is becoming outdated and the new software will actually be less of an expense.

"We are under a mandate to do electronic filing, I thought it would be good to be on the same page as the other agencies. So, when they were training Gary [Rholes'] office to use this software I sent Marlene [Hernandez] and some of my other staff over to kind of observe it," said Florence.

The determination of Florence and his staff is the software will be very useful to his office allowing for files to be digitized and for him to have the mobility to be in the courthouse with 60-70 cases on an iPad instead of lugging around large file boxes. The software also has the potential to provide access to case information for defense attorneys during discovery and help diminish a lot of paper cost to the county.

A scanner and iPad will also be a necessary expense for the District Attorney's office and Florence expects the computer budget for the office should be able to handle that purchase. The changeover to digital mandated by the supreme court and court of criminal appeals actually went into effect on November 1, 2015 with the allowance paper filing would still be accepted after that date; however, the change to digital is encouraged.

I met with Bradley Wilburn, (Shelby County Probation Officer), last week and he says due to budget cuts we might have to start doing all the paperwork for the probation department that they've been doing, and I notice that certain of the filing codes for Lori [Oliver's] officer even talk about probation revocation paperwork being filed that way. So, it looks like we'll be able to utilize that system to do that as well," said Florence.

The cost of the software is $17,500 out of the contingency fund with an annual cost to the District Attorney's office of $2,500 which will be a $300 savings to the already budgeted $2,800 for the previous software. Rholes commented the customer support provided by IDocket has been very helpful and he stated the District Attorney's office has "got to have something."

Fund 49 is the Law Library Fund for the county, which as of September 9, 2015 had a balance of $92,790.56. Judge Harbison stated she feels the state legislature needs to do something to make these funds available for other uses as tangible books are becoming less of a useful item with the transition to digital.

Brittany Semetko, District Forester Texas A&M Forest Service"I feel like probably next session maybe I might ask the legislative council for the judges to maybe look at that and see if we can't broaden that scope, because if we've got 90-something-thousand dollars in an account that we can only use for books, imagine what counties like Dallas has and Houston," said Judge Harbison.

According to Local Government Code, Title 10. Parks and Other Recreational and Cultural Resources, Subtitle B. County Parks and Other Recreational and Cultural Resources, Chapter 323. County Libraries, Subchapter A. County Library Section 323.023 (b)(3) purchasing or leasing library materials or acquiring library equipment, including computers, software, and subscriptions to obtain access to electronic research networks for use by judges in the county.

This suggests the funds from the Law Library Fund would only have been available for a software purchase made by a judge.

A motion carried for the county to purchase the software for the District Attorney's office.

Judge Harbison stated she would like to hire someone for the Emergency Management Coordinator for Shelby County and increase the pay for the position from $200 to $1,000. According to Judge Harbison there is $10,000 in the Emergency Management Budget currently and she would like for the county to hire the coordinator on a contract basis with no retirement or insurance to their benefit, and working no more than 30 hours a week unless they are working during an emergency.

Although she has not yet accepted the position at this time, Judge Harbison stated she has been speaking with Kerri Shofner about taking on the position. Shofner was formerly the Department of Health's liaison during past hurricane issues in Shelby County and Harbison says she has shown interest in the position.

A motion was made to move forward with Judge Harbison's recommendation for the remainder of the budget year; but, for it to be re-evaluated next year before automatically budgeting for it to see how much progress has been gained. The motion carried.

During the meeting the commissioners heard from Brittany Semetko, District Forester out of San Augustine with Texas A&M Forest Service, about the Wildfire Protection Grant Program. Semetko explained how the intent of the program is to reduce the risk of wildfire and promote a healthy environment while also providing safety for residents and firefighters.

A motion was carried to apply for a $10,000 grant to establish a Community Wildfire Protection Plan. This was followed by another motion which carried to adopt a proclamation supporting a Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

Ann Blackwell, County Treasurer, provided her officers report on fees collected for the county during October. Following her report she shared she has been working at reducing the phone rates for the county. The long distance service for the county has been switched to Texann, which is a long distance service provided by the state. Blackwell shared all the land lines have been premium service and she has changed those plans as well. The savings on long distance for the county will be $2,650 a month and the savings on the land lines is going to be about $3,200 a month. This is a great savings of $70,200 a year.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:11am.

Fees collected per office for October:

   1. Deborah Riley, Tax Assessor/Collector office: Property Division - $352,125.34; Motor Vehicle Division - $29,634.86 for a total of $381,760.20
   2. Jennifer Fountain, County Clerk: $33,548.25
   3. Lori Oliver, District Clerk: $18,803.53
   4. Maxie Eaves, Justice of the Peace Precinct 1: $11,689
   5. Marla Denby, Justice of the Peace Precinct 2: $2,066.30
   6. Margie Anderson, Justice of the Peace Precinct 3: $6,847
   7. Jenny Hicks, Justice of the Peace Precinct 4: $4,242
   8. Mike Crouch, Justice of the Peace Precinct 5: $7,007
   9. Zach Warr, Constable Precinct 1: $1,525
   10. Jamie Hagler, Constable Precinct 2: $0
   11. Billy Hearnsberger, Constable Precinct 3: $180
   12. Bryan Gray, Constable Precinct 4: $90
   13. Stanley Burgay, Constable Precinct 5: $180
Grand total: $467,938.28
CDs generated $19.47 for a total book value of $60,060.43
Money Market generated $365.13 total market value of $1,719,934.15
Total investments of $1,779,994.58

Agenda items receiving approval include:

    1. Minutes of the October 12th, 2015 Regular Meeting and the October 26th, 2015 Special Meeting.
    2. Pay monthly expenses.
    3. Officers’ Reports.
    4. Apply for a $10,000.00 grant to establish a Community Wildfire Protection Plan.
    5. Adopt a Proclamation supporting a Community Wildfire Protection Plan.
    6. Purchase a new software program from IDocket for the District Attorney's office through the county contingency fund.
    7. Approve the hiring of an Emergency Management Coordinator for Shelby County.
    8. Adjourn.

November 11, 2015 - The Center Police Department is investigating a Robbery that took place at the Super Quick Liquor store. A Black male wearing a black jacket and a white hoodie robbed the store at gun point as the store was closing at about 9:00 P.M. on November 9, 2015. The suspect took an undisclosed amount of money from the store.

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 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.

November 10, 2015 - Law enforcement officials are currently investigating a robbery which took place at Super Quick convenience store on Shelbyville Street on Monday, November 9, 2015.

Center Police Officers along with members of the Shelby County Sheriff's Department and Texas Department of Public Safety scoured the area around the business at around 9pm in search of the assailant. Officers were witnessed by Shelby County Today searching further down Shelbyville Street near the Shelby County Appraisal District office, as well as behind the Super Quick location in Park East Apartments where the entry way was partially blocked by patrol cars on Bridges Road.

Officers have been witnessed on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 still searching the area near Shelbyville Street. At this time the Center Police Department has not yet revealed information pertaining to the robbery regarding what was taken or a description of any suspect or suspects.

More information will be provided on Shelby County Today as it is made available.

November 10, 2015 - The jury that has been summoned Monday, November 16, 2015 for the 123rd District Court, Honorable Charles C. “Brick” Dickerson Presiding, has been cancelled due to the scheduled cases being resolved or passed.

Anyone receiving a summons for that day is released from jury service until they receive a future summons.


November 9, 2015 - The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the whereabouts of Keifer Joel Nelson, 17, of Joaquin. Nelson was last seen November 2 at approximately 3 a.m.

Nelson is a white male, approximately 5'7 tall and weighs 162 pounds. He has brown hair, brown eyes and a small cross tattoo between the thumb and index finger.

Anyone with information regarding Nelson is asked to contact Investigator Kevin Windham at the Shelby County Sheriff's Office 936-598-5600.

November 9, 2015 - Daniel Williamson was sworn in as the City of Center’s new Court Clerk on Monday, November 9th at 10am. Daniel was sworn in by Court Clerk Donna Dugger. The ceremony was witnessed by City of Center Judge Grover Russell, Center Police Chief Jim Albers, also on hand was Daniel’s sister and brother-in-law.

Congratulations to Daniel from the Center Police Dept.

November 6, 2015 - U.S. Highway 96 North was the scene of a single-vehicle crash outside of Center on Thursday, November 5, 2015 to which State Troopers were dispatched.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Taylor Buster, at 12:10pm Bencie Allen Mancil Sr., 67, of Hemphill was traveling southbound on U.S. Highway 96, north of Loop 500, in a grey 2014 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck. Due to a medical issue, Mancil lost control of the truck which crossed the northbound traffic lanes and left the roadway to the left, striking a guardrail and coming to rest against some trees in a wooded area.

Mancil was determined at the scene to have not received injury from the crash. No citations were reported to have been issued at the time of the crash. Trooper Cpl. Jimmy Faulkner assisted with the crash investigation.