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(Update): The name of the driver who perished in the crash on Sunday has been released and is identified as Keri Roark, 30, of Louisiana.
April 13, 2015 - A highway intersection in Timpson has been the scene of two major crashes this past weekend with fatal results for one driver.
When two vehicles collided on Sunday, April 12, 2015 emergency personnel was quickly dispatched to the scene at the intersection of U.S. Highway 84 and U.S. Highway 59 South.
First on scene were Timpson Police Officer Jake Metcalf and Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Jade Lavergne. Upon arrival, the officers located a vehicle in the median of the highway with major damage and they both worked to try and help the driver, who was trapped; however, nothing could be done to help her.
According to Timpson Police Officer Jake Metcalf, at 2:30pm a witness at the scene stated a grey 2008 Ford Focus driven by, an as yet unidentified female, of Louisiana came to a stop at the stop sign and then drove into the intersection failing to yield to the 18-wheeler. This caused the red 2015 Volvo truck tractor owned by RJR Transportation Company and driven by Thomas K. Gisleson, 52, of Illinois to strike the Focus on the driver side of the vehicle spinning it around and sending it into the median where it struck a light pole.
The Timpson Volunteer Fire Department arrived on scene with Jaws of Life to extricate the driver from the Focus and the Timpson Volunteer Ambulance Service was on scene to provide any necessary care. Mike Crouch, Justice of the Peace Precinct 5, pronounced the driver of the Focus deceased at the scene.
Assisting Officer Metcalf with the investigation at the scene was Trooper Lavergne and Shelby County Sheriff's Deputy Kurtes Lawrence. Officer Metcalf expressed gratitude to all emergency personnel who helped at the scene.
The other incident which took place at the same intersection on Friday, April 10, 2015 had similar circumstances with different results.
According to Officer Metcalf, at 11:26am a maroon 2006 Dodge Ram dually pickup truck driven by Victoria Mendoza, 27, of Jacksonville approached the same stop sign yet failed to stop.
As the Dodge crossed the southbound traffic lanes it did so in front of a 2006 Ford F-150 driven by Isias Cruz, 52, with passenger Kimberly Leonard, 48, both of Timpson. The Ford and the Dodge collided causing major damage to the front of the Ford and to the driver side of the Dodge.
Leonard was transported from the scene by ambulance to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Center Emergency Department for treatment of her injuries.
Mendoza was issued citations for fail to stop at a stop sign and no drivers license.
April 13, 2015 - The Shelby County Commissioners approved the rental of the old Center Elementary School Gym to Denetra Slaughter and Celia Aguilar for one year at their recent meeting held on Monday, April 13, 2015. At the previous the meeting the item was tabled as the possibility of closing down the gym to outside parties was discussed. Several citizens took the opportunity to express their opinion during the public comment portion of the Monday meeting. Those who spoke on behalf of keeping the gym open for Zumba classes included Dentra Slaughter, Celia Aguilar and Spence Dance.
Slaughter was the first to address the court and introduced herself as one of the Zumba fitness instructors who use the facility, " There are several people in Shelby County who rely on Zumba fitness as part of an exercise program to increase their overall wellness and health. I've partnered with Jheri-Lynn [McSwain] to help out in the Biggest Loser [program] providing a service for the citizens here in Shelby County."
According to Slaughter there are individuals from San Augustine who travel to participate in the Zumba fitness class. She presented the commissioners with a liability waiver which is meant to release herself and the county from any liability should any medical injury or property loss occur at the gym.
"There really is nowhere else in Center that is large enough for our class and so that is why we desperately need to rent that facility out, so that we can continue to provide that service for the citizens here," said Slaughter.
Celia Aguilar spoke with the commissioners and she shared she is a school teacher and the classes provided at the gym have been sort of a personal project. She said the people that are there are like family and through the community service they offer. Some people that show up are dealing with diabetes, emotional issues or stress. Aguilar shared she would like to continue with the program.
Spence Dance explained to the commissioners his wife has been participating in Zumba classes for five years and loves the program, "Celia and Ms. Slaughter, they don't do this to make money, they just charge $3 per class, per individual just to pay the rent. They're not in this to make a bunch of money, this is not a lifestyle or a career for them, they're just doing it like they say for the community and just to help out the people."
A motion was carried to move forward with the lease at $300 a month with a 60 day termination clause. The lease will go into effect pending Gary Rholes, County Attorney, rewriting the liability clause for the county. Also to make certain there is on-site liability coverage for the county to verify it is in the policy. Rent will be due on the 5th of each month.
Discussion was heard during the meeting from property owners who have land on County Road 4670. The McGuffin family are property owners on the road and are not seeking maintenance on the roadway, they are only asking the county to confirm the county designation for the roadway because they are seeking to sell the property and the title company which has surveyed the property has stated there is not a legal access to the property at this time.
The discussion of the property was tabled until the next meeting so the property owners may have the opportunity to work out the situation amongst themselves.
Resolutions for several bridges TxDOT is seeking to replace were approved by the commissioners. Nancy Smith, TxDOT representative, spoke with the commissioners about these bridges which are on the following county roads: CR 3564 Hilliard Creek; CR 3455 Spinney Creek; CR 3455 Shoat Creek; CR 4256 Tributary of Flat Fork Creek; CR 4916 Flat Fork Creek; and CR 4670 McFaddin Creek. Each of these bridges are projected to possibly have work started on them in September or October 2015 and be finished sometime in 2016.
All of the bridges were approved by the commissioners. Smith informed the commissioners the bridge on FM 415 which was discussed at a previous meeting of the commissioners court will have a detour bridge installed to allow for traffic, instead of completely closing the roadway.
A motion was carried to adjourn the meeting at 10:39am.
Fees collected per office for March:
1) Deborah Riley, Tax Assessor/Collector, office: Property Division - $153,376.42; Motor Vehicle Division - $129,095.06 for a total of $282,471.48
2) Jennifer Fountain, County Clerk: $55,543.69
3) Lori Oliver, District Clerk: $18,323.09
4) Maxie Eaves, Justice of the Peace Precinct 1: $13,198.10
5) Marla Denby, Justice of the Peace Precinct2: $993.60
6) Margie Anderson, Justice of the Peace Precinct 3: $6,624
7) Jenny Hicks, Justice of the Peace Precinct 4: $2,025
8) Mike Crouch, Justice of the Peace Precinct 5: $3,818
9) Zach Warr, Constable Precinct 1: $900
10) Jamie Hagler, Constable Precinct 2: $425
11) Billy Hearnsberger, Constable Precinct 3: $90
12) Bryan Gray, Constable Precinct 4: No collections
13) Stanley Burgay, Constable Precinct 5: $90
Grand total: $384,501.96
Agenda items receiving approval include: 1) Minutes of the March 9, 2015 Regular Meeting and March 23, 2015 Special Meeting of the Shelby County Commissioners' Court. 2) Pay monthly expenses. 3) Officers' Reports. 4) Rental of old Elementary School gym to Denetra Slaughter and Celia Aguilar for one year. Move forward with lease at $300 a month 60 day termination clause. Lease will go into effect pending Gary Rholes, County Attorney, rewriting liability clause. Rent due 5th of each month. 5) Resolutions for the 2016 TxDOT Bridge construction project. Each approved individually as follows: a. CR 3564 Hilliard Creek; b. CR 3455 Spinney Creek; c. CR 3455 Shoat Creek; d. CR 4256 Tributary of Flat Fork Creek; e. CR 4916 Flat Fork Creek; f. CR 4670 McFaddin Creek. 6) Change date of the May Special Commissioners’ Court meeting from Monday, May 25th to Tuesday, May 26th due to the Memorial Day holiday. 7) Adjournment. Agenda items tabled during the meeting include: 1) Resuming the maintenance on a portion of CR 4670.
May 29, 2015 - Hurst Street and Arcadia Road (FM 138) in Center was the scene of a two-vehicle collision Thursday afternoon, May 28, 2015 which resulted in injuries to one driver involved.
At 4pm Shelby County Sheriff's Deputy Sgt. Derek Barbee was first to arrive on scene followed by the Center Police Department and Center Fire Department. Upon arrival both vehicles were located at opposite corners of the Hurst Street intersection with their drivers still inside.
According to Center Police Officer Maegan Wright, a white Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Daniel Smith, 28, of Nacogdoches was traveling south on Hurst Street when the brakes failed. A tan Chevrolet Tahoe driven by Jesus Orozco-Rivera, 34, of Nacogdoches was entering the intersection from the west on Arcadia Road as the brakes on Smith's truck failed and the truck collided with the driver's side of the Tahoe.
The Tahoe spun to the right and came to rest at the corner of Arcadia Road facing northwest. The truck continued to the opposing corner of Hurst Street where it came to a stop.
As ACE EMS, assisted by Nacogdoches Medical Center - Center Emergency Department (CED) personnel, worked to extricate Rivera from the Tahoe the Center Fire Department used Jaws of Life to gain access to the vehicle. Rivera was transported to CED for possible neck and back injuries. He was also issued a citation for driving without a license.
Officer Wright was assisted at the scene by Center Police Officer John Welch.
April 9, 2015 - LUFKIN, Texas – A 43-year-old Chicago man has been sentenced to federal prison for drug trafficking violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.
Frederick Mitchell pleaded guilty on Dec. 19, 2014 to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and use of an interstate facility in aid of racketeering and was sentenced to 84 months in federal prison on Apr. 8, 2015 by U.S. District Judge Ron Clark.
According to information presented in court, on July 6, 2014, Mitchell and a co-defendant, Henry Korvette Bams, were stopped for a traffic violation by the Texas Department of Public Safety on US Highway 259 in Nacogdoches County, Texas. The officer conducted a search of the vehicle and seized approximately $253,341 in cash and a small quantity of marijuana. Both men were eventually released on bail on July 9, 2014. On July 22, 2014, Bams and Mitchell were stopped again for a traffic violation by Arkansas State Police in Hot Springs County, Arkansas, on Interstate Highway 30.
The officer received consent to search the vehicle and discovered approximately ten kilograms of suspected cocaine located inside a hidden compartment within the vehicle. Two bank deposit slips were also discovered within the vehicle. On Aug. 1, 2014, agents with the Internal Revenue Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration executed a seizure warrant on the bank account and seized approximately $135,015.14 in suspected drug proceeds. Bams is awaiting trial on pending charges.
This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Texas Department of Public Safety, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Baylor Wortham.
April 7, 2015 - Cities and schools in Shelby County are preparing for elections of council and schoolboard members in the May 9, 2015 election. The first day of early voting is April 28, 2015 and the last day for early voting is May 5, 2015.
City of Joaquin (Submitted by Amanda Willey) - Ms. Pat Gray and Mr. Bill Baker are both running for Mayor. Our two at large City Council positions are being sought by Ms. Lee Vern Stotts Gilliam (Incumbent), Mr. Mike Adkinson (Incumbent), and Mr. Joe Long. Polling will take place at 124 N. Preston Street Joaquin, Texas which is City Hall.
City of Timpson (Submitted by Barbara Hunt) - The following candidates signed up by the February 27th deadline for a place on the ballot for three (3) council member positions: Kenneth Walker, Linda Hancock, George Grace (Incumbent), Kyle Allen (Incumbent), Janell Baker (Incumbent).
City of Tenaha - 3 positions - Claudine Howard (Incumbent), Michael Baker (Incumbent), Larry Terry (Incumbent), Natalie Harris.
Shelbyville ISD (Submitted by Debbie Gilchrist) The polling place will be the Shelbyville ISD Board Room, including early voting. Candidates are: Chris Koltonski, Etola Jones, Clint Norton, Latashia Thompson, Brad Hinton, Joe Tom Schillings. Etola Jones and Joe T. Schillings are incumbents. (2 positions open)
Tenaha ISD (Submitted by Brenda Lucas) 3 positions - Bo Morris (Incumbent), Robert Barton (Incumbent), David Fallin, Joe Anderson, Korey McClure.
Timpson ISD - 3 positions - Linda Fraizer Todd, Dannie Hunt (I), Carlos Johnson, Jim Rader (Not running Tracy Hooper and Beth Tipton)
Joaquin ISD - 2 positions - Maggie Bowdin, Tom Harvey, Ronnie Belrose (Incumbent), and Jay Wilson. Not running is Luke Garrett.
April 1, 2015 - Roughrider Drive was the scene of a single-vehicle crash which left the roadway partially blocked and initial reports were that an occupant was trapped inside.
According to the report from Center Police Officer Jake Gross, at 6:48pm on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 a silver 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe driven by William Brandon Smith, 19, with passenger Jahir Garcia, 20, was traveling east on Roughrider Drive just after transitioning from CR 1000 when Smith stated the vehicle began to drift onto the shoulder of the roadway. Smith over corrected onto the roadway causing the vehicle to roll twice and come to rest onto its top.
When the Center Fire Department and Center Police officers arrived on the scene it was discovered the passenger was not trapped; however, he did have a difficult time escaping from the wrecked Tahoe.
ACE EMS was on scene to check those injured in the crash and both the driver and passenger refused transport.
The fire department assisted with traffic control and washed glass debris off the roadway. Smith was issued a citation for failure to drive in a single lane.
April 1, 2015 - The intersection of State Highway (SH) 7 East and U.S. Highway 84 was the scene of a three-vehicle collision in Joaquin Wednesday.
As the intersection was blocked by one vehicle involved in the crash, the Joaquin Volunteer Fire Department initiated traffic control to keep traffic flowing. Texas Department of Public Safety State Troopers were investigating the crash scene as many Center Police officers arrived to check on their comrade.
One driver was injured in the collision and it happened to be Center Police Sgt. Scott Burkhalter, who was off-duty at the time. ACE EMS was on scene and was seeing to Burkhalter's injuries.
According to Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) State Trooper Keith Jones, at 3:41pm a black 2010 Ford Edge SUV owned and operated by Scott Brandon Burkhalter, 34, of Joaquin was traveling east on State Highway 7 East and was attempting to make a left turn onto US Highway 84.
A white 2015 Peterbilt owned by Pinnacle Propane LLC. hauling propane canisters and driven by John Reagan Moore Jr., 28, of Longview was traveling on U.S. Highway 84 toward State Highway 7. Burkhalter stated he had a green arrow and at the tine he turned left Moore stated he had a green light, and the Peterbilt struck the right side of the Edge.
As the Peterbilt continued through the intersection and into a parking lot beside State Highway 7, it struck a maroon 2014 Ford F-150 owned by Kenneth Weeks which was parked in the lot.
Burkhalter was transported from the scene by ACE EMS to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Center Emergency Department for treatment of his injuries. The crash remains under investigation at this time. Trooper Jones was assisted at the scene by DPS Troopers Cpl. Jimmy Faulkner and Anthony LaCount.
April 1, 2015 (Album)- The Honorable Rick Perry stopped by for a visit in Center, Texas today, March 31, 2015 and spoke to a crowd of over 230 people at a luncheon hosted by local friends.
Prior to Perry taking the stage, Rick Campbell introduced Tim Norman who in turn introduced 12 Center High School Seniors who were recognized Monday night at a dinner. Due to technical difficulties with the stage microphone, Perry carried his wireless microphone to each student allowing them to introduce themselves to the crowd.
After recognizing several local individuals one of which was James Campbell who was attending the luncheon, Perry spoke about several current issues including giving praise to the State of Texas. He addressed the Texas education system stating it has the 2nd highest graduation rates in the country, the 1st highest for Hispanics and African Americans.
He addressed job creation in Texas and the United States; the passing of legislation to help stop the rationing of healthcare which has increased the number of doctors and healthcare facilities across the state; the dangers of over regulating, over litigating, and over taxing; how the United States should be the energy capital of the world; and addressed the international conflicts in the world including ISIS.
Perry ended his speech stating, "The Best Days in America are in front of us."
March 30, 2015 - Due to events that have recently come to light, Center Youth Baseball would like to reassure everyone that the safety and well-being of all our children that participate in our program is our number one priority.
We want to be clear that each year our head coaches undergo a background check that includes review of publicly available data on the Texas Department of Public Safety's website.
Effective immediately, Center Youth Baseball will expand this review policy to include running background checks on assistant coaches once each head coach notifies CYB of who these assistant coaches will be. Coaches with an unacceptable background report will not be allowed to participate in any Center Youth Baseball team practice, game, or activity.
March 30, 2015 - U.S. 96 South was the scene of a single-vehicle crash Friday night which resulted in the arrest of the driver.
According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Jimmy Faulkner, at 8:10pm on March 27, 2015 a green 1998 Honda Accord driven by Eddie Lockey II, 46, of San Augustine was traveling north on U.S. Highway 96 South 1.6 miles south of Loop 500 outside of Center.
Lockey failed to drive in a single lane and the Honda skidded off the side of the roadway to the right. The Honda traveled across a large culvert skirting before striking a fence owned by Wheldon Boles and a telephone box as it overturned onto its top.
It was determined Lockey was intoxicated and he was transported to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Center Emergency Department for treatment of injuries. Lockey was later released to the custody of Trooper Faulkner and he was arrested for driving while intoxicated - 3rd. The vehicle was towed from the scene by East Texas Towing and Storage.