The story headline links to a better view of the story and share features.

January 26, 2015 - Icy road conditions which occurred overnight on Friday evening and into Saturday morning, January 24, 2015 contributed to crashes throughout Shelby, San Augustine, and Sabine Counties keeping Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Troopers extra busy.

A crash which occurred on U.S Highway 96 North caused traffic delays and an intense moment for two drivers.

According to Texas DPS Trooper Larry Linder, at 6:30am Aldin Monty, 58, of De Berry was traveling southbound in a 2002 Chevrolet 2500 on U.S. Highway 96 North at a railroad overpass just south of Flatfork Creek when the boat trailer he was hauling hit an icy patch in the roadway and began to hydroplane before striking a guardrail with its right side.

The trailer then spun back around to the left as the boat dislodged from the trailer and traveled across the highway into the northbound traffic lane. At this time a green 2014 Freightliner 18-wheeler driven by Michael Kinnaman, 67, of Iowa was quickly approaching. Kinnaman attempted to avoid hitting the boat by slowing down; however, this could not be prevented and the Freightliner collided with the boat.

The Chevrolet and the trailer continued off the roadway on the northbound side before coming to rest. Firemen with the Center Department and Center Police Department Sgt. Scott Burkhalter responded to the scene of the crash to assist with traffic control at the scene.

Damage to the Freightliner was minimal. Damage incurred by the boat was much more major and the trailer received damage as well, but it was still able to be towed away.

No citations have been issued at this time and no injuries were reported as a result of the crash.

According to sources with the Texas Department of Public Safety there were 16 reported crashes across Shelby, San Augustine, and Sabine Counties during the icy conditions.

January 26, 2015 - State Representative Chris Paddie (R-Marshall) filed H.B. 849, which would create two sales tax holidays for firearms and hunting supplies.

"H.B. 849 recognizes that hunting is a time-honored tradition in Texas and looks to give tax relief to the sportsmen and women who continue one of our most cherished pastimes and, more importantly, those who continue to pass our love of hunting and the outdoors down to the next generation," said Rep. Paddie.

H.B. 849 would create two sales tax holiday weekends, one on the last full weekend in August, to coincide with the beginning of dove season, and a second on the last full weekend in October, to coincide with the beginning of deer season. Items that would be included in the tax free weekend are firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, hunting blinds and stands, hunting decoys, gun cases and gun safes, and hunting safety equipment.

"In the past year, Texas hunters purchased over 1.2 million hunting licenses. This bill will serve to increase the number of hunters in Texas, which will provide further economic opportunity in many rural areas that offer world-renowned hunting," said Rep. Paddie. "I look forward to working with my fellow hunters and outdoor enthusiasts in the Legislature to pass this Texas style tax relief measure."

Rep. Paddie is serving his second term in the Texas House of Representatives, where he represents District 9, including Cass, Marion, Harrison, Panola, Shelby, and Sabine Counties.

Rep. Paddie also serves on the House Energy Resources Committee, the Subcommittee on Seismic Activity, the House Land and Resource Management Committee, the Joint Committee on Coastal Barrier Systems and the Select Committee on Healthcare Education and Training. 

January 23, 2015 - The Center Police Department, the United States Marshal Service Joint East Texas Fugitive Task Force, the Shelby County Sheriffs Office, the Shelby County District, Attomey’s Office and Agents from the Department of Homeland Security, executed a series of arrest warrants in the Shelby County area on January 23, 2015.

According to Officer James Blackwell, Warrant Officer for Center Police Department, and Special Deputy United States Marshal, assigned to the Fugitive Task Force, seven persons were arrested clearing a total of eight Felony warrants and six Misdemeanor warrants.

Arrested in the operation were:

  •     Joel DeLaCruz — Illegal re-entry into the United States — Felony (federal).
  •     Anthony Dupree Pogue — Escape from Custody F3; Tampering with Evidence F3; Possession of Marijuana MB; Theft MB.
  •     Thomas Jefferson Anding — Failure to Comply with Registration Requirement - Sex Offender F3.
  •     David Harold Harris - Injury to a Child F2.
  •     Jaleesa Phillips — Burglary of a Habitation F2; Theft x 2 MB.
  •     John David Adams — Aggravated Assault Using a Deadly Weapon F2.
  •     O’Keith McCollister - Criminal Mischief SJF; Criminal Mischief MA; Interfere with Emergency Call MA.

The Joint East Texas Fugitive Task Force is headquartered out of Beaumont, Texas, and has Special Deputy Marshals throughout East Texas.

Fugitive apprehension is one of the most highly visible job duties that U.S. marshals perform. For example, in 2013 alone, the United States Marshals Service (USMS) in Eastem Texas, working as part of the Joint East Texas Fugitive Task Force, cleared more than 2,440 fugitive cases. With the help of partnering agencies at the federal, state and local levels, the U.S. marshals were able to bring to justice some of the region’s most dangerous criminals.

Of the fugitive cases cleared by the Joint East Texas Fugitive Task Force in 2013, 53 were homicide warrants, 178 were sex offender warrants, 32 were weapons offenses warrants, and 187 were assault/aggravated assault warrants.

The U.S. Marshals in the Eastern District of Texas has no less than 70 participating agencies, which include 40 full-time and 84 part-time task force officers. Center Police Department Chief Jim Albers said, “our commitment to our community is stronger than ever, and by partnering with the community, we will continue to bring these fugitives to justice.”

If you feel that you may be a fugitive, or that you have outstanding Warrants, you can feel free to contact the Center Police Department, The Shelby County Sheriff Department, or any of your local Law Enforcement Agencies and make arrangements to tum yourself in.

Also, if you believe that someone you know may be a fugitive from justice, you can contact the Center Police Department, The Shelby County Sheriff Department or any of your local Law Enforcement Agencies and make a report. You can also contact Crimestoppers and make a report.

Center Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information. Anyone who has information regarding 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.

January 23, 2015 - Sheriff Willis Blackwell reported that on Friday, January 23, 2015 at about 1:00p.m. the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) received a report of a possible armed subject on the campus of the Joaquin Independent School District. The SCSO responded with multiple other agencies in the county assisting in the response. After the investigation of the incident was completed it was determined that the initial report was fictitious.

Sheriff Blackwell would like to thank all the agencies who assisted with ensuring the welfare and safety of our children and community. Sheriff Blackwell would also like to commend the Joaquin I.S.D. for their response and safety measures that were put into effect in response to the initial report.

Deputies Derek Barbee and Roy Bailey search the grounds of a house located across the street from Joaquin Elementary School.January 23, 2015 - Shelby County Sheriff's Department reports Joaquin school is no longer on lockdown.

Chief Deputy Shad Sparks reports, "The Joaquin school is officially off lockdown. We are remaining on scene at this time still investigating." The 9-1-1 call came in as a gun was brought on campus, Sparks updated saying, "It was reported that it was (a gun) but after further investigation it was determined that there was no gun involved in the incident."

A message from Scott Tyner, Tenaha ISD Superintendent of Schools, reported:

     At approximately 1:30 PM today (Friday, January 23), I ordered a lockdown of TISD for precautionary measures. While the students and staff of TISD were never in the direct threat of harm’s way, it is my belief that when it comes to threats to student safety that no precautions are extreme. Students were only in lockdown for a short period of time and at approximately 2:00 PM the order to “stand down” was given and regular class activities resumed. Again, no direct threat to TISD was ever imminent as the alleged incident was occurring in a neighboring community. However, it was the decision of the TISD Administration to err on the side of caution until law enforcement officials were able to confirm that Tenaha did not appear to face any imminent or perceived threat. Thank you once again for your trust in us to care for your most precious gift.

January 23, 2015 - Shelby County Clerk's office is almost out of Remote Size Birth Certificate paper. This is the paper birth certificates are issued on if you were born in another county other than Shelby. Paper was ordered back in September, but the printing press the company uses for this size paper is broken.

There are many Texas counties that are out of the remote size paper. This notice has been given because it's time to register for ball. If your child was born in a county other than Shelby county, you will need to contact the county they were born in to get their birth certificate.

Jennifer Fountain, County Clerk, expressed "I know this is a huge inconvenience, but unfortunately we are at the mercy of the vendors we order our paper through."

If you need a phone number for another county, please call county clerks for you phone numbers. And a lot of counties will let you email or fax your request in and pay with a card so they can mail the certificates out faster.

Fountain said "I am so sorry for this, but like I said, we ordered paper 4 months ago, but no one could predict this would happen."

Now, if you need a birth or death certificate for someone that was born or passed away in Shelby County, the county clerk's office can still issue those from our office.

Fountain expressed "Again, I am so sorry for this inconvenience. I understand that this is a huge hardship, however, it is out of our hands. Thank you for your understanding."

January 22, 2015 - Emergency personnel was dispatched to a vehicle on fire on Tuesday night, January 20, 2015 on State Highway (SH) 147 in San Augustine.

The crash was investigated by Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Keith Jones and according to the report, at 8:50pm .1 mile north of County Road 111 Maurice Watts Jr., 35, of Center was traveling southbound in a black 2015 Chrysler 200 on SH 147.

As the Chrysler traveled through a curve in the roadway a deer ran into the path of the car from the right side. Watts took faulty evasive action, steering right and exited the roadway before striking a tree head-on. The collision caused the vehicle to burst into flame.

Firemen were dispatched to the scene to extinguish the fire and Watts was transported from the scene by ambulance to San Augustine Memorial Hospital for treatment of his injuries.

No citations were given at the time of this report.

The car was towed from the scene by Vail and Son Towing.

January 22, 2015 - Emergency personnel was dispatched to a vehicle on fire on Tuesday night, January 20, 2015 on State Highway (SH) 147 in San Augustine.

The crash was investigated by Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Keith Jones and according to the report, at 8:50pm .1 mile north of County Road 111 Maurice Watts Jr., 35, of Center was traveling southbound in a black 2015 Chrysler 200 on SH 147.

As the Chrysler traveled through a curve in the roadway a deer ran into the path of the car from the right side. Watts took faulty evasive action, steering right and exited the roadway before striking a tree head-on. The collision caused the vehicle to burst into flame.

Firemen were dispatched to the scene to extinguish the fire and Watts was transported from the scene by ambulance to San Augustine Memorial Hospital for treatment of his injuries.

No citations were given at the time of this report.

The car was towed from the scene by Vail and Son Towing.

Timpson citizens continue to attend meetings in support of keeping the 5-man police department.

January 21, 2015 - The Timpson City Council met on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 and although a budget was adopted by default at their previous meeting in November 2014, the debate once again continues as to whether two police officers will lose their jobs. The officers whose livelihoods hang in the balance include Robert Hairgrove, Thomas Jernigan, Michael Williams, and Jake Metcalf.

Items on the agenda receiving approval include:
Consent agenda items A through J with the exception of D.
•A. Minutes from the regular meeting of November 18, 2014.
•B. Minutes from the special meeting of November 24, 2014.
•C. Minutes of the special meeting of December 18, 2014.
•E. Financial statement for the month of November 2014.
•F. Ratification of accounts payable for the month of December 2014.
•G. Financial statement for the month of December 2014.
•H. Accounts payable for the month of January 2015.
•I. Invoice from Duplichain Contractors, dated January 12, 2015.
•J. Old Spanish Trail Ride to use So-So Park, February 21, 2015.
1.Item D renamed to 10A and item 12: Resolution 0120151A concerning the renovation of the affordable housing unit known as Timpson Senior Citizen located at 329 Marcus Street, Timpson, Texas contingent upon the approval of whether or not public funds can be funded in to this, by Mr. Bovey our attorney.
2.Certificate of Deposit No's 31414 ($279,504.82), 31414 and 31416 (both $35,573.32) at Texas State Bank will mature on 01/15/2015 renewal end date of 01/25/2015. TSB renewal rate for 24 mos. 0.75%.
3.Waiver of the 30 ft. distance between structures (Ord. 2014-03-18-02 Sect 4a) for a mobile home for Vicky Ann Mardis located on North 2nd Street.
4.Ordinance 01202015-01 adopting a drought contingency plan to comply with TCEQ.
5.Advertise and solicit bids for trimming and cutting down trees in electric line right-of-way on an area mapped by Tommy Sparks, lineman, having it submitted to the City of Timpson by February 13th including a detailed scope of the contractors work to be done in that area.
6.Take Matthew Owens off administrative leave contingent on passing all medical tests required by the city and for him to be placed on 90 days probation once the administrative leave ends.

Toward the end of the meeting, item 20 on the agenda was to discuss and possibly take action to amend the 2014-2015 budget, Ordinance 01202015-02. Contingent on any budgetary changes, the council was to then review and possibly take action on Resolution 01202015-1. This Resolution would allow overtime to be paid to the officers out of the Timpson Police Department Forfeiture Account. A previous resolution passed by the Timpson council in 2004 was then presented to the council during the meeting.

Ronnie Wolfe, councilman, stated he wanted to comment regarding the resolution of 2004, "I'd be willing to just rescind that resolution," stated Wolfe. Mayor Debra Pate Smith interjected, "We can't rescind that resolution because it has a whole bunch of things and they have to have it." Wolfe continued, "Okay, but I'm still going to say what I'm going to say. There's 168 hours in a week, we have a five man police department. The mayor told me that overtime starts at 42 hours." Mayor Smith interjected, "84 in every 14 day cycle." Wolfe once again continued, "If you divide 42 into 168 you get 4.4, I think, which means with a five man department there shouldn't be any overtime to pay. I rest my case."

Mayor Smith invited Chief Kent Graham to comment on overtime, "When we have shift change we have what we call information exchange for the shifts. Wolfe responded, "Maybe we need to stop that, because it's costing us money." Chief Graham continued, "Well the officers have to relay the things that have happened during their shift that's going to affect the [officer] that comes on. Vehicles issues, cases and some of the cases that they've been working they may happen at the end of their shift, they don't have a choice but to finish everything up before they get off. We're going to do what we can, do everything possible to minimize any overtime."

Mayor Smith inquired if there are enough funds in the forfeiture account to pay overtime. Wolfe asked why not just give comp time instead of overtime, and Mayor Smith asked when they would take that time if they are scheduled to work. Wolfe said someone would have to be scheduled to work on that time, and Smith said that would mean the officer covering the other officers work schedule would then have to be paid overtime.

Chief Graham confirmed there are funds in the forfeiture account to pay for minimal required overtime such as shift change, information exchange or transport of a prisoner to jail. Mayor Smith also stated, per the 2004 resolution, these funds may legally be used to pay salaries, wages and overtime.

Some changes have been made in relation to the budget which was presented to the council in November, "This was a fairly large change in the budget. The city of Timpson has been paying 5.69% into the retirement fund and effective January 21, 2015 it was lowered to 2.73%, almost a 3% decrease," said Smith. "That's about $15,000 that basically because it's not expended is added to the budget."

Councilman George Grace (pictured) displayed plaques of support and appreciation which were presented to the council by the Timpson Volunteer Fire Department.Although additional adjustments have been made to improve the budget, the council once again could not come to a decision on the budget for the city. Mayor Smith commented the city streets could not be improved while the city has a five man police department, nor could it afford improving city streets when the department was a three man department.

Councilman Wolfe commented on the streets in relation to the police department, "We can't afford it, we can't afford to have new streets all over town and just like we can't afford any longer to have a five man police department, people don't understand that."

Kyle Allen, councilman, made a motion to approve the newly presented budget alternative 1 which the council just reviewed that keeps the five man police force and has a positive balance on paper. The mayor entertained a motion to second, but none was heard from any council member and the motion failed.

Wolfe followed Allen's motion with a counter motion, "I would like to make a motion that we consult with our attorney concerning a RIF (Reduction in Force) in the Police Department, a reduction of force of the police department. Get him here and then have a special meeting as soon as you can correlate him being here and we have a special meeting, the dates. 'Cause I want to know from him how to go about doing this like it's supposed to be done."

The motion was seconded by Janell Baker, councilwoman, with Yvonne Ramsey, councilwoman, refraining from voting for or against the motion. The motion carried with approval from George Grace, Ronnie Wolfe and Janell Baker.

During the public comment portion of the meeting Cecil Parks, a Timpson resident, addressed the council about a civil issue between himself and Timpson ISD Police Chief Kim Graham, and Timpson Police Chief Kent Graham. The council listened to his story and his allegations concerning an incident at his residence on Bremond Street which took place on December 6, 2013. The Texas Rangers investigated the incident and stated "no criminal law violations were detected."

January 21, 2015 - A Shelbyville man perished in an automotive, pedestrian crash Wednesday morning, January 21, 2015 in Jasper County.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety, the fatal crash occurred at 6:50am two miles south of Jasper. A 2013 truck tractor owned by Red Watson Logging Inc. towing a pole trailer was traveling southbound on US 96 in the inside lane. For an unknown reason, a pedestrian ran out in front of the 18-wheeler and was struck and killed. The driver of the 18-wheeler was not injured, but visibly shaken after the crash.

The pedestrian involved in the crash was identified as Jody Michael Vaughn, age 26, of Shelbyville. Vaughn was pronounced dead at the scene by Jasper County Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Freddie Miller.

The incident is under investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Funeral services will be handled by Watson and Sons Funeral Home, Center, Texas.