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The following cases were recently disposed of in the Shelby County Court on the December and January Docket. Judge Allison Harbison was the presiding Judge and County Attorney Gary Rholes represented the State.
- Coreen Burt - Theft (Class B) - $600 fine, $262 court cost, 12 months probation, attend and complete Theft program.
- Jasmine Moore - Theft By Check (Class B) - $262 court cost, $1,119.67 restitution, 12 months probation.
- Reynol Gonzalez - False Registration/Inspection (Class B) - $600 fine, $262 court cost, 12 months probation, 40 hours Community Service.
- Jonathan Lout - Theft (Class B) - $500 fine, $262 court cost, 35 days Shelby County Jail.
- Jonathan Lout - Criminal Trespass (Class B) - $500 fine, $262 court cost, 35 days Shelby County Jail.
- Michael Andrews - Theft (Class A) - $600 fine, $262 court cost, 12 months probation, 40 hours Community Service, attend and complete Theft program.
- Mary Lee - Theft (Class B) - $600 fine, $262 court cost, 12 months probation, attend and complete Theft program.
- James Bailey - Possession of Marijuana (Class B) - $600 fine, $322 court cost, 90 days Shelby County Jail.
- Ethan Myers - Driving While Intoxicated (Class B) - $1200 fine, $412.10 court cost, 12 months probation, 40 hours Community Service, attend and complete DWI education class.
- Shaddrick McCollister - Criminal Mischief (Class B) - $500 fine, $262 court cost, 60 days Shelby County Jail.
- Samuel Perez - Indecent Exposure (Class B) - $500 fine, $262 court cost, 45 days Shelby County Jail.
- Juan Perez - Driving While Intoxicated (Class B) - $1200 fine, $412.10 court cost, 12 months probation, 40 hours Community Service, attend and complete DWI education class.
- Michael Hill - Possession of Marijuana (Class B) - $600 fine, $322 court cost, 75 days Shelby County Jail.
- Michael Hill - Driving While Intoxicated (Class B) - $600 fine, $412.10 court cost, 75 days Shelby County Jail.
- Michael Hill - Possession of Controlled Substance (Class A) - $750 fine, $322 court cost, 75 days Shelby County Jail.
- Michael Hill - Driving While License Suspended (Class B) - $500 fine, $262 court cost, 75 days Shelby County Jail.
- Christopher Askew - Resisting Arrest (Class A) - $700 fine, $292 court cost, 90 days Shelby County Jail
- Christopher Askew - Possession of Marijuana (Class B) - $600 fine, $322 court cost, 90 days Shelby County Jail.
- Guadalupe Valdez - Driving While Intoxicated (Class B) - $1200 fine, $412.10 court cost, 12 months probation, 40 hours Community Service, attend and complete DWI education class.
- Aung Win - Fleeing a Accident (Class B) - $600 fine, $262 court cost, Final Judgement.
- Stacy Samford - Driving While License Suspended (Class B) - $500 fine, $262 court cost, 6 months probation.
- Pamela Henderson - Driving While License Suspended (Class B) - $500 fine, $262 court cost, 12 months probation.
- Charlie McCowin - Driving While License Suspended (Class B) - $500 fine, $262 court cost, Final Judgement.
- Robert Stephenson - Driving While Intoxicated (Class B) - $600 fine, $412.10 court cost, 6 months probation, attend DWI education class.
- Juan Flores - Driving While Intoxicated (Class B) - $1200 fine, $412.10 court cost, 12 months probation, attend DWI education class, 40 hours Community Service.
February 4, 2016 - Hurst Street in front of Valero gas station was the scene of a two-vehicle head-on collision Wednesday, February 3, 2016.
According to Center Police Officer John Welch, at 5:07pm a white 1995 Ford pickup truck driven by Gabriela Sapp, 21, of Carthage was traveling south on Hurst Street. A grey 2008 Toyota Tundra driven by Randy Dean, 53, of Shelbyville was preparing to turn into the Valero gas station when Dean said his vision was obstructed by the sun and the trucks collided head-on.
The collision spun the Tundra to face south and resting against the Ford which was facing east. Sapp was transported by ACE EMS for treatment of possible broken bones. No citations have been given at this time and the crash remains under investigation.
The Center Fire Department assisted at the scene with traffic control.
February 1, 2016 - A dog attack inside the city limits of Center resulted in injury to one man and the death of his dog on January 13, 2016 at 9am.
The man who was attacked is Jerry Green, and he says there has been a problem at his residence for a long time with neighboring dogs coming to his property and being aggressive toward he and his wife. According to Green, the dogs have entered his yard and he and his wife have to fight them off with "clubs." He says he has called the police several times, and they have responded but there's not really anything they can do, because there are no laws in effect for such incidents.
"[That] morning, the same dogs came into my yard and attacked my little poodle dog. She was in my yard, she's blind and she's crippled. They came in there and they grabbed her, and I went to trying to get her and they turned on me and tore my hand and my arm all to pieces and jerked me down," said Green.
Green says the four dogs involved carried his poodle across the street from his home to where he pursued them and was finally able to get his dog away from the pack and chase them away. Although he was able to retrieve his dog, it was too late as her injuries were too severe for her to survive.
"The police department tells me they hadn't got any kind of laws in effect. The only thing I can do is sue [the dog owners] for my hospital bill and my veterinarian bill, and that don't mean that the people have to pay it, it just means if I win in court I'll have a settlement," said Green.
According to Green another of his dogs was a victim of the same pack in October 2015, which he says inflicted 287 puncture wounds on the animal, and incurred a veterinarian bill of around $1,000.
"There needs to be something done where people have to pay for compensation for people that their dogs wound," said Green. "If they can put a ordinance up there to close a park where you can't even walk in a park at 11 o'clock at night, looks to me like they could do something to take care of the people in Shelby County, the humans."
A hunter for years, Green says he hunts hogs all the time and not a single hog has gotten him yet, because he has more ability to protect himself in the woods than at his home, within the city limits. He says he fears for any of his neighbors that have children.
Shelby County Today contacted Center Police Chief Jim Albers about the incident to learn what was able to be done in relation to the attack.
"The neighbor had five dogs, all the dogs were picked up, they're all in our custody. We will hold them 10 days, check them for rabies, and we will write the owner of the dogs a class c ticket for not having their rabies tags. That's about all we can legally do," said Chief Albers.
Chad Nehring, Center City Manager, stated that many years ago the city of Center adopted and enforces the state rabies law and the dangerous dog act. He stated if a situation were ever to occur where there is speculation on the animal having rabies, the city has the ability and authority under state law to have a rabies test performed, which unfortunately for the animal does result in its death.
"In many cases it's more of a civil matter than it is a criminal matter, but yes there are criminal charges that are available to be taken against the owner of an improperly secured, maintained or in some cases vaccinated animal," said Nehring.
According to Nehring, anyone within the city limits whose dog does not have a rabies tag can receive a ticket for that offense.
January 31, 2016 - A fatal single-vehicle crash on FM 2694 past Boles Field occurred Saturday night shortly before midnight January 30, 2016 bringing emergency responders out to the scene.
A white Nissan Altima appeared to be traveling east on FM 2694 when the car traveled off the road to the left. It struck multiple trees resulting in major damage to the vehicle breaking it in to two pieces. The driver was ejected from the vehicle. The front portion of the car caught fire. A good-samaritan moved the driver away from the burning vehicle.
Shelby County Sheriff's Deputy Adam Renfro was first on scene and requested assistance from the fire department and ACE EMS. Huxley Volunteer Fire Department and Center Fire Department both responded and extinguished the flames which had also spread into the edge of the woods.
Also responding to the scene were Constable Jamie Hagler, Deputy Chris Bennett, and Deputy Pete Davis. Texas Department of Public Safety State Troopers who responded to investigate the crash were Trooper Taylor Buster, Trooper Ricardo Segura, and Trooper Cpl. Jimmy Faulkner.
The number of occupants in the vehicle was unknown and emergency responders searched the wooded area until it was determined there were no passengers involved in the crash.
DPS identified the driver to be Sunni Sicko, age 27, of Huxley. Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 Marla Denby performed the inquest. Services for Sicko are pending at Mangum Funeral Home, Center, Texas.
January 28, 2016 - During the January 25, 2016 meeting of the Tenaha City Council, Mayor Orinthia Johnson announced he would not be seeking re-election as mayor this election. The announcement was not something which was on the agenda, and although it appeared the mayor already had an announcement prepared, it seemed the announcement was possibly spurred forward by one councilman suggesting leadership was absent and another not trusting his ability to handle additional financial responsibility.
During conversations over strife between city department heads, Councilman Tommy Rinkle stated he believed some of those issues were Johnson's fault and were due to a lack of leadership. When discussion was had during the meeting in reference to increasing the purchasing threshold of Mayor Johnson for necessities of the city, Rinkle suggested it be raised to $1,500 while Councilwoman Natalie Harris preferred the amount to not exceed $750, to which Johnson took to mean there was a level of distrust in his ability.
"So, y'all think I can't make good decisions about if we spend? I know common sense of coming to the council," said Johnson.
A motion made by Michael Baker seconded by Tommy Rinkle, carried and was approved allowing the mayor discretion of approving purchases of $750 to $1,500. Rinkle then made a motion, in reference to paragraph 2 of 2.11 purchasing, to raise the limit from $25 to $500 to read "$2,500 to $750." This is a motion which may need to be corrected at the next council meeting.
Claudine Howard, representing the Tenaha Economic and Development Committee (EDC), addressed the council and asked that they consider the recommendation of the EDC to accept the offer of $250,000 from BNSF for the closure of Railroad Street, which according to Howard would be paid within 45 days. There was the possibility if the city waited until 2018, the receipt of $300,000 was possible; however, according to Howard the mediator of the deal suggested this was a risk and might leave the city receiving nothing if they were to wait.
Following a brief discussion of the available options a motion carried and was approved to accept the $250,000 offer.
Tenaha City Marshal Jimmy Wagstaff gave his report for the City Marshal's office. He stated the total number of citations for November and December is 173, and 30 calls for service. Rinkle asked about an update on break-ins which have been occurring recently in Tenaha as he heard someone had been apprehended. Wagstaff confirmed an individual was arrested in Longview and it's believed the individual could be part of the break-ins, but there was not 100% proof at the time of the meeting.
Stacy Cranford gave the report from the water department and he updated the council on the alleged violations against the city regarding the water system. A letter was received from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) stating no further action is required concerning the investigation. Cranford explained this letter was the product of the last inspection of the water department by TCEQ.
A second letter from TCEQ, referencing the reason Cranford was hired after the city had been penalized over $38,000, stated the only remaining issue is the city must have three consecutive months of discharge monitoring reports reflecting compliance at the wastewater plant. Cranford stated once the wastewater plant reached that point, the inspector can begin the process of closing the case.
Cranford gave a report on loss of water for the city, in the month of October, the city was showing a loss of 6 million gallon loss per month of water. By November the city was able to cut that back to 3.4 million and in December 2.9 million. Cranford stated he feels part of the reflected loss can be attributed to metering issues.
Two issues which were to be discussed in executive session under personnel matters were the weekly hours of Judge Jenny Hicks and an "incident" of January 14, 2016. When the council returned from executive session into the main meeting room, before the council returned to open session, Clark questioned Rinkle the result of the council's discussion of the incident as she expected to be included on the discussion. Rinkle stated the council did not discuss the incident because the other party was not present.
Agenda items approved include: 1. Accept the $250,000 offer from BSNF for Railroad Street closure. 2. Minutes from the regular meeting held on November 16, 2015. 3. October 19, 2015 meeting minutes correction. 4. Financial Statements for the months of November and December 2015. 5. Permit KSA to study the City’s WWTP capability to receive the Pilgrim’s Pride feed mill waste stream. 6. Authorize Elizabeth Swint to participate in collections for the Municipal Court. 7. Rate of pay amendment to pay for overtime, over 40. 8. Non-hourly employees to turn in time sheets. 9. Update the water deposit process applied to water customer accounts that have been turned off. In the event a customer water meter is cut off they have to get current with deposit rates. Tabled: 1. Establish PO process to comply with handbook.
January 29, 2016 - 2015 was an exciting year behind the scenes for Shelby County Today. March was the 10th anniversary for the website and all through the year a new version of shelbycountytoday.com was being developed.
With a goal of keeping loved features while improving the website's functionality, scttx.com was created. The new site is mobile friendly catering to the large number of viewers who visit through mobile devices.
Viewers can still use the well-known shelbycountytoday.com address which will forward to the scttx.com name. The overall functionality is the same; however, the backbone of the site is completely restructured. The new scttx.com is a database driven site offering viewers the ability to search for past stories, print and bookmark their favorite stories, share through social media, and more.
We're excited to start this new chapter in SCT's story and am thankful for your continued support of Shelby County's original online news source. Viewers will see changes in the near future as the new website continues to be developed into a new and better Shelby County Today.
Thank you to SCT Advertisers:
Shelby County Today is only possible thanks to advertisers. Please let our advertiser know how much you appreciate them supporting Shelby County Today. Because of them obituary listings, church announcements, fundraisers, personal announcements, personal classifieds, and so much more is available for free.
Message from J.J. Ford:
I have been blessed to be a part of SCT since 2007 when I started working with Richard and Rita Hughes who started the site in 2005. In June of 2010 the Hughes entrusted me and my family with ownership of shelbycountytoday.com and its future.
Since taking over the website I have had a desire to redesign the site to enable it to grow and change with technology as it develops. I soon realized the challenges which faced me day to day with the news, around town happenings and events, as well as volunteering when possible. SCT's busy daily schedule pushed the vision of a new website into the background.
In 2015 I began discussing with Greg Stuever, a website designer, possibilities for a new website. With his expertise and all the SCT team, the site is near completion. I have been slow to change to the new site due to a desire to ensure it's readiness. I trust in the Lord daily and look to him for guidance often. I feel the Lord is closing one door and opening another encouraging me to move forward. I pray you enjoy the new look of ShelbyCountyToday.
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." - Proverbs 3:5
Thank you to the Team Members of SCT:
Through the last five years I have had much support from my family and friends who have been a critical part of keeping Shelby County Today a viable source for online news for Shelby County. Leah Williams was a member of the SCT team from 2010 until 2014 when she began pursuing a career in nursing. I am proud to say she achieved her dream and is now a licensed nurse.
Vickie Martin, my mother, was a member of the SCT team from 2010 until 2014. She is now retired and enjoying her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Although not in the office, Vickie remains a part of the team providing a watchful eye over the sites functionality.
Scott Flowers joined the SCT team in February of 2014 and continues to be a vital team member. He is always willing to go where the news is rain or shine.
Sean Martin, my brother, joined the team in 2015 for a brief period of time to help while SCT was in need. Now my daughter, Cheyenne Ford, is the newest member of the team and is quickly learning the ropes of the online news.
January 29, 2016 - State Highway 87 North near the intersection of FM 1645 was the scene of a near tragic two-vehicle crash Friday morning, January 29, 2016.
According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Cpl. Jimmy Faulkner, at 5:40am a white 1989 Ford pickup truck driven by David Emanis, 28, of Center was traveling north on SH 87 when he crossed over into the southbound lane. At that time a black 2008 Cadillac driven by Jonathan Morales, 25, of Timpson was traveling south on SH 87 and when Morales witnessed the pickup truck in his lane he took evasive action; however, the vehicles still collided on the right side. Each vehicle came to rest on the northbound shoulder with the Cadillac facing away from the roadway and the pickup truck coming to rest facing the road.
Timpson Volunteer Firemen, and the Shelby County Sheriff's Department were dispatched to the scene, and the Timpson Police Department was on scene to assist. ACE EMS arrived to care for those involved in the crash. No injuries were reported as a result of the crash and those involved refused treatment.
Emanis was issued a citation for wrong side of road not passing.
January 28, 2016 - U.S. Highway 96, 3 miles north of Center, was the scene of a two-vehicle crash Thursday, January 28, 2016.
According to Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper Taylor Buster, at around 3:15pm a black GMC pickup truck driven by Lillian Rendle Handy, 49, of San Augustine was exiting from the parking lot of S Goodwin Roof Services turning south. When the truck exited the parking lot a silver Kia Rondo EXV6 driven by Misty Willliams Palmer, 39, of Center was traveling northbound in the inside lane when it collided with the driver's side of the GMC causing major damage to both vehicles.
Handy and her passengers Ruby Rendle Beatty, 69, and Jaquadric Johnson, 17, as well as Palmer and her passenger William Edward Palmer III, 41, were all transported by ACE EMS to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Center Emergency Department for evaluation.
A citation was issued to handy for fail to yield right of way turning left.
The Center Fire Department, and an employee of S Goodwin Roof Services directed traffic at the scene. Members of the Shelby County Sheriff's Department, Tenaha City Marshal's Office and Constable Precinct 4 were all on scene to provide assistance. DPS Trooper Buster was assisted with the investigation by DPS Trooper Cpl. Jimmy Faulkner and DPS Trooper Ricardo Segura.
January 28, 2016 - Workers cutting into the concrete at the intersection of Riggs Street and Shelbyville Street managed to cut a gas line and ignite leaking natural gas on Thursday, January 28, 2016. The Center Fire Department was dispatched to the scene just before 11am and when they arrived, flames were catching a utility pole just near the leak.
Water was being put onto the fire by the workers who cut the pipe until the firemen arrived. The firemen quickly worked to extinguish the flames on the utility pole to prevent further damage to the pole and utility lines. Fire continued to burn the excess gas off as it exited the leak while water was continuously applied to the flames to prevent them spreading anywhere else.
As the firemen worked, Center Police Officers blocked both ends of Shelbyville Street from Riggs Street to Newman Street and redirected traffic off Shelbyville Street.
Once Centerpoint Energy arrived on the scene, the firemen were given the go ahead to fully extinguish the flames while a crew was en-route to repair the line. The Center Fire Department returned to the station at 1:10pm once the Centerpoint Energy crew arrived and determined the assistance of the fire department was no longer necessary.
Employees at a nearby business stated the initial ignition of the gas sounded like a "volcano erupted;" however, they believed the noise was a large piece of equipment on the roadway until it was discovered the gas was on fire.
Time to completion of the repair is uncertain at this time. A gas line was hit at the end of Nacogdoches Street on Wednesday, January 27, 2016 at around 1:45pm by the same work crew and the Center Fire Department was also dispatched to that leak. The workers confirmed to Shelby County Today they were attempting to construct a sidewalk ramp leading to the Shelby County Sheriff's Office.
Nacogdoches street was closed off until the repair could be completed, which wasn't until 8pm Wednesday evening.
The project which the workers are currently in progress with is a $1 million TxDOT project covering the installation of handicap ramp and sidewalk improvements in the City of Center in areas which have already been prioritized by the Center City Council or Street Economic Development Corporation.
January 28, 2016 - New and updated property tax information has just been compiled by Shelby County Appraisal District and is available now to assist taxpayers. This property tax information is current and covers a wide range of topics, such as taxpayer remedies, exemptions, appraisals and is of value to select groups, such as disabled veterans and persons who are 65 years of age or older.
“Whether you are a homeowner, business owner, disabled veteran or a taxpayer, it’s important you know your rights concerning the property tax laws.” said Robert Pigg, chief appraiser of Shelby County Appraisal District. “You can contact us about any property tax issues with full confidence that we will provide you the most complete, accurate and up-to-date available information to assist you.”
This includes information about the following programs:
• Property Tax Exemptions for Disabled Veterans - The law provides partial exemptions for any property owned by veterans who are disabled, spouses and survivors of deceased disabled veterans and spouses and survivors of military personnel who died on active duty. The amount of exemption is determined according to percentage of service-connected disability. The law also provides a 100% exemption for 100% disabled veterans and their surviving spouses, beginning in 2009.
• Property Tax Exemptions - Non-profit organizations that meet statutory requirements may seek property tax exemptions and must apply to the appraisal district by a specific date. Businesses that receive tax abatements granted by taxing units, firms that ship inventory out of Texas and businesses that acquire pollution control property may also be eligible for statutory exemptions.
• Rendering Taxable Property - If a business owns tangible personal property that is used to produce income, the business must file a rendition with its local county appraisal district by a specified date. Personal property includes inventory and equipment used by a business. Owners do not have to render exempt property such as church property or an agriculture producer’s equipment used for farming.
• Appraisal Notices - A Notice of Appraised Value is mailed to each taxpayer in mid May. This is the taxpayer’s opportunity to check for any discrepancies in their value, property description, address, exemptions, etc.
• Property Taxpayer Remedies - This Comptroller publication explains in detail how to protest a property appraisal, what issues the county appraisal review board (ARB) can consider and what to expect during a protest hearing. The publication also discusses the option of taking a taxpayer’s case to district court or entering into binding arbitration if the taxpayer is dissatisfied with the outcome of the ARB hearing.
• Homestead Exemptions - A homestead is generally defined as the home and land used as the owner’s principle residence on January 1 of the tax year. A homestead exemption reduces the appraised value of the home and, as a result, lowers property taxes. Applications are submitted to the appraisal district.
• Productivity Appraisal - Property owners who use land for timberland production, agricultural purposes and wildlife management can be granted property tax relief on their land. They may apply to the appraisal district for an agricultural appraisal which may result in a lower appraisal of the land based on how much the taxpayer produces, versus what the land would sell for in the open market.
• Residence Homestead Tax Deferral - Texas homeowners may postpone paying the currently delinquent property taxes due on the appreciating value of their homes by filing a tax deferral affidavit at the appraisal district. This tax relief allows homeowners to pay the property taxes on 105 percent of the preceding year’s appraised value of their homestead, plus the taxes on any new improvements to the homestead. The remaining taxes are postponed, but not cancelled, with interest accruing at 8 percent per year.
• Property Tax Deferral for Persons Age 65 or Older and Disabled Homeowners - Texans who are 65 years of age or older, or who are disabled as defined by law, may postpone paying current and delinquent property taxes on their homes by signing a tax deferral affidavit. Once the affidavit is on file, taxes are deferred, but not cancelled, as long as the owner continues to own and live in the home. Interest continues to accrue on unpaid taxes. You may obtain a deferral affidavit at the appraisal district.
• Notice of Availability of Electronic Communication - Chief appraisers of a county appraisal district and appraisal review boards may communicate electronically through email or other media with property owners or their designated representatives. Written agreements are required for notices and other documents to be delivered electronically in place of mailing.
• Protesting Property Appraisal Values – Property owners who disagree with the appraisal district’s appraisal of their property for local taxes or for any other action that adversely affects them may protest their property value to the appraisal district’s appraisal review board.
For more information about these programs, contact the Shelby County Appraisal District at (936) 598-6171. More information is also available from the state Comptroller’s Property Tax Assistance Division website at www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/proptax/.