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The former Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace and County Attorney building (pictured above) was torn down August 19, 2020.

August 20, 2020 - Shelby County Judge Allison Harbison proposed to the commissioners seeking bids on the installation of an elevator in the Courthouse Annex building, where the District Attorney's office is located.

"I think that we can get an elevator over there for less than $100,000, but it will be over $50,000 so we need to go out for bids officially on it," said Judge Harbison.

She explained it will make the building handicap accessible to meet all ADA requirements. 

"The public hears this, sees spending that, they also need to hear what it's going to cost to rent a building and how rent for two or three years would help pay for that," said Roscoe McSwain, Commissioner Precinct 1. "Get our own building in compliance and using it." 

At this time if an individual is physically unable to climb stairs, they cannot reach the District Attorney's office because it's on the second floor of the building.

"Even if eventually we use that second story for storage, or filing, you still need some way to get everything up to that second floor," said Judge Harbison.

A motion carried by the commissioners to seek bids by September 4, 2020 to have them available at the September 9 meeting.

The bleachers at the Shelby County Expo Center have been a focus of improvement for years now and Judge Harbison proposed seeking bids for the purchase and installation of used bleachers.

"Bobby Daw has contacted a company and has finally found someone that does the bleachers for football stadiums and things like that and we kind of have a line on some," said Judge Harbison. "We're going to have to go out for bids on it, because it's going to be just slightly over $50,000."

Charles Barr, Commissioner Precinct 3, mentioned there is money in a bleacher fund and Judge Harbison said that amount is $37,000. He also asked if there were some other funds set aside for that purpose.

Ann Blackwell, Treasurer, stated she has spoken with the Klein family about donated money and the remaining balance.

"There was an $11,000 donation by a Ms. Walker, it was specifically for bleachers. They have that and they also have the balance that was in their account when they shut down and gave the facility back to the county," said Blackwell.

She said the remaining balance was around $10,000, and Judge Harbison remarked there is potentially $58,000 already accumulated toward the project. With the possible addition of more funds from the county.

"These would be aluminum bleachers with all of the safety features a four foot walkway, raised bleachers with a handicap accessible ramp and they will have railing all the way up," said Judge Harbison

If possible, Judge Harbison said they would like to have a smaller set for the other side of the arena. She said the bleachers being considered are raised off the ground and 10 rows high.

A motion carried to seek bids for the bleachers by September 4 for the September 9 meeting.

By state law, a commissioners' court is meant to make a sworn annual report during the ninth month of the county fiscal year.

The report is to include the condition of each road or part of a road, bridge, and culvert in the commissioners' precinct. The report is also to include what amount of money is reasonably necessary for maintenance of the roads in the precinct in the coming fiscal year; should there be any, the number of traffic control devices in the precinct defaced or torn down any new road that should be opened in the precinct, and any bridges, culvert or other improvements necessary to place the roads in the precinct in good condition, as well as the likely cost of improvements.

Ultimately the report is to be presented before a grand jury, before that the report itself is then meant to be entered into the minutes of the commissioners' court to be considered in improving public roads and determining the amount of taxes to be imposed for public roads.

In addition, the report is to be submitted together with each contract made by the court since its last report for any work on any road, to the grand jury at the first term of the district court occurring after the report is made to the commissioners court.

A motion carried by the commissioners' court to accept the grand jury acknowledgement of receipt of county road reports.

The commissioners continued to discuss the possibility of closing CR 2020. Gary Rholes, County Attorney, was not able to be present for the meeting; however, he let Judge Harbison know he didn't think putting gates across the county road were an option and if the commissioners wanted to take action they need to either abandon the road or leave it open.

"He feels like the county putting up a gate and giving keys out to certain people isn't fair," said Judge Harbison. "If the county abandons it, the landowners want to put up the fence that's up to them and not the county."

A motion carried to table the action on CR 2020 until the next meeting.

The list of 2020-2021 election judges for a two-year term was presented to the commissioners' court and they were:

  • 1N - Ms. Lenora Walton
  • 1S - Mrs. Rose Specter
  • 1SE - Ms. Sandrel Slaughter
  • 1SW - Mr. Bubba Bell
  • 1W - Ms. Carolyn Cochran
  • 2 - Mr. L.D. Eddins
  • 3 - Mrs. Mary Culver
  • 4 - Mrs. Etola Jones
  • 5 - Dr. Debrah Worsham
  • 6 - Mrs. Shirley Brittain
  • 7 - Mrs. Renita Hudman
  • 8 - Mrs. Linda Perry
  • 9N - Mrs. Marilyn Corder
  • 9S - Mr. Shannon Ramsey

A motion carried by the commissioners to approve the list of 2020-2021 election judges.

Toward the end of the meeting, McSwain complimented his fellow commissioner for recent work.

"I want to publicly express my appreciation for Charles [Barr] for working so hard to take care of the JP office and stuff, getting all that done, and for getting this JP building torn down," said McSwain.

Barr thanked McSwain and stated Tom Bellmyer, Commissioner 4, had been helping as well.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:55am.

Agenda items approved during the meeting include:
1. Pay weekly expenses.
2. Current payroll.
3. Go out for bids on an elevator to be installed in the Courthouse Annex.
4. Go out for bids for the purchase and installation of used bleachers for the Shelby County Expo Center.
5. Accept Grand Jury Acknowledgement of Receipt of County Road Reports.
6. County Election Judges for 2020-2021.
7. Adjourn.

Agenda items atebled during the meeting were:
1. Taken action on closing a portion of CR 2020.

August 20, 2020 - The Shelby County Emergency Management office reports as of 8:17am on Thursday, August 20, 2020, TxDSHS has reported 3 new cases and the cumulative case count is now 415. The death count is 14 for Shelby County. (The DSHS website dashboard shows 18 deaths for Shelby County as of Aug 5th.)

According to the state's algorithm to determine recoveries, there are no new recoveries reported and the total of recoveries is 374. The number of active cases is 27.

Breakdown of cumulative cases by zip code and ages:

Active Cases in each zip code: (Change in Data)

Center (75935) - 13 (3 new) 
Joaquin (75954) - 5 
Shelbyville (75973) - 1
Tenaha (75974) - 4
Timpson (75975) - 4 

Cumulative Cases in each zip code:

Center (75935) - 277 (3 new)
Joaquin (75954) - 27 
Shelbyville (75973) - 25 
Tenaha (75974) - 50
Timpson (75975) - 36 

Ages of Confirmed Cases:

Ages 1 to 20: 38 cases (1 new)
Ages 21 to 40: 135 cases (1 new)
Ages 41 to 60: 128 cases (1 new), 4 deaths
Ages 61 to 80: 73 cases, 4 deaths
Ages 81 to 100: 34 cases, 6 deaths 
Age unknown: 7 cases

August 19, 2020 - The Shelby County Emergency Management office reports as of 7:35am on Wednesday, August 19, 2020, TxDSHS has reported 4 new cases and the cumulative case count is now 412. The death count is 14 for Shelby County. (The DSHS website dashboard shows 18 deaths for Shelby County as of Aug 5th.)

According to the state's algorithm to determine recoveries, there are 4 new recoveries were reported and the total of recoveries is 374. The number of active cases is 24.

Breakdown of cumulative cases by zip code and ages:

Active Cases in each zip code: (Change in Data)

Center (75935) - 10 (3 new, 3 recoveries) 
Joaquin (75954) - 5 (1 recovery)
Shelbyville (75973) - 1
Tenaha (75974) - 4
Timpson (75975) - 4 (1 new)

Cumulative Cases in each zip code:

Center (75935) - 271 (3 new)
Joaquin (75954) - 27 
Shelbyville (75973) - 25 
Tenaha (75974) - 50
Timpson (75975) - 36 (1 new)

Ages of Confirmed Cases:

Ages 1 to 20: 37 cases
Ages 21 to 40: 134 cases 
Ages 41 to 60: 127 cases (1 new), 4 deaths
Ages 61 to 80: 73 cases (3 new), 4 deaths
Ages 81 to 100: 34 cases, 6 deaths 
Age unknown: 7 cases

August 19, 2020 - The Shelby County Commissioners heard from citizens with concerns over illegal activities on CR 2020 and expressed a desire to close the roadway during their meeting held Wednesday August, 12, 2020.

Larry Warren, who resides on CR 2010, said he has one neighbor named Claudus Lathan who said he has been trying to get CR 2020 closed for four years.

Another neighbor of Warren, Eltroy McCowin said he isn't in favor of the closure.

Warren shared some events that have occurred on CR 2020, which don't put the road in a good light. The first he mentioned was a Center Police Department pursuit in September 2014 that ended on that road. 

Due to the extensive dumping in that area in 2014, then Shelby County Judge Rick Campbell got someone with a trackhoe to go out and clean up the area.

Warren said there were cameras installed in that spot to help catch some of the illegal dumping.

"The Sheriff told me, he said they stole the cameras on the ground and shot the cameras in the trees," said Warren.

The body of a man was also dumped on CR 2020 in November 2019, and Warren remarked those responsible haven't yet been located.

Warren stated he doesn't want to offend his friend McCowin, and whatever the commissioners decide will suit him.

Judge Allison Harbison said she had a phone call from Emma Dock, who resides on CR 2020.

"She had some concerns because I believe there's like three ways into her property, and she said two of the ways sometimes flood and that would be the only way for her to get out," said Judge Harbison.

Jimmy Lout, Commissioner for Precinct 2, said he had visited Dock to speak with her about the road.

"I went to her and told her that I would put a gate up there if it went through court and I'd give her a key," said Lout. "She finally told me to do what I had to do. She knew about the body, she knows it's a drug road."

Lout showed Judge Harbison on a map where the gates he has planned would be installed on CR 2020. He indicated two places on the road where there is a lot of trash dumped daily.

The proposed area to be closed would be six tenths of a mile, and the length of the road is 1.1 miles.

"Where I'm going to put the gates includes all the houses on that road. The rest of that road hasn't got any houses on it," said Lout. "And it's nothing but garbage."

Lout said he thought it best to close the road.

"I'm going to give the two houses at each end keys to the gates and then the landowners keys to the gates too," said Lout.

Judge Harbison asked who owns the land on either side of the roadway and Lout said East Texas Asphalt, Hawkeye Hunting Club and Claudus Lathan.

In its current state the road is very passable, according to Lout, and upon Judge Harbison asking if he would be maintaining the road, he said he wouldn't and he has installed large pipe culverts in the road.

"What makes me really mad, every precinct's has got a dumpster. They can take it to it, but they don't do it," said Lout.

Commissioner Lout moved to close 6 tenths of a mile of the road and Charles Barr, Commissioner Precinct 3, seconded his motion. 

Roscoe McSwain, Commissioner Precinct 1, stated there has to be a full consensus of the court to close the road and with one commissioner being absent for the meeting he didn't think the court could move forward with the action.

In conversing with Gary Rholes, County Attorney, McSwain suggested making the road a class three road so it would only be maintained once a year and then gates could be placed and locked.

"I don't think we can lock it and let certain people use it and exclude everyone else," said Rholes. "Instead of closing it I would recommend that it be abandoned."

The original motion was set aside by Judge Harbison and a motion carried to table the road until the August 19 meeting.

(Related articles: Sheriff's Department Seeks Information on Price Homicide | Shelby County Judge Clears Illegal Dumping Site | Commissioners Discuss Need for District Clerk Staff Increase; Sheriff to Hire Seasonal Worker

A resolution was presented to the commissioners by a group of residents in the Paxton community who oppose a waste treatment facility being established in their community.

Spokesperson for the group, Terry Allen, addressed the court about their concerns.

"It has been a group effort of everyone involved in our community to get together, try to get the word out and all come together to oppose this terrible idea of placing this facility there," said Terry Allen.

He said one of the procedures the company seek approval for from the Railroad Commission is to go to a hearing even if the permit is administratively denied, and if those who oppose are not present for the hearing, Allen says the Railroad Commissioners can override their experts and allow the company to operate.

"That's why it's very important that we make our thinking known against this facility," said Allen.

Gary Rholes referenced a previous case, which will give the company grounds to engage in a lawsuit should they be denied once again.

A motion carried by the commissioners to approve the resolution.

The following is the wording of the document:

"Whereas, Shelby County Commissioners' Court has the responsibility of maintaining a healthy and safe environment for its citizens, to promote stable or increased property values, and protect and maintain Shelby County roads.

"And whereas, there exists a pending application from McBride Operating LLC for the operation and maintenance of a commercial stationary treatment facility and commercial disposal pit, to treat and permanently bury oilfield waste materials near the intersection of U.S. Highway 84 East and FM 699 in northern Shelby County near the community of Paxton.

"And whereas, this facility will on a daily basis accept, treat, and permanently bury tons of oil and gas waste.

"And whereas, if approved the facility will be located in an environmentally sensitive area containing wetlands on and near the site, shallow water bearing sands, excessive surface relief with slopes up to 15 percent in close proximity to streams, all of which contribute to potential surface and sub-surface water contamination.

"And whereas, the Railroad Commission of Texas administratively denied the initial application of McBride Operating LLC due to, at least in part, the unsuitability of the proposed location.

"And whereas, numerous landowners and concerned citizens have signed and submitted protest against granting authority of the proposed waste facility due to health, safety, pollution and land value concerns.

"And whereas, there exists too great of a potential for serious and long-lasting pollution to the waters of Shelby County."

Judge Harbison told a personal story relating to unfavorable circumstances involving property near her home, which was under similar threat.

"Shelby County is just not a great place for these, because we have so much water and so many creeks, and so many tributaries," said Judge Harbison.

Tom Bellmyer, Commissioner Precinct 4, was not present for the meeting and Judge Harbison said she believed he would be in favor of the action.

"He has personally offered to take his personal time to go to the commission to protest it," said Allen.

The commissioners approved the County Transportation Infrastructure Fund Grant Agreement between Shelby County and the State of Texas and Judge Harbison explained for the audience how that works.

Money provided through the fund is money the state has collected through oil and gas taxes. Shelby Country received funds six years ago and are set to receive more now.

"They've allocated so much money back to roads in counties that have oil and gas," said Judge Harbison. "Most every county in Texas has some form of oil and gas."

Each of the commissioners is expected to get around $115,000, according to Commissioner Barr.

A motion carried to approve the agreement.

The commissioners discussed setting a date for public hearing on the proposed tax rate and budget for FY2020-2021.

Judge Harbison stated there are no proposed increases in salary this year or supplies.

"Last years tax rate, is .7027 and the no new revenue tax rate came out to be .7187," said Debora Riley, Tax Assessor Collector. 

A motion carried to have the public hearing for the proposed tax rate on August 26, 2020 at 1:30pm.

The meeting was then adjourned.

Agenda items approved during the meeting include:
1. Minutes of the July 1, 2020 Special meeting, July 8, 2020 Regular meeting, July 15, 2020 Special meeting, July 22, 2020 Special meeting, July 29, 2020 Special meeting of the Shelby County Commissioner’s Court.

2. Pay weekly expenses.

3. Resolution regarding an Application for a permit to maintain and operate a Stationary Treatment Facility and Commercial Disposal Pit by McBride Operating, LLC.

4. County Transportation Infrastructure Fund Grant Agreement between Shelby County and the State of Texas acting by and through the Texas Department of Transportation.

5. Public hearing on the proposed Tax rate and proposed Budget for FY2020-2021.

6. Adjourn.

Agenda item tabled during the meeting included: 
1. Closure of CR 2020

August 18, 2020 - U.S. Highway 59 just south of Tenaha is the scene of a gravel spill which took place around 3pm Tuesday, August 18.

Constable 4 Taylor Fanguy, Tenaha Police Department officers and TxDOT are on scene to help slow traffic until the debris has been moved.

Travelers should use caution in this area until the scene is clear. 

August 18, 2020 - Shelby County is currently seeing an all-time low of “active” cases of Coronavirus. This is according to Texas Department of State health Services (DSHS) that report any new cases, recoveries, and deaths to the Shelby County Office of Emergency Management.

We continue to report only cases, recoveries, and deaths that DSHS reports to us. We use no other source to report our numbers.

Currently there are 24 active cases in Shelby County. We want to remind everyone that even with the low number of active cases being reported that it is not a time to let your guard down and hope that these numbers do not give anyone a false sense of security.  

COVID-19 is still and will continue to be a highly contagious virus. We still have active cases in all of the Shelby County communities. We continue to receive reports of new cases and that number could start climbing at any time. 

We would like to remind everyone to continue to adhere to the precautionary measures which have been stressed since the beginning of the pandemic.

Please continue to:

Wash hands often for 20 seconds and encourage others to do the same. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are unavailable.

Wear a cloth face covering in public and during large gatherings.

Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue away.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Disinfect surfaces, buttons, handles, knobs, and other places touched often.

Stay six feet apart from others.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Stay home if you are sick.

Please continue to stay safe and do your part in slowing down the spread of Coronavirus.

Thank you,
Allison Harbison
Shelby County Judge

August 18, 2020 - The Shelby County Sheriff's Department has confirmed the discovery of a body in a pond off State Highway 87 North.

Submitted photoAccording to the Sheriff's Department, at 7:04pm on August 16th, 2020 Shelby County Sheriff's Deputy Cody Muse was dispatched to U.S. Highway 87 North in the Timpson area in reference to a body being found in a pond. 

The body was then identified as that of Marquel Dequan Ealy, aka, "Q-Tip", 35, of Timpson. 

Ealy's body was sent to Tyler for an autopsy to deetermine his cause of death.

No further information is available at this time and this incident remains under investigation.

According to area residents who have contacted Shelby County Today, and social media posts, Ealy had been missing leading up to the discovery of his body Sunday.

A gofundme account has been established to help with funeral expenses and it can be found by clicking this link

August 18, 2020 - At 1:23am on Tuesday, August 18, the Joaquin VFD was dispatched to a structure fire in the 100 block of Morris Street.

Autom mutual aid was dispatched from Des Fire Dis #1. Firefighters arrived to find a single story, wood frame, brick veneer home with fire venting from the roof on two sides. An aggressive interior attack resulted in a quick knockdown of the fire. Fire damage was limited to the master bedroom and bathroom area of the home, with heavy smoke damage to the rest of the structure.

After conducting salvage and overhaul operations, fire units cleared the scene and returned to the station at 4:33 a.m.

August 18, 2020 - The Shelby County Emergency Management office reports as of 8:00am on Tuesday, August 18, 2020, TxDSHS has reported 2 new cases and the cumulative case count is now 408. The death count is 14 for Shelby County. (The DSHS website dashboard shows 18 deaths for Shelby County as of Aug 5th.)

According to the state's algorithm to determine recoveries, no new recoveries were reported and the total of recoveries is 370. The number of active cases is 24.

Breakdown of cumulative cases by zip code and ages:

Active Cases in each zip code: (Change in Data)

Center (75935) - 10
Joaquin (75954) - 6 (2 new)
Shelbyville (75973) - 1
Tenaha (75974) - 4
Timpson (75975) - 3

Cumulative Cases in each zip code:

Center (75935) - 271 
Joaquin (75954) - 27 (2 new)
Shelbyville (75973) - 25 
Tenaha (75974) - 50
Timpson (75975) - 35

Ages of Confirmed Cases:

Ages 1 to 20: 37 cases
Ages 21 to 40: 134 cases (1 new)
Ages 41 to 60: 126 cases (1 new), 4 deaths
Ages 61 to 80: 70 cases, 4 deaths
Ages 81 to 100: 34 cases, 6 deaths 
Age unknown: 7 cases

August 16, 2020 - FM 2026 (Folsom Chapel Road) was the scene of a major two-vehicle collision which resulted in multiple fatalities Sunday, August 16, 2020, at 5:40pm.

Emergency personnel moved in on the 1400 block of FM 2026 just past CR 4293, and quickly began helping those involved in the crash. 

(Update): According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, as a result of the ongoing investigation, investigators have determined that at the time of the crash, the red 2010 Toyota driven by Michael Masterson, 30, of Center was traveling east in the westbound lane of FM 2026. Mackenzie Parks, 15, of Tenaha, the driver of the grey 2019 GMC, was traveling west and reportedly took evasive action to the left to avoid a collision. Masterson also took evasive action and drove into the eastbound lane, where the two vehicles struck head-on.

The Toyota remained in the roadway and the GMC came to rest in a ditch.

EMS, fire personnel and Sheriff's Deputies worked to extricate everyone that remained in the vehicles following the crash, and performed life-saving measures on several involved. 

A landing zone was established in the middle of the roadway where Michael Masterson and Mason Parks, a 14-year-old minor male passenger from the GMC, were life-flighted by helicopters to LSU in Shreveport. 

A 2-year-old, Mason Masterson; 4-year-old, Ella Masterson; and 10-year-old, Victoria Hogan were passengers in the Toyota and they were unable to be revived at the scene. A Sandra Parks, 60, of Tenaha who was in the GMC also lost her life in the collision and the 15-year-old driver, Mackenzie Parks later succumbed to her injuries at the hospital.

Justices of the Peace Donna Hughes and Marla Denby were on scene and performed the inquests.

Watson & Sons Funeral Home transported from the crash.

This crash remains under investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Additional information is not available at this time.

GoFundMe accounts have been set up for the benefit of those involved in this incident to help with funeral costs and medical expenses. They are at the following links:

Sandy & Mackenzie Parks
https://gf.me/v/c/xkhm/sandy-amp-mackenzie-parks

Masterson Family
https://gf.me/v/c/xkhm/nx8x5-masterson-family

Victoria Hogan
https://gf.me/u/yrpa2f

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