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

Becky Barker (left) and Stacy Cranford (right).

January 18, 2023 - The Shelby County Commissioners continued to discuss emergency action on assisting the Paxton/Jackson Water Supply in drilling a new well during their meeting held Wednesday, January 11, 2023.

The Paxton/Jackson Water Supply is seeking to upgrade their system and has approached the county for assistance in accomplishing this endeavor.

The commissioners considered the possibility of funding the project alongside the Huber water project which is being funded with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds; however, at the recommendation of GrantWorks who administers the grant the county was encouraged to directly fund the Paxton/Jackson project separately of the Huber project.

Stacy Cranford and Becky Barker, representatives of Paxton/Jackson Water Supply, addressed the commissioners about the project, which is for a 7 inch, possibly an 8 inch, straight wall well. Cranford said the projected cost is $263,277 for the well itself, and additional cost for electrical, plumbing, road, and fencing was around $40,000 plus $10,000 in legal fees and around $37,000 for TCEQ permits, paperwork and sanitary easement control. Cranford said the estimated cost is around $350,277.

Cranford said other wells in the area produce 100 to 120 gallons per minute and he confirmed that amount will supply normal demand while Joaquin remains as a backup to the system. He said long-term planning would dictate drilling another well in the future.

"The ARPA money was allotted to Shelby County per population, so we're just investing this back into the people that allowed us to get the funds anyway because it was per population," said County Judge Allison Harbison.

She further commented she believed it to be a good investment in the citizens.

A motion carried to move forward with the well cost, hookup and plumbing at a cost of $350,277 and add a 6% cushion for unforeseen add-on costs.

The commissioners were presented with a resolution to designate a portion of U.S. Highway 84 west of Joaquin as the “Lt. Gen. O.R. 'Cotton' Whiddon Memorial Highway.”

"What they're trying to do is they're trying to get a portion of the highway out by Crystal Lake on [U.S.] 84 and designate a certain stretch as this highway for this gentleman who served his country and is a Shelby County native," said Judge Harbison. "They have to get it from the city, as well as from the county."

A motion carried to approve the resolution designating a portion of U.S. 84 west of Joaquin as the “Lt. Gen. O.R. 'Cotton' Whiddon Memorial Highway.” Read Whiddon Biography here

Sheriff Kevin Windham updated the commissioners on issues with the Shelby County Jail sewage system, specifically sewer gases entering the entire building.

Mark Dawson, with Whitaker Plumbing, who previously worked on repairing issues with the system in 2022 explained that before performing the repairs in 2022 water was holding in the pipes below the jail and was actually preventing the gases from coming to the surface and into the building. Now that the pipes are relined, the gases are entering the building from the pipes from multiple cracks in the cast iron pipes.

Tom Bellmyer, Commissioner Precinct 4, inquired about the possibility of replacing the cast iron with PVC pipe; however, the code doesn't allow for that option, and it has to be replaced with cast iron.

A motion carried to table the discussion until the January 18 meeting when there may be an answer on how to fund the project.

The meeting went into an executive session at 10:30am with representatives of Center ISD: Dr. Brian Morris, Superintendent; Jake Henson, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services; and Deuce Wulf, Center ISD School Board Vice-President. When the meeting returned to open session, no action was taken on what was discussed in executive session and the meeting was then adjourned.

Agenda items approved during the meeting include:
1.  Minutes of December 7, 2022 Special meeting, December 14, 2022 Regular meeting, December 21, 2022 Special meeting, December 28, 2022 Special meeting of the Shelby County Commissioner’s Court.
2. Approve and pay weekly expenses.
3. Approve and pay current payroll.
4. Approve Officers Report.
5. Two new members to the Shelby County Historic Commission - Laura Harris, Kaylen Burleson.
6. Record Racial Profiling Report for Constable Pct. 4.
7. Award of American Rescue Plan Act funds to Paxton/Jackson Water Supply for the emergency installation of water supply well to serve Jackson Community, at a cost of $350,277 with an added 6% cushion for unforeseen add-on costs.
8. Resolution designating a portion of U.S. 84 west of Joaquin as the “Lt. Gen. O.R. 'Cotton' Whiddon Memorial Highway.”
9. Sale of five properties due to the non-payment of taxes.
10. Adjourn.

Agenda items tabled during the meeting include:
1. Shelby County Jail sewer project.

January 17, 2023 - The month of December 2022 had 9 days of rain for a total rain fall of 8.32 inches.

The weather data for Center, Texas during the past month is as follows:

Hottest temperature - 82.2 on December 8
Lowest temperature - 10.4 on December 23
Total rain fall for the month - 8.32 inches
Number of days with rain - 9 days

12/01/2022 - Low of 33.8, High of 58.1
12/02/2022 - Low of 42.4, High of 73.4
12/03/2022 - Low of 59.4, High of 77.5
12/04/2022 - Low of 53.2, High of 70.2
12/05/2022 - Low of 59.0, High of 75.7
12/06/2022 - Low of 68.4, High of 78.3
12/07/2022 - Low of 66.2, High of 81.7
12/08/2022 - Low of 64.9, High of 82.2
12/09/2022 - Low of 61.7, High of 79.0
12/10/2022 - Low of 62.6, High of 79.5, Rain 0.85
12/11/2022 - Low of 59.0, High of 63.7, Rain 0.73
12/12/2022 - Low of 55.6, High of 60.3
12/13/2022 - Low of 58.3, High of 74.1, Rain 0.33
12/14/2022 - Low of 38.8, High of 59.9, Rain 0.06
12/15/2022 - Low of 33.1, High of 61.3
12/16/2022 - Low of 31.6, High of 54.3, Rain 0.02
12/17/2022 - Low of 29.5, High of 55.6
12/18/2022 - Low of 26.1, High of 53.6
12/19/2022 - Low of 38.5, High of 44.8, Rain 2.64
12/20/2022 - Low of 37.0, High of 44.8, Rain 0.41
12/21/2022 - Low of 31.1, High of 44.1
12/22/2022 - Low of 14.4, High of 49.3
12/23/2022 - Low of 10.4, High of 26.4
12/24/2022 - Low of 17.1, High of 39.7
12/25/2022 - Low of 18.3, High of 47.8
12/26/2022 - Low of 25.0, High of 59.7
12/27/2022 - Low of 26.1, High of 50.2
12/28/2022 - Low of 29.5, High of 72.1
12/29/2022 - Low of 60.3, High of 79.5, Rain 1.83
12/30/2022 - Low of 52.7, High of 62.2, Rain 1.45
12/31/2022 - Low of 49.8, High of 70.5

January 17, 2023 - A several month investigation into the alleged theft of a large quantity of fuel from a service station in Shelby County has resulted in the arrest of one individual by Shelby County Constables.

The investigation culminated on Friday, January 13, 2023, in the arrest of an as yet unnamed individual who was allegedly stealing fuel from the Quick Stop in Timpson.

Leading the investigation is Josh Tipton, Constable Precinct 5, who states the Quick Stop reported three to four months ago almost 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel having been stolen. Security video was able to provide officers with a suspect at that time. Two months later, Quick Stop reported a similar theft of around 900 gallons of diesel fuel and security footage confirmed the same vehicle involved in the previous theft.

Constable Tipton says law enforcement then contacted Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), Texas Criminal Intelligence Center, and Harris County Constables in Houston who advised they have been dealing with a lot of the same thing, and according to Harris County this has turned into a $300 million black market industry. Shelby County law enforcement has remained in contact with those agencies since the initial contact.

Surveillance of the Quick Stop was initiated and on January 13 the suspect returned. Constable Tipton was in an unmarked vehicle and Taylor Fanguy, Constable Precinct 4, was nearby in a clearly marked patrol vehicle. Constable Tipton states he was observing the subject from the unmarked vehicle until other law enforcement in the county could arrive.

When the suspect exited his vehicle, Constable Tipton states he felt it was a safe time to detain the subject to prevent possible flight in the vehicle which would then have put passing motorists and innocent bystanders in danger. Once the suspect was detained by Constables Tipton and Fanguy without incident, they awaited other law enforcement to arrive and secure the scene. Constable Tipton states while waiting it was learned of possible lookouts traveling with the suspect being in the vicinity. A short time later Constable Tipton learned that Sheriff Kevin Windham had turned his deputies around and was no longer en-route to assist the constables.

Roy Cheatwood, Constable Precinct 3, arrived on scene following the capture of the suspect to assist along with Jamie Hagler, Constable Precinct 2, and Zack Warr, Constable Precinct 1.

According to Constable Tipton, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) was requested and Timpson EMS evaluated the suspect at the scene. With no apparent bumps, bruises or scratches they gave their medical clearance.

By the end of the day Larides Saez-Morales, 34, of Channel View, was arrested and has been charged with manufacture of a criminal instrument, state jail felony - $1 million cash bond and theft of property, misdemeanor a - $5,000 cash bond; unlawful use of a criminal instrument, misdemeanor b - $5,000 cash bond; and was taken to a neighboring county jail. Due to the sensitive nature of the ongoing investigation, additional details have not been released by Constable Tipton at this time.

Constable Tipton states all Shelby County Constables were present processing the scene and were involved in the transport of the prisoner to another county jail. He offered a special "thank you" to Texas Department of Public Safety State Troopers Dustin Ramos and David Shields, District Attorney Karren Price, District Judge LeAnn Rafferty, Justice of the Peace Tracy Broadway, and Panola County Sheriff's Deputy Richard Mojica, for their assistance in this matter.

While waiting on the arrival of Shelby County Sheriff's Department Deputies, Constable Tipton and Sheriff Kevin Windham had a disagreement and according to Constable Tipton this resulted in Sheriff Windham being unwilling to accept the suspect into the county jail. Constable Tipton states he and Constable Fanguy couldn't leave the scene due to securing the vehicle and pumps for evidence as well as maintaining custody of the suspect.

Constable Tipton advised, being that Sheriff Windham would not accept the prisoner, this prolonged the investigation by several hours and prevented opening the fuel pumps for Quick Stop until approximately 11pm that night.

Shelby County Today contacted Sheriff Kevin Windham in regards to the arrest at Timpson Quick Stop and he stated the following:

On Friday, January 13, 2023, at approximately 2:37pm, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office law enforcement personnel were contacted by Constable Precinct 4 Taylor Fanguy requesting assistance in the apprehension of suspect(s) that were deemed dangerous, who have been involved in a theft at Timpson Quick Stop. The Sheriff’s Office law enforcement personnel went en-route to the area to assist. While en-route, Constable Precinct 4 Taylor Fanguy and Constable Precinct 5 Josh Tipton advised that they would go ahead and make contact with the suspect(s). Moments later, Constable Fanguy advised over the radio that they had one detained.

Due to one suspect being placed into custody, the Sheriff’s Office discontinued the response to assist.

  • At 2:51pm, Constable Fanguy requested for a Sheriff’s Unit to transport, citing the necessity of a unit with a cage due to the suspect “getting irate.” A Sheriff’s unit was contacted and went en-route.
  • At 2:52pm, Constable Precinct 3 Roy Cheatwood advised on the radio that he would be out with Constables Fanguy and Tipton.
  • At 2:55pm, Constable Fanguy advised the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Telecommunications Division to dispatch Emergency Medical Services to their location due to the suspect having “banged his head against the patrol unit and knocked himself out.”
  • At 2:58pm, Constable Fanguy advised the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Telecommunications Division that the subject had “regained consciousness.” Constable Fanguy further advised that the subject was “constantly trying to bang his head against something.”

Due to the suspect possibly sustaining head trauma, specifically that he lost consciousness, it is the standard policy and procedure of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office for the arresting officer to transport a suspect/arrestee to an Emergency Medical facility to be cleared by a medical doctor prior to the suspect/arrestee being accepted into the jail facility.

Related article:
County Adopts Agreement with Paxton Water Supply; Timpson Area Residents Address Court

January 17, 2023 - Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Troopers investigated a two-vehicle crash on State Highway 7 (SH 7), at the intersection of County Road 1211, that occurred today, January 17, 2023.

The preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 6:40am, a 2023 Buick SUV driven by Cullen Kendrick, 26, of Joaquin with passenger Madolyn Kendrick, 22, was traveling west on SH 7, while a 2021 Dodge passenger car driven by Keaton Burns, 19, of Center was traveling south on County Road 1211. It is reported that the driver of the passenger car failed to yield to the SUV and pulled into its path, where it was struck by the SUV on its left side.

Cullen Kendrick and his passenger were not injured.

Keaton Burns was transported to Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital in Nacogdoches for treatment. Burns was cited for fail to yield right-of-way at a stop intersection.

There is no additional information available.

January 17, 2023 - U.S. Highway 96 North across the road from the Center Country Club was the scene of a single-vehicle crash between a pickup truck and a stone wall January 15, 2023.

Emergency responders arriving at the scene found a pickup truck which had collided on its driver's side with an entry gate wall along a driveway.

According to Shelby County Sheriff's Deputy Jake Gross, at 4:57pm a grey 2008 Chevrolet Silverado driven by Fortino Hernandez, 50, of Tenaha was traveling north on U.S. Highway 96 when he began to swerve into the opposing lane of traffic due to medical complications.

Hernandez over corrected and traveled back across the highway and left the roadway sideways on the northbound side and struck a stone wall entry gate owned by Michael Scarborough.

After the Center Fire Department helped extricate Hernandez from the truck, he was transported from the scene by ambulance to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Shelby Emergency Department for treatment of possible injuries.

No citations were reported to have been issued at the time of the crash.

January 17, 2023 - On December 26, 2022, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality required the Woodland Shores Subdivision public water system, #2100037, to issue a Boil Water Notice to inform customers, individuals or employees that due to conditions which occurred recently in the public water system, the water from this public water system was required to be boiled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes.

The public water system has taken the necessary corrective actions to restore the quality of the water distributed by this public water system used for drinking water or human consumption purposes. We have also provided TCEQ with laboratory test results that indicate that the water no longer requires boiling prior to use as of January 17, 2023.

If you have questions concerning this matter, you may contact R.D. Reece at 903-372-8017.

January 10, 2023 - Due to reduced distribution system pressure & line break, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has required the Woodland Shores Subdivision/2100037 public water system to notify all customers to boil their water prior to consumption (e.g., washing hands/face, brushing teeth, drinking, etc). Children, seniors, and persons with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to harmful bacteria, and all customers should follow these directions).

To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking, and ice making should be boiled and cooled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes. The water should be brought to a vigorous rolling boil and then boiled for two minutes.

In lieu of boiling, individuals may purchase bottled water or obtain water from some other suitable source for drinking water or human consumption purposes. When it is no longer necessary to boil the water, the public water system officials will notify customers that the water is safe for drinking water or human consumption purposes.

Once the boil water notice is no longer in effect, the public water system will issue a notice to customers that rescinds the boil water notice in a manner similar to this notice.

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail. If you have questions concerning this matter, you may contact R.D. Reece at (903) 372-8017.

Wednesday's grass fire

January 16, 2023 - The week of January 8th through 16th yielded a modest 2 calls for the Joaquin Volunteer Fire Department. Here’s a summary of the weeks events.

On Wednesday at 1:43pm a call was received stating that a burn pile had gotten out of control and flames were rapidly approaching the woods on Highway 84 East. Upon arriving, the JVFD found an area beside the roadway that was burning with fire spreading into a yard. Two brush trucks were utilized on scene to quickly put a stop to the spread and bring the fire down to a smolder.

Wednesday's grass fire

Lastly, on Saturday morning at 5:29am a call came in for the JVFD to assist DeSoto Fire District 1 with a fully engulfed structure fire on Wilson Street in Logansport. Joaquin arrived on scene to see that DFD1 had made an impressive stop on the mobile home fire and was able to save at least one room. Joaquin firefighters lended a hand in mopping up the remaining flames and hot spots. 

With that, this report will come to a close. The Joaquin Volunteer Fire Department hopes everyone has a great and safe week going forward.

Wednesday's grass fire

Together We Can Be the Dream

January 15, 2023 - A MLK Walk/Parade will be held on Monday, January 16, 2023. Meet at H&S Discount Foods on Shelbyville Street at 2:30pm with the walk/parade starting at 3pm. The route will end at Perry Sampson Park with a Program at the Park following the walk.

MLK Drive Clean will be held in the morning from 9am until 12noon. Meet at Hicks Mortuary at 8:30am. Cleanup supplies and refreshments will be provided.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 12, 2023 - A Center woman has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for drug trafficking violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston today.

Ingrid Yaresi Balderas De Leon, 28, pleaded guilty on July 12, 2022, to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone.

According to information presented in court, De Leon was part of a drug trafficking organization distributing large quantities of methamphetamine in East Texas.  De Leon participated in several sales of large quantities of methamphetamine, often acting as a Spanish-language interpreter during the transactions.  De Leon and her co-conspirators would hide the methamphetamine in the plastic trim of vehicles and deliver them to a residence in Center.  De Leon was indicted by a federal grand jury on March 2, 2022.

This case was investigated by the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald S. Carter.

January 12, 2023 - Emergency personnel were dispatched to a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of State Highway 7 (SH7) and SL 500 Saturday, January 7, 2023.

When officers arrived at the location, sometime after 6:20am, both vehicles involved in the incident remained in the middle of the roadway.

According to Center Police Officer Jerry Payne, a silver 2021 F-150 driven by Jason Schendel, 52, of Iota was eastbound on SH7 when he attempted to turn left onto SL 500 in front of a silver 2007 Ford Focus driven by Louise Crocker, 72, of Center. Unable to avoid the collision, the Focus struck the F-150 on its right rear quarter panel and caused it to spin around in the lane of traffic.

Emergency medical services personnel were on scene and evaluated both drivers before Schendel was transported by ambulance to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Shelby Emergency Department for treatment of possible injury. Crocker refused treatment at the scene and was not transported.

Both vehicles were towed from the scene by wrecker services. 

No citations were reported to have been issued.

Center Fire Department personnel and additional units with the Center Police Department, as well as Shelby County Sheriff's Department were on scene to assist with traffic control until the area was clear.

According to Texas Department of Transportation crash statistics, there have been 57 crashes recorded at this intersection with 2022 having the highest number of recorded crashes in a year at 15.