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Sheriff's Department Investigates Theft; $10,000 Reward Offered - August 28, 2015
Press Release

Shelby County Sheriff Willis Blackwell reports that unknown suspect(s) entered into a vehicle belonging to Mr. Terry Bailey at his residence. Suspect(s) stole several Apple iPhones and money.

Mr. Terry Bailey has offered a $10,000 dollar reward for the arrest and conviction of suspect(s) involved in this theft.

If anyone has any information regarding this case, please contact Shelby County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Investigator DJ Dickerson at (936) 572-1468.

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Jury Cancellation for 273rd District Court Aug 31st Return - August 28, 2015
Submitted by Lori Oliver

The jury that has been summoned originally on Monday, August 17th and instructed to report back on Monday, August 31st, 2015 for the 273rd District Court, Honorable Charles R. Mitchell, presiding has been cancelled due to the case being settled. Anyone instructed to come back on Monday, August 31, 2015 is released from jury service until they receive a future summons.

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McClelland Water Supply Boil Water Notice Cancelled - August 19, 2015
Submitted by Renita Hudman

August 26, 2015 - Updated: The boil water notice has been cancelled for customers of the McClelland Water Supply who were without water on August 19, 2015. It is no longer necessary to boil your water for consumption or use in cooking.


Due to a break in the main line, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has required our water system, McClelland Water Supply Corporation, PWS ID# 2100011 to notify customers east of the Oakland Church on FM 139, of the need to boil their water prior to consumption.

To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking, and making ice should be boiled and cooled prior to use. The water should be brought to a vigorous, rolling boil and then boiled for two minutes. In lieu of boiling, you may purchase bottled water or obtain water from some other suitable source.

When it is no longer necessary to boil the water, the water system officials will notify you that the water is safe for consumption. Instructions to discontinue boiling will be issued in the same manner as this notice.

If you have questions concerning this matter, you may contact Vince DiVerdi at 936-598-8478 or Renita Hudman at 936-598-9781.

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DETEC Reports of Widespread Outages - August 24, 2015

(Update at 9:45pm): As of 9:30 PM, power has been restored.

DETEC is currently experiencing a widespread transmission outage affecting the San Augustine, Bronson, Hemphill, Six Mile, Pendleton and Center areas. Crews are currently working to restore power as quickly as possible.

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Texans Who Filed Insurance Claims for May-June Storm Damage Should Register With FEMA - August 24, 2015
Submitted by Allison Harbison

AUSTIN, Texas – If you are among the thousands of Texans who filed insurance claims for damage related to the May 4 to June 22 storms, you may be eligible for additional state-federal assistance. The key is to register with FEMA before the Aug. 27 deadline. Filing a claim under FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program is different than registering for a FEMA disaster assistance grant.

FEMA may be able to help you with uninsured or underinsured losses or if your insurance settlement is delayed. Be sure to document your situation and gather insurance company documents that can be included when you talk with FEMA after registering.

Have you received the maximum settlement from your insurance and still have unmet disaster- related needs? You may be eligible for a grant.

For example, if you have exhausted the maximum settlement from your insurance for Additional Living Expenses (ALE for loss of use) and still need help from FEMA with temporary housing, you should document your need and assemble paperwork that shows use of ALE from insurance.

While FEMA cannot duplicate benefits covered by your insurance or other sources, you may also be eligible for emergency home repairs, disaster-related medical, dental and funeral costs and other disaster-related expenses.
Has a decision on your insurance settlement been delayed longer than 30 days from the time you filed your claim? Be sure to let FEMA know and have ready any documents from your insurance company to show that you filed a claim. If the claim was filed over the telephone, include the claim number, date applied, and an estimate of how long it will take for you to receive your settlement. Any help from FEMA would be considered an advance and would have to be repaid to FEMA when your insurance settlement is received.

You can apply for FEMA assistance online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362 toll free from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) daily until further notice. Multilingual operators are available.

Disaster assistance applicants who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY should call 800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

Applying for an SBA low-interest disaster loan is part of federal disaster assistance. Many people who apply to FEMA are automatically referred for a low-interest disaster assistance loan. Survivors should complete SBA loan applications so they can be considered for all available disaster assistance.

For more information on Texas recovery, visit the disaster web page at www.fema.gov/disaster/4223, Twitter at www.twitter.com/femaregion6, and the Texas Division of Emergency Management website, www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem

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Two-Vehicle Crash Occurs Saturday in Drizzling Rain - August 24, 2015
Composed by J.J. Ford

In drizzling rain a two-vehicle crash on San Augustine Street resulted in minor injuries Saturday afternoon, at 3:30pm near the intersection of Southview Circle.

According to the Center Police Department, a GMC Sierra pickup driven by Charles Burrows, age 57 of Center was traveling west on San Augustine Street and failed to yield right of way striking a Ford Escape driven by David Eubank, age 55 of Center, with passenger Cindy Eubank. The Ford was turning east onto San Augustine Street turning from Hurst Street just before the accident occurred.

Burrows, the driver of the GMC, attempted to apply his brakes when they locked up and the vehicle began to slide. Eubank was unable to avoid the collision and the front of the GMC hit the drivers side front quarter panel of the Escape causing extensive damage to both vehicles.

The crash was investigated by Center PD Officer John Welch. No citations were issued.

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Arcadia Road Scene of Single-Vehicle Crash - August 22, 2015
Composed by Scott Flowers

Arcadia Road was the scene of a single-vehicle crash just outside of Center on Saturday afternoon, August 22, 2015.

Emergency personnel was dispatched at 1:10pm when it was reported a vehicle was located in the ditch alongside of the road. The Center Fire Department, Center Police Department and ACE EMS all responded to the crash at the intersection of Ellington Street.

Trayvon Osby, 21, of Tenaha was traveling east in a blue Hyundai Santa Fe on Arcadia Road (FM 138) when he failed to control speed. The Hyundai left the roadway to the right and traveled over a culvert as it crossed Ellington Street before it rolled onto its right side and came to rest in a ditch.

Osby was transported by ACE EMS to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Center Emergency Department for possible injuries. No citations have been given at this time. The crash was investigated by Center Police Officer John Welch, assisted by Sgt. Duane Gordon.

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Shelby County Court Holds Docket Call, 19 Cases Disposed - August 19, 2015

The following cases were disposed of in the Shelby County Court on August 18th, 2015. Judge Allison Harbison was the presiding judge and County Attorney Gary Rholes was the prosecutor:

  • Mercedes Jones - Theft (Class B) - - Defendant received $600.00 fine, $262.00 court cost, 12 months deferred adjudication probation, attend and complete Theft Program.
  • Abilio Salinas - Driving While Intoxicated (Class B) - Defendant received $1200.00 fine, $412.10 court cost, 12 months probation, 40 hours Community Service, attend and complete DWI education program.
  • Kaylyn Jackson - Possession Of Controlled Substance (Class A) - Defendant received a $400.00 fine, $262.00 court cost Final Judgement.
  • Jonathan Johnson - Theft (Class B) - Defendant received $262.00 court cost, $500 restitution, 6 months probation.
  • Jonathan Johnson - Criminal Trespass (Class B) - Defendant received $500.00 fine, $262.00 court cost, 30 days Shelby County Jail.
  • Chatrick Hines - Driving While Intoxicated 2nd (Class A) - Defendant received $1200.00 fine, $412.10 court cost, 180 days Shelby County Jail Final Judgement.
  • Tykeya King - Theft (Class B) - Defendant received $600.00 fine, $262.00 court cost, 12 months probation, 40 hours Community Service, attend and complete Theft Program.
  • Desmond Polley - Theft (Class B) - Defendant received $400.00 fine, $262.00 court cost, 12 months deferred adjudication probation, 40 hours Community Service.
  • Jontay Lane - Reckless Driving (Class B) - Defendant received $600.00 fine, $262.00 court cost, Final Judgement.
  • Jerome Sanders - Unlawful Carry of Weapon (Class A) - Defendant received $600.00 fine, $262.00 court cost, 12 months probation, 40 hours Community Service.
  • Justin Shofner - Assault (Class A) - Defendant received $750.00 fine, $262.00 court cost, 12 months probation, 40 hours Community Service, attend and complete Anger Management Program.
  • Mack Hamilton - Theft (Class A) - Defendant received $600.00 fine, $262.00 court cost, 12 months probation, 40 hours Community Service, attend and complete Theft Program.
  • Randy Fountain - Driving While License Invalid (Class B) - Defendant received $500.00 fine, $262.00 court cost, Final Judgement.
  • Regina Curry - Driving While Intoxicated 2nd (Class A) - Defendant received $1200.00 fine, $412.10 court cost, 12 months probation, 40 hours Community Service, attend and complete DWI education program.
  • Logan Driver - Harassment (Class B) - Defendant received $600.00 fine, $262.00 court cost, Final Judgement.
  • Landon Vidrine - Possession Of Marijuana (Class B) - Defendant received $400.00 fine, $262.00 court cost, Final Judgement.
  • Gordon Davis Jr. - Probation Revocation (original charge, Class A Theft) - 8 months Shelby County Jail.
  • Allen James Price - Probation Revocation (original charge, Class A Driving While Intoxicated 2nd) - 140 days Shelby County Jail.
  • Chatrick Hines - Probation Revocation (original charge, Class B Driving While Intoxicated) - 6 months Shelby County Jail.

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Wal Mart Entrance Scene of Two-Vehicle Crash - August 14, 2015
Composed by Scott Flowers

A two-vehicle crash occurred at the common incident location of the Wal Mart entrance in Center on Friday, August 14, 2015 as one vehicle was attempting to cross Hurst Street at 5:19pm.

As Chad McCormick, 29, of Joaquin was traveling north on Hurst Street in a red Mitsubishi Outlander Sport with Lisa McCormick, 39, and a female child, a blue Ford F-150 failed to yield right of way from Foster Street. Marconi Hernandez, 51, with passenger Latwan Gibbs, 43, both of Center exited from Foster Street and the front center distributive of the Ford struck the right side distributive of the Mitsubishi causing major damage to the passenger side of the Mitsubishi and sending it into the inside turning lane.

McCormick was able to gain control of the vehicle and parked it on the southbound side shoulder of the roadway. Hernandez drove the Ford into the Wal Mart parking lot driveway and came to a halt. ACE EMS transported Lisa McCormick, with non life threatening injuries, and the child passenger, with possible injuries, to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Center Emergency Department for treatment.

No injuries were reported from the other vehicle and Hernandez was issued a citation for no driver's license. Both vehicles were towed from the scene.

The crash was investigated by Center Police Lt. Jeremy Bittick.

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Crash Results in Truck Fire on FM 699 - August 14, 2015
Composed by Scott Flowers

A single-vehicle crash resulting in a fire occurred on FM 699 on Wednesday night, August 12, 2015. The Center Fire Department was dispatched to the scene of the crash and when they arrived the front end of the pickup truck involved in the crash was engulfed in flames in the front yard of a residence.

The firemen were quickly able to extinguish the flames and prevent the truck from further going up in flames. Members of the Shelby County Sheriff's Department, Center Police Department and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) all arrived at the scene and an investigation began.

According to DPS State Trooper Keith Jones, at 8:59pm a 2001 Ford F-150 owned by Ellen Hearne of Center driven by Dustin Lamar Hearne, 19, was traveling south on FM 699, 1,500 feet from FM 2468. The vehicle was traveling at an unsafe speed due to the curve in the roadway and exited the roadway over correcting left before striking an embankment on the left side of the roadway causing the truck to roll. The truck caught on fire and the fire department was dispatched to put out the fire.

Hearne was not reported to have received any injuries and refused treatment at the scene. He was issued a citation for unsafe speed.

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House Fire Results in Total Loss; WSVFD Assists San Augustine - August 13, 2015
Composed by Scott Flowers

A house fire in the Aiken area resulted in a total loss of the residence on Tuesday, August 11, 2015. The West Shelby Volunteer Fire Department (WSVFD) and Center Fire Department fought to save the home owned by Ronald Chandler.

The WSVFD was dispatched to the fire at 5:10pm on State Highway 7 West near CR 1210. When the firemen arrived the house was engulfed in flames. Jason Burch and Ryan Chandler, who had been fishing nearby, worked with the firemen to try and extinguish the flames.

According to Chief Jerryl Adams, Chandler stated he turned on the air conditioner and went outside to feed his dogs when he heard a pop, when he went back inside flames had already caught. He tried putting it out and then called for help.

As the WSVFD was fighting the fire, they requested the assistance of the Center Fire Department whose members arrived and worked with the other firemen to extinguish the flames and prevent its spread. However, the house was a total loss and the family's belongings along with the home.

A family member at the scene stated Chandler had recently purchased school supplies for his daughters and those supplies were destroyed in the fire. Anyone seeking to assist this family during their time of need should contact the fire department or Shelby County Outreach Ministries.

Earlier in the day, before the house fire, the assistance of the WSVFD was requested by the San Augustine Fire Department whose members were fighting a fire 1 1/2 miles across the county line off FM 711 at 2:30pm. Once the firemen returned to the station and refilled with water at 5pm they were dispatched to the house fire at 5:10pm.

Chief Adams expressed appreciation at the assistance provided by Jason Burch and Ryan Chandler at the scene of the house fire.

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Shelby County Issues Burn Ban; Center Fire Chief Indicates City Included - August 12, 2015
Composed by Scott Flowers

The Shelby County Commissioners recently voted to put the county under a burn ban for the next 90 days, or until further notice. Center Fire Chief Keith Byndom has indicated the city of Center is also under a burn ban and advised citizens to adhere to the rules of the ban, which reads as follows:

Order prohibiting outdoor burning, Whereas the Commissioners Court find the circumstances present in all or part of the unincorporated area of Shelby County create a public safety hazard that would be exacerbated by outdoor burning;

It is hereby ordered by the Commissioners Court of Shelby County that all outdoor burning is restricted in any part of Shelby County, Texas for 90 days from the date of adoption of this order, unless the restrictions are terminated earlier based on a determination made by the Texas Forest Service or this court. This order is adopted pursuant to Local Government Code Sect. 352.081, and other applicable statutes.

This order does not prohibit outdoor burning activities related to public health and safety that are authorized by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for: (1) firefighter training; (2) public utility, natural gas pipeline or mining operations; (3) planting or harvesting or agricultural crops; or (4) burns that are conducted by a prescribed burn manager certified under section 153.048, Natural Resources Code, and meet the standards of section 153.047, Natural Resource Code.

In accordance with Local Government Code Sect. 352.081(h), a violation of this order is a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.

The County Judge is hereby designated as the officer authorized to determine whether circumstances no longer exist to prohibit outdoor burning, and the County Judge may rescind this order at such time.

Judge Harbison informed Shelby County Today, for a city to enforce burn ban violations within their city limits, they must adopt a burn ban order as well.

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Affidavit Details Center ISD Teacher, Student Relationship - August 12, 2015
Composed by Scott Flowers

The affidavit relating to the arrest warrant of Jenny Lynd Rhodes-Cassell was released to Shelby County Today on Wednesday, August 12, 2015 per a request which was made early Tuesday, August 11, 2015.

Greater detail on the circumstances is outlined in the affidavit. According to the document, Dr. James Hockenberry alerted Center ISD Police Chief Pete Low on August 5, 2015 the alleged victim's vehicle was witnessed by another school employee outside Cassell's apartment. There was additional concern because Cassell did not show up for her duties that morning at cross country and the student was also absent. Dr. Hockenberry contacted Cassell, who denied the relationship with the student.

The affidavit continues, on August 6, 2015 Chief Low and Assistant Principal Gayla Miller went to the residence of the student and spoke with his parents about the investigation, following which the parents and the student went to the school where the student gave a written statement of his sexual relationship with Cassell. By his account he stayed several nights at Cassell's apartment without his parents knowledge. He also relinquished his cell phone and signed a consent to search.

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Driver Loses Life in Two-Vehicle Crash on Highway 87 - August 11, 2015
Composed by Scott Flowers

State Highway 87 south of Shelbyville was the scene of a two-vehicle crash Tuesday, August 11, 2015 involving a truck-tractor and a dump truck with one driver losing his life as a result.

The Shelbyville Volunteer Fire Department and ACE EMS were dispatched to the scene of the crash located one mile south of FM 147 at 1:40pm. Several travelers who arrived immediately following the crash ran to the vehicles to help those involved.

Janet Ritter witnessed the truck-tractor involved in the crash, owned by MKO Trucking, as it left the roadway to the left. She brought her vehicle to a stop and hurried to help the driver. Jeremy Holloway, another traveler, went to the aid of the other driver who was pinned beneath the dump truck, owned by Shelby County. Larry Skinner also assisted Holloway and emergency personnel in providing aid for the dump truck driver.

Once fire personnel and EMS were on scene it was determined Jaws of Life was needed for the dump truck, as well as a tractor. The Center Fire Department was dispatched to the scene with Jaws of Life and James Raymond, a nearby neighbor, brought a tractor to help lift the dump truck from the driver.

EMS personnel worked with the driver of the truck-tractor and with the assistance of firemen with Jaws of Life were able to extricate the driver from the truck.

Both drivers were life-flighted from the scene. The driver of the truck-tractor was life-flighted by Life Air Rescue to LSU for treatment of his injuries. The driver of the dump truck was life-flighted by Flight For Life to Good Shepherd Hospital in Longview.

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) investigation of the crash concludes Kenneth Edward Davis, 68, of Joaquin was traveling northbound in a red 2005 Kenworth truck-tractor on Highway 87 when the truck crossed the center stripe. At the time the Kenworth crossed the center stripe the 2005 Mack dump truck driven by Mark Allen Vaughn, 44, of Milam was traveling southbound and the vehicles collided. Davis was pronounced deceased at LSU Medical in Shreveport.

The crash was investigated by Texas DPS State Trooper Taylor Buster, assisted by DPS Trooper Cpl. Jimmy Faulkner.

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Center ISD Teacher Arrested for Relationship with Student - August 11, 2015
Composed by Scott Flowers


Jenny Rhodes-Cassell is seen being escorted into the Shelby County Jail by
Center ISD Police Chief Pete Low and Center Police Detective Nicole Faulkner.


Jennifer
Rhodes-Cassell

Shelby County rocked once again by allegations of an improper relationship between a teacher and student as a Center ISD teacher has been arrested.

Jenny Cassell, 32, of Timpson was booked into the Shelby County Jail on charges of Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student (felony 2) at 12:20pm Tuesday, August 11, 2015. She was placed into custody by Center ISD Chief Pete Low and he transported her to the jail where she was escorted inside by Low and Center Police Detective Nicole Faulkner.

Cassell had been employed with the Center ISD since August of 2006. She taught journalism, yearbook, and professional communication at Center High School.

According to a press release issued by Detective Faulkner, Cassell was recently employed by the Center Independent School District. A joint investigation was conducted by the Center ISD Police and Center Police Department. Cassell turned herself in and was booked into the Shelby County Jail. Justice of the Peace Maxie Eaves arraigned Cassell and set bond at $20,000.

According to a press release issued by Dr. James Hockenberry, Center ISD Superintendent, on August 5, the Center ISD received a report that an educator employed by the District had engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a student. Consistent with its practice, the District placed the educator on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation, which began immediately after receipt of the initial report.

The District notified law enforcement, Child Protective Services and the parents of the student. The District has also notified the Texas Education Agency so that it can conduct its own investigation.

The educator resigned employment with the District on August 6. The district continued with its investigation thereafter.

The District's highest priority is the safety of its students. The District has a zero tolerance policy for any inappropriate relationship between educators and students. The Center ISD will continue to respond swiftly and effectively to insure the safety of its students.

In a related story Johanna Vickers, 35, of San Augustine and a teacher at Shelbyville ISD was arrested Thursday, May 14, 2015 on the same charges on two $25,000 bonds.

More information regarding Rhodes-Cassell will be updated as it is made available.

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Dangerous Heat Index Values For Monday and Tuesday - August 10, 2015

URGENT - WEATHER MESSAGE
National Weather Service Shreveport, LA
508am Mon August 10, 2015

Heat Advisory now in effect until 7pm Tuesday. Heat index values will be between 105 and 110 degrees from late morning into the early evening hours today and again on Tuesday. Oppressive heat will continue through Monday for the Four state area and far parts of East Texas and North Louisiana into Tuesday. Hot temperatures and high humidity values will combine to create a dangerous situation to people, pets, and animals.

Precautionary/Preparedness actions
A heat advisory means a period of hot temperatures is expected. The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible. Drink plenty of fluids. Stay in an air-conditioned room. Stay out of the sun. Check on relatives, neighbors, and pets.

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NWS Issues Heat Advisory Thru Monday, 105 to 110 Degrees - August 8, 2015

5:19am CDT Saturday, August 8, 2015

A heat advisory remains in effect through 7pm Monday.

A building heat wave will result in most area heat indices ranging from 105 to 110 degrees each day from late morning into the early evening hours with a few spots topping that today (Saturday) with readings above 110 possible. Dangerous heat index levels will extend into early next week and will create an situation that could harm people, pets, and animals outside. Heat illness will be possible for those unprepared to beat the heat.

Precautionary/Preparedness Actions
A heat advisory means a period of hot temperatures is expected. The combination of hot temperatures and relative humidity will combine to create a situation in which heat illnesses will be possible. When leaving your vehicle, check the backseat. If outdoor activity is necessary, drink plenty of water before, during, and after exposure to the heat. When possible, stay in air-conditioning. Stay out of the sun and check up on relatives, neighbors, and pets.

Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside this weekend. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Otherwise, know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, such as a sudden loss of perspiration. Wear light-weight and loose fitting clothing with a hat and whenever possible, drink plenty of water to hydrate.

To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas. Anyone overcome by the heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an EMERGENCY..... call 911.

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County Judge Urges Caution When Burning Outdoors - August 7, 2015
Submitted by Allison Harbison

The County Judge, Allison Harbison, would like to urge everyone to use caution when burning outdoors.

The Commissioners Court will consider adopting a 90 day burn ban on Monday, August 10th, however, until then She asks everyone to use good judgement when burning trash or brush.

The County Judge has talked with the Texas Forest Service and if you feel you must burn outdoors; they ask that you call the proper authorities at the first hint of danger.

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Update: Heat Advisory in Effect Through Sunday - August 7, 2015

URGENT - Weather Message
National Weather Service Shreveport, La
459am Fri Aug 7, 2015

The heat advisory is in effect through 7pm Sunday, August 9th.

A building heat wave will result in area heat index values between 105 and 110 degrees from late morning into the early evening hours Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The heat will extend into the new work week as well.

The dangerous heat indices will create an situation that could harm people, pets, and animals outside. Heat illness will be possible for those unprepared to beat the heat.

Precautionary/Preparedness Actions
A heat advisory means a period of hot temperatures is expected. The combination of hot temperatures and relative humidity will combine to create a situation in which heat illnesses will be possible. When leaving your vehicle, check the backseat. If outdoor activity is necessary, drink plenty of water before, during, and after exposure to the heat. When possible, stay in air-conditioning. Stay out of the sun and check up on relatives, neighbors, and pets.

Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside this weekend. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Otherwise, know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, such as a sudden loss of perspiration. Wear light-weight and loose fitting clothing with a hat and whenever possible, drink plenty of water to hydrate.

To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas. Anyone overcome by the heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an EMERGENCY..... call 911.

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Timpson, Carthage Men Arrested in Rusk County Marijuana Bust - August 6, 2015
Press Release


Tommie Bryce

David Williams

A joint operation involving the Rusk County Sheriff's Office, Henderson Police Department, Constable Precinct 3 Tim Barton, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, and the Center Police Department on August 4, 2015 resulted in the seizure of approximately one hundred (100) marijuana plants.

The marijuana plants were located growing inside a mobile home located on Rusk County Farm to Market Road 1971. During the investigation Tommie Bryce, 35, of Timpson and David Williams, 38, of Carthage were arrested. Both charged with the criminal offense of possession of marijuana, five pounds or less but more than four ounces, a state jail felony.

Law enforcement officials worked late into the night dismantling the indoor marijuana grow. The search warrant that was executed at the suspected place was issued by Rusk County District Judge Clay Gossett. Further assisting in the investigation were investigators with Child Protective Services.

The seized suspected marijuana and apparatus utilized to facilitate the cultivation of the marijuana has an estimated street value of $120,000. Both Bryce and Williams remain incarcerated in the Rusk County Jail pending arraignment.


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City of Joaquin Issues Burn Ban - August 6, 2015
Submitted by Jeremy Boyette

As of 6pm on August 4, 2015 a BURN BAN is in Effect in the City of Joaquin. No Outdoor Burning until further notice. This is for the City Limits Only.

Jeremy Boyette
Assistant Chief/Fire Marshal

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NWS Issues Heat Advisory; 1pm Thursday through 7pm Friday - August 6, 2015

URGENT - WEATHER MESSAGE
National Weather Service Shreveport, La
444am Thu Aug 6, 2015

UPDATED: A heat advisory is in effect from 1pm Thursday through 7pm Friday.

A building heat wave along with high humidity will combine to produce heat index values between 105 to 109 degrees across the four state area Thursday and Friday afternoons.

Precautionary/Preparedness actions
A heat advisory means a period of hot temperatures is expected. The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a situation in which heat illnesses will be possible. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exposure to the heat. When possible, stay in air-conditioning. Stay out of the sun and check on relatives, neighbors, and pets.

Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing when possible and drink plenty of water.

To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas. Anyone overcome by the heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an EMERGENCY..... call 911.

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Attorney General Paxton Statement on Voter ID Ruling - August 6, 2015
Tx Attorney General Press Release

Texas’ Voter ID Law to Remain in Effect

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today released the following statement on the ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Texas’ Voter ID law:

“Today’s ruling was a victory on the fundamental question of Texas’ right to protect the integrity of our elections and the state’s common sense Voter ID law remains in effect. I’m particularly pleased the panel saw through and rejected the plaintiffs’ claim that our law constituted a ‘poll tax.’ The intent of this law is to protect the voting process in Texas, and we will continue to defend this important safeguard for all Texas voters.”

Texas has successfully held three statewide elections and numerous local and special elections with the Voter ID law in place – with no disenfranchisement reported.

Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller presented arguments on April 28, 2015, on behalf of the State of Texas in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

The Texas Legislature enacted Texas’ Voter ID law in 2011 through Senate Bill 14 (SB14), which requires voters to present government-issued photo ID when voting at the polls. The seven acceptable forms of photo ID include the following: a Texas driver’s license, free Texas election identification card (EIC), Texas personal identification card, Texas license to carry a concealed handgun, U.S. military identification card, U.S. citizenship certificate, and U.S. passport.
Connect with us: Follow us on Twitter at @TXAG • Find us on Facebook at TexasAttorneyGeneral

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NWS Issues Heat Advisory, 1pm Through 7pm Thursday - August 5, 2015

3:50PM CDT Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The National Weather Service in Shreveport has issued a Heat Advisory in effect from 1pm through 7pm Thursday.

A building heat wave and increasing humidity will result in heat index values between 103 and 108 degrees Thursday afternoon. The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity values will combine to create a dangerous situation in which heat illness are possible.

Precautionary/Preparedness actions
Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities or early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing when possible and drink plenty of water.

Drink plenty of fluids. Stay in an air-conditioned room. Stay out of the sun. Check on relatives and neighbors.

*****

Information on Missing Person Sought by Crime Stoppers - August 5, 2015
Press Release

The Center Police Department is seeking information in regards to a missing person. Vance Ethridge, 41, of Center was last seen on July 4th at the Super 8 Motel in Center, Texas.

Ethridge was reported missing by his family and is described as a white male, 200 lbs, 5'4" tall with brown hair who walks with a limp.

If you have any information in regards to this missing person, Center Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information. Anyone who has information regarding this crime should call Center Crime Stoppers at 936-598-SAFE (7233) or submit a tip online at www.centercrimestoppers.com. 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.

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Loop 500 Newly Opened Section, State Highway 7 Scene of Two-Vehicle Crash - August 4, 2015
Composed by Scott Flowers

The intersection of State Highway 7 East and new Loop 500 West was the scene of a two-vehicle crash on Tuesday, August 4, 2015 at 9:55am.

When emergency personnel arrived, they began checking the condition of driver's and passengers involved in the crash. Once ACE EMS was on scene, it was determined the driver of a Pontiac needed treatment and she was transported from the scene.

According to Center Police Officer Jake Gross, a silver 2008 Toyota Sienna driven by Ronald Smith, 69, of Many, La. was crossing from the old Loop 500 to the newly opened section at State Highway 7 East traveling northbound.

Loretta Wheles, 36, of La. was traveling west driving a gold 2005 Pontiac Grand Am toward Center on State Highway 7 when Smith failed to yield right of way at the stop sign and drove in front of Wheles. This caused the Grand Am to strike the passenger side of the Sienna.

ACE EMS transported Wheles from the scene to Nacogdoches Medical Center - Center Emergency Department for treatment of minor injuries. Smith and his passenger Susan Smith, 65, received no injury. Smith was cited for failure to yield right of way at a stop sign.

This is the first official crash since the new section of Loop 500 was opened. A crash occurred on the new Loop 500 section on April 30, 2015 when a truck-tractor failed to yield right of way to a vehicle crossing on FM 699. Some roadways no longer have right of way as they once did and drivers are urged to use caution when meeting new Loop 500 from adjacent roadways.

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New Loop 500 Extension is Officially Open - August 4, 2015
Composed by Sean Martin

The barricades have been removed and the Loop 500 Extension from Hwy 7E to Hwy 96N has offically opened. The signage and striping on the new roadway has been completed.

Drivers must use caution when approaching all affected intersections, especially the Loop and FM 699. Stop signs are in place at this intersection but because of the now active roadways, they may be overlooked.

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SCSO Ask For Security Systems to be Registered, No Fee - August 3, 2015
Press Release

August 7, 2015 - Shelby County Today was notified that according to Texas Local Government Code, Sec. 118.133, Shelby County does not meet qualifications to be able to adopt a system by which the county charges a fee for false alarms.


August 3, 2015 - In response to questions concerning the registration of home security systems with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, I would like to clarify.

The reason for the registration of your security system is to get accurate, detailed directions to your home or business should your alarm go off. Your alarm company is most likely in another city or possibly another state and the answering service that alerts the Sheriff’s office does not have the best information of how to locate you. The registration form asks for 911 address, detailed directions to your home or business, as well as contact numbers.

At this time, there is NO FEE. When county fees are set in January, the county may choose to impose that fee. But we still need you to please register your system with us for your safety and to possibly save precious time in reaching you should your alarm sound.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

Sheriff Willis Blackwell


July 27, 2015 (Original release) - Due to the increasing number of security alarm calls, the Shelby County Sheriffs Office (SCSO) is requesting property owners register any security systems installed and existing in the county (outside the Center City Limits). Forms to register the systems are available at the SCSO. An initial registration fee of $30 is required to register new systems or any existing systems. Property owners will not incur any additional charges unless the SCSO responds to more than three false alarms in a calendar year. After three false calls, a fee of $30 will be charged per incident.

Shelby County Sheriff Willis Blackwell suggests property owners have their alarms adjusted to prevent alarms from being set off falsely. Blackwell said deputies respond to numerous false alarm calls per night and with no more than two deputies on duty per shift, it is difficult to cover the false calls which average more than 200 per month.

This change will not affect Life Alert systems or similar systems used by the ill or elderly citizens in the county. For more information contact the SCSO at (936) 598-5601.

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Shelbyville Family Loses Home to Fire - August 3, 2015
Composed by J.J. Ford, Photos by Talia Matthews

A fire destroyed the home of a Shelbyville family yesterday Sunday, August 2, 2015.

The Shelbyville Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD) was paged to a structure fire off FM 417 West in the Gates Chapel Community at 4pm. Upon arriving on scene, the SVFD found the home of Dean Lister fully engulfed in flames.

Called to assist at the scene as well was the Center Fire Department. The house was a total loss as were several storage buildings located near the home.

The family and neighbors were gone to church at the time of the fire.

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Center VFD Bingo Canceled; State Requires Qualified Organizations to Seek Licensing - July 31, 2015
Composed by Scott Flowers

The Annual Center Volunteer Fire Department Bingo has been temporarily canceled resulting from the requirement by the Texas Lottery Commission of the event to be licensed.

Thomas Hanson, Texas Lottery Commission Enforcement Division Investigator, was informed of the upcoming bingo and he explained for Shelby County Today the laws governing bingo and raffles. Charitable and nonprofit organizations have the right to have bingo and raffles if they are properly licensed.

"It requires the charitable organizations, even if they're having one event for the year, they have to apply for a license. Normally it takes, if you're only doing one event for the year, you apply for that license that's normally a 30 day turnaround," said Hanson. "If you already have a license, then a temporary license for a different event might be a 7-10 day turnaround."

State law requires any of the authorized organizations to seek a license with the Texas Lottery Commission or face the possibility of serious penalties which Hanson explained, "If you go ahead and have bingo you are subject to being charged with a felony of the third degree which authorizes imprisonment up to about five years."

Any organization in Shelby County found to be in violation of the law would be subject to prosecution by the Shelby County District Attorney.

"That's something that probably no organization wants to see and we certainly don't want to see any members of a volunteer fire department getting charged six weeks from now for conducting a bingo session without a license."

Hanson says the Texas Lottery Commission does everything they can to make direct contact to try and get voluntary compliance from any organization which is not licensed and is preparing to have a bingo.

Many local organizations and events in Shelby County may not be aware of the laws governing bingo and raffles, and to avoid the risk of legal action should be informed of the law. According to the Texas Occupations Code, Title 13. Chapter 2001, A bingo license for a qualified organization (volunteer fire department, religious society, veterans organization, nonprofit organization) has a fee of $25 and, once acquired, is for use on a single occasion and within a 4-hour time period. No more than six licenses may be used by an organization in a calendar year.

The Occupations Code, Title 13. Chapter 2002 pertains to charitable raffles. The following information must be printed on each raffle ticket sold or offered for sale:(1) the name of the organization conducting the raffle; (2) the address of the organization or of a named officer of the organization; (3) the ticket price; (4) a general description of each prize having a value of more than $10 to be awarded in the raffle; and (5) the date on which the raffle prize or prizes will be awarded.

A lot of organizations may be under the impression a 50/50 raffle is legal when according to the Charitable Raffle Act, Occupations Code, Title 13. Chapter 2002, Sec. 2002.056. Restrictions on Prizes: A prize offered or awarded at a raffle may not be money.

More information relating to bingo and raffles is contained within the statutes and can be found at the following links, as well as frequently asked questions: Bingo Enabling Act, Charitable Raffle Act, Raffles and Casino/Poker Nights in Texas Frequently Asked Questions.

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Power Outage Effects Much of Center - July 31, 2015
Composed by Scott Flowers

A power outage in Center was experienced by a large number of AEP SWEPCO customers on Thursday, July 30, 2015. Darkness enveloped a large portion of Hurst and Tenaha Streets, which are main thoroughfares, effecting businesses and homes in the area.

According to Scott McCloud, AEP SWEPCO Representative, the outage occurred as the result of a tree which fell on a power line close to Louisiana Street. Switches were broken which subsequently had to be replaced.

During the time of the outage, 1,100 customers were without power.

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Attorney General Paxton Urges EPA to Extend Effective Date of WOTUS Rule - July 30, 2015
TX Attorney General Press Release

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has joined North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and representatives from 29 other states urging the EPA to extend the effective date of the planned Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, which is currently set to go in effect August 28, 2015. Once the rule gets into effect, virtually every river, stream and creek in the U.S. will come under the oversight of bureaucrats from the EPA. This would force sweeping changes to environmental policy, and will cause unnecessary hardship to farmers, private property owners and businesses having a detrimental effect on local and state economies.

“This unlawful rule seeks to vastly expand the definition of waters under federal control, putting virtually any property owner at risk of facing costly new regulations,” Attorney General Paxton said. “The EPA’s overreach stifles growth, kills jobs and hinders the creation of new ones, and I’m committed to fighting this unprecedented expansion of regulatory power.”

The letter, sent to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo Ellen Darcy, requests that the EPA immediately act to extend the effective date of the WOTUS rule by at least nine months.

On June 29, joined by the states of Louisiana and Mississippi, Attorney General Paxton filed a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s unconstitutional, illegal and costly new water rule. By revising the regulatory definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act, the EPA greatly expands federal jurisdiction over waters and threatens the ability of states and private property owners to use their own land. The rule violates the U.S. Constitution, federal law and U.S. Supreme Court precedent, and places costly burdens on landowners in Texas.

To view the letter, please visit: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/files/epress/files/2015/07-29-15_Letter_to_EPA_and_Corps.pdf?cachebuster:22.

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The HOPE Project Board Names Mike Belgard as CEO; Gears Up for Exciting Changes in 2015 - July 30, 2015
Submitted by Kyndal Banks

The Board of Directors of The HOPE Project has voted to accept Mike Belgard's application as CEO after a special session held Tuesday July 21, 2015. Interim CEO Brandii Polley stepped down from her position July 22, 2015 and Belgard assumed his position immediately thereafter.

The Board appointed Mike Belgard as Chief Executive Officer after a search period. Mr. Belgard, who is a pillar in Shelby County's health services and community, has been a valued HOPE employee since 2013 and currently serves as Chief Medical Officer as well as the clinic's physician assistant.

"I am very excited about it," said Belgard when asked about his new position. "I look forward to taking on this challenge and plan on making HOPE more about the ministry from this point forward. Helping others not only with their physical needs but their emotional and spiritual needs, that is the goal. I look forward to seeing that goal realized."

When asked about the board's decision to hire Mr. Belgard, Ms. Kyndal Banks, Hope Project Director of Public Relations says it was a no-brainer. "This was an easy decision for them; after some deliberation, the Board felt that hiring Mike was the best thing for HOPE and its patients. He knows our community very well. We look forward to the exciting changes Mike will bring with HOPE's support behind him. He is already making some very beneficial changes," said Ms. Banks

"We have had several hard-working founders that put in a lot of time and effort into making HOPE the dependable health resource center that it is; choosing a new CEO was not taken lightly. Health Opportunities for the People of East Texas has done many great things for our community and now with Mike as CEO, the Board and staff are confident that the organization has the leadership and support it needs to continue to provide the services our community deserves. We are confident that with this change, in addition to other personnel changes, HOPE's greatest days are ahead. Our future is bright," she added.

The Board and new CEO are working to identify candidates for a variety of other essential positions that will allow the organization to move forward confidently. As decisions are made, updates will be provided to HOPE donors. Job postings can be found on their website, www.thehopeprojecttexas.org.

"We provide a vital service to our community. With the backing of our supporters, our goal is to not only continue to function as an organization, but to grow so that we can provide better services to more areas," said Ms. Banks.

"At our core, we are just trying to provide health care options and services to the people that need it. But the Board wants more for HOPE as an organization. Why settle? If given the opportunity, why not rise to the occasion to be the best version of ourselves so we can extend that to our patients? We believe Mike can provide that. This new chapter for the Hope Project will be the best one yet. We are excited about moving closer towards our goal of being the leading Health Care center in East Texas."

Ms. Banks said there will be no interruption in Wellness Center and Dental operations. For more information, please call 936.248.4648.

About The Hope Project

The Hope Project is a non-profit faith initiative established in 2003 by the Episcopal Church, with the primary mission of providing quality health care to the people of East Texas, regardless of race, religion, socio-economic status or ability to pay.

Since its inception in 2003, the HOPE project has provided cost-effective health care services to over 5,000 patients. HOPE currently has over 20 employees and more than half of the clinic staff is bilingual. We offer shuttle services for our patients; have established patient appreciations programs, and our actively seeking out new ways to continue to improve at our clinic and in our community. Through determination, hard work, and a deep love for ALL East Texans, the HOPE Project celebrates its 10-year anniversary in 2013. We are honored to have served East Texas for the past 10 years and plan to continue to provide quality health care to East Texans in need.

For more information, please visit www.thehopeprojecttexas.org

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