Rangers looking into allegations that sheriff took Shelby Co. command center to deer lease

Rangers looking into allegations that sheriff took Shelby Co. command center to deer lease

SHELBY COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Texas Rangers are currently investigating any wrongdoing concerning reports that Shelby County Sheriff Willis Blackwell took the county's mobile command center to his deer lease, according to County Judge Allison Harbison.

A man found the trailer in what appeared to be a hunting camp on Jan. 5 while he was looking at a tract of timberland in Panola County he was thinking about buying and sent a message to East Texas News about it.

"In response to his concerns, I was aware of the location of the Command Center as I took it there myself" Blackwell said. "As you all know, my deputies work very long, hard, tireless hours with minimal pay for their efforts. So I try as often as possible to promote a positive work environment by providing meetings and a meal for my officers."

In Blackwell's statement, he explained that he took the mobile command center to his deer lease in Panola County with plans to host his deputies for a meal. However, they were unable to do so, and the rainy weather kept them from returning the command center to the sheriff's office, Blackwell said.

"Anyone with any questions or concerns is always welcome at my office," Blackwell said.

Shelby County Judge Allison Harbison said that everything is now back on county property. She added that she has turned the matter over to the Texas Rangers, who will determine whether or not any wrongdoing was involved in Blackwell's decision to take the command center to his personal deer lease.

"I'm responsible to into any wrongdoing or even hint of wrongdoing," Harbison said. "All property, vehicles, etc. were back on county premises last week."

Harbison said the sheriff has not given her an explanation of what happened.

Fred Borders told East Texas News that he found a travel trailer with the words, "Shelby County Sheriff's Department" on it in Panola County.

Thinking that the trailer might have been stolen or perhaps sold by the county, Borders went to a number of county officials and asked about the mobile command center.

"They told me that the county still owns the equipment but could supply no explanation as to why it was sitting in the woods in Panola County on what appears to be a hunting camp with electrical service ran to it," Borders said in his message. "Will Blackwell is the name on the Rusk County Co-op account supplying the electricity."

Borders said he sent the information to East Texas News hesitantly and added that he did so because he thought Shelby County taxpayers should know.

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