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  • Onalaska City recognizes local election results

    SwearinChoateEMILY KUBISCH-SABRSULA I PCE David Johnson swears in newly re-elected Mayor Chip Choate before being sworn in himself as Municipal judge.

    By Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula

    ONALASKA - Re-elected Mayor Chip Choate opened the monthly Onalaska city meeting with news of an agreement made with TXDOT to allow the city to place flags on the Kickapoo Creek bridge, outside of the guardrails. Traditionally, the city has put flags along Highway 190 on Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Veterans Day, but has been unable to along the bridge due to TXDOT regulations.

    During his announcements, the mayor also encouraged meeting-goers to reach out to their representatives, James White and Robert Nichols, citing their inaction on legislation to assist the Alabama-Coushatta reservation in retaining their gaming activities. With hundreds of bills already filed for the 87th legislation, which will start at noon on Jan. 21, 2021, there is still time to reach out to representatives to better help the tribe, which helps bring millions of dollars to East Texas and Polk County.

    For a list of representatives by zip code, visit www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative.

    The city approved several hires and appointments, including Onalaska-raised Simon Prince, who will serve as a full-time officer with a standard probationary period. Chief Jessica Stanton said his prior experience includes working in Cleveland and in San Jacinto County before deciding to move back.

    Other positions include the re-appointment of David Johnson for Municipal Judge, Associate Judge Greg Magee, city council member Paul Laverty, and newly appointed Attorney and Prosecutor for Onalaska, Chris Thompson. Thompson will replace David Mormon, who earlier resigned after 17 years with the city to take on a judgeship for Walker County.

    Shirley Gilmore was also continue serving as Mayor Pro-tem.

    City Events

    On Nov. 21, the Onalaska Volunteer Fire Department will hold a blood drive from 2:30-7 p.m. Those wishing to participate must sign up online prior to giving blood.

    Sign-up forms can be found at tinyurl.com/y56z8mkp.All. Successful donations will include a free Covid-19 anti-body test.

    The Second Annual Onalaska Reindeer Dash will be on the afternoon of Dec. 5, which the Christmas Parade immediately following. Parade participants will toss candy and parade-goers are encouraged to practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

    For more information on the race or parade, contact Tammy Seader at 936-646-5000 or visit the city’s Facebook Page. Parade forms are also available online at cityofonalaska.us.

    The City of Onalaska meets every second Tuesday of the month at 5 p.m. at City Hall. Public comments can be made at beginning of the meeting.

  • Onalaska Lady Cats defeat Goodrich (VIDEO)

    IMG 1824BRIAN BESCH | PCE The Onalaska Lady Cats leave Goodrich with a 71-15 victory Friday over the Lady Hornets.

     
    By Brian Besch

    The Onalaska Lady Cats used a few different presses to leave Goodrich with a 71-15 victory Friday over the Lady Hornets.

    Behind 23 points from Kierra Anstee, 14 from Kylie Sisk, and 12 by Jordyn Shutter, the Lady Cats won a game that was never in doubt.

    Onalaska opened the contest with an 18-0 advantage, picking off passes and tipping the ball away from Goodrich dribblers. By halftime, the Lady Cats were on the positive side of a 38-4 lead.

    “We are 2-1. We've lost a heartbreaker at Pineywoods (Christian Academy),” Onalaska head coach Ashley Sustaita said. “We were up with 20 seconds to go and turned the ball over twice to let them tie it and then let them take the lead. To be in a game this year with a great opponent — it's a good feeling. It's one of those losses you're not even mad at because, looking at last year, we weren't even supposed to be in a game like that. We have a deep bench and a lot of good talent.”

    Sustaita has 11 players to deploy at any point, and was able to rotate five new faces in at a time, while Goodrich was forced to play its same five the entire game.

    The Lady Cats should rely on defense and a few different looks defensively in the 2020-21 season. On Friday, both a full-court and half-court press gave the opponent trouble.

    “We want to run and we want to press. We've been working really hard on the rotation and we have a couple of other things we've been throwing in as far as the press,” Sustaita said. “I think our speed is going to kill. We've been able to run teams into the ground pretty good, so I'm excited.”

    The Onalaska coach believes small details such as transition defense, blocking out and consistently putting the ball in the basket will be what the team needs to work on before district play.

    “We put in a lot of specific drills that I think are paying off now,” Sustaita said. “They are able to knock it down and do a good job of not getting down on themselves when things aren’t falling early.”

    Goodrich was led by Breya Passmore, who scored seven of her team’s 15 points. Jamya Garrett and Aralyn Angel each added three points. The team played its best basketball in the fourth quarter, where a winded bunch was able to score in double digits.

    “We have to keep working and it is a whole different level now from junior high,” Goodrich coach Khadijah Carter said of her baby bees. “We have to learn that.”

    Carter has a monumental task of developing four freshmen, a sophomore and, as of now, no bench. The team just ended a successful cross country season and has yet to practice with all five team members.

    “Really, we're just working on offensive plays and we are running a 2-3 zone,” Carter said. “We have to stretch that zone as much as we can, and I am thinking about going to man. It is a little difficult right now and not being able to practice with a full team has been tough. Once I get at least a full week with full-team practices, we should be OK.”

    Playing every minute, the Lady Hornets will be in good shape quickly. Those who may not have participated in cross country before are getting the same impact now.

    “If anything, we are going to be in shape and a fit team. By the end of December — and we start district in December now — I think by then we will have it,” the Goodrich coach said. “We have to. I will have it right and we will be a more developed team.”

  • Onalaska pines on Canyon Park

    Onalaska HorizontalPhoto by Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula Mayor Chip Choate swears in newly hired Police Officer Heather Perry.

    By Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula

    POLK COUNTY — The city board met for a quick meeting this month to provide information on early voting and ongoing city events.Canyon Park Months after a tornado struck the area several structures in the Canyon Park subdivision are still in violation of city ordinances, but will continue without penalty, as plans to correct or condemn structures are finalized with Onalaska Fire Marshall Lee Parish. A request to allow the full-time residents of a motor home within city limits in Canyon Park was made and denied. While the Canyon Park POA approved the structure, Parish stated that in the past similar mobile home requests have been denied within city limits, which falls in line with the current city ordinance in place.

    Other Business
    The board accepted the resignation of Jeremy Williams in good standing, and welcomed Heather Perry onto the police force for a standard probationary period. She is a graduate of the Angelina Police Academy in Lufkin, and Onalaska Police Chief Jessica Stanton said references spoke highly of Perry and that she led by example in the academy and strived to motivate the other cadets around her. Announcements Early voting is underway in Polk County. A schedule of times, places, sample ballots, and accepted forms of identification can be found at https://www.co.polk.tx.us/page/polk.co.clerk.election. A precinct map is also available.

    Twin Harbors will host a drive-thru Trunk-Or-Treat celebration on Saturday, Oct. 31 from12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Twin Harbors POA Pool Parking lot at 274 Valley view Drive in Onalaska. For any questions or if you wish to pass out candy, contact Barbara Dickens at 281-630-5120 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. fire department will hold their annual letter drive soon, their only fundraiser this year since the barbecue event was canceled due to the tornado. The City of Onalaska meets every second Tuesday of the month at 5 p.m. at City Hall. Public comments can be made at beginning of the meeting.

  • Patsy Wilson Citrus Drive

    20201208 133444COURTESY PHOTO Family honors former volunteer by providing produce to the community.

    LIVINGSTON— Former Center of Hope volunteer Patsy Wilson would have been pleased to see families in need receiving bags of oranges during the holidays.

    Patsy's family decided to honor her after she passed Sunday. They are providing many in the area with one of her favorite memories.

    "Growing up in Tyler, her favorite thing at Christmas time was she would get an orange," Patsy’s daughter-in-law Leigh Wilson said. "It was outside the means of her family's budget, but it was always their treasure at Christmas. She loved it and would always bring Cuties over here (to Center of Hope) at Christmas time."

    The family decided to buy as many of the small oranges as possible, bringing them to Center of Hope for families to enjoy. They purchased 112 bags of Cuties from Walmart and 3,024 candy canes.

    "We were actually thinking that maybe we would work with the Center of Hope and start an annual citrus drive for the mission Christmas time — the Patsy Wilson Citrus Drive," Leigh said.

    Patsy retired in 2003 and volunteered at Center of Hope. She was part of move to the center's current location and is remembered as a compassionate person who helped others. Always involved in the community, her focus was preventing childhood hunger and spreading joy. 

    The family is asking that all expressions of sympathy for Patsy be sent to the Center of Hope to continue her legacy. They are challenging all who are able to help during the holidays.

    "She had a heart for single parents struggling to feed their babies," daughter LaJuana Lattimore said of Patsy. "She made sure that every mother that needed food for her babies got it."

    Patsy worked in food service in the Humble Independent School District for 37 years. She was a dietitian and constructed menus for school children.

    "This is the way that we are expressing our grief for her, because this would just freak her out," Leigh said. "She would be like a kid in a candy store."

    For families to receive donations by Christmas, the Center of Hope is asking that blessings of food or funds are submitted as soon as possible. The center is open Tuesdays and Thursdays 1-3:30 p.m.

    Those hoping to submit produce are encouraged drop off items at 12:30 p.m. for 1 p.m. distributions. Center of Hope serves approximately 100 families on each of the two days per week.

    The center is located at 600 South Washington in Livingston and may be reached at 936-327-7634.

    MonCOURTESY PHOTO Patsy Wilson

  • PCSO arrests 2 in drug sting

    SANDY LYNNE SWEETMUGSHOT Sandy Lynne Sweet

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    Two suspects are behind bars after Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives and deputies conducted a drug sting on Sunday.

    PCSO narcotics division detectives and patrol deputies arrived at a residence on Boatdock Street in the scenic loop area to conduct an investigation into the possession of illegal narcotics. Detectives had received numerous tips in reference to the high traffic volumes and the belief of narcotics transactions taking place at the residence.

    RICK EDWARD RULEMUGSHOT Rick Edward Rule

    Detectives have been conducting a lengthy investigation into this residence due to the narcotics tips. While on scene, deputies identified Rick Edward Rule, 56, and Sandy Lynne Sweet, 58, inside the residence.

    During the investigation, probable cause was established for the search of the residence and a search warrant was obtained. A search of the residence revealed several firearms, methamphetamine, a large amount of what is believed to be heroin and fentanyl, as well as items used to ingest and distribute the narcotics.

    It was known to detectives that Rule was a convicted felon still out on parole and due to this fact, Rule was not legally allowed to possess firearms. Rule and Sweet were both charged with manufacture and delivery of methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl, and Rule was additionally charged with tampering with evidence and four charges of unlawful possession of a firearm by felon.

  • PCSO arrests man in shooting death

    Dallas SimonDallas Simon

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    ONALASKA – A man is behind bars after shooting his brother to death Sunday afternoon in Onalaska.

    Dallas Joseph Simon, 55, was arrested for murder after he shot his brother, 57-year-old Kevin Simon, to death after a brief altercation. Dallas Simon was booked into the Polk County Jail with a murder charge and a bond set at $100,000.

    The Polk County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from Dallas Simon who stated he and his brother, Kevin Simon, got into an altercation and he shot him. Deputies responded to the residence, off of May Drive in Polk County, and found Kevin Simon deceased at the property.

    Investigators arrived on scene and began to process the crime scene and interview witnesses. Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Robert Johnson conducted the inquest and ordered an autopsy to be performed by Jefferson County.

  • PCSO seeking public’s assistance in locating burglar

    SUSPECT 2 UNKCOURTESY PHOTO Security camera footage of suspect

    By PCE Staff

    A burglar spotted in the act on security camera has been arrested, while another suspect remains at large.

    The Polk County Sheriff's Office received a call Tuesday from a citizen who was alerted by his home security cameras. Two male subjects were inside a building on the victim’s property, located near Mangum Road.

    The complainant provided an accurate description of the offenders as deputies responded to the area. Deputies and detectives quickly arrived on scene, located signs of forced entry into the building and observed several items of value placed by the door.

    After conducting a search of the area, one of the suspects seen on the complainant's security camera was located and detained. He was immediately identified as Gary Eugene Penton, Jr. and found to be in possession of an item stolen from the complainant's property.

    Penton, 47, of Livingston, was arrested without incident and booked into the Polk County Jail on the felony charge of burglary of a building.

    Detectives are attempting to identify the other suspect involved in the burglary. The Polk County Sheriff's Office has requested the public view the two surveillance video photos of the second suspect involved.

    If you recognize this suspect, or have information in this case or any other in Polk County, you are asked to submit a tip at p3tips.com, (the P3 App), or call Polk County Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP. Tipsters can remain anonymous and could collect a cash reward for information leading to an arrest. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division may also be contacted directly to speak with a detective at 936-327-6810.

  • PCSO seeks shooting suspect

    LE Flashing LightsFILE PHOTO

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    A 19-year-old female is still hospitalized after she was shot in Goodrich last week.

    On the night of Jan. 30, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded to a residence in the Siesta County Subdivision after receiving 911 calls of a shooting victim. At the scene, the 19-year-old female was found to have a single gunshot wound to her abdomen during an altercation involving several people that were attending a party at the location.

    Others that showed up believed to have escalated the altercation. The victim was transported to Kingwood Hospital where she is listed at this time in stable condition in the intensive Care Unit.

    Detectives have conducted interviews with several persons present at the time of the shooting and is asking that anyone with information to provide to contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division at 936-327-6810.

  • PCSO seeks shooting suspect

    RamirezRalph Ramirez

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a suspect involved in a shooting early last week.

    Polk County Sheriff Bryon Lyons said his office received a 911 call on Feb. 15, at approximately 12:03 p.m. of a gunshot victim at a residence on Plum Pudding Rd. off FM 2798 in the Votaw area of Polk County. Deputies along with Americare EMS and South End First Responders arrived at the location and found Gregory Basham, 37, with a single gunshot wound to the abdomen area who was later transported to an out-of-county Hospital.

    Polk County Detectives arrived at the location and identified the shooter as Ralph Ramirez, 44, of Liberty County. An altercation was reported to have occurred between Basham and Ramirez at which time Ramirez retrieved a 22 rifle from inside the residence and shot Basham.

    The firearm was recovered at the scene. Ramirez left the location prior to law enforcement’s arrival.

    Sheriff’s Office Detectives have obtained an arrest warrant for Ramirez for the offense of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon issued by JP 4 Jamie Richardson.

    If you know the whereabouts of Ralph Ramirez, Sheriff Lyons asks that you contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 936-327-6810 or Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP (7867).

  • PCSO seeks suspects in trailer theft

    SUSPECT TRUCK STOLEN CARGO TRAILERPHOTOS COURTESY OF PCSO A cargo trailer was stolen from an Onalaska residence on January 1, 2021.

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    ONALASKA – The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is seeking assistance in obtaining information in regard to a theft that occurred on Jan. 1, at a residence in the Pine Harbor subdivision, in Onalaska.

    At approximately 2 a.m., the suspect(s) hooked up to the victim’s 2021 Cargo Express Enclosed Utility Trailer, and took it from the victim’s property.

    CARGO TRAILERCOURTESY PHOTO Cargo trailer

    Anyone who knows the identity of these suspects or has any information in reference to this case that will help with the investigation, is asked to submit a tip at p3tips.com, (the P3 App), or call Polk County Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP, where they can remain anonymous and may collect a cash reward for information leading to an arrest. People may also contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division directly and speak to a detective at 936-327-6810.

  • Pirates take defensive struggle

    IMG 2403 BRIAN BESCH I PCE Freshman Josh Perkins shoots for two of his 20 points Wednesday.

    By Brian Besch

    LEGGETT - Leggett hosted their neighbors to the north Wednesday, defeating Corrigan-Camden 50-38.

    Josh Perkins led all scores with 20 and Chase Parrish had 19 to pace the Pirates. The freshman Perkins was lethal in the second half, pouring in 18 points in just two periods.

    “He is going to be a scorer,” Pirate coach Sean Edwards said of Perkins. “He was a little nervous the first couple of games, but he has gotten better. When we played (Hull-) Daisetta, he did real good and he is stepping up his game. It's going to be completely different this season because we have to live and die by defense, but we have to play more half-court offense as well. “We have to be patient with everybody sharing the ball more too this year.”

    The Pirates have put together back-to-back victories after beginning the season 0-3, while playing up in classification.

    The first quarter of Wednesday’s game began a little slow at 4-2 in favor of the ‘Dogs, as both offenses needed time gain traction.

    “We started off slow and a little sluggish. With (a first-quarter score of) 4-2, I thought we were at a little dribblers game,” Edwards said. “I think it was more of nerves than anything, but we'll be fine. I am happy with how we are tough and running help more half-court offense. We need to work on taking care of the ball. We had 22 turnovers again, and we can't go far with that.”

    A 12-point run in the second quarter allowed the Pirates to take an 18-13 lead into the half. Leggett would score 17 and 15 in the final quarters to further distance themselves and take the game.

    For Corrigan, Tra Thomas had a dozen points and Tony Cooper had nine.

    “Tonight wasn't one of our better games,” new Corrigan-Camden coach Andrew Kirkendoff said. “I thought we could have handled the ball better. There are a lot of things that we have to work on, but I think coming to a program that really never had a focus on basketball, we're just trying to build a program. It is a day-by-day process and I think by district we’ll be ready.”

    The Bulldogs are currently 0-3 on the young season, with a loss to Palestine Westwood by seven and Groveton by four.

    “I think we are small, so we have to work together,” Kirkendoff said. “As you can see, we had trouble rebounding. I've got a couple of guards that can play and I think when they understand the game better and understand what I'm trying to do in the system, I think will be a whole lot better.”

  • PLAY BALL

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE JT Drake (seated) recently organized a lemonade and hot dog stand that raised more than $4,000 dollars – all of which went to Making Sports Possible. Jason (second from left) and Gisele Ivy (third from right) are the co-founders of MSP, which helps underprivileged youth in Polk County pay for sign-up fees and equipment to play sports. Also pictured are JT’s parents Rachel (far left) and Marty Drake (second from right) and his sister Sully (far right).

    Local youth raises $4K for nonprofit sports organization

    By Jason Chlapek

    JT Drake likes to play sports, particularly baseball.

    JT, 7, plays Little League in Livingston and Select in Kingwood. Recently, the son of Marty and Rachel Drake did something that most children his age wouldn’t think about doing – start a fundraiser.

    JT was the brainchild behind a hot dog and lemonade stand that brought in more than $4,000. The money isn’t going to his college fund either.

    Each dollar of the $4,076.37 that JT and his family raised that Saturday afternoon was donated to a local nonprofit organization called “Making Sports Possible.” Gisele and Jason Ivy are the heads of MSP, which provides funds for sign-up fees and equipment for underprivileged children who otherwise can’t afford to play.

    “I wanted to make sports possible so more kids could play,” JT said.

    The Drake family began selling hot dogs, cookies and lemonade on their front lawn at 10 a.m. that day and stopped selling at 3 p.m. While the entire amount was not raised in that five-hour window, there were other methods people used to donate to JT’s cause.

    “People also mailed money in and we had a lot of online donations,” Rachel Drake said. “We posted on social media that we had a lemonade stand.”

    Last Tuesday, Gisele and Jason Ivy presented a trophy to JT at Bull Shack Coffee and Smoothies. The couple also has a connection with the Drake family, which includes younger daughter Sullivan, or “Sully.”

    “We know Marty and Rachel from coaching the Go-Getters with Marty,” Gisele said. “We know their heart. We were surprised when we found out that JT wanted to do it, but we weren’t surprised that they did it because JT is such a sweet boy. It’s a blessing and perfect timing.”

    MSP was organized in 2017 and started paying for underprivileged Polk County youth to participate in sports in 2018. The organization partners with youth basketball, baseball, football, soccer and softball leagues in Polk County.

    “We saw the need to pay for some kids to play sports when my nephews played,” Jason said. “You would have kids show up one year then not show up the next because they didn’t have the funds to play.”

    Jason Ivy graduated from Livingston in 1998 and joined the Army, where he served for 10 years. He and his wife, Gisele, LHS Class of 1994, moved back to Livingston in 2008.

    “One year we had a pair of brothers on a team that had to share the same bat, the same glove and the same helmet,” Gisele said. “They couldn’t be on the field at the same time.”

    Those instances inspired Jason and Gisele to put their heads together and try to figure out a way to not only make sure Polk County youth didn’t have to share playing equipment, but also make sure they had enough money to sign up to play.

    “We reached out to friends and tried to fund it ourselves,” Gisele said. “But then we got together and decided to start this nonprofit.”

    MSP also has a governing board of six members. In the previous three years, the organization has helped an average of 50-60 youth participate in sports.

    “Almost every member on our board has been a member of the board since we started this organization,” Jason said. “Everybody continues to be an internal part of what we do. Without them, this wouldn’t be possible. We’re grateful for each and every board member. It’s a big family-oriented organization. The more people know about us, the more the funds increase. We want to help more kids and reach out to the community.”

    A year ago, MSP was planning its annual color run fundraiser when Covid-19 hit. That fundraiser, as well as others, were canceled.

    MSP also had raffles, motorcycle rides, sold tacos and set up booths at Hometown Christmas. The timing of JT’s fundraiser couldn’t have been more ideal.

    “It was a God-send that he decided to do that right then and there,” Gisele said. “We were pretty low on funds and this is our biggest sign-up season because it’s baseball, softball and soccer all at the same time. This is the time where we have the most kids, so for him to decide to do that was amazing.”

    According to the Ivy’s, JT’s fundraiser was the only fundraiser that MSP had this year. In addition to baseball, JT also plays basketball and golf, but baseball is his favorite.

    JT plays on the coach-pitch level in both Little League and Select. Although he can play catcher, any of the three outfield positions, shortstop or third base, JT has his favorite position.

    “My favorite position is third base because you have to have a strong arm in order to get the ball over to first base,” he said.

    After the five-hour fundraiser, there was still plenty of food left. JT’s generous nature kicked in when he and his family were deciding what to do with the leftovers.

    “We had leftover hot dogs and we gave them to people who didn’t have a house,” JT said.

  • Playing together as a team (VIDEO)

    IMG 3533BRIAN BESCH | PCE Kenadi Houser shoots for two in the lane.

    By Brian Besch

    The Onalaska Lady Cats proved just how far the team has come in a month's time, defeating New Waverly 63-27 Friday by the lake.

    In their first meeting, the Lady Dogs took a 51-37 match from December. Whether revenge, redemption, payback or just the will to win, Onalaska left little doubt from the start. They took an early 14-4 lead and led by 11 by the end of the first period. 

    A quarter later, the advantage grew to 32-12.

    "If you go back to the game that we played at New Waverly, it wasn't even the same team," Onalaska coach Ashley Sustaita said. "We have done a complete rehaul of attitude and mindsets. They are totally bought in to their role and their job, and it's all 12 of them. They do such a good job of doing what I need them to and what the team needs them to do."

    The struggles for New Waverly continued, as a suffocating Lady Cat defense held the opponent to just 14 points through three quarters. 

    "We don't have a dominant kid and we've had teams try to box-and-one us," Sustaita said. "We just have such a great team right now and it is awesome to be a part of."

    Sustaita feels each player knowing their role and how they fit into the team was the problem before. That appears to be settled, with the team shuffling five girls in and out and each playing a part.

    "It's easy to want to be the top dog or not have any responsibility. I'm very open with my girls and very transparent with what I want them to do to be successful. We definitely put 'we' before 'me' every single day.

    "I always tell my kids that we don't have starters. We have five kids that I think we need to start the game, but they know that it may not be the five that we need to finish the game to win it for us. Being ready on the bench and being active in the game is so important."

    Kierra Anstee led the Lady Cats with 19 points, Kenadi Houser and Jordyn Shutter each had a dozen, and Maddie Stelck had eight.

    "We have some freshmen who have stepped up defensively and have done a good job. It has been awesome to see our juniors take them under their wing and be excited for them. 

    "On the last play, it was a freshman that shot the ball and my junior point guard is over there losing her mind for her. That is family and it is what we preach. I think we've done a good job of changing the culture here for women's basketball at Onalaska."

  • Polk County approves land for solar plant

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Bob Bass of the Allison, Bass & Magee, LLP law firm talks to Polk County commissioners Tuesday morning.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Polk County could be getting solar power in the next few years.

    Commissioners approved a measure to establish a reinvestment zone for the purpose of tax abatement to provide economic development within the county Tuesday morning. The reinvestment zone consists of a total of 5,939.349 acres in the eastern portion of the county.

    “Solar power will bring jobs and new industry.,” George Riggs of Long Road Energy said. “It builds the tax base and it’s more revenue for the landowners. The more projects you have like this, the more opportunities you have for storage of equipment, warehousing and repair facilities. It brings a whole new dynamic to the area. In addition to timber, you have a whole new industry.”

    The county has been in talks with solar companies for nearly four years. The project is expected to break ground during the first quarter of 2021 and completion is projected for the fourth quarter of 2022.

    “This process has taken about four years,” Riggs said. “Normally it takes about 3-4 years to get it approved. Once we break ground, it’ll take a year to a year and a half to complete. This is our first East Texas project. We chose Polk County because the close proximity to the transmission lines that service this area.”

    Riggs is a former commissioner in Pecos County. Most of his company’s work is done in West Texas.

    Bob Bass of the Allison, Bass and Magee, LLP represents the county through this agreement. He talked about the process to get these projects approved and ultimately finished.

    “(Long Road Energy) came to us with the proposal,” Bass said. “These projects are built in a reinvestment zone. There’s several layers of this process. First, the developer goes out and leases ground from the landowner so they have a place to build. Next they go to the taxing entities to tie down their tax burdens. Then they have to essentially find a buyer for the power and go to a lender to borrow the money to fund the project. This is basically the second step toward that. We hope it will develop and I expect that this project will go on through.”

    In other items, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office decided to stay with its current resident banking and commissary service, a community development block grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture in support of Dallardsville-Segno water improvements was approved, and a resolution adopting civil rights plans and procedures was approved. Commissioners court meets again at 9 a.m. Nov. 24.

  • Polk County celebrates 175 years

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE A pair of photo exhibits commemorating Polk County’s 175th birthday will be on display at the Polk County Historical Museum until April 10. Polk County celebrated its 175th year on Tuesday.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Polk County turned a year older on Tuesday.

    The county celebrated its 175th year of existence, and the Polk County Historical Museum hosted a celebration Tuesday. The birthday celebration took six weeks to plan, according to museum curator Betsy Deiterman.

    “We had to be sure of the date, research the founding of the county and how the division was made, the legislature, then go through the archives and pick interesting pictures,” she said. “This was a come-and-go acknowledgement of the birthday for Polk County. We gave away a limited supply of gift bags. Patrons saw lots of photographs from many decades. The oldest photographs are framed and the oldest was in the 1880s.”

    A pair of photo exhibits are on display at the museum until April 10. These displays are in commemoration with the county’s 175th birthday.

    “I pulled 75 pictures that people normally don’t get to see,” Deiterman said. “I think we need to acknowledge that Polk County has been here 175 years and it’s a notable number.”

    Some of the photos on display are in need of identification, according to Deiterman.

    “Many of our pictures don’t have identification or dates,” she said. “We’re asking people that if they recognize anyone in the pictures to please let us know. We have a form for people to fill out if they recognize people or dates.”

    A decade and exactly four weeks after Texas became a state – March 2, 1836 – Polk County was formed on March 30, 1846. The county was formed out of neighboring Liberty County.

    The county was named after then-President James Polk. The 11th President of the United States was an advocate for Texas statehood.

  • Polk County commissioner decides not to spray for mosquitoes

    N1006P22004HFILE PHOTO Mosquito on human skin

    By PCE Staff

    East Texas has received its fair share of spring precipitation throughout the past few weeks. In Texas that usually means the heat and everyone’s favorite insect to hate — the mosquito — are right around the corner.

    For many, the mosquitoes are already here, along with millions of their friends.

    So why is Commissioner Guylene Robertson parking the truck that sprays for mosquitos down Precinct 1 county roads?

    As it turns out, she also isn’t too fond of the insects. Yet, through conversations with commissioners from Polk and surrounding counties, she found that they aren’t spraying either.

    Health effects are the main reason, as pesticides can cause both acute and chronic problems. Acute health effects appear shortly after exposure to some pesticides and can include skin and eye irritations, headaches, dizziness and nausea, weakness, difficulty breathing, mental confusion and disorientation.

    “The times have changed environmentally, and things that were considered safe in the past are no longer acceptable or recommended,” Robertson said. “At this time, motor-driven mosquito spraying is in that category.”

    Precinct 1 was the only in Polk County that has sprayed for mosquitoes over the past few years. However, the City of Livingston continues to do so. Roberston said the decision not to spray was one that was difficult.

    “Due to the hazards and concerns environmentally Polk County Precinct 2, 3, and 4 have not sprayed for mosquitoes for several years,” Robertson said. “This summer, Precinct 1 will now be doing the same, while observing all environmental safety aspects.”

    According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), several organophosphates, a class of insecticides, are highly toxic and poison insects and other animals, including birds, amphibians and mammals. Until the 21st century, they were among the most widely used insecticides available. Around 36 of them are presently registered for use in the United States, and all can potentially cause acute and subacute toxicity. Organophosphates are used in agriculture, homes, gardens and veterinary practices.

    The EPA has a few suggestions in preventing mosquito bites. The first is to eliminate any standing water (even small amounts) to prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs. If water cannot be eliminated, as in ornamental water features, use mosquito larvicide products (available at many retailers) or other pest control measures to minimize breeding opportunities. You may be able to add fish that eat larvae to a pond. Adding a fountain or aerator will keep the water and mosquitoes moving.

    The agency suggests use of window and door screens to keep mosquitoes from entering your home, workplace, or children’s schools. Dress in light-colored clothing, long pants, and long sleeves. EPA-registered insect repellents will also prevent bites. Products that are EPA-registered have been confirmed to be safe and effective when label directions are followed.

    There are several different homemade concoctions that can be found on the Internet. We have provided one such mix below.

    HOMEMADE MOSQUITO SPRAY RECIPE

    • 1 bottle of blue mint mouthwash 
    • 3 bottles (per 12 oz) of stale beer (take the cheapest – it works as well)
    • 3 cups of Epsom salt

    Pour beer and mouthwash into a container (an old saucepan, a bucket), stir and add the salt. Mix up the solution properly until salt is dissolved. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Shake well before use and spray areas where you spend time outside.

  • Polk County gives firm green light for road repair bids

                                   Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy (right) signs an approval for an agenda itemduring commissioners court Tuesday morning at the Polk County Courthouse as Precinct 1 Commissioner Bob Willis looks on.

    By Jason Chlapek

    POLK COUNTY — Polk County commissioners approved the services of Bryan architecture firm Goodwin-Lasiter-Strong to advertise for construction bids on a Precinct 1 road during Tuesday’s Commissioner’s Court meeting at the Polk County Courthouse.The road in need of repair is Taylor Lake Road, which has been washed away once by high water from the nearby Trinity River. The road is located in Ace off of Farm-to-Market Road 2610, and is part of the Hurricane Harvey Recovery Project.

    “Taylor Lake Road was going to fall into the river again,” Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy said. “They already lost the road before so we’re on our second one. They fixed the culverts and guardrail.”

    Commissioners also approved the holiday schedule for 2021 fiscal year. The paid holidays are New Year’s Day (Friday, Jan. 1), Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, Jan. 18) Presidents’ Day (Monday, Feb. 15), Good Friday (Friday, April 2), Memorial Day (Monday, May 23), Independence Day (Friday, July 2 or Monday, July 5), Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 5), Columbus Day (Monday, Oct. 10, 2021), Veterans Day (Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021), Thanksgiving (Thursday, Nov. 25 and Friday, Nov. 26, 2021), and Christmas (Thursday, Dec. 23 and Friday, Dec. 24, 2021).

    “We try to stay with federal holidays and we also try to make sure that everybody gets Fourth of July off,” Murphy said. “If the Fourth of July falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, then they get the Friday before or the Monday after the holiday off. This makes sure thatwe’re staying within the 13 days.

    ”A grant for $71,000 was approved as well. The grant is for Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding.“Those are grants that come through,” Murphy said. “We try to stay compliant with whatever the requirements are with whoever issued the grants. We have staff whose time was stretched. We want to make sure they’re paid, especially for employees who work too much. This happens a lot with emergency management, maintenance or IT departments. We work on comp time.”

    Commissioners also drew names for the sick leave pool. The names selected were Paula Baker (District Clerk), Matthew Brown (Jail), John Cabiness (Sheriff’s Office), Cassie Kosina (Tax Assessor Collector) and Judge Tolar (Road & Bridge Pct. 4).

    All four commissioners — Bob Willis (Pct. 1), Ronnie Vincent (Pct. 2), Milt Purvis (Pct. 3) and Tommy Overstreet (Pct. 4) — had items for which they wanted to accept bids or have rebids in regard to base material.

    “(The commissioners) don’t want to spend too much time and money traveling to get materials,” Murphy said. “They want to make sure where they’re traveling to get materials is close to them and they’re prudent with their tax dollars.”The next commissioners court will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27.

  • Polk County hero receives historical marker (VIDEO)

    20210417 110050BRIAN BESCH | PCE The Polk County Historical Commission held a Texas Historical Marker dedication for Lt. Col. James M. Parker. The Polk Countian was part of the Doolittle Raid, the United States’ first attack on the Japanese mainland in World War II. The dedication was Saturday morning at Restland Memorial Cemetery off Highway 59. Saturday coincided with the 79th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid. The Polk County Museum, located at 514 Mill Street in Livingston, has an exhibit honoring Parker that will continue until May 22.

    Historical marker video

  • Polk County implements burn ban

    burn ban logoCOURTESY PHOTO Polk County implemented a burn ban Tuesday.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy put a burn ban in place for unincorporated parts of the county Tuesday.

    The ban was put in place because of drought conditions caused by a lack of rain int he area. There were other circumstances as well.

    “Fire events in neighboring counties and drying out of fuel material,” Samuel Murra of the Polk County Office of Emergency Management said. “We’re getting really dry and KBDI (Keetch-Byram Drought Index) is getting high.”

    Murra, the Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator, said La Nina is likely the reason for the lack of rain. La Nina conditions historically translate into warmer and drier than normal conditions for Texas during the winter and spring fire season.

    A La Nina advisory was put into place Nov. 12. The Climate Prediction Center believes that La Nina will likely continue into the spring.

    Murra said the burn ban is at least the second put in place this year. One was put in place following the tornado that touched down in the county in late April.

    While the burn ban only applies to unincorporated areas of the county, the city of Corrigan also issued a burn ban. The city of Onalaska is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to discuss whether or not to put a burn ban in place.

    “Be careful, especially with yard work,” Murra said. “While mowing, make sure you’re not accidentally causing a fire. Be careful with cigarettes or any ignition sorts. Always be cognizant of what’s going on.”

  • Polk County receives Freeze Warning

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE This stretch of land along US Highway 190 in between Livingston and Onalaska had frost on it Tuesday morning. Polk County and several other counties in Southeast Texas experienced a freeze warning Monday night and Tuesday morning.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Polk County experienced freezing temperatures Monday night and Tuesday morning.

    For the first time in the fall season, temperatures in parts of Polk County were at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below. The low for Polk County was 27 degrees in between Dallardsville and Livingston in the eastern portion of the county.

    “This was our first freeze warning for the fall season,” Polk County Emergency Management Director Courtney Comstock said.

    According to Comstock, a freeze warning is put in place when expectations of a freezing temperatures are projected. Much of the region was projected to have freezing temperatures Monday night and Tuesday morning, according to the Houston/Galveston Weather Forecast Office.

    Livingston was projected to have a low of 29 Monday night, while Lufkin was projected for a low of 26.