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  • Joe’s Italian Grill named ‘Do-Gooder’ of the Year

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE From left, Livingston city manager Bill Wiggins, Tanya Dora and Nancy Windham of the Texas Forest Country Partnership, Ilir Gjoka of Joe’s Italian Grill, Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy and State Representative James White celebrate Joe’s Italian Grill receiving the 2020 “Do-Gooder” of the Year award for Polk County Tuesday morning.

    Special to the Enterprise

    LUFKIN - Joe’s Italian Grill of Livingston was awarded the 2020 “Do-Gooder” of the Year Award for Polk County during the 2020 Texas Forest Country Partnership (TFCP) Virtual Economic Development Summit on Wednesday, Nov. 18.

    The award presentation was made on behalf of the TFCP by Robert Allen, president & CEO of the Texas Economic Development Corporation; Adriana Cruz, executive director of the Office of Economic Development & Tourism, Office of the Governor; and Bryan Daniel, chair of the Texas Workforce Commission.

    Christi Sullivan, chair of the TFCP, noted Joe’s Italian Grill, owned by Ilir Gjoka, was established in 2009 and has 12 employees, who assist in giving back graciously to the community.

    A few of Mr. Gjoka and his staff’s selfless acts include opening his grill to feed the homeless every Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. In addition, free meals are provided to military veterans every year on Veteran’s Day and free meals are also provided to the Polk County Special Olympics participants.

    “Mr. Gjoka also makes a special effort to take care of others during distressed times. A tornado hit Polk County in April and although he was negatively impacted, he thought of others first offering free meals to displaced families and relief aid works. Thank you for your extreme acts of appreciation and kindness; this honorable award is well deserved,” Sullivan said.

    “We are proud to recognize Joe’s Italian Grill for your genuine concern for the well-being of others and for your relentless hours spent making sure more families are fed. Your commitment to those in your community and to the Texas Forest Country region during the COVID-19 Pandemic is invaluable.

    “Our summit is an opportunity to explore ways to improve the economy of our region and we appreciate everyone who attended virtually to help us celebrate “Do-Gooders” who go over and beyond the call of duty to serve others and be an integral part of our future”, she continued.

    In addition to recognizing the counties’ “Do-Gooder” winners, Jay Shands of Angelina County received the 2020 Silver Bucket Award. The Summit’s Keynote Address was made by Governor Greg Abbott followed by a regional and state-wide in-depth discussion with Featured Presenters Robert Allen, Adriana Cruz and Bryan Daniel. Other participants included Lonnie Hunt, executive director of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments and Economic Development District; Jennifer Harris, State Program Director of Connected Nation Texas and Wynn Rosser, President and CEO of the T.L.L. Temple Foundation presented an overview and an update on Broadband in our region. Concluding the Summit was a panel discussion with the region’s State Senator and State Representatives.

    A total of 12 Do-Gooder awards were presented, one for each county in the TFCP area. Either business or individuals could be nominated for the honor.

    Criteria for being nominated for the award includes:

    • Has given back to a community during the COVID-19 Crisis
    • Located in Your County.
    • If nomination is a business, must be a viable on-going business for one or more years, experiencing growth or stability over its business life.
    • Employs less than 100
    • Provides critical service or product, fills a void in the business community, or has a unique approach to delivery of goods and services.
    • May have overcome diverse or extraordinary circumstances to remain in business.
    • Business/Individual is supportive of community growth sustainability.
    • Is not a governmental agency or municipality.

    The TFCP, formerly known as the Pineywoods Economic Partnership (PEP) and the Deep East Texas Development Association (DETDA), was founded in 1960 as a non-profit economic development organization.  The TFCP is a regional economic development organization that is committed to coordinating economic development-related activities in Deep East Texas and further enhancing the appeal of the 12-county area that it serves.

    The Texas Forest Country Partnership is committed to enriching the economic prosperity and well-being of our region through marketing, business development, and advocacy.

  • San Jacinto Chamber celebrates cream of the crop (GALLERY)

    9TONY FARKAS | SJNT Terry Holcomb was third in Volunteer of the Year.

    By Tony Farkas

    COLDSPRING — The Coldspring Chamber of Commerce honored the top businesses and organizations in the area, as well as its own volunteers, at its annual banquet on Saturday.

    Chamber President Barbara Justice said that even though 2020 was an unprecedented year, the chamber and the county managed to make it through by learning to innovate.

    “We figured out how to social distance, how to mask, and all the other COVID-19 precautionary measures,” she said. “Zoom became our secondary method of meeting, and email became our primary mode of communication.”

    For the first time in memory, annual events were canceled; however, alternate arrangements were made for scholarships, however, Justice said.

    “We had various sponsors, and were still able to give scholarships for students,” she said.

    The first event attended in 2020 was the Christmas Parade, which was exciting as residents were able to get out of the house; there were more than 30 floats and more than 120 vendors, which put the town at max capacity, Justice said.

    In 2021, plans are to have more in-person events, including lunch-and-learn events held monthly, she said.

    Winners of the annual Best of Coldspring awards are:

    • Grand Business: Bullet Grill House, first; Brookshire Brothers, second; Sheco, third.
    • Large Business: The Mason Jar, first; Browders Marina and Store, second; Eastex Title Co., third.
    • Medium Business: Hilltop Ice House, first; People’s State Bank, second; Wolf Creek Air, third.
    • Small Business: Camp Jason RV Resort, first; Sittin’ Pretty Pet Spa and Boutique, second; and The Dam Liquor Stor, third.
    • Non-profit: American Legion Post 629, first; Republican Party of San Jacinto County, second; Heaven’s Army of Resources, third.
    • Volunteer of the Year: Barbara Creel, first, Michelle Haylock, second; Terry Holcomb, third.
    • Citizen of the Year: Phyliss Powdrill, first, Larissa Sustaita, second; Alvin Wyatt, third.
    • Lifetime Member Award: Kathleen E. Mathieu.
    • Board Member of the Year: Barbara Justice.
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    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Bullet Grill House was named top Grand Business.
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    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Eastex Title Co. was named third for Large Business.
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    TONY FARKAS | SJNT People’s State Bank was named second for Medium Business.
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    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Sittin’ Pretty Pet Spa and Boutique was named second for Small Business.
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    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Camp Jason RV Resort took top honors in Small Business.
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    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Heaven’s Army of Resources was third in Non-profit Organizations.
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    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Republican Party of San Jacinto County was second in Non-profit Organizations.
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    TONY FARKAS | SJNT American Legion Post 629 was first in Non-profit Organizations.
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    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Terry Holcomb was third in Volunteer of the Year.
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    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Barbara Creel was first in Volunteer of the Year. (front)
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    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Larissa Sustaita was second as Citizen of the Year. (front)
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    TONY FARKAS | SJNT The Lifetime Member Award, accepted by her daughter, was presented to Kathleen Matheu.
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    TONY FARKAS | SJNT Board Member of the Year was presented to Chamber President Barbara Justice.
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  • Trinity County Fair and Youth Livestock Show 2021 Results (GALLERY)

    untitled 2TONY FARKAS | TCNS Centerville ISD Ag Teacher Kelly Dial shows students the proper way to transport chickens during the Broiler Show during the Trinity County Fair and Livestock Sale on Wednesday.

    TCNS STAFF

    The Trinity County Fair and Youth Livestock Show 2021 was a complete show, judging all animals and placing all projects. The sale generated approximately $169,850 in sales and $20,975 in add-ons.

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    Fair Results

    Market Fryers

    Lexi Larson, Groveton 4-H, Grand Champion; Parker Leach, East County 4-H, Reserve Champion; Adriana Sottosanti, Groveton 4-H, 3rd; Cade Mauldin, Trinity 4-H, 4th; Gunner Hollis, East County 4-H, 5th; Faith Smith, East County 4-H, 6th; Reece Watts, Groveton 4-H, 7th; Braxton Rogers, Centerville 4-H, 8th; Clarissa Ashworth, Centerville FFA, 9th; Kenneth Smith, East County 4-H, 10th; Tripp Turner, East County 4-H, 11th; Mikala Rivers, Groveton 4-H, 12th; Aurora Gonzalez, 13th; Cooper Shanafelt, Groveton 4-H, 14th; Payzlea Davis, East County 4-H, 15th; Wesson Burriss, Groveton 4-H, 16th; Skyler Shaw, Groveton FFA, 17th; Klarysa Peterson, Centerville 4-H, 18th; Samatha Hittner, Groveton 4-H, 19th; Rebecca Braswell, Centerville 4-H, 20th; Hunter Anderson, Centerville 4-H, 21st, Madelyn Bergman, Groveton FFA, 22nd; Dailey Turner, 23rd, Hannah Turner, East County 4-H, 24th; Madison Haislip, Groveton 4-H, 25th; Bentley Thompson, Groveton 4-H, 26th; Mekenna Meshell, Trinity 4-H, 27th.

    Market Broilers

    Haygen Townsend, Groveton 4-H, Grand Champion; Rhett Hawkins, Groveton 4-H, Reserve Champion; Tristin Eddins, East County 4-H, 3rd; Logan Townsend, Groveton FFA, 4th; Avery Brown, Centerville 4-H, 5th; Hardy Brown, Centerville 4-H, 6th; Trey Page, Groveton 4-H, 7th; Samantha McMullen, Apple Springs FFA, 8th; Jake Snyder, Centerville 4-H, 9th; Payson Dickinson, Centerville FFA, 10th; Aiden Conner, East County 4-H, 11th; Zoey Perez, Groveton 4-H, 12th; Gabriel (Julio) Perez, Groveton 4-H, 13th.

    Market Steers

    Laney Peterson, East County 4-H, Grand Champion; Kayla Kembro, Trinity 4-H, Reserve Champion; Andrew Kembro, Trinity 4-H, 3rd; Makala Rowe, 4th; Lucas Sottosanti, Groveton 4-H, 5th; Cade White, East County 4-H, 6th; Clayton Tullos, Apple Springs FFA, 7th; Reese White, Groveton FFA, 8th; Madison Nash, Groveton FFA, 9th; Brody Thornton, Groveton FFA, 10th; Austin Wallace, Trinity 4-H, 11th; Alivia Wallace, Trinity FFA, 12th.

    Market Lambs

    Malley Ecord, Groveton 4-H, Grand Champion; Megan Hannah, Groveton 4-H, Reserve Champion; Abbey Thornton, Groveton 4-H, 3rd; Katie Davis, East County 4-H, 4th; Brenley Fuller, Groveton 4-H, 5th.

    Commercial Heifers

    Emily Ecord, Groveton FFA, Grand Champion; Conner King, Groveton 4-H, Reserve Champion; Reed Hawkins, Groveton 4-H, 3rd; Rylie Due, Groveton 4-H, 4th; Cash Moore, Groveton 4-H, 5th; Cole Sullivan, Groveton 4-H, 6th; Jasper Due, Groveton 4-H, 7th; Hannah Page, Groveton 4-H, 8th; Lauren Moore, Groveton 4-H, 9th; Haley Denman, Apple Springs FFA, 10th; Jack Sullivan, Groveton 4-H, 11th.

    Swine

    Landree Martin, Grand Champion; Jace Taylor, Groveton 4-H, Reserve Champion; Peyton Noack, Centerville 4-H, 3rd; Kaileigh Lopez, 4th; Chase Blair, 5th; Colter Hajovsky, 6th; Jackson Cathey, 7th; Hayley Hajek, 8th; Chasity Blair, Groveton 4-H, 9th; Tanner Steubing, 10th; Kade Rosser, 11th; Kutter Minter, Groveton 4-H, 12th; Asa Stewart, Groveton 4-H, 13th; James Hennigan, Centerville FFA, 14th; Ethan Bowling, Groveton 4-H, 15th; Trey Brooks, 16th; Mercedes Wilson, Groveton 4-H, 17th; Laura Rogers, Centerville 4-H, 18th; Gracie May, Centerville FFA, 19th; Ashton Ashford, 20th; A.J. Lopez, Groveton 4-H, 21st; Raylee Boggs, Centerville 4-H, 22nd; Darbi Parker, Groveton 4-H, 23rd; Brance Dial, Centerville 4-H, 24th; Addison Randal, Groveton 4-H, 25th; Jill Watts, 26th; Ian Utz, 27th; Alexis May, Centerville FFA, 28th; Milton Riley Pitts, 29th; Serenity Stanley, 30th; Kyleigh Eddins, Centerville 4-H, 31st; Ethan Rutledge, Centerville FFA, 32nd; Jada Welch, Centerville FFA, 33rd; Sarah Sallas, 34th; Hunter Bowling, Groveton 4-H, 35th; Savannah Woodrick, 36th; Cooper Campbell, East County 4-H, 37th; Wyatt Turner, East County 4-H, 38th; Katie Blanchard, 39th; Ty Havard, Centerville FFA, 40th; Melony Allen, 41st; Gage Hollis, Apple Springs FFA, 42nd; Hunter Davis, Apple Springs FFA, 43rd; Wesley Maxfield, Centerville FFA, 44th; Weston Dial, Centerville FFA, 45th; Kate Roger, Centerville FFA, 46th; Colton Brausell, Centerville FFA, 47th; Daniel Brister, Centerville 4-H, 48th; Jaycee Hildebrand, East County 4-H, 49th; Kayla Mott, Centerville FFA, 50th; Kathryn Turner, Apple Springs FFA, 51st; Samantha Smith, Centerville FFA, 52nd.

    Goats

    Brianna Davison, Groveton FFA, Grand Champion; Karly Abshier, Groveton 4-H, Reserve Champion; Jett Arbuckle, Groveton 4-H, 3rd; Anna LaRue, 4th; Ayla Abshier, Groveton 4-H, 5th; Marlie Murray, East County 4-H, 6th; Maycynn Meshell, Trinity 4-H, 7th; Zachary Davison, Groveton 4-H, 8th; Preston Murray, East County 4-H, 9th; Miley Hannah, Groveton 4-H, 10th; Tanner Smith, Apple Springs FFA, 11th; Clay Ashworth, Centerville FFA, 12th; Olivia Smith, Apple Springs FFA, 13th; Eryn Eaton, Trinity FFA, 14th; Emily Brister, Apple Springs FFA, 15th; Leo Conner, Centerville FFA, 16th.