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  • Leggett Water Supply rescinds one notice, places another

                                   The area of the map highlighted in blue is where the boil water notice is for residents along Old Highway 35 in between Leggett and Seven Oaks.

    By Jason Chlapek

    POLK COUNTY - The Leggett Water Supply Company rescinded a nearly-week long boil water notice for residents in the Pratt subdivision and some along Marston Road in Livingston. However, some residences along Old Highway 35 in between Leggett and Seven Oaks had a boil water notice put in place for several residences in the area. The boil notice forresidences on Old Highway 35 was put into place Wednesday — the same day that the Pratt subdivision and Marston Road notice was rescinded. Both boil notices were put into place because of breaks in the respective service lines. Just like last week’s line break, the Wednesday line break was repaired quickly and a sample of the water was sent to Eastex Environmental Laboratory Inc. to get tested for bacteria.

     

  • 3 bodies found in Escapees Park

    The bodies of Michael, Deborah and Anthony Nuncio were found in a residence on the 100 block of West Dove Street, which is located in Escapees Park, on Saturday. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Rangers Company A and ATF are investigating the deaths. (Jason Chlapek Photo)The bodies of Michael, Deborah and Anthony Nuncio were found in a residence on the 100 block of West Dove Street, which is located in Escapees Park, on Saturday. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Rangers Company A and ATF are investigating the deaths. (Jason Chlapek Photo)

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    LIVINGSTON — Three people are dead after their bodies were discovered over the weekend.

    The bodies of Michael, Deborah and Anthony Nuncio were found in a residence on the 100 block of West Dove Street, which is located in Escapees Park, on Saturday.

    The Polk County Sheriff’s Office was requested to conduct a welfare concern on the parents of the caller, because she had not been able to make contact with them for two days.

    A deputy arrived on scene and soon after requested assistance at that location. After obtaining a search warrant for the residence, investigators from the PCSO along with Texas Rangers from Company-A, re-entered the residence and began the investigation into the deaths of the Nuncios family.

    Upon entry, Investigators observed items in the residence and an adjacent building that caused concerns of possible explosive devices at that location. Agents from ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire Arms) were requested to assist with the investigation to identify items found at the scene.

    Unable to identify, agents detonated the object with a small explosive charge. After both structures were deemed safe to re-enter, investigators continued their investigation and discovered who they believed to be Michael Nuncios, his wife Debra Nuncios and their adult son Anthony Nuncios.

    After talking with the daughter and neighbors, it is believed the bodies had been there since Thursday. An inquest was conducted by Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Robert Johnson, who ordered the bodies transported to the Harris County Forensics Lab.

    The PCSO will be looking for confirmation of the findings from the medical examiner’s office on cause of death, how long the bodies have been deceased, and confirmation of the identities.

    The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said via press release it is not looking for suspects in connection with the deaths nor are there hazards to the community surrounding these deaths.

    Those with information concerning the deaths are asked to contact Captain Rickie Childers of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 936-327-6810.

  • CMA needs to remember legends

    Country Music Stock Image 111920Stock photo courtesy of Pixabay

    By Chris Edwards

    There used to be this thing called country music, actually it was an artform.

    Under its big umbrella, there existed a long, storied history of great artists and entertainers; everyone from pioneers like The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers and Woody Guthrie to early sensations like the great Hank Williams, Bob Wills and George Jones to Texan iconoclasts like Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark and Waylon Jennings, have all blazed their own respective trails while remaining true to the sake of the song. They all wrote and sang songs about the common man’s trials and tribulations; the joy and the pain came through clear in great, universal melodies and lyrics.

    As with any artform that becomes commercialized, an organization popped up dedicated to its welfare.

    Formed in 1958, the Country Music Association formed in a Miami hotel room with a small group of industry folks gathering to start an organization to promote and further the reach of country music.

    Last week, the CMA hosted its annual parade of accolades, and although the proceedings were conducted in a different way than they had been in the past, thanks to the pandemic, the level of disrespect was high.

    Headlines popped up the next day that spoke to that level of disrespect, and with good reason. Jason Isbell, whose mainstream popularity is a big win for real, heartfelt art, along with his lovely wife Amanda Shires, severed ties with the CMA due to the organization’s refusal to acknowledge the passing of three giants of country music: John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker and Billy Joe Shaver.

    There were tributes paid throughout the show to other titans of the genre, such as Charlie Daniels and Joe Diffie, but to slight Prine, Walker and Shaver is unconscionable.

    I didn’t watch the broadcast as it aired, save for a little bit of Luke Combs performing a song that sounded to me like a rip-off of Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road,” but I watched many of the tributes and talked-about moments after the fact online. Now I enjoy Joe Diffie as much as the next guy, and his passing from the coronavirus (followed closely by Prine) was tragic and served as a wake-up call to many about the pandemic, but no way is Diffie a more influential artist than those other three.

    The endless parade of legends passing grew by another a couple of days following the CMA Awards, when Texas legend (and a man I’m proud to call my friend) Doug Supernaw died. Supe was far more commercially successful in his heyday than Prine, Walker or Shaver, but I doubt that even he would have merited a mention in tribute from the CMA had he passed prior to the broadcast.

    It’s a sad state of affairs when an organization that claims it is dedicated to country music cannot even mention Jerry Jeff, the man who wrote “Mr. Bojangles,” one of the most classic, beloved songs in the American songbook. The mentality seems to be “let’s ignore legit legends and focus on Florida Georgia Line and Jason Aldean,” and the ridiculous, artless cliches of what “country music” is through a modern lens.

    There’s at least some positivity to be found with Combs, who won a wheelbarrow load of hardware from the CMA. Aside from what sounds to me to be a siren call to Steve Earle’s lawyers, Combs at least sounds real. His lyrics strike me as inane twaddle, but he comes across as one of the few artists on what is called country radio nowadays who could actually convincingly sing a Hank, Lefty or Gary Stewart tune.

    So much of what is marketed as country music today seems indicative of a problem our culture has, by and large. So much of the buying power is given to young people, and there seems to be a devaluing of things deemed “obsolete.” It’s all about what is new, sleek and shiny, and marketing what the genre has become as a lifestyle signifier, instead of something rooted in reality.

    If recent events have shown me anything, it’s that it is an absolutely wonderful thing to be able to choose one’s own set of facts tailored to one’s preferred reality. There’s some solace in that, and hey, anything is possible in this accursed year.

    In my preferred reality, these late, great artists mentioned in this column, along with so many others, are still able to sing for us. Also, in that alternate reality, the public still prefers real, honest expressions. Ah well, as long as vinyl is still being pressed and my turntable needle holds up, they’ll all be alive in my house.

  • Corrigan-Camden ISD swears in new board members

    C CISD Pic 1 CASEY SIZEMORE Newly elected school board members took the oath of office during the Corrigan-Camden ISD board meeting Monday. Pictured above are board members Thomas Robert; left, Lawrence Jolly Jr.; center, and Peter Burks; right.

    By Casey Sizemore

    CORRIGAN – Newly elected school board members took the oath of office during the Corrigan-Camden ISD regular scheduled board meeting Monday.

    The new board members include Lawrence Jolly Jr. for Position 3, Thomas Robert for Position 2 and Peter Burks for Position 1. The outgoing incumbents include former vice president Lync Cavanaugh for Position 1, former President Sean Burks and a vacated seat.

    Sean Burks and Cavanaugh were presented with “tokens of appreciation” for 13 and seven years, respectively, of service made by the C-CISD Ag. Science and Mechanics classes.

    “I’m the outgoing president and I would like to thank everyone out here in this crowd for everything y’all have done for this school,” Sean Burks said. “Each one of y’all have been a pivotal point in how we’ve led the school in the direction we have went. That being said, I want to challenge each of you young men, as y’all assume y’all’s duties here as part of the school board, to lead with your hearts. Do what’s best for the kids. No personal agendas are really needed. You have a team of eight: we have operated with a team of seven — we’ve had a board member that has decided not to be here for quite some time… Just keep every kid in mind.”

    The board also voted Michael Woodard as vice president, Anthony Carroll as board president and Angela Conaroe as secretary.

    In other business, the board accepted a donation of more than $25,000 from Roy O’ Martin for the installment of new playground equipment for Pre-k and Kindergarten students. Hughes Trucking is donating the mulch required to finish the project, according to Roy O Martin representative Sherry Hughes, who gave a brief presentation to the board.

    The board accepted a $15,000 NOGA grant to be applied toward after school programs and approved Harrell and Woodard for authority to sign bank checks.

    Superintendent Richard Cooper’s district reports indicate there are currently 780 students enrolled in the district with an average attendance rate of 96.92%.

  • Corvette owner shows collection to Livingston Lions Club (VIDEO)

                                   PHOTO BY KELLI BARNES | PCE Pat McCulley’s collection of corvettes was on display Wednesday afternoon at the weekly Livingston Lions Club meeting at Camp Cho Yeh. McCulley’s collection includes one corvette from each of the brand’s eight classes.

    By Jason Chlapek

    LIVINGSTON — Sometimes one thing leads to another.

    That’s the case with Pat and Jerry McCulley. Somehow one corvette turned into eight.

    Pat displayed her corvette collection Wednesday afternoon at the Livingston Lions Club’s weekly meeting at Camp Cho Yeh. She was able to show her entire collection, including her eighth corvette which arrived in September — the 2020 C8 mid-engine.

    “We have a corvette from every generation,” McCulley said. “The oldest corvette is a 1960 C1.”

    McCulley said each corvette generation averages about 10 years. She also said that there was never an intention of having a full-blown corvette collection.

    “It just sort of happened,” McCulley said. “The first one I bought was a 1975 C3. It was a popular car when I was a teenager. After I bought that one, I thought it would be neat to buy a 2005 C6. I didn’t intend one to get one of every generation, but it just happened that way.”

    In all, the McCulleys have a C1 from 1960, a C2 from 1965, a C3 from 1975, a C4 from 1990, a C5 from 2000, a C6 from 2005, a C7 Grandsport from 2017 and a C8 from 2020. Pat has an interesting story about the purchase of the C4.

    “(Jerry) found the C4 online in California,” Pat said. “We have friends in LA who we sent money for the purchase of the car and we had it shipped to Texas.”

    The McCulleys ordered their latest corvette in July 2019, and were scheduled to receive it in March. But, a few things happened that delayed the arrival date until September.

    “GM went on strike back in March then Covid-19 hit,” Pat said. “This is the first year of the C8 generation.”

    The McCulleys are lifetime members of the National Corvette Museum, which is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky. They have lived in Livingston since 1979.

    “I try to show them every opportunity I get,” Pat said. “We always try to participate in anything FAITH does, Hometown Christmas and anything else we can do to help the community. We take children for rides in the corvettes and also do fundraisers and food drives.”

    While the C8 was just released this year, the C9 has likely crossed Pat’s mind. Whether or not she and Jerry purchase one a decade from now will be the question.

    “We’ll have to see how young and spry I am when the C9 comes out,” Pat quipped.

    It might just lead to another corvette in the family.

  • Country star Supernaw dies

    Doug SupernawFILE PHOTO Doug Supernaw

    From staff reports

    LIVINGSTON – Country star and Livingston resident Doug Supernaw died on the morning of Friday, Nov. 13. Supernaw was 60, and his passing came after a battle with cancer.

    Supernaw’s death was announced on social media by his manager J.J. Morris. “My friend and boss man Doug Supernaw passed away this morning, with his wife Cissy Allen Supernaw at his side,” her post read.

    Other musicians expressed condolences on social media after the news became public. Neal McCoy, a friend of Supernaw’s and fellow ‘90s hitmaker, said “What a good fella and a heck of a singer,” and added a note of encouragement to Supernaw’s wife: “Stay strong Cissy! You have been for a while. Doug couldn’t have been blessed with a better woman, and I’ve heard you say the same thing about him.”

    Supernaw, who was a native of Bryan, grew up in Inwood Forest and was exposed to country music at an early age by his mother.

    In high school, Supernaw was a star athlete, and attended college on a golf scholarship, before he began playing in bands. He later moved to Nashville and found work as a staff songwriter, before moving back to Texas where he formed a band called Texas Steel.

    Supernaw and his band (later renamed the Possum Eatin’ Cowboys) became a huge draw across the state, and in 1993, he signed to BNA Entertainment, the label that released his gold-selling debut Red and Rio Grande.

    The album, which drew critical acclaim along with its big sales, produced several hits, the best-known of which were “Reno” and the number one hit “I Don’t Call Him Daddy.” The video for the latter included an appearance from Supernaw’s son Phillip, who would later go on to play in the NFL.

    After two more albums for major labels, Supernaw recorded Fadin’ Renegade for an indie label, and took a lengthy hiatus from recording. He was reportedly disillusioned with the recording industry but continued to perform live. His blend of literate lyrics, catchy melodies and traditional country sounds, along with a stick-to-your-guns Texas-born attitude, helped influence many Texas country acts that became popular around the turn of the millennium.

    Supernaw returned to full-time touring in 2016 and recorded an album the following year comprised of re-recorded versions of his hits, along with a pair of new songs.

    He was diagnosed with stage IV lung and bladder cancer in early 2019 and began an aggressive course of treatment. Several benefits were held throughout last year to help Supernaw with medical expenses, including events at Pontoon’s and Coal’s Smokehouse in Splendora.

    Reportedly, the treatments were working, and Supernaw was on the mend, but recently, it was announced that the cancer had spread to his spine and brain, as an MRI had indicated, and he was placed under hospice care.

    Supernaw is survived by his wife Cissy, his children and grandchildren. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

  • County commits funds to regional communications infrastructure

                                   JASON CHLAPEK | PCE Polk County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Byron Lyons addresses commissioners about an agenda item that he wants tabled during Tuesday morning’s Commissioners Court. The item was tabled.

    By Jason Chlapek

    LIVINGSTON — Polk County commissioners approved a measure that will help not just their own county, but other counties as well during Commissioners Court Tuesday morning at the Polk County Courthouse.

    The measure is a resolution authorizing the commitment of county funds and participation in a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) project by the Deep East Texas Council Of Governments (DETCOG) for regional interoperable radio communications. Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy believes this is a good move.

    “A few years ago, one of our Sheriff’s deputies was shot at and he was unable to get out and his radio wasn’t working so he couldn’t get help,” Murphy said. “What we’re trying to do is get interoperable communications with the entire 12-county DETCOG region and build a network across those counties that will allow us to have interoperability for emergency management, law enforcement, first responders or anybody that needs to be in communication in a crisis situation or circumstances. If we can get this done, then they’re asking for a commitment of 1 percent from the cog, which is huge. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these counties to be able to get good interoperability.”

    The DETCOG region consists of 12 counties that include Angelina, Houston, Jasper, Nacogdoches, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity and Tyler counties. The project calls for some communication structure.

    “It’s going to be upgraded technology where towers will be placed strategically,” Murphy said. “For example, let’s say Polk County ends up with a tower. That tower will be powerful enough to cover part of Liberty County, part of Trinity County or part of Tyler County depending on where the tower is located. The idea is to put ‘umbrellas’ over the entire DETCOG region to where everybody is covered regardless of where the location of the tower is. It’s a regional plan.”

    Commissioners also approved a measure to submit a CDBG grant application for flood and drainage improvement in a subdivision in Precinct 1. The Precinct 1 Road & Bridge Department will match the funds.

    “What happens when you receive these grants, there’s a matching portion,” Murphy said. “They don’t just give you the money. You have to have ‘skin in the game.’ It’s a matching grant. Some of the HUD requirements that those people be low to moderate income. To be LMI, it’s based on the average income for that county. The average income for Polk County is lower than the average income for Montgomery County based on the businesses and what people make. The cost of living is also higher in Montgomery County. The LMI is what qualifies certain areas. Let’s say you live by the lake and you have a home with a low monetary value, but it’s right next to a mansion. The mansion skews it and does not allow the person living in the smaller home to receive as much funding or assistance because the value for that area is so high. HUD has set up requirements for LMI and that gives you points for when you apply for those grants. The lower the income, the more assistance you will be providing and the more points you get when you make application. The LMI is what qualifies that subdivision based on the conditions and the amount of money the people living in that area make.”

    Also approved was a measure for county transportation infrastructure. The Texas Department of Transportation is partnering with the county.

    “Our agreement with TxDOT is to help replace some bridges and culverts or things like that,” Murphy said. “Our agreement is to allow them to proceed and each commissioner will communicate with TxDOT engineers to get what those precincts need. We’re trying to streamline the operation as much as possible and allow it to be simplified.”

    The next Commissioners Court takes place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10.

  • County sets speed limit near Apple Springs

    110520 countyGoogle Maps

    TCNS Staff

    GROVETON — The Trinity County Commissioners’ Court on Oct. 27 put its foot down on drivers putting the accelerator down.

    Commissioners approved setting a 25-mph speed limit on Graham Road between FM 357 and State Highway 94, which was done without debate. It was approved unanimously.

    In other business, the county:

    •approve the county’s investment policy, an annual undertaking, and reappointed County Treasurer B.L. Dockens as investment officer;

    • approved budget amendments of $1,500;

    • appointed Tom Hester as reserve deputy constable for Precinct 3;

    • approved the purchase of a 2012 HAMM 3410 cab roller for Road and Bridge Precinct 3; and

    • declined to discuss or act on a burn ban for the county.

  • Deer Season is underway

    white tailed 139715COURTESY PHOTO Whitetail Deer Season started on Saturday and concludes Jan. 3.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Polk County Game Warden David Johnson believes that Christmas time is here already.

    “Deer season is a Game Warden’s Christmas,” he said. “Most of us look forward to it. I enjoy getting out and visiting with hunters and people who are out having a good time. I enjoy seeing all of the new harvest of deer and getting to visit with folks who are hunting for the first time. It’s like a social event.”

    Johnson and his fellow game wardens across the state will be busy over the next two months. That’s because Whitetail Deer Season began on Saturday and will conclude in January.

    The general season for whitetail deer is from Nov. 7 to Jan. 3. Archery-only season took place from Oct. 3 to Nov. 6.

    With Covid-19, social distancing has changed the way of life in many areas. Johnson said it shouldn’t play too much of a factor in the general season, however.

    “There are no new rules for social distancing,” he said. “Our directive is to be smart and be safe. We’re just going to go out and do our work.”

    There are certain regulations when it comes to deer hunting. For starters, there is a county bag limit of no more than four deer — two bucks and two does — per hunter.

    While each hunter is allowed a maximum of two bucks, only one of those two may have an inside spread of 13 inches or greater. A legal buck is defined as a male deer with at least one unbranched antler or an inside spread of 13 inches or greater.

    “Do have a good time, Do be safe, and Do remember to be courteous to others,” Johnson said. “Be aware of shooting times — one half hour before sunrise and one half hour after sunset, Be mindful of your surroundings, and remember to properly fill out your tags and cut out your dates in addition to filling out your harvest log.”

    One change that has been made because of Covid is the publication of the Outdoor Annual magazine that is published on an annual basis. That has been replaced by a cel phone app.

    “Our outdoor Annual Now is online and is a downloadable app,” Johnson said. “They’re not printing them this year, but it’s a free app. It’s real easy to look up all of the information that you’re looking for.”

    Johnson plans to spend a lot of time in the woods over the next two months — both on and off the clock.

    “I believe I’ll take advantage of deer hinting on my days off,” he said. “I like to get out there and see what’s in the woods. I’m ready to get in the woods. It’s going to be a good time and a lot of fun. We look forward to seeing everybody out there. I enjoy hunting with my two boys and watching them have fun in the deer stand. You can’t beat it.”

  • Ellis back on board

    20201116 180424BRIAN BESCH I PCE Livingston ISD Superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins swears in Bea Ellis during the November meeting of the LISD Board of Trustees.

    By Brian Besch

    LIVINGSTON - The Livingston ISD school board reshuffled some of its positions after accepting a “new” member Monday at Creekside Elementary.

    The November LISD Board meeting opened with the swearing-in of Bea Ellis. Ellis spent 26 years on the board, also serving as its president, and returns after just two years away.

    After, Ben Ogletree was named president for two more years, Scott Paske will serve as vice-president and Krissa Bass will be the board secretary.

    Livingston ISD Chief Financial Officer Ben Davidson presented the annual Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) report during the public hearing portion of the meeting. 

    The state's school financial accountability rating system ensures that Texas public schools are held accountable for the quality of their financial management practices and that they improve those practices.

    The system is designed to encourage Texas public schools to better manage their financial resources to provide the maximum allocation possible for direct instructional purposes. The FIRST report consists of 15 different indicators. The district scored the maximum allowed points of 100.  

    Board president Ben Ogletree noted during the review of the principal reports that the district is holding an attendance rate in the mid-90 percentile, which he attributed to the janitorial staff and the diligence of the teaching staff with efforts in fogging, cleaning, and handwashing.

    An action item approved by the board was the reconsideration of the board student outcome goals.

  • Former Tyler County Sheriff Jessie Wolf dies

    Jesse Wolf 1Wolf when he served as Tyler County Sheriff. PHOTO COURTESY OF KENDALL COLEMAN

     
    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – Former Tyler County Sheriff Jessie Wolf died on Monday at the age of 68. Wolf was a long-time lawman in the county and served one term as sheriff. He died of natural causes.

    In a profile of Wolf written by the late scholar and community leader Mayme Canada Brown, and published in the Sept. 25, 2014 edition of the Booster, Wolf was described as a stand-out athlete during his high school days at Warren ISD.

    Wolf was, according to Brown’s story, one of the “new generation in the time of total integration,” in 1968, and following his graduation in 1970, he and his twin brother James were scouted by Prairie View A&M University and accepted to the program in 1972.

    Wolf was a collegiate star athlete, as well, and was inducted into the university’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. In addition to being a football star, Wolf also earned a collegiate letter in the university’s track and field division.

    Following his graduation from college in 1976, he was drafted by the Miami Dolphins. He also played for the Birmingham Americans and the Canadian team the Stamp Platers.

    After his semi-pro and professional football career ended, he returned to Tyler County, and worked in law enforcement. He eventually worked his way up to Chief Deputy under the late former Sheriff Gary Hennigan.

    jesse wolf 2Jessie Wolf in the ‘70s as a Prairie View A&M football star. BOOSTER FILE PHOTO

    In 2004, when Hennigan retired due to declining health, Wolf became acting sheriff, and was later elected to the position. He took office in 2005 and served one term.

    Wolf, according to Brown’s piece, made history as the first Black sheriff in the county’s history. When he retired from his law enforcement career, aside from being a highly respected member of the law enforcement community, he was a shining example, as Brown wrote, of someone who had the courage and willingness to move forward in life.

    A public celebration of Wolf’s life is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Eagle Summit on the campus of Woodville High School, which will be prefaced by a public viewing starting at 9 a.m. The services for Wolf are being handled by Kendall Coleman and Coleman’s Family Mortuary of Woodville.

  • Groveton ISD a safe place to be

    Groveton ISD logoGroveton ISD file photo

    TCNS Staff

    GROVETON — Students in Groveton Independent School District are in pretty safe hands

    At its Oct. 26 meeting, the Groveton School Board approved a safety audit which Superintendent Don Hamilton said was overall very good.

    “We have a few things we know we need to deal with, but overall it’s good,” he said.

    Hamilton said the layout of the building is of a concern, because its age means it does not meet current safety and fire codes, but for the most part, the kids are going to school in a safe environment.

    In other business, the board:

    •approved the ESL program;

    •approved changes of names from the signature card on the school’s account;

    •changed meeting dates for next two meetings because of upcoming holidays. The November meeting will be held Nov. 16, and the December meeting will be held Dec. 17;

    •discussed new goals for the future;

    •approved purchase of 20 interactive boards to replace older models at a cost of $40,000; and

    •approved an annual pay stipend, to be paid to non-professional employees only.

  • Groveton looks to beautify downtown and spur economic development

    grovetonmanPhoto by Tony Farkas | TCNS Groveton Mayor Byron Richards points out some of the plans for renovating the sidewalks in the downtown Square. The city has received a $980,000 grant and will begin work Nov. 30.

    By Tony Farkas

    GROVETON — An almost $1 million grant will help city officials tidy up the Square, with metal railings, new sidewalks and some new lighting.

    Mayor Byron Richards said the city has been working on the Groveton Downtown Revitalization Project for nine years.

    “We submitted grant applications over a period of six years and didn’t really land one, seeing them go to bigger cities. We didn’t think we had a chance at it,” he said. “After the sixth year, we got word that the city will receive funds from the Transportation Alternatives Set-aside Program.”

    Richards said the city signed a contract for $980,000, but was $67,000 short to complete the project; that money will come from our Economic Development Corporation. Construction will be done by Ti-Zack Concrete Inc., and the project is slated to start Nov. 30. It’s projected to take six to seven months.

    The project will feature new sidewalks around the Square, which also will provide handicapped access. There will be lighting throughout the project, as well as safety railings.

    “These sidewalks and curbs are a trap, and can cause falls,” he said. “This allows anyone disabled or not to have access to downtown businesses. The whole purpose of the project, as I envisioned it nine years ago, is to update the area and give the city a new look.”

    Groveton has been stagnant for years, the population has declined, and big businesses that wanted to come in were turned away, Richards said.

    “We’re trying to look to the future,” he said. “With the population that’s moving to this area, East Texas finally is being recognized as a good place to live, to raise a family. We’re trying to move the city forward as best we can.”

    This project is one of many projects that have been undertaken in recent years, which includes renovations to the city’s sewers and water system, courthouse work, highway and sidewalk construction, numerous upgrades and even work on the courthouse and annex. All told, it’s more than $23 million spent on beautifying the city, Richards said.

    Along those lines, there will be a commemorative brick paver section right on the corner, and laser-engraved brick pavers will be sold for $25. Contact Richards at City Hall for information.

    “We need new economic activity in this area,” he said. “There is a new Family Dollar coming; a manufacturing company taking over the old sewing machine plant. We need new sources of sales tax and real estate taxes coming into the city, and hopefully draw more retailers in.

    “We’re takin’ an old girl and dressin’ her up, and we have hope for the future that Groveton will grow,” Richards said.

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  • Groveton school board OKs improvement plan

    Groveton ISD logoFILE PHOTO - Groveton ISD logo

    TCNS Staff

    GROVETON — The Board of Trustees for Groveton ISD again approved an improvement plan for the elementary school.

    The need for the approval was because the submission form had changed; the state requires a three-year plan be in place.

    One part of the plan includes using test scores to drive instruction. Also, items were adjusted because of the affect of COVID-19.

    In a separate matter, the council denied a request for appeal from a resident of the district over a decision made regarding a student.

    No details about the incident, including the student’s name, were revealed because of privacy laws.

    The appeal was rejected because it was not filed in a timely manner, according to Board President Mark Folds.

    The decision was first appealed to the High School principal, who upheld the decision; then to Superintendent Don Hamilton, who also denied it.

    In other business, the board:

    • approved a missed school days waiver, as the district missed more days than were allowed for on the previous calendar; and
    • approved the Dec. 17 board meeting to be the date for the superintendent’s evaluation.
  • High-speed chase ends in arrest in Tyler County

    RaheemJonesMugMUGSHOT Raheem Jones

    By Chris Edwards

    TYLER COUNTY - A high-speed chase on highway 190 near the Tyler County line resulted in the arrest of a Jasper man on several charges.

    The chase begun on Saturday evening, at approximately 8 p.m., according to the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe Police Department. Officer S. Allison with the tribal PD attempted to initiate a traffic stop for defective equipment, and the driver refused to stop.

    A high-speed pursuit begun along 190 eastbound, and once near the county line, deputies from the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office were called in to assist the AC officers in pursuit. The driver, who was identified as Raheem Wesley Corday Jones, got up to speeds in excess of 100 mph in the 2010 gold Cadillac he drove.

    Allison was able to get Jones to stop in Tyler County and held him until multiple units from TCSO and the Texas Department of Public Safety were on the scene. Jones was arrested for evading and driving with an invalid license and was also found to have an outstanding warrant for parole violations stemming from an intent to deliver a controlled substance conviction. He was taken to the Polk County Jail.

    He is currently incarcerated on bonds totaling $16,500 from the evading and DWLI charges, and no bond on the parole violation.

  • Historical Commission hosts tree dedication for fallen member

    IMG 0132COURTESY PHOTO Patricia Snook speaks to attendees at a tree dedication Oct. 24 to honor Dicki Lou Alston. Representative Polk County Historical Commission would like to thank family members, First United Methodist Church, Daughters of the American Revolution members, Polk County Historical members and Alston’s 1965 Livingston High School classmates.

    By Jason Chlapek

    The Polk County Historical Commission conducted a tree dedication ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Polk County Memorial Museum.

    The ceremony was conducted in memory of former Historical Commission member Dicki Lou Alston, who passed away in December 2018.

    “(Dicki Lou) was a member of our commission, she was in the Livingston Class of 1965 and she passed away suddenly (two years ago),” Historical Commission co-chair Patricia Snook said. “We have this tree that we planted at the museum and we gave her family a plaque.”

    In addition to her tenure with the Historical Commission, Alston also was a volunteer at the Polk County Memorial Museum and the Moscow Cemetery. She earned her bachelors degree from Texas Tech, masters from Sam Houston, and spent 35-plus years in education, more notably as the curriculum director for Beaumont and Lufkin ISDs.

    Snook said the Historical Commission lost two trees, but have already replanted one and are replanting another one. She also gave a little insight into what the Historical Commission does.

    “We do historical markers and we have a marker chairman,” Snook said. “They have to be approved. We were lucky enough to have a family leave their home to us for the museum. The museum has been several places, but the county maintains the grounds of the museum. We’re more of the project people. We preserve history. We also help out with the old city cemetery. We put up Texas flags. May is preservation month and we put up signs on homes that need to be restored.”

    Joyce Johnson, also a Historical Commission co-chair, talked about other projects her group does.

    “The historical markers are from the state and we have to submit an application to the state to get markers,” Johnson said. “Last year we started an oral history gathering. We have about eight WWII Veterans still with us. During February, we focus on Black History. We worked on this for a long time.”

  • Interview with Covid survivors (VIDEO)

    covid interviewCALEB FORTENBERRY | PCPC Livingston Volunteer Fire Chief, Corky Cochran and Livingston Junior High Coach, John Taylor speak on their experience of surviving Covid-19 in the exclusive East Texas News interview.

     

  • Meth dealer receives 20-year sentence

    RobertHolcombMug102920MUGSHOT: Robert L. Holcomb, Jr. Courtesy of the TYLER COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – After a long hiatus from jury trials due to the pandemic, Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin is back in action.

    On Monday, Babin and first assistant DA Pat “Hawk” Hardy successfully brought a conviction for the state in the case of Texas v. Robert Lloyd Holcomb, Jr. District Judge Earl Stover handed Holcomb a sentence of 20 years in state jail on the charge of Possession of Meth with Intent to Deliver.

    “I appreciate Judge Stover for his attentiveness to the evidence and his sense of justice,” Babin said.

    During the trial, Holcomb took the stand and testified that he was only a meth user and not a dealer. He also attempted to explain why he was carrying digital scales, a loaded short-barrel shotgun, $800 in cash and close to an ounce of meth when he was arrested.

    Babin and Hardy’s evidence proved that Holcomb was a dealer, and one witness testified before the jury that he had purchased meth from Holcomb at least 10 times.

    After Holcomb was sentenced, Babin said “The message is that selling meth in Tyler County has consequences.”

    Babin gave thanks to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford and his deputies’ efforts in apprehending Holcomb.

    “Without their efforts, this offender would still be on the streets endangering our law-abiding citizens,” he said.

    Holcomb is one of several convicted methamphetamine traffickers who have been tried in Tyler County and received stiff sentences. Following a full year of jury trials in 2019, Babin and his office have had to take most of this year off from the courtroom due to COVID-19.

    “I’m glad to be back in the courtroom,” he said. “In addition to this case, we resolved several dozen other felonies last week and will be resolving more cases next month.”

    Babin added that last year between the months of March and September there were hundreds of jury trials performed, statewide, but that number has been “barely 20” this year.

    “I’m ready to get our justice system moving again, and I know other DAs across the state feel the same.”

    Holcomb will be confined in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice facility.

  • Naskila Gaming reopened

    Are you guys excited to get back to the slots?

  • Nearly 12,000 letters urge Senate to save East Texas jobs

    NKGCO 038 Logo Update MECH 300x tbFILE PHOTO - NKGCO 038 Logo

    LIVINGSTON — Texas’ U.S. senators have been sent nearly 12,000 letters over the past six weeks asking them to save the 700 jobs connected to the Naskila Gaming electronic bingo facility. The letters provide a grassroots complement to more than 70 civic and business groups who have also urged the Senate to ask and keep this major East Texas employer open.

    The 11,700 letters urge Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz to help pass H.R. 759, a bill that would effectively stop the state of Texas’ efforts to close Naskila down. The U.S. House unanimously passed H.R. 759, authored by U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, more than a year ago. The Senate has not moved forward with the bill — putting Polk County’s second-largest employer at risk.

    Naskila, which is operated by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, continues to have overwhelming support in East Texas. More than 70 groups — including county commissioner courts, local Republican parties and chambers of commerce — have approved resolutions or other statements of support for keeping Naskila open.

    Included on the list of groups supporting Naskila are the Polk County Commissioners Court, Polk County Chamber of Commerce, Polk County Republican Party and Polk County Higher Education and Technology Foundation.

    “Texans are speaking with a loud, clear voice in support of Naskila Gaming,” said Alabama-Coushatta Tribal Council Chairwoman Cecilia Flores. “We are grateful for the support we’ve received from our visitors and from respected civic and business leaders throughout this region. We hope the Senate will listen to Texans who want to protect these jobs.”

    Naskila is responsible for 700 direct and indirect jobs in East Texas and a recent study estimated that Naskila generates $170 million in annual economic activity for the region. More than 1 million people visit the facility per year. Even when closed for several months during the pandemic, Naskila continued to provide pay and benefits for its employees. Naskila reopened Sept. 10 with new safety precautions in place.

    Another 1,000 jobs are tied to the electronic bingo facility operated by Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in El Paso. The state is also trying to shut that facility down. However, it is not trying to shut down electronic bingo on the Kickapoo tribal land in Eagle Pass, near the Texas-Mexico border.

    H.R. 759 would ensure that the facilities in Livingston and El Paso are governed by the same federal law as the Kickapoo facility.

    “We want to offer electronic bingo without state interference, just like the Kickapoo Tribe,” Flores said. “It’s very concerning to Naskila employees and their families that the Senate has not acted. We have broad, diverse support in East Texas. The Senate needs to approve this bill and save these jobs by the end of the year.”

    In August, 19 members of the U.S. House who represent Texas — ten Republicans and nine Democrats — sent Cornyn a letter urging him to support H.R. 759.

    “Rather than spend untold sums on legal fees and litigation, costing the State of Texas millions of dollars, we believe we could better enact our time and resources by enacting H.R. 759, which would create an economic boost to two hard hit areas of the state with no cost to the taxpayer,” the congressional letter said.