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Two LISD students arrested

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From Enterprise Staff

Two Livingston ISD students were arrested Thursday in two unrelated incidents. A 14-year-old at the high school was arrested and charged with false alarm or report. A 13-year-old at the junior high school was arrested and charged with assault.

“We had a student arrested after school hours yesterday,” a district representative wrote in an email that was sent to parents Friday morning. “While this morning there is no known threat toward our campus(es), it is important that we all work together to remind our students that threatening words and/or statements are taken seriously. Threatening words create a disruption to operations and are counterproductive to our mission of safety, both physically and emotionally, of all involved.

“Unfortunately, during the course of finalizing the documentation of the arrest made after school yesterday, we had an additional arrest of a student that made a threat in the presence of law enforcement at the junior high campus. This student was immediately removed from campus by law enforcement. We take all matters of safety seriously and act as expeditiously as possible to ensure control of the situation. We strive to provide clear and timely communication to parents and staff while abiding by confidentiality afforded by the law,” a second email to parents said.

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Items stolen from Onalaska area residence

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Items stolen

On April 6, a burglary of habitation was reported to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office that occurred on May Drive in the Onalaska area. The vehicle involved is a dark-colored Chevrolet Z71 Silverado with no front license plate. The two suspects are a male and female, who took items from inside a residence. Those with information that may help with the investigation are asked to contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and speak with a detective at 936-327-6810. An anonymous tip may also be submitted at p3tips.com, the P3 App or by calling Polk County Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP, where tipsters may collect a cash reward for information leading to an arrest.

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Rangers investigating officer-involved shooting

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PoliceLines STOCK

By Emily Banks Wooten
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For the second time in three weeks, the Texas Department of Public Safety Texas Rangers are investigating an officer-involved shooting that occurred in the city of Livingston. The latest event occurred Saturday in the 1100 block of Bluebird Ave.

Preliminary information indicates that officers with the Livingston Police Department observed a stolen motorcycle at 6:30 p.m. and attempted a traffic stop. Following a brief pursuit, the motorcycle crashed, with the driver fleeing on foot. Officers responded and witnessed the subject running through a residential neighborhood.

Officers attempted to use a taser to apprehend the suspect but the taser was ineffective. The suspect then pulled a .40 caliber handgun from his boot and was subsequently shot by responding officers.

The officers began administering life-saving measures until emergency medical personnel arrived and transported the suspect to HCA Houston Healthcare Conroe where he was listed in critical condition. The identity of the suspect has not been disclosed and the investigation is ongoing.

The earlier event occurred April 2 when local law enforcement officers responded to the 100 block of Pan American Drive after receiving a report of a man displaying a gun outside the Exxon Super Stop Food Mart.

Upon arrival, the individual was located and commanded in both English and Spanish to drop his weapon. He pointed the gun at officers and was shot by first responders. Officers administered life-saving measures until emergency personnel arrived, transporting the individual to St. Luke’s Health - Memorial Hospital in Livingston where he was pronounced dead. The individual was identified as Jose Luis Hernandez, 66 of Livingston.

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Broadway stars bring musical theater talent to UH

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Mayes Prince

From Enterprise Staff

The Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts at the University of Houston, alongside Tony-nominated Broadway actress, UH alum and artist-in-residence Sally Mayes who is originally from Polk County, will present a musical theater showcase concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday titled “A Little Faith: An Evening with Faith Prince and Our Broadway Stars of Tomorrow,” with Broadway and television star Faith Prince.

The showcase concert will be performed in the Quintero Theatre at the University of Houston located at 3351 Cullen Blvd. in Houston. General admission tickets are $20, senior citizen (65+) tickets are $15 and student tickets are $15.

The concert is part of the McGovern College of the Arts’ new course, announced in October and taught by Mayes, titled “Song Performance for Musical Theatre.” The course was designed to provide students with cross-disciplinary training in song performance and stemmed from the college’s efforts to create opportunities for aspiring musical theater actors and singers.

Prince, a collaborator with Mayes for the past four decades, has dazzled audiences on both stage and screen in a variety of memorable comedic and dramatic roles. She quickly rose to Broadway fame after winning a Tony Award, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award for her performance as Miss Adelaide in “Guys and Dolls,” directed by Jerry Zaks and has remained one of the most prolific leading ladies working in American musical theater. Since then, she has starred in various roles on Broadway, in TV and in film. Prince is perhaps most widely recognized for the many colorful characters she has created on television, including Nellie Cantrell on “Monarch,” Judith Robertson in “Emily in Paris,” Kristy Swenson in “Scream Queens,” and Elaine Bingum in “Drop Dead Diva.”

Her dedication to her work and years of experience will be a source of invaluable knowledge for students. “When your commitment is to the work and the craft, it naturally opens doors to finding a path to a career filled with passion … I’m excited to be a part of Sally’s master plan and be a resource for students,” Prince said.

A veteran actor of both stage and screen, this is Mayes’ second return to UH as artist-in-residence. Her course, “Song Performance for Musical Theatre,” is structured as an intensive one-month course focused on helping students tell stories through song by capturing the raw emotion and intent of the characters singing them. Mayes said it is designed to empower students with the tools necessary to deliver compelling, believable vocal performances.

“I want this to be the kind of class that I would’ve killed to have when I was in college,” Mayes said. “It was never a musical theater program. We just had two professors there who always did musicals and they meshed with the music department, but there was not an actual program. And so how great would it have been to have been able to do that when I was like 18 years old instead of having to go and just do it in the school of hard knocks?”

Now based in New York, Mayes made her Broadway debut in 1989 as Winona Shook in Cy Coleman’s Welcome to the Club. Her credits include performances in She Loves Me, Urban Cowboy, and Steel Magnolias. In addition to her work in a variety of film and television roles, Mayes is also a revered nightclub singer and performer.

Mayes said the idea for the course stemmed from a desire to bring more opportunity for aspiring musical theater actors to campus. “We noticed that there is a dearth of any musical theater. And I believe that you’re hamstringing your actors if you don’t at least give them a modicum of it. You have to teach them a little bit of it because like at least 50%, and sometimes it’s more like 75%, of the work in New York is musical.”

In addition to lessons around vocal performance, Mayes said the course will also incorporate the teachings of Stanislavski and Strasberg to help students adopt a more confident approach. “I want to see where they are as actors. I want to see what I can do to help them loosen up and learn to trust each other and become a unit.”

Mayes said that she has long held a passion for teaching and guiding younger performers. “I love to see that aha moment when you see a kid get it. And then I love to see them do it in performance and have them see the response that they get from the audience when they get it, because it’s different.

“I just want to help these kids be comfortable in their own skin. This is a conversation. And when you sit and you sing a story song to an audience, that’s a conversation you’re having with them. It’s not enough to sound great. You have to also tell the story.”

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World War II hero is turning 100

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HappyBirthday STOCK

From Enterprise Staff

Ellis “Willie”  WilliamsonEllis “Willie” WilliamsonEllis “Willie” Williamson will celebrate his 100th birthday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Onalaska Fire Station located at 181 Old Groveton Rd. in Onalaska and is inviting everyone to join him in the celebration. Lunch will be served at 11:30 and will consist of fish, chicken strips, potato salad, beans and all the fixings, with birthday cake to follow.

Williamson served in the 397th – 599th Army Air Corp of the U.S. Air Force as a staff sergeant flight engineer/gunner. Hailing from Gallatin, Texas, Williamson was born April 16, 1923 and graduated from Gallatin High School in June 1941. He reported for duty to the Army Air Corp in Houston in February 1943 and went on to Kessler Air Force Base in Mississippi for basic training, then Fort Meyer, Fla. for flight training, gunnery and aerial gunnery training.

In mid-1944 he shipped out with the 397th BG to Rivenhall, England until D-Day and was then based in Dreux, France. He was assigned as a flight engineer/gunner on a B26 marauder bomber and his duties were to double check the ground crew’s preparation for light, make sure the gas tanks were full, battle damage repaired and then man the top turret as gunner.

Williamson shared stories of some of the events that occurred on his missions. Of the mission over LeHavre Submarine Station, he said, “Ours and 11 other planes went with no bombs or escorts to attract gunfire so other bombers could bomb the submarine station. It was a very eventful day. Fighter planes were everywhere. We were lucky. There were over 100 holes in the plane with no injuries or severe damage. We got back, patched the holes and then went to debriefing. Usually, on a mission a day lasted on average three to four hours.

“On D-Day, we flew two missions with the first one leaving in the dark before sunup. I manned the top turret, could not see the water, but saw the flashes of the battleship’s guns on this mission to bomb Normandy Beach. We would normally fly at 12,000 feet but that day came in at 6,000-7,000 feet. We could see the anti-aircraft guns on the ground firing when our plane tilted. When we turned around, I could see the beach live with fire everywhere. We made it back and reloaded for the second mission around 2 p.m., bombing roads and tanks.

“My last mission, the 65th, before shipping home, I never made it,” he said. “On Dec. 24, 1944, I was to be on a ship, headed to New York for New Year’s with my fiancé. I was all packed and all my belongings had been loaded on the ship. On Dec. 23, 1944, it was to be my last and final mission to complete my tour of duty. Sixty-five missions but I only made 64½.

“The Battle of the Bulge was raging, the air cleared and everything that could fly was in the air – including the Luftwaffe. The 397th target was Eller Bridge, to cut the enemy supply line from the Bulge. Flying under clouds at 8,000 feet the flak was intense. The plane’s left engine was hit, landing gear was tangling down. A shell exploded in the compartment behind the engine, starting the fire in the oil tank and oil lines.

“I got out of the turret, pulled the fire extinguisher, but was not enough to put out the fire. The waist gunner had been shot in the stomach but was still alive. The tail gunner and I tied off his rip cord and threw him out the Bombay door. The pilot gave the orders to bail out. The tail gunner went out the waist window, the bombardier was coming from the nose of the plane, the pilot was standing in the door of the radio room and the co-pilot was at the controls. Those were the positions of the crew when I bailed out. The co-pilot was in the prison camp and they found the bodies of the pilot and bombardier in the wreckage of the plane. Three of us survived and three perished with the plane.”

William was a prisoner of war from Dec. 23, 1944 until he was liberated at the end of April, 1945.

“We jumped at approximately 7,000 feet, never having parachuted before. After bailing out of the plane, the parachute opened immediately. I was looking for the plane but never saw it again. Landing in deep snow, I was taken prisoner by German soldiers immediately. I had hurt my knee and one of the German soldiers carried my parachute for a while. They asked me if I had a gun. I took my .45-caliber pistol out of my flight suit pant leg, put the clip in my pocket and gave them the gun.

“I was taken to Bitburg, Germany, a German outpost and held in a basement until the American planes stopped bombing, two hours after capture, then taken to a farmhouse where they left my gun on the windowsill and left me alone for 30 minutes. They came back and took me to a store-like building and met up with a ground soldier who was also captured. Sirens started for an air raid. The Germans took us to the basement again to keep us safe. After it was over, we and the German soldiers helped all the people that were hit by the bombs. Then everyone disappeared.

“We went with the guard and helped push a truck to a cemetery. We spent our first night there in a small building. The next day was Christmas Eve. The ground soldier and I found half of a sugar beet. I’ll never forget. Christmas Eve dinner was one-quarter of a sugar beet. That would be the last food we got until Jan. 17, 1945.

“We’re now on the way to Koblenz, Germany and we are 15 prisoners. We left there and just started walking, southeast I think, gathering other prisoners as we went. By the 17th of January, we were up to 150 prisoners. On this day we were given one number two can of cheese for two people, one loaf of black bread for three people and one blanket for two people. The other soldier and I cut our blanket in half to share. Before this, the only thing we had to eat was snow, grass, tree bark and anything else we could find on the walk. I went from 180 pounds to 118 pounds in my time as a POW.

“We made it to Nuremburg, Germany and there the food was better. From Nuremburg, to Munich there were 15,000 POWs by now. Americans, British, French, Italians all going now to our final destination – Stalag 7A POW Camp. The ground soldier and I had walked over 400-plus miles in winter conditions. I was not long in the POW camp, most of my time had been walking.

“On or about April 29, 1945, we were liberated by General Patton. He came for a brief speech and we were all anxious and excited. The German soldiers all surrendered willingly. Giving their guns to their captains or commanders, some ran, not many, mostly all were very polite. At this time the Red Cross gave all POWs a postcard to fill out for your family to let them know you were found, freed and alive. Bonfires and great joy.

“It was during my flight back to LeHavre, France to start the journey home when we were told the war had ended. We boarded a Liberty Ship, Troup Carrier for 10 days to New York. I took a train for six days to San Antonio, then a bus to Gallatin. Along my journey home, I met up with my fiancé, Antoinette Lima, married, and later honeymooned in Miami on my R&R from the army. The very day I walked on our porch to see my family, the mailman delivered my Red Cross postcard from the POW camp to my mom.”

Afterward, Williamson was awarded the Air Medal with two silver oak leaf clusters and two bronze clusters and several others. He worked from then on, retiring three times in his life. He retired in 1979 after 30-plus years as a paint salesman with Celanese Coating Co. He retired the second time in 1983 after owning and operating 18-wheelers. He retired for the third and last time in 1990 after seven years in sales at Devoe Paint.

His wife of 45 years, Antoinette, passed in 1990. They had three children, four grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. He remarried Priscilla Carrick and gained two stepdaughters but she passed in 2020.

As for his time in the service, he said, “I wouldn’t give anything for it, but I wouldn’t want to do it again.”

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