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AC Tribe to introduce new chiefs

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From Enterprise Staff

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas will introduce its new principal chief and second chief at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Cultural Center on the tribe’s reservation.

The incoming Chiefs – Mikko Choba (Principal Chief) Kanicu Donnis Battise and Mikko Istimatokla (Second Chief) Millie Thompson Williams – will give remarks and be introduced by Tribal Council Vice Chair Nita Battise at the event Tuesday. The two will be formally inaugurated during a private event on Sunday.

The incoming Mikko Choba currently serves as the Mikko Istimatokla. The previous Mikko Choba Skaalaba Herbert G. Johnson Sr. died in August 2021.

The two chiefs were elected by tribal citizens earlier this year. Williams is the first woman in the history of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas to serve as a chief.

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Prepare for freezing weather - Protect those pipes

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By Emily Banks Wooten
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An Arctic cold front will bring strong winds and bitterly cold air into Southeast Texas, most likely Thursday afternoon, according to Warning Coordination Meteorologist Dan Reilly of the Houston/Galveston office of the National Weather Service.

“The combination of winds and low temperatures will combine to create dangerously low wind chill indices, posing a danger of hypothermia and burst water pipes. Strong winds could lead to scattered power outages.

A long duration freeze is expected, meaning it will remain below freezing in most zones from Thursday night into Saturday,” Reilly said.

“What we know is that extended durations below freezing are expected for many locations and we recommend finalizing preparations to protect people, pets, plants and pipes before Thursday when the coldest air begins arriving,” Reilly said.

“It is too early to confidently forecast exact temperatures at any individual location but teens and 20s appear likely. It is also too early to confidently forecast consecutive hours any individual location will remain below freezing. However, the potential is there for some areas to remain below 32 degrees into Sunday morning,” Reilly said.

Polk County Emergency Management Coordinator Courtney Comstock agreed.

“We are expecting freezing temperatures this week. Now is the time to prepare and protect your home. Always be prepared for power outages. Have flashlights and batteries on hand. Use generators safely,” Comstock said.

“Make sure you have plenty of non-perishable food and drinking water, one gallon per person per day for at least three to seven days. Also keep enough food and water for your pets. Keep water in your home for sanitary purposes such as toilet flushing. Consider filling a bathtub with water,” she said.

Comstock offered the following tips for protecting pipes:

Locate your water shut off. Make sure everyone in your residence knows where the water main shutoff valve is located and keep it clear of debris and obstacles at all times.

Keep out cold air. Tightly close doors and windows to the outside. Make repairs to broken or drafty windows, doors and walls. Seal all leaks in crawl spaces and basements. Winterize unheated spaces and close garage doors for the duration of the freeze.

Find exposed pipes and water heaters. Insulate pipes in unheated and drafty areas, such as an attic or garage. Also check manufacturer recommendations for your tanked and tankless water heaters. Hardware and plumbing supply stores carry insulation to help keep pipes from freezing.

Turn off outside faucets. Remove all connected hoses and wrap faucets with towels or a Styrofoam insulator. Turn off and drain automatic sprinkler systems.

If you plan to be away during a time when freezing temperatures are possible, turn off your water at the meter and set your thermostat to 65 degrees or higher.

During freezing weather protect indoor faucets by opening cabinets beneath kitchen and bathroom sinks to allow warmer air to circulate around pipes. Be sure to remove any toxic substances located in these cabinets if there are children or pets living in the residence.

Drip only if needed. After the measures above are taken, drip one cold water faucet slowly if you feel your pipes may still freeze. The faucet you choose should be the one that is the greatest distance from your main shutoff valve. It does not need to be a running trickle. If you do drip your faucet, capture the water for future use.

If you experience a power outage for more than 24 hours, stop dripping your faucets and turn off your water at the meter.

After a period of freezing weather, if you turn on a faucet and discover only a trickle of water coming out, or no water at all, it is possible you have a frozen pipe or water meter.

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If you now enjoy the school science you slept through, become a master naturalist

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Piney Wood Lakes Master Naturalists gather for an advanced training presentation on milkweed to entice monarch butterflies. Courtesy photo

From Enterprise Staff

The Piney Woods Lakes Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists will begin a new training class on February 1, 2023. Interested nature enthusiasts from Polk, San Jacinto, Trinity and Tyler counties will take 10 weeks of virtual and classroom training delivered by master naturalists and specialists from universities, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas A&M University AgriLife and nature centers. Trainees will get to:

Hang out with other nature-loving people;

Play in the water and mud again without getting into trouble;

Learn to identify birds by their sound;

Lead nature hikes at parks and nature preserves; and

Participate in many more fun and educational outdoor opportunities.

Master Naturalist certification requires 40 hours of training and 40 hours of chapter and community service within one year of beginning training. Topics covered in the training include interpretation and management of natural resources; land and water conservation and management; diverse eco-regions in Texas; pollinators, bird and wildlife identification; and improving natural habitats for all living things.

Additionally, each trainee must complete the annual requirement for eight hours of advanced training in an area of personal interest. Various presentations offered at chapter meetings typically fulfill most of this requirement.

The class fee of $140 covers the bound state curriculum, first year chapter annual dues of $25, temporary and permanent name badges, fees for speakers and facilities and the required Texas Parks and Wildlife Department background check.

Classes, most 5 hours, will be held Wednesdays for 10 weeks beginning February 1 and ending on April 12 with a spring break March 13-17. Most classes will be held at Polk County Chamber of Commerce, Lake Livingston State Park or in the field. Most classes will be recorded in case you miss one.

For more information or to fill out an application, contact Tina Crichfield via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or check out the website and Facebook page. Download the membership application online at www.txmn.org/pineywoodlakes

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911 call leads to arrest


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CrimeHandCuffs StockStock Photo

From Enterprise Staff

Cory Austin LilleyCory Austin LilleyA 911 call regarding a female in distress and needing assistance led to the arrest of Cory Austin Lilley, 31 of Livingston.

After receiving the call at approximately 8:24 p.m. Thursday, Polk County sheriff’s deputies and a DPS trooper arrived at the scene and saw the male subject assaulting a female outside the residence with children present.

Lilley was transported to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office to be interviewed by detectives, attempted to run away and was immediately apprehended and taken to the Polk County Jail.

Lilley was charged with aggravated sexual assault and aggravated assault family/household with a weapon, both first degree felonies, endangering a child criminal negligence, a state jail felony, and escape while arrested/confined, a third-degree felony, and remains in the Polk County Jail on bonds totaling $230,000.

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Historic day as work begins on Corrigan Relief Route

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By Emily Banks Wooten
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Monday was a history-making day for the north end of the county, a day that many wondered if they would ever see. With a slew of dignitaries on hand to hold the shovels, ground was broken for the construction of the Corrigan Relief Route, the largest and most expensive project ever undertaken for the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) Lufkin District.

“This is a really exciting day and has been a long time coming. It will complement Corrigan and provide a non-stop travel experience,” Lufkin District Engineer Kelli Morris

“Change is coming, and we need to prepare for it,” County Judge Sydney Murphy said. “I do think this project has had more stops and starts than anything in the history of the state of Texas. I know it’s been close to 40 years. I remember being a teacher at Corrigan-Camden and hearing Jasper Cockrell talk about it when I was pregnant with my son Matthew and Matthew’s 38 now. We welcome you and thank you.”

“I’m excited to see the project begin and I’m proud to be the one to lead this project,” Livingston Area Engineer Clint Jones, who serves Polk and San Jacinto counties, said.

“This project will bring Hwy. 59 up to interstate standards and will result in goods and services being sourced in the area for years to come,” Shawn Dunn, speaking on behalf of Sen. Robert Nichols, said.

“I know with growth there are growing pains. This is a project that has been on the books for over 25 years now. There are a lot of people that we owe a debt of gratitude to that are not in this room. We’re standing on their shoulders. This is huge. It’s monumental. I know this is going to be welcome for our traveling public and freight movement,” Rep. Trent Ashby said.

“Getting to break ground today on the Corrigan Relief Route is very exciting. Once complete, it will serve as the hurricane evacuation route,” TxDOT’s Director of Construction Shannon Ramos said.

The $172.8 million construction project will be built to interstate standards and will include construction of new U.S. 59 northbound and southbound lanes with controlled access.

The 6.3-mile project will be from 3.4 miles north of U.S. 287 to 3 miles south of U.S. 287. Work will include the construction of overpasses at United Pacific Railroad, U.S. 287 and Union Springs Road. Entrance and exit ramps will be added at U.S. 59 tie-ins and at the U.S. 287 overpass and will include the construction of four main lanes for travel.

James Construction Group LLC of Baton Rouge, La. will serve as contractor for the project that is scheduled to be completed in six years.

Planning for the Corrigan Relief Route began in the late 1990s when environmental studies began but were stopped due to budgetary constraints. Project development resumed in 2012 when I-69 in Polk County was considered a top priority by the I-69 Segment Two Committee. Schematics and right-of-way maps were studied and in 2014, an open house was held for the public to view the proposed path.

Further refinements to the plan were made and presented to the public in 2015, and in 2016 environmental studies and schematic reviews were performed. A public hearing was held in 2017 to gather public comments and the Texas Transportation Commission approved the revisions and funded the project.

The Corrigan Relief Route will be built to promote public safety, improve emergency evacuations and support freight transport. As the work begins, motorists should be alert to moving equipment and workers near the work zone. Reduce speed and obey all traffic control.

For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (936) 633-4395.


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