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Piney Woods area nature classes begin Feb. 2

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Master Naturalists in training meet in classrooms and in the field. Piney Wood Lakes Chapter’s next class begins Feb. 2. Courtesy photoMaster Naturalists in training meet in classrooms and in the field. Piney Wood Lakes Chapter’s next class begins Feb. 2. Courtesy photo

From Enterprise Staff

If you prefer being outside watching bugs and birds, like playing in the mud, hanging out with other naturalists, and have a willingness to keep learning and share what you learn, come be a Master Naturalist.

Pine Woods Lakes Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists 2022 class begins Feb. 2. Interested nature enthusiasts from Polk, San Jacinto, Trinity and Tyler counties will take 10 weeks of virtual and classroom trailing delivered by Master Naturalists and specialists from universities, Texas Parks and Wildlife, AgriLife and nature centers.

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, ecological concepts, eco-regions in Texas, pollinators, bird and wildlife identification, and natural systems management.

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 can fulfill much of this requirement.

The cost to become a Texas Master Naturalist is $140 and includes the bound State Curriculum, first year chapter annual dues of $25, temporary and permanent name badges and covers any fees for speakers and facilities. Each candidate must pass a Texas Parks and Wildlife background check.

Classes will be held on Wednesdays for 10 weeks beginning Feb. 2 and ending on April 13 with a spring break March 14-18. Locations for the classes include the virtual on Zoom, Polk County AgriLife Office, Lake Livingston State Park, Lake Livingston Nature Preserve or in the field.

For additional information or to fill out an application, contact Nelda Tuthill at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit https://txmn.org/pineywoodlakes.

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Homicide suspects in custody

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Chatman CormierFrom Enterprise Staff

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office received confirmation Monday from the U.S. Marshal’s Task Force that Lynnie Chatman, 40, and Brooke Ashley Cormier, 22, were found in Liberty County and taken into custody without incident.

Chatman and Cormier were wanted in conjunction with the death of Leonard Eral Chatman, 64, who was found in the front yard of a home in the 14000 block of FM 350 North in Livingston at approximately 1 p.m. on Nov. 18. Sheriff’s deputies and detectives, along with assistance from the Texas Rangers, arrived at the scene and began an investigation.

The deceased’s son was already wanted on four unrelated felony warrants and was being sought by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office for questioning. As the investigation into the Livingston man’s death continued, sheriff’s deputies learned of an additional suspect, Cormier, the younger Chatman’s girlfriend, who was also wanted on two unrelated felony warrants, as well as for questioning regarding the investigation.

“The Polk County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank all that were involved in locating both subjects,” Captain David Sottosanti said.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Become a Texas Treasure if business is 50 or older

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texas treasureBy Emily Banks Wooten
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Polk County Publishing Company is making plans to lead the charge to bring recognition to businesses in its five-county region who qualify for the Texas Treasure business award, a special designation presented by the Texas Historical Commission.

The Texas Treasure Business Award Program recognizes the accomplishments of Texas businesses that have provided employment opportunities and support to the state’s economy for at least 50 years. Created in 2005 by Senate Bill 920, authored by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio and sponsored by Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson of Waco, the program pays tribute to the state’s well-established businesses and their exceptional historical contributions toward the state’s economic growth and prosperity.

Businesses that can also establish that they have been continuously owned by the same family or have operated continuously from a building that is at least 50 years old and have maintained its architectural integrity will receive additional recognition.

“Think about businesses that have been going strong for 50 years or more in our communities. There is value in longevity. Businesses that have survived the past 50 years or more should be recognized, celebrated and supported. All five of our newspapers qualify and I am turning in our applications for the honor of being called a Texas Treasure for having been in business for over 50 years,” Publisher Kelli Barnes said.

“We would like you to join us in becoming registered with the Texas Historical Commission’s Texas Treasure business award program. Registering is easy and can be done with little effort. If your business or a business you know in the county fits into this category, a registration form can be found at https://www.thc.texas.gov/public/upload/ttba_nmntn_frm_09_19.pdf,” Barnes said.

“This will culminate in a large gathering with dignitaries coming to the county for one big presentation and photo opportunity. Please contact the newspaper so we can help and/or coordinate a day our state representative and a representative from the Texas Historical Commission can come to our county for a group photo of all qualifying businesses receiving the award. The group photo will become a part of history we can celebrate and record in the pages of this newspaper,” Barnes said.

According to the Texas Historical Commission’s website, businesses may nominate themselves, although business owners are encouraged to reach out to their local County Historical Commission to notify them of the pending nomination. In most cases, County Historical Commissions are a helpful resource when it comes to identifying and/or locating supporting documentation to verify the business’ age. In all cases, the nominator must have explicit authorization from the business owner to submit on their behalf. 

To be considered for this award, businesses must meet the following criteria:

Have been in continuous for-profit operation in Texas for at least 50 years;

Continue to operate the same or a very similar type of business as it did at least 50 years ago;

Have a continuous record of employment for at least the past 50 years;

Continue to operate as an independent, for-profit business (i.e., it cannot be operating as a subsidiary of or have been absorbed into another business); and

Maintain a good business relationship with the state.

The nomination form asks for the following: the name of the business, the name and contact information of the person nominating the business, the owner/president/CEO of the business, type of business and date founded.

Additionally, a brief narrative history (one to two pages maximum) of the founding and operation of the business is required, including:

When, where, and by whom the business was established;

Explanation of periods during which the business ceased operations (if applicable);

Whether the type of business conducted, the ownership/management, or business location have changed over time;

If it is a family-owned business, include information showing how long the family has owned the business; and

If the business has operated in a historic building, include information showing how long the business has been located in this building as well as a historic photograph and a current photograph of the building.

Additional supportive materials to be provided by the business include one of the following to verify the business founding date: real estate records/deeds, business charters, ledger pages, newspaper advertisements, board meeting minutes, invoices, bills or checks, state licenses, flyers, city directory listings or tax records. Additional brochures or information that clarifies the items above are welcome.

Email submissions are accepted by emailing the nomination form, a copy of the business narrative and scans of any supporting documentation to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The nomination materials may be mailed to: Texas Historical Commission, Attn: Texas Treasure Business Award, P.O. Box 12276, Austin, Texas 78711.

For more information about the Texas Treasure Business Award program, visit the Texas Historical Commission website at www.thc.texas.gov or contact Mallory Laurel, Heritage Tourism Program Specialist, at 512.463.3893 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Livingston man charged with murder

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Shooting GraphicFrom Enterprise Staff

Drew Dylan Ponkonin, 22 of Livingston, was arrested and charged with murder in conjunction with a disturbance that occurred at the Pine Hill Apartments at 12:29 a.m. Saturday.

The Livingston Police Department received a 911 call of a disturbance with shots fired and at least one subject possibly injured in the parking lot of the apartment complex located at 1025 West Church Street in Livingston.

Livingston police officers, Polk County sheriff’s deputies and EMTs responded to the scene and upon arrival, found two deceased black males in a vehicle in the parking lot and detained a white male also found at the scene, according to Livingston Police Chief Matt Parrish.

Additional units from the police department were called to assist in the investigation along with the Texas Rangers. Polk County Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Jamie Richardson responded and performed the inquest, ordering autopsies be performed by the Harris County Medical Examiner.

“This investigation is ongoing and officers are continuing to interview witnesses and process evidence. We ask that anyone with information on this incident please contact the Livingston Police Department,” Parrish said. 

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