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Livingston ISD loses 2 teachers to COVID

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Dr. Gregory Maze (left) and Coach Norris Taff both died of Covid-19.Dr. Gregory Maze (left) and Coach Norris Taff both died of Covid-19.

The tragic news from Livingston ISD has continued, as two faculty members have died due to Covid-19. 

The same day an auto accident claimed the life of a high school senior last week, Dr. Gregory Maze, a substitute teacher who had been with the district for many years, died due to Covid. 

Maze was a 1980 graduate of Livingston High School and said to be a lifelong musician, world traveler, psychiatrist and medical doctor. He was recognized in 2013 as the LHS Outstanding Graduate. 

“In times like this, we are reminded just how precious life can be and how fragile each of us truly is,” Livingston superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins said. “We were fortunate to have Dr. Gregory Maze work for years as a long-term substitute for LISD. He passed away yesterday, losing his fight with Covid. Prayers are needed for his entire family, including his mother, Delores Maze, a long-time teacher, and Greg’s brother, Jerry Maze, who was a former principal for LISD.”

A music major at Sam Houston State University, Maze studied classical piano training and developed as a violinist. He worked with medical missionaries as a translator in the late 1980s. He then enrolled at the University of Texas at Arlington for a bachelor of science degree. At the University of Texas at San Antonio, he earned a degree as a medical doctor. The degree at UTSA led to a fellowship at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, conducting research in psychopharmacology. He was later certified by the National Board of Psychiatry to practice as a psychiatrist. 

On Tuesday, Coach Norris Taff died from complications with Covid after a long battle. Taff worked for LISD for 10 years through three different stints and was employed this year as an LHS Academy teacher and an assistant football and track coach. Taff coached a total of 35 years, which included the head football coach at Cleveland High School.

“He was probably the most kid-driven coach I have ever dealt with,” Livingston athletic director Finis Vanover said. “He absolutely loved the kids and loved coaching. He couldn’t get enough of it here and this was his third time in Livingston. The kids sensed that in a hurry. He was in his happiest moods and moments when he was hands-on and working with those kids and coaching on the field. Everything he did, there was no ego involved. It was all about the kids, there was no question what he was in it for. He was just a quality man and we are all better for him being here. If we want to honor him, we must get better than what we were, utilizing what he taught.”

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Livingston senior killed in hit and run

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Memorial to student - Students gather around a memorial built in Cole Overstreet’s parking space Monday afternoon. The Livingston High School senior was said to be someone who was always smiling and caused others to do the same. Photos by Brian Besch | PCEMemorial to student - Students gather around a memorial built in Cole Overstreet’s parking space Monday afternoon. The Livingston High School senior was said to be someone who was always smiling and caused others to do the same. Photos by Brian Besch | PCE

By Emily Banks Wooten
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Livingston High School student Cole Edward Overstreet, 18, of Livingston, was killed in a hit-and-run collision that occurred Friday night on FM 350 South near Kate Lowe Road.

Overstreet, a member of the Livingston Royal Brigade Marching Band, was driving southbound on FM 350 South following the Livingston football game when a northbound vehicle crossed the centerline, colliding head-on with Overstreet’s.

Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Robert “Dooley” Johnson performed an inquest at the scene.

Roy WagnerRoy WagnerAlthough the other driver fled the scene, he turned himself in Sunday night and was arrested and booked into the Polk County Jail. Roy Grant Wagner, 40 of The Woodlands, was charged with failure to stop and render aid resulting in death, unlawful carrying of a weapon and possession of marijuana. Wagner’s criminal history reflects multiple arrests for DWI.

The accident continues to be under investigation by the Texas Highway Patrol and the Texas Rangers.

Livingston ISD posted the following statement on its Facebook page Saturday: “It is sad when our district loses a member of its family. It is even more tragic when such a young life is taken away from us. We mourn the loss of Cole Overstreet, a member of our senior class and Livingston Royal Brigade who was in a car accident last night. We extend our thoughts and sincere condolences to his family members, friends and classmates.”

Friends and classmates erected a memorial in Overstreet’s space in the parking lot of the Livingston High School Sunday and a vigil was held there at the start of the school day Monday.

A Celebration of Life will be held for Overstreet at 10 a.m. Friday at First Baptist Church of Livingston with Brad Butler officiating. Interment will follow in the Holland Cemetery in Kountze. A visitation will be held from 5-8 p.m. at First Baptist Church.

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Community service award presented

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Chamber Board Chairman John Frank Clifton, above left,  presented Francisco Lopez of Corrigan, above right, with a Community Service Award from the Livingston-Polk County Chamber of Commerce Tuesday.  Photo by Emily Banks Wooten | PCEChamber Board Chairman John Frank Clifton, above left, presented Francisco Lopez of Corrigan, above right, with a Community Service Award from the Livingston-Polk County Chamber of Commerce Tuesday. Photo by Emily Banks Wooten | PCE

Emily Banks Wooten
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Francisco Lopez of Corrigan received a Community Service Award from the Livingston-Polk County Chamber of Commerce Tuesday during the chamber’s quarterly membership luncheon held at the Sechrest Webster Community Center in Corrigan. Chamber Board Chairman John Frank Clifton presented the award.

Beginning this year, the chamber is presenting community service awards quarterly during its membership luncheons, recognizing citizens from various communities within the county rather than just one at the annual banquet. All four award recipients this year will be recognized at the 2022 awards banquet.

“This year, the Livingston-Polk County Chamber of Commerce has elected to present a Community Service Award to individuals in respective counties instead of choosing one for the entire county. The chamber reached out to the City of Corrigan for a nomination. In deciding who would be selected, there are a lot of factors that must be considered,” Clifton said.

“The person chosen usually has no idea that anyone would consider them for such an honor and lives out their life never seeking the spotlight. Whoever he or she is always shows up with no expectations for a return of services rendered,” he said.

“This year, the City of Corrigan’s mayor and city council chose a person who has been a lifelong member of the community. He was born in Huntsville on Aug. 31, 1989. His parents moved to Corrigan shortly after for work at the Georgia Pacific Plywood Mill,” Clifton said.

He had the privilege of growing up in this tight-knit community, attending school and graduating from Corrigan-Camden High School in 2008. He started a career in law enforcement with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, but he decided to start a business to supplement his income. It was simple. He started out power-washing big trucks for Hughes and any other who would oblige. One day, a person stopped and asked if he would power-wash a house. It was at that time that his business took off and the power-washing business became a career,” Clifton said.

“Then came COVID-19. Without ever asking for praise or recognition, he asked the school if he could power-wash the playground equipment to sanitize for the safety of the children to reduce the spread of COVID-19. He then thought about the city parks and volunteered his time to power-wash the playground equipment at the Corrigan West Park and Corrigan Central Park,” he said.

“In addition to the school and city, he volunteered to power-wash the Naranjo Museum in Lufkin. He has been awarded ‘Best of Lufkin’ three years running and Lufkin Small Business of the Year for 2020. He demonstrates what it means to make a difference in giving back to the community. We appreciate his selfless acts,” Clifton said.

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LISD Stipend voted down

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lisd logoFrom Enterprise Staff

The Livingston school board heard a quarterly investment report and voted against a stipend in September’s regular school board meeting Monday.

LISD Chief Financial Officer Ben Davidson presented the quarterly investment report and annual investment policy. The beginning balance on May 31 was $34,272,448, and the ending balance on Aug. 31 was $28,861,805. The interest earned in June was $6,668, July was $6,754 and August was $6,015.

The Livingston ISD Investment Schedule reflected a beginning balance on Sept. 1, 2020, of $24,546,206 and an ending balance on Aug. 31, 2021, of $28,861,805. The interest earned over the year was $76,257 in investments. The board approved the quarterly investment report and investment schedule as presented.

Upon returning from closed session, the board voted 4-3 against a resolution to provide a one-time Covid-19 vaccination stipend for all LISD employees. The stipend would have been a $500 addition for those who received the vaccine.

The board also voted unanimously to request the State Board of Educator Certification to pursue sanctions against Rosemary Allen in accordance with law and policy. 

Dr. Marcia McMahon, Texas Education Agency Lone Star Governance facilitator, discussed how she has encouraged school boards to look at basic goals and target goals to see if they are realistic, based on what has transpired over the previous 18 months. She encourages a future workshop to review and set target goals that outline the priorities of the district, as well as student outcome targets. McMahon is available to help with a survey or lead workshops virtually that would involve members of the community.

The board approved the consent agenda, which included approval of minutes from previous board meetings, the financial statement and payment of bills, overnight trips, and purchasing additional reading materials from Heinemann, Carnegie Learning, Saddleback. The reading materials would be used at all campuses grades Kindergarten through 12th for the Intervention program in the amount of $125,000.

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LISD will not tolerate TikTok challenge

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LISD LOGOBy Emily Banks Wooten
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The “devious lick,” a challenge on the social media application TikTok, has come to the Livingston Independent School District and LISD officials are not going to tolerate it.

In fact, any student involved in these actions could face the consequences of in-school suspension, school suspension, disciplinary alternative school placement or even criminal charges.

Through this challenge—which seems to have become something of a national phenomenon—students video themselves stealing property from their school or faculty and see what attention they can get from vandalizing school facilities.

“At this point, the vandalism of school property has been mild, but the theft of property from both the school and staff has been both monetary value and sentimental as well. Our dedicated custodial staff has gone above and beyond expectations to clean up after these poor decisions have been made by some of our students. Either way, these decisions by our students are wrong, and some students face the consequences of these poor decisions,” LISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brent E. Hawkins said in an email that was sent to parents Wednesday, seeking help.

“We reach out for your help in talking with your Lion or Lady Lion. In public schools, we must partner with our families to ensure that our values are taught and reinforced at home and school. We want our students to have great pride and ownership of their school and respect for all others in Lion Country,” Hawkins said.

The superintendent emphasized that the school district sees this as theft and vandalism, not as a joke or students “just playing around.

“I ask that you visit with your student about the seriousness of these types of behaviors. We need to send the united message to our students that theft and vandalism are wrong no matter how glorified it is on social media or the gratification that comes with this ‘challenge’ on social media. Our custodial staff deserves more respect than this, and our facilities belong to all of us. Regardless of what you see or hear on social media, please have these conversations with your student,” Hawkins said.

“This pandemic has been hard on everyone involved and we do not need social media to make life harder on anyone. We hope this can be turned into a positive in our community moving forward as a teachable moment for our young people,” he concluded.

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