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Livingston Home Burglarized

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HOME BURGLARIZED - Numerous units from the Livingston Police Department responded to a home in the 1200 block of Brinwood Place that was burglarized Monday afternoon. The homeowners returned home to discover a suspect taking weapons from the residence. The suspect fled on foot and has not been apprehended. All of the weapons were recovered near the scene. Photo by Emily Banks Wooten

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Goodrich ISD postpones classes one week

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School late open

Goodrich ISD students will start school one week later than originally planned following action taken by the Board of Trustees during an emergency called meeting Saturday.

The decision comes after several employees have tested positive for Covid-19.

As of Monday morning, eight employees have been confirmed positive for the virus, according to school sources, with some among that number including administrators.

The 2021-22 school year is now set to begin Wednesday, Aug. 25, while an open house is scheduled for the Monday two days before.

The school district will interview four candidates for its superintendent position and could have a lone finalist named as early as Thursday at a regular board meeting. Once that person is named, state law requires a 21-day waiting period until he or she could be hired.

Goodrich ISD is strongly recommending all staff, students and parents who enter the campus to wear masks. They also encourage those who are sick to remain at home.

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Heritage Park Cabin repairs to begin soon

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RESTORING OUR HERITAGE The Jonas Davis Log Cabin in Heritage Park is the beneficiary of a $35,000 gift from The Smith Family Foundation given to the Polk County Heritage Society to repair and refurbish the roof of the cabin which has been taken over by resurrection fern. (l-r) Livingston City Manager Bill S. Wiggins; Heritage Society Member Molly Anderson; Robert Smith, representing The Smith Family Foundation; Samantha Legg, Smith’s personal assistant; Heritage Society Member Patrick Swilley; and Heritage Society Member Ruth Hollenbeck. Not pictured: Fred M. Smith, representing The Smith Family Foundation. Photo by Emily Banks Wooten RESTORING OUR HERITAGE The Jonas Davis Log Cabin in Heritage Park is the beneficiary of a $35,000 gift from The Smith Family Foundation given to the Polk County Heritage Society to repair and refurbish the roof of the cabin which has been taken over by resurrection fern. (l-r) Livingston City Manager Bill S. Wiggins; Heritage Society Member Molly Anderson; Robert Smith, representing The Smith Family Foundation; Samantha Legg, Smith’s personal assistant; Heritage Society Member Patrick Swilley; and Heritage Society Member Ruth Hollenbeck. Not pictured: Fred M. Smith, representing The Smith Family Foundation. Photo by Emily Banks Wooten

 

By Emily Banks Wooten
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The Jonas Davis Cabin in Heritage Park is about to undergo a substantial facelift thanks to the generosity of The Smith Family Foundation.

“Mom and Dad put together this foundation way back in the 90s because they loved education, culture, art, churches and they wanted to make sure that the people in the community would have these things,” Robert Smith said, referring to his parents, Sidney and Edythe Ann Smith, who formed The Smith Family Foundation.

“I’ve been in construction for 35 or 40 years and I thought this would be a good project to be associated with. I saw their GoFundMe page and I knew they needed about $35,000. I called Molly (Anderson) and sat down with her and Bruce (Anderson) and Ruth (Hollenbeck) and found out what their plans were,” Smith said, adding, “I think Mom and Dad would want to fund this project.”

Robert and his brother, Fred, are co-trustees of The Smith Family Foundation.

Located in the 500 block of West Church Street, Heritage Park is home to the Jonas Davis Log Cabin, the W.T. Carter and Bro. Locomotive No. 5 and Heritage House, a restored Victorian home. The park and its attractions are owned, operated and maintained by the Polk County Heritage Society, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

In recent years the cabin has fallen into disarray, primarily due to the deterioration of its roof which has been taken over by resurrection fern.

The Heritage Society has been attempting to raise funds for the rehabilitation of the cabin, even attempting to crowdfund through an account on GoFundMe, an online fundraising platform.

Earlier this summer, Dandy Bergman did some tree-trimming and limb removal, marking the beginning of a multi-step project at the park in which the roof of the cabin will be replaced.

Heritage Society Members Molly Anderson and Ruth Hollenbeck are overseeing the project and George Harrell and Patrick Swilley are the project managers.

This is a welcome opportunity for the Heritage Society as both the cabin and the train are popular attractions at Heritage Park to local school children, history buffs young and old and visitors passing through.

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LHS selected for SFA distinguished program

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DISTINGUISHED HIGH SCHOOL PARTNER Unfurling a banner that states that Stephen F. Austin State University recognizes Livingston High School as a Distinguished High School Partner during a kick-off ceremony Friday are (l-r) LISD Board Member Kevin Wooten, Livingston High School Principal Dr. Paul Drake, SFA President Dr. Scott Gordon and LISD Superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins. Photo by Emily Banks WootenDISTINGUISHED HIGH SCHOOL PARTNER Unfurling a banner that states that Stephen F. Austin State University recognizes Livingston High School as a Distinguished High School Partner during a kick-off ceremony Friday are (l-r) LISD Board Member Kevin Wooten, Livingston High School Principal Dr. Paul Drake, SFA President Dr. Scott Gordon and LISD Superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins. Photo by Emily Banks Wooten

By Emily Banks Wooten
editor@polkenterprise>

A kick-off ceremony was held Friday to formalize an agreement between Livingston High School (LHS) and Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) that will have far-reaching implications for local students for years to come.

LHS is one of 12 East Texas schools to be included in SFA’s Distinguished High School Program. Through the program, top-ranking LHS graduates will be automatically eligible for scholarships worth up to $20,000 at SFA as a result of a new partnership between the schools. 

“We appreciate you coming on this special day,” LISD Superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins said to a room full of LHS faculty and staff. “What do we do better than anybody else? We change lives. And we’re changing lives today.” 

Hawkins referred to the dual credit courses offered—and paid for—by LISD, in which students may receive high school and college credits for various courses taken while at LHS. He also touched on the Green and White Scholarship Program whereby “well over three-quarters of a million dollars is pumped into education for our students.

“Today is kind of the third leg of that trilogy. In full disclosure, I’m a three-time Lumberjack so I may have a bias, but we couldn’t be any more excited about the vision and partnership for the students of Lion Country,” Hawkins said, as he introduced SFA President Dr. Scott Gordon.

“The students coming out of LHS have some tremendous benefits and here’s where it gets exciting. We want to put resources toward the students of LHS,” Gordon said. “LHS has sent us some tremendous students and we want to continue that. We’re extremely excited about this relationship. We’re excited about developing new partnerships. We’re proud to partner with LHS on this.”

Students from partner schools receive scholarship money for up to four years based on their class rank. Students ranking in the top 10% of their class will receive $5,000 per year and students ranking in the 11-25% of their class with a 3.0 GPA or higher will receive $3,000 per year.

In addition, SFA has waived the $50 application fee for all Livingston students, regardless of class rank, and seniors ranking in the top 30% of their class are guaranteed admission to SFA.

“At SFA, we are fully committed to student success and access, meaning we are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to ensure Texans have affordable access to higher education,” Gordon said. “Our Distinguished High School Program recognizes hardworking high school students by helping them obtain their college degree in a more timely and affordable manner.”

Emma Brecht, SFA’s executive director for enrollment management, said, “Last year was the first year of our Distinguished High School Program. We dropped the $50 enrollment fee because sometimes that $50 can be a barrier.

“We asked ourselves ‘How can we be a bit more distinguished?’ We’ve always offered guaranteed admission to students who ranked in the top 25%. So we upped it to all students in the top 30%, regardless of test scores,” Brecht said.

“The exciting parts are those scholarship opportunities. You may ask yourself ‘What hoops am I going to have to jump through?’ None. You’re a Distinguished High School. You’re automatically admitted,” Brecht said. “We’re excited about this partnership and really looking forward to working with your students.”

Benefits for students at distinguished program partner schools include additional financial aid assistance to students with high financial need; a special, tailored campus visit; and an assigned admissions counselor to serve students throughout the college-enrollment process.

“The district is excited for the students of Livingston in their opportunities to become Lumberjacks,” Hawkins said. “We feel this partnership will pave the way for life-changing experiences at SFA that have proven success with our students. This relationship between Livingston High School and SFA presents a valued partnership with a robust vision to impact those we serve.”

Students from distinguished program schools applying as first-time freshmen at GoApplyTexas.org also should submit official SAT/ACT scores and high school transcripts to the SFA Office of Admissions. For more information about applying to SFA, visit sfasu.edu/apply or call (936) 468-2504. 

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Alabama-Coushatta Principal Chief dies

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Chief Herbert G. Johnson Sr.Chief Herbert G. Johnson Sr.From Enterprise Staff

Herbert G. Johnson Sr., Principal Chief of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, died Monday after a brief hospital stay. He was 79 years old and had served as Mikko Choba Skalaaba since Jan. 1, 2020.

“It is with profound sadness that the Tribal Council of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas reports that the Tribe’s Mikko Choba Skaalaba passed away,” Debrina Sylestine-Dirden, the Tribe’s communications director, said.

A member of the Beaver Clan, Johnson served his people in many capacities throughout his entire life. He was twice elected to the Tribal Council and worked as the Tribal security director for over 21 years. He was elected as the Tribe’s Second Chief following the passing of the then-Principal Chief—Mikko Colabe III—the late Clem Sylestine in 2019. A deacon and elder at the Indian Presbyterian Church, Johnson also served on the Big Sandy ISD Board of Trustees for 48 years.

Johnson was born on April 3, 1942 on the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas Indian Reservation near Livingston. After high school, Johnson enrolled at Jacksonville College. A Jacksonville College legend, he earned All-American status in basketball following the 1963 season. Although he stood only 5 feet, 6 inches tall, he set a then all-time national record when he scored 67 points in a single game. He went on to average 33.5 points a game for the season in an era that did not feature a three-point shot. Jacksonville College honored Johnson as a Distinguished Alumnus in 2020. Johnson also attended the University of Houston and played for Coach Guy V. Lewis for one year.

When asked by the Smithsonian National Museum of American Indians what message he would like to share with Tribal youth, Johnson stated, “Our future lies with you. Choose a good path, follow it and fulfill your dreams. Keep your traditions alive. Make good choices. Always stay positive and make a difference.”

“Our Mikko Choba Skaalaba was an inspiration for us all,” Tribal Chairperson Nita Battise said. “He was always respectful of all people and listened carefully before forming a decision. His leadership and guidance were a great asset to the Tribe and he will be deeply missed.”

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe will be observing a period of mourning.



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