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Polk County commissioner decides not to spray for mosquitoes


N1006P22004HFILE PHOTO Mosquito on human skin

By PCE Staff

East Texas has received its fair share of spring precipitation throughout the past few weeks. In Texas that usually means the heat and everyone’s favorite insect to hate — the mosquito — are right around the corner.

For many, the mosquitoes are already here, along with millions of their friends.

So why is Commissioner Guylene Robertson parking the truck that sprays for mosquitos down Precinct 1 county roads?

As it turns out, she also isn’t too fond of the insects. Yet, through conversations with commissioners from Polk and surrounding counties, she found that they aren’t spraying either.

Health effects are the main reason, as pesticides can cause both acute and chronic problems. Acute health effects appear shortly after exposure to some pesticides and can include skin and eye irritations, headaches, dizziness and nausea, weakness, difficulty breathing, mental confusion and disorientation.

“The times have changed environmentally, and things that were considered safe in the past are no longer acceptable or recommended,” Robertson said. “At this time, motor-driven mosquito spraying is in that category.”

Precinct 1 was the only in Polk County that has sprayed for mosquitoes over the past few years. However, the City of Livingston continues to do so. Roberston said the decision not to spray was one that was difficult.

“Due to the hazards and concerns environmentally Polk County Precinct 2, 3, and 4 have not sprayed for mosquitoes for several years,” Robertson said. “This summer, Precinct 1 will now be doing the same, while observing all environmental safety aspects.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), several organophosphates, a class of insecticides, are highly toxic and poison insects and other animals, including birds, amphibians and mammals. Until the 21st century, they were among the most widely used insecticides available. Around 36 of them are presently registered for use in the United States, and all can potentially cause acute and subacute toxicity. Organophosphates are used in agriculture, homes, gardens and veterinary practices.

The EPA has a few suggestions in preventing mosquito bites. The first is to eliminate any standing water (even small amounts) to prevent mosquitoes from laying their eggs. If water cannot be eliminated, as in ornamental water features, use mosquito larvicide products (available at many retailers) or other pest control measures to minimize breeding opportunities. You may be able to add fish that eat larvae to a pond. Adding a fountain or aerator will keep the water and mosquitoes moving.

The agency suggests use of window and door screens to keep mosquitoes from entering your home, workplace, or children’s schools. Dress in light-colored clothing, long pants, and long sleeves. EPA-registered insect repellents will also prevent bites. Products that are EPA-registered have been confirmed to be safe and effective when label directions are followed.

There are several different homemade concoctions that can be found on the Internet. We have provided one such mix below.


  • 1 bottle of blue mint mouthwash 
  • 3 bottles (per 12 oz) of stale beer (take the cheapest – it works as well)
  • 3 cups of Epsom salt

Pour beer and mouthwash into a container (an old saucepan, a bucket), stir and add the salt. Mix up the solution properly until salt is dissolved. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Shake well before use and spray areas where you spend time outside.

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PCSO seeking public’s assistance in locating burglar

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SUSPECT 2 UNKCOURTESY PHOTO Security camera footage of suspect

By PCE Staff

A burglar spotted in the act on security camera has been arrested, while another suspect remains at large.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office received a call Tuesday from a citizen who was alerted by his home security cameras. Two male subjects were inside a building on the victim’s property, located near Mangum Road.

The complainant provided an accurate description of the offenders as deputies responded to the area. Deputies and detectives quickly arrived on scene, located signs of forced entry into the building and observed several items of value placed by the door.

After conducting a search of the area, one of the suspects seen on the complainant's security camera was located and detained. He was immediately identified as Gary Eugene Penton, Jr. and found to be in possession of an item stolen from the complainant's property.

Penton, 47, of Livingston, was arrested without incident and booked into the Polk County Jail on the felony charge of burglary of a building.

Detectives are attempting to identify the other suspect involved in the burglary. The Polk County Sheriff's Office has requested the public view the two surveillance video photos of the second suspect involved.

If you recognize this suspect, or have information in this case or any other in Polk County, you are asked to submit a tip at p3tips.com, (the P3 App), or call Polk County Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP. Tipsters can remain anonymous and could collect a cash reward for information leading to an arrest. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division may also be contacted directly to speak with a detective at 936-327-6810.

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Mother and son arrested

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IMG 2052COURTESY PHOTO Confiscated narcotics

By PCE Staff

A mother and son were charged with felonies after the search of their residence on the north end of Polk County.

On Tuesday, officers with the Corrigan Police Department, assisted by deputies from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Precinct 3 Constable’s office, executed a search warrant and arrest warrant at the residence of a person described as a “known drug dealer” in Corrigan.

After a lengthy investigation, officers were able to obtain an arrest warrant for Eric Emerson, 39, of Corrigan, for delivery of marijuana. Officers were also able to obtain a search warrant for his residence in the city limits of Corrigan.

Upon arrival to the residence, Emerson met officers on the front porch, at which time, he was taken into custody without incident for the arrest warrant. Officers entered the premises and were met by a woman identified as Laurie Stephens, Emerson’s mother. Stephens, 60, of Corrigan, was said to be uncooperative with officers and repeatedly insisted on going back inside of her bedroom once she was detained.

A search of the residence yielded a variety of narcotics that included methamphetamine and marijuana. Several pipes used for smoking marijuana and methamphetamine, smalls scales, grinders, and several clear plastic baggies were also found in the residence.

Emerson was charged with delivery of marijuana, a state jail felony; and possession of marijuana, a class A misdemeanor. Stephens was charged with possession of controlled substance, penalty group 1, a state jail felony; and possession of marijuana, a class A misdemeanor.

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New online jury system in effect


jury dutyCOURTESY PHOTO Over 100 people arrived for jury duty at the Polk County Commerce Center Monday. While this is the second jury selected since jury trials have resumed following the pandemic, this was the first jury selected using the district clerk’s office’s new online jury system.

By Emily Banks Wooten

The Polk County District Clerk’s Office has begun using an online jury system, having recently partnered with Tyler Technologies Inc.

The jury selected Monday for a trial in the 411th Judicial District was the first one selected using the new online jury system.

“It went as well as I expected it to, considering we’d never done it live before,” Polk County District Clerk Bobbye Christopher said. “Out of everybody that we polled, everybody thought it went well and thought it was easy.

“The new jury summons has a different look and will arrive in an envelope from this office,” Christopher said.

The new jury summons will have a link to the jury e-response portal. You may also access the portal by going to the district clerk’s webpage at https://www.co.polk.tx.us/page/polk.District.Clerk

“We urge everyone to use the online system to answer the juror questionnaire, request an exemption or report a disqualification,” Christopher said. “Summoned jurors will be able to enroll their email or cell phone to receive messages concerning their service, such as court assignments, cancellations, etc.”

For those without Internet service, an automated phone line is available for people to call and enroll over the phone. The number is 844-927-2687.

The local district courts have gradually reopened following over a year without trials due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monday’s was the second jury selection undertaken but the first with the new online jury system. It’s being held at the commerce center in order to comply with social distancing guidelines.

Although Governor Greg Abbott recently issued an executive order lifting the mask mandate in Texas and increasing capacity of all businesses and facilities in the state to 100 percent, the courts are under an order imposed by the Texas Supreme Court.

“The order expires June 1 so we’re waiting on direction from the OCA (Office of Court Administration),” Christopher said.

“It was more difficult on my staff being offsite,” she said.

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Former SHSU player relishes alma mater’s national title

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IMG 0881EMILY BANKS WOOTEN | PCE Nancy and Joe Hollis, proud alumni of Sam Houston State University, show off an SH metal sign, a gift from a granddaughter, that hangs on one of the covered porches of their log home.

By Emily Banks Wooten

When the Sam Houston State University football team clinched the NCAA FCS National Championship with its 23-21 victory over South Dakota State University May 16 in Frisco, fond memories came flooding back for local residents Joe and Nancy Hollis.

Joe played football for SHSU when the Bearkats squared off against Middle Tennessee State University in the Dec. 1, 1956 Jaycee Refrigerator Bowl in Evansville, Ind. in which the Bearkats won 27-13. In those days, the Refrigerator Bowl was the equivalent of the National Championship, Joe said.

“After that, we played in the Christmas Bowl in Natchitoches, La. in 1958 but we lost,” he said.

“Joe’s 1956 team and this year’s team were the only football teams at Sam Houston that were undefeated,” Nancy said. “Other teams won championships but those two were the only undefeated teams.”

“The ’56 group was a very unique group,” Joe said. “We were a close group of guys and after graduation we kept in touch and also kept in touch with the coaches even though there were some we didn’t think we liked at the time they were coaching us, but they were our friends after we graduated. It was a very enjoyable experience.”

“It was more like a family, not a football team,” Nancy said.

“Back then, you played both ways. You played offense and defense,” Joe said. “If you started a quarter you could come out one time and go back in, but if you came out after the quarter began, you could not go back in during that quarter.

IMG 0878EMILY BANKS WOOTEN | PCE This treasured keepsake belonging to Joe and Nancy Hollis is the football program from the Dec. 1, 1956 Jaycee Refrigerator Bowl in which Sam Houston State University played Middle Tennessee State University in the Reitz Bowl in Evansville, Ind. Joe, a sophomore at the time, played guard for SHSU in this game in which the Bearkats won 27-13.

“So consequently, you had to have two complete teams. The best team would play the first half, then the second unit would go in,” he said. “At that time we were fortunate enough that our starting unit was big, but maybe a little bit slower, then they’d send in the second unit. Consequently, the second unit scored more than the first unit that year.”

Joe and Nancy met at SHSU and married in 1958.

“The first year we were married we lived in the gym in a one-room efficiency apartment with a tiny little refrigerator and a couch that made out into a bed. They furnished light bulbs and toilet paper and gave you $28 a month,” Nancy said, as they both laughed at the thought.

She began teaching at Aldine and left Huntsville every morning at 5 a.m. with her five-person carpool crew. Nancy said the reason she took the Aldine job was because it paid $3,604 a year and Huntsville and other schools around there only paid $3,204 a year.

“I graduated in three years but it took him five,” Nancy said, in some good-natured ribbing. “But I learned so much more,” Joe said, giving it right back.

A 1954 graduate of Groveton High School, Joe played football at SHSU for five years, having red-shirted his first year.

“He already had half a master’s degree when he graduated with his bachelor’s in ‘59,” Nancy said. Having played fullback in high school, Joe said in the middle of his first year at Sam they decided he needed to be a guard, hence the fifth-year eligibility.

Holding a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education with a minor in P.E., Joe taught horticulture for a number of years at both LaPorte High School and J. Frank Dobie High School. He coached football for 15 years, starting at Pasadena Junior High School and finishing up at Pasadena High School.

The Hollises moved to Livingston in 1996. Their three sons – Keith, Mark and Glenn – all graduated from SHSU. They also have seven grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

Joe spoke fondly about one of his teammates who was also his roommate. Known to all of his buddies as “D’Boy,” his actual name is Franklin Williams. “He’s been the one that’s kept everybody together. He calls each of us almost every week. He keeps up with who passes and when somebody passes he sends an arrangement and on the card always puts, ‘From the team.’ He’s just been really a Godsend to the group.”

IMG 0879EMILY BANKS WOOTEN | PCE This is the 1956 SHSU Bearkat Football Squad. Joe Hollis, No. 64, is the third person from the left on the second row from the bottom.

Joe said the group used to meet yearly at Crystal Beach where one of the guys had a house. “Some would come in on Thursday and some on Friday. We’d have a big fish fry and shrimp on Saturday. We’d tell all the old lies.”

Unfortunately, the beach house was lost in one of the hurricanes and never rebuilt. Failing health has kept the group from meeting in recent years and sadly, the group is dwindling. “Three or four have passed this year,” Joe said.

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