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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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A mission of training

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Healthcare  professionals speak to DETCOG

Shontel MinorBy Emily Banks Wooten
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Shontel Minor, Director of Texas Area Health Education Center (AHEC) East Piney Woods Region, and Dr. Courtney West, Associate Dean of Educational Affairs for Sam Houston State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, gave informative presentations during the luncheon prior to the regular monthly meeting of the Board of Directors of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments Tuesday at the Polk County Commerce Center. Livingston Mayor Judy Cochran, Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy and Alabama-Coushatta Tribal Chairwoman Nita Battise welcomed members and guests.

“Texas AHEC East is devoted to improving the supply, distribution, retention and training of varied health professionals in medically underserved and rural communities,” Minor said. “We link 100 East Texas counties and over 18 million people to community health workforce development, health opportunities and resources provided by eight regional centers which are uniquely positioned within the community and are hosted by local community institutions or are non-profit organizations.

“Our mission is to make our communities healthier through healthcare workforce development strategies that support the training and retention of health professionals in medically underserved and rural communities,” Minor said.

“Some of the programs offered are health careers promotion and preparation in which ninth though 12th-grade students focus on pipeline activities that prompt interest in study and practice of health professions; community-based experiential learning which is the support of health profession students with educational training enhancements such as AHEC Scholars; professional education and support in which we provide continuing education opportunities for existing health professionals and DSHS-supported CHW profession certification; and community health and development in which we engage and support community-based partners in education and awareness efforts for emerging health issues such as COVID,” Minor said.

After six years in the making, Sam Houston State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM), a 108,000 square-foot facility on a 7.3-acre property in Conroe, welcomed its inaugural class of 75 aspiring student-doctors in August of 2020, West said, adding that the second class includes 112 student-doctors as the college ramps up to a full class enrollment of 150.

“Our mission is to prepare students for the degree of doctor of osteopathic medicine with an emphasis toward primary care and rural practice, to develop culturally aware, diverse and compassionate physicians, who follow osteopathic principles, that are prepared for graduate medical education, and will serve the people of Texas with professionalism and patient-centered care,” West said.

“A significant part of the mission of the COM is to increase the physician workforce in the eastern region of Texas and to increase access to primary care. The COM will accomplish this by recruiting qualified applicants from areas to which they would likely want to return and establish their practice,” West said.

Reviewing some of their pipeline programs, West spoke of JAMP, SOAR and RISE UP.

“JAMP, the Joint Admission Medical Program is a special program created by the Texas Legislature to support and encourage highly qualified, economically disadvantaged Texas resident students pursuing a medical education; SOAR, Scholars for Osteopathic Academic Readiness, ensures that underrepresented and disadvantaged students do well academically and socially during undergraduate training with students receiving advice on how to navigate college life, prepare for standardized testing and apply to medical school; and RISE UP, Readiness Initiatives for Student Enhancement Underserved Populations, which promotes interest in careers in the medical professional among underrepresented and disadvantaged students in high school and ensures that they receive an educational foundation before enrolling in college,” West said.

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Georgia-Pacific employees give thanks by giving back

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2021 Corrigan Thanksgiving Food DriveGeorgia-Pacific Corrigan Plywood employees are helping those in need by helping to fill more than 200 shopping bags with all the ingredients to prepare a Thanksgiving meal. Pictured (front row l to r) Sheriff Byron Lyons, Polk County; Anthony Carroll, Georgia-Pacific; Missy Murray, Polk County Sheriff’s Department; Lester Knight, Georgia-Pacific Camden/Corrigan Complex Plant Manager; Lisa Reynolds, Georgia-Pacific; Christin Hayward, Georgia-Pacific; and Stephen Acord, Georgia-Pacific (back row l to r) Detective Javier Segura, Polk County; Lt. Jacob Hopper, Polk County Sheriff’s Department; Esteban Pecina, Georgia-Pacific; and Chief Deputy Rickie Childers, Polk County. Courtesy photo

Georgia-Pacific employees are giving thanks this holiday season by giving back to those in need in the community. Employees at the Camden Complex and Corrigan Plywood filled more than 200 shopping bags with all the ingredients to prepare a Thanksgiving meal as part of the annual Polk County Sheriff’s Department Holiday Food Drive.      

“Georgia-Pacific employees in Camden and Corrigan have been providing support for our neighbors in need for the last several years,” said Yana Ogletree, Georgia-Pacific Public Affairs Manager. “Millions of Americans aren’t able to provide a holiday meal to their families and many of them are located right here in Polk County.  Georgia-Pacific employees are pleased to be able to offer this gift to our neighbors.”

The sheriff’s department is in the process of distributing the donations to those in need.  For more information about the food drive, please contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Department.

About Georgia-Pacific    

Based in Atlanta, Georgia-Pacific and its subsidiaries are among the world’s leading manufacturers and marketers of bath tissue, paper towels and napkins, tableware, paper-based packaging, cellulose, specialty fibers, building products and related chemicals.  Our familiar consumer brands include Quilted Northern®, Angel Soft®, Brawny®, Dixie®, enMotion®, Sparkle® and Vanity Fair®. Georgia-Pacific has long been a leading supplier of building products to lumber and building materials dealers and large do-it-yourself warehouse retailers. Its Georgia-Pacific Recycling subsidiary is among the world’s largest traders of paper, metal and plastics. The company operates more than 150 facilities and employs more than 30,000 people directly and creates approximately 89,000 jobs indirectly. For more information, visit: gp.com/about-us. For news, visit: gp.com/news.

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Experience country living festivities on home tour

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From Enterprise Staff

With a backdrop of bountiful foliage, this year’s homes on MannaFest’s Christmas Tour offer festive displays keyed to country living, family heritage and collectors’ delights.

In the lodge-style home of Susan and Arlon Gesford, pine planks that are perhaps 100 years old and honed cedar cut from the property form the background for their displays of Victorian, rustic and “Santa’s Workshop” trees.

In the home Lee and Darwood Galaway envisioned for retirement, rooms throughout the house carry themes reflecting their lives such as the angel tree room complemented by 35 nativity scenes, the European tree room with remembrances from travel and the Disney tree room.

At Kari and Buddy Parker’s home, visitors can enjoy the rustic feel of nature brought inside to enhance the displays of nutcrackers collected over decades, the Fitz and Floyd Christmas china and Hallmark train ornaments.

At Karen and Bobby Cox’s home, tour goers will find a tree decked out in black and white plaid to coordinate with its room’s décor, a fanciful candy cane tree and a collection of gnomes.

This year’s tour will be from 4-8 p.m. Dec. 4 with van transportation departing from Central Baptist Church as part of the ticket price. For those preferring to use their own vehicles, maps will be available at the church.

Tickets, which are $20 in advance and $25 on tour day, are available at First State, First National and People’s State banks and local merchants including HomeGrown, Good Golly Miss Molly’s and Petalz By Annie.  All proceeds from ticket sales benefit the MannaFest Food Pantry, whose chief mission is to provide food and supplies to individuals in need in Polk Country. 

One unique aspect of this year’s tour is that three of the homes belong to members of the same family, dotting the approximate 1,300 acres of property in the Goodrich area that Susan Gesford’s grandfather bought in the early 1950s. After she and her husband used available timber to build their home on a hill, first her son Buddy Parker and then daughter Karen Cox asked permission to build too.

“Our houses are far enough apart that I may not see them (her children) for a week or two, but they also are close enough if I need them,” Susan Gesford said. “Family lore is the property most likely used to be a cotton plantation.”

Kari Parker and her husband followed the parents’ lead in using harvested wood in construction after a large black walnut tree was felled by a hurricane. They commissioned a Livingston cabinet maker to make cabinets for their home. And their son built two unique light fixtures, one featuring a wagon wheel, deer antlers and mason jars, as well as two barn wood displays.

The Galaways had a cabin on their property aside the Trinity River for about 15 years before they decided to build a more spacious house.

“The cabin was OK for a weekend but not for the ideal retirement home,” Lee Galaway said. “So we tore down the cabin and built our house. Now I can sit and drink coffee on my back porch in the morning while looking at the Trinity.”

Lee Galaway said she and her husband have found many Christmas treasures while traveling such as a Haitian nativity carved in an oil drum lid, an olive wood nativity from Israel and a wooden spoon that came with paprika from Hungary.

But they also have a family history tree displaying ornaments collected as their four children grew up through ornaments celebrating the births of their four grandchildren.

All four homes have nativities, ornaments or other collectibles that reflect family heritage. 

Before or after the tour, guests can view a display of antique or collectible cars in a show outside Central Baptist Church, weather permitting. Light refreshments also will be available at the church.

Special precautions will be taken on this year’s tour due to concerns about the Covid-19 virus. Masks and hand sanitizer will be available for tour goers, and only one 15-person van will stop at a house at the same time. In addition, people will be asked to move through the houses in one direction.

For additional information about the tour or MannaFest’s mission, consult the Website at https://www.mannafestlivingstontexas.org or call the MannaFest office at (936) 327-9555.

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Second Chief’s wife dies

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Carol BattiseCarol BattiseFrom Enterprise Staff

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, with great sadness, announced the pasing of Carol Sylestine Battise Monday after a brief illness. Wife of Second Chief Donnis B. Battise, Mikko Istimatokla, Chief Kanicu, she was born on the Alabama-Coushatta Indian Reservation in Livingston on Dec. 16, 1950 and was a member of the Turkey clan.

Carol attended public school in both Big Sandy and Livingston and was an alumnus of Livingston High School, graduating in 1969. She was an avid sports fan, participating in bowling, basketball and the lady’s softball team, the Herbies.

Always a leader for her people, Carol was the first female elected to the Alabama-Coushatta Tribal Council in June of 1980. She served as both a member and officer of the council. After serving one term she worked for the tribe in numerous capacities — in the tribe’s tourist complex in its earliest days and as the tribal enrollment officer and community health representative for the Chief Kina Health Clinic, where she was a charter member of the staff and later retired in 2015. During her employment, she was awarded Female Employee of the Year.

After retirement, she enjoyed doting on her numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews whom she loved deeply. Carol relished in making traditional crafts, serving as an elder in the Indian Presbyterian Church and attending numerous events with her beloved husband as a tribal ambassador.

Services for are pending.

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