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Polk County celebrates 175 years

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                               JASON CHLAPEK I PCE A pair of photo exhibits commemorating Polk County’s 175th birthday will be on display at the Polk County Historical Museum until April 10. Polk County celebrated its 175th year on Tuesday.

By Jason Chlapek

Polk County turned a year older on Tuesday.

The county celebrated its 175th year of existence, and the Polk County Historical Museum hosted a celebration Tuesday. The birthday celebration took six weeks to plan, according to museum curator Betsy Deiterman.

“We had to be sure of the date, research the founding of the county and how the division was made, the legislature, then go through the archives and pick interesting pictures,” she said. “This was a come-and-go acknowledgement of the birthday for Polk County. We gave away a limited supply of gift bags. Patrons saw lots of photographs from many decades. The oldest photographs are framed and the oldest was in the 1880s.”

A pair of photo exhibits are on display at the museum until April 10. These displays are in commemoration with the county’s 175th birthday.

“I pulled 75 pictures that people normally don’t get to see,” Deiterman said. “I think we need to acknowledge that Polk County has been here 175 years and it’s a notable number.”

Some of the photos on display are in need of identification, according to Deiterman.

“Many of our pictures don’t have identification or dates,” she said. “We’re asking people that if they recognize anyone in the pictures to please let us know. We have a form for people to fill out if they recognize people or dates.”

A decade and exactly four weeks after Texas became a state – March 2, 1836 – Polk County was formed on March 30, 1846. The county was formed out of neighboring Liberty County.

The county was named after then-President James Polk. The 11th President of the United States was an advocate for Texas statehood.

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Livingston and Goodrich host Easter egg hunts (VIDEO)

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20210327 110919BRIAN BESCH | PCE Families gather at Pedigo Park in Livingston for an Easter egg hunt.

By Brian Besch

The City of Livingston and City of Goodrich each held Easter egg hunts Saturday for area children. Livingston scattered 20,000 eggs across Pedigo Park, while Goodrich had 5,000 on the track infield at Goodrich High School. 

Livingston Goodrich egg hunts video

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Chesswood Baptist Church fire

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by Brian Besch

Polk County - A fire at Chesswood Baptist Church off Highway 59 between Livingston and Goodrich reportedly began around 10 a.m. Wednesday morning.

It is thought that there is no injuries at this time, however, the structure has been engulfed in flames. Several fire departments have responded, some from as far away as Cleveland.

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A brief conversation with a representative of the church has revealed that the fire is thought to have begun in the annex or fellowship hall, with faulty wiring believed to be a possibility. 

The Polk County Enterprise and East Texas News will have more on this developing story when it becomes available.

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Honoring a Polk County hero (VIDEO)

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BR Haynes twoBRIAN BESCH | PCE Former Livingston Fire Department Chief was laid to rest Thursday morning. Haynes was the Fire Chief in Livingston from 1963-77.

By Brian Besch

Masses gathered Thursday at First United Methodist Church to remember a former fire chief, friend and mentor to many.

Billy Roy “B.R.” Haynes died March 13 at the age of 94. In tribute, a procession of first-responder vehicles made their way with Haynes for one last trip by Livingston Fire Department Station 1 before ending at Peebles Cemetery.

Growing up in Livingston, Haynes played football for the Lions and graduated in 1943. After enlisting with the Merchant Marines during World War II, he joined the family business (Haynes Manufacturing Co., now Little Beaver, Inc.) with his father. After his father’s retirement, he took over the business and would later pass it on to his sons.

Haynes was 1972’s Polk Countian of the Year and a 32nd-degree Mason. He was a member of the board of directors of First State Bank of Livingston since 1981, serving as Director Emeritus since 1997.

Joining the Livingston Volunteer Fire Department in 1960, Haynes was elected chief just three years later. He was president of the Texas State Fireman’s and Fire Marshall’s Association in 1970. He served with Livingston Fire until his retirement in 1977 and will forever be known as Chief Haynes, Unit 3.

He will be remembered by many, including current Livingston Fire Chief Corky Cochran, as someone who laid the foundation for what the department has become.

“He passed a lot of knowledge and common sense, not only to me, but every person that served with him and under him,” Cochran said. “He came into the fire department at a time when it was in really bad shape because of a lack of equipment and supplies that were needed. The training was not up to par and B.R. was able to do the things that put the puzzle back together to take the fire department back in the direction that it is now. If it hadn't been for what he did then, we wouldn't be where we are now. He was the springboard that pushed the fire department out of the Dark Ages and toward modernization.”

Cochran said Haynes was a father figure to younger firefighters who served under him and a leader amongst those his age. “He had the ability — whoever he was working with — to connect and make people feel comfortable and follow his lead,” Cochran said. A number of firefighters attended Thursday's funeral from the far reaches of the state. Fire departments from Riverside, Huntsville, Tarkington and Cleveland covered the shift for those at Fire Station 1 in Livingston, allowing local regulars to attend the funeral.

Cochran said firefighters cover for each other when there is a family member or fellow firefighter who dies — a brotherhood that comes forward to help. He said it's something that dates back to Haynes’s early days, when Polk County had just two fire stations.

“When he first came in, there were two departments in the county: Livingston and Corrigan,” Cochran said. “Our next two closest neighbors that we called on for help were Huntsville and Cleveland. When something happened, they would help each other out.”

Haynes also had an impact on the Huntsville Fire Department, as well as many of the departments operating in Polk County today.

“Jack King was a good friend of B.R.’s, and in 1972, Jack was in the department over there and became fire chief. The Huntsville Fire Department was a lot like Livingston was when Jack took over. There was a total lack of equipment and couldn't get any help to get the stuff they needed. When Jack became chief, he began to rattle cages like B.R. did, but sought B.R.’s help. B.R. helped by giving him some guidance on things that he had experienced and got the Huntsville department back on track.

“Right here in Polk County, he helped Scenic Loop, Onalaska, the Alabama-Coushatta Nation and Indian Springs. They all came in about the same time in the mid-‘70s. He helped all of those departments as they were getting organized.”

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Mother turns self in after warrant issued in child’s death

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160117638 3022552544733404 8034020350753373087 nMUGSHOT Anna Marie Todd

From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

A mother is behind bars in connection with the death of her child.

Anna Todd, 21, turned herself in on Monday after a warrant was issued for her arrest. Her arresting charge was injury to a child with serious bodily injury.

Todd’s 16-month-old child died on Aug. 4, 2020, at the family’s home located in Wild County Subdivision. That day, Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives were called to the family home due to the 16-month-old receiving a gunshot wound to the chest area.

It was determined through detective’s investigations that a firearm was left on a table next to the bed where the family was sleeping. The father of the child left for work with Todd overseeing the children.

An older child picked up the firearm discharging the weapon one time into the victim who was lying on the bed. The child victim was transported to Memorial Herman Hospital arriving at 10:30 a.m. and pronounced deceased at 10:35 a.m.

An autopsy of the child was conducted at the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences which along with the medical examiners findings, evidence discovered at the scene and witness statements obtained the case was presented to the Polk County District Attorney’s office which resulted in the arrest warrant being issued. Todd was booked into the Polk County Jail where she was released the following day on a $50,000 bond.

Polk County Sheriff Lyons wishes to express to the public the importance of firearm safety and allowing child access to unsecured firearms inside your home. If any citizen wishes to receive professional awareness to firearm safety, Lyons ask that you contact his office at 936-327-6810.

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