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PCSO searching for fuel bandits

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An investigation is underway from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division concerning the theft of approximately 2,100 gallons of diesel fuel. 

suspectThe incident occurred at a local business in the Goodrich area, on the night of Saturday, Jan. 15. 

The store manager noticed a significant fuel shortage in the nighttime sales and inventory report the following morning. Security video shows three different one-ton work trucks driven by Hispanic males, pulling up to a diesel pump and dispensing fuel into the trucks, as well as additional tanks in the truck beds. 

Detectives met with technicians knowledgeable in fuel pump operations, who advised the detectives how the suspects were able to alter the pumps to dispense fuel at a lower cost per gallon. 

Those who recognize any of the attached suspects, vehicles or have information on this case are asked to contact the sheriff’s office and speak to a detective at 936-327-6810. Tipsters may remain anonymous by contacting the Polk County Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP, where a cash reward could be collected for information leading to an arrest.

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SHSU evaluates dogs’ stress, personality, cognition

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Maria Botero hopes to use the results of her research to better understand the relationship between personality in dogs and dog cognition.Maria Botero hopes to use the results of her research to better understand the relationship between personality in dogs and dog cognition.

By Hannah Crandall

The effects of stress and personality on domestic dogs’ cognition is a topic of great interest to Maria Botero, associate professor in Sam Houston State University’s Department of Psychology and Philosophy.

Working with John Gulley, a senior psychology major at the university, Botero conducted research on 50 dogs in Fall 2021. Analyzing the collected data in Spring 2022, Botero hopes to use the results to better understand the relationship between personality in dogs and dog cognition. The goal is to test whether a personality questionnaire can be used to better place dogs in families and jobs that are best suited for their personality type.

“My aim is on welfare. If we can determine the personality of the dog and know what outcomes are associated with that personality, shelters can place the dog with a family that is best suited to take care of them and enjoy them,” Botero said. “I think it is beneficial in recruiting dogs for different jobs. If we know that certain personality types focus more on solving the puzzle in our research, we know that those personality types would be better for rescuing and finding people. If a dog is more focused on their owner than retrieving dog treats from a dog puzzle, we can determine that personality type would be better suited to be a companion animal.”

This research began when Gulley wanted to pursue research on hybrids of wolves and dogs through a shelter he volunteered with. Botero offered the solution of working together to understand domestic dogs first to make the beginning of her student’s research career safer.

“I am ridiculously protective of my students, so I thought, ‘Why don’t we change gears a little here in the beginning?’,” Botero explained. “This could actually be a long-term project that develops from our start in dog cognition and personalities to then researching other traits in dogs or wolf and dog hybrids.”

Upon making the decision to research dog cognition, SHSU’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs lined up funding and helped Botero find a space on campus suitable for the team to observe dogs.

“They gave me the funds to buy equipment for the thermal camera, the cameras to record each subject’s session, the dog treats, the cleaning supplies, all the things that added up quickly,” Botero said. “They also helped me in getting this space, which is my dream space for this project. It doesn’t have carpet, and I was able to divide it into an observation room, a room for the owner and even a corner for families who may join. I am currently working to see if I can keep the space for future research endeavors with dogs.”

Botero’s research was conducted by giving the participants a cognitive puzzle to solve, in which they found treats, and observing how they approached the task. Upon arriving to the lab, the dog owner was tasked with filling out a personality quiz to identify the typical nature of the dog outside the research setting. Then, the data collection with Botero began.

“First, I used a thermal camera to take the temperature of the dog, which shows how stressed or anxious the dog is prior to being given a cognitive task,” she said. “Then, I had the owner sit on one side of the room and showed the dog how to solve the puzzle. I sat on the opposite side and observed how they attempted to solve the puzzle for two minutes. After two minutes, I thanked the dog with a treat and recorded their temperature again.”

Of the 50 dogs that participated, personalities varied. All attempts were recorded with three cameras placed around the room for Botero and Gulley to analyze this semester.

“The first dog we had got all 12 treats from the puzzle, and his technique was hilarious and super effective,” Botero said. “Some had more delicate approaches, and some weren’t interested at all. Some of them looked to their owner for approval or help.”

Ethics are very important to Botero, and every effort was made to ensure that the dogs and owners were comfortable throughout the entire process. Owners were given a consent form before beginning, and dogs were given a way out if they ever did not want to participate.

“The consent form is part of the requirements of the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC), and they do a wonderful job at making sure all procedures are done in an ethical way,” Botero explained. “We used a gate that could easily be pushed open if the dog wanted out; and if there were any dogs that were uncomfortable with males, Gulley would step out while I conducted the research. There was one dog that showed signs of being nervous, so we decided not to test him. There was another who was anxious about the steps when leaving the space, and we took our time and allowed him to warm up to them. If the dog is not comfortable, I do not believe in forcing them to do anything.”

Upon completing data collection for this research, Botero hopes to continue researching different aspects of psychology in dogs and bringing undergraduate students in on the experience.

“I am very grateful for everything the university has done to make this research possible, as well as for all our participants,” Botero said. “While the first step is to run the data and see what my results are, my next step will be to start applying for grants to continue this research and support undergrads in the lab.”

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IAH brings awareness to homelessness

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Employees of the IAH Secure Adult Detention Facility recently increased awareness of homelessness by making 75 care packages to deliver to Godtel Ministries and Our Father’s House. (l-r) Patrecia Escobedo, the warden’s secretary; Dendra Butler, HR assistant; Michael Dickens, chief of security; and a representative from Godtel Ministries.Employees of the IAH Secure Adult Detention Facility recently increased awareness of homelessness by making 75 care packages to deliver to Godtel Ministries and Our Father’s House. (l-r) Patrecia Escobedo, the warden’s secretary; Dendra Butler, HR assistant; Michael Dickens, chief of security; and a representative from Godtel Ministries.

From Enterprise Staff

The IAH Secure Adult Detention Facility had a successful fourth quarter project, increasing awareness about homelessness and making 75 care packages to give to Godtel Ministries and Our Father’s House, two local organizations that take in people every day who are in need of shelter for the night. The care packages included: a toothbrush, razor, face towel, toothpaste, Chapstick, soap and deodorant.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, on any given night in 2020, 580,466 people experienced homelessness in the United States and families with children make up 30 of the homeless population.

This was the last of four service projects the IAH Secure Adult Detention Facility spearheaded this year in celebration of Management & Training Corporation’s (MTC) 40th anniversary. MTC operates the IAH Secure Adult Detention Facility in partnership with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

During the first quarter IAH employees improved literacy by donating 619 books to the Boys and Girls Club of Polk County. During the second quarter, they battled hunger by collecting and donating 838 non-perishable items to the Center of Hope Food Pantry in addition to delivering hot meals to community shelters for their residents. IAH employees now volunteer every third Wednesday at the Center of Hope, packaging 108 boxes that will be distributed throughout Polk County. During the third quarter, they raised awareness of mental health by selling “No One Fights Alone” T-shirts in the community. The proceeds of $943 went to the Burke Center here in Livingston.

MTC was founded in 1981 with a mission to help at-risk, underserved men and women change their lives through education, job training, and life skills.

“We want to deeply thank our staff and community partners for helping us make a social impact in our community this year,” Warden Alexander Sanchez said. “It’s been so rewarding to invest in our community. We have great people in this area and look forward to contributing to other worthy causes in the future.”

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HUD grants over $1M to tribe for COVID-19 relief

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HUD logo 400x400From Enterprise Staff

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the awarding of $1,035,000 in Indian Community Block Grant-American Rescue Plan (ICDBG-ARP) grants to the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas this week to prevent, prepare for and respond to the ongoing pandemic.

This is the third round of ICDBG-ARP awards, underscoring the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to delivering equitable COVID-19 relief to tribal communities.

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe will use the grant funds to provide emergency rental assistance to families impacted by COVID-19.

These funds to tribes will help protect the health and safety of their communities, particularly low- and moderate-income individuals and families, by expanding access to safe housing, a suitable living environment and economic opportunities.

“It is imperative that we continue providing tribal communities with resources needed to protect the health and safety of their communities,” HUD Deputy Secretary Adrianne Todman said. “With the funding HUD is awarding, we remain diligent in continuing our mission to ensure that every person has the security of a healthy home and community. HUD will continue to strengthen partnerships with tribal communities to ensure that all communities receive equitable relief.”

The announcement follows HUD’s awarding of $74 million in ICDBG-ARP grants to 68 tribal communities in November and $52 million in ICDBG-ARP grants to 49 tribal communities in December. The American Rescue Plan included a total of $280 million for the Indian Community Development Block Grant program. HUD will announce additional ICDBG-ARP awards on a rolling basis.

HUD and the Biden-Harris Administration have made delivering equitable COVID-19 relief to tribal communities a priority. The American Rescue Plan Act provides a total of $750 million dollars in HUD resources to tribes to support the continued fight against COVID-19. Earlier this year, HUD made a historic $450 million investment in Indian Housing Block Grants (IHBG-ARP) to Indian tribes across the country to respond to COVID-19. The Department also invested $5 million in COVID-19 relief for Native Hawaiians.

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Clarification - LISD closes campuses to outside visitors after latest wave

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CovidSchool Graphic

Clarification - The original headline to this story was misleading. It should have read that LISD campuses were closed to outside visitors because of the latest Covid-19 wave. We regret any confusion this has caused.

From Enterprise Staff

“As of this morning, we are over the minimum COVID counts at all campuses. Therefore, all campuses are closed to outside visitors except for those with an educational purpose,” Livingston ISD Superintendent Dr. Brent E. Hawkins said in an email that was distributed to the parents or guardians of students in the district Tuesday.

“Our community is facing widespread COVID-19 Omicron positives and we will continue to follow the mitigation strategies in our Planning Forward document. We will continue to monitor the situation. If and when changes arise, we will notify all staff and parents through our regular district communication,” Hawkins said.

The Planning Forward document, which can be found on the district’s website at livingstonisd.com, was adopted July 19 and details the protocols the district has in place relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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