Log in

Top Stories        News         Sports

Polk County News

East Texas Tribe Wins Major Victory in Federal Court

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Judge rules in support of Naskila Gaming, against state’s effort to shut facility down.

Press Release

alabama coushatta logo(Livingston, TX) – After five years of litigation, the United States District Court in Beaumont ruled this week that the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas may legally operate its Naskila Gaming electronic bingo facility near Livingston, saying that such gaming is permissible under the Tribe’s 1987 Restoration Act.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Keith Giblin is a major victory for the future of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, the hundreds of people employed at Naskila, and the economic stability of the East Texas region.

For years, the State of Texas has worked in court to close Naskila Gaming, even as tens of thousands of Texans, dozens of civic groups, and elected leaders from both parties have expressed strong support for allowing the Tribe to operate the facility.

“This ruling affirms that we have a legally sound right to support our Tribe by operating Naskila Gaming,” said Nita Battise, Chairperson of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas Tribal Council. “This is not only a win for the citizens of our Tribe, but also for the hundreds of families who depend on Naskila Gaming for their livelihood and for the economic health of East Texas. The continued operation of Naskila Gaming is vital to the economic success of the community we proudly call home.”

In 2015, the National Indian Gaming Commission (“NIGC”) approved the Tribe’s Class II Bingo Gaming Ordinance and found that the Tribe was eligible to game under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (“IGRA”), the federal law governing tribal gaming throughout the United States. Based on that approval, the Tribe opened Naskila Gaming in May 2016. A month later, the State of Texas filed a lawsuit seeking to shut Naskila Gaming down.  

The Tribe fought back on two grounds. First, the Tribe argued that the decision of the NIGC to approve the Tribe’s gaming ordinance was entitled to deference by the courts and superseded a 1994 decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that the Tribe’s right to game was not covered under IGRA but, rather, the Tribe’s Restoration Act. Second, the Tribe asserted that even if it was not covered under IGRA, the gaming being offered at Naskila was permitted under the Restoration Act.

In 2019, the Fifth Circuit agreed with the District Court’s opinion that the NIGC’s decision to approve the Tribe’s gaming ordinance was not entitled to deference and the ability of the Tribe to offer gaming is controlled by the Restoration Act. In May of this year, Judge Giblin heard testimony and legal arguments on why the Tribe’s electronic bingo was permissible under its Restoration Act.  

On Tuesday, Judge Giblin found that the Restoration Act allows the Tribe to offer gaming that is not otherwise prohibited under Texas law and, further, the Restoration Act precludes Texas from exercising civil or criminal regulatory jurisdiction.  Because bingo is regulated, not prohibited, in Texas, Judge Giblin ruled that the electronic bingo at Naskila Gaming is legal under the Restoration Act and not subject to the laws of Texas.  

Naskila Gaming is the second-largest employer in Polk County. Some 700 jobs are tied directly or indirectly to Naskila Gaming, as well as over $170 million in annual economic stimulus, making its long-term stability essential to the economic future of East Texas.

Even as the legal process has played out, a bipartisan coalition of congressional representatives has been working in Washington to ensure Naskila Gaming can stay open. In May, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 2208, the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas Fair Opportunity Act. The legislation ensures that these two federally recognized Texas tribes are allowed to offer electronic bingo under IGRA.

The U.S. Senate has not acted upon H.R. 2208 and did not act upon similar legislation that the House approved two years ago. Over the last year, members of the public have sent more than 25,000 letters in support of Naskila Gaming to key statewide elected officials, including the state’s two U.S. Senators and Gov. Greg Abbott, who has repeatedly spoken out against legislation to keep Naskila Gaming open.

“It remains critical for Congress to take action and make clear that our Tribe is governed by IGRA,” Chairperson Battise said. “While we expect the state to appeal the decision from Judge Giblin, congressional action can provide the swift and definitive resolution needed to provide stability for our Tribe and the communities throughout East Texas.”

Chairperson Battise added, “The Alabama-Coushatta’s Tribe has a rich history in the state of Texas and Naskila plays a critical role in the cultural and economic life of Deep East Texas.  We are grateful for the many community and civic organizations who have stepped forward to support the Tribe and protect the jobs Naskila provides."

  • Hits: 1523

OISD closes due to COVID numbers

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Onalaska logoFrom Enterprise Staff

Families in the Onalaska Independent School District were notified Monday that all campuses in the district will be closed until Tuesday. All extracurricular activities, games and practices will be suspended until 3 p.m. Monday.

The decision was made due to the rising number of students and staff members who are currently ill with COVID-19, demonstrating symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19 or who have experienced possible exposure, the letter from Superintendent Anthony Roberts states.

“The health and safety of our students, staff and families is our main priority and the data indicates that we must take this action to curb the current trajectory,” Roberts said. “I understand how difficult this closure will be for many of our families and our students, so I assure you this decision was not made easily. Our hope is that this closure will allow COVID-19 positive individuals time to isolate and recover, while also allowing those who have experienced possible exposure to quarantine.

No remote instruction will be provided during the temporary closure. However, Roberts did indicate that the facilities will undergo a deep cleaning in addition to routine cleaning.

He added that the existing school calendar will not need to be altered unless additional closures occur.

“This closure may be extended if the situation and conditions warrant,” Roberts said. “We encourage parents and guardians to closely monitor your child’s health and to contact your child’s campus if you have any questions.”

Free testing for staff and students will be provided by appointment. Campus administration will be available to answer your call. The telephone number for the junior-senior high school is 936-646-1020 and the telephone number for the elementary school is 936-646-1010.

District communications will be posted to the district website, www.onalaskaisd.net, the district Facebook page, through Remind and use of the call-out system.

  • Hits: 979

Corrigan ranks high on places for speed traps in Texas

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Corrigan was named as one of the 21 cities in Texas where officers stopped an average of over 500 drivers each. (File Photo)Corrigan was named as one of the 21 cities in Texas where officers stopped an average of over 500 drivers each. (File Photo)

Corrigan has made the news in a Houston newspaper for being a place where one might be stopped by flashing lights.

The north Polk County town was named as one of the 21 cities in Texas where officers stopped an average of over 500 drivers each.

The article tells of a man who is stopped on Highway 59, on his way to Houston from his parents house. He complains that the speed limit drops from 75 to 40 miles per hour “in a matter of seconds.”

He said an officer was waiting at the point where the limit changed, and the driver left with a parting gift that would cost $200.

After an analysis of traffic-stop data from more than 2,500 police departments, the newspaper determined Corrigan officers among the most aggressive in the state. It stated that Corrigan’s 12 police officers stopped 8,100 drivers — nearly 700 per officer.

Corrigan Police Chief Darrell Gibson said people drive through his area fast, and has a reminder in the department headquarters of the town’s fatality rate that ranks with the highest in Texas. That article was from the Corrigan Times.

Gibson is quoted in the recent article, saying every time there was a traffic death, there was someone driving very fast.

Shared traits amongst the state’s most frequent enforcers of the speed limit are said to include small towns situated on busy high-speed thoroughfares where the limit plummets from highway to local-street speeds. Most of the departments have fewer than a dozen officers.

  • Hits: 4760

Cypress logs donated for cabin

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

first choice 1000 0821

Twenty-two cypress logs from some acreage along the Trinity River bottom were recently donated to the Polk County Heritage Society in conjunction with the restoration of the Jonas Davis log cabin at Heritage Park.

David Parker, a longtime resident of Dayton, generously made the donation from his property on the edge Dayton.
“He has been tremendous. He’s just an amazing man. He does so much for Dayton for the betterment of the community. He loves log cabins,” Patrick Swilley, a member of the Polk County Heritage Society, said of Parker.

Swilley and Gary Davis, a member of the Polk County Historical Commission, made several trips to Parker’s property along the Trinity River bottom to retrieve the cypress logs and haul them to Livingston.

Tree-trimming and limb removal earlier this summer kicked off the multi-step project at Heritage Park. Located in the 500 block of West Church Street, Heritage Park is home to the W.T. Carter and Bro. Locomotive No. 5, the Jonas Davis log cabin and the Heritage House.

Resurrection fern had taken over the roof of the cabin, deteriorating it, and the heritage society had been raising funds for its replacement and repair. A recent gift of $35,000 from The Smith Family Foundation enabled the project to commence. Heritage Park is maintained by the Polk County Heritage Society.

  • Hits: 905

Repairs underway in Livingston's Heritage Park

1 Comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Cabin 08262021 1000

The much-needed repairs are finally underway at the Jonas Davis Log Cabin in Livingston’s Heritage Park. Located in the 500 block of West Church Street, Heritage Park is home to the W.T. Carter and Bro. Locomotive No. 5, the Jonas Davis Log Cabin and the Heritage House. A multi-step project is underway at the park in which the roof of the cabin—which had been taken over by resurrection fern—will be replaced and other repairs made. Heritage Park is maintained by the Polk County Heritage Society. Photo by Emily Banks Wooten

  • Hits: 903