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Winter weather slams through Polk County

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                               PHOTOS BY JASON CHLAPEK AND PAM NOBLES I PCE Winter weather made driving conditions treacherous for a Toyota pickup truck and an 18-wheeler earlier this week.

By Jason Chlapek

Like the majority of the state of Texas, Polk County was not spared by Mother Nature this week.

A winter storm came through most of the state Sunday night and Polk County was one of the storm’s destinations. The storm left snow on the ground, which prompted schools and some businesses to close its doors because of adverse travel conditions.

Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy called a declaration of disaster from Sunday to Wednesday. The northern portion of the county received 4-6 inches of snow, while Livingston received 3-4 and the southern portion received 1-2.

Temperatures did not go above freezing (37 degrees) and are not projected to until Friday when the high is supposed to be 43. Temperatures dropped to as low as 4 Tuesday morning.

Truck 1

As of press time, the Polk County Office of Emergency Management reported that approximately 2,600 homes were without water and 292 were without electricity. A second cold front was projected to sweep through the county Wednesday afternoon, which would make driving conditions treacherous again.

All six county school districts – Big Sandy, Corrigan-Camden, Goodrich, Leggett, Livingston and Onalaska – either closed or performed virtual learning Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. C-CISD is closed for the remainder of the week, Goodrich is closed today and the other districts didn’t make a decision about today or Friday as of press time.

The Polk County Office of Emergency Management can be reached at 936-327-6826, or visit the website at http://www.PolkCountyOEM.com/ . Other agencies that can be reached during winter storm emergencies are the Polk County Sheriff’s Office (936-327-6810), Department of Public Safety (936-327-6806), Livingston Police Department (936-327-3117), Onalaska Police Department (936-646-5676), Corrigan Police Department (936-398-2551) and the Alabama-Coushatta Police Department (936-563-1200).

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PCSO seeks shooting suspect

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RamirezRalph Ramirez

From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a suspect involved in a shooting early last week.

Polk County Sheriff Bryon Lyons said his office received a 911 call on Feb. 15, at approximately 12:03 p.m. of a gunshot victim at a residence on Plum Pudding Rd. off FM 2798 in the Votaw area of Polk County. Deputies along with Americare EMS and South End First Responders arrived at the location and found Gregory Basham, 37, with a single gunshot wound to the abdomen area who was later transported to an out-of-county Hospital.

Polk County Detectives arrived at the location and identified the shooter as Ralph Ramirez, 44, of Liberty County. An altercation was reported to have occurred between Basham and Ramirez at which time Ramirez retrieved a 22 rifle from inside the residence and shot Basham.

The firearm was recovered at the scene. Ramirez left the location prior to law enforcement’s arrival.

Sheriff’s Office Detectives have obtained an arrest warrant for Ramirez for the offense of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon issued by JP 4 Jamie Richardson.

If you know the whereabouts of Ralph Ramirez, Sheriff Lyons asks that you contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 936-327-6810 or Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP (7867).

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Naskila Reopening

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20210211 160234COURTESY PHOTO

Gaming enthusiasts have waited a few long months for the luckiest spot in Texas to resume operations. The most fervent of which were in the parking lot Thursday morning at 9 a.m. when Naskila Gaming again opened its doors to welcome guests.

Naskila closed over the last half of December and all of January to help mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

"We have a great crowd here today and I think everyone is excited to get back to Naskila, because we've missed them as much as they've missed us," marketing operations manager Laura Shelby said. "We've been closed since Dec. 10 and I think a lot of that is just excitement to be back and getting out of the house and it is a place they enjoy coming."

The number of games at Naskila have not increased over the 790 that were in place before the closure. However, they are now over a larger area, allowing for more space and larger walkways throughout the gaming floor. A room once used as a banquet area now holds over 100 machines.

For now, the facility is non-smoking where games are played. There is an area that before served as the front entrance that has been set aside for smoking.

Masks are required and social distancing is encouraged. Dividers have been placed between each game that gives a bit more privacy and each player their own space.

"A lot of other gaming places around the country are using them and it allows us to have every machine on," Shelby said of the dividers. "People aren't having to pick like, 'Oh, my favorite machine is turned off today,' or that sort of thing. It is also for people feel more safe that they can sit and gamble and not have to worry about it."

Employees are tested each week for Covid-19. In addition, everyone who enters Naskila is scanned by a new tool that the group hopes will eliminate any spread of the virus while out for entertainment.

"It is an infrared temperature taker. When you step into the right place well, it scans you and gives the security guard your temperature. It actually shows up on the screen."

Taking every precaution since the virus became an issue, Naskila established the Clean Team, a group of neon-shirted workers with the responsibility of keeping germs to a minimum. There are approximately 75 on the crew that rotate in three different shifts. Signs are posted on each of the electronic Bingo units to let gamers know they can press a button for a Clean Team member to disinfect wherever a customer is playing.

"We also installed 25 antibacterial wipes (stands) that our guests can just take at will and wipe down the machine if they choose to."

With freezing weather expected, Shelby said she did not anticipate the casino closing. It has remained open through hurricanes and floods and is able to operate on generators if the power becomes an issue. There is an EMT staff and a clinic on the site, making it one of the safer places at any time.

"It is nice to be back and have a purpose," she said of the return. "Everybody was ready to come back. Being off for a little bit is nice, but everybody gets bored. This week, we went through some training and it was just nice to see everybody. We missed each other just as much as we missed seeing the guests."

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Winter Storm Warning in Polk County

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Polk County OEM PSA COVID 19 Vaccine Temporary WaitlistPolk County OEM

From the Polk County Office of Emergency Management

The National Weather Service in Houston/Galveston (NWS) issued a Winter Storm Warning, which is in effect from 9 p.m. Saturday through 6 p.m. Monday for Polk County.

Periods of freezing rain or drizzle are expected, especially tonight and Sunday, creating icy conditions. A period of moderate snow, sleet and freezing rain is expected Sunday night and Monday followed by bitterly cold conditions Monday night and Tuesday.

Snow, ice and cold will likely pose a threat to life and property with hazardous road conditions, burst pipes and water mains, damage to infrastructure, and power outages. Temperatures are expected to drop to 26 degrees Sunday morning, 19 degrees Monday morning, and 8 degrees Tuesday morning.

NWS is forecasting 1-2 inches of snowfall for most of Polk County, with .10 to .25 inches of ice accumulation through Tuesday morning. A decision on closing County offices will be made late Monday afternoon.

Check your school district's websites and social media pages for school closure and virtual learning updates. Now is the time to insulate pipes, and make plans to shelter in place Sunday night through Tuesday if possible.

Remember to protect, pets, plants, and pipes. There is a risk of hypothermia for anyone outside who is not dressed properly.

Prepare your home to keep out the cold with insulation, caulking and weather stripping. Insulate pipes to keep them from freezing. Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups.

Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication.

Remember the needs of your pets. Have extra batteries for radios and flashlights and keep electronic devices charged.

Create an emergency supply kit that includes a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water and non-perishable food and snacks. Avoid travel if you can. To check highway conditions, log onto www.DriveTexas.org.

TXDOT began pre-treating highways yesterday and will continue to monitor and treat TXDOT roads as needed throughout the winter weather event.

Another winter storm is possible on Wednesday although it could bring more rain for southern areas, and an ice threat, especially in northern areas of Southeast Texas. There is uncertainty still with that storm.

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The Texas Bucket List features Pit Row Pit Stop

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pit7COURTESY PHOTO Texas Bucket List host Shane McAuliffe (left) poses with Pit Row Pit Stop owner Frankie Vinci. McAuliffe’s show will feature Vinci’s restaurant this weekend.

Special to the Enterprise

LIVINGSTON – Take a step back in time into this retro 50’s diner that’s known for more than their burgers and shakes, they are known for what Texas is known for, Barbeque.

Owner and Brooklyn born Californian Frankie Vinci went from building theme parks to building a diner to smoke barbeque like a true Texan.

“I'm a Brooklyn boy, I had no clue what a brisket is. We don't cook brisket in Brooklyn. So, I had to learn four years ago and I guess I got good at it,” said Frankie.

Not only does Frankie care about his brisket and ribs, he cares about his community and provides religious outreach for those in prison, since it was what helped him during his time behind bars.

So, tune in on Feb. 13-14 as host Shane McAuliffe visits a righteous man with the gift of giving and great BBQ on The Texas Bucket List. Pit Row Pit Stop in Livingston is featured alongside two other stops - Zito’s in San Antonio and The Stephen F. Austin Statue in Angleton.

Follow this link to find a station near you! https://thetexasbucketlist.com/where-to-watch.

pit1COURTESY PHOTO Pit Row Pit Stop in Livingston will be featured this weekend on the Texas Bucket List.

About the Texas Bucket List

The Texas Bucket List, telling the tales of the Lone Star State one Texan's story at a time. The award-winning TV series shares the joy, wonder, beauty and excitement of Texas.

Each week, host Shane McAuliffe sets out to add more people, places, food and music to a list that every Texan should experience. Shane has been recognized with numerous television broadcast excellence awards including a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award, three Lone Star Emmy Awards, the Barbara Jordan Media Award, several Telly Awards, and multiple Texas Association of Press Broadcasters awards.

He’s a native of Round Rock, and attended The University of Houston. The Texas Bucket List is produced by McAuliffe Productions, LP located in College Station.

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