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A NEW TRADITION?

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                               JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Onalaska seniors Chase Fletcher and Olivia Scott were crowned Onalaska Junior-Senior High Schools’ homecoming king and queen, respectively, during a coronation ceremony Thursday night.

Onalaska celebrates homecoming with separate ceremony 

 
By Jason Chlapek

ONALASKA – Onalaska’s 2020-21 homecoming coronation seemed to be missing one small detail Thursday night.

The king and queen were crowned, the freshman, sophomore and junior classes each had representatives, and it took place in the Onalaska gymnasium. What was missing was a basketball game.

Because of Covid-19, District 23-3A – Onalaska’s district for basketball – decided to have split sites for its games where the boys teams play a district opponent at one location and the girls teams play at the other. This caused Onalaska administrators to make an unusual decision.

“There was not a night where the boys and girls played in the same gym where we could have the ceremony,” Onalaska Junior-Senior High School principal Robyn Thornton said. “So, we made the decision to have it on a night when we didn’t have any games. This way students and parents could attend.”

In the past, homecoming coronation took place in between the girls and boys varsity games, or at the end of the boys varsity game. Thornton explained why a change was made.

“When I first came here, it was varsity girls game, coronation, then boys varsity game,” she said. “But we learned that neither group could get ready fast enough for coronation, so we moved it to after the games to help the kids have more time to get ready. But many people didn’t stay around so we didn’t have that much attendance.”

Seniors Chase Fletcher and Olivia Scott were crowned the king and queen, respectively. There were four senior boys in the running for king and four senior girls in the running for queen.

William Boyce, Alex Casner and Brady Neuman were the other king candidates, while Kierra Anstee, Avery Schamerhorn and Jordyn Shutter were the other queen candidates. Kylie Sisk was the junior class duchess and Layne Purkerson was the junior class duke; Briseis Sabino was the sophomore class baroness and Logan Eagle was the sophomore class baron; Reese Peavy was the freshman class lady and Bryan Wyatt was the freshman class lord.

The crown bearers were Andy Strong and Taylor Treuter. Dylon Goins was the Master of Ceremonies and Shelbi Bennett was the Mistress of Ceremonies.

“I think this could be the start of a new tradition,” Thornton said. “It was great. We had a large group and were very pleased with the number of people who came out. I think we could continue to grow something like this. I hope we’ll be back to having a school dance next year and hopefully do this on a Saturday night with a school dance to follow and an alumni reception in the library. Hopefully this will encourage more former students to come back.”

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Boyce follows family footsteps, signs with Sam

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Boyce FamilyJASON CHLAPEK I PCE Onalaska senior William Boyce (seated) signs a National Letter of Intent with Sam Houston State University to run cross country, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field Wednesday afternoon at Onalaska High School. Joining Boyce is (standing from left) sisters Ginny and Katie Boyce, mother Terri Boyce and father Charles Boyce.

By Jason Chlapek

ONALASKA – It could be said that the Blue and Orange of Sam Houston State University runs through William Boyce’s veins.

His parents, Charles and Terri Boyce, met at the school. His paternal grandparents attended there as well.

On Wednesday, William signed a National Letter of Intent to run cross country, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field at SHSU, making him a third-generation Bearkat. He also hinted that although other schools were in contact with him, SHSU was always the front-runner.

“Since I was young, I’ve always wanted to go to Sam,” Boyce said. “My parents graduated from there and my dad’s parents graduated from there. It’s always been close to home and close to my heart.”

Not only is Boyce going to be a third-generation student at SHSU, but he’ll also be a second-generation athlete at the school. His mother, Onalaska cross country and girls track and field coach Terri (Sheppard) Boyce, played basketball for the Lady Kats from 1996-2000.

While Boyce still has his senior track and field season coming up, in which he’ll participate in the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs, he had a decorated cross country career at Onalaska, which included a Class 3A state championship, a Region III-3A championship and a District 23-3A championship this past season. Throughout his four-year tenure, Boyce had four trips to the region meet, four trips to the state meet, three district championships, a district runner-up, two region championships, a third-place finish in state and a state championship.

“Onalaska has a great legacy in cross country,” Boyce said. “It’s the most successful sport and it helps that we don’t have football. We also have good academics and I’d rather be more sound academically than athletically.”

Following the family footsteps seems to be a trend for Boyce. He plans to major in education and become a teacher and coach.

While Boyce is familiar with cross country in the fall and (outdoor) track and field in the spring, he’s adding indoor track and field to the mix. Indoor track and field season takes place in the winter.

Boyce will continue to run the 1,600 and 3,200 in outdoor track and field, and will run the 1,500 and 3,000 in indoor season. He’ll also run a little more in cross country – 6.2 miles instead of 3.1.

“I’ll have my hands tied with three sports and I won’t have much time to relax,” Boyce said.

While Boyce has career aspirations of being a teacher and coach, he’s keeping his options open if something else happens.

“I might decide to be a professional runner,” Boyce said. “I think that would be fun. I’d always have that degree to fall back on (if it doesn’t work out). Running professionally has never been a big dream of mine so if it doesn’t happen, no big deal. If it does happen, I’ll take advantage of it. If I run in the Olympics, that would be pretty cool, too.”

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Altercation leaves juvenile dead

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From the Texas Department of Public Safety

A juvenile male is dead after being stabbed during an altercation.

The subject and two other juvenile males were involved in an altercation at an Onalaska residence with another juvenile male early Saturday morning. At the request of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Texas Rangers are investigating the homicide.

The preliminary investigation indicates that three male juveniles went to a residence where a male and a female juvenile were located. A short time after the three male juveniles arrived, a physical altercation between the male at the residence and the three males occurred.

During this altercation, the male who was at the home stabbed one of the three juvenile males. Immediately after the incident, the male who was stabbed was transported to a medical facility in Livingston by some of the other male juveniles.

While being transported to Houston for further medical care, the injured juvenile succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased. One of the juveniles was armed with a handgun during the incident and was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and placed in the Polk County Jail and later transferred to a juvenile detention facility in Montgomery County.

This incident remains under investigation. Since the individuals in this criminal investigation are juveniles, their names will not be released at this time.

Further information is not available for release.

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Local businesses suffer burglaries

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BurgalryBRIAN BESCH I PCE Popping Smoke BBQ in Livingston was one of seven area businesses that was burglarized during a sting of burglaries between Jan. 22-25.

From the Livingston Police Department

A trio of Livingston businesses and four outside the city limits were burglarized recently. The Livingston Police Department is currently investigating three similar business burglaries that occurred days apart. The burglaries took place between Jan. 22-25.

The first burglary was reported Jan. 22, at Carniceria Rosa’s in the 200 block of S. Washington Ave. The second burglary was reported Jan. 25, at Shipley’s Donuts in the 1000 block of W. Church St., and the third burglary was reported Jan. 25, as well at Popping Smoke BBQ in the 200 block of South Point Loop.

In all of these burglaries the suspect’s forced entry into the business. These incidents are still under investigation. Anyone with any information pertaining to these incidents is asked to contact the Livingston Police Department at 936-327-3117.

In addition to the three businesses that were burglarized in the city limits, four businesses along US Highway 190 were broken into during the early morning hours of Jan. 25 as well. ChaddyDaddy Brisket Bar, Lash Out Loud and Pink Blush Boutique – all located in Old Mill Center – and La Flor de Puebla Meat Market and Taqueria were burglarized.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the burglaries in those businesses. According to the owners of two of the businesses that were broken into, the suspects used forced entry by breaking windows or kicking in doors before proceeding to ransack the business and take what money they could out of the cash registers.

One business owner also reported that a pair of shoes and a pair of heeled boots were taken from its place of business. Anyone with any information on the burglaries at ChaddyDaddy Brisket Bar, Lash Out Loud, Pink Blush Boutique and La Flor de Puebla Meat Market and Taqueria are encouraged to contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 936-327-6810.

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Smallwood updates Rotarians on SPCA

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                               JASON CHLAPEK I PCE SPCA of Polk County communications lead Jessica Smallwood speaks at Rotary Club of Livingston last month.

By Jason Chlapek

Covid-19 slowed a lot of things down in 2020.

SPCA continued to work as usual. The animal shelter took in 2,000 dogs and cats in 2020.

SPCA of Polk County communications lead Jessica Smallwood gave members of the Rotary Club of Livingston a rundown on what her shelter has done and what it is doing during a Rotary Club meeting last month. She also gave Rotarians a glimpse into what’s different between her shelter and shelters in other counties.

“We are a nonprofit, no-kill animal shelter,” Smallwood said. “We primarily serve Polk County, but we are also one of the few shelters that takes animals from outside the county. We get a lot animals brought in from San Jacinto and Montgomery counties, and even some from Lufkin. That is one of the things that makes us unique. Most other animal shelters refuse animals from outside their own county.”

In 2020 alone, SPCA of Polk County took in 1,579 dogs and 420 cats. Of those animals, approximately 69 percent of them were adopted – 1,159 dogs, 219 cats.

The months with the highest number of intakes were April for dogs (183) and June for cats (79). The months with the highest number of adoptions were May for dogs (222) and February for cats (58).

“We have a good number of transport rescues that we do work with,” Smallwood said. “Just this past year, we took in more than 1,300 animals from Polk County and surrounding counties. We were able to place or transport 80 percent of them.”

Smallwood said that her shelter has a “revolving door” of animals. She also said that things can be unpredictable at times.

“We might have a great day of adoptions and get seven animals into a new home, then just as we’re about to close for the day, we get a call that someone has picked up a litter of puppies in a trash can,” Smallwood said. “Things like that happen all the time. About a week after Christmas, we took in no less than seven full litters of puppies, which contained 8-13 per litter.”

Smallwood pointed out that in December 2020, 79 out of 126 dogs brought in were strays (homeless, abandoned, etc.). She also said that although SPCA gets plenty of calls about stray animals being found, the shelter gets more calls from people looking to volunteer.

One of the biggest programs that SPCA offers is the TNR (trap, neuter, release) or "Fix A Feral" program. This program works with local veterinarians and the public to help curb the feral cat population through spaying and neutering.

Some of the participating veterinarians do vaccinate against rabies and feline leukemia as funding allows, but none for FIV/FIP (testing and vaccinating for that in particular is more expensive than the TNR program can currently afford). The average cost to spay/neuter these feral cats is $60 per cat.

“It is breeding season here year-round,” Smallwood said. “We also offer low-income spay and neuter programs as well as a mobile clinic.”

Both the SPCA and its TNR program operate entirely on donations, and neither receives any funding from local or federal government. Smallwood also pointed out that SPCA wants to be involved in the community.

“We have a number of community event ideas such as a Holiday Pet Photo Day,” she said. “We want to expand outreach in the community.”

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