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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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Onalaska Board meets for January

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OISD 03Onalaska ISD logo

By Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula

ONALASKA - The Onalaska ISD school board met for their first meeting of the year to discuss logistics of 2021, including renewing the contract for Superintendent Anthony Roberts for another year with the district.

The board approved Feb. 15 to be a staff development day in order to make up for the January in-service date that was canceled. This day will serve as a holiday to students as it is also Presidents Day.

School board elections will take place on May 1, pending anyone chooses to run against the current incumbents for positions 3 and 6. Any parties interested in filing for a spot on the ballot can do so by visiting the Onalaska Administration office located at 134 North FM 356 in Onalaska, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Additional information, as well as the candidate packet, can be found at onalaskaisd.net by clicking on the “Superintendent’s Office” tab at the top and scrolling to the bottom link that says, “Click here for School Board Election Information”

While government mandates offer paid sick leave to school faculty expired on Dec. 31, but the board voted to extend the benefits. This will allow faculty and staff to take time off due to exposure or infection of Covid-19 and will remain in effect the rest of the year.

For a calendar of future Onalaska ISD board meetings and other district events, please visit https://www.onalaskaisd.net/ , click on the “Superintendent’s Office” tab at the top, scroll to the bottom and click “School Board Agendas”.

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Local attorney enjoying time back in school

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                               JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Joe Roth presents a Zoom discussion from his online WWII Studies class during a recent Rotary Club meeting. Roth is in graduate school at Arizona State, and takes his courses online.

By Jason Chlapek

College has changed quite a bit since Joe Roth graduated from Baylor in 1973.

The Livingston attorney returned to school last fall as a graduate student at Arizona State, albeit to a different setup — a virtual one. Roth filled his fellow Rotarians in on one of his fall semester courses by showing them 20 minutes of a Zoom discussion during a recent Rotary Club of Livingston meeting.

“So far so good,” Roth said. “Arizona State is very well known for its technology and innovation. They have some really good professors and the lectures are good. We write papers that are discussion boards and the professor will prose a prompt. We are required to not only respond to his prompt, but at least two other students’ prompts. It’s been a great experience.”

Roth is working on his master’s degree in World War II studies. He’s currently on his third course — Decision Points II.

“I call this class, ‘D-Day and A-Bomb,’” Roth quipped. “One decision we will study will be the Allied decision to invade the continent of Europe in 1944 and all of the factors that went into that decision. We’re just getting started on that. The other decision will be the decision to drop nuclear weapons on Japan.”

Roth said he received a solid “B” in his first course, which was a survey course of WWII. In his second course — Decision Points I — he received an A.

“It was difficult after all these years getting back in a classroom setting again and taking tests with a timer over your head,” Roth said of his first course. “In Decision Points I, the decision that we studied were the decision of the Germans to invade the Soviet Union and what was Hitler thinking. The goal was to try and get into Hitler’s mind instead of writing a paper saying, ‘He’s a mad man. He’s crazy.’ We had to get in his mind and figure out what he was thinking in terms of logic and necessity. The second part of of Decision Point I was the Japanese decision to bomb Pearl Harbor. Once again, it was what were they (the Japanese) thinking. We could not write a paper saying, ‘They’re crazy.’ We had to get inside their minds and see what elements of logic and necessity existed in the attack on Pearl Harbor.”

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OEM, health officials host Covid vaccine clinic

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                               JASON CHLAPEK I PCE A patient rolls up her sleeve prior to receiving the Covid-19 vaccine Tuesday morning.

JUST A LITTLE PINCH

By Jason Chlapek

When it comes to combating illness such as viruses, influenza or a pandemic as Covid-19, most health officials would say that it’s better to be proactive than reactive.

On Tuesday, the Polk County Office of Emergency Management teamed up with Dr. Raymond Luna, CHI St. Luke’s Health Memorial Hospital, Brookshire Brothers, Angelina County & Cities Health District, Texas Department of State Health Services and various volunteers to administer the first round of Covid vaccines for area residents. The vaccine clinic took place at the Polk County Commerce Center in Livingston, where 200 proactive residents received their first dose of the two-dose vaccine.

“The vaccine was administered to front-line workers, who are in Phase 1A of the Texas Vaccination Plan, and Phase 1B, who are persons over the age of 65 or 16 and older with at least one chronic medical condition,” Polk County OEM Coordinator Courtney Comstock said. “We have been directing people to go to the Brookshire Brothers website to get on the vaccine list. That’s where these persons were pulled from (Tuesday).”

The OEM is implementing its health district’s mass vaccination plan to vaccinate residents in larger numbers. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have already been vaccinated by federal pharmacy partners.

To date, more than 1,600 Polk County residents have received their first dose of the vaccine, with 49 of those being fully vaccinated and other residents in the process to receive the second dose. The OEM has reached out to the state to request larger future vaccine allocations.

“All area COVID-19 provider partners are coordinating together to plan for future vaccination clinics,” Comstock said. “We’ll continue to coordinate with our Covid vaccine partners to schedule future clinics like this and we’ll schedule appointments with residents who have signed up on the Brookshire Brothers website. We have requested that the state expedite the approval of additional providers of the vaccine. The state health department has released instructions on how persons can register to receive the vaccine. If they’re able to travel to a nearby county. We’re asking the community to be aware that other providers will be added to the Polk County list.”

Although the Brookshire Brothers waitlist has been temporarily suspended due to vaccine shortages, partner agencies are working together to find solutions that incorporate those on the current list, and residents are encouraged to check back often as the county anticipates the waitlist will reopen when additional vaccine is allocated.

Luna, a longtime family medicine practitioner, could easily be nicknamed, “Dr. Emergency.” Since coming to Livingston in 1985 to join Dr. Jerry Wood’s practice, the bicycle-riding physician and Livingston city council alderman has worked with multiple emergency situations.

“I volunteered to be a county medical officer a long time ago,” Luna said. “I’ve worked closely with the OEM and the health department during tornadoes, hurricanes, Zika virus and anything that involves emergency or medical aspect to it.”

For additional information on the vaccine, people are encouraged to contact the Angelina County & Cities Health District hotline at 936-630-8500.

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