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Gaming center temporary closure

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Naskila logoCOURTESY PHOTO Naskila logo

Naskila Gaming has decided to temporarily halt operations once again due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to a post Thursday on social media, the gaming center in Polk County will close at midnight Dec. 10 and plans to reopen Jan. 16, 2021 at 10 a.m.

"This is just to keep the community safe -- our patrons, our employees safe from the virus," Alabama-Coushatta communications director Christi Sullivan said."

Sullivan said the closure is not related to an outbreak in the gaming center, but rather one to mitigate the spread.

"Not at Naskila. Our numbers have risen, just as they have everywhere else, on the reservation. It is exactly how it is in Livingston and Woodville. All of the numbers are on the rise. This is exactly how we have done in November and early on when it first hit."

Naskila has been operating at 50% capacity and chairs were removed from certain machines to aid in patrons keeping a social distance.

Sullivan said the tribal council makes decisions for everything that occurs on the reservation. There has been an ongoing conversation amongst that group since March about hours of operation and helping prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The tribe has not only considered local statistics for Covid-19, but also numbers from areas like Harris County and Jefferson County, as many patrons drive in from Houston and Beaumont.

Employees of Naskila Gaming will continue to be paid, just as they have in other closures during 2020.

Follow easttexasnews.com for any updates on this story.

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Two die in head-on collision

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IMG 0962KELLI BARNES I PCE A head-on collision between a 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe and 2013 Ford Taurus on US Highway 190 east of Livingston resulted in the deaths of Michael Tobin, 55, and Christopher Hinson, 37, Tuesday morning.

By Jason Chlapek

A head-on collision in eastern Polk County Tuesday morning claimed the lives of two men.

Michael Tobin, 55, of Onalaska and Christopher Hinson, 37, of Livingston were both killed in the collision that took place on US Highway 190 east of Livingston. The accident took place at approximately 6:49 a.m., which caused a delay in traffic and took 3 1/2 hours to clean up.

A 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe was driven eastbound by Tobin in the outside lane, and a 2013 Ford Taurus driven by Hinson traveled westbound. Hinson started passing people in a no-passing zone and struck Tobin’s vehicle head-on.

Hinson was arrested Sunday afternoon by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office after they responded to a public disturbance call. He had a mental health warrant and also received a charge of resisting arrest.

Despite having a mental health warrant, Hinson was not sent to a mental health facility after being released from the Polk County Jail Monday. According to Department of Public Safety Trooper Ashlee White, who was the lead officer on the scene of the fatality, the mental health facility wouldn’t take him “because it wasn’t an emergency matter.”

In addition to White and other DPS troopers, the PCSO, Livingston Volunteer Fire Department and Allegiance Ambulance Service were all dispatched to the scene. The DPS is investigating the accident.

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Possible homicide of Livingston man

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LE Flashing LightsFILE PHOTO - Law Enforcement flashing lights

GOODRICH — The body of a Livingston teenager was found after a possible homicide in Goodrich Tuesday.

The Polk County Sheriff’s office received a 911 call Tuesday morning in reference to a deceased male found in an area off of FM 1988 East in Polk County.

Sheriff’s office investigators, along with the Texas Rangers, responded to the scene on Lone Wolf Road. The scene was processed and evidence collected. Justice of the Peace Darrell Longino conducted the inquest and ordered for an autopsy to be performed by the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The victim has been identified as 19-year-old Brodrick Cooper of Livingston.

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the investigation is continuing as a possible homicide. The body is said to have been recovered from the road. As of Tuesday, it is thought that an altercation occurred at the location.

Friends on social media have messaged that Cooper died from a gunshot.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information please contact their office at 936-327-6810 or Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP.

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Oklahoma authorities arrest former Coldspring resident

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Marcus MorseCOURTESY PHOTO Former Coldspring resident Marcos Morse was arrested in Guymon, Oklahoma last week on two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Morse had a pair of warrants out of Polk County for those crimes.

By Jason Chlapek

A suspect with outstanding warrants in Polk County and Coldspring ties was brought to justice Wednesday evening in Oklahoma.

Marcus Morse, 23, was arrested by the Guymon Police Department in Guymon, Oklahoma. Morse had two warrants from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office for Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child.

At approximately 4:20 p.m. Wednesday, the GPD received a call from the PCSO that they had warrants for Morse’s arrest. GPD officers attempted to serve the warrants to Morse at his residence, but he wasn’t there.

They learned that he was working at Seaboard Foods in Guymon, and they went there to make contact. GPD officers made contact with Morse an hour later and informed him of his warrants.

Morse was placed in handcuffs and taken to the back of a patrol unit where he was transported to the Texas County Detention Center without incident. He was awaiting extradition to Polk County at press time.

One Polk County resident who is pleased that justice was served is Hope McWhorter. Her 14-year-old nieces were the victims.

“My nieces will get justice from this monster,” McWhorter said.

Morse graduated from Coldspring-Oakhurst High School in 2015 and worked at the San Jacinto County Jail at one time. McWhorter said that she and her family took him and his family under their wing.

“We took them in when they were living in a shelter in Houston,” she said. “We got his baby brother graduated when their mom ran off on them. My husband took (Marcus) under his wing and took him to work on pipeline with him. We also helped him financially. There is so much to list.”

McWhorter said the incidents took place in October. Morse left for Oklahoma shortly after.

“I would encourage kids to speak up if this is happening to them,” McWhorter said. “People will protect them. Listen to your kids or any kids if they’re trying to talk to you.”

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Virus concerns lead to declining attendance for Rotary Club

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                               JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Rotary Club of Livingston president Matt Anderson conducts business at last week’s Rotary Club meeting at the Polk County Chamber of Commerce.

By Jason Chlapek

Matt Anderson remembers when Rotary Club of Livingston met on a weekly basis.

He also remembers when there were 30-40 club members meeting on a weekly basis. But things have changed since Covid-19.

The local Rotary Club has met every other Thursday since the pandemic and attendance at the meetings has declined. Many of the club members are in the 50-over age group, which is more susceptible to adverse effects from Covid.

“The main reason for declining attendance is the health concerns related to Covid,” Anderson said. “People are a little leery to meet in large groups and to expose themselves is what the majority of our members have expressed. The majority of our members are mature and they’re the ones that are more susceptible to Covid.”

Anderson is the president of Rotary Club of Livingston. He would like to see attendance return to the way it was prior to Covid, and an increase in membership.

“In the past we’ve had committees and chairs that have taken care of and brainstormed different ideas for recruiting new members,” Anderson said. “Unfortunately, the last 6-8 months have been kind of stopped and had a pause button placed on it. We’re more in maintaining mode right now than we are growth mode or anything else. It’s just really hard right now to get new members and do events. We want new members and welcome new members. Unfortunately, this past year we have not been able to do the events we normally do or help out with them.”

While things are not as active as they were prior to Covid, Rotary Club is still going to perform two of its biggest service projects, albeit on a smaller scale. Anderson said manpower, not finances, are more of a reason behind this.

“We’re still doing the Empty Stocking program to help our community, but we’re doing it on a smaller scale just for the sheer number of volunteers and community help that we have,” he said. “We need people to help us shop and to deliver. Unfortunately, right now we don’t have as many as we normally do. We have our Pancake Supper toward the end of February. We’re still planning on having that, but with a revised schedule of having a drive-thru meal option. We hope the community is still looking forward to having some Rotary Pancakes.”

For the moment, Rotary Club meets every other Thursday at noon at the Polk County Chamber of Commerce. Anderson said things could change once the new year starts.

“We’re doing every-other-week meetings to help people social distance,” he said. “We can go back to meeting once a week if that helps our members if that’s what our membership wants. We’re trying to do what’s best for our membership, listen to what their needs are and what they want. With the holidays approaching, lots of our members travel and visit families so it’s a little harder right now. If we decide to resume weekly meetings, it would be in January before we did that.”

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