Log in

Top Stories        News         Sports

Polk County News

County offices relocating during courthouse construction

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

                               JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Matt March of Texas AgriLife discusses surface lease agreements with Polk County commissioners Tuesday morning.

By Jason Chlapek

Polk County employees who have offices in the courthouse will have to relocate for two years soon.

That’s because the courthouse will undergo a renovation project after the county received a $3 million grant from the Texas Historical Commission earlier this month. During the projected two-year project, courthouse offices will be relocated to the vacant building of the former Regional Health Center and to the Polk County Annex building.

“We’re scheduled to complete in mid-2023,” Polk County grants and contracts administrator Jessica Hutchins said. “But with construction, that could always change. The project is expected to begin within six months of our contract. We don’t receive contract until March, so we should be going out for bids within six months of that agreement. It’s roughly a two-year project.”

The relocation measure was approved during commissioners court Tuesday morning. During the two-year period, commissioners court will take place in the former Regional Health Center building.

“When we originally applied for the grant, we didn’t qualify,” Hutchins said. “But when THC had an additional $3 million left over, they awarded that to us. We’re not receiving the official award until THC meets on Feb. 3. Then we’ll know more and have an accurate date on contracts and construction.”

Speaking of grants, the county is working on finding a project for the Texas Department of Agriculture Community Development Block Grant. Once an administrator and engineer have been selected, the project selection can begin.

“TDA every year opens up grants for their CDBG program,” Hutchins said. “It’s basically to improve water districts, sewage and basic necessities for the community. Last year we received $250,000 for Dallardsville-Segno Water Corporation. Now we’re opening up a new grant period. We’re getting an administrator and an engineer to select a project in the county.”

A similar process will take place for the Hurricane Harvey Regional Mitigation Program. Hutchins elaborated on that as well.

“For Hurricane Harvey, there’s a mitigation program and that’s set where any flooding for Harvey was done we want to mitigate that for the future so those same areas are not flooded,” she said. “There are certain zip codes within the county that flooded so they are eligible to apply for the program. There’s two rounds of mitigation. The first round is competitive. We already applied and submitted that application. There’s allocated mitigation funding that’s given to each of the counties that DETCOG is receiving in allocated amounts that are set for us and they help the general land office come up with a way to disburse it among our community. The general land office will be allocating set funds to each of the counties that DETCOG services. Each county that was impacted by Harvey will be receiving funds that are not competitive that we are set to receive.”

Matt March of Texas AgriLife discussed surface lease agreements. The lease agreements, which are set to expire June 30, are for land in Baylor and Throckmorton counties that Polk County has designated for its six school districts – Big Sandy, Corrigan-Camden, Goodrich, Leggett, Livingston and Onalaska.

“A long time ago, the legislature set up some land in West Texas and designated it as property for the school districts in our county to be managed by the court,” Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy said. “The lease money gets split up with the schools in the county and the county benefits as well. The majority of counties sold their land a long time ago. Polk County is one of the few that did not. We are responsible for managing it and maintaining the quality of the property, and making sure the money is going where it’s supposed to go.”

The next commissioners court takes place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9.

  • Hits: 2349

Livingston Police seeks sexual assault suspects

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Wesley HarrellMUGSHOT Wesley Harrell

From the Livingston Police Department

The Livingston Police Department is currently seeking the whereabouts and apprehension of Jacolby Bernard Reece and Wesley Frank Harrell.

Reece and Harrell are wanted for the felony offense of sexual assault. The two suspects currently have active felony warrants for their arrest and anyone caught aiding or harboring these two suspects will be arrested and charged with the felony offense of hindering apprehension of known felon.

Jacolby ReeceMUG SHOT Jacolby Reece

If you have any information on the location of these individuals, you are asked to contact the Livingston Police Department (936) 327-3117, Polk County Sheriff’s Office (936) 327-6810 or Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP (7867). Callers will remain anonymous and may be eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $1,000 if the information provided leads to an arrest or grand jury indictment of a felony offender.

  • Hits: 4101

Corrigan approves $375,000 grant

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

                               CASEY SIZEMORE Corrigan City Council Member Irene Thomson (right) presents City Secretary Paloma Carbajal (center) and Mayor Johnna Lowe Gibson with a donation check from Alvin Freeman to be applied toward the Corrigan Volunteer Fire Department.

By Casey Sizemore

CORRIGAN – During its regular scheduled meeting Tuesday, the Corrigan City Council approved beginning the procurement procedures to accept the Texas Department of Agriculture Community Development block grant for 2021-22.

City Manager Darrian Hudman said the $375,000 grant, which is more than previous years, could be applied toward water and sewer projects. The council did not discuss what projects the grant would be applied to.

Mayor Johnna Lowe Gibson said the city is in talks with Corrigan OSB “to see if they can help” with some of the water or sewer projects.

The council also approved three appointments to a committee to seek who is most qualified to complete some of the jobs. Mayor Gibson described the committee as a “formality.”

The council also approved a declination toward “Entergy’s backup generation product.” Hudman said Entergy intends to install a generator for the city to use during power outages. He said Energy requested the council decline the initial submission so they could resubmit under a multi-city or municipality project.

The board also approved the general city election for May 1, 2021.

After a lengthy discussion, the council tabled a motion to reduce the speed limit from 30 mph to 20 mph on Martin Luther King, Jr. Street until the council members have an opportunity to hear pros and cons from the citizens.

Chief Gerald Gibson requested the council take up the matter out of concern for children playing in the area.

“My only concern is the children, that’s all I care about,” he said.

Chief Gibson said children walk along the street, play basketball in and near the street and play in the park, so he is concerned an accident is going to occur.

Hudman recommended the council consider an ordinance stating all residential streets in the city limits be reduced to 20 mph. He also recommended the city mail out information to citizens and make callouts.

During the council forum portion of the meeting, the council members discussed a recent article in the Enterprise concerning Georgia Pacific donating funds toward constructing a new fire department building for the Corrigan Volunteer Fire Department.

“The Corrigan Volunteer Fire Department could use donations for that building,” Mayor Gibson said.

Chief Gibson said CFVD is also in need of volunteer firefighters.

Council member Irene Thomson presented the city with a donation check toward the fire department on behalf of Alvin Freeman.

  • Hits: 2101

Livingston Police finds body in creek

1 Comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

                               JASON CHLPEK I PCE Livingston Police officers found the body of David Alexander Canon, 38, Thursday morning in Long King Creek.

From the Livingston Police Department

The body of a Livingston man was found in Long King Creek on the west side of Livingston Thursday morning January 21, 2021.

David Alexander Canon, 38, was found dead after Livingston Police Department officers were dispatched to Long King Creek near the 1800 block of US Highway 190 West. Officers were dispatched in reference to the body of a white male that had been found in the creek.

Once officers arrived at the creek, they discovered that the male was deceased. Once the subject was identified as Canon, the body was released to Cochran Funeral Home and sent to the Forensic Medical Management Services of Texas in Jefferson County for an autopsy.

At this time, the cause of Canon's death remains under investigation. If anyone has any information regarding the death of Canon please contact the Livingston Police Department at (936) 327-3117.

  • Hits: 5786

Center of Hope helping tornado victims cope, rebuild (VIDEO)

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

5247COURTESY PHOTO Home after tornado in April, 2020.

Putting plans into action

BY BRIAN BESCH

An organization that has done so much for so many after tragedy struck in Onalaska and Seven Oaks wishes to give thanks for all who contributed to helping those when it was most needed.

Center of Hope in Livingston has helped over 50 homes with damage from the tornado in April with the funds brought in from the community. Center of Hope disaster response coordinator Mike Fortney said the funds provided allowed some homes to receive extensive repair, while others required only a moderate amount.

The task of helping in repairs is one leadership at Center of Hope expects to be complete by the end of winter. There are still five or six residences, but Fortney said some repairs to those are complete. After those have been tackled, the total will be just shy of 60 homes.

Anything from wheelchair ramps, to roofs, decks, windows, doors, fences and walls — the many agencies partnering with the center were able to repair for those in need after the deadly storm. An emphasis was placed on homes that were either uninsured or underinsured.

20210118 124715COURTESY PHOTO Home under reconstruction.

Over 30 families received assistance with non-construction aid as part of Unmet Needs. This ministry helps families with needs stemming from the tornado to replace items such as appliances, furniture, vehicles or household goods. They were even able to replace a set of dentures that blew away during the tornado.

This week, the Enterprise had the opportunity to visit two families who have received such help. Each had a tree that fell into the home, both of which were within arm’s length of where they were bracing for the storm.

At the O’Donnell home, a roof and ramp were built, while the family worked on flooring for the house. The Flanigans, a family of seven, lost nearly everything and began building themselves. Volunteer groups traveled to help them complete a home, and installed windows and electrical. They are currently adding on another room for additional space.

It takes a village, and Center of Hope has certainly built that. Among those helping were Economy Maintenance and Repair, Dowden Leveling and Texas Choice Home Construction. They all worked to fix dozens of homes, giving reduced prices in most cases to spread Center of Hope funds or even absorbing the costs themselves. As Covid-19 hampered the volunteer team roster and Hurricane Laura drew other teams away, the contractor partners were a large part of the process and continue to do so. 

Church repair teams include First United Methodist Church of Onalaska, United Methodist Army of Kingwood, Lone Star Cowboy Church from Montgomery County, First Baptist Church of Livingston, Cypress UMC, and Atlanta UMC. Many homes were repaired by these teams, who volunteered time and resources to the incredible project.

There were churches that also helped in other ways, like food and donations. Those include First United Methodist Church of Onalaska, Revival Center Church of Onalaska, and First Baptist Church of Onalaska. These groups adopted individual families, helped fix homes, ran a furniture warehouse for survivors, fed survivors and provided spiritual care for families. All ministered to families and continue to do so.

The Orphan Grain Train out of Nebraska sent a large donation of materials totaling $35,000 that filled a warehouse. That warehouse, was arranged by Calvary Medical of Livingston, which allowed donated building materials to be stored free of charge and is still used today.

The chambers of commerce, along with leadership from Polk County and the City of Onalaska helped tackle several challenges in response and recovery.

All of this help was in addition to the immediate response from Center of Hope following the storm, where they set up a donation center, coordinated hot meals and volunteers, and supplied bulk food, water and materials to the impacted area.

Fortney said, most of all, God gave his team solutions before new problems existed. Prayers were answered providing work teams, materials and funds. Teams were kept safe and what he calls "mini miracles" made the difference in getting the jobs completed.

Trailers and vehicles were available at the right time to meet a specific need. Material donors covered the bulk of what was necessary for most projects. Teams arrived from outside of Polk County with the skills to complete jobs. A warehouse space was supplied at the right moment as donating materials were on their way, and several times donors showed up with the exact things needed at that moment.

With the work in Onalaska nearly complete, there are limited resources still available to help survivor families. If a family has a lingering need stemming from the tornado, they may contact the Center of Hope at 935-327-7634 or visit 600 South Washington in Livingston to work with the group there.

For those looking to help the Center of Hope, donations are always put to good use. There will also be a barbecue fundraiser at the Center of Hope Feb. 27 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Plates are $10, with proceeds going toward the vehicle used in disaster response.

  • Hits: 1677