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Tragedy on the tracks

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This is the only crossing for Glover Road, also known as Old Highway 35 North. Photos by Brian BeschThis is the only crossing for Glover Road, also known as Old Highway 35 North. Photos by Brian Besch

By Brian Besch
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Getting to and from home has, at times, been difficult for those living on Glover Road in Leggett the past 30 years. The one-mile stretch has homes on around 16 different plots of land.

Glover Road, also known as Old Highway 35 North, is next to the train tracks that run parallel to Highway 59 in Leggett. The problem is that the road dead ends and there is only one crossing to reach Highway 59 or any other road. Residents remember a time when there was a second crossing and many are hopeful that will again be the case in the future.

“My daughter and my nephew are the only ones that go to Leggett (ISD) on this road because there are a lot of elderly people that live here. I told my husband about a week ago that someone is going to have an emergency out here and they (emergency responders) are not going to be able to get to them. Sure enough, it was my son that had the emergency. It is a terrible thing, and seconds and minutes mean the most when you are not breathing. I needed them.”

These are the wooden planks where paramedics and Monica Franklin performed CPR on K’Twon. A train was on the middle track and blocking the only crossing.These are the wooden planks where paramedics and Monica Franklin performed CPR on K’Twon. A train was on the middle track and blocking the only crossing.The tragic story told by Monica Franklin is an example of why many want the second crossing. Reportedly, trains stop on the tracks for an hour and up to three hours at a time, blocking any vehicles from getting in or going out. 

“It was the (Sept.) 30th when this happened and I woke up and found my son not breathing,” Franklin said. I immediately started CPR and my husband called 911. It was about 7:30 a.m. or 8 a.m. maybe when we called 911 and the train was on the track at the time.” 

She said 30 minutes before, her 3-month-old baby, K’Twon, had been given a bottle and put down to rest. The baby’s hands were very active and he had a habit of pulling the blanket to his face. Franklin, a nurse, said K’Twon was not stiff or cold to the touch, but she could tell that something wasn’t right when she picked him up and he was non-responsive. She immediately checked for a pulse and then began CPR.

“I was doing CPR on my son on the washing machine for an hour,” Franklin said. “The woman on dispatch told me that there was a train on the track and ‘they can’t get to you.’ I don’t know how many rounds of CPR I did on my son, I just kept going. Eventually, the EMTs came through the train cars to get to me, but they did not bring any equipment with them. As the paramedics came into my home, we did a few more rounds of CPR and they said ‘let’s get him to the ambulance.’ We ran to the train track to crawl back through the train cars and get him to the ambulance, because they (sheriff’s office, ambulance) were stuck on the other side of the track. The train began to start. We ended up doing CPR on the railroad track until the train had passed. Me and the paramedic were doing CPR on the train tracks while the train passed for what seems like forever.” 

Franklin said once the train cleared, they were able to get K’Twon to the ambulance and he was transported to St. Luke’s Health Memorial Hospital. They were able to regain a heartbeat, however, he was not breathing on his own. He was then airlifted to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston and there for two days on life support. Tests showed that his brain did not make it through the trauma. K’Twon was said to be without oxygen for too long and life support was removed Saturday.

“It is just hurtful and if it was anyone else’s family, I would feel the same way,” Franklin said. “I have been told of so many instances that have happened on this road. This is every day of the week, it seems like. I’m a nurse, but I was a stay-at-home mom until two or three weeks ago, when I went back to work. This train holds up our daughter from school and in the afternoon. It’s not like they are hooking up cars and stay on the track for 30 minutes or so. It is literally hours. I have missed a dentist appointment, because for four hours, they were sitting on the track. The thing is, they pull past the main road back there by the store, but they block us by two to three cars. The train that was there the day my son passed was a long train. The majority of the time, it is by two to three cars. I am not sure what goes on with their operations, but I know me and my husband have made over 20 complaints to Union Pacific. The only thing they tell me is that they will contact their supervisor or management.”

Franklin said her 5-year-old daughter attending kindergarten is usually one of the first to get off the bus. Yet, when a train is on the track, the bus will park for a few minutes and then finish the route before dropping her off.

Franklin moved to Leggett on family property from Texarkana early in 2021. Through conversations, she that Leggett ISD has made several reports to Union Pacific over the years.

Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy also has made numerous complaints to Union Pacific. Both she and Leggett ISD superintendent Jana Lowe feel as though their questions and complaints have fallen on deaf ears.

“I have been after U.P. about this crossing for several years” Murphy said. “My worst nightmare just came true. They have been non-responsive. We have no idea if they have made any plans, evaluated the situation, or even reviewed it any further. Our last communication with them was September-October of 2019, when they promised they would come meet with (Polk County Commissioner) Milt Purvis about the issue.”

Murphy explained that the replies she is given include that the company will look into it or evaluate the situation or that the person she spoke with previously is no longer there. The responses have delayed any sort of action. Purvis had discussed the issue with them prior to Murphy taking office.

Lowe said she reports to Union Pacific’s website once or twice each week about a problem in the area.

“I can’t even count how many times in the morning I will come and there has been a 20- or 30-minute wait,” the Leggett superintendent said. “I don’t know if that is acceptable or not. When you have kids on the other side in the bus, especially whenever they are little kids going home — we waited from 3:30 p.m. until nearly 5 p.m. — that is a bathroom issue. Not to mention a behavior issue for little kids to stay that long.”

Blocking FM 942 is also a normal occurrence, according to Lowe. The obstruction there is said to usually be around 20 or 30 minutes and usually around 7:15 p.m. 

“I reported every time and I have never once been contacted by anyone,” Lowe said. “I am just extremely frustrated by it and I think it is a dangerous situation. I think it is ridiculous that they don’t take any notice of completely blocking the only route those people have out. I feel so sorry for those people and I just can’t imagine having a child that was affected to the extent that they ended up losing a child because they can’t get an emergency person down there. I feel like this is one of those situations, and I am not throwing rocks at a major industry, but if that were blocking homes in The Woodlands, I guarantee you that there would be a crossing. But in Leggett, Texas, it is like, ‘eh, they have reported it a few times,’ and that offends me. We just need some sort of communication with the railroad, but good luck trying to find it.” 

There is a fear amongst many on Glover Road that a similar emergency could occur again. There have been multiple house fires with older homes on the road. There are also many senior citizens that live in the area, including a mobile home park for those aged 55 and over.

The Enterprise obtained a letter written by W.T. “Pete” Glover from Feb. of 1992. The man for which the road is named was concerned then of the three-hour delays and how it was “very unreasonable, when there is no other outlet.” 

“We could probably drive around and wait and miss our appointments and miss our school and that kind of thing. That is easy stuff to get by, but when you have a life-threatening emergency and nobody can get to you, those are the things that are very concerning,” Franklin said. “I have been late to work due to this train. I work for agencies and we have a nurse rating. If you are late or you have to call for your shift, your nurse rating goes down and we can’t pick up more shifts. There are only so many shifts you can pick up at a time. That is where I am at now. I am not able to work as many hours now because my rating went down.”

A memorial service will be held both locally and in Texarkana, but times and dates have yet to be determined. A bank account has been established in K’Twon’s name at First National Bank. The location where donations will be accepted is 308 West Church Street in Livingston. Checks can be written “For Benefit of Baby Franklin.” 

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Missionary addresses Rotary Club

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KINDNESS SHOWN - Students at Leggett ISD recently made and posted a banner in their school that says “Leggett ISD is thinking of Livingston ISD,” signed by numerous students, to show their support for Livingston ISD in light of the tragedies that have befallen the district this past week. A senior band member was killed in an automobile accident following the Homecoming football game last Friday and just days later, two beloved teachers died from complications stemming from COVID-19. (l-r) Addison Hinson, Jacolby Sells and Jesse Calderas. Courtesy photoJosh Dorrell, a member of the Galveston Rotary Club, recently presented a program to the Livingston Rotary Club about the Segera Mission in Kenya, of which he serves as executive director. Photo by Emily Banks Wooten | PCE

By Emily Banks Wooten
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Josh Dorrell, a member of the Galveston Rotary Club, recently presented a program to the Livingston Rotary Club about the Segera Mission in Kenya, of which he serves as executive director.

According to Dorrell, the Segera Mission was founded by Rev. Carlton “Pappy” Gleason in 2002, after first visiting Kenya four years earlier and seeing the tremendous needs. At the age of 88, Gleason, called “Pappy” by all that knew him, started a medical clinic, a school, a feeding program for widows and orphans, and a mission outreach program. When he died there at age 94 over 1,400 people attended his funeral.

Following his death, Gleason’s daughter Janice ran the mission while searching for someone who could carry on her and her father’s work at Segura Mission. Through a series of connections, the search ended in 2019 with Dorrell.

“After visiting Segera Mission, meeting the incredible team on the ground in Kenya, and seeing the vast impact Segera Mission had on the community, I felt the Lord was calling me to take over,” Dorrell said.

Located 30 miles from the remote village of Nanyuki, considered the “Gateway To Mount Kenya” in Central Kenya, Segera Mission is nestled  between the Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Mount Kenya National Park. The capital city of Nairobi, where the country’s international airport resides, is located approximately 150 miles from Segera Mission.

Segera is primarily a farming community filled with community members whose families have worked the land for multiple generations. Segera is also home to three main tribes: the Turkana, the Masai and the Samburu. Each tribe is highly revered by their respective communities and has their own distinct beauty and challenges.

In addition to facing dangers from natural disasters like droughts, Segera’s remoteness makes meeting basic needs like medical care challenging with the closest medical facility being 35 miles away on foot.

“Our goal at Segera Mission is to give the people of Kenya the message of God’s love and a chance for a better life through our four pillars which are discipleship, community development, education and healthcare,” Dorrell said. “We build God-centered communities primed to reach Kenya with the gospel of Jesus.

“We want to ensure that they have access to basic needs like clean water, as well as economic stability and proper housing,” he said, adding that 60% of illnesses there are from bad water. “We make sure they have access to clean water.

“We want to invest in Kenya’s future by providing quality education and making sure that every student has what they need to be successful. There are 325 kids that attend our school every day and they receive two meals a day at school,” Dorrell said, commenting that the school is for fourth through the eighth grade and that the high school students attend boarding schools.

“We provide opportunities for Kenyans to truly thrive without the fear of things like harmful cultural practices or unsafe birthing conditions. Healthcare is a huge, huge issue in our region,” he said, adding that there are over 1,000 monthly visits to the clinic and 25-30 births a month. “The primary healthcare issues are HIV/AIDS/TB testing and treatment and female genital mutilation which is systemic, unhealthy, ungodly and just dangerous.

“It’s one of the poorest countries I’ve ever seen in my life,” Dorrell said, adding, “Job training is one of the biggest ways to change systemic poverty.”

Dorrell was born and raised in Waco and his parents were involved in urban ministry and international ministry. He’s a 2004 graduate of Baylor University.

To learn more about Segera Mission or to contribute, go to segeramission.org.

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Two Livingston locals convicted of DWI

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Tracy AdrianTracy AdrianFrom Enterprise Staff

A Polk County jury returned a guilty verdict against Tracy Todd Adrian, 52 of Livingston, Wednesday. Adrian was found guilty of the offense of driving while intoxicated in conjunction with an incident that occurred at 1:35 a.m. on April 7, 2019.

According to evidence presented during the trial, a 911 caller told a dispatcher that Adrian’s vehicle, which was traveling eastbound on Hwy. 190, was “all over the road … like really, really bad … he just almost ran into the guardrail.”

An officer with the Livingston Police Department responded, locating and making contact with Adrian. Standard field sobriety tests were administered and blood was drawn pursuant to a search warrant. The analysis reflected Adrian’s blood alcohol content to be more than twice the legal limit. Video of the stop was not provided to jurors as the camera was in nonworking condition at the time of the stop.

Adrian faces up to six months in jail and up to a $2000 fine.

On Thursday, a separate Polk County jury found Michael Jermaine Chidester, 41, guilty of driving while intoxicated-second offense. Similar to the other case, a 911 call came in at approximately 2:30 a.m. on June 14, 2020 in which the caller reported “… there’s a car … going northbound in the southbound lane (of Hwy. 59) … hauling ass … it passed us …”

Deputies with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene. According to testimony, Chidester refused to submit to the standard field sobriety tests and his blood was drawn pursuant to a search warrant. While the analysis showed Chidester had a blood alcohol content of more than twice the legal limit, it was excluded from the trial because of issues related to its admissibility. The deputies’ video of the stop was also excluded at trial.

Michael ChidesterMichael Chidester“Prosecuting a DWI case without a blood alcohol analysis or standard field sobriety tests presents a unique set of challenges to say the least,” Polk County Assistant District Attorney Tommy L. Coleman said. “Fortunately, the jury found the testimony of the deputies in the case to be credible and obviously thought that the other evidence in the case was sufficient to support a guilty verdict.”

Because this is Chidester’s second conviction for DWI, he faces up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4000.

“The danger to the motoring public by intoxicated drivers cannot be overstated and all too often other innocent motorists suffer the tragic consequences of bad choices made by intoxicated drivers,” Polk County District Attorney William Lee Hon said. “We appreciate these Polk County jurors reminding everyone that you will be held accountable in this county if you choose to drive drunk or high.”                

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Drive-thru COVID-19 testing available

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Covid graphicFrom Enterprise Staff

Polk County has partnered with AIT Laboratories, a HealthTrackRx company, to offer drive-thru COVID-19 testing in the parking lot behind the Polk County Annex at 602 E. Church St. Hours of operation will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

To register for a COVID-19 test in the patient portal and to receive your results go to https://cov19.health and enter the following information:

• Location code: POLKCOTX

• Agree to disclaimer

• Complete medical data questionnaire

• Enter insurance and driver’s license information and bring insurance card and license to testing location

• Click agree and submit

You will receive a confirmation via text/email that you have registered. Please have your confirmation number with you when you come to test. You will get your test results via text and email once finalized.

There is a specific route to take to participate in the drive-thru testing. Head east on East Church Street and turn right on Campbell Avenue, then turn right on East Abbey Street and turn right into parking lot. Upon completion of your test you will leave by turning right on East Abbey Street.

For more information about this opportunity, contact the Polk County Office of Emergency Management at 936-327-6826.

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Livingston ISD loses 2 teachers to COVID

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Dr. Gregory Maze (left) and Coach Norris Taff both died of Covid-19.Dr. Gregory Maze (left) and Coach Norris Taff both died of Covid-19.

The tragic news from Livingston ISD has continued, as two faculty members have died due to Covid-19. 

The same day an auto accident claimed the life of a high school senior last week, Dr. Gregory Maze, a substitute teacher who had been with the district for many years, died due to Covid. 

Maze was a 1980 graduate of Livingston High School and said to be a lifelong musician, world traveler, psychiatrist and medical doctor. He was recognized in 2013 as the LHS Outstanding Graduate. 

“In times like this, we are reminded just how precious life can be and how fragile each of us truly is,” Livingston superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins said. “We were fortunate to have Dr. Gregory Maze work for years as a long-term substitute for LISD. He passed away yesterday, losing his fight with Covid. Prayers are needed for his entire family, including his mother, Delores Maze, a long-time teacher, and Greg’s brother, Jerry Maze, who was a former principal for LISD.”

A music major at Sam Houston State University, Maze studied classical piano training and developed as a violinist. He worked with medical missionaries as a translator in the late 1980s. He then enrolled at the University of Texas at Arlington for a bachelor of science degree. At the University of Texas at San Antonio, he earned a degree as a medical doctor. The degree at UTSA led to a fellowship at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, conducting research in psychopharmacology. He was later certified by the National Board of Psychiatry to practice as a psychiatrist. 

On Tuesday, Coach Norris Taff died from complications with Covid after a long battle. Taff worked for LISD for 10 years through three different stints and was employed this year as an LHS Academy teacher and an assistant football and track coach. Taff coached a total of 35 years, which included the head football coach at Cleveland High School.

“He was probably the most kid-driven coach I have ever dealt with,” Livingston athletic director Finis Vanover said. “He absolutely loved the kids and loved coaching. He couldn’t get enough of it here and this was his third time in Livingston. The kids sensed that in a hurry. He was in his happiest moods and moments when he was hands-on and working with those kids and coaching on the field. Everything he did, there was no ego involved. It was all about the kids, there was no question what he was in it for. He was just a quality man and we are all better for him being here. If we want to honor him, we must get better than what we were, utilizing what he taught.”

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