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Interviews with WWII veterans

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coogler3FILE PHOTO | COURTESY OF POLK COUNTY MEMORIAL MUSEUM J.D. Coogler

By Brian Besch

LIVINGSTON - One of the treasures of the Polk County Memorial Museum are recordings that some of the staff have begun compiling. With Veteran’s Day so near and many of the usual events canceled from Covid-19, some of the museum’s more timely are interviews with World War II veterans.

In conversations with Polk County Historical Commission co-chair Joyce Johnston and others, a few of the Polk County heroes speak of their role in one of the world’s most well-known events.

Jimmy Parker was on one of the 16 planes from the Doolittle Raid, the American air strike that was retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“General (James) Doolittle came in and said, ‘We’re going on a mission. We’re going to bomb one of our enemies in war and deliver these aircrafts to one of our allies.’” Parker says in the interview.

“We were supposed to go in the afternoon. Doolittle was going to light up the city and we were going to go in and bomb where the lights were.”

J.D. Coogler spoke of his service overseas in Italy as an engineer and top turret gunner.

Coogler spent around nine or 10 months flying missions in Italy, where once he landed, said he knew he “was in the combat area then.”

The veteran also told of facilities and supplies at the camp, friends in his camp who were shot down in action, as well as some of his missions.

Some of his stories included having to help land a plane after an engine going out and dropping bombs over Czechoslovakia.

Avery Merdolf Walker told of his time graduating Livingston High School in 1941, going on to letter in football, basketball and track at Sam Houston State. He would also play a year for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Walker was drafted after Pearl Harbor was attacked and he was placed in the Army combat engineers.

“We mostly did work; we didn’t do much fighting,” Walker said in the recording. “We did all kinds of road work and construction work, and on the island of Guam, we built a big runway that the B-29s took off from that dropped the atomic bombs that ended the war.”

These interviews and many others can be found on the museum’s website at http://www.polkcountymemorialmuseum.com/oral-history/ 

 

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Biden Wins

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Joe Biden (public domain photo)Joe Biden (public domain photo)

Former Vice President Joe Biden, with a lead of 34,414 votes (outside an automatic vote recount threshold) in Pennsylvania, now has the 273 electorial votes needed to become the President-elect of the United States.

Vote counting went on for days after the November 3 election because the huge numbers of mail-in ballots cast in this election.

Biden will become the 46th president.

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Deer Season is underway

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white tailed 139715COURTESY PHOTO Whitetail Deer Season started on Saturday and concludes Jan. 3.

By Jason Chlapek

Polk County Game Warden David Johnson believes that Christmas time is here already.

“Deer season is a Game Warden’s Christmas,” he said. “Most of us look forward to it. I enjoy getting out and visiting with hunters and people who are out having a good time. I enjoy seeing all of the new harvest of deer and getting to visit with folks who are hunting for the first time. It’s like a social event.”

Johnson and his fellow game wardens across the state will be busy over the next two months. That’s because Whitetail Deer Season began on Saturday and will conclude in January.

The general season for whitetail deer is from Nov. 7 to Jan. 3. Archery-only season took place from Oct. 3 to Nov. 6.

With Covid-19, social distancing has changed the way of life in many areas. Johnson said it shouldn’t play too much of a factor in the general season, however.

“There are no new rules for social distancing,” he said. “Our directive is to be smart and be safe. We’re just going to go out and do our work.”

There are certain regulations when it comes to deer hunting. For starters, there is a county bag limit of no more than four deer — two bucks and two does — per hunter.

While each hunter is allowed a maximum of two bucks, only one of those two may have an inside spread of 13 inches or greater. A legal buck is defined as a male deer with at least one unbranched antler or an inside spread of 13 inches or greater.

“Do have a good time, Do be safe, and Do remember to be courteous to others,” Johnson said. “Be aware of shooting times — one half hour before sunrise and one half hour after sunset, Be mindful of your surroundings, and remember to properly fill out your tags and cut out your dates in addition to filling out your harvest log.”

One change that has been made because of Covid is the publication of the Outdoor Annual magazine that is published on an annual basis. That has been replaced by a cel phone app.

“Our outdoor Annual Now is online and is a downloadable app,” Johnson said. “They’re not printing them this year, but it’s a free app. It’s real easy to look up all of the information that you’re looking for.”

Johnson plans to spend a lot of time in the woods over the next two months — both on and off the clock.

“I believe I’ll take advantage of deer hinting on my days off,” he said. “I like to get out there and see what’s in the woods. I’m ready to get in the woods. It’s going to be a good time and a lot of fun. We look forward to seeing everybody out there. I enjoy hunting with my two boys and watching them have fun in the deer stand. You can’t beat it.”

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Corvette owner shows collection to Livingston Lions Club (VIDEO)

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                               PHOTO BY KELLI BARNES | PCE Pat McCulley’s collection of corvettes was on display Wednesday afternoon at the weekly Livingston Lions Club meeting at Camp Cho Yeh. McCulley’s collection includes one corvette from each of the brand’s eight classes.

By Jason Chlapek

LIVINGSTON — Sometimes one thing leads to another.

That’s the case with Pat and Jerry McCulley. Somehow one corvette turned into eight.

Pat displayed her corvette collection Wednesday afternoon at the Livingston Lions Club’s weekly meeting at Camp Cho Yeh. She was able to show her entire collection, including her eighth corvette which arrived in September — the 2020 C8 mid-engine.

“We have a corvette from every generation,” McCulley said. “The oldest corvette is a 1960 C1.”

McCulley said each corvette generation averages about 10 years. She also said that there was never an intention of having a full-blown corvette collection.

“It just sort of happened,” McCulley said. “The first one I bought was a 1975 C3. It was a popular car when I was a teenager. After I bought that one, I thought it would be neat to buy a 2005 C6. I didn’t intend one to get one of every generation, but it just happened that way.”

In all, the McCulleys have a C1 from 1960, a C2 from 1965, a C3 from 1975, a C4 from 1990, a C5 from 2000, a C6 from 2005, a C7 Grandsport from 2017 and a C8 from 2020. Pat has an interesting story about the purchase of the C4.

“(Jerry) found the C4 online in California,” Pat said. “We have friends in LA who we sent money for the purchase of the car and we had it shipped to Texas.”

The McCulleys ordered their latest corvette in July 2019, and were scheduled to receive it in March. But, a few things happened that delayed the arrival date until September.

“GM went on strike back in March then Covid-19 hit,” Pat said. “This is the first year of the C8 generation.”

The McCulleys are lifetime members of the National Corvette Museum, which is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky. They have lived in Livingston since 1979.

“I try to show them every opportunity I get,” Pat said. “We always try to participate in anything FAITH does, Hometown Christmas and anything else we can do to help the community. We take children for rides in the corvettes and also do fundraisers and food drives.”

While the C8 was just released this year, the C9 has likely crossed Pat’s mind. Whether or not she and Jerry purchase one a decade from now will be the question.

“We’ll have to see how young and spry I am when the C9 comes out,” Pat quipped.

It might just lead to another corvette in the family.

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Nearly 12,000 letters urge Senate to save East Texas jobs

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NKGCO 038 Logo Update MECH 300x tbFILE PHOTO - NKGCO 038 Logo

LIVINGSTON — Texas’ U.S. senators have been sent nearly 12,000 letters over the past six weeks asking them to save the 700 jobs connected to the Naskila Gaming electronic bingo facility. The letters provide a grassroots complement to more than 70 civic and business groups who have also urged the Senate to ask and keep this major East Texas employer open.

The 11,700 letters urge Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz to help pass H.R. 759, a bill that would effectively stop the state of Texas’ efforts to close Naskila down. The U.S. House unanimously passed H.R. 759, authored by U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, more than a year ago. The Senate has not moved forward with the bill — putting Polk County’s second-largest employer at risk.

Naskila, which is operated by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, continues to have overwhelming support in East Texas. More than 70 groups — including county commissioner courts, local Republican parties and chambers of commerce — have approved resolutions or other statements of support for keeping Naskila open.

Included on the list of groups supporting Naskila are the Polk County Commissioners Court, Polk County Chamber of Commerce, Polk County Republican Party and Polk County Higher Education and Technology Foundation.

“Texans are speaking with a loud, clear voice in support of Naskila Gaming,” said Alabama-Coushatta Tribal Council Chairwoman Cecilia Flores. “We are grateful for the support we’ve received from our visitors and from respected civic and business leaders throughout this region. We hope the Senate will listen to Texans who want to protect these jobs.”

Naskila is responsible for 700 direct and indirect jobs in East Texas and a recent study estimated that Naskila generates $170 million in annual economic activity for the region. More than 1 million people visit the facility per year. Even when closed for several months during the pandemic, Naskila continued to provide pay and benefits for its employees. Naskila reopened Sept. 10 with new safety precautions in place.

Another 1,000 jobs are tied to the electronic bingo facility operated by Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in El Paso. The state is also trying to shut that facility down. However, it is not trying to shut down electronic bingo on the Kickapoo tribal land in Eagle Pass, near the Texas-Mexico border.

H.R. 759 would ensure that the facilities in Livingston and El Paso are governed by the same federal law as the Kickapoo facility.

“We want to offer electronic bingo without state interference, just like the Kickapoo Tribe,” Flores said. “It’s very concerning to Naskila employees and their families that the Senate has not acted. We have broad, diverse support in East Texas. The Senate needs to approve this bill and save these jobs by the end of the year.”

In August, 19 members of the U.S. House who represent Texas — ten Republicans and nine Democrats — sent Cornyn a letter urging him to support H.R. 759.

“Rather than spend untold sums on legal fees and litigation, costing the State of Texas millions of dollars, we believe we could better enact our time and resources by enacting H.R. 759, which would create an economic boost to two hard hit areas of the state with no cost to the taxpayer,” the congressional letter said.

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