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Big Sandy bids farewell to board members

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                               JASON CHLAPEK | PCE Trustees Glen Goodwin (second from left) and Lee Ann Cain (second from right) receive a round of applause for their service with the Big Sandy ISD school board.Both Cain and Goodwin served their final meetings as trustees for the district. Neither one sought reelection for their terms, which expire Nov. 3.

By Jason Chlapek

POLK COUNTY — Monday night’s Big Sandy ISD school board meeting was the finalone as trustees for Lee Ann Cain and Glen Goodwin.

Both trustees’ terms expire on Nov. 3, and neither one sought reelection. Goodwin was with the school board for 15 years, while Cain served four.

“They really helped the district grow,” Big Sandy ISD Superintendent Eric Carpenter said. “They had good insight, good knowledge and worked well together. It’s a good board.”

Four trustee positions are up for elections with newcomer Darrell Murphy and current trustees Mark Duff and Quentin Matthews running unopposed for Positions 2, 5 and 6, respectively. William Handy Jr. and Kabe Murphy are running for Position 4. Carpenter announced to the board that the Texas Education Agency approved the district’s Asynchronous Learning Plan. The TEA approved it on the first try.

“It’s a compliment to our principals,” Carpenter said. “The Asynchronous Plan is how you’re going to utilize a learning management system, which for us is Google Classroom and how you’re going to instruct students virtually. The TEA had a template to work from and we received some good guidance from Region VI in Huntsville, who helped the administration develop it and even proofed it and gave it back to us and we made some adjustments before we submitted it.”

The school board also approved Native American Policies and Procedures for the 2020-21 school year. The Big Sandy ISD student body is approximately 25% Native American.

“We receive federal funds and have policies in place,” he said. “After meeting with the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, particularly their Education Department, we developed those policies and procedures. We usually do this in October.”

The board also approved retrofit lighting to be installed in the gymnasium and a study on property values from 2012. Carpenter likes to perform retroactive property value studies.“You can do property value studies from past years to try to recoup money,” he said. “We use our tax attorneys to go and look at the data from our property values to try and garner additional funding.”

Big Sandy ISD meets again at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16.

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Point Blank bringing in revenue

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point blank doc

By Jason Chlapek

POINT BLANK — The City of Point Blank brought in nearly $10,000 more than expected during the 2019-20 fiscal year.

Point Blank Mayor Mark Wood reported to council aldermen during the monthly city council meeting on Oct. 12 that the total income for the previous fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30 was $121,270. The projected total income for the fiscal year was $111,400.One of the things Wood believes helped the city was its sales tax revenue. It has gone up each of the last seven years from $40,964.50 in 2013-14 to $76,854.20 in 2019-20.

“One of the more interesting charts is the sales tax that the city’s received during the fiscal year,” Wood said. “In 2014, we were at $40,000, which averaged about $3,400 a month. Now we’re getting $76,000, which is averaging $6,400 a month. This substantial increase is due to getting all of the people on the tax rolls that needed to be. This has stayed constant.”

During the previous fiscal year, the lowest the city took in sales tax revenue was $4,177.51, which was during the statewide shutdown because of Covid-19. However, the city bounced back to collect more than $6,000 per month in each of the last five months of the fiscal year, including a seven-year high of $9,055.57 in August.

“This comes from people living up here as opposed to just using their summer or vacation homes,” Wood said. “Instead of going back to Houston, they’re either working up here or moving up here. If you look at Point Blank, you won’t see any houses for sale. This is unusual and I don’t know how long it’s going to last; if it’s purely Covid-related or if it’s an honest increase in population. This is Precinct 4 and this is where thepredominant development in San Jacinto County is. It’s a little hard to tell how much of this is actually from Covid and how much of it is real growth. We’re a retirement community and I don’t see anything dynamic. It’s pretty interesting.”

While there is some growth in Point Blank, Wood said that growth in commerce would be more beneficial as opposed to just residential growth. He also said there have been rumors going around that his city has been mentioned in the talks of being in or along the Interstate 14 corridor, which is expected to follow the US Highway 190 corridor.

"I don’t think a lot of people want growth,” Wood said. “It would be nice to have some jobs and industry here. There’s a lot of things going on.”

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Onalaska pines on Canyon Park

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Onalaska HorizontalPhoto by Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula Mayor Chip Choate swears in newly hired Police Officer Heather Perry.

By Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula

POLK COUNTY — The city board met for a quick meeting this month to provide information on early voting and ongoing city events.Canyon Park Months after a tornado struck the area several structures in the Canyon Park subdivision are still in violation of city ordinances, but will continue without penalty, as plans to correct or condemn structures are finalized with Onalaska Fire Marshall Lee Parish. A request to allow the full-time residents of a motor home within city limits in Canyon Park was made and denied. While the Canyon Park POA approved the structure, Parish stated that in the past similar mobile home requests have been denied within city limits, which falls in line with the current city ordinance in place.

Other Business
The board accepted the resignation of Jeremy Williams in good standing, and welcomed Heather Perry onto the police force for a standard probationary period. She is a graduate of the Angelina Police Academy in Lufkin, and Onalaska Police Chief Jessica Stanton said references spoke highly of Perry and that she led by example in the academy and strived to motivate the other cadets around her. Announcements Early voting is underway in Polk County. A schedule of times, places, sample ballots, and accepted forms of identification can be found at https://www.co.polk.tx.us/page/polk.co.clerk.election. A precinct map is also available.

Twin Harbors will host a drive-thru Trunk-Or-Treat celebration on Saturday, Oct. 31 from12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Twin Harbors POA Pool Parking lot at 274 Valley view Drive in Onalaska. For any questions or if you wish to pass out candy, contact Barbara Dickens at 281-630-5120 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. fire department will hold their annual letter drive soon, their only fundraiser this year since the barbecue event was canceled due to the tornado. The City of Onalaska meets every second Tuesday of the month at 5 p.m. at City Hall. Public comments can be made at beginning of the meeting.

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Livingston orders demolition of former Holiday Inn building

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                               The building that once served as a Holiday Inn, Ramada Inn, Knights Inn or Royal Inn has been ordered for demolition by the City of Livingston. The measure was approved unanimously by city council during Tuesday’s meeting.

By Jason Chlapek

POLK COUNTY — The City of Livingston approved a measure to demolish the building where the Holiday Inn previously operated Tuesday night at Livingston City Hall. After a public hearing that lasted approximately an hour-and-a-half, city council aldermen unanimously approved the demolition of the building located on 1200 North Washington. Livingston city code enforcer Josh Mohler and city engineer Kirk Bynum both spoke about the findings discovered that prompted advocation for the building’s demolition.“The council determined that the building was unsafe and dilapidated,” Livingston city manager Bill Wiggins said.The building suffered a fire on Dec. 11, 2011, and has been unusable ever since. The structure also was known as the Ramada Inn, Knights Inn or Royal Inn for a brief period of time.The building’s owner, Indira Patel, spoke on behalf of trying to salvage the structure. She has 90 days to have the structure demolished and the grounds cleaned.Livingston Mayor Judy Cochran was reappointed as a director for the Sam Rayburn Municipal Power Agency board of directors. Cochran has been a director of the agency since 2017, and Livingston Alderman Clarke Evans is the vice-president of the SRMPA board.Also approved was a purchase for $66,747 for two elevated water tanks, and a payment of $21,251.75 for the completion of the SCADA Project on the sewer lift stations. The final payment also allowed council to issue a resolution to accept the project, which started a one-year warranty period.Livingston City Council meets again at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10.

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Polk County gives firm green light for road repair bids

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                               Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy (right) signs an approval for an agenda itemduring commissioners court Tuesday morning at the Polk County Courthouse as Precinct 1 Commissioner Bob Willis looks on.

By Jason Chlapek

POLK COUNTY — Polk County commissioners approved the services of Bryan architecture firm Goodwin-Lasiter-Strong to advertise for construction bids on a Precinct 1 road during Tuesday’s Commissioner’s Court meeting at the Polk County Courthouse.The road in need of repair is Taylor Lake Road, which has been washed away once by high water from the nearby Trinity River. The road is located in Ace off of Farm-to-Market Road 2610, and is part of the Hurricane Harvey Recovery Project.

“Taylor Lake Road was going to fall into the river again,” Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy said. “They already lost the road before so we’re on our second one. They fixed the culverts and guardrail.”

Commissioners also approved the holiday schedule for 2021 fiscal year. The paid holidays are New Year’s Day (Friday, Jan. 1), Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, Jan. 18) Presidents’ Day (Monday, Feb. 15), Good Friday (Friday, April 2), Memorial Day (Monday, May 23), Independence Day (Friday, July 2 or Monday, July 5), Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 5), Columbus Day (Monday, Oct. 10, 2021), Veterans Day (Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021), Thanksgiving (Thursday, Nov. 25 and Friday, Nov. 26, 2021), and Christmas (Thursday, Dec. 23 and Friday, Dec. 24, 2021).

“We try to stay with federal holidays and we also try to make sure that everybody gets Fourth of July off,” Murphy said. “If the Fourth of July falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, then they get the Friday before or the Monday after the holiday off. This makes sure thatwe’re staying within the 13 days.

”A grant for $71,000 was approved as well. The grant is for Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding.“Those are grants that come through,” Murphy said. “We try to stay compliant with whatever the requirements are with whoever issued the grants. We have staff whose time was stretched. We want to make sure they’re paid, especially for employees who work too much. This happens a lot with emergency management, maintenance or IT departments. We work on comp time.”

Commissioners also drew names for the sick leave pool. The names selected were Paula Baker (District Clerk), Matthew Brown (Jail), John Cabiness (Sheriff’s Office), Cassie Kosina (Tax Assessor Collector) and Judge Tolar (Road & Bridge Pct. 4).

All four commissioners — Bob Willis (Pct. 1), Ronnie Vincent (Pct. 2), Milt Purvis (Pct. 3) and Tommy Overstreet (Pct. 4) — had items for which they wanted to accept bids or have rebids in regard to base material.

“(The commissioners) don’t want to spend too much time and money traveling to get materials,” Murphy said. “They want to make sure where they’re traveling to get materials is close to them and they’re prudent with their tax dollars.”The next commissioners court will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27.

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