BRIAN BESCH | PCE Families gather at Pedigo Park in Livingston for an Easter egg hunt.
By Brian Besch
The City of Livingston and City of Goodrich each held Easter egg hunts Saturday for area children. Livingston scattered 20,000 eggs across Pedigo Park, while Goodrich had 5,000 on the track infield at Goodrich High School.
BRIAN BESCH | PCE Former Livingston Fire Department Chief was laid to rest Thursday morning. Haynes was the Fire Chief in Livingston from 1963-77.
By Brian Besch
Masses gathered Thursday at First United Methodist Church to remember a former fire chief, friend and mentor to many.
Billy Roy “B.R.” Haynes died March 13 at the age of 94. In tribute, a procession of first-responder vehicles made their way with Haynes for one last trip by Livingston Fire Department Station 1 before ending at Peebles Cemetery.
Growing up in Livingston, Haynes played football for the Lions and graduated in 1943. After enlisting with the Merchant Marines during World War II, he joined the family business (Haynes Manufacturing Co., now Little Beaver, Inc.) with his father. After his father’s retirement, he took over the business and would later pass it on to his sons.
Haynes was 1972’s Polk Countian of the Year and a 32nd-degree Mason. He was a member of the board of directors of First State Bank of Livingston since 1981, serving as Director Emeritus since 1997.
Joining the Livingston Volunteer Fire Department in 1960, Haynes was elected chief just three years later. He was president of the Texas State Fireman’s and Fire Marshall’s Association in 1970. He served with Livingston Fire until his retirement in 1977 and will forever be known as Chief Haynes, Unit 3.
He will be remembered by many, including current Livingston Fire Chief Corky Cochran, as someone who laid the foundation for what the department has become.
“He passed a lot of knowledge and common sense, not only to me, but every person that served with him and under him,” Cochran said. “He came into the fire department at a time when it was in really bad shape because of a lack of equipment and supplies that were needed. The training was not up to par and B.R. was able to do the things that put the puzzle back together to take the fire department back in the direction that it is now. If it hadn't been for what he did then, we wouldn't be where we are now. He was the springboard that pushed the fire department out of the Dark Ages and toward modernization.”
Cochran said Haynes was a father figure to younger firefighters who served under him and a leader amongst those his age. “He had the ability — whoever he was working with — to connect and make people feel comfortable and follow his lead,” Cochran said. A number of firefighters attended Thursday's funeral from the far reaches of the state. Fire departments from Riverside, Huntsville, Tarkington and Cleveland covered the shift for those at Fire Station 1 in Livingston, allowing local regulars to attend the funeral.
Cochran said firefighters cover for each other when there is a family member or fellow firefighter who dies — a brotherhood that comes forward to help. He said it's something that dates back to Haynes’s early days, when Polk County had just two fire stations.
“When he first came in, there were two departments in the county: Livingston and Corrigan,” Cochran said. “Our next two closest neighbors that we called on for help were Huntsville and Cleveland. When something happened, they would help each other out.”
Haynes also had an impact on the Huntsville Fire Department, as well as many of the departments operating in Polk County today.
“Jack King was a good friend of B.R.’s, and in 1972, Jack was in the department over there and became fire chief. The Huntsville Fire Department was a lot like Livingston was when Jack took over. There was a total lack of equipment and couldn't get any help to get the stuff they needed. When Jack became chief, he began to rattle cages like B.R. did, but sought B.R.’s help. B.R. helped by giving him some guidance on things that he had experienced and got the Huntsville department back on track.
“Right here in Polk County, he helped Scenic Loop, Onalaska, the Alabama-Coushatta Nation and Indian Springs. They all came in about the same time in the mid-‘70s. He helped all of those departments as they were getting organized.”
A mother is behind bars in connection with the death of her child.
Anna Todd, 21, turned herself in on Monday after a warrant was issued for her arrest. Her arresting charge was injury to a child with serious bodily injury.
Todd’s 16-month-old child died on Aug. 4, 2020, at the family’s home located in Wild County Subdivision. That day, Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives were called to the family home due to the 16-month-old receiving a gunshot wound to the chest area.
It was determined through detective’s investigations that a firearm was left on a table next to the bed where the family was sleeping. The father of the child left for work with Todd overseeing the children.
An older child picked up the firearm discharging the weapon one time into the victim who was lying on the bed. The child victim was transported to Memorial Herman Hospital arriving at 10:30 a.m. and pronounced deceased at 10:35 a.m.
An autopsy of the child was conducted at the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences which along with the medical examiners findings, evidence discovered at the scene and witness statements obtained the case was presented to the Polk County District Attorney’s office which resulted in the arrest warrant being issued. Todd was booked into the Polk County Jail where she was released the following day on a $50,000 bond.
Polk County Sheriff Lyons wishes to express to the public the importance of firearm safety and allowing child access to unsecured firearms inside your home. If any citizen wishes to receive professional awareness to firearm safety, Lyons ask that you contact his office at 936-327-6810.
Via social media, the Polk County District Attorney announced his office has requested an FBI investigation for the possibility of federal charges against a former employee at the Polk County Jail.
District Attorney Lee Hon messaged through Facebook that a complaint was received Feb. 23 by Polk County Sheriff’s administration regarding improper use of force by Polk County Jail Captain William Jerry on an inmate at the jail.
Texas Rangers investigated that incident and the inmate was reportedly transported to another jail. Investigations have uncovered additional alleged incidents involving Jerry.
According to Hon’s post, “The matter was promptly reported to this (district attorney) office and the Texas Rangers for an independent criminal investigation. In the initial investigation conducted by Texas Ranger Sgt. Ryan Clendenen, information was received alleging Jerry’s involvement in other instances of the improper use of force against inmates. Due to these additional allegations and the expanding nature of the investigation, on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, this office requested that the FBI assist in the investigation for consideration of any potential federal charges.”
Hon also encouraged those with relevant knowledge of the circumstances in the investigation or other allegations of improper force against inmates at the Polk County Jail to contact Texas Ranger Sgt. Ryan Clendenen at 936-327-6836 or the Polk County District Attorney’s Office at 936-327-6868.