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Onalaska City recognizes local election results

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SwearinChoateEMILY KUBISCH-SABRSULA I PCE David Johnson swears in newly re-elected Mayor Chip Choate before being sworn in himself as Municipal judge.

By Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula

ONALASKA - Re-elected Mayor Chip Choate opened the monthly Onalaska city meeting with news of an agreement made with TXDOT to allow the city to place flags on the Kickapoo Creek bridge, outside of the guardrails. Traditionally, the city has put flags along Highway 190 on Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Veterans Day, but has been unable to along the bridge due to TXDOT regulations.

During his announcements, the mayor also encouraged meeting-goers to reach out to their representatives, James White and Robert Nichols, citing their inaction on legislation to assist the Alabama-Coushatta reservation in retaining their gaming activities. With hundreds of bills already filed for the 87th legislation, which will start at noon on Jan. 21, 2021, there is still time to reach out to representatives to better help the tribe, which helps bring millions of dollars to East Texas and Polk County.

For a list of representatives by zip code, visit www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative.

The city approved several hires and appointments, including Onalaska-raised Simon Prince, who will serve as a full-time officer with a standard probationary period. Chief Jessica Stanton said his prior experience includes working in Cleveland and in San Jacinto County before deciding to move back.

Other positions include the re-appointment of David Johnson for Municipal Judge, Associate Judge Greg Magee, city council member Paul Laverty, and newly appointed Attorney and Prosecutor for Onalaska, Chris Thompson. Thompson will replace David Mormon, who earlier resigned after 17 years with the city to take on a judgeship for Walker County.

Shirley Gilmore was also continue serving as Mayor Pro-tem.

City Events

On Nov. 21, the Onalaska Volunteer Fire Department will hold a blood drive from 2:30-7 p.m. Those wishing to participate must sign up online prior to giving blood.

Sign-up forms can be found at tinyurl.com/y56z8mkp.All. Successful donations will include a free Covid-19 anti-body test.

The Second Annual Onalaska Reindeer Dash will be on the afternoon of Dec. 5, which the Christmas Parade immediately following. Parade participants will toss candy and parade-goers are encouraged to practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

For more information on the race or parade, contact Tammy Seader at 936-646-5000 or visit the city’s Facebook Page. Parade forms are also available online at cityofonalaska.us.

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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Country star Supernaw dies

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Doug SupernawFILE PHOTO Doug Supernaw

From staff reports

LIVINGSTON – Country star and Livingston resident Doug Supernaw died on the morning of Friday, Nov. 13. Supernaw was 60, and his passing came after a battle with cancer.

Supernaw’s death was announced on social media by his manager J.J. Morris. “My friend and boss man Doug Supernaw passed away this morning, with his wife Cissy Allen Supernaw at his side,” her post read.

Other musicians expressed condolences on social media after the news became public. Neal McCoy, a friend of Supernaw’s and fellow ‘90s hitmaker, said “What a good fella and a heck of a singer,” and added a note of encouragement to Supernaw’s wife: “Stay strong Cissy! You have been for a while. Doug couldn’t have been blessed with a better woman, and I’ve heard you say the same thing about him.”

Supernaw, who was a native of Bryan, grew up in Inwood Forest and was exposed to country music at an early age by his mother.

In high school, Supernaw was a star athlete, and attended college on a golf scholarship, before he began playing in bands. He later moved to Nashville and found work as a staff songwriter, before moving back to Texas where he formed a band called Texas Steel.

Supernaw and his band (later renamed the Possum Eatin’ Cowboys) became a huge draw across the state, and in 1993, he signed to BNA Entertainment, the label that released his gold-selling debut Red and Rio Grande.

The album, which drew critical acclaim along with its big sales, produced several hits, the best-known of which were “Reno” and the number one hit “I Don’t Call Him Daddy.” The video for the latter included an appearance from Supernaw’s son Phillip, who would later go on to play in the NFL.

After two more albums for major labels, Supernaw recorded Fadin’ Renegade for an indie label, and took a lengthy hiatus from recording. He was reportedly disillusioned with the recording industry but continued to perform live. His blend of literate lyrics, catchy melodies and traditional country sounds, along with a stick-to-your-guns Texas-born attitude, helped influence many Texas country acts that became popular around the turn of the millennium.

Supernaw returned to full-time touring in 2016 and recorded an album the following year comprised of re-recorded versions of his hits, along with a pair of new songs.

He was diagnosed with stage IV lung and bladder cancer in early 2019 and began an aggressive course of treatment. Several benefits were held throughout last year to help Supernaw with medical expenses, including events at Pontoon’s and Coal’s Smokehouse in Splendora.

Reportedly, the treatments were working, and Supernaw was on the mend, but recently, it was announced that the cancer had spread to his spine and brain, as an MRI had indicated, and he was placed under hospice care.

Supernaw is survived by his wife Cissy, his children and grandchildren. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

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Covid forces cities to cancel Veterans Day ceremonies

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Onalaska FlagJASON CHLAPEK I PCE A pair of volunteers post flags along US Highway 190 in Onalaska to honor Veterans on Veterans Day, which was celebrated on Wednesday throughout the nation.

By Jason Chlapek

ONALASKA - A pair of Veterans Day ceremonies were canceled or postponed because of Covid-19.

The Polk County Garden Club’s annual tribute to Veterans on the Blue Star Memorial Highway marker has been postponed until Memorial Day 2021, and Onalaska’s annual Veterans Day program was canceled. Onalaska Mayor Chip Choate chimed in on his city’s decision to cancel its annual ceremony.

“We did not have a Veterans Day ceremony this year because of Covid,” Choate said. “Most of the Veterans in this area are senior citizens and they are the most vulnerable to this virus. We wanted to be very cautious and try to avoid any congregation, so we’re going to plan to have it next year. We have plans for Veterans Day 2021.”

Onalaska still did something to honor Veterans, however. The city placed American flags along both sides of US Highway 190.

“We put out the American flags three times a year — Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Veterans Day,” Choate said. “We put the flags out a little early this year to let everyone have the opportunity to see the patriotism in our community.”

Choate hopes the virus will run its course and not be a threat by Veterans Day next year. He also reminisced about previous Veterans Day ceremonies.

“In the past, we invited Veterans throughout the community, played patriotic music and had speakers such as State Rep. James White, Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy and Commissioner Rodney Vincent,” Choate said. “We also displayed flags and played the songs of each of the five branches of the service. We also do a muster. This is where we call out the names of Veterans from our area who passed away in the past year. When we call their names, we invite relatives or friends to call out, ‘Here,’ when their Veteran’s name is called.”

At the Blue Star Marker, Livingston VFW Post 8568 teamed up with Livingston High School Junior ROTC cadets to present the flags. The Onalaska High School JROTC did something similar at the Onalaska Veterans Day ceremony.

 

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Polk County approves land for solar plant

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                               JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Bob Bass of the Allison, Bass & Magee, LLP law firm talks to Polk County commissioners Tuesday morning.

By Jason Chlapek

Polk County could be getting solar power in the next few years.

Commissioners approved a measure to establish a reinvestment zone for the purpose of tax abatement to provide economic development within the county Tuesday morning. The reinvestment zone consists of a total of 5,939.349 acres in the eastern portion of the county.

“Solar power will bring jobs and new industry.,” George Riggs of Long Road Energy said. “It builds the tax base and it’s more revenue for the landowners. The more projects you have like this, the more opportunities you have for storage of equipment, warehousing and repair facilities. It brings a whole new dynamic to the area. In addition to timber, you have a whole new industry.”

The county has been in talks with solar companies for nearly four years. The project is expected to break ground during the first quarter of 2021 and completion is projected for the fourth quarter of 2022.

“This process has taken about four years,” Riggs said. “Normally it takes about 3-4 years to get it approved. Once we break ground, it’ll take a year to a year and a half to complete. This is our first East Texas project. We chose Polk County because the close proximity to the transmission lines that service this area.”

Riggs is a former commissioner in Pecos County. Most of his company’s work is done in West Texas.

Bob Bass of the Allison, Bass and Magee, LLP represents the county through this agreement. He talked about the process to get these projects approved and ultimately finished.

“(Long Road Energy) came to us with the proposal,” Bass said. “These projects are built in a reinvestment zone. There’s several layers of this process. First, the developer goes out and leases ground from the landowner so they have a place to build. Next they go to the taxing entities to tie down their tax burdens. Then they have to essentially find a buyer for the power and go to a lender to borrow the money to fund the project. This is basically the second step toward that. We hope it will develop and I expect that this project will go on through.”

In other items, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office decided to stay with its current resident banking and commissary service, a community development block grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture in support of Dallardsville-Segno water improvements was approved, and a resolution adopting civil rights plans and procedures was approved. Commissioners court meets again at 9 a.m. Nov. 24.

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Livingston recognizes promoted officers and approves holiday schedule

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                               JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Livingston Police officers Marty Drake (left) and Kaleb Barker were recently promoted to new positions within the department. Drake was promoted from detective to lieutenant, and Barker was promoted from patrol to detective.

By Jason Chlapek

LIVINGSTON — Livingston Police Chief Matt Parrish recognized a pair of longtime officers in his department Tuesday evening at the City of Livingston’s monthly council meeting at Livingston City Hall.

Marty Drake was recently promoted from detective to lieutenant, and Kaleb Barker was promoted from patrol to detective. Drake has been with the LPD for 20 years, while Barker has been with the department for 16.

“We’re fortunate enough to have most of our department with master peace officers,” Drake said. “We make sure the cases are followed up in a timely manner. The detectives do a great job and it makes my job a lot easier. We have sergeants and patrol officers who are fair and make good decisions.”

Drake joined LPD in August 2001. He started out as a reserve deputy with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in 1996 before joining the Onalaska Police Department as a patrol officer and school officer, then moved on to Livingston.

“Livingston earned a Cops in Schools grant in 2001 and that’s when I went to Livingston,” Drake said.

Drake spent the first 12 years with the LPD as an officer at Livingston Junior High. In 2013, he became a detective before earning his promotion to lieutenant three weeks ago.

“It’s different policing in school and policing on the street,” Drake said. “The detective is on the investigative side of things where a patrol officer on the street works the case as far up as it will go. They go case after case after case. The detective does follow-up interviews and picks up evidence. The detectives file complaints, deal with the DA’s office, go to the judges to get the warrants and continue the investigation all the way through. As a lieutenant, we oversee patrol and detectives.”

Barker joined the LPD in September 2005. He spent the first six years in dispatch before becoming a patrol officer in 2011, where he served until earning his promotion to detective two weeks ago.

“It’s a totally different world (detective and patrol),” Barker said. “I’m going to miss the camaraderie with the patrol guys. When you’re a detective, you typically go by yourself. You don’t have a partner coming with you, but you’re not in too many dangerous situations. A lot of times, it’s me going to a business to look at the camera system and request copies of a surveillance video. I’ll be doing more investigation.”

In other items of business, the city approved the holiday compensation for employees and council aldermen, the holiday observances for 2021, and a resolution for a public hearing at the Dec. 8 meeting and dues for Brazos Transit. Also approved was a payment of $56,430 to Maguire Iron for the elevated water tanks project.

“The employees get turkeys or hams for Thanksgiving, employees who has been with the city at least a year gets a week’s salary, employees who have been with us less than a year get $50, and the council members get turkey and ham for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” City Manager Bill Wiggins said. “The holidays are going to be New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr., two days for Thanksgiving, two days for Christmas, Veterans Day, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Good Friday and Labor Day. The Bauers have the tract of land just east of Peters Tractor & Equipment. We’ll have the hearing on annexing that tract on Dec. 8. Aideney Reeves will be the Lower Trinity Groundwater Conservation District board member. The city’s portion is $4,200 and it’s an annual contribution. We help the county with their portion.”

Livingston city council will meet again at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8.

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