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Suspect wanted

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bashamThe Polk County Sheriff’s Office has asked for the community’s assistance in locating a Livingston man. Gregory James Basham is wanted for two counts of possession of a controlled substance and a charge of prohibited weapon. Those with information to the whereabouts of Basham or information that will help with the investigation may contact the sheriff’s office at 936-327-6810. To remain anonymous, tipsters may contact the Polk County Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP and may collect a cash reward for information leading to an arrest. Courtesy photo

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Supreme Court to hear AC tribal gaming case Tuesday

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actribe logoFrom Enterprise Staff

Last October the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in a case that could make clear that two federally recognized tribes in Texas — Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas — are allowed to operate electronic bingo facilities on their reservations. Oral arguments in the case will be heard by the Court at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

The case is extremely important to the economy and the people of Texas because a ruling from the Supreme Court has the potential to end the State of Texas’ longtime effort to prevent the two tribes from offering electronic bingo on their reservations. Currently, the two tribes both have electronic bingo facilities on their reservations.

The Court agreed in October to hear Ysleta del Sur Pueblo’s request to overturn a 1994 Fifth Circuit decision finding that the Pueblo and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe are ineligible to offer gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (“IGRA”).  Instead, the Fifth Circuit found that the ability of the two tribes to offer gaming is controlled by the 1987 act of Congress that restored federal recognition for both Nations.  Since that decision, the state of Texas has actively sought to block all attempts by either the Pueblo or Tribe to offer gaming under IGRA, a 1988 federal statute enacted by Congress to regulate the conduct of gaming on federal Indian lands.

In 2016, the Pueblo opened a bingo facility in El Paso, offering the same type of electronic bingo games that the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas located near Eagle Pass has offered on its lands since 1996.  Thereafter, the state Texas filed suit against the Pueblo, arguing that under the 1994 Fifth Circuit decision the Pueblo, unlike the Kickapoo Tribe, was prohibited from offering bingo under IGRA.  In an April 2020 ruling, a panel of the Fifth Circuit panel sided with the state; it is this same ruling that the Supreme Court agreed to review.

In a separate case, this past August a federal judge in Beaumont agreed with the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe that it could legally offer electronic bingo at its Naskila Gaming facility under the Tribe’s 1987 Restoration Act.

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas operates Naskila Gaming the second-largest employer in Polk County. Some 700 jobs are tied directly or indirectly to Naskila Gaming, as well as over $170 million in annual economic stimulus, making its long-term stability essential to the economic future of East Texas.

Despite the state’s longtime effort to close the facility, Naskila Gaming enjoys broad, bipartisan support among Texans. More than 80 civic, community and business groups have formally approved resolutions supporting Naskila Gaming. Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives approved bipartisan legislation saying that the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas and Pueblo should be governed under IGRA — legislation that would effectively stop the state’s efforts to close the facilities. That legislation, H.R. 2208, has not yet been acted upon by the U.S. Senate.

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10-million-year-old amber yields unexpected find

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Retinosaurus hkamtiensis, A) Fossil embed in amber, B)3D model of the body dorsal scales, C) Detail of the ventral scales of the head, D and E) Lateral views of the head. CT reconstructions by Edward Stanley using synchrotron data gathered at Imaging and Medical Beamline at the Australi-an Synchrotron in Melbourne. Images courtesy of Adolf Peretti and the Peretti Museum FoundationRetinosaurus hkamtiensis, A) Fossil embed in amber, B)3D model of the body dorsal scales, C) Detail of the ventral scales of the head, D and E) Lateral views of the head. CT reconstructions by Edward Stanley using synchrotron data gathered at Imaging and Medical Beamline at the Australi-an Synchrotron in Melbourne. Images courtesy of Adolf Peretti and the Peretti Museum Foundation

Special to the Enterprise

Juan Diego Daza, associate professor in Sam Houston State University’s Department of Biological Sciences, is co-author of a new study that involves the discovery a new species of fossil lizard.

Published recently in Scientific Reports, the collaborative research describes the first definite representative of a group of lizards known as scincoideans, a group that today includes skinks, Ar-mored Lizards, and Night Lizards, or xantusiids. Intriguingly, the fossil most closely resembles xantusiids, which are today found only the American southwest, Central America and Cuba, half a world away from Myanmar.

According to Daza, this new fossil lizard resembles xantusiids in some morphological features, notably the arrangement of its scales which, along with parts of the skeleton, have been preserved in the amber. Even the delicate eyelids are visible, revealing a difference from modern Night Liz-ards, in which the eyelids are fused into a transparent scale, as in snakes.

“We had the rare opportunity of studying the articulated skeleton, but also describing the external appearance of the lizard (scalation), in the same way that herpetologists (amphibian and reptile specialists) study modern species,” Daza said.

The resemblance of this fairly complete specimen to modern xantusiids suggests that the new fossil lizard, like modern xantusiids, may have been active in cryptic microhabitats such as rock crevices or under logs.

The specimen was found in Myanmar’s Hkamti District in a mine located about 100 kilometers from the more famous mines of the Hukawng Basin which have yielded most of the previously described fossil vertebrates from Myanmar. The new mine is also older by 10 million years, placing these fossils in the Early Cretaceous.

The fossil was found in 2017 by local researcher, Burmese gemologist Nyi Nyi Aung who was working with Adolf Peretti from GRS Gemresearch, the curator of the Peretti Museum Foundation (a Swiss institution dedicated to Burmite research), where the specimen now resides. Together they recognized the scientific significance of the specimen, which was recovered from among the hun-dreds of thousands of amber pieces from the Khamti region recovered by indigenous miners. The specimen has travelled around the world to access the latest imaging technology, including the High-Resolution X-Ray CT Facility in Austin, Texas and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

With the data generated in these facilities, the fossil could be studied in great detail by an international collaboration of researchers from Myanmar, the United Kingdom, Spain, Slovakia, Canada, USA, Argentina, and Australia. 3D data from the CT analysis is freely available to other researchers, educators and the general public.

The study was the result of an international team of collaborators lead by Andrej Čerňanský from the Comenius University in Bratislava.

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The Diamonds to perform in Livingston

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The Diamonds will perform Feb. 19 at the Polk County Commerce. Courtesy photoThe Diamonds will perform Feb. 19 at the Polk County Commerce. Courtesy photo

From Enterprise Staff

“Let’s Rock Broadway” starring The Diamonds, a showtune extravaganza, will be featured at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Polk County Commerce Center located at 1017 U.S. 59 Loop North in Livingston, marking the first performance of 2022 hosted by the Livingston Community Concerts Association.

Best known for their 1957 hit Little Darlin’ which has now sold approximately 20 million copies, The Diamonds have performed with symphonies, in major concert halls, on cruise ships, in casinos and throughout the world.

“We’ve been pleased to find a growing audience among all age groups. They love songs they can understand, remember and actually sing the words to—today, tomorrow or even 20 years from now,” The Diamonds said.

One reason the group endures is the diverse background of its members which include Adam David Marino, Michael Lawrence, Jeff Dolan and Gary Owens. The members are well-educated as well as talented.

Marino attended Nazareth College as a theatre-arts major. Lawrence, originally from South Carolina, now resides in Las Vegas. He has a bachelor of fine arts degree in musical theater from Coastal Carolina University. Both Marino and Lawrence have traveled extensively, performing on cruise lines. Dolan, who joined the group in 2011, has performed with Ray Conniff, was a member of the Dapper Dans of Disneyland and has a Grammy Award performing with the Phoenix Chorale. Owens, the longest performing member of the group, has an undergraduate degree in music from California State University Long Beach and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern California.

“Our goal has always been to the keep that classic Diamonds’ sound intact. Although The Diamonds are four distinctive individuals, we have created one strong group personality. The four of us as a unit have a special chemistry and it is that chemistry that gives us our unique identity,” Owens said. He is a vocalist who also plays saxophone and flute and does much of the vocal arranging for the group.

Memberships in the Livingston Community Concert Association may be purchased for as little as $50 per person and family rates are also available. Membership will allow one to attend all concerts per season. For additional information go to www.livingstoncommunityconcert.org or contact Sally Frasier at 936-967-0219.

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Two in custody on organized criminal activity charges

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TwoInCustody

From Enterprise Staff

A Livingston woman and Dayton man have been arrested on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity-obstruction or retaliation and false report to induce emergency response after multiple incidents involving the two last week.

The Livingston Police Department received a 911 call Feb. 4 around 1:30 p.m. stating that an unknown male was around Banks Drive with a pistol equipped with a silencer. The caller stated that the unknown male had entered her immediate neighbor’s residence. 

According to police, the caller stated that a female lived there with her children, and she was concerned not only for the neighbor and her children, but for herself as well. Livingston officers were dispatched to the area when a second 911 call came into the department from a different caller who stated the same as the first report. The caller wanted a welfare check, also stating the subject had the pistol in his hand walking around and causing concern. The caller stated the unknown male had entered one of the apartments. 

Officers arrived on scene and went to the apartment described by the 911 callers. They observed several unknown individuals, one of which was wearing a holstered pistol equipped with a silencer. Officers attempted to talk to the occupants of the apartment, inquiring about the silencer and what was happening. 

After a short time, officers recognized the occupants were recording and had set up a camera in the apartment window. During the investigation, officers recognized two of the individuals in the apartment as Melanie Renee McCrory, 39, of Livingston, and Brandon Michael White, 38, of Dayton, Tx. Officers determined that there was no threat to anyone and that these individuals had created the panic in the residential district to have police respond so they could be recorded for their social media channels. Officers then left the scene. 

Approximately five hours later Officer Chris Simmons observed a vehicle following him while patrolling the city. The vehicle followed Simmons to a local store, where it backed into a parking space and the occupants remained in their vehicle. Simmons completed his business at the store and left with the vehicle following him out of the driveway. Simmons continued patrolling the city until returning to the police department. While still in the police department parking lot, Simmons met with Officer Tito Reyes. The officers then observed the vehicle that had been following Simmons pull into the First National Bank parking lot, next to the police department. The vehicle then drove slowly past the officers in the parking lot, where officers observed the vehicle to be occupied by several times.

Simmons started toward the vehicle on foot, but the vehicle left. The officer was able to get license plate information from the vehicle, which indicated it to be registered to an individual from Laredo, Texas. Later that evening, at approximately 10:46 p.m., Reyes observed the vehicle at Polk and Jackson Street (northeast corner of police department/city hall). Reyes observed one of the occupants exit the vehicle go to the trunk of the vehicle and then returned wearing ballistic body armor. Moments later, Simmons observed the vehicle pull back into the parking area of the bank, giving the vehicle a direct line of site to the police department employee exit, and the occupants a tactical advantage for an assault that officers believed was about to occur. 

Simmons went to his vehicle and positioned it behind the suspicious vehicle. He then approached the vehicle and attempted to talk with the driver’s seat occupant, who replied in Spanish. The officer waited until Reyes arrived, who then began communicating with the subject in Spanish. Due to the suspicious circumstances and possible threat of an assault or other criminal activity, Simmons attempted to identify the subject, but he repeatedly refused. The occupants became more hostile toward officers. Officers observed that at least the individual in the driver’s seat was still wearing a ballistic vest loaded with ammunition, making quick hand movements and shining a flashlight in the officers’ eyes, which appeared to be attempts to escalate the incident. While this was going on, officers recognized White in the back seat of the vehicle. Law enforcement again realized that this was a staged event to record the officer’s response and for the individuals to post on their social media pages. Upon realizing this, officers disengaged with the individuals. 

Officers completed reports in both cases, which were assigned to detectives for investigation. On Feb. 9, McCrory and White were both arrested on warrants for engaging in organized criminal activity-obstruction or retaliation (F2) and false report to induce emergency response (MA). The investigation is ongoing.

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