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Polk County News - Breakout

Volunteers sought to help pack care packages

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CarePackage Stock

From Enterprise Staff

Three hundred to three hundred fifty Christmas care packages for the troops will be packed beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 3 at Livingston Physical Therapy located at 305 W. Mill St. in Livingston and additional volunteers are being sought.

Anyone needing a gift for a family member or friend is encouraged by F.A.I.T.H. Military Support Group to sponsor a Christmas box for the troops for $40. Christmas is right around the corner and F.A.I.T.H. (Families And Individuals Thanking Heroes) is asking for the community’s help in sending 300-350 care packages for local heroes protecting the country. It is a way to honor the service men and women who are away from their families during the holidays.

Those wishing to sponsor a box can include a signed note to the service member or honor a friend or family member as a gift. A letter will be sent to the recipient to inform them of the contribution as well as a note to the service member information them of the person honored.

F.A.I.T.H. has been sending care packages every month since 2006. The organization was formed to provide encouragement and support to military personnel while they are away from home. They meet at 5:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of every month (except December) at Livingston Physical Therapy at 305 W. Mill St. in Livingston. In December, they meet at 8:30 a.m. on the first Saturday.

Each hero will receive three to four boxes during the holiday season, including a food box and Christmas boxes to share with their buddies.

More than 23,000 care packages have been shipped to the troops since 2006. F.A.I.T.H. is a charitable non-profit 501(c)3. Volunteers are comprised of committed and proud individuals in the community, service organizations, local church groups, local businesses, youth groups from various schools, the garden club and the LHS NNDCC.

Only twice since 2006 has the organization missed sending packages – once due to Hurricane Ike in 2008 and the other time during the 2020 COVID pandemic when they had to regroup to find supplies and determine how to pack the boxes.

Postage for the care packages continues to increase and the current cost is $18.45 for large overseas boxes and $15 for medium domestic boxes. The group is presently sending an average of 125-plus boxes per month with an average monthly postage cost of approximately $3,000.

The community contributes items for the packages but the organization still supplements the donations with additional items. Inflation is hitting them hard and the cost to fill the box is increasing. One hundred percent of all cash donations goes for supplies for the care packages, postage and labels. All administrative tasks are donated.

The care packages are filled with toiletries, Hormel meals, canned fruit, peanut butter, chili, soup, granola bars, snack cakes, homemade fudge made by the First United Methodist Church kitchen crew, mini pecan pies, stockings stuffed with various items, drink mixes, hot chocolate, candy canes, candy, gum, cookies, peanuts and sunflower seeds.

For additional information call 936-327-4084.

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Authors Ellen Moseley-May and Laura K. Walker were in Livingston recently on the second leg of the book tour for their new Amazon bestselling book – “Up Until Now: Inspired Stories from Real People on How to Embrace Your Fear, Move Forward and Transform Your Life.” Both originally from Livingston, Moseley-May continues to reside locally and Walker resides in Keller. In addition to being guests on the Drummer Don radio show on 102.3 The Eagle, the ladies also hosted book signings at Petalz, Alma’s Whistlestop Cafe and The Wet Deck Bar and Grill on Lake Livingston. The book launched Nov. 5 in South Lake with a weekend celebration prior to coming to Livingston. The next leg of the book tour includes Alabama and Florida.Courtesy photo

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Rotarians celebrate achievements

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Cara Haddock, director of development for Faith in Practice, a faith-based ecumenical group that provides international service, presents a check to Rotary Treasurer Joe Roth.  Photo by Emily Banks WootenCara Haddock, director of development for Faith in Practice, a faith-based ecumenical group that provides international service, presents a check to Rotary Treasurer Joe Roth. Photo by Emily Banks Wooten

By Emily Banks Wooten
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Suzi Howe, Rotary International Director for 2020-22, was the guest speaker for Rotary Homecoming, an event hosted recently by the Rotary Club of Livingston to celebrate its history, achievements and membership.

Howe owned and operated South Shore Montessori, a private school, until her retirement in 2019. It was during the construction of that school that she first learned about Rotary, as her broker, architect, and others involved were all Rotarians. Within six months of joining Rotary in 1992, she was already serving on her club’s board.

Passionate about sharing her training and educational skills, she has volunteered as training leader and as a member of the Rotary Leadership Training and Development Committee.

She has a passion for the work of The Rotary Foundation. Her commitment to it is evidenced by ongoing service as a Regional Rotary Foundation Coordinator and service as the Zone End Polio Now Challenge.

She and her husband Bill are members of Rotary’s Arch Klumph and Bequest Societies as major donors. In 2005, she won the Dome City Award on behalf of all Houston-area Rotarians for her work running logistics for the 650 Rotarian volunteers at the Houston Astrodome who helped 250,000 Hurricane Katrina evacuees from New Orleans over a three-week period.

Howe is also a talented fundraiser, having organized three separate Million Dollar Dinners, the last one alone raising $3.8 million for The Rotary Foundation. “If you make eye contact with me, I will be asking you to make a contribution,” she says.

Howe is a recipient of the Service Above Self Award, and The Rotary Foundation’s Distinguished Service Award and Citation for Meritorious Service. As a 2020-22 Rotary International Director, she was one of 17 international directors serving the 1.4 million Rotarians in over 200 countries.

Demetrius Harrel, governor of District 5910, introduced Howe. “Rotary takes us around the world in many capacities. I’ve been a Rotarian since 1988. I can say the passion comes from within. Through Suzi, we have begun our own Polio Plus Society membership in the district.”

Ward Jones and Reed Brooks, two longtime Rotarians who have died recently, were remembered and mentioned by several, as both of their wives and other family members were in attendance as guests.

Dr. William E. “Bill” Watson gave a brief overview of the history of the Rotary Club of Livingston and some of its projects. He said the club formed around 1936.

“Ward (Jones) always talked about 1956 when they put in the city pool. And then in 1972, the Rotary, Lions and Pilot Clubs came in together and operated the city pool for 15 years. The first big fundraiser in 1980 was to make repairs to the pool and we raised about $3,000,” Watson said.

“Then in 1984 there was a shrimp boil fundraiser that the whole town participated in to buy a flagpole to put over there by Whataburger. Then in 1987-88 we built a gazebo next to Jack in the Box. 1986 had been the 50th anniversary of Rotary in Livingston so we called that area where we built the gazebo Anniversary Park,” Watson said.

“Then in the later 90s, two presidents combined their budgets and put up a building over in the city park. Since 2000, we’ve become involved with two more programs – Dolly Parton Imagination Library and Don’t Meth With Me. We go back a ways and have always strived to live our motto – service above self,” Watson said.

Judy Blain is the president of R.E.A.D. (Reading Encourages Advanced Development) which is the Polk County affiliate for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. R.E.A.D. is a program in which parents may enroll their children and the child receives an age-appropriate book in the mail every single month from birth to five years old.

“I want to thank y’all for everything you have done and are doing. In December of 2012 we sent 14 books to Polk County. This month, we will send 1182. We have graduated well over 2,080 kids and are on target this year to ship out 14,400,” Blain said, adding that the Dolly Parton Imagination Library has shipped 194 million books worldwide.

Rotarian Blair McDonald presented an update on the Don’t Meth with Me program which is a program that targets fifth-graders and warns them of the dangers of meth.

“We’re funded by local organizations and we talk to students about goals and the choices they make. Every child gets a T-shirt, a pencil and a wrist band. Since the program started, we’ve seen a 44% drop in drug crimes. Fifth-graders have changed drug-related crime,” McDonald said, adding that the program has been provided to seven school districts for 10 years and has reached over 7,000 children.

McDonald also spoke about Rotary Youth Exchange, stating that every year, Rotary sends about 8,000 students out into the world for a year. They must be 15 and above and all the work is done by Rotary volunteers.

“Our club has sponsored nine kids in the last 10 years. Each student lives with two or three families while they’re here,” McDonald said.

Cara Haddock is the director of development for Faith in Practice, a faith-based ecumenical group that provides international service with some 50 teams a year participating globally. “The team has raised almost $8,000 in Reed’s (Brooks) memory since his passing Aug. 20,” Haddock said.

Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.4 million members in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping those in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. For more information, visit Rotary.org.

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Goodrich ISD receives high marks

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Goodrich ISD Hornet Facing LeftBy Brian Besch
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The Goodrich school board heard discussions on financial ratings, and made decisions on their theater roof, a surveillance system and board positions Thursday in their regular meeting for November.

The meeting opened with a public hearing on the district’s rating in the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (F.I.R.S.T.).

With passing score at 70, Goodrich ISD received a 98 out of 100. A minor detail of the cost ratio was off by 0.0067% to miss the perfect score.

“When you look at that, I know it is not a perfect score, but we are super close,” Goodrich business manager Sarah Fulcher said. “I am working really hard to get that cost ratio down, so we will score that perfect 100%.”

James Guest, lead attorney from Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson congratulated all on the score, saying the 98 shows that the district is very well managed.

In the delinquent tax report, Guest said a total of almost $91,000 was collected. He said every account that is delinquent is contacted by mail. Last year, 959 letters were sent.

In action items, the school’s theater reroofing was discussed.

“We had this originally as one of our priorities when we were committing funds to replace the theater roof,” Goodrich Superintendent Daniel Barton said. “I didn’t know it was going to be this much of a priority, but actually, about three weeks ago, we came in after we had a blowing storm and we found shingles laying back behind the theater. That is a sign that it is time to make a move before we create more damage.”

Three bids were collected for work on the roof and all in close range of about $30,000. Barton recommended and the board accepted Lucas Roofing, who has also done work on the ag building and gymnasium roof. The new roof is expected to be metal for durability.

The board also approved the 2022-23 district improvement plan. After two meetings, changes in the plan included maintaining and upgrading the ag facilities, reviewing the parent engagement policy, having a career day with guest speakers from the community, and having a volunteer pool. There are also points such as reviewing the compensation plan to remain market competitive, a sick pool, as well as employee incentive and recognition opportunities.

A bid for a new video surveillance system was approved for under $23,000 from Cyber One Solutions, with the other two bids coming in at over $110,000. It is a system used by school districts such as Leggett and High Island.

The board accepted the resignation of Jennifer Pickett, who had not attended a regular board meeting in several months. Taking her place will be Lidia Moreno. The board will have one open position remaining after the passing of Bobby Bridwell.

The parent of a suspended student spoke to the board, in hopes of reducing his child’s punishment. The punishment, he said, stems from a social media post. He said it is difficult to transport his child to and from Corrigan, the campus to which two of the students were sent.

The district has had a few buses receiving repairs and there is also some fence repair occurring. Heaters in the old gym for years have run on a breaker and should have a thermostat. The district is working toward putting a thermostat on those heaters Monday.

Brenda Williams has been covering as high school principal while Aubrey Vaughan has been out with a medical issue. She was thanked for a job well done by the superintendent.

“I wanted to say job well done, because not only has she taken on a head principal role, and moving over to the high school where there is quite a learning curve, but she has also taken on testing coordinator and all of this in the past month,” Barton said. “She is probably one of the most valuable people we’ve got.”

Vaughan is expected to return after Thanksgiving. Williams thanked the superintendent and board for the opportunity to grow in her career. 

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Lighting ceremony is Tuesday

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From Enterprise Staff

The City of Livingston will host its annual Lighting Ceremony at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Livingston City Hall as the city “flips the switch,” transforming downtown and Pedigo Park into a winter wonderland of lights.

Come out and celebrate the sights and sounds of the holidays. The Central Baptist Church children’s choir will perform. Parents are encouraged to come out and bring the children because Rudolph, Frosty and the Gingerbread Man will be there and available for pictures.

Tuesday’s lighting ceremony is the official kickoff for the holiday season locally.

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