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Polk County News - Breakout

County commissioners receive yearly audit report

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Polk County LogoBy Emily Banks Wooten
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The Polk County Commissioners Court received the yearly audit during its regular meeting Tuesday.

“Robert and I both appreciate the opportunity the Court gives us to come back to Polk County,” Darla Dear with Belt Harris Pechacek, the county’s independent auditing firm, said. “I want to thank Louis Ploth and Stephanie Dale from the auditor’s office, the treasurer’s office, all the JP offices. We really appreciate everyone’s input.”

Referring to the firm’s opinion page, Dear said the county received an unmodified opinion that it has done a great job. The report reflected that the general fund total revenues were $24,997,493 and total expenditures were $22,240,319. The report also reflected an ending fund balance of $19,131,706.

The Court approved action closing the Glover and Frank Road railroad crossings in Precinct 3 which have presented ongoing concerns for a number of years regarding ingress and egress. Union Pacific has agreed to collaborate with Texas Department of Transportation to provide funding to close the crossings and build a new road between Old Hwy. 35 and Frank Road. Although the final bids have not been received yet, the total cost is estimated to be $560,625.

Action regarding regulating mass gatherings and outdoor musical festivals in the unincorporated areas of the county, pursuant to Chapter 751 of the Texas Health and Safety Code and Chapter 2104 of the Texas Occupations Code, was approved. Following this action, promoters are required to obtain a permit from the county and if they do not, then they are in violation and may be cited and/or shut down. The county fire marshal looked at other counties’ policies and made a few changes.

One bid was received to remove and replace the windows at the Dunbar Complex. The bid – for $116,000 – from Williams Glass, was more than the Court had budgeted for the project so the Court voted to reject the bid and rebid the project.

Melanie Taylor, CEO of the Burke Center, gave a brief history of the Burke Center, apprising the Court that it was founded in 1974 by 13 county commissioner courts. “Basically, you gave birth, and the state took custody,” she said. Redistricting several years ago resulted in Hardin County leaving to go with another center. The same thing is happening now with Jasper County, also due to redistricting. The Court approved a revised interlocal agreement between Polk County and Burke Center, removing Jasper County from the agreement.

The Court approved a request for a capital purchase to be paid from (stated) fund balance and included on the fiscal year 2023 reimbursement resolution for the year-end issuance of legally authorized debt, specifically, emergency management’s request for 13 automated external defibrillator (AED) units for Polk County buildings, not to exceed $18,096.

As part of a continuation of ongoing settlements, the Court approved the settlement terms with Allergan defendants, and authorized the county judge to execute the settlement participation and release forms regarding statewide settlement offers in the matter of Texas statewide opioid multi-district litigation for the county in the matter of In Re: National Prescription Opiate Litigation, MDL No. L:17-MD-022804.

One portion of the infrastructure development plan for Livingston Reserve RV Park located in Precinct 2 was conditionally approved, with the Court tabling action on two other two portions of the plan.

In personnel matters, the Court reviewed and approved personnel action forms submitted by department heads since the last meeting and also received and recorded personnel action forms submitted by elected officials since the last meeting.

Fiscal year 2023 budget revisions and amendments as presented by the county auditor’s office were also approved.

During informational reports, the Court recognized the county auditor’s office – specifically, County Auditor Louis Plot and Assistant Auditor Stephanie Dale – for receiving the Government Finance Officers Association’s “Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting” for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2021.

Items on the consent agenda included:

Approval of the minutes of the April 25 meeting;

Approval of the schedules of bills;

Approval of an order designating surplus property;

Approval of a resolution designating May 22 as “Jury Appreciation Day” in Polk County;

Approval of a memorandum of understanding with Corrigan-Camden ISD and Livingston ISD for local disaster preparedness (sheltering);

Approval of the district clerk’s request to approve Tyler Technologies defendant access software and products;

Approval of the fire marshal’s request to access Brycer Compliance engine software;

Ratifying Amendment No. 2 to the General Land Office Contract Number 20-066-018-C125 for the community development block grant disaster recovery Hurricane Harvey buyout/acquisition program;

Accepting a 2022 Toyota Tundra awarded to the Precinct 1 Constable’s Office and authorize maintenance and operations expenses for the vehicle to be funded from the Precinct 1 asset forfeitures;

Accepting a 2005 Ford F250 pickup truck awarded to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and add the vehicle to the county insurance policy;

Accepting an automated license plate reader and speed trailer donated to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office;

Approval of a request from the district attorney to exempt certain vehicles from inscription required on county motor vehicles, pursuant to Section 721.005 of the Texas Transportation Code; and

Approval of the purchase of a new ham radio, coax and antenna for the annex building, not to exceed $15,000, to be paid from emergency management capital outlay (budgeted funds).


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MannaFest volunteers continue learning, serving

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Boy Scout Troop 97 and Girl Scout Troop 197 held a food drive in March that they donated to MannaFest Food Pantry. (l-r) Troop 97 Scoutmaster David Brown, Evan Couch, Troop 97 Assistant Scoutmaster Adam Leneau, Silas Leneau, Samson Blackstock, Mary Jane Brown, Ally Agate, Troop 197 Scoutmaster Shawnna Agate, MannaFest Director Marilyn Wise and Trinity District Director Misty Brown. Courtesy photoBoy Scout Troop 97 and Girl Scout Troop 197 held a food drive in March that they donated to MannaFest Food Pantry. (l-r) Troop 97 Scoutmaster David Brown, Evan Couch, Troop 97 Assistant Scoutmaster Adam Leneau, Silas Leneau, Samson Blackstock, Mary Jane Brown, Ally Agate, Troop 197 Scoutmaster Shawnna Agate, MannaFest Director Marilyn Wise and Trinity District Director Misty Brown. Courtesy photo

From Enterprise Staff

Representing the local MannaFest Food Pantry in Livingston, Marilyn Wise and Georgann Patterson recently completed eight months of training with the Southeast Texas Food Bank’s Agency Institute.

“Not only did we gain a lot of knowledge in those eight sessions, but we earned a stipend for MannaFest to use to purchase food from the Food Bank, as well as a certificate of completion,” Wise said.

MannaFest received $2,616 in donations during the month of April from local churches and individuals. Also received during April was 5,026 pounds of food from Walmart, 593 pounds from Dollar General, 728 pounds of produce from Southeast Texas Food Bank and 2,290 pounds from individuals and two food drives.

Texan EMS, First National Bank and Pine Ridge Health Care sponsored a food drive outside HEB where 900 pounds of food was collected along with $463. Ricky Taylor delivered it to the pantry in an ambulance, a first for the MannaFest volunteers.

Timber Creek Elementary School students also held a food drive with each homeroom collecting food and then building a “can-struction” with the items they collected and the creations were displayed outside the classrooms.

“GB and I had the honor and pleasure of meeting the student council officers and walking through the school judging the entries, which were then deconstructed and loaded up for delivery to the pantry. About 900 items were collected,” Wise said.

Four hundred and seventy families were served during the month of April and the average number of families served per day was 59. Volunteers spent $8,656.79 on food and $1,539.39 on hygiene products, in addition to $97.51 for supplies and $64.91 for trailer bags.

Over $5,000 of the money spent on food was for items for the summer food boxes. These boxes are for families with school-age children. They are pre-packed boxes given to families in addition to the regular food box to help with food expenses while their children are home from school and not getting free breakfasts and lunches. Each family may receive up to three of the monthly food boxes.

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Members of the Polk County Garden Club been busy making yellow ribbons to place on the electrical poles downtown in time for Armed Forces Day which is May 20 to honor those currently serving in all branches of the U.S. military and to remember those who gave all. The yellow ribbons will be up through Memorial Day which is May 29. (l-r) Mary Ingram, Susy Richoux, Sharon Pollard, Jeanette Phillips, Andee Shaffer and Paulette Stinson. Photo by Emily Banks Wooten

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The Livingston Lions Club will host its annual fish fry as a take-out only event with pick-up service from 4-7 p.m. Thursday at the Polk County Commerce Center. The meal will include U.S. farm-raised catfish, new potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, coleslaw and dessert. Proceeds from the event will go toward funding the club’s various initiatives such as providing eyeglasses for those in need and supporting local food banks.Courtesy photo

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Council’s action to result in annual million dollar savings

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City of Livingston logoBy Emily Banks Wooten
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The City of Livingston will see a savings of $1.4-$1.6 million annually following action taken by the Livingston City Council during its regular meeting May 9. Council approved a resolution adopted by the Board of Directors of the Trinity River Authority (TRA) of Texas authorizing the TRA contract revenue refunding bonds, the Livingston Regional Water Supply System Project, and approving and authorizing instruments and procedures relating thereto.

In response to a request for proposals for waste collection and disposal, Council heard from representatives of Piney Woods Sanitation, Pro Star Waste/Waste Connections and Republic Services.

The reappointment of Municipal Court Judge Dana Williams for the two-year term of May 2023 through May 2025 was approved.

As an information item, Council reviewed a proposed cost of living adjustment for the employee salary schedule, to be effective Oct. 1.

During his monthly update on projects and events, City Manager Bill S. Wiggins reminded Council that the Livingston Farmers and Artisan Market is held the first and third Saturday of each month at Anniversary Park next to Melbo’s. He reported that signups for sem lessons began May 1 at the Parks Office at Pedigo Park and that over 400 have already registered. He also reported that the Livingston Municipal Court is offering an amnesty program for Class C warrants and unpaid tickets through May 31.

Wiggins apprised Council that since Livingston is a Type A General Law City, newly-elected officers may not assume the duties of the office until at least the fifth day after the election, excluding Sundays. Therefore, a special called city council meeting is set for 5 p.m. May 16 to canvass the election, administer the oaths of office, issue certificates of election and elect a mayor pro-tem for the coming year. (See related story, this page.)

Wiggins apprised Council of the current development projects underway, including: the addition of a new metal building at Century II Printing at 1506 N. Washington; ongoing work at CP Homes Memory Care at 1864 N. Washington; the review of plans for a remodel of CVS at 1500 W. Church; the review of plans for a Denny’s at 103 U.S. Hwy. 59 Loop South; ongoing work on new office lease spaces at 109 W. Abbey; ongoing work on the Highway 190 Apartments at 909 E. Church; permit ready to be issued for King Ranch John Deere Dealership and turf business at 510 U.S. Hwy. 59 Loop South; ongoing work at Livingston Fitness Center at 601 W. Church; ongoing work on the construction of new townhomes at 209, 211, 213 and 215 Jack Moseley Blvd.; ongoing work at On the Run Truckstop at 911 E. Church; a pre-development meeting for a proposed four-plex housing unit at 115 Pan American; work has begun on the courthouse restoration project at the Polk County Courthouse at 101 W. Church; a pre-development meeting for Stella’s Bakery on U.S. Hwy. 190 West; installation of a Tesla Super Charging Station at Best Stop Convenience Store at 1155 E. Church; work in progress on new residences at 106 Getaway, 106 Sunrise, 107 Sunrise, 106 Sunset and 118 Sunshine; permits ready to be issued for new residences at 105 Getaway and 120 Sunshine; ongoing work at The Vault Venue at 415 N. Washington; ongoing work on an office building for Edward Jones Investment Agency at 500 W. Polk; permit ready to be issued for a $3.5 million major remodel at Walmart at 1620 W. Church; and ongoing work on construction of duplex homes at 1300 and 1302 S. Houston.

Other business included approval of the minutes of the April 11 meeting and the accounts over $500.


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