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Baggett recognized for 50 years service to journalism

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Leonard Woolsey, outgoing president of the Texas Press Association, presents a Golden 50 Award to Donnis Baggett in recognition of 50 years of service to journalism. Baggett was born and reared in Livingston. Photo by Emily Banks WootenLeonard Woolsey, outgoing president of the Texas Press Association, presents a Golden 50 Award to Donnis Baggett in recognition of 50 years of service to journalism. Baggett was born and reared in Livingston. Photo by Emily Banks Wooten

From Enterprise Staff

Donnis Baggett was one of four people honored with the Golden 50 Award in recognition of 50 years of service to journalism during the 143rd annual Texas Press Association Convention and Trade Show held June 1-3 at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Round Rock.

Born in Livingston in 1952, Baggett graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in communications/journalism and a minor in political science. While at SFA, he served as editor of the Pine Log, the university’s student newspaper. He also served on a committee that rewrote the student government constitution – his first involvement in politics. He called that experience “baptism by immersion in the deep end of the pool.”

He went on to work at newspapers in Livingston and Longview before The Dallas Morning News hired him in 1976. He worked as a reporter, assistant city editor and assistant state editor before being named state editor in 1982. He later was promoted to assistant managing editor and was assigned responsibility for The News’ Sunday edition. While he served in that position The News reached its all-time high in Sunday circulation.

From 1992 to 1994, he served two terms as president of the Press Club of Dallas.

After A.H. Belo Corp., owner of The Dallas Morning News, purchased The Bryan-College Station Eagle in late 1995, Baggett was named publisher and editor of The Eagle. He served eight years on the board of directors for the Texas Press Association in the late 1990s and as president of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association in 2004.

In 2010 he was hired as publisher of the Waco Tribune-Herald, and in 2012 he joined the staff of the Texas Press Association as executive vice president. His primary responsibility is the association’s governmental affairs program.

Baggett is a recipient of the Mayborn Award and is a member of the Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame.


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PCPC newspapers earn awards

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Award STock

From Enterprise Staff

The Polk County Enterprise was one of several Polk County Publishing Company-owned newspapers that received recognition in the 2023 Better Newspaper Contest during the 143rd annual Texas Press Association Convention and Trade Show held June 1-3 at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Round Rock. This year 99 newspapers submitted 920 entries. Competitions were divided into divisions in which newspapers competed against publications of similar circulation.

Polk County Enterprise Editor Emily Banks Wooten, Tony Farkas, editor of the Trinity County News-Standard and the San Jacinto News-Times, and Chris Edwards, editor of the Tyler County Booster, attended the convention and trade show, participating in numerous informative sessions on current industry topicsa.

The Polk County Enterprise earned third place honors for column writing and fourth place honors for editorial writing and advertising.

The third place for column writing was for two columns written by Wooten on her weekly “Bite by Bite” food/travel page. One was “The history of southern cuisine” that ran in the Feb. 6, 2022 issue about a visit to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans. The other was “In memory of Grace’s grace” that ran in the May 1, 2022 issue and was about the void in the community following the death of Grace Luna.

“Fun, warmhearted tone and compelling writing. A couple minor grammatical issues,” the judges commented.

The fourth place for editorial writing was for two editorials also written by Wooten. One, in the May 29, 2022 issue, was called “I’m tired of children dying,” and the other, in the Dec. 29, 2022 issue, was called “Personal growth starts with practicing gratitude.”

“More columns than editorials. Well written, impactful. Long, but narrative style engages and stories lead to a point,” the judges commented.

The fourth place award for display advertising was for three advertisements designed and built by Graphic Design Editor Amy Holzworth and Print Shop Manager Jessica Corwin. One was an advertisement for Livingston Trade Days that ran in the March 17, 2022 issue. Another was an advertisement for First State Bank that ran in the Aug. 7, 2022 Heritage Section. The final one was an advertisement for El Trompo that ran in the Nov. 20, 2022 Best of Polk County Section.

“Great work, nice layout and pleasing design,” the judges commented.

Other newspapers owned by Polk County Publishing Company that placed in the contest were the Tyler County Booster, the San Jacinto News-Times and the Trinity County News-Standard.

The Tyler County Booster won second place for feature photography, fourth place for general excellence and fourth place for news writing.

The San Jacinto News-Times won first place for general excellence, second place for feature writing, second place for headline writing and fourth place for column writing.

The Trinity County News-Standard won fourth place for news writing and fourth place for sports photography.

Three individuals were inducted into the Texas Newspaper Foundation’s Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame for exemplary service to their communities and to the Texas newspaper industry. These included: Larry C. Jackson of the Fayette County Record; Suzanne Bardwell of the Gladewater Mirror (posthumously); and Dave Campbell of the Waco Tribune-Herald (posthumously).

Four people were honored with TPA’s Golden 50 Award which honors men and women who have displayed exemplary service and selfless contributions to journalism for 50 or more years. Those four are Donnis Baggett of the Texas Press Association; Bud Kennedy of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Jim Bardwell of the Gladewater Mirror; and Mary Henkel Judson of the Port Aransas South Jetty. (See related story this page.)

Next year’s convention and trade show is slated for June 20-22 at the Hilton College Station Convention Center.

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Local youth talks about Best Buddies program

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By Emily Banks Wooten
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LillyHaynesLilly HaynesLilly Haynes, a recent Livingston High School graduate and the reigning Miss Polk County, presented a program for the Rotary Club of Livingston about Best Buddies, a program in which she was actively involved the last two years.

“Best Buddies is a non-profit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-on-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Best Buddies offers members opportunities that provide the necessary tools for people with IDD to become more independent and more included in the community,” Haynes said.

“It is a global movement with clubs in middle schools, high schools and colleges worldwide. Whenever the buddies are paired, it changes their lives forever. One on one friendship is really what Best Buddies is all about, breaking down barriers and having fun,” Haynes said.

“I’m going to Texas A&M in the fall and hope to get involved with Best Buddies there,” Haynes said, adding that her buddy is named Emma.

Haynes reviewed some of the events and activities in which the Best Buddies participated this past school year which include: a Chick-Fil-A fundraiser, Lunch with your Buddies, Buddies at the Ballpark, Fun Day, Leadership Conference, Volleyball Mixer, Homecoming dance party, T-Shirt Fundraiser, Go-Getters Game, Thanksgiving Feast, Christmas Party, Valentine’s Dance, Color Run, Inclusion Week theme days and honors and awards ceremony.

“There’s a difference between peer buddies and associate buddies, but both are important and need to be involved. Peer Buddies are required to complete friendship updates by the end of each month and associate buddies will complete a survey that is required. Every buddy needs to have more than one friend to talk to and hang out with,” Haynes said.

“What are the expectations? Priority and commitment, true friendship and attending monthly activities. Best Buddies is volunteer-centric, provides opportunities, provides equitable leadership roles and sets equal expectations for participants with and without disabilities in all programs,” Haynes said.

“How can you make an impact? You can advocate by having a profoundly positive impact on the lives of people with IDD. When you help Best Buddies enhance the lives of this underserved group of individuals, you contribute to the creation of a more inclusive world for all. You can donate. With your support, Best Buddies helps people with IDD form meaningful connections in the community that allow them to shine. By making a monthly gift, you’ll join The Bridge - a community of dedicated supporters investing monthly to bridge gaps between people with and without IDD,” Haynes said.

“You can also attend an event. There have been events locally such as the Best Buddies color run and fundraisers to participate in. Take advantage of these events and get involved locally. You can also shop. When you shop the 2023 Best Buddies shop 100% of proceeds go toward benefitting Best Buddies International,” Haynes said, adding that Amy Cherry is the Best Buddies sponsor at Livingston High School.

Haynes will compete in the Miss Texas Teen Pageant June 25-July 1 in Richardson.

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Hullihen tabbed as interim tax assessor-collector

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Steve HullihenSteve HullihenA new, yet familiar face has filled the position of tax assessor-collector, following retirement of Leslie Jones Burks from the role.

Steve Hullihen returns to help in a similar capacity, formerly employed in IT for the county.   

“Bob Willis hired me in 1984 to come work in the tax office, because the county bought a new computer system,” Hullihen explained of his first stint. “The county bought a computer system from IBM, and IBM told them it would do everything. He said that he needed somebody to run the computers. I graduated Ohio State in the summer of ’80, and I had a business degree applied to forestry. I was working for Champion in Corrigan right out of school.”

His first office was in the same building — the Polk County Tax Office on North Washington Avenue.

“The computer was sitting upstairs here,” Hullihen said. “It is not here anymore, but there was one computer here and we ran cables all through town and they were hanging off the poles and everything. The appraisal district was on the other side where the new Judicial Center is. The appraisal district and the tax office were on the same computer, so it was really handy and we didn’t have to send files back and forth. We had one set of databases and they appraised and updated it and we collected and updated it. It was a really good deal for the county and the appraisal district back then that saved taxpayers money.”

Hullihen remained until his retirement in 2015 after 31 years with the county. The experience, he said, was a happy one. Burks was employed when Hullihen left, along with three or four others that are still with Polk County.

While he’s not back for the computers, Hullihen said he volunteered for the position because the county has always been like family.

“They asked for a short list of people who could be semi-qualified and have a basis to come work in here. I have to go to training and there are two classes I have to take within the first 90 days. Then, I have to complete so many continuing education hours in the first year just to be interim. It’s a commitment.”

He will serve until a new tax assessor-collector is elected. That could occur in March of 2024, November of that year, or January 2025 at the latest.

“I am trying to keep track of what I’m doing, because there is going to be someone new coming in behind me and I want to be able to give them a list of what to do when they come in. That way it won’t be quite so overwhelming for them. I am here for the county, because it is a service to the community. I am trying to save the county some money too, so I am not trying to re-invent the wheel, but I’d like to make the transition for the next tax assessor-collector as easy as I can. I want to give them all the information they need to hit the ground running and do a good job for the people.” 

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Graduation ceremonies

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Everyone enjoyed the hat toss as Onalaska High School held its graduation May 26 at the Polk County Commerce Center. Fifty-six OHS students walked the stage to accept their diplomas. Students from Goodrich High School’s Class of 2023 hug their classmates during their graduation which was May 26 in the Goodrich Gymnasium. Nineteen GHS students accepted their diplomas.

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