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Starting salary for officers to increase

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City of Livingston logoBy Emily Banks Wooten
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Having recently lost a number of police officers to higher-paying jobs, the Livingston City Council took action following an executive session at its regular meeting Nov. 8 to alleviate the problem in the future. Council approved increasing the starting pay of officers to $53,000.

Several items were on the agenda regarding the Texas General Land Office community block grant disaster recovery program. The city was notified earlier this year that it will receive $2.541 million from Deep East Texas Council of Governments to fund projects geared toward the lower-income community. “We need to complete the application process. The funds are there but we have to go through the steps,” City Manager Bill S. Wiggins said.

Council approved a proposed resolution authorizing the submission of the application and authorizing the mayor to act as the city’s executive officer and authorized representative in all matters pertaining to the city’s participation. Council also approved a proposed resolution adopting the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development financial management and procurement guidelines; approved beginning procurement of engineering and administration services for the grant; and appointed a rating review committee to rate the proposals received. Wiggins, Mayor Judy Cochran and City Secretary/Assistant City Manager Ellie Monteaux will comprise the rating review committee.

Holiday compensation for 2022 approved. Each employee will receive a turkey for Thanksgivng. For Christmas, every fulltime employee who has been with the city for over a year will receive one week’s salary. Employees who have been with the city for less than a year will receive $50.

Council also approved setting the 2023 calendar year holiday observances, adding two – Presidents’ Day and Columbus Day – for a total of 13 as opposed to the former 11.

Council approved the city’s personnel policy update after tabling it last month for additional review. The personnel policy had not been updated for 14 years.

A preliminary plat for the new 64-unit apartment complex to be constructed at 909 E. Church St. was approved.

Wiggins apprised Council of numerous upcoming events during his monthly city manager’s report. Livingston Trade Days is slated for Nov. 19-20. The annual Christmas lighting ceremony is scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 22 at the city hall. At that time, the city will “flip the switch,” turning on all the lighted decorations in Pedigo Park and throughout the city which will stay lighted until Dec. 31. The Christmas train village display will be available for viewing Nov. 25 through Dec. 30 at 406 N. Washington. Days and hours vary. First Baptist Church’s “A Drive Through Bethlehem” will be at 6 p.m. Dec. 2-4 at Pedigo Park. Santa will be at Miss Effie’s Cottage from 6-8 p.m. on Dec. 9. Hometown Christmas is from noon to 8 p.m. Dec. 10 and will include arts and crafts vendors, food and gift vendors and a quilt show along with the Jingle Bell Fun Run & Walk at noon at city hall and the Lighted Christmas Parade at 6 p.m. downtown. Wiggins also updated Council on a variety of current development projects that are underway.

He introduced Lynette Barker, the city’s new finance director, and reported that the city is losing its municipal judge – Shelly Bush Sitton – who will be the new district attorney beginning Jan. 1 but that Dana Williams has agreed to be the new municipal judge effective Jan. 1. Wiggins also reported that city employee Juan Parra has been moved to a floater position within the city but will primarily provide backup for Sara Milner in the municipal court.

Livingston Police Chief Matt Parrish and Lieutenant Marty Drake presented an update to Council regarding the use of Flock Group Inc. automated license plate recognition cameras. Through the program, five cameras have been installed at various locations within the city. The first camera was installed on Sept. 9 and the police department received its first “hit” and recovered a stolen car less than 24 hours after the first camera was installed. The subject had felony warrants and was in a stolen vehicle. The cameras have read over 800,069 license plates in the short time the department has had them, and the license plates are erased from the cloud in 34-36 days. During the time the department has had the cameras, they have recovered 17 stolen vehicles, a stolen camper trailer worth $45,000, and an 18-wheeler car hauler heading to St. Louis with numerous stolen cars on it. That one stop netted a recovery of approximately $270,000. Through the camera “hits,” the department has made nine felony arrests, recovered two guns and made total recoveries of approximately $430,500. The cameras pick up on stolen license plates, Amber alerts, silver alerts, sex offenders, protective orders, violent persons and wanted persons. The department has access to 505 in-state cameras and 352 out-of-state cameras.

Parrish and Drake expressed their appreciation to Council for approving the purchase of the cameras and emphasized how much the cameras are helping their department and other departments.

Although Council was slated to hold a public hearing on the determination of an unsafe and/or dilapidated building and cleanup of the property and consider action on a final order for the property, the items were cancelled in order to receive more information and will likely be back on the agenda for the January meeting. The property in question is a residential structure located at 1008 Dunbar Ave. owned by Dunbar Livingston 1008, LLC, the property being described as: Lot 6 of Block 1 of the Viola Jones Addition, a subdivision in the City of Livingston, in Polk County, Texas, according to the map or plat thereof recorded in Volume 1, Page 98 of the Plat Records of Polk County, Texas, also known as 1008 Dunbar Ave., Livingston, Texas.

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

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Polk boasts better turnout than usual

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election resultsFrom Enterprise Staff

A little over 41% of the registered voters in Polk County voted in the Nov. 8 general election, a much higher percentage than usual. The higher than usual turnout could be attributed to widespread interest in the governor’s race in which Incumbent Greg Abbott was challenged by Beto O’Rourke, unsuccessfully, or it may have been the hotly contested Livingston ISD school board race in which eight people, two of them incumbents, were vying for four spots on the board.

Marty Drake and Kevin Wooten were the incumbents seeking reelection to the board. The two other seats were open. Following several terms on the board, Ben Ogletree III did not seek reelection. Krissa Bass Humphries resigned from the board in August and Alex Garcia was appointed to fill the unexpired term but did not opt to run for election to the board.

The other six people running were Andrew Boyce, Kevin Grimm, Chris Moehlmann, John Whiteside, Cynthia Rios Thomas and Mandi Murphy Pipes.

Unofficial vote totals reflected Pipes, Wooten, Boyce and Grimm the victors, with Pipes receiving 3,608 votes (19.33%), Wooten receiving 2,595 votes (13.90%), Boyce receiving 2,483 votes (13.30%) and Grimm receiving 2,376 votes (12.73%).

Drake received 2,372 votes (12.71%), Thomas received 2,234 votes (11.97%), Moehlmann received 2,036 votes (10.91%) and John Whiteside received 964 votes (5.16%).

There were 87 provisional ballots cast that will be reviewed when the Polk County Ballot Board meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday. A ballot is considered provisional when there is some question about a voter’s eligibility.

Considering there was only four votes difference between Grimm and Drake, the election results could potentially change, depending on the ballot board’s decisions regarding those 87 provisional ballots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bland Heisman award winner

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Pictured (L-R) are Livingston High School lead counselor Judy Porter, LISD Athletic Director Finis Vanover, Janae Bland, LHS golf coachFrank Brister, and LHS volleyball and softball coach Heather Mosser. COURTESY PHOTOPictured (L-R) are Livingston High School lead counselor Judy Porter, LISD Athletic Director Finis Vanover, Janae Bland, LHS golf coachFrank Brister, and LHS volleyball and softball coach Heather Mosser. COURTESY PHOTO

Livingston High School’s Janae Bland is a Heisman High School winner. The Heisman Trophy Trust announced the 2022 School Winners for the Heisman High School Scholarship on Nov. 2. Bland plays for the Livingston Lady Lions varsity volleyball, golf and softball teams.

From an applicant pool of thousands of high school scholar-athletes graduating with the class of 2023, more than 5,700 have been named school winners in the Heisman High School Scholarship competition awarded by The Heisman Trophy Trust.

School winners will continue on for the chance to become state winners, national finalists or national winners. State winners receive a $1,000 college scholarship, national finalists receive a $2,000 college scholarship, and the male and female national winners will each receive a $10,000 college scholarship.

A complete list of school winners can be found at https://www.heismanscholarship.com/results/.

The Heisman High School Scholarship extends the Heisman prestige from college football to our nation’s most esteemed high school seniors, by recognizing and rewarding outstanding scholar-athletes who understand that the most important victories happen not only on the field, but in their schools and communities. These young leaders set an example and make a game-changing difference, paving the way to greatness for everyone around them.

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Court approves amended agreement

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Polk County LogoBy Emily Banks Wooten
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The Polk County Commissioners Court approved an amended agreement with Goodwin Lassiter & Strong for engineering services for the water infrastructure projects to be funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) during its regular meeting Tuesday.

“We had the original agreement, but we need to amend it now that the scope of work has been determined,” County Judge Sydney Murphy. The county is using its ARPA funds to provide interconnectivity and water infrastructure in the unincorporated areas of the county.

A request from the county clerk to utilize the judicial center break room to temporarily house voter registration records was approved. Previously, the tax assessor-collector served as the voter registrar and was responsible for disseminating the voter registration cards and the county clerk and her staff were responsible for running the elections. However, the Court approved an order transferring voter registration duty from the tax assessor-collector to the county clerk on June 14. The change is effective Jan. 1, 2023.

Proposed revisions to the Polk County subdivision regulations were discussed and a public hearing on the revisions was scheduled for 10 a.m. Dec. 13. “We adopted the subdivision regulations basically a year ago and we knew it was going to be a work in progress,” Murphy said. The revisions primarily affect RV/tiny house parks and mobile home rental communities.

The Court approved a resolution supporting additional measures to secure the U.S.-Mexico border against criminal activity. “We received several requests from Dr. Babin and other legislators. Previously, we weren’t being impacted. Now we are, with fentanyl, drug trafficking and human trafficking on 59 and our law enforcement at the border,” Murphy said.

Requests for capital purchases to be paid from the general fund balance and included on the fiscal year 2023 reimbursement resolution for the year-end issuance of legally authorized debt were approved, specifically, a request from the Precinct 1 justice of the peace for the purchase a desktop scanner not to exceed $1,000 and a request from information technology for the purchase of computers for the annual technology rotation not to exceed $30,180.

An offer to purchase Lot 19 of Block 12 of Section 1 of Impala Woods, tax foreclosed property in Precinct 2, was approved. An amendment to the SAAFE House lease agreement was also approved.

In personnel matters, the Court reviewed personnel action form requests submitted since the last meeting and review two authorized emergency hirings, one at the jail and one at the sheriff’s office. Additionally, the Court approved fiscal year 2022 and fiscal year 2023 budget revisions and amendments as presented by the county auditor’s office.

During informational reports, the Court received updated landfill and collection station rate sheets from Republic Services.

Items on the consent agenda include:

Approval of the minutes of the Oct. 25 regular meeting;

Approval of the schedules of bills;

Approval of an order designating surplus property;

Approval of enrollment in Texas Association of Counties cybersecurity training;

An update to the master street address guide; and

Approval of an order assigning space in county-owned buildings.

Rev. David Darden of New Beulah Baptist Church opened the meeting with prayer.

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Book tour coming to town

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By Emily Banks Wooten
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Laura K. Walker and Ellen Moseley May have a new book out – “Up Until Now: Inspired Stories from Real People on How to Embrace Your Fear, Move Forward and Transform Your Life.” They will be in Livingston this weekend to sign copies.   Courtesy photo“Up Until Now: Inspired Stories from Real People on How to Embrace Your Fear, Move Forward and Transform Your Life” is the newly published book by Laura K. Walker of Keller and Ellen Moseley May of Livingston and the Up Until Now book tour is coming to Livingston.

Laura and Ellen will be guests on the Drummer Don radio show from 10 a.m. to noon Friday on 102.3 The Eagle. Book signings are slated for 12:30-2 p.m. Saturday at Alma’s Whistlestop Cafe and from 4-6 p.m. Sunday at The Wet Deck Bar and Grill on Lake Livingston.

Forty real people from all around the world share their true stories of pain, heartache, grief and loss in the book, including their moments of overcoming and creating a renewed hope and reality after the storm settles. The stories of transformation run the gamut from job loss to navigating a messy divorce to surviving the death of a loved one to being financially devastated and more – all facing circumstances that seem overwhelming and insurmountable.

According to Amazon, “The resounding theme of overcoming is captured in these emotionally charged stories and this book serves as a collective voice to anyone who is struggling, stuck, scared, depressed or looking for something bigger while praying for

some glimmer of hope.”

The book launched last weekend in South Lake with a weekend celebration that included a book signing at Barnes and Noble with 33 of the 40 authors present. Other festivities included an author champagne bash, afternoon luncheon and celebration party at Billy Bobs in the Fort Worth Stockyards. It has already hit Amazon #1 Best Seller status in seven categories in both digital and in paperback.

A life mastery consultant certified by the Brave Thinking Institute, Laura is a transformational coach and the owner of Laura Walker Coaching. A gymnastics coach and artist, Ellen is the owner of Moseley Gymnastics.

 

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