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Rotary hears about Polk County Cares

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Toni Cochran HughesToni Cochran Hughes

By Emily Banks Wooten
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Polk County Cares recently held its 10th annual Crawfish/Shrimp Boil, selling out several days before the event. Fifty-eight reserved tables were sold in addition to numerous individual tickets. To date, $129,664 has been raised and will be divided three ways – between Polk County Cares, F.A.I.T.H. Military Support Group and Center of Hope-Cancer Support.

Toni Cochran-Hughes, one of the founders of the nonprofit Polk County Cares, recently spoke to the Rotary Club of Livingston, telling them about the organization.

“I was born and raised here and Polk County is very important to me. I was raised to give back to the community that has done so much for us. In 2012 my best friend, Lisa Mayhugh, was diagnosed with breast cancer. My husband Scott and I decided to form a team for the local Relay for Life, which was a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society. We raised a few thousand dollars that first year. In 2014 I told Scott we should have a crawfish boil fundraiser. Had either of us had a crawfish boil before? No, but I told Scott we’ve been to enough we will figure it out. We continued with our crawfish boil and auction for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life being the top fundraising team in Polk County and one of the top teams in our region for 6 years,” Cochran-Hughes said.

“In 2018, Scott and I were visiting with Bea and Dan Ellis about F.A.I.T.H. Military Support Group and their expenses. Scott and I went home and talked about how we could help. We invited F.A.I.T.H. to join our crawfish boil, splitting the money between the American Cancer Society and F.A.I.T.H.,” she said.

“In 2019, Scott and I wanted to continue to help in the fight against cancer, but we wanted to help local cancer patients. I spoke with Jeanie Binns and discovered that Center of Hope was in the planning stages of forming an organization to help Polk County cancer patients with travel expenses. Scott and I prayed about it and asked Center of Hope-Cancer Support to join us,” she said.

“In 2020, we were lucky enough to be one of the last events before the COVID shutdown. During the shutdown, Scott and I started talking about how we could help more people is our area. We formed Polk County Cares, a 501(c)3 organization that partners with the community to support local charities. Our purpose is to raise funds to be distributed to qualifying non-profit organizations in Polk County. I have a few application packets if anyone is interested,” Cochran-Hughes said.

“In 2021 with COVID still out there, we decided to have our crawfish boil as a drive-thru event and have some raffle items and it was very successful. Last year Polk County Cares donated over $60,000 to Center of Hope-Cancer Support and F.A.I.T.H. In July, Polk County Cares held its first fish fry, serving Hughes Catfish Inn famous catfish. We raised over $6,000.

“We have come a long way in the last 10 years. The first year we boiled 450 pounds of crawfish for about 150 people. This year we will boil over 1,500 pounds of crawfish and 475 pounds of shrimp for over 500 people. Over the last 11 years we have raised over $550,000,” she said.

Cochran-Hughes closed by thanking the 2023 crawfish fundraiser sponsors, as well as the Polk County Cares Board of Directors which includes Yana Ogletree, Becca Dillon, Russ Johnson, Scott Hughes, Sandi Karns, Stephen Moye and Scott Smith.

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White Cane Day is Friday

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From Enterprise Staff

The Livingston Lions Club will host its annual White Cane Day fundraiser Friday with representatives at First National Bank’s downtown location, First National Bank’s westside location and First State Bank’s downtown location.

In 1925, Helen Keller challenged the Lions to become “knights for the blind.” Lions began fundraising efforts to provide white canes for the blind. White Cane Day is a day set aside when Lions Clubs raise money for various eye conservation and sight restoration projects. Individuals making donations receive a symbolic white cane.

The motto of Lions Clubs International is “We Serve.” Lions are civic-minded men and women who are dedicated to improving quality of life for the handicapped, the poor, the sick, and the aged. Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service organization.

Through events such as White Cane Day, Lions Clubs provide funding and manpower to promote the eye and corneal tissue donor education campaign for the Lions Eye Bank of Texas at Baylor College of Medicine. For more information about the Lions Eye Bank of Texas contact your local club.

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2 26 bingo supper

A Fat Tuesday bingo supper featuring authentic Cajun gumbo and king cake was the perfect combination for a successful second annual scholarship fundraiser hosted by the Onalaska First United Methodist Church. A $25 ticket entitled the holder to supper, two bingo cards and numerous chances to win prizes. About $5,000 was raised through the event and all proceeds will go toward scholarships for seniors graduating from Onalaska Junior/Senior High School. The fundraiser was the brainchild of Mary Helen Wolf, a member of Onalaska FUMC. Wolf’s mother, Nita Barker Regan, funded scholarships for graduating seniors in her community for many years and derived great joy from it. Wolf decided to do it in her community of Onalaska and name it after her mother. Roger Malaison, a church member originally from Louisiana, made the gumbo. The church fellowship hall was decorated in a Mardi Gras theme. With the funds raised, Wolf said they will be able to give either four or five $1,000 Nita Barker Regan Scholarships to Onalaska students this spring. Courtesy photo

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Natural resources field tours available

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NaturalResources Stock

From Enterprise Staff

Are you a landowner in Polk County? Do you enjoy bird watching in East Texas? Do you enjoy hunting deer? Are you interested in learning how to professionally manage land in East Texas? Do you want to learn how to improve wildlife habitat on your property?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, make sure to attend the 2023 East Texas Natural Resources Field Tours, free tours of professionally managed sites across east Texas.

Guided tours by professionals will allow participants a chance to gain in field knowledge of managing habitats, wildlife, and fisheries resources of East Texas. All tours will depart from the AgriLife Extension office located at 602 E. Church St. in Livingston at 8 a.m., but transportation and lunch will not be provided. RSVP is required. For more information and to RSVP call the Polk County AgriLife Extension office at 936-327-6828.

The first tour is Friday and it is the East Texas Plant Material Center, Winston 8 Ranch, SFA Experimental Forest.

The next tour is May 5 and is deer management in the field with TPWD wildlife biologist and recovery of bobwhite quail in Polk County.

The next tour is July 7 and is fisheries management in Lake Livingston and waterfowl management.

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LHS students had Thursday off

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Livingston ISD LogoFrom Enterprise Staff

Livingston ISD students were already scheduled to have Friday off with it being a bad weather makeup day that was not used. However, students attending Livingston High School got an even earlier jump on their weekend when district officials made the decision late Wednesday to cancel classes at the high school Thursday. The air conditioning system at the high school campus was not working properly due to control issues with the HVAC system.

“The problem was only control issues with the system and not a mechanical problem. The temperature inside the building became uncomfortable by Wednesday afternoon, so we made the decision to cancel classes on Thursday,” Livingston ISD Superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins said.

“The issue has been resolved, so we look forward to students returning on Monday morning,” Hawkins said, adding that the control issues did not affect any other campus.

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