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Polk County News - Breakout

Major construction project to begin locally

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TxDOT Logo GraphicFrom Enterprise Staff

A pre-construction meeting was held in the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) Lufkin District regional conference room Sept. 20, signaling the start of a major construction project in Polk County.

Engineers, city representatives, consultants, utility, general contractors, environmental and safety professionals were in attendance to discuss the Corrigan Relief Route that will be constructed on the west side of Corrigan.

Barricades and signage will be set, and clearing work is scheduled to begin Sept. 22. Construction of the new roadway is set to begin late in the year. The $172.8 million construction project was designed and will be built to interstate standards and will include construction of new U.S. 59 northbound and southbound lanes with controlled access.

The 6.3-mile project will be from 3.4 miles north of U.S. 287 to 3 miles south of U.S. 287. Work will include the construction of overpasses at United Pacific Railroad, U.S. 287 and Union Springs Road. Entrance and exit ramps will be added at U.S. 59 tie-ins and at the U.S. 287 overpass and will include the construction of four main lanes for travel. James Construction Group LLC of Baton Rouge, La. will serve as contractor for the project that is scheduled to be completed in six years.

Planning for the Corrigan Relief Route (future I-69) began in the late 1990s when environmental studies began but were stopped due to budgetary constraints. Project development resumed in 2012 when I-69 in Polk County was considered a top priority by the I-69 Segment Two Committee. Schematics and right-of-way maps were studied and in 2014, an open house was held for the public to view the proposed path.

Further refinements to the plan were made and presented to the public in 2015, and in 2016 environmental studies and schematic reviews were performed. A public hearing was held in 2017 to gather public comments and the Texas Transportation Commission approved the revisions and funded the project.

“This has been a long-anticipated project in the Lufkin District and it will be the biggest project as far as funding we have seen so far,” TxDOT Public Information Officer Rhonda Oaks said. “We are anxious to see this project begin as are most East Texas residents and those who travel through Corrigan on U.S. 59.”

The Lufkin District will host a groundbreaking event to celebrate the project in early December. The Corrigan Relief Route will be built to promote public safety, improve emergency evacuations and support freight transport. As this work begins, motorists should be alert to moving equipment and workers near the work zone. Reduce speed and obey all traffic control.

For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (936) 633-4395.

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Agreement for construction manager on agenda for historic courthouse restoration

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Polk County LogoAn agreement with JC Stoddard as construction manager for phase one, selective demolition, and phase two, restoration and rehabilitation, of the historic restoration of the Polk County Courthouse will be considered for approval by the Polk County Commissioners Court during its regular meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

The Court will consider approval of agreements with Eastex Telephone Cooperative and Livcom for the construction of a fiber internet network, with the county’s portion to be paid with American Rescue Plan Act Funds.

Any necessary action regarding the water infrastructure projects to be funded by the American Rescue Plan Act and Hurricane Harvey regional mitigation grant will be discussed and considered.

The Court will consider offers to purchase tax foreclosed properties as follows: the R.W. Russell Survey, Abstract 68, T12-137, 1.50 acres and the A.J. Bradley Survey, Abstract 936, T13-185, .625 acres, both in Precinct 3.

The Court will also either consider approval, approval upon conditions met, or rejection of Stonebrook Estates subdivision in Precinct 2.

A resolution in support of Operation Green Light for Veterans will be considered for approval.

In personnel matters, the Court will review and consider personnel action form requests submitted since the last meeting and will review any authorized emergency hirings. Fiscal year 2022 budget revisions and amendments, as presented by the county auditor’s office will be considered for approval.

During informational reports, the Court will recognize the Polk County Historical Commission which recently received a distinguished service award. In related activity, the Court will present a proclamation recognizing J.D. Coogler for his contributions to the Polk County Historical Commission.

Items on the consent agenda include:

Approve minutes of the Sept. 13 meeting;

Approve schedules of bills;

Approve order designating surplus property;

Receive county auditor’s monthly report, pursuant to Local Government Code Sec. 114.025;

Approve order setting juror reimbursement for fiscal year 2023;

Approve order designating regular terms of commissioners;

Approve order setting terms of the constitutional county court;

Adopt resolution expressing intent to reimburse certain fiscal year 2023 expenditures (capital purchases) to be incurred by Polk County, Texas (reimbursement resolution);

Approve amendment to agreement with City Of Livingston for (LVFD) firefighting services;

Approve submission of grant budget adjustment requests to the office of the attorney general for sheriff and district attorney offices’ victim coordinator and liaison grants;

Approve resolution in support of fiscal year 2023 indigent defense formula grant application;

Accept grant funds awarded to the sheriff’s office from the Texas School Safety Center For Tobacco Enforcement Program;

Receive and record fiscal year 2021 Polk County Jail commissary and inmate trust fund financial review; and

Receive treasurer’s monthly report for August 2022.


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LISD receives financial, goal reports

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Livingston ISD LogoBy Brian Besch
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September’s meeting of the Livingston school board included a few reports — quarterly investment and House Bill 3 — Tuesday from Creekside Elementary.

Livingston ISD Chief Financial Officer Ben Davidson presented the quarterly investment report, the annual investment report, and the annual investment policy. 

The district’s beginning balance on May 31 was $37,811,347. The interest earned in June was $28,688, $49,944,83 in July, and in August was $61,167. The ending balance on Aug. 31 was $30,231,605.

The LISD Investment schedule reflected a Sept. 21 balance of $28,861,805. The amount of interest earned from Sept 1, 2021, to Aug. 31, 2022, was $233,840, resulting in the ending balance of $30,231,605. The board approved the quarterly investment and annual investment reports as presented.

Livingston ISD Superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins offered the report on House Bill 3 goals. 

“Our planning processes with the Lone Star Governance initiative requires us to set goals under House Bill 3 as part of the law,” the superintendent said. “This is the last piece of information that you will receive until December, when you receive my self-appraisal and the annual performance report of the district in January. The House Bill 3 goals are set through 2024. Our Covid and mitigation plans were written in a way to maximize student learning and go through 2026. Our district has received historic accountability ratings from TEA and A-plus ratings in Ben Davidson’s financial area. The last year has shown the phenomenal success of our students. The Class of 2019 was the most successful as a Texas UIL Lone Star Cup top 25 school, but the class of 2022 resulted in great success in many competitions, including UIL and other extracurriculars. We are fully staffed, which is important and crucial to maintaining the focus of accelerating student learning. We currently have a 70-student increase over last year, which reflects student growth. We always put much effort ensuring that we are educating the students of Livingston and not surrounding communities.  

“In our principal T-PESS appraisals (the Texas Principal Evaluation and Support System), one of the goals requires us to track our students and show one year of progress. This requires us to use data to monitor the progress of all students each day. The trajectory we were on at the completion of our curriculum audit in 2015 showed a projection of 20 years that reflected that we would never close the learning gap in sub-populations of students. We have found that the gap is closing, which means the work that we are doing is paying off, and we will close the gap by 2026.” 

Under the consent agenda, the board approved the purchase of a Chevrolet truck from Livingston’s Premier Autoplex in the amount of $69,505.

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Onalaska council sets tax rate

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check markFrom Enterprise Staff

The Onalaska City Council approved an ordinance setting a tax rate of 0.2426 during its Sept. 13 regular meeting.

Council approved an ordinance authorizing and allowing – under the act governing the Texas Municipal Retirement System – “updated service credits” on an annual basis for service performed by qualifying members of the system who at the effective date of the allowance are members of the City of Onalaska; providing for a change in the municipal contributions to the current service annuity reserve at retirement; and increasing the rate of deposits to the Texas municipal retirement system by the employees of the City of Onalaska; and establishing an effective date.

Ordinances regarding manufactured homes and recreational vehicles were also approved.

A resolution authorizing an additional penalty to enforce the collection of delinquent ad valorem taxes as per Section 6.30 of the Texas Property Tax Code was approved.

Numerous other resolutions were also approved by Council. These related to: school resource officer memorandum of understanding; public funds investment policy; citizen participation plan; federal procurement policy; city financial goals and procurement policy; agreement for services from Langford Community Management Services; fair housing policy; proclaiming April fair housing month; authorizing application for Community Development Block Grant-mitigation allocation; and authorization for the mayor to sign the First National Bank night depository agreement.

Council reviewed and approved a request/petition for annexation by Wagner Farms LLC.

In personnel matters, Council accepted the resignation of Officer Heather Thomas in good standing and approved for her to continue service as a reserve police officer.

Reports were presented on behalf of the police department, fire department, fire marshal/building inspector, library representative and city administrator.

Other business included approval of the minutes, vouchers and financial reports.

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AAUW views student’s winning documentary

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Livingston High School Senior Maci Hill won first place among 600,000 entries in the National History Day Competition with her documentary “Communist in the Cornfield: Roswell Garst’s Citizen Diplomacy.” Hill recently presented her documentary to the Polk County Chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). (l-r) AAUW Member Jane Holcomb, Hill and AAUW Co-President Virginia Key. Photo by Emily Banks WootenLivingston High School Senior Maci Hill won first place among 600,000 entries in the National History Day Competition with her documentary “Communist in the Cornfield: Roswell Garst’s Citizen Diplomacy.” Hill recently presented her documentary to the Polk County Chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). (l-r) AAUW Member Jane Holcomb, Hill and AAUW Co-President Virginia Key. Photo by Emily Banks Wooten

By Emily Banks Wooten
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Maci Hill, a Livingston High School senior and first place winner among 600,000 entries in the National History Day (NHD) Competition, presented her winning documentary, “Communist in the Cornfield: Roswell Garst’s Citizen Diplomacy,” to the Polk County Chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Monday. Hill’s program kicked off the first meeting of the 2022-2023 year for Polk County AAUW which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

“Debate and Diplomacy” was the theme of last year’s National History Day Competition and Hill’s winning documentary explores the historic 1959 trip that Soviet Leader Nikita Khrushchev made to the Iowa farm of Roswell Garst. The purpose of the trip was for Khrushchev to learn how the Soviet Union could produce food to feed its citizens. Garst thought hungry people were dangerous people so the U.S. granted an export license to Garst. The historic trip in September of 1959 was considered to be the first major hole punched in the Iron Curtain.

Hill’s work resulted in her receiving a Next Generation Angels Award which is an annual prize sponsored by The Better Angels Society in coordination with NHD. The award is presented to six middle and high school documentary filmmakers to recognize excellence in well-researched history filmmaking in the model of Ken Burns. Each year, The Better Angels Society celebrates the six student winners with a series of events that will enhance their knowledge and skills, including a mentorship session with Ken Burns and the Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film Finalists. Additionally, all Next Generation Angels Award films receive a copyright and will exist in perpetuity in the Library of Congress.

This was Hill’s sixth entry into the NHD competition. She reached the national competition in five of those. Hill is the daughter of Chad and Mary Hill of Livingston.

Following Hill’s program, Co-President Virginia Key presided over the business meeting which centered on plans for the chapter’s ninth annual scholarship bridge luncheon and silent auction which is slated for Nov. 10.

AAUW is an international organization founded to improve the lives of millions of women and their families. The mission of the Polk County Chapter is to advance equality of women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research.

Anyone interested in joining the chapter, learning more about the organization or becoming part of the organization’s projects and programs is encouraged to attend. For additional information, call 713-376-2743.

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