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Polk County News - Breakout

LISD board discusses dual credit program, water leaks

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Livingston ISD LogoBy Brian Besch
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The Livingston School Board heard a presentation on a new dual credit program and update on a plumbing issue at an elementary campus in Monday’s regular meeting for March.

Monday became a vacation day for Cedar Grove Elementary students, as a plumbing issue led to difficulties opening for classes. Livingston Superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins expressed his appreciation to Brian Crossin and his team for their quick response in helping resolve the problem.

“The SSC Maintenance and Custodial, as well as campus staff, were phenomenal in mitigating the situation. We also appreciate Mr. (Nicholas) Glaeser for discovering and responding so quickly, or the water damage would have been much worse.” During spring break, new refill water stations were installed on the Cedar Grove campus. A capped waterline had malfunctioned, which led to a water leak. The campus was closed for students on Monday for cleanup and reopened Tuesday. 

LISD Chief Curriculum Officer Lisa Cagle presented a “Pathways in Technology” and grant update to the board.

“Pathways in Technology, referred to as P-Tech, is an open enrollment program in high school allowing students to earn a certificate or associate degree,” Cagle said. “The difference between traditional career and tech courses is the partnership with local industry, ensuring our students are exposed to work-based learning all through their high school years. Local businesses have agreed to serve on the advisory board and give feedback on their needs for future employment. 

“The program begins with ninth graders and will offer work-based learning with the goal of getting students a step ahead of traditional Career & Technical Education. Counselors will begin conferences with students and parents on their future high school plans. Lamar State College-Orange and Port Arthur, and Lamar Institute of Technology, will be partnering with Livingston High School in addition to Angelina College and Stephen F. Austin State University to provide credentials. Our teachers will be credentialed to be dual credit CTE providers through Lamar, and Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills will continue to be taught in our classes, with an emphasis on certain criteria as noted by Lamar’s syllabus.

“Because of the way the program is designed and accredited, ninth grade students will be the first to enter the program.” Cagle added. “The Texas Education Agency released the second blueprint of CTE P-TECH since 2019, so we do expect more future changes. We want to meet the outcome expectations of TEA, while also meeting the needs of our students. This particular grant for P-TECH is $400,000.” 

Hawkins shared that the grant is mostly used for planning and capital investments.

“It will help cover our start-up expenses, and then the operational costs will be included in our budget,” he said. “We will continue to apply for grants through Workforce. We are doing a good job with budgeting and pushing the money out to the CTE programs, while meeting the needs of our students. We have a relationship with Stephen F. Austin, and we have a relationship with Angelina College, we are excited about our future relationship with Lamar College.

“This will allow us to shift our faculty to adjunct professors through the CTE realm. We have future plans for a grow-your-own program to earn a master’s degree in academics. Lamar needs our students in their program, and we need their syllabus and accreditation. This plan will dramatically increase our students’ attending college. We are getting college for our students without having to pay for it, we only have to get our faculty accredited. This is huge for our kids and our community. When we talk about vision, this whole piece is transformational for what we are trying to do and offering next-level opportunities for our students by allowing them to be a step ahead.”  

The board approved the superintendent’s hiring authority during the spring and summer as an action item.


“We have to wait and see the outcome of the legislative session before altering the employee salary schedule,” Hawkins said. “One thing we can do is give a retention stipend to our staff members that are with us now upon their return in August. We know that compensation is important to our faculty and staff, and we do the best we can. When we find out what the legislature does, we will know how much of a salary increase we will recommend for the next school year.” 

The board approved a 4% retention stipend for returning LISD staff as an action item.


Also approved was the consent agenda, which included minutes from previous board meetings, the financial statement, the quarterly investment report, and the payment of bills. Continuing under the consent agenda was the renewal of the student athletic insurance, a memorandum of understanding with Lamar College, and the purchase of four commercial ovens in the amount of $102,559. The ovens will be used at the Pine Ridge Primary, Timber Creek, and Cedar Grove Elementary campuses.

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Local detention facility, workers begin initiative

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Resident workers at the IAH Secure Adult Detention Facility are shown preparing recyclable material for delivery to the Polk County Recycling Center at 10311 N. Hwy 146 in Livingston at the intersection of Hwy. 146 and FM 2665. Caps from the plastic bottles are bagged separately and collected by themselves. Courtesy photoResident workers at the IAH Secure Adult Detention Facility are shown preparing recyclable material for delivery to the Polk County Recycling Center at 10311 N. Hwy 146 in Livingston at the intersection of Hwy. 146 and FM 2665. Caps from the plastic bottles are bagged separately and collected by themselves. Courtesy photo

From Enterprise Staff

IAH Secure Adult Detention Facility began a recycling program in January of this year and on March 3 delivered its first load of recyclable material – a total of 333 pounds – to the Polk County Recycling Center.

To prepare for the recycling program, resident workers labeled each collection barrel with the international recycling logo. To keep in line with recycling, the depositories for recyclables are recycled soap barrels used in the facility’s laundry. The depositories are placed on each hallway so all staff can use them, as well as any passing resident.

The facility staff contacted the Polk County Recycling Center to ascertain the proper procedures to follow in collecting and delivering recyclables. They initially considered plastics, cans and cardboard. However, after consulting with the recycling center, it became apparent that cardboard would be a nonstarter at this time. The recycling center does not have the room nor the ability to hold bales of cardboard awaiting pick up from the cardboard recycler.

Facility staff, as a team, decided they would start with plastics and cans from the kitchen. Number 10 cans, a by-product of food service, are in ample quantities to collect. Plastic water and soda bottles are quite plentiful as well. Detainee workers were assigned to assist in the cleaning and sorting of the recyclables in both the kitchen and housing units. Once cleaned and packaged, the recyclables were collected and loaded on the facility truck for delivery to the recycling center. Caps from the plastic bottles are bagged separately and collected by themselves.

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Second annual Earth Day event planned

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By Emily Banks Wooten
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Polk County Recycling & Beautification (PCRB) will host its 2nd annual Earth Day Event and Fundraiser from 2-5 p.m. April 22 at Tempe Creek Vineyard and Farms located at 307 Dickens Ranch Rd. in Livingston.

The event will include live music by CC & the Road Dawgs, food, wine, raffles, a silent auction, door prizes and more. Tickets are $30 apiece and are currently available at the Polk County Recycle Center located at 10311 N. Hwy 146 in Livingston at the intersection of Hwy. 146 and FM 2665. Tables are $500 but there are only a few tables left. For additional information, call or text 936-337-3315.

The Polk County Recycle Center has been open for approximately 17 months and during that time has diverted over 125,000 pounds of materials from the Polk County Landfill.

PCRB is a nonprofit organization that has partnered with Polk County to provide a reliable recycling service for the residents of East Texas, sustained by grants, donations, and the sale of recyclable materials. The center can accept #1-#7 plastics, flattened cardboard and aluminum and steel “tin” cans.

Materials should be relatively clean which will make them more valuable to buyers, helping PCRB to support the program for years to come. Materials should also be presorted as much as possible.

Beginning March 28, the Polk County Recycle Center will have new hours. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays and until 4:30 p.m. by appointment.

A second location is available at 416 Onalaska Loop in Onalaska. It is open Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To learn more about PCRB and the recycle center, or to become a volunteer or make a donation, visit the website at pcrbtexas.org.

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City hears annual financial report

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City of Livingston logoFrom Enterprise Staff

The annual comprehensive financial report for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2022 was presented by Steve Palmerton and Kevin Bienvenu of Harper and Pearson Company P.C. during the March 14 regular meeting of the Livingston City Council.

Council approved a notice of termination of contract from Republic Services for the collection and disposal of solid waste and authorized city officials to advertise for proposals for the collection and disposal of solid waste. The city had had a contract since 2003 with Santek, which was later purchased by Republic Services, and felt that after 20 years, they needed to see what other options are available.

Council approved the appointment of Heather Weber as election judge for the May 6 general election.

The CenterPoint Energy acknowledgment of filing and review of 2023 Annual Gas Reliability Infrastructure Program interim rate adjustment to be effective May 1, 2023 was reviewed and discussed.

Council discussed and approved awarding both an administrative services contract and an engineering services contract for the preparation of the city’s  2023-2024 Texas Community Development Block Grant Program application and subsequent contracts if funded. The administrative services contract was awarded to Langford out of Liberty Hill and the engineering services contract was awarded to Brannon Corporation out of Tyler.

Council approved calling a show cause hearing regarding property located at 106 N. East Ave. owned by Joseph McCandless and Manda Kay McCandless. Additionally, Council called a public hearing on the determination of unsafe and/or dilapidated buildings at the same address and set it for April 11.

During his monthly update on projects and events, City Manager Bill S. Wiggins reported on several upcoming events, including:

The Livingston Farmers & Artisan Market will be held at Anniversary Park on the first and third Saturday of each month.

The Trinity-Neches Livestock Show is slated for March 27-31 at Barney Wiggins Memorial Park.

The city’s Easter Eggstravaganza will be April 1 at Pedigo Park with Easter bunny pictures starting at 9:30 a.m. and the egg hunt starting at 11 a.m.

The Dunbar Alumni Association will host Sheriff Byron Lyons Day on April 22.

Wiggins also reported that the March sales tax report from the state comptroller for the month of January reflected $404,934.84, an increase of 16.77% over January 2022.

Other business included approval of the minutes of the Feb. 14 regular meeting and payment of accounts over $500.


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County terminates landfill gas contract

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Polk County LogoFrom Enterprise Staff

The Polk County Commissioners Court approved sending a notice of termination to Santek Environmental Services of Texas LLC for the collection, management and marketing of the county’s landfill gas during its March 14 regular meeting.

“Republic Services is the current operator of the Polk County Landfill and Citizen Collection Stations, having bought out Santek in 2021. Since taking over the contract, Republic has made some substantial improvements and overall, we’ve been satisfied with the transition,” County Judge Sydney Murphy said. “However, we have been contacted multiple times by other companies that collect and manage and market landfill gas. Landfill gas rights were added to the original agreement with Santek in an addendum in 2010 which gave Santek sole rights to the landfill gas.

“There are multiple things that happened with Santek,” Murphy continued. “The first thing was that they never notified the Court that they had sold their contract to Republic. They notified us after it had already happened and the contract very clearly specified that we were to get first option and that they had to notify us prior to selling the contract. So they did not do that, but since nobody was dissatisfied with the progress and the improvements that Republic had made, that did not get challenged. However, when Republic started reviewing the contract, Santek had kept the addendum. So, what we wish to do is cancel the addendum with Santek and clear that up so that the county can move forward with looking at what our options are for capturing the gas and selling it.

“This will do two things. It will help us clean up the environment out there and it will create revenue for the county,” Murphy said.

The Court approved a request for approval of a certificate of exemption to exempt from county subdivision regulations the development of Abstract 397 Maria Lindsey Survey (76.942 acres) located in Precinct 4 and consisting of seven tracts, all over 10 acres, with access to existing public road and no other common areas or streets.

In personnel matters, the Court reviewed and approved personnel action form requests submitted since the last meeting and reviewed two authorized emergency hirings, one in the district attorney’s office and one in the district clerk’s office. Also approved was an update to the personnel management system.

During the portion of the meeting reserved for informational reports, the Court presented a proclamation to representatives of the Polk County Branch of the American Red Cross and was apprised of the annual spring clean-up in Onalaska slated for April 15.

Additionally, Murphy apprised the Court that the Polk County Economic Development Corporation has agreed to participate in the county’s strategic planning and that a strategic planning guide has been formed, based on what has been found in other areas. She presented it to the commissioners for them to review and come back with suggestions of things to change, add or delete.

Items on the consent agenda included:

Approval of the minutes of the Feb. 28 regular meeting and emergency session;

Approval of the schedules of bills;

Approval of an order designating surplus property;

Approval of a proclamation designating April 2023 as Fair Housing Month in Polk County;

Issuance of a notice of intent to select county depository/ies for a four-year term (April 2023 to April 2027) with option to renew for an additional two-year term;

Approval of the 2023 renewal of Affordable Care Act Reporting and Tracking Service with Texas Association of Counties;

Approval of an application for the renewal of property insurance coverage through Texas Association of Counties Risk Management Pool;

Approval of an order accepting West Ridge Park and Stone Brook Drive in Four Corners Section 5 in Precinct 2 as county roads and add to master street address guide;

Acceptance of a total loss offer for 2017 Chevrolet Equinox and removal from county inventory as of Jan. 27, 2023;

Approval of a request from District Attorney Shelly Sitton for asset forfeiture expenditure not to exceed $2,400 for reimbursement of prosecutor moving expenses;

Ratification of approval of a non-terminal agreement between Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the district attorney’s office;

Authorization for Sitton to enter into non-terminal agreements with the Livingston, Corrigan, Onalaska and Alabama-Coushatta Police Departments, Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department;

Approval of Law Enforcement ISO Claimsearch Access memorandum of understanding between the district attorney’s office and the National Insurance Crime Bureau;

Approval of a resolution appointing directors to the Board of Directors of the IAH Public Facility Corporation;

Approval of a request from the Office of Emergency Management to submit a grant application to the General Land Office’s Local Hazard Mitigation Plans Program; and

Acceptance of an award of FEMA Public Assistance Grant 4485 funds in the amount of $175,714 for the reimbursement of COVID-related expenditures.

Rev. Joel McMahon of First Methodist Church of Livingston opened the meeting with prayer.


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