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Polk County News - Breakout

County to terminate landfill gas contract

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The Polk County Commissioners Court will consider approval to send notice of termination to Santek Environmental Services of Texas LLC for the collection, management and marketing of landfill gas during its regular meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

The Court will consider 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 will review and consider personnel action form requests submitted since the last meeting, review any authorized emergency hirings and consider approval of an update to the personnel management system.

Informational reports will be presented on strategic planning, a Red Cross proclamation for March 2023 and the annual spring clean up in Onalaska on April 15.

Items on the consent agenda include:

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

•Approve schedules of bills;

Approve order designating surplus property;

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

•Issue 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;

•Approve 2023 renewal of Affordable Care Act Reporting and Tracking Service with Texas Association of Counties;

•Approve application for renewal of property insurance coverage through Texas Association of Counties Risk Management Pool;

•Approve 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;

•Accept total loss offer for 2017 Chevrolet Equinox and remove from county inventory as of Jan. 27, 2023;

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

•Approve request from Sitton for asset forfeiture expenditure in the amount of $27,959.80 for the purchase of a 2022 Ford Escape from Moore Auto Sales LLC;

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

•Authorize 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;

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

•Approve resolution appointing directors to the Board of Directors of the IAH Public Facility Corporation;

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

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

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The Polk County Retired Teachers Association recently met and the theme of the meeting was craft fun and hobby showcase. Carol McIntyre led the group in a craft, making flowers from crepe paper and lollipops. Then members of the group showed examples of crafts that keep them busy during retirement. The talents included sewing, crocheting, recycling greeting cards into gift boxes, making keepsake pillows from family quilts and basket weaving. PCRTA has many talented members, several of whom are also frequent travelers. One member shared her experience of attending the 2012 Olympic games in London. (l-r) Carol McIntyre, Mona Sheets, Brenda Peebles, Charlotte Hartley, Mary Gilbert Hunt, Bonnie Breaux, Etta Smith and Virginia Turner. Courtesy photo

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Best Buddies

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The Livingston Best Buddies participated in last week’s Lady Lion softball game. (Left) Catcher Baylee Yantes walks her new buddy out onto the field. Courtesy photoThe Livingston Best Buddies participated in last week’s Lady Lion softball game. (Left) Catcher Baylee Yantes walks her new buddy out onto the field. Courtesy photo

Livingston softball teams up with special-needs students in high school program

The Livingston High School Best Buddies threw out the first pitch of the Livingston High School softball game and stood with Lady Lion players for the national anthem at last week’s contest versus Huntington. A video of the event has since gone viral, with over 200,000 views.

Best Buddies is the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The programs are designed to empower the special abilities of people with IDD by helping them form meaningful friendships with their peers, secure successful jobs, live independently, improve public speaking, self-advocacy and communication skills, and feel valued by society.

Livingston High School has a Best Buddies chapter, which was created in the fall of 2021. They host parties and events for members throughout the year, including a Meet and Greet, Homecoming Dance, Valentine’s party, Christmas party, and the Buddies will go to lunch together in the cafeteria. Most activities are held during the school day.

“Coach (Heather) Mosser and her varsity softball team stopped by my classroom to invite my students to their game. My students were beyond excited,” Livingston High life skills instructor Veronica Casanova-Foster said. “That night was amazing. Everyone was so happy. I do admit I was teary eyed as my students took to the field. Mrs. (Jennifer) Birdwell and Mrs. (Amy) Cherry did an amazing job of capturing the players and their Buddies. Amy Cherry put the video together and the rest is history. 

“Our primary goal when we posted the video was to build community awareness. We wanted community leaders and local business owners to get to know our Buddies and organization. I sent emails to both Mrs. Birdwell and Mrs. Cherry on Friday about the number of views, shares, and likes our video had generated. At that time, we had over 50,000 views. Today, we have over 200,000 views. The comments have all been so wonderful and heartfelt. People from across the country have commented on how wonderful the students from LHS are. This experience has definitely shone a bright light on our students, our school district and community.”

Casanova-Foster said the district at which she previously worked had an organization called Peer Assistance Leadership (PALs), where students were matched with a pal from Life Skills for the year.

“Lifelong friendships were built,” Casanova-Foster said. “So, when Amy Cherry, our district occupational therapist, approached me about starting up Best Buddies at our campus, I did not have to give it a second thought. Seeing my students build friendships with their general education peers has had such a positive effect on all of our students. We had our first match party last year in September 2021. We were not sure what the turnout would be or if we would have enough students to sustain membership. Our students did not disappoint. We had a great turnout with a membership of 25 students. One of our match party pictures was even featured in the Texas Best Buddies National Chapter newsletter. This year, we have over 70 members. The positive impact this organization has had on our students has been amazing. We cannot wait to see what is in store for our students and organization in the coming years.”

The popular Facebook video can be found at https://www.facebook.com/lisdlhs/videos/1852403528464572.


LHS Best Buddies is hosting a Color Fun-Run Saturday, April 1 from 9-11 a.m. in the Livingston High School parking lot. The event is open for all and there is a desire for the entire community to attend and celebrate.


The cost is $5 to participate and there will be commemorative T-shirts for purchase at $10 each. Registration for the event has begun and will last until March 31. T-shirts can be ordered until March 24 and will be obtained at the event. The registration can be found at The Bull Shack, located at 201 Southpoint Lane in Livingston. 


Plans are for the proceeds to cover scholarships to seniors. A couple of other items include purchasing Best Buddies graduation cords, having an end of the year celebration, and recognizing the softball team. Coach Heather Mosser and her coaching staff. They would also like to give some of the proceeds raised to the Buddy Walk, as Best Buddies International funds integrated employment and inclusive living for individuals with IDD.

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Historic marker dedication is Saturday

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From Enterprise Staff

The Polk County Historical Commission is inviting everyone to attend the dedication of the replacement Texas Historical Marker for the Old Andress Inn, Livingston’s first hotel, at 2 p.m. Saturday in front of the Polk County Judicial Center located at 101 W. Mill St. in downtown Livingston. Following the dedication, light refreshments will be served at Miss Effie’s Cottage at 201 W. Mill St.

A Texas Historical Marker was installed and dedicated in 1968. It was located in the 100 block of West Mill Street in front of the old Pedigo furniture store. When these buildings were demolished for the construction of the Polk County Judicial Center, the original marker was lost. The new replacement marker will be dedicated in a ceremony hosted by the Polk County Historical Commission.

Built around 1846 or 1847, the Old Andress Inn was owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. James Andress. Later, their daughter, Harriet Caroline Keys, owned and ran it. The hotel was said to be the social and business center of the community for many years.

Below is the Story of the Andress Inn, later the Keys Hotel, as told by Mrs. W.T. Epperson in the mid-1930s:

“It was the year of 1860 when I was a child of four years, I arrived at the Andress Inn by way of stagecoach. The Inn, situated on the south side of the present courthouse of Polk County, was the only hostelry in town.

“It consisted of two large rooms and a hall downstairs, two rooms upstairs, and a kitchen out in the back yard. Here the meals were prepared on a huge fireplace. The large dinner bell that could be heard all over town is now owned by the Masonic Lodge of Livingston.

“The bedsteads for the guests were hand-carved and laced together with ropes that served as springs. Sills of the Inn were hand-hewed logs about 12 by 12. As the county prospered, a new courthouse was built and the old courthouse of one large room was purchased by Mr. Andress. This, he attached to the Inn and used it as a dining room.

“In this room square dances were enjoyed and among the noted guests that attended these balls was Gen. Sam Houston. The passing of Mr. and Mrs. Jim Andress left the Inn to their only heir and daughter, Mrs. H.C. Keys, who as proprietress, added several rooms and discarded the kitchen in the yard for a modern attached kitchen with a cook stove.

“The name of the house was then known as the Keys Hotel. In later years, Mrs. Epperson, daughter-in-law of Mrs. Keys, took charge of the hotel and remained its proprietress until 1907. At this time the building was razed and property sold later for building purposes.”

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AAUW hears about mental health

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George Wood with the Lake Livingston Area Mental Health Initiative recently presented a program to the Polk County Chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) during its February meeting which was held in the home of Jo Mink. Wood is a master mental health coach, team leader and addiction and recovery specialist. (l-r) AAUW President Virginia Key, Wood and Mink. Courtesy photoGeorge Wood with the Lake Livingston Area Mental Health Initiative recently presented a program to the Polk County Chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) during its February meeting which was held in the home of Jo Mink. Wood is a master mental health coach, team leader and addiction and recovery specialist. (l-r) AAUW President Virginia Key, Wood and Mink. Courtesy photo

By Emily Banks Wooten
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George Wood with the Lake Livingston Area Mental Health Initiative recently presented a program to the Polk County Chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Wood is a master mental health coach, team leader and addiction and recovery specialist.

Wood explained that a mental health disorder or mental illness is a diagnosable illness that affects a person’s thinking, emotional state and behavior and disrupts the person’s ability to work or carry out other daily activities and engage in satisfying personal relationships.

However, a mental health problem is a broader term that includes both mental disorders and symptoms of mental disorders that may not be severe enough to warrant the diagnosis of a mental disorder, he said.

Wood reviewed some of the opportunities offered locally by the Lake Livingston Area Mental Health Initiative.

There is a Live Strong Support Group that meets at 6 p.m. weekly, every Tuesday at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church at 836 W. Jones in Livingston. He said it is a free, open group for anyone needing help with mental distress or illness. The team is led by experienced mental health professionals and welcomes adults of any age or faith, or no faith. He said the group is for mutual support, not therapy or counseling. For additional information, call 936-327-8467 or just show up at the meeting.

There is a Minds Transformed Support Group that meets at 6 p.m. weekly, every Thursday at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church at 836 W. Jones in Livingston. Another free, open group, it is here to help individuals living with mental difficulties, hold one another up and give each person practical skills and tools to regain more control of their lives and rebuild their families. While prayer and Bible readings are used as part of each session, participants don’t need to be any particular denomination, or go to church, or even believe in God to get a benefit from the program, Wood said.

“Everyone is on their own spiritual journey – there is no judgment here. We believe that recovery is possible and we will focus on the positive,” he said. Call 936-327-8467 for more information or just show up at the meeting.

Finally, there is the Families Transformed Support Group, a 16-week faith-based support group for families of those living with a mental health difficulty that provides practical tools and skills within a supportive community. This group alternates with Minds Transformed at 6 p.m. every Thursday.

Additionally, an Adult Mental Health First Aid Class will be offered at no cost from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 22 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church at 836 W. Jones in Livingston. Lunch will be provided. Call 936-327-8467 to register.

Wood reported that 21% of adults – the equivalent to over 50 million Americans – are experiencing a mental illness and that 55% of adults with a mental illness (over 28 million individuals) receive no treatment. He reported that 60% of youth with major depression do not receive mental health treatment. In the U.S. there are 350 individuals for every one mental health provider, he said.

Using data from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Wood illustrated the ripple effect of mental illness on the individual, their family, the community and the world. He said people with mental illness have an increased risk for chronic disease like diabetes or cancer, 18% of U.S. adults with mental illness also have a substance use disorder and that the rates of cardiometabolic disease are twice as high in adults with serious mental illness.

The data shows that at least 8.4 million Americans provide care to an adult with an emotional or mental illness and that caregivers spend an average of 32 hours per week providing unpaid care.

Community-wise, the NAMI data reflects 21% of people experiencing homelessness also have a serious mental illness, 37% of people incarcerated in state and federal prison have a diagnosed mental condition, 70% of youth in the juvenile justice system have at least one mental health condition and that one in eight of all visits to U.S. emergency rooms are related to mental and substance use disorders.

Wood said that depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide and that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion each year in lost productivity.

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