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Polk County News - Breakout

Resolutions, ordinances approved

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061922 onalaska city councilThe Onlaska City Council approved ordiance #425 which will prohibit shipping/storage containers as residential dwelling.

The Onalaska City Council reviewed and approved several resolutions and ordinances during its regular meeting June 14.

The resolutions approved include: a resolution to apply for a 2022 TxCDBG-FAST grant through the Texas Department of Agriculture; an interlocal agreement with the SPCA; an addendum to the agreement with Local Government Solutions for municipal court software obtaining required licensing; the establishment of homestead property, over 65 and/or disabled exemption rates within the city; an agreement with Innovative Solutions to contract for IT services; and an amendment to the city’s personnel policy.

The ordinances approved include: 423, which will establish maximum speeds for motor vehicles on Hodge Bottom Road as designated; 424, which will require all manufactured homes be installed on concrete runners at a minimum with specifications and permit requirements; 425, which will prohibit shipping/storage containers as residential dwellings; and 426, which will amend the fee schedule.

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

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

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HCA Houston AIRLife holds grand opening

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061922 HICA houston airflightThe Bell 47 helicopter is a single-engine aircraft. Photo by Brian Besch

By Brian Besch
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HCA Houston AIRLife celebrated the grand opening of their new base in Livingston Friday with an open house. The site is the Allegiance Mobile Health facility located at 201 East 4th Street.

On display for visitors was a Bell 47 helicopter, which is a single-engine aircraft.

“She is our smallest and fastest of our fleet,” said Jennifer Castillo, a flight nurse with Houston AIRLife. “She was originally based out of Conroe, but about 80% of our calls were coming out of Polk and Tyler County. We found a need and wanted to go ahead and fill it and provide this community with care in the air.”

The Bell 47 is staffed with a pilot, nurse and paramedic at all times, picking up anyone from infants to those aged over 100.

“We can take care of anything in the air – heart attack, strokes or if anybody needs blood products in the air,” Castillo said. “What we found is while coming out here, we're able to the decrease the time to our patients, which ultimately means we get to our patients faster and can save a lot more lives. That's what it is all about for us, just taking care of those people that need it most. We are really happy to be here in the community. We are also able to extend the branch all the way to Tyler County, because they really don't have anything up there either. That's cut down our ETAs there as well, so it has been really great so far.”

If patients are able to request a hospital, they can, but Castillo said many in the community have requested St. Elizabeth's in Beaumont. However, if patients are not able to request, they are taken to the most appropriate facility. Many burns are lifted to Galveston and Memorial Hermann in downtown Houston. The two closest HCA facilities are located in Conroe and Kingwood for trauma, neuro and cardiac. Anything that they cannot handle is taken to downtown Houston, which is around 15 to 16 minutes longer. For a critical patient, the quicker trip can mean life or death.

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City approves meter project

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061922 water meter project

And implementation of automatic metering infrastructure

By Emily Banks Wooten
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Livingston City Manager Bill S. Wiggins told the Livingston City Council during its June 14 regular meeting that he set three goals when he took the city manager position four years ago – get the water tanks completed; improve the water, sewer and electric infrastructure of the city for future growth; and work on the city streets. He said the city was still hand-writing employee paychecks twice a month and he converted it to direct deposit. He also said the city has made technology strides over the last four years with online bill pay and that now he is looking into online meter reading.

Council approved a water and electric meter replacement project and the implementation of automatic metering infrastructure following a presentation by Chad L. Nobles with Ameresco – a green, clean, sustainable independent energy services company.

“It’s been a pleasure working with your staff. It’s nice to work with a staff that’s cohesive. They’ve done a good job with the tools and resources you’ve provided them,” Nobles said, adding, “We started this process October or November of last year.

“This project will touch every single resident, but with little disruption,” Nobles said. “We’ve developed a product, done field studies and put a package together, but we’re required to have a third-party review. This will achieve savings and projections and will guarantee accuracy, 98.5%, of these water meters for the life of the system.”

Nobles said a fulltime project manager will be onsite to conduct random sample tests. He reviewed some of the common field challenges, such as meter access, tight conditions, mismatched equipment, meter boxes aboveground and lids in driveways. He added that there are various kinds of electric meters and that it’s very time-consuming reading them.

“This will be a huge benefit to your citizens and your staff,” Nobles said. The meters will be read online each month and city staff will have the ability to conduct remote disconnects.

Additionally, local citizens will have the ability to set up a password-protected portal that will provide transparent access to consumption information, leak detection, high usage alerts, historical patterns and bill predictions on their computers or mobile devices, Nobles said.

The turnkey project will cost approximately $5 million and will be a 10-12-month implementation process. Commercial accounts will get scheduled individually but residential accounts will be done via pre-announced routes. The project comes with a 17-year guarantee, but Nobles said the company returns in the third year to test everything.

Council ratified participation in the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) Regional Mitigation Program to acknowledge and accept potential funding allocated by the Texas General Land Office in the amount of $2,541,000. Although the funding does not require a local match, the city is required to use 35% of it for low-income families, Wiggins said, adding that the meter replacement project qualifies, thus saving the city half the cost.

Council approved the re-appointment of Alderman Elgin Davis to the Board of Directors of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments for the 2022-2023 term.

He also reported that Sam Rayburn Municipal Power Agency has been put on alert for load-sharing but that the city managers of the three sister cities – Livingston, Liberty and Jasper – have developed a system in the event that load-sharing should occur.

Wiggins also informed Council that the Livingston Police Department is working “hand in hand” with Livingston ISD regarding security and that LISD officials plan to have a police officer on every single campus in the district and will fund the salaries of these officers.

During his monthly report regarding events and development projects, Wiggins apprised Council that the Livingston Farmers & Artisan Market is from 7-10 a.m. every Saturday at Anniversary Park next to Melbo’s. The 3rd annual Smoke in the Pines Barbecue Cookoff is slated for June 24-25 at Pedigo Park. The July 4th Picnic in the Park will be held July 4 at Anniversary Park. The 61st annual Polk County Youth Rodeo is slated for July 6-9 at Barney Wiggins Memorial Fairgrounds & Arena. Friends of the Library will host a book fair on July 15 at the Livingston Municipal Library.

Wiggins reported that the June sales tax report from the state comptroller for the month of April reflects $399,212.94, an increase of 6.38% over April 2021.

Regarding current development projects, Wiggins reported that the permit has been issued and site work is ongoing for the Highway 190 Apartments at 909 E. Church St. and the permit is ready to be issued for On the Run Truckstop located next door at 911 E. Church St. Work is ongoing on the Livingston ISD concession stand at 400 FM 350 South and at the Livingston Pioneer Crossing Apartments at 1101 Dogwood.

Owner Frank Vinci is adding an addition to Pit Row Pit Stop at 412 First St. Permits have been issued for the new Pizza Hut at 1205 W. Church St. and the Polk County Courthouse restoration project at 101 W. Church St. Work is ongoing at Taco Bueno located at 2001 U.S. Hwy. 190 West and at Wendy’s located at 1819 U.S. Hwy. 190 West.

Wiggins reported that the former Jarrell’s Service Station at 522 W. Church St. has been demolished and the underground tanks have been removed. He also reported that AIRLIFE II Medical Transport Helicopter is now stationed in Livingston at the new helipad located at 210 E. 4th St. next to the Americare Ambulance office. He added that the company will be putting in a weather station at the local airport in order to monitor flight conditions.

Other business included approval of the minutes of the May 10 regular meeting and the May 17 special called meeting and the accounts over $500.

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Cornhole tournament added

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061922 cornhole tournament

To Smoke in the Pines barbecue cookoff event

From Enterprise Staff

A cornhole tournament is the newest addition to the 3rd annual Smoke in the Pines Barbecue Cookoff slated for Friday and Saturday at Pedigo Park and hosted by the Livingston-Polk County Chamber of Commerce. The tournament will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The winner will receive a custom-made set of cornhole boards.

A purse of $5,500 is guaranteed for the barbecue cookoff, regardless of team count. However, the purse will increase to $7,500 if the team count reaches 75 teams. Registration is available on the chamber’s website at www.polkchamber.com and will continue to be available up until the day of the event.

“We’ll continue to register people up until the day of, but those 50-amp breakers go fast, and we only have a limited amount,” Chairman John Clifton said, adding that team spots are first come, first serve. “We’ll try to get teams in their same spot as last year, but the sooner you register the better.”

The barbecue cookoff is held in accordance with the International Barbecue Cookers Association (IBCA) judging rules and guidelines. The entry fee is $200 and includes the IBCA events, which are overall, brisket, pork spareribs and chicken. Ancillaries (cook’s choice and beans) are $20 for each event. Cook spaces are 30-feet by 35-feet and include water and 30-amp power. A limited number of 50-amp breakers are available so get them while they last. If extra room is required, an additional 30-feet by 35-feet space may be purchased for $75. Fifty-amp breakers cost on additional $35.

“We are anticipating a large turnout and can accommodate at least 100 teams with water, power and additional overflow space is needed,” Clifton said.

In addition to the barbecue cookoff are the companion events, the Smokin’ Hot Auto & Bike Show which features an array of classic cars and motorcycles, and the Kids ‘Cue event which is open to children between the ages of 5 and 17. The entry fee is $25 for each participant and will include a barbecue grill, an apron, charcoal and pork chops.

We are expecting a great turnout of some of East Texas’ finest classics, street rods and custom bikes,” Clifton said, adding that a variety of food and merchandise vendors will also be present.

For additional information, contact the chamber staff at 936-327-4929 or Clifton at 936-328-9864.

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SAAFE House looking for volunteers

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061622 saafe house

From Enterprise Staff

In order to better serve its mission which is the clients, the board and staff of SAAFE (Sexual Assault & Abuse-Free Environment) House have several upcoming projects and fundraisers in the works.

According to Kimberly Dyan Moore, president of the Board of Directors of SAAFE House, the organization is strategically planning for the future, which includes improved client services, trauma-informed care, and putting clients first while working to educate the community.

“Our priorities are our clients – victims of sexual assault and domestic violence — in our four-county coverage area, which includes Polk, San Jacinto, Trinity and Walker counties,” Moore said.

Toward that end, the organization, through the help of its donors, will complete the renovation of the Huntsville client residence very soon. Upon completion, the new shelter will provide an improved atmosphere for the clients to begin the healing process, Moore said.

She also said that to better serve the clients, and with a new fiscal year approaching, the board is restructuring the management team to improve the quality of service and to strengthen the SAAFE House mission and the advocacy provided to the communities it serves.

There are several fundraising events planned for the future in all counties in the SAAFE House area.

With positions on the board coming open for the new fiscal year, SAAFE House is looking for area residents who are passionate about its mission to help the organization continue to grow and would particularly like to see people from Polk, Trinity and San Jacinto counties come forward.

“We are also looking for volunteers from the communities we serve, as we’re always in need of them. We are committed to raising ours and our clients’ voices,” Moore said.

For additional information contact SAAFE House Community Relations Director Tammy Farkas at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or go to the website at www.saafehouse.org.

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