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Polk County News - Breakout

Goodrich cancels upcoming election

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Goodrich ISD Hornet Facing LeftBy Brian Besch
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The Goodrich ISD school board canceled the upcoming election, approved an employee compensation plan, and heard an update on a state-issued test in Thursday’s regular meeting for March.

The board approved the cancellation of the May election, as no candidate is contested. The May 6 election, if contested, would have included board members Rigoberto Reyes, Lidia Merino, Rosalie Blackstock and Julie Mack.

The board also approved the 2023-2024 compensation plan. That includes a salary increase for teachers to a starting mark of $45,000. Current teachers and the school nurse will receive a 5.7% increase from their current salary. There will be a 5% increase for support staff and a 10% increase for auxiliary staff from current salaries, while administrative staff will receive a 2% increase. Total salary increases are $109,005, while total projected salary increases with benefits totals $119,306.

The STAAR assessment has changed for the first time this year, and Goodrich Superintendent Daniel Barton said students will be graded in a new way.

“As a result, the accountability system is being changed,” Barton said. “In the month of May, kids are not going to know and parents are not going to know if they passed it or not. They are going to get a ‘they might have passed it or they might not have.’ Once they get all of their cut scores at the state level, they will decide where they want to move passing and not passing. Our district is rated on that, as is every other district in the state. It is everybody in the state that is going through this and I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of parents and kids wondering what is going on. This has nothing to do with us locally and we are just going to have to endure it and make it happen.”

While discussing curriculum, Barton said there is a possibility of the school moving from 26 credits to 28 in order to graduate. The superintendent said the reason for the change would be that Goodrich ISD is now on an eight-period school day. With the increase in classes, Barton said the 26 credits to graduate is not consistent with surrounding school districts. The change would impact incoming freshmen.

Goodrich ISD Business Manager Sarah Fulcher gave the board an update on taxes collected for the current year.

“Our current taxes, we are at 87.94%,” she said. “We are doing really well on our tax collections. When we talk about taxes, we usually don’t budget 100%, because you are never going to get 100%. We usually do about 95-97%. That is a more obtainable goal.”

There has been $1,663,369 in taxes brought in to this point, while $228,099 remains to be collected. 

In maintenance, the district is still working to collect bids for doors. There is a $200,000 school safety grant that the school will put to use for the doors. Barton said a few different companies are working toward submitting a bid.

There is a leak in the old gymnasium and the superintendent has called both the roofing company and solar panel company to determine the source of the problem.

The school district is in search of a special education bus. Barton said he is in search of something that is 15 seats or less, as to not require a CDL to drive. He has looked into used vehicles as well as a new one, but the item has been tabled for now.

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Rotarians participate in ‘humanity’s greatest achievement’

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Rotary STOCK

By Ray Gearing
Contributing Writer

At a recent meeting of the Rotary Club of Livingston the club heard the efforts of Rotary International to be a part of what has been described, when it has been accomplished, as “humanity’s greatest achievement,” the eradication of polio from the face of the earth.

Terry Zeigler, owner of the Big Z Lumber Company, former president of the West U Rotary Club in the Houston area, and the producer of a Polio Eradication Update which is emailed weekly to more than a thousand Rotarians around the world, told of the international effort to get rid of polio world-wide. Governments around the world, the World Health Organization, along with Rotary International have been working to achieve this goal for several decades and now are very close to doing it.

Since the polio vaccine was developed, more than 20,000,000 children have been saved from getting the disease. The program immunizes 400,000,000 against polio every year. The International Rotary Club has committed $1,500,000 in the next three years and the Gates Foundation will match two-to-one for every dollar Rotary commits to polio eradication.

Bill Gates has said, “We are achingly close to getting rid of polio – more than 99% of the way there. Finishing the job is a big challenge, but it is very doable if we keep up the effort.”

Currently there are only two countries where polio is endemic, Pakistan and Afghanistan. When Zeigler presented the program to the local Rotary Club there had been no new cases for the last six months. Since then, there has been one new case reported in Pakistan. The world will be considered polio-free when there are no cases reported for three years.

Local Rotarians, along with others around the world, have the high privilege of being a part of this endeavor and when it is accomplished will be able to say, “I helped wipe out polio from the face of the earth!”

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Local American Legion Post #312 to sponsor Texas Boys State delegates

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AmericanFlags Stock

From Enterprise Staff

How would you like to gift a young man with an opportunity of a lifetime? The Texas American Legion will host Texas Boys State on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin June 11-16 and the local Post #312 is searching for five young men to send, all expenses paid.

To be eligible, the young men must: be male high school students; have successfully completed their junior year; be recommended by their high school; and demonstrate strong academic performance, keen leadership skills and excellent interpersonal skills.

American Legion Boys State is among the most respected and selective educational programs of government instruction for high school students. It is a participatory program where each student or delegate becomes a part of the operation of his local, county and state government. Delegates are exposed to the rights and privileges, the duties and the responsibilities of a franchised citizen. The training is objective and practical, with city, county and state governments operated by the students elected to the various offices.

If you know of a young man who meets these qualifications and would like to attend, please contact your school counselor or Post #312 at 936-327-7601. The post deadline for submission is April 20 and is first come first served. For more information, contact Post Commander Jeanette Jackson at 832-444-6595.

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The Polk County Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) held a bake sale Saturday to raise additional funds for the scholarships the branch annually awards local graduating seniors. AAUW is a nonprofit organization that promotes higher education for young women, champions equal opportunities in education and works to narrow the gender pay gap. The Polk County Branch of AAUW meets at 11 a.m. on the third Monday from September through May in the fellowship hall of the First Presbyterian Church at 910 N. Washington Ave. in Livingston and goes to lunch afterward. (l-r) Barbara Alexander, Paula Casas, Genny Watkins, Jo Mink, Virginia Key and Carol Jo Bardwell.Photo by Emily Banks Wooten

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Commissioners court to establish homestead exemption

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Polk County LogoBy Emily Banks Wooten
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The Polk County Commissioners Court approved establishing a county homestead exemption to provide some relief to local taxpayers during its regular meeting Tuesday.

“The Polk Central Appraisal District indicated that our appraisal values this year are going to go up pretty extensively. Over the last four years we have seen the taxable value in Polk County increase by 0.2% in 2020, 8.9% in 2021, 13.45% in 2022 and a little over 16% in 2023. I think we all know that. We all know that we’re skyrocketing in values and in development. So to provide meaningful tax relief for our residents since we are capped at the 3.5%, then it behooves us and it comes at the recommendation of our Chief Appraiser Chad Hill to establish a county homestead exemption up to a 20% max,” County Judge Sydney Murphy said.

Following an executive session to deliberate employment and real property, the Court voted to accept a letter of resignation from Polk County Tax Assessor-Collector Leslie Jones-Burks, effective May 31 due to her retirement.

It was also indicated that the Court may want to purchase real property to extend the landfill. While the specifics were not discussed, the Court did approve authorizing Precinct 3 Commissioner Milt Purvis to negotiate on behalf of the county.

The Court approved a request from Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons for agreement and conditions of employment for new cadets of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office enrolled in a basic police academy, to be funded by the sheriff’s personnel budget.

“It is intended to attract cadets and applicants for the sheriff’s office. It would only be authorized for vacant officer positions. It has been reviewed by legal counsel. Basically in exchange for a commitment to work as a fulltime deputy for the sheriff’s office for a minimum of 24 months following their TCOLE certification, the county will pay them the fulltime wages for a corrections officer level and payment of their tuition which is $2,500,” Murphy said. “It takes five months for them to complete the academy and it would only be authorized for vacant officer positions.”

Several items regarding the Polk County Community Development Block Grant for the Dallardsville-Segno Water Improvement Project were approved, including a resolution adopting civil rights plans and policies, a resolution authorizing signatories and a presentation on Section 3, as required by the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Having received nuisance abatement hearing determinations for Cause Nos. A00540 and A00535, the Court approved moving forward to abate the nuisances.

An order authorizing the sale of fireworks during the San Jacinto Day period of April 16 through midnight April 21 was approved.

Fiscal year 2023 budget revisions and amendments, as presented by the county auditor’s office, were approved.

In personnel matters, the Court reviewed and approved personnel action form requests submitted since the last meeting and also approved an update to the personnel management system.

Items on the consent agenda included:

Approval of the minutes of the March 14 meeting;

Approval of the schedule of bills;

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

Approval of an advanced funding agreement with the State of Texas for bridge replacement or rehabilitation on Old Bering Road at Long King Creek in Precinct 3 at no cost to the county;

Approval of an advanced funding agreement with the State of Texas for bridge replacement or rehabilitation on Nine Bridge Road at Piney Creek Branch in Precinct 3 at no cost to the county;

Approval of an interlocal agreement with the City of Onalaska for the county’s provision of election equipment and services for the May 6 general election as recommended by the county clerk;

Approval of the work-based learning agreement renewal between Workforce Solutions and the Polk County Maintenance Department;

Approval of the work-based learning agreement renewal between Workforce Solutions and the Polk County Aging Department;

Approval of a contract extension between Deep East Texas Council of Governments and Polk County Aging Department for Contract Number 014-16-1000824-10 for Older American Act Program (congregate and home-delivered meals);

Approval of the Texas A&M Forest Service amendment to the interlocal cooperation contract for prescribed burn at the gazebo nature area, extended from March 31, 2023 to March 31, 2024;

Acceptance of the sheriff’s use of force policy update;

Approval of memorandums of understanding with Onalaska Water and Gas, Providence Water Supply Corporation and Tempe Water Supply Corporation for ARPA-funded projects;

Approval of memorandums of understanding for local disaster preparedness (sheltering);

Ratifying approval of an order accepting Quiet Oak Drive in Four Corners Section 5, Precinct 2, as a county road and its addition to the master street address guide; and

Receipt of the county treasurer’s monthly report for February 2023.

Sean Ferry of Pine Forest Baptist Church opened the meeting with prayer.


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