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Polk County News - Breakout

DELIVERING GOOD CHEER

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Members of the Red Hat Ladies Friendship Group recently visited residents of The Bradford at Brookside Rehabilitation Center in Livingston to sing Christmas carols as well as to deliver handmade Christmas cards and individually wrapped Hallmark Christmas ornaments. The group, which meets monthly, is made up of ladies from Livingston, Onalaska and Trinity. The Red Hat Society is an international social organization that was founded by Sue Ellen Cooper in 1998 for women 50 and beyond.  Photo by Emily Banks Wooten

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Astros representative visits local club

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Daryl W. Wade Houston Astros MLB Youth Academy DirectorDaryl W. Wade Houston Astros MLB Youth Academy Director

By Emily Banks Wooten
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Two local youth groups were the beneficiaries of a surprise auction during a recent meeting of the Livingston Lions Club. Invited by Lion Benny Fogleman, Daryl W. Wade, Director of the Houston Astros MLB Youth Academy in Houston recently spoke to the local club about the academy. Not only did he bring Houston Astros baseball caps for everyone in attendance that day, he also showed up with an authenticated, signed baseball from MLB Shortstop Carlos Correa which he proposed auctioning off.

Lion Fred Smith was the winner with a $1,000 bid. The proceeds were split between Livingston Youth Baseball and Making Sports Possible. The two local organizations were represented by Shannon Goins and Gisele Ivy, respectively.

Wade, whose family owns land in Moscow, is the former Director of Athletics of the Houston and Aldine ISDs. He has 28 years educational experience with 25 of those in school and athletic administration. A native Houstonian and graduate of Waltrip High School, he received his bachelors degree from Paul Quinn College in Waco and his masters degree from Prairieview A&M University. A member and captain of the Paul Quinn College baseball team, he and his teammates won three conference championships. He has scouted professional baseball and coached football, both boys’ and girls’ basketball, baseball and track during his coaching career in the Athens, Devine and Aldine ISDs.

He spent 23 years at Aldine ISD, six of which he taught history and was an administrator at Nimitz High School. Promoted to the Aldine ISD athletic department, he served 17 years as the assistant athletic director and athletic director before becoming the athletic director of Houston ISD. He retired from HISD in July 2010 to fulfill a lifelong dream of working in Major League Baseball and for his hometown team, the Houston Astros.

“I dreamed of playing professional baseball,” Wade said. “I became athletic director after being an assistant principal. The principal asked me and I couldn’t say no. I’m grateful. I wouldn’t be where I am today without that opportunity.”

During Wade’s tenure with the Houston Astros, he and his youth academy staff have assisted over 250 athletes in obtaining college baseball and softball opportunities along with seven young men drafted by MLB teams.

“The Astros Youth Academy formed in 2005 because kids of color were not getting into major league baseball because of grades. Through the academy, we help get them in D-1 schools. Everything we do is free. We don’t charge a dime. We pay for uniforms, travel, hotels. There are about seven others around the country but we were the first,” Wade said. “Owner (Jim) Crane is very supportive. We never have to ask for a thing.”

Wade spoke about several of the academy’s programs—the Community Leagues Program which provides maintenance of fields as well as the purchase of uniforms for the community; the RBI League which allows kids to play competitively; and the Fun At Bat Program which is an entry-level program for elementary age kids in which the academy provides books and equipment to approximately 30,000 elementary kids in the Houston area.

“I want to do that for Livingston. I want us to give books and equipment to LISD for the elementary kids,” he said.

Wade was appointed by Texas Education Commissioner Dr. Robert Scott in 2010 to serve on the Texas University Interscholastic League State Executive Board and continues to serve in this capacity. This board is the highest judicial body of the U.I.L. and determines all final athletic eligibility appeals. He also serves on the board of the Houston Area Urban League, Houston Methodist Hospital Brain and Bone Collaborative and the Houston Touchdown Club.

During his career he has been a member of the National Intercollegiate Athletic Directors Association, the Texas High School Athletic Directors Association, the Texas High School Coaches Association and the Texas High School Girls Coaches Association. At the time of his retirement from HISD, he was the first ever African American president-elect of the Texas High School Athletic Directors Association.

He is married to his best friend, Euletha, an associate vice president at Prairieview A&M University. They have four children, all of whom are college graduates.

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Wishing a merry, merry Christmas to everyone

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A beautiful 25-foot Christmas tree made from all blue lights is located on Loop 393 in Goodrich.A beautiful 25-foot Christmas tree made from all blue lights is located on Loop 393 in Goodrich.Merry, merry Christmas to everyone! Christmas is only a few days away and I hope you are all more prepared than I am. Yes, you read it correctly ... Mrs. Christmas herself has failed miserably this year on preparing for Christmas. So my house is not glowing from corner to corner with Christmas cheer as it normally is and the presents are not wrapped and displayed under our trees but guess what I have figured out? Christmas is going to arrive in a few days regardless of if I am ready or not. I don’t know where my time went this year but it’s sure gone quickly. We have made a point this holiday season to do more fun things and spend more time with family and friends instead of making sure our home is perfect for Christmas and I do not regret one second of it. If this pandemic has taught me anything, then it was to spend more time making memories and maybe that’s a good thing. Of course I still love my Christmas decorations and my house will be decked out before Christmas but maybe not as decked out as years before.

So as it has become my annual tradition in this column I want to give you my Christmas wish for all of us ... this year I hope we all learn to enjoy our lives ... really enjoy our lives. We work so much, we work so much at keeping up with everybody else, we work so hard at what we want people to see when they look at us, we work so hard at making sure our children have everything “we didn’t have” but in doing so our children don’t have what they need most ... us! We have all these things and reasons that we work for and all the while our life clock ticks down. We have lost so many friends and family this last year ... if they had a do-over, what, if anything, would they have done differently? So take some time before the new year slips in and really ask yourself what would it take for you to really enjoy your life ... really give it some thought ... get past the “if I only had more money, I would be happy” and really look at your life. How could you enjoy more moments of your life ... decide that and then “work” on that part of your life.

I realize some who are reading this are thinking that their lives are just about perfect, if so, this is not meant for you, it’s meant for people like me who are still working on making their lives perfect. We need to use our lives up enjoying our lives, not wishing at the end of our lives that we discover that we wish we had enjoyed life more. So my wish for you and for all of us is that we learn to enjoy our lives more, that we slow down enough to make memories that will last forever.

Now to the Christmas lights around our community. This year I am just going to tell you which roads I found the most decorations on because there are so many homes that I just do not know who lives there. So of course Loop 393 through Goodrich has lights everywhere with several yards overflowing with Christmas fun items. FM 1988 West never fails to have many homes decked out in colorful shining lights. Back over the overpass FM 1988 East has a few homes with Christmas lights. Next, out FM 2665 there are Christmas lights and candy canes everywhere and one yard is completely covered in cute Christmas characters. While you are on FM 2665, turn into Holiday Lakes and drive around to see that quite a few homes are shining bright in the night.

I want to personally thank everyone in our community that took time to decorate. And speaking of Christmas lights, have you noticed the huge 25-foot tree made of all blue lights right in the middle of Goodrich on Loop 393? It’s right next to the old hardware building and the rest of the year it serves as a 30-foot flag pole. But a dear friend gave the blue lights that formed a tree to Kenneth for Christmas. Thank you Peach. He truly does love it and it makes Main Street Goodrich look so beautiful at night.

Goodrich School Events

Dec. 20-31 Christmas
Holiday, Jan. 3 teacher work day, no classes.

Area Church News

If your church is hosting an upcoming event then please get your information to me at least two weeks before the event. Just email it to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (the sooner the better) or drop off your event info to me at my shop on the weekends. Please note Goodrich First Baptist has changed all their night services to 5:30 p.m. Goodrich First Baptist Church Is holding their regular in-church services. Sunday School 9:45 a.m., Worship Service 11 a.m., Worship Service 5:30 p.m., Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting 5:30 p.m. SAWC lunch is Tuesday at noon. The Free Clothes Closet at Goodrich First Baptist Church is open every Tuesday at 11 a.m.

News Around Town

The corner where the dilapidated remains of Glenn’s Grocery has sat for several decades is now cleared down to the dirt. This has changed the entire landscape of downtown Goodrich. So the planned butterfly garden is one step closer to becoming a reality and hopefully by spring we will be planting plants there. I will do a complete story soon on this project and the ones that are helping this dream become a reality.

Now I have a house to decorate so I must get busy but not before I wish every single one of you a wonderful Christmas filled with amazing fun. Enjoy yourself! Make memories! And let’s shed any negative feelings before 2022 rolls in. Don’t carry any problems, any worries, any dislikes or any anger into 2022. Leave it in the past and see how happier you will be. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Always Believe.

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Livingston board hires new high school principal

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LivingstonNewHSPrincipal

By Brian Besch

Livingston ISD’s December meeting was highlighted by naming a new high school principal, a financial report and results of a teacher survey.

After reconvening from executive session in regular session, LISD Superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins recommended Dr. Derrick James for the position of Livingston High School Principal.

  James will begin Jan. 4, 2022, replacing Dr. Paul Drake, who is the lone finalist for the Chester ISD Superintendent position. James has served as associate principal for Lufkin Middle School since 2016 and has 26 years in education. He was also a primary school principal and elementary school assistant principal in Lufkin ISD.

Justin Matthews with Axley & Rode issued a non-modified opinion of the LISD financial audit. Matthews shared how the optimal amount of the unassigned fund balance is 25%. Yet, LISD has 34% — surpassing the state’s recommendation. After reviewing activity accounts, he offered an unmodified, clean opinion, where material deficiencies were not found. The net position of the district increased more than last year’s growth.  

Under action items, the board approved the financial audit and quarterly investment report. 

LISD Chief Financial Officer Ben Davidson presented the quarterly investment report. The balance on Aug. 31, was $28,861,805 and the Nov. 30 balance was $31,578,935. The interest earned in September was $5,644, October $5,927, and November $6,291 at a rate of 0.25%. 

LISD Superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins presented results from the employee survey, a tool used in planning the 2022-2023 school year. There were 315 respondents to the district survey, a participation increase by employees from the previous year.  

“This survey was very positive, and extremely positive considering we are in a pandemic,” Hawkins said. “The answers are anonymous, because we want people to speak freely. Ninety percent of employees agreed that bullying is not tolerated by the district and 94% of employees reported that they know how to report bullying. We have a student code of conduct in place and policy is being followed according to the employee’s perceptions of the data.  

“In January, we will be taking a hard look at the district from a personnel perspective and the survey results reflect that 95% intend to return next school year and only 16 people do not intend to work for the district next school year. We have worked extremely hard to improve the area of compensation and we dominate in the county and geographic area from the top to the bottom of the salary scale. By being fiscally responsible, we are able to keep a focus on improving in this area.” 

Respondents gave a 90% approval rating to the board of trustees, which Hawkins said was an “unbelievable positive score” and shared how they always find a way to handle things professionally. 

Reflecting on survey results back to 2015, Hawkins said, “You can see a 9-10% positive trend in the district employee surveys. I am appreciative of the employees that took the 91-question survey and proud of the positive climate of our district as evidenced by the survey. This does not mean that we have completed the job, but rather consistently continue to improve our district. We live in a society where the constant news media and toxic content on social media paint a dire narrative, but when the employees of our organization face tough times — yet positive results come from this survey — it emphasizes how special our people are here. We may not be perfect, but we are lucky to be Lions.”

The superintendent also delivered the district health and technology initiative.  

“By monitoring social media and even the information shared with me by our parents, we have found when schools are not in session, drug use by students increases. I am extremely passionate about combating this with our student body outside of school. Young people today are engaging in the use of vapes in alarming numbers. The negative effects of vape use have been documented and, due to the vaping epidemic, the consequences for vaping have been increased at the junior high and high school levels. One alarming issue is that with vapes, they can easily have more potent drugs added to their use. The district started looking at vape detectors years ago as one more weapon for LHS to use in decreasing the number of vapes on campus. 

Hawkins announced that vape detectors will be installed at the high school and ready by the time class begins Jan. 5, 2022. 

“These detectors have been in operation in other schools for some time. While there is no better tool than boots on the ground, but the detectors help us work smarter. The detectors also detect noise, which often correlates with inappropriate behavior beyond a certain point. We are trying to do our part in making sure that the district takes all steps necessary to curtail the use of vapes.”

Cole Gann, a sophomore at Livingston High School, expressed his appreciation for board members’ continued support toward Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). Gann serves as the FCCLA Region IV Vice President of Competitive Events and Public Relations. He briefed the board of the upcoming FCCLA spring competition held in Galveston. 

The board approved items on the consent agenda including district copier contracts, purchases of Timber Creek Elementary air handlers, and fresh air units with controls in the amount of $556,343 to Ferrara’s Heating and Cooling.

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Filing for March primaries ends

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Vote GraphicBy Emily Banks Wooten
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The filing period for the 2022 Texas Primary Elections ended Monday. It began Nov. 13 and allowed candidates to file with their respective party chairs for a place on the March 1, 2022 primary ballot.

For primary elections, candidates file their applications with their state party chairs or, in the event that a district is wholly contained within a single county, their county party chairs. The state and county chairs, in turn, upload approved candidates into the Texas Secretary of State’s portal.

Locally, the following seats will be on the ballot:

• 258th Judicial District Judge Travis E. Kitchens Jr. who has filed for reelection. William Lee Hon has also filed for this position.

• Criminal District Attorney William Lee Hon. Hon is not seeking reelection as criminal district attorney. Shelly Sitton, Tommy Coleman and Julie Mayes Hamrick have filed for the position.

• District Clerk Bobbye Christopher who has filed for reelection.

• County Clerk Schelana Myers Hock who has filed for reelection.

• County Judge Sydney Brown Murphy who has filed for reelection.

County Treasurer Terri L. Williams who has filed for reelection. Louis Ploth Jr. has also filed for this position.

• Precinct 2 Commissioner Ronnie Vincent who has filed for reelection. Mark Dubose has also filed for this position.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Tommy Overstreet who is retiring and not seeking reelection. Justin Cude, Jerry Cassity and Jason Richardson have filed for the position.

County Court at Law Judge Tom Brown who has filed for reelection.

Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Darrell G. Longino who is retiring and not seeking reelection. Terri Lynne Mayer and John Cabiness have filed for the position.

Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Sarah Rasberry who has filed for reelection.

Precinct 3 Justice of Peace Robert “Dooley” Johnson who has filed for reelection.

Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Jaime Richardson who has filed for reelection.

Polk County Publishing Company has a policy to run a free announcement with photo in the newspaper for every candidate who runs for a political office in the county, or as a representative of the county, allowing the candidates to have the opportunity to introduce themselves and their vision to readers.

The photo should be a large .jpg and the announcement should be typed in a Word document not to exceed 400 words. Both should be emailed to the editor or can be brought into the office on a flash drive.

In addition, a candidate may choose to pay a one-time charge to be added to the official Political Calendar. This advertisement runs every week in the newspaper through the election and includes the candidate name/position/party affiliation. The cost is the same if you sign up early or late for the calendar. The pricing is as follows: $100 for precinct offices, $150 for county offices, $200 for state offices and $250 for national offices.

According to PCPC Publisher Kelli Barnes, all political advertising must be paid for by 5 p.m. Monday of the week you want your advertisement to run in the newspaper. Late advertisements can only be accepted as space allows due to press concerns. Advertising position requests can accompany advertisements. We do not charge more for location requests and we cannot guarantee location without advance notice of two weeks. We no longer accept political ads for our Facebook page. Ask to speak to an advertising representative at your newspaper to discuss paid advertising. 

Barnes added that the PCPC Print Shop is available to help with political signs and other print materials. Contact Jessica at 936-327-4357 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for pricing and availability.

“We look forward to helping all candidates in their campaign efforts,” Barnes said.

Early voting for the March 1, 2022 Primary Elections begins on Feb. 14.

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