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Polk County News - Breakout

City receives prestigious award

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City of Livingston logoBy Emily Banks Wooten
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For the 34th consecutive year, the City of Livingston has received a certificate of achievement for excellence in financial reporting, the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting. The certificate of achievement is from the Government Finance Officers Association and is based on the city’s annual comprehensive financial report for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2021.

The Livingston City Council approved membership in the Alliance for I-69 Texas, as well as payment of a membership fee in the amount of $1,265, during its Jan. 10 regular meeting.

Council also approved Brannon Corporation out of Tyler for engineering services for the General Land Office Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program. The city is seeking grant funding in the amount of $2.541 million which would go toward improving city streets if awarded.

A public hearing was held to receive comments regarding the determination of unsafe and/or dilapidated building and cleanup of property, specifically, a residential structure and outbuildings owned by Joseph McCandless and Manda Kay McCandless, located at 106 N. East Ave., the property being described as: 1.262 acre of land in the M.L. Choate Survey, A-15, Polk County, Texas, called to be Lot 2 of Block 3 of the Meece Addition to the City of Livingston, and described in deed dated Nov. 14, 2019 from Annis Lee Crowley to Joseph McCandless and wife, Manda Kay McCandless, recorded in Volume 2234, Page 193 of the Official Public Records of Polk County, Texas.

City Attorney James W. Wright said the utilities at the location were disconnected July 13, 2020 and the taxes have been paid through 2021. He said the city’s code enforcement department sent a letter to the McCandlesses dated August 2022.

Josh Mohler, the city’s fire marshal and code enforcement officer, reported that he had met with Joseph McCandless who indicated that he had plans to rehabilitate the structure and bring it up to code.

The residence needs structural attention, Mohler said, adding that there are a lot of roof leaks, debris in the house, settling cracks, foundation issues, crackage and exposed electrical wiring. Following additional discussion, Council approved giving the McCandlesses 90 days, stressing that first and foremost, the property needs to be secured. Council will revisit the issue at its April 10 meeting and see what the status is at that time.

City Manager Bill S. Wiggins introduced John Tarver to the Council. Tarver is the new executive director of the Polk County Economic Development Group.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to have someone of John’s caliber and experience,” Wiggins said.

“You’re doing a lot of things right. I look forward to coming in and enhancing what you’re already doing,” Tarver said.

Wiggins apprised Council of the 87th Annual Awards Gala of the Livingston-Polk County Chamber of Commerce at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Polk County Commerce Center. He also updated Council on various current development projects, including five new homes under construction in The Retreat.

In other activity, Wiggins reported that he has been informed that the Livingston Youth Baseball Association has put in a bid to host the Dixie Regional Baseball Tournaments for 12U Division 1 and 2 that, if accepted, would be held locally July 1-3, bringing in 18-20 teams who would be booking local hotels, eating in local restaurants and shopping in local shops.

Although Council entered into an executive session to consult with the city attorney, no action was taken upon return to open session.

Other business included approval of the accounts over $500 and the minutes of the Dec. 13 meeting.

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ARPA funding to assist local VFDs

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Polk County LogoBy Emily Banks Wooten
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The Polk County Commissioners Court took action during its regular meeting Tuesday to facilitate the utilization of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for some of the local volunteer fire departments.

The action included: payment to Metro Fire for firefighting equipment for the South Polk County Volunteer Fire Department in the amount of $8,362; payment to Nalcom Wireless Communications for radio equipment for the South Polk County Volunteer Fire Department in the amount of $1,638; payment to Nalcom Wireless Communications for radio equipment for the Onalaska Volunteer Fire Department in the amount of $10,000; and payment to Kimco Services Inc. for self-contained breathing apparatuses for the Scenic Loop Volunteer Fire Department in the amount of $10,000.

Based on the recommendation of counsel, the Court approved rescinding the prepositioned contract for disaster debris removal services with DRC Emergency Services.

A request for capital purchases to be paid from the general fund balance and included on the fiscal year 2023 reimbursement resolution for the year-end issuance of legally authorized debt, specifically, roof replacement at the museum, not to exceed $65,000, was approved.

The Court approved rejecting the infrastructure development plan for The Pines at Lake Livingston RV Park located in Precinct 2.

The constable warrant service program quarterly report for the period ending Dec. 31, 2022 was received.

In personnel matters, the Court reviewed and approved personnel action forms submitted since the last meeting.

Additionally, the Court approved the fiscal year 2023 budget revisions and amendments as presented by the county auditor’s office.

In old business, the Court approved the minutes of the Dec. 13 meeting.

Items on the consent agenda included:

•Approval of the minutes of the Dec. 27 regular meeting;

•Approval of the schedules of bills;

•Approval of an order designating surplus property;

•Approval of enrollment in Texas Association of Counties cybersecurity training;

Ratifying the re-appointment of John Allen Slocomb to the Workforce Development Board for a three-year term beginning Jan. 1, 2023;

Ratifying the ebonds agreement with Deep East Texas Council of Governments for solid waste project;

Approval to file a claim with the state comptroller pursuant to Government Code Sec. 61.0015(B) for reimbursement of a portion of the juror fees paid by Polk County during the period of Oct. 1, 2022 through Dec. 31, 2022;

Receipt of the county treasurer’s monthly reports for September and October 2022;

Receipt and recording the district clerk’s plan to utilize $140,000 of ARPA funds for records preservation;

Receipt and recording the county clerk’s plan to utilize $60,000 of ARPA funds for records preservation;

Acceptance of a donation from the sheriff’s office for the purchase of law enforcement equipment; and

Acceptance of a donation from Sheriff Byron Lyons for asset forfeiture expenditure in the amount of $22,792.70 for the purchase of law enforcement equipment.

Rev. David Darden of New Beulah Baptist Church opened the meeting with prayer.

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Cooper to be next superintendent at Wills Point ISD

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By Brian Besch
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Richard CooperRichard CooperThe school board at Wills Point ISD held a meeting Monday to accept Corrigan-Camden superintendent Richard Cooper to the same position.

The search for a new superintendent at Wills Point continued for six months until they named Cooper the lone finalist a few weeks ago

“This was an opportunity that was too good to pass up,” Cooper said.

Cooper said the move will put him closer to family members, friends and his hometown. Wills Point is a Class 4A school with an enrollment of 778 students. By comparison, Corrigan-Camden recently dropped to Class 2A with 226 enrolled.

“I am very lucky to have been able to have been the superintendent of Corrigan-Camden ISD,” he said. “I am very proud of all the work that the teachers, administrators and students and parents have done here at Corrigan-Camden in the last three and a half years. We have improved academics, we have increased enrollment, we passed a bond to make improvements to our district’s campuses, and I will always have a place in my heart for Corrigan-Camden ISD and Polk County.”

Taking over in June of 2019, Cooper now has a quarter-century of experience in education, serving as an assistant principal, principal and superintendent. He is a graduate of Henderson High and Stephen F. Austin University, and was previously superintendent at both Kennard ISD and Garrison ISD.
Though many changes were made in Cooper’s short time on the north end of Polk County, the one he may be remembered for most was the switch to a four-day school week.

“We were on the pioneering edge of the four-day week,” he said. “A lot of folks said it wouldn’t work. Heck, not only did it work, it is very successful. It did exactly what we wanted. We are able to hire teachers, it improved our academics, we are able to keep teachers, and now the state is adding anywhere from 60-100 new districts a year to a four-day week. We weren’t the very first, but we were the first little handful. We are just excited that we could be on the forefront and the cutting edge of using that as a tool to improve education at our rural school.”

Cooper said many of the same challenges he faced in Corrigan await him at the new position.

“It’s a great school district that is in close proximity to larger suburban districts of Dallas, just like we are to Houston. Their academics have dipped, and they are trying to hire a new football coach and (athletic director). That is going to be one of the first things I do when I get there. The academics are not in dire straits, but they just need bolstering. They have had a couple of failed bond elections in the past.

“It is a great school district and there are great people there. There are just a few issues that need to be addressed and we are going to address them one at a time and get through it, just like we have done here. It is not going to happen overnight and it will take three or four years to check everything off the list. There are challenges, just like the superintendent that comes here. Even with all the work that we have done, there are still challenges here. Somebody is going to have to complete the bond sale and they have a big construction project ahead of them. There are challenges everywhere.”

Cooper has not suggested anyone to take his place as superintendent at Corrigan-Camden, but instead conveyed that he will be involved in the process as much or as little as the school board would like.

He recently had a conversation with someone, telling them that Corrigan Camden ISD is the job that has been most difficult to leave.

“This is a great place right here. Somebody is going to be very fortunate to get to be the next superintendent here, because this is a great place.” 

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Chamber tickets on sale now

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011223 chamber banquet

From Enterprise Staff

Tickets are on sale for the 87th annual Awards Gala of the Livingston-Polk County Chamber of Commerce slated for Jan. 26 at the Polk County Commerce Center.

The chamber will recognize and honor a large business, a small business, a non-profit organization, community service awards such as teachers, first responders or community volunteers and an outstanding Polk County citizen.

The large and small businesses of the year awards will recognize two businesses (one with 21 or more employees and one with 20 or less employees) that have been operational for at least three years in Polk County and have demonstrated professional integrity, financial stability, excellence in customer service, success through innovation and a commitment to the community.

The non-profit organization of the year will honor a non-profit organization or church that invests time and resources in the community, demonstrating the action required to create awareness around the needs of others and take steps to meet those needs through education, connection and service.

Up to five community service awards will be presented, including, but not limited to, the following descriptions – teachers, first responders, community volunteers, etc. These will be people who have made a positive life-altering investment in the children of Polk County, people who are familiar faces and names for their generous time and service to the community and those who serve above and beyond the call of duty either in an outstanding circumstance or someone who has a history of being the one everyone can count on.

The outstanding Polk County citizen will be someone who has made a significant contribution to Polk County through time, actions, talents, dedication, leadership and striving to make Polk County a better place, someone who has a passion for helping others in the community.

To purchase tickets for the annual awards gala, go to polkchamber.com or visit the chamber office at 1001 U.S. 59 Loop North in Livingston. For additional information, call 936-327-4929 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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PCRB speaks at Lions club

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Jenn Thompson, a board member of Polk County Recycling & Beautification (PCRB), recently spoke to the Livingston Lions Club about the operations and goals of PCRB. It is a non-profit organization whose mission is to benefit Polk County by providing recycling opportunities, promoting the benefits of sustainable living and supporting beautification efforts throughout the county. Visit the website at pcrbtexas.org for more information on drop-off times and ways to volunteer. (l-r) Lion President Kim Jernigan, PCRB Board President Shawn Loring, Thompson, Lion Bid Smith and Lion Mike Shukan. Courtesy photo

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