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Polk County News - Breakout

Walmart evacuation explained

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061222 walmart evacuation

By Enterprise Staff

A plumbing issue resulted in some confusion for local Walmart shoppers Thursday morning when they were instructed via an automated recording to leave their shopping carts and evacuate the store.

“There was a broken pipe in the automotive section that they had to repair,” Livingston Fire Chief Corky Cochran said.

“A water sprinkler burst in one of the bays in the automotive section. That set off the fire alarm and there’s an automated recording that goes off when the fire alarm goes off, instructing everyone to evacuate,” Livingston Police Chief Matt Parrish said.

While local consumers’ shopping may have been interrupted, it is good to know that the emergency systems are in working order should there ever be an actual emergency.

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Dunbar Alumni Association awards scholarships

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061222 dunbar scholarshipsFrom left to right: Brandon Lyons, Jaylenn Morris, Jyonna Green and Ja’Nayah Pickens

From Enterprise Staff

Every year, the Dunbar Alumni Association of Livingston awards four $1000 scholarships to deserving high school seniors in the Polk County community.

“We want to recognize and encourage our scholarship recipients as well as keep the public informed of the work of our association,” Secretary Della Eleby Holcomb said. “We are very proud to recognize our scholarship recipients for 2022 who are all graduates of Livingston High School.”

The following are this year’s recipients:

Ja’Nayah Pickens, who is the daughter of Le’Shawna Pickens. Ja’Nayah plans to attend Delaware State University where she plans to play tennis as she earns a degree in biology/pre-med as she prepares for her future as a trauma surgeon. She said she hopes to be able to use her surgical skills on a mission to Ghana to help those who cannot afford medical care.

Brandon C. Lyons, who is the son of Sheriff Byron Lyons and Sylvia Lyons. Brandon plans to attend Lamar University where he plans to pursue a degree in marketing. Brandon said that he is committed to focusing on his studies to make sure that his grades are exponential.

Jaylenn Z. Morris, who is the daughter of Vanisha Gardner. Jaylenn plans to attend Prairie View A&M University where she will pursue a degree in accounting. She said she wants to be an accountant because she desires to help others structure their finances.

Jyonna Green, who is the daughter of Valencia Green. Jyonna plans to attend Lone Star College in Kingwood where she plans to pursue a degree in dental hygiene. She said a dental hygiene degree will enable her to holistically impact the viability and sustainability of the medical community but also the general public and the community in which she resides.

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New council member approved in Goodrich

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City of Goodrich

By Brian Besch

The Goodrich City Council approved a new member, the purchase of cameras and discussed water lines in June’s regular meeting Thursday in the community center.

After an executive session, Debra Rademacher was added unanimously to the city council. Rademacher, who has lived in Goodrich for three years, will be sworn in during July’s meeting.

The council also approved a change to the bulk trash day, with a dumpster from Pro Star Waste at Goodrich City Hall. Once per month, the dumpster is dropped off overnight. However, the city has experienced problems with some dumping items not approved or more items than the tank can hold. Much of the problem occurs at night when no one is on the site and Pro Star has threatened to pull the dumpster entirely.

Goodrich Mayor Pro-Tem Bobby Wright suggested another camera be installed at the site to deter offenders who cannot obey the signs posted. City secretary Felicia Garrett said more people began dumping their heavy items at city hall when bulk trash pick-up for much of the area was halted.

The dumpster will now be dropped at 8 a.m. and remain there until 5 p.m. once per month. Garrett will remain in the office until 5 p.m. only on the day the dumpster is placed at city hall. Council agreed to purchase a set of cameras, which comes three to a box.

“If you abuse something, we have to put a stop to it,” Wright said.

Water lines were again discussed in June, and the council has a desire to begin compiling a map that marks the location of all lines in the city. Council member Richard Booth stated in May’s meeting that the city has lost several thousand dollars in water by not knowing where lines are located. When a line is busted, time is lost tracing the lines back to repair.

The new liquor store in Goodrich has asked the council for exclusivity in the city. There is not an ordinance to limit the amount of businesses that sell liquor. There are, however, laws against placing liquor stores in close proximity to churches or schools, which may restrict further growth in that type of business.

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School safety, security discussed at club

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061222 school safetyThe Livingston Lions Club recently heard a presentation on school safety and security. (l-r) Lieutenant Marty Drake, Chief Matt Parrish, LISD Superintendent Dr. Brent E. Hawkins, LISD Director of Student Services Lana Smith, LISD Director of Technology Kip Robins and Lion President Joseph Pedigo. Courtesy photo

By Jennifer Birdwell
LISD Director of Communications

Livingston ISD Superintendent Dr. Brent E. Hawkins, Livingston Police Chief Matt Parrish and Lieutenant Marty Drake gave a presentation on school safety and security during a recent meeting of the Livingston Lions Club.

“It takes a team of everyone working together to keep school safe. If there is one thing, we know that is crucial, it is being proactive with information obtained from various sources is the best line of defense,” Hawkins said.

He introduced LISD Director of Student Services Lana Smith who works to ensure the district complies with laws and regulations and keeps the plans clear so that everyone is on the same page and LISD Director of Technology Kip Robins who rejoined the LISD staff after serving as Santa Fe ISD’s director of technology, upgrading the technology and security equipment there in 2018.

“Kip has a tremendous vision in preparing the district for safety because of his experience in working with one of the nation’s most high-profile cases as a school district in the aftermath of a school shooting there,” Hawkins said. “School safety is not important unless you’re willing to fund it like electricity, facilities, and employee salaries. It is like the old saying, your heart is what you treasure. School security is a cost of doing business in the world we live in. If we aren’t willing to fund safety, then it is just empty words. Throw all the political rhetoric you want, but we need to see the action of funding from the state if we want to see change.

“We do not take anything as a joke. It takes everyone working together to prevent an incident,” Hawkins said regarding threat assessment. “Each and every report is investigated by both school and our local law enforcement. We do have a system of monitoring social media for threats. We actively and vigilantly root out threats in our district. We have a threat assessment team on each campus and at the district level. The district safety and security team reviews our responses as well as plans plus aggressively seeks out grants.

“We train our students and staff on crisis response, including active shooter and fire drills. Our educators and all staff are also part of the drills. If there is a threat on campus, full lockdown mode can be achieved across the district very expeditiously. We also provide social and emotional learning or character education at every campus. As a preventive measure, our board has put enough money in the budget to place a school-based officer on every campus. I’m proud of our board of trustees that make tough decisions, operating in the greatest educator job shortage in history and being able to not only fund but continue to expand these positions is evidence of their commitment to safety,” Hawkins said.

Drake said he started with LPD in 2001 and was stationed at the Livingston Junior High campus.

“Safety has always been at the forefront of school plans. Crimestoppers was a big help on the junior high campus. As a board member, it’s important to me to have an officer on every campus, and every threat is taken seriously and investigated until the lead or rumor is identified. We run the rumors down no matter what it is. We have to know kids are safe in school. Our emergency preparedness plan is countywide. If an incident happens in the county, every officer knows where they need to report it and their role in the emergency.” Drake said.

“The governor is talking about advanced alert training. All Livingston officers have school training in the case of an active shooter. You will be hearing a lot more about alert training. Every officer in LPD is mandated to complete this training. Our officers are also covering the Angelina College Polk County Campus. Our high school students attend this campus to take their dual credit college classes during the school day,” Drake said.
Chief Parrish said any new officers hired will be trained with the school-based officers to have the opportunity to better learn the layout of the campuses more extensively.

“This gives officers more time to become acquainted with the teaching staff and will allow better communication between the partners of the LPD and the school district. We continue to make improvements in protecting our schools” Parrish said.
Hawkins agreed.

“We feel we have the best relationship and can offer the best coverage by working with LPD and it gives us a strong overlap of security. Keeping kids safe is paramount in our mission. I know some districts have their own police department, but we are in the education business and they are law enforcement experts. We feel the current structure allows for better communication in crisis situations,” Hawkins said.
“It is so important to communicate between the entities,” Parrish said. “We feel fortunate to have such a strong relationship with the Livingston School District for years and continue to build on the trust.”

School officer salaries are funded by the school district and the city furnishes uniforms and vehicles.

When asked about teachers carrying guns on campus, Hawkins said, “As an educator, teachers have enough on their plate. There are more educators leaving the profession and retiring because they are tired of one more thing. Teachers need their jobs made easier as they have just gone through two years of a pandemic which was difficult to navigate with the additional regulations and limited student interaction. We need our teachers to be experts in curriculum and pedagogy not how to utilize an AR rifle. If the folks that make the laws would just let folks do what they do best, we could make great strides in our mission. That’s why we fund our law enforcement partners.”

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Resolutions, ordinances on agenda

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061222 onlaska agendaThe Onalaska City Council to consider resolution for interlocal agreement with the SPCA.

The Onalaska City Council will review and consider approval of a number of resolutions and ordinances during its regular meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

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

Reports will be presented on behalf of the police department, fire department, fire marshal/building inspector, library and city office.
Other items on the agenda include approval of the minutes, payment of vouchers and financial reports.

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