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Polk County News - Breakout

Commissioners court passes resolution for no more unfunded state mandates

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Polk County LogoBy Emily Banks Wooten

A resolution that there be no further unfunded state government mandates was approved by the Polk County Commissioners Court during its regular meeting Tuesday.

County Judge Sydney Murphy said the resolution is similar to one the North and East Texas Judges’ and Commissioners’ Association approved at its annual conference.

“It addresses the county governments’ struggles to finance essential services under a 3.5 revenue cap while also funding the state’s statutory obligations that have been passed down to local governments. All of you are aware that constantly we receive legislative mandates and at this time the legislative mandates are eating up our taxpayer dollars and leaving very little revenue because we must follow those first and then leaving very little for the commissioners to build roads, for us to provide adequate services to our own taxpayers,” Murphy said.

Regarding the drought status, Murphy remarked that although a little rain was received Tuesday morning, neither the Texas Forest Service, the emergency management coordinator or the fire marshal are “comfortable,” so the Court approved extending the burn ban in the unincorporated areas of the county for an additional 30 days.

The Court approved action regarding submission of the General Land Office Community Development Block Grant Regional Mitigation Program applications, including a resolution to submit applications; execution of interlocal agreements with eligible water districts; and a resolution for financial management and procurement policies.         

A request from The Oasis of Texas Subdivision, Section 1, in Precinct 3, for a variance to the Polk County subdivision regulations requirement to obtain all necessary permits for proposed water and sewage facilities prior to plat approval was denied.

The Court approved, upon conditions met, Ridge Lake Estates Subdivision in Precinct 4. The re-bid of #2023.08 for pest control services resulted in the receipt of two bids with the Court accepting the bid from Broken Arrow for $7,004.

In personnel matters, the Court reviewed personnel action form requests submitted since the last meeting and reviewed two authorized emergency hirings, one in maintenance and on in the jail.

Fiscal year 2022 and fiscal year 2023 budget revisions, as presented by the county auditor’s office, were approved.

Presenting the delinquent tax office annual report, Jennifer Moffett reported that her office mailed 22,693 warning notice letters to delinquent taxpayers. She said the goal is for everyone on the delinquent tax list with a current address to receive correspondence several times before a suit is filed.

“We have filed 254 real property and personal property lawsuits to collect delinquent property taxes on 445 accounts. Our dismissals resulted in a total of 161 lawsuits involving over $780,000 in taxes, penalties and interest being dismissed. We’ve taken 361 tracts of property to the tax sales for $2.1 million,” Moffett said.

During the portion of the meeting reserved for public comment, Pastor Wayne Bickley of Soda Baptist Church said he wanted to go on record recognizing Pastor Jim Mayland and his contributions to the community since he moved here from Iowa in 2015. Bickley said Mayland is leaving in November to move to Wisconsin. “When he got here, he threw a rock in the lake and the ripples from Jim Mayland have moved throughout our community. He is going to be sorely missed,” Bickley said, citing a lengthy list of Mayland’s local involvement.

Items on the consent agenda included:

Approval of the minutes of the Oct. 11 regular meeting;

Approval of the schedules of bills;

Approval of an order designating surplus property;

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

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 July 1 through Sept. 30, 2022;

Receipt of the constable warrant service program quarterly report for the period ending Sept. 30, 2022;

Approval of the local assistance and tribal consistency fund agreement and accept funds in the amount of $121,933.16;

Approval of a renewal agreement with Texas Department of Public Safety for release of driver records for county employment;

Approval of a request from Sheriff Byron Lyons for asset forfeiture expenditure of seized property not to exceed $1,200 for K-9 school training;

Approval of a memorandum of understanding between Polk County and Burke for storage of a vehicle (truck and trailer) and the Precinct 3 Leggett facility;

Approval of an update to the master street address guide;

Approval of the use of $984 from maintenance capital outlay (budgeted funds) for the cleaning of air ducts at the Polk County Probation Center Office Building 2;

Approval of an updated agreement with Stericycle for disposal of medical waste at the Polk County Jail;

Approval of fiscal year 2023 Contract 23-1000824-1 (Oct. 1, 2022 through Sept. 30, 2023) between Polk County Aging Department and Deep East Texas Council of Governments for Older American Act Program (congregate and home-delivered meals);

Approval of the refinance of 2019 Caterpillar motor grader for Precinct 1 Road and Bridge;

Receipt of county treasurer’s fourth quarter investment report; and

Receipt of county treasurer’s annual investment report.

Bishop Nickson opened the meeting with prayer.

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Lions induct new Members

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The Livingston Lions Club recently inducted new members Michael Lewis who was sponsored by Lion Bob Burkhalter and Larry Van Horn who was sponsored by Lion Scott Simpson. (l-r) Lion President Kim Jernigan, Burkhalter, Lewis, Van Horn and SimpsonCourtesy photo

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Recycling center to celebrate first year

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

Polk County Recycling Center Manager Brian McNinch and Kari Miller, Polk County liaison for Polk County Recycling & Beautification (PCRB), participated in a College and Career Fair at Livingston High School earlier this month to spread the word about PCRB’s mission and efforts and also to seek new volunteers. Courtesy photoPolk County Recycling Center Manager Brian McNinch and Kari Miller, Polk County liaison for Polk County Recycling & Beautification (PCRB), participated in a College and Career Fair at Livingston High School earlier this month to spread the word about PCRB’s mission and efforts and also to seek new volunteers. Courtesy photoTo celebrate its upcoming one-year anniversary in November, as well as America Recycles Day which is Nov. 15, Polk County Recycling & Beautification (PCRB) is hosting a “Recycled Art Contest” that is open to everyone.

Entries in the recycled art contest should be works of art created using only materials that the local recycling center accepts. To enter, visit the recycling center or the website (pcrbtexas.org) for an entry form. Submit the artwork and the entry form by Nov. 1. Visit pcrbtexas.org for a complete list of rules.

Contestants may be individuals or groups of any age. Although entries must be made from materials the recycling center accepts, plastic bottle caps and paper tubes will be allowed. Glue, tape, wire, screws and other fastening materials are allowed. Paint, markers and other coloring mediums are allowed. Glitter is not allowed. The maximum size of the entry is two feet long by two feet wide by three feet high.

Recyclers visiting the recycling center during the regularly scheduled days and times Nov. 4-15 will get to vote for people’s choice in the recycled art contest. Recyclers will also be able to enter raffles for a chance to win $1,500 worth of raffle prizes donated by local residents and businesses.

A panel of judges will decide first, second and third place winners. Judges will score artwork based on the following criteria: 50% creative use of recyclable materials, 30% overall presentation and aesthetics and 20% craftsmanship. Bonus points will be awarded if materials are still recyclable.

Winners will be announced on America Recycles Day which is Nov. 15. The first-place winner will receive $100, the second-place winner will receive $50 and the third-place winner will receive $25. The people’s choice winner will receive $75.

The artwork must be submitted to the recycling center with a completed entry form no later than 3 p.m. on Nov. 1. Artwork will be displayed at the recycling center Nov. 4-15. No names may be visible on the artwork while displayed.

PCRB is a nonprofit organization that has partnered with Polk County to provide a reliable recycling service for the residents of East Texas, sustained by grants, donations and the sale of recyclable materials.

PCRB operates the Polk County Recycling Center located at 10311 Hwy. 146 in Livingston at the intersection of Hwy. 146 and FM 2665. The recycling center accepts #1-#7 plastics, flattened corrugated cardboard and aluminum and steel “tin” cans. The recycling center is open Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. In its first 11 months of operation, the center has diverted over 76,000 pounds of materials from the Polk County Landfill.

To learn more about the recycled art contest, volunteering at the recycling center or donating to the recycling center, visit PCRBTexas.org or Facebook.com/PCRBTexas. Checks may be mailed to 10311 TX-146, Livingston, TX 77351. Call 936-337-3315 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for additional information.

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Goodrich is just bustling with upcoming events

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With the old building having been painstakingly disassembled and the land cleared and leveled, the site will be the future home of “Juanita’s Garden,” a butterfly garden and mural. Courtesy photoWith the old building having been painstakingly disassembled and the land cleared and leveled, the site will be the future home of “Juanita’s Garden,” a butterfly garden and mural. Courtesy photo

GoodrichGadaboutSaturday, Oct. 29 the City of Goodrich and the Goodrich Volunteer Fire Department will host their Trunk-A-Treat at the city hall from 5-7 p.m. There will be free candy for the children and a costume contest for ages newborn to 13 years old. After you leave the city hall be sure to drive right down the street to Gokey’s Old Town Emporium for their drive-thru candy give-a-way and Economy Housing Mobile Homes will also be giving away candy at that same location.

But before that we have some exciting news for the Goodrich Community. Most of you remember that awful, dilapidated building on the corner of Loop 393 and the road leading to our schools. Years ago, that building was Glenn’s Grocery and it served a very needed purpose in our community as the local grocery store. How many of you remember buying those ice-cold glass bottle Cokes or the giant Jack’s brand cookies there? Those were some good times but as often happens, the owner grows older and sadly passes on leaving the property uncared for.

Through the last several decades that building had become so very dangerous. People went in and out stealing anything they could sell and it looked awful right in the middle of our Main Street. So fast forward ... I was contacted a couple of years ago about buying the little lot from the estate of some of the family heirs. The details were worked out and the purchase was made. Then we started working on the old building. First, we had to save and relocate approximately 25,000 bees. The entire wall structure on one side of the building was filled with bees and honeycombs. There were so many bees that there were actually two queen bees according to the beekeeper that caught and relocated all the bees. We then saved every single piece of wood that could ever be repurposed which made the process take much longer than if we would have just had it knocked down. Then Covid hit and work completely stopped for months. But about a year ago we hit it hard again and took it down to the bare dirt.

So, then everybody begin asking what we were doing and this is the exciting part. We are creating a little butterfly garden on that corner right in the middle of our community. Plants that attract butterflies will be planted by this coming Spring and that brings us to what is next. The red metal building on the property next to this lot faces the garden area so with the help of a very community-minded business, Economy Housing Mobile Homes, Fort Worth visual artist Aubree Dale is arriving next week to create a beautiful mural of giant flowers, bees and butterflies on that side of the metal building so it will become a backdrop of what will become our beautiful butterfly garden. Now the really exciting part ... the artist will draw the mural in sort of a “paint by numbers” design ... then we want members of our community, especially the children that are old enough to help paint, to come and be part of this creation. This will result in something that we all created. The artist will touch it up but this will truly be a community project created with love by our community. This garden will be called Juanita’s Garden in memory of my mother who died very young and who is still very missed. She did not live long enough to see her children as real adults nor did she live long enough to meet her only grandson nor his two precious sons but she loved children so very much and this is our way of honoring her with the hope that through the upcoming years many, many children will enjoy this little garden as they walk to school on the road next to it and as they see the beautiful butterflies and bright happy flowers ... all where an ugly dilapidated building once stood. I believe in my heart my mother would absolutely love this.

Now let me brag on this community. Without the help of so many, I could not be doing this. It takes a lot of money and so much time. There were moments that I stood in the middle of what was a mess and asked God ... how do I continue this ... it’s a mess ... and God answered by putting the right people there exactly when I needed them ... like the afternoon Edgar Angel decided he wanted to help clean up and level the property and soon his brother Genaro was involved. Pastor Tom Owen showed up unrequested on many days to mow all around the property. Peach Williamson never wavered in her commitment to this project even when I had my doubts. She has worked hard physical hours and provided workers many times.

Elbert Marlow of Economy Housing Mobile Homes was my dear friend and was one of the first people I told of my plans. Being a very successful businessman, I always respected his opinions so when I told him what I was going to do and asked what he thought ... he never hesitated for a second when he said, “If you believe in it then do it.” This answer about a project that was and is a money pit and a project that will never result in a dime of income. Is it the best decision I have ever made? Money wise absolutely not, but heart wise and community wise? Yes, it certainly is. We have since lost our dear friend Elbert. And now Elbert’s family who has taken an interest in this project because of Elbert and their spirit of helping to improve this community are involved.

Next, I have to brag on the group of women who have already began potting plants for the garden including my sister Nita and Jo Ann Jefferies and Susan Ryman who we have also lost but I will always remember her delight and excitement when I told her my plans. And this is where I have to say despite the cost, despite the arguments over me wanting to save every tiny piece of wood from the building, despite having to battle moving those old counters and displays out of the rotten floors of the building, despite his knee replacement, despite the bees, the mud and my madness about this project, my husband Kenneth has stood by my side in this all the way from spending the money to drying my tears when this project seemed hopeless. He not only saw my vision, he embraced it with his calm to my madness, his patience to my rush in to it approach and his love for this community that almost matches mine.

Does it sound like this is a project very close to our hearts? It should, because it certainly is. So, stay tuned for photos of the completed mural and updates on “Juanita’s Garden.” We have a long way to go on this project but not as far as we have come. And we can always use more help.

Goodrich School News

•Oct. 27- Teacher Appreciation Night 

•Oct. 27- Volleyball- Spurger at Goodrich (District Game)

•Thanksgiving Holiday- Nov. 21 thru Nov. 25

Area Church News

Please Read- 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 your event info off to me at my shop on the weekends.

Please note to Goodrich First Baptist has changed all their night services to 5:30p.m.

Goodrich First Baptist Church Is holding their regular in-church services

Worship Services and Activities:

•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.

Christmas is only a few weeks away and Saturday, Dec. 3 will be the Goodrich Community Christmas Festival with our lighted Christmas Parade at 6 p.m. that same night. For information about having a booth at the festival please contact the Goodrich City Hall at 936-365-2228. There are booths available with or without electricity. Plus, my shop is hosting our 16th Christmas Open House that same day.

Speaking of Christmas ... it’s time for us to start making Goodrich Glow and by Goodrich we mean the entire Goodrich Community. With our Main Street looking so much better this year we really need to light up Main Street (Loop 393) but we also need all of our community to participate and help make our community GLOW! Please join with us and help no matter what area of our community you live in, all our areas matter! After you decorate stop by my shop on the weekend and let me know or email your address or community neighborhood information to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so I can come look at your beautiful decoration and let my readers know about them.

News Around Town 

It is with a very sad heart that I let you know that Wanda “Perk” Swinney Long has now gone to her Heavenly home, reunited with her family members that she loved so very much. Wanda was born in Goodrich in 1932. She married the love of her life, Verlan Dean Long, on Christmas Day in 1953. Verlan was also from Goodrich. She later moved from Goodrich, but her love of Goodrich never wavered. She loved returning home for a visit and would spend hours visiting with my daddy before he passed. Those two would talk about their school days like they were still teenagers. She was one of my encouragers, often calling me just to thank me for trying to save our community’s history. Perk, you will be forever remembered and forever missed. Please remember her family and friends in your prayers. 

Have a wonderful week and if you have news you want to share let me know and while I will not promise I will try to share it in my column. I do promise to try and be more diligent with this column and thank you to the ones that have missed it. My life is busy but with my recent leg injury I have been forced to slow down somewhat. Be Blessed and start getting those Christmas decorations up! Always Believe

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Early voting starts Monday

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VoteEarly grahpic

From Enterprise Staff

Early voting for the Nov. 8 general election begins at 8 a.m. Monday at three locations and will be available until 5 p.m. Nov. 4. The three locations are the Polk County Judicial Center located at 101 W. Mill St. in Livingston, the Onalaska Sub-Courthouse located at 14111 U.S. Hwy. 190 West in Onalaska and the Sechrest Webster Community Center located at 100 W. Front St. in Corrigan.

However, there will be extended weekday and weekend early voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. this Tuesday and next Tuesday at the Polk County Judicial Center only, as well as from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29, also at the Polk County Judicial Center only.

Voters heading to the polls will select the following:

•U.S. Representative, District 8


•Lieutenant Governor

•Attorney General

•Comptroller of Public Accounts

•Commissioner of General Land Office

•Commissioner of Agriculture

•Railroad Commissioner

•Justice, Supreme Court, Place 3

•Justice, Supreme Court, Place 5

•Justice, Supreme Court, Place 9

•Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5

•Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 6

•Member, State Board of Education, District 8

•State Senator, District 3

•State Representative, District 9

•Justice, 9th Court of Appeals, Place 2

•Trustees, Livingston ISD School Board

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