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Christmas activities abound

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From Enterprise Staff

The Livingston Municipal Library will host a family movie night from 6-8 p.m. today (Thursday) in the meeting room of the library at 707 N. Tyler Ave. in Livingston. Two Christmas movies will be shown – “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” and “The Happy Elf.” There will be hotdogs, popcorn, candy and drinks. If the weather permits, the movies will be viewed outside, so be sure to bring a chair and a blanket. For additional information, call 936-327-4252.

Pine Ridge Healthcare will host a family movie night with the showing of “Arthur Christmas” at 5:30 p.m. today (Thursday) at its location at 1620 U.S. Hwy. 59 North in Livingston. The free event will include popcorn, cookies, snacks, hot chocolate and drinks. Bring a blanket or lawn chair on which to sit.

“A Texas Christmas Carol” will be presnted Dec. Friday through Sunday at First Methodist Church of Livingston and everyone is invited to comer see Scrooge, Tiny Tim and all the beloved characters from Charles Dickens’ perennial Christmas classic live on stage in a brand-new theatrical adaptation set in late 19th century Houston.

The production is being put on by The Performing Arts Society of East Texas which is an extension of the music and performinh arts ministry of First Methodist Church of Livingston under the direction of Jonathan Kupper, the church’s director of music and performing arts ministrties. Community-wide auditions were held in the fall.

The performances on Friday and Saturday will begin at 6:30 p.m. and the performance on Sunday will begin at 3 p.m. The performances will be at First Methodist Church of Livingston located at 2801 U.S. Hwy. 190 West in Livingston.

The Livingston Community Band will host a winter concert Dec. 20 at First Baptist Church located at 106 Colt Rd. in Livingston. The hall will open at 6:30 p.m. and the concert will begin at 7 p.m. The Livingston Community Band is under the direction of Johnnie Hower and Emily Albert.

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Presbyterian Church celebrates 140 years

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20221213 151516By Brian Besch
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The First Presbyterian Church of Livingston is celebrating 140 years of existence, dating back to its start in 1882. Its location has not changed on North Washington, now in its third sanctuary to serve God in Polk County.

In November of 1882, Mr. & Mrs. D. H Fleming, Mr. & Mrs. J. M. Crosson, and Mr. & Mrs. C. M. Fisher became the first members of the Presbyterian Church in Livingston, most likely due to the work of Rev. T. Dewitt Burkhead, Evangelist for the Eastern Texas Presbytery. The three men became the Elders of the church and Rev. R. L. Currie, a missionary to the Alabama-Coushatta Indians served as supply preacher. Records found by David C. Duncan, in his 1992 report on the church, indicated that by the end of 1883, 13 members existed and construction of the first church began.

Judge J. M. Crosson of Livingston donated the block of land on which the current building stands in 1884, with the cost to him for the lot being $10. The contract for the church building was let to member C. M. Fisher who completed the building that year. The church bell, which is still in use, was donated by Mr. C. R. Miller, a local merchant and Episcopalian. The church building was also used by his church members for a period of time, along with occasional use by some Baptists.

Stated supply pastors served the Presbyterian Church from 1885 to 1911, starting with Rev. J. G. Henderson (1885-1887), Rev. James G. Tanner (1887), Rev. W. M. McCarty (1889-1894), Will Tenny (1894-1896), and Rev. Kilpatrick 1896-1897). Finishing out the century was Rev. John All Kee (1897-1899) and Rev. Gallaher (1899-1901).

In 1890, a manse (home for the pastor) was erected next to the church building and first occupied first by Rev. McCarty. It was remodeled in 1907 and the church was remodeled five years before.

In 1903, the “Ladies Aid Society” was formed and it became part of the Presbyterian denomination in 1911. Mrs. Verna Chapman served as first president.

The congregation voted unanimously in 1923 to build a new church building at a cost not to exceed $15,000. This is what is now called the Activity building. The new church was completed in April of 1927 and the first formal service was held May 8. The manse, which had been built in 1890, had to be demolished to make room for the new church.

A report written in 1924 by J.L. Davis, moderator of the Session, stated that membership that year was 137 and that eight persons by profession and 10 by certificate had joined the church through the year. Only four Communions were served that year, unlike the current first Sunday of each month.

Rev. P.P. Dawson began his service as Pastor in 1928 and, per church records, served until 1942. In 1929, the congregation voted to build a new manse on the southeast corner of the church property, “on account of getting a better fire rate.” This was completed in 1930 and Pastor Dawson occupied it with his family. In 1938, Session authorized the Deacons to have toilets installed in the church building and in 1939, finished the basement to fill the need for the Sunday School department to have additional classrooms.

In 1939, a cornerstone was added to the church building of 1927 which stated “1883—1927 First Presbyterian Church “Christ, the One Foundation” with the names of Rev. Geo. C. Moore, SS (Stated Supply) and six Session and three Diaconate names.

The sanctuary was on the second level with most folks entering off North Washington Street, climbing the stairs of this 1927 edifice. A manse was on the southeast corner of the property, now our parking lot.

The building was dedicated by Dr. J.L. Davis on Feb. 4, 1940, due to the final note being paid in full in the fall of 1939, with funds left to the church in the will of Mrs. Helen Sawyer. In 1941, new pews and an organ were installed, along with a new pulpit, chairs, and communion table.

Serving as pastor after Rev. Dawson was H.B. Streeter (1942-1944) and H. Addison Woestemeyer (1944-1947). In 1945, after some diligent work, the title of the church property was examined and changed from the “Northern Presbyterian Church” to First Presbyterian, Livingston, Texas. Clerk of Session at that time was Mr. P.J. Manning.

In 1947, the Session rejected a motion to sell the church properties and relocate and in 1950 opposed having “Negro Camps at Cho-Yeh,” which was supported by the Presbytery. Rev. E.O. Harrell was pastor from 1948 to Nov. 1950, followed by Rev. F.H. Stebbing in 1951, who served through August of 1957. Discussion, due to age and condition of the church, arose again in 1952, with a committee appointed to study possible sale. By 1954, a building committee was elected. A decision was made to not relocate. The church was air conditioned in 1963 and in 1964, the first woman, Edna Jones, was elected to serve as an Elder.

In 1967, a new committee to for the church property was appointed, and the group of 10 members on Dec. 13 recommended that the congregation sell its property on North Washington and move to a new location, build a new sanctuary, educational building and a manse. A sale price of $100,000 was to be set with a six-month time limit. No buyer was found, and in August of 1968, the congregation considered four options from the committee. Those options included remodeling the current sanctuary at cost of $10,000 (voted 11 for, 22 against); erect a new metal building at cost of $60,000 next to the sanctuary (6 for, 24 against); removingthe current sanctuary and erecting a new building and manse at a cost of $82,000 (6 for, 24 against); or keeping the present building and lot open for sale (9 for, 20 against).

The committee of 10 was dismissed and thanked, and in September of 1968, a new committee of three was elected to work up a master plan for the current property.

On Jan. 31, 1971, the congregation voted to build a new sanctuary, and in June, voted to remodel the manse. By summer of 1973, the new sanctuary (the one currently used) and the remodeled manse were complete, and the sanctuary was dedicated on Sept. 2, 1973.

The stained-glass windows found in the parlor came from the old building, designed by Mrs. Franklin Stebbing, wife of a former pastor. She also painted the mural in the parlor showing the journeys of Paul. The stained-glass window over the balcony was designed by Roger Durden, a stained-glass artist from Livingston. Durden later was commissioned to design the six stained-glass windows in the current sanctuary.

The Tracker Organ was built and installed with its dedicatory recital on Jan. 8, 1978. Plans were made to renovate the old sanctuary then approved in mid-1983. In Feb. of 1984, a sound system was approved, as was the cross in the new sanctuary, with installation in March 1984. An activities building was planned and completed in late 1989. By this time, the manse had been removed and the old sanctuary remodeled.

In late 1995, the current bell tower was dedicated and is still rung prior to each service.

Membership totaled 144 in 2004, down from a high of 160 in 1986.

The church received a major financial gift in 2000 from the estate of Mr. Whisenhunt and used part of it to purchase 13.727 acres of land on U.S. 190, just west of Livingston from David Hancock and Roger Graves in December of 2006. Another part was used in 2008 for the construction of the fellowship hall and the rest remained in an account that today continues to provide funds monthly for expenses.

The fellowship hall was finished prior to Sept. 12 of 2008, when Hurricane Ike hit Livingston (and east Texas) destroying much in its path. The church’s roof suffered major damage, resulting in water damage in the balcony and sanctuary, shifting use of the fellowship hall for worship. Renovation of the sanctuary and continued work of the church was taken over by the Session.


The Rev. Galen “Joe” MacDonald became the next pastor in September 2010, with Sandy Davis, clerk, and Mark Nye, treasurer, and 12 deacons and 12 elders. Since then, the deacons have been disbanded, and there are now seven elders serving as the Session.


In 2013, church records show membership at 109, and it is now below 80 in 2022. Rev. MacDonald left in the fall of 2020, and under the leadership of Worship’s Paul Laverty, guest pastors filled in till the Rev. John Hirling became interim in January of 2021. The 1927 activity building continues to hold the pastor’s study, the church office is run by Robin Sessums, the choir area, as well as the second floor with classrooms, ready for use. Fellowship hall continues to be used for adult Bible study classes, luncheons once a month, and special groups approved by Property team. The 1973 sanctuary has an updated video and sound system and holds 10 a.m. services every Sunday.

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County making improvements with ARPA funds

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Polk County LogoBy Emily Banks Wooten
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During its regular meeting Tuesday, the Polk County Commissioners Court approved eligible projects to be funded by the remainder of the American Rescue Plan Act funds.

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 was a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by the 117th United States Congress and signed into law in March 2021 to speed up the country’s recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recession.

“We received $9,974,718 and this was a historic opportunity to fund projects to imp-rove the county,” County Judge Sydney Murphy said, referring to the broadband access, water infrastructure projects and courtroom technology already approved.

“We have approximately $1 million left for eligible projects,” Murphy said, adding that the monies must be expended, or at least committed, by the end of 2023. She suggested some of the funds going to the district clerk and county clerk for records preservation; some going to the two local ambulance services for automated CPR devices; some going to the 10 local volunteer fire departments; and the remainder to be divided between the four road and bridge precincts.

A public hearing on proposed subdivision regulations drew no comment so the Court approved the proposed subdivision regulations and the recreational vehicle parks and manufactured home rental community regulations.

The Court approved requests 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, after-market equipment on six leased vehicles for the sheriff’s department in the amount of $97,283.46 and information technology rotation in the amount of $10,908.

An order regulating certain fireworks in the unincorporated areas of the county during the December holiday period was approved for adoption.

A memorandum of understanding between Polk County and the Precinct 1 constable’s office to provide constable reserve deputy patrol in Precinct 1 was approved.

New boundary lines for the Segno, Alabama-Coushatta and Indian Springs volunteer fire departments were discussed and approved.

The Court authorized the purchase of equipment for the recycling center, specifically, a $15,000 yard ramp, from the waste management fund balance, to be reimbursed by grant proceeds.

A request to the Texas Department of Transportation for county acceptance of reclaimed asphalt was approved.

The Court approved a request for variance from the county subdivision regulations for Section 3 Block 3 of Rolling Pines Subdivision located in Precinct 2 to waive the construction bond requirement. In related activity, the Court approved Section 3 Block 3 of Rolling Pines Subdivision.

A request from Penwaugh Marina in Precinct 2 for exemption from the county recreational vehicle parks regulations was approved.

The Court approved the appointment of Joe Ann Manry, Laverne Taylor and Emily Wooten to the Polk County Historical Commission for the 2023-2024 two-year term.

Selected annually by a designated committee, the Court presented the 2022 Excellence in Safety Award to Sherilyn Epperson, an employee of the Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace office. Epperson received a $250 gift card.

Kari Miller, county liaison to Polk County Recycling & Beautification, presented the organization’s annual report. (See sidebar, page xx.)

In personnel matters, the Court approved the personnel action form requests submitted since the last meeting and reviewed three authorized emergency hirings in the county clerk’s office.

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

Items on the consent agenda included:

Approval of the minutes of the Nov. 22 regular meeting;

Approval of the schedules of bills;

Approval of an order designating surplus property;

Approval of bonds for elected officials whose terms begin Jan. 1, 2023;

Approval of appointment of Jeffrey Choate and Darius Hart to reserve deputy fire marshal;

Approval of agreement renewing the lease of the Pritchard property utilized for courthouse parking;

Approval of renewal agreement between Polk and Throckmorton counties for gravel excavation on Polk County school land (for use only on roads located within or adjacent to school lands);

Approval of permit to construct access driveway facilities on highway right of way on Red Lowe Road and Hwy. 190 West;

Accept request from district clerk to add Polk County Recycling & Beautification to the juror reimbursement donation list;

Approval of transfer of Deep East Texas Council of Government’s surplus plotter equipment to county 911 rural addressing;

Accept governor’s fiscal year 2023 criminal justice grant for special victims officer at the sheriff’s department;

Accept the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance for evidence/procurement manager position at the sheriff’s department;

Approval of use of $2,618.23 from maintenance capital outlay buildings (budgeted funds) for the repair and remodel of the Polk County gun range;

Approval of request from Precinct 1 Constable Scott Hughes for asset forfeiture expenditure of seized property not to exceed $963 for vehicle maintenance and repair; and

Approval of request from county treasurer to add a Texpool account for the sheriff’s asset forfeiture funds.

Rev. Brian Wharton of the First United Methodist Church of Onalaska opened the meeting with prayer.


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MannaFest Food Pantry continues to serve

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mannafest twoErin, an employee of McCarthy Construction, and Georgann, a MannaFest volunteer, deliver groceries and goodies to Reginald, a MannaFest client. Courtesy photo

From Enterprise Staff

The volunteers of MannaFest Food Pantry have had a busy fall meeting the needs of local citizens. Four hundred seventy-two åwere served during the month of November, with the pantry averaging 59 families per day.

Monetary donations in November were $6,654, with the pantry receiving 4,131 pounds from Walmart, 544 pounds from Dollar General and 1,491 pounds from individuals. Additionally, 130 pounds of produce was received from Southeast Texas Food Bank.

In other activity, on Oct. 10, eight children from Central Baptist Church spent two hours volunteering, helping to fill boxes, package food items, carry out food for clients and whatever else was asked of them.

Students from Central Baptist Church also decorated bags for the Christmas goodies for the children. The bags have been stuffed with all kinds of candies, toys and craft kits, all donated by volunteers. The pantry began distributing the bags just before Thanksgiving when they began the distribution of Christmas food boxes for families with school-age children.

On Nov. 18, volunteers provided a Thanksgiving luncheon for the residents of Livingston Seniors Apartments, with Larry Jander frying a couple of turkeys. Other volunteers made potatoes, green bean casserole, desserts, cranberries and rolls. Residents of New Day House made Thanksgiving turkey decorations for each resident to take home.

On Nov. 21, Polk County Abstract Company employees delivered about 200 pounds of food that they had gathered in a food drive. On Nov. 22, volunteers drove to Naskila Gaming to collect 728 pounds of canned goods their employees had collected.

The day before Thanksgiving, Liz Jackson and members of her family arrived at MannaFest to volunteer as part of their Thanksgiving celebration, even bringing food to donate. They bagged pinto beans and sugar, climbed into the attic and loaded crates into the trailer.

On Thanksgiving Day, 24 teams of volunteers delivered 406 fresh, hot Thanksgiving meals to Polk County residents who were lonely, sick or in some other kind of need. The meals were cooked by a team of about 15 from all over Polk County at First Methodist Church.

Lions Club members delivered a check and groceries on Nov. 28 that were collected among their members. Club members also donated certificates for Christmas trees from their tree lot which will be given to families with children at home.

On Dec. 2, Escapees delivered almost 300 pounds of food collected from both employees and residents.

Seven employees from McCarthy Construction went with volunteers on delivery rounds to Livingston Seniors and Hudman Apartment Complexes on Dec. 3, bringing stockings filled with goodies for the seniors of all 116 apartments, following it up with a raffle for five different prizes. The employees also brought close to 1,000 pounds of food they had collected.

MannaFest Food Pantry will be open on Friday, Dec. 23 and Monday, Dec. 26.


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Celebration a success

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City of Goodrich

By Brian Besch
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The Goodrich City Council heard a final information on the Christmas celebration and set a date for their Christmas dinner in December’s monthly regular meeting Thursday.

City Secretary Felicia Garrett gave a report on the Goodrich Christmas and Lighted Parade that occurred last week. Parade big winners was ProStar Waste, taking first place with a float that included Goodrich ISD student council members. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office won second place and All-Weather AC was the third-place float.

There were 39 bicycles given away at the event. A total of $640 was donated to the city to help cover the costs of bicycles and toys. Over 20 toys were donated and distributed to children in the community. Garrett said when the bicycle giveaway was complete, there were still toys remaining that were handed out as children arrived after the drawing.

“It turned out really good,” Garrett said. “I’ve had people call me with nothing but good things about the parade. It actually lasted longer this year than last year. Last year, we made 30 minutes, and this year, we actually made an hour-long parade. It is growing and getting bigger and it is better – we had the Corvettes and Jeeps. It turned out really good and thank you to everybody who helped out and showed up. It was greatly appreciated.”

Mayor Pro-Tem Bobby Wright suggested to the council that sponsorships begin to be secured in October of next year for the Christmas festival, to avoid a rush in getting everything accomplished.

Garrett informed all that the city will begin a new tradition for the Christmas tree that sits at city hall. There are now three white butterflies on the tree that have “In memory of Marlene Arnold” inscribed for the former council member. The tree will be opened to the community for anyone who would like to place an ornament in memory of someone. When the tree is taken down, those with ornaments can remove it and bring it home, or have it stored and placed back on the following year.

The council also decided to hold their Christmas dinner on Dec. 19 at 6 p.m. Wright is said to be one of the better cooks around and will provide barbecue for the event. The plan is for brisket, chicken and sausage links.

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