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Hon named Polk Countian of the Year

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William Lee Hon was named Polk Countian of the Year during the 86th Annual Awards Banquet of the Livingston-Polk County Chamber of Commerce Thursday at the Polk County Commerce Center.William Lee Hon was named Polk Countian of the Year during the 86th Annual Awards Banquet of the Livingston-Polk County Chamber of Commerce Thursday at the Polk County Commerce Center.From Enterprise Staff

William Lee Hon was named Polk Countian of the Year during the 86th Annual Awards Banquet of the Livingston-Polk County Chamber of Commerce Thursday at the Polk County Commerce Center.

Below are the remarks read prior to the presentation of the award:

Born Oct. 15, 1965 in Freeport to Ferris Gene “Jim” and Rita Williams Hon, Hon grew up a fifth-generation Polk Countian, along with his sister, Laura, of Cedar Park. He was raised in Livingston, attending all 12 years of school in the Livingston school system, from which he graduated in 1984. While in high school, Lee was active in FFA. He was even awarded the highest FFA Degree, that of American Farmer, at the National FFA Convention in Kansas City, Missouri in 1984.

After high school Hon attended Sam Houston State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 1987. He then went on to study at the University of Mississippi Law School, where he received his juris doctor degree in 1990. While in law school, Hon served with distinction on the editorial staff of the Mississippi Law Journal and was one of four students selected to serve on the University of Mississippi National Trial Team.

Following law school, he practiced law for the Campbell DeLong Law Firm, the oldest law firm in the State of Mississippi. He enjoyed his work there, but the call to Texas was so strong, he decided to take a pay cut to move back to his home state.

In 1994, Hon was appointed assistant attorney general for the State of Texas and was assigned to the criminal law enforcement division in Austin, where he routinely represented the state law enforcement agencies, such as the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and Texas Department of Public Safety in federal court proceedings.

In 1996, Hon returned to Polk County, being appointed assistant criminal district attorney under the elected criminal district attorney, John S. Holleman.

In 2007, following the retirement of Holleman, Hon was elected criminal district attorney and has served as the longest-elected district attorney in Polk County history. As district attorney, he has prioritized the prosecution of child abuse cases and initiated the creation of a sexual assault response team and a sexual assault nurse examiner program for Polk County. In 2009, Hon was instrumental in the creation of Childrenz Haven, Polk County’s 

Child Advocacy Center, and served for eight years on the board of Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas. In 2012 Hon was presented the “Partner in Courage Award” by the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas for his efforts on behalf of abused children.

Hon has personally handled several thousand felony cases as a prosecutor and served as lead prosecutor in over a hundred jury trials.

In other community service, Hon served for 11 years as a fireman for the Livingston Volunteer Fire Department. He was actively involved with the Livingston Youth Baseball and Softball Associations. He is the past president of the Livingston Rotary Club, and in 2009 he was named a Paul Harris Fellow by that organization. In 2011, Hon was named by the Livingston Independent School District as an Outstanding Alumni. He is a member of the First United Methodist Church, where he previously served as chairman of the church council.

Hon is happily married to Nancy Varela Ordonez-Hon. They have four children:  Caroline - a graduate of University of Mississippi, Will - a graduate of Sam Houston State University, Carson - a graduate of A&M Consolidated High School, and Matthew, a freshman at Livingston High School.

Accepting the award, Hon recognized his sister and kids who traveled from out of town to be there.

“This means a lot to me. I’d give anything if my mom and dad were here to see this. I know they’d be proud,” Hon said and then introduced his wife, sister and kids.

He said that perhaps he’d had a premonition regarding the award because just that very morning he’d penned a Facebook post regarding Polk County and the way in which it has shaped him. He then read the post to the audience:

“This morning I had to do an interview in Trinity and was asked to discuss my family, my background and my career accomplishments. I have always found it a little awkward to talk about myself—something many people might find odd for someone involved in politics. Nevertheless, it caused me to reflect in my own mind over many of my memories and life experiences from having grown up in this little corner of East Texas.

“As I was driving back toward Onalaska alongside Lake Livingston on FM 356, I noticed how different things looked from my childhood and yet how much many things still looked the same. I am sentimental—very. I stopped to take this photo of the lake and the bridge and was instantly transported back in time to days spent bass fishing on the lake with my Daddy. I reflected on other memories of my youth, of generations of ancestors and extended family, of school days and teachers, of friends that I’ve lost over the years and others that have endured a lifetime.

“The better part of my 56 years on this Earth have been spent right here in Polk County. I look around and see so much progress and growth and I’m both excited about the future but also nostalgic for the way things were during my youth. I’ve enjoyed my trips to San Jacinto and Trinity Counties especially of late because they’ve helped me remember that “small town” feel that I was so familiar with here as a child and before so much development began.

“My life has been richly blessed. I’ve been so influenced and shaped by my surroundings and the friends and family I’ve enjoyed over the years. I was asked today what I was most proud of from my career as district attorney. My response was very simple: ‘The difference I’ve made in my community and in other people’s lives.’ That’s a very subjective answer and I know it’s nearly impossible to measure the ‘difference’ one makes in the world around them. Nevertheless, I’m humbled and appreciative of the times where victims and even people I’ve prosecuted have told me directly that I made a difference in their lives.

“More importantly, I reflect back on my parents, my grandparents and the many aunts, uncles and extended family and I hope they know I’ve tried my best; and I hope that the things I’ve done to try to make a difference in my community would have made them proud. I love this place. In spite of all the growing pains this area is going through with traffic and development and new residents, I am still so proud to be from Polk County. I’m proud to tell people I’m from here. My surroundings and life experiences from having spent so much time here are an indelible part of my character, my soul and who I am. It may not be perfect, but I would not want to have been from anywhere else.”

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Highway Closure Alert

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According to Rhonda Oaks, the public information officer for the Texas Department of Transportation’s Lufkin District, U.S. 190 East at Choates and Menard creeks in Polk County will be reduced to single lanes today and possibly Saturday in order to perform emergency pavement repairs.
One-way traffic control will be in place at each location until repairs are completed. Obey all traffic control. Reduce speed through the work zone. Motorists should prepare for delays in peak travel hours.
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ted and christian

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Congressional candidate Christian Collins hosted a meet and greet rally at Shrimp Boat Manny’s in Livingston Saturday. The pair came through Polk County as part of the Freedom Across East Texas tour. Collins, a sixth-generation Texan and son of missionaries, is a candidate for Texas’ eighth congressional district. Early last year, Incumbent Kevin Brady announced his retirement from Congress, setting off a scramble among Republicans. Shortly after launching his campaign last November, Collins was endorsed by Cruz, the House Freedom Caucus and Texas Right to Life. “I’m running to represent the voice and will of Texas voters inside the Capitol. We must secure our borders and elections, lower taxes, stop Critical Race Theory and stand up for the rights of the unborn if we want our nation to truly prosper,” Collins said, adding, “I’m honored to be endorsed by the House Freedom Fund--a group of actual conservatives, such as Rep. Jim Jordan, that are fighting for main street America.” 

Enterprise photo by Emily Banks Wooten

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Council to address election items

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Onalaska logoA number of items pertaining to the upcoming elections are on the agenda for a special called meeting of the Onalaska City Council at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Ordinance No. 417 Ordering the General Election on May 7 and Ordinance No. 418 Ordering the Special Called Election on May 7 will be reviewed and considered for approval. Following the Oct. 26 death of Mayor Chip Choate, Council Member and Mayor Pro-Tem Shirley Gilmore was appointed to serve the remainder of Choate’s term. However, the position will be on the ballot to be filled during the May 7 special called election.

Council will review and consider approval of an interlocal agreement between the City of Onalaska and Polk County to acquire the use of certain items of equipment and services of the county in compliance with the requirements of the Texas Election Code.

Interlocal agreements between the city and Onalaska ISD, as well as the city and the Polk County Fresh Water Supply District, for the purpose of conducting a joint election, will also be reviewed and considered for approval.

Council is expected to review and consider approval of updated policy department policies by replacing sections specified as follows: 1.1 Mission Value and Written Directive System; 1.2 Jurisdiction, Organization and Authority; 1.4 Inspections and Audits; 1.5 Mutual Aid; 1.6 Departmental Reports; 2.2 Bias Based Policing; 2.9 Mental Health Leave; 4.8 Reserve Officer Program; 6.1 Use of Force; 7.1 Prisoner Restraints; 7.11 Prisoner Transport; 7.13 Domestic Violence and Protective Orders; 7.3 Arrests with/without a Warrant; 7.3 Traffic Enforcement; 7.4 Search Incident to Arrest; 7.42 Eyewitness Identifications; 7.5 Vehicle Pursuits; 7.5 Search Warrant; and 12.1 Property and Evidence.

Council will review and consider approval of Resolution 2022-01 which is the City of Onalaska Personnel Policy and will also review and consider approval of Resolution 2022-02 authorizing Mayor Pro-Tem Shirley Gilmore to sign a non-exclusive license and service agreement with Local Government Solutions for municipal court software.

Council is expected to review and consider approval of Ordinance No. 416 Animal Control, amending Ordinance No. 394.

The 2022 holiday schedule will be reviewed and considered for approval and the 2021 Racial Profile Report will be accepted as presented.

Departmental reports will be presented on behalf of the police department, the fire department, the fire marshal/building inspector, the library and the city administrator.

Other items on the agenda include approval of the minutes, payment of vouchers and financial reports.

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Precinct boundaries on agenda

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Polk County LogoThe Polk County Commissioners Court will discuss and consider orders to adopt effective dates for precinct boundaries for the purpose of providing services—for justice precincts, as well as road and bridge maintenance precincts—during its regular meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Updates to the Master Street Address Guide in regard to recent redistricting will be discussed and considered.

Any necessary action regarding a sheriff’s request to submit an application to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, for an evidence/procurement manager position will be discussed and considered.

Commissioners are slated to review and consider personnel action form requests submitted since the last meeting and review any authorized emergency hirings.

Fiscal Year 2022 budget revisions and amendments, as presented by the county auditor’s office, will also be reviewed.

Items on the consent agenda include:

• Approval of minutes of the Jan. 11 regular meeting;

• Approval of schedule of bills;

• Receive county auditor’s monthly report, pursuant to Local Government Code Sec. 114.025;

• Approve sheriff’s request to submit application for participation in the Texas Law Enforcement Support Office “1033 Program;”

• Approve sheriff’s request to submit an application to the Office of the Governor Fiscal Year 2022 Criminal Justice Grant Program for Special Victims Officer;

• Transfer 2015 Ford Explorer from the district attorney’s office to permits;

• Approve Lake Livingston Water Supply Corporation’s request for sanitary control easement on Rodgers Street located in Wiggins Village I Subdivision (William Beasley Survey, Abstract 4) in Precinct 2;

• Ratify approval of agreement with Deep East Texas Council of Governments for Solid Waste Program Grant;

• Approve extension to Bancorp South Equipment Finance Lease #26 (for eight 2021 Mack GR64F dump trucks) from Jan. 10 to April 10, with additional interest payment to be paid from the road and bridge capital leases fund;

• Approval interlocal agreements between Polk County and the Democratic and Republican parties for the county’s provision of election equipment and services for the March 1 primary election and (possible) run-off election as recommended by the county clerk;

• Approval of the early voting schedule for the 2022 Democratic and Republican primary election to be held on March 1; and

• Approval to file 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-Dec. 31, 2021.

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