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Polk County News - Breakout

Court to eye Polk CAD budget

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Polk County LogoThe Polk County Commissioners Court will receive and take any necessary action regarding the FY2023 budget adopted April 11 by the Polk Central Appraisal District (CAD) during its regular meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Changes to the distribution of the road and bridge portion of the tax rate in conformance with the revised precinct boundaries will be discussed and considered.

Commissioners will consider any necessary action regarding expenditures from maintenance capital outlay buildings (budgeted funds) for painting the Onalaska Sub-Courthouse and regional health building roof.

A request from Sheriff Byron Lyons to relocate the quarterly tax sales from the commissioners courtroom to the Dunbar Gym will be considered.

Commissioners will discuss and consider action regarding a proposal from McCord Engineering for a countywide topographic map and implementing a fee for developers that elect to use the map for subdivision applications.

Commissioner will review and consider personnel action form requests submitted sine the last meeting and review any authorized emergency hirings. Commissioners will also consider action on the FY2022 budget revisions and amendments as presented by the county auditor’s office.

Requests for capital purchases to be paid from the general fund balance and included on the FY2022 reimbursement resolution for the year-end issuance of legally authorized debt include the following: a courthouse security request to purchase four body restraints not to exceed $1,527; a permits request to purchase two Adobe licenses not to exceed $936; and am auditor’s office request to purchase one desktop scanner not to exceed $1,026.

Items on the consent agenda include:

Approve minutes of April 12 regular meeting;

Approve schedules of bills;

Approve listing of previously authorized capital purchases to be included on reimbursement resolution;

Approve order designating surplus property;

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

Approve agreement with Goodwin, Lasiter and Strong as engineer for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) water infrastructure;

Ratify Amendment No. 2 to General Land Office Contract No. 20-065-018-C064 to revise the performance statement, budget and benchmarks for River Road and Taylor Lake Road infrastructure projects;

Approve resolution for Polk County Special Services to join the Texas Indigent Health Care Association; and

Accept Patrick Leahy Grant Award for bullet proof vests for the sheriff’s office.

During informational reports, the Court will issue a proclamation declaring April 24-30 as National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

The Court will reconvene at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday to enter into an executive session to discuss and consider filling the position of human resources director. The position is vacant following the recent resignation of Adrena Gilbert.

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First responders honored, classmate remembered

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First RespondersLivingston Fire Chief Corky Cochran makes remarks during the Cole Overstreet Memorial Breakfast honoring Livingston’s first responders Wednesday. The breakfast was hosted by the Livingston High School dual credit government class taught by Debra Jenke at Angelina College Polk County Center. Photo by Emily Banks Wooten

At Cole Overstreet Memorial breakfast

By Emily Banks Wooten
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The Cole Overstreet Memorial Breakfast in honor of Livingston’s first responders was hosted Wednesday at the Angelina College Polk County Center by Cole’s peers from his dual credit government class.

Cole Overstreet, 18, a Livingston High School senior, was killed Sept. 24 following the homecoming football game in a hit-and-run collision with a drunk driver on FM 350 South.

“It was an honor to be Cole’s government instructor,” Debra Jenke said. Jenke teaches dual credit government classes for Angelina College Polk County Center where she also serves as director. Each year when her senior students are studying the rights and responsibilities of citizens, she emphasizes the importance of giving back to one’s community by having her students complete a service project.

“We batted around several ideas, and this is what they wanted to do. It was very successful, and plans are already in the works for Spring 2023,” Jenke said.

Cole’s parents, siblings and grandparents were guests, along with numerous first responders from the Livingston Volunteer Fire Department and the Livingston Police Department. They were treated to a breakfast taco bar with all the trimmings and a beautiful array of fresh fruit and pound cake, along with coffee, juice and water. Dylan Shannon, a classmate of Cole’s, gave the prayer.

“Thank you all for coming to the Cole Overstreet Memorial Breakfast. This is something that we, as a class, have been planning since the fall semester,” Ryan McNabb, another classmate, said. “We are so thankful for all the first responders being here and for everything y’all do for the community.

“And thank you to the family for being here when we know how hard this is for y’all and us. It was a pleasure for all of us to know Cole. Thank you for helping us honor him,” McNabb said.

“I want to thank you for the honor of being here this morning to honor Cole’s memory. I want you to know that it affected us,” Livingston Fire Chief Corky Cochran said. “You may think we’re just hard-shelled people but we’re fathers too. Things happen and we question our sanity and ask ourselves why do we do this?

“You youngsters have so much going on and so many activities and you take time out of your schedule to do this. I look at you and I see the future. I look at you and see policemen, firefighters, doctors, nurses, teachers and coaches. It makes me realize why we do what we do,” Cochran said.

Livingston ISD Superintendent Dr. Brent E. Hawkins agreed.

“I think so much of what Mr. Cochran said is spot-on. There are tough storms that we go through—some we create and some we don’t—but it’s all a part of growing up and living and I see remarkable people in this room,” Hawkins said.

“As I look around, I see so many people who have been a part of great things. I’ve been through championships and victories and so many things that are great, but I think the heart of what we do is the love we have for each other. The love that you have for Cole is special. That is very reassuring for our future. As a parent, my heart breaks. As a community, I think it’s important we continue to love on the Overstreet family,” Hawkins said.

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SPCA Grant

The Rotary Club of Livingston recently participated in a project to assist the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Polk County with some improvements to the front façade of its facility located at 802 S. Houston. With the guidance of Ron Hornsby, executive director of the SPCA of Polk County, local Rotarians removed and replaced some old and rotten wood. They sanded down some of the older wood to try to remove the old paint. They also did a lot of caulking, then repainted a good portion of the front. They did some weed eating and used plywood to put soffits under the overhang. Funding for the project was the result of the local club’s successful participation in a matching grant program. Half of the project was funded by a grant from Rotary District 5910 which receives grant money from The Rotary Foundation, an international fund, and the Rotary Club of Livingston funded the other half. The local club has the opportunity annually to apply for a district grant. The club provides a certain amount and if approved, then the district matches that amount. It’s like a return on contributions from the community that is then used in the community. Photos by Emily Banks Wooten

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Recycling center to celebrate Earth Day

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recycling logoBy Emily Banks Wooten
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Taking clean plastic water bottles and jugs to the Polk County Recycling Center Friday and Saturday will not only be a way to observe Earth Day but will also enter you in a raffle for a chance to win prizes from local merchants.

Polk County Recycling & Beautification (PCRB) is hosting an Earth Day event with special hours at the new recycling center Friday and Saturday. The center will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.

The recycling center—which is run by the community, for the community—is located at 10311 State Hwy. 146 in Livingston (nine miles south of Hwy. 190), across from FM 2665. Normal hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. One may follow PCRB on Facebook for the latest updates.

PCRB is a nonprofit that relies on grants, donations and volunteers. To make a donation or to register to volunteer, visit the website at pcrbtexas.org.

“Plastic needs to be pretty well rinsed and we usually have to throw away the caps so we ask people to toss them. We’re only able to take #1 and #2 plastics (such as bottles and jugs) and most caps are a different kind of plastic. This also helps dry out all the containers before they get to us,” PCRB Vice President and County Liaison Kari Miller said.

The center also accepts corrugated cardboard if it is clean and dry. “Think of it this way, if it looks or smells like trash, it is,” Miller said.







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Robotics Team wins state for second time in four years

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LHS Robotics teammates Oscar Vazquez, Juan Torres and Raqeeb Anjum preparing for competition.  Courtesy photoLHS Robotics teammates Oscar Vazquez, Juan Torres and Raqeeb Anjum preparing for competition. Courtesy photo

By Jennifer Birdwell
LISD Director of Communications

The Livingston High School robotics team won the UIL State Championship Robotics Competition last week while competing at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.    The competition consisted of bracket-style play between 30 teams. The scores were totaled from the team and individual players and the bracket was narrowed to four teams. One point separated the first and second-place teams entering the final competition of the day.

This was the second UIL state championship in four years for the LHS robotics team, along with two regional back-to-back championships in 2021 and 2022. The team has been invited to compete in the Robotics Worlds Tournament April 20-23 in Houston. There will be 170 teams in attendance from all over the world. The Livingston High School students make up one of the top 10 Texas Robotics teams competing.

“We check for program bugs every day and we also practice driving the robot every day,” LHS Robotics Teacher Jeremiah Carr said, explaining how the team prepares for the competition.

Each of the 16 teammates offers a special skill including designers, builders, drivers, troubleshooters and programmers, with many teammates who have multiple skills. One teammate even creates custom parts using a 3D printer. The robot was built from a kit and the rules require it to fit in an 18x18-inch cube. Some of the robots use color sensors or cameras but the LHS team opted to use distance sensors. The competition only allows the team to bring one robot, but students are equipped with extra parts, batteries, brains, sensors and wires on game day.

“For the UIL competition, a game is released each year. This year’s game required two minutes of playtime. The first 30 seconds were autonomous play with required actions. The programmers use either Java Script or block coding,” Carr said. When asked if they have to start from the ground level each year, he said they may be able to reuse a specific part but usually they need to start from scratch each year.

Robotics is offered through the Career and Technical Education Department at Livingston High School. The prerequisite is Principals of Information Technology where students learn basic programming, hardware and software troubleshooting. Thirty students are admitted into robotics each year.

Carr said the LHS program began six years ago with four students and this year he teaches 5 classes with a total of 60 students.

“We have 15 seniors and one junior who are going to the Worlds. The seniors spend time working with the underclassmen. Maddison Rogers is the only girl in the program this year and said she has been encouraging more girls to join the robotics program next year. She’s one of the top programmers and will help carry the team next year,” Carr said.

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