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Polk County News - Breakout

Facilities examined, employees receive pay increase at LISD

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Livingston ISD LogoBy Brian Besch
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The Livingston Board of Trustees heard a facility presentation and approved a new salary instrument during Monday’s regular meeting for February. 

Claycomb Architects Will Clayton and Richard Crump performed a district facility study, sharing findings with the board during a presentation. Clayton illustrated the historical and projected future enrollment of the district. After visiting all campuses, the calculation of the maximum capacity in the district is 5,780. 

Pine Ridge Primary has a current enrollment of 485 students, with a capacity of 860 students. At Cedar Grove Elementary, the current enrollment is 485, while it has a maximum capacity of 800. There are 489 students attending Timber Creek Elementary, which has a maximum capacity of 800. Creekside Elementary has 484 students with room for 900. The junior high is currently over capacity, with an enrollment of 910 and capacity figured to be 820. Livingston High School has a capacity of 1,600, with 1,153 attending now. 

“The value of facility study shows a district what they currently have, allows the district to determine their standards and needs, and determine the most efficient solutions and when to begin a project,” Claycomb’s Richard Crump said. 

Clayton said that the useful lifespan of a building is an average of 60 years, while the lifetime of a roof is around 20 years. 

 “In 2014, when I joined LISD, our Annual Performance Report reflected that our fund balance had been invested on facility renovations,” LISD Superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins said. “Our bond construction was coming to an end, and the board had a list of capital improvements that needed to be completed. We added tennis courts at Livingston High School, purchased the Baseball-Softball Complex, added lights at the junior high football field, built a track, and addressed the Bermuda grass practice areas, all without a bond. The solution to the dilemma that we faced of ‘making bricks without straw’ required creative knowledge of the Texas School Finance System. We were able to hold a tax ratification election, refinance bonds, and were able to fund these improvements without raising the tax rate. In fact, over the last seven years, we actually lowered the tax rate. 

“In the last eight years, this district has worked hard to maximize the school finance system to do the most with the money available. This is a phenomenal success story that I would challenge anyone to show me a district that has made more strides to meet the facility needs of all our kids, while at the same time not raising the tax rate. Most districts would have had to pass a bond, but we have been able to squeeze the most out of every dollar to address our needs, and tonight includes considering making Livingston the most competitive pay scale in Deep East Texas. 

“When you build a school facility, you want it to have a lifespan of 60 years, so we are working with the Claycomb representatives who created a long-range facility plan. Building school facilities is not the same as building residential facilities. Think about over the course of 60 years, the facility’s wear and tear far exceeds that of our homes. Thus, the construction of school facilities is different. We want to make sure that our district has a functional plan to address the growth and enhancements of our students to ensure they continue to be educated in facilities that the community can have great pride in.”

The finance committee recommended the approval of the 2022-2023 LISD Salary Instrument Hawkins mentioned, which was approved by the board. The 2022-2023 pay scale has a starting teacher salary of $55,000, a midpoint of $63,266, and maximum salary of $71,532. The salary instrument allows a 3% increase of the midpoint for other areas, which is in addition to the 4% retention bonus. Hawkins said the new pay scale makes Livingston ISD one of the top-paying districts in East Texas.

The second action item approved by the board was the approval of the emergency closure resolution, which keeps employees of the district from needing to make up the school closure from Feb. 8.

The board meeting opened with a public hearing on the LISD Texas Academic Performance Report (TAPR). Chief Curriculum Officer Janan Moore reviewed the scores reflected from the 2019-2020 school year, which included the COVID closure from mid-March to the end of the school year.

The consent agenda was approved, including the district staffing plan, a purchasing agreement, and the school calendar. The staffing plan allows the district to begin hiring a staff pool. Also included under the consent agenda was the Master Intergovernmental Cooperative Purchasing Agreement with Omnia Partners and the 2022-2023 LISD School Calendar.

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 CORRECTION - Sitton wins DA race

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N1206P36001CBy Emily Banks Wooten
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In our election night coverage, the Polk County Enterprise incorrectly reported that Shelly Bush Sitton and Tommy Coleman will face off in the May 24 runoff election in the race for criminal district attorney. This is incorrect.

To win outright, a candidate must have 50% plus one vote, not 51% as reported. Sitton received 3,305 votes which was 50.86% of the votes cast in this race.

Coleman received 2,099 votes, or 32.30%, and a third candidate, Julie Mayes Hamrick, received 1,094 votes, or 16.84%.

The Enterprise regrets the error and apologizes for any confusion this may have caused.

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Local churches ready to “Serve Together”

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Under the direction of the Lake Area Pastor’s Council, numerous local churches are joining together for “Serve Together,” a weekend of service to the county April 29-May 1. (l-r) Robert Abate of Messiah Messianic Assembly, Jim Mayland of Trinity Lutheran Church, Simon Geller of LifeVine Church, Sean Ferry of Pine Forest Baptist Church, Wayne Bickley of Soda Baptist Church, Chris Borden of First Assembly of God, Chaplain Britton Shoellhorn-U. S. Army-Livingston Police Department and Brett Lester of First Baptist Church Livingston. Not pictured: Allen Bramlett of First Baptist Church Onalaska, Robert Murphy of First Baptist Church Providence, Mike Hooper of Church on the Lake and First United Methodist Church. Courtesy photoUnder the direction of the Lake Area Pastor’s Council, numerous local churches are joining together for “Serve Together,” a weekend of service to the county April 29-May 1. (l-r) Robert Abate of Messiah Messianic Assembly, Jim Mayland of Trinity Lutheran Church, Simon Geller of LifeVine Church, Sean Ferry of Pine Forest Baptist Church, Wayne Bickley of Soda Baptist Church, Chris Borden of First Assembly of God, Chaplain Britton Shoellhorn-U. S. Army-Livingston Police Department and Brett Lester of First Baptist Church Livingston. Not pictured: Allen Bramlett of First Baptist Church Onalaska, Robert Murphy of First Baptist Church Providence, Mike Hooper of Church on the Lake and First United Methodist Church. Courtesy photo

From Enterprise Staff

Local churches are once again joining together for a weekend of service to Polk County this April 29-May 1. Formerly known as “Rise Up,” this is a partnership between local churches under the direction of the Lake Area Pastor’s Council.

“Our churches believe that the problems we face in our community are too great for any one congregation to address by themselves,” Chris Borden, pastor of First Assembly of God in Livingston, said. “But if we come together and serve on behalf of our great God, then we believe we will see God do something only He can do.”

The weekend of service began in 2013 in one local congregation. Over the past several years, the event has grown to include thousands of people from many congregations around the county. Last year, 14 churches accomplished over 200 projects.

This year, the event will kick off with a community-wide night of prayer and worship at LifeVine Church beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, April 29.

“We know that all of our churches in the county serve throughout the year. This weekend isn’t designed to take away from anything we are all doing already,” Brett Lester, pastor of First Baptist Church, said. “But this weekend was born out of a simple question: What if the people of God came together and focused on the same thing at the same time? What could God do in Polk County if our community was able to see firsthand the unity we feel as the body of Christ?”

Service projects have benefited the City of Livingston, several local school districts and many elderly in Polk County.  The projects have included people of all ages and any skill or activity level. The group is also open to projects suggested by the community.

“You don’t have to be anything but willing to serve,” Simon Geller, pastor of LifeVine Church, said. “There will be something for everyone.”

If your church would like more information on joining the “Serve Together” weekend of service or you would like to suggest a project, you may contact Kevan Wood at 936-327-4417 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

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Local SPCA needing donations to operate

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SPCA RECEIVES DONATION  The SPCA of Polk County recently received a donation from the Livingston Lions Club. (l-r) SPCA Director of Community Engagement Kevin Swackhamer, SPCA Operations Manager Sindi Dresslaer and Lion Kim Brown. Courtesy photoSPCA RECEIVES DONATION The SPCA of Polk County recently received a donation from the Livingston Lions Club. (l-r) SPCA Director of Community Engagement Kevin Swackhamer, SPCA Operations Manager Sindi Dresslaer and Lion Kim Brown. Courtesy photo

The SPCA of Polk County relies on donations to continue its operations in Polk County and the surrounding communities. On Feb. 16 the Livingston Lions Club made a donation to the SPCA of Polk County, continuing its support for animal welfare in the community. Donations from the Livingston Lions Club go directly to the care of cats and dogs at the SPCA of Polk County shelter.

“Donations are particularly needed at this time of year,” SPCA Executive Director Ron Hornsby said. “If you would like to adopt, donate or get involved with the SPCA of Polk County, please visit the website www.spcapolk.org or call 936-755-3020 or donate via cell phone by texting “SPCAPOLK” to 44321 or visit the SPCA at 802 S. Houston Ave. in Livingston. Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.”

The SPCA of Polk County is a no-kill animal shelter that serves the residents of Polk County and surrounding communities. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization operated primarily by volunteers and a few paid staff members. The SPCA of Polk County is not funded by ASPCA other SPCA organizations nor does it receive any city, county, state or federal funding.

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VFW meeting entry denied

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A representative from the Enterprise was denied entry to the VFW meeting Monday. Courtesy photoA representative from the Enterprise was denied entry to the VFW meeting Monday. Courtesy photo

By Emily Banks Wooten
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Over a hundred people showed up for a meeting at the VFW Post 8568 of Livingston Monday. Members of the post were urged by the state commander to attend Monday’s meeting if they wanted to save their post. State Commander Norman J. Macey suspended operations of VFW Post 8568 on Feb. 15 for a period of up to 90 days.

A long line of people patiently waited their turn to enter the building. The delay occurred because each person entering the building was checked to see if they were indeed a member. Each person was required to show their VFW membership card or give their membership number which was then crosschecked with a computer printout.

A representative from the Enterprise was denied entry. When she referred to the large sign posted outside the building that said, “Open to Public,” she was told by Kevin Bost, “Post meetings are open to the public but this is not a post meeting. It’s an administrative meeting.”

The suspension came about due to violations of the laws and usage of the organization, specifically, the failure to have all required elected and appointed positions filled. In conjunction with the suspension, Macey assigned an administrative committee to supervise and assist the post. His actions were relayed to post members via an email.

“If a quorum of five members is established, an election will be held to fill all post officer vacancies and a discussion will be held on what VFW Post 8568 must do to rectify any problems. If a quorum is not met, I will have no choice but to recommend to the VFW National Commander in Chief that the charter of VFW Post 8568 be cancelled in accordance with Section 212 of the National Bylaws and Manual of Procedure,” Macey said.

Judging by the number of people that entered, it’s safe to say a quorum was established.

The administrative committee will supervise all activities of the post and ensure full compliance with all applicable bylaws, rules and regulations of the organization during the suspension period.

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