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Polk County News - Breakout

Church to dedicate new building following fire

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religious bible

By Emily Banks Wooten
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One year to the day after their church fell victim to fire and was destroyed, the congregation of Chesswood Baptist Church will dedicate its new building at 6 p.m. March 24 and is inviting the community to join them.

“God has given us beauty for ashes … that He may be glorified,” Chesswood Pastor Col. Howard Daniel Jr. said, citing Isaiah 61:3. “Following the fire, Chesswood has been extremely blessed and able to rebuild. We ask that you join us for a moment of dedication and the opportunity to view what God has done.”

Nearly 70 local and area firefighters battled the blaze that reportedly began around 10 a.m. on the morning of March 24, 2021 at the church located on Hwy. 59 between Livingston and Goodrich.

There were no injuries but the building was engulfed in flames for several hours. The fire was thought to have begun in the annex or fellowship hall, with faulty wiring believed to be a possibility.

After the fire, Daniel said the next step would be to build back better, building a similar structure, but without the second floor classrooms.

“It is all a part of life and my daddy used to say that it is only material things and we can put it up again,” Daniel said.

The dedication event is slated for 6 p.m. March 24 at 4357 U.S. Hwy. 59. Following the dedication and tour of the building, a reception with cake, coffee and finger food will be held at Lone Star Charlie’s Family Restaurant located at 4591 U.S. Hwy. 59.

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Polk County Hookers are back

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By Mike Bischoff
New Head Hooker

Fishing is starting up and Hookers are back from hibernation starting March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. Our first post-hibernation program will be a Hooker favorite -- Michael Richardson of Lake Livingston Adventures. As many of you know, nobody knows more about fishing than Michael and nobody loves to share that knowledge more than Michael. You have a fishing question? You can bet that Michael will have an answer.

We will also kick off the “Fishing with Michael” dates. We will schedule two trips with Michael when you can fish Lake Livingston with other Hookers for $100/angler. These trips are lots of fun and a great way to enjoy fishing the lake for white bass at a shared price. Michael provides the boat and the expertise, equipment if you need it, and cleans your fish. We will schedule 6 anglers per trip.

Hookers will also have a new Head Hooker -- Mike Bischoff. Mike is taking over from George and Ruth Hollenbeck who started Hookers in 2010. Mike grew up in rural Kentucky and had a 50-plus year career in the downstream oil business. He has been a South Texas resident for the last 30 years and an avid salt water (inshore) angler before retiring to Livingston four years ago. Cary Purdy convinced Mike of what a great opportunity Hookers would be. George and Cary will support Mike as he gets familiar with our local stumps and sandbars. Ruth is retiring. At the new meeting place we will no longer need a head greeter, the role Ruth has played all these years, greeting people at the door.

The Hooker meeting schedule is the same – the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. The new meeting place, First Presbyterian Church at 910 N. Washington Ave. in Livingston, is very handy, easy to find, and has a meeting room with great facilities and plenty of room to social distance or whatever. The Hooker member list is the same, but if you have a new email address you should check to make sure your membership is up to date (its free).

Come and welcome the new Head Hooker Mike Bischoff, our favorite guide Michael Richardson, sign up for the Fishing with Michael trip and greet your angler friends.

Remember: Polk County Hookers is a fishing club whose mission is to enhance your enjoyment of fishing and the outdoors. Hookers is free and open to all on 3rd Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Livingston. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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County preparing for disaster events

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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 authorization to begin the procurement process for disaster debris by issuing a request for proposals and qualifications for a grant administrator and engineering services.

“This is in the event we should have a hurricane or a tornado or any other event,” County Judge Sydney Murphy said. In related activity, Commissioners also appointed a scoring committee for the purpose of reviewing and rating the proposals and qualifications received. Those appointed to the committee include Precinct 4 Commissioner Tommy Overstreet, Emergency Management Coordinator Courtney Comstock and Grants and Contracts Coordinator Jessica Hutchins.

Based on the recommendation of Maintenance Superintendent Jay Burks, Commissioners approved the proposal from Z Design for architectural/engineering services at the Corrigan Sub-Courthouse. “It is in dire need of renovation. The space is poorly designed and inefficient,” Murphy said.

A public hearing was held to receive public comment on the request to cancel a portion of Southland Plantation Subdivision Section 9, Lot 200-D-1 (removing lot) and re-plat the same as Southland Plantation Subdivision, Section 9, Lots 200-D-1, 200-D-1-B, 200-D-1-A and 200-D-1-C. Tim Martin went on record as being for it. Following the public hearing, Commissioners approved the request.

Commissioners approved an agreement with Langford Community Management Services for administration/professional services relating to water infrastructure projects to be funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

“On Feb. 18 the Court approved beginning the procurement process to select an administrator and an engineer for pre-award and post-award consulting services to prepare the FEMA hazard mitigation grant application DR-4485 for a hazard mitigation project to purchase generators for the water supply companies in the unincorporated areas of the county,” Murphy said. In related activity, Commissioners approved Hutchins’ recommendation of Langford Community Management Services for grant administrator and GLS for engineer.

The adoption of revised nuisance abatement procedures (policy) for the unincorporated areas of Polk County, pursuant to Chapter 343 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, as amended, was approved.

Commissioners approved an order regarding the statewide settlement matter of Texas opioid multi-district litigation for the county in the matter of County of Polk vs. Purdue Pharma Inc., et al.

A request for approval of discretionary exemption to exempt from county subdivision regulations the development of Abst 650 I&GN RR Survey (5.36) located in Precinct 4 and consisting of three tracts with individual access to existing public roads with no other common areas and/or streets was approved.

Commissioners approved the following road and bridge equipment lease/purchase through interlocal purchasing systems (TIPS), thereby satisfying competitive bidding requirements, pursuant to East Texas Mack Sales LLC quotations for:

The purchase of eight new 2022 Mack GR64F cab and chassis units (with M-drive, ox dumpbodies and pintle hitches) at $141,000 each with a 12-month trade allowance of $126,000 each unit, assuming each trade-in unit meets all trade terms, to be paid from road and bridge capital leases fund;

The trade/buyback of eight 2021 Mack GR64F trucks at $122,000 each for units currently leased by each road and bridge precinct, assuming each trade-in unit meets all trade terms; and

A resolution authorizing execution of an agreement with Bancorp South Equipment Finance, a division of Bancorp South Bank relating to the estimated March purchase of road and bridge equipment eight new 2022 Mack GR64FR cab and chassis units equipped with dump bed (to include trade-in of eight 2021 units) and authorizing the county judge to execute said agreement/s on behalf of the county.

Based on the recommendation of Precinct 2 Commissioner Ronnie Vincent who said the project is “just not far enough along,” Commissioners approved the rejection of Sunrise Subdivision. Also based on Vincent’s recommendation, Commissioners approved upon conditions met of Lagoon RV Park. Both are located in Precinct 2.

Commissioners approved the personnel action form requests submitted since the last meeting and reviewed two authorized emergency hirings.

  They also approved the FY2022 budget revisions and amendments, as presented by the county auditor’s office.

The following items are on the consent agenda were approved:

Minutes of the Feb. 18 meeting;

Schedules of bills;

An order designating surplus property;

Updates to the master street address guide;

An order accepting Crown Point, located in Lake Livingston Estates 4&5 Subdivision, Precinct 2, as a county road and adding it to the master street address guide;

A drainage easement extension at Brushy Creek located in Precinct 2;

The 2022 renewal of Affordable Care Act Reporting and Tracking Service (ARTS) Program with Texas Association of Counties;

Application for renewal of property insurance coverage through Texas Association of Counties, Risk Management Pool;

An interlocal agreement between Polk County and Purchasing Solutions Alliance for cooperative purchasing;

Renewal of a memorandum of understanding with Precinct 1 Constable regarding the monthly salary of Beau Price, to be funded solely from Precinct 1 Constable asset seizures;

A proposal from Kofile, not to exceed $135,000, for the preservation, imaging and indexing of 37 books for the Polk County District Clerk’s Office, to be paid from the district clerk’s records management fund;

Acceptance of the American Rescue Plans Act (ARPA) funds as lost revenue, effective April 1, 2022 (date of final rule) and report that information to the U.S. Treasury;

The addition of Action Item #17 on page 164 of the Polk County Multi-Jurisdiction Hazard Mitigation Plan: update the Polk County Multi-Jurisdiction Hazard Mitigation Plan every five years;

A letter of engagement with Belt Harris Pechacek LLP for services relating to the audit of county financial statements for fiscal years ending Sept. 30, 2022 and 2023;

The county treasurer’s FY2021 fourth quarter report; and

The county treasurer’s FY 2022 first quarter report.

Lindell Mitchell, minister of the Livingston Church of Christ, opened the meeting with prayer.

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Volunteers sought for community garden

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vegesVolunteers are being sought to participate in a Polk County Community Garden which will provide fresh and healthy vegetables to volunteers and Polk County senior citizens. The project is being spearheaded by the AgriLife Extension Office.

A spring planting kick-off is slated for noon March 18 at the AgriLife Extension Office located at 602 E. Church St.

For more information, or to volunteer to sign up, contact County Extension Agent Matthew March at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 936-327-6828.

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Fat Tuesday fundraiser a big success

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A Fat Tuesday bingo supper was held as a scholarship fundraiser at the Onalaska First United Methodist Church. Courtesy photosA Fat Tuesday bingo supper was held as a scholarship fundraiser at the Onalaska First United Methodist Church. Courtesy photo

By Emily Banks Wooten
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A Fat Tuesday bingo supper featuring authentic Cajun gumbo and king cake was the perfect combination for a successful scholarship fundraiser for the Onalaska First United Methodist Church. A $25 ticket entitled the holder to supper, two bingo cards and numerous chances to win prizes.

About $5,000 was raised through the event and all proceeds will go toward scholarships for seniors graduating from Onalaska Junior/Senior High School. 

The fundraiser was the brainchild of Mary Helen Wolf, a member of Onalaska FUMC. Wolf’s mother, Nita Barker Regan, funded scholarships for graduating seniors in her community for many years and derived great joy from it. Wolf decided to do it in her community of Onalaska in her mother’s honor. In 2019 she put on a style show and luncheon for the ladies which raised about $1,000. Although she’d planned to have her mother present the scholarship, her mother passed away about a month prior to the fundraiser. It was then that Wolf decided to name the scholarship after her mother.

Then COVID came and everything kind of shut down.

Wolf said a new couple from Louisiana, Roger and Brandi Malaison, moved to town and joined Onalaska FUMC. She said the church hosts a fellowship supper once a month and one month Roger made gumbo and everyone had a fit over it.

That was when Wolf hatched the idea of having a gumbo/bingo fundraiser. She said she approached the pastor about it and he thought it was a good idea and then she approached Roger and he graciously agreed to it as well.

Wolf said she started working on it in November and December but really turned it up in January. She went door to door throughout the community seeking prizes from the merchants of Onalaska. She was so successful in her mission that 27 gifts were given out between bingo games and drawings.

A hundred tickets were sold and she said that while she probably could have sold more, she didn’t because she didn’t know where they’d put them because the fellowship hall was so packed with people.

She and her committee spent numerous days decorating the fellowship hall in a Mardi Gras theme and she said everyone really enjoyed the event which will now be held annually. With the funds raised, she said they’ll be able to give either four or five $1,000 Nita Barker Regan Scholarships to Onalaska students this spring.

In fact, she’s already dropped off the scholarship applications with the school counselor. The selection criteria will be based on financial need, academic record, extra-curricular school and/or community activities and a personal interview.

The scholarship applications must be postmarked no later than April 1.

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