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Polk County News - Breakout

Rotary hears LPD update

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Livingston Police Chief Matt Parrish and Detective Marty Drake spoke to the Livingston Rotary Club recently, providing an update on the Livingston Police Department. (l-r) Rotarian Judy Cochran, Parrish, Drake and Rotary President Andrew Boyce.  Enterprise photo by Emily Banks WootenLivingston Police Chief Matt Parrish and Detective Marty Drake spoke to the Livingston Rotary Club recently, providing an update on the Livingston Police Department. (l-r) Rotarian Judy Cochran, Parrish, Drake and Rotary President Andrew Boyce. Enterprise photo by Emily Banks Wooten

By Emily Banks Wooten
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An update on the Livingston Police Department was recently presented to the Livingston Rotary Club by Livingston Police Chief Matt Parrish and Lieutenant Marty Drake. Parrish has been in law enforcement for 30 years and this is Drake’s 25th year.

Parrish started by asking how many had seen on social media that Livingston is ranked the sixth worst place to live due to the crime rate. He explained that it is not factual at all but is contrived by companies that sell security alarm systems. He said they get the population of a town and then look for the number of crimes in that zip code.

“If you want to see the crime numbers for Livingston you can go to texasdps.com and look at the uniform crime report,” Parrish said.

Drake agreed. “Numbers–it’s however you want to twist it and skew it.

Livingston PD is presently three officers short, but they do have nine master peace officers, three advanced peace officers, two intermediate peace officers and five basic peace officers. As for the dispatch department, LPD has one master dispatcher, three advanced dispatchers and two basic dispatchers.

“We have an animal control officer, an evidence technician and a police chaplain from the military who has a degree in theology. His name’s Britton Shoellhorn and he’s a volunteer,” Drake said.

“A lot of things have changed since I started policing. Over the years technology has sky-rocketed. We’ve always kept up but we really upped our game technology-wise in the last year,” Drake said.

He said the department got a TTY machine which is text to talk for the hearing impaired. He said they’ve also added a language line with six different languages. He also talked about Rapid SOS, a program through which someone may dial 911 and the department can see where the call is coming from and track the individual. However, you have to dial 911 first, he emphasized. “If you’re in the city limits it would ping and we could find you,” he said, adding that it’s already helped them locate some people who became disoriented and got lost.

Drake also spoke about the homeless, informing the Rotarians that not all of those purporting to be homeless really are. He mentioned the woman that sits in front of McDonald’s and others at HEB and Lowe’s who actually have places to live.

“We patrol thoroughly for the homeless, give out pamphlets and try to find them help,” he said, adding that the department also has a program called Life Size which is a mental health evaluation.

Drake and Parrish also addressed an annual event in which their department participates and looks forward to. It’s called “Shop with a Cop.” They said the local Walmart raises money, along with some private donors, and the schools are consulted to determine which students should participate.

“The officers look forward to it every year,” Parrish said.

“Walmart raised $6,000 and we had 60 kids this past year and each one was given $100 to spend on anything they wanted,” Drake said. “We’d pair up and go through there and you’d have a kid that wanted to get a pair of socks for their dad or a cooking pan for their mom. One kid wanted a Christmas tree because their family didn’t have one.”

Both officers emphasized that this is a local program and not a corporate one and that Jonathan Montalvo, manager of the local Walmart, goes above and beyond to help this community.

“He stands there with his credit card as we check out and if it goes over $100, he swipes his card to make up the difference,” Drake said.

Parrish also talked about the fundraiser the department holds every year benefiting the Caran Coward scholarship, named for a former officer killed in the line of duty.

“Just last year we gave out seven scholarships for $2,000 apiece,” he said, emphasizing that it is the only fundraiser the Livingston Police Department does.

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Goodrich considers water rates, Easter hunt

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Goodrich Texas City Hall 2018From Enterprise Staff

The Goodrich City Council discussed utility rates, an Easter celebration and city growth in the regular meeting for February Thursday night at the community center.

A discussion over water and sewer rates ended in the decision to confer with nearby cities to get a better idea of the current rates. Goodrich has not increased its rates in years and council feels as though a hike is necessary to match expenses. The first 100 gallons is now $32.50.

The annual Easter egg hunt has been tentatively scheduled for Saturday, April 16 at 2 p.m. This year, Easter falls on the next day. As of now, the plan is to hold the hunt at the Goodrich ISD track, just as in 2021, with a total of 5,000 eggs for the youth to pursue.

Council tabled a new business item that would name a new accountant for the city. The search will continue over the next few weeks for someone to be named at the March regular meeting.

The sales tax collected by the city has increased approximately four times what it was in previous years. The new On The Road truck stop has been part of the reason for the increase. Goodrich Mayor Kelly Nelson said property taxes have come in at a quicker rate than in most years.

There are four houses planned for Hill Street, with the first occurring in March.

Family Dollar, which nearly purchased property a few years ago, has inquired about property in Goodrich once again. The company is interested in placing a store on or near Loop 393.

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Early voting begins Monday

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hand voting in a ballotBy Emily Banks Wooten
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Early voting begins at 7 a.m. Monday for the March 1 Texas Primary Elections and will be available at three locations—the Polk County Judicial Center, the Onalaska Sub-Courthouse and the Sechrest Webster Community Center in Corrigan.

Early voting will be available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at all three locations during the next two weeks, with the exception of Feb. 21 in which the federal holiday of President’s Day is observed and all locations will be closed.

The Polk County Judicial Center is located at 101 W. Mill St. in Livingston. The Onalaska Sub-courthouse is located at 14111 U.S. Hwy. 190 West in Onalaska. The Sechrest Webster Community Center is located at 100 W. Front St. in Corrigan.

With Polk County having been redistricted into the 8th Congressional District, voters will elect someone for U.S. representative.

Statewide races on the ballot include governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller of public accounts, land commissioner, agriculture commissioner and railroad commissioner.

Judicial races on the ballot include those of Justice for Places 3, 5 and 9 on the Texas Supreme Court, Justice for Places 2, 5 and 6 on the Court of Criminal Appeals and Justice for Place 2 on the 9th Court of Appeals.

Voters will also elect a state representative for District 3, a state senator for District 9 and a member of the State Board of Education for District 8.

Locally, the following seats will be on the ballot:

258th Judicial District Judge Travis E. Kitchens Jr. who has filed for reelection. William Lee Hon has also filed for this position.

Criminal District Attorney William Lee Hon. Hon is not seeking reelection as criminal district attorney. Shelly Sitton, Tommy Coleman and Julie Mayes Hamrick have filed for the position.

District Clerk Bobbye Christopher who has filed for reelection.

County Clerk Schelana Myers Hock who has filed for reelection.

County Judge Sydney Brown Murphy who has filed for reelection.

County Treasurer Terri L. Williams who has filed for reelection. Louis Ploth Jr. has also filed for this position.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Ronnie Vincent who has filed for reelection. Mark Dubose has also filed for this position.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Tommy Overstreet who is retiring and not seeking reelection. Justin Cude, Jerry Cassity and Jason Richardson have filed for the position.

County Court at Law Judge Tom Brown who has filed for reelection.

Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Darrell G. Longino who is retiring and not seeking reelection. Terri Lynne Mayer and John Cabiness have filed for the position.

Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Sarah Rasberry who has filed for reelection.

Precinct 3 Justice of Peace Robert “Dooley” Johnson who has filed for reelection.

Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Jaime Richardson who has filed for reelection.

Fred Grube is seeking reelection as Republican County Chairman.

Ann Turney is seeking election to Democratic County Chairman.



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North end of county to get communications tower

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CommTower landscape

By Emily Banks Wooten
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During its regular meeting Tuesday, the Polk County Commissioners Court approved erecting a 440-foot interoperable communications tower and running fiber cabling in Precinct 3, a project that will be funded by the American Rescue Plan Act.

“Everybody knows that the north end of the county is a giant black hole when it comes to the internet,” County Judge Sydney Murphy said. “We met with DETCOG and Motorola and looked at the property and it was deemed suitable.”

Regarding the Polk County Peace Officers Association’s continued use of county property, specifically the building and gun range located in Moscow, Commissioners approved assigning the property to the sheriff’s office and continuing to make it available for law enforcement training.

Based on the recommendation from Nick Hoelscher with Goodwin Lassiter Strong, Commissioners approved Alternate Bid No. 2 regarding the Texas Department of Agriculture fiscal year 2020 Dallardsville Segno Water Supply Corporation Plant improvements, Contract No. 73220361. Alternate Bid No. 2 involves rehabilitating the existing tank and building a 60,000-gallon bolted tank for a total cost of $280,150.

Commissioners approved the transfer of two patrol units from the sheriff’s office to the Precinct 4 constable’s office.

The purchase of supplemental budget management software was approved. The annual fee of $15,600 will be pro-rated this year to $9,100 and the $3,600 setup fee will be waived. The software was necessitated by “significant glitches” in the Excel spreadsheets, Murphy said.

A request from the county auditor to purchase a new check printer, not to exceed $1,106, to be paid from the general fund balance and included on the fiscal year 2022 reimbursement resolution for the year-end issuance of legally authorized debt was approved.

Commissioners also approved capital outlay building expense (budgeted funds) for a sewer line repair, including the extraction and replacement of old cast iron and clay pipes at the Polk County Office Annex in the amount of $16,500 and a chiller repair at the Polk County Jail in the amount of $22,832.31.

The plat of Falcone Forest, Section 3 Subdivision, located in Precinct 4, was approved.

Commissioners received a nuisance abatement hearing determination for Cause No. A00494 and approved an order to abate the nuisance.

An order authorizing the sale of fireworks during the Texas Independence Day period of Feb. 25 through midnight on March 2 was approved.

Offers to purchase the following tax foreclosure properties were approved: Lot 25 of Allen Woods, Cause No. T12-004 and Lot 32 of Block 3 of Yaupon Cove, Cause No. T11-462, both in Precinct 2.

In personnel matters, Commissioners approved personnel action form requests submitted since the last meeting and were apprised of two authorized emergency hirings, one at the sheriff’s office and one at the jail.

Commissioners also approved the sheriff’s request to pay out all jail staff FLSA compensatory and lost vacation and straight compensatory time from Oct. 1, 2021 to Feb. 13, 2022.

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

Items on the consent agenda were approved, including:

• Minutes of the Jan. 25 meeting;

• The schedule of bills;

• An addition to list relating to use of county inmate labor for civic purposes, pursuant to Article 43.10 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure;

• Extension of lease agreements with University of Texas Medical Branch for Suites B and C located in the Polk County Regional Health Center;

• Bonds for assistant county auditors;

• An update to the master street address guide;

• The county treasurer’s fiscal year 2022 first quarter report;

• An amendment to fiscal year 2022 budget adopted by the Polk Central Appraisal District on April 20, 2021; and

• An interlocal agreement between Polk County and the City of Onalaska for the county’s provision of electric equipment and services for the May 7 election, as recommended by the county clerk.

Polk County Maintenance Superintendent Jay Burks opened the meeting with prayer.

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