|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Copyright 2013 - Polk County Publishing Company
Masons set cornerstone for college
BY BRIAN BESCH
LIVINGSTON — The Grand Lodge of Texas held a cornerstone leveling ceremony Monday to commemorate the opening of the Polk County Center of Angelina College. The county's lone college invited several speakers, including Livingston Mayor Clarke Evans, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sydney Murphy and Walter Rogers, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas. Evans was grateful for the many people that donated to make the school a possibility. "What a blessing for Polk County and what a blessing for all the people that make up this great community that we live in," Evans said. "In talking to people around our community, the generosity around our community is just absolutely unbelievable. But, I don't think I have seen anything that has created any more excitement than the building where in today. The only thing we are going to have to face here is that is going to be too small. I hope that we have it full and I hope we have ways to add on to it for years to come. Thank you to all the people from the private sector for thinking so generously to get us where we are today." Murphy discussed what the college could potentially mean to the county in the future. "On behalf of the chamber the impact on this community is huge on both sides, the commerce side and the educational side," Murphy said. "If you look at the statistics, even if the minimum wage does not increase in the community, if the level of education is higher, you have healthier children, you have healthier people, you have better care, so you don't have as much strain on your infrastructure and social services. here and our hospital we are certainly on a roll in Polk County. As a former educator, to me, this is one of the most tremendous days in Polk County." Rogers expressed his gratitude in being included and spoke of the pride the Masons feel to be part of a city's growth. "It has been really a pleasure for us to be here today to level the cornerstone on this magnificent structure," Rogers said. "I know you all are very proud this. Masonry in Texas is alive and well and has been for 178 years. There's 851 lodges in the state of Texas and there is also 85,000 Masons in Texas. It's a ceremony that is over 300 years old. Anytime you go by building and you see a Masons cornerstone, we're just proud of that. We're proud of the construction and the advancement of every city and gives us great pride to do it. We wish you all the best." Angelina College Polk County Center will begin classes in the fall semester this year. After the ceremony Masons traveled back to the Masonic Lodge on North Washington Street to unveil its new historic marker. The marker is inscribed with the following: "In 1840 this Masonic Lodge was organized in the pioneer town of Swartout (6 miles SW) in what was then Liberty County. After erecting a twostory building, the Masons assisted in organizing the first school in the area and furnished the lower floor of the lodge for school use. Members gave money for salaries, tuition and supplies. The Masons furnished the building for the first school in Livingston after moving the lodge here in 1846. The school used their building until 1908. Trinity Lodge met at the site on West Church Street from 1970 until it moved to this current site in 2004 and has taken an active part in promoting education in Polk County."