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  • Commissioners approve resolutions

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Polk County commissioners meet Tuesday morning at the Polk County Courthouse.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Polk County commissioners approved a quartet of resolutions during the first commissioners court of March Tuesday morning at the Polk County Courthouse.

    The resolutions pertain to the 87th Texas Legislative Session. The resolutions that commissioners approved were an opposition to prohibit county lobbying, an opposition to reduce the number of appellate courts, the support of county road grant funds and the support of increased funding for rural public transit.

    “Removing appellate courts would require our residents to travel further,” Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy said. “There’s not an appellate court close to us. If someone is going through the appeals process, they would have to drive a long distance and pay for a hotel, whereas people who live close to an appellate court can just drive, do their thing and come back. The expense to rural Texas will be higher if they consolidate these appellate courts. If you look at some of the transit in larger counties such as Angelina or Nacogdoches, they have regular routes. In Polk County, it would be beneficial to our residents if we had a regular route.”

    There are 14 appellate courts in Texas, and Polk County falls under the jurisdictions of the 9th Court of Appeals in Beaumont. The other Courts of Appeals are located in Houston (1st, 14th), Fort Worth (2nd), Austin (3rd), San Antonio (4th), Dallas (5th), Texarkana (6th), Amarillo (7th), El Paso (8th), Waco (10th), Eastland (11th), Tyler (12th) and Corpus Christi (13th).

    Commissioners also approved an action relating to Precinct 1 Constable Scott Evans participating in the US Department of Justice Equitable Sharing Program.

    “He has been participating all along in different investigations,” Murphy said. “It depends on which law enforcement agency is involved. We’ve already moved some of the offices there.”

    Murphy also commented on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to open businesses to full capacity and lift the mask mandate. Those went into effect Wednesday.

    “We have given all of our staff members the option of wearing a mask,” Murphy said. “We’re not asking anyone to mask, and we’re not asking anyone to unmask. We’re also asking people to be cautious and smart. Don’t go around hugging strangers. Let’s be logical about this. We have a strong vaccination program going on and we need maintain that for people who want to receive the vaccine. The majority of business owners that I’ve talked to are planning to open to full capacity. It’s at their discretion.”

  • Commissioners receive judge’s disaster declaration

    IMG 7549ALTON PORTER | HCC Houston County Judge Jim Lovell issued a Declaration of Local Disaster for the county in response to the recent severe winter storms that wreaked havoc on the county and the county’s commissioners voted to receive the declaration as information at a meeting held in person and via the Zoom video communications app Thursday morning.

    By Alton Porter

    Houston County was declared a disaster area by the county judge as a result of the major winter storms that wreaked havoc throughout the county a couple of weeks ago and the declaration was received by county commissioners.

    Saturday, Feb. 20, Judge Jim Lovell issued a seven-day Declaration of Local Disaster for the county. And five days later, at a meeting of the commissioners court, following explanations by Lovell and county Emergency Management Coordinator Heath Murff, the commissioners voted to pass a motion to receive as information the declaration.

    The declaration stated that “the County of Houston, on the 14 day of February, AD 2021 suffered widespread or severe damage, injury, or loss of life, with massive amounts of debris creating a public health threat (or there is imminent threat of same), resulting from the arrival of a major winter storm that has impacted Houston County and caused freezing temperatures, snow and ice accumulations.”

    It continued, the storm “essentially prevented access and safe passage on many roadways and caused long term electrical power and utility outages and major infrastructure and property damage thus creating a public safety hazard.”

    Because the county judge determined that extraordinary measures must be taken to alleviate the suffering of people and to protect or rehabilitate property, he declared the state of disaster.

    The declaration noted that the county’s emergency management plan was implemented, and “Whereas Section 418.108 of the Texas Disaster Act of 1975, as amended, Vernon’s Texas Codes Annotated, Government Code Chapter 418, provides that the state of disaster shall continue for a period of not more than seven days of the date hereof, unless the same is continued by consent of the Commissioner’s Court of the County of Houston, Texas.”

    In other business, the commissioners scheduled a public hearing for April 13, “regarding the Tax Abatement Agreement with Houston County and Lincoln Lumber Crockett, LLC, to modify or terminate the agreement and to consider entering a Tax Abatement Agreement with the City of Crockett and Lincoln Lumber Crockett, LLC.”

    The commissioners and Crockett city councilmembers approved a tax abatement agreement with Lincoln Lumber several weeks ago, and the Crockett officials later approved a related agreement that had been amended. County officials are now considering whether to terminate their original agreement and approve the amended one that was adopted by the city.

    “What happened is Houston County and Lincoln Lumber have a tax abatement agreement…,” said County Attorney Daphne Session. “That was approved in November of 2020 based on the application for a tax abatement.

    “The city entered or approved a tax abatement agreement in November of 2020 also with Lincoln Lumber. Then, Lincoln Lumber made some acquisitions and made some new purchases of land in the area.”

    The city did a new tax abatement agreement—modified the old one based on the acquisitions and new purchases—and approved it in January, Session said. “And the city would like the county to be included in their tax abatement because their tax abatement they approved is for the city of Crockett, for Houston County and Lincoln Lumber, which was not done here. We have our own agreement with Lincoln Lumber. They would like for the county to join their tax abatement agreement and have just one tax abatement agreement for all three.”

    The public hearing had to be set to modify or terminate the county’s current tax abatement agreement with Lincoln Lumber, Session said, adding, the city’s agreement and county’s agreement are very similar, with the exception of the addition of the acquisition of the new land by Lincoln Lumber on the city’s agreement.

    Lincoln Lumber is building a high-tech sawmill in the 200 block of West Austin Street and on two adjoining properties.

    In another action, the commissioners approved a new contract with Piney Woods Sanitation for solid waste collection service in unincorporated areas of the county.

    They voted to approve motions appointing commissioners Jimmy Henderson, Gene Stokes and Willie Kitchen to negotiate for right of way and construction/temporary easements in their precincts as necessary for the Texas Department of Transportation bridge improvement project.

    Henderson is to negotiate for easements on County Roads (CR) 1060 and 1050 for the Hickory Creek tributary, Stokes for easements on CR 3585 for the Wright Creek tributary and Kitchen for easements plus relocation of utilities on CR 2215, CR 2230 and CR 2120 for Little Elkhart Creek and Big Elkhart Creek tributaries.

    The commissioners received as information racial profiling reports from county law enforcement agencies and an audit report for the fiscal year ending 2020 for county Emergency Services District No. 2.

    They approved an order declaring an exemption from bidding necessary to preserve and protect the public health and safety of county residents as authorized under Local Government Code 262.024(a)(2).

    The commissioners voted to approve acceptance of a $2,000 donation from the city of Kennard for Precinct 4 and to authorize the making of necessary budget amendments.

    And the commissioners heard annual summary interpretation presentations of 2020 AgriLife Extension Service education programs given by Jo Smith and Tasha Brent, extension agents of the county’s Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, and Corey J. Hicks, of the Prairie View A&M University Cooperative Extension Program.

    During her presentation, Smith noted that the Houston County Fair and Youth Livestock Show is still one for late March and early April.

  • Commissioners seek upgrades across county

    Commish 1EMILY KUBISCH-SABRSULA I SJNT Representatives from the ThyssenKrupp Elevator, an elevator modernization company, along with county maintenance, discuss the costs of upgrading electrical and fire alarm components in the courthouse elevator.

    By Emily Kubisch-Sabrsula

    The San Jacinto County commissioners court met to discuss upgrades in the county regarding the use of census data, contract upgrades within the jail, and even modern touches to the courthouse elevator. 

    Jail Update

    Captain Rosa Bass stood before the court asking for a three-year addendum to a current contract with NCIC Inmate Phone Communication services, which currently ends in 2022. The three-year extension comes with the company implementing the service of sorting through inmate mail in-lieu of jail staff. This will help alleviate man-hours spent inspecting mail, as well as relieves potential tensions between staff and inmates regarding mail-related complaints.

    The services will come at no additional cost to the county aside from a contract extension. The company has already installed kiosks in the cells that allow inmates to place grievances and commissary requests, and will allow them to view mail. Inmates also have limited video communication services, which have been offered and heavily utilized since Covid has stopped visitations. According to jail staff, since implementing the video services earlier this year, inmates have been calmer and less disciplinary action has been taken.

    Family and friends can contact the jail directly to set up video visitation and messages, which are still monitored by staff. With the main change being to mail services, anyone seeking to send mail to inmates will send all correspondences to a central sorting location instead of the jail- all mail sent to the jail will be returned to sender. The exceptions include attorney mail and bonafide press-releases.

    On Dec. 9 of this year, the jail was set to be fully staffed and in compliance with The Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

    After months of review and pending the final contract, the board entered into an agreement to purchase seven plain work trucks with no after-market specs, but with full-maintenance through Enterprises’ Fleet Lease Program. The trucks will be leased for around $38,000. Under the contract, the trucks will run in the county for 12 month or until they reach 15,000 miles, at which point the county will decide to purchase, replace, or retain the equity from the vehicle.

    Enterprise will also remove several currently existing vehicles that are older models or have higher millage to help offset the cost of the new fleet, as well as provide the county with a six-month update on their vehicle usage and equity.

    Other business

    The San Jacinto County Courthouse is currently working to plan and receive bids to modernize the elevator. Some features on the elevator will be grandfathered in per Texas Historic Commission guidelines, but other features like the fire system will be renovated.

    The county is also in the process of hiring a firm to assist with using 2020 Census data to potentially redistrict areas and determine what economic and social needs residents could benefit from.

    To help streamline legal paperwork filed in the county, the court voted to transfer all registrar duties from the Justice of the Peace for all precincts to the county clerk. In the past there has been confusion between the county and state regarding precincts handling paperwork outside of their jurisdiction, which creates backlogs in certifying things like birth and death certificates. While all able parties will be certified countywide to handle all paperwork, ideally the County Clerk will act as the main authority.

    Commissioner’s court meets every first and third Wednesday of the month at 9 a.m. in the Emergency Shelter in Coldspring, across from the courthouse. Public comment can be made at the beginning of the meetings.

  • Commissioners vote to oppose bills

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Polk County Office of Emergency Management coordinator Courtney Comstock updates commissioners on the county’s efforts to get back to normal following Winter Storm Uri, which affected most of the state of Texas, including Polk County, last week.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Polk County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a resolution that opposes Senate Bill 234 and House Bill 749 Tuesday morning during commissioners court at the Polk County Courthouse.

    These bills would prohibit political subdivisions from using public money to lobby. Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy is a staunch opponent of those bills.

    “Those bills hurt the little man,” she said. “They silence public officials such as commissioners, judges and sheriffs. People who don’t live in East Texas would be making decisions that affect East Texas.”

    Commissioners also discussed a future public hearing that they will have with Corrigan-Camden ISD officials on March 23. The hearing regards reinvestment zone property within the C-CISD catchment area that’s south and west of the Corrigan city limits.

    “Anytime you do a tax abatement, you have to do a reinvestment zone first,” Murphy said. “Then the board can consider whatever tax abatement agreement you agree on with that organization. C-CISD has to be engaged in the discussion because they are one of the taxing entities. The only taxing entities involved are the county and the school district.”

    A measure to close a portion of Roy Bean Road in Precinct 2 also was approved.

    “What happened was someone continued Roy Bean Road through someone’s private property,” Murphy said. “The property sold and the new owner is saying that the road doesn’t belong on his/her property. It’s been corrected.”

    Polk County Office of Emergency Management coordinator Courtney Comstock also gave an update on the county following last week’s encounter with Winter Storm Uri. Most of the county received snowfall and accumulation as well as ice, which caused school districts and several businesses to close and boil water notices in Livingston and Onalaska.

    The next commissioners court will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 9.

  • Congressman diagnosed with COVID

    Kevin BradyFILE PHOTO Congressman Kevin Brady

    TCNS staff

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Conroe, has been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

    According the congressman’s Twitter account, Brady said on Jan. 5 that the Office of House Physician informed him that he tested positive for COVID-19 and is under quarantine.

    Brady said that as had been recommended, he received a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 18. He said he tested negative for the virus as recently as New Year’s Day.

    He began treatment on Jan. 6

    According to a statement from his office, Brady had been practicing all guidelines laid out by the Center for Disease Control and House physicians, including social distancing and wearing a mask, and received a test as soon as he was experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

    He also received the second dose of the vaccine last week.

    The Pfizer vaccine is authorized by the FDA as a two-dose regimen with a 21-day interval between shots. Per the FDA, the effectiveness of the vaccine after a single dose is inconclusive.

    Brady was confident in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine and is incredibly proud of the historic success of Operation Warp Speed, according to the statement.

    It also said that Brady is receiving outpatient treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center.

  • Corrigan approves $375,000 grant

                                   CASEY SIZEMORE Corrigan City Council Member Irene Thomson (right) presents City Secretary Paloma Carbajal (center) and Mayor Johnna Lowe Gibson with a donation check from Alvin Freeman to be applied toward the Corrigan Volunteer Fire Department.

    By Casey Sizemore

    CORRIGAN – During its regular scheduled meeting Tuesday, the Corrigan City Council approved beginning the procurement procedures to accept the Texas Department of Agriculture Community Development block grant for 2021-22.

    City Manager Darrian Hudman said the $375,000 grant, which is more than previous years, could be applied toward water and sewer projects. The council did not discuss what projects the grant would be applied to.

    Mayor Johnna Lowe Gibson said the city is in talks with Corrigan OSB “to see if they can help” with some of the water or sewer projects.

    The council also approved three appointments to a committee to seek who is most qualified to complete some of the jobs. Mayor Gibson described the committee as a “formality.”

    The council also approved a declination toward “Entergy’s backup generation product.” Hudman said Entergy intends to install a generator for the city to use during power outages. He said Energy requested the council decline the initial submission so they could resubmit under a multi-city or municipality project.

    The board also approved the general city election for May 1, 2021.

    After a lengthy discussion, the council tabled a motion to reduce the speed limit from 30 mph to 20 mph on Martin Luther King, Jr. Street until the council members have an opportunity to hear pros and cons from the citizens.

    Chief Gerald Gibson requested the council take up the matter out of concern for children playing in the area.

    “My only concern is the children, that’s all I care about,” he said.

    Chief Gibson said children walk along the street, play basketball in and near the street and play in the park, so he is concerned an accident is going to occur.

    Hudman recommended the council consider an ordinance stating all residential streets in the city limits be reduced to 20 mph. He also recommended the city mail out information to citizens and make callouts.

    During the council forum portion of the meeting, the council members discussed a recent article in the Enterprise concerning Georgia Pacific donating funds toward constructing a new fire department building for the Corrigan Volunteer Fire Department.

    “The Corrigan Volunteer Fire Department could use donations for that building,” Mayor Gibson said.

    Chief Gibson said CFVD is also in need of volunteer firefighters.

    Council member Irene Thomson presented the city with a donation check toward the fire department on behalf of Alvin Freeman.

  • Corrigan officer back at work after stabbing

    CnYMCoIJMUGSHOT Judy Gail Moreira

    By Jason Chlapek

    CORRIGAN – A K9 Unit officer with the Corrigan Police Department is back on duty after he was stabbed in the line of duty last month.

    Albert Richard was one of the CPD officers on duty on Feb. 20, who was dispatched for backup by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office to assist in a disturbance call just outside of Corrigan. When Richard arrived at the residence, he went inside and attempted to detain the subject.

    As Richard grabbed the suspect, 28-year-old Judy Gail Moreira, he was stabbed in the upper area of his right arm. However, Richard continued with business as usual and didn’t realize he had been stabbed until he and his partner put Moreira in handcuffs.

    It was at that point that Richard saw blood dripping from the right side of his body and a steak knife fell to the ground during the process. Moreira was taken to the Polk County Jail where she remains in custody on charges of aggravated assault of a uniformed public servant and terroristic threat.

    Richard was taken to CHI-Livingston Hospital where he received treatment and was released. He was cleared to return to duty earlier this week.

  • Corrigan-Camden ISD swears in new board members

    C CISD Pic 1 CASEY SIZEMORE Newly elected school board members took the oath of office during the Corrigan-Camden ISD board meeting Monday. Pictured above are board members Thomas Robert; left, Lawrence Jolly Jr.; center, and Peter Burks; right.

    By Casey Sizemore

    CORRIGAN – Newly elected school board members took the oath of office during the Corrigan-Camden ISD regular scheduled board meeting Monday.

    The new board members include Lawrence Jolly Jr. for Position 3, Thomas Robert for Position 2 and Peter Burks for Position 1. The outgoing incumbents include former vice president Lync Cavanaugh for Position 1, former President Sean Burks and a vacated seat.

    Sean Burks and Cavanaugh were presented with “tokens of appreciation” for 13 and seven years, respectively, of service made by the C-CISD Ag. Science and Mechanics classes.

    “I’m the outgoing president and I would like to thank everyone out here in this crowd for everything y’all have done for this school,” Sean Burks said. “Each one of y’all have been a pivotal point in how we’ve led the school in the direction we have went. That being said, I want to challenge each of you young men, as y’all assume y’all’s duties here as part of the school board, to lead with your hearts. Do what’s best for the kids. No personal agendas are really needed. You have a team of eight: we have operated with a team of seven — we’ve had a board member that has decided not to be here for quite some time… Just keep every kid in mind.”

    The board also voted Michael Woodard as vice president, Anthony Carroll as board president and Angela Conaroe as secretary.

    In other business, the board accepted a donation of more than $25,000 from Roy O’ Martin for the installment of new playground equipment for Pre-k and Kindergarten students. Hughes Trucking is donating the mulch required to finish the project, according to Roy O Martin representative Sherry Hughes, who gave a brief presentation to the board.

    The board accepted a $15,000 NOGA grant to be applied toward after school programs and approved Harrell and Woodard for authority to sign bank checks.

    Superintendent Richard Cooper’s district reports indicate there are currently 780 students enrolled in the district with an average attendance rate of 96.92%.

  • Corvette owner shows collection to Livingston Lions Club (VIDEO)

                                   PHOTO BY KELLI BARNES | PCE Pat McCulley’s collection of corvettes was on display Wednesday afternoon at the weekly Livingston Lions Club meeting at Camp Cho Yeh. McCulley’s collection includes one corvette from each of the brand’s eight classes.

    By Jason Chlapek

    LIVINGSTON — Sometimes one thing leads to another.

    That’s the case with Pat and Jerry McCulley. Somehow one corvette turned into eight.

    Pat displayed her corvette collection Wednesday afternoon at the Livingston Lions Club’s weekly meeting at Camp Cho Yeh. She was able to show her entire collection, including her eighth corvette which arrived in September — the 2020 C8 mid-engine.

    “We have a corvette from every generation,” McCulley said. “The oldest corvette is a 1960 C1.”

    McCulley said each corvette generation averages about 10 years. She also said that there was never an intention of having a full-blown corvette collection.

    “It just sort of happened,” McCulley said. “The first one I bought was a 1975 C3. It was a popular car when I was a teenager. After I bought that one, I thought it would be neat to buy a 2005 C6. I didn’t intend one to get one of every generation, but it just happened that way.”

    In all, the McCulleys have a C1 from 1960, a C2 from 1965, a C3 from 1975, a C4 from 1990, a C5 from 2000, a C6 from 2005, a C7 Grandsport from 2017 and a C8 from 2020. Pat has an interesting story about the purchase of the C4.

    “(Jerry) found the C4 online in California,” Pat said. “We have friends in LA who we sent money for the purchase of the car and we had it shipped to Texas.”

    The McCulleys ordered their latest corvette in July 2019, and were scheduled to receive it in March. But, a few things happened that delayed the arrival date until September.

    “GM went on strike back in March then Covid-19 hit,” Pat said. “This is the first year of the C8 generation.”

    The McCulleys are lifetime members of the National Corvette Museum, which is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky. They have lived in Livingston since 1979.

    “I try to show them every opportunity I get,” Pat said. “We always try to participate in anything FAITH does, Hometown Christmas and anything else we can do to help the community. We take children for rides in the corvettes and also do fundraisers and food drives.”

    While the C8 was just released this year, the C9 has likely crossed Pat’s mind. Whether or not she and Jerry purchase one a decade from now will be the question.

    “We’ll have to see how young and spry I am when the C9 comes out,” Pat quipped.

    It might just lead to another corvette in the family.

  • Councilman recognized for birthday and service

    NEWS Herb Branch photoCOURTESY PHOTO Woodville Mayor Paula Jones presents long-serving councilman Herbert Branch with a key to the city. Branch was recognized on Monday night for both his coming 90th birthday and his long, faithful service to the city.

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – Woodville Mayor Paula Jones began Monday evening’s regular meeting of the Woodville City Council with a proclamation to acknowledge the month of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

    Along with the proclamation, Terry Allen, with the Tyler County Child Welfare Board was on hand with other volunteers from the CWB and spoke about the problem of child abuse as it affects the county.

    Allen said there are 31 children from Tyler County in foster care, and added that the pandemic has complicated the data, in her estimation, on how many children have died as a result of abuse or neglect.

    Branch honored with key

    Under the standing agenda item set aside for reporting community interest news, City Administrator Mandy Risinger announced a special “milestone” birthday approaching for a certain Woodville resident – longtime councilmember Herbert Branch. Branch will turn 90 next month.

    Jones presented Branch with a key to the city and a hearty thanks for his service to the city. Branch said he has lived in Woodville for 48 years and was appreciative for the gift. “That is so nice. Thank you very much,” he said.

    In other business on the brief agenda for Monday evening, the city approved the procurement of Lufkin firm Goodwin Lasiter Strong for engineering services for an upcoming CDBG program grant application.

    The grant cycles every two years, Risinger said, and the city will be applying for a street improvement project. One stipulation is that a grant administrator and engineer must be appointed, and Risinger said the city has utilized the firm’s services for past projects.

    A special meeting will take place this week to authorize the submission of the application.

  • Country star Supernaw dies

    Doug SupernawFILE PHOTO Doug Supernaw

    From staff reports

    LIVINGSTON – Country star and Livingston resident Doug Supernaw died on the morning of Friday, Nov. 13. Supernaw was 60, and his passing came after a battle with cancer.

    Supernaw’s death was announced on social media by his manager J.J. Morris. “My friend and boss man Doug Supernaw passed away this morning, with his wife Cissy Allen Supernaw at his side,” her post read.

    Other musicians expressed condolences on social media after the news became public. Neal McCoy, a friend of Supernaw’s and fellow ‘90s hitmaker, said “What a good fella and a heck of a singer,” and added a note of encouragement to Supernaw’s wife: “Stay strong Cissy! You have been for a while. Doug couldn’t have been blessed with a better woman, and I’ve heard you say the same thing about him.”

    Supernaw, who was a native of Bryan, grew up in Inwood Forest and was exposed to country music at an early age by his mother.

    In high school, Supernaw was a star athlete, and attended college on a golf scholarship, before he began playing in bands. He later moved to Nashville and found work as a staff songwriter, before moving back to Texas where he formed a band called Texas Steel.

    Supernaw and his band (later renamed the Possum Eatin’ Cowboys) became a huge draw across the state, and in 1993, he signed to BNA Entertainment, the label that released his gold-selling debut Red and Rio Grande.

    The album, which drew critical acclaim along with its big sales, produced several hits, the best-known of which were “Reno” and the number one hit “I Don’t Call Him Daddy.” The video for the latter included an appearance from Supernaw’s son Phillip, who would later go on to play in the NFL.

    After two more albums for major labels, Supernaw recorded Fadin’ Renegade for an indie label, and took a lengthy hiatus from recording. He was reportedly disillusioned with the recording industry but continued to perform live. His blend of literate lyrics, catchy melodies and traditional country sounds, along with a stick-to-your-guns Texas-born attitude, helped influence many Texas country acts that became popular around the turn of the millennium.

    Supernaw returned to full-time touring in 2016 and recorded an album the following year comprised of re-recorded versions of his hits, along with a pair of new songs.

    He was diagnosed with stage IV lung and bladder cancer in early 2019 and began an aggressive course of treatment. Several benefits were held throughout last year to help Supernaw with medical expenses, including events at Pontoon’s and Coal’s Smokehouse in Splendora.

    Reportedly, the treatments were working, and Supernaw was on the mend, but recently, it was announced that the cancer had spread to his spine and brain, as an MRI had indicated, and he was placed under hospice care.

    Supernaw is survived by his wife Cissy, his children and grandchildren. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

  • County begins road to recovery from Uri

    image Photo by Charles Miller of RE/MAX Lake Livingston Arial footage of the city of Livingston depicts snowfall that covered the city and much of Polk County last Monday. The snowfall was the result of Winter Storm Uri, which made its presence last Sunday night and impacted the county much of the week.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Winter Storm Uri wrecked havoc on the entire state of Texas, including Polk County.

    While Uri forced several businesses to close for much of the week, the county’s biggest winter storm since 1996 didn’t do as much damage as anticipated. While there were power outages, frozen pipes, water main breaks and water shortages, there were no fatalities from automobile accidents or freezing/hypothermia.

    “Power in Polk County was restored quickly,” Polk County Office of Emergency Management coordinator Courtney Comstock said. “Water is still an issue. We are advocating for our residents in trying to get information when their water will be restored. There are a lot of water main breaks. It also took a little while for utility companies to identify the leaks. Crews are working diligently to restore homes.”

    Comstock said that power was restored fairly quickly after the storm. She said that SHECO (Sam Houston Electrical Cooperative) moved really quickly and Entergy resolved most of their outages Thursday.

    According to Comstock, SHECO had 11,758 meters without power due to outages from the storm in Polk County between Monday and Tuesday, but as of Thursday, they were up and operational completely. She said Entergy had slightly less than 100 outages as of Thursday and now they have just one.

    Uri made her mark Sunday night by bringing snow and freezing rain to the area. Snow continued through Monday night, and much of the county had to deal with icy road conditions until Thursday.

    “This disaster is different because it impacted all 254 counties in the state of Texas,” Comstock said. “DPS reported eight vehicular accidents. First Responders had to pull some folks out of ditches as well. But there were no fatalities from accidents or freezing.”

    Uri also forced the county’s six school districts – Big Sandy, Corrigan-Camden, Goodrich, Leggett, Livingston and Onalaska ISDs – to shut down for the entire week. All school district except Goodrich, which has a student holiday on Monday, are scheduled to return to the classroom on Monday.

    Comstock said she expects some supplies in from Red Cross on Monday, and the Center of Hope provided meals and beverages to residents in need on Saturday. She also said that drinking water was expected to arrive this weekend, and that most restaurants are open to serve hungry citizens.

    “Emergency Management has requested drinking water from the state,” Comstock said. “Residents have been directed to restaurants in Livingston because most have been operational in serving the past two days. We’ve been telling people to call local restaurants to ask if they have filters for their water so they can serve drinks. The state is getting ready to roll. I anticipate drinking water to arrive soon. When the water comes in, volunteer fire departments will distribute it. This helps with localized distribution.”

    Comstock also said that Lifeline Church of Livingston helped by opening a warming shelter and managed to maintain power and water. The church also provides showers and laundry services at the facility.

    Uri brought back memories for Comstock, a Livingston native. She compared it to another winter storm that took place a quarter of a century ago.

    “The last ice storm that could be compared to this one happened in 1996,” Comstock said. “I was in elementary school when the winter storm of 1996 hit. I remember that we had thick ice and snow mix on the ground for three days. I don’t remember a long-term power outage then, but as a kid, I was excited to get out and play. Those were fun memories.”

    Comstock said Uri was the first winter storm of this magnitude that she dealt with as coordinator of the OEM. This is her 13th year with the Polk County OEM.

    “I think Polk County fared better than many other counties,” Comstock said. “Power was restored quickly. Once we get water restored, we’ll be back to normal conditions. Some residents will have to make home repairs in order to get back to normal. I think we’re all looking forward to some 60-degree weather this weekend.”

  • County commits funds to regional communications infrastructure

                                   JASON CHLAPEK | PCE Polk County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Byron Lyons addresses commissioners about an agenda item that he wants tabled during Tuesday morning’s Commissioners Court. The item was tabled.

    By Jason Chlapek

    LIVINGSTON — Polk County commissioners approved a measure that will help not just their own county, but other counties as well during Commissioners Court Tuesday morning at the Polk County Courthouse.

    The measure is a resolution authorizing the commitment of county funds and participation in a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) project by the Deep East Texas Council Of Governments (DETCOG) for regional interoperable radio communications. Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy believes this is a good move.

    “A few years ago, one of our Sheriff’s deputies was shot at and he was unable to get out and his radio wasn’t working so he couldn’t get help,” Murphy said. “What we’re trying to do is get interoperable communications with the entire 12-county DETCOG region and build a network across those counties that will allow us to have interoperability for emergency management, law enforcement, first responders or anybody that needs to be in communication in a crisis situation or circumstances. If we can get this done, then they’re asking for a commitment of 1 percent from the cog, which is huge. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these counties to be able to get good interoperability.”

    The DETCOG region consists of 12 counties that include Angelina, Houston, Jasper, Nacogdoches, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity and Tyler counties. The project calls for some communication structure.

    “It’s going to be upgraded technology where towers will be placed strategically,” Murphy said. “For example, let’s say Polk County ends up with a tower. That tower will be powerful enough to cover part of Liberty County, part of Trinity County or part of Tyler County depending on where the tower is located. The idea is to put ‘umbrellas’ over the entire DETCOG region to where everybody is covered regardless of where the location of the tower is. It’s a regional plan.”

    Commissioners also approved a measure to submit a CDBG grant application for flood and drainage improvement in a subdivision in Precinct 1. The Precinct 1 Road & Bridge Department will match the funds.

    “What happens when you receive these grants, there’s a matching portion,” Murphy said. “They don’t just give you the money. You have to have ‘skin in the game.’ It’s a matching grant. Some of the HUD requirements that those people be low to moderate income. To be LMI, it’s based on the average income for that county. The average income for Polk County is lower than the average income for Montgomery County based on the businesses and what people make. The cost of living is also higher in Montgomery County. The LMI is what qualifies certain areas. Let’s say you live by the lake and you have a home with a low monetary value, but it’s right next to a mansion. The mansion skews it and does not allow the person living in the smaller home to receive as much funding or assistance because the value for that area is so high. HUD has set up requirements for LMI and that gives you points for when you apply for those grants. The lower the income, the more assistance you will be providing and the more points you get when you make application. The LMI is what qualifies that subdivision based on the conditions and the amount of money the people living in that area make.”

    Also approved was a measure for county transportation infrastructure. The Texas Department of Transportation is partnering with the county.

    “Our agreement with TxDOT is to help replace some bridges and culverts or things like that,” Murphy said. “Our agreement is to allow them to proceed and each commissioner will communicate with TxDOT engineers to get what those precincts need. We’re trying to streamline the operation as much as possible and allow it to be simplified.”

    The next Commissioners Court takes place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10.

  • County offices relocating during courthouse construction

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Matt March of Texas AgriLife discusses surface lease agreements with Polk County commissioners Tuesday morning.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Polk County employees who have offices in the courthouse will have to relocate for two years soon.

    That’s because the courthouse will undergo a renovation project after the county received a $3 million grant from the Texas Historical Commission earlier this month. During the projected two-year project, courthouse offices will be relocated to the vacant building of the former Regional Health Center and to the Polk County Annex building.

    “We’re scheduled to complete in mid-2023,” Polk County grants and contracts administrator Jessica Hutchins said. “But with construction, that could always change. The project is expected to begin within six months of our contract. We don’t receive contract until March, so we should be going out for bids within six months of that agreement. It’s roughly a two-year project.”

    The relocation measure was approved during commissioners court Tuesday morning. During the two-year period, commissioners court will take place in the former Regional Health Center building.

    “When we originally applied for the grant, we didn’t qualify,” Hutchins said. “But when THC had an additional $3 million left over, they awarded that to us. We’re not receiving the official award until THC meets on Feb. 3. Then we’ll know more and have an accurate date on contracts and construction.”

    Speaking of grants, the county is working on finding a project for the Texas Department of Agriculture Community Development Block Grant. Once an administrator and engineer have been selected, the project selection can begin.

    “TDA every year opens up grants for their CDBG program,” Hutchins said. “It’s basically to improve water districts, sewage and basic necessities for the community. Last year we received $250,000 for Dallardsville-Segno Water Corporation. Now we’re opening up a new grant period. We’re getting an administrator and an engineer to select a project in the county.”

    A similar process will take place for the Hurricane Harvey Regional Mitigation Program. Hutchins elaborated on that as well.

    “For Hurricane Harvey, there’s a mitigation program and that’s set where any flooding for Harvey was done we want to mitigate that for the future so those same areas are not flooded,” she said. “There are certain zip codes within the county that flooded so they are eligible to apply for the program. There’s two rounds of mitigation. The first round is competitive. We already applied and submitted that application. There’s allocated mitigation funding that’s given to each of the counties that DETCOG is receiving in allocated amounts that are set for us and they help the general land office come up with a way to disburse it among our community. The general land office will be allocating set funds to each of the counties that DETCOG services. Each county that was impacted by Harvey will be receiving funds that are not competitive that we are set to receive.”

    Matt March of Texas AgriLife discussed surface lease agreements. The lease agreements, which are set to expire June 30, are for land in Baylor and Throckmorton counties that Polk County has designated for its six school districts – Big Sandy, Corrigan-Camden, Goodrich, Leggett, Livingston and Onalaska.

    “A long time ago, the legislature set up some land in West Texas and designated it as property for the school districts in our county to be managed by the court,” Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy said. “The lease money gets split up with the schools in the county and the county benefits as well. The majority of counties sold their land a long time ago. Polk County is one of the few that did not. We are responsible for managing it and maintaining the quality of the property, and making sure the money is going where it’s supposed to go.”

    The next commissioners court takes place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9.

  • County sets speed limit near Apple Springs

    110520 countyGoogle Maps

    TCNS Staff

    GROVETON — The Trinity County Commissioners’ Court on Oct. 27 put its foot down on drivers putting the accelerator down.

    Commissioners approved setting a 25-mph speed limit on Graham Road between FM 357 and State Highway 94, which was done without debate. It was approved unanimously.

    In other business, the county:

    •approve the county’s investment policy, an annual undertaking, and reappointed County Treasurer B.L. Dockens as investment officer;

    • approved budget amendments of $1,500;

    • appointed Tom Hester as reserve deputy constable for Precinct 3;

    • approved the purchase of a 2012 HAMM 3410 cab roller for Road and Bridge Precinct 3; and

    • declined to discuss or act on a burn ban for the county.

  • County to receive $3 million restoration grant

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE From left, Polk County Commissioners Guylene Robertson and Tommy Overstreet listen to Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy during the first commissioners court of the 2021 calendar year Tuesday morning at the Polk County Courthouse.

    By Jason Chlapek

    Polk County will receive a $3 million restoration grant from the Texas Historical Commission soon.

    The grant was approved at the first commissioners court of the new year Tuesday morning at the Polk County Courthouse. The approval was music to Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy’s ears.

    “Thank goodness it was approved,” Murphy said. “It was a long time coming. It’s nice to receive $3 million.”

    The grant will be used to restore the court room located on the second floor of the courthouse. Murphy said county grants and contracts administrator Jessica Hutchins was instrumental in achieving this grant.

    “Jessica took the bull by the horns and submitted a beautiful grant request,” Murphy said. “She’s been in contact with the Texas Historical Commission throughout and it’s pretty exciting to be able to get the courthouse up to par.”

    Murphy does not have a timetable on when the project will begin. However, she said the news about receiving the grant was “pretty exciting.”

    “You have to go through planning and the THC has to approve everything before receiving the grant,” Murphy said. “One of the requirements is that the district courtroom has to be restored. We will have to remove some modifications that were made by the previous administration. It has to go back to its original look.”

    Commissioners also approved the purchase of nine foreclosed properties. Eight of the nine properties are located in Lake Livingston Village and the other is in Indian Springs Lake Estates.

    Tuesday’s commissioners court was the first for newly-elected Precinct 1 commissioner Guylene Robertson. More on her can be seen in Sunday’s Enterprise.

    The next commissioners court will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26.

  • Covid-19 regional update

    N2103P48004CFILE PHOTO Covid-19

    By ETxN Staff

    Polk, San Jacinto, and Tyler Counties

    In the Trauma Service Area designated H, which includes Polk, San Jacinto and Tyler counties, the amount of hospital bed usage by COVID-19 patients is down to 10% as of Wednesday, April 21, according to figures from the state department of health services. 

    Of the ICU beds available, 14% are being used as of Wednesday by COVID-19 patients. 

    The figure for daily cases reported as of Wednesday was 13 and the cumulative totals for the trauma region are 11,591 cases reported since reporting began in 2020, and 698 total COVID-related fatalities.

    Since reporting of active cases ceased in early March, concurrent with the lifting of Gov. Greg Abbott’s mandate, Tyler County reported 1,213 total cases and 34 deaths since March of 2020 when the county’s first confirmed case was reported."

    Houston County

    According to emergency management coordinator Heath Murff, as of April 30, the total number of Covid vaccination doses that had been administered in the county was 10,431.

    He added, “6,500 of those have been first doses; 4,633 of those are fully vaccinated people.

    “Houston County Emergency Management has hosted three vaccinations clinics, and we have vaccinated 600 citizens.”

    Murff said DSHS staff members “used to give us information daily, as far as, how many cases we had, how many active cases we had, how many recoveries we had, all that kind of specific (information) for Houston County, and they quit doing that.”

    ET COVID CHART

    **More information for up-to-date numbers can be found at:

    https://txdshs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/ed483ecd702b4298ab01e8b9cafc8b83

     

  • Crockett burglary suspect arrested in Huntsville

    MUGSHOT CorleyMUGSHOT Castein Austin Corley

    By Chris Edwards

    CROCKETT – Crockett Police last week identified one of the suspects in a burglary that occurred earlier in the month.

    According to a news release from CPD, a 20-year-old Crockett man, Castein Austin Corley, was arrested on March 12 by the Huntsville Police Department for warrants issued by CPD. The warrants were for Burglary of a Habitation and Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity.

    The burglary Corley was named as a suspect in occurred on March 4 in the 500 block of Anson Jones and was one of several to occur at the home within the last few months.

    Police say that suspects have taken in excess of $200K in cash and property.

    Footage from the victim’s home DVR system allowed law enforcement to obtain videos depicting the crime as it occurred, and the videos are available on the Crockett Police Department Facebook page, as well as the Deep East Texas Crime Stoppers page. The footage shows four suspects making unlawful entry into the home through a window.

    Both charges Corley faces are felonies, with the conspiracy charge a first-degree felony and the burglary a second-degree felony.

    According to the investigators working the case, the investigation is still ongoing, with the arrests of the other suspects to follow.

    CPD is asking the public to help with this case. Anyone with any information regarding the identity of the remaining suspects is urged to call the Crockett Police Department at 936-544-2021, or the Crime Stoppers tip line at 936-639-TIPS. Crime Stoppers tipsters can remain anonymous and can be eligible for a cash reward if information leads to an arrest.

  • Crockett Chamber $100 weekly drawing (VIDEO)

    IMG 8870TONI BROWNING | HCC The Crockett Area Chamber Executive Director Liza Clark, left, and Ashley Keenan, a chamber ambassador and Houston County Courier marketing director, conducted the drawing for the fourth week’s raffle Monday, Feb. 1, inside the office of the Courier, one of the sponsors of the event.

    By Alton Porter and Toni Browning

    The Crockett Area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a 10-week series of free giveaway drawings, called “10 in 2021”, through which lucky visitors to chamber-member businesses can win $100 each week.

    Chamber Executive Director Liza Clark visited the Houston County Courier office to draw the winning name on Feb. 1. Ashley Keenan, a chamber ambassador and Houston County Courier marketing director, assisted Clark by drawing the winner’s name.

    Linnea Robison, a visitor to Betty Boop’s restaurant, was the $100 winner of the fourth week’s drawing. Robison will receive $100 in cash and the restaurant will receive a free E-Blast from the Chamber. The E-Blast is sent out to all chamber businesses by email and contains information that is important to the winning company.

    Each Monday at 10 a.m., a winner’s name will be drawn at a sponsoring business. A live video is streamed on the Chamber’s Facebook page at that time.

    Sponsoring the drawings are Smitty’s BBQ, Knox Furniture, Bella’s Gifts and the Houston County Courier.

    For information on how you can participate in the free raffles, contact Clark by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 936-544-2359.

  • Crockett leaders updated on winter storm damage and recovery

    IMG 7751ALTON PORTER | HCC Crockett City Administrator John Angerstein, above, updated the city’s councilmembers on last month’s winter storm events and water losses and announced that the city has recovered from most of the damage done to its water system by the storms at a meeting Monday evening.

    By Alton Porter

    The city of Crockett sustained damage as a result of last month’s extremely cold winter storms. However, the city has recovered from most of the water problems and other damage caused by the weather events that were atypical for this part of the country.

    City Administrator John Angerstein presented an update on the recent “winter storm events and water loss” to Crockett city councilmembers and they discussed the matters at a meeting Monday evening.

    In a related item of business, the councilmembers voted to pass a motion approving a policy, which offers certain city water customers the opportunity for a one-time adjustment to lower their bills for “water loss due to the winter storm damage/leaks.”

    “Friday through Sunday (Feb. 12-14), after we were getting reports in from our weather forecasters, we realized that it (the winter storms) was going to be even worse than we initially had been told,” Angerstein said, in presenting his update, referring to a timeline he had distributed to the councilmembers.

    The timeline “gives everyone an idea of when this event happened and kind of our recovery process throughout it,” the city administrator said.

    “So, we sent out a couple of PSAs (public service announcements)—one on Friday and one on Sunday. We started scrambling as a city, going around and winterizing everything, covering and insulating all of our pipes, and doing what we could to double check our pumps and exposed piping and everything.

    “As a note, our pumps, all of our exposed piping, weathered the storm event really well. We have 12-inch water mains that go up our towers; those actually froze. We had heaters on those, keeping those thawed out. That’s how cold it really got.”

    “But we lost a couple of pumps at our wastewater plant due to freezing,” said Angerstein. “And we lost a pump on our sewer trailer. As we were trying to work it and also take care of sewer issues, the water froze up within that pump and it cracked as well. Those are insured losses.

    “Other than that, we faired (well), as a city, with our city infrastructure and our pumps and our systems. We came out of it with relatively little losses.”

    Angerstein continued, “During the night between Sunday and Monday (Feb. 14-15), is when things got serious for us enough to where our (water) system pressure really dropped…. We had no explanation for it, so we began sending people throughout the city, thinking we had water mains that had broken.

    “Between Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (Feb. 15-17), our pressure just continued to drop with just no end in sight, and all the way up until last weekend, we were continuing to find water leaks. As of that time, we had turned off approximately 500 meters at locations where we had found leaks.”

    Angerstein noted that city officials and staffers opened the Crockett Civic Center as a warming shelter for residents whose electric power was out and needed a warm place to stay during the extremely cold weather days.

    “As a city, we spent a lot in manpower—staffing, overtime, fuel, equipment—but did not receive any really uninsured damages or losses,” Angerstein said.

    Concerning the Water/Sewer Bill Adjustment Policy, adopted in response to the winter storms, “Angerstein noted, “The city of Crockett is helping its water/sewer utility customers who experienced significant higher water/sewer bills as a result of water leaks resulting from the winter storms and prolonged freezing temperatures during the week of Feb. 14, 2021.

    “If you are a city of Crockett water utility customer and your water/sewer bill that included the week of February 14 was at least 25% higher than the billing average of your November 2020, December 2020 and January 2021 bills, you are eligible for a one-time water/sewer bill adjustment.

    “The adjustment is based on an assumption that such an increase would be due to a water leak. If eligible, the adjustment will reduce your monthly water/sewer bill that covers the week of Feb. 14 to be equal to your monthly average bill for November 2020, December 2020 and January 2021.”

    Water customers who believe they are eligible for an adjustment, can contact the city of Crockett water department office by phone at 936-544-5156, Extension 206.

    Also, during the meeting, the councilmembers received an update on Phase 2 of the city’s Small Business Relief Program presented by James Gentry, executive director of the Crockett Economic and Industrial Development Corporation (CEIDC).

    The program provides financial assistance to Crockett small businesses that have experienced economic fallout as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Gentry said several businessowners have expressed interest in receiving funds from the program.

    Forty businesses were granted $500 each through the first phase of the program. The CEIDC initially put up the money for that phase and was later reimbursed with funds made available by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

    Gentry said the CEIDC is planning to provide $20,000 for Phase 2 as well.

    Owners of businesses with 10 or less employees that were impacted by the pandemic or last month’s winter storms may apply for funds through Phase 2 of the relief program by visiting the CEIDC office in the Crockett Civic Center or calling the office at 936-546-5636.