Lesly Wilkinson sworn in as new Corrigan Police Dept. chaplain

Corrigan PD officer Dana Vanya, new Corrigan PD chaplain Pastor Lesly Wilkinson, and Corrigan PD Chief Darrell Gibson, left-to-right. Photo by Mollie La SalleCorrigan PD officer Dana Vanya, new Corrigan PD chaplain Pastor Lesly Wilkinson, and Corrigan PD Chief Darrell Gibson, left-to-right. Photo by Mollie La Salle

By Mollie LaSalle

CORRIGAN – City Secretary Carrie Casper swore in Pastor Lesly Wilkinson of Union Springs Missionary Baptist Church as the new chaplain for the police department during Corrigan's city council meeting November 21. Chief Darrell Gibson welcomed Wilkinson, who took the oath in front of friends and family members.

Council approved, in short order, the minutes from the previous meeting and financial statements for October. An ordinance providing for a change in the municipal contributions to the current service annuity reserve at retirement for city employees was approved with corrections, per City Manager Darrian Hudman.

Council approved the renewal of Hudman's contract with the city. Chief Gibson's contract was renewed also, with Mayor Johnna Gibson abstaining from the vote. Council went into executive session pursuant to code section 551.074 of the Texas Open Meetings Act for the following reasons: to deliberate the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline, or dismissal of a public officer or employee or to hear complaints against a public officer or employee. No action was taken upon returning to open session.

Lieutenant Thomas Spurlock of the Corrigan Volunteer Fire Department reported there were 13 calls for assistance in October, of which three of the calls were cancelled. The fire department also held a fire prevention class at the primary school, assisited at one wreck, one vehicle fire and one mutual aid call. Chief Gibson reported that the police department made 41 arrests, handed out 1,066 citations, had 281 calls for service, performed 1,215 traffic stops, conducted 2,789 building checks, worked 27 cases, submitted 28 cases to the DA for prosecution, and worked 3 accidents, with no traffic deaths reported.

Mayor Gibson wanted to remind everyone of the upcoming Winterfest 2017: "Cowboy Christmas" which will held Saturday, December 9 beginning at 9 a.m.

The event promises to be bigger and better than past Winterfest events. The parade starts at 10, and there will be booths set up around "downtown" Corrigan (City Hall square).

There will be a contest for the best decorated floats, and there are plans to have a Little Miss and Mister pageant. Anyone interested in reserving a booth or entering a car, ATV, bicycle, wagon, or a decorated float to be judged should contact City Hall at 936-398-4126.

City employees will have their annual Christmas luncheon Tuesday, December 12 at noon at City Hall. Café de Rio is catering the luncheon this year.

Council completed or discussed all the items on their agenda, and adjourned the meeting at 7 p.m. Corrigan City Council meets the third Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m.

Commissioners agree to waive detention center fees

By Greg Peak

LIVINGSTON – Following a closed, executive session to discuss the matter with their attorney, Polk County commissioners agreed Tuesday to waive the county's fees from the IAH Detention Facility near Livingston for three months.

After the commissioners returned to open session, attorney Herb Bristow explained that due to a substantial drop in the number of inmates housed at the facility during the months of June, July and August, the income generated by the private detention center did not cover its expenses. The facility and its bond holders were asking the county to waive its fees for the months of September, October and November to help the facility recover from the previous shortfall.

The private detention facility primarily houses people being detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Under the contract with the facility and its bond holders, the county receives a per diem fee for each inmate in the facility, which means the monthly payments go up and down depending upon the number of prisoners held during any given month.

The county also receives a fee for the telephone calls made by the inmates and that income will not be interrupted because of Tuesday's action.

County Judge Sydney Murphy noted after the meeting that by agreeing to waive their fees during the three-month period, they are helping the IAH facility stabilize its income which could result in larger monthly payments next year.

Bristow noted the inmate numbers have been increasing recently noting that as of Tuesday, the IAH facility was holding 560 prisoners.

Murphy added she has been told by the facility management that 500 inmates is their "break event point."

While it is not known how much money the county would have received during the temporary suspension, Murphy noted that based on previous experience, the loss will not significantly impact the county's budget.

"No one's job is in jeopardy because of this," she said, noting that under the current budget, income from the IAH contract is earmarked for non-critical expenses.

Three years ago, the county agreed to waive its fees for an indefinite period when the facility, under its previous management, fell into a critical financial situation. The IAH income at that time was used to support all phases of the county's operation and Murphy, shortly after taking office for her first term, was faced with cutting well over $1 million from that year's budget to make up for that loss.
At that time county jobs were impacted as all department had to slash their budgets.

When the financial situation at IAH was finally stabilized, the county entered into a new contract with the facility earlier this year and the monthly payment were once again being received. However, under the current budget which went into effect on Oct. 1, the income was earmarked for capital purchases and other areas that would not create major problems should it be lost.

Other business
During the meeting, commissioners also:
• Received the quarterly report from Mike Demarco, general manager for Santek Waste Services, the company which operates the Polk County Landfill near Leggett. He noted the amount of waste that went into the landfill jumped from 11,828 tons in August to 19,595 tons in September, with much of the increase attributed to "FEMA waste" collected because of Hurricane Harvey in late August.
• Accepted the bids on eight new vehicles for the Polk County Sheriff's Office from Caldwell Chevrolet at a cost not to exceed $353,400. The deal will include six trade-in vehicles. Two other PCSO vehicles that were on the trade-in list will be reassigned to the county's maintenance and internet technology departments.
• Accepted bids for the purchase of four pickup trucks for the Precinct 1 Road and Bridge Department from Grapevine Dodge.
• Approved a resolution in support of grant application being submitted by the sheriff's department for rifle resistant body armor.
• Accepted bids for the purchase of new tires for the coming year. All bids were accepted except for one submitted by Simple Tires out of Pennsylvania.
• Approved the holiday schedule for the coming year.

City Council hears reports

By Lew Vail

CORRIGAN – The Corrigan city council conducted its regular meeting with position 2 trustee Bill Safford on excused absence, and an abbreviated agenda.

Georgia Pacific is consolidating its enterprises and requested council to change all listings with the city from Georgia Pacific Wood Products South to just Georgia-Pacific Wood Products, LLC., a name change that the council approved.

Police Chief Darrell Gibson reported that his department made 31 arrests and issued 1,204 citations. Corrigan PD made 204 calls for service, he also reported. They performed 1,289 building checks, worked 19 cases, and sent a total of 34 cases to be prosecuted by the Polk County district attorneys office. There were 8 accidents, with no fatalities reported, during the month of September.

Municipal Court Judge Wayne Yankie reported four alcohol-related cases, 41 misdemeanor cases, and three city ordinance violations, and a total of 565 traffic citations.

Lt. Thomas Spurlock, of Corrigan Volunteer Fire Department, reported the VFD responded to 13 calls, including three house fires. One mutual aid call, three grass fires, one brush fire, a vehicle fire and auto accident, a lift assist of a resident and a gas spill. There was a report of a person trapped in a car but responders did not locate such an incident.

Council reviewed and accepted the financial reports for September and approved the minutes of the city council meeting for that month.

During items from Council, trustee position 5 Early C. Baldwin reported that she attended a conference, and had TxDOT send some informational pamphlets to city hall to be offered to the public on various topics.

Council position 1 trustee, Michael Nobles, asked city manager Darrian Hudman to intervene with a contractor who has not cleaned up the debris from a remodeling job. Hudman said he would check into the matter.

C-CHS National Honor Society

The C-CHS Chapter of the National Honor Society picked up trash earlier this month along a section of Hwy. 287W adopted by the chapter.  Pictured (l-r): Kacie Dewberry (Sponsor), Tori Tyler, Gracie Wilkinson, Jackson Chamblee, Nicole Castro, and Mariana Venegas. (Photo courtesy of Trinity Smith, C-CHS Bulldog Growl)The C-CHS Chapter of the National Honor Society picked up trash earlier this month along a section of Hwy. 287W adopted by the chapter. Pictured (l-r): Kacie Dewberry (Sponsor), Tori Tyler, Gracie Wilkinson, Jackson Chamblee, Nicole Castro, and Mariana Venegas. (Photo courtesy of Trinity Smith, C-CHS Bulldog Growl)

By Beverly Cockrell

Corrigan-Camden ISD certainly has its share of remarkable students. Students that go above and beyond their classroom studies and assignments. One particularly outstanding group of youngsters are selected by a C-CHS faculty advisory committee on the basis of outstanding achievement in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service and character. These are the members of the C-CHS Chapter of the National Honor Society.

What is the National Honor Society?
According to their website, the National Honor Society (NHS) is "the nation's premier organization established to recognize outstanding high school students. More than just an honor roll, NHS serves to recognize those students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, service, leadership, and character. These characteristics have been associated with membership in the organization since its beginning in 1921.

Today, it is estimated that more than one million students participate in NHS activities. NHS chapters are found in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, many U.S. territories, and Canada. Chapter membership not only recognizes students for their accomplishments, but challenges them to develop further through active involvement in school activities and community service."

Who can become members?
Junior and senior students can apply to become members of NHS. There are discipline and grade stipulations for students as well as an application that must be submitted listing those activities a student has completed toward leadership and service to others– in and outside of school.

Members are selected each year by a committee of faculty members who review each student's application.
What are some of the activities in which NHS members participate?

NHS members can be seen year round participating in and conducting various service activities around our community. Most notable are the "Ringing of the Bell" for the Salvation Army each holiday season as well as the Highway 287 W trash pick-up.

This year, Kacie Dewberry, C-C Junior High sixth grade science teacher, is the sponsor of the Corrigan-Camden Chapter of the National Honor Society. Angelia Purvis, C-CHS English II teacher, is assisting Dewberry and the students.

In the very near future, these students will continue on as "movers and shakers" in our community, state and (hopefully!) nation serving as role models of good character and integrity for future students.

When asked about becoming the NHS sponsor this year, Dewberry said,
"I am delighted and pleased that I have been selected as the NHS sponsor this year. I am excited that I will get to work with these young adults to help improve the community through our service events."

Purchase of voting equipment, medical system greenlit

By Greg Peak

LIVINGSTON – The purchase of new electronic voting equipment and a computer-based after-hours medical system for the Polk County Jail were given the green light Tuesday by the Polk County Commissioners Court.

During the meeting, commissioners authorized County Clerk Schelana Hock to purchase the Verity electronic voting equipment that has been approved by the Texas Secretary of State. Cost of the equipment will be $569,623 and will be obtained from Hart Intercivic, Inc. under a state buyboard contract.

County Judge Sydney Murphy noted that the purchase was included in the 2018 budget's capital purchase projections.
Hock told the court earlier that the current voting equipment is getting old and is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain parts and service when it breaks down.

In other discussion, the commissioners approved a three-month contract with Futurus Telemed, PLLC, for after-hours inmate medical services at the Polk County Jail.

Under the system that will be put into place, the company will install computer equipment in the jail that will allow the jail staff to teleconference with a registered nurse or a doctor when a medical issue arises during the times the jail's regular medical staff is off duty. The hours it will be used will be weekdays from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m., weekends, holidays or when the local doctor is either ill or on vacation.

The system is designed to allow medical personnel to see and speak with inmate patients using the teleconference system and determine an appropriate medical treatment. Company representatives said this should reduce the number of trips by inmates to the hospital emergency room.

Cost of the service will be $3,500 per month with the company providing the computer equipment and the training need for jail personnel to utilize it.

Commissioners indicated this is one of the options available to meet state mandated medical care for county prisoners. At the end of the initial three-month trial, they will evaluate how efficient and cost effective it is.

While the medical contract was accepted by the commissioners, final approval will not come until after it has been reviewed by attorneys with the Polk County Criminal District Attorney's Office.

Other business
During the meeting, the commissioners also:
• Corrected the list of consolidated voting place for the Nov. 7 constitutional amendment election. When it was approved by the court last month, those who reside in voting boxes 3, 4, 7, 16, 18 and 21 were designated to cast their ballots at the Livingston City Hall. However, the county had previously agreed to move voting from the city hall across the street to the Polk County Courthouse, so during Tuesday's meeting, commissioners formally voted to designated the courthouse as the consolidated voting location for those boxes.
• Approved a construction change order for the new Livingston Senior Citizens Center now under construction. The change order was tabled at the Sept. 18 meeting when commissioners objected to having to pay for a $3,200 error made on the sidewalk leading from the parking area to the front door. The slope of the sidewalk did not comply with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements which officials had made clear from the start of the project had to be met. The change order approved Tuesday, eliminated those costs and added only $907.14 to the total construction cost.
• Approved a request from the Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace's Office to purchase a scanner and Cloud Storage at a cost of $1,077.22.
• Agreed to advertise for proposals for a county compensation and benefits study. The study would compare the salaries and benefits received by county employees with those with similar jobs in counties and private companies in this area of the state. Information from the study would be used when commissioners begin working on the budget for the 2019 fiscal year.
• Voted to reschedule their second December meeting from Tuesday, Dec. 26, to Wednesday, Dec. 27. The meeting time will remain at 10 a.m.
• Agreed to remove Mankins from the county road system at the request of the owner of all the adjoining property.
• Approved a construction change order for the RoyOMartin oriented strand board project in Corrigan. The Texas Department of Agriculture provided a grant to install water and sewer to the new manufacturing plant and the change order will apply to a sewage lift station. Murphy noted that the City of Corrigan had agreed to cover the cost of this change.
• Agreed to extend the period in which county employees could use leave time from the additional hours worked during the Hurricane Harvey emergency. Under the county's policy, employees would have had to take "comp time" by the end of the year or lose it. Under the extension, they now will have until the end of March.
• Named Rebecca Marlow as the permit/inspection supervisor for the county.
• Appointed the Sick Leave Pool Committee for the county by random drawings from among the names of county employees.

Bingo night fundraiser to benefit Boys and Girls Club

Get ready for a great night of wine and dining while celebrating and raising funds for the Boys and Girls Club of Polk County.

The 2017 Annual Bingo dinner will be Saturday, Oct. 21, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Polk County Commerce Center.

"Our friends have a great time for a good cause at our annual fund raiser," said Steve Davidson, president and CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of Deep East Texas. "This event enables our Polk County club to fund activities and programs for the hundreds of kids who utilize the club throughout the year."

The Club, which is headed by Sherry Thomas, has been growing in both numbers of students attending as well as in the number and variety of programs offered to the students.

"The funds we raise during our Bingo dinner helps ensure our team of mentors continue to provide homework assistance, physical activity, nutritious snacks and, most of all, a positive and safe place for kids throughout our community. Club participants learn so much from the mentors about leadership, responsibility and sportsmanship."

Individual tickets, tables of eight and sponsorships are available. Tickets are $62.50 for dinner and bingo tickets. A table of eight is $500 with eight tickets to the event and eight bingo cards.

Sponsorships available:
•Silver Sponsor - $1,000 – and sponsors receive a listing in the program, two bottles of wine at your table, one table with eight tickets to the event and eight bingo cards.
•Gold Sponsor - $2,500- and sponsors receive a listing in the program, one table with eight tickets to the event, bingo cards for eight people, prime seating at the event, sponsor announcement before the bingo game, signage at the event, two bottles of wine at your table and one Bingo package in your honor.
•Auction Item Sponsor - $250 – Auction item sponsored in your name with a sponsor announcement at the conclusion of the auction.
•Bingo Game Sponsor - $250 – A bingo game prize will be purchased and donated in your name. Sponsor announced at the conclusion of the bingo game.

For more information about the event, to become a sponsor or to purchase tickets, contact Katie Henson at 936-560-6844 or email Katie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .