SPCA launches challenge

spca polk countyLIVINGSTON – In an effort to become more financially stable, the SPCA of Polk is launching a “Million Dollar Challenge” to the residents of Polk County and all its supporters.

According to SPCA leaders, the group struggles each month to cover its bills so it can keep the doors open and continue to provide shelter and find “Forever Homes” for over 400 animals a year. A lot of time which could be spent taking care of the animals and working to find them homes has to be spent on raising money to keep on the lights, buy dog food, pay kennel help, vet bills, insurance, maintenance, etc.

“If just 100 people would donate $100 for 100 months it would guarantee that all our operating expenses would be covered, vet bills paid & food provided for the 100 plus animals in our care at any one time,” said Carl Feren, executive director of the organization.

Those who would like to help the SPCA reach its goal of $1 million in pledges are asked to call 936-327-7722 and ask for Carl. Those who cannot afford $100 a month may pledge any amount they can and it will help get the organization closer to its goal.

The SPCA of Polk County is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization operated entirely by volunteers and receives no federal, state or local tax support, United Way funding nor any support from HSUS or ASPCA. The group relys on compassionate friends to continue its life-saving work.

Local family facing deportation


LIVINGSTON - One Livingston family is facing deportation this summer, due to a clerical error by the attorney working their immigration case.
“My H1V Visa expires August 30 and if the Department of Labor does not put a rush on the paperwork I will be deported, along with my family,” said Luis Amario, a Livingston homeowner.

Amario and his wife Zaritma have lived in the United States for six years. They came to America from Venezuela with their daughter Daniela, who will be a third grader in the Livingston Independent School District in August if her family is allowed to stay. The couple also has a son Matthew, age two, who is an American citizen.

Since they arrived in America, they have been following all necessary procedures for the path to citizenship in the United States. Both parents are college graduates. Zaritma just signed up and paid for an online bilingual educator school for herself, and Luis was planning to start his Master’s Degree in the fall at Lamar University.

It all started last summer when an attorney assigned to his case left her phone number off the paperwork that was required for the Department of Labor to approve the ETA 9089 Visa. This Visa will give the family a five-year permanent resident status and then they will be eligible to apply for full citizenship.

In October 2015 the Department of Labor sent a letter to the attorney pointing out the mistakes on the application and giving her 30 days to correct and resubmit for approval. In February, Amario called the attorney, at her request, to get a copy of the paperwork so he could apply for his master’s program.

“She told me she did not do it…she did not send the corrected paperwork in on time and I will have to go back to Venezuela,” Amario said.  “I said, ‘What? I can’t do that.’ Then she said, ‘Do you have any other path to citizenship?’ And I said, ‘no.’ She did not even say she was sorry for the mistake. Nothing.”

So far, the Department of Labor has said they cannot rush the paperwork process. If they could, Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) will accept a penalty fee for their part of the process and the Amario family will be able to continue to live and work in America, staying on their planned path to citizenship.

When asked, Congressman Brian Babin’s office replied: “Our office is aware of the situation and due to ethics and privacy laws we are prohibited discussing the details of any case.”

Amario and his family moved to Livingston from Kingwood, and their roots here run deep. Amario is working for the Livingston ISD as the bilingual teacher. He also plays guitar in the community jazz band and in many different “Arts Expositions” in the school, church and community. He is a taxpayer and an active member of Central Baptist Church, where he serves as a Sunday school teacher and plays bass guitar in the praise band on Sundays and Wednesdays.

His wife is a volunteer at Livingston ISD, sings in the choir and volunteers at church, and is a stay-at-home mom.

“The Amario family is a vital piece of the Body of Christ here at Central Baptist Church, and we consider them family,” said Central Baptist Pastor Mike Meadows. “Personally they have become close friends of ours, and I can say that this community is better because of their presence. Many lives have been changed because of how God has continued to use them here in the church and the community.

“We as a church stand behind them and support them, and we desire to see this situation resolved so that they can continue to be a vital piece of this community. As a former U.S. Army soldier I believe the Amario family is an example of what is right about this country and what we stand for. I would hate for them to lose their American Dream because of a piece of paperwork,” Meadows added.

The list of volunteer work the Amario family does to help the Livingston community is extensive.

“I serve as a volunteer for the SEED (Speak English Every Day) program in Livingston, I am on the Relay for Life teams for both my church and Livingston ISD raising money for cancer research, and I am a three-year member of the District Advisory Council and for the Green and White Scholarship Committee at LISD where we raise money for scholarships for high school graduates,” Amario said.

“Luis Amario encompasses every attribute that you would hope to construct if you were to define an exemplary employee,” said Livingston ISD Superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins.  “He makes such a profound impact on our organization and those we serve because he not only brings an outstanding service to our students but he also connects with our community. Luis’ stature among the Livingston Lion family is deeply rooted and one that we definitely want to ensure to continue as a part of our organization.” The school district is taking every action possible to help right this wrong.

Amario is currently competing in a national guitar contest where 10 people will be flown to Los Angeles, California to perform with Vince Gill. The winners will also have the opportunity to record with Gill.

“He (Amario) is really good and I hope he wins,” said Jennifer Birdwell, a coworker and neighbor who is avidly pursuing any available help for her friend. “I just cannot believe this is happening. These are good people and contributing community members, doing all the right things to become American citizens. This should be an easy fix. It is just paperwork.”

If the Department of Labor does not intervene, Amario is facing the possibility of having to purchase tickets for his family to leave the country, get a passport and a Venezuelan Visa for his American born son, deal with his property in Livingston and somehow have enough money to set up his life in Venezuela for one year until he can return to America. Amario’s parents are retired schoolteachers and American citizens, both his sisters are school teachers in the New Caney school district and are American citizens.

The family is trying to come to terms with the possibility they will be unable to return to their home in Livingston for one year. “I am devastated,” said Amario. “This is my community and my home, but I will not be illegal. I will have to leave August 31 if I cannot get help. This attorney messed up my legal path to citizenship and my family may be forced to pay a high price for her mistake.”


MariofamilyVISA ISSUES — Luis Amario, his wife and children are trying to stay positive, while their fate is in the hands of the Department of Labor. They are Livingston residents and homeowners whose legal path to citizenship was derailed when an attorney failed to complete accurate and timely paperwork needed. Their current visa expires Aug. 30.

Tribe to host Independence Day celebration


The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas and Naskila Entertainment have announced a free Fourth of July celebration that will occur two days before the holiday.
On Saturday, July 2, the celebration will begin at 6 p.m. and last until 10 p.m. Bounce houses, face painters, tribal dancers, and dunking booths will be amongst the day’s entertainment. Fireworks are scheduled to begin at 9:45 p.m.

The event will be held at the Alabama-Coushatta Veteran’s Pavilion, located at 301 Daycare Road in Livingston. Music, along with arts and crafts vendors and food vendors will also be at the pavilion.

Additional vendors are welcomed to sign up by contacting Emma Abbey at (936) 563-1120. It is asked that attendees bring a lawn chair if one is desired. For additional information, call (936) 563-1100 or visit the tribe’s website at      

For a memorable Independence Day in Livingston, Main Street and F.A.I.T.H. Military Group will host “Picnic in the Park” at Anniversary Park on Tyler Street near Melbo’s 10 a.m. until 2 p.m on Monday, July 4. Those in attendance can listen to a live band playing as they enjoy a car and motorcycle show.

A bounce house, slide, obstacle course and face painting should keep the children who attend busy. There is also a bicycle parade at 11:30 a.m. where little ones 12 and under can decorate their two-wheeled ride to win prizes. Registration for the parade begins at 10:30 a.m. on Mill Street and prizes will be awarded to the top three in each age group (0-4, 5-7, 8-12).

F.A.I.T.H. Military Group will be present, as active duty personnel mingles with the crowd, telling real war stories. Hot dogs, sodas and water will be given for any donation to the F.A.I.T.H. Military Group.

The San Jacinto High Rollers will have a raffle to benefit the Polk County Welfare Board. The Polk County Welfare Board will also hand out watermelon. Bring a lawn chair and celebrate the day in downtown Livingston. For more information, call the Main Street office at (936) 327-1050.

In Onalaska, the yearly fireworks spectacular will continue for the 41st time. Vendor setup will begin at 8 a.m. with water, soda, hot dogs and pizza among other food items available. Information booths will be in place, as well as portable restrooms.

Parking will be available behind Pontoons on the Lake with overflow on Navaho Trail. There is also space available for those not on the grounds to view the show from the grassy point at the west end of the Kickapoo causeway.

Shuttle buses will be available on routes from all parking areas starting at 6 p.m. and continuing until all traffic has cleared around 10:30 p.m. The Onalaska Police and sheriff’s deputies will handle traffic control, and signs will point traffic toward additional parking areas.

The fifth annual Catfish Derby kids fishing tournament for anglers 16 years of age and younger begins registration at 5 p.m., with fishing lines in the water soon after.

A presentation of the colors by the Onalaska JROTC color guard begins at 8:30 p.m. and the fireworks display from the barges in Kickapoo Creek kickoff around 9:30 p.m.

Those who wish to send funds in support of the show to allow its continuance can do so by making a check payable to the Fireworks Fund at P.O. Box 880, Onalaska, Texas 77360. Additional information on the daylong happenings can be found at

July 4 Picnic in the Park planned by Main Street

Livingston Main Street and the FAITH military support group will host an Independence Day Picnic in the Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, July 4.

The event will be held in Anniversary Park at the corner of Church (Hwy. 190) and Tyler streets.

Among the items planned are a bounce house, slide, obstacle course and face painting. A children’s bicycle parade will be at 11:30 and youngsters 12 and under are invited to decorate their two-wheelers to win prizes. Parade registration will be at 10:30 a.m. on the Mill Street side of the park.

Military personnel will be on hand to meet the crowd and hotdogs, sodas and water will be given away for any donation to FAITH.

READ Children's Festival at Pedigo Park

READ-bubbleGIANT BUBBLE FUN IN THE PARK — During this month's Trade Days, the READ Children’s Festival Saturday demonstrated the art of making giant soap bubbles. The event was held at Pedigo Park as a fundraiser for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which is sponsored by the Livingston Rotary Club and Reading Encourages Advanced Development (R.E.A.D.), Inc.


A bounce house, face painting, balloon animals and a variety of other activities were presented Saturday during the Children’s Festival held in Pedigo Park. The event was a fundraiser for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which provides free, age appropriate books each month to children from birth through age five. The Dolly Parton program is sponsored locally by the Livingston Rotary Club and Reading Encourages Advanced Development (R.E.A.D.) Inc. Below one of the booth operators demonstrates juggling stuffed animals while a young lady fishes for prizes in a sand box.


Trial lawyers to read Declaration on July 1


LIVINGSTON – A public reading of the Declaration of Independence will be conducted at noon Friday, July 1, by the Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (PCCLA) as part of their fourth annual Independence Day celebration.

The public is invited to attend as PCCLA members read the declaration at 101 W. Mill Street, between the Polk County Courthouse and the Polk County Judicial Center.

The local defense lawyers will be joining other defense attorneys across the state and nation in the reading ceremony. Defense lawyers are now scheduled to read the declaration in front of 80 county courthouses in Texas.

“Your local defense bar is committed to protecting and ensuring by rule of law the individual rights guaranteed by the Texas and federal constitutions in criminal cases,” said Travis E. Kitchens Jr., a PCCLA member.

For more information about the event contact Kitchens’s law office at 936-646-6970 or the statewide organizer Robb Fickman at 713-655-7400.