LIVINGSTON -- When Elfriede Zipprian received a phone call from the Polk County Chamber of Commerce recently, she was not expecting it. The call was to inform her of winning one a 2015 Community Service Award.
ELFRRIEDE ZIPPRIANThe award will be presented during the 79th annual Livingston-Polk County Chamber of Commerce awards banquet which will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29, at the Polk County Commerce Center.
"I was surprised," Zipprian said. "There are so many people who do so much more, or at least I feel like they are doing a lot more than I do."
There are many reasons the Onalaska resident of 17 years should not have been as shocked as she was.
Zipprian does an extensive amount of work with the Lions Club and she is an individual member of the chamber of commerce.
"With the Lions Eye Bank, I go out and do presentations on what a corneal transplant is all about," Zipprian said about her work with the Lions Eye Bank of Texas. "I tell them how they collect the cornea, how long they last before they can be transplanted and that type of stuff. I am a greeter for the Lions Club and on the Chair Committee. Lately, I have been sending emails to notify everyone of meetings and to keep communication with them."
Her work with the Lions extends beyond the local level to district and state. Zipprian can be found at many Livingston High School athletic events at the concession stand with the Lions Club. She works with the Texas Lions Children's Camp as well. As a greeter, she welcomes members and visitors to weekly meetings and events.
"I moved here 17 years ago to East Texas and I have been involved in everything since then." Though not originally from Texas, Zipprian moved to Polk County from Angleton.
Growing up, a small south German village of Pfeffenhausen is where she called home. It is located in the hops growing region of Bavaria.
She met and married her husband in the European country while he was stationed there.
As a youth, Zipprian overcame obstacles and avoided one of the worst regimes in world history. Family informed her how to evade Nazis, something she had to do because of a physical condition.
"I was blonde and blue eyed, but I was also crippled. I was hidden away, because the thing I remember is my grandmother telling me one of the neighbors was an informant. She said, 'if you see them, don't walk, kind of skip' — like kids do. Whenever they came into town, I was hidden away. From what I learned later on, they took all the crippled children and they experimented with them to see if the problem could be fixed. If not, they were killed. It wasn't a good time, but I survived. I have tried to forget it and live for today."
Service is not something new to her, as her work as a registered nurse at Freeport Community Hospital and the VA Hospital in Houston would suggest. Soon after, she became a member of the medical team at Dow Chemical. It is something, she says, that never left her.
"I was a nurse, so I enjoy helping people. After I retired, I decided I could help more, so that is what I am doing. I enjoy being around people, meeting new people, and seeing what they are doing. I always called myself an old busybody.
"I have taken up Zumba this past February, because I had hip replacement, so I have to stay active all the time or I will wind up in a wheelchair. When the classes were offered, I thought I would try it out."
She has also purchased a pontoon boat for her "down time."
"It had been in the water six hours when I got it. It has been so good to me, because I don't know that much about boats. I grew up in the mountains, so the water is something totally different."
Last year, Zipprian was awarded at the banquet as the senior ambassador of the year. Her task is to help bring in new business to the county and attend ribbon cuttings, welcoming those who arrive.
Zipprian said the help she brings others is something she would do without the awards and something she would encourage to do others to do.
"It means a great deal to me and it makes me want to do more. I am very happy about it. I want to thank the people of Polk County; they have been so nice. They always say newcomers are kind of ignored, but everyone has always been so nice and pleasant to me. They have been welcoming and that is the reason I want to do more."
Tickets to the awards banquet are available at the chamber office for $30. No tickets will be sold at the door.
LIVINGSTON – Area residents are invited to come out in their culture's "native dress" when the 15th Annual Multicultural Festival will get underway at 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 19, at Livingston Junior High School. A free fish fry, musical entertainment and a variety of other events will be featured during the event. The fish fry will include a catfish dinner with all the trimmings during the event designed to honor the memory of the late civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The festival is held each year on the Martin Luther King Day holiday.
Open free of charge to the public, musical entertainment planned for the festival features representatives of all cultures and a "host of local talent."
While the main festival will get underway at 5 p.m., there will be some activities that begin earlier. From 4-6:30 p.m. there will be a health fair and job fair underway.
The free health fair is sponsored by Memorial Medical Center-Livingston and health care professionals will be on hand to conduct complete chemistry and PSA tests. A four-hour fast prior to taking the tests is required in order to obtain valid test results.
The job fair will include a complete overview of all Workforce Center Programs, including job information.
Among the booths that will be set up to distribute information during the event include: -- Education, with information on continuing education programs available. It is sponsored by the Livingston, Big Sandy, Goodrich, Onalaska, Corrigan-Camden, Leggett and private schools. -- Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, with personnel available to answer questions. It is sponsored by Burke. -- Drug Awareness and Safety Fair, with displays and demonstrations designed to increase drug awareness as well as fire and home safety. Sponsors include the Polk County Sheriff's Department, Livingston Police Department, Alabama Coushatta Tribes of Texas Police, local volunteer fire departments and the Polk County Red Cross. -- Voter Registration, with registration cards and assistance available. It is sponsored by the Polk County Tax Assessor-Collector's Office. -- Retired Senior Volunteer Program, which will be accepting donations of canned goods to distribute to food banks throughout Polk County. -- DETCOG Programs and Services, which will provide information on disaster case management, Children's Health Insurance (CHiP), food stamp enrollment, Area Agency on Aging, Services to at-Risk Youth (STAR) and the Mentoring of Children of Prisoners Program. The booth is sponsored by the Deep East Texas Council of Governments.
FAITH CARDS – Three soldiers pose in front of a wall decorated with Christmas cards sent to troops in Afghanistan from Polk County residents. The cards were included in a box sent to Operating Base Fentry in Jalalabad by the FAITH Military Support Group of Livingston. (CONTRIBUTED photo)
LIVINGSTON – Expression of love and support at Christmas time can be particularly appreciated, especially by those who are far away from their families.
And the FAITH Military Support Group of Livingston received that message directly from some of the men serving their nation in far off Afghanistan in the form of an email of thanks along with photos from troops preparing to celebrate Christmas.
"To: FAITH Military Support Group
"My name is David Hill and I am the Food Service Area Manager for Operating Base Fenty located in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. I, along with a team of great people, am honored and privileged to be serving America's men and woman in uniform on a daily bases.
"With Christmas Day approaching fast, we are in the process of decorating the dining facility with Christmas decor, as well as starting the food preparation to give our warriors a taste of home. A few days ago the Military Post Office gave us a box sent from America with the label reading FAITH Military Support Group from Livingston, Texas.
"After opening the box and seeing the contents (wonderful Christmas cards with heart felt messages) we decided to place them on our DFAC dining room walls for all our warriors to read. I know these boxes are sent with a lot of love and care from home, and we felt the need to send an email as well as a few pictures of a few of our warriors to let you know that they are well received and read by many men and woman in uniform
"Again , thank you so much for the wonderful Christmas cards and bringing a smile to so many.
Founded in 2006, FAITH – or Families and Individuals Thanking Heroes – prepares and mails boxes of food and supplies each month to the men and women serving the nation in distant lands.
At Christmas time, the items include cards from local people wishing the service personnel a joyous holiday, but throughout the year the group sends letters, puzzle books, toiletry items, socks, hand warmers, T-shirts, razors, drink mixes, boxed and can dinners, canned fruit, soups, beef jerky, peanut butter, crackers and all kinds of snacks designed to boost energy and spirits.
LIVINGSTON -- Chris Carson is looking to join the police force, but probably not in the way you would think. He is looking to use his creative talents to become a sketch artist.
Chris Carson"I have a friend in California that did all the courthouse art for the O.J. Simpson trial and I could easily do everything he did as well," Carson said. "My wife and I are settling down here in Livingston and we will be here for good. We are also opening a music and art school here and I was going to offer my services to do police sketches."
Someone who collected Carson's art offered him a deal on a house that the Las Vegas native could not pass. His mother lives in Willis and Carson moved to Texas 12 years ago from Florida.
"I have always done art, but when I started doing it to make money, I was in the Navy stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. They didn't let me bring my art supplies on board. I went down to the galley and got all the condiments like coffee, soy sauce, mustard, and ketchup and I would tear up cardboard and I would mix the condiments with my clear hair gel. Then, I would twist up napkins, paint on the torn up cardboard, and sell them on eBay. Into my second year in the Navy, I was making more money off my art than off of my military pay grade."
The school Carson is looking to begin will be called Orange School of Music and Art. Learning will be set up for courses, so instead of taking private guitar lessons, students would take the class with a small group. Beginner, intermediate and advanced courses will be available.
"I will talk to people in see where they at, but it will be one lesson a week. I will also have art courses that will be more based off of workshops. If you would like to learn how to draw or learn how to paint, I will be catering to all ages. I can paint all styles. Right now, I'm in the process of raising funds for the school and I'm getting ready to pass out flyers."
Carson has a website that he just built and he frequents a lot of conventions. He has his work in comic books, children's books, movies and album covers, but does things outside of the usual for artists.
"I'm doing commission for a lady right now that I met at the doctor's office, and she said her son died when he was 22 or 21 and she would love to know what he would look like now. I said, 'I can do that for you.' I can do anything from illustrations to a full-blown oil painting. I'll spend anywhere from a couple of seconds, to the longest I've ever spent on a painting is 200 hours."
Some of Carson's more popular work was done in the movie "Dark Crystal" from Jim Henson of "The Muppets."
"I did some artwork for 'Dark Crystal.' I have my own property called 'Graveyard Girl' and it's kind of dark, gothic, Tim Burton-type stuff. I also have 'Darkened Bedtime Stories for Children,' which is kind of like the Brothers Grimm-type stories. I painted all the pages. I'm working one right now called 'Pumpkin Zombie Cat' and it is about my wife's cat. He got a skin disease and started looking like a zombie, so I immortalized him in a book about a cute little girl that looks like her (pointing at his wife), but she's kind of sadistic."
The descendant of frontiersman Kit Carson said the opportunity to use his skill to help his new home is reason enough for him to give his time and effort to the police.
"I think art is kind of like magic. For me to be able to talk to somebody, hear what the person looks like, and be able to draw the person — I think that would be really cool. If it can help somebody who is harmed, then that is even better. I also really want to get more involved in the community here now that I've decided on living down here in Polk County. I will help out in any way that I can. If they can pay me for it, that is cool, but if not, I'll still do it."
Carson said he is looking at locations near downtown to begin his school. His website can be found at worldofstrangely.com.
HOLIDAY BREAK FOR SOLDIERS - Active duty service members from the 1st Air Calvary Brigade from Fort Hood were invited for a free East Texas hunting experience at a privately owned Brushy Creek Ranch near Onalaska. The hunting expedition was sponsored by the Good Ol' Boys Hunting Club, a small non-profit organization started and operated by military veterans. For the past five years, the club has hosted the weekend experience for Fort Hood service members recently deployed to Near East countries including Iraq and Afghanistan. The ten honored guests are picked annually within their branch to enjoy the East Texas hunting life and camp inside the 6,000 wildlife management area.