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Chamber picks Drake as citizen of the year Awards banquet is Thursday

BY BRIAN BESCH
Enterprise staff
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LIVINGSTON -- Police officers deal with surprises and are trained to react at a moment's notice. But, when Marty Drake heard the news that had won Polk Countian of the Year, even he was shocked.

MARTY DRAKEMARTY DRAKE"It totally caught me off guard and I was really happy. It just totally floored me."

The detective from Bowie near Wichita Falls currently serves with the Livingston Police Department and is newly elected to the Livingston ISD school board, but does so much more.

"When I talked to my parents when I was younger, I always talked about being law enforcement. When I moved to Livingston in the early 1990s, Angelina College started putting on law enforcement classes and I took their second academy that they offered. They offered one in Lufkin and one at what was then the Terrell Unit (now Polunsky). I started my police career in Onalaska, where I was really involved with the kids up there. I started a program out there in the summertime called Kids In Action, which was a weeklong kid police academy. I worked close with the DPS troopers and the Onalaska Volunteer Fire Department."

The Livingston Police Department posted a job for a school resource officer in 2001. After applying, Drake began made the short move to his new campus down Highway 190 at Livingston Junior High.

"When I got the job, I was just finishing up our Kids In Action program then, and it was hard to leave a group of students that I had over there and come to Livingston. I am glad that I did, but I still have some good friends over in Onalaska. I feel like I'm made the right decision to come over to the Livingston Police Department."

In the same year Drake was approached to instruct a special group on the basketball court.

"I guess it was just another opportunity for me to help out and do what I could with a group of young athletes. I got certified in Special Olympics down in Houston to be a coach and I have been coaching the Polk County Go-Getters every year in basketball."

Livingston Police Chief Dennis Clifton said, "Marty has a unique ability to connect with students in a way that will make a difference in their lives." Drake was so attached to the school children that it made taking a promotion from the schools to detective a tough decision.

"I had a really good relationship with the administration staff at Livingston ISD. I enjoyed my job very much working with Livingston Junior High and Livingston ISD and it was a very difficult to come out of the schools."

His skills in relating to children landed Drake a role with the Livingston Volunteer Fire Department, enlisting under the name "Bunker." Chief Corky Cochran asked Drake if he would be interested in teaching kids in the Polk County area as a fire safety clown.

"Anything to do with teaching kids, I jumped right on it. Corky sent me over to Texas A&M, which has a firefighter's safety class. You go over there and learn to put makeup on and they help you develop skits to teach children of all ages fire safety."

Drake didn't stop at just teaching. He was involved in obtaining two grants to purchase a robotic fire safety dog and a robotic policeman dog that aid in keeping the children entertained while they learn. He also helped build a miniature fire truck used as one of his props.

In the last few years, Drake has been very active with SAAFE House, helping where he can and serving on the advisory board in Polk County.

"I assist in giving rides, I have taken food there, and just anything I can help out with. I've done some plumbing work and small maintenance around the SAAFE House. Those ladies over there are victims of family violence or some type of abuse and helping anyway I can is something I do."

There are events that the award winner is the emcee for, such as the Miss Polk County Padgeant, Childrenz Haven Gala, Polk County District Attorney's Crime Victims 5K, Timber Creek Elementary Carnival and City of Livingston Employee Appreciation Banquet. He enjoys doing presentations with the Lions Club, Rotary Club, Lunch and Learns, school employees, bank employees and youth groups. With the many organizations Drake takes time for, most is done on his own time.

"I often look at that, because sometimes I feel like I'm taking from my own family. I am a vice chairman with Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo every year and that takes up a week. I judge powerlifting on Saturdays during the season and the Special Olympics are three months long. I think it is just giving back to the community that has given so much to me. I moved in 20 years ago and was accepted. I have been in law enforcement and have made great friends in the community, and I just think that I want to do my part helping our community to grow, teaching different programs and anything I can do. From active shooter presentations, to Safe Home visits for the teachers out at the Indian reservation to teach them how to go to homes, be prepared and have a safe home visit. I think it is just giving back to something that has provided a great place to live for me and my family."
Winning Polk Countian of the Year is something Drake knows comes with great responsibility.

"When I found out that I got Polk Countian of the Year, it blew me away, because my wife's father, John G. Slocumb got the award. He was a great man and to see the type of person he was, the bar has been set, not only with Mr. Slocumb, but several other people that I hear have gotten it. The bar is set high and the integrity level to win that award is set very high. I just want to make sure I meet that standard and keep that integrity of Polk Countian of the Year where it should be."

Chamber honors Huson with 2015 service award

LIVINGSTON -- When she arrived in Polk County with her husband, George, Peggy Huson knew it would be permanent.

Huson PeggyPeggy Huson"I got out here at the lake and I said to George, 'I'm home, don't make me go anywhere else,'" Huson said.
Many people in the area and throughout East Texas are glad she made the decision to stay. She is a 2015 Polk County Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award winner.

The award will be presented during the chamber's annual banquet which begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29, at the Polk County Commerce Center off the U.S. 59 bypass in Livingston. Tickets are $30 and are available at the chamber office in Livingston.

"I do a lot of work, but I don't do work like some people," Huson said. "I think it is a great honor, number one, and I think the reason that I am able to have this is because of the Rotary Club. Everything I do is sponsored or an arm of Rotary. I love being a Rotarian. It's the first and only club I've ever been part of in my life. The people in it are great and I love serving the community of Livingston."

For the past five years, the association with the Rotary Club has been a large part of her daily activity.
A nurse for 44 years in critical care and case management, most of what Huson did related to career and family.

"When I retired I just really wanted to do stuff. I realized that I was born to do service. So, I thought, where can I do service?

"The funny thing is, I was minding my own business at Lowe's and Reed Brooks was at Lowe's all dressed up. I said, 'why are you shopping at Lowes all dressed up?' I was in my paint clothes and they had all the paint on them that I have ever painted.

"Reed looks up and said, 'you know what? You belong in Rotary.'

"I said, 'I don't join clubs and the most I do is professional organizations. I've never been in a club in my life.'

"He said, 'come on you're going to a club.'

"I said, 'not like this, I'm in my paint clothes.'

"And he said, 'come on, you're going.'

"George said, 'get in this truck.'

"We got in the truck and they took me to 'My Place' (eatery), and there is a table with 14 people at it, all dressed up. I walk in and once I sat down, my clothes weren't an issue. They were talking about the methamphetamine program and, me being me, I chimed right in, even though I wasn't a member.

"I said, 'I really think the motto should be 'Don't meth with me.'

"And they said, why not 'Don't meth with us.'

"I said, 'because you're trying to make it personal with each child. The child should have total responsibility to not meth with me.'

"When they adopted that, I was in Rotary. I went to two meetings and told the president I would like to be a part of the club. That was my story of getting into Rotary and I've never regretted it."

Huson is part of a group that takes the 'Don't Meth with Me' program from Lufkin to Galveston and throughout Polk County. The nonprofit program began under the umbrella of Rotary, but now stands on its own. In its fifth year of existence, the focus is on methamphetamine, to educate every fifth grader in Polk County each year on the dangers of the drug. The campaign includes sponsors, billboards, radio spots and signs throughout Livingston. Kids are given a t-shirt, pencil, and punch card in a one-hour presentation at each school. Huson said she was part of the program from its launch, but Blair McDonald was its pivotal influence.

After just two years with Rotary, Huson was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow for her contributions to the club. Harris was the founder of Rotary International and the group's highest award in named in his honor.
Huson is also a large part of the Dolly Parton Library that provides a new book each month from the day the child is born, until his or her fifth birthday. Preschoolers five years and younger currently living in Polk County may enter the program at any time and begin receiving an age-appropriate book every month.
She has donated two lots to make a park in her subdivision, has a role in Rotary's Pancake Supper and Silent Auction, and makes time to transport people to the doctor's office. During the holidays, she helps with Toys for Tots and Empty Stocking. On a special occasion, Huson was the Rotary representative that helped replant the lake.

In Honor and Remember of Texas, she is part of a special ceremony in Lufkin on Memorial Day.

"I got together with a guy who came to speak at Rotary and we sponsored three families in Livingston that had lost veterans who had died. We presented them with a special flag and it is a great program.

"The next one I did is Project Play, which was with the Big Sandy schools to create a new playground for the children. I got Rotary involved with that and we gave them $1,000. We were there for the dedication and it was very nice."

She is active in the Rotary Golf Tournament fundraiser and has helped Habitat for Humanity, painting the second house built in Polk County. Though she has hung up her paintbrush, she still contributes to the cause. One last group she helps is St. Joseph's Church, where she is on the council that is elected to decide what the needs of the parish are.

"I am not an award person. l do things for other reasons, but it is nice to know that other people do notice the work you do and they are grateful for it. I think it is their way of showing gratitude, so that is nice. I am an RN and I worked so many years with medicine and loved it. The payback was always the job itself. When I now see those kids and what we're doing for them, that is all the payback you ever need."

Traffic stop results in felony drug charge

LIVINGSTON – A 28-year-old Livingston man was being held in the Polk County Jail this week under a $10,000 bond after being arrested Saturday on felony drug possession charge.

Harrell Mug ShotWesley Frank Harrell was arrested by Livingston police following a traffic stop in the 200 Block of South Houston (Highway 146) at around 5 p.m. Saturday.

According to Livingston Police Department Detective Marty Drake, following the stop the officer noticed that the driver of the vehicle was acting nervous and kept changing the story as to where he had been prior to the stop.

"The officer became concerned and patted him down to check for weapons," Drake said.
While to weapon was found, the officer discovered a package containing what appeared to be four rocks of crack cocaine hidden in a sock.

Sales tax income continues to climb

LIVINGSTON – Continuing the trend started at the end of 2014, Polk County's sales tax income continued to increase in January, rising by more than 4.2 percent or $6,856.37 when compared to the total received one year earlier.

According toa report issued by Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, Polk County's January rebate check totalled $169,618.60, a figure that was up from January 2014's $162,762.23.

The increase follows a $319.99 or 0.2 percent gain in October, a $5,246 or 2.9 percent growth in November and a $8,149,15 or 4.9 percent rise in December.

The lastest payment is the second highest ever received by the county in January, coming in behind the $204,534.99 payment collected in January 2009.

During the current budget year, which began Oct. 1, the county has received $705,198.19 from the sales tax, a total that is up by $20,571.51 or just over 3 percent from the total received during the same four-month period under the 2014 budget.

Hegar's office collects the county and city sales taxes along with the state tax and sends the local entities a rebate for their share each month.

Polk County collects a 0.5 percent tax on sales while the cities of Livingston, Onalaska and Corrigan assess a 1.5 percent tax. Goodrich and Seven Oaks each have a 1 percent sales tax.
The January check represents taxes collected by local merchants in November and reported to the comptroller in December by monthly filers.

While the county's sales tax income increased in January, four of its five cities also reported gains. Livingston's payment increased by almost 10.8 percent, Onalaska's rebate was up by almosart 10.7 percent, Goodrich's total grew by over 25.6 percent and Seven Oaks was up by more than 307 percent compared to one year ago. However, Corrigan's payment fell by almost 17.5 percent.
Livingston received a January rebate totaling $280,965.02, a figure that was up by $27,280.10 from the $253,684.92 received in January 2014.

With a rebate of $32,497.83, Onalaska's sales tax check was up by $3,131.32 from the $29,366.51 reported one year earlier.

Corrigan's January sales tax rebate was $40,281.10, which was down by $8,531.68 from the $48,812.78 received in January 2014.

During January Goodrich received $1,461.90 in sales tax income, which was up by $298.38 from the $1,163.52 received one year earlier.

Seven Oaks received $491.08 in January, which was up by $386.60 from the $104.48 received one year ago.

In his report, Hegar said the state received $2.35 billion in sales tax revenue during the month, which represented a 4.3 percent increase from one year ago.

"Although moderating slightly, growth in sales tax revenues continues to be seen across all economic sectors," Hegar said. "Collections from the oil and natural-gas, construction, manufacturing, and services sectors rose, while remittances due to consumer spending in the retail trade and restaurant sectors also grew."

Texas counties received $40.1 million in rebate checks, up by 10.2 percent compared to one year ago. Cities collected $401.9 million in rebates, which was up by 7.1 percent from January 2014.
In the latest report, Houston received the state's largest check for almost $52.1 million, which was up by 8.6 percent from the $48 million delivered one year ago.

San Antonio's sales tax allocation was $23.3 million, which was up by 1.9 percent from the $22.9 million received one year ago.

The $19.2 million issued to Dallas in January reflects a 1.9 percent increase from the $18.8 million received one year earlier.

The Austin sales tax allocation for January was $14.6 million, which was up by over 0.5 percent from the $14.5 million received one year earlier.

Other area counties that received January rebates included:
• Angelina, which collected $472,840.59, up by 52.3 percent from January 2013.
• Liberty, which collected $299,048.01, up by 1.2 percent from January 2013.
• San Jacinto, which collected $28,016.67, up by 7.9 percent from January 2013.
• Tyler, which collected $47,978.57, down by 4.8 percent from January 2013.
• Walker, which collected $246,946.98, up by 8.2 percent from January 2013.
Other East Texas cities that received January rebates included:
• Huntsville received a payment of $574,398.84, which was up by 12 percent from one year ago.
• Lufkin received a payment of $1.1 million, which was up by 43.5 percent from one year ago.
• Diboll received a payment of $118,007.67, which was up by 124.7 percent from January 2013.
• Cleveland received a payment of $231,022.26, which was up by 6.4 percent from one year ago.
• Liberty received a payment of $230,783.09, which was down by 23.5 percent from January 2013.
• Woodville received a payment of $90,455.04, which was down by 13 percent from January 2013.
• Chester received a payment of $1,157.62, which was down by 2 percent from the total collected one year ago.
• Trinity received a payment of $47,558.45, which was up by 3.7 percent from one year ago.
• Shepherd received a payment of $16,191.13, which was up by 5.1 percent from January 2013.
• Coldspring received a payment of $18,534.51, which was up down 43.3 percent from January 2013.

Wrong-way driver killed, 2 hurt Local women flown to Houston hospital

LIVINGSTON – A Cleveland man died and two other people were seriously injured in a two-vehicle accident at approximately 1:45 a.m. Saturday on U.S. 190 West.

The deceased, 36-year-old Kris Dulaune Wells, was driving a 1999 Honda Civic eastbound in the westbound lanes of U.S. 190, about two miles west of Livingston, when he collided head-on with a 2009 Dodge Charger driven by Haley Cearly, 17, of Livingston. The Charger was westbound in the left lane of the four-lane divided highway, according to Texas Highway Patrol Trooper Allen Stanton.

The Dodge left the roadway to the right and the Honda came to rest in the grass on the opposite side of the highway. Jaws of Life equipment from the Livingston Volunteer Fire Department was used to free victims from the wreckage.

Cearly and a passenger in her vehicle, 19-year-old Maci Maddox, were transported by medical helicopter to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. Wells was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident by Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Darrell Longino. His body was taken to Pace Funeral Home.

Scam warning issued

LIVINGSTON – Warnings regarding another telephone scam targeting senior citizens are being issued by Polk County Sheriff Kenneth Hammack.

In the latest scam, a caller will contact the victims and tell them they are a relative and are being held in a jail in another state. In the scam, the "relative" needs money to bail themselves out as well as for travel and expenses.

The victim is asked to send money via Green Dot cards or Western Union and if they comply, they are never able to recoup their loss.

Hammack said the sheriff's office Criminal Investigation Division has taken several reports of fraud lately involving the scam.

The sheriff is asking the public to be aware of this fraud and be aware that is and similar scams are being sent out via both telephone and email. Area residents need be cautious when something sounds out of the ordinary.