Annual chamber banquet tickets are now available

LIVINGSTON -- The Livingston - Polk County Chamber of Commerce has announced the 79th Annual Awards Banquet will be held Thursday, Jan. 29, at the Polk County Commerce Center.

Tickets are available only at the chamber office and will be $30. Those wishing to attend will need to purchase a pass in advance, as none will be sold at the door. The Thursday program will be 6 – 8 p.m.

New Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Christi Sullivan said the awards were chosen just as they have in the past.

"We have a committee accepting nominations from anyone, it does not have to be a chamber member," Sullivan said. "The people who receive the awards do not have to be chamber members, they are people in our community who others felt have done work that would be worthy of recognition. When they are nominated, they are designated for either the Community Service Award or Polk Countian of the Year. We had a couple this year who were nominated for both, but the committee felt there was one standout for that."
The Banquet Program and Friends of the Chamber Sponsorships are still available for a limited time.
Those who have questions on sponsorships or the event, should call the chamber office (936) 327-4929.
The Polk County Commerce Center is located at 1015 Highway 59 Loop North in Livingston.

Watch for the announcement of the 2015 Award Recipients coming soon in future editions of The Polk County Enterprise.

Smuggling into jail ends with 4 arrests

LIVINGSTON – Two couples were charged last week with bringing a prohibited substance into the Polk County Jail in Livingston.

Pamela Lynn Reyes, 54, and Joseph Luke Chandler, 31, both of Livingston, and Amanda Flowers Redding, 37, and Billy Joe Spencer, 37, both of Corrigan were arrested by the Polk County Sheriff's Department Criminal Investigation Division following an investigation launched on Dec. 15, 2014.

According to Sheriff Kenneth Hammack, information was received from the jail staff regarding where the illegal substance was to have been dropped. After investigation, the substance was found and turned over to detectives.

Detectives were able to obtain video evidence and taped phone conversations between the suspects. Hammack said Chandler and Spencer were inmates in the jail and had Reyes and Redding, their spouses, drop the substances off.

After all the evidence was obtained, warrants were issued for the subjects charging them with the third degree felony of prohibited substance in a correctional facility.

Reyes and Redding were both arrested on Tuesday, Dec. 30, Spencer was arrested on Wednesday, Dec. 31, and Chandler, who has been in custody on a burglary charge since Nov. 12, was served his warrant in jail on Monday, Dec. 29.

Livingston woman injured in two-car accident


Enterprise Photo By Albert TrevinoEnterprise Photo By Albert Trevino

ONE INJURED — Donna Sack, 85, of Livingston was flown by a medical helicopter to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston after reportedly sustaining series injuries in a two-vehicle collision on New Year's Eve in Livingston. The mishap occurred shortly after noon when a 1989 Chrysler New Yorker driven by Sack attempted to turn left off of Church Street onto Willis Street and was struck by a 2001 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup driven by Charles Delp, 49, of Livingston.

Traffic accidents send 3 to hospitals

LIVINGSTON – Three drivers were injured last week in two Polk County accidents invested by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

A 49-year-old Onalaska woman was flown to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston following a one-car accident that occurred shortly after midnight on New Years Day.

Trudy Kennedy was injured when she was ejected from the 1997 Honda Acura she was driving on Highway 190 West in Polk County.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety reports, the mishap occurred about 12:15 a.m. on Jan. 1 when the car left the roadway to the right and travelled on the grassy shoulder before striking a guardrail.

The vehicle then overturned, ejecting the driver as it flipped.

The vehicle then caught fire and burned.

The report said when DPS troopers interviewed Kennedy, they noted a strong odor of alcohol. Kennedy initially told the officers that her daughter was in the vehicle but after a lengthy search of the area by emergency personnel, no other passenger was located.

Kennedy was initially transported by ambulance to CHI St. Luke's Health Memorial-Livingston for treatment and was subsequently transferred by helicopter to the Houston hospital.

The crash remains under investigation.

In another incident, two people were injured Tuesday, Dec. 30, in a head-on collision on FM 1988 near FM 3126.

A 2006 Chevrolet Uplander, operated by 350 Cab Co. and driven by Matthew Augustine, 54, of Goodrich was northbound when it crossed the center stripe and collided head-on with a southbound 2008 Ford pickup truck driven by Moises Manrrique, 53, of Livingston, according to Texas Highway Patrol Trooper Darwon Evans.
Augustine was transported by medical helicopter to a Conroe hospital, listed with incapacitating injuries. There were no passengers in the taxi. Manrrique, listed with non-incapacitating injuries, was transported by ambulance to the Livingston hospital.

Augustine was cited for wrong side of the road not while passing in connection with the accident, which occurred at 11:15 a.m.

Also investigated was a one-vehicle accident at 12:15 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 28, on FM 2665 at Drew's Landing Road.

A 2012 Nissan Sentra driven by Zachary Darius Turner, 18, of Livingston was southbound on FM 2665 at an unsafe speed for an upcoming curve, according to Trooper Barett Duren. The car left the road at the intersection, struck a subdivision sign for Holiday Lake Estates and collided head-on with a large tree, the investigation showed.

Turner was listed as uninjured, but a passenger in the vehicle, 18-year-old Holly Rose Hunt, was transported by ambulance to the Livingston hospital with non-incapacitating injuries.

The accident report indicated no charges have been filed.

Traffic stop ends with 3 drug arrests

LIVINGSTON – A Shepherd woman and two Livingston men were arrested late Monday, Dec. 22, on drug charges following what began as a routine traffic stop by Livingston police.

Traffic Stop ArrestVirginia Marie Simerly Tischler, 38, of Shepherd; Shawn Steven OBannon Jr., 40, of Livingston; and Kevin Wayne Cannady Jr., 27, of Livingston were taken into custody after officers found what is believed to be methamphetamine crystals in the vehicle in which they were traveling.

Tischler, who was the vehicle's driver, and OBannon were each charged with possession of less than one gram of the drug. Cannady also was charged with possession of less than one gram of methamphetamines as well as possession of a dangerous drug, failure to identify fugitive with intent to give false information and on outstanding warrants including theft of property valued at less than $1,500 (with two previous convictions), bond surrender and bond forfeiture.

Tischler was being held last week under a $10,000 bond, no bond was listed for OBannon and while bonds totaling $40,000 were set on most of the charges against Cannady, bail was denied on the bond forfeiture warrant.

According to Livingston Police Department reports, the incident began about 11:17 p.m. when Livingston police stopped a 1986 Chevrolet Camaro on Highway 59 South for a minor traffic violation. During the stop, the officer reported that Tischler acted extremely nervous and avoided making eye contact with him.
Due to her behavior, the officer obtained her permission to search the car during which he found a crystal substance that subsequently tested positive for the presence of methamphetamines.

At that point, Tischler and her two passengers were taken into custody on the drug possession charges.
However, during the investigation, police said they discovered that Cannady had initially given them a false name and date of birth and that he was wanted on multiple felony warrants. As the investigation continued, police said they found another controlled substance on Cannady and filed an additional drug complaint against him.

November’s jobless rate rises to 6.2 percent

LIVINGSTON – After declining for three consecutive months, unemployment took a slight upturn in November, rising to 6.2 percent, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

While the new rate is up from the 6.1 percent figure posted in October, it is still well below the 7.3 percent numbers recorded in both January and February of 2014. It also is down significantly from the 7.2 percent unemplyment rate listed for November 2013.

The 6.2 percent November rate – which is the latest rate available from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) – translates to mean that out of an estimated workforce of 17,955, there were 1,109 county residents looking for work during the month.

One month earlier, TWC's revised estimates put the local labor force at 17,954 with 1,102 looking for jobs.
Statewide, November's actual unem­ployment rate of 4.6 percent was down from October's 4.8 percent but well below the 5.8 percent jobless figure recorded in November 2013.

When seasonal factors are added to the equation, the state's November adjusted unemployment rate was listed at 4.9 percent, which was down slightly from the 5.1 percent posted for October but well below the 6.1 percent listed in November 2013.

The actual national unemploy­ment rate for November was listed at 5.5 percent, which was unchanged from October but well below the 6.6 percent figure posted in November 2013.

The November sea­sonally adjusted U.S. rate of 5.8 percent also was unchanged from October but down from the 7.0 percent rate listed for November 2013.

According to TWC officials, Texas employers added 34,800 seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs in November for a total of 441,200 jobs over the past 12 months.

"The Texas economy continued its record-breaking expansion, providing job opportunities across a wide range of industries," said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. "Texas employers set another record by adding 441,200 jobs over the year and we must continue to focus our efforts on expanding our state's skilled workforce to meet employer needs in high-demand industries."

Seven of 11 major industries added jobs in Texas over the month, including an additional 13,500 jobs in Professional and Business Services, 7,200 jobs added in Education and Health Services and 6,000 jobs added in Leisure and Hospitality.

"Texas continued to show its economic strength with steady job growth across several industries for several years now," said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Ronny Congleton. "We have a very strong labor market and job seekers are encouraged to take advantage of training opportunities and job-search tools available at"

In November, employers added 4,500 Manufacturing jobs, marking the industry's largest monthly increase since January 2006. Construction grew by 3,600 jobs. The Information industry added 3,300 jobs in November and includes jobs in publishing, telecommunications, data processing, hosting and related services.

"Employers in the private sector continued to drive economic growth, adding 31,900 jobs in November for an impressive total of 409,700 jobs over the last 12 months," said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Hope Andrade.

From among the 25 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) monitored by TWC, the Midland MSA had the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 2.3 percent. The Odessa MSA was next at 2.8 percent while the Amarillo MSA was listed at 3.3 percent.

The MSAs with the highest jobless rate in November was the McAllen–Edinburg–Mission MSA at 8.2 percent. The Brownsville-Harlingen MSA was next at 7.7 percent and the Beaumont-Port Arthur MSA was third from the top after recording a rate of 6.9 percent.

Unemployment rates posted for other East Texas counties include:
NOV. %
Anderson 5.3 -0.4
Angelina 4.6 -0.2
Cherokee 5.9 -0.1
Grimes 4.3 -0.2
Hardin 5.5 -0.2
Harris 4.6 -0.1
Houston 6.6 -0.2
Jasper 7.0 0.1
Jefferson 7.3 0.1
Leon 4.2 -0.3
Liberty 5.6 -0.1
Madison 4.4 -0.1
Montgomery 3.9 -0.2
Nacogdoches 4.5 -0.2
Polk 6.2 0.1
Sabine 10.4 0.5
San Augustine 8.0 0.1
San Jacinto 5.0 -0.1
Shelby 4.7 -0.1
Trinity 5.1 -0.3
Tyler 6.9 -0.1
Walker 4.7 -0.2