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LHS senior at inauguration

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Brent Lensing, a senior at Livingston High School, was nominated by his band director, Al Torres, to attend the Presidential Inaugural Leadership Summit as a delegate.

The Summit was held during the inauguration of President Donald Trump in Washington D.C.

Students attending the summit were divided into groups of six to discuss topics that will face the next president of the United States. They are working together toward national and global solutions.

While attending the Summit, students will have the opportunity to meet General Colin Powell, all-time leading scorer in international soccer history Abby Wambach, as well as other notable politicians and journalists.

The Summit is designed to empower next generation of leaders by offering them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness history and be inspired by world-renowned speakers. They will also celebrate the inauguration, as well as engage, participate, and be heard in a Summit Showcase that allows the top three student groups to be recognized with awards and scholarships.

Earlier in the week, Lensing said he was looking forward to attending a presidential gala on Saturday at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, where Trump will make an appearance.

Inauguration2INAUGURATION — Brent Lansing, a senior at Livingston High School, poses in a mock up of the Oval Office. Lansing was in Washington, D.C. for the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

MannaFest Tour of Homes 2016 (Photos)

LIVINGSTON -- Holiday décor was on display Saturday during the third annual MannaFest Christmas Tour of Homes in Livingston when the public was given access to four homes decked out in their Christmas finery.

Decorated trees, holiday dining room arrangements, bedroom displays and a multitude of decorations were on view.

The 2016 tour featured the homes of Susan and Mike Dabney, Alice and Ken Butler, Leonna and Bill Wiggins and Rachel and Marty Drake. The homeowners decorate and open their homes for viewing for this major fund-raising event for the MannaFest Food Pantry.

During the annual tour, shuttles buses are used to transport the guests from the Central Baptist Church to the homes and back. In addition to visiting the homes, those taking part in the tour also are afforded an opportunity to visit the shopping gallery set up at the church.

Mannafest began in 1999 as a joint outreach effort among several local Christian churches to provide Thanksgiving dinner to those in need.

Since then it has expanded into an established food pantry, becoming a non-profit organization in 2001. The pantry, located at 803 W. Feagin, works to help feed some of the 20 percent of Polk Countians who are at or below the poverty line.

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Christmas Lights in Livingston (Photos)

Livingston-City-HallTHE LIGHTS ARE ON! — The City of Livingston flipped the switch on Tuesday, Nov. 22, to turn on the Christmas lights throughout the city. The lights, such as the ones shown here in from of the Livingston City Hall, will remain on through Dec. 31. Holiday lights are located are various public sites, including the Livingston Municipal Library and Pedigo Park off U.S. 59 Loop N.

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City-of-Livingston-Public-WorksCity of Livingston Public Works

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Anniversary-Park"Penguin Park" at Anniversary Park

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Christmas Train Village begins 15th year

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Walking into a storefront on North Washington in Livingston’s downtown area Tuesday, one could find Dick Grant, Dave Reymore and Roger Watkins checking the final pieces of a popular Livingston holiday attraction.

Typically, around 2,000 people will visit the Christmas Train Village in a year. Around half of that is during the town’s holiday celebration of Livingston Hometown Christmas.

“This is, I think, our 15th year,” Grant said of the train village. “It actually started when my wife and I were first together on our first Christmas. She decided that she wanted to give me a Christmas present and I had talked about toys and stuff. She gave me a Lionel Train in a box that went around the Christmas tree.

“That was on Christmas morning. By New Year’s, it went around the tree, the fireplace, and a chair. This is what came out of it. It’s been growing ever since. This is our seventh location in town and our third year here.”

Upon moving to the area from The Heights in Houston, Grant had a fairly big layout at home.

“I didn’t have room for it, so it was in the attic for a couple of years. I thought that I would love to be able to give it to the kids and then an organization can make some money off of it. I got in touch with Molly Anderson, who was then the president of the Heritage Society, and she let us put it up in the Heritage House the first year.”

Grant said that it looked much different from its current appearance as it would soon grow even more.

There are over 900 trees in the scene, 19 sections of mountains, as well as houses and attractions. To power the entire scene, there is a web of approximately 40 cords that would make spiders envious.

Pieces are purchased online from Lemax, a company that specializes in village decorations. Many businesses, organizations and individuals have played a large part in keeping the village operating.

Grant said it could take about three or four months to set up from scratch, but also mentioned that he would never do that again. He also said this year was probably his last with the train, as the building that holds the set is for sale, and the manpower as well as the will to start over no longer exist. He would love to see someone take over the responsibility after this year if he is not able to continue.

Over the past two years, the train was left where it currently sits. It requires 500-600 man-hours to assemble the scene. The Heritage Society actually owns the set, something Grant gave to the group years ago.

For those who would like a chance to see the village in action, the Christmas Train Village is at 406 North Washington. Though it is free to view, donations are appreciated.

Tours are available Dec. 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, 22-23, and 29-30. All days of operation will be 5-7 p.m., with the exception of Dec. 10 during Hometown Christmas, when it will be open 2-6 p.m. and 7-8 p.m.

Christmas-VillageAidan Mosqueda, 3, explores the details set throughout the Christmas Train Village, which includes scenes from a city zoo, carnival, winter wonderland, traditional Christmas town and more. The display is now open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (except on Christmas Eve) through Dec. 30 at 406 N. Washington in Livingston.

Tour of Homes tickets on sale

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LIVINGSTON -- Tickets for Mannafest’s annual Christmas Tour of Homes now are available at area banks, local churches and from members of the Mannafest team.

The festive tour featuring four local homes garbed in holiday décor will be 4-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3. Tickets purchased in advance are $20, while tickets purchased the day of the event will be $25.

The tickets include bus transportation to and from the homes, which this year are clustered within the city of Livingston. Those attending the tour will be able to catch buses beginning at 3:45 p.m. at Central Baptist Church.

The tickets also give attendees a chance to do some Christmas shopping with a group of talented artists and vendors who will have gift items on display at the church. Refreshments for tour goers will be available, as well as tickets for a barbecue meal from the Hitch-N-Post Café, which will be serving on site.

Locations for ticket purchases include the Mannafest Pantry, First United Methodist Church, Central Baptist Church, First National Bank, First State Bank and Peoples State Bank.

The MannaFest ministry provides monthly food boxes for low-income families in Polk County. It was established 15 years ago as a non-denominational ministry supported by First United Methodist Church, Central Baptist Church, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Trinity Lutheran Church and others.

All workers at MannaFest are volunteers and all proceeds from this fundraiser will go to the ministry.