AUSTIN -- Hundreds of community members from the Polk County area packed five charter buses and traveled to Austin on Wednesday to show their support of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe during their special event on the south lawn of the State Capitol.
The tribe was honored as the state approved a resolution for Alabama-Coushatta Day at the Capitol, presented by State Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and State Representative James White (R-Hillister). The event was a major milestone in the tribe’s public campaign to raise awareness of their community and economy during an ongoing legal battle with the state over Naskila Entertainment.
The large crowd from Polk County arrived as the Alabama-Coushatta Color Guard and Tribal Dancers kicked-off the event on the south lawn with their Grand Entry and dance performances, which also began to draw in the locals from downtown Austin.
Tribal council members and representatives welcomed the crowd, which included state house and senate members, and thanked them for their support. Local officials from Polk and Tyler County were also in attendance to speak and show their ongoing support.
Visitors were all invited to learn about the Alabama-Coushatta’s history, community and how to support its efforts to keep the Naskila gaming facility open. Tribal leaders told legislators that Naskila has served as a much-needed economic boost for the tribal community during its first year of operation.
Informational and cultural displays were set up for visitors to learn more about the tribe, while a free barbecue lunch was served to all in attendance. Free shirts and promotional items were also given away to visitors.
Sen. Nichols later visited for a short time to address the crowd and acknowledged the importance of the event for the tribe’s popularity among state officials in Austin.
“I can guarantee that every house member and senate member and their staff knows about the tribe now,” Nichols told the Enterprise. “It’s a great way for the tribe to introduce themselves to everybody because they have unique issues that are important...Things like today with having such a large presence at the Capitol is very meaningful because a lot of members did not even know we had the tribe in East Texas. This opens it up.”
Rep. White also came to speak and openly expressed his ongoing support for the tribe’s Naskila campaign.
“I’m so proud of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe and I’m honored to represent them,” said White. “What this does today is shows their contribution to the state of Texas and we need to lift them up. I think with all the court scenarios going on right now, they are being treated very badly. This shows that they contribute and they have doing it for a long time.”
Court proceedings on the Naskila gaming facility are expected to start by mid-2017. For more information and updates on the Support Naskila campaign, visit supportnaskila.com.
A large group forms on the south lawn of the State Capitol Building as the Alabama-Coushatta Color Guard and Tribal Dancers lead the Grand Entry to kick-off a special event, raising awareness of the tribal community during an ongoing legal battle with the state over Naskila Entertainment. The event was part of an approved resolution, sponsored by State Senator Robert Nichols and State Representative James White.
An Austin local enjoys a game of catch with a Tiny Tot tribal dancer during the Alabama-Coushatta’s special event by the State Capitol.
Tribal Chief Colabe III Clem Sylestine, State Senator Robert Nichols and State Representive James White stand with the Alabama-Coushatta Tribal Princesses in front of the State Capitol Building.
The Alabama-Coushatta Tribal Dancers and Princesses stand in front of the Capitol after the tribe’s special event in Austin.
A free barbeque lunch, catered by Pok-E-Jo’s Smokehouse, was served to all visitors of the Alabama-Coushatta Day at the Capitol on Wednesday.
(Pictured on left) Rep. James White is thanked for his ongoing support of the tribe and receives an Alabama-Coushatta emblem patch.
Free promotional items were also given away to visitors of the Alabama-Coushatta Day at the Capitol on Wednesday.
LIVINGSTON – One man was arrested on drug possession after reportedly causing a two-vehicle accident Wednesday on U.S. Highway 190 East near Livingston.
Gary Wayne Davis, 59, of Onalaska is facing a drug possession charge after officers found a large bag of marijuana in his car while clearing the scene of a two-vehicle accident that he allegedly caused.
Law enforcement was dispatched around 7:30 p.m. to the accident scene involving Davis, driving a blue Chevy Cruze RS, and the driver of a grey Dodge Ram 2500, Luke Myers, 32, of Livingston, both traveling westbound on U.S. 190.
According to eyewitness accounts from nearby drivers, Davis was driving erratically along the shoulder lane and opposing lanes of traffic. Davis then collided into the back of Myers’ truck traveling in front of him. The hit caused Davis to lose control and come to a stop in the eastbound lanes of U.S. 190.
Officers with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office first arrived on scene, followed by Trooper Ashlee McBride of the Texas Highway Patrol. McBride was the first to question Davis and determined a field sobriety test needed to be done on scene.
Before conducting the sobriety test, officers conducted a search of Davis’ vehicle and found a quart-sized ziplock bag full of marijuana which later field-tested positive on scene.
After struggling with the field sobriety test conducted by Trooper McBride, Davis was placed into custody and transported to the Polk County Jail. Davis is being charged with a misdemeanor for possession of less that two ounces of marijuana.
Both vehicles involved in the accident had to be transported by wrecker. No injuries were reported at the scene.
LIVINGSTON -- The death of an inmate while in custody of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office is currently under investigation by the Texas Rangers. Antwuan Tremain Bogany, 32, was pronounced dead at a Kingwood hospital Friday morning after reportedly becoming ill the previous night as an inmate at the Polk County Jail.
According to initial reports from Polk County Sheriff Kenneth Hammack, the incident began Thursday night when Bogany started to complain about an illness shortly after participating in physical activity.
Bogany was first transported to CHI St. Luke’s Memorial in Livingston Friday morning, then later life-flighted to a Kingwood hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
As the inmate’s family mourns their loss, they are demanding answers from county officials on why Bogany did not receive immediate medical attention late Thursday. Bogany’s mother, Judy Bogany, stated that she was first notified that night by relatives inside the jail about her son’s illness.
“I have family members also in the jail that called to tell us they were pushing my son in a wheelchair and he was slumped over,” Judy Bogany said. According to the mother, jail officials did not give sufficient information over the phone on her son’s condition until one employee referred to the illness as possible “dehydration.” Judy asked that her son immediately be sent to an emergency room, but the request was denied and he was kept under observation at the jail.
Bogany was later transported to CHI St. Luke’s Friday morning around the time Judy arrived at the jail to check on his condition. Judy said she was shocked to find her son already in critical condition at the Livingston hospital.
“When I got to the jail, they said that he was already at the emergency room,” she said. “When I finally got to see him, they had him on the defibrillator, but to me…it seemed like my son had already died. The doctor there said his blood pressure was so high, that he busted a blood vessel.” Bogany’s was transported to the Kingwood hospital, where his family waited hours before doctors informed them he no longer had any brain activity and was officially pronounced as deceased.
“When we asked one of the nurses in Livingston if he had any brain activity, she said ‘I don’t know,’” she said. “They did a CAT scan so how could they not know? I think he was already dead before going to Kingwood…The entire county is responsible for this because they are supposed to be there to protect us.”
Bogany had been incarcerated at the jail since his Aug. 29 arrest from drug charges by the sheriff’s office, which included three felonies and two misdemeanors.
The Department of Public Safety released a statement on Tuesday stating that the Texas Rangers will present their findings to the Polk County District Attorney’ Office for review at the conclusion of their investigation and no additional information is officially available at this time.
While voters nationally appeared to favor Donald Trump for president by a narrow margin, locally voters turned out heavily in favor of the Republican nominee, according to vote totals available at press time.
In the hotly contested national race, Trump carried Polk County by a vote of 15,106 (76.3%) to Clinton’s 4,146. Other candidates and their local vote included Libertarian Gary Johnson, who garnered 361 votes and Green Party nominee Jill Stein, who received 82 Polk County votes.
With some votes left to be count, state-wide totals indicated Trump also carried Texas by a margin of about 4.3 million (52.2%) to about 3.6 million.
Nationally, Trump was narrowly edging Clinton at press time and was leading slightly in the popular vote and in the electoral college tally.
In other races on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, U.S. Rep. Brian Babin (R-Woodville) easily defeated Green Party challenger Hal J. Ridley Jr.in the District 36 race by a vote of 137,053 (89.4%) to 16,327. In Polk County Babin received 15,337 votes (90.7%) compared to Ridley’s 1,575.
The Polk County vote in the statewide races, included:
Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian (REP): 13,803 Grady Yarbrough (DEM): 3,870 Mark Miller (LIB): 763 Martina Salinas (GRN): 279 Justice, Supreme Court, Place 3 Debra Lehrmann (REP): 13,985 Mike Westergren (DEM): 3,810 Kathie Glass (LIB): 672 Rodolfo Rivera Munoz (GRN): 221 Justice, Supreme Court, Place 5 Paul Green (REP): 14,182 Dori Contreras Garza (DEM): 3,796 Tom Oxford (LIB): 484 Charles E. Waterbury (GRN): 232 Justice, Supreme Court, Place 9 Eva Guzman (REP): 13,825 Savannah Robinson (DEM): 3,915 Don Fulton (LIB): 588 Jim Chisholm (GRN): 322 Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 2: Mary Lou Keel (REP): 13,954 Lawrence “Larry” Meyers (DEM): 3,885 Mark Ash (LIB): 585 Adam King Blackwell Reposa (GRN): 173 Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5: Scott Walker (REP): 14,162 Betsy Johnson (DEM): 3,833 William Bryan Strange III (LIB): 430 Judith Sanders-Castro (GRN): 212 Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 6 Michael E. Keasler (REP): 13,946 Robert Burns (DEM): 3,952 Mark W. Bennett (LIB): 634 Member, State Board of Education, District 8 Barbara Cargill (REP): 15,069 State Representative, District 19 James White (REP): 15,416 Justice, 9th Court of Appeals District, Place 2: Charles A. Kreger (REP): 14,855
LIVINGSTON -- Polk County Sheriff Kenneth Hammack and 411th District Judge Kaycee Jones won new four-year terms by wide margins while Mike Nettles, Scott Paske and John Allen Slocomb appeared to have claimed the three at-large Livingston Independent School District seats during Tuesday’s elections.
Hammack, who was the Republican Party nominee, defeated his Democrat challenger, Bobby L. Watson, by a vote of 14,721 (77.6%) to 4,247 in the county-wide general election.
Jones, whose judicial district includes Polk, San Jacinto and Trinity counties, held off the write-in challenge of Livingston attorney John Wells. Jones, who was unchallenged in the Republic Primary earlier this year, received a total vote of 25,683 (88.9%) compared to Wells’ 3,206.
In the unofficial vote breakdown by county, Polk County favored Jones by a margin of 13,523 (85.4%) to 2,318, San Jacinto County gave Jones a winning margin of 7,672 (91.9) to 676 and Trinity County sided with Jones by a count of 4,488 (95.5%) to 212.
The overall voter turnout in the election was considered to be high and narrowly missed the county’s record turnout of 20,323 set during the 2008 general election. In that race, over 52.9 percent of the county’s registered voters cast ballots.
[READ THE FULL STORY IN THIS THURSDAY'S NOV. 10 EDITION OF THE ENTERPRISE.]