Man arrested in connection with 2007 sexual assault

By Chris Edwards

WilliamsWilliamsCORRIGAN – A cold case which went unassigned to officers with Corrigan Police Department 10 years ago resurfaced on Tuesday with an arrest.

Theortis Lionell Williams of Corrigan was booked into Polk County Jail on Tuesday, and is being held without bond as of press time on a felony sexual assault charge. The charge comes from allegations that Williams went inside a woman's apartment in March 2007, and sexually assaulted the 47-year-old woman while she was asleep, according to Corrigan PD Lieutenant Bert Sims.

Williams allegedly went to the apartment with another man who served as a lookout while Williams allegedly committed the act, and subsequently fled the scene after the victim awoke.

According to Lt. Sims, he was investigating a current, unrelated case when he came across information on the decade-old case, which had not been assigned to any Corrigan PD officers on the force at the time. When Lt. Sims looked further into the case, he found it still fit the statute of limitations. He contacted the complainant to ask if she still wanted to prosecute, to which she said yes.

There was enough probable cause to issue an arrest warrant for Williams, who was arrested by Corrigan PD and booked into Polk County Jail on Tuesday. The second suspect in the case, the lookout who allegedly accompanied Williams, is wanted by Corrigan PD on conspiracy to commit sexual assault.

Speaker teaches teachers to “teach like rock stars”

Corrigan-Camden Elementary’s  Leslie Ricks, Melissa King, Amy Kilgore and Trish Frankens famously represented C-CISD at Hal Bowman’s Teach Like a Rock Star event in August. (Photo by Beverly Cockrell)Corrigan-Camden Elementary’s Leslie Ricks, Melissa King, Amy Kilgore and Trish Frankens famously represented C-CISD at Hal Bowman’s Teach Like a Rock Star event in August. (Photo by Beverly Cockrell)

By Beverly Cockrell

On Friday, August 18, Corrigan-Camden ISD along with members of Leggett ISD experienced professional development like never before. Hal Bowman came to town.

"Mr. Hal Bowman was such an awesome presenter and so personable. His attitude was much needed to start off a great school year!," said Ms. Herlinda Villarreal.

What makes Bowman's approach so effective? He gets up close and personal. In order to reach kids today, educators must establish an emotional link with their students.

"Every school can be a great school," is Hal Bowman's mantra. The genius behind an innovative and invigorating style of teaching today's kids, Bowman launched his "Teach Like a Rock Star" event over twenty years ago and has have gained national and worldwide attention in all areas of academia including college and university staff. Much like an old fashioned church revival, Bowman fuses high energy, music, and his own personal teaching and learning experiences to "wake up" and jolt teachers into new ways of teaching in the 21st century while at the same time touching their hearts through his personal anecdotes.

Bowman began the event by relating to participants his early childhood years. He was born in Camden, New Jersey, where his mother taught school. He reflected that every day after school he would sit in the window and wait for her to come home. When she came home, she was tired and usually had tons of homework papers to grade, yet she always made time for him. He said the two of them would sit and talk about the day. He remembered his mother told him that she felt that she was truly helping and inspiring kids to reach their goals. These special, intimate times served as an impetus for Hal's desire to become a teacher. Sometime in his youth, he and his family moved to Texas.

Eventually, he graduated Texas Tech in Lubbock in music education. His first "gig" was as a band director in the small town of Pettus,Texas, in South Texas. The town was so small, he related, that he felt a bit disheartened; this experience, however, would prove a Godsend. He remarked that although the school was very tiny, this situation presented a unique and desirable opportunity for him. This "small school" experience implanted the idea that would ultimately become the prototype he envisioned all schools.

He talks about this experience further on his website, " 'There were probably just a couple hundred kids total in the junior and senior high schools', he admits "so everybody knew everybody else, and there was an incredible sense of community and purpose. I had graduated from a large high school and we didn't have that. I wondered if it was possible to build this kind of environment in the large schools we build today.' "

Ultimately, Bowman would move to the Houston area. He taught at Cy-Fair ISD before deciding to take his talents on the road full time.

On his website (, Bowman states that "After spending 20 years in the classroom, teaching just about every subject you can imagine to kids in kindergarten through seniors in high school, I have spent the last decade on the road working, studying, and consulting with the very best educators and school leaders across the nation. I've compiled a truckload of the absolute best ideas, concepts, and strategies that truly affect school culture. And now, I'm a man on a mission to share everything that I've learned."

To the delight of the combined C-CISD and Leggett audiences, Bowman managed to get "up close and personal" with several of the teachers, staff and even the administrators. Corrigan-Camden Assistant Principal and Coach Javier Perez did not escape Bowman's teasing. As to be expected, Coach Perez took everything in stride and played along graciously.

Kathy Harvey, who will be back this school year at C-C Junior High, was also a favorite of Bowman's. She as well was a gracious and wonderful "volunteer" from the audience. At one point, he asked her how long she had been teaching and Harvey stated thirty years. When asked how many of the attendees had been taught or had children that had been taught by Mrs. Harvey, many stood up, applauding and fighting back tears of appreciation and in tribute of Mrs. Harvey's years of dedication and success. Indeed, the event got fairly emotional at times.

Last but certainly not least, there were the "girls from C-C Elementary" who captivated the audience from the very outset. Leslie Ricks, Melissa King, Amy Kilgore and Patricia "Trish" Frankens were adorned in matching rock and roll attire including bandana headgear. It was inevitable that Bowman would taunt them as well and did he ever. Predominately, it would be Trish who Bowman would question, but her great attitude provided some of the best lighthearted moments for attendees.

In the end, Bowman's main message to all was that educators must get close and personal with students. Bowman was able to help educators understand that it is vitally important to realize that if students are to be the best they can be, we must make it personal. It is not simply about passing a test. Through his high energy, personalized approach, Bowman helped educators understand that these are children – not statistics – and it is our duty to impact the child as a whole. Getting to know students and helping them build good character helps them to reinforce good habits.

C-CISD Assistant Principal Javier Perez summed it up best:
"It's obvious that Mr.Bowman used his upbringing for the better. He overcame a lot of obstacles and chose to "Betheone". We have a lot our students that can relate to his childhood and can be as successful as he is. We have to take a personal interest in our students lives. "BETHEONE" that makes a difference in our students lives like the teachers did in Mr. Bowman's life."

Disaster declaration extended as recovery from Harvey begins

By Greg Peak

LIVINGSTON -- During a brief meeting Thursday morning, Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy's disaster declaration issued Aug. 25 was extended for an additional 30 days by the Polk County Commissioners Court.

The meeting was held at the Polk County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) where the commissioners and other officials could receive the latest information regarding the havoc created by Hurricane Harvey in Polk County.

Much of the damage was along the Trinity River downstream from the Lake Livingston Dam, which due to the massive amounts of rainfall throughout the region, was releasing more than 110,000 cubic feet of water per second on Monday. Because a cubic foot of water contains 7.48 gallons, there were more than 827,000 gallons of water being released from the dam each second.

The rising waters along the river prompted Murphy to revise a voluntary evacuation order for the area issued Monday morning to a mandatory order the following morning.

"I've never seen anything quite like this," said Polk County's Chief Deputy Sheriff Byron Lyons during an visit at the OEM Command Center Thursday. "The community has really been pulling together to help get through this situation.

"People who would normally probably not speak to one another are banding together to help each other. It is just unbelievable," Lyons said.

Lyons and other officials at the command center also expressed relief that no deaths or major injuries had been attributed to the storm, although a number of medical issues have been attributed to the stress generated by the storm and the destruction along the river and the creeks which feed into it.

Murphy noted there has been an outpouring of support from people wanting to volunteer their time to help with the situation, adding that a list has been created and they will be contacted as needed. Volunteers -- primarily volunteer firefighters -- along with local, state and federal employees have been working to oversee the evacuations and the Dunbar Gym evacuation center in Livingston.

The gym, which was opened Monday soon after Murphy issued the voluntary evacuation order, was set up to house 80 people and ended up providing shelter to 53 local residents. Donations of food, clothing, water and other items poured in to help.

Nancy Brown, who volunteered to serve as the public information officer for this event, noted one major issue being created by some people is the moving of barricades and the removal of warning tape along some county roads covered with flood waters.

"We ran out of barricades and had to start using yellow warning tape to try to keep traffic off flooded sections of roads," she explained.

Some motorists, apparently those with high-clearance trucks, came along and moved the barricades or took down the tape in order to get through. This meant the next vehicle that came along had no warning and would drive into the high water.

Officials are asking motorists to stay off the roads as much as possible, noting that due to the heavy rains the unpaved county roads are extremely vulnerable to damage.
Brown noted that the OEM Command Center is posting notices of road conditions twice a day and this information is available on the Polk County Emergency Management Facebook page.

New tax rate approved

By Lew Vail

CORRIGAN -- A 2017 tax rate of $0.513 per $100 in assessed value was approved last week by the Corrigan City Council during their August meeting.

City Manager Darrian Hudman requested rate to support the city's new budget. It includes $0.406 to support the maintenance and operation fund and $0.107 for the interest and sinking fund, which covers the city's annual debt. Council approved the rate without comment.

Mayor Pro Tem Earlie C. Baldwin chaired the meeting. Mayor Johnna Gibson and Johnnie Mae Brooks were absent.
Hudman, in the absence of Police Chief Darrell Gibson, described the "demo" Tahoe police package vehicle available to the department.

They will trade in one of the troublesome Chevrolet Caprices, purchased several years ago when the Ford Ltd. became unavailable. Council approved the lease purchase agreement.

After a brief discussion, council voted to engage Linebarger Coggan Blair and Sampson, LLP for collecting the city's delinquent taxes. This does not cost the city, as they will receive their payment from the state-mandated penalty funds applied to these accounts. Council then voted to sever their contract with McCreary, Veselka, Bragg and Allen, P.C., which had been their collection agency.

Municipal Court Judge L. Wayne Yankie reported only one alcohol-related case in July, with 48 misdemeanor cases, one city ordinance violation, and 699 traffic violations adjudicated.

Yankie reported that he now has a warrant officer working half time and so far, he has been very productive in serving process on wanted subjects. To date, it has cleared up 57 open cases.

The police department made 32 arrests, issued 1,237 citations, responded to 216 calls for service and performed 1,341 building checks. A total of 18 new cases were worked and 26 were forwarded to Polk County District Attorney's Office for prosecution. There also were four accidents with no fatalities.

Council approved the minutes from the July meeting and reviewed the financial reports for that period.

During items from council, councilmember Michael Nobles informed Hudman that even though he had been told the garbage placed in his existing bin would be collected, it has not been done. He was told by the garbage collector they would not pick it up from the container. Hudman said he would get it ironed out with the management at Piney Woods Sanitation.

Bomb Squad, ATF help with Monday night bust

By Chris Edwards

LAMBRIGHTLAMBRIGHTCORRIGAN – A Corrigan man is facing felony charges and pending federal charges stemming from the findings of a search warrant executed on Monday night.

Joel Reuben Lambright, Jr., a 43-year-old Corrigan man, is currently in the Polk County Jail, held on three separate felony charges, with bonds totaling $300,000. In addition to those charges, Lambright is also awaiting federal charges from a bomb that was discovered during the search of his home.

According to Detective Bert Sims with the Corrigan Police Department, officers with Corrigan PD had received confidential information pertaining to the presence of narcotics at Lambright's home, and a search warrant was obtained by Corrigan PD Officer Cody Hardy, who along with officers Dana Vanya and Tyler Johnson, were dispatched on Monday night to execute the search warrant at Lambright's residence on Eden Street at around 7 p.m.

When the officers arrived, they found a large amount of K2 (synthetic marijuana or "kush") and an explosive device. Detective Sims described the device as "a fairly simple device," consisting of black powder inside a container with a detonating device attached. "It would have still done a lot of damage...would've messed up someone's day," Detective Sims said.

Along with two Houston Police Department bomb squad trucks and personnel, as well as officers with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Detective Sims arrived on the scene following the discovery of the bomb and call for backup.

The bomb specialists on the scene utilized high-tech equipment to scan the explosive device and disassembled it. The contents were taken into custody as evidence, along with the other contraband that was found.

In addition to the explosive device and the synthetic marijuana, Detective Sims said that a trace amount of methamphetamine was also found in the home, along with a large amount of merchandise that officers initially believed was stolen. Detective Sims said that later the officers "determined that the property we thought was stolen wasn't, so that charge was dropped."

Lambright was taken into custody without incident, according to Detective Sims, and booked into the county jail. Judge Wayne Yankie set Lambright's bonds at $100,000 each, but federal agents are still assessing the bomb charge. "At this time there's still some loose ends to tie-up in the investigation," Detective Sims said.

The felony charges Lambright is currently being held on include manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance; prohibited weapon, and possession of a controlled substance.

Proposed $30.1 million county budget released

By Greg Peak

LIVINGSTON – Final tweaks were made to Polk County's proposed $30.1 million budget Tuesday before it was released for public review and hearings were scheduled to receive comments on the spending plan and the tax rate needed to support it.

Members of the Polk County Commissioners Court held a budget workshop at the end of their regular meeting to review changes made in recent days as more accurate information on expenses and income became available.

Under state law, commissioners were required to take a recorded vote on the proposed tax rate for the coming year, although final adoption of that rate will not occur until after two public hearings. The four commissioners and the county judge all voted for a proposed tax rate of $0.6461 per $100 in assessed tax value -- which is the same rate the county used to support the fiscal year 2017 budget.

However, because the rate is higher than the effective tax rate of $0.626602 per $100 in value, by law this constitutes a tax increase and public hearings must be held. The "effective" rate is essentially the amount the county would need to generate the same income as it did during the prior year.

The public hearings on the proposed tax rate will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 22, and at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 5, in the commissioners courtroom on the third floor of the Polk County Courthouse in Livingston. A final public hearing on the proposed budget will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 12, also in the commissioners courtroom. Commissioners are then expected to adopt the budget, which will go into effect on Oct. 1.

A copy of the proposed budget is expected to be posted this week on the county's website at .

Although not part of the official budget, commissioners reviewed and made changes to the capital expense requests made by the various departments. Normally, during the course of the year as major purchases are made for vehicles, computer equipment and other items, the amount is added to a continuing resolution and at the end of the year the court approves issuing seven-year tax notes to reimburse the general fund for those purchases.

County Judge Sydney Murphy said that during the coming year, they are anticipating some major purchases that would mean a higher than normal reimbursement. She noted County Clerk Schelana Hock has requested new voting equipment to replace the equipment purchased in 2006 for which parts and maintenance are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.

Overall, a total of $1,270,338 in possible capital purchases were submitted by the various department heads for the coming year -- including about $600,000 for the new voting equipment.

Murphy indicated she was not comfortable with a figure that high and suggested it be cut back to about $1 million and the four commissioners agreed. After discussing it with the various department heads, the commissioners agreed to cut back on the number of vehicles it would purchase for the sheriff, maintenance and county agent departments.