About the Author

Jeff Parish Jeff Parish is a high school English teacher and journalist. He has worked for the Greenville Herald-Banner, Dallas Morning News, The Paris News and Galveston County Daily News, among others. For comments, feedback or suggestions, you can email him at jeff@eparistexas.com.

Archery tournament set to begin Thursday

ASA Archery Tournament

ASA Archery Tournament

Archers are targeting Paris this weekend for the Archery Shooters Association’s eighth annual Brunton Southwest Shoot Out.

The tournament begins at 1 p.m. Thursday with the Scottie Norrell Memorial Team Shoot. Registration is set for 8 a.m. Friday, and the action begins with a shotgun start at 1 p.m. for all pro classes, as well as the team shoot. Things begin early Saturday and Sunday — 6:30 a.m. both days, with registration on Saturday and sunrise services on Sunday. Saturday will see first-round shotgun starts at 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon. Second round is set for 3 p.m., with the Red River Shootout at 6 p.m. A second round shotgun start is also set for 8 a.m. Sunday.

For more information, see the ASA tournament schedule.

Safety Meetings are held 30 minutes prior to all first round competitions. Competitors are to be on their assigned stake fifteen minutes before start time

The event started seven years ago with Archers for Christ and ASA looking into the possibility of locating a tournament in Paris. The wooded areas along the Trail de Paris near Love Civic Center were ideal. Having a facility like Love Civic Center with air conditioning and nice restrooms and RV hookups nearby – which a lot of the events don’t have access to – are an added bonus.

Public heads to Maxey house for an egg-citing time

Maxey_Egg_20Children of all ages got to enjoy some “Easter Egg Fun” hosted by Paris Main Street at the Maxey House on Saturday.

The free event was for children and their families. Activities included Easter Egg hunts by age groups, lawn bowling, egg/spoon relays, egg roll, egg decorating, making Easter bonnets and an Easter scavenger hunt that also taught participants more about one of downtown Paris’ most historic assets.

Ratcliffe: ‘Still chasing,’ but gaining

Congressional candidate John Ratcliffe talks with potential voters during a recent event at Crawford's Hole in the Wall (eParis photo by Jeff Parish)

Congressional candidate John Ratcliffe talks with potential voters during a recent event at Crawford’s Hole in the Wall (eParis photo by Jeff Parish)

John Ratcliffe says he’s still behind in the runoff election against Ralph Hall for the 4th Congressional District of Texas, but is catching up.

“I feel like I’m still chasing, but the exciting thing to me is all my support is grassroots, and the incumbent is getting support from the establishment,” he said. “I’ve got to make up a lot of ground. I’m running against a guy who’s been campaigning in this district for 63 years, and I’ve been campaigning about four months.”

The runoff is set for May 27. Hall won 45 percent in the March primary – short of the majority needed to secure a primary win – which Ratcliffe likes to point out means that 55 percent “voted for someone else.” Ratcliffe garnered 29 percent.

The challenger said his record as a U.S. attorney, chief of Anti-Terrorism and National Security for the Eastern District of Texas and mayor of Heath make him a viable alternative.

He spoke at a meet-and-greet that Gary and Sydney Young, longtime acquaintances of Ratcliffe, hosted at Crawford’s Hole in the Wall earlier this week

“Lamar County has been really good to me,” he said. “I’ve been here a lot. This is my third trip to Paris in the last 11 days.”

Ratcliffe frequently described Hall as a “nice man” who is “well liked,” but said many people feel it’s time for a change.

At 90, Hall is the oldest member of Congress and one of the longest-serving members, having been in office since 1981. His first political office was county judge of Rockwall County, a position he was elected to in 1950.

“I got in this race because I felt a majority of people in this district liked Ralph Hall, but felt it was time for a change,” Ratcliffe said. “He’s had 34 years to fix the problems in Washington, and Washington has never been more broken.”

Recent campaign finance reports show that Hall still had $177,000 on hand while the challenger had $158,000. To date, Ratcliffe has raised $314,000 from individual donors, nearly double Hall’s $176,000.

Trail de Paris boasts new yoga park, painted trashcans

YogaPark01Trail de Paris has some new amenities to help improve health and catch the eye while keeping it clean.

“One is a trashcan project, a partnership between the Friends of the Trail and the Paris Junior College art department,” said Earl Erickson, one of the trail’s founders. “The second one is an outdoor yoga park.”

As a means of giving back to the community, the Valley of the Caddo Museum and Cultural Center decided to purchase two park benches for the trail and donate $400 to the North East Texas Trail Coalition for filing for tax exempt status, said Jimmy Don Nicholson, community service coordinator with Lamar County Adult Probation and chairman of the VOC museum. One bench was placed a little west of 12th Street Southeast. The board then decided to improve the land across from the bench.

“At first, we thought we would simply install ornamental plants on the land, thus enhancing the natural environment there,” he said. “Trail users intrigued with the idea of the ornamental garden began to stop and ask what we were doing.”

Those conversations led to stories of how being in nature had helped people with “mind, body, spirit and emotional good health,” he said. Others spoke of how yoga therapy had helped them at work and home. And so the idea of building a yoga park was born.

YogaPark02Nicholson took the ideas and drew up plans for the park. The idea was presented to city officials and brought to life thanks to the efforts of trail users, the city, Keep Paris Beautiful/Make Lamar County Shine, members of the Valley of the Caddo Museum and Lamar County Adult Probation Community Services.

“The park is a gift to the community and is part of the Trail de Paris and is overseen by the trail manager and the city,” Nicholson said. “The VOC Museum is developing a yoga club which will function much like the Star Gazer Club. There are plans in the works for yoga classes to be held at the Yoga Park, but the park is open to the public for use now.”

The idea of painted trashcans came from conversations among Erickson, Paris Junior College art teacher Susan Moore and Friends of the Trail about ways to assist the PJC Art League with its goal to enrich the Paris area with public artworks.

“Each can represents six weeks of planning and execution,” Moore said. “Although paint and supplies were donated by Sherwin Williams, the students often used their own paint, and a whole host of inventive techniques, to bring the project to fruition.”

This semester’s art students comprising the PJC Art League painted the trash cans, including Baron Capers, Chelsea TrashCans02de la Rosa, Stephanie Eller, Riley Hodneg, Anita O’Neal, Alex Ricketts, Montel Thomas, Amanda Lair-Barnett, Jenaveve Lester and Candra Wyatt.

“This was their first big project,” Moore said. “New cans were scheduled to be placed along the Trail, and it seemed a great opportunity to engage the students as well as give them the opportunity to do original paintings that would be available for public viewing.”

This was not Moore’s first art project for the Trail de Paris. Five years ago her drawing students created murals that decorate the underpass where the trail the loop. She also helped create the scaled solar system that had been painted on the track itself with the help of George Leonberger, a retired instructor, and a student, Michael Thacker.

“We plan to re-do the existing murals that have weathered quite a bit over the past five years, and beautify other areas in town as opportunities become available,” Moore said.

PISD weighs ‘phone doctor’ program for employees

PISD_04-14-BudgetParis Independent School District could pay $37,000 for a program that would allow employees to call a hotline and talk to a doctor.

“For those of us who have had to go to a high-deductible plan, this is an affordable alternative,” Business Manager Tish Holleman said. “If you use it appropriately, it can save you money.”

The program, offered through an insurance cooperative PISD belongs to, is called MD Live. Rather than make a trip to a doctor out of network or the emergency room after hours, patients or parents could call in for routine problems such as sinus and ear infections.

“If it’s some oddball thing, they’re going to say, ‘Go to the doctor,’” Holleman said.

The district can purchase it for all employees at $5 per person per month at a cost of $37,440, or make it available to individuals for $10 per month.

Trustee Dr. Bert Strom asked her to find out about the program’s credentials and what pediatricians were on call, as a brochure said they were “local.” There are a lot of “suspect” programs out there, he said.

“This is a very popular venue now for medicine, and you’re going to see more of them,” Strom said. “We want to tell our employees this is a good benefit.”

“As an employee with a high-deductible plan, we are in the eighth month, and I am nowhere near meeting my deductible,” High said.

The discussion came as part of Monday’s budget workshops. The numbers are still in flux as the budget is a work in progress.

“We’re still to the good. I’m going through line by line to see what can be tweaked,” Holleman said. “So far, it’s an estimate.”

PISD should get an estimate of tax values by next month’s board meeting. The certified rolls do not come in until July.

Holleman put in a 25-cent raise for hourly employees, such as maintenance and secretaries, to show the impact to the budget. In prior months, the numbers have only included teachers and aides. Next month could see estimates for a pay scale for administrators.

Superintendent Paul Jones asked to see if the budget could support a new school bus, which PISD has not bought in several years. Holleman said that conversation is still ongoing, so to date she has put in numbers for a “previously loved” school bus.

On revenue, the Medicare estimate is up $25,000 to $225,000 in the working budget. This year, PISD figured it would bring in $200,000 for services charged to Medicare that district staff provide to students, but the revenue has exceeded estimates. The district plans to start filing for reimbursement for indirect services, such as administrative costs, which could total $5,000.