Unhappy with street work, Paris City Council delays final payment to contractor

With a Louisiana company already three months overdue on a water line replacement project, the Paris City Council has decided to make the company wait another two weeks before getting the last of its money.

City manager John Godwin

City manager John Godwin

“There are several issues, and one of them is the poor quality of work by the contractor, and also the fact that they are late,” city manager John Godwin told the council Monday night.

City attorney Kent McIlyer said the city has no choice but to pay the money, which is for materials and work that was not originally called for but proved necessary as work proceeded.

“We’ve got their money, we know we owe it to them, and we’re going to have to give it to them eventually, but they were in no hurry to fix my town so I’m in no hurry to give ‘em my money,” he said.

The council agreed, voting unanimously to delay until the next meeting on April 28 to OK the $18,383.02 that McInnis Brothers Construction, Inc., of Minden, La., requested above and beyond its $1.8 million contract.

The company began the project last July and was due to finish in January. Work still continues, mostly because of a 20-inch cast iron water line that nobody has found a way to cut off.

But the council’s unhappiness with the project has more to do with the streets — especially on Church Street and East 3rd Street — that were nowhere as good after the work was done as when work started.

A local asphalt contractor was hired last week to re-do the street work.

“I’m not too sympathetic with giving them $18,000 — Because of the problems they’ve caused. Anybody who’s driven Church Street knows what I’m talking about,” District 3 councilman John Wright said.

“I feel pretty much the same way,” District 2 councilwoman Sue Lancaster said. “We’re still going to have to address how it looks and how to fix it, and that cost has to come from somewhere.”

Godwin said as the council proceeds on its $45 million bond issue to replace deteriorating water and sewer lines, it may need to revisit “how much of the bond money you want to use for roads and how much you want to use for actual utilities.”

Godwin reminded the council that last summer KSA Engineers — in recommending a $45 million program of work — submitted an estimate for $15 million to replace water and sewer lines and $30 million for new streets afterward.

In particular, Mayor AJ Hashmi objected at the time, saying residents were promised that $45 million would be spent on replacing old water and sewer lines. He said new streets were not necessary, and whatever was spent on them should come from other funds.

“So you’ll know what’s coming, when you take out a road, it costs a lot of money to put it back the way it was,” Godwin said.

“Now, I’m not going to say they’d look like this (on streets replaced by McInnis). This was horrible. This was unacceptable, and everybody knows that,” Godwin said.

Hashmi cut off discussion on how much money should be spent on roads, saying it was not on the agenda.

At a late penalty of $150 per day, McInnis Brothers Construction now would owe $12,600 in penalties as of Monday for its 84 days behind schedule.

McInnis asked that 57.5 of the late days be excused because of delays beyond the company’s control, such as the December ice storm.

“After reviewing the list, staff can only recommend 45 additional days be added to the contract,” city engineer Shawn Napier said.

That still leaves the company still 39 days late, which would cost the company about $6,000 in penalties. Any resulting late penalty will be deducted from the money due on the change order request, Napier said.

The major outstanding problem with the project is an old 20-inch cast iron pipe that neither the contractor nor city crews have figured out how to take out of service, Napier said.

The project is not part of the city’s infrastructure bond package. McInnis was awarded the Phase I work on water replacement work financed by a low-interest loan from the Texas Water Development Board Drinking Water State Revolving Fund in the amount of $3.4 million.

“The past few weeks have been spent trying to find a way to turn off valves or find the unmarked lines that are preventing this line from being taken out of service,” Napier said.

“We’ve gone back and even talked to 25- and 30-year employees in the water and sewer department — people working with the city back in the 70s — and they said they couldn’t kill that pipe in the 70s either,” he said.

Napier said he would like to end the contract with McInnis and use city staff to continue working on the mystery of what to do about the 20-inch water line that has proved so problematical.

“It may take us into the summer to get that done, but I don’t see a need for us to hold onto this contract,” Napier said.

McInnis was the low bidder in April 2013 on the replacement of water lines along East Third Street from Henderson Street to Sherman Street; along Church Street from Washington Street to Hearon Street: and on Deshong, Lewis and Stone streets west of Paris Regional Medical Center.

The company underbid Barney Bray Construction and Harrison Walker & Harper, both of Paris.

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra

 

Approval likely this summer for $600,000, 10-unit airplane hangar for Cox Field Airport

Planning is about 85 percent complete for construction of a $600,000, 10-unit airplane hangar at Cox Field Airport, an aviation planner for the Texas Department of Transportation said Tuesday.

Aviation planner Matthew Felton

Aviation planner Matthew Felton

Matthew Felton told a marketing and development subcommittee of the city’s Airport and Advisory Board that the proposal likely will be taken this summer before the five-man Texas Transportation Commission, which governs the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

“Once that vote in Austin comes, our project is actually on the board to be done,” said Shawn Napier, director of city development and engineering, who is also airport director.

Felton said TxDOT’s top priorities in approving a project are safety, maintenance, capacity and environment. The last of those concerns was cleared two weeks ago, he said.

Under a federal grant, the federal government would pay 90 percent of the costs and the City of Paris 10 percent.

“That’s a pretty good buy,” said Jack Ashmore, chairman of the Airport Advisory Board.

“That’s going to be a big step toward improvement of the airport. We have had a waiting list for hangars forever,” Ashmore said.

Napier said he anticipates TxDOT will take the project before the five-man Texas Transportation Commission this summer for approval.

“Once that vote comes, our project is on the board to be done,” Napier said.

“Hopefully, we will be hiring an engineer later this year, complete the design this winter, and hopefully start construction next summer,” Napier said. “How that plays out, we’ll see, but that’s the earliest I see it happening.”

“The grant is for $600,000 (under a grant that will pay $150,000 a year for four years), so our costs would be $60,000,” Napier said. “I think we can actually break it into two different budget years, which will help, considering where we are right now as to financial restraints,” Napier said.

“What you do the first year is pay for engineering. Our part for design and consulting will probably be $10,000 or less. The rest would come the next year when we get ready to put up our part for actually building the hangar.”

As Felton said, the planning process is about 85 percent complete, with the final environmental concerns being cleared two weeks ago.

“At the end of that planning process, we will hire a consulting engineer and start that work, and that starts the ball actually rolling for construction dollars,” Napier said.

Proposed is a 10-unit T-hangar “that is almost like a bird’s nest,” Napier said. The hangar will house five planes on each side, with dual side entry.

“If you go out there now, you can see one (a 10-unit nested T-hangar) out there, at the far west end. We’ll build something similar to that,” Napier said.

Felton came up to attend the TxDOT Aviation Conference in Dallas from Wednesday through Friday “so he came up a day early to meet with us,” Napier said. Napier, airport manager Jerry Richie and PEDC member Stephen Grubbs, who is on the subcommittee, may also attend that conference.

In addition to answering questions about the city’s proposed hangar construction, Felton made observations about the city’s plans to market Cox Field Airport for economic development.

“At Cox Field, you’re lucky to be land and pavement rich,” Felton said of a significant edge the airport holds over neighboring cities it is competing against.

“You’re not lacking for any pavement to bring your aircraft in, and you’re not lacking for any land. But that also presents a challenge for you in maintaining a lot of pavement.”

Felton didn’t have many suggestions about the city’s hopes to market the airport. TxDOT deals more with the funding aspects of airport development, he said.

About the subcommittee’s interest in putting promotional material on a table at this week’s aviation conference, Felton wasn’t too encouraging.

“I don’t want to sound too negative, but most people walk by those and don’t really notice them,” he said.

“The most marketing I see at these conferences are people trying to market their services to airports. It’s not the other way around,” he said.

He did encourage the subcommittee in its efforts to put together a pamphlet with the advantages that Cox Field has over other airports.

“And I would encourage you to be very open in getting everyone in the public knowledgeable about what you have out there at the airport,” Felton said.

“A lot of people are thinking:

‘That’s my tax money going toward that, and I will never use it. I’m never flying out of that airport. It’s just a tool for the rich to be able to fly their airplanes.’

“It behooves you to educate your residents to understand the asset they have there. Reach out to your civic clubs, hold events out there, whether it’s a cancer walk or whatever, just to get people out there and realize they have an airport,” Felton said.

“That your airport does not lack in space and property is a great thing. It can be a pain sometime when you have to maintain it, but you’re not lacking for anybody who would like to come in and needs space, or needs a hangar, and wants to start up a business,” he said.

Ashcroft said that’s exactly what the newly created Airport Advisory Board subcommittee is trying to do.

“We are working at coming up with the pluses and minuses. We are trying to get something we can sell to the world — another Campbell Soup, another Kimberly Clark,” Ashcroft said.

Felton said fly-ins are good for making the public aware of an airport’s value.

“We run out of parking space every fly-in we have, but we ran out of sponsors. People think you can do these things free, but fly-ins cost money,” Ashcroft said.

“Last year was the first year in 15 years we didn’t have a fly-in,” he said.

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra

Police department prepares to enforce City of Paris smoking ban

Police Chief Bob Hundley

Police Chief Bob Hundley

Halfway through a 30-day grace period for the city’s recently amended smoking ordinance, the Paris Police Department has not received a complaint about any violation, Police Chief Bob Hundley said Tuesday.

The “warning only” grace period expires on April 23. As of that day, violations of the ordinance subject the violator to a minimum fine of $50 plus court costs.

“We have conducted training sessions for our officers to make sure they understand the ordinance, and we would like our citizens to have a good understanding of the ordinance as well,” Hundley said.

“We ask that all read the complete ordinance which is available on the city web site, www.paristexas.gov,” Hundley said, but he issued a press release outlining most of the anticipated violations.

“The department asks for your cooperation as the grace period ends. As with any ordinance, officers are looking for voluntary compliance with the law,” the police chief said.

“If there is a refusal to comply with the statute, citations can be issued. Refusing to sign the citation can result in the person’s arrest.”

Signing a citation is just a promise to appear in court and answer the charge and the signature is not an admission of guilt in any way, Hundley noted.

“The department will treat a complaint concerning the smoking ordinance with the same seriousness as any city ordinance violation,” he added.

“There may be times in which the offender is gone from the location by the time officers arrive, just as what happens occasionally with other offenses. In those cases, complainants will have the option of providing the officer with enough information for a complaint to be filed.”

Citizens may call Hundley as 903.737.4100 for more information.

The ordinance defines smoking as inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe, weed, plant or other combustible substance in any manner or form.

However, e-cigarettes, also known as vapor cigarettes, were specifically excluded from the smoking ban.

While the smoking ban is wide-ranging, here are some exceptions:

Smoking is allowed in a tobacco retail shop “that is primarily engaged in the sale of tobacco, tobacco products, or smoking accessories; provided that establishment does not allow or employ persons under the age of 18.”

With the owner’s consent, smoking also is allowed in a bar, so long as it does not employ anyone under the age of 18 and so long as the bar does not open up into a food establishment, hotel, motel, “or any other establishment where smoking is prohibited.” To meet the definition of a bar, more than half of a business’ sales must be alcoholic beverages.

Smoking also is allowed in private clubs, but the definition cannot be construed under the ordinance to include restaurants open to the public.

The ordinance also does not prohibit smoking in a private residence unless it is used as a child care, adult day care, or health care facility.

Smoking is expressly prohibited in all restaurants, including outdoor seating and serving areas. Under the ordinance, a bar operating inside a restaurant is considered a restaurant.

SMOKING PROHIBITED IN ENCLOSED PUBLIC AREAS:

A.    Aquariums, galleries, libraries, and museums.

B.    Areas available to the general public in businesses and non-profit entities patronized by the public, including but not limited to, banks, laundromats, professional offices, and retail service establishments.

C.    Bingo facilities.

D.    Bowling alleys.

E.    Child care and adult day care facilities.

F.    Convention facilities.

G.    Educational facilities, both public and private.

H.    Elevators.

I.     Gaming facilities.

J.     Health care facilities.

K.    Hotels and motels.

L.    Lobbies, hallways, and other common areas in apartment buildings, condominiums, trailer parks, retirement facilities, nursing homes, and other multiple-unit residential facilities.

M.    Polling places.

N.    Public transportation vehicles, including buses and taxicabs, under the authority of the City of Paris, Texas and ticket, boarding, and waiting areas of public transportation facilities, including bus, train, and airport facilities.

O.    Restaurants.

P.    Restrooms, lobbies, reception areas, hallways, and other common-use areas.

Q.    Retail stores.

R.    Rooms, chambers, places of meeting or public assembly, including school buildings, under the control of an agency, board, commission, committee or council of the City of Paris, Texas or a political subdivision of the State, to the extent the place is subject to the jurisdiction of the City of Paris, Texas.

S.    Service lines.

T.    Shopping malls.

U.    Sports arenas, including enclosed places in outdoor arenas.

V.    Theaters and other facilities primarily used for exhibiting motion pictures, stage dramas, lectures, musical recitals, or other similar performances.

SMOKING PROHIBITED IN ENCLOSED PLACES OF EMPLOYMENT:

Except as otherwise provided, the smoking ban also includes enclosed public places of employment, including but not limited to common work areas, auditoriums, classrooms, conference and meeting rooms, private offices, elevators, hallways, medical facilities, cafeterias, employee lounges, stairs, restrooms, vehicles and “and all other enclosed facilities.”

“This prohibition on smoking shall be communicated by employers to all existing employees within five days of the effective date of this ordinance and to all prospective employees upon their application for employment,” the ordinance says.

According to the ordinance, the owner, operator, manager, or other person in control of a public place or place of employment where smoking is prohibited shall:

  1. Clearly and conspicuously post “No Smoking” signs or the international “No Smoking” symbol (consisting of a pictorial representation of a burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle with a red bar across it) in that place.
  2. Clearly and conspicuously post at every entrance to that place a sign stating that smoking is prohibited. The following wording may be used: “NO SMOKING, CITY ORDINANCE, ARTICLE 3, CHAPTER 17. VIOLATORS FINED UP TO $2,000.”
  3. Clearly and conspicuously post on every vehicle that constitutes a place of employment under this Article at least one sign, visible from the exterior of the vehicle, stating that smoking is prohibited.
  4. Remove all ashtrays from any area where smoking is prohibited by this Article, except for ashtrays displayed for sale and not for use on the premises.

 OUTDOOR PUBLIC AREAS WHERE SMOKING IS PROHIBITED:

  1. In or upon all city parks, playgrounds, trails, ball fields, swimming pools, tennis courts, basketball courts, sports complexes or other city owned or city controlled outdoor recreation centers, and in or within 30 feet of all other outdoor playgrounds.
  2. Within 30 feet of outside entrances, operable windows, and ventilation systems of enclosed areas where smoking is prohibited, so as to prevent tobacco smoke from entering those areas.
  3. In or within 25 feet of any entrance, doorway, operable window, air duct or ventilation system to any City building or facility.
  4. In outdoor seating or serving areas of restaurants and within 30 feet of those areas.
  5. In all outdoor arenas, stadiums, sports fields and amphitheaters. Smoking shall also be prohibited in and within 25 feet of bleachers, grandstands, restroom facilities and concession stands serving these facilities.
  6. In, and within 30 feet of all outdoor public transportation stations, platforms, and shelters under the authority of the City of Paris.
  7. Within 30 feet of the point of service in all outdoor service lines, including lines in which service is obtained by persons in vehicles, such as service that is provided by bank tellers, automatic teller machines, parking lot attendants, and toll takers.
  8. In outdoor outdoor common areas of apartment buildings, condominiums, trailer parks, retirement facilities, nursing homes, and other multiple-unit residential facilities, except in designated smoking areas, not to exceed 25 percent of the total outdoor common area, which must be located at least 30 feet from outside entrances, operable windows, and ventilation systems of enclosed areas where smoking is prohibited.

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra

“Millennials” Must Plan for Short-and Long-term Goals

Stephen Gerrald, Edward Jones  Financial Advisor

Stephen Gerrald,
Edward Jones
Financial Advisor

If you’re one of the “millennials” — the generation that began in the early 1980s — you are still in the early stages of your career. Retirement must seem like a long way off — yet, it’s never too soon to start planning for it. At the same time, though, you may also have shorter-term goals. Can you make progress toward your near-term and long-term objectives at the same time?

Yes, you can — but you’ll need to match your short- and long-term goals with the appropriate savings and investment vehicles. For example, one of your most important short-term goals may be purchasing a house, so you’ll need to accumulate a certain amount of money by a certain time — perhaps in three to five years. Therefore, you won’t want to risk your down payment on an investment whose price will fluctuate — and whose value may be down just when you need the money. Consequently, you may want to look for a shorter-term investment whose objective is preservation of principal. Typically, with these types of vehicles, the shorter the term, the lower the interest rate — but since your goal is basically to have a certain amount of money available at a certain time, you might be less interested in what return you’ll get on this particular investment, as opposed to the return you might hope for from other, longer-term vehicles.

In fact, while you are saving for your down payment on your home, or for other short-term goals, you also need to be thinking long term — that is, you need to save as much as you can for your eventual retirement.

Since you are still in the early stages of your working life, you have an enormous asset going for you: time. By starting to save for retirement now, you have more time to save than you would if you waited another decade or so. Plus, since you have so many years to go until you retire, you can afford to put a reasonable percentage of your investment dollars into growth-oriented instruments, such as stocks or stock-based investments. They may carry more risk, including the risk of losing principal, but they also offer greater reward potential than, say, fixed-income vehicles such as bonds. And holding growth investments for the long term can help you look beyond short-term volatility.

You can start a long-term investment program by investing in your 401(k) or other retirement plan offered by your employer. These plans usually offer a variety of investment options, including several growth-oriented accounts. Plus, any earnings are typically tax-deferred, which means your money could grow faster than if it were placed in an investment on which you paid taxes every year. So try to take full advantage of your employer’s plan — at a minimum, contribute enough to earn a match, if one is offered. Then, every time your salary goes up, boost your contributions.

With discipline and perseverance, you can move toward both your distant and imminent goals. And that’s the long and the short of it.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Bray Construction wins first contract under Paris’ $45 million infrastructure bond issue

Less than 12 months after Paris residents approved an historic $45 million infrastructure bond issue, the Paris City Council on Monday awarded the first contract — replacement of decades-old asbestos concrete lines that supply water to Kimberly Clark, Turner Pipe and Next Era Energy.

From left, assembled informally in city council chambers Monday, were city clerk Janice Ellis and council members Cleonne  Drake, Sue Lancaster, Dr. Richard Grossnickle, Aaron Jenkins, Dr. AJ Hashmi and John Wright. (eParisExtra photo by Charles Richards)

From left, assembled informally in city council chambers Monday, were city clerk Janice Ellis and council members Cleonne
Drake, Sue Lancaster, Dr. Richard Grossnickle, Aaron Jenkins, Dr. AJ Hashmi and John Wright. (eParisExtra photo by Charles Richards)

In a meeting that lasted 15 minutes, the council voted unanimously to award the contract  to Barney Bray, owner of B. Bray Construction of Paris, whose bid of $1,867,769 was 4.2 percent below the bid of $1,949,370 by Pittard Construction Company of Allen.

Aecom, the city’s engineer for the bond issue, had estimated construction costs at $2 million.

“It’s really a great day in our history. It’s the first step in the big bond issue that we have undertaken, and I’m very happy that one of the local contractors has gotten the job. I have no doubt it will be done appropriately,” Mayor AJ Hashmi said.

“I’m very happy that the job was bid at lower than what was anticipated. It will give us about $150,000 extra to spend on other projects. Hopefully we are able to do bigger and better projects for the city, and this is just the beginning of it.”

The contract is for five water replacement projects in southwest Paris:

  • Southwest 19th Street, from the railroad tracks to the southwest loop;
  • Along the southwest loop, from Southwest 19th Street to Southwest 7th Street;
  • Southwest 7th Street, from Southwest Loop 286 north to Field Road;
  • Cross-country from Field Road to Southwest 13th Street, then north to West Washington Street;
  • Southeast 3rd, from the south loop to Church Street.

The five projects are among 15 “Tier 1″ projects at the top of a list of 89 infrastructure projects the council earmarked in October.

“All parts of the city are equally important, but I think it is important that southwest Paris is being paid attention to,” Hashmi said.

“There are maybe not as many homes in these five projects, but it serves a lot of industries in the area, and hopefully those areas that have felt they were neglected are not going to be neglected anymore,” he said.

The mayor said citizens will be watching this project closely because of a water line replacement job — not part of the infrastructure bond issue — that not only has failed to meet quality expectations but is two months overdue.

“It is very important that things we have learned in the recent past don’t happen and that this job is done in a fine way,” Hashmi said.

Shawn Napier, the city’s director of community development and engineering, noted that Bray is currently a subcontractor on another job for the city.

“I believe Barney has used 18 percent of his time and he has 33 percent of the work done. That tells you something right there,” Napier said.

Asked about projected start date and completion date for the project, Napier said it’s a 240-day contract.

“I think we’re talking about a start date of early to mid-May, which would take us somewhere just after the first of the year,” Napier said.

That’s more than adequate time, Bray told the council.

Napier said the next contract — second of five — in the bond issue will address water and sewer needs of several older west Paris neighborhoods and will probably be put out for bids in May.

That one will be about twice as large, Napier said, replacing about 50,000 linear feet of water and sewer lines. The contract just awarded is for replacement of about 23,000 linear feet of water line.

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra