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Paris Main Street Program has been commended for successful annual progress as a designated Main Street community. The Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) Texas Main Street Program (TMSP) made the announcement January 29, 2013 at the winter gathering of Texas Main Street managers in Seguin, an original 1981 Texas Main Street city.
Sixty-three designated Main Street programs in Texas were recognized. The TMSP will recommend its Texas selections for 2014 National Accreditation to the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The national announcement for all designated Main Street programs across the country will be made at the National Main Street conference in Detroit, MI May 18-20.
“National Accreditation and the recognition that goes along with it is a statement that the local Main Street program is working hard and consistently moving forward to achieve downtown revitalization goals that are grounded in historic preservation,” said Debra Drescher, TMSP state coordinator. “Over more than 30 years, the national Main Street model – which has been in place in Texas since the inception of the nationwide effort – has been an effective way for communities of all sizes to restore and maintain vitality and economic health in their historic downtowns. We are so proud of the staff and volunteers of Texas’ Main Street programs who work hard every day on these objectives and so thankful to the elected officials, city management and other stakeholders who support them in their work. Accreditation recognizes that hard work and progress.”
Cheri Bedford, Paris Main Street Manager, stated, “This is a great honor and we are so proud. This recognition is due to the tremendous contributions of time, talent and expertise given by our volunteers and partners, and the support of the community. Our progress would not be where it is today without them. The Paris Main Street Organization committee takes the time to help organize these volunteers and recognize them for all their hard work.” Bedford added, “Paris Main Street works with many partners. Paris Downtown Association, Lamar County Chamber of Commerce, Texas Downtown Association, Red River Valley Tourism Association, North East Texas Trail, Lamar County Historic Preservation Commission and Society are just a few.”
She continues, “Over the past year we have made a lot of progress in our downtown that have contributed to the success. Great events put on by the Paris Main Street Promotions committee and partners include April in Paris Wine Fest, Movies in the Park, Downtown Christmas Tree lighting, Holiday in Paris, Festival of Pumpkins, Santa Paws Dog Dash, and Wassail Fest. These promotional events distinguish the downtown from other shopping experiences and add some excitement to the district. To see people downtown enjoying the eclectic stores, JJ Culbertson Fountain, strolling to Bywaters Park, visiting the galleries, farmers market, library, courthouse, city hall, Grand Theatre, all gives the downtown district a sense of place. What would Paris look like without these places? These make this place different from Anytown, USA.”
The Accredited Main Street programs show above average performance in ten categories on an annual report. Selection criteria focus on planning, partnerships, staffing, volunteer effort, preservation ethic, training and program assessment through reporting. The state office also works with programs throughout the year by providing various services based upon local needs.
Main Street Cities Recognized with 2014 National Accreditation
(announced at the annual Texas Main Street Annual Winter meeting in Seguin, January 29, 2014. Cities will be officially announced and accepted at the National Main Street Conference, May 2014, Detroit, MI)
* designates programs receiving accreditation recognition every year they have been eligible
* * designates programs receiving accreditation recognition 80% - 90% of the time they have been eligible
Minimum category and overall scores are required; first-year programs oftentimes are not able to meet all requirements
When First United Methodist Church began thinking about doing something to their large western parking lot several months ago, the ambitious project was just an idea. Aimed at transforming the appearance and enhancing the warmth and appeal of downtown Paris, the project has is quickly gaining partners.
Harrison Walker and Harper, Hayter Engineering, Liberty National Bank, Dan Wardlow Illustration, Transforming North Texas and the City of Paris have each joined First United Methodist Church as significant partners in the idea of transforming the church’s main parking lot into what will soon become a downtown-area community park.
“The church has been talking about doing something to the west parking lot for several years,” FUMC pastor Rev. Rob Spencer said. “I just began to encourage us to think about it being more than just for cars.”
Rev. Spencer has put together a park planning team that is overseeing the development and planning of the project.
“I was very fortunate to get Earl Erickson, Ashley Lassiter and AD Thompson to work with me on the Park/Lot Planning Team,” he said. “They have been instrumental in shaping the vision and direction of the community park…we would not be where we are today without the three of them!”
Earl Erikson — who is no stranger to taking on big projects and seeing them through to fruition — is one of the founders of the Trail de Paris and a leading local trail advocate, playing a huge role in making the Trail de Paris what it is today. He’s also a member of the First United Methodist.
The downtown park is one of three major improvement plans First United Methodist will be undertaking in the next year. FUMC plans to initiate significant repairs and improvements to its historic sanctuary and create a new youth/multi-purpose building, along with the park. Each is expected to continue the idea of creating a more attractive and inviting downtown area.
These improvement projects are expected to total approximately $3 million in all, with $850,000 of the total being the community park.
FUMC anticipates committing $300,000 to $500,000 to the project, while Liberty National Bank has committed $100,000 and Harrison Walker and Harper, a local company that continue to demonstrate love and commitment to Paris, has pledged significant in-kind services to the effort.
Transforming North Texas has awarded a $4,000 grant and Mark Nardone memorial gifts designated for the park total $4,000, while the City of Paris has voiced its promise to the project through city manager John Godwin and the city council.
Adding to the effort, Keep Paris Beautiful recently donated $25,000, Rev. Spencer said Thursday.
“It looks like we may have other partners on the horizon to help us tackle this big project just west of our church,” Rev. Spencer said. “It is very exciting to be in a community that works together to make Paris a better place.”
The coming community park will create an interactive family environment, complete with a padded walking trail around the perimeter, splash park, harmony musical instrument playground, green space and possibly public restrooms.
“We are one church with two campuses, downtown and Connections, across from Paris Junior College,” Spencer said. “We do not exist primarily for ourselves. We exist to transform the world by attempting to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth.”
More partners are expected to become a part of the project. If you have an interest in improving Paris’ vibrant, historic downtown area you are encouraged to become part of the effort. For more information call Rev. Rob Spencer at (903) 785-4557 or (940) 736-3008.
By Josh Allen, eParisExtra
At a meeting held on January 28th, 2014 the Paris Main Street reported several updates to the downtown area to the Lamar County Chamber of Commerce Board members.
Included in that report was the upcoming purchase of benches and trash receptacles for the downtown sidewalks where improvements were made last year. Several partners have made a donation to make this happen. Many thanks to Jeff Martin at Subway, Jason Callicoat at Paris Apothecary, Paris Garden Study Club, Atmos Energy, and Paris Regional Medical Center and Nicholas Huber ( youth who donated $325 toward Trash receptacle). There were 6 benches and 4 trash receptacles needed for these projects. One bench and 2.5 cans are still needed to complete this project.
Paris Main Street also reported that they are working on the following projects:
Finally, it was reported that the City of Paris received is the recipient of a Texas Capital Fund Main Street Sidewalk replacement Grant. This is a very competitive grant, and only 4 cities are selected. Paris ranked 4th. The grant is for sidewalk replacement only. The project will include sidewalk on S. Main Street, Lamar Ave. and 1st ST NW, next to PCT.
The NXS Contemporary Art Gallery has opened its doors downtown.
“It’s been a life dream,” owner Lena Spencer said during a recent artist reception. “When all the artists came, and we got the artwork up, it was like, ‘OK, it’s a gallery.’”
Spencer said the name, which is pronounced “in excess,” came to her when she found the word means to go beyond normal boundaries.
“I thought it would be a great name for a contemporary art gallery because they are always going beyond the normal boundaries,” she said. “It’s things that are avant garde, fresh, new and out of the ordinary.”
The show included Spencer’s artwork, as well as that of photographers Ginger and David Cook; Pati Dye, a mixed-medium sculptor who teaches at Texas A&M University-Commerce; painter Susan Moore; sculptor Nathan Porterfield; and painter Drita Tomaj. NXS is located at 102 Clarksville St.
“I think it’s so neat,” said Ann Tschoerner, who works in pottery and ceramic sculpture. “She’s been working on it since November. She’s done a great job. Paris needs more art.”
Artwork ranged from ceramics to paintings to photographs to mixed media sculpture. Conversations wound through the crowd about technique, medium worked in and why artists used various materials, such as Dye’s “My Mother’s Garden,” which used cotton batting and waxed string in a bell jar that symbolized her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s.
“This is a great place Lena has set up,” said David Cook, used to run the Gallery on First Street with his wife, Ginger Cook. “We missed this environment. It’s a great opportunity for people to show their work. There aren’t a lot of places in Paris to show what you’re doing.”
The reception was just the beginning. NXS is accepting entries for its upcoming “Rhythm & Jazz” juried art show, which will run March 7 to April 7. Entries are due by Feb. 20. There is no entry fee, although participants are limited to three artworks each.
“We’re going to have painting parties on Saturday nights,” Spencer said. “We have a theme. You bring our own beverages and snacks, and we get together and have fun. It’s not real formal.”
She also plans to offer workshops and activities during the summer. A North Lamar High School art teacher, Spencer has bachelor’s of fine arts from Texas A&M University-Commerce and a master’s in education with an emphasis in art. She is an active member of Texas Arts Education Association and Paris Area Arts Association.
“She’s got a good place to put her art students’ work up,” David Cook said. “We hosted her students work for two years at our gallery.”
That is exactly one of the reasons Spencer wanted to open her own gallery. She also wanted an environment that could show students that art is more than just the creation; artists also have to be marketers and salesmen. She also hopes to promote the arts in the community through a variety of contemporary art mediums as well as develop new, emerging talent from the area and youth.
“I want to provide a place for the kids to make the transition from working in the classroom to meeting people in the community,” she said.
For more information, visit the NXS Contemporary Art Gallery website at www.nxsgallery.com or call 903-272-4639.
In one way or another, most people can relate to the desire for independence. Paris Community Theatre’s newest production, titled Butterflies Are Free, brings these feelings onto the stage in a heartwarming story of love, freedom and understanding.
The Tony award-winning play was penned by Leonard Gershe and first premiered on Broadway in 1969.
Butterflies is directed by Mike Pickering, who has been involved with PCT in various respects for 25 years. Though it is based in the 1960s, the play contains many themes that make it relevant today, according to Pickering. Audiences can expect to feel as though they have traveled in time while at the same time relating to its modern themes.
“It’s set in the ‘60s and definitely the feeling before the show is going to be full of ‘60s music,” he said. “But the themes that the play deals with are stuff people are dealing with today.”
The play works at a quick place and takes place in a single day. The story is centered on Don Baker, a young blind man who has recently moved away from home for the first time. A relationship soon after develops between Don and his neighbor, Jill Tanner, a free-spirited aspiring actress. However, things go awry when Don’s overbearing mother pays a visit, and immediately disapproves of not only his new apartment, but new neighbor as well.
“The biggest thing to me, the mother, she’s portrayed throughout the first part of the play as kind of a little uppity, looking down on everyone, nothing’s good enough for her son,” Pickering said. “Where he’s chosen to live, the kind of friends that he’s made, the girl-you know, his new friend.”
Mrs. Baker quickly proves to not be the only problem for Don. That evening, after arriving late for dinner, Jill announces that she landed a role in ex-boyfriend Ralph Austin’s play. Soon after, Ralph stuns Don when he reveals that he and Jill have plans to move in together.
This point in the story marks a change for not only Don, but for his mother as well. Distraught and discouraged, Don decides he wants to return home, but Mrs. Baker has come to understand her son’s desire for independence.
“And then by that point in the play…she has changed a lot and she allows him to stay there,” Pickering said. “He’s grown, he can make his own decisions, but…she tells him ‘No, I want you to stay here so you can live your life. I don’t want you coming back and being miserable’.”
The relationships between the characters form the foundation of this play. Jill and Don desire independence in their own ways, while Mrs. Baker wants to hold onto her old life. In a sense, it is a story of growth for each of the characters.
“So that’s what the whole play is about,” Pickering said. “When you love something, you have to let it go. You know, let it be free.”
Though Butterflies contains many dramatic elements, Pickering stated that the play falls into the comedic genre.
“I would call it a comedy,” he said. “I would definitely not classify it as a drama, but it’s going to make people laugh a lot in spots.”
Though the cast is small (comprised of only four people), each person involved gives a dedicated and energetic performance. Butterflies is truly a play worth watching; there is so much more to it than just a few short words can describe.
“Just give it a chance and come see it and that may make you want to come see the next one,” Pickering said.
The cast includes Austen Naron as Don Baker, Leah Maxson as Jill Tanner, Kathy Brown as Mrs. Baker, and Derek Dackus as Ralph Austin.
The play will run on January 24-26 and 30-31, and February 1-2. Evening performances will take place at 7:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, while Sunday Matinees start at 2:30pm. Tickets can be purchased online at www.brownpapertickets.com or reserved at email@example.com.
By Courtney McNeal, eParisExtra