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Dr. Colton Wicks and wife, Dr. Katie Wicks were the recipients of the first awarded BIG (Building Improvement Grant) check for their historic preservation efforts at their Paris Optical office downtown – 15 E. Plaza.
The Building Improvement Grant was made possible by the efforts of the Paris Main Street program, the Historic Preservation Committee, and a large donation by the Paris Downtown Association.
The Wicks updated the storefront of their office with ‘true to history’ style improvements. The building, which now houses Paris Optical, is an early 20th century structure that was the original home of the American National Bank.
“We are proud to be receiving this, and would like to thank Paris Main Street and the Historic Preservation Committee,” stated Dr. Colton Wicks. ”I had no idea what the original building looked like. It was really neat to see the historical architecture and learn about the history of our building.”
“Cheri Bedford (director of Paris Main Street) helped make the process very easy for us,” he continued.
Main Street, HPC and City officials were invited to Paris Optical last week for the presentation of the check to the Wicks, while introducing the new modifications to the public.
The Main Street BIG check was a 50/50 matching grant in the amount of $5000, and the Historical Preservation Committee presented the Facade Grant check for $2500.
After winning Anita Perry’s First Lady Texas Treasure Award for our preservation efforts, downtown and great community, it is safe to say that Paris has one of the best downtowns in Texas. Without the efforts of people like the Wicks and other downtown business and home owners, as well as the Historical Preservation Committee and the Paris Main Street program, we wouldn’t have the downtown that we do.
The $85,000 settlement in the city’s lawsuit against an asbestos contractor over damage to the Grand Theater downtown has been finalized.
“We had estimated our total damages a little over $100,000, but mediation is about weighing your chances of winning everything you want at trial versus getting nothing at trial,” City Attorney Kent McIlyar said.
The City Council approved the settlement in March. Now the “check was received and deposited. Case closed,” McIlyar said.
Part of the old theater’s roof collapsed in November 2011 during a heavy rainstorm. The city says that 911 Restoration stuffed plastic sheeting into the roof drain while removing asbestos, but didn’t remove the plastic afterwards. Rain collected on the roof with nowhere to go, and the weight caused part of it to collapse.
The contractor maintains that the building’s old age and roof supports led to the collapse.
McIlyar said 911 Restoration hired a professional engineer to review the damages to the Grand Theater roof and lobby. Based on that information, the contractor said it would cost less to repair the theater than what the city figured, “and that would have been another thing the jury would have had to weigh at trial.”
“All things considered, we were very pleased with the $85,000 settlement that we obtained at mediation,” he said. “These funds will be used to restore the damaged section of the Grand Theater roof and to repair some of the other damage caused by the roof collapse.”
The city plans to begin some minor demolition next week so Paul Denney with Denney Architects can get measurements and other information on the existing building behind the old plaster walls. That data will help with getting bids on repairs, City Engineer Sean Napier said.
“We are also working on removing the sign so it can be rebuilt,” he said.
City officials have estimated that repairs could be completed by the end this year. The restoration is being funded by a Certified Local Government grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Parks Service, and administered by the Texas Historical Commission.
The Grand Theater was originally constructed as a vaudeville theater shortly after the Great Fire of 1916. The present façade was constructed in 1937 as part of a major remodeling.
Paris is home to a sizable fertilizer plant downtown, but an incident like the recent explosion in West appears nearly impossible.
American Plant Food Corp.’s facility is located at 1231 6th St SE, near the corner of Jackson Street. But the facility does not handle the chemicals believed to be responsible for the incident near Waco.
“No large places in town that we know of have any large quantities of ammonium nitrate now,” Fire Chief Larry Wright said. “They have all moved toward ammonium sulfate.”
In a statement released in response to questions, American Plant Food’s corporate office in Houston stated that all of its 11 centers in Texas use ammonium sulfate.
“We do not store or sell either of the two products believed to be involved in the disaster, ammonium nitrate and anhydrous ammonia,” the statement said. “The main ingredient in all of our fertilizers is ammonium sulfate. Ammonium sulfate is a non-hazardous material. In fact, it is a fire retardant. In addition to its use as a fertilizer, it is used as insulation and as an ingredient in fire extinguishers. It is also used to fight wildfires by application from helicopter.”
Paris Fire Department trains constantly to deal with hazardous materials and has more up-to-date equipment than the West Volunteer Fire Department, Wright said. He was confident PFD could deal with just about any disaster that could happen in town.
“We’ve got places with chemicals and acetylene gas and oxygen and that kind of stuff that we could have issues with,” he said. “It would just be a matter of analyzing the situation.”
Paris Main Street has been hard at work to make the Paris downtown more beautiful and fun than it already is, and they couldn’t do it without the loyal volunteers that help so much each year.
On Wednesay, the organization got together for a public lunch on the Plaza to honor and thank all those volunteers. There were over 200 invites sent out; that’s a lot of volunteers!
There was live music entertainment provided by The Blues Drivers and many of the restaurants downtown offered special pricing for the event.
Main Street Coordinator Cheri Bedford announced the Spring Window Decoration Contest winners, as well as the April in Paris Toast of the Town awards.
Spring Window Decoration Contest Winners were:
1st Place: Karol Lyn Moore from SoHo
2nd Place: Kari Daniel from Green Boutique
3rd Place: Marianna Lane & Carol Medrzycki from Ewenique Creations of Paris
– Carol Medrzycki of Ewenique Creations was also awarded the MOP (Most Original Presentation) award for her window display.
There were almost 15 businesses that participated in the Spring Window Decoration Contest.
Toast of the Town for April in Paris Wine Festival was awarded to:
Green Boutique: Best Retailer
Bois de arc: Best Restaurant
Due heavily in part to the work of Paris Main Street, this year Paris received First Lady Anita Perry’s Texas Treasure award, recognizing our community for showcasing dedication to the preservation efforts of our beautiful and historic town. To read more about this, click here.
Thank you Paris Main Street and the many volunteers for all that you do.
There will be a Volunteer Appreciation lunch and celebration on the Plaza tomorrow, April 24, from 11:30am to 1pm, hosted by Paris Main Street.
“Over 200 invites were sent out, and that is a lot of volunteer hours,” stated Main Street Coordinator Cheri Bedford. “Main Street couldn’t do what it does without everyone!”
The City Traffic Department will be closing off the South Side of the plaza beginning at 11:00 am and will re-open at 1:00 p.m. There will be live entertainment by The Blues Drivers, and the downtown restaurants will have special pricing for the event. Desserts are on the Paris Main Street!
There will also be Special Presentations to include:
Spring Window Decoration Contest Winners
April in Paris Toast of the Town Announced
Everyone is invited. Bring a friend or two and come downtown to enjoy the fellowship! It might be a little chilly, so you may want to bring a light jacket.