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Lt. Jimmy Womack of the Paris Police Department recently graduated from the Leadership Command College – Class 70 of the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas.
The program, also known as Module III, was on law enforcement administration and was taught at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville by a consortium of universities throughout Texas.
The purpose was to provides law enforcement administrators and executives the skills necessary to effectively manage police agencies and deliver a high level of service to their communities.
Module I, focusing on leadership, is taught at the Center for Executive Development at Texas A&M University. Module II, which focuses on the political, legal, and social environment of law enforcement, is taught at Texas Woman’s University at Denton.
Each of the three three-week modules attended by participants in the program is taught by top national and international law enforcement experts.
Topics include leadership, professional ethics and integrity, communication, and personnel management issues. The Command College curriculum also strives to keep participants on top of contemporary issues in Criminal Justice.
Paris Police Chief Bob Hundley applauded Womack for completing the leadership course.
“This training ensures that Paris police officers are exposed to the type of leadership and law enforcement training our citizens deserve,” Hundley said.
“I asked for volunteers for this training, and Jimmy was one of the first to express his interest. We expect others to follow his trail.”
The nine weeks of training is spaced out to minimize the impact to the agency’s day-to-day operations.
“This training is not a cakewalk. Serious study time and initiative is required to complete the course,” Hundley said.
This program is one of many offered by the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas, headquartered on the campus of Sam Houston State University.
The Institute, known as “LEMIT,” has been training law enforcement managers and executives since its inception in 1987.
LEMIT offers numerous seminars, training for police chiefs, and the leadership program, which is one of the premiere law enforcement academies in the nation, Hundley said.
No tax monies are necessary to support LEMIT, Hundley said.
“It is funded by a surcharge on criminal court costs, affording eligible Texas Law Enforcement managers and executive’s essential professional development,” the chief said.
Between 1,000 and 2,000 exas law enforcement personnel benefit from LEMIT training each year, Hundley said.
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra
Two more people filed just before the deadline Friday for seats on the Paris City Council, assuring a full slate of candidates for the four council seats that will be filled in the May 10, 2014 city election.
Filing on Friday were former city councilman Joe McCarthy in District 1, and Kelly John Collins in District 2.
Previously, former city councilman Benny Plata filed for the District 3 seat, and former city councilman Edwin Pickle filed for the District 6 council seat.
Incumbents are seeking re-election in all four city council districts.
Here’s the lineup for the May election:
Incumbent – Sue Lancaster, 74, of 1020 Bonham St., completing her first 2-year term.
Challenger – Kelly John Collins, 53, of 1720 W. Houston St. He is an agent for American National Insurance Company and pastor of Graham Street Baptist Church.
All four incumbents declared for re-election shortly after the filing window opened on Jan. 29.
Pickle and Plata threw their hats into the ring about halfway through the four-week filing window, and McCarthy and Collins filed on the afternoon of Friday’s deadline.
Candidates must be at least 18, a U.S. citizen, a resident of the district for the 12 months immediately preceding the filing deadline, and shall not have been convicted of a felony or been adjudged to be mentally incompetent by a court.
Also on the council, but not up for election this year, are:
After election results are canvassed and certified, the new council will elect from its members a mayor and mayor pro-tem for the following year.
The outcome of the four races could affect who will be chosen mayor in June.
Hashmi is in his third year as mayor and has particularly and consistently received the support of Jenkins, Lancaster and Wright the last two years, in contrast to occasional opposition from Grossnickle and Frierson, especially on issues relating to the Paris Economic Development Corporation in general, especially concerning the realm of retail marketing and promotion.
Persons are limited by the Charter of the City of Paris to three consecutive 2-year terms, after which they must wait two years before they can be on the council again.
Until 2010′s Charter election, term limits were a maximum of two consecutive two-year terms followed by at least two years off.
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra
Following are special dates that apply to the May 10, 2014 city election:
|First Day to Apply for Ballot by Mail||Tuesday, March 11, 2014|
|Last Day to Register to Vote||Thursday, April 10, 2014|
|First Day of Early Voting||Monday, April 28, 2014|
|Last Day to Apply for Ballot by Mail
(Received, not Postmarked)
|Thursday, May 1, 2014|
|Last Day of Early Voting||Tuesday, May 6, 2014|
Last day to Receive Ballot by Mail
|Saturday, May 10, 2014 (election day) at 7:00 p.m. (unless overseas deadline applies)“|
Members of the Paris City Council have gotten the message:
Last month’s $100,000 donation from Dr. Richard Swint and his wife, Susan, was NOT the ringing endorsement they thought it was of the city’s plan to turn Lake Crook into an upscale retirement or resort property.
Just the opposite.
Swint acknowledged Monday night, during a 20-minute presentation to the council, that his intention was to stop the council’s plan in its tracks.
Four weeks before the Swint donation, the city council had unanimously approved a comprehensive Lake Crook Redevelopment Project representing months of work by city planner Alan Efrussy.
Mayor AJ Hashmi has called renovation of Lake Crook “probably the third biggest project” the city has ever undertaken — behind the bond issue to replace the city’s deteriorating water and sewer lines and extend infrastructure to the airport.
With his $100,000 check, Swint had attached a letter that said the donation comes with the requirement that the City of Paris undertake the restoration of “Lake Crook Park” without hiring any consultants, planners, or architects.
The council apparently didn’t realize Swint opposed the council’s plan to turn the lake into an upscale retirement or resort community until the “Paris Texas Chamber of Commerce” sent out a mass e-mail declaring that that the city was now obligated “forever more” to abide by the Swints’ wishes where Lake Crook is concerned.
“By accepting the Swint’s $100,000, the City of Paris has agreed to the terms contained in their letter to the Council. It is an agreement that the Lake Crook property will never be sold, bartered or given away.”
The “Paris Texas Chamber of Commerce,” headed by Jake Street, a former chamber of commerce director in West Texas, is not to be confused with the larger and more established Lamar County Chamber of Commerce.
“The reality is, now and forever, that Lake Crook has been saved for all the citizens of Paris, by the generosity of Doctor Richard Swint and his wife, Susan,” the January e-mail said.
In a memo to council members, Hashmi wrote that the council might want to revisit acceptance of the Swints’ donation.
“Some of us may think that when we refer to Lake Crook Park, we are talking about the actual area where there was the old pier and the band stand. … My understanding now is that it applies to the whole of the lake and the surrounding areas,” the mayor wrote.
During a 20-minute presentation to the council Monday night, Swint said: “I do mean all of it.”
Hashmi said he plans to put the matter of the Swints’ donation back on the agenda for the council to revisit “… so that everyone on the council fully understands the limitations of this donation.”
The mayor said the council might want to reconsider accepting the Swints’ donation because the council’s action “may influence what future councils may or may not be able to do.”
That prompted Street to send out another e-mail on Tuesday.
“And now the mayor and his supporters say they won’t abide by the agreement they made when they accepted the check and the terms for it? Well, duh. That was the purpose of the Swints’ restoration fund check,” Street wrote.
“After the fact, how can those at the city now claim that they did not read the check’s accompanying letter or did not understand it?” Tuesday’s e-mail asked.
An early dream of Hashmi following his election to the council in June 2011 was to secure a major developer committed to redevelopment of Lake Crook.
At the January 2013 meeting, Hashmi had a mock-up on a table for a people to look at. It showed a hotel in the peninsula that extends out into Lake Crook. There were also both residences and retail establishments with lakeside views.
There was also a bicycle/walking track around the lake, a golf course, and a hunting/fishing area.
In that January 2013 council meeting, the mayor mentioned that he had been approached by someone interested in developing the area around Lake Crook into a hunting and fishing resort.
“Mayor Hashmi, who are your acquaintances that are interested in the park?” Swint asked Monday night.
“Are you questioning me?” the mayor asked.
“Yes,” Swint replied.
“I’m not answering that question,” Hashmi said.
“OK, you can do that,” Swint said.
“It’s your presentation, so please continue,” the mayor said.
(Hashmi said privately after the meeting that it would be counter-productive to divulge the names of individuals or companies who are considering a move to Paris, because it result in competition from other communities.
Swint said after he read the council minutes on adoption of the Lake Crook Development Project, “I talked to some of the council and asked them if they had anything in the plan to sell and/or lease the property, and the understanding was, ‘No, we haven’t voted on anything for selling the property.”
Swint then read from a document titled “The Lake Crook Planned Development District.”
“It says, ‘Paris officials will initiate a marketing program to encourage private and public sector developers to invest and develop in the Lake Crook Planned Development District.’
“At least one council member did not understand that he had passed something for marketing the property, but it had been done. I think we need a council member to make a motion to rescind that order,” Swint said.
He called Lake Crook “a genie in a bottle — a genie that hasn’t been opened up to the public. This genie, if you wake it up, can produce enormous enjoyment for the people who would come here for a natural park. We in Lamar County have something unique here. If you take this park … and make a retirement community, I would point out that all of us who are retired are dying. A retirement community is a dying community.”
Swint added: “Now, given that Mayor Hashmi has recognized this genie, and that some person he knows has recognized the value of Lake Crook Park, I would invite them to come build whatever they want to in some area of Lamar County.
“But I would invite the council members to please consider a public vote, and consider how the value of this park could have to this area when it has been so neglected for all these years.”
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra
The Paris City Council on Monday directed City Attorney Kent McIlyar to prepare a smoking ban for restaurants and athletic fields as agreed upon last week by a citizens task force.
John Kruntorad, chairman of the Lamar County Republican Party, spoke from the podium on the compromise reached by a 10-person committee that was divided 5-and-5 among those for and against a smoking ban.
“Those of us opposed to the proposed ordinance were concerned about property rights,” said Kruntorad, who was the spokesman for his side.
“There was some good debate and some healthy give-and-take. Neither side walked away with everything we wanted, but we knew that, going in. We knew there would be compromise.”
Also, Mayor AJ Has hmi had made clear that if neither side budged, the matter would go back to the council, which was already on record in favor of even more restrictive language.
“When all was said and done, each side gave ground on some issues that were important to us. Not everyone was happy with all the compromises, but at the end we agreed the compromise was in the best interests of the city,” Kruntorad said.
“I hope you take our recommendations to heart and pass the proposed revised ordinance as we present it to you,” he added.
The citizens task force recommended:
McIlyar said a private club is defined as a fraternal, tax-exempt organization such as the American Legion or Elks Lodge — not a restaurant that declared itself a private club to be able to serve alcohol.
To clear up another question, the mayor asked a vapor store representative in the audience if there is an age limit on who could purchase e-cigarettes.
The representative said there is not, but that in her store every prospective purchaser is carded, the same as in stores that sell cigarettes — for which the minimum legal age is 18.
Over the next several days, the city attorney will put into legal form an ordinance with the provisions agreed upon by the task force, which will include a warning for the first offense, a fine of $100 on the second offense, and a fine of up to $500 for additional offenses.
The task force members will meet again next Monday with the city attorney and further tweak the ordinance, if neccessary. The ordinance would then be brought to the council on March 10 for a vote.
Hashmi said he feels personally that a $500 fine is exorbitant and said he hopes the task force will tweak that when it meets with the city attorney on Monday.
Two weeks ago, with councilman Matt Frierson in opposition, the council was prepared to adopt by a 6-1 vote an ordinance that would have prohibited smoking virtually anywhere except for a person’s own residence or vehicle. Frierson is a non-smoker, but said government shouldn’t be forcing a business to ban smoking.
“In the interest of compromise, I vote yes,” Frierson said Monday night in joining his colleagues in a unanimous vote to instruct the city attorney to work up an ordinance along the lines suggested by the task force.
Two weeks ago, the council discussion was preceded by an hour-long public hearing in which the sentiment was almost evenly divided by those for and against a smoking ban. About 40 people spoke for up to two minutes each from the podium.
With the council’s concurrence at that Feb. 10 meeting, Hashmi proposed a citizens task force be given an opportunity to suggest a compromise.
The council agreed by a 6-1 vote — This time with councilman Dr. Richard Grossnickle objecting because he didn’t want a compromise — to have a citizens advisory committee weigh in on the matter.
That 10-person committee, selected by Hashmi from people who volunteered to serve, met for two and a half hours last Friday afternoon.
After an hour, they hadn’t moved from their original positions, but the mayor twice sent the two sides back to huddle privately among themselves.
Members of the task force were:
In Monday night’s citizens forum, a number of people spoke about the smoking issue — people on both sides, unhappy about a compromise.
Rachel Kane, with the American Heart Association, urged the council to include bars on the no-smoking ban. They stopped short of a good conclusion, she said.
“If this were a 26.2 mile marathon, you are at 26 miles,” she said. “I plead with you to put bars back in the ordinance. The greatest health impact occurs when smoking is banned in every possible setting.”
Several other speakers who said they were against a smoking ban were outspoken in their opposition.
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra
In a preview of his scheduled appearance tonight before the Paris City Council, Dr. Richard Swint told the Paris Rotary Club that Lamar County and City of Paris officials cannot be trusted to make sound economic development decisions.
“Paris has a national reputation that it is vulnerable to con men from within and without our city,” Swint said Friday in remarks prepared for delivery to Rotarians.
Swint and his wife, Susan, presented the Paris City Council last month a $100,000 check for restoration of Lake Crook Park, which they noted has fallen in disrepair since the lake was created in the early 1920′s.
“When I made my donation, I wrote that it comes with the requirement the City of Paris undertake the restoration without hiring any consultants, planners or architects,” Swint said. “There’s worlds of evidence that our county and city have wasted untold amounts of money on studying everything with nothing being done.”
Swint is on tonight’s council agenda because of a misunderstanding on the extent of that stipulation, Mayor AJ Hashmi said. The council thought the comment concerned only the general area where a fishing pier and band stand were once located — not the entire lake, he said
In recent months, the council has begun targeting Lake Crook and Cox Field Airport more aggressively for economic development. Swint said city and county leaders have made one bad decision after another in economic development.
Swint gave examples of what he said were disastrous economic development decisions by city and county officials:
“The list goes on and on,” Swint said.
The ice storm that hit Paris and Lamar County two months ago was a recent indication of a poor decision by city and county officials, he said.
“Have you ever seen anyone get ahead who was on welfare? Welfare destroys initiative. I thought of this after the ice storm, the city and county waiting for the Federal Emergency Management Administration. And so they waited and waited, and FEMA didn’t occur. That’s waiting for welfare.”
In the 1900′s, the community was very progressive, and overcame the Great Fire of 1916, Swint said. The community also got through the Great Depression without much trouble, he said.
“And in the 1940′s, a very intuitive man with a future named LeTourneau investigated Paris to build his manufacturing business for giant machines on Camp Maxey land vacated after World War II,” Swint said.
“LeTourneau went to Longview. Longview has grown 14 times since 1920 and has a university. Paris has grown 1.6 times and still has a junior college. The actual population of all the little communities outside of Paris has decreased 10 percent since 1920. There have been a lot of choices that were not beneficial to Paris and Lamar County. “
Lately, the mayor “has whispered in many people’s ear,” Swint said in his Friday talk, that “something big” is in the works for Lake Crook.
Whoever is in the wings to develop Lake Crook, “They do not want your money. All they want is your inheritance. They want the farm you have let grow up in weeds,” Swint said.
“The City Council needs a lot of money to make up for the money that councils have wasted, so they have approved a scheme by Dr. Hashmi to sell the farm. The next time the council wants money, what will they sell?”
There is talk that Hashmi has been talking about leasing land at Lake Crook for development as a theme park, Swint said.
Bad idea, he said.
“Paris has turbulent weather. Unpredictably hot, unpredictably cold. We have a lot of weather that is not conducive to large masses of people in outdoor activities. Paris is not on the edge of a big metropolitan area with masses of people,” Swint told Rotarians.
“There are a lot of reasons this business venture may not really be viable in Paris, Texas,” he said.
Any decision to bring in major development to Lake Crook should have to be approved by the people in an election he said.
“This proposal, which some say now is to lease the property, or to sell it — is this an opportunity or not? Is this a Bitco and C-Tech? Or is this a LeTourneau? You have to decide. And it’s hard to know which one is correct, but the people should decide.”
He said it’s time that citizens participate more actively in the city and county government.
“We elect people and we turn our backs and never look again,” he said.
Swint said Lake Crook can be turned into a resource that would pay for itself.
“If we build 25 cabins, in a cluster, at an average rental of $150, that would raise over $500,000 a year, even if they were rented less than 50 percent of the time. If we built 25 cabins at the four entrances, that would bring in $2 million a year. Beaver’s Bend does it. We could have the park that could do that,” he said.
“So answer this. We have the biggest park owned by a city in the whole state of Texas, and we have the biggest lake owned by a city. We have a lot of opportunity, and it’s been allowed to grow up in weeds. Do you sell the farm, or do you go out and work the farm for what you can produce out of it?”
Swint said he has in mind for Lake Crook a restoration that would return the lake to the peaceful setting that many remember from decades ago.
He had a computerized slide show presentation of “things we could have at Lake Crook without much trouble, without much expense.”
“We could have sidewalks for children to ride their bicycles on … a big rock for people to climb or sit on … maybe a rack of tires for kids to climb on … little ponds for children to fish out of … children love to climb on old tractors and things … places that children could have pony rides … floral gardens for people to walk through and hike through … bicycle trails … horse riding trails … all kinds of flowers that you can plant once and they will come back year after year … you could have rose gardens … you could have crape myrtles … and a persimmon tree … trees that bear fruit … crape myrtle trails and sugar maple trails and sweet gum trails … you can plant pecan trees in a lot of these areas, which feed the animals and it’s OK for people to take them … and here’s more fall foliage, and you would have people who would like to come, I think, from Dallas and walk through a pleasant quiet, picturesque, wood scene or nature field.”
Swint showed a picture of a sunset at Lake Crook.
“And I will say, that if people do not wake up, that will be the last sunset at the lake. Somebody else will own it,” he said.
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra