Eddie Barker, longtime ‘Talk of Paris’ radio show host, dies in Dallas

Eddie Barker

By CHARLES RICHARDS

eParisExtra!

Eddie Barker, the longtime host of the “Talk of Paris” radio talk show on KPLT-AM, died this morning in Dallas, family members said. He was 84.

His doctors informed the family about 6 a.m. today, Barker’s daughter, Susan, said in a telephone call-in to the show shortly after 8 a.m. today.

She said Bright-Holland Funeral Home in Paris was in charge of arrangements, but that the funeral will be in Dallas.

Barker was the newsman who announced on radio the death of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. Barker, the anchor of KRLD-TV, a CBS affiliate, got confirmation from a doctor at Parkland Hospital that the president had been pronounced dead and passed along the report to CBS’ Walter Chronkite.

Barker was the host of Talk of Paris until increasing health problems caused him to give up the show several years ago. He and his wife sold their farm home northeast of Cooper and moved to Dallas to be closer to family.

For Barker’s live reports on KRLD on the Kennedy assassination, click on:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utBnHGEBvQk

He began his broadcasting career at KMAC while a junior in high school in San Antonio in 1943. 

Broadcasting high school football games led to his announcing football on the old Humble Oil Southwest Conference.  Ves Box of KRLD hired Eddie and he moved to Dallas and go on the air when KRLD-TV went on the air on December 3, 1949.  Eddie worked on both radio and TV in the news department and later became news director. 

He was a former President of the Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA). Barker started the first full time talk radio station at KRLD in 1960.  He said that the most interesting story he covered was the JFK assassination. 

He served as CBS stringer for many years before the network opened a southwest bureau.

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City officials back off assertion that some Paris residents ‘illegally’ connected to city sewer lines

By CHARLES RICHARDS

eParisExtra!

City manager John Godwin and former interim city manager Gene Anderson “stepped in it” when they alleged earlier this month that Roger and Sharon Stripland and several neighbors illegally tied into the city’s sewage system, local attorney Bill Flanary says.

In a July 9 meeting, finance director Gene Anderson addresses the council concerning the sewage issues concerning the properties of the Striplands and their neighbors. (eParisExtra! photo by Charles Richards)

On behalf of the Striplands, who live at 3420 Clement Road, Flanary addressed the Paris City Council  during citizen input of the June 11 meeting and asked that the council address (at a future meeting) their concerns about the amount of their monthly sewer charges.

Flanary suggested that since the Striplands and their neighbors connected onto the city’s sewer  at their own expense that $25 a month would be fairer than the $31.36 rate they are being billed.

The item was on the July 9 council agenda, but Godwin asked that it be tabled until July 23, when the Striplands and their attorney could be present.

At the insistence of councilman John Wright, the council went ahead and discussed the issue without Flanary or the Striplands present.

“Since it’s on the agenda, and there’s been press on it. I’d like to have a brief on what this about. People all around town have been talking about it,” Wright said.

Weekend media reports in advance of the July 9 meeting quoted Godwin as saying in an agenda briefing memo intended for council members that “the Striplands and a few other families connected onto the city’s sewer system illegally more than 10 years ago.”

The families who tied onto the city sewage lines dispute they did anything illegal. City officials knew what they were doing and approved it, they say.

City manager John Godwin

The briefing sheet for Monday night’s meeting seems to have accepted the Striplands’ assertion.

“It appears that the Striplands did at that time communicate with the city, and in fact the design and connection were reviewed and approved by the then city engineer,” Godwin advises the council in a revised briefing memo for Monday night’s meeting.

The several families connected onto the city’s sewer system on their own “in response to the fact that the city had not made sewer service directly available to their homes,” Godwin says, omitting the previous use of the word “illegally.”

The city manager adds that to the best of his knowledge, the system functioned fine for many years without incident or problem.

“However, in March of this year, a letter was sent from the city to the Striplands, advising them they would be assessed a monthly sewer charge since they do in fact use the city’s sewer service,” Godwin’s memo to the council adds.

“However we got here, I have found no evidence to suggest we should offer a lower monthly usage rate than assessed to all other residential users in the city,” the city manager said.”

“Although I am empathetic with any citizen who has to take it upon himself to get city sewer serviuce, the fact remains that monthly sewer bills are not based on infrastructure invewtments, but on ongoing operating and maintenance costs.”

During last meeting’s discussion, Godwin deferred to Anderson for an explanation of the problem.

“This came up back when I was serving as the interim (manager),” said Anderson, who is now back in his capacity as the city’s finance director only.

“I mentioned to the mayor that they hooked up without a permit and the city couldn’t maintain those lines because they were run across private property.”

Anderson said the city had no easement and “four or five houses along that section of street” had to have a pump to get their sewage to the point where it connects to the city sewer line.

“And they’ve got different size pumps. And so in some cases, one pump is overpowering another home’s pump and they get some backup, and so they’ve got some problems with that,” Anderson said.

He said he told them what normally happens when somebody buys a house or lot, all the costs of the infrastructure costs are rolled into the cost of the house or the cost of the lot.

“And it’s permitted and it’s developed and it’s done correctly,” Anderson said.

“But in this case,  it wasn’t done correctly. It was done individually.  And so the engineering on it is not done correctly. It doesn’t run down the right of way where we can  access it and maintain it,” he said.

”What needs to happen in my opinion, is that it be correctly engineered and they obtain a legitimate connection to it. Their argument is because they paid for all this themselves they want some kind of discounted fee or rate.”

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Heat index expected to approach 110 degrees — take precautions!

By CHARLES RICHARDS

EParisExtra!

It will be dangerously hot today in Paris, Lamar County and the region today.

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory that will remain in effect until 8 p.m.

Maximum heat index values will be in the 105 to 110 degree range.

A heat advisory means that afternoon heat index values are expected to meet or exceed 105 degrees while overnight low temps will not fall below the upper 70s.

Winds are expected to be relatively light throughout the day. The combination of high temperatures an d light winds tends to increase the danger, since less air passing over the body makes it even harder for the body to cool itself off naturally.

Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible, re-schedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening.

Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear light weight and loose-fitting clothing when possible, and drink plenty of water.

Be sure to check on persons with health problems and the elderly as they are the most susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Never leave young children or pets in an enclosed vehicle even for a short time, as temperatures can quickly rise to life-threatening levels.

To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments.

Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location.

Heat stroke is an emergency. Call 911.

 

City council approves fire department reorganization; a deputy chief position is added to handle training

By CHARLES RICHARDS

eParisExtra!

The Paris City Council has accepted a recommendation by Paris fire chief Ronnie Grooms that the department training officer position be eliminated — those duties to be handled by a newly created fourth deputy chief.

At its meeting Monday night, the council voted 6-0 to amend the staffing levels for the fire department, effective immediately.

city manager John Godwin

The training officer works an eight-hour shift, 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday, and his pay is actually slightly above that of a deputy fire chief.

However, the position is not within the fire department chain of command structure and therefore has little supervisory authority, city manager John Godwin said.

“Over time, we need to consider some re-alignment to make things easier,” Godwin said.

Chapter 12 of the City of Paris code of ordinances was amended to define the composition of the Paris Fire Department as the fire chief, assistant chief/fire marshal and 49 members classified as follows:

4 deputy fire chiefs,

12 fire engineers,

6 firefighter drivers, and

27 firefighters.

Now is a good time to make the change, since the position of training officer is now vacant, the city manager said.

Vance Woodard, who has been the department’s training officer for the past several years and was fire marshbefore that, has opted to switch back to his former position as engineer.

Currently, the department’s deputy chiefs each supervise one of three shifts, each of which works 24 hours on and 48 hours off — an average of about 56 hours a week.

With four deputy chiefs, Grooms would assign one of them to work an 8-to-5 Monday through Friday shift with training officer duties. The other three deputy chiefs would do what the Paris department’s deputy chiefs have historically done.

Godwin said he hasn’t signed off yet on Grooms’ proposal that assignment pay of $8,250 be made available to supplement the salary of whichever deputy chief is assigned the 8-to-5 Monday through Friday training officer responsibilities. The deputy chiefs accumulate more overtime on the 24 hours on, 48 hours off schedule.

“I wouldn’t necessarily assume that will happen because that will have to be approved by me, and I haven’t been convinced of that yet,” the city manager told the council before the vote.

Grooms said the new structure will give him four individuals to choose from for the training duties instead of “having to promote whoever makes the highest on a promotional exam.”

“This also allows for better cross-training and reassignment of duties, should the need arise,” Grooms said.

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Paris City Council unanimously OK’s renaming main fairground road ‘Gene Watson Boulevard’

City manager John Godwin (left) is shown after Monday night’s council meeting with David Millsap, a longtime friend and fan of country music star Gene Watson. (eParisExtra photo by Charles Richards)

By CHARLES RICHARDS

eParisExtra!

The two-block thoroughfare of the Red River Valley Fairgrounds will be renamed “Gene Watson Boulevard” in honor of the home-grown country music singing star, the Paris City Council agreed unanimously Monday night.

Gene Watson

City manager John Godwin presented a resolution on behalf of “a number of local citizens”who suggested the honor for Watson, 68, a frequent visitor and popular participant at the annual fair.”We’ll have this done for when he comes here in September and make some kind of deal of it,” Godwin said.

“I think this would be a nice gesture,” said mayor pro-tem Dr. Richard Grossnickle, who was presiding over the meeting in the absence of mayor AJ Hashmi. The mayor was out of the city and missed his first meeting since joining the council 13 months ago.

The city manager said after the meeting he will ask David Millsap, a local fan and longtime family friend of Watson, to participate in the official ceremony on Sept. 25, when Watson is scheduled to sing at the fair. Millsap led the move to honor Watson with a street named after him.

The street that runs through the fairgrounds is the northern-most extremity of Northeast Sixth Street.

“No addresses exist on this specific segment of the road, so there will be no inconvenience or requirements for change except two city street signs, which will be manufactured and hung in-house,” Godwin said. The rest of Northeast Sixth Street will remain as is.

Although born in Palestine, Texas, Watson grew up in and around Paris. He and all six of his siblings sang, as did his parents, Watson recalled in an interview.

“Ican remember singing as far back as I can remember talking. Singing was something that was not out of the ordinary for me. It wasn’t unique. My whoe family were singers,”he said.

“I sang in church with my sister. My younger brother, Jessie, and me would sing at little school functions and local things. When I was 15 and he was about 12, there was a guy who came to Paris who was supposed to be a big producer and talent scout and all this,” Watson said.

“He thought that Jessie and I had a lot of potential, so he put a show together at the coliseum. That was the big debut for The Watson Brothers. By the time the show was over with, he left town with the proceeds.”

The Watson family shifted from shack to shack as his itinerant father took logging and crop-picking jobs.

Home eventually became a converted school bus. He dropped out of school in the ninth grade to work alongside his parents in the field.

“Seems like my career just kind of happened accidentally. It was purely unintentional. Music was just a sideline. I was going to be playing and singing no matter what line of work I was going to do. I never did really have any high expectations out of the music business,” he told an interviewer.

Watson quit drinking in 1980 and quit smoking in 1990. He underwent surgery and survived colon cancer in 2000-01. Through it all, he continued to record one critically applauded collection after another. In 2002, he was inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame.

Among his hits are “Paper Rosie,” “Farewell Party,” and “Nothing Sure Looked Good on You.”

In 1981, after moving to MCA Records, his recording of “Fourteen Carat Mind” gave Watson his first U.S. country No. 1 song.

“It’s unbelievable to me that it’s been 50 years,”Watson says. “For most of those years, it seemed like ti took everything I could do to keep working as steady as I needed to. Now that I’m older it seems like everything comes to me without trying,” he said.

“Every time I step out on that stage and see that audience, it’s a new beginning. Even though I’ve sung these songs millions of times, I look at each one like it’s brand new to me. Every night, I try to deliver that song the best that I can.”

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