Residents who tied illegally into city’s sewage system say they’re paying too much now

By CHARLES RICHARDS

eParisExtra!

City manager John Godwin said the Paris City Council will hear the concern by Roger and Sharon Stripland of 3420 Clement Road that they should get a break from the city on their monthly sewer charges.

city manager John Godwin

Originally, it was to be heard Monday night, but Godwin said Friday that the agenda item is being pushed back until probably July 23, when the full council can be present.

Mayor AJ Hashmi is out of the city and won’t be at Monday’s council meeting.

For several months, the city has been trying to solve flooding problems of the Striplands, a close neighbor to District 4 councilman Dr. Richard Grossnickle. The Striplands have the first house on Clement Road after 34th Street bends east toward the Brownwood Addition on its way to FM 195.

Mayor AJ Hashmi expressed concern after the flooding problems persisted month after month, saying Stripland is a taxpayer and deserves to have the problem fixed.

But this is about a different matter.

Attorney Bill Flanary appeared on the Striplands’ behalf  during citizens’ input at the June 11 meeting of the council.

Godwin said the Striplands feel they should pay a smaller sewer services bill because, unlike other residents, they paid for their water pump, they paid for their water lines, and they paid for the installation.

What the Striplands are not saying, city officials say, is that they and a few other families tied onto the city’s sewer system illegally more than 10 years ago.

The Striplands and others accepted a refund when the city thought the residents were paying for a service that wasn’t being provided, says finance director Gene Anderson, who was acting city manager when the illegal tie-in was discovered four months ago..

Flanary told the council on June 11 that the Striplands, “and I believe all of the other homeowners affected,” want to pay a fair amount for the city’s facilities.

“But they do not feel it is equitable — by having provided for themselves in large part a service that the city should have been providing – that they now pay the full amount, which on the face of the bills that they have received, really seems to be just an arbitrary amount of sewer charges,” the attorney added.

“They admit that you are processing their waste water, but they have paid for the pump and paid for the lines and installation of the lines,” Flanary said.

Three years ago, in June of 2009, the City of Paris — under the impression that the Striplands and some neighbors were paying for services that weren’t being provided —  refunded the sewer fees and stopped billing them for sewer services.

The free use of the bootlegged city sewer services continued until four months ago, when the city discovered that the Striplands were connected onto the city sewer services illegally and had been for years.

On March 2, after the discovery was made, the city billed the Striplands retroactively back to January of this year, “and they’re all now being billed an identical amount for sewer services — $31.36 a month,” Flanary said. He suggested $25 a month would be fairer.

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Historic Preservation Commission discusses troubled downtown buildings

By CHARLES RICHARDS

eParisExtra!

The City of Paris historic preservation commission held a lengthy discussion at a recent meeting about two adjacent vacant store fronts in the 100 block of Clarksville Street.

Robert Talley

During a report by city code enforcement supervisor Robert Talley in the June 13 meeting about substandard structures, Talley mentioned 24-26 Clarksville St., which the city’s building and standards commission on May 21 ordered owners of the property to get it repaired and secured within 30 days.

Talley said another of the owners have signed off on the property, and the last reported heir to the property reportedly is saying that not only does she have no interest in the property, she is not an heir.

Commission member Nancy Anderson said she understands the building has a significant water leak that affects adjacent properties.

Talley said because the building owners did not make the required repairs to the building within the specified 30 days, the city has the right to go in and repair the roof and secure the building.

Commission chairman Arvin Starrett asked if there might be a possible buyer in the wings.

Several people are interested in the property, which is one-half block east of the southeast corner of the Plaza. The problem is and always has been, Talley said, getting the heirs to sign off on the property.

Members of the commission discussed at length how to make the property owners take responsibility and move forward.

On other matters, board members requested more information on the former apartment building opposite the Gibraltar Hotel, the “Beard house,” and 107 Grand Ave.

Talley said the building and standards commission ordered demolition of the Beard house, and said a civil engineer had been requested to go into the old apartment building, owned by Kenny Kammer, and come back with a report.

Assistant city building supervisor Jeanna Scott said the heirs have donated 107 Grand Ave. to the city, but first the city wants to get an asbestos survey of the building and get bids for stabilizing the building.

Talley said the owner of the building on the northwest corner of Clarksville Street and Southeast First Street has made all the repairs requested of him.

The capstone, awning and roof have been repaired, there is no water in the basement, and the floor joist in the basement looks sturdy and secure, Talley said.

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In last action, outgoing city-county health board raises new administrator’s salary

By CHARLES RICHARDS

eParisExtra!

In its last meeting (June 26) before giving way this month to an almost completely different panel, the Paris-Lamar County Health Board approved a pay increase for new administrator Rita Prestridge.

Gina Prestridge

Five of the six new members that will be sworn in later this month were invited into the executive session in which Prestridge’s raise was discussed.

After 45 minutes behind closed doors, the board emerged for a motion by Bill Strathern to raise the administrator’s salary to $51,500 per year, as an executive director. Dr. David Carpenter seconded the

motion, which carried 5-0.

Carpenter then made a motion, seconded by Brady Fisher, to reclassify Cheryl Johnson from a Clerk III to administrative assistant. That motion also carried unanimously.

Other board members present were board chairman Dr. Wally Kraft and Dr. Robert Moseley. Board members absent were Larry Reaves and Dr. Bert Strom.

Of the “old” board, only Strathern, who was appointed to the board last year, will be back. Most of the others had served on the committee for 25 years or  more.

Those whose terms begin this month and run through June of 2015 and were present at the meeting were Dr. Keith House, Dr. William George, Kristi Martin, Dr. Rick Erickson and Dr. Mark Gibbons.

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City of Paris airport advisory commission studies possibilities for September Fly-In at Cox Field Airport

This aerial photo of Cox Field’s improved main runway, which got a new surface in recent months thanks to a grant, was taken from a plane flown by airport advisory commission chairman Billy Copeland.

By CHARLES RICHARDS

eParisExtra.com

At a recent meeting of the City of Paris’ airport advisory commission, a tentative date of Sept. 22 or Sept. 29 was approved for a Fly-In at Cox Field Airport.

Both dates fall on a Saturday..

A subcommittee of Ray Ball, Jeanna Scott, Jack Ashmore, Shannon Barrentine, and airport manager Jerry Richey came up with the dates.

The group also offered several entertainment possibilities that included offering airplane rides on a B17 or B25, at a cost of $450 to $500 per ride, plus tour rates.

Commission chairman Billy Copeland suggested investigating what it would cost to get them here. Copeland also suggested looking at the Devil Dogs as an alternative.

The subcommittee also discussed contacting a DC3, the Bird Dog Flyers, the remote control people, an acrobatic pilot,  sky divers, a ride simulator, EAA, and a T-28.

The subcommittee discussed parking and utilizing the city’s trolley to transport people across the runway area. Parking would be free, and the committee discussed the possibility of getting an organization to oversee the parking.

To help bring out a crowd, the commission discussed handing out tickets to individuals at the fly-in and having hourly drawings for door prizes.

Ball discussed the possibility of offering sponsor placement on advertisement banners, T-shirts, etc., with different levels of sponsorship.

Those attending September’s Fly-In will find improved runways at the airport, thanks to improvements financed by a grant.

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West Paris resident may be able to swap with city for a vacant lot on which she can build a new home

By CHARLES RICHARDS

EParisExtra!

City attorney Kent McIlyar

An 81-year-old woman who lives in sub-standard housing in west Paris has been approved for new home construction financing through the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

But there was a problem.

It was determined she cannot rebuild on her existing lot because it has been designated floodway under the updated FEMA flood plain map for the City of Paris.

However, the story ends well.

Rachel Edwards and Resource Management of Paris — the local grant administrator for the 2012 HOME Grant Program — identified a vacant lot nearby that the City of Paris recently took possession of because no sufficient bid was made for it in a tax foreclosure sale by the sheriff’s department.

If the Paris City Council agrees Monday night, the taxing authorities for the City of Paris, Lamar County, Paris Junior College and Paris Independent School Distridt will trade lots with the woman — acquiring her lot in the 1700 block of Walker — plus $1 — in exchange for the foreclosed vacant lot in the 1500 block of Walker.

“The new home … will add value to the neighborhood and will add value to the current tax base,” city attorney Kent McIlyar said in a agenda briefing sheet for city council members.

“The city will accept the (woman’s present) property … for drainage purposes and will dispose of the existing small structure,” the city attorney said.

The lot she would receive has an appraised value of $4,320. It was seized by local taxing authorities in 2004.

If approved, the resolution authorizing the exchange of lots will be effective immediately.

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