Heat index expected to approach 110 degrees — take precautions!



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



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)



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



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



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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