Paris City Council ratifies its appointees to boards and commissions

By CHARLES RICHARDS

eParisExtra!

The Paris City Council has officially confirmed the appointments it made on May 31 to 10 city boards – all except for the Paris/Lamar County Health Board, which Lamar County commissioners were balking on.

Here are the appointments, all to 3-year terms:

Airport Advisory Board – Ray Ball is reappointed and Jack Ashmore is appointed. Holdover members of the board are Jerry Coyle , Fred Williams, Billy Copeland, Steve Gilbert, and Phillip Payne.

Band Commission – Patsy Daniels is appointed. Holdover members are Bonnie Ausburn, Rhonda Morris, Becky Semple, Randy Bunch, Thomas Neugent, and Bennie Tschoerner.

Board of Adjustment — Nathan James “Quinten” Bell V and Charles Richards are appointed. Holdover members are Jerry Haning, Rick Hundley, Allen Moore, Marilyn Smith, and Bryan Glass.

Building & Standards Commission — Chris Brown is appointed and Wendell Moore is reappointed. Holdover members are Ryan Lassiter, Johnny Norris, Vicki Ballard, Zach Saffle and Don Wilson.

Historic Preservation Commission – Douglas Cox is reappointed and Lauri Redus is appointed. Holdover members are Britin Bostick, Paul Denney, Nancy Anderson, David Stewart and Ben Vaughn.

Library Advisory Board – Ann Norment is appointed. Holdover members are Deborah Hatley, Hilda Mallory, Pat Books, Francine Neeley, Linda Vandiver, and Alice Woodard.

Main Street Advisory Board – Karie Raulston is appointed to a two-year unexpired term. Jill Drake  and Ashlea Mantoon are reappointed to full terms. Holdover members are  Britin Bostick, Matt Coyle, Kari Daniel and Casey Ressler.

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County Court-at-Law Judge William Harris[contact_form

Paris Economic Development Corporation – Bill Harris and Toni Clem are appointed. Holdover members are Doug Wehrman, Bruce Carr and Kenny Dority.

Planning & Zoning Commission – Dennis Chalaire is reappointed and Mike Folmar is appointed. Holdover members are Richard hunt, James Price, Jerry Akers, Keith Flowers and Holland Harper.

Traffic Commission – Ken Kohls is reappointed and Susan Hamby are appointed to three-year terms; Joe McCarthy is appointed to a two-year unexpired term. Holdover members are Jon McFadden, Barry Shiver, IKenneth Millsap and Jean Schweers.

Not taken action on Monday night were the appointments to the Paris/Lamar County Health Board, where six of the seven members were ineligible for reappointment because they had served long in excess of the recent new policy limiting board members to two successive three-year terms.

The city on May 31 appointed Dr. Rick Erickson, Dr. William George, Dr. Mark Gibbons, Dr. Keith House, Dr. Lav Singh and Kristi Martin. Holdover member is Bill Strathern.

The Lamar County Commissioners had a problem with the appointments, with some feeling the current board should stay on.

Monday morning, by a 3-2 vote, the commissioners court went along with the city’s appointments.

County commissioner Lawrence Malone and County Judge M.C. “Chuck” Superville voted no.

 

Paris City Council members receive liaison appointments to city boards

By CHARLES RICHARDS

eParisExtra!

Matt Frierson

Paris city councilman Matt Frierson was named the council’s liaison to the Paris Economic Development Corporation on Monday night.

He replaces John Wright, who was the liaison for 2011-2012.

In all, committee liaisons were chosen for 13 committees. Their role is primarily as an observer so they can provide background to the council when a committee issue comes before the council.

The appointments are the mayor’s to make, but Mayor AJ Hashmi asked for each council member to volunteer for committee berths that he or she desired.

The process resulted in the following liaison appointments:

ArkTex Council of Governments — Mayor AJ Hashmi, Dr. Richard Grossnickle and Cleonne Drake.

Visitors and Convention Center – Sue Lancaster

PEDC—Matt Frierson

Airport Advisory Board – Dr. Richard Grossnickle

Paris/Lamar County Health Board – Dr. AJ Hashmi

Band Committee – Cleonne Drake

Historic Preservation Commission – Matt Frierson

Buildings & Standards Commission – John Wright and Sue Lancaster

Library – Dr. Richard Grossnickle

Traffic Committee – Aaron Jenkins

Zoning Board of Adjustment – Sue Lancaster

Main Street Advisory Board – Cleonne Drake

Planning & Zoning – Sue Lancaster

 

Starrett says emotional goodbye as he ends 10 years as chairman of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission

Arvin Starrett (left) is shown Monday as he presides over his final meeting as chairman of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. Because of a term limit policy, Starrett is stepping down after 10 years with the commission, all of it as chairman. He choked up several times in saying goodbye, noting the commission’s achievements over the past decade. Also shown (from left) are commission members Paul Denney, Britin Bostick and Douglas Cox. (eParisExtra! photo by Charles Richards.)

By CHARLES RICHARDS

eParisExtra!

Arvin Starrett, whose name is synonymous with historic preservation efforts in Paris, said an emotional farewell on Monday as he presided over his final meeting of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission..

Starrett, 54, is leaving the board because of a recent change in city policy that limits members of city boards and commissions to two successive three-year terms.

He is the only chairman the HPC has known over its decade of existence.

Arvin Starrett, shown with the token of the city's appreciation presented him for his 10 years of service as chairman of the HPC. (Photo by city engineer Shawn Napier)

“My thanks to all who have served or are serving on the commission over the past decade. Parisians who visit downtown find a much different place than that of 10 years ago,” Starrett said in a Facebook post on Sunday. “What a joy it has been to help to see that our ‘place’ will matter for future generations!”

Monday’s final meeting with the commission was a bittersweet day for Starrett.

After Starrett guided the board through a short agenda that included approval of a new sign for the downtown Farmers Market, the final item was the commission’s recognition of Starrett’s service to the board.

He had some prepared remarks for his exit, and he choked up several times. Early on, he paused for about 15 seconds before composing himself enough to continue.

“It’s been an honor to serve on this commission since its inception, and to see the wonderful things that have taken place in our historic neighborhood,” said Starrett, who is owner of Starrett Funeral Home.

“Our efforts have not been without struggle. I shall never forget the litany of public hearings and some of the more colorful characters who appeared in protest. It’s been reassuring to see many of those who had fears of what might happen become active proponents of our efforts,” he said.

“Building after building have been stripped of inappropriate façade and restored to its original grandeur,” he said. “The commission has played a part in restoration efforts on our downtown Culbertson Fountain and the complete restoration of the Peristyle in Bywaters Park.”

In closing, Starrett asked that everyone who follows on the Historic Preservation Commission remember four things:

  1. “Make the best use of the design standards. Remember that it is a living document, and never hesitate to adjust or adapt those standards within the framework of the Secretary of Interior standards for preservation.
  2. “Always remember that we are not the “taste” police. The commission’s work is concerned with appearance, but more primarily with preservation.
  3. “Do a better job than we’ve done in educating citizens about historic preservation and about the commission’s task. An informed populace is by far our best friend.
  4. “Always keep in mind your purpose. We are only temporary custodians … and many will come behind us. What we have done in the past decade is only a beginning. Thanks to each of you for your interest and willingness to serve our city. It has been my honor to serve alongside you. What we have accomplished is noteworthy, and it will be held in gratitude by future generations of Paris long after our lives are just a memory. This place matters!”

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Transmitter one block south of downtown plaza ‘blows its top’ late Monday afternoon; no injuries

An Oncor worker uses a dry chemical fire extinguisher to put out a fire in a transmitter that “blew its top” during 100+ temperatures about 7 p.m. Monday on Kaufman Street one block south of Paris’ downtown plaza. A couple of large booms were heard in the Paris City Council chambers during the council’s meeting Monday night. Several Paris fire department personnel rushed to the scene, but poured no water on the fire because that would have exacerbated the situation.  (eParisExtra! photo by Charles Richards)

 

Paris City Council will look at ways to get neglected properties back on the tax roll

BY CHARLES RICHARDS

eParisExtra!

The Paris City Council tonight will discuss what to do about properties throughout the city that are overcome in weeds and high grass — and never get mowed unless the City of Paris itself does it.

City Manager John Godwin

City manager John Godwin has come up with two options for turning things around, and Mayor AJ Hashmi says he has a suggestion as well.

“Clean-up of the city is of grave importance to me,” Godwin told members of the council in a June12 workshop, during his first month on the job.

“Unless you provide a clean-looking city, it will appear that the people here do not care, and industry will not want to come here,” he said.

Like most other Texas cities, Paris has established certain standards for property maintenance. If a property owner fails to meet the standards, he is notified of the violation and given time to being the property into compliance.

Many property owners do in fact comply, but many others do not, Godwin noted.

In such cases, the city typically abates the nuisance itself.

This usually amounts to city workers mowing a property, or contracting with a private company to do the mowing. Once work is complete, the city bills the property owner for the work, including an administrative fee – which amounts to a sort of fine.

The council will be presented three options tonight, one of which is to continue under the present policy, in which the property owner is given no flexibility on payment of the code liens.

Godwin is opposed to that.

“The city has got to come up with ways to get some these properties back on the tax roll. If the city just keeps mowing these lots forever and you keep piling liens on them forever, nothing’s going to change,” city manager John Godwin said in a recent interview with eParisExtra!

“We have to do something to get property in the hands of private property owners who are going to take care of the property. Whatever we can do to make that happen, I’m for.”

Human nature is for the city to insist that the property owner pay for the work that city workers did to maintain the property.

“You want to get your money back, but sometimes those liens get bigger and bigger and bigger, and it gets in the way of things,” Godwin said.

“Sometimes, it makes sense to say, ‘You know what, if you’ll pay 10 cents on the dollar, we’ll get rid of the lien so you can start mowing this every week instead of us going on forever.”

Flexibility with the code liens might help the property sell and return to the tax roll and productive use, Godwin said.

In other places he has worked, Godwin said, he “just made those decisions on my own” to provide a property owner an option that might help the property to sell and return to the tax roll and productive use.

One of the two options to allowing the liens to grow is for the council to authorize the city manager to waive any or all of owed amounts as the specific situation dictates, Godwin said.

A second option for the council, the city manager said, is for the council to reserve that right for itself on a case-by-case basis.

Dr. AJ Hashmi

Hashmi agrees the city should do what it can to get these properties back on the tax roll, but he has a problem with either the manager or the council deciding on a case-by-case basis which liens to write off and which to not write off.

“Someone will complain that the manager ‘wrote this person’s lien off, but not mine.’ Neither do I want to be in the position of being told, ‘You know, this was Dr. Hashmi’s friend, and all of his liens got waived, and mine didn’t.’

The mayor said he would like an ordinance that would spell out when liens on a property could be forgiven, giving the property owner incentive to sell the property and get the property back on the tax roll.

Hashmi does have a proposal for the 115 properties the city already owns as a result of having seized because of non-payment by the owners of liens and taxes.

He would like for the city to offer for sale at public auction all 115 of the properties – “taxes abated and clear of all liens,” provided the owner keep the property for at least one year.

To discourage someone interested in buying property cheaply, then turning around and selling to someone else for a profit, Hashmi said he would propose that the liens be put back on anyone selling within the first year.

“Also, the lien will be put right back on if you don’t comply with city code,” Hashmi said.

Neighbors would have the right of first refusal.

“If there are two or more neighbors interested in the property, the bidding would be limited to them. If the neighbors are not interested, then it goes to a public open auction,” Hashmi said.

“The property must go onto the tax roll immediately for the amount of the purchase price at auction, but buyers would be rewarded for any improvements.

“The reward would be, if you build on that property – suppose you build a house or whatever — you will be given the money back that you paid for the lot. If you bought it for $250, you would get that $250 back,” Hashmi said.

“Further, for five years, you would have an abatement for five years on any improvements made. For five years, you would pay taxes only on the lot, not for what is built on it,” the mayor added. “The abatement would go to the first owner of the property for the first five years.”

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