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- Paris Flash
Clockwise from bottom left, task force members Vicki Ballard, Dr. Richard Grossnickle, Robert Avila, interim city attorney Gene Anderson, Keith Flowers and Jean Schweers visit following the initial task force meeting on Feb. 2. (eParisExtra.com photo by Charles Richards)
By CHARLES RICHARDS
A task force created by Mayor AJ Hashmi to recommend how to deal with substandard structures in the city is scheduled to meet in the City Council chambers at 107 E. Kaufman St.
The mayor is expecting out of the meeting an update for Monday night’s meeting of the Paris City Council.
The building will be open to the public, and public input will be accepted during an opening Citizens Forum.
The task force’s initial meeting on Feb. 2 was tense and volatile at times as Don “Pinky” Wilson, chairman of the buildings and standards commission, complained – citing examples — that city officials have failed to act on the board’s warnings about various structures in the downtown area.
With that said, Wilson – who is vice chairman of the task force – said he is ready to move forward constructively and address what needs to be done from this point on.
City councilman John Wright, who was not at last week’s meeting, is chairman of the task force. Also on the task force are councilmen Robert Avila and Dr. Richard Grossnickle; Wilson and Vicki Ballard from the buildings and standards commission; Arvin Starrett from the historical preservation commission; interim city manager Gene Anderson; city attorney Kent McIlyar; and at-large members Noah Enloe, Keith Flowers and Jean Schweers.
Wilson identified the following possible goals and objectives:
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By CHARLES RICHARDS
Effective immediately in Paris, after the gas has been turned off on a residence or business, the owner will have 90 days to get it turned back on by Atmos Energy without having to get a building permit and hire a plumber to pressurize the line, Mayor AJ Hashmi announced Thursday.
The change is in response to complaints expressed last week by real estate agents and property owners in a meeting with the mayor on the city’s building permit process.
“After discussions between acting city manager Gene Anderson and Atmos Energy, that issue has been changed on a temporary basis from 30 days to 90 days,” Hashmi said.
“This is to avoid hardship for our citizens. In due course of time, the matter will be looked at further, and an ordinance will be brought regarding it.”
Several people with rental property were among about 30 people who accepted the mayor’s invitation to meet privately with him on Friday of last week – with no city staff present — and air any complaints about the building permit process.
The 30-day issue on gas lines was the second most prevalent complaint, Hashmi said – the first being an unfriendly and unhelpful attitude by city staff.
“We’ll fix the attitude,” Hashmi promised. But he also said he would do what he could do to correct the 30-day gas issue.
Minutes after the meeting ended, the mayor was on the telephone to the acting city manager.
“You know, if a property is off for 30 days, they have to hire a plumber to check the gas line before they can call Atmos to turn it back on,” the mayor began.
“Now, Atmos itself checks the line before they turn on any gas, so why should someone have to hire a plumber to check the line?” Hashmi asked Anderson.
“If this is a rule that can be overturned by me or you, let’s make an announcement that the city won’t require you to get a permit to reset that same line,” Hashmi said to Anderson.
“Why require a permit on 30 days but not 29? What is magic about 30? If that can be taken off today, please take it off.”
Early in the meeting with Hashmi, a real estate agent complained:
“It’s not uncommon in some cases in the apartment industry to have apartments go vacant for over 30 days, and then you’re looking at 10 or 12 more days once you find a tenant before you get everything approved and the gas back on. It’s costing us money in both rent and in being able to provide housing for people.”
By the time Hashmi had gone across the room, five or six other people with rent property joined in, saying the 30-day rule was costing them time and money, plus a delay in getting new renters into a property.
They said they’d rather not have to involve a plumber in the process at all, since Atmos Energy itself checks the pressure itself and won’t turn the gas back on if there’s a leak.
But if that wasn’t possible, they said, it would help if the 30 days was pushed back to 90 or 180 days.
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Following is the Sportsmanship Policy (Article XVIII) of the National Junior College Athletic Association under which Paris Junior College center Ray Austin, a 6-8, 235-pound sophomore from Chattanooga, Tenn., was suspended for the rest of the season (Austin was ejected from a game in Ottumwa, Iowa, on Jan. 7 for leaving the bench to go onto the floor during a skirmish. He was stopped a few feet from the bench. He was ejected on Saturday, Feb. 4, for shoving a San Jacinto player during a tense moment on the court with 6:21 to play in the game.):
ARTICLE XVIII – SPORTSMANSHIP
A basic principle of NJCAA athletic competition is to develop and foster respect for fellow participants, coaches, officials and spectators. The following handbook section applies to all athletic events involving NJCAA member institutions, conferences and regions. Sport rule books may apply rules and regulations that are more restrictive than those found in this section.
Section 1. Ejections: (The Ejection Form can be found in the “Forms” section of the Handbook/Casebook.)
By CHARLES RICHARDS
Edwin Pickle, the District 6 representative on the Paris City Council, on Tuesday became the first person to officially announce his candidacy for election in the May 12, 2012, city election.
Saturday was the first day for filing.
Candidates have until 5 p.m. on Monday, March 5, to declare.
Four seats are up for election this year:
Councilmen from districts 4 (Dr. Richard Grossnickle), 5 (Matt Frierson) and 7 (Dr. AJ Hashmi) have another year remaining on their terms.
Jeff Higgins, who finished second to Dr. Richard Grossnickle for the District 4 council seat last year, picked up a packet on Tuesday, city clerk Janice Ellis said.
Higgins was in District 4 last year, but redistricting puts him now in District 1.
McCarthy, Avila and Wright have not declared their intentions.
Candidates must be at least 18, a U.S. citizen, a resident of the district for 12 months as of the deadline for filing, and shall not have been convicted of a felony or been adjudged to be mentally incompetent by a court.
Anyone interested in filing for the council should pick up an information packet from the city clerk’s office in the City Hall Annex at the corner of E. Kaufman Street and Southeast First Street.
By CHARLES RICHARDS
The second meeting of the Task Force on Substandard Structures has been called for 11 a.m. Friday.
At its initial meeting on Thursday, the committee looked into “what went wrong” leading up to last month’s collapse of a building onto Bonham Street months after it was found to be in danger of toppling.
Mayor AJ Hashmi created the task force and said he wants an initial report for next Monday’s council meeting.
The task force – whose chairman is city councilman John Wright – is scheduled to “deliberate and act” Friday on its goals and plan of action for dealing with substandard structures in the city.
Last week’s meeting was presided over by vice chairman Don Wilson (chairman of the Buildings and Standards Commission) in Wright’s absence.
Wilson said he wants the task force to focus first on the eight to 10 downtown buildings that have been marked by the city staff as dangerous.
City councilmen Robert Avila and Dr. Richard Grossnickle also are on the task force along with Wright, Wilson, interim city manager Gene Anderson, Arvin Starrett, Noah Enloe, Nancy Schweers, Keith Flowers and Vicki Ballard.