PEDC picks Turner, Grubbs, Anglin and Hashmi for exec director screening committee

The Paris Economic Development Corporation agreed Monday to begin the search for an executive director, but to delay the screening process itself until a full PEDC board is in place.

PEDC member David Turner makes a point as PJC president Pam Anglin looks on. (eParisExtra photo by Charles Richards)

PEDC member David Turner makes a point as PJC president Pam Anglin looks on. (eParisExtra photo by Charles Richards)

Assistant executive director Shannon Barrentine has been in charge of operations since Steve Gilbert’s resignation in January.

Gilbert, who had been under fire from the Paris City Council, stepped down to become a vice president with Harrison Walker and Harper, with economic development in the private sector.

Following the resignation a couple of months ago of Bruce Carr, the PEDC has been one member short of its full complement of five members.

Plus, Vicki Ballard has said she isn’t interested in re-appointment by the Paris City Council on June 23 for her term that expires on June 30.

That means two new members will come on board the PEDC on July 1 – one for three years and one for the one year remaining on Carr’s unexpired term.

Holdover PEDC members will be board chairman Rebecca Clifford and directors David Turner and Stephen Grubbs.

Those three were present for Monday’s noon special meeting, at which Turner gave a report on the search for an executive director.

PEDC director Steve Grubbs and chairman Rebecca Clifford.

PEDC director Steve Grubbs and chairman Rebecca Clifford.

The board went along with Turner’s suggestion that a five-member screening committee be comprised of two members of the PEDC, one member of the Paris City Council, and two members of the community.

By a 3-0 vote, the PEDC accepted Turner’s recommendation that he and Grubbs represent the PEDC, that Dr. AJ Hashmi represent the city council, and that Paris Junior College president Dr. Pam Anglin be one of the two representatives of the community.

Turner also had a recommendation for the other community representative – an official with one of the city’s major companies – but Turner said he had not been able yet to contact that person to confirm a willingness to serve.

The board agreed to begin advertising for the executive director’s job, but to delay considering applicants until July.

“I don’t think we should begin interviewing candidates until we have a full complement of board members in place,” Turner said. “That doesn’t mean we can’t start getting the word out there.”

Although a screening committee will be involved, all five PEDC members will be involved in the interview process to some degree, the board agreed.

PEDC interim executive director Shannon Barrentine

PEDC interim executive director Shannon Barrentine

Turner said he initially was in favor of a maximum salary of $120,000, but added he has been won over to the thinking that pay should be commensurate with experience.

“We all agree that we have to pay for what we get. Rather than put a number in there, I recommend we put ‘Negotiable,’ and see what we get.”

The job will be advertised as Open Until Filled,” with a note that screening of applications will begin on July 1.

Turner also said he was backing away from his previous recommendation that much of the executive director’s salary come from commissions earned on the basis of how many prospective new companies come in.

Anglin convinced him that’s not the way to go, Turner said.

She brought up that if you pay bonuses for companies, the PEDC would end up with a calling center “boiler room,” Turner said.

Calls will be made to other economic development corporations in the region to get an idea what others are paying.

“As we do the searching, the person we name is going to have substantial political skills, to work with politicians in Austin, and hopefully in Washington as well,” Turner said.

“True, it’s considered a marketing job, but I see it more as “a political major, with a minor in marketing,” Turner continued.

“We are going to need help from the political community,” Turner said, whether involving Congress, the Texas Legislature, or public officials.

The PEDC ended with a half-hour executive session regarding specific economic development prospects, but Clifford announced after the board reconvened in open session that no action was taken on any item.

Charles Richards, eParisExtra

UPDATE: Lynch wins PJC District 1 regent seat; runoff will decide between Norwood & Bell in District 7

eParisExtra logoA huge turnout on Saturday lifted District 7 incumbent Frankie Norwood into a tie with challenger Jim Bell, forcing a runoff in the Paris Junior College regents’ election.

Bell led Norwood by almost 2-to-1 after the early votes were counted, but about an hour after the polls closed, the Saturday vote was final, and it was heavily in Norwood’s favor — 43 to 9 over Bell. Charles Gilbert ran a distant third, getting 12 early votes and 3 votes on Saturday.

The date for the Bell-Norwood runoff has not been set.

Charles Lynch unseated District 4 incumbent Daigone Garner by a final vote of 105 to 30. Lynch won the early voting 65-18 and the Saturday vote 18-7.

Here are the final numbers for the PJC Regents’ election:

DISTRICT 4: Early Vote: Charles Lynch 65, Daigone Garner 18. Mail-in Ballots: Lynch 22, Garner 5. Saturday: Lynch 18, Garner 7. Final Vote: Lynch 105 (77.78%), Garner 30 (22.22%).

DISTRICT 7: Early Vote: Charles Gilbert 12, Jim Bell 55, Frankie Norwood 28. Mail-in Ballots: Gilbert 2, Bell 20, Norwood 13. Saturday: Gilbert 3, Bell 9, Norwood 43. Final Vote: Gilbert 17 (9.19%), Bell 84 (45.41%), Norwood 84 (45.41%).

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra

UPDATE: Paris City Council election — Jenkins, Lancaster, Plata and Pickle win

Edwin Pickle and Benny Plata won their way back onto the Paris City Council on Saturday, beating incuments Cleonne Drake and John Wright respectively.

Incumbents Aaron Jenkins and Sue Lancaster prevailed, beating Joe McCarthy and Kelly Collins respectively.

“I’m thrilled, and now it’s time to get to work,” Pickle said.

Edwin Pickle

Edwin Pickle

Pickle said the election went as he expected, in part, and somewhat surprising in other ways.

“Some of the election results, I was not surprised about, and some I was,” Pickle said. “”Ï think it will be a very interesting city council next year.”

Drake was gracious in defeat.

“It was a hard race, and I just want to thank everyone that supported me for the past two years and voted for me. I wish Edwin the best as he goes onto Council representing District 6 again,” Drake said Saturday night.

Plata said he was overwhelmed by the margin of his victory over Wright.

“That caught me by surprise, it kind of did. I didn’t think I was that far in the lead. I can’t say I’m not happy about it though, because I really am,” Plata said.

Benny Plata

Benny Plata

“I can’t put into words how much I appreciate everybody who voted for me. I want to say that I really want to serve the people. I will be real open, and anytime anyone wants to call me to talk about the issues, I prefer that,” Plata added.

Here are the final totals:

DISTRICT 1: Aaron Jenkins 109 (66.06%), Joe McCarthy 56 (33.94%)

DISTRICT 2: Sue Lancaster 47 (67.14%), Kelly Collins 23 (32.86%)

DISTRICT 3: Benny Plata 95 (66.90%), John Wright 47 (33.10%)

DISTRICT 6: Edwin Pickle 166 (53.55%), Cleonne Drake 144 (46.45%)

Pickle led Drake 132-88 in the Early Voting. Drake outpolled Pickle 56-34 on Saturday, but it wasn’t enough to make up for Pickle’s 132-88 edge in the April 28-May 6 early voting period.

In District 3, Plata beat Wright 65-27 in the early vote and 30-20 on Saturday.

In District 1, Jenkins won the early voting 46-36 and Saturday’s vote 53-13. Plus, there were 17 mail-in ballots in District 1, with Jenkins getting 10 to McCarthy’s 7.

In District 2, Lancaster had only a three-vote lead in the early voting — 20-to-17, but added a 27-6 edge on Saturday for the final 47-23 edge.

The victories of Pickle and Plata are expected to end Mayor AJ Hashmi’s 3-year run. The wins by Jenkins and Lancaster give Hashmi three votes, but it takes four to win the mayor’s job when the new council decides the issue on Monday, May 19.

By all indications, incumbent councilmen Dr. Richard Grossnickle and Matt Frierson can expect to be joined by Pickle and Plata after one of the four is nominated.

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra

North East Texas Anglers holds ‘Kids Free’ fishing tournament at Pat Mayse Lake

A free fishing tournament for kids 16 and under was held from 7 a.m. to noon Saturday (May 10) at Pat Mayse Lake. Registration began about 6 a.m. today at “C” Loop Sanders Cove.

“The event has grown to well over 300 kids each year. We provide trophies, plaques for all age groups in both boys and girls,” said Chris Vickers of Paris, who fishes with the sponsoring organization, the North East Texas Anglers. Plaques were awarded for each age group, both boys and girls, and each entrant received a free Zebco rod and reel.

“This is our 10th year in doing this event,” Vickers added. 

Wade Evans, youth director for the North East Texas Anglers, started the event “with just an idea to get the kids involved in the outdoors,” Vickers said.


Kids Free Fishing

Saturday’s City of Paris election: A referendum on Hashmi’s leadership?

Dr. AJ Hashmi

Dr. AJ Hashmi

Four Paris City Council places are up for election on Saturday in what could serve as a referendum on Dr. AJ Hashmi’s 3-year tenure as mayor.

  • Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.
  • For Districts 1 and 2, voting will be at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds, at the corner of East Center Street and Fitzhugh.
  • For Districts 3 and 6, voting will be at the Lamar County Services Building, 231 Lamar Ave.

The four incumbents — Aaron Jenkins in District 1, Sue Lancaster in District 2, John Wright in District 3, and Cleonne Drake in District 6 — have campaigned on the council’s success under Hashmi’s leadership.

The challengers — Joe McCarthy in District 1, Kelly Collins in District 2, Benny Plata in District 3, and Edwin Pickle in District 6 — say things have gone downhill and change is needed.


(Click here to read each candidate’s responses to questions directed to them either at 1) the Republican County of Lamar County candidate forum or 2) from eParisExtra.)


Hashmi, in District 7; Dr. Richard Grossnickle, in District 4; and Matt Frierson, in District 5, are in the middle of their second 2-year terms on the council.

The reality of this year’s city election is that Paris will have a new mayor — Grossnickle, Frierson, or one of the newly elected members — if at least two of the incumbents are unseated on Saturday.

Grossnickle and Frierson have been on the opposite side of Hashmi on many topics, which means Hashmi will need three votes (besides his own) from the four council seats at stake on Saturday.

It takes the votes of four or more council members to become mayor, and several of Saturday’s challengers are on the ballot because they were recruited by citizens wanting a change.

Hashmi’s former campaign manager, ex-councilman Bill Strathern, told that he coached the incumbents before the April 24 candidate forum, in which they talked about the council’s accomplishments under Hashmi’s leadership.

Hashmi is immensely popular among many in the city, but there also is unrest. Some think Hashmi has overstepped his authority by usurping the city manager’s authority on issues, effectively turning Paris into a council-strong mayor form of government rather than the Charter-mandated council-manager form of government.

The election results will be canvassed on Monday, May 19, followed by the new council’s selection of a mayor and mayor pro-tem for the next 12 months.

In that regard, the key points of contention over Hashmi’s mayorship have been:

  • The overhaul of the Paris Economic Development Corporation: Did the council — led by Hashmi and Strathern — destroy a PEDC that was bringing jobs to Paris and Lamar County, or was the PEDC out of control under executive director Steve Gilberty and in need of being reined in?
  • Lake Crook: Is the city council going too far by in pursuing improvements at Lake Crook that involve outside developers, and in using money from the $45 million infrastructure bond to extend water and sewer lines to Cox Field Airport?
  • Is the city council, again under Hashmi’s direction, on the right track directing infrastructure bond money at water and sewer lines, without new streets?
  • Is Hashmi re-defining the mayor’s job by usurping powers the Charter gives to the city manager?

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra