Police department prepares to enforce City of Paris smoking ban

Police Chief Bob Hundley

Police Chief Bob Hundley

Halfway through a 30-day grace period for the city’s recently amended smoking ordinance, the Paris Police Department has not received a complaint about any violation, Police Chief Bob Hundley said Tuesday.

The “warning only” grace period expires on April 23. As of that day, violations of the ordinance subject the violator to a minimum fine of $50 plus court costs.

“We have conducted training sessions for our officers to make sure they understand the ordinance, and we would like our citizens to have a good understanding of the ordinance as well,” Hundley said.

“We ask that all read the complete ordinance which is available on the city web site, www.paristexas.gov,” Hundley said, but he issued a press release outlining most of the anticipated violations.

“The department asks for your cooperation as the grace period ends. As with any ordinance, officers are looking for voluntary compliance with the law,” the police chief said.

“If there is a refusal to comply with the statute, citations can be issued. Refusing to sign the citation can result in the person’s arrest.”

Signing a citation is just a promise to appear in court and answer the charge and the signature is not an admission of guilt in any way, Hundley noted.

“The department will treat a complaint concerning the smoking ordinance with the same seriousness as any city ordinance violation,” he added.

“There may be times in which the offender is gone from the location by the time officers arrive, just as what happens occasionally with other offenses. In those cases, complainants will have the option of providing the officer with enough information for a complaint to be filed.”

Citizens may call Hundley as 903.737.4100 for more information.

The ordinance defines smoking as inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe, weed, plant or other combustible substance in any manner or form.

However, e-cigarettes, also known as vapor cigarettes, were specifically excluded from the smoking ban.

While the smoking ban is wide-ranging, here are some exceptions:

Smoking is allowed in a tobacco retail shop “that is primarily engaged in the sale of tobacco, tobacco products, or smoking accessories; provided that establishment does not allow or employ persons under the age of 18.”

With the owner’s consent, smoking also is allowed in a bar, so long as it does not employ anyone under the age of 18 and so long as the bar does not open up into a food establishment, hotel, motel, “or any other establishment where smoking is prohibited.” To meet the definition of a bar, more than half of a business’ sales must be alcoholic beverages.

Smoking also is allowed in private clubs, but the definition cannot be construed under the ordinance to include restaurants open to the public.

The ordinance also does not prohibit smoking in a private residence unless it is used as a child care, adult day care, or health care facility.

Smoking is expressly prohibited in all restaurants, including outdoor seating and serving areas. Under the ordinance, a bar operating inside a restaurant is considered a restaurant.

SMOKING PROHIBITED IN ENCLOSED PUBLIC AREAS:

A.    Aquariums, galleries, libraries, and museums.

B.    Areas available to the general public in businesses and non-profit entities patronized by the public, including but not limited to, banks, laundromats, professional offices, and retail service establishments.

C.    Bingo facilities.

D.    Bowling alleys.

E.    Child care and adult day care facilities.

F.    Convention facilities.

G.    Educational facilities, both public and private.

H.    Elevators.

I.     Gaming facilities.

J.     Health care facilities.

K.    Hotels and motels.

L.    Lobbies, hallways, and other common areas in apartment buildings, condominiums, trailer parks, retirement facilities, nursing homes, and other multiple-unit residential facilities.

M.    Polling places.

N.    Public transportation vehicles, including buses and taxicabs, under the authority of the City of Paris, Texas and ticket, boarding, and waiting areas of public transportation facilities, including bus, train, and airport facilities.

O.    Restaurants.

P.    Restrooms, lobbies, reception areas, hallways, and other common-use areas.

Q.    Retail stores.

R.    Rooms, chambers, places of meeting or public assembly, including school buildings, under the control of an agency, board, commission, committee or council of the City of Paris, Texas or a political subdivision of the State, to the extent the place is subject to the jurisdiction of the City of Paris, Texas.

S.    Service lines.

T.    Shopping malls.

U.    Sports arenas, including enclosed places in outdoor arenas.

V.    Theaters and other facilities primarily used for exhibiting motion pictures, stage dramas, lectures, musical recitals, or other similar performances.

SMOKING PROHIBITED IN ENCLOSED PLACES OF EMPLOYMENT:

Except as otherwise provided, the smoking ban also includes enclosed public places of employment, including but not limited to common work areas, auditoriums, classrooms, conference and meeting rooms, private offices, elevators, hallways, medical facilities, cafeterias, employee lounges, stairs, restrooms, vehicles and “and all other enclosed facilities.”

“This prohibition on smoking shall be communicated by employers to all existing employees within five days of the effective date of this ordinance and to all prospective employees upon their application for employment,” the ordinance says.

According to the ordinance, the owner, operator, manager, or other person in control of a public place or place of employment where smoking is prohibited shall:

  1. Clearly and conspicuously post “No Smoking” signs or the international “No Smoking” symbol (consisting of a pictorial representation of a burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle with a red bar across it) in that place.
  2. Clearly and conspicuously post at every entrance to that place a sign stating that smoking is prohibited. The following wording may be used: “NO SMOKING, CITY ORDINANCE, ARTICLE 3, CHAPTER 17. VIOLATORS FINED UP TO $2,000.”
  3. Clearly and conspicuously post on every vehicle that constitutes a place of employment under this Article at least one sign, visible from the exterior of the vehicle, stating that smoking is prohibited.
  4. Remove all ashtrays from any area where smoking is prohibited by this Article, except for ashtrays displayed for sale and not for use on the premises.

 OUTDOOR PUBLIC AREAS WHERE SMOKING IS PROHIBITED:

  1. In or upon all city parks, playgrounds, trails, ball fields, swimming pools, tennis courts, basketball courts, sports complexes or other city owned or city controlled outdoor recreation centers, and in or within 30 feet of all other outdoor playgrounds.
  2. Within 30 feet of outside entrances, operable windows, and ventilation systems of enclosed areas where smoking is prohibited, so as to prevent tobacco smoke from entering those areas.
  3. In or within 25 feet of any entrance, doorway, operable window, air duct or ventilation system to any City building or facility.
  4. In outdoor seating or serving areas of restaurants and within 30 feet of those areas.
  5. In all outdoor arenas, stadiums, sports fields and amphitheaters. Smoking shall also be prohibited in and within 25 feet of bleachers, grandstands, restroom facilities and concession stands serving these facilities.
  6. In, and within 30 feet of all outdoor public transportation stations, platforms, and shelters under the authority of the City of Paris.
  7. Within 30 feet of the point of service in all outdoor service lines, including lines in which service is obtained by persons in vehicles, such as service that is provided by bank tellers, automatic teller machines, parking lot attendants, and toll takers.
  8. In outdoor outdoor common areas of apartment buildings, condominiums, trailer parks, retirement facilities, nursing homes, and other multiple-unit residential facilities, except in designated smoking areas, not to exceed 25 percent of the total outdoor common area, which must be located at least 30 feet from outside entrances, operable windows, and ventilation systems of enclosed areas where smoking is prohibited.

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra

City of Paris seeks volunteers to serve three-year terms on city commissions

gavel to orderIt’s nearing that time of year again, if you are a resident of Paris and would like to make a difference by volunteerig your time and knowledge by serving a 3-year term on one of the city’s boards or commissions.

The City is accepting applications for positions on the Airport Advisory Board, Band Commission, Building and Standards Commission, Historic Preservation Commission, Housing Authority, Library Advisory Board, Main Street Advisory Board, Paris Economic Development Corporation, Planning & Zoning Commission, Traffic Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The deadline to submit an application to be considered for a position is May 30, 2014.  City Council will begin the appointment process at their meeting of June 9 and conclude the process at their meeting of June 23.

For more information or to obtain an application, please contact City Clerk Janice Ellis at (903) 784-9248 or at jellis@paristexas.gov.

You can also visit the City’s website at www.paristexas.gov and download the application.

Charles Richards, eParisExtra

 

Bray Construction wins first contract under Paris’ $45 million infrastructure bond issue

Less than 12 months after Paris residents approved an historic $45 million infrastructure bond issue, the Paris City Council on Monday awarded the first contract — replacement of decades-old asbestos concrete lines that supply water to Kimberly Clark, Turner Pipe and Next Era Energy.

From left, assembled informally in city council chambers Monday, were city clerk Janice Ellis and council members Cleonne  Drake, Sue Lancaster, Dr. Richard Grossnickle, Aaron Jenkins, Dr. AJ Hashmi and John Wright. (eParisExtra photo by Charles Richards)

From left, assembled informally in city council chambers Monday, were city clerk Janice Ellis and council members Cleonne
Drake, Sue Lancaster, Dr. Richard Grossnickle, Aaron Jenkins, Dr. AJ Hashmi and John Wright. (eParisExtra photo by Charles Richards)

In a meeting that lasted 15 minutes, the council voted unanimously to award the contract  to Barney Bray, owner of B. Bray Construction of Paris, whose bid of $1,867,769 was 4.2 percent below the bid of $1,949,370 by Pittard Construction Company of Allen.

Aecom, the city’s engineer for the bond issue, had estimated construction costs at $2 million.

“It’s really a great day in our history. It’s the first step in the big bond issue that we have undertaken, and I’m very happy that one of the local contractors has gotten the job. I have no doubt it will be done appropriately,” Mayor AJ Hashmi said.

“I’m very happy that the job was bid at lower than what was anticipated. It will give us about $150,000 extra to spend on other projects. Hopefully we are able to do bigger and better projects for the city, and this is just the beginning of it.”

The contract is for five water replacement projects in southwest Paris:

  • Southwest 19th Street, from the railroad tracks to the southwest loop;
  • Along the southwest loop, from Southwest 19th Street to Southwest 7th Street;
  • Southwest 7th Street, from Southwest Loop 286 north to Field Road;
  • Cross-country from Field Road to Southwest 13th Street, then north to West Washington Street;
  • Southeast 3rd, from the south loop to Church Street.

The five projects are among 15 “Tier 1″ projects at the top of a list of 89 infrastructure projects the council earmarked in October.

“All parts of the city are equally important, but I think it is important that southwest Paris is being paid attention to,” Hashmi said.

“There are maybe not as many homes in these five projects, but it serves a lot of industries in the area, and hopefully those areas that have felt they were neglected are not going to be neglected anymore,” he said.

The mayor said citizens will be watching this project closely because of a water line replacement job — not part of the infrastructure bond issue — that not only has failed to meet quality expectations but is two months overdue.

“It is very important that things we have learned in the recent past don’t happen and that this job is done in a fine way,” Hashmi said.

Shawn Napier, the city’s director of community development and engineering, noted that Bray is currently a subcontractor on another job for the city.

“I believe Barney has used 18 percent of his time and he has 33 percent of the work done. That tells you something right there,” Napier said.

Asked about projected start date and completion date for the project, Napier said it’s a 240-day contract.

“I think we’re talking about a start date of early to mid-May, which would take us somewhere just after the first of the year,” Napier said.

That’s more than adequate time, Bray told the council.

Napier said the next contract — second of five — in the bond issue will address water and sewer needs of several older west Paris neighborhoods and will probably be put out for bids in May.

That one will be about twice as large, Napier said, replacing about 50,000 linear feet of water and sewer lines. The contract just awarded is for replacement of about 23,000 linear feet of water line.

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra

 

Frierson: Council should not short-change streets in $45 million infrastructure work

City councilman Matt Frierson said one needs only to drive down Church Street to see why it’s a bad idea under the upcoming $45 million infrastructure bond program to spend all the money on water and sewer lines and nothing on streets.

This photo was taken Friday of Church Street near its intersection with Brame Street. (eParisExtra photo)

This is a photo taken Friday on Church Street near its intersection with Brame Street. (eParisExtra photo)

Members of the Paris City Council took turns last week expressing their dismay about the torn-up streets left by the ongoing $1.8 million replacement of 2.3 miles of corroded cast-iron water lines near downtown.

“Obviously, this hits close to home for me,” said Frierson, who lives on Church Street, where a contractor has been told to come back in and re-do the asphalt repair.

“This has been embarrassing,” Frierson said in a dialogue with city manager John Godwin and city engineer Shawn Napier.

“One of the areas we’ve been looking at involves asphalt repair. That’s not been done in a timely manner, and the asphalt repair that has been done has not been done to our satisfaction,” Napier agreed.

“With respect to the roadways that have been torn up — Church Street in particular, and I’ve also driven on Third Street — they’re disastrous. Is it going to continue to be this bad?” Frierson asked.

“When we get into this (bond) project, I’m for using this experience as an example of what will be to come. You know, we are agreed — or disagreed — about money from the bond being for street repair. But if you haven’t, you should go drive down Church Street right now and see what that may or may not look like,” Frierson said.

This is a look at Northeast 3rd Street, one block north of Lamar Avenue. (eParisExtra photo)

This is a look at Northeast 3rd Street, one block north of Lamar Avenue. (eParisExtra photo)

Mayor AJ Hashmi objected last June, when KSA Engineers came out with a priority list — 48 jobs at a cost of $45.5 million. KSA projected a cost of $9.6 million to replace water lines, $5.5 million to replace sewer lines and $30.3 million to lay down new roadway afterward.

That would take care of the city’s worst water and sewer problems, but spending only one-third of the the bond money on water and sewer line replacement would leave numerous Paris neighborhoods with no relief, the mayor said.

“We should use bond money for water and sewer — not streets — to make the bond money go as far as it can,” the mayor said after looking at the cost proposals.

Hashmi said the council should use money out of reserves, if necessary, to pay for streets. He suggested “patching” streets, rather than putting in brand new roads. A seven-person citizens’ advisory committee was told to re-direct its efforts to allocate bond money on replacement of water and sewer lines, not roadway.

“Aesthetically, what’s that going to look like?” Frierson asked during last Monday’s council meeting, considering the unacceptable streets left in the wake of the current infrastructure project.

This is Southeast 3rd Street, one block south of Clarksville Street. (eParisExtra photo)

This is Southeast 3rd Street, one block south of Clarksville Street. (eParisExtra photo)

“This has gone on way too long with no decent end in sight, at the expense of those on 3rd Street and Church Street in particular. To say that I am displeased by it is probably an enormous understatement.”

District 3 councilman John Wright weighed in.

“Although that’s not my district, I have a lot of friends that live in that area, and the complaints have been steadily coming in. If this is a learning curve, it must be longer than the rainbow,” Wright said.

District 2 councilwoman Sue Lancaster noted work being done on West Kaufman Street, in her district, and asked, “It’s not going to end up looking like Church Street, is it? As bad as Church Street looks, I don’t want any other streets looking this bad.”

District 6 councilwoman Cleonne Drake added: “My biggest question was how did this fall through the cracks for so long, and just some concerns that this does not happen when we get ready for the big project.”

McInnis Brothers Construction, Inc., of Minden, La., was the low bidder on the project, which is still in progress despite an agreement to have the work completed in January.

Two local firms also bid on the project. McInnis’ bid of $1,815,203 was 9.5 percent below the $2,008,320 bid of Barney Bray Construction Co. and 13.5 percent below the $2,097,887 bid of Harrison Walker Harper.

It turned out later, Napier said, that the winning bidder transposed two numbers “and left $40,000 or $50,000 on the table, so they were kind of behind the eight ball to start that project.”

The subcontractor actually performing the work has been Dual Construction, Inc., out of Texarkana, Ark., Napier said.

The city manager agreed with the council’s glum assessment of the project that is still in the process of winding down.

“I don’t have anything to add other than this was not, is not, a good project,” Godwin responded.

“It’s the sort of project that we can’t repeat. … I think there were those who accepted what I would consider poor quality work too easily, too readily.”

Napier said the replacement of corroded cast-iron water lines with new PVC pipe “is being done correctly … but aesthetically, it is not pleasing at all. It is far from that in a lot of areas.”

The asphalt work that has been done on streets afterward “has not been done to our satisfaction,” Napier said.

The contractor “is going to hire a local company to come back in and possibly remove a great majority of (the asphalt) and re-lay that … where it would be smooth and match the current edge of the pavement,” he said.

Another issue, Napier said, “is the general clean-up of the project. It has not been to our satisfaction. Among the things we have encountered are multiple piles of dirt up and down the project length. We’ve gotten a letter from one of the property owners and we have removed that dirt from the owner’s property. Right now, the contractor has someone on site who has been removing that dirt, and that is their fulltime job until it’s done.”

Some problems were experienced with work done by a boring contractor “who was not vetted very well,” Napier added.

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra

 

Barney Bray submits low bid on first contract of $45 million infrastructure bond program

SW Water Projects

The bold lines indicate the five water line replacement projects scheduled for imminent construction in southwest Paris.

Local contractor Barney Bray submitted the low bid for the first construction contract in the $45 million infrastructure bond issue approved by City of Paris voters last May.

City manager John Godwin

City manager John Godwin

The Paris City Council is scheduled to meet in a brief special session at 5:30 p.m. Monday to award the contract for five water line replacement projects in southwest Paris.

“These water lines supply large quantities of water to Kimberly Clark, Turner Pipe and Next Era Energy,” city manager John Godwin said in a memo to council members.

The city manager is recommending that the council award the contract to Bray, owner of B. Bray Construction, who submitted the lower of two bids that were opened Tuesday in city council chambers.

Bray’s bid was $1,867,769 — 4.2 percent below the bid of $1,949,370 by Pittard Construction Co. of Allen.

Aecom, the city’s engineer for the bond program, had estimated construction costs at $2 million for the five projects, the entirety of which has been designated “Contract A”:

  • Southwest 19th Street, from the railroad tracks to the southwest loop;
  • Along the southwest loop, from Southwest 19th Street to Southwest 7th Street;
  • Southwest 7th Street, from the southwest loop to Field Road;
  • Cross-country northwest from Field Road to Southwest 13th Street and West Washington Street;
  • Southeast 3rd, from the south loop to Church Street.

The five projects are among 15 “Tier 1″ projects at the top of a list of 89 infrastructure projects the council earmarked in October.

The list is a combination of projects recommended by KSA Engineers under a 10-year capital improvement plan, and projects suggested by City of Paris field staff, “who we believe know which projects are most needed,” Godwin says.

“It is our plan to begin construction in Spring 2014,” Godwin said in October.

Here is a list of other “Tier 1″ projects on the list, to be undertaken later as part of contracts B through E:

  • Pine Bluff, from Main Street to 20th Street (water and sewer);
  • East of Johnson Woods Drive, from Lamar Avenue to Mahaffey Street (sewer only);
  • Downtown Paris, from the Plaza one block south and three blocks in each of the three other directions (water and sewer);
  • Lamesa Heights Addition (water and sewer).
  • Southeast 33rd Street, from Lamar Avenue to Clarksville Street (water and sewer);
  • Southeast Loop 286, from Clarksville Street to Jefferson Heights (Big Sandy to FM 1507) (sewer only);
  • Carson Lane, from Southeast 28th Street to Johnson Woods Drive (sewer only);
  • West Houston Street, from Northwest 34th Street to the west loop (water and sewer);
  • Dawn Drive, from the east end of Dawn Drive to the Loop 286 crossover (sewer only);
  • Northwest 19th Street, grinder pumps (sewer only).

By Charles Richards,