Congressional candidate John Ratcliffe to speak at Republican meeting Thursday in Paris

John Ratcliffe

John Ratcliffe

John Ratcliffe, who faces U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Rockwall, in a May 27 runoff for the Republican nomination for the 4th Congressional District of Texas, will be in Paris on Thursday.

“I just learned he will be here for our April meeting of the Assocaition of Lamar County Republicans,” said Jimmie Kruntorad, vice president of the Association of Lamar County Republicans, who arranges for speakers and coordinates the organization’s programs.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the second-floor courtroom of the Lamar County Courthouse.

“The public is invited and encouraged to attend,” Kruntorad said.

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra

Paris’ unemployment rate drops from 10.0% to 7.6% over past year

labor force

The unemployment rate has dropped from 10.0 percent to 7.6 percent in Paris and from 8.5 percent to 7.0 percent in Lamar County over the past 12 months, according to the Texas Workforce Commission’s Workforce Solutions of Northeast Texas.

“It appears people are getting jobs,” said Steve Gilbert, former executive director of the Paris Economic Development Corporation.

“The city unemployment rate comparison is compelling. I’d like to think I had a small part in helping folks have access to job opportunities,” added Gilbert, who stepped down in January to become vice president of business development for the HWH Group in Paris.

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra

Paris City Council inquires into purchase of former Aerofit fitness facility from PJC

zzz Old Aerofit

Now the “Paris Junior College Recreational Center,” in the 1100 block of East Austin St., this was formerly known as Aerofit Fitness Center. (eParisExtra photo)

 

The Paris City Council is looking into the possibility of negotiating with Paris Junior College the purchase of the former Aerofit fitness center as a city recreation center.

PJC acquired the center in 2012 and turned it into the Paris Junior College Recreation Center, which has a large indoor pool, exercise area, basketball court, racquet ball courts, and meeting rooms.

The center, formerly owned by Paris Regional Medical Center, is located in the 1100 block of East Austin Street, behind where the hospital was located before it moved to the north loop.

Mayor AJ Hashmi told the council Monday night that he approached PJC President Pam Anglin, but that no official talks have occurred because neither the city council nor PJC regents have signed onto to talks about the center.

Hashmi said he thinks the city could possibly buy the recreation center for approximately $400,000, which is what PJC paid for it.

In a City of Paris parks survey last year, the No. 1 vote-getter was a recreation center that could be used by all ages — youth and senior citizens alike.

Aaron Jenkins

Aaron Jenkins

Monday evening’s presentation to the council about a recreation center was by District 1 Councilman Aaron Jenkins, who ran for office two years ago with the desire to increase youth recreation facilities his No. 1 goal.

A city recreation center is one of the council’s priorities, but building one is too expensive, considering the city’s present priority of replacing decades-old water and sewer lines, Jenkins said.

“As much as we may want a recreation center, it is a costly task. The city, with all of its priorities that exist today, may not be in a position to afford such a huge expense,” Jenkins said.

“So we started looking to find ways that we can get the desired objective without a lot of expense to taxpayers,” he said.

PJC has indicated a willingness to sell Aerofit, which it acquired in 2012, Jenkins said.

Hashmi proposed selling the city’s outdoor pool on Clement Road and Northeast Loop 286 and using the proceeds to buy the former Aerofit fitness center.

At the mayor’s request, local Realtor Vic Ressler came to the podium to estimate the worth of the swimming pool property and of Aerofit.

“There is approximately 800 feet of frontage on the loop and 260 feet of frontage on Clement Road, so the property that the city pool is on has countless possibilities,” Ressler said.

He estimated that the three-acre tract that the swimming pool sits on should bring anywhere from $3 to $4.50 per square foot, based upon what similar property on Paris’ northeast loop has sold for, which would translate into approximately $400,000 to $600,000 for the property.

“The city is sitting on a very, very expensive piece of commercial property with the swimming pool,” Ressler added.

Ressler said the former Aerofit center has 18,730 square feet and the fact that it is bordered on three sides by streets makes it more valuable.

At $400,000, that’s $21.36 per square foot, he said.

“I can tell you, I couldn’t find any comps for this kind of building. You’d have to go other places. But I will tell you that at one point in 2008, this building was on the tax roll for $1.1 million,” he said.

“I can tell you that you couldn’t begin to duplicate anything like it for double or triple the cost — maybe even four times that amount. Used for what it’s intended, it’s just a no-brainer,” he added.

“It’s a bargain. It wouldn’t be a bargain if you were going to gut it and try to do something else with it. But when you look at the wood floors, the basketball court, the racquetball courts and the in-ground pool and all the other things that are already there, it’s just a no-brainer,” Ressler said.

Ressler said one of the buildings he looked at while trying to find comparable structures “was a metal exterior building that had been divided into offices. It sold in the past year. It brought $42 a square foot, nearly double what they’re asking for this one. So in terms of value, I think it’s there.”

From the way the Aerofit property is configured, there is room to build an outdoor pool. That would be a plus, he said, “because an indoor pool can’t take the place of an outdoor pool. With an indoor pool, people can’t lounge around in the sun.”

This view, looking east from the old Aerofit parking lot, shows a parking lot, seldom used any more, that possibly could be thrown into the deal at no cost. (eParisExtra photo)

This view, looking east from the old Aerofit parking lot, shows a parking lot, seldom used any more, that possibly could be thrown into the deal at no cost. (eParisExtra photo)

Hashmi pointed out two other positives to the potential purchase.

1. “When the hospital sold the building to PJC, it didn’t sell the land. It kept the land, but the hospital is agreeable that if the city acquires this facility, they will give that portion of the land to the city,” the mayor said.

2. “No. 2, there is a very good possibility that the large parking lot in the block east of Aerofit will come with it.”

Hashmi said there are issues that would have to be resolved, but hadn’t been pursued yet because Monday night’s presentation by Jenkins was the first the council had officially heard about the proposal.

Hashmi asked council members what they thought, then said the matter would be back on the agenda on April 14 for further discussion and possible action.

Jenkins said during his presentation that in addition to the purchase price, it would cost about $150,000 to make improvements to the 25-year-old Aerofit building, including a new roof, improvements to all the restrooms and shower stalls.

Hashmi said changes would be made to make sure the building was 100 percent ADA (Americans for Disabilities Act) compliant.

Jenkins estimated staff costs for the recreation center at $131,000 a year — $36,000 for a manager, $45,000 for 2.5 desk service personnel, and $30,000 for janitorial staff.

Overhead expenses in addition to the personnel costs would be $45,000 a year — $27,500 for electricity, $4,000 for water, $1,500 for gas, and $12,000 miscellaneous.

The total for personnel and overhead expenses would be $176,000 a year, or $14,666 a month.

Hashmi proposed monthly membership fees on a scale similar to this:

  • city resident, $15
  • city resident-family, $25
  • non-city resident, $25
  • non-city resident-family, $40
  • city employee, $5
  • city employee-family, $10
  • daily use charge for non-members, $5

“At 2,000 members, we could be looking at $30,000 a month,” Jenkins said.

Another $5,000 a month in other income could come from local schools and churches for meeting space; training classes; and rental to local schools for their swimming teams, Jenkins said.

The mayor said he understands about 40 PJC students a day have been using the center.

Hashmi said City of Paris staff have inspected the building and are satisfied it could be brought up to the city’s requirements.

The mayor said there are some issues that have to be resolved. “but we didn’t really want to pursue this without the council’s approval on this.”

Among other things, a restricted covenant was in force for the sale to PJC, because of concern about monthly use fees that might draw customers away from Paris Fitness and Aquatic’s facility at Stillhouse Road, just east of PRMC. Some months before the sale to PJC, PF&A shut down Aerofit and moved all its operations to the north campus.

“We would need to make sure that the restrictive covenant does not apply to us,” Hashmi said.

There also is a clause in PJC’s purchase giving PF&A first right of refusal should the college decide to sell the property, the mayor said.

“If the council feels that this is a valuable or feasible thought, the next step is we should discuss with the property owner the price and go from there.”

Here are the responses of each council member to the Aerofit proposal:

District 6 Councilwoman Cleonne Drake: “Just on paper, it looks good. Having just seen this for the first time tonight, I think there are a lot more things we need to look at in greater detail. I agree it would be great for Paris to have something like this, because when businesses are looking into coming to Paris, they look at things like this. And also for our youth to have somewhere to come. The Boys Club is about the only thing they have right now that they can go to if they’re not involved in activities at school or at churches. I think there’s a need for this. I just think we need to digest it and really look at it and what the possibilities are.”

District 5 Councilman Matt Frierson: “I appreciate the presentation, but there’s some detail I would have to see as far as maintenance of the facility. I think it is a big concern that two organizations had this facility and they either got rid of it or are contemplating doing so. Certainly we want to make sure we are doing all we can for the youth and others who want to utilize it, and I can see the benefit, but I would like to have much more concrete numbers. The land that the city pool is situated on, is it deed-restricted at any point, for what we can or cannot do with it?”

District 4 Councilman Dr. Richard Grossnickle: “I think it’s an excellent idea. It certainly has the potential to do what we all in the city voted as the No. 1 request on the parks wish list, which was a recreation center. It may not be the ideal one, but it would be a very nice addition to the city. As Mr. Frierson pointed out, I hope there’s no obvious foundation cracks or serious problems with the building. Also, when this was put up for sale (two years ago), that there were restrictive covenants. The city made a few inquiries about it, and I believe (the seller) didn’t want the city to own something that would charge memberships and would take away from the facility on the north campus. Those covenants, did they transfer when PJC bought it? Will they transfer if PJC sells it? If all these things can be sorted out, I’d be willing to consider it, certainly.”

District 2 Councilwoman Sue Lancaster: “I think it’s a really good step for fulfilling what the citizens said in that study. We need a rec center. We need a place for our kids to go and be able to play basketball, or swim, or do any of those type things. I really like that the pool is enclosed, to get more use of it during the year. We’ve got a lot of kids that have time on their hands and we need some place for them to go. I just think it’s a win-win. Gosh, where can you get a $2-to-$3 million facility for that amount of money?”

District 3 Councilman John Wright: “I think the need is definitely there for such a facility. There are some things that we need to find out. It would be helpful if we could ascertain the amount we could get for the property on the loop without obligating to sell it. It would also be helpful to look at what the utility cost would be there.”

District 1 Councilman Aaron Jenkins: “I think it would be a good idea for the City of Paris to have a rec center, not only for the youth but of course for the middle people and the older.”

District 7 Councilman Dr. AJ Hashmi: “Aesthetically, it’s not very pretty inside, and it will require some renovation before you would say this is some place you want to go, but it has a basketball court, racquet ball courts, the large indoor pool. I think we do need a rec center. I think it’s a good idea. Certainly this is cheaper than what we can ever build, so I am in favor of it. The facility has been run differently by PJC than how the city would run it. It is perfectly functional right now, but not conducive to having one or two thousand members, and so it requires some work. The number of students who utilize it is about 40 a day, something like that. One thing I’d like to point out is that the pool is used by the schools’ swimming teams, and they pay for that. It can be used by churches, because there is plenty of space.”

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra

Here are the details of the City of Paris’ newly approved smoking ordinance

600px-No_smoking_symbol.svgORDINANCE NO. __________

AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF PARIS, TEXAS, AMENDING ARTICLE III, SMOKING REGULATIONS OF CHAPTER 17 OF THE CODE OF ORDINANCES OF THE CITY OF PARIS, TEXAS; PROHIBITING SMOKING IN PUBLIC PLACES IN THE CITY; MAKING OTHER FINDINGS AND  PROVIDING CERTAIN EXCEPTIONS RELATED TO THE SAME; PROVIDING A REPEALER CLAUSE, A SEVERABILITY CLAUSE, A PENALTY CLAUSE AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.

WHEREAS,  the  City  Council of the City of Paris, Texas  finds  that primary  and secondary tobacco smoke inhalation  is  harmful to  a person’s  health, contributing to several adverse conditions and diseases including: lung cancer and other forms of cancer, cardiac and circulatory diseases, and asthma, that smoking in public places creates a nuisance and a health hazard for those persons gathered in and occupying public places; and

WHEREAS, the City Council also heard testimony from parents of young children and school teachers that were concerned about minor children being exposed to secondhand smoke in some of our local restaurants, bowling alleys and ballparks,  and the Council recognized that children do not always have control over where they eat out or where they recreate; and

WHEREAS, in January 2014, the City Council formed  a Task Force to study the smoking regulations of the City of Paris  and to make recommendations to the City Council for changes to the City’s ordinance; and

WHEREAS, the Task Force composed of residents, physicians and business owners in the community worked with the Mayor, council members and city staff over the last two months to revise the City’s smoking regulations to better protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Paris.

WHEREAS,  on the first meeting in January a  Smoking Task Force  was formed with Mayor Hashmi, Council Member Drake and 10 community members, 5 for and 5 in opposition to smoking in public places, to discuss new smoking regulations for places frequented by the public including restaurants, retail stores, city parks, sports arenas and ball fields; and

WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Paris, Texas, hereby finds and determines that it is necessary to amend the city’s smoking regulations to further restrict smoking in public places to combat the negative effects of tobacco use and second hand smoke and to protect the public health safety and welfare.

NOW, THEREFORE,  BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PARIS, TEXAS:

Section 1. That Article III of Chapter 17 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Paris, Texas, be and hereby is amended to read in its entirety as follows:

ARTICLE III.  SMOKING REGULATIONS  Sec. 17-46.  Definitions: The following words and phrases, whenever used in this Article, shall be construed as defined in this Section:

A.  “Arena” or “Sports Arena” means  a place where people  assemble to engage in physical exercise, participate in  athletic competition, or witness sports or other events, including sports pavilions, stadiums, ball fields, gymnasiums, health spas, boxing arenas, swimming pools, roller and ice rinks, and bowling alleys.

B. “Bar” means an establishment that is devoted to the serving of alcoholic beverages for consumption by guests on the premises and in which the serving of food is only incidental to the consumption of those beverages, including but not limited to, taverns, nightclubs, cocktail lounges, and cabarets. For the purpose of this Article, it shall be presumed that an establishment is a bar if alcohol sales are in excess of 50 percent of the gross receipts of the establishment and the establishment has a valid on-premises consumption license issued by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

C. “Business” means a sole proprietorship, partnership, joint venture, corporation, or other business entity, either for-profit or not-for-profit, including retail establishments where goods or services are sold; professional corporations and other entities where legal, medical, dental, engineering, architectural, or other professional services are delivered; and private clubs.

D. “Employee” means a person who is employed by an employer in consideration for direct or indirect monetary wages or profit, or a person who volunteers his or her services.

E. “Employer” means a person, business, partnership, association, corporation, including a municipal corporation, trust, or non-profit entity that employs the services of one or more individual persons.

F. “Enclosed Area” means all space between a floor and a ceiling that is bounded on at least two sides by walls, doorways, or windows, whether open or closed. A wall includes any retractable divider, garage door, or other physical barrier, whether temporary or permanent and whether or not containing openings of any kind.

G. “Health Care Facility” means an office or institution providing care or treatment of diseases, whether physical, mental, or emotional, or other medical, physiological, or psychological conditions, including but not limited to, hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals or other clinics, including weight control clinics, nursing homes, long-term care  facilities, homes for the aging or  chronically ill, laboratories, and offices of surgeons,  chiropractors, physical therapists, physicians, psychiatrists, dentists, and all specialists within these professions. This definition shall include all waiting rooms, hallways, private rooms, semiprivate rooms, and wards within health care facilities.

H. “Place of Employment” means an area under the control of a public or private employer, including, but not limited to, work areas, private offices, employee lounges, restrooms, conference rooms, meeting rooms, classrooms, employee cafeterias, hallways, temporary offices, and vehicles. A private residence is not a “place of employment” unless it is used as a child care, adult day care, or health care facility.

I. “Playground” means any park or recreational area designed in part to be used by children that has play or sports equipment installed or that has been designated or landscaped for play or sports activities, or any similar facility located on public or private school grounds or on City grounds.

J. “Private Club” means an organization, whether incorporated or not, which is  the owner, lessee, or occupant of a building or portion thereof used exclusively for club purposes at all times, which is operated solely for a recreational, fraternal, social, patriotic, political, benevolent, or athletic purpose, but not for pecuniary gain, and which only sells alcoholic beverages incidental to its operation. The affairs and management of the organization are conducted by a board of directors, executive committee, or similar body chosen by the members at an annual meeting. The organization has established bylaws and/or a constitution to govern its activities. The organization has been granted an exemption from the payment of federal income tax as a club under 26 U.S.C. Section 501.

K. “Public Place” means an area to which the public is invited or  in which the public is permitted, including but not limited to:  banks, grocery stores, restaurants, retail stores, theaters, bowling alleys, gaming facilities, health care facilities, hotels and motels, laundromats, public transportation vehicles  and facilities, reception areas, waiting rooms, shopping malls and sports arenas. For the purposes of this Article, a bar, as defined herein, is not considered a “public place.” A private residence is not a “public place” unless it is used as a child care, adult day care, or health care facility.

L. “Restaurant” means an eating establishment, including but not limited to, coffee shops, cafeterias, sandwich stands, and private and public school cafeterias, which gives or offers for sale food to the public, guests, or employees, as well as kitchens and catering facilities in which food is prepared on the premises for serving elsewhere. The term “restaurant” shall include a bar area within the restaurant.

M. “Service Line” means an indoor or outdoor line in which one or more persons are waiting for or receiving service of any kind, whether or not the service involves the exchange of money, including but not limited to, ATM lines, concert lines, food vendor lines, movie ticket lines, and sporting event lines.

N. “Shopping Mall” means an enclosed public walkway or hall area that serves to connect retail or professional establishments.

O.  “Smoking” means inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe, weed, plant or other combustible substance in any manner or form.

Sec. 17-51. Application of Article to City-Owned Facilities and Property. Smoking is prohibited inside all City buildings and facilities, and in all areas located within 30 feet of any entrance to the building or facility, operable windows, air intake ducts or ventilation system.

Sec. 17-52. Prohibition of Smoking in Enclosed Public Places. Smoking shall be prohibited in all enclosed public places within the City of Paris, Texas, including but not limited to, the following places:

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.

Sec. 17-53. Prohibition of Smoking in Enclosed Places of Employment.   

A. Except as otherwise provided herein, smoking shall be prohibited in all enclosed areas or places of  employment. This includes, but is 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 all other enclosed facilities.

B. 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.

Sec. 17-55. Prohibition of Smoking in Enclosed Residential Facilities. Smoking shall be prohibited in the following enclosed residential facilities:  Nursing homes, assisted living facilities and rehabilitative care facilities.

Sec. 17-56. Prohibition of Smoking in Outdoor Public Places. Smoking shall be prohibited in the following outdoor places:

A. 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.

B. 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.

C. In or within 25 feet of any entrance, doorway, operable window, air duct or ventilation system to any City building or facility.

D. In outdoor seating or serving areas of restaurants and within 30 feet of those areas.

E. 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.

F. On all outdoor playgrounds and within 30 feet of any outdoor playground.

G. In, and within 30 feet of all outdoor public transportation stations, platforms, and shelters under the authority of the City of Paris, Texas.

H. 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. In lines in which service is obtained by persons in vehicles, smoking is prohibited by both pedestrians and persons in vehicles, but only within 30 feet of the point of service.

I. In 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.

Sec. 17-57. Where Smoking Not Regulated.   

A. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Article to the contrary, the following areas shall not be subject to the smoking restrictions of this Article:

1. 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 within the establishment;

2. A bar, nightclub, or sexually oriented business that: (a) does not allow or employ persons under the age of 18 within the establishment; and (b) does not open into a food establishment, hotel, motel, or any other establishment in which smoking is prohibited under this article.

3. Private residences, except when used as a child care, adult day care, group  home, or health care facility;

4. Private club as defined in this Article.

B. Smoke from the places listed in Sec.17-57 is prohibited from infiltrating into areas where smoking is prohibited under the provisions of this Article. It shall be an offense under this article for a person to allow such infiltration to occur.

Sec. 17-58. Declaration of Establishment or Outdoor Area as Nonsmoking. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Article, an owner, operator, manager, or other person in control  of an establishment, facility,  or outdoor area may  declare that entire establishment, facility, or outdoor area as a nonsmoking place. Smoking shall be prohibited in any place in which a sign conforming to the requirements of Section 17-60 is posted.

Sec. 17-59. Posting of Signs and Removal of Ashtrays. The owner, operator, manager, or other person in control of a public place or place of employment where smoking is prohibited by this Article shall:

A.  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.

B.  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.”

C.  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.

D. 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.

Sec. 17-60. Non-retaliation; Non-waiver of Rights.   

A.  No person or employer shall discharge, refuse to hire, or in any manner retaliate against an employee, applicant for  employment,  customer, or  resident of a multiple-unit residential facility because that employee, applicant, customer, or resident exercises any rights afforded by this Article or reports or  attempts to prosecute a violation of this Article.

B.  An employee who works in a setting where an employer allows smoking does not waive or otherwise surrender any legal rights the employee may have against the employer or any other party.

Sec. 17-70. Enforcement.   

A. This Article shall be enforced by the City of Paris Police Department or any authorized designee of the City of Paris.

B. Notice of the provisions of this Article shall be given to all applicants  for a business license in the City of Paris, Texas.

C. Any citizen who desires to register a complaint under this Article may contact the City of Paris Police Department.

D. The Building Official, Fire Department, or their designees shall, while an establishment is undergoing otherwise mandated inspections, inspect for compliance with this Article.

E. An owner, manager, operator, or employee of an area regulated by this Article  shall direct a person who is smoking in violation of this Article to extinguish the product being smoked. If the person does not stop smoking, the owner, manager, operator, or employee shall refuse service and  shall immediately ask the person to leave the premises. If the person in violation  refuses to leave the premises, the owner, manager, operator, or employee shall contact a law enforcement agency.

F. In addition to the remedies provided by the provisions of this Article, the City Manager or his authorized designee, or any person aggrieved by the failure of the owner, operator, manager, or other person in control of a public place or a place of employment to comply with the provisions of  this Article may apply for injunctive relief to enforce those provisions in any court of competent jurisdiction.

Sec. 17-71. Violations and Penalties.

A. A person who smokes in an area where smoking is prohibited by the provisions of this Article shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction, shall be subject to a fine of no less than $50 and no more than $2,000 per violation.

B. Except as otherwise provided in Section 17-70, a person who owns, manages, operates, or otherwise controls a public place or place of employment and who fails to comply with the provisions of this Article shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction, shall be subject to a fine of no less than $50 and no more than $2,000 per violation.

C. In  addition to the fines established by this Section, any person who owns, manages, operates, or otherwise controls a public place or place of employment and who continues to violate this Article following notice or citation from the City of Paris may have their permit to operate or their certificate of occupancy suspended or revoked by the City.

D. Violation of this Article is hereby declared to be a public nuisance, which may be abated by the  City Manager or his authorized designee  by restraining order, preliminary  and permanent injunction, or other means provided for by law, and the City of Paris, Texas may take action to recover the costs of the nuisance abatement.

E. Each day on which a violation of this Article occurs shall be considered a separate and distinct violation.

Sec. 17-72. Public Notification/Grace Period. Within 48 hours following the City Council’s enactment of this ordinance, the City Manager or his designee shall post a copy of the new smoking regulations on the City’s website and deliver a copy of this ordinance to all local media for notification of the public. There shall be a 30-day grace period following the effective date of this ordinance during which time the City Police Department and/or other city enforcement officials shall issue verbal or written warnings to any person or business that may violate the terms of this ordinance.

Sec. 17-73. Other Applicable Laws. This Article shall not be interpreted or construed to permit smoking where it is otherwise restricted by other applicable laws.

Sec. 17-74. Liberal Construction. This Article shall be liberally construed so as to further its purposes.

Section 2. That all provisions of the ordinances of the City of Paris, Texas in conflict with the provisions of  this ordinance are hereby  repealed, and all other provisions of the ordinances of the City of Paris, Texas not in conflict with the provisions of this ordinance shall remain in full force and effect.

Section 3. That the repeal of any ordinance or part of ordinances affected by the enactment of this ordinance shall not be construed as abandoning any action now pending under or by virtue of such ordinance or as discontinuing, abating, modifying, or altering any penalty accruing or to accrue, or as affecting any rights of the municipality under any section or provisions of any ordinance at the time of passage of this ordinance.

Section 4. That any person violating any provision of this ordinance shall be guilty of a Misdemeanor, and upon conviction, shall be subject to a fine in accordance with provisions of Sec. 1-6 of Chapter One of the City of Paris Code of Ordinances, and  each and every day’s continuance of any violation of the above-enumerated sections shall constitute and be deemed a separate offense.

Section 5. That it is the intention of the City Council of the City of Paris that this ordinance and every provision hereof, shall be considered severable, and the invalidity or partial invalidity of any section, clause, or provisions of this ordinance shall not affect the validity of any other portion of this ordinance.

Section 6. That this ordinance shall become effective immediately upon its passage.

PASSED AND ADOPTED this 24th day of March, 2014.

____________________________________ A.J. Hashmi, M.D., Mayor

ATTEST:   ____________________________________ Janice Ellis, City Clerk

APPROVED AS TO FORM:  ___________________________________ W. Kent McIlyar, City Attorney

Paris mayor discusses planned development of Lake Crook

Mayor AJ Hashmi

Mayor AJ Hashmi

Paris Mayor AJ Hashmi gave an overview Monday night of the Paris City Council’s thoughts about future development of Lake Crook.

The mayor’s presentation followed several weeks of attacks by critics, led by Dr. Richard Swint, who have alleged the council has designs on selling Lake Crook to outside developers and possibly selling water from the lake. Swint said city leaders have a history of making bad decisions and what the council was planning for Lake Crook was another boondoggle in the making.

For more than a year, City of Paris planner Alan Efrussy has been developing plans for a systematic development of Lake Crook, including a portion of the property for resorts, residential and commercial development, in addition to recreation and other activities normally associated with a lake project.

As soon as Hashmi finished his presentation, the council proceeded to the next item on the agenda. It was a discussion item only — not an action item.

Following is the Power Point presentation the mayor gave Monday night regarding the City Council’s thoughts about future Lake Crook development:

LC Slide 01

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LC SLIDE 03LC SLIDE 04LC SLIDE 05LC SLIDE 06LC SLIDE 07LC SLIDE 08LC SLIDE 09LC SLIDE 10LC SLIDE 11LC SLIDE 12LC SLIDE 13LC SLIDE 14LC SLIDE 15LC SLIDE 16LC SLIDE 17LC SLIDE 18LC SLIDE 19LC SLIDE 20LC SLIDE 21In January, Swint and his wife made a $100,000 donation for development of the lake, which the council happily accepted, and the mayor announced he was adding a $10,000 donation of his own.

Afterward, Swint noted that he made the donation with the condition that Lake Crook Park be developed without paid architects, planners or developers. The city’s acceptance of the donation rules out bringing in outside developers, he said.

The council balked at that, and there was consideration for returning the Swints’ contribution. Hashmi said his understanding was that the Swints intended their donation to be used for park land development — not the entire Lake Crook project.

During three recent City Council meetings, Swint and his followers have addressed the council during Citizens Forum, pushing for a voice by citizens in the process. Any decision that would lead to outside development of Lake Crook should be put to a vote of the people, Swint said.

Hashmi has said he interpreted the Swints’ donation, and the conditions attached to it, referred to the part of Lake Crook that is planned for park development, not the entire lake property.

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra