- Paris Flash
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John and Stacy Godwin are shown before the Paris City Council meeting on May 14, nine days before his first day on the job as city manager of the City of Paris. (eParisExtra! photo by Charles Richards)
(Editor’s Note: Paris city manager John Godwin says Paris reminds him of his hometown of Marshall “my favorite place in the whole world. “Not to insult Fairview,“ which he left to come to Paris, “but Fairview always felt like it was a movie set. Paris is a real city.“ — Part 3 of a four-part series.)
By CHARLES RICHARDS
In his fourth week on the job as city manager of Paris, John Godwin says ‘I’m having a lot of fun. Paris reminds me of my hometown of Marshall, my favorite place in the whole world.”
Godwin, 53, began work in Paris on May 23 after resigning his position as town manager at Fairview, a Collin County community between McKinney and Allen.
“Not to insult Fairview, but Fairview always felt like it was a movie set. It was a bedroom community. The average home price was about $350,000 — big houses and big lots and over 90 percent Caucasian. I didn‘t even live there — couldn‘t afford it,” he said.
“Paris is a real city with real colors of people, big houses and little houses, and bumpy roads. You don’t like some of the bad things, but it’s a real place, and that’s what interests me in the job. I’m having a lot of fun. I was getting a little bored in Fairview. It was not enough of a challenge for me.”
The Paris City Council picked Godwin from more than 100 applicants who applied for the job.
Godwin said he got his first look at Paris three or four years ago, when he drove over with his bicycle for a Tour de Paris event.
“My younger brother and I rode in it a couple of times. He’s younger and healthier, a racer. I’m more of a slow plodder. But anyway, I’d been here before,” Godwin said.
It wasn’t a turnoff at all, he says, but it was a lot different from Fairfiew, certainly, and also from Rowlett, the northeast Dallas County community where Godwin worked as assistant city manager and acting manager before taking the job as town manager of Fairview in 2001.
He continued living in Rowlett, where his wife, Stacy, was a special ed teacher and his three daughters were in the schools there. It was about a half-hour commute to him to Fairview.
“At first, I was thinking, ‘Oh, gee, I don’t know.’ It wasn’t a turnoff at all, but it was different from Rowlett, and certainly different from Fairview. But my next immediate thought was, ‘This reminds me of Marshall.’ “
After more than three weeks in town, Paris continues to remind me of Marshall, he says.
“It’s a great place with good, friendly, hard-working, regular American people. And I like that. It’s everything I expected, everything I was looking for. It’s an old city with an old downtown. You’ve got some code enforcement issues and some old buildings downtown — some that are occupied and some that are not,” Godwin said.
“The hope is that someone will come along and fix them up and put businesses in there,” he said of the substandard buildings downtown. “There are just a lot of similar issues (between Paris and Marshall). Same size, almost exactly. And so, this feels like home.
“My wife made the same observation her first time here. She said, ‘This feels like Marshall.’ So she’s got the same feelings. She’s really anxious to get over here. She’s really looking forward to moving over here. She really wants to be here and to work here and to live here,” Godwin said.
The Godwins’ youngest daugher, Courtney Erin, is 17.
“It’s going to be her senior year in high school. She’s looking for a soccer team. She’s like, ’Now, which high school has the better soccer team?’ She wants to be a teacher like her mom.“
At first, after going to work in Paris, Godwin lived out of a motel room. He has since rented a duplex in the Paris Independent School District.
“But I don’t have any furniture except for a bed without a mattress, but I’m getting close,” he said.
He’s sleeping on an air mattress for now.
“I don’t have a shower curtain yet, either. I got ready to take a shower yesterday and I went, ‘Oh, no — no shower curtain,’ and so I took a bath instead.”
The Godwins will live in a duplex for now, “until we know the town and find a place to buy or build. My wife, she loves old houses like I do, and she’s already looking at houses on Church Street. She says, ‘I’ve always wanted to own a big house, and we could do this, and we could do this, and this.’ “ he said.
“Paris is a historic town, and I like this stuff. You know, that’s kind of what makes a real town. I told my wife, I’ve already got the Paris-North Lamar football game on my calendar for September or October. And I’ve made notes about the Christmas tree lighting, and the municipal concert on Friday nights at Bywaters Park,” Godwin said.
“You know, places like Fairview, they don’t do that type of thing. They just live there and sit around and be rich. It’s not a real place at all. I’m excited to be here.”
|Average House Value||$74,110||$326,608|
|Income per capita||$19,434||$46,051|
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