- Paris Flash
- Real Estate
Mayor AJ Hashmi says he disagrees with a 48-job priority list from KSA Engineers on Paris’ infrastructure problems that would spend two-thirds of a $45 million bond issue on roads.
The emphasis in a bond issue that citizens approved in a May 11 special election was on replacing the city’s decades-old water and sewer lines, Hashmi noted.
“Our first priorities are our deteriorated water and sewer lines. We should maximize the amount of money from the bond issue that is spent on water and sewer projects and pay for replacing the street out of other money,” Hashmi said Tuesday.
KSA’s list presented a 10-year plan of work prioritizing the most needy projects — 48 jobs at a cost of $45.5 million.
That would take care of the city’s worst problems, but spending only one-third of the bond money on water and sewer lines would leave numerous Paris neighborhoods with no relief, the mayor said.
The cost for the 48 projects where the need of water or sewer line replacement is the greatest would cost $9,605,472 to replace the water lines, $5,534,210 to replace the sewer lines (a combined cost of $15,139,682) and $30,326,152 to replace the roadway afterward.
“We should use bond money for water and sewer – not streets — to make the bond money go as far as it can,” Hashmi said.
He also said he wants to fix three times as many bad water and sewer lines by spreading the $45 million in bond money as far as it will stretch, with the city using reserves or finding money out of the regular budget to put the streets back together after the water and sewer lines are replaced.
For the most part, Paris’ water and sewer lines are located underneath the streets, so that anytime a water or sewer line is repaired, the street has to be dug up and patched afterward.
Perhaps the streets can be put back in less expensively than KSA is projecting, Hashmi said, noting there is a difference between patching a street after making a repair, and putting in a new street.
“Our first priority is using the bond money for water and sewer projects, as we promised our citizens,” Hashmi added. ”We should continue on with water and sewer projects until we run out of money or all the work is done.”
KSA has said from the start that the cost for streets is roughly double the cost of replacing the water and sewer lines underneath.
The good news, says Tracy Hicks, manager of KSA’s Tyler office, is that “a vast majority of the city’s streets are asphalt pavement, and the vast majority of that is in fair condition. Which is a whole lot better than a whole lot of it being in terrible condition.”
City manager John Godwin had suggested selling half the bonds in August and September and the other half “four, five, six years down the line after we see how things are going.”
Hashmi favors issuing all the bonds at once.
Godwin has noted that few contractors could handle a job that big.
No problem, Hashmi said. Give the job to a single big company — “a multi, multi-big company, perhaps the largest contractor in the world” — and let that company plan out the entire plan of work.
“Thirty to forty million dollars is a huge project for our city, and we will get the best possible and the biggest possible company which will provide the best possible service in replacing our water and sewer lines and which can be held accountable and responsible,” the mayor said.
“They can involve local people. We don’t have any problem with that, as long as there is one responsible person and one responsible company. In case there is ever a problem, we can approach it rather than keep looking for individuals.”
Virtually the entire city inside the loop has cast iron water pipes and clay sewer pipes – an outdated technology that KSA has said should be replaced by PVC pipes.
“If you take all the cast iron water lines, which is the big concern that we have, it would stretch from Paris to Arlington,” said KSA engineer Stephen Dornan, manager of the company’s Austin office.
Similarly, all the outmoded clay sewer lines, if laid end to end, “you could take a nice little drive all the way to Longview. That’s how much we’re talking about. So obviously, it’s a big issue,” Dornan said.
Godwin told a citizens advisory committee earlier in the year that $45 million, while making a vast improvement for the city, won’t get the job done.
“At the end of 10 years, we’re not going to be done,” the city manager said.
But, an important factor is that replacing the city’s worst water and sewer lines could save the city upwards of a half million dollars a year in lost water, increased operations costs and high maintenance costs.
“Both our water plant and sewer plant are old, and right now we treat millions of gallons of water every year at our sewer plant,” Godwin said. ”If we don’t have to treat rainwater that seeps into our corroded sewer lines, maybe instead of that plant lasting seven more years, it lasts 11 more.”
“The same thing for our water plant. Right now we’re treating water and pumping it all the way to town, and it’s pouring out in the ground where we have a leak. It’s common to have 10 percent leakage, and we have twice that much.”
By CHARLES RICHARDS
Gene Anderson’s familiarity with budgets and his 28 years of employment with the city made him a natural for the Paris City Council to turn to as interim city manager.
The council voted 6-0 Monday night in a quick emergency meeting to appoint Anderson to take over for John Godwin, who is expected to be out for weeks, perhaps months, as a result of heart problems that escalated over the weekend.
It’s Anderson’s second stint as interim city manager. He did double-duty as finance director and city manager for 17 months after Kevin Carruth was forced out as city manager in December 2010. After a lengthy search, the city council hired Godwin about this time last year.
At Monday’s one-item emergency meeting at 5:30 p.m., the council considered only Anderson and fire chief Larry Wright, who has impressed the council with his leadership abilities since coming here in December.
Anderson’s knowledge of the budget process and bond issues, plus his familiarity with the City of Paris operation was the difference. The two most pressing issues facing the council are passing a 2013-2014 budget this summer and getting underway with a $45 million infrastructure bond issue that city voters approved on May 11.
District 6 councilwoman Cleonne Drake made the motion to appoint Anderson, and District 2 councilwoman Sue Lancaster added the second. The vote was unanimous among the six council members present.
District 5 councilman Matt Frierson was absent. Voting aye along with the two councilwomen were mayor Dr. AJ Hashmi (District 7), mayor pro-tem John Wright (District 3), District 1 councilman Aaron Jenkins, and District 4 councilman Dr. Richard Grossnickle.
In an interview following Monday’s council meeting, Anderson said he is confident he can do both his job as finance director and interim city manager. He’s better equipped to do it now than he was two years ago, he said.
“I’m fully staffed in the finance department currently, and I’ve got a real good crew, and I can depend on them,” Anderson said. “I’ve got a good working relationship, I think, with all the departments. I’ve been here so long, and in serving as interim (manager) before, we worked really well together, so I don’t think it will be an issue.”
“We’re at a crucial time, a critical time in the budget process here, and also a critical time to get this bond issue that has been voted and approved through all the hoops that we have to go through,” Anderson said. “Those are two very important things, both of which are in my area of expertise.”
He said he has been working closely with Godwin on the budget.
“We’ve worked on the budget some already, and I think I have a pretty good idea the direction he wants to go with it,” Anderson said. “I think when he comes back, if it’s after we finish the budget, that he won’t be disappointed in what we ended up with.”
He also said he will follow pretty closely the timetable that Godwin followed in 2012.
“We are looking at trying to present it to the council at some point in July, and in August have any workshops they want to have to discuss it, and finally adopt it in late August or early September. That seemed to work out pretty well last year.”
Engineers with Longview-based KSA Engineers have spent the past six months prioritizing Paris’ streets as to the seriousness of the city’s deteriorated water and sewer lines.
“I would anticipate the council will tell us how much they want to issue on that initial go-round, and once we have that we will plug that in and probably come back at the second meeting in July with the ordinance,” Anderson said.
“Between now and then, we’ll spend the time preparing the official statement and getting the bond rating and all those technical things that have to be done,” Anderson said.
By CHARLES RICHARDS
LaMendola has a decade of experience in health care. Before his arrival in Paris, he served as administrative clinical leader at Newark- Wayne Community Hospital in Wayne County, N.Y., and was a critical care specialist/ independent nurse consultant.
“We’re very fortunate to have Mr. LaMendola,” Chief Executive Officer of Paris Regional Medical Center Steve Grubbs said. “He has the background and experience to lead our Emergency Department. The Emergency Department at Paris Regional Medical Center is an essential service for those who live in Paris, the northeastern region of Texas and southern Oklahoma.”
LaMendola earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree in nursing leadership and education from the University of Rochester in New York, one of the country’s top research universities. He also holds an associate’s degree in criminal justice and police administration from Monroe Community College and an associate’s degree in police and correctional sciences from the Community College of the Air Force.
“We are pleased that Mr. LaMendola joined our leadership team,” Chief Nursing Officer Randy Blanchard said. ”His emergency and critical care nursing background will be an asset to Paris Regional Medical Center.
LaMendola, wife Tara and six children, look forward to getting to know the Paris community.
“Paris is a very friendly community, and over the last few weeks I’ve learned so much about the many talented staff members working at Paris Regional Medical Center,” he said.
The Paris City Council appointed finance director Gene Anderson in an emergency meeting Monday to serve as interim city manager in the absence of John Godwin, who was stricken over the weekend by a serious heart ailment.
“Our city manager has fallen sick, but the work of the city needs to continue on. We ope and pray our city manager will have an early recovery and will be back to work,” said Dr. AJ Hashmi, the city’s mayor.”As soon as he returns to work, he will have his job back.”
Fire chief Larry Wright also drew support for the job during a brief discussion that preceded the council’s vote.
District 4 councilman Dr. Richard Grossnickle said: “Two people come to mind — Gene Anderson and Larry Wright.”
District 6 councilwoman Cleonne Drake said: “Those are the two names that come to my mind also. We need to make sure we have someone in there who knows the workings of the burdge, with that coming up. Hopefully John will be coming back.”
“I have confidence in all the department heads,” Hashmi said. “I have no problem with either Mr. Wright or Mr. Anderson. Mr. Wright is a people person and good at managing. I think Mr. Anderson manages finances well in addition to the fact that he has served as city manager in the past.”
The budget and the city’s $45 million infrastructure bond to be dealt with, the mayor said, “and I’m not sure Mr. Godwin will be back by that time. Mr. Anderson is familiar with bonds and with the budget.”
Mayor pro-tem John Wright (no relation to the fire chief) echoed the importance of having someone familiar with budgets.
“I concur that with Gene’s experience with budgeting and his expertise in finance that he should be highly considered. I would like to include in the arrangement that we have council approval of any hirings other than seasonal help,” Wright said.
Drake added: “I don’t want Mr. (Larry) Wright to think we do not have confidence in him. My concern is the budget, and I think Gene has been working closely with Mr. Godwin on the budget and is already up to speed on that.”
When the mayor called for a motion, Drake made the motion to appoint Anderson, seconded by District 2 councilwoman Sue Lancaster. The vote was unanimous among the six council members present — District 1 councilman Aaron Jenkins, Wright, Grossnickle and Hashmi. District 5 councilman Matt Frierson was absent.
Anderson’s appointment as interim manager is for six weeks.
“If Mr. Godwin is back before then, well and good. If not, we can re-assess the situation and see if Mr. Anderson needs to continue, or if someone else needs to take over or share the task with him,” the mayor said.
It is Anderson’s second time as Paris’ interim city manager. He served in that capacity for 17 months from the forced resignation of Kevin Carruth in December 2010 until the council ended a long search for Carruth’s replacement by choosing Godwin one year ago.
In Anderson’s favor is the fact that the deadline for presenting the proposed 2013-2014 budget is fast approaching. As finance manager and as past interim manager, he is intimately acquainted with those details and has been working closely with Godwin on the proposal that will be presented to the council sometime in July.
After the vote, Hashmi asked Anderson if he was willing to assume the mantle of interim manager.
Anderson, who was among a number of department heads at the meeting, smiled, rose from his seat, and came to the podium.
“I appreciate the confidence y’all have expressed in me, and I’d be glad to serve in that position,” he said.
All that was left after that was adjournment. First, the mayor had some good news to share with the council: “I talked to Mrs. Godwin today. He’s doing OK, and there is some improvement.”
The city manager is said to be hospitalized at UT-Southwestern in Dallas.
By CHARLES RICHARDS
Local architect Paul Denney took the Paris City Council through a slide presentation last week of the city’s Grand Theater through good times and bad and said he hopes to have the grand old facility restored on the outside to its vintage 1937 look by the end of this year.
He showed dozens of slides to the council Monday night, starting with how it looked after it was restored following the devastating downtown fire of 1916.
There have been ups and downs over the past two and a half years that the city has been looking to restore the theater so it could be used once again — if not as a theater, as a meeting place or a place for weddings, receptions and meetings of various types.
The roof collapsed following a thunderstorm, setting back all efforts.
The restoration effort will be funded with $80,000 from a lawsuit settlement in connection with the roof collapse, plus about $75,000 raised by the 2011-2012 Leadership Lamar County class, which took on the Grand Theater as a class project.
The $80,000 from the lawsuit has been received and is in hand, and the Leadership Lamar County money is committed, city finance director Gene Anderson confirmed.
“To what point do we get with this money,” mayor AJ Hashmi asked.
“Very simply, as far as we can go. We’ll do the roof and see how much money that takes, and that upper banding (of the G-R-A-N-D marquee facade), I feel like. It’s total guessing right now, because it’s almost impossible to budget what this is going to cost,” Denney said.
“The way this will be structured will be first things first. I’ll strictly issue a roof repair and reconstruction of the roof as a separate bidding package,” he said.
“Then, at the same time, I would like to issue an upper porcelain banding application package. There are so few companies left that do porcelain on enamel work — I’ve located one in Knoxville, Tenn., and another in Linsburg, Ill, outside of St. Louis. It will take 12 weeks for delivery on the banding, so I’d like to go ahead and get that to them and get them to fabricate that.”
At the completion of those, Denney said, “we’ll know what the first amount of money will be for the work, and we can proceed and get that roof fixed.”
The mayor asked: “So you expect, and I’m not holding you to this, but you expect the outside would be clean. The inside would not be fixed, but the roof would be done, and the outside would look the way that’s in the (1937) picture?”
“That’s right,” Denney replied.
Mayor pro-tem John Wright asked: “That would put it ‘in the dry’?”
“Yes, and with relief drains,” Denney replied.
Last year, the council received a report from District 5 councilman Matt Frierson as to the feasibility of continuing work on the Grand vs. tearing it down in the aftermath of the roof collapse.
Frierson portrayed the Grand Theater as an important landmark and full of potential — something the city should preserve. He said one or more non-profit groups had expressed an interest in taking it over.
At the conclusion of Frierson’s presentation, the council had unanimously indicated a desire to repair it and return it to a prominent place, so long as it did not turn into an unending drain on city resources.
“It is of a concrete and steel construction that is very substantial, and when you get past the part that failed, the building gets better and would be worth our time to restore — and it would be an expense to demolish,” Denney said.
“All in all, I think you have a good building,” Denney said. “Once we get it redone, I don’t think it will be that big a drain financially.”
“When we get to the 1937 era — which is about the time just short of World War II when Interstate Theaters became a real booming operation. They decided about the time of the Texas Centennial (in 1936) to remodel the building and build it to an art modern and art mecca type look,” he said.
He also showed pictures of changes that reflected new ownership in the early 1970s. “You can see it was not the same glory that it had,” Denney said.
Looking at the architectural elements in 1937 and in the 1970s, “we assessed that the 1937 look would be the look that we would want to get back to, to smooth out the building.”
Frierson thanked Denney, along with Shawn Napier, director of engineering and city development, and city manager John Godwin for their work.
“I think they have tried to keep in mind the tract we initially started down last fall with hopes of revitalizing the Grand to the point we can get this thing back on the right track and actually move forward with the project.”