Happy New Year, Paris Neighbors! I predict that this year is going to be better than 2022 and that is really saying something. Let's take a look at some significant business indicators from last year and hopefully what we can look forward to in 2023!
From January l, 2022 through the first week in December, 2022, there were twenty-seven single family home starts· and nineteen duplex home starts. These projects represent 96,677 square feet of living space and over $10,371,399 in new valuations. The cost of the homes ranges from $125,000 to $499,000. That is forty-six families that will have new homes to live in.
New commercial starts in Paris involved twenty-one separate building projects, amounting to almost 580,000 square feet of new retail and commercial buildings and totaling $100,000,000 in value. These figures confirm what we see all over town: people optimistic about investing in Paris!
Two of these commercial starts are a new hotel and a new elementary school. Other commercial businesses have remodeled or enlarged their existing properties. When the business community is encouraged about the new year, we can be confident as well. The City realizes that our growth and prosperity are fueled by the good health of the business climate.
According to Paul Allen, President and CEO of the Lamar County Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber is bigger and better than ever with over 700 members! Last year the Chamber hosted 120 ribbon cuttings for new members. Some of these events were for new businesses whife others were for new locations, remodeled, or under new ownership or management. These members support one another, building a vital network of business and commercial interest and a strong local economy.
Let's make our motto for 2023: ONE FOR AND ALL FOR ONE! May your New Year be happy and blessed.
As November arrives again, we begin to contemplate our blessings. Over the past year, Paris Neighbors have seen positive growth in our city. Let's take a look at some of that increase in downtown business development.
There are currently five buildings on the downtown Plaza that are undergoing renovation. One other building on the Plaza opened with a new business during the summer. Three historic buildings within one or two blocks of the square are also getting facelifts. These buildings will soon be open for businesses as varied as a cigar lounge, a brewing company, and an event center.
What does all this mean for our Paris Neighbors? One important point is that our historic downtown will now have fewer vacant buildings than in recent memory. No longer do their windows look like eyes closed in sleep, but rather look wide-eyed and alive! An occupied building brings activity and sales tax dollars to the City and profits to business owners.
Anyone who visits Paris will have the oppC>rtunity to buy gas, food, clothing, or other commodities within the city. When they do so they pay sales tax which puts dollars into our local economy. We need to appreciate that we are becoming and origin and destination place to visit.
A healthy and vibrant downtown will help all our residents. The more stores and businesses we have all over Paris, the more economic benefit we enjoy. Some visitors may like being here so much they want to stay! We welcome newcomers to our community. Twice recently I have met new families who have moved here because they like a quieter lifestyle and slower pace. They chose us because of the quality of life and the quality of our schools.
Spend just a little time at the Eiffel Tower and you will meet the nicest people from points near and far. In one short stay there, I met a couple from Houston celebrating their wedding anniversary. A sports team from Frisco took pictures after their game at Trinity Christian Academy. Another couple from the metroplex were so impressed with Paris, they plan to bring family from California to Paris during the holidays.
PARIS IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA! Happy Thanksgiving, Paris Neighbors.
Fall is a great time for "Active Transportation"! What in the world is that? Well, I found out in August when the City of Paris hosted the first ever Plan4Health two-day conference at City Hall.
Mr. Andrew Mack, the Director of Planning and Community Development for the City and Dr. Melissa Oden, Assistant Adjunct Professor of Public Health from UT-Arlington were instrumental in bringing the conference to Paris. The keynote speaker was Mr. Mark Fenton who formerly hosted the PBS program America Walking.
Attendees included public health professionals, public health officials from several counties including Lamar, public health interns from two universities, city employees, Chamber officials, employees from numerous Northeast Texas cities, and representatives from Killeen and Tyler.
As Mayor I joined all of them as we walked through Downtown Paris and parts of the Trail de Paris to assess our walkability, distance to restaurants and shopping from the trail, and safety to and from schools and neighborhoods. That is what Active Transportation is: getting out of that golf cart or vehicle and walking, jogging, or bicycling.
After reviewing the list of improvements, some can be made at very small expense. A few buckets of paint and some brushes can make a big difference. One idea is to paint school crossings with bright colors and designs, perhaps designed and executed by an art class. Welding classes might build bike racks.
The takeaway from the conference is that Paris needs to improve accessibility through Active Transportation. To help with this effort, I would like to hear from Paris neighbors about where we need better signage, safer bike lanes, pedestrian crossings, or other amenities. Please email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Active Transportation will help all of us become healthier, happier Paris Neighbors!
Greetings Paris Neighbors! How do you like the lights downtown? Have you wondered how this came to be? Well, here's a little background on the effort to "Light Up Paris."
On Friday, January 14, 2022, four ladies met at Downtown Coffee for a brainstorming session. Kari Daniels, Tracy Dougherty, Suzy Harper and I discussed where to begin, how to pay for it, who to install it, and when the project would be completed.
In March we held a committee meeting at the City Council Chambers involving City Staff, two council members, representatives from Lamar County Chamber of Commerce, and members of the Downtown Association. Additionally, Suzy Harper, Barbara Wilson and Tracy Doughtery attended to offer their thoughts and ideas.
Thereafter, work began In earnest to get bids for the installation of the energy saving LED lights. Unbeknownst to us, a professional from Powderly was available to provide insight about the tree lights. Art Stutsman of Art of Moonlighting, Inc., made a presentation and then met with us downtown after dark on several evenings to show us examples and provide ideas.
Following additional committee meetings, a public-private effort to raise the money using citizen volunteers began. Thanks in part to donors, large and small, funds were raised to complete the project.
By June 15, after the City had the trees trimmed, the installation of the lights began. Now, the full effect of this effort can be seen every night of the week. As a result, people are walking around the square, visiting restaurants and businesses who stay open, and bringing vitality to the entire downtown.
Since the completion of the project, renovation has begun on the Scott Building, the old Kress building, and the former Kay's Alterations building. ''Sundaes in Paris" opened in the old bank building, formerly The Vault. All of these projects will benefit existing downtown businesses by giving our local citizens and visitors more things to do and enhancing ecotourism.
If you haven't visited downtown to see the lights, please do so, Paris Neighbors!
Greetings to my WISE Paris Neighbors, Water WISE Neighbors, that is. We are lucky if we still have any green grass or flowers left through this hot weather.
Let me just give you a few water wise tips. These are common sense, everyday ideas that will save money and H2O.
1. Water early in the morning, whenever possible. Whether you have a sprinkler system or use hoses and attachments, your landscaping will be happiest if the water can be on the roots for a while before the hot sun can burn off the water.
2. Try not to water when it is windy. This will prevent your water from blowing away and evaporating.
3. Deep water grass and shrubs so that the roots will go deep rather than staying shallow. Roots too near the surface weaken your plants, causing leaves to be stressed, yellowed, and brittle.
4. When possible give your potted plants a little shade in the hottest part of the day. Move pots when you can, use shade cloth, or even put an open umbrella over a pot of tender shade lovers.
Even though we are blessed with a plentiful water supply in our area, it is a shame to waste water. And using more water than you need, costs you money. We all like green stuff: green plants and green dollars!
Paris is Growing
Growth in Paris? Yes! 2022 is seeing growth in retail and commercial developments choosing Paris as their new home. Where we saw four retail stores close at Paris Towne Center during the pandemic, amounting to 102,000 square feet, every square foot of that area is now filled with four new retail stores renovating and improving the look of the shopping center. It will be a total investment of over $3 million which means additional sales tax collections.
On the Loop where there once was a dilapidated flea market, a new tool store will bring sales tax dollars from our neighbors inside and outside of Lamar County. A new restaurant will soon be going in just down the Loop from the tool store. The more sales tax revenue that is collected, the greater the offset to local property owners.
When visitors from surrounding counties and Southeast Oklahoma buy goods here, they support our economy. Whether neighbors from around us or tourists from afar, the sales tax they pay on merchandise, food and gas, and hotel rooms, supports city services and the Paris Economic Development Corporation (PEDC). Thus, the PEDC has a bigger portion of sales tax to spend on industrial recruitment and most importantly, creating jobs!
There is an exciting demographic that is a part of this growth. We have a number of young professionals who grew up in Paris, left to complete their education, may have lived and worked somewhere else for a few years, but are coming home to Paris to live, work, and raise their family. In many respects they preserve our small town atmosphere while ensuring quality growth.
A recent poll by Washington University in St. Louis questioned a cross section of local elected officials about what policies were a high priority. Forty- one per cent answered quality of life or some similar goal. We are blessed that our quality of life in Paris is improving as we come out of the challenge of two years of the pandemic. We welcome the new neighbors and treasure our longtime neighbors! In many respects, Paris is truly a sustainable community.
Our Historic Downtown
It is the "Good Old Summertime", Paris Neighbors. And Downtown Paris is open for business. There is an amazing revitalization happening around our Square and off the Square in every direction.
Many of our beautiful historic buildings are being rehabilitated or restored to their former glory. It is exciting to see many of these projects being undertaken by the "under forty" crowd. New restaurants, boutiques, lofts, apartments, and AirBNB's are turning up all over downtown. There will soon be a neighborhood grocery, too. This will be a welcome addition to those who live or work downtown or visitors who are renting space for a night or more.
The Historic Preservation Commission is intended to assist property owners follow standards set by the Department of the Interior and adopted by ordinance of the City Council. Owners can also receive design assistance from the Texas Main Street Program. Our own Cheri Bedford, Paris Main Street Coordinator and Historic Preservation Officer assure that our downtown Nationally Registered Historic District retains its 1917 unique character.
Last week I toured a downtown building undergoing renovation. One space already has a tenant downstairs, open for business. The space next door that will soon be a grocery store is not far from being complete. Upstairs are two apartments with a great view. One is a one bedroom and the other is a two bedroom apartment, bringing even more full time residents downtown.
The icing on the cake will be the new lighting. Ample lighting increases pedestrian safety, encourages visitors to downtown, will attract downtown events, and increase the level of pride held for the downtown by our citizens. Come linger and enjoy the heart of our city!
Dear Paris Neighbors, it is spring and there is so much happening in Paris. This is always a time when many people like to do cleaning inside and out of their home or business. There is a lot of that going on in neighborhoods all over town, and this is the right time to begin thinking about nominations for Mayor's Yard of the Month which will be awarded starting on May 1 through October 1.
I created this award last May to recognize our citizens who keep their property neat, tidy, and well maintained. There is an award for each quadrant of the city for residential, commercial, or industrial. Anyone can make a nomination and winners are picked by a committee. The mayor and some city staff will contact winners and place a sign in your yard, and at the next Council meeting they will be recognized, presented with a certificate and a twenty five dollar gift card from the Keep Paris Beautiful Commission.
Residents of Paris may nominate any yard in the Paris City Limits including their own, by submitting and uploading photos to the nomination form on the City of Paris website. Submissions will be received up to the 15th of each month prior to the award. (i.e. April 15 for May award). The criteria for nominations can also be found on the website. There will one new award this year for a home or business that has been rehabbed: new paint, a facelift, expansion.
Thank you for helping us recognize Paris Neighbors who demonstrate above average efforts in maintaining their properties, and thereby contributing to the overall appearance of the community at large and showing PARIS PRIDE! I can't wait to meet May's winners.
Happy February, the month of love and caring I As I reflect on February, 2021, I am reminded of the winter storm that socked us in for four days and brought out the best in our community to help our neighbors who needed warmth, love, and caring. Paris is great place to live because of the willingness of our citizens to help those in need.
Last year, a large group of individuals and organizations united to provide food, warmth and shelter. Lamar Avenue Church of Christ and many of our nonprofits and community volunteers came together to provide twenty-four hour shelter from the winter storm. As a result of that effort, many of these entities and individuals have joined again to create "warming stations" in the event of another weather emergency. I am proud to see so many diverse groups participating in this vital outreach.
The United Way, led by Ms. Jenny Wilson, brought together nonprofits, city staff, the Mayor, church leaders and volunteers, via a Zoom meeting. Discussion involved potential triggers for opening "warming stations", including below freezing temperatures, precipitation, wind chill and power outages to name a few. Communication among these stakeholders and others is an important step toward deciding when to open the stations.
A difficult situation we face in Paris is where to house people in one of these weather events. For daytime only, "warming stations" are available at Horizon House, City Square, and the Salvation Army. Lamar Avenue Church of Christ is currently the only facility capable of housing overnight. There must be cots, pillows, blankets as well as food and water for those who are sheltered. Security is something to be considered as well. The Salvation Army is close to being open for overnight service which will be more convenient to the citizens across the city.
Communication is an integral part of this plan. For those without electricity and residents who live on the streets or in substandard property, we need a way to inform them of available services. Work is being done to provide signage in as many sites as possible, from schools, convenience stores, nonprofit agencies, and even truck stops which will provide a phone number and an address for the centers.
Volunteers are integral to the success of our plans. Churches are receiving letters from City Square staff, requesting assistance and donations such as warm hats, gloves, socks, hygiene items, and non-perishable food. Special arrangements will be made to accommodate Covid positive persons.
Paris Neighbors come together yet again to show love and compassion!
Happy New Year, Paris Neighbors! My 2022 prayer for Paris is for continued growth and prosperity like we experienced in 2021, when we had record-breaking sales tax revenue every month during the pandemic. There were 2.1 % more jobs and 4% growth in industry here. Now that's a bright outlook for 2022! Here are some details.
We have many facets of our community contributing to this economic growth. The City's Department of Planning and Community Development, the Paris Economic Development Corporation, and Paris Junior College work together to ensure development in Paris, creating new jobs, construction, and training.
The PEDC, led by Executive Director Maureen Hammond and the PEDC Board, tirelessly work to recruit and retain industry and manufacturing jobs. from Quarter 2 of 2020 to Quarter 2 of 2021, there was a 6% growth in manufacturing jobs in Lamar County. The average wage in manufacturing here is $60,000 annually. For year-end 2021, the PEDC announced the creation and retention of 200 jobs in Lamar County. Looking forward to 2022, there are currently six active projects on the PEDC radar. Paris Junior College, led by President Pam Anglin and her staff design training for any industries who locate here.
Andrew Mack, Director of Planning and Community Development and the engineering and fire inspection staff, have revised the pre-development process, permitting protocols, and final inspection steps. This spring the City will host a forum for builders and developers to make sure every step of the process is understood and easy to follow. Like driving a car, the driver is responsible for knowing the law. The City wants to ensure these individuals know the building codes or know who to ask or where to look for answers to their questions.
Nationally, there is a downward trend for commercial building permits. However, Paris currently has around twenty commercial building permits in the works. Everything from a laundromat to a hotel, we are growing into 2022! All these signs point to a very bright and happy outlook for our Paris Neighbors. Thank you to all our partners for all you do for our industries, manufacturing, and the economic health of Paris. Blessings for a healthy and happy 2022!
Recycling in Paris
Merry Christmas, Neighbors! 'Tis the· season for sharing, caring, and giving. This spirit of generosity permeates throughout our community, and from our smallest family-owned businesses to our largest industries, needs are met, especially at this time of year.
At the November 8 City Council meeting, I presented a Prodamation declaring Saturday, November 27, as "Small Business Saturday" to the Downtown Merchants Association and to the Main Street Coordinator for the City. When we support these local businesses, they are able to give back to our city. Shop Paris first! The money stays here and the economic benefit helps make our community strong.
The opposite end of the business spectrum is also true where our larger industries contribute in ways too numerous to name. Besides employing hundreds of our residents, industry leaders want to be good corporate citizens. As I meet with these leaders throughout my duties as Mayor, I often hear, "What can we do for Paris?n After all, this is their home, too, and they want to generously support the many efforts to make Paris a better place to live.
Employees of all of our businesses in this city volunteer their time and talent in many facets of our daily life. It's not all monetary donations either, but service on boards and commissions, nonprofit agencies and organizations, ringing bells for Salvation Army, and many other forms of anonymous giving. In doing so, they exemplify the spirit of generosity!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Paris Neighbors!
Recycling in Paris
Dear Neighbors: Did you know that the City of Paris offers free recycling to all residents? Before putting things out on the curb to go to the landfill, take a quick look to see what could go to the recycling center.
Recycling has been available to our citizens since January 4, 2016. During that time the program has taken several different forms, and unfortunately, hasn't been actively promoted. As part of the Mayor's beautification program, I think it is high time to share this valuable resource with all of you.
Evidence shows that communities that take pride in their appearance are committed to recycling. Many of the items you normally dispose of in your trash are eligible to be recycled. Yes, it does involve separating those at your home, yet the benefits outweigh the gift of time that you contribute to this quality-of-life issue.
Here's how to deposit items at the center. Our system is easy and convenient.
STEP 1: Know what is accepted. Plastic items marked 1, 2, and 5; cardboard, including dry food boxes like cereal and cake mix boxes, all broken down; aluminum and metal cans; magazines, catalogues, phone books; junk mail; printer ink cartridges; Styrofoam (clean, please); newspaper and shredded paper. We DO NOT accept GLASS at this time.
All ITEMS SHOULD BE CLEAN, DRY AND EMPTY! NO SORTING IS NECESSARY! THAT IS DONE AT THE RECYCLING STATION.
STEP 2: Be sure to have your most recent City of Paris water bill and a valid Texas driver's license or ID. Recycling services are available to city residents only. No commercial recycling is accepted.
STEP 3: Take your recyclable items to 705 Field Street on Wednesday-Friday 8:30 am to 12:00 pm or 1:30 to 4:30 pm and on Saturday, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
STEP 4: A city employee will check your ID and show you where to unload your recycling. The street has recently been improved to make it easier to reach the center, so give us a try.
STEP 5: Go home and enjoy getting rid of all that stuff without filling up the landfill.
Recycling is practical since any city resident can participate. It is also beneficial, saving the city tax dollars by reducing the cost to dispose of those items in the landfill. As your Mayor, I encourage you to join the growing number of citizens who have chosen to responsibly recycle. Try it. You might like it, and the trash bag you put on the curb will be much lighter!
HAPPY RECYCLING, PARIS NEIGHBORS!
Economic Development in Paris
I recently had an extensive tour of the new $120 million American Spiralweld (ASWP) plant. It is a very impressive facility that replaced an ugly eyesore that had been setting empty near our industrial park for years. Thanks to the efforts of the Paris Economic Development Corporation, City staff and Council, as well as the County Judge and Commissioners, this fine company was recruited to build in Paris.
During my tour, I heard some local names dropped about various contractors who were used in the construction of this 290,000 square foot building. That piqued my interest about how many local vendors were used, so I asked ASWP for a list of local contractors and businesses involved. As the general contractor, HWH subcontracted to Performance Electric, Blake Plumbing, Diamond C Plumbing and Utilities, and Bryan Fence Company. (That must be one of the longest fences in Paris!) Also used were Choice Pest Control, SimWick Construction, Reddell's Glass, JBM Painting, By George Landscape and Design, and Neely Landscaping to name a few.
American Spiralweld has now been in production during most of 2021, and they are continuing to use local vendors for their day-to-day operation. Some of these include Swaim Hardware, Advanced Alarm, Krogman Sand and Gravel, and Bell Concrete. Others include Elliot Electric Supply, Wholesale Electric Supply, Cohn & Gregory, Top line Hydraulic, McQueen Propane, Paris Oxygen, and Matheson. Additionally, Cunningham Steel, Airwaves Communications Inc., Paris Farm &Ranch Center, Paris Air Conditioning Co., and North Texas Fab.
All these businesses support other local businesses so that there is a big ripple effect for our entire community. These businesses are owned and operated by our "Paris Neighbors", employ our friends and family, and spend their profits right here in Paris, Texas. And that doesn't even include the almost 1DO jobs that ASWP is providing for our local residents. How is that for ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT!
Boil Water Notices
Hello, again, Paris Neighbors! Have you ever wondered why the City issues a boil water notice? The City of Paris and the members of the Utility Department Team, led by Director Doug Harris, are committed to delivering "Superior Quality" drinking water to every citizen, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. That is a huge job, and, sometimes, something happens that requires a boilwater notice as a precaution.
The necessity for these notices is regulated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Strict rules dictate exactly what action must be taken and when the public must be notified to protect the health and safety of water consumers. Reasons for a boil water notice are low distribution pressure, a water outage, bacteria or other microbiological traces present, failure to maintain adequate chlorine residuals, elevated finished water turbidities, a water line break, heavy rains or an electrical failure.
When one of these notices is required, the TCEQ has specific guidelines regarding the notification. To comply with those rules, the City may use a reverse 911 call, a text message or email, as well as news media. After receiving this notice, customers should bring all water to a boil, let it boil for one minute and cool before using, or use bottled water.
Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until further notice from the City. During this time, the staff of the Utility Department are springing into action to notify citizens, correct the problem, perform tests which are sent to a lab in Sherman, and then notifying users when the boil notice is rescinded.
To ensure twenty-four-hour monitoring of our water supply, the City of Paris utilizes the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system. SCADA is connected to our Water Treatment Plant, raw water intake, ground storage pump facility, and our elevated water storage tanks.
Licensed Surface Water Operators for the City have the ability to monitor, in real time, the operations of our facilities, and also make control adjustments via computer. When SCADA communication is disrupted, it requires Utilities Staff to inspect these remote locations to ensure they are operating as required, and if necessary, manually operate control of the facility.
As Mayor, and on behalf of our citizens, I want to give a big THANK YOU to every member of our Utility Team for our "Superior Quality" drinking water as rated by TCEQ. Director Harris and every member of his department are a shining example of the quality of dedicated professionals working to make Paris a better place to live.
Beautification and Mayor's Yard of the Month
Hello, Paris Neighbors! As your new Mayor, I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible over the next year. The City Council and I are committed to sustaining economic development and promoting prosperity in Paris. That is Paris Pride!
A key aspect of economic development is beautification: showing our civic pride. When commercial, industrial, and retail outlets consider relocating to Paris, one of the things they focus on is community appearance. What is the "curb appeal" of businesses and residences in Paris?
To support beautification and Paris Pride, I am creating a Mayor's Yard of the Month award. Eligibility includes businesses, residences, and rehabbed properties in the city. Winners will be judged on overall appearance and neatness. Nominations may be made by anyone on the City of Paris website.
Recipients will be chosen from each quadrant of the city. Winners will receive a yard sign, a certificate at the City Council meeting on the second Monday of the month, and a $25 gift certificate from Keep Paris Beautiful.
Another aspect of Paris Pride is shopping local. We have a number of boutiques, specialty shops and restaurants throughout downtown and the city. Our Chamber of Commerce does a yeoman's job of supporting these businesses and Paris Pride! If you aren't currently a chamber member, consider joining.
The Visitors and Convention Council sponsors events such as the Tour de Paris. New this year was the Red Bull Pump Track Qualifying Race. For the Pump Track race alone, all hotel rooms in the city were booked. As I met visitors from all over Texas and at least ten other states, I heard over and over how warm and friendly Parisians are.
Now that's Paris Pride!