Schrader is introduced

Lowell Schrader, the new building and codes inspector for the City of Paris, introduces himself to members of the Paris Commission during Thursday’s meeting at Paris city hall.

The unusual number of heavy rains that have doused Paris and Henry County lately have caused enough drainage issues that the City of Paris is making plans to address them.

Kim Foster, Paris city manager, told members of the Paris Commission Thursday that the number of hard, fast rains that have hit the city recently has put a spotlight on some of the drainage issues that exist here.

She said she had traveled around certain trouble spots in the city with Patrick Smith, an engineer with L.I. Smith & Associates here, to see what is happening after these types of rains, and she’s convinced it’s something the city needs to do something about sooner rather than later.

“We need to start containing the erosion (of the soil) better,” she said.

The commission gave informal approval to her to seek some paid engineering help to look into some of the issues. She said at some point the city, Henry County, the West Tennessee River Basin Authority and someone from the Soil Conservation office should all begin devising some possible solutions to the problem.

Foster said she had received some valuable input from Lowell Schrader, who was hired three weeks ago as the city’s new building and codes inspector. Schrader has a degree in environmental science and put together some notes about the drainage issues for the commissioners on Thursday.

A military veteran, Schrader has a background in underwater construction and as a deep sea diver. He has lived in Paris for four years.

In other action during Thursday’s meeting:

• The city had another outstanding month financially in July, with the retail sales tax revenue up by 10.73% over July 2019.

Traci Shannon, the city’s finance director, said the top four or five businesses in terms of revenues made up about half of the city’s revenues during that month. That would include the big box stores Walmart and Lowe’s, as well as Kroger and Paris Building Supply.

For the 2019-20 fiscal year, the city finished 2.79% ahead of where it was in the 2018-19 fiscal year.

This despite fears about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Foster has stated she doesn’t expect the big uptick in revenues to continue and that some leveling off would be logical in the next few months.

• Paris Police Chief Chuck Elizondo and Asst. Chief Ricky Watson discussed a recent project that amends the PPD rules and procedures manual regarding use of force.

Elizondo said a set of standards from the state was used as a guide but that the PPD tweaked those standards to fit its own procedures. He said state-mandated training in such areas as de-escalation of threatening situations continues.

The manual includes a reference to chokeholds, but Elizondo said that in his 42 years on the force “we’ve never taught chokeholds or used chokeholds.”

• Jennifer Morris, community development director, reported she had been in contact with state officials about recent inquiries from possible buyers of property that was acquired by the city as part of a parks grant from the state Department of Environment and Conservation.

Three private property owners have asked about buying land from Mineral Wells Avenue stretching over to Eiffel Tower Park Extended. Morris said state officials have told her it would be possible to conduct such transactions — with a lot of hoops to jump through.

The major factor would be that the city would have to replace the value of the property it gives up by using property of the same value for parks and recreation purposes.

Morris said she plans to get back to the prospective buyers as the next step in the process.

• The commission approved a plan to refinance some 2019 bonds used for the splash pad project. Foster said the city would save about $65,000 with the refinancing plan, since it will get a much more favorable interest rate on the original $1 million loan.

Foster also said the splash pad, located at Eiffel Tower Park, is nearly completed. The official opening is set for 10 a.m. Sept. 16. State and local officials, along with contractors, will be there for the opening ceremony.

• Tennessee Department of Transportation officials told Foster Thursday that right-of-way plans for a sidewalk project along Wilson Street and Patriot Avenue had been approved.

That project is being paid for with a Transportation Alternative (TA) grant and is expected to be finished in spring 2022.

• The commission authorized Foster to proceed with applying for another TA grant that would likely be used for a different sidewalk project in the future — one that would include Fairgrounds Road and Royal Oak Drive.

That project would basically connect East Wood Street (at the intersection of Fairgrounds Road) to Lone Oak Road via sidewalks.

• The commission OK’d an extension on the completion date of the Hampton Inn project planned on Mineral Wells Avenue.

As recommended by the city’s Industrial Development Board, the completion date will be changed from Oct. 31, 2021, to May 31, 2022.

The project has been delayed by the pandemic, which hit the hospitality industry especially hard.

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