Journalism in the public interest for Northeast Texas

Texas close to gaining first reservoir in 20 years

in Latest News/State by

The Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir was recently approved for its second $500 million loan as the project nears the beginning of construction in North Texas. The dam and accompanying man-made lake will be Texas’ first new major reservoir in almost two decades.

Life in the rural, North Texas county of Fannin is about to change in a big way as construction begins on Texas’ first new reservoir in nearly two decades.

The Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir is expected to eventually provide water for 1.7 million people serviced by the North Texas Municipal Water District. But first, nearly 2,000 workers will converge on the 10,000-person county seat of Bonham during the five-year project that will create a 16,641-acre lake in the backyard of the town by 2022, said City Manager Sean Pate.

Bonham “is expecting something like an oil boom to come with the construction,” Pate said. “Then, we expect people to stay because of … Texans’ fascination with lakes. This is going to create a lot of changes in our community.”

The last time a major reservoir was constructed in Texas was 1999, and water-supply reservoirs seemed to be going out of fashion as environmental regulations tightened and different avenues for water supply opened up. The Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir could point to a changing tide in the search for additional drinking water resources, said former Texas Water Development Board Chairman Bech Bruun, who oversaw the agency when it approved the project’s plans.

But in the rural Fannin County land that’s slated to become a lake bed, opposition to the reservoir is stronger than ever.

“They have water already, and they just want to build this reservoir for inessential uses,” said Harold “Thump” Witcher Jr., a Fannin County farmer and rancher whose land is located in the lake’s planned boundary. “They want to turn it around and take people’s farm and ranch land away so people can water their lawns.”

Landowners like Witcher are likely out of options to block the reservoir because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued the final federal permit earlier this month for the water district to begin construction.

Fannin County won’t receive most of the reservoir’s drinking water, which will be piped 35 miles away to a treatment plant in Leonard and will provide water to much of northeast Dallas, but the county — and the city of Bonham — are expected to experience the most direct economic impact from the lake. The lake will increase housing values and generate roughly $20 million annually in recreational economic activity in Fannin, according to a study done by the Army Corps of Engineers before it issued the final federal permit.

The anticipated economic upside has city and county officials excited about the reservoir, despite the adjustments to daily life that may be needed, Pate said. The planned lake is expected to draw boaters, fishers and sightseers to the area, Pate said.

“There are definitely some challenges that come with a population jolt,” he said. “A lot is going to change, but there’s just too much good to come from a project like this that it outweighs any of the drawbacks.”

Witcher said there’s a disconnect between what local leaders and average citizens think about the reservoir.

“The Bonham City Council and the mayor all think it’s going to be the finest thing in the world, but if you actually talk to the populace themselves, they’re actually not that in favor of it,” he said. “People are losing their homes and their way of life, and people need to remember that this is a water reservoir, not a recreational facility.”

Construction will begin in the coming months on the reservoir, which is expected to cost $1.2 billion, said Janet Rummel, spokesperson for the North Texas Municipal Water District.

The massive price tag for the reservoir is going to be paid by the district through loans from the Texas Water Development Board’s State Water Implementation Fund for Texas. The board has approved  two loans of more than $500 million, the most recent on Feb. 15. The loans will be paid back over several decades by raising water rates in the district, Rummel said.

“It’s one of the bigger price tags that we’ve seen in Texas in recent history in terms of water infrastructure,” said Bruun.

Part of the price will go toward acquiring the land needed for the dam and reservoir from Witcher and his fellow landowners. He estimates 200 people live in the area.

The water district has already purchased 85 percent of the land necessary for the reservoir, Rummel said. Witcher said he has not begun negotiating with the company. If he refuses to sell his property, the state government could use the power of eminent domain to acquire it.

“I’m not doing anything until I’m forced to leave, but right now we’re kind of just dead in the water,” Witcher said.

Construction on the dam is expected to take three years, followed by another two years for the lake to fill. The region is currently enduring a moderate drought, but Rummel said the dry conditions shouldn’t affect the timeline of the project, assuming the rain returns by the time the dam is completed.

As Texas heads toward building its 189th major water-supply reservoir, the rural farmers and ranchers of Fannin County are bracing for change as their land becomes a water source for the Dallas suburbs.

“I’m going to retire at the end of March, and my whole dream my whole life has been to retire and live here and enjoy my place finally,” said Witcher, whose family has owned the land since 1865. “I’m going to have to move. I don’t know what I’m going to do and how this is all going to shake out.”

The article above comes from The Texas Tribune. Paul Cobler is a water reporting fellow at the Tribune. The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Paris PD press release 3-1-18

in Police Beat/Press Releases by

Press Release
March 1, 2018

On 02-28-2018 at 9:12 P.M. Officers responded to the 700 block of NE 7th in regards to a stabbing. Officers were told that a known suspect had stabbed the complainant several times with a pair of scissors during an argument. The injuries were said to be non-life threatening. The suspect left the scene prior to police arrival and the investigation is ongoing.

On 03-01-2018 at 1:32 A.M. Officers responded to the 2200 block of NW 19th in regards to a burglary of a residence complaint. Officers were told that an unknown suspect entered the residence and took numerous tools. The investigation is ongoing.

Paris Police responded to 84 calls for service and arrested 1 persons over the past 24 hours ending at 6:00 A.M. on March 1, 2018.


PEDC to convene into executive session Friday regarding property at Industrial Park

in PEDC by

The Paris Economic Development Corporation meets Friday, March 2 at 11 a.m. and is expected to go immediately into executive session to discuss “commercial and financial information and economic incentives” related to commercial real-estate development at the PEDC Industrial Park.

The meeting will be held in the  PEDC board room at 1125 Bonham St. Paris, Texas.

After a slow first week, Early Voting begins to pick up

in Latest News/Local Government by

Heavy rains and flooding seem to have kept voters away from the polls last week. Only 742 people showed up to vote early in the first week.

The total number of voters Monday and Tuesday was 641, bringing the total to 1,383.

Across the state, reports are coming out that Democratic voters are turning up in higher numbers than Republicans. That’s not the case here.

Of those who have voted so far in Lamar County, 1,221 (88.6%) voted in the Republican primary while only 162 (11.4%) voted in the Democratic primary.

Registered voters who wish to vote early can go to the Lamar County Services Building at 231 Lamar Avenue (aka “the Old Post Office”) between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. this week. Early voting ends Friday, March 2 at 5 p.m.

Polls will open on Election day, March 6 at 7 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m. For a list of Election Day voting locations, citizens should check here. (also included below)

UPDATED: This article has been edited to reflect the most recent numbers provided by Lamar County Elections Office. 2/28/18

County Commissioners swear in Jeff Jones as Constable of Precinct 2 Wednesday, Courthouse to host “Inherit The Wind”

in Lamar County by

Notice is hereby given that a Special Meeting of the Lamar County Commissioners’ Court will be held on the 28th day of February, 2018 at 1:00 p.m., in the Commissioners’ Courtroom located on the first floor of the Lamar County Courthouse, 119 North Main Street Paris, Texas, at which time there will be discussion and/or action on the following subjects:

1. Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. Flag and the Texas Flag. – Lamar County Judge, M.C. Superville, Jr.

2. Approval of minutes. – Lamar County Judge, M.C. Superville, Jr.

3. Discussion and/or action regarding the Lamar County Commissioner’s Court allowing the “Paris Community Theatre”, including its’ staff, actors, cast, and crew, the use of the public areas of the Lamar County Courthouse, such as, the Courtrooms, jury rooms, restrooms, balcony, etc. in preparation for, and actual production of a famous American play, about the American legal system, called “Inherit the Wind.” The historic Lamar County District Courtroom, and the Lamar County Courthouse in general are excellent venues for just such an event. This play has been performed in the Courthouse in Clarksville, and other Courthouses around the nation which showcases high Courthouse drama. The Paris Community Theatre is requesting use of the building, after hours, beginning in early March through April 22, 2018. Judge R. Wesley Tidwell has approved the use of the District Courtroom for these dates. The Paris Community Theatre assures the Lamar County Commissioners Court that no staff members will enter any spaces that are not otherwise common areas of the Courthouse. During the production of the play, when the public will attend its’ performance, The Paris Community Theatre will hire off-duty police officers to act as security to safeguard the public and property. The Lamar County District Judges are in agreement that The Paris Community Theatre be allowed the use of the Lamar County Courthouse for the production of this important American play. Resolution No. R2018-005. The production dates for the play are FRIDAY, APRIL 20TH”, “SATURDAY, APRIL 21ST, AND “SUNDAY, APRIL 22ND. EVERYONE IS INVITED TO ATTEND. Tickets may be purchased through Paris Community Theatre, Josh Maxwell Managing Director, Paris Community Theatre, PCT Office 115 Clarksville St., In the Brown Centre for the Creative Arts. Hours: Tuesday – Friday 10am – 3pm. Phone – 903-784-0259. FAX – 903-784-4195. Email Seating is limited and everyone is advised to acquire their tickets early so as to be sure to attend this spectacular event in this very unique venue.—M. C. Superville, Jr., Lamar County Judge; R. Wesley Tidwell, Judge 6th Judicial District Lamar and Red River County, Will Biard, Judge 62nd Judicial District Lamar and Hopkins County, Bill Harris, County Court at Law Judge, Lamar County, Sydney Young, Attorney, Director of Inherit the Wind for PCT, Jill Drake, Assistant Prosecutor and Stage Manager for Inherit the Wind, Gary D. Young, Lamar County District and County Attorney.

4. Discussion and/or action regarding Lamar County Commissioners’ Court to receive into the minutes a copy of the “acceptance letter” from Jeff Jones accepting the appointment to the position of Lamar County Constable Precinct Two position which was left vacant by Mike Ford. This appointment becomes effective upon the Courts’ receipt of this letter of acceptance, approval of a bond, and execution of the appropriate oath. – County judge, M.C. Superville, Jr.

5. Discussion and/or action regarding Lamar County Commissioners’ Court receiving and approving the Official Bond and Oath for Jeff Jones, Constable Precinct Two. – County Clerk, Ruth Sisson

6. Discussion and/or action by Lamar County Commissioners’ Court receiving into the minutes a copy of the letter dated February 21, 2018, that the County Judge sent to Mr. Tommy Henderson, Director of Operations with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). This letter is in regards to TxDOT donating additional salvage “Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement” (RAP) material to Lamar County. This request for material will not be counted against Lamar County’s current (FY2018) 2060 Weight Tolerance allocation of $19,199. – County Judge, M.C. Superville, Jr.

7. Discussion and/or action regarding Lamar County Commissioners’ Court receiving an update and status report on repairs, and needed repairs, in the Courthouse and/or other County property. The item contemplates Lamar County Commissioners’ taking reasonable action as needed to repair and/or maintain County property. – Lamar County Judge, M.C. Superville, Jr.

8. Discussion and/or action regarding Lamar County Commissioners’ Court to review and/or accept an “Engagement Letter for Initial GASB 75 OPEB Valuation for Lamar County” actuarial services to be provided to Lamar County for the September 2016 fiscal year by Gabriel, Roeder, Smith and Company(GRS) for a total cost not to exceed $2,500. – Lamar County Auditor, Kayla Hall

9. Discussion and/or action regarding Lamar County Commissioners’ to approve “Master Interlocal Purchasing Agreement” between North Central Texas Council of Governments and Lamar County for actuarial shared services. – Lamar County Auditor, Kayla Hall

10.Discussion and/or action regarding Lamar County Commissioners’ to approve “Master Agreement Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) Actuarial Valuations” between Gabriel Roeder Smith and Company (GRS) and Lamar County to perform an actuary of Lamar County’s OPEB. – Lamar County Auditor, Kayla Hall

11. Discussion and/or action by Lamar County Commissioners’ Court regarding line-item transfers for various offices. – Lamar County Auditor, Kayla Hall

12. Discussion and/or action by Lamar County Commissioners’ Court to approve payment of claims, payroll, and other bills. – Lamar County Auditor, Kayla Hall


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