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Body found, identified as missing Ali Burress; 2 killed in fatal bus crash (FPWR)

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Free Paris Weekly Headline Round-Up:
Mar. 19-26

A body recently found by local rancher has been identified by the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office as the missing Ali J. Burress1. Burress went missing on June 29, 2015 after she drove her vehicle into a cornfield off of Lamar County Road 14850. The investigation is still on-going at this time.

On last Thursday night, March 23, a Mount Pleasant track team bus and a following passenger car were involved in a fatal collision with a 18-wheeler. The driver of the 18-wheeler was killed and has been identified as 50-year-old Bradley Ray Farmer of Board, Missouri and the driver of the passenger car was also killed, and has been identified as Mount Pleasant’s assistant girl’s track coach, 30-year-old Angelica Beard. At least a dozen students were also injured in the crash.

1. Correction. Her name was Ali Jo Burress, previously mistyped as Burris, based on the press release.

In other news:

  • Paris ISD to cancel election (TPN)
  • NL to talk bond (TPN)
  • Take advantage of NL Townhalls (staff, TPN)
  • NLISD explains bond (Reed, TPN)
  • NL OK’s earlier start date (Reed, TPN)
  • PEDC considers donation (McLaughlin, TPN)
  • PEDC says wait on money (TPN)
  • Paris to get $600k (TPN)
    “Paris ISD is projected to receive $600,000 more in funding from the TEA Allotment,” the The Paris news reported because of the 54 new enrolled students. They plan to buy a bus at what Superintendent Paul Jones says is two-thirds of the cost of a new bus.
  • RRVDSS schedules event to memorialize late member (TPN)
  • March for Meals (TPN)
  • The Paris News earns awards (TPN)
    TPN won first place in General Excellence in the Northeast Texas 2017 Better Newspaper Contest, beating out larger newspapers like Texarkana Gazette and Lufkin News. “Judges recognized The Paris News consistency and effort to focus on all aspects of the community, including youngsters,” the Paris News reported.

City editor Lauren Corbell and managing editor Anna Rae Gwarjanski won third and fourth place, respectively, in column writing. Former sports writer Kevin Kues won first place in sports writing. Lora Arnold took second place in sports photography with “Oh My!,” the photo she took when Paris Wildcat Jalon Pipkins reached back to make a touchdown catch against Alvarado in the playoffs. Former staff writer Amanda Gohn won third place in Journalist of the Year. Source: The Paris News

  • NL bus, car in accident (TPN)
    No injuries reported for the kids on the bus at the time. The bus sustained minor damages while the other car involved sustained major front end damage from the bus’s left rear tire. The bus was driven back to NL where kids were placed on a different bus and taken home. source: Reno PD press release
  • Homelessness survey in Lamar County, Coalition hopes to counsel homeless population on resources (TPN)
    This article, written by Sally Boswell, summarizes the Homelessness Coalition’s recent survey and outreach efforts and the needs of our community. She cites the 23,678 homeless Texans who were physically counted by Texas Homelessness Network in 2016. Of that nearly 23,678 people, 7,486 were unsheltered and 16,192 were living in an emergency shelter. Homelessness is a complex issue no doubt, and nearly 65 people identified as homeless in a focused survey of 100 conducted by the Lamar County Homelessness Coalition in January of this year. The real problem with getting people into houses– permanently? The lack of affordable housing in Paris. Studies show that our county is 1,195 doors short of housing units for those with extremely low income and 920 short for very low incomes. April Carl, the outgoing executive director of United Way of Lamar County said, “The affordable housing issue is affecting our working poor as much as the homeless– families that are working day to day and still can’t afford housing. The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that in Lamar County, to be able to afford a basic, one-bedroom apartment, a person has to be making $11 per hour. There is a large percentage of the population here that does not make that an hour, and that basic one-bedroom apartment is in seriously short supply,” to the Paris News. We could save $20,000 by housing someone than allowing them to remain on the street, Carl told the Paris News. They report that she’s spoken with city leaders and economic development officials about reaching out to developers and investors about building apartment complexes and homes in the city telling the Paris News, “To entice new business and industry you have to have housing for the employees. We need to raise awareness of the need of hardworking families who cannot find affordable housing. We need to be creative and find a way and nurture it bit by bit until we can get everyone in Paris and Lamar County suitably housed.”

    To entice new business and industry you have to have housing for the employees. We need to raise awareness of the need of hardworking families who cannot find affordable housing. We need to be creative and find a way and nurture it bit by bit until we can get everyone in Paris and Lamar County suitably housed.” – April Carl, outgoing Executive Director at United Way Lamar County

Paris City Council Meeting Feb. 27, 2017

in City of Paris by

The Paris City Council met Monday, Feb. 27, 2017.

Council moves to rezone property on NE 20th St to multi-family dwelling for planned apartment complexes

in City of Paris by

The following article is currently being updated.

The Paris City Council met at 5:30 p.m. on Monday for their regular scheduled meeting to recognize Amanda Willows and Coleman Morris’ Adopt-A-Cop program; to discuss future street repairs via tax increase, matched funding for new hangars at Cox Field, and natural gas inspections;to approve the rezoning of a large vacant lot to Multi-Family Dwelling off of NE 20th St, a new noise ordinance, and taxi cabs.

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UPDATED: Paris Council meets Monday to discuss removing 2 members from the Historic Preservation Commission

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The Paris City Council will meet on Monday at 5 p.m. at 107 E. Kaufman St. for a special session to discuss two agenda items.

The council will first consider taking action on the issuance of municipal bonds. City Manager John Godwin said that the city will be selling $8.8 million in bonds for 2017 water and sewage projects. That amount is what is left over from the $45 million worth of bonds that the citizens of Paris approved in 2013.

Second, the council will discuss and act to remove Skipper Steely and David Alarid from the Historic Preservation Commission pursuant to Sections 2-302, 2-303, and 2-306 of the city ordinances. Those sections can be found at the end of this article.

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Commissioners Court: Monday, Nov. 28 [LIVEBLOG]

in Lamar County by

Going forward, readers can expect liveblog of future Commissioners Courts and the City Council meetings. This should allow Paris Free Press to spend more time for pushing deeper into issues surrounding local government and the community. I will be posting live updates at meetings from my twitter @coltonsanders

Readers can reach out to Paris Free Press via twitter or facebook to pose questions to public officials in realtime. Paris Free Press is a public resource as much as it is a news organization. Feel free to use us in that way.

A liveblog of Lamar County Commissioners Court on Monday, Nov. 28 follows:

09:09 – Lamar County Commissioners are meeting right now for their regularly scheduled meeting. Livetweeting to follow…

09:11 – Chief juvy PO Darrell Bruce is speaking on Tree of Angels week, inviting public to attend ceremony 6:30pm 12/8 at Central Presb. Church

09:14 – fyi: Tree Of Angels is a tribute to surviving victims of violent crime and their families.

09:15 – Judge Superville is now speaking on remembering Pearl Harbor, the sunken USS Arizona, and WW2.

09:17 – Superville: the world that we live in today, it’s like that we forget how terrible war is

09:23 – Bud Mackey invites the public to attend ceremony on 12/7 in commissioners courtroom at the Lamar County Courthouse

Per the county agenda:

“…there will be a ceremony in the Lamar County Courthouse on the first floor in the County courtroom from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Everyone is invited to listen to the children from the Trinity Christian Academy perform and sing songs.”

the annual lighted Christmas parade

‘Staging’ for the Annual Lighted Christmas Parade will begin at 4 p.m. at the Courthouse’s North, Northeast, and Northwest parking lots. The parade starts at 6 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend. Anyone interested in being in the parade can call Keri Daniel at 903-785-2397.

09:29 – Kari Daniel is speaking on behalf of Downtown Assoc. about evening Christmas Parade this weekend:

“This is the seventh annual evening Christmas parade” …this year’s theme is SMILE, “we wanted to continue the theme of the 100 year anniversary of the fire,” Johnny Crawford will be the 2016 grand marshall. “We’ve got a lot of entries.” Daniel says they’re keeping an eye on the weather. “Saturday afternoon- if it’s raining, we’ll just push it back to the next weekend,” which would make it the second time they’ve had to postpone the parade in the last seven years, she says.

09:33 – Commissioners vote to allow parade preppers to use county courthouse parking lots.

09:35 – “Get there early if you want a good seat” Public invited to evening lighted Christmas parade downtown 12/3 at 6pm

bbq for lcso, county surplus, and discussion on nepotism

Sherry Yeatman presents Lamar County Sheriff Scott Cass and the Commissioners Court with a check for the Sheriff’s Office with funds raised by the Jenny Barton-Rushin Memorial Foundation at a BBQ Cook Off held in October 2016. Money was also donated to the Paris Police Department and Dylan’s Drivers.

10:07 – Lamar Co. Sheriff Scott Cass receives a donation from Sherry Yeatman of the Jenny Burton-Rushin Mem. Foundation

10:12 – Commish Court votes to renew contract with Auctioneer Express for county surplus and authorize Commish Ronnie Bass to handle dealings.

10:15 – Commish Layton is asking to abstain from voting in re: Randy Boren, citing a potential conflict of interest due to being Layton’s bro-in-law

10:19 – Layton is also asking to abstain from voting in re: Tire City, which is owned by Layton’s son.

10:20 – Layton: I have no (financial) interest in either business, but i wanted to put this out there and be open about it,

“I want everyone to know I don’t have any interest in Randy Boren Trucking. And I don’t have any interest in Tire City. I used to own Tire City and I give that to my son…10 years ago…I buy a lot of my tires from American Tire Company out of Dallas…which the tires that I buy from them we have to really keep in stock because you never know when you’re going to blow out…a truck-tractor tire or trailer tire and that’s something you just can’t go get.”

“It has to be a good deal,” Layton said if he were to buy tires from his son’s business. Wants to be “in the light of day” about it with the public.

Superville: “In the past, Lonnie would come in and say, ‘look, here’s an estimate from company a, b, and c. Tire City is the cheapest, I’d like to do that. The court would say OK and they would approve it.”

Commissioners read this Texas Statute and cited a discussion from the attorney they keep on retainer, David Brooks, who Superville said seemed to be in agreement with Layton abstaining from voting in regards to Boren or Tire City. David Brooks ‘wrote the book‘ on county and special district law.

after 9 years of public service, commissioners bid Russ Towers farewell with high praise

10:34 – Commish Court is now recognizing outgoing County Clerk Russ Towers for his service and dedication to his time working for Lamar County.

Superville: I want to be the first to tell you publicly, what a fine human being I think that you are. Ever since I met you, when you were (an employee) at the county clerk’s office, and later when you became the elections administrator, and later when you accepted the appointment to fill the vacancy at the county clerk’s office, each challenge you stepped up. I think the citizens think that what we do is easy, and I’m here to tell you it’s not easy. It’s extremely difficult to do what we do. And Russ has stepped up to each challenge with a smile on his face and has bent over backwards to get along with everyone, including me… I don’t think I’ve ever seen Russ Towers have a bad day– or at least it hasn’t shown. I don’t know a single person in this building who does not have a huge amount of respect for Mr. Russ Towers.

Malone: I’d like to say that Russ has always shown me and everybody I’ve ever seen him deal with all the respect they deserve. He’s done a good job. He’s helped me a lot…I probably had some pretty dumb questions. He’s always been kind to me and helped me along. It’s been an honor working with you, Russ. You’ve done a good job, and I hope the best for you where ever you go to.

Layton: Mr. Russ, I’d like to say thank you for what you do, what you have done. I can’t say enough good things about you. I’ve come to you at lunch time. I’ve come to you at the end of the evenings and brought stuff to you– for instance that affidavit, I think it was about lunch time that day, and you said, ‘well, let me see if I can find it for you.’ You didn’t say, ‘Well, let’s wait until after dinner,’ or whatever. Within just a few minutes you got back and you had that for me, so man you never put anybody off that I know of. So I just want to say thank you for what you’ve done for me, and I know you’ve done a lot for the others. I plan on bugging Ruth a little bit like I did you– not very often– but I just can’t say enough good things about you.

10:36 – All the commissioners are giving high praise for our County Clerk. Commish Bass thanks Towers on behalf of the taxpayers for his effectiveness

Bass: I haven’t known you that long, but what I’ve learned recently is I see a man that’s very effective at his job. And when I say that– we have to work very efficiently. The taxpayers command us to be efficient. So we are– we’re efficient. You and the auditor probably have one of the hardest jobs here, in keeping all of us happy and keeping all the public happy…and in doing so you do it effectively. Everything that you do is finished, we don’t have to question it…you’re going to get the job done. Also, my hat is off to you for opening your door to assist Ruth and not just throw things on her. Because that effectiveness would not be there if you did that. And I appreciate you doing that. I kinda had Rodney help me when I came in in the transition. And I would’ve totally been lost without that help, so I know you helped Ruth in that transition. I appreciate you doing that for the taxpayers. It saved us a lot of money and that being effective at your job is going to continue. I wish you well in everything you do. I think that you’re a person that is going to succeed in anything you do because you have your mind set. You don’t accept defeat in anything, and I appreciate that.

Mitchell: Russ, it’s been great. It has been great. I value our relationship. As the agenda item says: we appreciate what you’ve done…your service to the people, our friends and neighbors, they say you served well. I appreciate what you’ve done and I know that whatever the next door is that opens up, you’ll do well.

Superville: I actually saw Russ pull Ruth to the side, and if I remember this correctly…I think Russ told you his door was open, and he meant it, and I know you spent a lot of time in there with him showing you what’s what. In fact, I think he actually hired you so you could learn more about being a county clerk, and I think that is fantastic. You’ve been to many meetings now, sitting next to Russ. And I think that Russ made that happen. And you as well have been gracious in your succession to the County Clerk…so I respect you for being such a gracious successor. And the reason I wanted to say all that to both of you and to everyone in this room is that I think that is leadership. I think that is the American way. I think that we need more people like the two of you in America, and in this county and in this state. And I think that you are both an example for all of us. And I commend you both for that. I don’t think I could’ve done what the two of you have done. And I know it was hard for both of you. Somehow, somewhere the good Lord gave you the grace to do it, and I commend you for it.

10:42 – Commish Court will officially commends County Clerk Russ Towers for his work.

10:44 – Russ Towers is speaking on beginning as an employee and his time as the County Elections Administrator and all that he learned.

Towers: Gosh, thank you to the court, to all of the commissioners and the county judge for the opportunities that you’ve given me over the years. You know, when I started here in 2007, I had no idea what elections were all about. And it’s not a dream job at all. And the commissioners court in 2008 gave me the opportunity to build an office. Started from the ground up. Kathy had already laid the groundwork for official elections, but I got to make it into what it is today. And you know I would come to the judge with all these crazy purchases, and as long as I found a way to get the money, you didn’t care. And all the commissioners court, you helped me along the way with the purchase of the poll books and the purchase of the online reporting software. And those are the cool things that…the citizens of Lamar County get to enjoy now. And Kathy retired, I was given the opportunity to be the county clerk…through a very historical moment. So thank you for that. And I’ve gotten to work closely with a group of women who I’ve loved over the years, that I’ve grown closer to. Nita, thank you. You’ve been a pleasure to work with. Thank you for helping with this proclamation today. You’ve always been so special and supportive and helpful to me. Sheriff, you’ve always been there for me when I need you. When I needed support, when I’ve needed deputies on election night, you’ve always taken care of me and I appreciate it. Nicki, you’ve always been so kind and so sweet and helpful. Kayla, you’re awesome…at your job and I hope you know that. And everyone appreciates you. And Ruth you’ve taught me more about myself– I think– this year than I knew. So this was a hard year, but I couldn’t be more happy with the outcome and I couldn’t– I trust you. And I trust her. And I trust that the office is now in good hands, and it will be. I may not be the County Clerk. Starting on Monday next week, she’s going to. But still, my heart will always be with the office, and a piece of it will always be with Lamar County, too.

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