By Shannon McFarlin News Director
Paris, Tenn.–With eight employees out with COVID in the Public Works Department alone, Paris City officials are keeping their fingers crossed that this weekend’s major winter storm doesn’t materialize.
At Thursday night’s busy meeting of the Paris City Commission, City Manager Kim Foster said they are watching the weather reports closely.
She said a total of 15 employees are sick with COVID right now and eight of those are in the Public Works department alone.
If the predicted huge amounts of snowmaterialize, she said, “We won’t be able to deal with it. We don’t have the equipment or the manpower. With so many people out right now, we would really be struggling.”
City crews will be applying brine to the roadways on Friday, she said.
Having 15 employees out with COVID “is causing complications, naturally”, she said. The city has been experiencing a lot of illness with COVID recently and Foster said those who were vaccinated are experiencing minor symptoms and are recovering more quickly.
In more cheerful news, Foster announced the bid opening for the Wilson/Patriot Streets sidewalk project was held recently. “Finally, we’re to the point of bidding,” she said, after much delays awaiting state approvals along the way. Three contractors bid on the project and the commission approved the low bid of $652,462. “We were pleasantly surprised it came in below the revised budget, with the cost of building materials going through the roof.”
–Foster said city and county officials met this week on the future of a Central Dispatch for the county. She said, “We think we have developed a plan. There are still some issues that need to be worked out. The biggest topic is funding.”
911 Director Mark Archer “has developed a formula based on call volume and under that plan, the county would pay 50 percent, the city would pay 47 percent and the EMS would pay the rest,” she said, which city officials feel is more equitable than the last formula presented in previous years.
–At the request of the city, Bob Safin of TLM Associates, looked at the city-wide drainage problems and proposed the scope of the needed work would be: a study of the entire city of Paris with problem areas noted; complete study of facilities with locations and sizes being determined in the field; projection of existing needs with existing systems being considered; consideration of areas where regional detention ponds could be installed to mitigate flooding; cost estimates of needed construction; development of syste maps. Ball park cost figure would be $125K to $135K.
Foster said if the city still wants to use ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funding for the study the next step would be to submit a spending plan to consultants working with the state so they can review and give feedback.
Foster said a planning session is needed to further study the issue “because we want to be deliberate and prudent”.
– Marsha Banasiewicz reported on the Paris-Henry County Bicentennial Committee’s activity schedule, which includes a long list of events, such as Heritage Center Lunch & Learn programs, Bicentennial Gardens project, Music from the Motherland Musical, fiction writing contest, All County All-Star Orchestra, Camp Tyson soldier memorial dedication, 1820s sports day, Henry County Fair programs, African-American Quilt Exhibition and more.
The Bicentennial celebration will stretch out through 2023.
–The city forwarded a request from Gene McWherter to acquire undeveloped alley in Whitehall Circle to the planning commission.
Photo: Marsha Banasiewicz presents the Bicentennial report to the city commission. Shannon McFarlin photo.