Paris City Council took action Thursday to terminate an annual bid with Beshirs Construction and ratified prior appointments to the city’s boards and commissions.

After 45 minutes in executive session, the council directed staff to begin negotiations with Beshirs Construction to terminate their annual bid.

The decision was met with a round of applause from most of the audience, some of whom addressed the council prior to its executive session.

“I am asking an arrest be made, and the city end its contract with that company,” Brenda Cherry said during the open forum portion of the meeting.

Gary Savage urged councilors to be proactive rather than reactive.

“I don’t think the city should be doing business with people who drive around with an AR-15,” Savage said. “Leaders need to stand up and action needs to be taken. We need to get this thing handled in a proactive way.”

The city’s relationship with Beshirs Construction appeared on the agenda this week after the Paris Police Department reported that a man exited a company truck at Blankinship Oil on Saturday and engaged in a fistfight with a 16-year-old. The teenager knocked the man out with a body slam after the man landed several blows.

A video of the incident shared on social media showed another man retrieve what looked to be an AR-15 automatic rifle from the truck. Police later confirmed the weapon.

The incident sparked a protest Sunday by Black community members, who said the fight was racially motivated. The teenager is Black while the adult man is Anglo. The protest blocked traffic for more than an hour on North Main Street at Blankinship Oil.

According to City Manager Grayson Path, City Council awarded to Beshirs Construction a bid to do miscellaneous concrete projects on an as-needed basis from April 2020 to April 2021. The council awarded the bid on April 13.

“Every year in April, we bid out quantity pricing of concrete work to be performed as we need it for street, sidewalk, curb, gutter, etc., maintenance. So there are not ‘multiple contracts’ but rather one awarded bid locking us in for the same lowest price each time,” he said.

The ratification of prior board and commission appointments came after someone filed a complaint about the procedure used at a June 22 meeting when councilors used a point system to rank applicants and then appointed those with the highest number of points.

“On the advice of our legal counsel (City Attorney Stephanie Harris,) it was suggested we might have some possible litigation on one vote, one person,” Mayor Steve Clifford said. “A single vote will accomplish this.”

After each councilor indicated no intention of changing their mind on earlier appointments, the council ratified all appointments with a single vote.

Mary Madewell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6976 or at mary.madewell@theparisnews.com.

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