Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation CEO contract in limbo

Published 12:28 am Wednesday, February 14, 2024

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The renewal of the contract between the City of Port Arthur and the CEO of the city’s economic development corporation is still up in the air almost three months after the original contract expired.

Members of city council and the Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation held a lively joint special meeting Monday night, where voices were raised, and lowered, discussing the employment agreement for PAEDC CEO Terry Stokes.

Stokes, whose contract began Nov. 14, 2022, and ended Nov. 14, 2023, has bounced back and forth several times. City Council has the final decision on PAEDC matters. On Jan. 30 the first amended and restated agreement for professional services and employment of Stokes was removed from discussion because councilmembers had questions.

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One of those questions deals with residency. Stokes was to move to Port Arthur nine months into his contract, but as of this week, he had not. It was revealed in the meeting Stokes is living in nearby Nederland.

Councilwoman Doneane Beckcom questioned the new contract, which doesn’t state Stokes must live in the city, and if Stokes is getting additional time to move.

She said she’s heard he signed a lease for a residence in Nederland and the apartments in downtown Port Arthur, where he intends to move to are not complete yet.

Beckcom also asked about the $10,000 moving and relocation allowance to which PAEDC Board Director Darrell Anderson said he did not have the exact amount Stokes was reimbursed but the money was used for Stokes to move to the area from Victoria, not to move to Port Arthur.

Mayor Thurman Bartie said the apartments do not have a certificate of occupancy at this time but are expected to have the documentation in a few months.

City Attorney Valecia Tizeno stopped Bartie from continuing this part of discussion, as it was not listed to be discussed per law.

Councilman Willie “Bae” Lewis contended whether the apartments are complete or not, Stokes has a responsibility to live in the city limits of Port Arthur and has had ample time to do so.

Councilman Donald Frank pleaded for council to reconsider the issue and wondered if the issue of residency was such a major issue or was it something against Stokes on a personal level — and if so, “we need to address it.”

“We are looking at something that is so seemingly minute to hold up this contract, these individuals at the EDC are fulfilling what we have asked them to do,” Frank said.

Since Stokes’ contract ended in November, he has been working on a month-to-month basis, according to PAEDC board member Ingrid Holmes.

The contract issue was not was not resolved during the joint meeting and may be added to a future city council agenda for approval.