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Photo No 2457... Submitted by Robert Adams. Additional info supplied by Milton Smith.
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Franchise Battle in 1940 in Beaumont
No details known at this point other than what is in the letter to the public
from GSU President Tom P. Walker. Apparently there was an item on the ballot that year
to grant a second electric service franchise in the city of Beaumont.
It would be interesting to dig for a little more information in the archives.
If you do that, let us know what you find.
UPDATE May, 2020
Milton Smith found a book titled "A History of Gulf States Utilities Company 1912-1947"
written by Howard R. Fussell. It was published and copyrighted in 1967 by the Texas Gulf Coast Historical Association.
Two paragraphs on page 75 provide more information on this franchise battle.
During the last part of the 1930's several municipalities, including the city of Beaumont,
wanted to have their own distrbution and generation systems.
The following occurred in 1940 in Beaumont.
From the book:
"While their attention focused on these developments in outlying area, Gulf States management was suddenly jolted by news
that the Beaumont City Commission had passed on first reading an ordinance granting a competing electric franchise
to W.L. Dickson of Houston.
It was soon implied, and denied, that Dickson had the backing of Fairbanks-Morse,
a well known machinery manufacturer whom he worked for as a salesman.
Dickson's thirty year franchise included a provision
that the city could buy out the business after five years of operation.
"With this opening shot the battle lines formed with Gulf States and its allies, mainly the business community
on one side, and the city administration on the other.
Through the summer and into fall the contest continued, and the city administration made
certain the controversy received full newspaper coverage.
The ordinance passed on second reading in a stormy commission session, then won final approval on August 27.
The city offferred to rescind the franchise grant if Gulf States would agree to lower rates,
pay a 4 percent gross income tax, share profits with the city, and accept a new franchise.
Aware of a petition calling for a referendum was being circulated. Gulf States stalled for time.
On October 26, the voters of Beaumont decided by almost two to one, 3,118 to 1,748, to reverse the commission's action."
Footnotes cite The Beaumont Enterprise for the following dates:
July 24, 1940, August 14, 1940, August 18, 1940, August 27, 1940, September 11, 1940, October 30, 1940.