It’s an exciting time once againPublished 12:03am Sunday, July 17, 2011
I love living in downtown Selma. We bought a wonderful house on Church Street 35 years ago, and we have enjoyed raising our four children here and being part of the Old Town Historic District.
We almost lost our house in a fire less than five months after we moved in, but the fire department did a good job of putting out the fire and saving the house. It burned the top off of the house, and it had started to come down into some wall areas when it was stopped.
We feel fortunate we have been able to maintain this great house that Ernest Lamar built in 1893 and that we have been able to add some features that have made the house even better.
Four years after we moved downtown, I was president of the Historic Society. I remember saying at a large meeting at the convention center in 1980 that we had seen 45 structures involved in some sort of renovation since we moved downtown in 1976.
That was an exciting time for Selma, but it was followed by a tough downturn in the economy, much like we have seen since the boom times, which ended in 2006. Unfortunately, as you ride around in downtown Selma, it is easy to see that we have suffered again from these tough economic times.
We have a lot of houses and businesses that need work. This, of course, takes money, and that is a problem now.
I am a member of the Downtown Redevelopment Authority, which has just been reorganized. It is encouraging to see what has been done with the Interpretative Center and the work that is being done on Water Avenue. Selma Mayor George Evans and his staff are moving forward with wonderful plans for our waterfront, which will be a real asset for our town.
When I was chairman of the Alabama Historical Commission in 1995, I was always proud to say I was from Selma when I was in various meetings around the state. I was also impressed with the comments I would hear from people about our town.
We are recognized as the town that has the largest historic district in the state and a town that has wonderful structures and civil rights and civil war history that people want to see. We need to continue to improve what we have and market ourselves such that people will come to see this wonderful place we call home.
The Interpretative Center can be a huge tourist draw to take advantage of the name recognition we have all over the world. We need to pull together as a community to put our best foot forward so when people do come to see Selma, they will leave telling others that they have to see Selma.
As a resident of Ward 3, I recognize the importance of our once again having someone occupying that seat at Selma City Council meetings. We are fortunate to have Greg Bjelke, with his long Selma history, now elected to that office. The various members of his family have made many contributions to our community, and they have paid taxes for years through the different businesses they have run.
I have thanked Greg for his interest in Selma and for his willingness to take the time to help make our community the jewel all of us know it can be. The important task now is for the Selma City Council to work together with the mayor as we move Selma back into the leadership role that we had for years.