Stop comparing Selma to Prattville

Published 7:47pm Thursday, July 25, 2013

When our family home was purchased in 1995 everyone in the family was happy — including mom. Today, 18 years later, mom tells strangers why she wants to start gambling — so she can buy a whole new home.

Homeowners know good and well that past the 15-year mark of owning a home, things come crashing down — like a washing machine busting through the second story floor into the living room, because it was jammed, overflowed, flooded the laundry room and the floor buckled underneath.

And once the refrigerator breaks, you know the air conditioning unit will need a total overhaul. Just before all of these expenses the mother of the home was probably planning to get all new flooring, planning to paint the foyer a more neutral color and the roofing man was scheduled to come the next week.

My mother at the 10-year mark planned to get all new carpeting, but after a string of accidents and appliances exploding (the Shih Tzu almost died,) she still groans about her carpet “that is just so old it will never look clean.”

The city of Selma is far past its 15-year-old birthday. Heck, the city is so old it was around before Thomas Young translated the Rosetta Stone in 1822. And like any old home, the city has its own laundry list of things that have gone through general wear and tear.

The city-owned street sweeper is in the shop running up a tab with all its repairs, the streets are plagued with potholes and the sewer system … well it is considered an antique.

Each week, listening to city officials in the council meetings I feel like they are homeowners with one expense after another, all piling up. I see the look on their faces. It’s a tired feeling of having one thing break down after another and realizing many of the problems in the city are just vicious cycles that are all connected to one another, (feel like drinking yet?)

But there is one lesson to be learned from expenses creeping in like black mold in sheet rock and a budget stretched thinner than the wallpaper you thought was a good idea for your kitchen. You learn about priorities and what is important.

What is important is that those who complain about the city’s issues — like weeds growing rapidly in front of abandoned homes — realize how old our city really is. Our streets need to be repaved and our sewer system needs a total makeover. But the city is working to get grant funding to fix those things; we just need patience because it cannot all happen over night.

Selma Mayor George Evans has said time and time again that Selma has just as many infrastructure issues as neighboring cities, but we get less funding from the state to fix them.

Many mothers, like mine, are insecure about their homes that need a little updating. When their husbands come home from work, they go on and on about the Jones’ kitchen next door. “They have granite counter tops and a hood oven stove honey! I just can’t stand to cook in here anymore,” they will go on and on.

But Selma as an old, old house doesn’t need to compare itself to the Jones’ — or lets say Prattville. Because in 10 or so years their granite counter tops will be looking, well, outdated.

Prattville might be new and sparkling clean, but in due time it too will have infrastructure needs. Their Olive Garden will be old. Their Starbucks will be old too. City officials often compare Selma to Prattville, but I think that is like comparing apples to a Stouffer’s frozen dinner. That city is a toddler compared to old Father Time Selma.

We do not need to be insecure about being an old house, one that is full of memories, history and big wooden doors (because they just don’t make ‘em the same anymore.)

Though all of these infrastructure problems need to be fixed, it will take time. One by one the city should complete these tasks but also remember what is important — job creation, recruiting new people to the city and working to improve the school system.

My mom may have dingy old carpet in her home that makes her so upset, she acts out violently on it with steam cleaners, but my parents were able to send us kids to college with those funds instead.

Lets all work together and find solutions to these infrastructure needs and stop comparing ourselves to the new house down the street while remembering what matters.

This old house is prettier — its sewage system, and other baggage included.

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