State of the City?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Challenges lie ahead

By Alan Riquelmy / Selma Times – Journal

Mayor James Perkins Jr.’s main message Tuesday morning at the State of the City Address: Selma’s fiscal belt has been tightened, but we’re still going strong.

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He then proceeded to individually thank each department in the city and praise them for specific acts they had accomplished in the past year.

As he read out the names and departments the members stood and were formally recognized.

Perkins thanked Mr. Rex Thompson, Department of Transportation Engineer, for his work on the resurfacing of both Broad Street and Highland Avenue.

The city has made money by converting the Garbage Fee Collection Process from the Water and Sewer Board to itself.

In doing so Selma has raised revenue from garbage collection over $107,000.

Tommy Smith and the men and women in Public Works were busy this past year.

They answered a total of 3,154 calls many of which concerned the city’s sewer system.

Because of the outbreak of the West Nile Virus the city has changed its routine of only spraying for bugs by request to spraying on a daily basis.

Larry Friday, who could not be at the Address because his son was in surgery, was praised for keeping city landfills in accordance with both state and federal inspections even though his department had a decrease in their revenue.

The Parks and Recreation Department, headed by Elton Reese, helped out local youth with over 1,500 volunteer adult coaches in addition to improving tennis courts.

There is now also a professional baseball team, the Selma Cloverleafs, once again playing in Selma for the first time in 40 years.

This is due to the efforts of Noopie Cosby, one of the owners.

Perkins moved on to congratulate Chief Henry Allen of the Fire and Rescue Department.

This past year they dealt with 653 calls which was a decrease from the previous year.

The department also took part in more community-relations than any other, Perkins stated.

Projects included fire prevention programs to issuing baby car seats to citizens.

Chief Robert Green and Assistant Chief Bobby Jacobs of the Police Department then received Perkins’ thanks for the past year’s accomplishments concerning new purchases.

These included three new patrol units, a van with the newest prisoner transport system, and nine new computers and printers among other things.

Perkins then struck a more casual note with the story of receptionist Nellie Blackmon who one day walked over two miles to her office because her car wouldn’t start.

Perkins’ Address then steered to include the city council.

He stated that the council has approved 66 percent of his recommendations which he believed was a good amount in any situation.

Thanks were then given to a variety of individuals including Wayne Vardaman, Director of the Chamber of Commerce; State Senator Hank Sanders; and Probate Judge Johnny Jones for their service in representing Selma and Dallas County.

Perkins then turned his attention to the difficult economic times that America and Selma are currently experiencing.

He said, however, that these hard times will one day pass and when they do Selma will be ready for the upswing with new rail spurs and highway improvements along with the investments that the city has put into its facilities.

Perkins ended his speech by imploring those present to remember and embrace Selma’s past as a place where freedom, justice and equal access once battled the forces of inequality on the streets.

He stated that we must never forget the causes and effects of one human oppressing another.

And his final words echoed the flickering phrase on the projector screen behind him.

Other points that Perkins touched upon in his speech:

This number is a 35 percent drop.