Smitherman on Annexation

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 21, 2003

Ex-mayor: I didn’t initiate study

By Alan riquelmy / Selma Times – Journal

Former Selma Mayor Joe T. Smitherman hasn’t given an interview in over two years. The issue of annexation changed that.

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Smitherman said that he felt like he needed to speak out concerning a study that was commissioned some three years ago and presented as part of an annexation meeting Wednesday night at City Hall.

The study, &uot;A Bridge to the Future &045;&045; A Plan for Managing Change in Selma, Alabama,&uot; was used by Darrell Meyer, senior vice president of KPS Group, during his presentation.

Meyer emphasized that the study stated &uot;the city limits of Selma should be expanded.&uot;

Smitherman, however, said that he has never supported annexation and that he wanted to set the record straight. He also said that he never attended any meetings on annexation, either.

Smitherman said the study was initiated by Councilwoman Nancy Sewell and created for political reasons. He said he opposed the study but that Sewell continued to pursue it anyway.

Sewell said that she thought the City Council had the ability to make change happen and should not leave Selma’s future to chance.

Sewell said that the plan was never implemented, but that she felt the council should have adopted it.

Community Development Director Elizabeth Driggers confirmed that Smitherman had nothing to do with the study.

Smitherman added that the study wasn’t even completed until after he left office.

Concerning the incorporation of Valley Grande, Smitherman said that he was happy to see the community incorporate into a town. He added that he saw no benefit for people becoming part of Selma.

He questioned why people on U.S. Highway 80 East and West, Route 14 East and Route 22 East and West would want to be part of Selma since they would have to pay more in taxes and licenses.

At one point, Smitherman said, Mayor James Perkins Jr. had made comments stating that Smitherman supported annexation, and that people should call Smitherman and ask him.

When people did call, Smitherman said, he told them that he did not support annexation.

Smitherman dismissed Meyer’s proposal to pull the police jurisdiction back to the Selma city limits as an intimidation tactic to bring businesses into the city.

During his presentation, Meyer stated that people would have no desire to be annexed if the police jurisdiction weren’t reduced.

Smitherman asked what would the Selma Fire Department do if there were a fire just outside the city limits, and wondered if they would drive to those limits and do nothing more than watch the blaze.