Selma could still provide Valley Grande with services

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 14, 2004

The question of Selma continuing police and fire services is still in the air. How long it remains a question, though, is another matter.

Councilwoman Rita Sims Franklin brought the matter to the council’s public safety committee at its meeting Monday afternoon. Franklin said she had concerns about cutting fire services since the Selma Fire Department had the Jaws of Life equipment used to extract entrapped drivers and volunteer fire departments didn’t.

“We need to take a stand on this,” Franklin said.

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Councilwoman Jean Martin said Valley Grande didn’t want Selma’s services. She referenced a letter written by attorney J. Doyle Fuller, who is representing Valley Grande residents favoring incorporation, that was read to the council at its special called Dec. 18 meeting.

“I am demanding that the police department of the City of Selma cease and desist all activities within the corporate limits of Valley Grande,” Fuller states in his letter.

Franklin noted that the letter only mentioned police services and not fire.

Councilwoman Nancy Sewell said providing fire services to Valley Grande was morally right, but questioned if the town would accept Selma.

Franklin raised the matter again at the council’s Monday meeting, which followed the public safety committee meeting. Franklin provided a mutual aid agreement to council members that she had prepared over the weekend. She also presented a mutual aid agreement signed by former Mayor Joe T. Smitherman, Councilman Glenn Sexton and Fire Chief Henry Allen in September 1997.

The agreement states that, “The City (of Selma) will send one engine company within 50 miles radius as request for emergency needs.”

Councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw said the issue needed discussion. “And also, if Valley Grande doesn’t want us, we should stay out,” she added. “They emphatically said, ‘We do not want your service.'”

Councilman James Durry noted that all areas within Valley Grande weren’t part of the city.

The original area of incorporation became a city by majority vote. All areas within the area of incorporation became part of Valley Grande regardless of how a resident voted.

Three annexations occurred after the initial incorporation. Only those residents who agreed to join the town became part of Valley Grande.

That means pockets of Dallas County exist within the Town of Valley Grande.

Council President George Evans said City Attorney Jimmy Nunn said they would examine Franklin’s mutual aid agreement before the council acted on it, which could occur at its Jan. 26 meeting. “We need to review things before we act on them,” Evans said.