Library closing in on funding

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

Synchronicity saw a petition hit the streets before a meeting at the Selma-Dallas County Public Library last night; both working towards the same result: funding for the library’s utility bills.

The petition reads: “By my signature below, I am requesting that full funding be restored to the City of Selma’s 2005-2006 budget, from which it was cut, for the payment of our Selma Public Library’s ongoing electric and gas utility bills. I further request that this restoration of funding for our library take place immediately.”

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The petition, to be brought before the Selma City Council, was made available at the Raceway gas station and the Crossroads Exxon late Wednesday.

The meeting held in the Vaughan Room of the public library last night achieved the commitment of Selma’s City Council President George Evans to bring the financial need before the council for a vote at the next meeting.

“Until this can be fixed, the council should pay the utilities monthly until we can fix this. It will take the vote of the council. If other measures don’t come, we need to do something,” Evans said.

Councilwoman Jannie Venter attended both the meeting at the library and Sen. Richard Shelby’s town hall luncheon earlier in the day at the St. James.

“I asked Sen. Shelby for the $80,000 at lunch. He said that was the lowest amount he had ever been asked for and he would look into it,” Venter said.

“I will name this The Jane Venter Wing so fast it will make your head swim!” Head Librarian Becky Nichols said.

Coach Pat Knight said Gov. Bob Riley has a surplus in the state, and interest-bearing CDs funded by the surplus could pay the utility bill.

“I know Hank Sanders is working on this,” Knight said. “We need to talk to (State Rep. Yusuf) Salaam and Sanders to handle this.”

Councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw said, “Let’s get the gentlemen in a meeting and get commitments about what they’re going to do so we can take a position on the city council.”

Councilman Johnnie Leashore made mention of investigating the county’s budget without success and an audience member spoke up,”In the meantime, it’s not going to help the library to have the city and the county in a pissing contest. In the meantime, we need this utility money now.”

Rev. Lawrence Wofford noted that Sanders was reasonably sure he had a short-term solution.

Nichols said she would write Sanders.

“The session just started yesterday,” the Rev. Kobe Little said of the State Legislature. “I don’t think we can send a letter and get a check cut on Monday.”

Evans said the council should move forward even without a firm answer.

“We can solve this as a temporary measure – we want to take this pressure off the library,” he said.

Nichols committed to letting the council know what develops with Sanders.