Improving Selma’s gateway

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

he Highway 80 entrance to Selma is getting a makeover.

City, county, state, and federal money and efforts are combining to create an entrance that residents, businesses and tourists will be proud to journey through.

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“We’re trying to beautify the whole area,” Connel Towns, Dallas County Commissioner, District 1, said. “Roosevelt and 80, to beautify the entrance to Selmont, we’ve been approved to have a traffic light put up.

“The shrubbery along the stretch was done through the city and county working together to improve the gateway coming into Selma. We’re just working towards getting the community cleaned up. There’s still a lot more work, but I’m thankful to everybody for their help.”

Towns said plans include meeting with business owners along Highway 80 to encourage them to beautify their business and the city.

Selma Community Pride Committee, chaired by Mallieve Breeding, sent out letters asking for involvement by landowners to help make a lovely entrance.

“The first impression that a visitor has of any town can be a lasting one, either good or bad …” the opening read.

Patti Sexton, working for Community Planning and Development with the city of Selma, said a Transportation Application Grant came through and the EDA, city, county and airport authority got together to improve the right-of-way.

“When we put the application in, we had the option of putting it in for three miles and having it look dense and lush immediately, or putting it in for five miles and giving it a couple of years to grow in. We knew we’d probably never be funded there again, and chose to do as much as possible,” Sexton said.

“It’s an All American Road and a Scenic Byway. Commissioner Townshas done an excellent job and we have a lot of interested neighbors that we’re working with. There’s been a pretty good reception – people have been cutting their own lawns,” Sexton said.

Sexton said that while the city has police jurisdiction in the area, the state is responsible for the right-of-way.

“The whole project’s totally done on state right-of-way,” she said.

Sexton predicts the area will dynamically change for the better over the next two years as plantings grow in and the stretch continues to be maintained.

“Every planting had to meet federal rules and transportation guidelines. The median corners will be solid with varigated nandinas and daylilies. The color and beautification of plants takes your eyes off the bad stuff,” Sexton said.

“Magnolias, curly willows, cypress, wildflowers – it’s going to be great. The county’s looking at putting in stricter enforcements and we’re working with the state to make sure they’re enforcing their right-of-way. We worked with the National Trail so nothing jeopardized the trail – the median’s changed since ’65, but we only planted things that were native. In ’65, the lighting that’s in the middle was on the sides – it was a two-lane.”

“Connel Townshas really been a champion for cleaning up gateways. Craig Air Force Base keeps their gate from fence to fence – they mow, pick up, clean – hopefully that’s what the whole thing will look like,” Sexton said.

“We may be crawling but we’re getting there,” Sexton said, “Crawling forward’s better than standing still.”