Council OKs jobs program funds

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 10, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

The funding of Mayor James Perkins Jr.’s summer youth employment program got mixed reactions at Monday night’s city council meeting.

There are municipal positions that are currently not filled in several departments. Perkins requested the council approve the use of $50,000 from the police budget.

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The money will come from positions that are budgeted but not in use.

Councilman Cecil Williamson objected the request given the city’s current fight against crime. Councilman Reid Cain also objected, citing the need to appropriate the funds in the annual budget instead of waiting to take them from elsewhere.

However, the plan did not meet total rejection.

“I don’t think there’s a crime epidemic in Selma,” Councilman Johnnie Leashore said. “I do think there are crime elements. But everybody else has crime just like we do.”

Council President George Evans said waiting to appropriate the funds followed a precedent that allowed the council to make sure money was available for such programs.

Perkins assured the council that the decision would not affect current or future police activities.

“When it comes time for Chief (Jimmy) Martin to add to the police force, I feel confident that he will do that,” Perkins said. “We’re going to be able to deal with the crime problems real soon.”

After discussion, a 7-2 vote was taken in favor of granting the money.

The council also approved in an 8-1 vote to approve the building of 20 houses for low-income families as part of a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The houses will not be part of a housing development. They will be built on vacant lots throughout the city.

The pre-application grant will be for $10,000, and the cost of the total project will be $330,000 with no matching funds required from the city.

In other business:

The council unanimously approved the exhibition of a carnival by James Gang, Inc.

The council approved in an 8-1 vote to use extra money from the Lodging Tax in the amount of $71, 840 for various city repairs and services. The major cost is $49,000 for the dredging of the marina.

The council unanimously approved the adoption of a $230,590 grant from The U.S. Department of Homeland Security to train firefighters. The city is responsible for matching 10 percent – $23,059.

The council unanimously approved funds for a summer food program.

The council unanimously approved the hiring of poll workers for the April 25 School Tax vote. It was agreed to set the pay for all workers at $73.

The council unanimously approved the combining of the tour guide and ceramics specialist positions within the Public Buildings Department. The position would be granted all the benefits of any other full-time, city employee.

The council unanimously approved the use of funds to pay off costs for tearing down houses.

The council approved granting $500 to sponsor the dinner at the April 26 Law Enforcement Conference.

The council unanimously approved the building of a new T-Mobile cell phone tower.

Perkins and the council declared April 16 “Save the Butterfly Day” with a focus on education and preservation of butterflies in the area.

The council approved liquor licenses for A&N Minit Shop (7-1, one abstention), French Quarter Night Club (7-1, one abstention) and Golden Ranch BBQ & Grill, Inc. (7-2). The vote on a license for Vasser’s Mini Mart was tabled.

Evans and Perkins recognized councilwomen Jannie Venter and Bennie Ruth Crenshaw for winning awards from the National League of Cities.

Perkins also recognized seven Selma High teens who participated in the National League of Cities’ annual conference in Washington. They met with six students from Liberty High in Clarksburg, W.Va. – a predominately white school – and talked about racial and other social issues issues.

“I would like for this to be inclusive of all races in Selma,” Crenshaw said. “There’s no reason why our kids should have to go all the way to Washington D.C. to learn how to promote unity.”