Fighting Idle Minds

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

Most folks know the adage that says if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day; but if you teach him to fish, he eats for a lifetime.

It would be pretty hard to do any fishing in the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center, but the spirit of the proverb was still alive there earlier this week.

The Selma Youth Employment Program held a lottery Wednesday night to place more than 100 young people in positions throughout the city.

The program, with the help of several private pledges, will put 92 young people from ages 15 to 22 to work within the city structure. An additional 11 will work for private businesses and non-profit organizations.

The work schedule will begin Monday, June 12 and will last until Friday, July 21. The employees will work 16 hours per week for six weeks at a rate of $5.25 per hour.

The theme of this year’s program is &8220;Youth at Work.&8221;

The city council earlier this year pledged $50,000 to fund the program, and the program also received at least one pledge from nine different businesses, organizations or individuals.

Funding for the program came under fire several weeks ago. During the Selma City Council meeting April 10, the council’s members debated the source of the $50,000 used to bankroll the program. The council eventually approved allocation of the money with a 7-2 vote.

The money comes from a surplus created by vacancies within the police department.

The unused salaries of five positions from the first half of the fiscal year were pooled to support the project.

During that same meeting, Mayor James Perkins Jr. assured citizens and concerned council members that the operations of the police force would continue uninterrupted and that the services provided by the program would prove invaluable to the city.

The lottery Wednesday drew from a pool of 235 names. Applicants were divided up according to their address and assigned to the ward of their respective council representatives.

Each of the eight council members or a representative for him/her drew nine names apiece. Perkins and Council President George Evans then drew 10 names each from the remaining pool, totaling 92 positions. Combined with 11 pledges among nine different businesses or individuals, a total of 103 people will be put to work in the program.

There is a two-fold benefit from the six-week plan. The city and its departments will receive useful laborers.

Also, the city’s future will be taught the value of an honest day’s work.

Perkins also said in his address to the hopeful workers Wednesday that only five disciplinary actions had been taken in the four-year history of the program.

Part of that is the business-like manner with which workers are expected to conduct themselves.

Every possible area of municipal office will utilize the services from the youth employment program.

That includes Brown YMCA, building inspection, C.H.A.T. Academy, the police and fire departments, public works, parks and recreation, the Voting Rights Museum, the city legal office, SABRA Sanctuary, Selma High and several others.

The organizations and individuals participating include People’s Bank and Trust, Taylor Internal Medicine, Budget Inn, Craig Field and Airport Authority, Cahaba Mental Health, Council President Evans, Interlink Drugs, Selma Water Works and Dr. Iverson Hopson.

Before beginning their assigned jobs, all participants will have to complete a professional skills workshop put on by the Career Link Center and director Vivian Black.