‘Idle hands are the devil’s workshop’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Selma Youth Employment Program held a lottery this past week 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.

You might remember that earlier this year, this program was a controversial item at a Selma City Council meeting.

At that time, the city council 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 during the council meeting April 10, when 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.

Some council members believed the money would be better spent to bolster the police department.

But, 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. The number of those putting their names in the hat for a job indicates the need.

“Youth at work reduces youth at risk,” Perkins said.

The program not only helps young people make a little extra money, but teaches them skills they will need later in life, and helps them learn to conduct themselves in a professional manner in order to keep employment.

The city, the businesses and the individuals involved in providing these summer jobs are to be commended for the opportunity they give willing young people.