Firefighter arrested, charged with child abuse

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 15, 2006


A Selma firefighter has been arrested and remains jailed on $300,000 bond, charged with child abuse and domestic violence assault, according to police reports.

Michael Anthony Goings, 29, of 720 Carmichael Rd., remained in the Dallas County Jail on Saturday after being arrested Friday for allegedly fracturing the skull of a four-month-old infant, according to police reports.

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Selma Police Chief Jimmy Martin said Saturday the case is still under investigation. Martin did say additional charges may be brought against others, and the charges may be upgraded.

Martin declined comment on any details surrounding the case, but did say the baby was transported to a hospital in Birmingham. The Selma Times-Journal

In an effort to cease controversy and confusion, Mayor James Perkins Jr. led the Selma City School Board and the general public through his “vision made plan” for a new high school Thursday night.

Admitting the current discussion of a new Selma High got started prematurely, Perkins said the idea was first introduced in 2002, when he and other city officials visited Auburn University to tour the campus’ early childhood center. Four years later, Perkins proposes a public school building initiative beginning with the construction of an early childhood center and a high school on a main street in Selma. The proposed facilities will serve Selma students for 45 to 50 years, Perkins said.

“Why an early childhood center and a high school? That is the two ends of our public school system,” Perkins said, “starting with the two ends and moving toward the center.”

The proposed site of the high school is a $1 million, 111-acre lot on Highland Avenue, billed by Perkins as the largest contiguous area in the largest growing area of the city. During a special called meeting last month, Perkins had hoped to purchase the property, owned by businessman Larry Striplin. However, the Selma City Council halted his plans, saying they were left in the dark and questioning whether the city should take on such a project.

Perkins – who did take out a loan to purchase the property – said the city had initially eyed the site to use as a cemetery. But when Peoples Bank & Trust Co. questioned the loan’s purpose, Perkins said the funds would cover a new school.

“People are building schools all around us and we should not be left out,” Perkins said as he presented photos of Gadsden City High School, Tuscaloosa’s Central High School, Greenville High School and Bob Jones High School in Madison. “If I was a child, I’d be motivated to get up and go there everyday.”

Speaking in completely hypothetical terms, Perkins said funding for the new school could derive from a 15 mills property tax increase used “exclusively to build these schools for our kids.” Citizens currently pay 27 mills, with 7.8 mills going to the city’s general fund, 7.4 mills going to the city’s existing bond fund and 11.8 mills going to the school board. Perkins explained one mill is equal to one-tenth of a penny. For example, a Selma homeowner who owns a $60,000 home now pays roughly $160 in property taxes.

With the 15 mills increase, the homeowner will pay an additional $90. That $90 dollars, Perkins says, will go into the project. An estimated cost of the school has not been determined.

Perkins emphasized to the board and the audience that plans are not concrete, but he did say the people should decide whether the project should move forward.

“This is not a question of money, this is a question of priority,” Perkins said. “If we do what we say we’re going to do with the money, I believe the people will vote to do it.

“I plead with the board, I plead with the superintendent, I plead with the council to give the people a chance to decide.”

At the conclusion of Perkins’ presentation, school board attorney James McNeill said even if the city has the funding to build a new school, the Alabama state superintendent of education has to approve all land acquisitions and assessments.

Perkins responded that he would adhere to the law.

School board members were afforded the opportunity to comment on Perkins’ vision.

Board President Ben Givan said he doesn’t think anyone on the board is opposed to the idea of a new school, but “there are some questions that will be raised.”

Board member Coley Chestnut said the time is now to begin discussions about a new school, citing maintenance costs at Selma High total $1 million annually. Built in 1939, Selma High, formerly Albert G. Parrish, is in desperate need of lead abatements, classroom modernizations, technology and security upgrades and other improvements.

“It’s not a question of if we’re going to build a new high school, but when,” Chestnut said. “We can’t have this conversation a year from now.”

Barbara Hiouas, board vice president, said she is for a new school as long as the city and school system follows the proper process. Having traveled to several schools throughout the state, Hiouas said she knows the advantages children have in modern facilities, “but our children don’t have the advantages.”

“Maybe it’s divine intervention,” said board member James Ware, referring to the mayor’s initiative. “Perhaps this tells me and others that the time is now to move forward on this.”

“We’d be foolish not to build a high school,” added board member James Terry.

Board member Dr. Ann Fitts had reservations about the proposed site, saying the property is near a creek and could pose a safety hazard. Fitts said Selma High now sits in a safe and central location and requested more information about the proposed site.