Time to go to work

Published 12:08 am Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Jami Davies, a 15-year-old student at C.H.A.T. Academy, went to City Hall on Tuesday not thinking he’d become a lucky jobholder.

After all, more than 200 young people, just like Davies had applied for about 40 jobs with the city for six weeks during the summer. The city awarded double that amount last year.

But hard times had the city cutting back dollars for the Youth Summer Work Program. The Selma City Council apportioned $10,000 of its already-stretched budget for the program. Selma Mayor George Evans began writing letters months ago to local businesses, asking them to donate $677 per youth to the cause. Many of them did to the tune of another $10,000.

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Evans apologized to the youths and their parents who packed council chambers for the job lottery.

“I don’t want to make excuses,” he said. “I haven’t got all the responses from the business world … Everything is tough right now on account of our economy.”

Each council member present drew three names out of a bucket of children in their wards, who had applied for the jobs. Council members Susan Keith and Samuel Randolph weren’t present. Stand-ins drew names for them. A stand-in also represented Council President Dr. Geraldine Allen.

Council member Bennie Ruth Crenshaw refused to draw names out of her bucket.

“I feel disheartened that I can only pull three names. I just don’t want to do it,” she said.

Crenshaw told the parents in the audience they spend dollars with local businesses, but their children cannot get a job. “You really need to think about that,” she said.

Later, Evans asked council members to draw another name out of the bucket. Those youths could serve as alternates in case another youth couldn’t perform.

That won’t be the case for Davies, who said he didn’t care where he was assigned with the city.

“Just as long as I work,” the youth said.