Buttonholed at breakfast

Published 12:26 am Thursday, September 24, 2009

SELMA — The Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce invitation jestfully called Wednesday’s early morning gathering at the St. James Hotel a “buttonhole breakfast” for Mayor George Evans.

But the event, attended by about 100 people, turned into more of a campaign push for the $12 million bond issue than anything else.

Evans took the opportunity to talk about the need for the bond issue in front of the county’s business and political leaders.

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The bond issue comes up for a vote on Oct. 27.

Evans talked about infrastructure needs in the city in a general way, saying the bond issue did not have an ample amount, but the city placed on the ballot some of the greatest needs.

“We need $50 million,” Evans told the group, “and that would not be enough to cover all the infrastructure.”

Paramount in the bond issue were fire and police needs — new fire trucks, rescue units and repairs to each of the fire stations around town.

The police department needs new vehicles, updated software and computer equipment and repairs to the public safety building.

“This bond is so important,” Evans told the group, adding that purchases of equipment and maintenance and basic upkeep on buildings had been neglected for years.

Although he said he didn’t want to sound like the voice of gloom and doom, Evans said, “So many things have gone down, we need the money to stop the bleeding.”

The bond issue has opposition, Evans said. A group in town wants the voters to have only the “all or nothing” option to vote.

Evans said the ballot will allow voters to pick and choose what departments they want to select or voters could cast their votes for all the items on the bond issue or against all the items included in the bond.

Evans fielded a few questions after about a 20-minute talk.

This is the first of the “buttonhole breakfasts,” but more are in store, according to Chamber Director Sheryl Smedley.

“We hope to have Buttonhole Breakfast at least quarterly, alternating with Business After Hours,” she said, one month buttonhole, the next month Business after hours.

“Going forward the Chamber hopes to offer more opportunities for our members/investors to network while showcasing different businesses throughout the Selma and Dallas community. In addition to our Buttonhole event the Chamber also plans in 2010 to bring work related seminars not only to members/investors but to all business owners throughout the community,” she said.