What a difference $400,000 would make

Published 8:42 pm Monday, November 16, 2009

My father, a Southern Baptist minister, had this one sermon he would preach when the church’s coffers started to get low. He’d talk about putting one’s treasures where the heart is. The drift: If you expect to get something out of the church, give back to the church. Apparently, it caught on.

His sermon came top of mind the other day as I stopped during a walk downtown and looked at the Tepper’s building. It is ugly. The boarded up windows are reminiscent of war zones I’ve seen, if not the aftermath of some hurricane that battered the Gulf Coast region of the U.S. It appears as though it will shrug at any moment and shed a great offering of bricks on Broad Street.

However, Patty Sexton of the Selma Planning and Development Department has said code enforcement officers have examined the building and found it in compliance with the city ordinance.

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Not long ago, I asked Shawn Samuelson via e-mail the status of the building. She assured me (and as a result the readers of The Selma Times-Journal) the Freedom Foundation would begin work on the structure again. She said times had been hard on the nonprofit, just as it had on many non-profits. We are in a recession.

The other day, I heard the Rev. Mark Duke had returned to town. He did not say it was a permanent stay, but he did not say it was temporary; only that he had returned. This was interesting, so a little background research was in order.

Public records out of Georgia show this: Mark S. and Rebecca A. Duke purchased a house at 1141 Astoria Lane in Peachtree City, Ga. in Fayette County on June 17,2009. The annual tax on the property is $10,625. It is in Kedron Estates and in the Fayette County School District. The land assessment was $140,000 and the improved assessment was $638,850 for 2008.

The house, from its description, is very nice. It has central heating and cooling. The basement is partially finished an 2,383 square feet. The house has an open porch. It is two stories; has an excellent pool and is 6,524 square feet. It was built in 2004.

William J. and Bardeen H. Dunphy Jr. sold the house for $800,000, which means the house went for $122.62 per square foot. The house was purchased through Kenny Johnson Homes Inc.

The documents also show the Dukes received a mortgage for $400,000 through a conventional loan. If the selling price was $800,000 as the record shows and the mortgage was for $400,000, then someone must have put down $400,000.

How much would $400,000 change the appearance of the Tepper’s building with all that volunteer labor? It would appear that at least some windows could be replaced — at least those on the bottom couple of floors.

This is by no means to begrudge Rev. Duke and his family good, comfortable living. It’s something to which we all aspire. We all want to be warm and safe in our homes.

But the record also makes one wonder where Rev. Duke’s treasures are. Is he really about helping Selma and helping to improve that building on Broad Street? Is he really coming back, or is this just a rush into town to help bring the Freedom Foundation and some others together to get Dr. Margaret Hardy elected to the school board?

No doubt, there’ll be some comment on Real Talk about all this.

Maybe, finally, we’ll get some real answers.

Leesha Faulkner is editor of The Selma Times-Journal. You may reach her at 410-1730 or e-mail her at leesha.faulkner@selmatimesjournal.com.