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PALS Center gets spruced up

Even though spring is almost over, there is still cleaning to be done.

Selma Police Department Det. Dorothy Cowan and several other people spent their Saturday morning completely cleaning out the Robert E. Lunsford Community Building, or “PALS Center”.

“We are doing an overhaul,” said Cowan, the director of the PALS. “We are cleaning out this building, top to bottom, side to side, everywhere.”

Various members of the community came to the center to help clean, paint and even plant a garden around the building to help keep kids off the streets.

“We have been here 10 years thanks to the Selma Housing Authority,” said Cowen. “During the afternoons between the hours from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. it is the most dangerous time for kids, and that is when we are open.”

The PALS center gives children the chance to play on basketball teams ranging from 12-and-under to 18-and-under teams in order to get them off of the street.

“Our big thing is prevention,” said Cowen. “We want to get to them here before they commit the crimes, that’s why we start with them at 7 years old and work our way up. Once we get them here we have so much they can do to get them out of the streets.”

Ward 4 Councilwoman Angela Benjamin said it was good that the children who go to the PALS Center were able to interact with the city’s police department so closely.

“It’s good that the officers come out,” said Benjamin. “To have them on the basketball court not in uniform can be less intimidating than if they were riding in a police car.”

Benjamin said she hoped everyone would help with all of the clean-ups that have been taking place.

“We aren’t doing this to be a small group,” said Benjamin of the clean-up efforts. “We want everyone to join in. If everybody is taking care of their own area and sections that they live in that they see everyday, then that is the entire city covered.”