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Selma is far from dead

Last week at a Selma City Council meeting, a woman stood up during the public comment portion of the agenda and announced, “Selma is dying.”

She didn’t offer any hard-core proof of her assumption. Instead, the proclamation seemed more like an emotional appeal for someone to listen, rather than a pronouncement.

For one, I’d beg to differ with this woman.

Selma is far from dying.

During the last 10 years, the city has lost some population. So have many smaller cities because in flush times (and during the last decade we had some good economic times) folks go to the larger cities to follow higher paying jobs.

But those high paying jobs are the first to go usually when hard times come and folks generally return home to live with friends or relatives until they can find something better. Most of the time those folks who return home file for unemployment benefits and those folks make numbers go up in the county from which they file.

Also, if as many people participated in the recent census count as predicted; if as many people did as the city and county asked, Selma should see a stabilization of population.

As far as business goes, nobody has talked about a massive exodus of businesses from Selma. The notices of business closings have not overrun this newspaper’s pages. Instead, we’ve seen a new optometrist come to town, an existing business open a branch downtown; another downtown business celebrate 10 years of serving people; the return of a fast-food restaurant; the opening of a popular downtown cafe for lunch and dinner; and the stabilization of other businesses.

Those businesses are owned by individuals, not large corporations. Those individuals have settled in here in the city and county. They have hired local people. They serve local people.

After the meeting, I drove over the city to see indications of a dying place. What I saw were people working in their yards or sitting on their porches or visiting with neighbors. I did not see a single moving van with people rushing to get their belongings out of Selma.

This city is not dying.

Likely, Selma’s progress is not as fast as some people would like to see it. Selma took a big economic hit in the 1970s when Craig Air Force Base shut down.

We cannot afford to live in the past.

We must focus on cleaning up ourselves to prepare for what is to come; for what we can attract. We must celebrate our good points: an active and viable Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Bureau and Economic Development Authority; a strong arts community willing to invest in buildings and refurbish them as art galleries and studios; the site of a well-respected community college with one of the best nursing schools in the Southeast; and good, kind people who reach out to help neighbors and friends.

Dying?

Selma will breathe its last only if we buy into dire prophecies instead of working together to keep our homes and businesses.

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