Selmont residents to clean up area

Published 10:56 pm Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cleaning up Selmont is more than removing litter on the side of the road or keeping a manicured lawn.

It’s about improving the community.

“What we want to do is see Selmont move forward,” said Connel Towns, Dallas County commissioner and chairperson of the cleanup efforts. “We want to see more businesses located in the Selmont community. In order to attract businesses, we want a clean and safe community for our children. We just want people to come together and show unity in the Selmont area to move Selmont forward.”

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Cleaning up the physicality of the area is the first step.

That’s why Towns, co-chairperson and Director of the Chamber of Commerce Sheryl Smedley and a group of volunteers will head out into the area at 6 a.m. Saturday to pick up litter.

“We ask that everybody come, bring your gloves and bring whatever is necessary to help clean our streets up,” Towns said. “As residents, we all have to play our part to ensure that we do have a safe and clean community.”

Smedley listened to concerns of littering and lack of area businesses at the Selmont town hall meeting on July 12.

“They are basically a desert out there,” Smedley said. “They have no healthcare facility; they have no drug store. They don’t even have a grocery store. If it weren’t for Dollar General and the Selma Curb Market, they wouldn’t have any access to anything. They’ve got lots of things going for them, but they’re just tired of being in a third-world country situation. It’s time to move forward.”

Selmont is referred to as the “gateway to Selma,” and it is important to keep it clean to welcome visitors, which is why Smedley feels this project is of utter importance.

“I love Selma,” Smedley said. “This is my home. Anything I can do to reach out and give back to my community as a citizen, not only because of my job here at the Chamber, but as a citizen for the betterment of the community and the county is great. That’s why I’m sticking with it.”

All volunteers will be provided with garbage bags.

Volunteers will also collect bags of garbage from households in the Selmont area. Trash bags must be placed on the side of the street in front of the residence. Contact 412-9868 to prompt volunteers of the locations where they need to pick up the garbage. All bags must be on the side of the street by 6 a.m. Saturday.

Callie Nelson and the Dallas County Extension office will facilitate this project until community members are able to sustain the initiative on their own.

After six weeks of a study circle of 20 Selmont residents, Nelson and the group chose three issues to address: creating a sense of community pride through the physical cleaning of the area; visiting a now prosperous community which was once struggling; and developing a community collaboration to create unity within residents, churches and organizations.

“If you have a good looking community and take pride in your community, it can attract industry and more venues like grocery stores that need to come in,” Nelson said. “People don’t like to come into communities that are all run down and look bad. So, this is their first step.”

To volunteer on Saturday, meet at Tipton-Durant Middle School at 6 a.m. The clean-up day should end around noon. Volunteers are also needed to serve as block captains to ensure neighborhoods remain clean.

The Southern Rural Development Center at Mississippi State University offered the Dallas County Extension office a $1,500 grant for the training and study circles for this project, which is a part of the “Turning the Tide on Poverty” campaign. The initiative involves the community in the revitalization of its area, improvements set by its own residents. Each community must fund its own projects outside of the study sessions.