Selma locale spared

Published 10:18 pm Tuesday, September 11, 2012

WASHINGTON — The federal judiciary says it will close six courthouses in the South because of inadequate funding from Congress and the prospect of more drastic cuts.

In a Times-Journal story published in March, it was reported that four sites in Alabama — Gadsden, Florence, Opelika and Selma — were targeted for possible closure.

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) has offices in Selma’s Federal courthouse and said in March she hopes the building can be saved.

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“My district office is located in the building and I believe it would be a great disservice to my constituents to close the building,” Sewell said. “At best, it is my hope that the building is either renovated or a new one is built, so we can continue to provide the essential services that families across the Black Belt depend on. My staff and I will continue to work closely with GSA to advocate for the need to have a federal building in Selma so that its residents in the surrounding cities in the Black Belt can continue to be served.”

The Judicial Conference said Tuesday the courthouses to close are in Gadsden; Pikeville, Ky.; Meridian, Miss.; Wilkesboro, N.C.; Beaufort, S.C.; and Amarillo, Texas, meaning the Federal courthouse in Selma has for now, been spared.

The closures are expected to save $1 million a year in rent. The judiciary said it could see its budget cut by more than $500 million if Congress fails to reach a budget deal and automatic across-the-board spending cuts kick in next year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.