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Federal grants could help with Selma’s infrastructure

When U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., came home Tuesday for a town-hall style meeting, she focused mostly on ways she is working to improve her hometown.

Sewell, a Selma native, used job fairs as an example of how she has previously fought to improve the Black Belt. She said securing money for the Bridge Crossing Jubilee and low-income housing are top priorities for the coming year.

She spoke passionately about her love for Selma and making sure that it thrives as the heart of the Black Belt.

“This is my home and I wouldn’t be worth my salt as a member of Congress if I didn’t try to make a difference at home,” she said. “In every piece of legislation and funding bill that comes down I am always fighting for Selma.”

Both her examples are important and would be a great benefit to Selma, but there is a better way for Sewell to help her hometown.

It’s no secret that Selma is an old city. In 2020, our city will be 200 years old. Just like anything that is aging, Selma needs a bit of upkeep. In our case, roads, sewer pipelines and infrastructure need work.

The city is currently working on several different projects, such as fixing a sinkhole in Bienville Park, but city government can only do so much. The city is running on a tight budget. Though infrastructure is important, the city simply couldn’t afford to make all of the needed repairs in a short window of time.

At a certain point it falls on the shoulders of our legislators to show why their constituents picked them over another contender.

As our representative in congress, that’s where Sewell can help. While Sewell is lobbying her fellow legislators to visit Selma during the 50th Bridge Crossing Jubilee, perhaps she should tell her friends to bring some money with them.

As a city of approximately 20,000, Selma has to work for every grant it receives. Other, larger cities, like Birmingham and Mobile, annually receive grants as entitlement communities through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Entitlement communities include cities with populations of at least 50,000 or urban counties with populations of at least 200,000.

Even a few million in grants could be tremendously beneficial in resurfacing Selma’s streets or replacing some of our city’s outdated sewer pipe lines.