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Intern offers a sincere thanks in his goodbye

Valuable experience: Christopher Edmunds, pictured in the pressroom at The Selma Times-Journal, worked as a journalism intern at The Selma Times-Journal for the past 10 weeks.  Edmunds is a junior journalism major at the University of Alabama. (Jay Sowers | Times-Journal)

Valuable experience: Christopher Edmunds, pictured in the pressroom at The Selma Times-Journal, worked as a journalism intern at The Selma Times-Journal for the past 10 weeks. Edmunds is a junior journalism major at the University of Alabama. (Jay Sowers | Times-Journal)

Several weeks into my time at The Selma Times-Journal, I attended a Rotary luncheon at the St. James Hotel. A local businessman, sitting across from me, asked how I was enjoying Selma. I told him the place was starting to grow on me, and he issued a warning in response.

“Careful, now,” he said. “Or you’ll get stuck here for 40 years like me.”

At the time, we all laughed it off, but looking back on it now, Selma does have a certain charm that draws people in.

Part of it is the beauty of the Queen City. With family drug stores lining Broad Street in historical buildings, Selma has that “Small-Town USA” feel.

The Edmund Pettus Bridge gives the town something unique and instantly recognizable. The Spanish moss hanging in Live Oak Cemetery is an eerily charming accent to the trees.

I really noticed the beauty of Selma when it came to houses. I found myself writing a lot about houses, whether it was featuring a nice, well-kept home or investigating the many fire-damaged structures within city limits.

Driving through Selma’s neighborhoods, I saw pure potential. Even though many of the houses suffered from neglect and vandalism, the architecture alone was enough to catch my eye.

The state of these houses tugged at my heartstrings and made me want to grab some tools and help, the same way commercials with images of sad-looking cats and dogs makes people want to donate to animal shelters.

Looking back on it, that feeling of being called to action, wanting to help a city that has struggled for many years, is what makes Selma so easy to get attached to.

Even though I lived in Selma only a couple months during the summer, I still felt like it was my duty to change the city in some way. As a young professional, I felt obligated to help a town that is having difficulty retaining young people after high school.

My desire to help and give back to Selma stems from the experiences I had with many people in town. I was welcomed by several individuals who I will never forget.

The library director who took the time after my interview to sit down and give me the brief history of the city helped me put things in context. The city council member with no filter will always be my favorite person to interview. The county extension worker who seems to know everything about everything pointed me in the right direction on several occasions. The skateboarder who has stuck by the skate park ever since it was built, coaches every young person who wants to learn something new, and is thinking about opening up his own business, made what little free time I had much more enjoyable.

Last but not least, the staff at the Times-Journal, the people who gave me a place to put my skills to work and challenged me every day, helped make me who I am now, a journalist much more prepared to enter the field, but ready to come back and visit Selma any time I get the chance.