• 34°

Dallas Academy in need of major repairs

One of the many questions Selma City Council members had Tuesday for Mayor Darrio Melton during a budget hearing was about the city’s ceramics program and its summer art camp.

Ward 3 Councilwoman Miah Jackson asked Melton to consider funding the program. Melton’s proposed budget, if passed, would cut $8,000 from ceramics, which is housed in the historic Dallas Academy, and $8,000 from art camp.

The program has been put on hold since October when a fire was intentionally set inside the building. The building was just one of several targets of an alleged arsonist.

According to Melton’s projected revenue for 2018-2019, the program would bring in more than $20,000 in receipts.

Melton said the holdup is an additional $200,000 in repairs needed for the building, including new wiring and a new roof. He said the roof alone will cost more than $120,000.

“Until we can repair that building, we won’t be able to put that program back in that building,” Melton said.

Melton acknowledged how much the community enjoys having the program and said it is something the city wants.

“The reason why you still see those ceramic positions inside the budget is because we want the program to sustain itself,” Melton told council members Tuesday night.

“The citizens of Selma still want that program, but if we can’t repair that building, it’s going to be difficult to have that program in that building until we get that total building repaired.”

Servepro started cleanup on the building  in January. Many volunteers and other people that are involved with the program have voiced their concern about the future of ceramics in Selma and in Dallas Academy.

According to Denise Rushton, a volunteer with the ceramics program, it has been around for more than 35 years. She said the art camp serves over 100 children each summer.

“As patrons, we would like to know what is to become of our ceramics program,” Rushton told the council a few weeks ago during a work session. “We want this ceramic program reopened and beg the city council to keep this program in operation in the budget.”

Rushton said they would hate to disappoint the many children that attend the art camp.

“We as patrons that go to the ceramic program will say this program is one of the best programs we have ever been part of,” Rushton said.

The building also housed an office for the Boy Scouts of America Tukabatchee Area Council and an art studio.

According to the Rural Southwest Alabama website, the Dallas Academy building was constructed around 1889 as a private school funded by the Ladies Education Society of Selma to educate the sons of daughters of Selma’s wealthy citizens.

The building later became Selma’s first public school before closing in the early 1960s.