Much discussed at commission meeting

Published 10:59 am Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Several individuals made public comment at Monday night’s Dallas County Commission meeting.

The first on the agenda was Betty Boynton, requesting the Dallas County Commission consider naming the Dallas County Courthouse after J.L. Chestnut and her husband, Attorney Bruce Boynton, two notable civil rights leaders and attorneys.

“If it weren’t for Attorneys J.L. Chestnut and Bruce Boynton there would not be any black county commissioners,” said Betty Boynton.

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Following Boynton, Dave Fulford, Jr. took to the podium to request that the commission start advocating that their 2021 CDGB fund be used for housing rehabilitation for Dallas County.

“The people of Dallas County need help,” said Fulford.

Following Fulford, Salem Elementary Principal Chinita Irby spoke before the commission requesting their support regarding a pending grant allowing both Salem Elementary School and Bruce K. Craig Elementary School to service students beyond the hours of a regular school day.

The grant will allow after school extended learning as well as summer programs.

According to Irby, should the grant go through, it will last over a period of three years.

Commissioner Curtis Williams commended Irby for her efforts in attempting to secure the grant.

“Sister Chinita Irby is a fine principal at Salem elementary and she’s doing an excellent job,” said Williams. “I know we’re in good hands as long as we’re in the hands of Sister Chinita Irby.”

The commission then unanimously voted on a resolution stating that they offer their support to the project.

After Irby, Tom Bolton came before the commission to discuss a hopefully forthcoming Black Belt Veterans Resource Center in Selma.

According to Bolton, a center is necessary to cater to local veterans who, otherwise, would have to drive to Birmingham, Tuscaloosa or Montgomery to a VA Hospital.

“That’s not right,” said Bolton. “That’s not the way we should treat these people who have put their lives on the line for us.”

Following Bolton, Juana Maxwell of the Selma Redevelopment Authority (SRA) spoke to the commission about the mission and function of the SRA.

Following the slew of public comments, the commission proceeded with the agenda.

Perry County Commissioner Albert Turner requested the commission pass a resolution agreeing to work with Perry County to resurface County Road 45.

The proposition would have Dallas and Perry County work together to create a bid contract to have one company pave the entirety of County Road 45 at one time, both counties would be financially responsible for their side of the road.

Turner’s second request was that the entirety of the road be named Jimmy Lee Jackson – Albert Turner, Sr. Highway. The road already bares this name from the Marion city limits to the Dallas County line, but turner requested that it carry the name all the way to Highway 80.

“That’s the route that was taken by Civil Rights foot soldiers during the 60’s to get to the Edmund Pettus Bridge here in Selma,” said Turner.

County Engineer Coosa Jones advised that if the commission decided to work with Perry County that it be done at a later date to see what kind of funding will be available due to the recently passed Rebuild Alabama Act which will increase gas taxes 10 cents over the next 2 years to create funding for roads.

“We can do it but I suggest we do it down the road,” said Jones. “This first year is going to be a learning process. We may not have enough funds to do it with what we are going to get this first year.”

After a lengthy discussion about the possibility of repaving the road from all four commissioners and Turner, a 3-2 motion was passed to commit to consider working with Perry County to repave County Road 45 when funds become available. There was no financial commitment made in the motion.