Selma councilman Johnson discusses Parks and Recreation Department closure

Published 9:59 pm Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The recent closure of the Selma City Parks and Recreation Department has many parents and athletes questioning the future of youth sports provided by the city.

However, Selma City Councilman Michael Johnson, who is over the Parks and Recreation Department is hopeful that the Selma City Council vote to return the laid off workers to their positions will be the first step in re-opening the department. The council approved the motion at their meeting on Tuesday to bring back the workers however, according to multiple council members, it is up to Mayor Darrio Melton to bring back the employees officially.

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“It wasn’t a lack of funding, it was a lack of employees,” Johnson said. “We only have two men that worked in the recreation department and we didn’t have a department head. The department head was defunded and right now with only two workers and with the department head being defunded, I guess the mayor thought his hands were tied and that the day to day operations couldn’t be met. Also, two men cannot keep all the grass cut and keep the day to day operations going. We need more help.”

Johnson said he was able to meet with Melton on Tuesday to talk about the department closure.

“I did get to talk to the mayor on Tuesday and he told me about the plan he had for the departments,” Johnson said. “Right now, it is a really sad day in Selma that we have to shut down the recreation department and leave the kids helpless during the summer when the swimming pool is normally open. We did have the Edmundite Missions come in and pay to get the pool cleaned out and to help with a lifeguard, which they have done since around 2013 and I’m so grateful for Chad and the Edmundite Missions for doing that. I can’t really speak for the mayor as to why the recreation department closed I can only say from what I’m getting. It was a staffing issue but financing wasn’t a problem. The mayor wanted to merge the public works, cemetery and recreation department to form a labor pool. That means the employees would work all three areas.”

However, the suggestion was not met well at the Selma City Council meeting on Tuesday night.

Johnson said he hopes that the eventual return of the employees will allow the departments to fully function again, however there has been no indication as of press time, if or when the laid-off employees will return to their jobs.

Until then, the Parks and Recreation Department and the services it provided will be closed.

In response to this, Morgan Academy football coach and Morgan Academy Athletic Director Josh Thacker took to social media expressing his concern about the department closure.

“Some of the greatest memories I have, along with lifelong friends, were made during youth sports,” he said. “I will absolutely do whatever it takes to revive youth sports in Selma.”