Council gives okay to move ahead with ‘Rebuild’ grant

Published 1:52 pm Wednesday, November 25, 2020

During its regular meeting Tuesday night, the Selma City Council voted to move ahead with a Rebuild Alabama grant application for “roadway improvement along various roads.”

According to City of Selma Planning and Development Department Director Henry Thompson, the project would cost a total of $364,000, with the grant expected to cover as much as $250,000 of the cost, leaving the city on the hook for the reaming $114,000.

“I am comfortable in saying that we can accommodate $114,000 to get $250,000 for this project,” said Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr.

There was brief talk about where the matching funds would come from, but it was eventually decied that the funds would have to be pulled from the city’s General Fund.

All of the council members voted in favor of moving ahead with the grant application, except for Selma City Councilman Clay Carmichael, who abstained as his concrete company, Crosby-Carmichael, may be called on to provide concrete products for the project.

According to Carmichael, who said he had spoken with the state’s Ethics Commission, his company is allowed to work with the city, but he is not allowed as a council person to vote for his company to do business with the city.

The council also approved a resolution in support of the Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth and Reconciliation’s (SCNTR) bridge lighting project.

“As mayor, I do support this initiative,” Perkins said. “I think it is awesome. It gives us an opportunity to build an extended nighttime view of this historic bridge.”

The council also approved a series of entry points for the Army Corps of Engineers to begin the next phase of its bank stabilization project, which is currently examining what steps the city needs to take to secure its shoreline.

In all, seven sites were approved for the Corps to conduct boring tests.

“This is a very large project and I think this is just the next phase of it, the civil engineering piece,” Perkins said. “We do need to sure up our shoreline. This project, I’m comfortable in saying, when it comes down to doing the work, is going to be a substantial match…but we need to at least do this part to get to that part.”

Elsewhere in the meeting, the council heard from Cindy Owens, a resident at Regis Square Apartments, about the squalid conditions at the local senior citizens complex.

“We’re living in a very, very squalid community now,” Owens said. “It’s really, really bad.”

Owens talked about children and young adults living in the apartment complex illegally and others smoking marijuana, drinking and leaving trash throughout the area.

Owens said she has contacted the owners and management multiple times but has been “totally unheard.”

Additionally, Owens said she reached out the Selma Housing Authority but only heard back from them when she took her concerns to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

“It’s looking like, unfortunately, like the rest of Selma,” Owens said. “It has really- really gone down. We need help. We can’t get the managers, the owners to do anything.”

Selma City Council President Billy Young recommended that Owens attend an upcoming Public Safety Committee meeting to discuss her concerns.

“It sounds like some of the concerns you have might fall under public safety and public works as well,” Young said. “Hopefully, after some discussion, we can do something to resolve [these issues].”

The council also heard from Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sheryl Smedley, who discussed plans to bring the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Pigskin Showdown to Selma in May and December of next year.