By: Scott Bolejack
Selma Town Council member Ann Williams was clearly irked on Tuesday.
The central air conditioning in the town’s train station had failed in May, but a temporary solution had not come before the council until Tuesday night.
“I want to know why the Town of Selma has been extremely embarrassed since May,” Williams said as the council considered joining with the state’s Rail Division to place a temporary cooling unit in the train station.
Williams said she saw no excuse for forcing train passengers to suffer through the summer’s heat for three months. “We own the building. We own the train station,” she said. “Why, during the hottest summer in the history of the planet, could we not have paid for this and not had the people who come through Selma every day, hundreds of them, sit in that hot train station? I want to know why we didn’t get this fixed in May?”
Interim Town Manager Mike McLaurin said the town had hoped an older unit that had been at the town’s library would work at the train station, but it didn’t. Also, he said, the Rail Division thought it would have some money to fully pay for a temporary fix, but that money got held up in the budget impasse between the N.C. General Assembly and Gov. Roy Cooper.
The town is trying to aid train passengers as best it can, McLaurin said. “We have been making sure that the train station is stocked with cold water,” he said. “There were also some ceiling fans that had been broken since God knows when, and we went ahead and got this huge ceiling fans fixed to keep stirring the air around.”
Williams pointed also to faulty cooling units at the library and at the old Harrison School gym. The older of the library’s two units has failed, and one of the gym’s two units has stopped blowing air. “We’re at the end of the summer, and we’re just hearing about it this week,” Williams said.
McLaurin said he was just learning about those problems too. “I heard about the library yesterday,” he said. “And I heard about the gym the other day.”
McLaurin, who said his staff would draft recommendations for fixing or replacing the units, said he was surprised to learn that Selma has no program for routine maintenance of its heating and cooling units. “Quite frankly, you run your air conditioner or your heater until it breaks,” he said.
McLaurin said his plan was to inventory all of the town’s heating and cooling units to determine their life expectancies and then bring the council a proposed annual maintenance agreement.