Pelham reaches out to Hispanic community

Pelham Mayor Gary Waters along with other city leaders spoke with members of Pelham's Hispanic community during a March 23 community meeting.

Pelham Mayor Gary Waters along with other city leaders spoke with members of Pelham’s Hispanic community during a March 23 community meeting. (Reporter photo / Molly Davidson)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—Pelham city leaders along with the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama and Birmingham Immigrant Alabama Movement held a March 23 community meeting at Mi-Pueblo Supermarket. As part of an effort to reach out to and involve Pelham’s Hispanic community, the meeting discussed matters of importance to the community and to the city as a whole.

Pelham Mayor Gary Waters, councilman Maurice Mercer, interim school superintendent Dr. Tim Alford and school board president Rick Rhodes were in attendance, along with other leaders of Pelham and the Hispanic community.

“This is a good beginning to get involved with the Latino community,” said Pelham resident and one of the event organizers, Cesar Mata. “Our goal is to get the community involved with the city and to get to know each other.”

The meeting focused on encouraging participation from the Hispanic community in city activities and discussion about the new Pelham City School System.

According to the 2010 United States census, nearly 15% of Pelham’s population is Hispanic. Waters expressed concern that this population is not represented in city activities. To encourage participation, he promised an interpreter at Pelham’s quarterly town hall meetings and gave permission to the media to republish the Pelham newsletter in Spanish.

“Our relationship has to extend beyond the confines of this building,” said Waters.

“Today is the first step,” said Mercer. “If you work with us, we will make Pelham a better place for all.”

Alford and Rhodes addressed concerns regarding the new Pelham City School System, scheduled to separate from the Shelby County School System July 1. Both stressed a continued commitment to providing quality counseling and ESL services to students and families under the Pelham City School System.

“It is an absolute must that every child in our system be prepared to do what they want to do with their lives,” said Rhodes, adding with the participation of the entire community, Pelham will have a “world class school system.”

Members of the Hispanic community voiced support of Pelham’s outreach and expressed a desire for a continued working relationship.

“Let’s work together for a better city, because that’s what we all want,” said Pelham resident Glenda Rosa.