By Lindsay Seagraves/News Editor
Ridgeville, Ala. is a town of about 160 people located in the Gadsden metropolitan area.
Travelers driving along Duck Springs Road might notice Ridgeville’s worn street signs that edge the overgrown verges, or the potholes that sink into the bumpy roads which take one out of the town.
What passersby may not notice is the hope that citizens of Ridgeville have for sustaining their declining, mostly African-American community.
“We’re in need of a lot of improvements,” said Ridgeville Mayor and Reverend of Pilgrim Baptist Church Jerome Anderson. “It’s depressing to drive through my own town.”
Anderson has been a resident of Ridgeville for four years and was appointed as mayor almost two years ago. He said the only improvement Ridgeville has made since he settled there was getting the grass cut on the side of the road. Anderson gave County Commissioner Carolyn Parker the credit for cutting the grass, and said after asking she promptly saw that it was done.
“We don’t have the materials to do it ourselves,” Anderson said. “We have an old bush hog that doesn’t even work. Grass is so high you can’t even see people’s mailboxes.”
Anderson said he tried to maintain Ridgeville’s grass with his own mower until the engine stopped working because the grass was so high.
He also explained that Ridgeville street signs are so old they are the same signs that have been in the town for nearly 60 years.
“If your town looks like no one cares, then no one is going to come in and invest there,” Anderson said. “Ridgeville is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever lived, but people who drive by would never notice.”
Anderson said he isn’t asking for all new materials, but for signs and lawn maintenance machines new enough that they are usable.
That’s why Anderson said he was put in contact with State Representative Craig Ford.
“(Rep.) Ford is helping me. He’s beginning to show me the people I need to go to,” he said. “I’m looking for someone to give our town what it truly deserves – to be cleaned up. It could be the thing to cheer up the people who live here.”
Without help, Anderson fears Ridgeville could diminish. He explained that most of Ridgeville’s residents are senior citizens or on a fixed income, making it nearly impossible for them to lend a hand in helping out themselves.
“(Ridgeville citizens) would rather die than let our town no longer exist,” Anderson said. “Some of them have lived in Ridgeville all their lives.
“Clean me up, that’s all I ask. It’s my own town and what I see, I don’t like.”