Thursday, July 17, 2008

Congratulations on the story, Lewis. You deserve it. Finally, someone recognizes your efforts.

From The Selma News:
Local man uses hobbies to promote Selma
By Kelly Lake, News Editor 17.JUL.08

While his career brought Lewis Mullen to Selma, it was a love of the place that kept him here. Since his retirement, he’s made hobbies of photography and web design and uses them daily to promote the town he calls home.

Mullen relocated to Selma 41 years ago when Sylvania opened in Smithfield. He had previously worked with GE Communications in Lynchburg, VA, where he lived with his wife Marian. He spent many years with Sylvania as an engineer, designing test equipment to be used to test television sets before they were sold.

During that time Mullen and his wife had two children, Teresa and Robert. When the company looked at moving to Tennessee, Mullen took his family for a visit. He was told that in order to keep his job he would have to relocate along with the company.

“He took a vote and decided to stay in Selma and take our chance,” said Mullen. “When we moved here, I figured it was just another move, but once we got here, it was hard to leave. It’s home to me. I love my hometown.”

Mullen has made it his business, his passion even, to promote Selma in any way he can. At age 74, Mullen maintains countless web sites promoting the Selma community, business district, antique dealers, and civic groups, along with his own photography. Many of his photos are taken in a around Selma.

He got his first camera in Korea in 1953, where he was stationed in an aviation engineering group as a member of the United States Army and attached to the Air Force. The group helped to build an air strip there. Mullen used his “pull” with the group of pilots to fly over Korea and snap numerous photos. Many were lost when a bag containing most of pictures and negatives was stolen as he returned home.

Today, he promotes Selma everyday through his photographs. He bought a book of web design and designed a site so he could showcase his photography. He has more than 60,000 photographs archived on CD, about 10,000 of those from Selma. The photos were given to The Heritage Center in Smithfield for public use, said Mullen. Now he posts photos of the area on Selma Daily Photo. There are about 300 towns showcased on the site worldwide. “It’s a good way of promoting Selma, one of the smallest towns on the site,” said Mullen. “I get comment from around the world on my photographs.” Once he set up his own site, Mullen decided to offer his services to others, nearly free of charge. Most of the people he has designed sites for pay a small monthly hosting fee. Mullen’s time and efforts are free. He maintains a site to promote Selma Railroad Days, the Selma Car Classic, and Selma’s East Coast Antique Show.

As a member of the Selma Development Partnership (SDP), he created the web site The SDP sponsors the site and Mullen maintains it. Through this site, which provides an abundance of information about Selma, Mullen offers links to business people who are also members of the SDP. “If they don’t have a web page to link, I’ll create one for them,” said Mullen. “Over the past five years, I’ve built web sites for our antique dealers. I still maintain two for Railroad Street Antiques and TWM’s Antique Mall.” He created the web site for the Selma Antique Dealers Association and continues to maintain it. “It is a way to promote antiques in Selma and the site gets a lot of hits,” said Mullen. He said his hobbies give him something to do – he “hates” retirement. “To be honest, I don’t know if I do it for Selma or for myself,” said Mullen.

Just before the All-American Festival in Selma to celebrate July Fourth, Mullen posted a fireworks photo from last year on For several weeks it was the top fireworks photo displayed when people search Google for fireworks. The site received about 7,000 hits a day. “Those people now know something about Selma for having visited the web site,” said Mullen. Mullen also designed and maintains a web site for the Keep Johnston County Beautiful Festival of Trees. He donated numerous prints to the SDP this year to be sold to raise funds for the non-profit organization.

As a member of Selma’s Appearance Commission, Mullen helped choose recipients of the residential and commercial appearance awards. He took photos of each winner and provided them to the local newspaper for publication. He still can be found at nearly all events in town, snapping photos to preserve the moment. While on the Appearance Commission, Mullen came up with the idea to provide planter, complete with flowers, for each storefront in the uptown area. He personally planted flowers in each. Although some no longer contain flowers, the planter can still be seen on Selma streets.

Mullen more recently has posted several videos on YouTube and other various sites that promote Selma in a positive way. He frowns on those who would post video showing Selma in a negative light. “There is a lot on YouTube that people, especially children, shouldn’t see, but the site has a lot of potential,” said Mullen. “I believe technology should be used in a positive way, not in a negative one.” Mullen also has videos on Time Warner Cable’s public access channel 1233, which promote Selma.

“Selma has gotten a lot of positive worldwide exposure with its fireworks this year,” said Mullen. “I sent three to CNN ad three made it on television. The fireworks photos made it into our local paper and were featured on several web sites.” Mullen said he enjoys doing what he does and hopes that the town benefits from it. “I love taking pictures and showing them off,” said Mullen. “And, I love Selma and enjoy doing whatever I can to show it in a positive light.”

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