In all the excitement over preparations for Saturdays tree-lighting ceremony at the Evans Government Complex, a few things have slipped past that shouldnt have. Now is a good time to play catch-up.
While we talked about the school system discussing changes to its naming policy, a real naming ceremony slid by. A couple of weeks ago, Columbia County commissioners ceremonially broke ground at the long-needed new morgue for the county and named it after the long-serving coroner, Thomas L. King Sr.
Most people would be totally creeped out at the idea of having a building named after you when that buildings primary purpose is temporary storage of dead bodies.
But for King, owner of King Funeral Home and Columbia Countys coroner for more than three decades, the honor was a dream come true. Actually, it is construction of the $150,000 building on Belair Road, next to the ambulance station, that is the culmination of Kings dream.
In times past, a countys coroner was likely to be a funeral director simply because he or she had the facilities to handle dead people. Thats still the case in many small communities.
Columbia County, which had about 20,000 residents when King became coroner, is no longer small. Even so, its never had a proper morgue; the closest thing to it was a metal building behind the Detention Center in Appling, which housed a small two-person cooler.
The Detention Center expansion took out the shed, so King had no morgue. Doctors Hospital let him use their facilities in the interim, and now King will finally get a morgue of his own.
And his name will be on the front to prove it!
Former Columbia County School Board Chairman Ray Hicks, who retired as principal of Evans High School, called the other day to offer his views on naming school facilities. Hes in favor of keeping things as they are, with the honor still considered for parts of schools rather than entire facilities.
That was the case when he was at Evans, and the school decided to remember the late Jabez Hardin, the countys former superintendent, by naming the schools library in his honor.
We had a full assembly for the whole student body, and then a private ceremony in the library, Hicks recalls. Attending that event was the superintendents philanthropist son, J.B. Hardin Jr., whom Hicks says was overwhelmed by the attention.
Hardin expressed his gratitude by endowing the Jabez Hardin Scholarship Fund, which has now grown into an enormous benefit for Columbia County public school students. As many as 20 at a time can receive the $1,000 per year scholarships. Thats where it all came from, Hicks says.
Hicks also notes another name that should be remembered: Jack Eubank, who served an amazing 48 years on the Columbia County Board of Education.
Eubank does, in fact, have a stretch of road named in his honor: Highway 47, just inside the Lincoln County line, is named the Jack Eubank Highway. Incidentally, the only school the road runs past is Leah High, which no longer exists.
Shes not that old
A couple of weeks ago, School Trustee Mickey Blackburn told a story thats just too good not to repeat.
Speaking to a group of fourth-graders at Brookwood Elementary, Blackburn - a retired history teacher - asked the students if they knew which star on the flag is Georgias. (Its the fourth one from the end, on the top row.)
Then, she asked the kids: Do you know how many stars were on the flag when I was your age?
Almost in one voice, they shouted "Thirteen! Blackburn laughs.
For the record, there were 48.
(Barry L. Paschal is opinions editor of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barrypaschal@ yahoo.com.)
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