In Columbia County, 2001 saw two major concerns - controlling growth and providing safety.
It was a year in which the county saw a new Wal-Mart take shape in Evans, a new jail addition and courthouse edge closer to completion and a census report show the county as the fastest-growing area in the region since 1990.
The year also was marked by the death of a kindergartner, which sparked a movement in the county to improve school bus safety.
Then there was Sept. 11 - the day Columbia County responded withblood donations and prayer in area churches. County officials began a collection for the families of victims in the New York attacks. Local emergency officials went on a high state of alert, with deputies being placed on a 24-hour patrol at Thurmond Dam.
Other issues involved the county's stormwater utility fee and consideration by commissioners of county consolidation.
Among the top stories in Columbia County during 2001:
Barry Fleming is voted in as chairman of the Columbia County Board of Commissioners. Roxanne Whitaker is elected chairman of the Columbia County Board of Education and readies herself for what she calls a year of uncertainty in light of Gov. Roy Barnes' A-Plus Education Reform Act.
A dedication ceremony is held Jan. 14 for the opening of a new Grovetown City Hall.
Construction on the expansion of Columbia County's jail and new courthouse in Evans lags a few months behind schedule.
A meeting is held with county officials and Evans residents to discuss the possibility of a Wal-Mart being built on Washington Road in Evans. Residents and Columbia County Commissioner Jim Whitehead voice their discontent.
John Bentley is sworn in as Harlem's new mayor.
Aleana Johnson, 5, is struck and killed by her school bus at a bus stop in her neighborhood on Jan. 9.
Residents plan a protest of a monthly fee for stormwater work. The fee was started at the end of 2000 and allows the county to raise money to control flooding along Reed Creek and other areas.
Some school bus drivers turn to a Teamsters union local for guidance. They ask the county to return to the triple-track scheduling system rather than the double-track system, which began putting middle and high school pupils on the same buses.
Jim Connor, longtime Evans High School football coach, announces that he'll retire at the end of the 2000-01 school year.
On Feb. 2, a Columbia County jury reaches a guilty verdict in the trial of Jason Steven Kennedy, who had been tried three previous times for the 1996 murder of 19-month-old Melanie Caitlyn Cawthon.
Charlie Beale, director of the county's recreation department, announces that Columbia County will begin work on its first recreation master plan. It focuses on the creation of a new park and renovations to existing sites.
For the first time since Aleana Johnson's death, school bus drivers meet with school officials. The triple-track scheduling system is discussed.
A Wal-Mart in Evans edges closer as construction officials turn in their preliminary site plan.
School officials draft a plan to improve bus safety with intensified training for drivers, pupils and parents.
The Columbia County Sheriff's Office initiates a program to prevent biased-based profiling. Deputies are required to keep a tally sheet on the age, gender and race of people they encounter.
Officials get a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant to help run nearly seven miles of water lines in the rural Winfield area.
A new school bus safety plan is tentatively adopted. It includes two recommendations from the group Friends of Aleana - one involving the establishment of a parent committee to oversee the transportation department.
On March 20, a special purpose local option sales tax for schools is extended, with 88 percent of Columbia County voters approving.
Newly released census figures show that Columbia County was the fastest-growing county in the region during the past decade. The county added more than 23,000 residents, raising its population from 66,031 to 89,288.
The Columbia County school system and the sheriff's office hammer out an agreement that gives law enforcement officers exclusive power to handle all criminal violations that occur on school grounds.
The Appling Fire Department has a groundbreaking ceremony for a new headquarters on Columbia Road near CSR Southern Aggregates.
The Columbia County Board of Educationvotes to buy 20 acres near Harlem-Grovetown Road for a new Grovetown Middle School.
A preliminary plan by the Georgia Department of Transportation to change North Belair Road into a four-lane thoroughfare gets a mixed reaction. The proposed link from Fort Gordon's Gate One to Furys Ferry Road is criticized for its design, and residents say it will bring more traffic problems.
Additional kindergarten classrooms are needed in light of a projected increase in enrollment and the governor's mandate for smaller classes.
Commissioners approve a new ambulance service provider, replacing Horizon EMS with Gold Cross EMS. The two-year contract is approved for $800,000 and ends a four-year relationship with Horizon.
Frank Neal, Columbia County's director of community and leisure services, announces that the Martinez-Evans area will be a top priority for green-space preservation in a new plan approved by the governor.
Columbia County's first Red, White and Blue Veteran's Celebration takes place in an open field near the Evans Government Center. The event draws thousands of spectators, several government officials and veterans.
The board of education changes its graduation policy to allow students who have not passed the Georgia High School Graduation Test to participate in graduation ceremonies.
After more than a month of meetings between residents and officials, county commissioners agree to a zoning interpretation that allows livestock in residential areas.
New Georgia flags fly atop flagpoles at Columbia County's 25 public schools.
A $110 million budget is adopted for the 2001-02 school year.
The remnants of Tropical Storm Allison roll over Columbia County on June 13, flooding streets and prompting Gov. Roy Barnes to declare a state of emergency. Much of the damage, however, is done to streets, not homes.
Don Brigdon is named Evans High School's new principal.
After a meeting with residents in an Evans back yard, officials of the Georgia Department of Transportation agree to go back to the drawing board on a proposal to change North Belair Road to a four-lane thoroughfare.
Columbia County makes plans to enter into an agreement with Aiken County for mutual aid in emergencies. It's a first in the Augusta area.
Figures show that crime in Columbia County again has dropped. The overall decline was 5.5 percent for the first two quarters of the year.
An improved plan for school bus safety includes the addition of three bus monitors to control discipline. The group Friends of Aleana had wanted monitors for all buses.
Bill Morris, former principal of Lakeside Middle School, is named assistant superintendent of Columbia County schools.
A Columbia County Hazard Mitigation Plan is created to prepare county emergency workers for situations ranging from major weather events to a nuclear power plant accident.
University Health Care System announces that it will move its Columbia County prompt care center from the intersection of Flowing Wells and Columbia roads to Belair Road.
Construction on a new Wal-Mart in Evans begins.
A plan that would limit livestock to lots of at least one acre in a residential area draws criticism from horse owners.
Additional state dollars are allotted to the school system, allowing for more classrooms for the new Grovetown Middle School and more money for a proposed elementary school.
Harlem Police Chief Willard Askew resigns after 39 years, saying he wants to spend more time with his family and hobbies.
Officials and residents flock to blood-donor centers after terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington on Sept. 11. Schools allow parents to pick up their children early, and churches open their doors for prayers.
Officials join in a regional effort to raise $1 million for the families of Sept. 11 victims.
Construction on the new courthouse in Evans progresses. The building is expected to open early in 2002.
The county's EMA department remains at its highest state of readiness more than a month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Jerry Baldwin of Franklin, N.C., is namedHarlem police chief.
Columbia County's Greenspace Committee furthers its efforts to protect green space in the county with the creation of five new subcommittees. The goal is to reduce urban sprawl while saving natural resources.
Harlem Mayor John Bentley announces his desire to annex the community of Campania.
The 13th annual Oliver Hardy Festival takes place in Harlem.
A new visitation room and other renovations to the Columbia County Animal Control shelter are shown to the public.
Two newcomers, one incumbent and a former city councilman are elected to fill open city council seats in Harlem and Grovetown. They are Bruce Stoddard and George James in Grovetown and Robin Root and Craig Brooks in Harlem.
Commissioners instruct a Chairmanship Task Force to implement what voters approved in November 2000: Adding an at-large elected chairman to a four-member commission.
A groundbreaking ceremony is held for a new Columbia County morgue on Belair Road. It is named after Tommy King Sr., the county's coroner for the past 31 years.
A vote by Region 7-AAAAA principals and athletic directors reduces travel distances for the Evans athletic program during the 2002-03 season. The vote allows Evans to compete in region tournaments and be eligible for the state playoffs without having to play a full region schedule.
A four-seater Piper Comanche airplane crashes behind an Evans day care center, sending the pilot to the hospital.
Columbia County celebrates its first Christmas tree-lighting ceremony at the Evans Government Complex.
Commissioners revisit the possibility of consolidating the county with Grovetown and Harlem. The idea is resurrected amid talks of sales tax distribution and franchise fee collection.
Evans band members leave for England, where they will march in the London Parade on New Year's Day.
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