In 2002, Columbia County remembered old friends and celebrated new additions There were the November elections which brought change and some surprises. Columbia County Commissioner Chairman-elect Ron Cross became the first chairman to be elected by vote of the people of Columbia County.
Residents learned to deal with traffic slowdowns because of road construction on Columbia Road and on Interstate 20. Columbia County celebrated patriotism, not just on Independence day but with special ceremonies on Veterans Day and on Sept. 11.
Columbia County saw violent acts such as the shooting of a sheriff's deputy and the murder of an Evans man by four teens.
But there also were tremendous acts of heroism and courage that helped to save lives and make lives safer.
After a few delays the new Justice Center in Evans finally opened. The county had to move records from the Appling courthouse to the new location. Although the Justice Center flooded in mid-November, the facility was ready by the Nov. 20 dedication ceremony. More than 2,000 people joined the all-school choir that sang at the lighting of the Christmas tree in front of the Justice Center in early December.
Finally, in December, Columbia County celebrated its 212th birthday.
Some of the top stories of 2002 include:
Snowy weather conditions force Columbia County middle and high schools to close early Jan. 2.
New HarlemCity Council member Craig Brooks and Mayor Pro-Tem Robin Root are sworn in and Jim Blanchard Jr. fills the new Superior Court judgeship for the Augusta Judicial Circuit.
Carlene Flakes is killed when driving an automobile over the train tracks at the intersection of Planner Mill Road and Gordon Highway in Harlem.
Columbia County is awarded more than $456,000 by the Georgia Greenspace Commission to preserve greenspace.
The Columbia County Humane Society unveils plans for a new shelter on Columbia Road.
Columbia County's sister city of Novy Sacz, Poland, sends a leather-bound book of its condolences for the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Barry Paschal, opinions editor for The Columbia County News-Times, was named publisher of the newspaper.
Lorraine Hall of Evans Middle School was named Wal-Mart's teacher of the year.
More than 7,000 customers visit the New Wal-Mart Supercenter on Washington Road in Evans on Feb. 20.
A countywide tornado drill is conducted and the Columbia County Emergency Management Agency prepares a bioterrorism response plan.
Columbia Middle School pupils take a trip to Augusta State University to get a taste of college life.
Stock car racing is back in the county with the reopening of the Silver Eagle Speedway on March 30.
Trombone player Arthur Moore, an eighth-grade pupil at Riverside Middle School joined 80 other trombonists in the All-State Band.
The Kiwanis Club starts a branch in Columbia County.
Doctors Hospital hosts the Evans Best Barbecue Showdown on March 16 to benefit the Southern Firefighters Burn Foundation. Local firefighters bid farewell to former Martinez Fire Chief Gene Davis, who died at the age of 69.
Children hunt for the 8,000 plastic Easter eggs hidden at Patriots Park by the Columbia County Recreation Department.
Two Lakeside High School math teams dominate the Augusta State University's 28th Annual Math Contest.
Edmunds' Bar-B-Que and Catering celebrates 25 years of bringing smoked pork and chicken to hungry customers.
County Commission Chairman Barry Fleming announces that he will run for the District 79 seat in the Georgia House of Representatives.
A new telephone system called Message 911, designed to alert residents and businesses and neighborhoods of dangers in their community, is installed by Columbia County Emergency Services.
Thomson business and civic leader James Wilson Jr., 79, dies after his golf cart was struck by a car on Georgia Highway 10.
The 13th Annual Cookin' for Kids competition, in conjunction with the Exchange Club Fair, made tasty treats and helped raise money for the Shelter and Advocacy Center.
Columbia County schools get high marks in the Georgia Public Policy Foundation's Spring 2002 Report Card for parents. Stevens Creek Elementary School is ranked third out of 1,053 elementary schools, Riverside Elementary School ranks 32nd and Blue Ridge Elementary School ranks 34th.
The Bartram Trail Golf Club project nears construction, and plans for a new site in Columbia County of St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church are unveiled. Columbia County Christian Church breaks ground for a new 5,000 square-foot sanctuary at 4004 Prescott Drive in Martinez.
The congregation of West Augusta Baptist Church also broke ground for a new church at Industrial Park Drive and Southern Pines Drive. The congregation plans to change its name to Jones Creek Baptist Church.
Columbia County Sheriff's Deputy Glenda Shelton is attacked and shot by a prisoner. The suspect, 23-year-old Tamika Bumpass, is found hours later and Shelton eventually recovers and returns to duty.
Greenbrier Elementary School opens a new outdoor classroom as schools gear up for summer session at Evans High School. Schools also honor merit scholars and name their Teacher of the Year nominees.
On May 25, the Red, White and Blue Veterans Celebration brings colors of pride to Columbia County.
A total of 1,119 seniors from Columbia County crossed the stage to get their diplomas at Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.
Harlem's first Relay for Life walk raises more than $20,000 for the American Cancer Society.
High school tests scores rise in all areas of the Georgia High School Graduation Tests and the Georgia Writing Assessment Test.
Ground-breaking ceremonies are held for the first phase of a bike path that will eventually connect Savannah Rapids Pavillion to the Evans Government Center.
The new Columbia County Detention Center opens.
Mother Nature makes her mark with flash flooding that causes minor tree damage.
Voters get to test the new voting machines that will be used in upcoming elections.
Residents celebrate Independence Day with food, fireworks and fun at the Little River Marina, Fort Gordon, Patriots Park, Tradewinds Marina and at Grovetown's annual barbecue.
Columbia County says goodbye to Columbia County Sheriff's Office retiree Gary Palmer, 64, after he dies in a car accident.
Area residents take gold medals in everything from diving to wrestling at the Georgia Games.
The new courthouse annex is scheduled to open July 31, and the new Laurel and Hardy Museum opens in Harlem.
The Thomson High School Bulldogs get ready for football season at practice. The Girl Scout camp at Camp Tanglewood gives girls the opportunity to learn scuba diving and other skills.
Columbia County Recreation Department Dixie Boys All-Star baseball team brings home the state World Series titles in the Dixie 13-14 age division.
Tamika Bumpass, who pleaded guilty to shooting a Columbia County deputy, is sentenced to 40 years in prison on assault, escape and fraud charges.
Steve Brown beats incumbent Frank Spears for the county commission's District 1 seat and Ron Cross defeats Andy Kingery for commission chairman.
Harlem and Grovetown middle-school pupils share the Harlem campus until the new Grovetown middle school is completed.
The Grovetown Public Safety Department, with help from the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, holds the 19th annual National Night Out to get residents to share time with neighbors and raise awareness about crime prevention.
On Aug. 29, the new Columbia County Judicial Center officially opens.
The Columbia County Clean and Beautiful Committee issues a five-week challenge Sept. 1 to clean up roads around the county.
The Columbia County News-Times unveils its Web site at www.newstimesonline.com.
The community remembers the tragedy of Sept. 11 with a service called Remembering Our Sorrow, Proclaiming Our Hope. Pupils at Columbia Middle School honors America with Patriots Day.
Mark Devoti defeats Tom Mundy in the Sept. 10 runoff for the Columbia County Commission District 3 seat.
On Sept. 18, 5 inches of rain fall on Columbia County, flooding Columbia Middle School and submerging roads. The Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros Circus moves to Augusta Mall because of the flooding at the Columbia County Fairgrounds.
Columbia County names Lorraine Hall, a seventh-grade teacher at Evans Middle School, as the county's Teacher of the Year.
Fans flock from across the United States to the 14th Annual Oliver Hardy Festival in Harlem.
The Kroger on Washington Road adds a gas station to its parking lot.
Evans High School junior Holly Spivey, 16, and parents Harry and Linda die in a house fire. The Evans High School marching band honors their fellow band member by dedicating their homecoming performance to Holly.
A frenzy of festivals fill the fall with fun from the Harlem High School Vocational Industrial Clubs of America Car Show to the Winfield Fire Department Halloween Carnival; from the Trunk or Treat event at the First Baptist Church of Evans to the Columbia County Merchants Association Fair.
A mock nuclear waste transport accident tests the response reflexes of emergency agencies in the county.
Voters try out the new voting machines and continue their Republican tilt, sending Sen. Joey Brush and Rep. Ben Harbin back to Atlanta, electing Barry Fleming to the District 79 Georgia House of Representatives seat and electing Charlie Norwood in the new U.S. House of Representative District 9 seat.
Four Martinez teens are charged in connection with the kidnapping and murder of 63-year-old Jack A. Murray of Evans.
The new Justice Center floods Nov. 11 but officials get it cleaned in time for the Nov. 20 dedication. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, the keynote speaker for the occasion, calls the facility "simply magnificent."
Veterans are honored on Veterans Day with a special singing program and the opportunity to look at the American Veterans Traveling Tribute Wall at the Columbia County Fairgrounds. The Veterans Day Bar-B-Que Cookoff brings some tasty treats to town.
Yearbooks at Augusta Preparatory Day School's Lower School go digital and will now be available on CR-ROM.
The first phase of the Evans-to-Lock bike path opens.
As Columbia County celebrated its 212th birthday, some residents celebrated Christmas with Santa and the Grinch at the Columbia County Children's luncheon.
The all-school chorus goes caroling at the Columbia County Justice Center and about 2,000 people attended the tree-lighting celebration.
Harlem, Grovetown and Martinez have their annual Christmas parades and Martinez United Methodist Church re-enacts the story of Jesus' life.
The Family Y will expand into Columbia County with a new branch at Eagle Point Center in Harlem.
Columbia County Commissioner Chairman Jim Whitehead leaves his post after eight years of service to the county. District 2 Commissioner Frank Spears says goodbye after three years of service.
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