As reported in The Columbia News 35 years ago on Thursday, May 9, 1973.
Fire damages Martinez Elementary
In the early morning hours of May 3, 1973, two teenagers used sparklers to set fire to Martinez Elementary School causing $200,000 worth of damage.
The school was vandalized before the fire was set, said Columbia County Sheriff Ed Tankersley.
"They went from room to room with a baseball bat and broke up everything breakable," Mr. Tankersley said. "You wouldn't believe grown men could do the damage n the amount of time that two boys did."
No sparklers were found at the school, but some burnt one were found at South Columbia Elementary, which was also vandalized. The vandalism included broken windows and equipment, smashed exit signs and fire extinguishers emptied on the floor.
A local store owner remembered selling sparklers to two teenagers earlier the same day. Sheriff Tankersley followed the leads and picked up the boys - one fro Richmond County and the other from Columbia County.
Fire station nearly complete
Officials from the Martinez Fire Department recently announced the new Gibbs Road station will be open soon.
The $100,000 facility will be operated almost exclusively by volunteers and will serve the Evans community. The station, once completed and equipped, will serve the three miles west of Belair Road.
After being equipped, the station will have cost more than $100,000, none of which came from tax dollars thanks to all the volunteer firemen that served long and well in the past.
School board approves principal changes
The Board of Education, during its regular monthly session Tuesday, approved three recommendations for new principals during the 1973-74 school year.
These changes included the appointment of Melvin Johnson to serve as Harlem High School principal; Jerry Wilcher as principal of Belair Elementary School; and Janice Blackledge as assistant principal of Belair.
The board also approved a recommendation that curren Harlem High principal, John Eckinroth, as principal of the Columbia County Summer School Program.
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