Spring is here and our annual tournament guests will soon arrive. It's a
good time to dust off the "attaboys" and hand out a few handshakes for
Though potential challenges at the polls and disagreements over
legislative maps have dominated the public's attention during the 2004
session of the Georgia Legislature, Columbia County's delegation has managed
to score points for the home team.
Specifically, state Reps. Ben Harbin and Barry Fleming, and state Sens. Joey
Brush and Don Cheeks, have finally gotten approval for Columbia Road to be
designated as a Purple Heart Highway; carved out $4.6 million in funding for
the county's long-overdue satellite campus of Augusta Tech; and held onto
state funds to keep the struggling elementary foreign language program
This is an election year and there will undoubtedly be challenges and
disagreements leading up to the July primary and November General Election.
But it's nice to know the lawmakers we send to Atlanta do indeed get work
done while they're there.
It was a literal baptism by fire: North Columbia Fire & Rescue, a new
merged department made up from the former Appling, Winfield and Leah fire
departments, showed its mettle last week. The volunteer firefighters joined
Martinez Fire Department in battling the fatal fire in Appling, and the next
day fought a pair of fires straddling the McDuffie County line - one of them
with two more fatalities.
Now under contract with Columbia County taxpayers to provide fire service in
the vast, rural northwestern end of the county, North Columbia will soon
have the funds and infrastructure to operate with full-time salaried
firefighters manning stations around the clock. But even after that
transition to a professional staff, it's important to remember the
foundation of their emergency efforts: volunteers who provide service with
no payment other than the satisfaction that comes with hard work on behalf
of their fellow citizens.
Such a community sense of volunteerism also is what drives the citizens
who offered their time to gain certification as members of Columbia County's
new Community Emergency Response Team.
The 25 residents underwent weeks of training to become skilled volunteers
available in the event of a community emergency such as search and rescue
operations and natural disasters.
The program, an important part of the nation's homeland security effort, is
funded by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and run locally through
Pam Tucker's local Emergency Management office.
But the CERT volunteers - ranging from a high-school student and his dad,
all the way up to a handful of active retirees - are just in it for the
chance to serve their community. And for the nifty green hardhats, too.
Finally, special thanks, indeed, to the American Heart Association and
Doctors Hospital. The partnership purchased 100 automated external
defibrillators, or AEDs, and are distributing them - free - to all Columbia
and Richmond County schools.
Knowing the importance of these life-saving units, some Columbia County
schools had long ago bitten the bullet and bought the devices themselves.
While it's a shame the Heart Association and Doctors Hospital had to bail
out the foot-draggers, their actions will immediately make our schools
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