As reported 31 years ago in The Columbia News and The Martinez-Evans Times, May 9, 1973:
New fire station
The Martinez Fire Department announces that the building for the Evans Fire Station will be ready for operation in the near future. The facility on Gibbs Road will be an extension of the Martinez Fire Department and will be operated almost exclusively by volunteer firemen.
When all is completed and equipped, more than $100,000 will have been spent on the facility. Not one penny of tax money will have been used, thanks to the many volunteer firemen who have served so long and well in the past in the Martinez area.
Fire damages school
In the early morning hours of May 3, 1973, two teen-age youths vandalized and set fire with sparklers to Martinez Elementary School on Flowing Wells Road, causing approximately $200,000 worth of damage.
Columbia County Sheriff Ed Tankersley was called to the scene around 6 a.m., at which time he called in men from the Department of Investigation and Otis Moreland, fire marshal. "We all went to work," he said. "There were no sparklers found at Martinez, but burnt sparklers were found at South Columbia Elementary School."
According to the sheriff, Martinez Elementary was vandalized before it was set fire. "They went from room to room with a baseball bat and broke up everything breakable," Tankersley said. "You wouldn't believe grown men could do the damage in the amount of time that two boys did."
A local store reported selling sparklers to two teen-age boys around 3 a.m. Tankersley acted on leads in picking up two boys, one from Columbia County and one from Richmond County.
Three recommendations were approved by the Board of Education in regular session last Tuesday concerning principalships for the 1973-74 school year.
These administrative changes included the appointment of Melvin Johnson to serve as principal of Harlem High School; Jerry Wilcher as principal of Bel Air Elementary School; and Janice Blackledge, assistant principal of Bel Air.
The board also approved a recommendation that John Eckenroth, acting principal of Harlem High, serve as principal for the Columbia County Summer School Program.
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