Columbia County officials made two moves in recent weeks that will establish lasting legacies for citizens of the community.
First, in a long-awaited move, commissioners on Feb. 1 voted to rename the Patriots Park Gym in honor of the late Bobby Waters.
The Thomas Bobby Waters Gymnasium now bears the name of the late chairman of the county's Recreation Advisory Board, who died suddenly of a heart attack July 15, 2003 at age 53. County Commissioner Tom Mercer, presented the proclamation to Waters' widow, Diane, after hailing his long-time friend and political advisor for understanding "the life-long values taught in sports."
The honor is a perfect fit. Waters was a strong advocate for the county's recreation programs. He also persuaded other influential community members to join him on the board that supports the rec department. He was the consummate team player, and his name will adorn one of the county's best facilities for team sports.
Also Feb. 1, the county agreed to purchase the 140-acre granite outcropping next to Heggie's Rock in Appling.
Some call the area "Little Heggie's Rock," and while it indeed is somewhat smaller than the preserve owned by the Nature Conservancy in Georgia, the county's new protected site is just as ecologically significant.
Neither outcropping is as fragile as some ecologists maintain. After all, those endangered plants growing on the stone have survived everything from careless hikers to picnickers -- some of whom, until just a few years ago, routinely drove onto the outcropping to spread their blankets on the sun-warmed rock.
Still, the plants growing on the unforgiving surface need protection. And the rock underneath could have been turned to rubble if Martin-Marietta had not agreed to give up the lucrative rights to mining the rock.
Columbia County paid nearly $600,000 for the land, adding it to the county's inventory of protected greenspace. For future generations who will have an opportunity to take guided -- and far more responsible -- tours of the fascinating site, it's money well spent.
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