The last time I stuck my nose into the business of naming a new Columbia County school, the effort wasn't as successful.
With a couple of community leaders, I contended the school that eventually was named River Ridge Elementary should be named Oakey Grove Elementary.
Oakey Grove was a pre-integration black school. But the connection for some in the community was too close to Oakey Grove Baptist Church, so the name didn't win acceptance.
We really seem to like rivers and ridges in our school names, so River Ridge Elementary, along with Riverside Elementary and Riverside Middle, and Blue Ridge Elementary, this year was joined by Cedar Ridge Elementary.
Meanwhile, the county was building its first modern two-story school on Blackstone Camp Road, and it was time to find a name. The usual way to come up with names, mascots and colors is for the new school's principal to form a committee. But the school doesn't have a principal yet, and the need to decorate the new building and its gym with the school name, colors and logo already is pressing.
So the duty of coming up with the name fell to the school board, which relied on recommendations from the superintendent. This time I got to play along.
School Superintendent Charles Nagle asked if I'd dig around a little in the background of the Blackstone Camp name, since it seemed to be the working title of the school, and to offer some alternative names and their history.
I didn't have a lot of time to search, but it appears Blackstone Camp Road, like County Camp Road in Appling, was named for a convict road-work camp associated with an early county official, Charles Blackstone.
An 1875 legal notice says Blackstone, who operated a cotton gin in that area, was appointed by the grand jury in 1875 as a road commissioner.
Though some folks thought it could have been funny to have a middle school named after a labor camp, others figured that might not be such a good idea (although it would have been cool to call their team the Chain Gang.) So I offered some other names.
It just so happens that Columbia County's museum study committee recently has been taking a mental inventory of our county's history, and our most significant single historical site is Stallings Island.
Located near the new school as the crow flies, Stallings Island is the cradle of civilization for this entire area. More than 4,000 years ago, the Stallings Island Culture built mussel-shell "middens" on the island, created elaborate burial chambers for their dead and even attempted a crude version of brain surgery.
These early native Americans also created the first pottery in North America. Right here, in Columbia County. Didn't know that? Well, now that the school board has named Stallings Island Middle School, perhaps more people will learn about it.
Glad I could help. The mascot, by the way, is the Red Hawks, and the school colors are red and gold.
While I'm being so helpful, I'm happy to again moderate a Grovetown "stump meeting."
The Nov. 6 elections in Columbia County's largest city probably aren't generating much excitement. The highly anticipated race for a successor to retiring Mayor Dennis Trudeau turned out to be no race at all, when City Council member George James was the only person signing up to run. Then, when one of the two candidates for James' seat dropped out, that left Rosa Lee Owens unopposed.
There will be a winners-take-all race for the remaining two city council seats, however, with three candidates - two of them incumbents - in the race.
The candidates will face the audience at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Liberty Park Gym. Send me an e-mail with any questions you'd like me to ask the candidates.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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