The public is invited to attend the dedication of two new fire stations Monday, when a memorabilia room for Leah High School also will be unveiled.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony for Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue station No. 17, on Louisville Road at Euchee Creek Drive, will start at 8:30 a.m. and will include tours and refreshments.
"Fire service has never been better," said Pam Tucker, Columbia County's Emergency and Operations director.
The station, which opened Sept. 28, replaces a 24-hour fully-staffed station on White Road, where firefighters operated out of a temporary trailer. The White Road station is still operated by volunteers, Tucker said.
The dedication of fire station No. 16 on Ray Owens Road will start at 10 a.m. The station replaces a temporary trailer on the site of the former Leah High School.
That fire station also includes a Leah High School memorabilia room, organized by the Columbia County Historical Society. The site features an arch that once marked the entrance to the school. The county restored the concrete arch and erected it last week.
"It turned out beautifully," Tucker said.
The school once stood behind the fire station. All that remains of it now are the arch and the school's foundation.
The last Leah High School graduation was in 1949 and it closed seven years later, sending its pupils to Appling Elementary and Harlem High.
Former Leah High pupil Nancy Blanchard and her husband, Gary, who is a graduate, are spearheading the hunt for artifacts from the school.
"We have a lot of things from the late 1920s and the 1930s," Blanchard said. "We have lots of pictures. We just have a lot of things. We were kind of surprised at everything we did get."
The memorabilia room features a 1930s mattock used by workers under the Works Progress Administration, which built the arch; a 1914 student photo; a school newsletter; a practice JROTC rifle; and programs from plays, graduations and other special events.
Though work on the memorabilia room and the arch and walkway in front of it were only recently completed, Blanchard said most of the collected artifacts will be on display at the dedication.
The memorabilia room will be kept locked, securing the artifacts, when not being shown. A Historical Society member will ensure it is open for anyone wishing to peruse its contents until more permanent open hours are arranged, Blanchard said.
The Historical Society is still accepting donations of school artifacts. Blanchard said even though they've gotten a hand bell used in the elementary school in the 1920s, she's still looking for the bell that once was housed in a tower atop the old school.
"We don't intend to stop when we open," she said. "We'll continue accepting things."
To make a donation, call Blanchard at (706) 541-0043. To schedule a viewing of the memorabilia room, call (706) 541-1254.
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