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Watson family makes second donation to county fire services

Like father, like son.


The late William C. "Top" Watson 30 years ago donated land to McDuffie County for its first fire station; his son, Paul, has now donated two acres for the county's sixth station. From left, Jim Mullis Chief of Station One, joins the younger Watson, McDuffie County Chief Bruce Tanner, and Chief of Station Two and Administrative Officer Stephen Sewell.
Elwood Hamilton/File
Close to 30 years ago, William C. "Top" Watson donated a portion of his family's land to become McDuffie County's first fire station.

Now, his son and long-time assistant fire chief, Paul, and his family have decided to continue the tradition.

The Watson family announced early last year that they were donating several acres of their land to become the county's sixth fire station. Current state plans have the upcoming east bypass traveling right through the current site of Station One, which created a need for a replacement station along the bypass when it's completed.

Mr. Watson said he was thrilled to be able to follow in his father's footsteps.

"The county will get full benefit," Mr. Watson said last April. "It will give them a good sum of money to go toward an equipment station, along with the monies they already have to put toward the new station."

The Watsons' donation was finalized last week by county commissioners as being 6.1 acres located at the intersection of Salem Road and Harrison Road.

The family also decided to enact a reversionary clause of that site, which would allow the county to access the sale revenue when the land is acquired by the state for the bypass.

Last week Mr. Watson's wife, Diana, and daughter, Sara, accepted a proclamation by commissioners declaring Jan. 7 as "Paul Watson Day" in honor of the gift, which was warmly accepted by local fire officials.

"This is a pretty big deal. ... I don't know that there's too many people in McDuffie County who would be willing to do this. I certainly appreciate this, and I think everyone in the fire service appreciates it, and I think it's important that those people in the community understand, because that's who (the Watson family) has done it for," said County Fire Chief Bruce Tanner.

Mr. Watson said there were numerous reasons why he and his family donated the land.

"We want to do this, number one, because it'll help a lot of people in this county, and number two, it's a good location to provide access to the most people in this coverage area given the location of Station Two and future plans for the county fire department as a whole, of which there are six stations," he said in an interview last year. "I don't want the recognition, as it's being done in the memory of my father, to help the citizens of this county, and for the cause of something that is very near my heart."

Mr. Watson has served as a volunteer fireman for the past 35 years and was an inaugural member of Station One when it opened in 1968. He is currently in Atlanta at Emory University Hospital waiting on a heart transplant.

Web posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2004

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