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Martin retires from Forestry

Landowners and fellow foresters told stories and said good-bye to Ronnie Martin, who retired as chief ranger of the Decatur County Unit of the Georgia Forestry Commission.

Martin started working for the Forestry Commission in 1982, as he said Saturday evening during a retirement party for him. Back then, rangers didn’t have pagers and they had to stay by the phone in case they were called out to a forest fire, he said.

Forestry colleagues, landowners and others recalled stories of Martin, especially harping on how frugal he is—some claimed he makes change in Sunday service’s collection trays and still has the same $100 bill his late father gave him years ago. They also talked about his ability to run into game wardens during inopportune times.

Martin has been in charge of the local unit, located on Dothan Road, in one of the state’s largest counties, where 64 percent of the county is woodland.

During the past 50 years, the county has averaged approximately 100 reported wildfires a year, and these fires burned an average of 626 acres a year over the same period; however, there has been some decrease since the advent of burning permits the past 20 years.

Martin was given a plaque made of 400-year-old oak wood, which Greg Findley of the Forest Commission said was a 300-year-old tree that was cut and then remained in the Flint River for 100 years.

Martin’s last day of work at the unit was Oct. 17, 2009. Rodney Heard has been named as the acting chief ranger of the county’s unit.