Reynolds trio earn Central volunteer of the year awards

By Greg Oliver
Courtesy The Journal

CENTRAL — Ed Reynolds, his brother, Franklin “Red” Reynolds, and his son, Isaiah Reynolds, are proud to be lifelong Central residents and have made it their goal to give back to the town in any manner possible.

The trio’s service has primarily come through the fire department, with Ed as the town’s volunteer fire chief, Isaiah as the captain and Red as a firefighter. According to the town’s website, the Central Volunteer Fire Department protects approximately 8,000 people living in an area of 45 square miles, and its two stations protect an area that is primarily residential.

Currently, the Reynoldses are spending time preparing the future site of the new fire department on S.C. Highway 93 near Southern Wesleyan University that will replace the one in existence since the late 1960s. For their efforts, they received the town’s volunteer of the year award presented at a recent town council meeting.

“These three guys have really just gone above and beyond,” said assistant town administrator and recreation director Tom Cloer, who presented the awards. “They’ve always wanted to serve the community and have been involved in fire service. They’re just a blessing. Each one had a key role, and my hat’s off to them.”

Cloer said Ed spent time developing the grading work and coordinating use of the equipment and donations of dirt. Red was honored for securing equipment, performing the actual grading, compaction tests and inspections and spent the most time on the site, Cloer added, while Isaiah assisted Red with compaction and using the equipment.

“These guys care about the community,” Cloer said, adding that their volunteer efforts have saved the town tens of thousands of dollars.

trioEd said they spent the summer organizing and leveling dirt at the site. The fire chief said he worked with several area contractors, seeking free dirt.

From left, Central Volunteer Fire Chief Ed Reynolds, son, fire captain Isaiah Reynolds, and brother, firefighter Franklin “Red” Reynolds, display their volunteer of the year awards for 2016 presented by the town at a recent council meeting. (Special to The Journal)

“We were wanting all the dirt we could get for free, and Red had the capability of bulldozing and packing,” he said.

The fire chief said a new fire station has been his dream since he served on town council several years ago, when he was part of the effort to build a new town hall.

“When the new city hall was paid for, it would be our turn, and now it’s our turn,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds added that the new fire station will be level, with a five-bay drive thru facing S.C. 93. He hopes construction can begin by late spring or early summer, and the project is expected to take a year to a year and a half to complete.

Red said news of receiving the award “caught me off guard.”

“Tom told me I needed to be at a meeting,” he said. “Then they started talking about the volunteer of the year award, and I thought that surely wasn’t me.”

Red added that the site work has been “a big undertaking.” Even though Red knew the work that would be involved and people who could assist in getting it done while saving money at the same time, that wasn’t all the project entailed.

“The weather is always a problem on a site like that — it’s either dry and dusty or wet and muddy,” he said. “We’re waiting on more dirt to finish it out.

“We’ve been pretty fortunate for the most part, because there’s just not a lot of dirt available anymore. Every hump around Central has been collected and dumped somewhere.”

By Red’s own estimate, some 30,000 cubic yards of dirt is needed to level the site — which he admits “is a pretty good chunk.” He is also appreciative to Clemson Experimental Forest officials for allowing the use of their equipment.

“I guess it is something special,” he said. “Being born and raised here, I have seen (the town) grow and change so much. It’s kind of frustrating sometimes because we get so busy, and I miss the old Central. But, with the way we’re growing, it’s a good thing.”

Isaiah said he was honored with the award, but always happy to give back to a town and, specifically, a fire department, that has been such an important part of his life.

“I’ve lived here all my life, and the city and fire department has always been good to us,” Isaiah said. “When I joined the fire department 10 years ago, it was like a second family. The community has always supported us, and it’s going to be nice to give back to the community.”

Once the new fire department opens, Isaiah said it would be in a more open location, where the community can come in and hold events, as well as additional classrooms to provide more training for firefighters.

“It’s been good to know that we’ve all come together and helped out, and doing it for the fire department means a lot more,” he said.

Ed said the new fire department would come at a time when it is sorely needed. This year’s call volume is expected to reach 400, double the amount of three years ago, and the town’s ISO rating will be lowered from a 4 to a 3 effective Jan. 1 — the same day the Central Rural Fire District will go from a 5 to a 3.

“This is a very, very strong accomplishment for us,” Ed Reynolds said.