County Commission honors Buzz Smith of Cottonwood


Buzz Smith (right) poses with an honor the Houston County Commission and other officials recently bestowed upon him for reporting a fire at Cottonwood High School in December 2018. With Smith is his wife Betsy.

The quick thinking of a Cottonwood resident likely saved the town’s high school in December, and county officials recently honored him for his efforts.

In the early morning hours of Dec. 6, 2018, Buzz Smith awakened to discover a fire burning inside the science building at Cottonwood High School, according to Houston County District 2 Commissioner Doug Sinquefield. Smith quickly alerted authorities about the fire, likely saving the school from major damage, according to Cottonwood Volunteer Fire Department Chief Randy Hall.

“The high school is one of the oldest buildings in the town,” Hall said Monday. “We had a couple of neighboring departments and Dothan respond to it (with us). If this had been delayed, it probably would have been a full-blown structure fire.”

“His actions saved the school from what could have been a disastrous situation,” Sinquefield added.

The fire, which started in a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit, caused about $97,000 in damage, according to an earlier Eagle report.

Sinquefield recognized Smith’s efforts at last week’s Houston County Commission meeting, and officials created a plaque to commemorate the event. District 3 Commissioner Ricky Herring presented the plaque to Smith on Sunday since they attend the same church.

The plaque’s inscription reads “In honor of Buzz Smith, the Houston County citizens, citizens of Cottonwood, and the students and faculty of Cottonwood School would like to say thank you for outstanding community service in which quick thinking and recognition of the importance of a 911 call was able to save Cottonwood High School from devastating destruction on the date of December 6th, 2018.”

Both Hall and Sinquefield emphasized the importance of residents notifying authorities when they see a potentially dangerous situation unfolding.

“If you see something, say something,” Sinquefield said.

Follow Jeremy Wise on Twitter @DEgovbeat

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