At the helm
Local GFC hires new chief ranger

COVINGTON - Mike Sapp has taken on the chief ranger position at the Georgia Forestry Commission's Newton-Rockdale-DeKalb unit.

Sapp has been on the job all summer following the departure of former Chief Ranger Terry Quigley, who transferred back to his hometown of Coweta County.

Sapp has served as a Ranger 1 with the unit for the past three years.

He first got interested in forestry while helping out on his family's 300-acre farm in Camilla.

A self-employed paint contractor for 25 years, Sapp decided a career change was in order and thought the Forestry Commission would be a good fit, given his love of the outdoors.

Once hired as an entry level ranger, he underwent a one-week course in basic wildland firefighting and eight weeks of on-the-job training.

As chief ranger, Sapp said he has more administrative duties while also continuing with his Ranger 1 responsibilities.

"I'm doing two jobs right now," Sapp said, due to a state hiring freeze that prohibits him from hiring a replacement.

A chief ranger's duties include ensuring that rangers are up to par on training, supervising wildfire suppression and prescribed burns, handling computer and paperwork, managing the educational programs the unit provides for schoolchildren and community organizations and working with local governments to coordinate events such as Arbor Day ceremonies.

Sapp said he has no plans for any big changes at the local unit, located on Access Road in Newton County.

"The way it's been run here in the past, it's worked very well, and I just hope to continue along those same lines," he said.

Sapp lives in Gwinnett County but said he may move to Newton soon.

He and his wife, Kellie, have been married for 10 years.

Sapp encouraged any residents with concerns or questions to call him at 770-784-2480.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.