COLUMBIA — When Steven Sapp started working for the Columbia Fire Department, gasoline was 97 cents per gallon, Prince was at the top of the music charts and Indiana Jones was one of the hottest characters in Hollywood.
Fire Chief Charles Witt made note of all those facts while praising Sapp's service as battalion chief and fire marshal during a retirement reception at the Daniel Boone City Building on Friday afternoon.
Family, friends and colleagues came to celebrate Sapp’s 22 years of service to the Fire Department. Witt detailed Sapp’s long career and recalled the historical and cultural events of 1989, his inaugural year. He also presented Sapp with a service award and a shadow box containing his badges.
City Manager Mike Matthes gave Sapp a plaque as a token of thanks from the city.
It turns out he may have more reason to thank him in the future.
Sapp, 53, will be retired from the city for only one week. On July 9, he will start work at the Public Works Department as its new public information specialist.
Assistant Public Works Director David Nichols, who attended the reception, said he is excited about working with Sapp. "Absolutely. He’s respected within the community. He has a good understanding of what we do. It’ll be a smooth transition for him and us. It’s a good fit.”
Sapp created the public information officer position at the Fire Department after a tornado struck the Southridge subdivision in 1998.
Lt. Shawn McCollom said he enjoyed having Sapp as a colleague. “He had a way of dealing with people. He knew how to make friends inside city government and outside," he said. "It was truly a pleasure to work with him, and he was an outstanding supervisor.”
Sapp gave a short speech in which he thanked his family, friends and colleagues. He called his feelings about retiring from the department "indescribable."
"It's exciting and scary," he said. "I've worked with such a good group of people."