Wayne Etterlee's tip led to the arrest of five teens in connection with a fire that damaged the school's JROTC building, which officials said would cost $500,000 to replace.
"We need more people like you, good citizens, to give information leading to arrests of folks guilty of committing arson," Ralph Hudgens said as he gave Etterlee a large facsimile check in front of the Hephzibah Fire Department.
Etterlee said his house was broken into 2 1/2 years ago, and he was fed up with the rising crime in his neighborhood. He said he does everything he can to make people aware of criminal activity and reports any suspicious happenings to authorities. He also talks to his neighbors and gives them information on what's going on and how to contact authorities.
"It would be better for the criminals to be caught and dealt with by the law, than if I catch 'em," Etterlee said. "And that's all I need to say on that."
He said he wasn't even aware of a reward when he went to the local fire and police departments.
"I didn't do it for the money or the praise," Etterlee said. "I did it to cut the crime down in my neighborhood, and that's it."