Let­ter to the edi­tor

The Covington News - - OPINION -

Dear edi­tor,

Hazel­brand Road was named for the grand baby of an en­gi­neer who was sent to Cov­ing­ton to de­sign a rail sid­ing for a dis­tillery lo­cated in the area. Seems the baby was born about the time he was fin­ish­ing up the draw­ings so he named the sid­ing Hazel Brand af­ter the new­born.

The dis­tillery was lo­cated on the right hand side of the (then) dirt road, known back in the day as Hazel­brand Road, as you drive away from town and sat right on the creek. Clean wa­ter was a must for pro­duc­ing a good grade of spir­its. There were still some foot­ings left there some years ago and I tried to have them pre­served as I did the old Pat­ter­son Chim­ney on Floyd Street, but it’s hard to get people to lis­ten and un­der­stand the value of some of these relics.

We keep on los­ing what we have. And when they are gone, they are gone for­ever. The in­ci­dents are just so silly in most cases. Take for ex­am­ple the “Hub Junc­tion” lo­cated on high­way 278 at high­way 11 in New­ton County, Ge­or­gia. It was a na­tional trea­sure of a bus sta­tion cur­rently owned by Jones Petroleum in Jack­son.

Af­ter a con­ver­sa­tion with Ren An­der­son of Jones Petroleum, he said that New­ton County gave them no choice but to de­mol­ish it. WHY? Well the gen­eral con­sen­sus is that the ‘Charette’ or over­lay of the Brick Store area just didn’t call for some old bus stop to be in the pic­ture and you may guess where the pres­sure came from to de­mol­ish the build­ing.

I have seen nu­mer­ous letters from an­tiq­uity writ­ten by fam­i­lies and a lot were from mil­i­tary per­son­nel re­turn­ing from the world wars. Dis­em­bark­ing the troop ships in Nor­folk, Sa­van­nah, Jack­sonville and other ports, many of them were routed through New­ton County on their jour­neys back home by bus.

With spe­cific men­tion of the Hub Junc­tion, its per­son­nel, neigh­bors, good food and South­ern hos­pi­tal­ity helped to make many a weary trav­eler feel wel­come. This lo­ca­tion was the ‘hub’ for many dif­fer­ent routes to many dif­fer­ent places for years and years. Now it’s gone.

Just as the old Doster Red and White Su­per­mar­ket was lost dur­ing a con­struc­tion/ren­o­va­tion event, so have we lost so much. It just kinda fell in. RIGHT! No­body seems to be­lieve that story. In its place sits the con­dos and a few shops just off the square. What is the pur­pose of our His­tor­i­cal Boards and Plan­ning and Zon­ing if we al­low these build­ings to ‘fall in’ be­cause maybe they don’t fit into some­one’s fu­ture plans? Do you know about Smi­ley’s restau­rant just across from Doster’s? It also fell in.

In ef­fect, our His­tor­i­cal Com­mis­sion (a govern­ment en­tity with no con­nec­tion to the hard work- ing, dili­gent New­ton County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety) is pretty use­less as it turns out. The only thing they should have per­mit­ted to be built on those sites of timely de­mo­li­tion was a du­pli­cate of the build­ings that were al­ready there. This is the way it works in towns I have been in­volved with in the past!

You may also note the view from the lo­cal down­town bank build­ing was ‘for­tu­nately’ en­abled by the cut­ting of trees whose life had been pur­ported to have come to an end. Trees whose lo­ca­tion just hap­pened to be in a straight line be­tween the bank build­ing and the new con­dos. I never cease to be amazed at how ‘divine in­ter­ven­tion’ seems to just fa­vor a few people who want what they want no mat­ter the con­se­quences.

Yes, I have fought dili­gently to save many a his­tor­i­cal struc­ture, not only in Cov­ing­ton but other places as well. Note­wor­thy is the old Women’s Col­lege, later the Cov­ing­ton High School, later the Cov­ing­ton Ju­nior High School. Hope­less. Some­one de­cided THAT was the ideal lo­ca­tion for a new City Hall. Like there was no other property any­where in Cov­ing­ton that would work for that. Now it is the Cov­ing­ton Po­lice Depart­ment. I would warn you of go­ing to Madi­son and look­ing at what they did with their sim­i­lar school build­ing be­cause it will ab­so­lutely make you cry to see what we could have had.

I sup­pose I will have to con­tinue to list what we have lost and maybe what lit­tle we have saved at a later date in or­der not to wear out my wel­come here in hopes you will see how do­ing noth­ing some­times is bet­ter than do­ing some­thing when it comes to derelict his­tor­i­cal struc­tures un­til it is their time for a new lease on life.

Sa­muel Martin Hay III

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