Clerk: Han­cock County dis­as­ter won’t re­peat here

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - ROB DEWIG rdewig@cov­

The ter­ri­ble fire that lev­eled the Han­cock County Court­house in Sparta on Aug. 13 de­stroyed more than just a build­ing — it de­stroyed ir­re­place­able doc­u­ments dat­ing back to the 1700s.

Fires hap­pen to build­ings. Never say never.

But New­ton County’s doc­u­ments are safe, ac­cord­ing to County Clerk Jackie Smith.

“Thank­fully, records of the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers are in fire­proof file cab­i­nets,” she said Wed­nes­day.

If fire, God for­bid, took out the court­house, the records should be safe.

“Of course, I can only go by what the fire­proof peo­ple say,” Smith said. “But (the county’s records) are pro­tected.”

The New­ton County Court­house was built in 1884 on a cor­ner of the Square to re­place an ear­lier court­house on the Square that, yes, burned to the ground in the 1883 along with much of the north side of the Square. The historic build­ing has been fea­tured in sev­eral TV shows and movies, and is listed by road­side­ge­or­ as “one of the best-known of all Ge­or­gia county court­houses.”

“It would be just a tragedy” if Han­cock County’s dis­as­ter was re­peated, even if just the court­house burned and not the records, Smith said. “I couldn’t stand it. This is the best thing that we’ve got in the county. It’s our his­tory.”

When word of the Han­cock fire broke, the Ge­or­gia As­so­ci­a­tion of County Clerk (Smith was its pres­i­dent a decade ago) im­me­di­ately sent word to Han­cock County of­fer­ing any help it could.

“I’m just shocked” at Han­cock County’s mis­for­tune, she said.

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