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Posted: June 24, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Letter from Sam Martin Hay III

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 working, 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.

Sam Martin Hay III

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