COVINGTON, Ga. – Rep. Sharon Henderson of House District 113, which includes portions of Newton and Rockdale counties, sat down with The Covington News to give an update on her efforts in providing aid for the businesses affected by the Aug. 25 fire.
What assistance are you wanting to bring to the businesses affected by the fire?
SH: Because this is the first time we actually experienced a fire such as this magnitude, I’m not sure what assistance is available at the state level, but I am doing research and investigating. Right now as we speak, I have my office checking on the assistance that are available to assist these businesses that had a total loss. Some businesses [did] not have total loss, they had smoke damage, but either way, the businesses should be getting assistance financially to bring them back to an open door.
What’s your ideal timeline in wanting to bring assistance to those businesses?
SH: As soon as possible, because they took a loss and not only that, of course, as you know, this is a tourist area that’s very busy. These businesses handle a lot of traffic. Plain Nuts is one business that’s very popular with the lunch traffic. I think next door was the shoe store and all of these businesses need to be restored to reopening as soon as possible. That’s my goal.
Why is it important for you to be directly involved with the rebuilding process of the fire damage?
SH: Because this is my district. This is District 113. I am the state representative for this area. And I am one that actually looks out for businesses and various entities in my district, make sure that they’re taken care of. So that’s my ultimate goal.
Is there anything else you want to add regarding the fire?
SH: We were totally devastated by the fire. I got a call early that morning from Ken Malcom and he advised me of the fire. We were totally devastated, but of course, Covington being a close knit community, we will persevere and we will overcome any triumph we’re facing because of this fire. So we’ll get through it.
What you’re wanting to do with bringing assistance, are you working directly with people like Ken Malcolm, or is this something completely different by yourself?
SH: This is something different because like I said, I’m the state representative. But on a state level, I’m working in that capacity because I’m the state representative. To get whatever funding is available for my community. I’m working with churches in the community, pastors that would like to assist as well. Of course, they have members that visit these businesses and they actually cater to these businesses. And like I said, with the tourist area being so popular in this area, it takes away those businesses. Are going to take a loss because they’re not open now. And we’re approaching the holiday season as well. They need to be reopened.
Have you spoken directly to these businesses that have been affected? Or is there any, like, line of communication between you and, like, Plain Nuts and all them that were directly affected by the fire?
SH: Yes, we know Jim Williamson very well. He’s the owner of Plain Nuts.
Jerome Henderson, Sharon’s husband: During the same day of the fire since Ken called us, I went around, I talked to some of the business and what I’m doing is setting it up where my wife [is] going to go back and talk to them because they want to talk to her. They remember her face and everything else, but just let her see them.SH: And they’ll fill me in on the amount of loss they’ve taken and what kind of loss they had in detail. You hear it from the community, but I like to sit down with them, especially, and get it exactly what took place. No one knows the cause of the fire yet, that’s still being investigated, but yes, I’m gonna be interviewing with these business owners.