News of the destruction of the historic "Hub Junction Bus Stop" came to me over the weekend like an arrow through the heart. My family settled in that area in 1861 and my dad, as President of the Historical Society was instrumental in restoring the Old Brick Store, the first courthouse in Newton County.
This transit structure had stood as a symbol of our area's hospitality and beauty and shelter for nearly 100 years. Probably as long as bus service operated as one of the chief modes of transportation.
As a youth, I had seen letters from all over the world written by people who traveled through and had a layover or rest stop or lunch or dinner stop at the "World's Largest Rural Bus Stop."
This was the only internationally known historic site in Covington. Many of these ‘visitors' could not speak English. A majority came into the Ports of Savannah, Jacksonville, or South Carolina, headed for the Midwest or other destinations to start a new life in their adopted country.
The property, presently owned by Bill Jones, of Jones Petroleum in Jackson, was most likely purchased with the intention of building a gas station. My research indicates that some person called the county to complain about the condition of the building. Our code enforcement officials, many of who are newcomers without full knowledge of the circumstances, issued letters of conformity or condemnation. The usual excuse for demolishing our local landmarks has been that, "it has a structural problem" although this excuse never seems to be backed up by engineering inspection. Did you know the Tower of Piza has structural problems and I don't think you could get that demolished with an order from the U.N.
My contact at Jones Petroleum, who is also my neighbor, told me the correspondence from the county left them with little choice even though they had no specific plans for the property at this time.
I firmly believe neither party was to blame for this tragedy. After I got seven phone calls over the weekend concerning our great loss, the street talk seemed to be that a major landowner in the area "wanted another roundabout at that intersection as another fancy entryway to his potential development" and it was obvious the historic structure stood in the way of the size of the necessary real estate to construct the round about. One complaint that destroyed a place in time remembered by people from around the world caused this action.
In case you are not getting the message here, it is way past time to stop catering to the minority elitists and stand our ground. What will happen next? Maybe we will build a new court annex building or a new county administration building right downtown where there is no parking and we will have to build a multi level parking deck at $10,000 per space instead of ground parking at $1,500 per space.
Or maybe we will build a civic center and hotel on a postage stamp size piece of property solely to attempt to protect the financial interests of the few by forcing people to come and do business with merchants who rent these landlord's precious business spaces. Both Walton and Butts counties, along with many more, moved their county offices out of the downtown area onto huge properties, with large ground level parking areas and plenty of room for future expansion.
I would like to point out these evidentiary structures, already built or planned prove these elitists are not interested in "Community Preservation" but Community Manipulation. Do not allow your elected officials to be enablers of these greedy actions.
In the old days, these people would have been tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. "Preservation" is obviously of no importance here because we just lost another of the few remaining pieces of precious antiquity, our middle ages so to speak. These community ‘overlays' being prepared seem to have little of no interest in preservation, as this example clearly points out. Anybody got some tar and feathers?