The AP’s story, originally published in the Burlington Times-News, about the bridge naming, followed by the NCDOT’s resolution naming an Alamance County bridge for Jim Covington, Sr.
Jim Covington Sr. was known to most as the owner of Jim’s Hot Dogs and Hamburgers for 56 years, but he was remembered for much more Wednesday.
“He touched the lives of thousands and thousands of individuals,” Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson said at a celebration in the Burlington Shrine Club on Plantation Drive of the N.C. Department of Transportation’s naming an interstate bridge in Graham after Covington.
Of all the things Covington, who died Nov. 19, was sometimes tearfully remembered for, his 38 years organizing the annual Shriners fish fry to raise money for the Shriners Hospitals for Children, and all the children it helped, was the one people came back to the most.
“There could not be a greater honor than having the bridge right down from where I growed up named after Jim Covington,” Johnson said.
Covington, 86, died not long after finding out his friends and the Graham City Council were trying to get the bridge over Interstate 40/85 at Jimmie Kerr Road named for him. They succeeded, and while an N.C. DOT crew was putting the sign up Wednesday, about 100 people were at the Shrine Club to honor Covington, including many relatives, members of the county Rescue Unit and the N.C. Highway Patrol, Mebane Fire Chief Bob Louis, Johnson, County Manager Craig Honeycutt and N.C. Secretary of Transportation Nick Tennyson.
“Daddy did know about” the bridge dedication, son David Covington said. “It was one of the few times I’d seen him speechless.”
Covington was working at his restaurant at East Webb Avenue and West Elm Street until last summer, when his health started failing. Over the years, he also led the local Bingham Masonic Lodge and Shrine Club, was an active lifelong member of Hawfields Presbyterian Church, and was treasurer of the county Rescue Unit for a very long time. Much of Covington’s work for the community was through the Masons and particularly the Shriners — he was one of just three 33-degree Masons in Alamance County, David Covington said. One of the others was Jim Covington Jr.
Born and raised in Hawfields, Covington was working for Melville Dairy when he and his wife Barbara opened a Tastee Freez franchise. They became independent after about 28 years, and the restaurant became a local fixture.
Everyone, including Lash Wrightenberry, the friend behind the bridge naming, remembered Covington making them laugh often at themselves. After leaving the hospital for a serious health issue, Wrightenberry told his wife he wanted one of Covington’s milkshakes, and Covington delivered one of the tallest he could make right to his house.
“And on the top, Jim wrote, ‘We miss your big mouth.’”
–Burlington Times-News Dec 24, 2016
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WHEREAS, Jim Covington, Sr. has owned and operated Jim’s Hot Dogs and Hamburgers in Graham which has provided employment for and fed those in the community for over 50 years;
and WHEREAS, Jim Covington, Sr. served as Past Master of the Bingham Masonic Lodge in Mebane, Past President of the Burlington Shrine Club, Past Potentate Amran Temple in Raleigh and Past Chairman of the North South Shrine Bowl;
and WHEREAS, Jim Covington, Sr. committed himself as Chairman of the Burlington Shriners Fish Fry for over 38 years. His commitment provided financial assistance and food for those less fortunate;
and WHEREAS, Jim Covington, Sr. has been an active, lifelong member of Hawfields Presbyterian Church in Mebane where he has served as a Deacon and on the Board of Elders. He has also demonstrated leadership through support of various local, national and international missions, and is a strong supporter of the children’s and youth ministries;
and WHEREAS, the Graham City Council requests to name the Jimmy Kerr Road Bridge over I-40 in honor of Jim Covington, Sr. for his outstanding service and contributions to Alamance County and the State.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: That the North Carolina Board of Transportation names the Jimmy Kerr Road Bridge over I-40 in Alamance County the Jim Covington Sr. Bridge. That appropriate signs will be erected at a suitable time. Adopted, this the first day of December 2016 by the North Carolina Board of Transportation