by Lisa Tome
After a fire swept through his businesses on December 4, 2013, John Belew could have given up and walked away.
Instead, he has transformed a corner of Rising Sun's downtown.
"The Lord blessed us well. The insurance came through great. We got to remodel and update it all. The exterior should be done this week," said Belew.
Belew said that the cause of the fire was determined by both the Office of the State Fire Marshal and a private investigator. Both concluded that a heat lamp on a reptile cage sparked the fire.
He said that in the wake of the fire, his first concern was to get the residents who live above the businesses back in their homes.
That work was completed in nine days. The next order of business was to get Your Personal Chef Catering, the nutrition shop, and the pet store reopened. All the businesses are open and upgrades at the property are still underway.
On May 17, Belew will celebrate his comeback. A grand opening will be held on South Queen Street from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. There will be live gospel music from the Nottingham Four, Jonathan Buckner and Chosen Road, For His Glory, and El. A symbolic ribbon will be cut at the businesses and there will be refreshments.
Belew also asked other downtown businesses to sign on and celebrate with him. Ace Hardware and SP Discount have both agreed.
RELATED: Click HERE to view photos of the fire.
Belew said he is thankful for all the help he had after the fire. He and the tenants received help from the Greater Rising Sun Chamber, Ravens Roost 119, Rising Sun Police, Janes UM Church, and many individuals who bought meals for the construction crews who toiled as many as 90 hours a week to get the businesses open. "And the town worked with us very well. They gave us what we asked for and we gave them what they asked for," said Belew. "People stood behind us. People said 'don't leave'."
As part of the celebration, Belew's church, Way of Life Community Church is also participating. They will host the Color Fun Run for children grade eight and younger. This is a free event for children and starts at 10 a.m. at the corner of Main and Queen Streets, Register at mywayoflife.org.
Those who attend are asked to bring a non-perishable food item which will be donated to Ray of Hope Mission.
Children are being asked to wear white shorts and shirts to the event and run or walk two miles.
While they are running along Main Street, Colonial Way, Biggs Highway, and South Queen Street, stations will be set up. From those stations, colored corn starch will be tossed at the the runners. The goal is to have the children appear to have been tie-dyed with many colors by the end of the run.
Following the run, there will be free food, moon bounces, activities, and games for the families who attend in the municipal parking lot next to Sun Pharmacy.
"We wanted to make this a town event. We can all feed off each other and get people back into downtown," added Belew.