From staff reports
A special ceremony marked the one-year anniversary of the storm system that left a 34-mile path of destruction and took ten lives in Winston County on Tuesday, April 28.
“We remember today to reflect on how far we have come, yet know we have a long way to go,” said Louisville Mayor Will Hill as he opened the event and welcomed the overflowing crowd gathered near Hwy 397 and Memorial Park only yards away from where three of the victims lost their lives in 2014.
The memorial dedication and park area were built to insure that all remember the victims and devastation caused by the EF-4 tornado that hit Winston County April 28, 2014.
Rev. William Haynes, whose church was destroyed by the tornado on Armstrong, gave the invocation. The Mississippi Highway Patrol posted the state and national colors while Parker Bullock sang the National Anthem.
Mike Dowd, Hubert Yates, Robert Brown, and Mellie Jordan all volunteers of Winston Strong spoke a Litany of Thanksgiving. During the litany, the group recognized all those who helped which included: 40 churches; business teams; student teams; 449 volunteers who donated 8,701 hours; 476 volunteers with Mennonite Disaster Services who worked 18,965 hours and rebuilt 11 homes, assisted with 3 rebuildings, 6 major home repairs, and 20 minor home repairs; Christain Aid Ministries who had 263 volunteers with 13,141 hours with 6 homes rebuilt and assistance on 6 more homes and major repairs on 11 homes and minor repairs on 11 homes; and Samaritan’s Purse who is working and volunteering right now to get people back into their homes.
The list of thanks also included all those working and supporting WinstonStrong.
Senator Giles Ward introduced the keynote speaker Governor Phil Bryant after recognizing First Lady of the State Deborah Bryant.
“God has sent many our way to help in the healing process,” said Sen. Ward. “One of those…is First Lady Deborah Bryant.”
Ward then introduced Gov. Bryant who he noted has spend an unprecedented amount of time in Winston County with many visits following the April 28 tornado.
“His response to our needs has been amazing,” said Ward.
Gov. Bryant noted his wife’s work in the county following the storm since she took shelter at the Winston County courthouse and her efforts throughout the night to help make victims of the storm comfortable at the shelters. Gov. Bryant noted that he was here to make sure Winston County recovered and built back better.
“We will go on and there is more work to do,” said Gov. Bryant. “We will restore the economy, Winston Medical Center, and Winston Plywood and Veneer. We will continue to work for you until this recovery is complete.”
The marker unveiled is in memory of the 10 victims of the April 28, 2014 F-4 tornado. The names of the victims are the following: Ruth Bennett, Jerry Carter, Leonard Carter, Cathy Ferguson Smith, Shawn Fowler, Gregory Jernigan, Sara Massey, Dora Triplett, Terri Tucker, and Tyler Tucker.
Mayor Will Hill and those preparing the Memorial Courtyard give a special thanks to the those who have contributed to the construction and building process of the memorial so far: Garry Hughes, Hughes Construction, Winston Plywood and Veneer, Louisville Rotary, City of Louisville, Town of Noxapater, Winston County, Louisville Utilities, City of Louisville Street Department, Kenny Morris, HOSA, WinstonStrong and the Winston Community Development, INC. The memorial area was built through a community driven fundraising since time constraints did not allow the use of FEMA or MEMA funding. Funds may still be donated, for more information contact city hall or the Winston County Chamber of Commerce.
The area contains a memorial marker, 7 flags, 4 benches, 10 trees and a sunflower garden.