West Liberty memorial to be built using tornado debris

WEST LIBERTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Everywhere you look in Morgan County people are rebuilding. Soon a symbol of that regrowth and what this community has been through will become a permanent fixture.

It's been almost ten months since tornadoes ripped their way through West Liberty. Since then the rebuilding of homes and businesses has been steady but many still stand empty.

While the people who lived through it will never forget, a permanent reminder is in the works.

"We wanted to take a lot of that debris, a lot of what people would call junk, and make something beautiful out of it," said Janell Potter, an art teacher at Morgan County High School.

An early sketch shows what that memorial will look like. A spiral path representing the tornado will lead to a trunk of twisted metal from damaged and destroyed buildings. The tree will have leaves shaped like hand prints, in honor of everyone who helped during the storm, and since.

The location hasn't been finalized but the corner of Main Street and Prestonsburg Street is being looked at. Potter says the community project is being made possible by a grant from Brushy Fork institute, and is supported by Morgan County Government, Morgan County Cooperative Extension, Morgan County Arts and Recreation, Morgan County Schools, and West Liberty Area Arts Council.

The monument would have an interactive element. Codes on each piece will lead smart phone users to a website detailing where that piece came from.

Students from Morgan County High School will handle the construction. All they need now is more raw material.

"It doesn't matter the size, even small things like doorknobs, doorknockers, could be anything," said Potter.

The students there have already been working on other ways to express their feelings about the tornadoes through art.

Morgan County Judge Executive Tim Conley says some portion of the memorial will be completed by the anniversary of those tornadoes next year. The first tornado hit on the twenty-ninth of February, the second on the second of March.

If you have material from the storms you would like to contribute you can drop it off at the Cooperative Extension barn on Highway 460 in Morgan County from 8am to 4pm, Monday through Thursday.

Kentucky State Police will be in West Liberty on Friday holding their own memorial ceremony. They'll be planting a new coffee tree to replace one destroyed in the storms.

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