West Liberty youth center reopens two years after deadly tornado

By: Morgan Lentes Email
By: Morgan Lentes Email

WEST LIBERTY, Ky (WYMT/WKYT) - You could say it is a town that refuses to give up. Early on Wednesday, people in West Liberty celebrated another step in their rebuilding process following a deadly 2012 tornado outbreak.

Pictures show the serious damage sustained by the Woodsbend Youth Development Center on March 2, 2012. For Brad Lawson, the center's superintendent, it is a day he will never forget.

"The debris field was enormous. There were power lines down, trees down. It was very hard to walk through here," said Lawson.

But a lot has changed since then and on a sunny day in July, community members celebrated the reopening of the facility.

"The most important thing to me is that while that process has been going on the children that we serve have still received all of their services and been well taken care of," said Lawson.

The center, which houses at-risk youth, first opened in the 1960s.

It holds a special place in the heart of West Liberty's Mayor Mark Walter. He has spent the last 25 years working as a nurse at Woodsbend. He was on hand for Wednesday's ribbon cutting ceremony.

"Seeing the construction begin was like there we are. We are going to be back soon to where we were," said Walter.

Both Walter tells WYMT the future looks bright for his town.

"It is another sign of hope for our community and another one of those rebuild success stories," said Walter.

Lawson echoed the mayor's sentiment. He said the rebuilding process has been emotional, but rewarding at the same time.

"My emotions at that time was, you know, how will we ever get this straightened back up. Today my emotions are it is great to see the teamwork came together, the planning came together and the strategy was good. This is another step in the rebuilding of the county," said Lawson.

Even though the Woodsbend facility was full of kids and staff at the time the tornado hit, we are told no one was hurt in the storm.

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