Memorial set to honor East Franklin storm victims
With the one-year anniversary of the April 27 tornado just a little over a week away, the East Franklin and Oak Grove communities have planned a special memorial service for the five residents they lost that day.
William Bishop, who organized the event, said the service would take place on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the intersection of Franklin 81 and Franklin 38 and would honor the memories of Jeff Cotham, Charlene Crochet, Donald Heaps, Kelli Thorn Morgan and Michael Morgan.
During the service, Bishop said there would be an unveiling of the monument dedicated in memory of the victims, a dedication of East Franklin Volunteer Fire Department’s new truck in memory of the victims and remarks from Sen. Roger Bedford.
“This is going to be a special service for our community,” Bishop said. “We are a tight-knit community and everybody knows everybody out here so that really made it hard on us to lose five of our people to the tornado.”
Bishop said the idea behind the monument and memorial has been many months in the making.
“I first decided we needed to have a memorial last summer but there was just too much going on with the recovery process at the time to get anything done then,” Bishop said. “We really got the ball rolling in January and just went from there. Once we had everything together, we thought a time close to the one-year anniversary would be the best time to have the service.”
Bishop said he contacted Grant Atkins with Atkins Marble and Granite Works in Russellville, who had helped them re-set the old monument that has always stood at the intersection of Franklin 38 and 81.
“He was really good to work with us and give us a good price for the monument since it would be a memorial to the tornado victims and a historical marker,” Bishop said. “It will give the time and date of the tornado and some facts so people who come through the area will know what happened and what our community went through.”
Bishop said the monument was funded in large part by donations from Sen. Roger Bedford and Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow. They also received donations from other members of the community.
“We hope everyone will come out to this memorial service because we were all victims in one way or another,” Bishop said. “This is just a way for us to honor those people we lost and to help our community heal.”