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Womack,leaders to honor 2011 tornado victims

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womackTo honor the lives lost during the May 25, 2011, tornado that wreaked havoc across Franklin and Johnson counties, U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-District 3, and several community leaders will hold a commemorative ceremony Friday, May 25, at Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus.

The ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. in the Student Services Conference Center, 1700 Helberg Lane, and the public is cordially invited to join the tribute to those lost, as well as those who helped in the aftermath.

The May 25 tornado, which was classified as an EF-4, tragically took the lives of three Franklin County residents: Cheryl Jackson of Etna and Tina Evans and Julie Holloway, both of Denning.

In August 2011, Arkansas Tech-Ozark awarded Jackson a posthumous degree, the first of its kind since the passing of the Michael Lawdon Branscum Act. She received an Associate of Applied Science in health information technology from Arkansas Tech-Ozark in December 2010, and was one semester short of being awarded a Bachelor’s of Professional Studies with an emphasis in public relations from Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.

Along with Womack, scheduled speakers for the event include state Rep. Leslee Milam Post, D-Ozark, Franklin County Judge Joe Powell , Fred Mullen with Franklin County Emergency Management and Yvonne Case with the Department of Human Services. Also in attendance will be state Reps. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, and Jon Eubanks, R-Paris.

Womack said, “Buildings don’t make a community, people do, and the communities of Denning and Etna have come a long way since devastating tornadoes ripped through the area one year ago. Homes that were demolished have been rebuilt, and, though lives are irreplaceable, families are beginning to heal. But know that there’s more to be done.

“On this anniversary, we honor and remember the lives of loved ones lost and celebrate the resolve of two communities determined on coming back stronger than ever before.”

Powell will present two trees, donated by the Ozark Rotary Club and Altus Sunset Rotary Club, to friends and families of Jackson, Evans and Holloway. In remembrance, one tree will be planted in Etna, and the other in Denning.