West prepares to mark one year since deadly plant explosion

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by TODD UNGER

Bio | Email | Follow: @toddWFAA8

WFAA

Posted on March 11, 2014 at 10:37 PM

WEST, Texas -- In just five weeks, the community devastated by a fertilizer plant explosion last April that killed 15 people will hold an anniversary memorial to honor those that lost their lives.

The April 17 event will be West's official tribute, one year to the day from when the West Fertilizer Plant caught fire and exploded.

"It's a high-profile thing and we don't want to mess it up," said Benet Ayers, who along with eight others is heading up a "West 4/17 Forever Forward" committee to oversee the evening.

Ayers said up to 3,000 guests could show up to the town's fair and rodeo grounds.

"We're going to start with a prayer, some remarks, and then do a moment of silence at 7:51," she said. "Then, we'll see the faces of the 15 we lost, just in silence."

There also will be songs, a video tribute, and a speech by Mayor Tommy Muska.

City Secretary Jennifer Schaffer said the event will also strike an optimistic tone, emphasizing just how far the town has come in its rebuilding efforts.

"We can either build on [the explosion], or we can let it define us," she said.

Schaffer spoke out for the first time on Tuesday.

Her longtime friend, Joey Pustejovsky, Jr., was the last city secretary before he was killed responding to the fire.

"Whenever we laughed, we had some really special things we would say," she said.

Schaffer said she hopes close friends and families of the victims take the night as an opportunity to come together and find strength in one another.

The town is encouraging anyone with connections to the Czech community to attend.

More details will be available in the coming weeks at this link.

E-mail tunger@wfaa.com

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