published Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Memorial dedicated as Trenton, Ga., marks tornado recovery efforts

In Dade County, Ga., Shelby Barton, right, comforts Jerry Williams Jr., arms crossed, at the memorial dedication for two tornado victims on the one-year anniversary of the April 27 storms. Williams lost his father to the storms. The memorial is dedicated to Jerry Williams Sr. and Donald Walston. T.J. Williams stands between the two on the east lawn of the old Dade County Courthouse following the ceremony Friday.
In Dade County, Ga., Shelby Barton, right, comforts Jerry Williams Jr., arms crossed, at the memorial dedication for two tornado victims on the one-year anniversary of the April 27 storms. Williams lost his father to the storms. The memorial is dedicated to Jerry Williams Sr. and Donald Walston. T.J. Williams stands between the two on the east lawn of the old Dade County Courthouse following the ceremony Friday.
Photo by Tim Barber.

TRENTON, Ga. -- Last year, the sound of wailing sirens and people crying for help filled the air as the smell of leaking gas drifted through town.

A year later, savory barbecue wafted down the street and kids laughed as they zipped down a bouncy slide.

People laughed, hugged each other and talked about rebuilding projects as they gathered at a block party around the Trenton courthouse Friday evening.

"It's a day we'll always remember, but it's a day I hope we'll never go through again," said Ted Rumley, Dade County executive, before he unveiled a memorial in the front courthouse lawn. "Everyone will always remember where they were that night."

Rebuilding in the small town continues, but the signs of the storm still can be seen everywhere in the twisted, mangled trees. Some houses still have blue tarps -- now shredded and flapping in the wind -- and boarded-up windows.

Many other homes and businesses are rebuilt. Moore Funeral Home, one of the hardest-hit businesses, is almost completed.

Like in many other areas, dozens of volunteers have helped in the effort. Friday's event was a way to thank and remember everyone who contributed so much to the small town, Rumley said.

But Friday was also a time to remember those who died.

The memorial names the two men who died in the tornado that night, only about a block from each other -- Donnie Walston and Jerry Williams Sr.

Relatives of both helped to unveil the memorial.

It has been a tough year, said Jerry Williams Jr. as he walked away afterward.

His 49-year-old father loved fishing, raising chickens and working on trucks, he said.

"It's nice that the community did this," he said. "It makes you feel like you're not the only one."

about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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