Smithville remembers April 27 tornado Saturday

By Emily Tubb/Monroe Journal

SMITHVILLE – The second annual Smithville Memorial Day will be held at the Smithville Memorial Park on Saturday, April 27.
Smithville Mayor Gregg Kennedy says the event will also honor the survivors and the work done in the past two years to revive the town.
The town was devastated by the storm. Sixteen people were killed and 153 homes, four churches, the Town Hall, the police headquarters and 14 of the 15 businesses in the one-square-mile town were destroyed.
“It’s a day for all of us to come out and fellowship by remembering those we lost in the tornado and to look toward our future,” said Smithville disaster workforce recovery assistant Kim Johnson.
The event will begin with a 5K fun run/walk, beginning at 8 a.m. Pre-registration begins at 6:45 a.m.
The opening ceremony will be at 1 p.m., which includes a reading of names of those lost in the 2011 tornado, a speech from the mayor and a presentation of appreciation awards.
Guest speakers will be Mississippi House Speaker Phillip Gunn and entrepreneur John Campbell.
Campbell plans to open a manufacturing company in Smithville for his latest invention, the J.C. Bunker Bed, an alternative to conventional storm shelters. The bed doubles as a storm shelter by allowing users to duck beneath their bed in the event of a tornado. Spectators will be treated to an unveiling, as well as a demonstration of the sturdiness of the bed when a tractor runs over it.
The memorial will continue with a community tailgating party.
A community prayer service at Smithville Memorial Park will be held on Friday at 7 p.m. to kick off the event.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.