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Anniversary of tornado to be noted at service

Date: 5/23/2012

May 23, 2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD — As the city nears the first anniversary of the June 1, 2011 tornado, two events happened on May 16 that brought new attention to the devastating storm.

Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray officially brought word the state is awarding a $300,000 grant to DevelopSpringfield to be used in the implementation of the city's Tornado Rebuilding Master Plan.

Murray explained to Reminder Publications the agency would receive $100,000 a year for the next three years to be used in staffing and project development. He noted that from "day one," the Patrick-Murray Administration has been working closely with city officials to address the aftermath of the storm.

"We're really committed," he said. "If Springfield is doing well, the state is doing well."

Murray said he was impressed with the planning effort for the city's redevelopment and noted he has "never" seen 3,000 people participate in 30 public meetings, as did residents of Springfield.


Every church with a bell has been asked to ring it at 4:37 p.m. June 1 as part of the city-wide observation of the first anniversary of the June 1, 2011 tornado.

Mayor Domenic Sarno and the Greater Springfield Council of Churches announced on May 16 that "Remembering and Renewing: A Service on the Anniversary of the June 1st Tornado" would be conducted at 4 p.m. June 1 at the Old First Church at Court Square.

Sarno said the service would be "emotional and proper."

Sarno said, "God works in mysterious ways" and noted that if the tornado had hit the city at 2:37 p.m. or 4:37 a.m. that day, the impact of the storm would have been far worse.

Thanking the first responders and others who came to the rescue of the city, Sarno said that some people believed the storm would have "turned the lights out in the city of Springfield, but the exact opposite happened."

Joan Kagan, president and CEO of Square One, recalled how the pre-school's staff brought the children into the basement of their building in the South End neighborhood and waited out the storm. No child was harmed, although the school lost the building.

Kagan said that despite "a long year of reconstructing what was lost," she and her staff have been "re-energized by a new sense of purpose."

She added, "It's important for the city to come together once more."

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