Town looks forward on anniversary of explosion
Thu, 17 Apr 2014 21:23:56 GMT —
CNN -- A
pril 17 marks the one-year anniversary of a devastating fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, that killed more than a dozen people.
In West, it's a new day. Street by street, block by block, house by house. The town's mayor, Tommy Muska, likes what he sees.
"It's a smile on my face. We can live with dumpsters for a while. Dumpsters are progress," he said.
The town recently hired the same economic development consultants who helped New Orleans and Galveston start over after hurricanes Katrina and Ike.
And for the first time since the town's darkest day last year, folks who live here are beginning to ask a painful question, should a new fertilizer plant be built in West?
"That's a hard pill, that's going to be a hard pill to swallow for some people," Muska said.
With the West plant gone, the mayor said farmers must travel up to 30 miles away to get the fertilizer they need.
"You know it's a needed industry, somewhere in this area. Is it right here in West? I don't know. Will it be zoned in an area where people won't build around it? Hopefully. Hopefully, we've learned a leseson there. Will it be safe? You bet," he said.
In a town where everyone knows the mayor, he and his 24-year-old Ford pickup truck are more than just a familiar sight.
While the mayor looks toward the future, he says he will never forget the 15 people who lost their lives that day, mostly first responders, some of whom volunteered with him at the fire department.
"You don't ever get over it. I still, I still right now, you say that, I see Cody Dragoo and his little smile, and I see Joey Pustejovsky with his dimple."
As we drove around town, Mayor Muska spotted the two flags flying over the ambulance shed.
Someone lowered them to half staff after the explosion, and they've remained that way ever since -- a powerful symbol for the town.
"I was born and raised in this town, I swore after this happened, it wasn't going to die on my watch, and it was not going to."