By Chad Groening
SMITHVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – It’s been a little more than two years since the town of Smithville was devastated by a EF-5 tornado. But this weekend, the commmunity took another step in it’s recovery.
These plaques in the Smithville City Park tell the story of the town’s most famous son. Comedian Rod Brasfield was born and raised here, and went on to fame at the Grand Old Opry where he worked with the legendary Minne Pearl.
From 1981 to 1997 the town put on the Rob Brasfield festival. And in 2013, the festival has returned, as a symbol of the recovery of Smithville following the April 27, 2011 tornado.
“It’s just so exciting, you know, to get people in here and get the Rod Brasfield Festival back because, you know, we’ve gone through alot here, and for what we’ve gone through, to see this many people show up after 16 years and support us is overwhelming,” says Smithville Alderman Jimmy Dabbs.
Sheriff Cecil Cantrell says, “Smithville’s a great town. It’s coming back. Everybody’s real interested in rebuilding and there’s been a lot of progress so far and these things right here just it brings a good atmosphere for Smithville.”
Cantrell made quite a splash in the dunking booth. But it wasn’t all fun and games. Access Family Health Services provided free health and dental screenings in the temporary building used by the police department. Access Health has been conducting it’s normal operations in another temporary structure on Highway 25, but that will change early next year.
The area next to the city cemetery is where Smithville Baptist Church was located before the tornado, but is now going to be the site for the health clinic. The 12,000 square foot facility will provide a variety of health services for the residents of Smithville and Monroe County.
“People need to be able to have access to services that are close to home, and we have medical and dental services here. So that’s something that a lot of small communities don’t have, and we take very seriously our committment to town of Smithville, and we feel like it’s important to rebuilding the community,” says Marilyn Summerford, Executive Director of Access Family Health.
Summerford says they hope to have their building completed by the end of February. But they would like the official dedication to take place on April 27, 2014, the third anniversary of the twister.
The town has indeed come a long way, with the recent dedication of the new Smithville Baptist Church building, and, of course, there are the hometown Seminoles.
Dabbs also says, “A brand new school. We just started in August. The dome gym is fixing to get ready. Football is fixing to start. It’s really fixing to get exciting here in Smithville Mississippi.”