Proceeds from a benefit performance in Wise County were presented recently to the West Fire Department to help the families of firefighters killed in the April 17 explosion of a fertilizer plant there.
The blast destroyed a nursing home, school, city park, dozens of homes and businesses and prompted widespread evacuations. Of the 14 people who died, five were members of the fire department – Morris Bridges, Cody Dragoo, Joey Pustejovsky, Douglas Snokhous and Robert Snokhous. Several other members of the 28-member department were injured, including Fire Chief George Nors, Sr.
Wise County residents Eve Roberts and Andrea Duwe, and Artisan Center Theater founder DeeAnn Blair recently met with Nors, who is still recuperating from his injuries, to present the donation of $4,268.35. While taking them on a tour of the explosion site and affected neighborhood, Nors continually said, “We are going to rebuild.”
Nors said he has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from the surrounding areas and from all over the country.
“I appreciate what everybody’s done, what y’all have done for us, and everybody that has come by to see us. …I can’t put it into words what it means,” he said.
Proceeds for the donation came from an Artisan Center Theater Benefit, held May 18 at the Wise County Heritage Museum Theater in Decatur. Artisan volunteer actors presented two performances of “The Hiding Place.”
Roberts said the theater would like to thank the publishing company for waiving the royalty fees, the Museum for donating the facility and all of their patrons, actors, staff and crew who helped raise money and donated time and resources.
Other Wise County residents involved in the production included Rick Duwe, Cathey Lackey, J.R. Roberts, Rebecca Roberts, Brandon McGar and the Decatur Fire Department as well as museum volunteers.