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Barneveld continues to press forward 30 years after destruction

By Velena Jones, vjones@wisctv.com
Published On: Jun 08 2014 11:53:49 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 09 2014 01:58:45 PM CDT

Three decades after a deadly tornado destroyed their community, Barneveld continues to grow and rebuild.

BARNEVELD, Wis. -

Its been 30 years since the 1984 F5 tornado in Barneveld, that killed nine people, injured close to 200 and left 25 million dollars in damages in its path. An image that is still fresh in the former village president’s mind.

"It was kind of like a thing you see in the old movies. It's like a desolate lost town," said Mary Ann Meyers.

Meyers said the destruction, was a loss the village shared together.

“Your heart just ached for those who had lost someone. We might have lost a picture album or whatever but having to go on then without part of your family…we hurt for them and that two was something we just shared together,” she said.

Three decades later the village that was once 400 people has more than tripled in size and still has more plans to improve the community, this time by expanding the local library

"It brings back a lot of sense of ownership. If the people didn't want to rebuild back then, who knows if this town would have been here today," said Barneveld village president, Scott Leahy.

That sense of ownership is what has helped raise almost $700,00 for the facility that will allow for new programs, additional resources and technology upgrades. An upgrade Library Director, Carrie Portz, said is a necessity.

“It’s going to make a huge difference for what we can do as a library for the community. Right now we are so crowded that we basically have to get rid of one book to add another a new book,” said Portz.

The new building will add over 5,500 square feet to the original library that was built just six months after the tornado.

Portz said the success of raising the needed funds for the library is just another testament to the communities support.

"It’s really great, I hear that almost every day, 'We appreciate you guys, you guys do such a great job.' But when they are willing to put their $2 from their piggy bank behind it. That really lets you know that they mean it," Portz said.

The village estimates the expansion will cost between $1.2 - 1.4 million dollars. The village will cover half of the cost; the remaining amount will be raised through donations. $600,000 dollars of the goal has been pledged by Jerry and John Frautschi and the Walter A. & Dorothy Jones charitable Fund.

The village hopes to break ground March of 2015.

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