Henrietta Company Creates West VFD Memorial Plaque

- Four months ago, a fertilizer plant explosion rocked the small town of West, Texas and sent shock waves of sadness and disbelief across the country. The town continues to heal and soon a Henrietta company will present the resident there with a comforting gift.

Claytex Trophies, Incorporated in Henrietta recently received a piece of metal from the fertilizer plant that exploded in West, Texas. And company officials used that jagged piece of shrapnel to create a memorial plaque for the town's fallen heroes.

This April 17th explosion at the West Fertilizer Plant in West, Texas did more than damage or destroy more than 150 buildings. It injured 160 people and killed 12 West volunteer firefighters.

A few weeks ago the president of Claytex Trophies in Henrietta received a visitor who brought him this piece of metal.

"He said this is a piece of the medal of the building that blew up in West.  He said my brother-in-law is a volunteer fireman there.  He wasn't killed, but there were 12 firemen killed, and he said, this piece looks kind of like a flame and I wonder if you could come up with something," says Jack Ellis, president of Claytex Trophies, Inc.

That "something" became this large memorial. It's 5 feet tall, 4 feet wide and constructed of light walnut with engraved plates containing a picture and information of each fallen firefighter. This memorial program of the volunteer firefighters' service and this piece of metal inspired the memorial, which workers say fills them with emotion and pride.

"Anytime you feel like you can give to something like that and make those families proud and they'll see this for years to come hanging on the wall down there... there was a ton of pride in that piece," says John Belcher, vice president at Claytex Trophies, Inc.

And Claytex hopes this memorial will bring a sense of pride to residents in West, Texas, so they will never forget the brave men who lost their lives protecting the public.

Claytex officials say the plaque would retail for $2,000 to $3,000 dollars. They will take it to West next week and donate it to the volunteer fire department during the town's annual West Fest Labor Day Weekend

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