Local News

ConAgra holds dedication ceremony in remembrance of blast

Posted August 22, 2009 5:31 p.m. EDT
Updated August 22, 2009 11:51 p.m. EDT

— A Slim Jim snack plant in Garner held a dedication ceremony and picnic Saturday in remembrance of a deadly blast.

Three employees were killed and nearly 40 others were injured in the June 9 explosion that caused a partial collapse of the ConAgra Foods plant.

“The lights went out. Everything went dark and everything went boom,” said ConAgra employee Shirley Lucas while remembering the blast.

“All I remember is fire going across my head. After that, I don't remember anything else. When I came to, I was actually outside,” ConAgra employee Johnetta Reddick said. “When I ride by and look at the building ... I thank God. Nobody but God pulled us out of there.”

Reddick suffered a broken back, neck, three cracked ribs and a punctured lung from the blast. She was among the hundreds of people who attended Saturday's dedication ceremony and community picnic at Lake Benson Park.

“This is what we should do, we should take time to remember and reflect on the events of June 9,” Mayor Ronnie Williams said of the gathering.

“It will never be forgotten,” Lucas said of the blast.

Most employees have returned to work at the plant, but some say it hasn't been easy.

“My recent project has been to excavate some things from that building. So just doing that has been hard, (such as) going into areas where you know were particularly damaged,” ConAgra engineer Tonia Skinner said.

Saturday's event featured a memorial plaque dedication, food from Carolina BBQ and Barry’s Cafe, and entertainment.

People were asked to make a $5 donation to the United Way ConAgra Foods Garner Plan Fund, which is helping victims with expenses.

“Day by day we are moving forward,” ConAgra employee Tonia Skinner said.