PUTNAM CO., Tenn. (WKRN) – Jessica Clark was a long time city employee of Cookeville and a proud board member of the Putnam County Fair. She and more than a dozen others were lost in the March 2020 tornado outbreak that raced across the state with devastating results.
Now, Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter said her dedication and infectious enthusiasm will be honored for generations to come.
He recalled that dreadful night. “You just you don’t think it’ll ever happen to your community. But then all of a sudden, you wake up in the middle of the night, and it has happened, and and then you start hearing the reports and they keep getting worse. And then you hear that one of your own is involved in it. It just, it was a sad time.”
Porter continued, “We love Jessica and we miss her so much as we did the other 18 people that was lost in the storm.”
The county was devastated, but from the wreckage a spirit rose that even surprised Mayor Porter.
“We came together in just an unbelievable way. When so many people were hurting, so many homes damaged and lost, and our community came together in a way that I’ve never seen before.” Porter added,”This makes me very proud to live Putnum County.”
Clark loved Cookeville with all of her heart. Her life was dedicated to the city as an employee, except that one week each year she dedicated it to the county fair.
Porter remembered, “Every time I was in City Hall with Jessica, she always wanted to talk about fair. That’s the conversation we had every time, and I might be in there two or three times a week. And she was just a special person, and she loved the fair so much.”
So, it is fitting that the new visitor center at the Putnam County Fairgrounds will be named in her honor.
The 20,000 square foot building will serve as a conference center, event center, and welcome center. The state just approved the first $2.5 million dollars for construction.
“It’s just great and can’t thank our State Rep. Ron Williams and Senator Paul Bailey and Speaker Cameron Sexton, and for making sure that it happened,” Porter said.
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Site work will start immediately at the Jessica Clark Welcome Center at the Putnam County Fairgrounds. Construction will start this fall.