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One Step Forward - Recap

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The residents of Greensburg, Kansas celebrate the next big step in their road to completion—a new grocery store. A basic need for any town, this is one 'luxury' that Greensburg families have done without since the town was destroyed by a tornado on May 7, 2007. Committed to rebuilding green, and anxious for the town to be whole again, the residents cherish these basic but important milestones. There is still much more to do to rebuild the town. But, in the meantime, Greensburg citizens and builders come up with creative ways to reuse what they already have to rebuild green.
When you have a small town, one of the most important things is obviously a grocery store," City Administrator Steve Hewitt explains. "You have to have a grocery store to have a community.

Before this store opened, Greensburg residents had to drive 30 minutes to the next town to do their grocery shopping. Or even if they needed to pick up something for a recipe. Now, without the long ride home, families can finally pick up frozen treats like ice cream and popsicles, something Mary Meyerhoff and her family have been doing without. It's the little things that make a difference sometimes.

With the Grand Opening of this grocery store, it does feel like we are starting to get somewhere," Meyerhoff says. "Like our community is starting to come together. And the fact that we are doing such normal every day things now, that's really a blessing.

Though the Greensburg residents are excited about the new grocery store, they also continue to make due with what they have. And that includes reusing salvageable items for creative new projects.

Ed Schoenberger, the sexton in the Fairview Cemetery, collects discarded items like headboards, fence posts, and other reusable objects and uses them to craft grave markers for anyone in the cemetery without one. Schoenberger wants to make sure that everyone gets the recognition they deserve, whether their marker was destroyed in the tornado or if they couldn't afford one in the first place.

Student members of the Green Club plan to craft a bench out of reclaimed tornado debris, so they pay a visit to Schoenberger, who has been collecting unique items and salvage for years. They find plenty of treasures perfect for their project, from wrought iron wheels to parrot cages.

"Recycling has been part of my life. I didn't set out to do it to be ecologically correct or anything," says Schoenberger, "but a lot of it's just, because it's fun to do."

Meanwhile, salvaged items and eco-friendly materials are being reused in construction projects all over the town, including Greensburg's City Hall, the courthouse and hospital, and the S.D. Robinett Building, the only surviving building on Greensburg's Main Street. Reusing and staying hopeful is starting to pay off for Greensburg and its residents. For now, they are thankful for each step forward.

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