Sun Prairie Stronger: 1 year anniversary of Sun Prairie explosion

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SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. (WMTV) - One year ago, a deadly explosion rocked downtown Sun Prairie. Fire Captain Cory Barr was killed, multiple businesses were destroyed, and dozens of people lost their homes.

A number of events on Wednesday honored those affected by the tragic event, one year later.

Sun Prairie Remembrance Ceremony
A remembrance ceremony was held at 6 p.m. at Fire Station 1 on North Bristol Street. Sun Prairie Mayor Paul Esser began the ceremony.

Fire Chief Chris Garrison then took the podium and remembered July 10, 2018.

"It was a very tough day, it was a very hard day, but our organization is strong and resilient," Garrison said.

"He brought a community together, he brought people together better than anybody else could," said Garrison of the late fire Capt. Cory Barr. "We will continue to be Sun Prairie Strong."

Garrison then introduced Cory Barr's widow, Abby.

"He lived and breathed Sun Prairie his whole life and was proud to be part of this city," said Barr of her late husband. "He put all he did into everything he did."

The Barr House sign, which had been damaged in the explosion, was refurbished and unveiled at the first station.

The community then walked to the Barr House, the business where Cory was when the explosion happened. There was also a closing prayer and a moment of silence for the fallen fire captain.

"I think this day is important and this ceremony that we're going to do is important because it gives us a chance to reflect back on what the emergency responding people did for us on the evening of July 10, 2018," said Mayor Esser.

Sun Prairie City Council President Bill Connors says the community is not only strong, but it’s stronger one year after the explosion.

“The community really came together and rallied on its own. There was immediate outpouring of support for the first responders, for our public safety personnel.”

Community Gives Back
Multiple downtown businesses will also stay open later, with purchases donating money to recovery funds.

One of those businesses is Glass Nickel Pizza which was destroyed during the explosion and has since relocated to Main Street.

You can see a full list here.

Relief Funds
Through donations from the community and across the country, the disaster relief fund received more that $614,000.

$238,225 was distributed to people who lost their homes; $207,926 was given to first responders; and $168,115 was handed out to $168,115.

The Bank of Sun Prairie established the fund and a committee of 15 members approved all the allocations.

The United Way of Dane County provided administrative support. The disaster relief fund closed at the end of May and no future donations will be accepted.

Capt. Cory Barr statue
A bronze statue honoring Captain Cory Barr will be placed in front of the Sun Prairie Fire Department.

Last month, the Sun Prairie City Council approve a $20,000 budget amendment for the statue.

Sun Prairie Fire Department contributed $10,000.

Future Site Plans
A Chicago firm was tasked with creating a possible plan for the redevelopment of Main and Bristol streets.

The firm said between an input meeting in May and an online survey, almost 1,000 people shared their thoughts on what should happen to the area.

An architect and urban planner with the firm said they'll be presenting concepts to the community in an Open House on July 25th from 5:30-7:00pm. Residents are invited to attend and provide input on their favorite concepts.

The firm is hoping to outline the action plan to guide the city on re-developing Sun Prairie in the fall.

Proposed Legislation
A new bill being proposed in the state legislature is hoping to define who must contact Diggers Hotline before digging.

Officials said the explosion in downtown Sun Prairie was caused by a gas line being hit. They said miscommunication and mismarked lines led to a subcontractor hitting the line.

State Representative Gary Hebl, who represents Sun Prairie, said the legislation's goal is to prevent and will not add new regulations that will overburden the one-call system or contractors.

Watch NBC15 News at 10pm for full coverage of the Sun Prairie Rememberance Ceremony