Library memorial recalls shooting, victims

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HESSTON, Kan. (KWCH) It has been one year since a gunman opened fire at Excel Industries in Hesston, killing three people, before he was shot and killed by the Hesston Police Chief.

The phrase "never forget" is often repeated after a tragedy. But eventually, the details start slipping away.

The public library in Hesston is working to make sure that doesn't happen.

Downtown Hesston does not include a history museum. But when you walk into the public library, tucked into a corner is a room full of memories.

"It is now part of the story of our town," said Libby Albers with the library. "We can come back to that chapter and be able to see all the details."

Albers has spent much of the last year officially archiving all the memories from Feb. 25, 2016, the day of the Hesston Mass Shooting.

At the Hesston Library, they remember it all.

"We have the job of archiving some of the things that happen in our community," Albers said.

From the items in the spontaneous memorial that sprang up outside the plant to things others have donated, Albers has photographed, documented and carefully stored everything. She even saved tweets and Facebook posts, not to mention news articles.

"We captured that information and have it saved in a database so that folks can see some of the information that was shared back and forth, the condolences, the well-wishing," Albers said.

While part of the purpose is so that future generations don't forget, part of it is to help members of the community who are still grieving.

"Yes, the business is running again, yes we're going about our daily activities, but the memorial is here," Albers said. "Folks can come in and share those memories or just talk through some of the feelings that they had that day."

Albers said putting everything together was not easy. But they knew what they were doing thanks to a similar effort to record the memories from the Hesston Tornado in 1990.