Pratt Co. will pay funeral costs, provide employee assistance

 
 
Updated 2/18/2019 7:36 PM
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  • Skylar DeNoyer, 18, an Aurora University student, leaves flowers outside Henry Pratt Co. on Monday. "It hits home," she said. "We're in a state of mourning."

      Skylar DeNoyer, 18, an Aurora University student, leaves flowers outside Henry Pratt Co. on Monday. "It hits home," she said. "We're in a state of mourning." Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Greg Zanis, who made the five crosses displayed outside the Henry Pratt Co., looks to see what people have left in memory of the five shooting victims.

      Greg Zanis, who made the five crosses displayed outside the Henry Pratt Co., looks to see what people have left in memory of the five shooting victims. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Flowers and candles border the five crosses for the shooting victims outside Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora.

      Flowers and candles border the five crosses for the shooting victims outside Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Two students from Aurora pay their respects Monday outside the Henry Pratt Co.

      Two students from Aurora pay their respects Monday outside the Henry Pratt Co. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • A memorial set up for the shooting victims outside Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora on Monday.

      A memorial set up for the shooting victims outside Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora on Monday. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

The parent firm of Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora pledged Monday to cover the funeral costs for the five employees killed by a gunman, along with medical expenses and assistance to their families.

Pratt also will establish a "family support center" in Aurora and an employee support fund for families, officials said.

The company, which manufactures valves, won't resume full production at its Aurora plant this week but tentatively plans to return to a normal schedule next Monday, said Yolanda Kokayi, a spokeswoman for Mueller Water Products, the parent company.

"We are committed to ensuring Mueller facilities are safe places to come to work to every day," she said in a statement. "In the days, weeks and months ahead, we will be reviewing what happened, our security protocols at our different locations and assessing how we can enhance safety."

She said members of the Mueller leadership team were at the facility Monday and counseling will be available on-site through Friday.

It was quiet outside the building Monday. There were no obvious signs of workers either inside or outside the facility at 641 Archer Ave., but occasional well-wishers stopped to leave flowers or notes at a makeshift memorial that includes white wooden crosses for the victims -- Russell Beyer of Yorkville, Vicente Juarez of Oswego, Clayton Parks of Elgin, Josh Pinkard of Oswego and Trevor Wehner of Sheridan.

An employee who was injured in the shooting has been released from the hospital and returned home to his family, Kokayi said.

The company is working with the FBI Office for Victim Assistance and the Kane County sheriff's office to provide "additional counseling, financial services support, victim advocates, Red Cross health and spiritual services, and immediate and long-term mental health services."

"For the remainder of the week, our doors will be open for any employees who would like to spend time with their colleagues or simply return to a familiar environment," Kokayi said.

On Monday morning, Skyler DeNoyer, 18, an Aurora University student from Plainfield, brought flowers and a note to the memorial. "Everyone is in a state of mourning," DeNoyer said.

She said she wants to let Pratt employees know the university and community are thinking about them, even as the conversation on social media turns to other issues, such as gun control.

She deliberately placed her note and a bouquet of roses "in plain sight," she said, because the message "ultimately comes down to those people (Pratt employees)."

DeNoyer's note reads: "Aurora University students and the Aurora community are with you. May you heal in time and peace."

DeNoyer said she commutes to the Aurora campus and had left before it went on lockdown Friday afternoon.

Besides the five crosses installed by Greg Zanis of Aurora, there was a small display of flowers and candles right outside the door to the Pratt offices.

On Saturday evening, Scott Hall, chief executive officer of Mueller Water Products, called Friday "basically the worst day our company has ever had."

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