Home is where the heart is, and in Joe Pennington’s case that place stands more than 169 years at his family’s homestead south of Altus.
“The constant we have as a family, between us all, is this place. A lot of the family were born here, or spent their childhood here and we all come back here where we can be a family. We love being here as a family,” said Pennington.
Joe was raised in Altus. His memories and family go back generations.
The story begins in the years before the Civil War.
“One of the more treasured things we have here actually the homestead document coming from the United States government all the way back in 1844. It’s really neat to see; you have the president’s signature on here.”
Lessons of hard work, the importance of family and reliance on faith were taught in the home and still continue today.
Love of Arkansas weather also runs deep in the family. Storm damage is still apparent years after the fact in the form of a can opener lodged in a wood post at the homestead, a direct result of powerful winds that moved through the Altus area years ago.
Passion for weather propelled Pennington into a career in meteorology. That knowledge would prove vital on a May night in 2011.
“I don’t think anyone ever anticipates having to warn people in your own hometown of a very violent tornado. I certainly didn’t that night, I never envisioned it ever.”
“The very large tornado came within about a half mile of where we are sitting right now. I knew all the roads and all the little places where it was going through because that’s where I grew up.”
Covering the weather in Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley is a passion for Pennington. Being able to warn families in harm’s way is something he takes seriously.
Pennington still spends his free time back home in Altus. He looks forward to teaching his family the lessons he learned in the family home.