By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Hundreds of Bowling Green High School students walked out of school this morning (March 14) at 10:00 to protest gun violence. The student-led protests against gun violence come a month after the Valentine’s Day attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 students and teachers. The BGHS walkout was to last 17 minutes in their honor. Jacob Fausnaugh likened it to the protests against the Vietnam War. In the 20 years since the shootings at Columbine more people have died from gun violence than American troops died in the Vietnam War, he said. “They walked out for that, we walked out for this.” Alyson Baker, one of the organizers of the walkout, said shortly before the protest was scheduled to begin that she expected about 100 students to take part. When students started streaming out of the school it was clear participation was much greater. The crowd that gathered near the spirit rock in front of the school appeared to be several hundred strong. Baker said the response from fellow students had been mixed. “Some people think it won’t do anything.” Still she said she expected to see many students coming out to say otherwise. Gun violence is “essentially an epidemic,” she said. Baker also noted the crowd of about 100 supportive community members lining the sidewalk near the school. School administrators and Bowling Green police kept the community members and media off school property. Baker said the school administration “has supported us the entire way.” “They’ve been a tremendous help.” (This story will be updated.)
From SAFE COMMUNITIES OF WOOD COUNTY St. Patrick’s Day has become one of the nation’s most popular times to celebrate and party. Unfortunately, too many people are taking to the roads after drinking alcohol, making this holiday also one of the most dangerous. In fact, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the deadliest holidays on the road our nation’s roads. During the 2012-2016 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18), 269 lives were lost due in drunk- driving crashes. In 2016, drunk driving killed more than 10,000 people in our country, and every single one of those deaths was preventable. To keep the roads safer, Wood County Safe Communities is reaching out with an important life-saving message and warning: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. If you plan to celebrate with alcohol this St. Patrick’s Day, follow these tips to stay safer: Before celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, decide whether you’ll drink or you’ll drive. You can’t do both. If you’re planning on driving, commit to staying sober. If you’ve been out drinking and then get behind the wheel, you run the risk of causing a crash or getting arrested for a DUI. Help those around you be responsible, too. Walking while intoxicated can be deadly, as lack of attention could put you at risk of getting hit by a vehicle. If someone you know is drinking, do not let him or her get behind the wheel. If you see someone who appears to be driving drunk, pull over to a safe location and call the police. Your actions could help save a life. Remember this St. Patrick’s Day: Plan Before You Party! Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.
By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Last week while Bowling Green schools were closed for spring break, teams of police officers clad in protective vests and carrying AR-15 air soft training rifles trained in their hallways. By this week, all of the city’s police officers will have gone through rescue task force training. The point of the practice is to prepare police and EMS to work together to get medical help to victims of mass shootings as quickly as possible. “Time is so critical,” Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick said. On Friday afternoon, another team of police officers wrapped up their active shooter drill at Crim Elementary School. While they train annually for active shooters, this was the first time that police and firefighters/paramedics trained together. Police trained to go into the “hot zone,” to confront the shooters, and create an area in the nearby “warm zone” for EMS to take care of those injured. “Our entire role in all of this is to train the police officers to make a safe area,” so medical treatment doesn’t have to wait until the entire scene is cleared of risks, Bowling Green Fire Chief Bill Moorman said. “Our paramedics are escorted in to treat in the building, and not wait for patients to be brought out to us,” Moorman said. “It’s getting our people into the building faster than normal.” The rescue task force responses to mass shootings do not require EMS personnel to carry firearms. “We are the firefighters’ protection for tactical emergency medical services,” explained Bowling Green Police Deputy Chief Justin White as he stood outside Crim Elementary. The rescue task force training included every police officer and firefighter. “All our officers are getting trained this week,” Hetrick said. “Every single one will go through it,” Moorman said. Each of the training sessions was held in Crim Elementary, though Hetrick said his officers are familiar with every school building in the city. The rescue task force training had been months in the making – long before the shooting in Parkland, Florida. But the timing proved perfect with concerns heightened after 17 students and teachers were killed by the Parkland shooter. “Anxiety is through the roof,” Hetrick said in the days following the Florida school shooting. Immediately after the Parkland school shooting, Bowling Green Police Division increased its foot patrols near local schools and drive-throughs of school parking lots. “We have stepped that up,” Hetrick said during the recent school safety forum held by the school district at the county library. Though the police division does not have enough officers to station them at the schools, Hetrick said the response time averages one to two minutes. The officers are well-equipped, train for active shooter responses, and are familiar with all the school buildings, Hetrick said. Prior to the Columbine school shooting, many police departments waited outside schools during active shooting incidents. Bowling Green police have a policy of “solo engagement,” meaning the first officer on the scene goes in immediately, by himself if necessary. “This is on our minds all the time – what we train for and what we’re equipped for,” Hetrick said. Every officer is equipped with an AR-15 rifle, assault vests and medical kids. “You enter, you find the threat, you neutralize the threat,” the…
Wood County Safe Communities has announced that the Fourth Quarter Fatal Data Review Committee met on Tuesday, January 9, 2018. The following fatal crashes from the Fourth Quarter of 2017 were reviewed: • Route 6 between Wayne and Pemberville Roads • River Rd. Between Bates and White Roads • Route 6 at Rudolph Road. In all five people died in the crashes, including two sisters and their mother in the Route 6 and Rudolph Road accident. The following countermeasures were established: • Obey all Traffic Laws • Do not drive Left of Center • Obey all Traffic Control Devices For More Information: • Lt. Angel Burgos, Ohio State Highway Patrol: 419-352-2481 • Sandy Wiechman, Safe Communities Coordinator: 419-372-9353 or email@example.com
To the Editor: To quote Robert F. Kennedy, “The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.” Once again, this happened in Bowling Green this past New Year’s Eve. Armed with a host of volunteers and two vans, 85 persons took advantage of the Swallow Your Pride, Call for a Ride Program. The riders were met with smiles, laughs and warm vehicles. Our volunteers were greeted with cold and thankful students who were in disbelief that people would volunteer on New Year’s Eve to make sure that they made it home safely. This program is a complete community endeavor and I am thankful for each and every person and business that supports Safe Communities of Wood County. I cannot thank enough our Media partners for making sure there was continuous promotion on local radio and television, as well as Best Western and Fairfield Inn for providing information on their billboards and to their patrons. Pagliai’s Pizza, Frisch’s East Wooster, Oasis, Cookie Jar, Waffle House and the local bars for promoted the program with stickers and table tents, and the Safe Communities Coalition for always supporting the program. To the numerous citizens who posted and shared on Facebook, who “retweeted” on Twitter, or posted on their Instagram we thank you! I would be remiss if I did not thank those who CHOSE a safe ride home. Not only did they take advantage of our program, over 300 people chose safe rides with Super Cab, and numerous others who chose Uber. Thank you Super Cab for supporting our efforts! You are a great partner in making sure no one drives impaired in Bowling Green year round. We have made our corner of the State of Ohio safer, and I look forward to being able to continue to grow this program until we have the entire county with safe rides….stay tuned! Sandy Wiechman, Coordinator Safe Communities of Wood County
By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The numbers on impaired driving are nothing to celebrate. This year, 31 percent of the fatal crashes in Wood County involved impaired driving, said Sandra Wiechman, the Safe Communities coordinator for Wood County at a press briefing Thursday. Sgt. Shawn Fosgate, assistant post commander of the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Bowling Green Post, said that the percentages of accidents, 30 percent, and arrest related to OVI, 10 percent, remain constant. With more incidents that means “the numbers are going up.” That’s a trend that Wiechman, Fosgate, BG Police Chief Tony Hetrick, and the other partners in Wood County Safe Communities Coalition work year round to reverse. For the fifth time Safe Communities will start the year by sponsoring Swallow Your Pride, Call for a Ride. Those who feel unable to drive on New Year’s Eve can call 419-823-7765 from 11 p.m. Dec. 31 through 4 a.m. Jan. 1 and get a ride through the initiative. The program has supplied more than 600 rides in its first four years. Wiechman said three vans – two provided by the Thayer Family Dealerships and one by the Committee on Aging – are available to get people home from parties and bars safely. “If you plan to drink, don’t drive, and if you plan to drive, don’t drink,” said Edgar Avila, president and CEO of AAA Northwest Ohio. Planning ahead is important, Wiechman said, “so you don’t decide when you’re impaired. … It only takes one time for a tragedy to happen.” The Swallow Your Pride program is just one option for a safe ride home. There’s Super Cab and ride sharing services, such as Uber or Lyft, where available. There’s also the friend who serves as a designated driver. “There’s no reason to drive impaired driving in Wood County or Bowling Green,” Wiechman said. Wiechman said that being impaired because of alcohol or drugs are not the only problems. She urged people not only to give their keys to someone else if they were drinking, but give their phone to someone else if they’re driving. Wearing a seat belt is the best way to reduce the chance of a fatality in an accident, she added. Impaired driving is a major problem, she said. Two out of three people will be involved in an OVI accident in their lifetimes. Someone dies because of impaired driving every 15 minutes. The price tag for OVI is $132 billion annually.
By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News In a college town with nearly 7,000 rental units, there’s an awful lot of headbutting between landlords and renters and homeowning neighbors. When problems occur with home maintenance, is it the landlords’ responsibility to prove that their housing meets safety standards? Or is the onus on the renters to notify authorities if their housing is substandard? For years, Bowling Green officials have debated this question. Other Ohio college towns – like Kent, Oxford and Athens – have mandatory rental inspection and licensing programs. Bowling Green has preferred to make sure there are services in place that respond to rental problems as they arise. Following are various viewpoints in Bowling Green, including those from Mayor Dick Edwards, BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey and landlord Bob Maurer. Those who respond to complaints – the health district, fire division, building inspection and planning office – also share their perspectives. People closest to the students, like BGSU legal services and some East Side residents, also weigh in. And officials from rental inspection programs in Athens, Kent and Oxford talk about their experiences. EYE-OPENING TOUR Early this fall, some BGSU students asked their professor Neocles Leontis to help them get out of a lease at a rental property they felt was unsafe. “I could not believe it was allowed to be rented,” said Rose Hess, who toured the house. Photos taken during the tour show a ceiling fan dangling from the ceiling, a filthy washing machine that wasn’t working, a dryer that was not vented, a stove that didn’t work, fuse boxes without covers, and bricks holding open windows. “These properties are unrentable, yet they are being rented,” Hess said. “We need interior inspections and licensing.” Leontis agreed. “Parents who send their kids to Bowling Green can have no assurance when they rent a house that it’s safe.” Inspections are required of restaurants – the same should be standard for rental housing, he said. “This should not be allowed. Your kid moves into a fire trap and you never know.” SAME HOUSE – DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES Of course, few issues are truly black and white. Even the rental property mentioned above is shaded with an awful lot of gray. The landlord reportedly rented the house to students who had difficulty getting others to rent to them. Bowling Green has several safety measures in place for renters who encounter problems with their residences. When complaints are received, city officials ask the Bowling Green Fire Division, Wood County Health District, or Wood County Building Inspection to check out the property. In the case of the house rented by Leontis’ students, Fire Chief Tom Sanderson also toured the residence. The fire division recently started a community risk reduction program, in which firefighters inspect multi-family residential sites. “We do not inspect individual residences,” unless there is a specific request, Sanderson said. Though this particular house had several deficiencies, as someone who frequently tours the inside of rental properties, the chief had a different perspective. “I don’t believe the home was unsafe,” he said. Though it may appear worrisome, the original wiring in the house is not inherently dangerous. “We find that all over the place,” Sanderson said of the old wiring. The health district’s role is similar, in that its inspectors only…
By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News BGSU students crossing East Wooster Street will have to worry less about dodging traffic – and motorists will have to be on their toes to not miss the four new crosswalks being added to the street. Four pedestrian crosswalks are being installed on East Wooster Street – one by the Stroh Center, and three between the traffic lights at Manville and South College avenues. A pedestrian safety study was conducted in the fall of 2015 around the Bowling Green State University campus, to identify locations that may need marked crosswalks. “They took all likely crossing points,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said. “Our goal is to ensure everybody can cross the road.” The four crosswalks, costing a combined total of $489,191, are being paid for entirely by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Though there will be three crosswalks in a very short distance between the existing crosswalks at Manville and South College streets, Fawcett said the study did not foresee any resulting traffic congestion on East Wooster Street. “They incorporated the traffic counts in their studies,” he said. The construction going on now on East Wooster is the underground infrastructure needed, plus markings and signage. Plans call for the signals to be installed early next year. There are two different types of crosswalks being installed. Both types are new to Bowling Green. Two will be more traditional crosswalks with “refuge islands” in the middle of the street. The other two will be pedestrian hybrid beacons. The two pedestrian islands, which will have 6-inch high curbs, will be located in the middle of East Wooster Street – one near Founders residence hall (just east of Manville Avenue) and the other just west of the Falcon Health Center. They will be installed this year. The refuge islands in the middle will allow pedestrians to only worry about traffic from one direction at a time. “The goal for the island is to give a person an opportunity to maximize their safety,” Fawcett said. The two pedestrian hybrid beacons will be installed at the Stroh Center and across from McFall Center (just east of Troup Street.) The beacons, which remain passive unless a pedestrian wishes to cross, are activated by a push button. Once pushed, the yellow lights start flashing, followed by red lights to stop traffic. The lights remain red for the amount of time expected for pedestrians to cross the street. Once the lights are no longer red, traffic may resume. The pedestrian hybrid beacons will be completed in early 2018. Motorists who drive through the crossings while the red lights are shining can be cited for violating a traffic control device, similar to a stoplight violation. “It’s a very good example of a collaborative effort between BGSU, the city and ODOT, working on a common goal,” Fawcett said. “We’re pretty fortunate that ODOT is picking up the cost of these.”
From WOOD COUNTY SAFE COMMUNITIES Wood County Safe Communities announced today (Sept. 6, 2017) that there have been 10 fatal crashes in Wood County compared to nine through this same period last year. September 10-16, 2017 is National Commercial Vehicle Appreciation Week. Please take a moment to honor all professional drivers for their hard work and commitment in tackling one of the economy’s most demanding and important jobs. These men and women are not only doing their jobs but also working to keep our highways safe. Also, September 17-23, 2017 is Child Passenger Safety Seat Awareness week. In Wood County, there has been a fatality involving a child under the age of 13 in calendar year 2017. It is essential for parents to make sure child safety equipment in their vehicles is current with state and federal regulations and installed properly. Child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers. Car seats are most effective when installed properly and used correctly. Residents of Wood County are encouraged to contact either Wood County Hospital or Safe Kids of Greater Toledo to schedule a car seat inspection. For More Information: Lt. Angel Burgos, Ohio State Highway
By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Drivers in this part of the state have become very accustomed to encountering orange cones the last few years. As the Ohio Department of Transportation worked to widen Interstate 75 from two to three lanes, it became commonplace for drivers to have to maneuver around construction zones. That may have helped lead to some of the 6,000 work zone crashes in Ohio last year, according to Rebecca Shirling, spokesperson for ODOT District 2 in Bowling Green. So as a reminder to drivers to slow down in work zones, ODOT placed a display at the northbound rest area on I-75, just south of Bowling Green. The display represents 26 workers who were killed last year statewide in road work zones. That includes ODOT workers, tow truck drivers, law enforcement and utility workers. “These are people who didn’t go home,” Shirling said. “It’s frustrating waiting in traffic sometimes, but we forget these people had families to go home to.” The display is intended to be a stark reminder of the consequences of not paying attention. “We’ve had so much construction that people are becoming numb to it,” Shirling said. “We had a lot more work zone crashes. We had a larger construction zone than previous years.” Though message boards are being used to stress the reduced speed limits, they don’t always result in drivers slowing down. “A large percentage were people following too closely or being distracted by the work going on,” Shirling said. ODOT is working more closely with law enforcement and emergency responders to get roads open as soon as possible after crashes, so backups are reduced. And speed limit signs are being posted in work zones that aren’t active, to let drivers know they don’t need to slow down needlessly. Extra safety precautions are also being used for night crews, including halo lights on their helmets, and reflective markers on their sleeves and pantlegs. Night crews benefit from lighter traffic, but are at greater risks due to reduced visibility. The memorial along I-75 was intended to be a reminder to motorists that while road construction may delay their travels, that the people working in them also want to get home. “We just want people to see the visual,” and think, Shirling said.