Fire simulation burns impression about safety

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After watching a bedroom erupt into flames in a matter of seconds, local families likely examined their own homes a little closer when they went home on Saturday. For the first time, Bowling Green Fire Division’s annual open house featured a simulated fire scene. “I think it’s really hit home,” Fire Chief Bill Moorman said. “It’s going to really leave a lasting impression.” The fire scene showed two side-by-side bedrooms. One was riddled with fire hazards – cigarette butts on the floor, a candle left burning on the dresser, overloaded extension cords, small zip cords used improperly, and heavy furniture sitting on electrical cords. “I guarantee the kids are going to go home and check it out,” Moorman said. The fire structure was constructed by the Bowling Green firefighters specifically for the open house. The purpose was to show not just fire hazards, and the importance of smoke detectors, but also how quickly fire can spread, said firefighter/paramedic Nathan Espinoza. Very soon after the fire started in one bedroom, the temperature in the room hit 1,200 degrees, Espinoza said. The bedroom next door, with it’s door shut, stayed at 90 degrees – until the door was opened. “As soon as he opened the door, it shot up to 300 degrees,” Espinoza said. The safe bedroom was also equipped with a sprinkler system, which is becoming more standard in homes, Moorman said. Unlike smoke detectors which may go off when food is burned in the kitchen, the sprinklers are activated only when the temperature reaches certain temperatures. “The technology is very reliable,” the chief said. That information stuck with Emerson Jordan, 9, who was waiting his turn to use the fire hose to put out a pretend fire. “It puts out the fire before the firemen get there,” Emerson said about smoke detectors. Emerson also remembered the importance of keeping his bedroom door shut at night, to prevent a fire from quickly spreading. Hannah Sayler, 10, left the open house with the same knowledge. “If you have a sprinkler in your home, it’s…

BG schools to get state funding to improve safety

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than $12 million in grants have been awarded to Ohio schools to improve safety. All of Ohio’s public, chartered nonpublic, and schools operated by county boards of developmental disabilities will receive the greater of $2,500 or $5.65 per student to spend on school safety programs and training. Bowling Green City School District will receive $16,627. Other schools in the city will receive $2,500 each, including Bowling Green Christian Academy, Montessori School, St. Aloysius, and Wood Lane School. Schools will have the flexibility to use these grants for training for school resource officers, safety and security materials, and programs to identify and help students who may be struggling with their mental health. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said that school districts in the area haven’t received official word about the grants. However, Attorney General Mike DeWine sent out a press release on Friday listing the districts and the amount they would be receiving. “If there is money for us, we will use it,” Scruci said Monday morning. “As a board, that’s what we’re committed to.” Though the board will determine how the funding is spent, Scruci predicted it would be used either on safety training for staff or on installing more 3M film over glass doors at school buildings. The covering makes it more difficult for the glass to be broken enough to allow entry to a building. “It creates an obstacle for an intruder for two and a half or three minutes,” Scruci said. “The delay allows time to get people to safety.” The grants are funded with appropriations made by the Ohio legislature as part of House Bill 318. The law requires that participating schools and county boards work with law enforcement in their jurisdictions to determine the best use of the grant funding. School district are also being encouraged to take advantage of two new school safety efforts recently launched by the Attorney General’s Office: Active Shooter Response: An Educator’s Guide: This 25-part video series was produced by the Attorney General’s Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy to aid educators…

Columbia Gas agrees to alert fire division immediately about dangerous leaks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Columbia Gas officials have agreed to immediately notify Bowling Green Fire Division if gas leaks in the downtown construction area get close to dangerous levels again. “We’ve come to an understanding that they will call us immediately if there is a leak of significant levels,” Bowling Green Fire Chief Bill Moorman said Monday morning. Eleven days ago, a leak occurred in the downtown area of South Main Street, where Columbia Gas is replacing old natural gas lines. By the time the fire division was notified, the leaking gas had reached explosive levels, Moorman said. Last Friday, Columbia Gas officials agreed to meet with Moorman and Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft. City officials wanted to make sure if a similar incident occurred in the future that it would be handled differently by the gas company. “We wanted to make sure we are called immediately,” Moorman said. “If we’re not needed, we can just go home” back to the fire station. When the leak occurred on the evening of Sept. 13, Bowling Green Fire Division was not notified about the gas leak until at least two hours after gas odors were strong enough that some businesses shut down on the west side of the 100 block of South Main Street. Those businesses included Grounds for Thought, Lahey Appliance and Coyote Beads. When the fire division arrived downtown, the smell of natural gas was obvious. Atmospheric tests done by firefighters showed explosive levels of gas. “The gas levels were at a dangerous level,” Fire Chief Bill Moorman said. “It was getting to the point that a spark, anything can really set it off. Pretty much anything ignites natural gas.” The Bowling Green Police Division joined the fire division in evacuating the businesses and residents in the general area of the leak in the 100 block of South Main Street. The street was also closed to traffic to reduce the risks. After the leak, Columbia Gas defended its response. “They followed all their protocols,” Moorman agreed. But city officials are not satisfied with those…

BG Schools takes steps to make buildings safer

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Bowling Green City Schools students went back to school today, they entered buildings that had been made safer over the summer. Superintendent Francis Scruci reported to the Board of Education Tuesday evening that several changes have been made and are in progress to keep students and staff safe from intruders. All school entrance doors have had 3M safety film installed. The change is not visible to the eye, but the film is designed to slow down anyone trying to break through the doors. According to Scruci, the safety film takes about three minutes to break through – which gives people inside the school time to seek safety and notify law enforcement. Ballistic shields have been added to the large windows in the middle school cafeteria. The district also made some changes in the new wing added at the middle school. Rather than have locker bays in the hallways, which give intruders a place to hide, the new wing has all the lockers lining the hallway walls. Also, the outside doors into the new wing are solid – with no windows. “We’ve taken some steps to make that a little safer,” Scruci said. In order make other school entrances more safe, bushes were removed or cut back outside school buildings. The district is in the process of installing indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras at the buildings, he said. Plans are being made with the Bowling Green police and fire divisions to make weekly walks through the school buildings – in addition to unscheduled visits. A security meeting is being planned with school staff, police and fire personnel, to talk about some type of safety training at the schools. That training may be on the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evaluate) system, or some other safety program. Scruci and the district’s head of school building maintenance, Chuck Martin, recently attended a seminar on safety and security. Many of the ideas from the seminar had already been identified and were being worked on at the district’s buildings, Scruci said. Scruci said he will be…

Safe Communities urges caution as schools get back in session

From WOOD COUNTY SAFE COMMUNITIES Wood County Safe Communities announced today that there have been seven fatal crashes in Wood County compared to eight at this same time last year. *** August is back to school month for local school districts and higher education facilities in Wood County. When traveling rural roads, please be attentive to school buses in the area picking up and dropping off the precious cargo. Watch for increased traffic in the area of school buildings and be mindful of the 20-mph school zone speed limit during restricted times. Bowling Green State University (BGSU) will start its fall semester Aug. 27. Wooster Street is the main thoroughfare to enter the campus and shows a high volume of crashes from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Most crashes occur on Friday but with any event at BGSU, please be aware of the high volume of traffic and travel these areas with caution. Additionally, Owens Community College will start its fall semester in August. Watch for increased traffic on Oregon Road with students entering and exiting campus. Students are encouraged to be mindful of congestion in parking lots and be aware of their surroundings. Let’s prevent the high number of crashes that occur in your parking lots. Let’s make this back to school season the safest in history!!

Children’s Librarian Maria Simon on the mend from injuries suffered in crash

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Maria Simon is back to work at the Wood County District Public Library. Though she’s not up to rocking out, the children’s librarian is feeling well enough to return to see the Libraries Rock summer reading program through the end of the summer. Simon was seriously injured June 6 in an automobile accident on I-75. She returned to work with restrictions a week ago. Simon said she was very pleased to be back, even if it’s just part time. She attended the library’s Board of Trustees meeting Monday. She suffered a broken sternum and a concussion, so she said she’s having to limit her contact with the public. “Just a wave is all I need,” she said of well-wishers. She said that the library is a very private place, so many people probably aren’t aware of where she’s been. They may assume she’s been on vacation, Simon said. The accident occurred just south of Cygnet Road in Wood County when the Toyota Prius she was driving struck another car that was driving erratically. While trying to avoid that car she also made contact with a tractor-trailer. She, her husband Marc Simon, Bowling Green State University professor, and her mother, Mary Roemer, of South Bend, Indiana were on their way back to Bowling Green after traveling to Cincinnati to see a show the Simons’ daughter and son were performing. Roemer was very seriously injured who was taken by air ambulance to St. Vincent’s in Toledo. She has now been transferred to a skilled nursing facility in South Bend. So in addition to her own recovery, Simon was monitoring her mother’s care. Simon said she appreciates returning to the library. “I love this place,” she said. “I love libraries. Libraries incredibly healing places, places of order and stability.  There’s answers here.” Answers are hard to come by in the world of medical care where even the experts can be baffled, especially when it comes to concussions and spinal injuries, such as those her mother suffered. That “world is full of care and concern, and definitely love…

Safe Communities cautions against drinking & driving over the July 4th holiday

From SAFE COMMUNITIES OF WOOD COUNTY This year as we celebrate our country’s birthday, thousands of families take to their cars driving to neighborhood cookouts, family picnics, and other summer festivities. Sadly, some of their Independence Day celebrations will end in tragedy as too many people decide to drink and drive. Unfortunately, their bad choices have lasting effects on families. According to NHTSA, 37,361 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2017, and 28 percent (10,497) of those fatalities occurred in a crash during which the driver had a BAC over the legal limit of .08. With Fourth of July festivities wrapping up in the evening or late at night, more cars will be on the roads. Nighttime is especially dangerous: the rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes during the 2017 July Fourth holiday period was more than three times higher at night than it was during the day. It’s essential that our community members understand the safety and financial risks they take when they drink and drive. Under no circumstance is it ever acceptable to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after you’ve been drinking. Doing so endangers you and everyone on the road with you. Before you head out for your celebrations, make sure you plan a sober way home. Law enforcement in Wood County is taking part in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign during the Fourth of July holiday weekend to put an end to drunk driving. In support of law enforcement’s dedication to protecting the lives of residents in their communities, you’ll see increased enforcement on the roads zero tolerance for those who drive impaired.

‘Saved by the Belt’ more than just a slogan for some

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Last October, Richard “Fuzzy” David was driving a dump truck down U.S. 6 for his job with Jim Palmer Excavating when he was struck head-on. His truck was rammed so hard, it was turned sideways, the cab started to tear off the frame, and the driver’s door was pried open. David’s seat belt was credited with keeping him from flying out of the dump truck. He was injured, but was able to return to work – thanks to be buckled up at the time of the crash, said Sean Brennan, a friend and safety coordinator at Jim Palmer Excavating “He was saved by his belt,” Brennan said last week during a “Click It or Ticket” promotion organized by Wood County Safe Communities at Thayer Ford in Bowling Green. “There’s no way you can brace yourself,” Brennan said. “There’s no way you can get a seat belt on at the last minute.” Not only is wearing seat belts the law, it’s common sense, he added. Overall, Wood County motorists do pretty well at wearing their seat belts, according to Ohio State Patrol Lt Angel Burgos and Sandy Wiechman, coordinator of Wood County Safety Communities. Motorists’ use of seat belts in the county is 93 percent, compared to 84.3 percent in Ohio. Stops at various checkpoints in Wood County showed differing levels of compliance by drivers. The highest seat belt use (100 percent) was found in northern Wood County at Ohio 795 near the Interstate 75 interchange. The lowest compliance (83 percent) was found in southern Wood County on Ohio 18 at the I-75 interchange. Since 1975, seat belts have been credited with saving more than 300,000 lives in the U.S., according to Edgar Avila, president and chief executive officer of AAA. Last year, the Midwest ranked second in the nation for highest seat belt usage. “Let’s shoot for first place next year,” Avila said. Avila also stressed that it’s the driver’s duty to make sure everyone in the vehicle is belted in. “You are responsible for everyone riding in your vehicle,” he said….

BG bicyclists and motorists learn how to share the road

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bicyclists are being trained this week to teach other cyclists how to navigate the streets in Bowling Green. The goal is to show bicyclists and motorists how to share the roads. “We want to build up the bike friendliness of the community,” said Steve Langendorfer, of the Bicycle Safety Commission. So for three days this week, five people are being trained by Yay Bikes, a bicycle safety advocacy group. Those local trainers will then help educate riders in the Bowling Green community about the proper way to bicycle city streets. “It’s to help both bicyclists and motor vehicle operators understand that bicyclists are vehicles,” Langendorfer said. “They have the same rights and the same responsibilities.” Ultimately, the goal is to make more Bowling Green residents feel safe riding city streets by teaching them the rules of the road. “So people feel more comfortable as bicyclists – and debunk some of the myths,” Langendorfer said Wednesday as a team of riders were being trained. One of the big myths is that bicyclists should hug the edge of the road. The actual rule is that cyclists should ride about three feet from the right edge of the roadway – just about where a vehicle’s passenger side tire travels. Motor vehicles should give the cyclists another three feet of space as they pass. Bicyclists should stop at “all the reds” – stop signs, red lights, Langendorfer said. And they should use hand signals. While they have the same rights as motorists, “they also have the same responsibilities,” he added. Midwestern drivers tend to be cordial to bicyclists, he said. If they lay on the horn in Bowling Green, it’s usually to cyclists, not at them. “People in Bowling Green are very friendly,” Langendorfer said. “About the only time anyone honks is if they know you.” “No motorist is trying to run people down,” he said. But to make local residents more comfortable riding two-wheeled vehicles around town, the Bicycle Safety Commission and Yay Bikes program plan to host “slow rolls” for groups, “buddy rides” for…

Safe Communities sending out warning not to drive distracted

From WOOD COUNTY SAFE COMMUNITIES Wood County Safe Communities announced today that there have been four fatal crashes in Wood County for calendar year 2018, compared to five for the same time frame in 2017. *** At some point, many of us have witnessed a distracted driver; they are often easy to spot. Some reading this article may even admit to driving distracted in the past. With so many individuals tuned in to smartphones, distracted driving has become one of the most common causes of fatalities on the roads. This scenario provides an example of why Safe Communities of Wood County is teaming up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to reach all drivers with an important warning: U Drive. U Text. U Pay. According to NHTSA, in 2016, 3,450 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Nearly one-tenth of all fatal crashes in 2016 were reported as distraction-affected. Texting while driving has become an especially problematic trend among millennials. According to NHTSA, young drivers, ages 16 to 24, have been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers since 2007. “We can’t say it enough: distracted driving is a life or death issue,” said Sandy Wiechman, Safe Communities Coordinator for Wood County. “What people need to understand is how dangerous it is to take your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and concentration off the task of driving safely. It only takes a few seconds for a child to run into the street or for you to drive through a red light or stop sign and crash, potentially killing someone or yourself. That’s why during April, the police presence on Ohio roads will increase. Anyone who is caught texting and driving will pay.” “Too many drivers are ignoring their responsibilities behind the wheel,” said Wiechman. “Do the right thing—put your phone away when you get behind the wheel.

BGSU marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month with multiple events

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University will host several events during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April. Highlights of the month include “What Were You Wearing,” an exhibit by sexual assault survivors to challenge victim-blaming statements; the Sexual Assault Awareness Month 5K and Dog Walk; and the Clothesline Project. Additional events include free and confidential HIV testing, peer education presentations and a Step Up Step In basketball tournament. Guests can visit “What Were You Wearing” between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. April 11 in 208 Bowen-Thompson Student Union. This event is a collaboration between BGSU and the community, co-hosted by It’s on Us and The Cocoon, with support from the BGSU Women’s Center and Apparel Merchandising and Product Development Program. The Sexual Assault Awareness Month 5K and Dog Walk begins at 10 a.m. April 14 at the BGSU Student Recreation Center. Participants can register at Participants can also register for the We Are One Team (WA1T) Walk/Run, which aims to promote social justice, diversity, inclusion and teamwork through the power of sport. This year’s event will begin at 11 a.m. April 15 at Doyt Perry Stadium. For more information, contact Amanda Washko at The Clothesline Project, a visual display that bears witness to violence against women, will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 18 on the Education Lawn. In the event of rain, it will be held in 208 Union. The shirts in this display have been designed by survivors or those who care about them. The Wood County Clothesline Project began in 1995 and is protected and maintained by The Cocoon. On April 25, everyone is encouraged to wear jeans as a visible means of protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual assault. To view a complete list of calendar events and learn more about BGSU’s sexual violence prevention efforts, visit

Brakes fail on effort to stop speed limit increase

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The effort to increase the speed limit on the far east and west ends of Poe Road hit a speed bump Monday evening, then kept on going. Bowling Green City Council voted unanimously to change the speed limit from 35 to 45 mph on West Poe Road from Lafayette Boulevard to the city limits, and on East Poe Road from North College Avenue to Mercer Road. But a resident of Lafayette Avenue, at West Poe Road, asked council to put the brakes on any speed increase. “I really feel that people are already going 45,” and the speed change will encourage them to drive even faster, Jack Schell said. Schell said there have been multiple vehicle accidents this year, including a car that ended up in the ditch by his home, and another that stopped in his neighbor’s backyard. He suggested that instead of bumping up the speed at Lafayette, that it be increased further west at Legacy Drive. “I think speed is going to be a problem,” Schell said. The change was suggested by the city traffic commission based on the results of a traffic study, according to Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett. The studies on both ends of Poe Road looked at ODOT guidelines for the 85th percentile speed of traffic – which is the basic factor in setting speed limits. This is the speed that 85 percent of the drivers were at based upon the study, and has been determined by ODOT to be the speed at which the “average” driver feels comfortable driving in that area. The speed studies also consider factors such as the number of driveways, number of crashes and traffic volume. The data collected showed that a speed limit increase was warranted in both sections of Poe Road. Police Chief Tony Hetrick said bumping up the speed limits makes sense. “It seems logical, it’s a reasonable speed to be traveling,” Hetrick said last month. After questions from City Council members, Fawcett said that while the city has some control, setting speed limits is addressed in…

BG school board hears concerns about taxes, safety

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   An opponent of Bowling Green City School’s bond issue suggested a way for the board to bypass more property taxes – and asked if board members would resign if the May bond issue fails. Richard Chamberlain told the school board Tuesday evening that an income tax would have a better chance with local voters than a property tax. There’s a problem though – Ohio doesn’t allow schools to finance long-term building projects with income tax revenue. But Chamberlain suggested the district could get around that rule. He pointed to the middle school addition currently being built. “We must be moving funds around,” he said. Superintendent Francis Scruci, however, explained after the meeting that the board borrowed the $4.4 million for the addition, with plans to pay back the loan with permanent improvement funds. Those funds were approved by district voters. Chamberlain asked the board members about their plans if the levy doesn’t pass on May 8. “If this thing fails, I’d say the board has failed us,” he said. Then he took it a step further. “Are you going to resign,” and let someone else take over, Chamberlain asked the board. Numbers presented by Chamberlain show that the school district’s annual funding includes about $20 million in property taxes, $3.4 million in income taxes, and $8.2 million in state funding. The proposed $72 million bond issue, spread over 37 years, will cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $200 a year in property taxes. He suggested hiking the income tax would be better, since the district collects 0.5 percent in income tax now. According to Chamberlain, 89 percent of school districts have income taxes of more than 0.5 percent. “We’re low. We’re stuck in this past mode of funding,” he said. The school board heard from another citizen Tuesday evening, who said the district should not be spending money on buildings. Brenda Pike said teachers work many more hours than they are paid for, and buy many of their own classroom supplies. New buildings won’t give the teachers more hours in…

Hundreds walk out of BG High to protest gun violence

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.)  

Luck of the Irish won’t help drunk drivers

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.