Former BG family visited by hurricanes Harvey & Irma

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Sorrells family had two unwelcome guests in the past month – the first named Harvey, followed by Irma. “Stay away from us, we seem to be jinxed,” Larry Sorrells said on Saturday. Larry and Janet Sorrells, longtime Bowling Green residents, moved to Punta Gorda, Florida, in April. Their daughter Jennifer and her family live in Houston, Texas. As Hurricane Harvey approached, Jennifer, her spouse and their daughter, went to Austin for safety. “They were very lucky,” and their home suffered no damage, Larry Sorrells said. But as Larry and Janet Sorrells were worrying about Harvey’s wrath in Texas, Irma showed up on the radar. “We saw this thing for a long time,” but forecasters were uncertain where Irma was headed exactly. “We were glued to the TV” waiting for updates, Sorrells said. “We were watching the storm, and it’s a monster,” leveling some Caribbean islands on its way to Florida. Sorrells is accustomed to preparing for emergencies and public health crises. As the former health commissioner for Wood County, he spent years making sure the public was safe. But this was different. “This is our first hurricane, and maybe our last. I wouldn’t mind that,” he said. “I have a lot of training in emergency preparedness,” Sorrells said. So he and Janet planned ahead and made hotel reservations in Atlanta, Georgia, and they prepared their home with storm shutters and other precautionary steps to be battered by Irma. “There’s a lot of stuff to get ready for these things so you don’t come home to an even bigger mess,” he said….

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Some of the stories that clicked for BG Indy in 2016

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News If you ask those of us involved with BG Independent News, the biggest news of 2016 was that we got this enterprise started and weathered our first year. This has been a great venture that has both challenged and rewarded us, if not enriched us. We pride ourselves on writing the best stories about Bowling Green, its immediate surroundings and area arts and entertainment scene. We’ve been heartened by the fact that we’ve had close to 160,000 users and 600,000 page views since the website was launched in late January. For that Jan McLaughlin and I thank you, our readers. It’s been a great ride. As we start a new year, we thought we’d go back and see just what stories drew the most traffic in the previous one. I decided on a top 30 of the more than 1,700 stories we’ve published. That includes the bylined stories that make up the heart of BG Independent News, but also Community Voices, Opinion, Obituaries and Newsbreak (though not the event listings that get lumped into What’s Happening in Your Community). (See the list of links at the end of the story.) The story that drew the most traffic was “The day the pizza died,” which is by neither of the principle writers. The rumors of Myles Pizza closing had been in the air for well over a year. When Chip Myles finally called it quits, I was headed out of town for a funeral, so Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel, from Zibbel Media and an accomplished writer, stepped in and wrote her elegy to the beloved local pizza…

BG hears concerns about car crashes, snowy streets, parking tickets

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council spent a lot of time on transportation issues last week – not just the flashy topics of roundabouts and pedestrian walkways – but also the more mundane issues of downtown parking, snow removal on streets, and curves that may be contributing to accidents. Nathan Eberly, who lives on Sandridge Road just west of Avery Drive, told council that two curves on his stretch of the road seem to be sending quite a few motorists into his lawn. He asked that more signage be considered to notify drivers of the upcoming curves. “I end up with several people in my yard,” especially in the winter when the roads are a little slick, Eberly said. There was a period last year during a storm when four cars ran off the road into his yard in about an hour. Eberly told council he no longer puts his lighted Christmas deer in the yard since they are too often the victims of accidents. Eberly said he and his neighbors would like the city to consider placing more warning signs for the curves. He was instructed to take his concerns to Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft. Also at last week’s city council meeting, Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter explained the need for residents to comply with rules for “snow streets.” She talked about how problems can snowball if cars are not removed from the street in a timely manner. She showed a photograph of a vehicle parked on a “snow street,” which kept the snowplows from clearing the street, which then kept…

It’s beginning to look a lot like … time to shovel

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Mail carriers, dog walkers and kids trudging to schools aren’t the only ones who want sidewalks cleared of snow in Bowling Green. The city wants sidewalks cleared within 24 hours after snowstorms stop. And if homeowners don’t shovel their sidewalks, the city will do the work and send them the bill. This is how it works. If a citizen complains or if the code enforcement officer sees a snow-covered sidewalk, the city will send a contractor out to clear the walkway. The homeowner will then be sent a bill for about $65. If the bill isn’t paid, the charge will be placed on the property’s taxes. If the city has to return to the same property later in the winter, the owner will be charged the snow removal rate, plus receive a civil citation. The citation fines start at $50 and increase each time, with a maximum penalty of $150. The sidewalk regulations started out of a concern for children walking to school. “The focus was to keep kids safe walking to school, to keep them off the streets,” said Brian Craft, director of the city’s public works department. About six years ago, city officials added another step to the process after being accused by a resident vacationing in Florida of charging him improperly. So now, the city takes “before” photographs of the snowy sidewalks and “after” photos of the cleared walkways, Craft said. City officials would much rather landowners clear their own walks – but they also have an obligation to provide safe walking surfaces in the community. “We’re wanting to…

Conneaut, Kenwood and BGHS releasing two hours early on Wednesday due to heat

At 10:15 pm Tuesday, an automated call and email went out to Bowling Green parents informing them that due to predicted heat, Conneaut and Kenwood Elementaries and BG Senior High School will all release students two hours early tomorrow, Wednesday September 7. The Middle School and Crim Elementary will complete their days normally due to air conditioning in those buildings. The text of the call and email is as follows: “Dear parents and guardians, With the tomorrow’s temperatures rising and potentially creating unsafe conditions for our students, Wednesday, September 7 Conneaut Elementary, Kenwood Elementary, and Bowling Green Senior High School will be on a two-hour early release. The Elementary schools will dismiss at 1:30pm, while the High School will dismiss at 12:32. Crim Elementary and Bowling Green Middle School will dismiss at normal times. We understand that this could create an inconvenience to you schedules but it is being done with our student’s health and safety in mind. Bobcat Proud, Superintendent Francis Scruci”

Low grade tornado touched down near BG Wednesday night

The National Weather Service has confirmed  that a tornado touched down at about 9:06 Wednesday night just southwest of Pemberville, near Bowling Green. With top winds of 74 mph, the tornado was ranked EF 0 (zero), the lowest on the Enhanced Fujita scale. The Weather Service, which said the finding was preliminary, calculated the width at a maximum of 20 yards with a path of just over 70 yards.  

BG spared from strange string of tornadoes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For a couple hours Wednesday night, local residents sat in their basements with their eyes glued to weather radar. They tried to decipher the path of the tornadoes from the west, bracing for their possible arrival here. But when it was over, Bowling Green and Wood County survived the storm unscathed, according to local emergency response officials. “What a crazy night,” Wood County Emergency Management Agency Director Brad Gilbert said after the tornado warning was lifted for the county at 9:30 p.m. “It was a strange phenomenon tonight.” The tornado warning was followed by a thunderstorm warning and heavy rains. “We can handle that,” Gilbert said. Though tornadoes reportedly touched down in several places to the west, they seemed to have lost their punch when they reached this area. The National Weather Service reported “a lot of rotation on the radar,” Gilbert said. And trained weather spotters and firefighters called in a lot of strange weather. “I received a lot of reports of wall clouds, funnel clouds, but no tornado touching down. So that’s good.” Normally such weather is accompanied with lighting and heavy winds – but not tonight, he added. So Gilbert said he did not even get reports of power outages from the storm. “The good news is, as the storms came into Wood County the tornadoes dissipated,” said Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn. “I’m not aware of any damage.” But the county was prepared for the worst, with trained weather spotters, firefighters and ham radio operators on guard, the sheriff said. Bowling Green Fire Division had firefighters watching the…