Florida woman thanks Pemberville for helping get power back

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, electricians from Bowling Green and from Pemberville traveled down to help Floridians whose power was knocked out. The three linemen from Bowling Green were Trent Tyson, Randy McBride and Tim Brubaker. The two electricians from Pemberville were John Lockhart and Dean Ridner. This morning, the village of Pemberville received an email from a family displaced by the hurricane, who expressed their thanks for the electricians who traveled so far to help. Molly Brown approved her letter being shared….. Village of Pemberville, We are in Tallahassee, FL. Last night, by the grace of God, a potentially catastrophic and life changing Hurricane Irma was diverted slightly inland, saving all of the homes here and significant changes in everyone’s lives. We fled here from Jacksonville, which initially was supposed to be harder hit. Then the storm track changed. It was coming here, and I was stuck with my three small boys in a hotel while my husband, who is a police officer in Jacksonville, had to stay behind. It was a lot of stress, watching the storm come and not being able to get out of its way. We lost power at 3 am, myself and my three little boys. Today, we just got back on power. Not a long time, but having it back after all the build up of stress was AWESOME! And then, driving through the parking lot of the hotel, I saw the electric truck with the people who fixed the power. The truck has your village logo, Pemberville, Ohio. THANK YOU. Thank you for sending people to help us. Thank you for letting go of your resources. I’m sure some people will say, well sure, those guys are getting paid. Of course they are, and they should be. Handsomely. None of us can get the power back on. Those electricians (of course I’m sure it’s another title) drove that big truck halfway across the country to help people they don’t even know when we need their help. You are appreciated. I myself am a public servant, and I’m going to guess they don’t hear it enough, so please tell them: THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. For a mom with three little boys, worried about her own house back in Jacksonville and not knowing the…

BG linemen to help get power back to Florida after Irma

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With Hurricane Irma leaving most of Florida in the dark, cities across the nation are sending down electric workers to lend a hand. The city of Bowling Green sent three linemen – Trent Tyson, Randy McBride and Tim Brubaker – to the Tallahassee, Florida, area to help get power back to the region. The three men are planning to work in Florida for a week to 10 days. “We’ll see how that goes,” said Brian O’Connell, director of Bowling Green’s public utilities. “If they need more help, we may send another crew down to help.” Though the three linemen are acquainted with the work, they are expecting this to be unlike any disasters they have encountered up here. “There are just piles of debris everywhere,” O’Connell said – including power poles that are scattered around like pick-up sticks. “This is a much larger scale, and they’re not familiar with the system.” After cleaning up the torn down lines and poles, then new ones must be installed. “It’s just a major endeavor,” O’Connell said. Three years ago, Bowling Green needed help from other communities when a strong line of winds knocked down power poles along Dunbridge Road on the east side of the city. Like Bowling Green, Tallahassee is a member of the American Public Power Association. When one member is in trouble, others respond, O’Connell explained. “It’s a fairly common practice in the industry,” he said. “We just needed to keep enough people back to make sure we’re covered.” The linemen will help with reconstruction, by first taking care of down trees and power lines, and repairing broken transformers. It is specialized work that requires electrical expertise. “They need bodies who know how to put stuff back together,” O’Connell said. Bowling Green’s employees and the two city trucks are waiting in Alabama until the storm finishes its path through Tallahassee. They traveled in a convoy of regional community linemen who met up in the Wapakoneta area. The host community will reimburse Bowling Green for its time and expenses. The linemen, who will be paid for their time, have to volunteer for the job. “We’re fortunate we have guys like this,” O’Connell said of the linemen.

BG man among Red Cross volunteers feeding Harvey victims

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Roger Heider folded up his cot at 5:30 Sunday morning so the church he was sleeping in could hold services. He returned around 10 p.m., after spending the day delivering hot meals to families hit by Hurricane Harvey near Houston. Monday will be more of the same. “We’ll get up at 6 and start it all over again,” Heider said. Heider, of Bowling Green, is one of many Red Cross volunteers who responded to victims of Hurricane Harvey. This is the third national disaster he has responded to with the Red Cross, including wildfires in the San Diego area, and a hurricane in the Biloxi-Ocean Springs area. “I was hoping there wouldn’t be a need for my involvement,” Heider said about watching the storm coverage as the hurricane approached Texas. But when Harvey drenched the region with unfathomable amounts of rain, Heider was ready to go. “They were happy to have another warm body to go,” he said of the Red Cross. Heider, a retired social studies teacher for Toledo Public Schools, was teamed up with Larry Coats, of Elmore, and the two started heading south in a Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV). Once they arrived in the Houston area, the two were charged with providing mobile feeding throughout neighborhoods, where residents were cleaning out their waterlogged homes. As they drove through the Spring Creek area in Montgomery County, they saw patches of homes untouched by the flooding. “And then there were homes that were totally underwater,” Heider said. “The water receded about two days ago,” he said. And in that time, the homeowners had pulled soaked appliances, carpeting, insulation and furniture out to the curbs. Some had no electricity, and some had no safe water. So, many welcome a hot meal. Heider and Coats served up that day’s menu of chicken and rice, corn, snacks and water. While serving up food, the volunteers took time to listen to the families’ hardships. “It was heartbreaking,” Heider said. One woman was getting four meals for her family, when she told them her family’s situation. “She just broke down.” While her family was cleaning out their flood damaged home, someone broke into the home her family was renting and stole all their belongings. A man shared with Heider…

Waterlogged Pemberville and Wayne see worst flooding

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As soon as Brad Gilbert entered the room, there were groans. The Wood County Emergency Management Agency director was not on the agenda, so his unexpected arrival at the Wood County Commissioners meeting this morning could only mean one thing. There were problems. They don’t call Gilbert the “grim reaper” for nothing. After 10 inches of rain in some areas of the county this week, the county was overwhelmed. And a revised report from the National Weather Service suggested that the problem would get worse before it got better. “They are predicting a major flood stage tonight into tomorrow morning,” Gilbert said. The biggest problems are being seen in Wayne, where storm sewers couldn’t keep up with the rain, and are expected next to hit Pemberville, where two branches of the Portage River come together in the downtown area. By time the water crests tonight or Friday morning, it will likely be in the basements of the downtown businesses, Gilbert said. Just this morning, Gilbert said, fire crews from Pemberville, Bradner and Wayne had to use a boat to rescue a woman from her home that was surrounded by high water along Ohio 281. “It’s an act of Mother Nature. There’s no way to control it,” he said. And after multiple consecutive days of heavy rains, especially in southern Wood County, the ditches and fields are their limits. “There’s no where for it to go,” Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said. The EMA office has been in contact with the Pemberville mayor and fire chief, and has been asked by Wayne officials for sandbags. “It’s too late for sandbags at this point,” Gilbert said. Plans have also been made with the American Red Cross. “The Red Cross is in place, ready to go if they are needed,” he said. On the other side of the county, the Maumee River is not threatening Grand Rapids, he added. “The village is in pretty good shape.” Pemberville and Grand Rapids are accustomed to their rivers flooding, but the problem is new to Wayne, which does not sit along a waterway. Gilbert surmised that the village’s aging storm sewer system may need cleaning. On Wednesday, Bowling Green officials warned residents about flooding issues. Because of the large amount of rain, storm…

Heavy rains turn roads to rivers, lawns to lakes

Heavy rains have turned some roads into rivers and some yards and fields into lakes in Wood County. Overnight Tuesday into Wednesday morning, areas of the county got 2 to 2.25 inches of rain. That came after Monday’s dowsing of 3 to 3.5 inches of rain in the county, according to Wood County Emergency Management Agency Director Brad Gilbert. “We are very, very wet,” Gilbert said Wednesday morning. “There’s a lot of water standing in the fields. Ditches and streams are at or near capacity.” The Portage and Maumee rivers are experiencing some limited flooding. The levels were headed downward late this morning, but Gilbert expected them to rise again with more rain predicted. Bowling Green and Perrysburg had some street flooding, and power outages were reported in northern Wood County. The Buckeye Phone System experienced problems, leading to the county offices and sheriff’s office to be without phone service this morning. The emergency 911 system remained in service, Gilbert said. Gilbert said he had been in contact with the American Red Cross, just in case there are any emergency needs. “These nice little dry periods in between are helping out a little bit,” he said. “But we’re still looking at a potential of 2 to 3 more inches of rain.”

Heavy rains on their way Wednesday & Thursday

From Brad Gilbert, county EMA director: A storm system similar to the one we experienced a couple of weeks ago will move into the area overnight tonight (May 23) and will be slow to move out of the area by late on Thursday (May 25).  Although similar in nature, this storm system does not have quite the amount of moisture to work with as the last big storm system; therefore, serious flooding is not expected at this time.  Light rain will move into the area Wednesday morning with heavier rain possible Wednesday afternoon and evening.  Because of the recent rains, ditches, streams, creeks, and rivers will likely rise fairly quick and low lying areas that typically see flooding issues may experience those type of issues.  Significant river flooding issues are not expected.  Ponding on roads and in city streets will be the primary issue, so please use extra caution when driving.  Some thunderstorm activity may be embedded in the widespread rain Wednesday afternoon, but severe weather is not expected at this time.  Rain will continue on Thursday; however, rain should be lighter in nature than it will on Wednesday.

BGSU to test warning sirens, May 9

BGSU will perform outdoor warning siren testing from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 9. Periodic testing will consist of warning tones and voice commands at four to six locations across campus. Each test will last for 10 to 15 minutes. These sirens typically activate if Wood County goes under a Tornado Warning, for the regular monthly test or for the statewide tornado drill normally held every March. The May 9 test will be rescheduled if there is a chance of severe weather.

Threat of severe weather tonight (April 20)

BRADLEY J. GILBERT, WOOD COUNTY EMA DIRECTOR There is a severe weather threat for this evening (April 20) across NW Ohio.  Overnight the Storm Prediction Center increased the severe weather risk category across Northwest Ohio to “Enhanced.”   Atmosphere dynamics along with very warm temperatures and increased dew points (humidity) this afternoon will cause thunderstorms to develop across Eastern Illinois into Northern Indiana and then into NW Ohio.  Scattered showers and thunderstorms are possible late this afternoon, but the bigger complex of thunderstorms will move into the area after 5 p.m. Current models indicate this complex of storms to be in the Wood County/Toledo/Findlay area around 7 p.m. or 8 p.m.  this evening.  The primary threats will be damaging straight line winds and large hail; however, an isolated tornado or two is also possible over Northwest Ohio and especially just north of the Ohio/Michigan line. Heavy rain will also be possible which may cause some flooding issues after yesterday’s rainfall.  More than likely, some type of severe weather WATCH will be issued for our area by late this afternoon.

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 place. While this may seem ironic that our top story was written by neither McLaughlin nor Dupont, I don’t see it that way. Zibbel Media, operated by John Roberts-Zibbel and Roberts-Zibbel, is as much responsible for launching and maintaining the BG Independent enterprise as McLaughlin and Dupont, and I’m happy to have this recognition of that contribution. Some people were celebrating the holidays by pulling their last Myles pizza out of the freezer. The opening of Pizza Pub 516 in the location with a clear intent to update the place while maintaining much of the Myles character was also of interest, placing 18th on the list. Roberts-Zibbel also wrote another top 30 story, “Sign of…

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 the garbage and recycling trucks from picking up bins placed by the street. Emergency vehicles may also not be able to make it down unplowed streets. All “snow streets” in the city are marked with white and blue signs labeling them. “That’s how you know you live on a ‘snow street,’” Tretter said. All cul-de-sacs are also considered “snow streets” since they cannot be plowed with on-street parking. The complete list of “snow streets” and the rules that apply to them can be found on the city’s website. If the city declares a snow emergency sometime between 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., any vehicle parked on a “snow street” must be removed within two hours…

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 work with the residents as much as possible,” said Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett. The city has had the snow removal ordinance for years, but initially hoped that residents would just comply. That didn’t happen, Craft said. “People would call and say, ‘Why do you have this rule if you aren’t enforcing it?’” Craft recalled. So in 2008, the city changed its system. The city started clearing walks, charging residents, and issuing citations. In most cases, that did the trick. “People have changed their behavior,” Craft said. The policy is reinforced each year by city announcements and by peer pressure from neighbors, Craft added. “It’s common knowledge that you should shovel your sidewalk,” he said….

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 skies on the west side of the city, Fire Chief Tom Sanderson said. “When we have a tornado watch, we send spotters out to the west edge of town,” Sanderson said. “If it turns to a warning, we bring them back in” to take shelter. “We didn’t see any tornadic activity” Wednesday evening, the chief said. Bowling Green Police Major Justin White said no damage or problems from the storm had been reported to him. “Actually, I’m down in the basement with my kids,” said White, who was not on duty at the time. The city avoided the high winds that hit other areas. “I think we were fortunate,” White said. The storm hit during…

Tornado warning for Wednesday, Aug. 24 extended to 9:30 p.m.

Tornado warning issued  for Wood County.  National Weather Service has extended warning to 9:30 p.m.  The county has been under tornado watch for more than two hours. Residents advised to take shelter. Heavy weather including a tornado reported in Whitehouse. Tornadoes reportedly touched down in counties west of here.