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 the times,” about a lone, masked, disgruntled protestor who camped out in front of the…

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 after the snow emergency is declared. If the city declares a snow emergency sometime between…

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. Of course, there is a learning curve each winter. “Every year we get new residents,”…

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 the first week of classes for students at Bowling Green State University. According to BGSU…

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.

Dry summer taking toll on crops, lawns, tempers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County is parched after getting half its normal summer rainfall this year – leaving yards brown, corn stalks scrawny, and some farmers short on patience. Every once in awhile, the dark clouds build and rain starts hitting the thirsty earth, but most hints of precipitation have turned into a tease. Rainfall for May, June and July in Bowling Green added up to 5.64 inches, according to records kept at the Bowling Green Wastewater Treatment Plant. That is about half of the average 10.7 inches seen here during those three months. The stunted crops and crunchy lawns are the most obvious victims, affecting local farmers and grass mowing businesses. But the hot dry summer has been good for others, like ODOT’s road construction schedule, local swimming pool attendance, and ball seasons that haven’t been disrupted by rain. Bowling Green’s water supply has not been adversely affected since the Maumee River watershed covers a huge area, according to Brian O’Connell, director of utilities for the city. “Even under severe drought conditions, there’s a lot of water that drains into the Maumee River,” O’Connell said. However, the rainfall on individual farm fields has left corn and soybean crops hurting, according to Jonanthan Haines, of the Farm Service Agency. The spring started out strong, he said. “We had the rainfall in April and May. We were actually a little too wet.” Farmers were itching to get their crops in the fields as summer got near. “They had a window to plant at the end of May,” Haines said. There were a handful of dry days, followed by forecasts for spring showers. “Everybody raced to plant.” But the forecast was wrong. “The rain never came,” Haines said. “The spigot was turned off after that.” Some spots in the county have fared a bit better than others, with the driest fields in the southwest corner, he said. The corn may have finally shot upward and started tasseling – but that is somewhat deceptive. It doesn’t mean a healthy crop. “The corn is chest high and tasseling out,” but it should be much higher by this time of the summer, Haines said. Haines is predicting “substantial less” bushels of corn at harvest time this year. Soybeans may be a little more drought resistant since they have more time to make up for the stunted growth and can benefit…

Moderate risk of severe weather in southern Wood County

From BRADLEY J. GILBERT, WOOD COUNTY EMA DIRECTOR Overnight, the Storm Prediction Center has only slightly narrowed the “MODERATE” risk area but a small portion of Southern Wood County remains in the official “MODERATE” risk area.  Of course, this does not mean that the rest of the county is free from the increased severe weather threat. At this hour, there is a large area of showers and thunderstorms moving southeasterly through Indiana and will likely miss our area.  Forecast officials will need to see how the atmosphere “resets” after this mornings round of activity clears the Indiana/Ohio area before we can get better details on the severe storms later on this evening.  Current thoughts on timing shows the main push of storms into our area in the late evening towards midnight with scattered showers and thunderstorms possible throughout the day. The exact path of storm development tonight will also depend on how far north a warm front travels today.  There is some concern with the possible development of a derecho as well as isolated tornadoes with this storm system this evening.  The tornado threat will be somewhat isolated depending on the track of the low pressure system and accompanying warm and cold fronts. Again, extremely strong straight-line winds are going to be the major concern.    

Risk of severe weather declines for today (Wednesday, June 15)

From BRADLEY J. GILBERT,  WOOD COUNTY EMA DIRECTOR A fairly large area of showers and thunderstorms are moving through the area this morning (Wednesday, June 15)  from a large area of severe weather to our west last night.  This activity will not be severe. This activity will also release some energy from the atmosphere which could reduce our chances of widespread severe weather this afternoon and evening.  The SPC still has NW Ohio in the “Slight” risk category for severe weather this afternoon and evening. Isolated areas of strong to severe thunderstorms will still be possible later today.  The primary threats will be damaging straight-line winds and hail.  Secondary threats will be an isolated tornado, heavy rain, and frequent lightning.   Again, showers and thunderstorms will move through the area this morning and are not expected to be severe.  It is still advised to monitor weather conditions later today for possible scattered/isolated thunderstorms that could become strong to severe in some areas.

Watch for severe weather Wednesday

From BRADLEY J. GILBERT,  WOOD COUNTY EMA DIRECTOR Overnight, the Storm Prediction Center increased the severe weather risk for NW Ohio to “Enhanced” on Wednesday. We have also just received a severe weather briefing from the Cleveland forecast office with their concerns. This is the first time this year we have been at this risk category. Thunderstorms will develop in the late afternoon and into the evening and possibly continue into the overnight hours. Primary threats from thunderstorms will be damaging straight-line winds, hail, and heavy downpours of rain. Secondary threats include isolated tornadoes and frequent lightning. Please plan on monitoring weather conditions closely Wednesday afternoon and evening. Weather radios and local media should be monitored for the latest weather information and possible warnings.  We will provide another update Wednesday morning via this email and our Facebook page.

Sun sets the stage for Art in the Park

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News All kinds of artists turned out for Bowling Green’s second annual Art in the Park in Simpson Garden Park. Artists were drawing, painting, doing needle work. Adult and budding actors staged shows. Performer Nick Zoulek blew saxophone; Michiko Saiki blew bubbles. And, of course, there were those who expressed their artistic inclinations by snapping photos with their smart phones. Jacqueline Nathan, president of the Bowling Green Arts Council, said the Art in the Park was a success, drawing at least as many attendees as last year’s inaugural event. Sunny weather in the 80s certainly helped. Aaron Pickens, of Grand Rapids, was painting a line of arbor vitae. Painting outdoors is way of taking a break from his highly detailed and realistic paintings of toys. Those can take 500 hours to complete. But if painting outdoors is fun, it’s serious fun. Painting outdoors is a challenge. There’s so much detail, he said. “You have to learn what to leave out. The landscape taught me how to paint.” Denise Carter was working on a rag rug that will serve as a wall hanging. She pulled brightly colored fabric through the weave of a coffee bean sack. The fabric became flowers, but Carter wasn’t depicting the blossoms in front of her. For her working outside was enjoyable because the colors were so much brighter in the full sun. Nearby in the amphitheater the sun served as stage lighting for theater. The Black Swamp Players offered the all-too-topical political satire “The Spot” about the filming of a candidate’s television commercial. The one-act play cast light on a process where the best kind of authenticity is the totally fake variety. Horizon Youth Theatre offered up an excerpt from their upcoming musical “Honk!” The open air setting seemed quite fitting for the mother duckling played by Sky Frishman to sing about the trials and joys of being mother to a feathery brood. She lamented that her husband was largely absent. She might as well have mated with a decoy, she said. Not all the action was outside. Inside glass artist Gail Christofferson was guiding volunteers, young and old, in the creation of a stained glass mural. Participants glued small irregular pieces of glass onto 20-by-20-inch frames. The finished work will eventually hang in the lobby of the community center. Right now, the project has enough funds for 25 panels, Christofferson…

Possible severe weather today

Brad Gilbert, EMA director for Wood County has issued the following: A relatively strong cold front and upper atmosphere dynamics will develop thunderstorm activity this afternoon and evening.  The Storm Prediction Center has NW Ohio in the “Marginal” risk category for severe weather today.  The primary threats will be damaging straight-line winds and hail.  Some residual showers and possibly a thunderstorm will linger into the early parts of Tuesday as well, but the severe threat will be low to non-existent on Tuesday. Yesterday, storms became severe as they moved east of Wood County.  The Sandusky (and Cedar Point) area experienced a very strong but very narrow corridor of damaging wind called a microburst (straight-line wind) from a thunderstorm.  Thunderstorms today could have similar microburst activity across all of NW Ohio.  Please monitor weather conditions for isolated strong to severe thunderstorm activity this afternoon and evening.

Peek at our Parks by Frances Brent: April Showers Bring More Than Flowers

By Frances Brent From mud hole to green glory the  Hosta  Display Garden at Simpson Garden has burst forth in its variegated shades of greens. The Simpson Garden, located at the corner of Wintergarden and Conneaut, has hosted  an official Hosta Display garden with literally hundreds of precisely labeled specimens since 2014. The area is deeply shaded, accented by rocks,  flowering shrubs and comfortable seating.  It has become a  popular photo op site for toddlers, graduates and families.  

Yep, snow, that’s what we’re talking about

From Brad Gilbert, Wood County Emergency Management director I REALLY hate to say it, but the NWS Cleveland office just provided and updated forecast. Forecasting models have shifted heavier snow bands further west putting most of Wood County in the 4” to 6” of snow potential by Saturday morning. The NWS has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for Wood County until 10:00 a.m. Saturday. Winds will be from the northwest at 15-25 mph. Convection within this storm system will be giving us the heavy snow potential. The convection will also make it likely that you could hear “thunder snow” especially when the snowfall is heavy at times later tonight. This is a vey unusual spring storm system, so please use extra caution this evening into the overnight hours and early Saturday morning if you have to travel.