The Press Newspaper
In the two weeks since the tornado devastated areas of Wood and Ottawa county, individuals, businesses and organizations continue to look for ways to reach out and help the victims of the twister.
In the past week, fundraisers of all kinds – everything from garage sales, barbecues and dart tournaments – have been held throughout the region, and plans call for more efforts in the weeks ahead.
There are also several Facebook pages devoted to helping local tornado victims, along with a page devoted to nominate Lake High School for the TV show, “Extreme Makeover, Home Edition” (search Extreme Makeover Home Edition: Lake High School).
Here is a sampling of ways to help:
Air Force veteran John “Jack” Gallagher thought he had seen it all while in
Vietnam. But nothing prepared him for what was going to go down as midnight approached on June 5.
Gallagher’s Trowbridge Road home was hit hard by tornadoes that crossed from Wood County over into Ottawa County that night. Gallagher, his wife, his daughter, and daughter’s boyfriend took the correct action — they went to the basement.
“It was pretty scary. I’d been watching the news on TV and saw it coming,” Gallagher said.
What many describe as sounding like a freight train, Gallagher compares the noise of an oncoming tornado to a fighter jet he knew so much about during his Air Force stint.
Once the tornado reached his home, all his family could do was sit back and listen.
Mainstreet Church is going to miss 37-year-old Millbury resident Ryan Lance Walters.
Walters became the third family member to pass away as a result of injuries suffered when a tornado destroyed his home near midnight on June 5. The four members of the Walters family attended Mainstreet Church, which has two Walbridge campuses.
According to news reports, Ryan’s wife Mary and five-year-old son Hayden Walters had gone to bed before the tornado hit. Both were killed before extended family members could warn them. Ryan, initially hospitalized, passed away June 13 at St. Vincent-Mercy Medical Center surrounded by his family.
“I knew them very well,” said Mainstreet Church pastor Marty Pennington. “Both Ryan and Mary were very active in our church. Mary served in our nursery ministries, Ryan was an IT (information technology) guy by training, and he helped manage our IT systems here at the church as a volunteer.”
When Mary and Hayden passed away, Pastor Pennington posted this Bible verse on the church’s website, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.” from 1 Thessalonians 4:13.
The Lake Township trustees have agreed to waive zoning permit fees for construction projects stemming from damage caused by the June 5 tornado.
Meeting in the chambers of Walbridge Village Council Tuesday because the township administration building on Cummings Road was severely damaged, the trustees approved a motion recommended by Dave Miesmer, township zoning inspector, to temporarily waive the fees.
Miesmer noted that permits aren’t needed for projects such as repairing roofs or replacing siding and said his office would be issuing what he called “courtesy zoning certificates” to expedite larger projects.
Richard Welling, a trustee, said he’s asked the Wood County building inspection department to schedule to have an inspector in the township periodically so residents don’t have to go to Bowling Green for construction-related matters.
Melanie Bowen, who chairs the board of trustees, said the township’s administration is steadily getting back to normal.
Walbridge village officials have scheduled June 19 as Family Fun Day at the municipal pool, opening the facility to the public for free from noon to 5 p.m.
“We want to build support for the pool,” said Mayor Dan Wilczynski. “We want to let people know it’s there, it’s in good shape, and it’s a nice place to spend time with their family.”
Maureen Jacobsen, who chairs village council’s parks and recreation committee, said there will be games for children in and out of the pool, a dunk tank, a swim lesson clinic about 1 p.m., as well as a raffle and prizes.
The Walbridge Library will also have activities.
The Walbridge Festival Committee will provide food.
The pool, which is located on Parkview Drive, opened June 5 and will be open seven days a week through Labor Day. Hours are noon to 8 p.m.
Facing a lean operating budget, the village administration had considered leaving the pool closed this summer with the understanding it and other budget cuts could be re-instated if tax revenues increased.
Mayor Wilczynski sent letters in April to elected officials in Northwood, Millbury, Rossford, and Lake Township, offering residents of those communities membership to the pool and daily admission.
“In rethinking how we all operate and in hopes of moving other items of each of our operations to a more regional approach, we would like to offer several options to you and your councils for your collective support,” he wrote. “With your support, we will make this offer available to your residents in the same manner that we do with the Walbridge residents.”
If funding is available, the village will move a fence around the pool farther out to enclose trees on the property, creating an area that would be ideal for picnics, the mayor said.
“We have some ideas,” he said. “It’s a matter of how to pay for them.”
The village purchased the pool and five-acre grounds in 1994 for $13,000 from a non-profit corporation formed by residents.
The mayor said it cost about $40,000 to operate the pool for a season. Revenue from memberships, daily fees, and food concessions typically generate only $23,000.
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