The Press Newspaper
What does it feel like to be in the eye of a tornado? For Ronald and Janice Johns, of Millbury, it is something they wish they did not know.
Their home, located on Collins Road, is now a flattened piece of real estate thanks to the June 5 F-4 tornado that ripped through Millbury.
“It has been tough,” Janice said, choking back tears. “There is so much to think about right now.”
According to Janice, she had already developed the habit of grabbing important papers, wallets and money whenever severe weather was approaching. That Saturday evening would be the same.
“We heard the sirens and I grabbed my things to take them downstairs,” Janice explained. “We really did not take it too seriously at first. In fact, I was ready to go to bed.”
While she was taking the valuables to the basement, Ron went outside to see what was going on, Janice said. Minutes later, her husband ran into the home and told her to get downstairs immediately.
Mainstreet Church Pastor Marty Pennington has been a busy man.
During the week after twin tornados destroyed approximately 100 homes in Lake Township, he counted “upwards of 800 to 1,000 people coming in and out of our church to go out and help.” That includes only members from his church.
“We’ve done a lot of relief ministry and work out and about with the community. A lot of volunteers have come out of our church,” Pastor Pennington said.
Many of the church’s members live within the impacted areas of Millbury and Moline, said Pastor Pennington, including victims that lost homes and their lives.
Killed by the tornados were four members, including Ted Kranz, the father of surviving Lake senior class valedictorian Katelyn Kranz, and three members of the Walters family, including parents Ryan and Mary Walters and their four-year-old son Hayden. Pastor Pennington officiated all three funeral services as Mary and Hayden’s were combined.
Oregon Day, held at the city’s municipal complex in August for the last three years, will be replaced with a Fourth of July extravaganza this year.
Boomfest at the Grove, hosted by the city and BP Husky, will be held at Oak Shade Grove, 3624 Seaman Street on July 4 from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Besides fireworks, the event will feature live entertainment, a car show, and food and drink.
Mayor Mike Seferian said he decided to replace Oregon Day, which was started to celebrate the city’s 50th anniversary, because it failed to draw much of a crowd.
“This year, people expected it again,” he said.
But food vendors had lost money because of low turnout, and the public could watch the fireworks away from the municipal complex, he said.
“The city did a lot of work to set up the grounds. One year, there were only 30-40 people. Few came to the event,” he said. “People didn’t really buy anything from the vendors. There was nothing to hold them there. People parked around Starr Extension, and other places, to see the fireworks from miles away.”
Luckies Barn and Grill employee Casey Parker was in the wrong place at the right time — or maybe the right place at the wrong time.
Parker, from North Toledo, and her fiancé, Bill Cousino, were at the “Beach House” — the nickname for the home of Russell and Tammy Beach on Main Street in Millbury when tornados struck June 5.
“It was interesting, that’s for sure. The house we were at, my fiancé plays softball with them, and fortunately we were there with them. They had the softball team over for a cookout and a party. It was about six people that lost their cars, and the house that we were in was pretty bad. We were very, very lucky, that’s for sure,” Parker said.
“Thank God we were there. Everybody’s houses were gone, you know, and our house was kind of like the safe house because it was still standing. The guys and girls and everybody helped out. In 45 minutes the ambulance and fire department was there they were pulling people out of the rubble. It was definitely scary,” Parker continued. “Everybody knew to go to the Beach House that evening. He had a generator that was running.”
Oregon City Council on Monday unanimously approved a re-opener agreement with the Oregon Police Patrolmen’s Association and the Police Command Officers/Fraternal Order of Police for a pay raise.
The re-opener is for wages only for July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011.
The ratified contracts were in line with contracts for the fire department and AFSCME, said Mayor Mike Seferian.
Law Director Paul Goldberg said it was unusual to reopen a contract mid-term.
“We generally like to negotiate a three year agreement, have everything – the wages and contract language - covered for three years. We set out last year to negotiate a contract with all five of our bargaining units. We did strike a three year contract and contract language with all the units, but due to the nature of the national and local economy, we just didn’t think it was prudent at that time to strike a deal on wages because it wasn’t clear where we were going. It’s still kind of that way,” said Goldberg. “We thought it was actually in the best interests of the city and the employees to wait and see how things developed. This is what we’ve come up with. Council and the administration have been very conscientious and responsible stewards of the public monies. And that’s why we’re in a position to be able to offer pay raises to our employees. When you see many other communities making cuts, furloughs and layoffs, we’re doing none of the above. So with the police officers and command, they chose to do a one year re-opener.”