The Press Newspaper
Bailey Bowman was traveling with boyfriend Gerald Lathrop along State Route 795 heading towards his parents’ home on the evening of June 5.
The two 20-year-old Walbridge residents had spent the day at the Old West End Festival.
Before reaching the home on Luckey Road, a Category EF4 tornado swept up both Bowman and Lathrop, however, Bowman did not survive.
“Bailey and I were coming home from dinner and we were trying to get to my parent’s house for shelter because we heard that there were bad storms, so we left early,” Lathrop said. “We got to-go boxes and we were going to come back here and eat and be with my family and we didn’t make it.
“We ran into a tornado and tried to get to the (Lake Township police) department. I never saw what happened to her. I ended up getting thrown against the building and the only thing that saved my life was two boulders — one on my right and one on my left that held the building up and kept it from falling on me. The whole building collapsed and I’ve never experienced anything like that,” Lathrop continued.
Genoa Village Council voted unanimously Monday to hire a new solicitor.
Northwood attorney Brian Ballenger was given a two-year contract at $130 an hour, with hours determined on an as-needed basis, said fiscal officer Charles Brinkman.
Ballenger, who has been an attorney for 25 years, operates a private practice and does work currently with the Village of Walbridge and City of Northwood.
He replaces Cindy Smith who resigned in March after more than two decades of service with the Genoa administration.
Council put him to work immediately, asking him to review several pending ordinances as well as the hiring procedure of a part-time clerk.
The clerk issue surfaced earlier this year when councilman Eric Hise questioned the legality of the hiring which had not been approved by council.
The Ottawa County sheriff and prosecutor both reviewed the possible misuse of funds complaint. They had been consulted because the village did not have a solicitor on the payroll.
Neither believed a crime had been committed regarding the hiring, officials said.
The Ottawa County Emergency Management is operating an Outreach Center in the Reiman and Trowbridge roads area. First aid, and information on cleanup and debris collection sites will be available.
In addition, The Salvation Army will operate a canteen at the Outreach Center, with food and beverages for residents and workers involved in the cleanup.
The Genoa Athletic Complex will be the clearing house for lost and found.
Assistance needs and volunteer efforts are being coordinated through the American Red Cross and the Ottawa County Emergency Management Agency.
Residents with specific needs are encouraged to contact Ottawa County EMA at 419-734-6900 or United Way 2-1-1 (dial 2-1-1 or 800-650-4357).
Residents/businesses are reminded that debris should be sorted and placed at the edge of the road in following categories:
For Gary Baker and his family, a camping outing in Williams County was cut short by the storm systems that spawned the tornadoes that struck Ohio and Michigan.
They raced home to Williston from a Nettle Lake campground just minutes ahead of the storm.
“The sky looked really ominous behind us,” he said. “We got on the turnpike and we were only ahead of it by 10 minutes or so.”
Only five minutes passed after they pulled into their Toledo Street home and the emergency sirens sounded, he said.
The storm flooded Baker’s yard but his home didn’t suffer structural damage.
“We were lucky,” he said. “There was quite a bit of damage in Ottawa County.”
A team of meteorologists from the National Weather Service conducted an extensive survey of the tornado’s path in Wood and Ottawa counties and determined it reached an intensity of 4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, indicating wind speeds reached 170-175 miles per hour.
The most extensive damage occurred in two spots: at State Route 795 near Lake High School and on the northwest side of the Village of Millbury.
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.”
The Walbridge Fest committee will be serving food and Maureen Jacobsen, who chair’s village council’s parks and recreation committee, is making plans for entertainment for children.
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.