Sunday, June 13, 2010

Journalist starts his new life

I've known about June 14 for two weeks now.

At first I couldn't wait for the day to come. But as the gap shortened between then and tomorrow, I've been nervous.

You see, I was hired by the Sandusky Register prior to Memorial Day. The daily newspaper is an independently owned publication and serves the Sandusky, Ohio, area. My beat, or the area I will cover, is Erie County.

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I will be forever grateful the powers to be at the Register chose me over many qualified candidates, including a reporter who has four years experience at a daily newspaper in Indiana.

I've always been a dedicated reporter. Whether it's been writing for three-plus years at The BG News, freelancing at Fremont-News Messenger/Port Clinton News Herald, interning at the Rochester Insider or writing for other publications such as the Toledo Free Press or Sport Informant, I've always maintained my integrity and given 100 percent.

I've never been more nervous, and possibly anxious, to begin this job. I can't fail. I told my employers that I would work hard and be willing to put the time in necessary to become a great journalist. I don't believe I am at the moment.

So I'm going to do what I have done in the past: Work hard, get the facts right and always willing to learn and listen from colleagues and superiors.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tornado terrorizes Lake Township; Community unites

The tiny community of Lake Township suffered a humongous blow Saturday night.

An F4 tornado gusted threw areas just south of Toledo, Ohio. The tornado, which reached speeds of 170 mph, destroyed Lake High School, decimated multiple homes, killed five people and devastated a community consisting of approximately 28,000 residents.

Lake Township has been reeling since.

In the days following the tornadoes, moods have shifted from sorrow and remorse to being efficient. Neighbors, police, volunteer organization, friends and family are helping one another pick up the debris and find personal belongings.

Susan Bradfield (pictured above, far left) is one of many people whose house was obliterated in the storm. Along with her husband, son and dog, she survived the disaster by staying in her basement. Even though no one died in the neighborhood, her house was a casualty in the storm.

"Everything was lost," Bradfield said. "It's going to take a while, but we have to start all over again. We have nothing."

Sharon Cundiff has lived in Lake Township her entire life. Glass surrounds her floors from the windows shattering from the winds. Her house is "structurally unsafe" to live in because it was lifted from the original foundation.

She said this is, by far, the worst event ever occurring in the area.

"I never want to see it again," Cundiff said.

The community came together Tuesday night for Lake High School's graduation ceremony. Speakers didn't ignore the tornadoes and salvaged the night with emotional speeches.

Said Dustin Fincher, senior speaker: "The events of June 5th have devastated the school and torn up homes and businesses, but it has also strengthened the community. It's truly heartwarming to see so many people so ready and motivated to help when they can. There is a lot of hard work to be done, but after seeing the dedication and effort to clean up, I believe we can all rest assure work will get done."

Others backed up Fincher's sentiments.

"Lake High School will rise again and our pride will move on," said Margene Akenberger, vice president for Lake Local Schools Board of Education. "We can be knocked down, but we won't be defeated."

The community is also contributing any way it can.

Local restaurants are donating 15 percent of their total take on Wednesday for disaster relief. Organization such as The United Way, The Salvation Army, the American Red Cross,
ISOH/Impact in Waterville, Ohio, and the Wood County Emergency Managemnt Agency are also volunteering their services. Any donations are welcomed and appreciated.

Check Sunday's Toledo Free Press for extensive coverage of the tornado, including how neighbor hods are coping with the disaster and how the community is progressing from this disaster.