Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

Annual Brown Bag Music Series starts Jan. 25

(Submitted by BG Parks and Recreation Department) The City of Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department along with the College of Musical Arts at BGSU will be kicking off the 13th Annual Brown Bag Music Series on Friday, Jan. 25, from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Simpson Building, 1291 Conneaut Ave. Folks are invited to bring their lunch and enjoy a musical performance by students and faculty from the College of Musical Arts in a comfortable and warm setting. Drinks and dessert will be available for purchase. Following is a list of the performances: Jan. 25 – A Celebration of the Voice!Feb. 1 – A Musical Theatre Extravaganza!Feb. 15 – A Black History Month CelebrationMarch 1 – Performer To Be AnnouncedMarch 15 – Scenes from BGSU’s Opera Theatre production of Handel’s SemeleApril 5 – Chamber music from BGSUApril 26 – Performer To Be Announced For more information, call 419-354-6223 or visit Bring your lunch and enjoy a musical performance. Drinks and dessert will be available for purchase.

United Way – more than 250 federal workers in Wood, Lucas, Ottawa counties

United Way of Greater Toledo (UWGT) is continuing its advocacy efforts around the ongoing partial government shutdown, with organization leadership expressing serious concern for local federal workers, individuals who rely on federal services and the mounting pressure for nonprofits to meet the growing needs of our community. “We have over 250 federal workers across Lucas, Wood and Ottawa County,” said Wendy Pestrue, president and CEO of UWGT. “That’s a significant audience of residents who may be in dire need of health and human services.” According to the New York Times, the impact of federal employees being out of work has caused a .13 percent weekly reduction in economic growth. “In quarter one of 2018, our national economy grew by 2.2 percent. That .13 percent may seem like a nominal number, but, nonetheless, has great impact on every community across the U.S.,” Pestrue said. Per a recent survey, 15 of the 53 nonprofits UWGT provides program funding to have noted that they currently receive some sort of government funding, or that their clients heavily rely on one of the government departments currently affected by the shutdown.   “One of the greatest concerns United Way has centers on food insecurity and SNAP benefits. With the closing of the USDA, who administers SNAP…if the shutdown continues, it could result in a great deal of pressure on food-distributing nonprofits in Northwest Ohio, who will be looked at to meet the needs of additional hungry families,” Pestrue stated. As of today, SNAP benefits have been administered through emergency funds from now until February. It is unclear if SNAP benefits will be administered beyond February if the shutdown continues. “Even if all the United Way’s across the country came together and used the $3.6 billion dollars we raise to solely fund SNAP, we wouldn’t even come close to meeting the food needs of the 40 million Americans who depend on that service. And that’s just one government program that could be affected by the ongoing shutdown,” said Pestrue. UWGT is encouraging individuals to call United Way 2-1-1 for any health and human service needs they may have due to the partial government shutdown. UWGT is also currently working with government entities and labor to help provide financial support to out of work federal employees. More details on that to come.

BG plans for rash of police and fire retirements

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green is trying to prepare now for a rash of retirements expected to hit the city’s police and fire divisions in a couple years. Nearly 25 years ago, city voters passed a couple safety levies – allowing the city to add staff to both the fire and police divisions. The additional staffing was viewed as a necessity to community safety. But now many of the police officers and firefighters filling positions created after the levies passed are nearing retirement – all at once. The city will fill the vacancies, but it will take some planning by the police and fire divisions, Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said last Saturday during a strategic planning session held for City Council. The police division could see six to eight retirements in 2021, Police Chief Tony Hetrick said. “That will open the floodgates,” Hetrick said of the 25-year mark in 2021. The fire division is facing the retirement of four officers this year, and as many as 20 retirements over the next fire years, Fire Chief Bill Moorman said. Bowling Green now requires all its firefighters to also be paramedics. “Finding good, quality candidates to fill those positions is more difficult,” Moorman said. “We’ve got some challenges.” Council member Sandy Rowland asked if the city’s pay scale for firefighters is high enough to help attract people to come from other fire departments in the region. Moorman said the Bowling Green firefighter pay scale is about average for the region. Council President Mike Aspacher asked Hetrick if efforts are being made to add some diversity in hires to the police division. “We are unrepresented in minority hires,” Hetrick agreed. To help remedy that, the chief said the next recruitment effort may be expanded to a statewide and national search. Hetrick said he is considering contracting with a firm that tests nationally for new hires. “Hopefully that bumps up our interest,” the chief said.

Wood County Juvenile Detention Center passes state inspection

The Ohio Department of Youth Services recently conducted a Facility Standards Inspection of the Wood County Juvenile Detention Center. The center was found in compliance with all mandatory standards of the Ohio Standards for Juvenile Detention Centers. The Ohio Department of Youth Services Facility Standards Inspection is conducted on an annual basis at the center. The inspection consisted of an on-site visit to the juvenile detention center. During the inspection, a review of the center’s policies and procedures, as well as face to face interviews with detained youth and facility staff, were conducted. The completed inspection reflected that the Wood County Juvenile Detention Center met Ohio standards relating to administration organization and management, fiscal management; personnel management, training and staff development, record keeping, physical plant requirements, safety and emergency procedures, security and control, food service and hygiene. In addition, the center was found to be in compliance with standards relative to the rights of detained juvenile youth, as well as programming. Wood County Probate and Juvenile Court Judge David Woessner was pleased with the results of the recent inspection. “I am happy with the report of the 2018 Facility Standards Inspection prepared by the Ohio Department of Youth Services. The administration and staff of the juvenile detention center are to be commended for the efforts and work done to assist youth and families in, at times, particularly challenging circumstances,” the judge stated. The juvenile detention center is a 48-bed secured facility which provides short term detention housing for youth from Wood and surrounding counties. The facility is overseen by Woessner. The director of the juvenile detention center is Richard Schmidbauer.

BG Exchange Club selects BGHS student of the month

(Submitted by the BG Exchange Club) Bowling Green High School senior Avery Lewis has been recognized as the Exchange Club’s January Student of the Month. Lewis has earned a grade point average of 4.42, which places her near the top of her class. And she has been inducted into both the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society. A super-achiever, she has already taken 11 courses at Bowling Green State University, starting her sophomore year. She is taking two more courses this semester and will graduate from high school with credits from 13 college courses. The College Credit Plus program enables high school students to take college courses. It is not unusual to see students take one or two College Credit Courses, but 13 is very rare. She has taken these courses in order to complete the general studies requirements towards a degree from the University of Dayton, where she plans to attend next year and major in pre-medical studies. It is her goal for a career in the field of medicine. Lewis is also a leader. Last year she was elected junior class president and was elected again to lead the class this year. She is the captain of the high school girl’s basketball team and has received several Scholar Athlete Awards. She attended St. Aloysius elementary and middle school and remains active in St. Al activities. This summer she was a volunteer for the Downtown Firefly Night events and has volunteered at high school orientation and registrations and works in the guidance office. She also had a newspaper route for four years and last fall worked at Sundaze, an ice cream and pizza parlor in Haskins.

BG task force gets different view during tour of new school

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News After spending hours touring Bowling Green’s aging elementaries, facility task force members got a glimpse of the future – at least the future for Northwood School District. Task force members had asked to see an example of new school construction. So on Wednesday evening, they gathered in the newly constructed school that serves pre-kindergarten through seniors in Northwood. The first question posed to Northwood Superintendent Jason Kozina was about the public reaction to losing their neighborhood elementaries. Kozina acknowledged the loss of the old buildings was a sore spot with some. “I’ve been through it all – the contentious meetings,” Kozina said. Northwood Superintendent Jason Kozina talks with task force members in the cafeteria. But in the end, the citizens decided that a new centralized school was best for the students. “Financially, it just had to happen that way,” the superintendent said. “It’s a million times better than what we had before.” There are, however, some major difference between Northwood and Bowling Green. First, the state funded 40 percent of Northwood’s new school – as compared to 17 percent for Bowling Green. Second, the state funding was available to Northwood, whereas Bowling Green would have to wait at least 10 years for it. And third, Northwood’s entire district has about 1,000 students, compared to Bowling Green having more than that just in its elementaries. Kozina said there were also concerns initially about one building holding students ranging from 4 to 18 years old. But the older students are on the second floor, and the younger ones on the first floor. They meet only in planned situations such as the older kids mentoring or reading to the younger ones. “The high school kids are better behaved around the little ones,” Kozina said. “We’ve seen the success with it.” Throughout the two-hour tour, the task force members had no difficulty pointing out the differences in the new building and Bowling Green schools. There was room for student movement, team teaching and shared resources in “pod” learning areas. Some of the walls moved – and all of the furniture moved. “Everything in here is on wheels so you can push it out of the way,” Kozina said. On the downside, it was pointed out that the moveable walls do not provide as much protection as the block walls. And some task force members disliked the loss of a large library in exchange for smaller pod libraries. Pod area for older students There were classrooms with tiered seating, intended to help students who just can’t sit still in traditional chairs. There were cushy chairs – which the older kids love, Kozina said. There was space for teachers to meet. There was space dedicated to storage. “Our old building, we used to see stuff piled up on everything,” Kozina said. The classrooms for…

City asks residents to help keep snowy roads passable

In anticipation of forecasted snow this week totaling more than two inches, residents are asked to assist in keeping roads passable by moving parked vehicles from streets and planning ahead. Keeping streets free and clear of parked vehicles is a tremendous help in the snow removal process, allowing the entire street to be cleared and treated. This request is being made in preparation of additional snow in excess of two inches creating potentially unsafe conditions that may require the declaration of a snow emergency. Residents are encouraged to plan ahead and park their vehicles off the street. The city has snow plow crews on standby. If two inches of snow is received, a snow emergency may be declared, implementing parking restrictions. As a reminder, if a snow emergency is declared between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., vehicles must be removed from snow streets within two hours of the declaration. If a snow emergency is declared after 9 p.m., vehicles must be removed by 9 a.m. the following morning. Residents are encouraged to monitor the city’s website, local news, or sign up for the eNews or follow the City on social media such as Facebook (@cityofbg) and Twitter (@cityofbg). As a reminder, the eNews sign up is located from the city’s homepage.

BG may focus on elementary buildings, put high school on hold for now

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green’s school board president conceded Tuesday evening that the school district may have more success with voters if it split up its building projects. “It does not appear that this is the time to finance both the elementaries and high school,” Board President Ginny Stewart said. So Stewart is suggesting that the district focus on the elementary buildings first, and address the high school later. After the board meeting, Superintendent Francis Scruci acknowledged that splitting the projects into more manageable pieces may be best. “I think the community spoke loud and clear that doing it all at once is not what they want,” Scruci said. And so far, the facilities task force has been looking at just the conditions of the current elementaries and the options available to renovate or replace them. Board Vice President Bill Clifford agreed that the focus on the elementaries may be the best route for the district. “It sure appears that’s the direction,” he said. “I’m not saying there’s not an issue with the high school,” Clifford added. “But one step at a time.” Splitting the projects doesn’t mean a delay in building efforts, Stewart said. She is hopeful a financial option for going forward is identified by early March. “We have a lot to accomplish and having this information sooner, rather than later, will help,” she said. Stewart said the board is committed to developing a fiscal strategy to keep the school district on solid footing – while dealing with building needs. She asked community members to join the board in supporting the future of the schools. “I challenge those in the community who believe a city is only as good as its schools to step up,” she said. Stewart said the district’s difficult financial situation – with multiple levies coming up in the next five years – became very clear during a recent work session on taxation options. “It was somewhat alarming,” she said. Richard Chamberlain addresses the board. Citizen Richard Chamberlain, who sat through the work session, commended the board for taking a hard look at the district’s levies during a public work session. Then he suggested that the board take another hard look – this time at school programs that aren’t mandated by the state. The burden on taxpayers could be lightened if non-mandated school programs are either dropped or funded by sources other than tax levies, he said. “That could help us get to the point where we are living within our means,” Richard Chamberlain said. Grant Chamberlain, asked that the school district make detailed financial records available to the school task force. He said access to the district’s $33 million budget is necessary for the task force to make decisions. “There are a lot of people on both sides of the aisle begging for more information,”…

‘Shutdown Dinner’ planned to help affected federal workers

(Submitted by the Wood County Green Party) The Wood County Green Party is partnering with Trinity United Methodist Church to host a “Shutdown Dinner” to benefit federal workers and their families who are being hurt by the government shutdown. The dinner will be Wednesday, Jan. 23, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Trinity United Methodist, at the corner of East Court and North Summit streets in Bowling Green. The organizers are asking that people RSVP to 419-973-5841 if they plan to attend.

United Way offers help to people hurt by federal shutdown

United Way of Greater Toledo is encouraging individuals who are employees of the federal government, or utilize government benefit programs, to call United Way 211 if the partial government shutdown is impacting their personal finances or ability to purchase food or clothing. United Way 211 is a free, 24/7, 365-day health and human service resource available to all individuals in Wood, Lucas and Ottawa counties. Residents can also instant message 2-1-1 online at

10 readings on social justice recommended

This list of 10 readings on social justice is a suggested guide for those interested in bringing a focus on equality, tolerance, community, empathy and other values consistent with a humane approach to building a more just and fair society. 1. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. Author: Isabel Wilkerson. Chronicles one of the untold stories of America. The decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities. 2. Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family. Author: Amy Ellis Nutt. Inspiring story of transgender actor-activist Nicole Maines. One of two identical twins, Nicole persists in her struggles within an unwelcoming society. 3. The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts. Author: Arthur Miller. The witchcraft trials of 1682 resulted in socially sanctioned violence. Miller turned the story into a powerful parable about McCarthyism.    4. A People’s History of the United States. Author: Howard Zinn. The history of America from the viewpoint of factory workers, Native Americans, civil rights advocates, the working poor and the migrant worker et al. The battles of angry men and women against corporate and government tyranny. 5. Letter from Birmingham Jail. Author: Martin Luther King Jr.  The letter written from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama defends the strategy of non-violence resistance to moderate white pastors condemning a protest march. 6. Sermon on the Mount. Matthew Chapters 5-7. These chapters from the New Testament describe the most important teachings of Jesus Christ including the Beatitudes. The call to humility, peacemaking, and righteousness with a condemnation of greed and hypocrisy. 7. In Dubious Battle. Author: John Steinbeck. A fast-paced novel of social unrest. Set in California apple country where a strike by migrant workers against rich landowners spins out of control. 8. All Quiet on the Western Front. Author: Erich Maria Remarque. A young German soldier during WWI observes the horror of war. As the war plods on the character of Paul Baumer vows to fight against the principles of hate that war depends on. 9. Cider House Rules. Author: John Irving. Set in rural Maine in the first half of the 20th century, this novel finds Dr. Walter Larch as the founder and director of the orphanage in the town of St.Cloud’s. The story defines the controversy surrounding abortion. 10. The Second Amendment: A Biography. Author: Michael Waldman. The life story of the Second Amendment contained in the Bill of Rights. Waldman argues that the views on the Amendment are driven by political advocacy. The list of Ten Essential Readings on Social Justice was created by the group Advocates for Social Justice (ASJ) based in Northwest Ohio. The readings were chosen for their ability to  generate critical thinking and discussion on important social and political topics. We encourage you to send comments on any of the works and to…

Program on crisis of climate migration planned

(Submitted by Bob Clark-Phelps) A program entitled “Who is My Neighbor in a Climate-Threatened World?” will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 21, at St. John XXIII, 24250 N. Dixie Highway, Perrysburg.  The program focuses on the growing crisis of climate migration – families forced to move by climate change – and reflects on our responsibility as Christians to respond to their needs.  More than 20 million people are displaced by weather disasters every year, and experts believe that many of these disasters are already being worsened by climate change.  Between 150 and 300 million people may be forced to migrate in the next 30 years specifically because of global warming.  Taking prompt action to limit climate change will spare millions of people the hardships of migration. Attendees will learn how we can help through prayer, aid, advocacy, and action.  All are welcome, and light refreshments will be served.  RSVP Bob Clark-Phelps at 419-377-1540 or (

Downtown parking report now in hands of City Council

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Time is ticking away for Bowling Green to solve its downtown parking dilemma. Last year, city council introduced an ordinance doubling downtown parking meter fees from 25 cents to 50 cents an hour. But council wanted to study other options before taking that step. So a downtown parking task force was formed, with seven members – four representing downtown property owners and three representing business owners who don’t own their buildings. Several options were discussed, including higher parking fees or free parking subsidized by the business and property owners. The group met several times, but was unable to reach a consensus. Two members strongly favored the shared parking model, three members strongly supported the rate increase, and two members leaned toward the rate increase with some reservations. “The report was very thorough and very accurately reports the conversations,” said Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett. The report has been given to council members – who now must decide the best route forward for downtown parking. Fawcett said he expects council to act on the parking issue “sometime soon.” “Because the vitality of downtown is a core tenant (sic) of our community and local government, it is imperative that this issue be considered seriously,” the parking report concluded. And since the current funding structure not longer supports the downtown parking needs – sticking with the status quo is not an option. The report explains how Bowling Green’s downtown parking issues differ from many communities, including: The relatively large downtown resident population needing parking.The fact that prime parking locations (on the street) are free, while spaces further away and behind the storefronts are paid.A large student population as well as downtown employees has prompted concerns about the lack of parking turnover.A very low current parking rate, of 25 cents an hour, is below the national minimum rate of $1 an hour charged. The problem lies in the fact that the city’s parking fund is intended to pay for all aspects of downtown public parking. This includes paving, ongoing maintenance of the parking lots, enforcement costs including personnel and equipment, parking meters and kiosks, and taxes on the parking lots. Last year, the parking fund had a projected deficit of $21,000, as the balance continues to drop. Also looming is the fact that nearly all the downtown parking lots are in need of paving. In an effort to avoid raising rates for those parking downtown, city council requested more information on the shared parking model. In this model, downtown property owners would be assessed for improvements to city-owned parking lots. In turn, no fee would be assessed for parking. Under the shared parking model, the city would use parking violation revenue to pay for enforcement. While offering free parking to downtown shoppers and diners sounded good, it also presented challenges in ensuring…

County recorder reports transactions for last quarter of 2018

Wood County Recorder Julie Baumgardner has released a report covering the transactions of the recorder’s office for the fourth quarter, Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2018. – 1,451 deeds were recorded for this quarter, compared to  1,348 deeds being recorded for the same quarter last year. – 981 mortgages, with a valuation of $1,381,644,776.39, were recorded for this quarter, compared to  1,134 mortgages, with a valuation of $376,851,520.50 being recorded for the same quarter last year. – Numerous other documents were recorded, in addition to the above,for a total of  4,341 documents being recorded for this quarter, compared to 4,324 documents being recorded for the same quarter last year. – The Wood County Recorder paid a total of $241,033.40 into the county for this quarter, compared to $256,049.82 for the same quarter last year.    – $105,261.70 of the total for this quarter was paid directly into the county general fund, compared with $112,581.42 for the same quarter last year.     – $118,987.70 of the total for this quarter was paid into the housing trust fund, less one percent back to the county general fund by the state for the timely distribution of the money to the fund, compared with   $126,588.40 for the same quarter last year, less one percent paid back to the county general fund. – The remaining balance of $16,784 was paid into the recorder’s equipment fund for this quarter, compared with $16,880 for the same quarter last year.