Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

Opiates bring addicts to their knees; recovery programs help them stand again

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Matt Bell knew he had hit rock bottom when he called the police. “I had a gun in my mouth,” he said Thursday to the crowd of people gathered to hear about the opiate crisis and the steps being taken locally to stop it. It had taken Bell several years to get to that point. He had led a charmed childhood, with a loving family, earning straight As in school and competing as a star athlete in three sports. Bell was so squeaky clean that he broke up with his first girlfriend because she smoked cigarettes. Bell went to college on an athletic scholarship for baseball, and had three professional teams scouting him. But that all changed when he tore his rotator cuff and was prescribed 90 percocets. Ninety percent of the time, opiate addictions start with prescribed pain pills, he said. He was hooked. “The pills got too expensive, so I switched over to heroin,” Bell said. The dealer gave him his first hit of heroin for free – knowing Bell would be back. Bell shared his story about opiates, along with health officials who are trying to find answers, a mom who nearly lost her daughter to opiates, and a court official who helped put together a program to help inmates avoid the drugs when they leave jail. “Opiates, heroin specifically, is what brought me to my knees,” Bell said. He tried rehab many times, overdosed three times, and was arrested four times. But Bell told a story of success – like many of those speaking Thursday at the opiate…

BG Schools good bond rating should help with addition

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City School’s healthy bond rating should pay off for the district when it finances the middle school addition. During Tuesday’s board of education meeting, Kent Cashell, of RBC Capital Markets, reported on the middle school debt issue. Last month, the school board voted unanimously to request bids for a $4.15 million expansion of the middle school to relieve serious overcrowding. The plan is to pay for that project with permanent improvement money, so it will be completely separate from the bond issue project on the November ballot. Cashell explained this financing is different than most building bond issues, since the school district will not need to ask voters for new funding to repay the loan. The district will use already voted on permanent improvement funds to pay for the debt incurred for the middle school addition. Cashell said the district will be looking to borrow for the shortest period of time, with comfortable payments, to save on interest rates. The Bowling Green district has a solid bond rating – at AA2 by Moody’s – which is one of the best in the state, Cashell said. “The district is in good financial standing,” he said. The middle school is the newest building in the district, having been constructed in 2009. But the problem is that it was built to house two grades – seventh and eighth graders. However, when a couple older elementary schools in the district were closed, the sixth graders were also moved into the middle school. The middle school currently houses about 750 students. Unless the building is…

BG residents invited to see plans for new City Park buiding

On Tuesday, Aug, 22, from 5 to 6 p.m., the public is welcome to view the concept plans for the planned new building within City Park.  The plans will be on display in the Veteran’s Building – South, with a presentation by Schorr Architects at 6 p.m.  The park and recreation board will then meet for its monthly meeting at 7 p.m., in the Veteran’s Building. The concept plans will be on display at the Community Center from Aug. 23 to Sept. 6. For questions or for more information, please call 419-354-6223 or visit the parks website.

BG Council to meet to discuss refuse and recycling fees

Bowling Green City Council Committee-of-the-Whole is scheduled to meet Aug. 21 at 6 p.m. in Council Chamber, 304 N. Church St., to discuss the planned implementation of the refuse/recycling fee.  A public hearing is scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m. to discuss proposed zoning code changes to allow for vocation training within a M-3 Business Park and S-4 Planned Business Park.  City Council’s regularly scheduled business meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Penta Career Center plans satellite school in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Penta Career Center may soon have a satellite school in Bowling Green. The Bowling Green Board of Public Utilities voted Monday evening to transfer acreage in the Bellard Business Park on the northwest side of the city to the Bowling Green Community Development Foundation. Two acres of the business park, near the intersection of Newton and Brim roads, will then be sold to Penta Career Center. Penta plans to construct a building to hold morning and afternoon classes for students who will be able to travel to local employers to continue their training and education. The school is also considering using the facility to offer adult training classes in the future, said Brian O’Connell, director of the city’s public utilities. City council will have a public hearing Monday on an ordinance that will pave the way for the vocational training school use in the city’s zoning code. The Bowling Green Community Development Foundation has been working with Penta Career Center to find a permanent location for a satellite school. The school is seen as a first step for collaboration with business parks for training and workforce development for existing manufacturers. One of the biggest needs expressed by local manufacturers is the lack of a skilled workforce, according to Sue Clark, executive director of the Bowling Green Community Development Foundation. The city owns the acreage in the business park, and the community development foundation markets the properties for sale. Penta’s purchase of two acres leaves 3.1 acres remaining open for development in Bellard Business Park. Also at Monday’s meeting of the Board of…

County to do pilot study for permanent recycling locations

On Tuesday, the Board of Wood County Commissioners approved the Solid Waste Management District (SWMD) to move forward with the pilot study for the permanent recycling locations after positive feedback from the SWMD Policy Committee. Discussions have begun with the four proposed pilot sites which are the Village of Pemberville, Village of Tontogany, Portage Township and Village of Custar/Milton Township. Details regarding the pilot will be worked out during the coming months with the expected start to be sometime in 2018. The duration of this study is expected to be six to 12 months depending on the location. The remaining satellite locations and times will be unchanged during the pilot study. These locations are Bloomdale, Grand Rapids, Hoytville/Jackson Twp., Jerry City/Cygnet, North Baltimore, Perry Township, Perrysburg Township, Village of Portage, Rudolph, Stony Ridge and Weston. The existing 24/7 sites managed by the Bowling Green Recycling Center and NAT will also be unchanged. The SWMD will update the communities with the progress and results of the pilot study through its quarterly electronic newsletter. After the pilot study has been completed, the SWMD will reach back out to the Policy Committee and the Commissioners to provide a full report and discuss the next steps.

BG Schools bringing home better state report card

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This report card may make the front of the refrigerator Dr. Ann McCarty, executive director of teaching and learning for Bowling Green City Schools, reported to the board of education Tuesday evening that the state had released preliminary reports cards for school districts. Though far from complete, the grades showed a far more favorable report for Bowling Green schools. Some of the grades may still appear dismal to those outside education – nothing to brag about. But to educators, who know what the numbers mean, they showed great improvement, McCarty said. For example, in the area of “gap closing” between special education and other students, the district improved from an “F” to a “D.” “That’s huge in terms of statistics,” McCarty said. “Our teachers worked really hard on this.” Other success stories were found in K-3 literacy, which went from an “F” to a “C.” “This is a huge upgrade for us,” she said. The elementary schools saw significant gains. “Our teachers were doing things differently,” McCarty said. In the area of social studies, fourth graders met the state benchmark. And in English, “almost every single grade saw growth. We’re seeing growth out of our students.” In the area of math, sixth and seventh grade math showed solid gains, and high school algebra scores rose 15 percent. “That’s a huge gain,” McCarty said. All the second language students in third grade passed, which is quite an achievement, she added. The only drop seen was in science, and McCarty said that was most likely due to new technology. McCarty credited the teachers for…

Mayor and Mazey to walk neighborhoods near campus

On Friday, Aug. 18, Bowling Green Mayor Richard Edwards and BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey will walk the neighborhoods bordering campus. This annual walk is an opportunity for the mayor and Mazey to talk with residents living in the neighborhoods surrounding BGSU’s campus – specifically off of East Wooster Street. The walk will begin this year at 1 p.m.

After losing stepson to overdose, Dobson offers hope to others

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The horror of the opiate epidemic is not some distant tragedy for Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson. “Last year, 14 months ago, I lost my stepson to this crap – opiates,” he said Tuesday to the Wood County Commissioners. His stepson, who was 37 when he died of an overdose in Colorado last year, had struggled with opiates, recovered, then relapsed. As part of treatment, he went through an Ohio Means Jobs program in Toledo, which gave him an opportunity to go to University of Toledo, where he earned certification. The program gave him gas cards, a lap top computer and helped with car repairs. “They were taking away every excuse to fail,” Dobson said. But eventually, his stepson – who moved to Denver for a job – overdosed and died. “He couldn’t let the ‘dragon’ go,” Dobson said. Though his stepson was ultimately not helped with intense programming, Dobson is hoping that others will be. “There’s always hope. My faith doesn’t allow for me to not have hope,” he said. According to the Wood County Coroner’s Office, 16 people died of opiate overdoses in the county last year. In response to a survey of local first responders, 16 departments said they responded to 83 opiate overdoses last year, and administered the life-saving drug Naloxone 60 times. And in the last 18 months, the county prosecutor’s office has seen about 130 drug cases. Dobson presented this hopes to the county commissioners Tuesday in the form of a four-tiered plan for dealing with the opiate epidemic in Wood County. The plan calls…

County and BG team up to resume glass recycling

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s still not crystal clear, but it appears a solution is in sight for glass recycling to be resumed in Bowling Green and Wood County. Last month, the Bowling Green Recycling Center announced that effective immediately, the facility would no longer be accepting glass. That applied to all the center’s locations, including the 24-hour drop-off site in Bowling Green, plus the satellite trailers and satellite facilities scattered throughout Wood County. On Monday, the Wood County Solid Waste Management Board reviewed four options for glass recycling presented by Bill DenBesten, chairman of the Bowling Green Recycling Center. On Tuesday, the Wood County Commissioners said they preferred “Proposal D,” which requires some buy in by both the city and county. “This proposal focuses on keeping the overall costs as low as possible, sharing both risk and rewards with the county,” DenBesten stated. “It leverages the city’s offer to load glass at no charge to further reduce costs. The plan calls for the following steps to occur: The recycling center will again start accepting glass in its drop-off and satellite sites, and schedule shipments with both the transport and glass processing companies. The city will make its old salt shed, next to the recycling center on North College Street, available for storage of glass in between shipments. The city will also use its equipment to load the glass into trucks to be transported. The county will be responsible for all charges billed by the hauler, who will invoice the county directly. DenBesten said the recycling center is reluctant to start up glass recycling again if the…

Confederate flag banned at some fairs, but not Wood County’s

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Two years ago, the Ohio State Fair stopped allowing the confederate flag to be displayed or sold at the fairgrounds in Columbus. No blanket ruling was made for other fair operations in the state. Some county fairs in Ohio joined suit, and ruled that confederate flags would no longer be allowed on grounds. Others – like Wood County Fair – continue to allow confederate flags to be flown, displayed and sold by private vendors. “I think it’s something they at least should take into consideration,” Doris Herringshaw, president of the Wood County Board of Commissioners, said of the ban adopted by other county fair boards. “Given what’s happening in the country, it’s important to take a serious look at it.” Multiple calls to fair board members were not returned. Karen Wood, a Bowling Green citizen, noticed confederate flags at the Wood County fair earlier this month and asked that they be removed. The fair board met to discuss the request and decided to take no action, Wood said. This was a battle already fought by Wood County residents, Wood said. “Union Hill and Oak Grove Cemeteries are full of Union veterans who fought the racist traitors of the Confederacy,” she said. So Wood took the present-day battle to Facebook, to a meeting of Not In Our Town Bowling Green last week, and to a community rally on Sunday to stand with the residents of Charlottesville, Virginia. “I was shocked at the number of confederate flags,” Wood said to the crowd gathered Sunday on the city’s Wooster Green. “We’re Charlottesville, we just haven’t…

BG Community Foundation seeks grant applications

The Bowling Green Community Foundation is now accepting applications from non-profit organizations and school districts within the 43402 and 43403 zip code for its 2017 grant program. Grants will range from $500 to $5,000 to support projects to be implemented in calendar year 2018 that enhance the health, welfare and vitality of the Bowling Green community. The application deadline is Oct. 15. Applications from 501(c)(3) organizations or from smaller programs that fall under the umbrella of 501(c)(3) organizations will be considered. Further details about the grant process as well as the actual grant application are available via the foundation’s website,, or by calling (419) 352-0281 to leave a message for the administrative assistant. Founded in 2004 by the Chamber of Commerce Leadership BG class, the BG Community Foundation is part of the Toledo Community Foundation and is directed by a local board of trustees. Since 2007, 308 grants totaling $378,806 have been awarded to non-profit groups providing diverse services and programs for the benefit Bowling Green residents. Charitable contributions provide the sole support of the Bowling Green Community Foundation’s mission. Citizens continue to make contributions that honor or memorialize loved ones while supporting nonprofit efforts.

Youth mental health first aid training offered

(Submitted by Wood County Educational Service Center) Children as well as adults can experience mental illness. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control one in seven American children has a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder. Children’s symptoms—sometimes different from those of adults—may be difficult to identify. This is why Wood County Educational Service Center is once again offering Project AWARE: Youth Mental Health First Aid Training for all those who work with children. The free course will meet Wednesday, Aug. 16 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.; Thursday, Aug. 17 from 8 a.m. to noon; Friday, Aug. 18 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.; and Thursday, Aug. 24 from 8 to 11:30 a.m. at the Educational Service Center, 1867 Research Drive in Bowling Green. Registration is required. To register or for more information, please contact Angela Patchen at 419-354-9010 or Project AWARE teaches those who work or live with children—whether teachers, counselors, school staff, health care professionals, or parents—to identify signs and symptoms of behavioral and mental health problems. It shows them what steps to take to connect youth to resources available in the community. Participants receive a manual and a certificate of completion if they attend the entire training. Contact hours are available to those who complete the training. Youth Mental Health First Aid training is available at no cost through the “Now is the Time: Project AWARE” grant.

What’s happening in your community (updated Aug. 17)

NEWLY POSTED:Jazz singer Evelyn Wright headlines Sunset Jazz Fest, Aug. 20 The 13th Annual Sunset Jazz & Art Festival will be held on Sunday, Aug. 20 from 2 p.m. until dusk n the towpath along the Gilead Side-Cut canal that separates the Village’s main street from the Maumee River. The Festival is a fun-filled evening with live Jazz music, artists’ booths, and food and beverages from our local eateries. Attendees should bring chairs,  leave coolers at home. Adult beverages, water, sodas, and food available. Admission is free. Cleveland-based jazz singer Evelyn Wright will headline. Performers for 2017 are: 2:30 p.m. – Big Band BG 3:45 p.m. – Elle Martin 5 p.m. – Bob Rex 6:15 p.m. – Sixth Edition, featuring Kim Beuhler, Lori LeFevre, and Lisa Young 7:30 p.m. –   Evelyn Wright A professional vocalist for over 30-plus years, Wright has been entertaining like no other in the styles of jazz, R&B, and pop. She was awarded the Jazz Legend Award from Tri-C Community College in 2008. Awards include Best Female Vocalist in 1985 in conjunction with public broadcasting station WCPN. Evelyn has toured throughout the U.S. and Canada performing in the top nightclubs and concert halls. For more information, please call 419-832-ARTS or visit the Grand Rapids Arts Council’s website. NEWLY POSTED: Galen Bundy releases adventurous jazz session “Struggle is Joy” at Sept. 1 show  Jazz keyboardist Galen Bundy will debut the new Project 206 recording “Struggle is Joy” in a free concert Friday, Sept.1, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Toledo Museum of Art’s Glass Pavilion, 2445 Monroe St., Toledo. Bundy will be joined on stage by Ben…

Rally unites BG to stand up against hatred in face of Charlottesville

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The crowd rallying in Wooster Green Sunday afternoon was determined to not mince words about the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend. “These are actually Nazis in America in 2017,” said Daniel Gordon, who helped organize the rally to support the people of Charlottesville And they are members of the KKK, who don’t feel the need to wear hoods because they have the support of President Donald Trump, Gordon said. “We are angry. We are sickened and heartbroken about what has happened,” Gordon, a Bowling Green council member, said. “This is what domestic terrorism looks like.” The impromptu rally – which was put together in less than a day and while BGSU students are still on summer break – drew a crowd of about 125. The citizens carried signs saying, “Racism is Not History Yet” and “Hate Doesn’t Make America Great.” The people spouting hatred in Charlottesville were not patriots, Gordon said. “These people showed up in Nazi uniforms and shirts with Hitler quotes on them, with Nazi flags, chanting Nazi slogans, giving the Nazi salute.” One of the men supporting the Nazi group is charged with driving his car through a crowd protesting against the hatred. The driver, James Fields from Maumee, is charged with killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring many more. And two state troopers were killed when their helicopter crashed as they were trying to monitor the clashes. But in the national’s capital, Trump did not condemn the Nazis, and instead chose to draw a moral equivalence between the Nazis and those protesting against them, Gordon said. “So…