Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

Old-fashioned Democratic Rally set for Sunday in BG

(Submitted by Galbraith for Congress) The Wood County Democratic Party and Galbraith for Congress, Ohio 5th District, will sponsor a Good Old-Fashioned Democratic Rally this Sunday, Sept. 23, from 3 to 5 p.m., at the Fraternal Order of Eagles, 1163 N. Main St., in Bowling Green. Michael Galbraith, the endorsed Democratic candidate for U.S. Representative of the 5th Congressional District in Ohio will attend a rally in Bowlng Green on Sunday. Meet Michael, ask questions, learn about his values and hear about the issues. Music will be provided by Old State Line, of Toledo. Slingers of Tiffin will provide special food. There will be a cash bar. The event is open to the public. A fee of $25 per person is requested, but not required. For more information on Galbraith for Congress, please visit the candidate online at GalbraithforCongress.com or Facebook or Twitter.


Lazy days of summer are crazy days for school maintenance

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Forget spring cleaning – summer is when schools get scrubbed down. During the lazy days of summer, school maintenance workers really get busy. When classrooms are emptied of students and staff, the Bowling Green School District maintenance workers can complete projects that just can’t be done during the school year. Chuck Martin, Bowling Green’s maintenance director, reported on the summer work schedule during last week’s board of education meeting. The lockers – that store everything from stinky gym shoes to moldy lunches – are thoroughly cleaned during the summer months. The classrooms – normally crowded with desks and chairs – are all emptied of furniture, Martin said. Floors are waxed, carpets are shampooed, and light tubes are replaced. Summer cleaning not only takes a lot of time, it also takes a lot of cleaning products, Martin said. The district goes through about 400 gallons of general cleaning solutions, 55 cases of bathroom cleaner, more than 100 gallons of floor stripper, and more than 200 gallons of floor wax. Though the regular school traffic is gone, there are some obstacles for maintenance staff, Martin said. All of the school buildings have some type of summer programming to work around. The high temperatures and humidity sometime create slow drying times. And maintenance has to work around summer construction repairs – such as new flooring at Conneaut and Kenwood this summer. Plus there are staffing issues, he added. Maintenance workers wanting to take summer vacations with families can lead to days of short staffing. And teachers sometimes often want to keep working on their rooms once school is out for the summer – and some like to get back into their rooms early before the new year begins. Summer is also the time for classroom moves. This summer, there were 23 room changes in the middle school, 10 at Crim, eight at Conneaut, plus a few more in the high school and Kenwood buildings. Maintenance staff also uses the summer to complete “work order” requests. There were 42 requests during the last month of classes, followed up by 81 more in the summer, Martin said. Also at last week’s board of education meeting, Superintendent Francis Scruci further reported on the district’s state report card. Bowling Green received an overall grade…


Fire damages Brathaus bar Friday night

Bowling Green Fire Division responded to a fire at Brathaus bar, at 115 E. Court St., Friday night. The call came in at 10:12 p.m., according to Fire Division Lt. Mike Leestma. When firefighters arrived, they found a small fire that had started at the base of a front corner of the bar. The bar had been evacuated and police officers had tried to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher. The fire traveled up the wall to the bar’s overhang. The upstairs apartment had a light haze of smoke, but otherwise was not affected by the fire. The first and second floors were ventilated by the firefighters, and the area of the fire was repeatedly soaked to put out any possible hot spots, Leetsma said. Some witnesses reported seeing a burning cigarette or cigar in the vicinity of the fire’s origin. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Leetsma said. Firefighters returned to the station at 11 p.m. Fire Chief Bill Moorman said the bar opened again Friday night – after cleaning up immediately after the fire.  


Help sought solving time capsule mystery in City Park

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is being asked to help solve the puzzle of a mystery time capsule buried in City Park. (See update.) The time capsule, covered in concrete with a rock on top, has been there long enough to have been forgotten. It has gone basically unnoticed for years – except by the person mowing around it. But earlier this week when city park staff and the architects for the new City Park building walked around the site for the new structure, they happened upon the mystery memorial. “Somebody told me at some point that it was a time capsule,” Natural Resources Coordinator for BG Parks Chris Gajewicz said. The engraving in the concrete has a date, though the year is particularly difficult to read. The date appears to be Oct. 2, but the year could be 1958 or 1969 – or anything in between. “It’s so worn, it’s really hard to tell,” Gajewicz said. “It’s one of those institutionalized knowledge things that’s gone,” Gajewicz said. The mystery time capsule would be allowed to rest there undisturbed, except that it is sitting in the footprint of the new City Park building being constructed next year. Kristin Otley, director of the Bowling Green City Parks and Recreation Department, is confident the city will be able to solve the mystery. She suspects the time capsule is referenced somewhere in old park board minutes. “There may be records. We just haven’t dug them up – pun intended,” Otley said. The new building in City Park will take the place of the existing Veterans Building, Girl Scout Building, and the Depot. It has necessitated the moving or replacing of some memorial trees. But so far, the time capsule under the rock is the only unknown in the construction footprint. “It’s the only mystery,” Otley said. Seeing that Oct. 2 is the anniversary of the time capsule burial – though the year is unknown – Otley said that date might be a good time to unearth the capsule and see what’s inside. Gajewicz has posted a photo of the time capsule site on Facebook in hopes of jogging some memories of longtime townies. So far, the responses have been more humorous than helpful. “That’s just before I was born. Maybe it was to…


East Court Street to be closed for waterline work

The Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Division will be closing East Court Street from Prospect to the entrance of City Parking Lot 1 on Sept. 24 and 25. Each day, the road will close at 7:30 a.m. and reopen at 4 p.m. Access to City Parking Lot 1 will be maintained from Main Street. This closure is required for the replacement of a water service line. Questions about this project may be directed to the Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Division at 419-354-6277.


BG to partner with library for Read & Roll Bike Ride

(Submitted by City of Bowling Green) The fourth of a series of themed “slow roll” bike rides will be held Sunday, Sept. 30, at 2 p.m. This ride titled, Read and Roll, will be held in partnership with the Wood County Library. Each stop will feature a read aloud of the story, “The Fox and the Bike Ride,” as we travel by several of the mini libraries that have sprouted up around town. Upon completion of the story, we’ll return to the library for a special snack. The ride will meet and end at the Wood County Library. Rides are free, family-friendly, and open to everyone. Each rider is required to wear a properly-fitted helmet and ride a correctly-sized bicycle in safe, working mechanical order. The route for this ride covers five miles. It is highly recommended that young riders, not able to travel this distance on their own, participate via a tow behind trailer or child bike seat. These rides are meant to be more recreational in nature and will travel at a speed comfortable for all riders. While designed for fun and exploration, monthly rides will also stress the importance of safe riding practices and responsibilities of riders while navigating city streets. Multiple trained leaders will facilitate the ride to ensure that all riders complete the route, including providing assistance for mechanical or personal issues that may arise. Can’t make it to this ride? Mark your calendar for the October Bike BG ride, Spooks and Spokes, planned for Oct. 28. Decorate your bike and show up in costume for this fun Halloween themed ride. Stay tuned for more details. To register for monthly rides, please visit www.bgohio.org and follow the Bike BG link provided on the home page or call 419-354-6222.


Local judges voice negative verdict on State Issue 1

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Common Pleas Judge Alan Mayberry uses a penny to show one of the flaws with State Issue 1. He points to the minute beard on Abraham Lincoln, and explains it would take just 2 milligrams of fentanyl to cover Lincoln’s beard – and to potentially kill 10,000 people. Then the judge explains that under Issue 1, someone could be picked up with 19 grams of fentanyl and only be charged with a misdemeanor. “That’s unconscionable,” Mayberry said. Wood County’s three common pleas judges are in agreement that Issue 1 – which will appear on the November ballot – would be bad for Ohio. The intent of the state issue is to offer treatment rather than jail time for drug offenses. The language makes the vast majority of drug offenses misdemeanors rather than felonies. “The state is struggling with whether drug addiction is a crime or a mental health issue,” Judge Reeve Kelsey said. But the judges – Matt Reger, Kelsey and Mayberry – said treatment is already being offered in Wood County. All that Issue 1 would do is result in the courts having one less tool to use to convince addicts to get clean. “We see people in front of us every day,” Reger said. A simple slap on the hand is not enough to convince most of them to give up drugs – though in front of a judge they may profess their commitment to quit. “We’ve all had someone in our courtroom who has died a week later.” Issue 1 would take away the judges’ “stick” and leave them only with the “carrot.” “There’s no stick. There’s no consequence,” Mayberry said. “They can blow off treatment or restoration, and there’s nothing we can do to them.” Wood County Common Pleas Courts already use graduated responses for drug offenders, with many people offered intervention in lieu of jail time, Reger said. Many of those sentences are designed with the individual in mind, he said. The offenders can be ordered to attend treatment, get education, get mental health help, go to an anger management or domestic violence program, or perform community service. “It’s giving them the tools to live,” Kelsey said. “We already have gradual responses,” Reger said. “We’re already doing it.” For example,…


BG task force studies building blocks of school funding

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News More than 50 citizens went back to school Wednesday evening to brush up on their math skills – specifically how the Bowling Green City School District can pay for building improvements. This first meeting – like all that consultant David Conley will hold – was an “open mic night.” The citizens on the task force rattled off questions they want answered as they dig into financing the school district’s future. Such as: What’s the difference between income and property taxes? What public-private partnerships are available to fund school projects, such as naming rights for private businesses? What legislation is in the works that could make a difference for BG schools? Are there public-public partnerships that could help BG schools, such as with Bowling Green State University, the city, the public library or through public health? Can different types of taxes be combined for projects? The monthly meetings of the financial task force are intended to give citizens the building blocks to help them make a decision that can then be presented to the school board. Conley explained some of the basics, such as – financing tools are the instruments used to borrow money. A funding plan is how the district can pay off that financing for a building project. “Schools only have a few financing tools available to them,” Conley said. But the funding options are far more plentiful, he added. “I want to give every opportunity a chance,” he said. That includes exploring the use of an income tax put on by the city but used to pay for school buildings. Or the sale of properties owned by the school district that are no longer occupied by buildings. Conley, of Rockmill Financial Consulting, has worked with about 125 school districts in Ohio to find funding solutions. He stressed to task force members that they are in control. “We’re in control of our own lives – especially when it comes to government. We just have forgotten that we are,” he said. The district’s request for open minds fell on a few closed ears. A handful of the citizens vehemently opposed to the last two bond issues talked about the district being deceptive in its use of permanent improvement dollars to put an addition on the middle school. Conley…


Update – BG police negotiating with man armed with knife – suspect surrenders

After about five hours of negotiations, the standoff with a man armed with a knife in Bowling Green is over. The man, who has not been identified, was arrested and taken to St. Charles Hospital for a medical and psychological evaluation, said BG Deputy Police Chief Justin White. Charges against him are pending. The man surrendered to police around 11:30 a.m. The police division received a phone call at 6:39 this morning from a staff member at a Harbor group home, at 801 N. College Ave., that a resident there was making threats with a knife toward staff. Bowling Green Police Division negotiated with the man, White said. Every one else in the home left safely, and there were no hostages. The Special Response Team from the Wood County Sheriff’s Office is also on the scene.


Libraries and League of Women Voters team up for voter registration push

The Wood County District Public Library (WCDPL) will be joined by other county libraries in partnering with the League of Women Voters of Bowling Green (LWVBG) to celebrate National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, Sept. 25. In addition to WCDPL, participating libraries include: Pemberville Library (419-287-4012), North Baltimore Library (419-257-3621), and Weston Library (419-669-3415) and its Grand Rapids branch (419-832-5231). Business hours vary, so call for the specific LWVBG-assisted voter registration hours at each of these libraries. In Bowling Green, stop by the library (251 N. Main St., BG) any time that’s convenient for you from 9 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. Volunteers from the LWVBG will be at WCDPL all day to register voters and to answer questions about the process of registering to vote in Ohio.


‘Welcoming’ language inserted in city charter preamble

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Not everyone on City Council welcomed the same language proclaiming Bowling Green as a “welcoming” community. But after some word wrangling and drawn out analysis, the city charter got a new preamble Monday evening. The new preamble makes a statement about the city being welcoming, inclusive and non-discriminatory. It reads as follows: “We the people of Bowling Green, in the county of Wood, and in the State of Ohio, desirous of securing for our City and for ourselves and our children the advantages of self-government conferred by the home-rule provisions of the Ohio constitution; and determined to be a welcoming, inclusive community with adherence to practices of non-discrimination as established by law; do hereby ordain and establish the following Charter.” Council member Daniel Gordon, who led the effort for the preamble change, acknowledged the compromise that went into the wording. After words had been added and subtracted, the preamble commits the city to “standing with marginalized communities within Bowling Green,” he said. The preamble change was supported by all but one City Council member – Bruce Jeffers. “I appreciate the language you put together,” Jeffers said, noting that his fellow council members “fought it out” until they reached a good compromise. Though he approved of the wording, Jeffers said the welcoming statement did not belong in the city charter. They were the “right words in the wrong place,” so he voted against the preamble change. Council member Bill Herald said he understood Jeffers’ concerns, and he reminded council how the vote to pursue the preamble change narrowly passed by a vote of 4 to 3. However, Herald commended the work of the council committee, which included himself, Gordon and John Zanfardino. There was “spirited” and “respectful” discussion which resulted in a worthy compromise. After wrestling with the meaning of the term “welcoming,” the committee arrived at wording that did not detract from the purpose of the preamble, Herald said. “It goes with the type of community we want Bowling Green to be,” he said. Council members Gordon, Herald, Zanfardino, Mike Aspacher, Greg Robinette and Sandy Rowland voted in favor of the preamble change. But Robinette challenged council to look further if it wants to truly be welcoming. “If we really care for the well-being of citizens,” council…


Education speaker, Gerry Brooks, to perform two shows in BG PAC

(Submitted by Bowling Green Education Association) On Saturday, Sept. 29, Youtube/Facebook/Instagram sensation Gerry Brooks will be performing two shows at the Bowling Green Performing Arts Center.  Tickets are sold out for the 1 p.m. show.  Tickets are still available for the 5 p.m. show online at https://ticketbud.com/events/0ca1c71e-aa46-11e8-bd23-5b9211b2ca88.  Each show is proceeded by a ticketed meet and greet event. This event is hosted by the Bowling Green Education Association.  Mr. Brooks donates proceeds from his performance back to the host district.  These funds will be dedicate to mental health resources and programming for staff and students. Gerry Brooks is principal at an elementary school in Lexington, Kentucky. His educational experience includes six years in the classroom, two years as an intervention specialist, and 12 years as an administrator. He is a passionate public speaker whose focus is on encouraging and helping teachers improve their instructional abilities. He also has a desire to help administrators successfully lead their staff. An encouraging speaker, he has spoken to educational groups all around the nation. His focus is on encouraging teachers to improve their instruction through personal climate and culture strategies. He desires to help administrators focus on how to lead all staff in a positive and constructive manner. His following on social media has developed through humorous videos that focus on real-world educational experiences.  He is currently followed on these social media sites by over 500,000 people.


Bicycle safety groups look for affordable solutions

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   City groups looking at transportation and bicycle safety want to do more than just spin their wheels. So on Monday evening, a joint meeting was held with the Bicycle Safety Commission and the City Council Transportation & Safety Committee. Together, the groups wanted to look at the two priorities involving bicycling that City Council selected in the new Community Action Plan. After discussion, the groups decided on the more manageable goal of pursuing grants to fund a bike lane on Court Street. They also decided to further explore the more “sweeping goal” of creating bike friendly streets in the area of Clough, Scout Hamilton, Thurstin and South College streets. Meanwhile, John Zanfardino, head of the council committee looking at bicycling in Bowling Green, said he continues to struggle with the seemingly opposing threads of the bicycling discussion. One direction focuses on education of bicyclists and motorists, so they learn to better share city streets. The other focus is on creating infrastructure for bicyclists – whether that is the more expensive bike lanes or the less costly sharrows painted on roads. “I’m a fan of Yay Bikes,” Zanfardino said of the Columbus-based organization that has worked with Bowling Green officials to better educate bicyclists and motorists. “It has the benefit of being a low cost way of making the city safer for bikes,” he said. Council member Daniel Gordon, also a member of the council committee, agreed that the Yay Bikes program was helpful. But he questioned the Yay Bikes conclusion that Bowling Green only needs education – not biking infrastructure. “Your streets are fine. You don’t need bike lanes. You don’t need infrastructure,” Gordon said of the Yay Bikes’ observations. “That’s certainly not the sentiment I’m hearing from folks in town,” Gordon said. The communities of Toledo, Sylvania and Perrysburg are working on biking infrastructure, he said. So it seems strange that a college town like Bowling Green would be veering away from bike lanes, Gordon said. “Residents have been calling for bike lanes for decades,” he said. “I think it’s well past time for us to make further efforts.” While people who bicycle a lot in the city are comfortable sharing the road with motorized vehicles, many people don’t have that comfort so they just don’t…


Chicago firefighters, raising awareness about high cancer rates in firefighters, visit BG station

To bring attention to the number of cancer cases among firefighters, a group of Chicago firefighters are on a five-day bicycling journey from their city to Pittsburgh. Along their journey, called “Ignite the Spirit,” the bicyclists made a stop at a Bowling Green Fire Station Tuesday evening. The Chicago firefighters were welcomed by Bowling Green Fire Chief Bill Moorman and members of the BG Fire Division. All proceeds from their ride will directly benefit the “Ignite the Spirit” cancer fund to help members of the Chicago Fire Department. According to the International Association of Firefighters, 61 percent of firefighter line-of-duty deaths from 2002 to 2016 were cancer-related. In Boston, one of the larger departments leading the charge against firefighter cancer, another Boston firefighter is diagnosed with cancer every three weeks, according to their internal figures. Firefighters have a 14 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general U.S. population. More about the Chicago firefighters’ efforts can be found at https://www.ignitethespirit.org/


BG board advised to save money for teacher raises

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Board of Education was schooled Tuesday evening to watch its spending – or when teacher negotiations roll around there won’t be enough for raises. Citizen Richard Strow warned that the $12 million in the bank right now should be maintained for teacher raises.  That $12 million, however, was the same money that some citizens criticized the board for not using on buildings earlier this year. The money in the bank was used as a reason for some voters to oppose the school levy. “You’ve got to find a way as a board to maintain what you have in the bank,” Strow said during the public comment portion of the school board meeting. Strow began his comments by thanking the board for changing the meeting times to 6 p.m., to make it easier for the public to attend. “It looks like a full house tonight,” he said. Strow also thanked the district for taking a conservative approach to delaying school due to fog. He recalled a fatal car accident on a foggy morning in 1972 that killed a fellow student. Strow suggested the board adopt that conservative approach with its budget. “You’ve got to get spending under control,” he said. “Otherwise the money is going to be gone.” After the board meeting, district treasurer Cathy Schuller said she shares Strow’s concerns. “He’s absolutely right. Those are the same concerns I have as well,” Schuller said. However, those concerns are based on the May budget numbers. The district updates its budget numbers every May and October, so new numbers will be available next month, Schuller said. Those numbers are expected to look much brighter, she said, explaining that the last district treasurer was “ultra-conservative” when forecasting the budget. Strow said the district will need that $12 million in reserves if it intends to offer pay raises of 2 to 2.5 percent. Negotiations with teachers will take place next spring. The district’s revenues appear flat for the next five years, but those raises will add another $500,000 to $750,000 to the annual expenses, he said. If the district isn’t careful, the board will have to ask voters more operating funds. And that could occur about the same time the district will be asking for more building funds….