Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

BG annexes acreage planned for assisted living facility

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is about to grow by 31 acres, making room for an assisted living facility on the northern edge of the city. City Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to accept the annexation request for the acreage at the northeast corner of Haskins and Newton roads, across from the city’s community center. According to the request, submitted by HCF Realty of Bowling Green, the new facility would consolidate existing nursing home buildings at 1021 and 850 West Poe Road. Council tabled the ordinance which would change the zoning for the acreage to I-1 institutional until a public hearing can be held on the request on March 7, at 6:45 p.m. Council member Bruce Jeffers called the proposed facility a “significant development” for the city. He explained how city officials must do a “cost-benefit analysis” prior to voting on any annexation request. In this case, the benefit of the annexation outweighs the expenses associated with the additional acreage, Jeffers said. “The cost benefit analysis is very favorable to us,” he said. “This particular project is nothing but desirable.” The location of the proposed assisted living facility next to the community center makes sense, Jeffers said. “I am happy to support this.” Other council members echoed those feelings, including Bob McOmber who after recent knee replacement surgery spent 11 days in one of the facilities being replaced. The updated facility will be appreciated, he said. HCF officials are promising a “state of the art facility,” council member Sandy Rowland said. “It’s going to be a benefit to the community,” council member Theresa Charters Gavarone…


BG school calendar proposal – good news and bad news

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Next year’s proposed calendar for Bowling Green City Schools has some good news and some bad news. The good news – students’ quarters and testing periods won’t be broken up by long vacations. The bad news – students’ summer will be cut shorter than usual to make that happen. Long gone are the days when school started after Labor Day. Now districts feel the pressure to squeeze in a couple weeks of classes before September rolls around. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci presented the proposed school calendar Tuesday evening to the board of education. The schedule calls for classes to start on Aug. 15. By starting early, students will be able to complete two full quarters before heading off for Christmas break. According to Scruci, teachers and students then won’t have to spend the first couple weeks in January refreshing their memories of what they learned in December. “We can’t afford that anymore,” Scruci said. Spring break will then fall on the first full week of March. That means the vacation time won’t get in the way of school testing, he said. Scruci realizes the mid-August start to the school year may not be popular with some. “Granted, that is early,” he said. But the early start will also mean an early end to the school year on May 23 – as long as the district doesn’t exceed its snow calamity days. The early exit in May could give BG students a better opportunity to compete for summer jobs, the superintendent added. School board member Ed Whipple voiced his support for the…


Forget the rocking chair, these seniors are going rock climbing

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This is not a matchmaking service for senior citizens – at least not in the traditional sense. But the New Adventures program does match up seniors with new people and new activities they might not have the gumption to try on their own. They leave their rocking chairs and their inhibitions behind. The group has gone to a rock climbing wall, basketball game, canal ride, painting party and comedy club. Next on the list – a winery and movie theater for art films. The New Adventures group was started in 2011 by the Wood County Committee on Aging in cooperation with Bridge Hospice. “We were seeing individuals who, after they were grieving, there were no connections for them to socialize,” said Danielle Brogley, director of programs at the Wood County Senior Center. As older adults lost their partners, they often felt a lack of companionship. And if they tried to continue their relationships with couples they had long socialized with, they sometimes felt like the fifth wheel, Brogley explained. So New Adventures was created to engage single seniors to get out and socialize. After a couple years, the group morphed into a program offering new experiences for anyone interested. “It’s not a matchmaking service,” though the group has resulted in one marriage, Brogley said. “It’s just to have somewhere to go and people to do things with.” Several of the outings are in the evenings, when seniors might be reluctant to venture out alone. “The lonely hours are 6 to 8 p.m.,” Brogley said. Between 12 and 15 people go on each…


BG faces learning curve – roundabouts on their way

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood Countians seem to prefer their intersections squared off like tidy plus signs – none of that fancy circular stuff. But local drivers may want to brush up on their roundabout etiquette since at least a couple rotary intersections will pose a learning curve in Bowling Green starting in 2018. Bowling Green’s plan for its East Wooster Street corridor calls for four roundabouts. Two are definite and coming sometime in 2018 – at the interchanges on each side of Interstate 75. The other two are just possibilities – at Dunbridge Road and Campbell Hill Road. Surveys submitted recently by Bowling Green residents, about the proposed East Wooster corridor work, showed a great deal of suspicion about the roundabouts. But city officials believe that once citizens realize the safety benefits, and experience the ease maneuvering around them, that most motorists will be sold. Though roundabouts are common intersection features in many parts of the nation, Wood County has been slow warming up to the idea. Efforts to install a couple in northern Wood County have met with great resistance. Wood County Engineer Ray Huber has spent a few years trying to convince people that roundabouts make sense for several reasons. They are safer for motorists, take less land to construct, are easier to build, and cost less to install and maintain. So why aren’t roundabouts being embraced here like elsewhere in the nation? “It’s called change,” Huber explained. The single roundabout currently operating on a public road in Wood County is at the southern edge of the county on Ohio 18 in North…


Winterfest full of chills and chili

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Outside in the frigid cold, the lone ice sculptor chiseled away at his work. Inside, hundreds of people shed their layers and loaded up on steaming hot chili. Both the chill and the chili were part of the eighth annual Winterfest celebration in Bowling Green going on this weekend. At noon today in City Park, ice artist Doug Corcoran was finishing up his 15th carving after starting his work at 7 this morning. The cold, which peaked in the teens, didn’t bother him under his five layers of clothing. “I’m doing fine actually. I like the cold,” he said. “Some of the ice is really brittle,” but there was no chance of his artwork melting away this weekend, he said. Each ice carving started as a 350-pound chunk of ice. Corcoran, of Sylvania, then used a chainsaw and chisel to sculpt the ice into artwork. From Bowling Green, Corcoran is headed to an event in Dayton for more carving. In between, he will have a chance to thaw out. “He cranks up the heat in the car,” his wife, Annie, said. Corcoran wasn’t the only one braving the bitter cold this morning. About 50 runners showed up for the Frostbite Fun Run in City Park. One of those was Kristin Otley, head of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. “I couldn’t feel my legs,” Otley said after the run. By the time the race began, the temperature had warmed up to 10 degrees, but it felt like minus 3, she said. The extreme cold wasn’t keeping any of the Winterfest events…


Searching for skeletons

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Millie Broka doesn’t look much like a detective. But she and her cohorts spend their time trying to reveal skeletons in people’s closets. As president of the Wood County Genealogical Society, Broka helps people discover their roots and fill out the branches on their family trees. Digging up ancestry has become somewhat vogue lately, especially with the PBS series “Finding Your Roots,” which researches celebrities and often reveals surprising skeletons with checkered pasts. But genealogists would like non-celebrities to know that everyone’s family tree has a story to tell. And in many ways it’s getting easier for the average person to do their own sleuth work. Unlike genealogists of the past, who spent hours with dusty ledgers filled with fading cursive names and dates, most of today’s amateur genealogists search the internet for links to their ancestry. More and more records are being transcribed and are more accessible than in the past. “It’s easier to go online and look for information than go through records up in probate court,” searching for the key details on births, deaths and marriages, Broka said. That doesn’t mean that amateur genealogists don’t still run into brick walls. Even Broka, with all her experience cracking cases, hits dead-ends at times. Broka recommends looking for clues by talking to relatives – before it’s too late. “I think a lot of times, you don’t get interested in it until you are older,” she said. “Then it may be too late. The ancestors are gone or don’t remember things.” Start with the present and move backwards. The genealogy office at…


Moving history doesn’t come cheap

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Park officials don’t want to rewrite history, just the bid requirements for moving a piece of it in Wood County. The Wood County Park District Board voted Monday to re-advertise for bids to move the historic one-room Zimmerman School down the road a spell to the historic Carter Farm. The action was necessary because the last job description did not require a bid bond. The board discussed the costs involved with moving the structure or leaving it at its existing location on Carter Road, north of Bowling Green. The last bids came in at $105,545 for moving the school, putting in a foundation, relocating the restrooms, running electric and propane, and then demolishing the old foundation. The other option of not moving the school came in at $122,485. That cost would cover adding a bus turnaround and parking area, installing a wider culvert, replacing the foundation, relocating the propane tank, moving the restroom, constructing a sidewalk and electrical work. By moving the school, the district officials hope to save money and make the historic farm and one-room school a more all-inclusive learning experience for visiting families and school children. Also at the meeting, the board voted to accept tasers for park rangers at no cost for park district. The tasers were offered by Bradner Police Department, which had received more than needed from Miamisburg’s police department. Munger explained that the tasers would give the rangers another option in their “use of force continuum.” The rangers carry batons, but those instruments are more likely to cause physical damage than tasers, Munger said. The…


Helping the county avoid growing pains

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Armed with blue, green and red markers, citizens circled areas of Wood County ripe for development, deserving of preservation, and worthy of reinvestment. They came with different purposes – farmers, developers, elected officials – but with one goal to help chart the direction for land use in the county. “I’m just interested to see what their plan is, and how that’s going to affect me,” said Paul Braucksiek, who lives in rural Webster Township, northeast of Bowling Green. He estimated his township is 99.9 percent agricultural. “And it probably needs to stay that way.” The planning open house Wednesday evening was part of the public input portion of the county’s effort to update the land use plan adopted in 2007. The new plan will consider where zoning changes would be appropriate, where utilities should be expanded, where roadways should be built. The process will also identify areas that should not be developed, but preserved. As people milled about looking at county maps at the planning open house, Braucksiek chatted with Denny Henline, of Pemberville. “I came tonight because I watched Levis Commons and I watched the Golden Triangle,” both areas of retail development in the Perrysburg area, Henline said. While he isn’t opposed to growth, Henline would like to see it directed to areas that are not prime farmland. “For my grandkids, my goal is to have a good vision,” he said. “It just breaks my heart when they come out and gobble up prime farmland. It’s like a runaway horse. You can’t stop a runaway horse.” Henline, however, would like to…


Challenge hatred…whether it’s shouted by politicians or whispered by relatives

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Gone unchallenged, fear can mutate into hatred. Whether shouted at a campaign stop, or whispered at a family dinner, hate speech gains credence if it’s not stopped in its tracks. So those gathered for the Islamophobia discussion Tuesday were told to not remain silent when confronted with hatred. Tolerating talk that equates Islam to terrorism, Jihad to violence, and hatred as acceptable, only allows the fear to fester and spread. “Challenge them,” said panel member Sgt. Dale Waltz, of the Canton Response to Hate Crimes Coalition in Michigan. “Pay attention to the whispering conversations. Shed some light and educate people.” That includes everyone from national politicians spewing hatred from televised podiums, to family members spreading long-held prejudices. “Speak up not just here, but in places where you might feel uncomfortable,” said Eva Davis, also from the Canton coalition. Tuesday’s program was the second Islamophobia discussion sponsored by the Bowling Green Not In Our Town organization. The first, held at Bowling Green State University, brought about an unexpected reaction for one of the panelists, who was told by a faculty member after the program that it is completely legal for someone to hate him. While true, Susana Pena, director of the School of Cultural and Critical Studies at BGSU, questioned the value of the statement. “Is that the bar we’re setting for our community,” she asked. Panelist Wafaa Hassan Aburahma, a BGSU student, tried to imagine how she would respond to such hatred. “Trying mingling with Muslims. Try knowing us first,” she suggested. Islamophobia did not exist here until 15 years ago, according…


Cold cooperates with Winterfest…but vandals send ice sculptures packing to park

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After an atypical winter of almost balmy temperatures, cold weather will cooperate by returning for this weekend’s annual Winterfest in Bowling Green. But while the chilly temperatures will accommodate winter activities, it appears the downtown is just too hot for the ice sculptures that normally decorate Main Street during the annual event. The decision was made this year for the bulk of the ice carvings to be exhibited in City Park. The change was made due to the cost of protecting the sculptures from vandals who have knocked over the ice art during the night previous years. “Anytime we’ve had them up downtown, we’ve lost one or two,” said Wendy Chambers, head of the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. Because of the frequency of the vandalism in the past, the city police have provided extra protection for the carvings. In 2014, the cost for two patrolmen during the nights of the Winterfest was $666, according to Police Chief Tony Hetrick. To avoid that cost, last year the police division put two cruisers in the downtown area, and trained volunteers to secure the sculptures, at no charge. But asking people to watch the carvings during the icy hours of the night proved too much for the volunteers, Chambers said. “It’s tough to get volunteers to stay out in those temperatures all night,” Chambers said. And since the ice sculptures are used as a fundraiser for the BG Skating Club, paying for protection was seen as counterproductive. So instead, this year the carvings will be displayed in City Park. But organizers don’t see the…


Curling club to leave BGSU for new site

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For nearly 50 years, Bowling Green Curling Club has been hurling stones at the BGSU Ice Arena. But the relationship between the ice arena and the curlers has cooled enough that the club is moving out. “There’s a really long history there,” said Shannon Orr, president of the BG Curling Club. For years, the sheet of ice on the south end of the ice arena was dedicated to curling. But recently, the curlers have had to share their ice with expanding hockey and skating programs. And though all the sports are played on sheets of ice, the surface is very different for curlers than for skating. So the curling club, with its more than 100 members, is packing up its brooms and stones and is preparing to set up shop in a new site the group plans to buy or lease north of Bowling Green. “This is a pretty exciting adventure,” Orr said. The new site is the former Perry House furniture building at 19901 Ohio 25. “It’s perfect. It’s huge,” Orr said. The site will have room for four sheets of ice that the club won’t have to share with skaters or hockey. Because of reduced ice time at the BGSU ice arena, the club had lost its weekend curling and time for its youth program. Dave Kielmeyer, spokesman for BGSU, said the university was faced with more demand for limited ice space at the arena. “We’re sad to see them go, but we understand their decision,” Kielmeyer said. “We certainly do our best to meet the ice needs of the…


Recycling efforts grow, but still short in some areas

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than 300 local businesses save on garbage pickup costs and conserve landfill space by separating their recyclables from their trash. Businesses from Northwood to North Baltimore use a program operated by Wood Lane’s Community Employment Service, called R&R, to pick up their recyclables. “This is truly intended to be a county-wide program,” said Vic Gable, head of CES. But while the program picks up recyclables for many private businesses, schools and government offices, it collects items from just two apartment complexes in Bowling Green. While the city picks up recyclables at residences, it does not collect them at apartment complexes. During a recent meeting of the Bowling Green City-University Relations Commission, members discussed the lack of recycling at apartment complexes and downtown businesses. Chris Ostrowski, a member of the commission, said he was the first to start apartment recycling in Bowling Green in the 1980s at Summit Terrace, which has 96 units. “We started because it made economic sense,” Ostrowski said. “It was cheaper than having someone pick it up as trash.” Most of the student renters want to recycle, he said. “For the most part, the students see it as a positive thing.” According to Ostrowski, many apartment complexes don’t offer recycling since the owners are responsible for the start-up costs. Unlike other residences, where curbside containers are provided by the city, the apartments would have to purchase the bins. The Wood Lane program partners with the Wood County Solid Waste District to provide recycling containers to school districts throughout the county. The R&R program does not charge for its…


County wants help with land use plan

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Calling it a land use plan update is somewhat of a misnomer. Dave Steiner sees it more as a chance to make a clean slate for county planning. Wood County is in the process of replacing its existing land use plan that was adopted in 2007. “I just want to toss out what we have and start from fresh,” said Steiner, director of the county planning commission, the office in charge of the land use effort. The plan adopted nine years ago hit a brick wall when the economy tanked. “The recession hit right after that and everything stalled,” Steiner said. But development is picking up again in the county, and a land use plan is needed to help direct that growth to the right areas. The plan will consider where zoning changes would be appropriate, where utilities should be expanded, where roadways should be built. “I’m very pro economic development in the right places and I’m very pro farmland preservation in the right places,” Steiner said. The plan will help guide that growth. “It’s not a set-in-stone document,” Steiner said, but rather a roadmap with suggested directions. But first, the county needs its citizens to give them the directions they would like to see the county develop or preserve. County officials are very aware that development concerns are very different in the southern rural areas than they are in the urban fringe areas in the northern part of the county. So local residents are being invited to express their opinions about the future growth during a public workshop being held by…


Man arrested for felony drug possession

A Bradner man was arrested after a search turned up illegal drugs, a gun, and money in a local home. According to the Wood County Sheriff’s Office, Ryan M. Anderson was arrested for felony drug possession. The arrest was made after the sheriff’s office, in cooperation with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation Division, and the Sandusky County Drug Task Force executed a search warrant at 1362 U.S. 6, Lot 13 of Twin Maples Trailer Park. The raid uncovered approximately one ounce of suspected crack cocaine, 60 Oxycodone pills, a 9mm semi-automatic pistol and about $3,000, according to Det. Sgt. Rod Smith with the Wood County Sheriff’s Office.  


House for recovering addicts to open

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The average opiate addict relapses seven times before finally being able to shake the addiction. However, if the person gets intensive treatment, the number of relapses drops significantly, according to Tom Clemons, executive director of the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board. For that reason, the board is helping to set up recovery housing for addicts here in Wood County. The board is working with Zepf Center, which operates rehab centers in the region, to establish a home here that can house eight to 10 men trying to kick drug or alcohol habits. The recovery housing will be set up in an existing home on agricultural land near Cygnet, south of Bowling Green. The exact location of the home was not released. Structured settings are important for people trying the shake addictions, according to Clemons. “They really need to have a living environment free from people using drugs,” he said. Wood County residents needing such treatment have had to travel to the Toledo area for services. There is no such program in Wood County. “The program has a lot of success in Lucas County, but they are full,” Clemons said. “The need is urgent in both men and women,” he said. But this home will just allow men. The board may consider helping with a women’s recovery housing program next. “This is really important for success for a lot of people,” Clemons said. “We were looking for how we can meet the need.” Zepf Center will pay for the capital costs, and WCADAMHS will pay for the services…