Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

Dave Brott bike run to benefit Vietnam Veterans

The Second Annual Dave Brott Memorial Bike Run will be held Saturday, Aug. 13. Registration will take place from 8:30 to 9:45 a.m. on the day of the event. The first bike will take off at 10 a.m. from BroadWing Tattoos & Body Piercing, at 125 N. Main St., Bowling Green. The ride will finish at 4:30 p.m., at Sunset Bistro, 1220 W. Wooster St., Bowling Green. There will be music at the restaurant from 4:30 to 11 p.m. And at 8 p.m. a 21-gun salute will be performed by Vietnam Vets of America Chapter 35. Dave Brott, who lived in Bowling Green, was a Vietnam War veteran. He passed away in 2014. The ride will cost $20 per bike, and $10 for additional passengers. All proceeds from the ride will go to Vietnam Veterans of America. And 30 percent of all sales of food and beverages from Sunset Bistro will go to benefit the veterans organization as well. There will be 50/50 drawings and giveaways. Any questions may be directed to Al Hosmer at 419-409-0291.


Wood County asked to join the ‘Big Fix’ for dogs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County has been asked to join the “Big Fix” program to spay and neuter dogs. The pilot program in Lucas County last year resulted in more than 400 dogs being fixed, according to Steve Serchuk, a volunteer with the program. “It will make the county safer,” Serchuk told the Wood County Commissioners last week. “It will save the county money. It will lead to more people licensing their pets.” Serchuk said Lucas County started the spay-neuter program after determining that almost one-third of the 57,617 licensed dogs in the county were not fixed. “We were blown away,” he said. So Lucas County, Toledo and the Toledo Community Foundation chipped in $9,000 each to reach out to the areas with the highest population of dogs that hadn’t been spayed or neutered. The goal was to fix 350 dogs – but the program exceeded expectations and 409 dogs were spayed or neutered. The success led Lucas County to apply for a matching grant of $25,000, and ask Wood County to join the project by chipping in $7,500 to have the amount matched by the grant. Wood County has approximately 21,000 licensed dogs. The funding would provide for 200 to 225 dogs being fixed. Serchuk said the county would benefit from more dogs being fixed. He presented the following information: 60 to 90 percent of dog attacks involve intact male dogs. Spayed and neutered dogs are less likely to roam and their behavior is better. “This will deal with the cause of pet overpopulation, not the result,” he said. The average cost to fix a dog ranges from $100 to $250, with the costs being highest for large female dogs. “People will spay and neuter their dogs if the cost is cheap enough,” Serchuk said. “It’s not a macho thing. They don’t have the money.” The average cost to fix a dog with Humane Ohio is $75. Most people who take their dogs to…


Wood County Auditor distributes taxes

Wood County Auditor Michael Sibbersen has announced the distribution of the real estate, public utility tax, and special assessments for the second half 2016 settlement. A total of $81,567,728 was collected and distributed including $2,419,667 for special assessments. In addition $9,034,412 is to be reimbursed from the state income tax funds, $6,066,961 in non-business credit, $852,995 in owner occupied credit, and $2,114,456 in homestead exemption monies. These represent tax reductions for qualifying properties. The Wood County County Commissioners requested that the 1.3 mill voted Human Services Levy collection be suspended for this year due to sufficient fund balance. This provided tax relief of $40 annually on a $100,000 home. Wood County currently maintains 74,670 individual land parcels of record and distributes the taxes to 18 school districts, 19 townships, and 26 cities and villages. Wood County has more than 100,000 individual special assessments, which are distributed to regional, county, municipal and township governments. Examples include ditch construction and maintenance, sewer and water systems, street lighting, street cleaning, and tree maintenance programs. Totals for the second half revenue distribution are as follows: WOOD COUNTY $2,851,090 REGIONAL WATER AND SEWER $723,791 COUNTY DITCH MAINTENANCE AND CONSTRUCTION $222,235 COUNTY SEWER AND WATERLINE PROJECTS $225 MAUMEE WATERSHED CONSERVANCY $44,227 BOARD OF DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES $8,672,079 ALCOHOL, DRUG ADDICTION &MENTAL HEALTH BOARD $2,861,003 PARK DISTRICT $1,129,684 COMMITTEE ON AGING $790,775 BOARD OF HEALTH $634,745 HISTORICAL CENTER $60,664 JOB & FAMILY SERVICES $0 WOOD COUNTY LIBRARY BOND $134,689 TOWNSHIPS $6,400,725 MUNICIPALITIES $7,117,554 SCHOOLS $49,992,604    


Audits to save BG homes money and energy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG  Independent News   Thousands of Bowling Green homes are letting cool air escape in the summer and heat seep out in the winter. So Columbia Gas is giving every homeowner, landlord and renter a chance to keep the air in their houses and money in their pockets. Bowling Green residents are being offered home energy audits for $20 by Columbia Gas, to identify how homes can be made more energy efficient. And if the residents agree to weatherization upgrades, the most they will pay per home is $300. “It’s because of Bowling Green’s interest in energy efficiency,” Jill McGinn, of Columbia Gas, explained last week to the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. “Everyone in Bowling Green is eligible.” The subsidies through the program will pay for up to $4,000 in home improvements, but the residents will pay a fraction of that. “The most any Bowling Green resident will pay is $300,” McGinn said. “Those are some pretty huge and substantial savings.” The energy audits take about three hours to complete. An added bonus, McGinn said, is that experts also look for safety problems. McGinn knows all about that, since when she had an energy audit done on her home, it found a gas leak in her basement. “Safety is Columbia Gas’ first priority,” she said. The audits often discover leaks at gas line joints or at the appliance hook ups. The next priority is energy efficiency. The homes likely to benefit the most from the audits are those built before 1975, many which use more than 1,000 cubic feet of gas annually. Those homes are often found with very inefficient furnaces, and insulation that has settled over the years and no longer fills up space between the walls. “We run into a lot of houses that have no insulation whatsoever,” McGinn said of some of the older homes. Bowling Green resident Neocles Leontis is a believer in the audits as a way to say energy and…


Lt. Gov. makes it her business to help Ohio businesses

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor was right at home talking to the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce members, sharing their disdain for governmental red tape that bogs down businesses. “I was with you, fighting the bureaucracy,” Taylor said, speaking of her time as a CPA prior to entering government. That frustration led her to cross to the other side. “I discovered what I really wanted to do was serve,” Taylor said during the mid-year chamber luncheon this past week. “I wanted to be a part of writing the laws.” She started out small, running for a position in city government, then worked her way up to state representative, then state auditor, and finally to her current position as lieutenant governor under John Kasich. In government, Taylor said, she has been able to fight for taxpayers, bringing about regulatory reform. “The status quo is never acceptable for me. We hold every state governmental agency responsible for their regulatory impact on business,” she said. “If the answer is – ‘That’s what we did before’ – that is not acceptable.” Taylor described her approach as a “common sense” strategy, to look at how regulations such as those protecting the environment were affecting businesses. State rules were reviewed with a special emphasis on looking at the impact on business, she said. That analysis led to 60 percent of the rules affecting businesses being rescinded or amended, Taylor said. “We have to understand, what we do in government does affect business and job creation,” she said. Consequently, Ohio’s unemployment is down and wages are rising faster than the national average, Taylor said. “Everywhere we go, we are using common sense.” As lieutenant governor, Taylor sees her other role as making a sales pitch for Ohio. “My responsibility is to sell Ohio.” And that can be a tough job sometimes. “We don’t have a beach.” If people examine Ohio’s work record, they often take a second look at the…


Public hearing planned on transit grant

A public hearing will be held in the Council Chamber at the City Administrative Building, 304 N. Church St., Bowling Green on Aug. 16, at 1:15 p.m. for public comment.     The City of Bowling Green is applying to the Ohio Department of Transportation for an operating and capital assistance grant from the Ohio Public Transportation Grant Program. The operating grant will provide financial assistance for public transportation service within the city limits of Bowling Green in 2017.  The service currently operates Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is recommended that all passengers, including wheelchair users, schedule their ride one hour in advance.  For rides originating and ending in Bowling Green’s corporation limits, fares are $3.50 per one-way trip; elderly, disabled and children ages 4 to 13 ride for $1.75 per one-way trip (with a city-issued transit ID card), and package fare is $1.75.  For those rides originating and/or ending outside the corporation limits (up to one mile outside city limits), fares will be $4 per one-way trip; elderly, disabled and children ages 4 to 13 ride for $2 with a city-issued transit ID card (package fare is $2).  Children under 4, passengers’ language interpreters and personal care attendants ride free regardless of where the rides originate or end. No service changes are proposed. For more information call 419-354-6203.


Bicyclists feel they are spinning their wheels in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The roomful of bicyclists was asked how many considered Bowling Green to be a bicycle friendly community. No one raised a hand. Instead, the 40 or so bicyclists shared stories of how unwelcoming the city is to two-wheel travelers. They told of streets marked as bike routes that have no berm for bicyclists, of road repairs that leave streets layered with loose gravel, of storm sewer grates positioned so they snag bike tires and of motorists hostile about sharing the road with bicycles. And they discussed bicycle plans adopted by the city nine years ago – with very little progress made to improve bicycle travel in the community. That transportation master plan update from 2007 recommended that the city consider bicycle facilities as part of all new or re-construction road projects, that all bike routes have improved signage, and that the city consider eliminating parking on streets for bicycle routes. When the bicyclists in the library meeting room were asked to identify the streets they would most like to see accommodate bikes, they listed the same streets that had been designated in the 2007 plan. Many felt that they were just spinning their wheels. Tuesday’s meeting was a joint effort of the city’s Bicycle Safety Commission and the City Council Transportation and Safety Committee members Daniel Gordon, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino. The goal was to gather input from bicyclists on what streets they would like modified in some way to improve safety for cyclists. The group also discussed options for making the streets more accommodating to bikes. Those options include: Widening some streets by extending the pavement. Giving bicyclists room by narrowing the width for motorized vehicles. Banning parking along some streets. Turning some streets into one-way routes. Many of the cyclists said the city’s current signage stating “share the road” with the image of a bicycle is worthless. If there isn’t some space dedicated for bicycles, most motorists don’t feel…


BG policy makes sure city won’t get stuck with bills for political rallies in community center

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As a swing state much sought after by the presidential candidates, Ohio may become a second home for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during the next three months. In preparation for campaign visits prior to the November election, the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board on Tuesday adopted a new fee for candidates wanting to hold events at the city’s community center. The new fee is intended to help pay the actual costs, since security for presidential candidates requires that the entire center be closed to the public. The $750 fee will be added on to existing rental fees for the gym, classrooms and floor coverings required for a campaign event. In the past, the community center has been used for campaign rallies by Mitt Romney in 2012 and Bill Clinton campaigning for Hillary Clinton in 2008. “We essentially had to close the whole building,” said Kristin Otley, director of the city’s park and recreation department. The community center brings in about $500 a day in the summer, and up to $1,000 a day during other times of the year from admission and class fees. So the new fee splits that in half, and asks campaigns to pay $750, Otley explained. “If we need to shut down the entire center,” then at least the city won’t be shorted on revenue, she said. The city will also require that campaigns pay the fee in advance of any rally being held at the center. In the past, the city has not required that, Otley said. Bowling Green did receive payments from the Romney and Clinton campaigns, but some cities have been stiffed by political campaigns in the past. “That’s what got us thinking,” Otley said. The Stroh Center at Bowling Green State University is the other site in the city with the capacity to hold large campaign events. And that venue is capable of holding more spectators, but the community center is better situated…


Murder prompts calls for violent offender registry

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The murder of a 20-year-old University of Toledo student last week has spurred a call from Northwest Ohio citizens for a violent offender registry in the state. So State Senators Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, and Cliff Hite, R-Findlay, have begun working on a system that could better inform and warn the public about violent offenders in their midst. Citizens in the region asked legislators to consider such a registry following the murder of Sierah Joughin in Fulton County.  James Worley, the man charged with Joughin’s murder, was convicted of abduction in 1990 and served three years in prison. Gardner said he and Hite, who both represent portions of Fulton County, are responding to people outraged and horrified by the murder and the similarities to the previous abduction. “We are considering concerns and anxieties of citizens,” Gardner said. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 10,000 people had signed the petition asking for the registry. “This person obviously is a sick, disturbed individual,” he said of Worley. “The question is, are there any other unsolved murders around the state.” A violent offenders registry would at least make citizens aware of such offenders residing in their neighborhoods, Gardner said. To determine the best way to set up such a system, Gardner said he has spoken with four sheriffs, the Buckeye Sheriff’s Association, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and county prosecutors. “We’re doing our homework,” he said. “We are thinking about the most practical, best way to do this.” The system would probably work similarly to Ohio’s existing sex offender registry law. Several other states have violent offender registries, including neighboring Indiana. The senators will gain information from Indiana and other states as they begin working on an effective public registry process for Ohio. In Indiana, anyone classified as a sex or violent offender must register for 10 years. Those classified as sexually violent predators must register for life. According to Gardner and Hite, Ohio lawmakers…


Golf cart tours of Simpson Garden Park available

The Bowling Green Park and Recreation Department’s new golf cart is being used to ferry visitors at Simpson Garden Park. Anyone unable to get around the park on their own, who would like a golf cart tour, may ask park staff on site or call ahead to make arrangements. All the resident care facilities in Bowling Green have been made aware of the golf cart service. Brookdale has requested weekly tours, which the park department has been able to accommodate.


Costs to cool BG schools too hot to handle

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Three of the five Bowling Green city school buildings have no air conditioning – meaning the first and last weeks of the school season can be brutal for students. Superintendent Francis Scruci has referred to the sweltering students as pools of butter sitting in the heat. “We know our buildings are hot. We know our kids melt,” Scruci said during a meeting held earlier this month. At that same meeting, high school teacher Jeff Nichols said his classroom on the second floor of the high school reached 108 degrees one day last year. And Principal Jeff Dever asked people to come experience the temperatures. “I invite any Bowling Green resident to come to our school the second day of the school year,” Dever said. The sauna like temperatures don’t make for a good learning – or teaching – environment. Cooling the schools is one of Scruci’s goals as he talks about new or renovated buildings. “That certainly is one of the obstacles we have,” he said during Tuesday evening’s board of education meeting. The superintendent has been looking for a temporary solution that might provide some relief until school buildings are renovated or replaced. But fixes are few since no ductwork exists at the high school, Conneaut or Kenwood schools. “That presents a huge challenge,” Scruci said. But Scruci had heard of a district with a similar situation that cooled its schools with temporary air conditioning units. The company that handled the project was asked to calculate how much it would cost to cool Bowling Green’s schools for the first weeks at the beginning and end of the school year. The estimate for Kenwood Elementary called for 25 1.5-ton air conditioning units in the windows, costing $20,000 per month. That amount didn’t include the $3,500 for set up and tear down, or the added electric cost to run the air conditioning. The total for cooling the high school, Conneaut and Kenwood reached…


Dunbridge and U.S. 6 intersection to close for work

The Ohio Department of Transportation has notified the City of Bowling Green that the contractor currently resurfacing U.S. 6 will need to close the intersection at Dunbridge Road as part of that work. The closure will occur on Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 1 and 2, from 7 to 10 a.m. on both days.


BG School’s state scores less than stellar

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Board of Education got the bad news first Tuesday evening. The latest state scores for the district looked dismal, with none of the grades meeting state standards for English or math. That report was quickly followed up by good news about students building robots and programming computers in the STEAM (Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering and Math) program. The pairing of the good news/bad news was intentional, according to Superintendent Francis Scruci. “We’re going to own our score,” Scruci said about the state grades that were far from acceptable. But he wanted to make sure people also saw the great learning taking place in the district, and not put too much weight on the state scores. “It’s reckless for a community to judge a school based on a one-day snapshot,” he said. “Please don’t judge the district based on a one-day snapshot.” Ann McCarty, executive director of teaching and learning for BG City Schools, had the job of breaking the bad news. None of the grades met state standards for English. Aside from a middle school algebra class, none of the grades met standards for math. The district saw some success in social studies and science scores. McCarty did not make excuses, but she did try to explain how the low scores could have happened. First, the English and math tests were new. “You will see scores drop,” when the tests change, she said. Second, the state rubrics were released after the school year had started, making it tougher on teachers. Third, the district did not have a comprehensive assessment process to monitor programs. And finally, the district didn’t find out two of its school were in the Ohio Improvement Process until later in the year. To bring up the scores – and more importantly, improve the learning, McCarty said the district is taking several steps to: Identify instructional trends for at-risk groups of students. Create a viable curriculum for…


Dry summer taking toll on crops, lawns, tempers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County is parched after getting half its normal summer rainfall this year – leaving yards brown, corn stalks scrawny, and some farmers short on patience. Every once in awhile, the dark clouds build and rain starts hitting the thirsty earth, but most hints of precipitation have turned into a tease. Rainfall for May, June and July in Bowling Green added up to 5.64 inches, according to records kept at the Bowling Green Wastewater Treatment Plant. That is about half of the average 10.7 inches seen here during those three months. The stunted crops and crunchy lawns are the most obvious victims, affecting local farmers and grass mowing businesses. But the hot dry summer has been good for others, like ODOT’s road construction schedule, local swimming pool attendance, and ball seasons that haven’t been disrupted by rain. Bowling Green’s water supply has not been adversely affected since the Maumee River watershed covers a huge area, according to Brian O’Connell, director of utilities for the city. “Even under severe drought conditions, there’s a lot of water that drains into the Maumee River,” O’Connell said. However, the rainfall on individual farm fields has left corn and soybean crops hurting, according to Jonanthan Haines, of the Farm Service Agency. The spring started out strong, he said. “We had the rainfall in April and May. We were actually a little too wet.” Farmers were itching to get their crops in the fields as summer got near. “They had a window to plant at the end of May,” Haines said. There were a handful of dry days, followed by forecasts for spring showers. “Everybody raced to plant.” But the forecast was wrong. “The rain never came,” Haines said. “The spigot was turned off after that.” Some spots in the county have fared a bit better than others, with the driest fields in the southwest corner, he said. The corn may have finally shot upward and started tasseling…


Donald Trump to hold rally in Toledo on Wednesday

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will hold a rally in Toledo on Wednesday evening. There are few specifics, other than the rally will be held in the Huntington Center, 500 Jefferson Ave., in downtown Toledo in the evening. Tickets to attend the rally are available by emailing the campaign at donaldjtrump.com/schedule or contacting the Lucas County Republican Party at admin@lucascountygop.org. More details are expected later.