Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

Streets to be closed for BG Holiday Parade

In conjunction with the Bowling Green Holiday Parade scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19, several Bowling Green streets will be closed and on-street parking will be prohibited in many downtown locations. Main Street will be closed between Poe and Napoleon roads from 9:45 a.m. on Saturday until the end of the parade. This closure will also impact traffic flow on streets that intersect with Main Street between Poe and Napoleon. These side streets will also close at approximately 9:45 a.m. In addition, side streets between Poe and Ridge will be utilized for parade preparations from approximately 8:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. During this period of time, access to these side streets will be limited to local use. A truck detour route will be posted. Parking during the parade will be prohibited on Main Street between Poe and Napoleon. Vehicles are to be removed from Main Street prior to 3 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19. Any vehicle parked on Main Street after 3 a.m. will be towed at the owner’s expense. On-street parking will also be prohibited in the following locations: Dixie Avenue between South Main and Kenwood South Church Street between Sand Ridge and Pearl Clay Street between North Church and North Grove North Grove between Wooster and Poe Parking will be reinstated on Main Street and other locations after the parade “clean-up.” All roads impacted by these closures will reopen as soon as possible upon completion of the parade. For more information about this year’s parade, visit the Chamber of Commerce website at www.bgchamber.net


Court Street closed Friday evening for tree lighting

West Court Street, between Main and Church streets, will be closed during the evening of Friday, Nov. 18, in conjunction with the Community Tree Lighting Ceremony. Access to parking lots will be maintained throughout the street closure. On-street parking restrictions will be imposed on North Main Street between Oak and Court streets. The tree lighting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in front of the Wood County District Public Library.


Heroes who helped those in need honored

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Friday was a big day for Kenneth Seeley. It was the first day in more than five months that he walked, and it was the day he got to thank the men who pulled him from a burning vehicle. “If it wasn’t for your quick response, I wouldn’t be here today,” Seeley said, from his wheelchair. “You are my hero.” Eleven such heroes were honored Friday evening during the 28th annual Black Swamp Humanitarian Awards. They were recognized for not walking away from strangers in need, or risking their lives to help save others. They were called upon to help people when least expected – at the movies, on the golf course, or driving around lighting luminaries on Christmas Eve. Those honored for Good Samaritan Awards were Wesley Stiner, Corey Stulpin, Thomas Harper, Robert Fyfe and James Oberlander. Presented with a Service to Others Award was Bowling Green Patrolman Tyson Richmond. And recognized with Life Risk Awards were Dino Babers, Chelsea Lowe, Brian Robinson, Brandon Conine and Conner Beck. Following are their stories. Brian Robinson, an off-duty police officer, and Brandon Conine, an ODOT employee, both responded when they saw Kenneth Seeley’s truck off U.S. 6, on fire in a stubble field. They pulled Seeley from the blazing vehicle and Robinson performed CPR. “It truly is a miracle,” that the men were able to save Seeley, said Kathy Heyman, Weston EMS chief. Robinson agreed, saying “I wasn’t even supposed to be going that way,” when he happened upon the accident. “This man has a long journey ahead,” Robinson said, motioning to Seeley. “I can’t wait to see you make strides and get better.” Seeley was overwhelmed with gratitude. “Brian obviously thought I was worth saving,” he said. “You saved my life.” Though they were not able to be present at Friday’s event, two former members of Bowling Green State University’s athletic staff were honored. Former head football coach Dino Babers and assistant athletic trainer Chelsea Lowe were on a team bus headed back from a game in…


Veterans reminded their service is not forgotten

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County veterans were reminded Saturday that their service to the nation has not been forgotten. That gratitude was shown in the resurrection of a monument in their honor, and in the effort made to give a final salute at veterans’ funerals. Both were explained during a Veterans Day program in the Wood County Courthouse Atrium. “None of us who have served consider ourselves heroes,” said veteran David Ridenour. “We are ordinary citizens who may have performed extra ordinary feats.” And those selfless acts for the greater good must not be forgotten. Army veteran Joe Fawcett, who is assistant municipal administrator for the city of Bowling Green, talked about the city’s efforts to restore the veterans memorial at the entrance of City Park. The memorial was first dedicated on Memorial Day 1931, with the etched statement, “Bowling Green has not forgotten.” That statement was the catalyst for Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft to restore the monument to its original glory. Over the years, the monument had become overgrown by arborvitae, and had suffered from neglect. “Unfortunately, it appeared we had forgotten,” Fawcett said. In addition to removing the shrubbery and restoring the monument, the city also put bases in for flags around the site. The city invested more than $20,000 and countless hours in the effort. “Brian’s vision is one that we can all be proud of,” Fawcett said. “We all owe it to them to live up to the words, ‘Bowling Green has not forgotten,’” he added. Local veterans are also being remembered in another way, with a final farewell performed by fellow veterans. Mary Hanna, executive director of the Wood County Veterans Assistance Center and a Vietnam War veteran, talked about the importance of military funeral honors. “It’s the final demonstration a grateful nation can provide to a veteran’s family,” Hanna said. In 2009, Hanna worked to put together the Wood County Honors Detail, to be present at veterans’ funerals. The veterans fold and present the family with an American flag, perform a…


Attack, hate speech reported after election ‘whitelash’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After a long election season laden with hate speech, the results of Tuesday’s vote have left many populations feeling vulnerable and targeted. On Thursday, a BGSU student reported on Facebook that as she volunteered to collect election signs from yards on Crim Street, she was physically attacked and called racial slurs by men shouting they were “making America great again.” Bowling Green police are investigating the incident. On Wednesday evening, as a peaceful rally was held in the green space in downtown Bowling Green for those troubled by the election, Krishna Han said three teenage boys walked by yelling, “Black lives do not matter.” On Tuesday evening, a BGSU student from Tunisia explained during a city-university relations commission meeting, that international students are reporting threatening incidents to her, and worry about the climate created by the election. After years of inching toward inclusion, President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign “whitelash” is being blamed for legitimizing hatred toward many populations – Latinos, African Americans, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, women and more. “It was a pretty traumatic day,” BGSU student Allie Dyer said Thursday during a Not In Our Town meeting. “We are in very real danger now. We have to watch our backs now.” In response to the student reporting the attack on Crim Street, BGSU Vice President for Student Affairs and Vice Provost Thomas Gibson released a statement to all students. “BGSU is committed to ensuring that we have a welcoming and safe climate for all members of our community. We believe in the value of respecting one another, promoting diversity and being inclusive in making Bowling Green State University a place we can all be proud of and where our community members can thrive,” Gibson wrote. Gibson encouraged students to report incidents in person, online or by phone. He also urged that students attend a town hall meeting on Monday, at 6 p.m., in 101 Olscamp Hall, on the “Impact of the Election and Respect within Our Community.” Bowling Green City Schools are also keeping an eye out…


Flat finances: BG city income remains stable

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s city income is steady – and that’s good … well, kind of. “The good news is, it’s very stable,” said City Finance Director Brian Bushong. “The bad news is, it’s very stable.” Bushong gave the pre-budget overview for 2017 to council members Monday evening. Moody’s has again given the city a strong credit rating of Aa2, which is slightly higher than the Aa3 rating given to most cities nationally. And due to state changes in due dates for income tax, Bowling Green is experiencing a one-time windfall in that revenue placing them about $1.5 million ahead of where planned. “This is a wonderful year for income tax,” Bushong said. Since much of the city’s income tax revenue is already divvied up, these one-time dollars will benefit each of those funds. The income tax collected is distributed as follows: 37.5 percent for general fund. 25 percent for sewer and water capital fund. 18 percent for fire fund. 7 percent for police fund. 6.25 percent for capital fund. 3.75 percent for street repair fund. 2.5 percent for recreation fund. Income tax revenue has continued to grow in the city, increasing an average of 4.89 percent annually since 2011.  The city benefited from new and expanding businesses, such as Betco, Cooper Standard and Kroger. “The economic outlook from an income tax standpoint looks very positive,” Bushong said. However, the general fund revenue paints a less positive picture. That average growth in the general fund revenue was just 0.65 percent since 2011. The factors leading to the miniscule growth include loss of various sources of state funding, declining or flat court fines and other revenue, ambulance fees, kilowatt tax, and the upcoming loss of the cable franchise fee. “The general fund has been flat,” Bushong said. The city has managed the flat revenue and increasing costs through financial and debt policies, healthcare increases for employees, prioritizing projects and deferring maintenance. “We’ve become much more productive, much more efficient and creative,” he said. Bushong is expecting more of the same…


Time change offers challenges for drivers

(As submitted by Safe Communities of Wood County) The year is quickly coming to a close, and with that comes the end of Daylight Savings Time. This year the time change occurred on Sunday, November 6th, at 2:00am which means it is getting darker earlier. According to Time, “the loss of an hour of afternoon sunlight when it (DST) ends may increase the likelihood of traffic accidents.” Better light equals better safety, therefore the need for increased attentiveness while driving increases as Daylight Savings Time ends. According to CBC News, “People walking during rush hour in the first few weeks after the clocks fall back in the autumn were more than three times as likely to be fatally struck by cars than before the change.” Increased attentiveness while driving leads to less fatal accidents. There have been a reported 10 fatal accidents in Wood County this year, down from 24 this time last year. This decrease in fatal accidents could be attributed to the staggering 95% of people who reported regularly wearing their seatbelts this year, post Click It or Ticket survey. According to the AAA Foundation, “seat belts are the single most effective means of reducing the risk of death in a crash and have saved nearly 300,000 lives since 1975 in the U.S. alone.” Another contribution to the decrease of fatal accidents this year, could be the promotion of drunk driving advocacy and the decrease in alcohol related fatal crashes. 2015 saw a 9.2% decrease in fatal crashes that were alcohol related in Wood County in two years. With the holidays approaching, many people are tempted to drive buzzed. Remember, buzzed driving is drunk driving.


BG students salute veterans for their service

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With patriotic band music playing and a sea of more than 400 American flags waving, the veterans marched into the auditorium. Some rather slowy, with canes. Some in uniform. All with dignity. One by one, they walked to the microphone, introduced themselves and gave shout-outs to the student audience members who invited them to the Veterans Day program. And one by one, the children, grandchildren or neighbors who brought the soldiers to the program, stood up, beaming with pride. “It melted my heart,” Mike Meeker, an Army veteran, said after the program as he hugged his daughter, Jasmine. “It means a lot.” Meeker was one of nearly 70 veterans honored during the annual Veterans Day program hosted by Kenwood Elementary on Thursday. “It was nice to have the recognition of my service,” Navy veteran Jeremy Prisk said as he reunited with his children in the lobby. “It was nice that my children got to take part.” Army veteran Chad Smith agreed. “It’s a really good celebration of a lot of hard work. It’s good to know that people still celebrate this.” Retired Kenwood teacher Kent McClary introduced the veterans before they paraded in. “These are the people, men and women, who when called to duty for their country, they all went,” he said. These were the fortunate ones who made it home, he reminded the children. “They all gave of themselves. They all love their country.” McClary spoke of the value of military service members. “We’ve needed help to maintain our freedom. When we needed them, they were there,” he said. “I’m surrounded by heroes,” McClary said as he looked at the stage full of veterans. “It’s a great honor to have you here today.” To show their appreciation, the kindergartners sang “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” and the band and all the students performed an armed forces medley of songs for Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Army. A few students went to the podium, climbed up a step stool, and read poems or stories…


Park district eyes $1 million in park improvements

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Park District plans to invest more than $1 million in capital improvements next year. The money will be spent on items like new restrooms, trail surfaces, playground equipment and an archery range. A draft of the park district’s 2017 operating budget was presented to the park board Tuesday afternoon by Wood County Park District Executive Director Neil Munger. The draft also calls for the addition of part-time staff, including an adventure position, farm specialist and farm history intern. Among the larger capital improvement projects in the draft budget are: $160,000 for new restrooms at William Henry Harrison Park. $72,000 for roof replacement of the Otsego Park Stone Hall. $46,500 for an archery range and parking at the Wood County Historical Center. $108,650 for surface treatment on the Slippery Elm Trail. $59,000 for parking lot construction at Baldwin Woods. $60,000 for field tiling at Carter Historic Farm. $171,000 for parking lot and driveway at Bradner Preserve. $30,000 for playground equipment at Cedar Creeks Park. Being put on hold are renovations to a house at Sawyer Preserve since the bids came in far too high, Munger said. The equipment costs increased a bit in the draft budget. In the adventure programming area, costs will be incurred for the new archery range and river kayaking program. Board member Christine Seiler suggested that the river kayaking program should be made more available to people. Currently, only groups of 10 or more people may reserve the kayaks a week in advance. “If we’re going to add to that program – and I think it’s a terrific program – I think it needs to be more friendly to all constituents,” Seiler said. Outdoor exercise equipment is also being considered, possibly along the Slippery Elm Trail. However, space is an issue, Munger said, since it requires playground safety treatments. Seiler complimented the park district for reducing expenses in some areas of the draft budget. Often when public groups create budgets, they use the previous year as a starting point and never consider…


Veterans Day program Saturday in courthouse atrium

A Wood County Veterans Day program will be held Saturday at 11 a.m., in the Wood County Courthouse Atrium. After a program inside, the ceremony will move outside for the laying of wreaths by various veterans groups. There will also be a firing squad salute by the 14th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The sponsoring organizations are AMVETS Post 711, American Legion Post 45, Paul C. Ladd Post 1148 VFW, and Fallen Timbers Memorial Association.


Sue Clanton honored with ‘Hometown Hero’ award

(As submitted by Modern Woodmen) Modern Woodmen of America  honored Sue Clanton (Director – United Way of Wood County)  with a “Hometown Hero” award on 11/3 @5pm at the United Way Office.   Modern Woodmen supports our communities and  residents through many aspects, including this Hometown  Hero award.  Carol Solether, of Modern Woodmen, presented the award. Sue was chosen for her many years of volunteer service and giving back to her community.  She has always been involved in her hometown of Weston, through PTA, Girl Scouts, Weston Library, Weston Art Council and Weston Church of Christ.   As well, Sue has been very involved in the BG area and  her generosity extends to much of Wood County as she is supportive of many organizations and events throughout the Wood County footprint. From 1997-2014 Sue played a huge role with the Bowling Green Community Development Foundation helping to create hundreds of new jobs for the community. In this role she provided economic development support to the City of Bowling Green by marketing the community to business and industry and working with local businesses to ensure retention and promote growth. In her most recent role as Area Director for the United Way in Wood County, Sue has created long lasting partnerships to tackle the most pressing matters in our community.  These matters include, but are not limited to kindergarten readiness, dental care, and homelessness. Sue is involved with the following organizations and committees in the Wood County area: Wood County Job and Family Services Board Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce Board Bowling Green Chamber Business Council Exchange Club Otsego Endowment Foundation Northwest Ohio Regional Economic Development Association Ohio Economic Development Association Wood County Continuum of Care Community Health Improvement Plan Committee Early Childhood Committee Project Connect Steering Committee


BG offers new help with homeownership

Purchasing an affordable home in the City of Bowling Green may be out of reach for some people with low/moderate incomes looking to purchase a home within the city limits of Bowling Green. A new CDBG-funded program, however, has a goal of changing this issue. The city’s new Direct Homeownership Assistance Program seeks to make affordable homeownership possible for households often overcome by housing cost burden. The program is designed to assist creditworthy people with low/moderate incomes by reducing their mortgage principal amount, paying reasonable closing costs, and/or required up-front private mortgage insurance premiums. In most cases the mortgage principal reduction will satisfy the lender’s down payment requirement. Applicants must qualify through a traditional lender. Assistance is provided in the form of a supplemental subordinate loan for part of the purchase price with zero interest. The loan is non-amortized, and non-declining, payable upon sale of the property, transfer of title, the property being vacated or the owner(s) no longer occupying the property as their primary residence. Applicants must complete the application process, and adhere to all program policies to be eligible. For more information contact Matthew Jay Snow at the City of Bowling Green’s Grants Department, 419-354-6221 or msnow@bgohio.org.


BG studies school building options and costs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Schools is taking baby steps toward putting a bond issue for buildings on the ballot. Before school officials take the plunge – maybe as soon as next November – they want to know what district voters want for children, and what expense they are willing to support. “I don’t like to go to the ballot with a hope and a prayer,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said Wednesday evening to a group of parents, teachers and community members gathered in Kenwood Elementary School’s gymnasium. This was one in a series of meetings Scruci is holding throughout the district to present information on the school building needs. While the audience had questions of the superintendent, he also had questions for them. Before putting any issue on the ballot, the district needs to know: Is there support for consolidating the three elementary schools into one building? How much are citizens willing to pay for improving school facilities? “We’re all ears at this point,” Scruci said. After community meetings earlier this year, the district is leaning toward paying for any building renovations or new construction with local funds. “Accepting state money doesn’t make a lot of sense for us,” Scruci explained since the state share would be 11 to 14 percent. “We’d have to play by their rules,” he added. “If we do this project as a community, we make all the decisions,” Scruci said. School officials are also favoring building a new consolidated elementary building on district land north of the middle school, rather than renovating the three existing elementaries. Another option is renovating Crim and Kenwood, and building a new Conneaut where it stands now. The final option is do nothing, and risk the chance of costs escalating more. The earliest a bond issue would appear on the ballot is November 2017. If it passes, the new school could be open three years later. For the first time in these community meetings, the district had calculated estimated bond millage and costs to homeowners for several of the…


Voters support BG parks and county seniors

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Local voters proved once again Tuesday that they appreciate their parks and they care about senior citizens. The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation 2-mill, five-year levy passed by a healthy 69 percent, with a vote of 8,545 to 3,802. And the Wood County Committee on Aging’s renewal of a 0.7-mill, five-year levy for senior services passed by a solid 76 percent, with a vote of 46,428 to 14,760. “We’re very thankful for our citizens who have traditionally supported parks,” said Kristin Otley, director of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. “They understand it’s a quality of life issue.” Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department plans to use the levy funds to maintain the park lands, facilities and programs already in place. Passage of the levy will allow the city to catch up with maintenance work, like replacing roofs on park buildings. “Now we know for the next five years what we have coming in,” Otley said. The city has 11 parks covering 373 acres – well above the national average for a community this size. Those public parks were one of the biggest factors in Bowling Green recently being ranked one of the top 10 places in the nation to raise a family. The parks offer a variety of settings: Garden, nature, athletic and passive. The levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home in the city $61.25 a year. That is $18.25 more a year than the previous levy. The parks and recreation department had not asked for increased levy millage for 16 years. But during those 16 years, the parks have done a lot of growing, with additions such as Simpson Building and Garden Park, City Pool and Waterpark, Community Center, Ridge Park, Skatepark, Dunbridge Soccer Fields, BG Athletic Fields, Black Swamp Preserve, more trails at Wintergarden, and expanded programming for fitness, aquatics and other events. “We’re feeling great,” said Jeff Crawford, president of the city parks and recreation board. “The citizens of Bowling Green came through for us again.” “I think the…


Republicans sweep Wood County contested races

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County elected only Republicans in contested races Tuesday. The victorious and the defeated gathered in downtown Bowling Green as the results rolled in – separated by the brick wall between Mr. Spots and Howard’s. The mood among the Democrats at Howard’s was subdued and disbelieving. The atmosphere among the Republicans at Mr. Spots was joyous and confident. After victory speeches by the Republicans, the Northern Wood County Republican Party Chairman Aram Ohanian told the party faithful as they left, “you can wave at Howard’s where the Democrats are.” There were no tight races. Theresa Gavarone solidly beat Kelly Wicks for the state representative seat. Dr. Ted Bowlus unseated Wood County Commissioner Joel Kuhlman – meaning for the first time in several decades the three commissioners will all be Republicans. Matt Reger won the judge seat, Mark Wasylyshyn was re-elected as sheriff, Craig LaHote was returned as county commissioner, and Jane Spoerl won handily as county treasurer. The only Democrat to win was Julie Baumgardner who ran uncontested for the county recorder’s seat. Wood County voters also re-elected Republicans Bob Latta to the House of Representatives, Randy Gardner to the Ohio Senate, and swung their weight for Rob Portman in the U.S. Senate, and Donald Trump in the White House. “What a big night,” Latta said. “I saw candidates work 110 percent. It paid massive dividends here.” In particular he praised Gavarone. “She gave everything of herself and the results tonight prove it,” Latta said, as Fox News was broadcasting election results on the big TV screen behind him. The most bitter fight was won by Gavarone, who took the race with 59 percent of the vote. She credited hard work for her victory. “I had so much support. We knocked on over 32,000 doors since Aug. 11,” she said. “I’m so honored the people of Wood County have put their faith in me, and I can’t wait to go work for them,” she said. Next door at Howard’s, her opponent, Kelly Wicks had left the gathering…