Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin


Farming is more than plows, cows and bib overalls

(Submitted by Wood Soil & Water Conservation District) It’s more than plows, cows, and bib overalls.  Celebrate National Ag Day – March 21, 2017 Every American needs to understand how food and fiber are produced, appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products, value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy – especially in Wood County, and recognize and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food, and fiber industry. In Wood County alone, 67% of land is dedicated to farming. Typically, Wood County’s crop production of corn, soybeans, and wheat rank in the top 5 throughout the state of Ohio. Grain produced in Wood County is used locally, transported nationally, and exported internationally. While some think farming is a seasonal job, there is always one more thing that needs done on the farm. Local farmer’s work year round to produce quality grain, livestock, and various other farm products. Many attend conferences, receive certifications, and/or hold college degrees striving to achieve a balance in bountiful yield, natural resource conservation, and the farm budget. Whether your farmer has 5 acres or 5,000 acres the end goal is still the same, provide safe and healthy food not only for our local community but for the world. Celebrate National Ag Day, March 21, 2017.  National Ag Day is organized by the Agriculture Council of America (ACA). ACA is a nonprofit organization composed of leaders in the agricultural, food and fiber community, dedicating its efforts to increasing public awareness of agriculture’s role in modern society. Visit www.agday.org for more information on National Ag Day. Visit www.woodswcd.com to learn what the Wood Soil & Water Conservation is doing for both the agricultural and urban areas of Wood County. Like Farm4CleanWater on Facebook to get an inside look into Wood County farms.  


BG ‘quarterly spotlight’ on grants administration

(Quarterly spotlight submitted by City of Bowling Green) The City of Bowling Green’s Grants Administration office marked yet another successful year in 2016. During Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) FY 2015 (September 1, 2015-August 31, 2016), the City utilized over $245,000 in funding to carry out various activities directed at improving the quality of lives for persons with low and moderate incomes. In FY 2015, Fair Housing education and outreach was undertaken, 17 housing repair projects were completed, 84 elderly and disabled adults were granted half-price transit fares and 129 persons, who were homeless, received transitional housing as a result of CDBG-funded programming. In the first few months of FY 2016 (which began September 1, 2016), three mobile home repair projects were completed; whereas continued B.G. Transit fare assistance, Fair Housing education/outreach, and transitional housing for the homeless also continued. In the writing of the FY 2016 CDBG Annual Plan, a new program was developed by the department and approved by HUD for funding and implementation in FY 2016—a Direct Homeownership Assistance Program, which will serve to ease the cost burden of low-income homeowners purchasing a home, locally. Extensive marketing of this program began in the fall of 2016. Applications are currently being processed, and it is anticipated two income eligible applicants will receive direct homeownership assistance in the first quarter of 2017. During FY 2015, $454,500 in Business Revolving Loan Funds (RLF) was loaned to local businesses for start-up or expansion purposes. For every $50,000 issued to these businesses, one new job will be created and offered to a person at lower income levels. The businesses will have up to three years to create these jobs. As a result of Business RLF loans made (some from FY 2015; others from prior years), seven jobs were created in FY 2015. During CY 2016, the City of Bowling Green partnered with WSOS in order to provide down-payment assistance (DPA) to two lower-income households, locally. The City’s Housing Revolving Loan Fund was utilized to fund said DPA projects. The City also forged a win-win partnership with Wood County by requesting and being granted the ability for Bowling Green to be included as a service area under their Community Housing Impact and Preservation (CHIP) Program. This enables Wood County to serve local income-eligible households seeking down-payment assistance, owner-occupied rehabilitation and various other housing needs using their CHIP grant funding. In 2016, the Ohio…


BG Council to hear results of exterior housing survey

Bowling Green City Council Committee of the Whole is scheduled to meet Monday, March 20, at 6 p.m., in Council Chamber, 304 N. Church St., to receive the exterior housing survey from the Wood County Health District.  City Council will then meet at 7 p.m. for its regularly scheduled meeting.


Sheriff says jail booking area needs expansion

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A few years ago, Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn had to make a choice – add more beds to the county jail or add more space to the jail booking area. The jail expansion was priced at about $3 million and the booking area reconfiguration was priced at about $5 million. And since the county was already spending money by paying other counties to house Wood County’s overflow inmates, the 75-bed jail expansion project won out. When Wasylyshyn took over as sheriff, the county was spending about $500,000 a year on housing prisoners elsewhere. “Let’s stop the flow of Wood County money,” the sheriff remembered thinking. The decision paid off, with Wood County jail being able to house all of the local inmates plus bringing in an extra $130,000 last year for housing prisoners from other counties. But now, Wasylyshyn would like to revisit the booking area project. He had requested $5,000 from the county commissioners to have an architectural firm look at reconfiguring the booking area to add more holding cells and move the medical area closer to booking. The commissioners rejected that request, saying new Commissioner Ted Bowlus should be able to review the request. So on Thursday, the sheriff was back before the commissioners, asking again for the $5,000 to get new drawings for an expanded booking and medical area. The sheriff also hopes to get a cost estimate for the project, predicting it will be higher than the $5 million estimate a few years ago. The commissioners listened to Wasylyshyn’s proposal, but made no decision. The sheriff and Jail Administrator Rhonda Gibson described how the current holding cells are insufficient for the number of prisoners that get processed at the jail. The issue is worsened when there are “very challenging” inmates who have severe mental health issues, are going through detox, or have serious medical needs. New state legislation under consideration would worsen the problem by sending more felony prisoners to county jails, Gibson said. “It could make a significant impact,” she said. Several times, inmates have to be doubled up in holding cells. “Those holding cells aren’t meant to be double occupied,” Gibson said. Other times, prisoners have to be temporarily housed in the visitation room. There are just too many prisoners who cannot be placed into the regular jail cells because they need close observation due…


More children becoming victims of parent opiate abuse

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Not long ago, an 8-year-old girl was taken into custody by Wood County Children’s Services knowing how to shoot up heroin. The girl hadn’t done it herself, but she had watched her mom do it in the car, using the seatbelt to tie off her arm. The young girl was one of many taken in by Children’s Services last year due to the opioid epidemic. “There are kids who have witnessed overdoses. We’ve had some who have witnessed their parents die,” said Brandy Laux, assessment supervisor at Wood County Children’s Services. The number of child abuse and neglect investigations conducted in Wood County by Children’s Services jumped from 718 in 2015 to 894 in 2016. Many of those cases were due to parents abusing opioids, said Sandi Carsey, protective services administrator for the county. At least a third of the cases have been related to heroin and opiate abuse – though it’s probably higher than that, according to both Carsey and Laux. Wood County’s numbers are actually lower than some counties in southern Ohio, where pill mills were located. Opioids are involved in an estimated 80 percent of the cases in some of those counties. The addicts come in all socio-economic groups. “It’s not just the lower income families,” Carsey said. “It’s soccer moms, too.” And because heroin and opiates are so hard to kick, the children are likely to be removed from their homes. “In the last year, year and a half, we’ve had a lot more kids go to relatives,” Carsey said. Normally, Children’s Services works with the parents to make the home safe for the children and keep families together. However, that often isn’t possible in cases where opioids are involved. “They have so much bigger issues,” and in most cases the opioid-addicted parents aren’t going to make the changes needed to get their children returned. “We consider heroin cases more severe,” Laux said. “It’s easier for people to overdose and harder for people to kick.” In most of the cases involving opioids, it’s not that the parents overtly abuse their children – they neglect them, which can also have dangerous outcomes especially for very young children. “When using opiates, they can’t parent,” Carsey said. “They’re not capable of making safe decisions for their children. The younger the children are, the more vulnerable they are.” “They can’t fend for…


Trail sealant to last longer, seal faster, be less slippery

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Slippery Elm Trail will soon be sealed with a product that promises to last longer, seal faster, and be well, despite the trail’s name, less slippery. The Wood County Park District Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to pay $119,552 to seal the 13-mile trail from Bowling Green to North Baltimore. The price includes striping of the trail at intersections along the route. The product being used this time is called Onyx, by Strawser Construction in Columbus. Ned Fairbanks, the park district maintenance specialist, said the product has a proven record of creating a stronger surface that will last longer. The sealing product also remains black since it does not fade in the sun like other sealants used in the past. That will help with melting the snow, since the district does not salt or plow the Slippery Elm Trail. The Onyx also has a quick setting time, meaning less time that the trail would have to be closed to users, Fairbanks said. “Within a matter of hours, it’s usable,” he said. That’s a real plus, said Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger. “As soon as they sealcoat it, we’ve got people chomping at the bit to use it,” he said. And unlike some other sealants, the Onyx provides a non-slick surface. “We wanted to make sure we weren’t using something that if someone is rollerblading and it’s wet, that they’re down,” said Jeff Baney, assistant director of the county park district. The sealant also comes with a one-year warranty. Baney said sealants used in the past on the 12-foot wide trail have lasted about three years. This product should last about nine, he said. “We’re looking for longevity of the asphalt,” Fairbanks said. The park district has not used Onyx before, but the city of Bowling Green has used it on Pearl Street, with good results, Baney said. “The people I talked to thought it was really good,” he said. The park district plans for the resealing to take place sometime this spring, probably being done in sections. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the park district board: Approved the rappelling and bouldering program at Sawyer Quarry Nature Preserve. Released the grant funding approved last year for improvements to local parks throughout the county. Agreed to try for Ohio Department of Transportation Roadway Funds, which can be used for driveways and parking…


‘State of the County’ paints positive picture

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Despite a few aches and pains here and there, the health of Wood County is quite good, according to the county commissioners who presented their State of the County Address Tuesday morning for the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. Commissioners Ted Bowlus, Doris Herringshaw and Craig LaHote shared the county’s success of having a high bond rating and low unemployment rate. They encouraged area residents to shop locally – helping local businesses and local government at the same time. “Even with the changes to the economy, we continue to remain steadfast in our optimism for the future of Wood County,” Herringshaw said. “Our challenges as county commissioners remain the same – serve the needs of an expanding population, continue to promote Wood County as an excellent place for industrial and commercial development, promote prime farmland, and protect the quality of life that the citizens of Wood County have come to expect.” Herringshaw, president of the board, started by listing some of the county’s priorities as economic and workforce development, public infrastructure, social services, water quality and community safety. “Wood County has remained fiscally strong due to the commissioners’ conservative approach to budgeting, which ensures that there are sufficient resources to cover all of the county’s mandated services for the citizens,” Herringshaw said. Sales tax revenue for the county again hit a record amount, just shy of $21 million last year. However, the state has announced that sales tax revenues will be reduced in July 2017 and beyond, due to the removal of Medicaid equipment from items being taxed. That could result in an annual reduction of about $900,000 to Wood County, Herringshaw said. Gov. John Kasich has replaced the sales tax loss to the state, but has told local governments to deal with the cut, Herringshaw added. Property tax revenue also remained steady in 2016, with a slight increase of $119,000 over 2015. The casino tax revenue has helped to somewhat offset the reductions in the Local Government Fund and investment income. However, the unpredictability of the funding requires the county to be very cautious, she said. The 2017 general fund appropriations totaled almost $43 million, which is a $2.34 million increase over 2016 appropriations. The commissioners added $1 million to rebuild the permanent improvement fund. “Over the years, Wood County has remained fiscally strong due to responsible spending and the cooperation…


City to honor Common Good for community work

(Submitted by City of Bowling Green) The Human Relations Commission and Mayor Richard Edwards will present the Honor Roll award to The Common Good at the City Council meeting on March 20. City Council will meet at 7:00 pm in Council Chamber, 304 N. Church St. The Common Good is a non-profit organization that focuses on interfaith and intercultural dialogue, community engagement, social justice, and experiential education. Presently located at 113 Crim St., the Common Good offers a place for community members and students alike to come together in a home setting for many different activities. With volunteers from BGSU and the BG community they offer free services like BG community gardens, dinner dialogues, neighborhood litter clean-up, yoga classes and workshops around various topics. They also lead Cultural Immersion trips to locations in the US.



BG is named Tree City USA for 37th year

(Submitted by City of Bowling Green) The Arbor Day Foundation has named the City of Bowling Green a 2016 Tree City USA in honor of its commitment to effective urban forest management. The City also received a Tree City USA Growth Award for demonstrating environmental improvement and higher level of tree care. This is the 37th year Bowling Green has received the Tree City USA Award and is the 23rd year the city has received the Growth Award, which is the most in Ohio. Bowling Green achieved Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program’s four requirements: a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2.00 per capita, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation. The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters. “Tree City USA communities see the impact an urban forest has in a community first hand,” said Dan Lambe, President of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Additionally, recognition brings residents together and creates a sense of community pride, whether it’s through volunteer engagement or public education.” More information on the program is available at www.arborday.org/TreeCityUSA.


Demands of volunteer firefighting lead some to burnout

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As a young boy, Tim Schroeder remembers kids chasing behind fire trucks, then watching in awe as volunteer firefighters battled blazes. Children dreamed of becoming firefighters, and as soon as reaching adulthood, many joined the ranks. That was then. Now, most kids don’t race behind fire trucks, they have different dreams, and most don’t sign up on volunteer fire departments. Most prefer jobs that pay, that have reasonable hours and that don’t demand quick departures during dinner or in the middle of a deep sleep. That has some volunteer fire departments struggling to survive. Add to that the training requirements, the equipment costs, the calls at all time of day and night, and the fact that many employers no longer let volunteer firefighters leave work for fire calls. Despite all those odds, Wood County still has 23 fire departments, the vast majority volunteer. A few neighboring departments have merged to become fire districts, but only one – Jerry City – has shut down in the last few decades. Though their memberships are shrinking, and in some cases graying, the fire departments are a source of community pride and camaraderie. “There’s still the excitement,” Schroeder, a member of Weston EMS, said Saturday during the Northwestern Ohio Volunteer Firemen’s Association training held at Bowling Green State University. “It’s just a struggle to get personnel.” The volunteer job demands time and dedication. One of the hurdles to getting and retaining firefighters is the training. Over the weekend, about 700 area volunteer firefighters were at BGSU trying to rack up some free training hours. The basic initial firefighter training is 36 hours. That used to be good enough to keep someone on the department for a lifetime. But now an additional 18 hours of training is required each year. “You used to get a certification and that was it,” said Tom Bentley, from Wayne Volunteer Fire Department. “The older guys don’t want to maintain that,” said Dave Miller, from Woodville Township Fire Department and chairman of the fire school. In addition to firefighting skills, the volunteers learn how to handle hazardous materials, search and rescue skills, emergency medical skills, and how to drive fire trucks. Over the weekend, there were classes on handling agricultural accidents, tanker shuttles to put out fires where there are no fire hydrants, fire investigations, the heroin epidemic, meth labs, natural gas…


Fire damages home on East Reed Street this morning

A passerby reported a house fire at 129 E. Reed St. at 6:41 a.m. today, Sunday. Bowling Green Fire Division responded with two engines and the ladder truck. Upon arrival, heavy fire was showing on the second floor of the large, former single-family home that had been converted into a triplex, according to Bowling Green Fire Chief Tom Sanderson. A resident of the first floor apartment was evacuated by Bowling Green Police Division. According to Sanderson, the initial fire attack with a deck gun was followed immediately by an interior attack and search of the second floor apartment. No one was in the second floor apartment at the time. The fire was quickly under control, the chief said. Mutual aid was called to the scene, including Central Joint Fire District with an engine and four firefighters, and Mid-County 120 Ambulance with two paramedics. There were no injuries to residents or firefighters. The fire is under investigation, Sanderson said.


More county residents turn to food pantries for help

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Across Wood County, more people are turning to food pantries to help feed their families. Some food banks offer food once a month, others whenever needed. Some require proof of need, others ask for nothing. “We’re seeing more food insecurity,” said Sue Clanton, director of United Way in Wood County. So last month, people representing food pantries throughout Wood County gathered at the United Way office in Bowling Green to collect information on all the grassroots efforts to help the hungry. Information was recorded on how often food is available, how much food is given per person, and how families qualify at each operation. The details will be updated in the county’s “211” help telephone system, so when people call for help they can be directed to the place most able to assist. In addition to bags of groceries, many of the sites offer such help as free meals, laundry and shower services, clothing, kitchenware, toiletries and baby items. Others provide car care, used furniture or community garden crops. Many of the operations are hosted by churches. Some are open multiple days a week, others once a month. “We don’t turn anyone away hungry,” said a volunteer with St. Thomas More’s food pantry in Bowling Green. First United Methodist Church in Bowling Green averages 200 clients a month at its food program, Heather Sayler said. The church has four freezers, and may need to add another for the program. “We’re looking at harnessing our volunteers,” with more than 50 a month, she said. “Long-term we’re looking at home delivery.” Perrysburg Christians United offers food once a month, and help with rent and utilities for people at risk or eviction or having their utilities cut. The Brown Bag program in Bowling Green is open three days a week. The site has no “means testing,” and provided for about 17,000 meals last year. “We help people in urgent crisis in need of food,” Gwen Andrix said. “All it takes is for someone to say, ‘I don’t know where I’m going to get my next meal.’” Many people are falling through the cracks, according to Andrix. All it takes is one unexpected car repair, sickness or a spouse leaving to push someone into poverty. So people are also offered a sheet listing local resources – “to hopefully find a lasting solution to whatever situation they…


BG large item garbage collection starts March 20

A large item pick-up, to collect items which are too heavy or of such composition or configuration that they cannot be placed in the regular weekly refuse collection containers, will be held during the week of March 20. All items should be placed curbside by 7 a.m. on Monday, March 20 to ensure pick-up. Items may be placed curbside no earlier than 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 19. There will only be one pick-up for each location and, once the crews leave a street, they will not return. Pickup is by ward and not by your normal refuse collection day. City crews will collect the large items throughout the city independent of the normal refuse collection schedule. Additional information can be found at www.bgohio.org. This is not an unlimited refuse collection. As with the city’s residential refuse collection program, this special collection is only for one and two family dwellings on public streets, per city ordinance. Mattresses and box springs will be collected for an additional fee. The fee is $25 for the first mattress or box spring and $15 per mattress or box spring thereafter up to a total of three. The fee must be paid prior to collection at 304 N. Church St., Public Works Office. Phone: 419-354- 6227. Please note that this service is provided anytime of the year, not just at large item collection. Note that refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, and dehumidifiers are not eligible for collection. By law, the city is not authorized to pick up building materials, construction or demolition refuse, sod, and rocks. For a fee, property owners may dispose of these items at the Wood County Landfill on U.S. 6. For more information pertaining to the landfill, call (419)352-0180 or visit www.wcswmd.org