Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

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 provided. That will cost an estimated $280,000 a year. The men accepted at the center will have addictions to alcohol or drugs such as opiates or cocaine. They will be tested frequently to make sure they are complying with rules. “They have to stay clean and sober,” Clemons said. They will be required to participate in treatment programs and follow the plans. The average stay at recovery housing programs is…

More than 3,800 landowners to be assessed for creek cleanup

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A creek maintenance project that cuts across Wood County will affect the owners of more than 29,000 acres here that drain into the waterway. Wood County is working with Sandusky and Ottawa counties to clear blockages in the Toussaint Creek, which starts on the north side of Bowling Green, and winds its way north of Luckey on its way to Lake Erie. The total cost for the maintenance, which was petitioned by Wood County landowners, is about $860,000. The cost will be divided among landowners of acreage in the Toussaint Creek watershed area. More than 3,800 notices have been mailed out to the landowners who will be assessed, said Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar. The cost and acreage in each county is estimated as follows: 29,204 acres in Wood County, costing $608,000 7,763 acres in Sandusky County, costing $123,000 12,982 acres in Ottawa County, costing $131,000 Some people receiving the assessment notices may not even realize they are in the watershed, since the creek may not be visible from their property, Kalmar said. But that doesn’t mean it’s not draining into the waterway, he added. So far, 199 objections to the project or the assessments have been filed. The petition for the work, which is being handled by the soil and water districts of the three counties, asks for the removal of log jams and leaning trees along the creek. There will be no channelizing, or moving of dirt, Kalmar explained. A public meeting will be held on the project, but has not yet been scheduled. “Everyone will have the opportunity to speak their piece,” Kalmar said. The creek cleanup won’t start until fall, after this year’s crops have been harvested.    

Former Stroh director indicted

BG INDEPENDENT NEWS The Bowling Green State University employee who oversaw the Stroh Center has been indicted on five felony counts. Ben Spence, a Bowling Green native, was indicted by a Wood County Grand Jury on two felony counts of theft in office and three felony counts of tampering with records. Spence, 34, who had been the Stroh director since 2013, had already resigned over financial irregularities. A statement from the university said in August, university internal auditors “discovered irregularities with cash handling practices done in connection with Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) tournaments held at the Stroh Center.” Spence was suspended at that time, and resigned in October. The university then presented the information to the Wood County Prosecutor’s Office, which is conducting an investigation. Last August, BGSU internal auditors conducted an audit of cash handling practices related to the OHSAA tournaments and discovered facts that warranted referring the matter to the Wood County Prosecutor’s Office to determine whether criminal conduct was involved. The university immediately suspended Spence. According to Dave Kielmeyer, BGSU spokesperson, the prosecutor’s office started its own investigation. While the prosecutor’s investigation was ongoing, Spence resigned his position on Oct. 12, 2015. He is no longer employed by the university. After reviewing the draft audit findings, the university put additional procedures into place at the Stroh Center, according to a statement from BGSU.  

Baby won’t stop crying? Don’t shake. Walk away.

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Sometimes there is just no soothing a crying baby. Nothing works. Not rocking. Not feeding. Not a midnight car ride. Nothing. When you can no longer remain calm, the experts advise that you walk away. “Babies don’t die from crying. Put them in a safe place,” and then leave the room, advised Brandy Laux, assessment supervisor with Wood County Children’s Services. Call a responsible friend or family member for help. Never let your frustration reach the level that you shake the baby. “One time of shaking can be fatal,” Laux explained. To help prospective and new parents understand the risks of shaking babies, Children’s Services has adopted a new baby that shows how easy it is to damage a baby’s brain by shaking. Depending on how hard the doll is shaken, areas of the head light up to show where damage could occur. The red lights show if the shaking is affecting the baby’s vision, speech, cognitive thinking, or control of arms and legs. “Their heads move much more easily than ours,” Sandi Carsey, director of Children’s Services, said about infants who haven’t yet developed neck control. “Places will light up in the brain and eyes. This will show what part of the brain was damaged.” Children’s Services is trying to reach out to parents before it’s too late. “The people who shake a baby aren’t your violent criminals,” Laux said. “It’s the people who flip out of frustration.” The doll will be used in demonstrations to new parents at the hospital and to high school students. “Those kids are future parents and they babysit,” Carsey said. It’s not uncommon for some infants to cry for five to seven hours a day, according to Laux. And it often has nothing to do with the parenting. “Don’t be afraid of your baby crying,” Laux said. “It’s normal, but obviously frustrating.” Previously, the shaken baby syndrome lesson was taught using an egg cracked into a Rubbermaid container. If the container is dropped or rolled…

Senior levy renewal to help meet growing needs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than 20 percent of Wood Countians are over 60 years old. To help that growing group stay at home and independent as long as possible, the Wood County Committee on Aging is again looking for voters’ support. Here are some numbers to chew on. The Committee on Aging provided approximately 200,000 meals to seniors last year. As baby boomers age, the numbers of seniors will continue to grow beyond the current 21,443. Approximately 6,500 of those seniors received services last year. By the year 2025, the senior population is predicted to hit 35,000. The number of those over 85 is expected to increase dramatically, providing other challenges. Those numbers add up to the Wood County Committee on Aging seeking approval to put a 0.7-mill renewal levy on the November ballot. The county commissioners listened to the board’s pitch on Tuesday and will rule on the request soon. What doesn’t quite add up, is that the WCCOA is asking for a renewal, even though their costs and demands for their services are growing. But Jim Stainbrook, director of fiscal and facility operations, explained that the board wanted to avoid asking the taxpayers for more. So while the grants and tax revenue have been flat recently, the board decided to turn to its reserves rather than ask more of local taxpayers. “We’ve held back monies,” for situations like this, Stainbrook told the commissioners. “In doing that, we can keep the levy the same as it has been.” The WCCOA is planning to use about $3 million of its $6 million reserves. The rest of its funding will come from the tax levy, which brings in about $2 million a year. About 20 percent of the board’s funding also comes from federal and state funding, and another 10 percent in fees and donations. Denise Niese, director of WCCOA, talked about the programs that the dollars help provide. She spoke of the nutritional, educational, health and transportation programs that help local seniors remain in their…

Wood Haven named among top workplaces

Wood Haven Health Care in Bowling Green has been selected as one of the top workplaces in the region by the employees who work there. An employee survey firm, called WorkplaceDynamics teamed up with The Blade last year to find the top workplaces in the region. Companies were nominated for the survey by employees. WorkplaceDynamics invited 572 businesses to participate, and surveyed 53 of them. The surveyed firms employed 7,763 people in the Toledo area. Of those employees who received the surveys, 5,262 responded. Questions covered how well employees are working together toward a common goal, how employees feel about their day-to-day jobs, employee retention and motivation.    

Pregnant women advised to avoid travel to Zika virus areas

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Women who are pregnant, or intending to get pregnant, are being advised to restrict their travel to avoid the Zika virus. The Wood County Health District is following CDC instructions and suggesting travel to the Caribbean, Central America and South America be avoided for pregnant women. No vaccine exists for the Zika virus, which has been connected with cases of microcephaly (small heads with incomplete brain development) in infants. Anyone with concerns about traveling can check out the CDC’s website for any travel health notices at In December 2015, Puerto Rico reported its first confirmed Zika virus case. Some Zika cases have been reported by people returning to the U.S. from international travels, but the virus has not yet been transmitted in the U.S. “There is no evidence anyone that has Zika in the U.S. got it in the U.S. They all traveled to other areas,” said Pat Snyder, of the Wood County Health District. The virus is spread by mosquitoes. But according to Snyder, the type of mosquito known to transmit Zika is rarely seen in this region. “It’s not too common in Ohio,” she said. “That doesn’t mean that couldn’t change.” The virus is primarily a concern for pregnant women. “Most people inflicted with the virus have no symptoms,” Snyder said. The most common symptoms of the Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle pain and headaches. The illness is usually mild, lasting for several days to a week. People traveling to areas where the virus has originated should take precautions, according to the health district. Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite mostly during the daytime. So people are advised to use insect repellents, and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants if weather permits. They are also advised to use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside, or sleep under a mosquito bed net if necessary. General Zika Info: Fact Sheets:

East Side may get revitalization plan

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Neglected and abused housing on Bowling Green’s East Side may soon be addressed in a revitalization plan. Bowling Green City Council heard the first reading Monday evening of a plan to contract with consultants to develop a strategic revitalization plan for the northeast and the southeast neighborhoods of the city. “We’ve been talking about the need to revitalize these neighborhoods,” council member Daniel Gordon said after the meeting. The decline of the housing stock around Bowling Green State University has been going on for years, Gordon said. “The city has not intervened,” he said. Much of the traditional single family housing has been converted into rental units. “When you have that unbalance created,” the housing problems worsen, Gordon said. Council member Sandy Rowland said she has been a strong advocate of getting the revitalization plan moving. “I know what the situation on the East Side is with housing,” she said. Since she works in the real estate industry, Rowland said she is aware the problems don’t stop at Main Street which divides the east and west sides of the city. “It affects the entire city,” she said, after the meeting. When the city recently updated its land use plan, the consultant ranked revitalization of the East Side was high on the priority list, Rowland said. More and more of the single-family homes close to the university are being converted into rentals. “And when those wonderful homes are turned into rentals, they rapidly deteriorate.” Consequently, fewer and fewer homes appeal to young couples and young professionals looking to purchase homes, Rowland said. Gordon is hoping that the revitalization plan is more than conceptual and has some real teeth. One possibility would be the creation of revolving loans for homeowners wanting to spruce up their structures. “There have to be some incentives,” Rowland said.

BG to use bugs to cut phosphorus

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is going to enlist the help of bugs to treat its wastewater. Brian O’Connell, director of public utilities, told city council Monday evening that the city would be paying $126,000 for a biological phosphorus removal project. The project will involve making changes to the aeration and “tricking” microscopic bugs already in to wastewater to eat the phosphorus before it leaves the plant. Phosphorus is one of the culprits blamed for the algal bloom crisis in Lake Erie in the summer of 2014. Phosphorus got to the lake from sources such as sewer plants, farm fields and lawn chemicals. According to O’Connell, by using a biological rather than chemical treatment, the water downstream will benefit. “We’re going to use the bugs in our wastewater plant to consume the phosphorus,” he said. The change is not being required by the Ohio EPA, but O’Connell said environmental regulations are all pointing in that direction. “We are trying to be proactive,” he said. O’Connell said after the meeting that the change should cut the phosphorus that leaves the plant in half. Also at Monday’s meeting, council approved plans for working with the Ohio Department of Transportation for resurfacing the city’s portion of Ohio 105 from Bowling Green’s east side to Ohio 199. During the citizen comments portion of the meeting, Diane Vogtsberger asked council questions about its plans to hire a consultant to do a site assessment of the green space on West Wooster Street which was formerly the site of the junior high school. Council President Mike Aspacher answered her questions, saying Poggemeyer Design Group would be paid $3,200 for the site assessment, creating three artistic renderings of possible uses. There is no timeline for the assessment, he said. The decision to hire the consultant was made by Aspacher, Mayor Dick Edwards and City Administrator Lori Tretter following a public meeting about the proposed use of the green space.

Bill protects domestic violence victims’ addresses

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In 2009, to punish his ex-wife, James Mammone III stabbed to death their two young children in their carseats, then fatally shot his former mother-in-law in Canton. Testimony for Ohio House Bill 359 stated Mammone was able to commit these acts after using public records to find his ex-wife’s address. The bill, co-sponsored by State Rep. Tim Brown, R-Bowling Green, is designed to keep addresses of former crime victims confidential. The legislation allows for victims of domestic violence, rape, sexual battery, menacing by stalking and human trafficking to safely register to vote while keeping their home address confidential. The victims would be assigned an Address Confidentiality Program number that they can use instead of their home address when filling out an election ballot. Brown said members of the House were moved by the compelling testimony about the Mammone case. “You could have heard a pin drop,” in the chambers, he said. “It was an earthshaking story to hear.” Since vehicle and voter registrations are public records, many domestic violence victims who have escaped their abusers often choose to not register to vote or participate in other government registrations out of fear their abuser will be able to find them. Under this legislation, any personal information about a victim who participates in the Address Confidentiality Program is exempt from the public record. “Victims of crime should be able to vote and carry on with their lives without fear that their attacker can track them down through a public record,” Brown said. The Secretary of State’s office will administer this program by assigning each participant with an ACP number and post office box that the victim can use as an official address for government functions. The only individuals who are able to access the participant’s full information are the county board of elections for the purposes of verifying voter eligibility and law enforcement officers with a legitimate government purpose. The program also permits participants to request their employers, schools or institutions of higher education…

BG chamber names top citizens

Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce recognized its top citizens during its annual dinner dance held in the Bowling Green State University ballroom Saturday evening. Bob Callecod was named Man of the Year, and Barbara Sanchez was named Woman of the Year. The outstanding citizen award recognizes those who live or work in the Bowling Green area, and have demonstrated an active leadership role for the betterment of the community through involvement in business, civic, social and service organizations. Judy Ennis was given the Athena Award, and Dr. Ed Whipple was given the Zeus Award. The Athena Award celebrates the potential of all women as valued members and leaders of the community, and recognizes those who support them. The recipient must assist women in reaching their full leadership potential; demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession; and provide valuable service by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community. The Zeus Award is the counterpart to the Athena. Zeus Award recipients are male individuals who support a culture that encourages women to achieve their full leadership potential through active mentoring, supporting, and development actions. A Zeus award nominee is someone who gives back to the larger community of women and girls by providing and/or supporting leadership development opportunities and initiatives.

Wood County hires assistant administrator

The Wood County Commissioners have appointed Kelly O’Boyle of Waterville to serve as assistant county administrator, the position formerly held by Joe Fawcett. O’Boyle’s duties will include preparation and management of the county budget, supervision of the fiscal and clerical staff within the commissioners’ office, and working closely with the county administrator to provide guidance to projects for commissioners’ departments.  The assistant county administrator also serves as the director of the Wood County Solid Waste Management District, including the Wood County Landfill.  Her employment with Wood County will begin on Feb. 16. Her annual salary will be $73,000. O’Boyle is a graduate of Central Michigan University, and holds a master of public administration degree from the University of Toledo.  She currently serves as the director of finance and human resources with SMG – the management company that operates the Huntington Center and Seagate Center.  Prior experience includes service to Lucas County as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, assistant director of the Office of Management and Budget, and project manager.  

Elevator will make history accessible

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Dana Nemeth remembers wanting to show her father-in-law, a World War II veteran, the new exhibit about the war at the Wood County Historical Center. But when they got to the museum, she quickly realized it was not possible. The WWII exhibit was on the second floor, and her father-in-law could not climb the stairs. “I was really excited for him to see it,” Nemeth recalled. “It was such a disappointment.” That was a decade ago, before Nemeth became director of the museum, and before the state gave the site a $600,000 grant to help pay for a $1.2 million elevator and accessibility accommodations. By this summer, no aging veterans, no families with strollers, no people in wheelchairs will be limited to the first floor of the museum. “It’s been a long time coming,” former Wood County Commissioner Jim Carter said Friday as the museum opened new exhibits and kicked off the construction of the elevator. Former history teacher, State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, spoke of the need to make all floors of the facility accessible. “So all citizens could value and learn at this great community asset.” The elevator has been a long time coming, first being discussed in the late 1970s. State Rep. Tim Brown, R-Bowling Green, spoke of the contributions of history buffs like Lyle Fletcher, Clark Duncan and the countless “barn bums” that helped preserve the site that was built in 1868. “This was on the path perhaps for the wrecking ball at one time,” Brown said. But public officials and historical society volunteers saw the value of the rambling brick building that was once used to house the county’s poor, elderly and ill. The price tag, however, for an elevator was out of reach, Nemeth said. “The cost was too much,” she said. “And since we’re a historic structure, we’re not required to make the building accessible.” But the elevator remained a goal – even though it seemed distant at times. “We wanted to make sure…

History in unusual places…toy soldiers, Superman and beer cans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   At the young age of 7, Matt Donahue was going through trash bins looking for beer cans. Not for recycling, but for collecting. It would be the start of a lifetime of collecting for Donahue. The beer cans, along with an eclectic combination of items such as Wonder Woman memorabilia, Dr. Seuss books, and salt and pepper shakers, are part of a new program at the Wood County Historical Center and Museum. The exhibits feature several community members’ collections for the site’s new “Be Your Own Museum” program. The site was opened to guests Friday to show off the loaned collections. There are superheroes and comic book character from Larry Nader, 1950s era toys from Mary Dilsaver, vintage sewing machines from Cindy Huffman, Nancy Drew books from Jayne Tegge, hand-painted china from Jane Westerhaus, Pez dispensers from Kelli Kling, and more. Roger Mazzarella, who is sharing his collection of tin soldiers, dressed the part Friday, wearing a replica of a 1879 Wales military uniform. “I’m a historian at heart,” said Mazzarella, who is a retired history teacher. Mazzarella acquired the initial pieces of his collection from his father who served as an Army medic in World War II. When his father passed down the toy soldier collection to his son, Mazzarella tried to sell them to another collector. But instead, he came home with not only his dad’s collection, but several more pieces. He was hooked. The same was true for Donahue, whose initial collecting turned into a career in popular culture, which he teaches at Bowling Green State University. Donahue grew up in Maumee, in a home right behind the Fraternal Order of Eagles lodge. It was a great place for a young collector. He would go through the trash looking for different kinds of beer cans. He later traveled to other bars in the city to expand his collection. “I have hundreds and hundreds,” Donahue said, standing in front of a wall of cans. “This is only a small part…