Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

Two in BG awarded for reaching out to those with mental health issues

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Two people were recently honored for reaching out to those with mental health issues and helping them navigate through life’s difficulties. Bowling Green Police Officer Scott Frank and Danielle Oetjen, of Family Services of Northwest Ohio, were both recognized by the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Wood County. Frank was singled out for his handling of an incident in March involving a barricaded suspect that was initially reported as a hostage situation. “Your efforts resulted in a safe conclusion to the crisis,” Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick wrote in a letter commending Frank. “During the incident you provided intelligence to the crisis negotiators and SRT (Special Response Team) all while compassionately providing for the needs of the family that was victimized during the initial incident. Your actions during this incident are indeed remarkable.” Jessica Schmidt, director at NAMI of Wood County, praised Frank for his willingness to learn more about working with people with mental illness, including taking Crisis Intervention Team training. “He volunteered to take the first training we offered,” Schmidt said. “That speaks to his character. He’s been very active when it comes to the CIT program and continuing the efforts in the community.” A Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program is a model for community policing that brings together law enforcement, mental health providers, hospital emergency departments and individuals with mental illness and their families to improve responses to people in crisis. CIT programs enhance communication, identify mental health resources for assisting people in crisis and ensure that officers get the training and support that they need. Schmidt explained the value of the CIT training. “It gives the officers another tool to use, in working with someone in a mental health crisis,” she said “They learn how to interact and de-escalate the situation.” Since 2013, Frank has been the police department’s CIT coordinator. For his efforts, Frank was awarded the Community Impact Award from NAMI. “Scott does a…


Century of stories shared by those over 90

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There were centuries of stories in one room Monday during the annual 90s Plus Spectacular celebrating Older Americans Month in Bowling Green. More than 70 local residents aged 90 and older were honored for their longevity. One by one, they were recognized as stories were shared about their years gone by. “Longevity is something we can celebrate now as people are living longer and healthier,” said Danielle Brogley, director of programming at the Wood County Committee on Aging. Take John Searle, 90, of Perrysburg, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, and served in the 89th Infantry in Europe, crossing the Reine with General Patton. Searle was among the troops who overran the first concentration camp in Ohrdruf, Germany. After the war, he started classes at BGSU, where he met his future wife. They went on to 42 years of marriage, with four sons, four daughter-in-laws, and four grandchildren. Searle was the pastor at Trinity Methodist Church in Bowling Green for 42 years, during which he performed 632 baptisms, 728 funerals and 437 weddings. Now, Searle’s life is much less demanding. “What do I do? As little as possible,” he said with a grin. “I’ve been on vacation for 25 years.” There were the expected stories of several marriages lasting more than half a century, men serving bravely in World War II,  women focusing on families and home. But there were many surprises behind the aged guests. There was Jean Atha, who worked at the ClaZel theater, and still loves riding the Witch’s Wheel at Cedar Point. Doris Bringman, 95, a former physical education teacher at Elmwood, who lives in the same house she was born in. And Selma Colony, 93, who graduated from University of Toledo 35 years after she first enrolled. Hazel  Dueble once milked a musk ox. Jane Ericson was once photographed with Barbara Bush, “who many dubbed her twin.” Geraldine Gibson, 91, tap danced for 60 years. And…


BG high and middle schools put on lockdown while police search for suspect (updated)

Around 12:30 p.m. today, the Bowling Green Police Department asked Bowling Green High and Middle Schools to go into lockdown mode due to the police tracking a suspect wanted on several felony warrants. The lockdown was lifted before 1 p.m., and police have arrested the suspect. According to an email sent out by BG Superintendent Francis Scruci, the suspect is a white man in his 50s, wearing a gray sweatshirt and blue jeans.  He was being tracked by a K-9 unit and does not appear to have entered the school property but as a precautionary measure the district was asked to lock down the buildings.  A witness had reportedly seen the man on Middle School grounds. Police later picked up the man, Wayne English, 49, of 1052 Revere Drive, Bowling Green, without incident in the 15000 block of Bowling Green Road West. English had a felony warrant for breaking and entering into a home in his neighborhood, according to BG Police Lt. Dan Mancuso. He also had two other warrants from two other counties, according to Police Major Justin White. English was taken to the county justice center.    


BG citizens gush over their parks, but push for more on ‘park poor’ side of city

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green residents love their parks – so much, they had no trouble rattling off three pages of positive comments gushing about the gardens, trails, playgrounds, pool and more. But when the time came to identify weaknesses, they listed off plenty of problems, or opportunities for improvement, depending on the point of view. Citizens were asked Wednesday evening to list strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department during the fifth and final focus group. The ideas presented will be considered during the formation of the parks department’s five-year plan. The most glaring weakness seemed to be the “park poor” east side of the city. Children from a large chunk of the southeast corner of the city have to cross major streets or the railroad tracks to get to a park some distance away. Resident Tom Kleine suggested that the city look into buying the former South Main School playground property. “Children could use that space,” he said. But instead, “children are left to the streets and the alleys.” The old schoolyard has playground equipment, a basketball court and a place to play kickball, all surrounded by fences. But neighborhood children have not been able to resist the chance to play. “Kids are jumping the fence,” to get into the playground, resident Jon Herald said. Another resident pointed out that while community support has been strong over the years, nearly all the funds raised have gone toward parks on the west side of town. Another “weakness” identified is the city’s rental of more than 60 acres to the county club for a golf course. Resident John Calderonello estimated the golf course is used by about 60 people, while the six acres of the neighboring City Park is used by thousands. “I think there’s a great opportunity for the city,” to expand the park and offer programs such as boating in the quarry and archery with the greater…


BG citizens to be surveyed on bicycle use

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   To get more public input on how Bowling Green streets can better accommodate bicyclists, an online survey may soon be peddled out to local residents. Members of the Bowling Green Bicycle Safety Commission agreed Tuesday evening to first hold a public forum, then send out a survey to collect citizen input. The effort is part of the Complete Streets program being worked on by the city. That program calls for streets to be more safe and welcoming for all forms for transportation, including bicyclists. The commission hopes to hold the forum sometime in June. It was suggested that the city publish the 2007 transportation plan highlighting recommended bike routes through the community, so people can react to those routes at the forum and on the surveys. The survey is intended to reach a broad spectrum of the community to learn their priorities for bicycling in the city, according to commission chairman Rob Kleine. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the commission voted unanimously to name Bob Midden as “Spokes”person of the Year for 2016.  Midden rides his bicycle to work at Bowling Green State University most days, except when the weather is icy or snowy. And he always wears his helmet when riding. The nomination form submitted for Midden, said he supports bicycling because it saves money, improves the environment and is good exercise. In response to previous concerns being expressed about a lack of bike racks at key places throughout the city, Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley reported that she now has about 10 new racks to be stationed in the community. Three places being considered for the racks are the Wood County Committee on Aging, Bowling Green Municipal Court, and another one at the city administration building since the one already there is sometimes full. Otley also said she relayed concerns to Wood County Park District about several of the stops along the Slippery Elm Trail not having bike…


Sheriff’s Office looking for missing BG man

The Wood County Sheriff’s Office is attempting to locate to check the welfare of a missing adult man. Joseph A. Stormbringer, a 35-year-old white man, was last seen May 13 at Auto Zone in Bowling Green. Stormbringer stated at that time he was going fishing and his known fishing spots are near Colony Lane Apartments and Copper Beach Apartments in Bowling Green. His family members have checked his known fishing spots but have been unsuccessful in locating him. Stormbringer does not have a vehicle and typically rides a motorized beach cruiser bicycle and normally wears camouflage type clothing. He has a tattoo on the right side of his neck. There is no suspected foul play at this time. If located, please notify the Wood County Sheriff’s Office at 419-354-9001.


BG Schools’ financial forecast a rollercoaster

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green School District Treasurer Rhonda Melchi showed the school board Tuesday the five-year financial forecast for the district, then showed them an image that best summed up the situation – a rollercoaster. Melchi described some of the changes that have occurred since October. Tangible personal property tax was expected to disappear, but the district was supplemented for two years of that revenue. State foundation funding increased from a 0.28 percent to a 0.31 percent share. While that may seem insignificant, Melchi said it adds up to quite a bit. Of the $5,900 per pupil funding level at Bowling Green, the state will pay $1,829. Property tax collection has increased by $120,000 and the school district income tax is up $129,000. Some savings are being experienced in health insurance costs. But looking ahead, the district is adding two curriculum coordinators, six regular classroom teachers, two special education teachers, one behavioral specialist and one speech specialist. All those figures add up to revenue and expenditure lines that crisscross on their ways up and down on the financial forecast chart. Based on the current snapshot on finances, the district will have a positive balance until 2019, Melchi said.  Then, the district will have to search for more revenue. Also at the meeting, the school board learned about a new literacy task force led by Ann McCarty, executive director of teaching and learning for the district. She introduced several teachers who have been working on their own time throughout the year on a program to improve reading programs. All the teachers wore red T-shirts, McCarty said, because “this group is on fire.” Several of the teachers took turns describing different highlights of the literacy efforts. “Compare it to learning to ride a bike,” Stacey Higgins said. First, the teacher holds on as the student pedals, then the teacher runs alongside, and finally the student takes off. Some of the teachers also described what the literacy…


Three city firefighters promoted to lieutenant

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With their fellow firefighters filling the back of council chambers, Mayor Dick Edwards swore in three new lieutenants to the fire department Monday evening. Ryan Patton, Brad Feehan and Jason Wilkins, with their families surrounding them, took the oath promoting them in the city fire department. Edwards praised the three firefighters and the profession as a whole, “who serve so unselfishly.” Bowling Green Fire Chief Tom Sanderson called the three men solid firefighters, paramedics and natural leaders. “We’re very proud of these three people,” the chief said. “We’re all glad to have them.” Also at Monday’s meeting, city council voted to approve raises for non-union employees by 3 percent, the same amount granted to union employees of the city. Council member Robert McOmber stressed the city’s effort to keep pay increases the same for union and non-union employees.   In other business, Planning Director Heather Sayler reported that the city is down this year in zoning permits, with 108 being requested so far, compared to 121 last year at this time. The number of single-family housing permits is also down, with nine this year compared to 14 last year at this time. Sayler also asked for council’s help reporting grass that exceeds the allowed height in the city, since the city has just one code enforcer. As part of the Not In Our Town program, Sayler also introduced Margaret Montague and Carol Kinsey, who will be visiting businesses in the city to make sure they are aware of the program and ask them to put NIOT logos in their store windows. In other business, City Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley reported that the “Building on Nature” project in Wintergarden Park may be completed as soon as next week. The new building includes maintenance space, plus public restrooms. Otley noted the last in a series of focus groups for the parks and recreation department will be held this Wednesday at 7 p.m.,…


BG tries to clean up its act – at least in front yards

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   September Killy-Knight is a “proud townie.” But when she walks downtown with out-of-town guests, she is often embarrassed. “The aesthetics and charm of our town are being compromised,” by a problem that can easily be solved, she told Bowling Green City Council Monday evening. In case there was any question, Lori Young showed council photos of the problem – home after home with garbage containers in their front yards, bags of garbage on porches, dumpsters in front yards, upholstered furniture sitting outside. “This is a growing issue,” Young said. A council committee aware of the problems met before Monday’s council meeting to go over proposed revisions to the city’s refuse and recycling collection ordinance. But many of the citizens at the meeting felt the changes did not go far enough. “A lot of people are concerned about placement of a lot of cans,” council member John Zanfardino said. “We do want to set some limits.” During a recent drive around the city, Zanfardino said he saw “slum-like” settings with garbage in front yards. “It’s really detrimental to our neighborhoods.” “When I see an overflowing garbage can by the front porch, that’s terrible,” council member Robert McOmber said. But the proposal made Monday night did not ban garbage containers in front yards. Diane Vogtsberger asked why the revised ordinance didn’t require the cans to be kept in back of dwellings. “That’s a no brainer,” she said. Zanfardino said he “was trying to find a middle ground.” But none of the citizens who spoke at the meeting wanted that compromise to include garbage cans in front yards – maybe side yards if no other space was available – but definitely not in front yards. “Painful as it might be, strict enforcement with some good fines,” might be in order to get people to obey the new rules, Vogtsberger said. Les Barber suggested that garbage containers on the side of homes could possibly be screened…


Ohio Air National Guard to conduct training flights at night

The 180th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard will be conducting training flights at night beginning Tuesday, May 17 through Thursday, weather permitting. Area residents may see or hear F-16 fighter jets taking off and landing until about 11:30 p.m. this week. Training flights normally take place during daylight hours, but F-16 pilots and maintenance personnel are required to conduct night operations as part of their overall readiness. The 180th Fighter Wing appreciates the continued support from the citizens of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan as we continue to train in support of our mission.


County park district plans programs

Following is a list of Wood County Park District programs scheduled from May 20 t0 25. PiPs – Preschoolers in the Parks: Be Prepared! Friday, May 20; 10:00 – 11:00 am W.W. Knight Nature Preserve 29530 White Road, Perrysburg Children ages 3 – 6 years enjoy a presentation and craft to discover how to be prepared for their future outdoor adventures. Adult companions must remain with their children. Please register the participating child only. Leader: Craig Spicer. Register at www.wcparks.org   Blue Week Bike and Hike Friday, May 20; 10:00 am – noon Black Swamp Preserve 1014 S. Maple Street, BG Celebrate the Oak Openings Region’s Blue Week with a ride down to Rudolph Savanna to find out what makes it “blue.” The ride is about 8 miles total. Bring a bike lock and waterbottle. Leader: Jim Witter. Register at www.wcparks.org   Ready, Set, Wear it! Paddle the Pond Saturday, May 21; 1:00 – 4:00 pm W.W. Knight Nature Preserve 29530 White Road, Perrysburg Start your paddling season off by breaking a world record! We’ll collectively be wearing the most life jackets in one day as a part of the, “Ready, Set, Wear It!” campaign. Paddle the pond anytime between 1-4 pm. An instructor will be available for brief safety and paddling lessons. All equipment and life jackets are provided. Canoes and kayaks are first-come, first-served. For more information visit www.readysetwearit.com. Leader: Craig Spicer. Register at www.wcparks.org   Farm Chores: Dirty Laundry Campfire Saturday, May 21; 6:30 – 8:30 pm Carter Historic Farm 18331 Carter Road, Bowling Green Let’s do laundry at the farm using 1930s’ equipment and supplies. Learn how to make your own laundry soap with a sample to try at home. We’ll finish with some farm play and a spring-fresh snack over the fire. Leader: Tim Gaddie. Register at www.wcparks.org   Ohio Boating Education Course Monday, May 23; 5:00 – 9:00 pm and Tuesday, May 24; 5:00 – 9:00 pm Wood County Park District Headquarters 18729 Mercer…


Click it or Ticket campaign kickoff set

Wood County Safe Communities Coalition invites you to their fourth annual Click it or Ticket Campaign kickoff. This event is planned at the Perrysburg Wal-Mart at 10400 Fremont Pike on Friday, May 20, from 4:30-7 p.m., and is sponsored by the Perrysburg Wal-Mart, and Perrysburg Chick-Fil-A. The Click it or Ticket campaign educates individuals on the importance of wearing a seatbelt while operating a motor vehicle. Law-enforcement agencies are on hand to reward drivers and passengers for being buckled up and numerous displays and safety demonstrations are scheduled. “Every day, unbuckled motorists are losing their lives in motor vehicle crashes. In Wood County alone, 45 percent of unbelted vehicle occupants died in 2015. That is up 5 percent from 2014,” said Sandy Wiechman, coordinator of Safe Communities of Wood County. “As we approach Memorial Day weekend and the summer vacation season, we want to make sure people are doing the one thing that can save them in a crash, buckling up.” According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, 1,110 fatal crashes occurred in 2015 in Ohio with 46  percent of occupants unbuckled. The main focus of the Click It or Ticket campaign is seat-belt education and awareness. “If you ask the family members of those unrestrained people who were killed in crashes, they’ll tell you—they wish their loved ones had buckled up,” added Wiechman. “The bottom line is that seat belts save lives. If these enforcement and education crackdowns get people’s attention and get them to buckle up, then we’ve done our job.”


Trump’s success stumps some local Republicans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   At a time in the election process when party faithful normally rally around their presidential candidate, this year’s non-traditional frontrunner is causing some Republicans to casually distance themselves or outright reject the candidate. So where do some local Republican leaders stand on Donald Trump? State Sen. Randy Gardner, State Rep. Tim Brown and Wood County Republican Executive Committee Chairman Mike Marsh stepped delicately around the issue, not voicing support but not burning any political bridges. “Interesting,” Gardner said when asked about his opinion of Trump. “Politics is always about choices,” he said. “This is clearly a much different set of choices than the American people have faced before.” Gardner acknowledged this election year is unlike any other in recent history. “I’ve always been able to support the Republican nominee,” he said. So does that mean Gardner will back Trump? “Ask me when there’s a nominee,” he said. Brown said he was supporting John Kasich as the nominee. “My candidate was the governor,” he said. “I think he would have had much broader appeal.” But now that Kasich is out, where does that leave Brown? “I could more than live without his third grade bullying,” he said of Trump’s conduct. “I don’t understand that. My wish is he would develop a better sense of decorum.” But Brown does understand why Trump is winning over voters – and will walk away with more Republican primary votes than any other GOP candidate in history. “That’s a powerful statistic,” Brown said. “I get how he taps into the sentiments of the people,” he said. “I get that he’s tapped into some people’s anger” on issues such as national security and trade. “There’s a difference between free trade and fair trade,” Brown said. He listed the three major standards that U.S. businesses adhere to – OSHA safety rules, child labors laws, and environmental regulations. “And yet China violates all those tenets and takes American jobs. It’s no…


Gardner and Brown talk about marijuana, wind energy and roundabouts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County’s state legislators fielded questions about marijuana, roundabouts and windfarms Friday morning from local residents. State Sen. Randy Gardner and State Rep. Tim Brown, both R-Bowling Green, presented a legislative update to members of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. The talk covered a wide range of topics on health, energy and transportation. Gardner reminded those present that he and Brown value direct contact from their constituents and make an effort to be “very accessible” to citizens. Brown said it’s good for the public to be aware of state legislative efforts. “The more sunshine we have on these deliberations the better it is for all of us,” he said. Following are some of the issues discussed. Windfarms Brown talked about a wind energy bill that currently calls for setback requirements that make wind farms “next to impossible.” Under the current language in the bill, the majority of the wind turbines at Ohio’s largest windfarm would not be allowed. “Their right to have them has been stripped away,” Brown said, adding that he is working to change that. Some businesses are reluctant to locate in Ohio because the state doesn’t do enough to promote clean energy, he added. “We have businesses who want to be in our state and say, ‘No,’” such as Amazon, Brown said. “They demand renewable energy.” Gardner said Ohio needs to look at making use of renewable and natural resource energy. “I think there’s an ‘all of the above’ policy,’” he said. Orange barrels Ohioans should not expect relief from road construction anytime soon, Brown said. “I hear more about this from people than anything else.” The state has increased the annual funding to fix Ohio roads and bridges from $150 million to $175 million during the next five years, then up to $200 million after that. “The orange barrels aren’t going to go away,” he said. The goal with projects, such as the Interstate 75 widening here…


More downtown parking closures due to roadwork

On Tuesday, May 17, Columbia Gas of Ohio will be conducting road repairs following the natural gas line replacement that occurred along a portion of South Main Street as well as in City Parking Lot 2. This work will be done in the 100 block of South Main Street along the eastern portion of the road just south of the Main/Wooster intersection. Because of this work, it will be necessary to close five to seven parking spots on South Main Street and roughly 11 parking spots in Lot 2 along the western edge of the lot. The work is expected to be done by May 19, depending on weather and progress of work. No parking in the affected spots will be in effect from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Questions about this work may be directed to the Public Works Department at (419) 354-6227.