Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

BG to start flushing and testing fire hydrants Sept. 19

The City of Bowling Green’s Water Distribution Division will begin the process of flushing fire hydrants throughout the city’s water distribution system. This work will begin on Sept. 19, and will be on-going for several weeks occurring daily, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Work will begin within the 4th Ward. During the program, water consumers may experience rusty or discolored water. This condition is temporary with water quality returning to normal as flushing is completed. Customers are encouraged to check their cold water supply prior to using the water. If discoloration is discovered, customers should flush their cold water line only for a short period until the discoloration clears. Although the discolored water is not harmful to drink, it may stain light-colored clothes laundered in it. For this reason, consumers are advised to monitor the cold water for discoloration. Residents experiencing problems may pick up laundry rust remover from the municipal water distribution office at 324 N. Maple St. from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays. The City of Bowling Green apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause local water consumers. However, the flushing and testing program is necessary to ensure proper fire hydrant operation and high quality water. During this process, city crews will be working in and near the road. Motorists are encouraged to slow down and use caution when approaching city crews performing this work. For additional information on the fire hydrant flushing and testing program, visit the city’s website or call the Water/Sewer Division at 419-354-6277. #


BG wastewater rates not keeping up with costs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wastewater is not exactly viewed as a prized commodity, like water or electricity. But Bowling Green officials learned Monday evening that they aren’t charging enough for their wastewater services. “Wastewater is kind of a weird animal,” Bowling Green Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell said Monday afternoon. Unlike water and electric, for which customers are charged more when the city delivers more – with wastewater the city charges for taking away a used product.  “There’s little ability to grow sales.” The city recently hired a consultant to look at the current wastewater rate structure, and look at the expenses to operate the city’s wastewater plant. The study found that the city is undercharging its customers. “We not currently collecting enough to fund the utility,” O’Connell said. The results of the study were presented to the city’s board of public utilities, with recommendations that revenues need to increase by about 21 percent in order to meet the projected 2020 revenue requirements. “We need to have a rate adjustment,” O’Connell said. The rate hikes will be spread out over four years, with 5 or 6 percent increases each year. The wastewater study also noted that the city’s residential and industrial customers are currently subsidizing the commercial and wholesale customers. Consequently, the commercial and wholesale customers will see larger increases than the residential and industrial users. “You don’t want those numbers to get too far out of whack,” O’Connell explained. As is typical, the board of public utilities will be given some time to digest the wastewater report before voting on any rate increase plan. O’Connell expects the board to make a decision at its Oct. 10 meeting. “It gives the board time to think about it,” he said. O’Connell sees the proposed rate increases as reasonable, especially since they will be spread out over a period of four years. “They can plan for it. It’s a more moderate increase for them,” he said. The study listed typical wastewater bills for each type of customer in Bowling Green. The average monthly…


Child Passenger Safety Seat Awareness Week

(As submitted by Safe Communities of Wood County) Safe Communities of Wood County announced that there have been 8 fatal crashes to date in 2016 in Wood County compared to 10 from this time last year. September 18-24 is Child Passenger Safety Seat Awareness week. In Wood County, there were no fatalities involving children under the age of 13 in calendar year 2016. Child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers. Car seats are most effective when installed properly in your vehicle and used correctly. It is essential for parents to make sure their child safety equipment in their vehicles is current with state and federal regulations and is installed properly. Residents of Wood County are encouraged to contact either Wood County Hospital or Safe Kids of Greater Toledo to schedule a car seat inspection.


BG recycling efforts trashed with 35% garbage

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Ken Rieman is accustomed to handling some pretty disgusting stuff. But lately, his job is enough to test even the toughest of stomachs. Last week, as he sorted through items at the Bowling Green Recycling Center, he came across raw hamburger squirming with maggots, dirty diapers and used feminine hygiene products. In the past, the amount of trash placed in residential recycling bins has averaged anywhere from 7 to 18 percent. But in the last couple weeks, that amount has jumped up to 35 percent. “That’s totally insane. We can’t handle that,” Rieman said. “That’s what I call abusing the system.” Rieman thinks he knows the reason behind the increase. He believes it’s an unintended consequence of the city’s new trash bin rules. He suspects the city requiring garbage bin lids to be closed is leading people with overflowing trash bins to sneak their extra garbage into their recycling bins. “The only explanation I have is the city trash rules,” he said. “They’ve said the lid has to be closed, so where does the trash go now?” On Friday, he stood at the Bowling Green Recycling Center, hand sorting items from bags that city residents had placed in their recycling bins. He sifted through cigarette butts, a filthy towel, footstool, used kitty litter, disc brakes, a broken scooter and rocks. “Anyone who thinks I ought to be sorting for recyclables is welcome to take my job,” Rieman said. But Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft isn’t jumping to any conclusions that the new trash rules are causing the problem. “Trash in recycling has always been a problem,” particularly at the beginning of every fall semester as Bowling Green State University students return, Craft said. Every August and September, city workers visit neighborhoods near campus to educate students about trash and recycling rules. And this year may require even more education with the city’s new trash rules in place. The worst problems are occurring on Wednesdays, when the recyclables are picked up on the east side of…


Time’s up for parking meters replaced by kiosks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Lilly Hinebaugh stood in front of the parking kiosk, reading the instructions. “Oh my God,” she said in response to the command that she enter her license plate number on the digital pad. So she sent her friend back to the car. “Can you go over and yell it to me?” “This is annoying,” said Hinebaugh, a BGSU student from Huron. She wasn’t alone. Monday was the first day that the new parking kiosks were in operation in the city parking lots behind the first block of South Main Street, on the east side. Three kiosks have taken the place of the individual parking meters, and require the motorists to punch in their license plate numbers as they pay. Rebeca Olivarez also was caught off guard. “I didn’t know my number. I had to go back. It was kind of a hassle,” she said. “It was easier to use a meter.” However, Olivarez said she liked the option of using a credit card with the kiosk. “That’s good if you don’t have change.” And she realized that like anything different, it takes time to get accustomed to it. “It’s just new,” she said. The three kiosks are located behind SamB’s restaurant, at the parking entrance on East Wooster Street, and near the parking entrance on Clough Street. Large electronic signs have been erected in the lot now to notify people of the changes. That didn’t help Traci Rodgers, one of the drivers unlucky enough to end up with a ticket on her car. “I didn’t know I had to pay,” she said, as she walked around the lot with the yellow ticket that will cost her $5. “It’s crazy. This is a big pain in the butt.” Bowling Green parking technician Jamie Cook spent most of her morning Monday walking people through the kiosk system. “It’s the questions we get all the time about parking,” she said. “Trust me, it’s a learning curve.” Motorists are pleased about a couple features of the system, Cook said. “People are…


State Democrats point out difference between tax cuts and tax shifts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Tax cuts sound great – until communities realize the “cuts” are just shifts from the state to them. A group of Ohio House Democrats swung by Bowling Green during a statewide tour on Thursday, telling citizens to not fall for the “tax cut” promises. They joined up with House of Representatives candidate Kelly Wicks at Grounds for Thought to share their message. In an effort to reduce taxes, the state merely shifted responsibilities to local communities and schools, the Democrats said. It works like this: the state looks like the good guy by collecting lower taxes from residents and businesses, then the state slashes the money it previously sent to local governments and schools. That means schools need to pass more levies to pay for equipment and buildings. Libraries need to pass more levies to pay for books and bookmobiles. Municipalities need to pass more levies to pay for fire trucks, parks and roads. And college students have to pay fees for services that were previously part of the tuition, and walk away with degrees and debts up to $80,000. Meanwhile the state still looks like the good guy, and citizens are angry with local government, schools and colleges for asking for more money. The city of Bowling Green took an annual $1.3 million hit with cuts in the Local Government Fund and loss of estate and CAT taxes. “That doesn’t make sense that we are putting that much pressure” on local government and citizens, Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn said. “We want to make government in Columbus work for you, not against you.” This week on Labor Day, while the nation celebrated the contributions of workers who built America, state Democratic leaders are looking out for the next generation of workers, Strahorn said. The country has recovered from its recession – with automakers back to making a profit, the housing market making a rebound, and Wall Street recouping just fine. But the average worker has not enjoyed the same recovery, Strahorn, of Dayton, said. “People…


Zoning change would not take buildings to new heights

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials want to change the zoning code on building heights – not to raise limits, but to limit the questions raised. An amendment has been proposed that would eliminate the maximum floor limitation for all zoning districts. But the zoning would maintain the maximum height limitations. The number of floors would still be regulated by Wood County Building Inspection, which enforces the Ohio Building Code. According to Bowling Green Planning Director Heather Sayler, the change would alleviate some confusion caused by the city’s current zoning which poses limits on the number of floors and the height of buildings. The issue came up again earlier this year when a Hilton hotel was proposed at the site of the former Victory Inn at 1630 E. Wooster St. That proposal exceeded the city’s height and story limits, and the Zoning Board of Appeals rejected the request for a variance. The proposed hotel was 65 feet tall, five feet taller than allowed, and five stories high, one story higher than allowed in B-2 general commercial zoning. The proposed hotel would have been a relatively new Hilton product called Home 2, which offers extended stays. The change in the zoning language would allow a hotel to have five floors, as long as the height of the building did not exceed 60 feet. Sayler said she is unsure if the Hilton hotel project is still a possibility. The developers had submitted a new proposal that reduced the hotel height to 60 feet. The new zoning language would allow the desired five stories, as long as it complied with the 60-foot limit. However, Sayler said the developers have not been in contact with the planning office for months. The modified zoning language could prevent such confusion in the future, Sayler said. The cities of Perrysburg and Findlay took similar actions in the last few years because those communities were experiencing the same problems with dual height and floor regulations. A public hearing on the zoning amendment will be held at the Bowling…


180th Fighter Wing to host 9/11 ceremony

(As submitted by the 180th Fighter Wing, Ohio Air National Guard) The 180th Fighter Wing, Ohio Air National Guard, will host a 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, at Northwest Ohio’s 9/11 Memorial, currently under construction at the 180FW, beginning at 10:00 a.m. The Ceremony, commemorating the 15th anniversary of the attacks on our great nation, will include a flag ceremony, hoisting the flag on the new flagstaff at the center of the memorial, remarks from Col. Kevin Doyle, 180FW Commander, Mr. Steve Way, Principle Director of DGL Consulting Engineers and TRACE Executive Board Member, and Mrs. Wendy Gramza, President of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce. Concluding the ceremony, Mr. Brian Lauderman, Project Manager for jdi Group and TRACE Project Manager for the memorial will conduct a walk-through of the memorial, highlighting each artifact of the memorial as well as a special musical presentation from the Springfield High School Marching Band. Members of the 180FW worked diligently to collect various artifacts for the memorial to include steel beams from the World Trade Center, limestone from the pentagon and soil from Pennsylvania where Flight 93 crashed. The memorial, designed as a sun dial, will also include locally, hand-blown glass pieces representing the 2,977 lives lost in the attacks. TRACE – Toledo Regional Architects, Contractors & Engineers, along with support from other Toledo community partners are working together to engineer and construct their vision and plan to complete the permanent memorial by Sept. 11, 2017, the 16th anniversary of the attacks. For more information about the memorial, visit: http://web.toledochamber.com/cwt/external/wcpagestrace/what/911_memorial.aspx


BG picks three streets to make bike-friendly

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Engineer Jason Sisco admitted the city map showing a handful of yellow streets as possible bike routes didn’t look like much. But it was a start – and that’s what bicyclists have been seeking for years. During a Complete Streets meeting held by the Transportation and Safety Committee prior to the City Council meeting Tuesday evening, the first steps were introduced to make a few streets more accommodating for bicyclists. Complete Streets is a concept that calls for roads to be safe and accessible for all modes of travel – including bikes. The city adopted a long range plan in 2007, identifying several streets to become more bike-friendly. But that’s where it stopped when money got tight. “It went on the back burner,” city council member Sandy Rowland said. A community meeting this past summer brought together cyclists talking about the risks of riding in Bowling Green. They identified several streets they would like to see improved for bicyclists. “We certainly had a loud and clear message,” Rowland said. “They were tired of waiting.” Council member Daniel Gordon agreed, saying the city needs “at least one street we are working on in earnest.” And council member John Zanfardino said bicyclists have told him they will gravitate to safer roads – and any improvements are better than doing nothing. The Bicycle Safety Commission helped by narrowing down the street list to the top six that should be made more bike-friendly. Those streets were Conneaut, Fairview, Court, Clough, Pearl and Maple. During Tuesday’s Complete Streets meeting, that number was narrowed further to the top three. Conneaut and Fairview were selected because those streets are on the city’s paving project list for next year. Court was selected because of its link between the university and the downtown. “It’s a starting point, something manageable,” Sisco said. But they aren’t cheap. The city applied for funding to resurface Conneaut and Fairview in 2017. However, officials did not include any bicycle accommodations in the project. So, the city will have…


I-75 crash causing extra traffic in BG this morning

An accident on Interstate 75 is causing some extra traffic in Bowling Green this morning. A Bowling Green dispatcher said police officers are directing traffic in some areas and rerouting vehicles that are getting off I-75 to avoid the accident. The downtown traffic lights are flashing in order to avoid longer backups and move vehicles through quickly.


Green space plan gets first reading green light

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With so much debate swirling around the marijuana moratorium Tuesday evening, a long-awaited step by Bowling Green City Council almost went unnoticed. City Council gave the first reading to a resolution declaring the city’s property at 215 W. Wooster St. as open public space. With no debate and no fanfare, the property at the corner of South Church, West Wooster and South Grove streets was officially declared as open space. The resolution states the property, formerly the site of the city junior high, is to be developed in consideration of the concept design prepared by the Green Space Task Force. At least seven members of the Green Space Task Force sat quietly in the council chambers Tuesday evening, waiting to see what would become of their plan. They left without comment, knowing that their efforts were not in vain. The task force’s plan was originally presented to city council nearly a year ago. But the plan seemed to stall out at that point, and council decided to do further study on the site in case a new city building could share the property with a community green space. Though a study showed it was possible to combine both a new city building and green space on the acreage, the bulk of the public pressure came from citizens who wanted the site to remain undeveloped, except for a few town square features. Mayor Dick Edwards also threw his weight toward the preservation of a green space for public use. So on Tuesday, in the shadow of the medical marijuana moratorium debate, City Council gave its first reading to the resolution setting aside the location as green space, and supporting the task force’s proposal. The task force’s plan calls for a multi-purpose commons space with wide walkways leading to a large gathering space. The space would include street lighting that would match the rest of the downtown lights, benches, shade options of either sails or umbrellas, a defined brick entrance on the northeast and northwest corners, bicycle racks and…


Medical marijuana moratorium fails to get enough votes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council needed six votes Tuesday to enact a moratorium on medical marijuana growing and sales. It got five. So on Thursday, it will be legal for people to get zoning permits to sell medical marijuana in the city – with no state regulations on the growing, processing and retail sales. The state legislature passed the medical marijuana bill earlier this year, making Ohio the 25th state to legalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes. State officials assured that regulations would be in place by the time the bill went into effect – which is this Thursday. But as of Tuesday, there were still no standards set by the state. So several communities are enacting temporary moratoriums on medical marijuana cultivation, processing and retail dispensary facilities. “We’ve been watching the state for weeks, waiting for some rules and regulations,” City Attorney Michael Marsh said. “There still aren’t any.” So “rather than have a free-for-all,” Marsh presented legislation asking that council put a hold on medical marijuana sales in the city until the state sets regulations. But to have that in place by Thursday, when medical marijuana becomes legal, city council needed to give the resolution three readings on Tuesday evening. And that required support by six council members. Since Bob McOmber was absent from the meeting, that meant all the council members present had to support the three readings. Five supported the moratorium, but one – Daniel Gordon – did not. “I don’t feel comfortable rushing this through tonight,” Gordon said. But some others on council saw it differently. “I don’t want to rush through and put something in place with no regulations,” Scott Seeliger said of marijuana businesses. Seeliger said he was “sympathetic to people who could use it this week. But are we ready to handle this the right way?” The topic evoked a lot of emotion from council members. Sandy Rowland said she recently lost a brother who might have benefitted from medical marijuana. “I just saw my loved one die about 10…


Parking kiosks installed in downtown BG lot

The parking kiosk system in City Parking Lot 2, behind the first block of South Main Street, on the east side, has been fully installed. Beginning on Sept. 12, visitors of Lot 2 will be required to pay for 2-hour or 10-hour parking at one of the three kiosks within this parking lot. Previously enforced parking rules will continue, including the prohibition to backing into or pulling through parking spaces. As a reminder, visitors will be required to enter their license plate number at the kiosk so the vehicle can be associated with the payment.


Police & firefighters to be thanked with barbecue

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Sometimes a good barbecued dinner says “thank you” like nothing else can. So next Sunday – the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks – local police, fire and sheriff employees will be thanked for their service to the community with a free barbecued chicken dinner in Bowling Green City Park. The dinner is being offered by Modern Woodmen as part of its Everyday Hero initiative. “This year marks the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Modern Woodmen’s Be an Everyday Hero project remembers and honors those lost … and recognizes the brave first responders, military members and others who continue to serve our community every day,” said D.J. Deiter, managing partner with Modern Woodmen. A couple hundred police, fire and sheriff employees and their families are expected to attend the barbecue in the Veterans Building at the park. “I thought it was important to invite their families as well,” Deiter said. This is the first time the local first responders will be honored this way. Deiter said now is an important time for the community to show its appreciation for law enforcement and firefighters. “With all the negativity that’s going on against the police, we wanted to do something special for them,” he said. The dinner will give first responder families time to sit down to eat and socialize together. As of last week, nearly 200 were signed up for the barbecue. “Every department has been very gracious,” Deiter said. “I’m not a military person myself,” though several of his family members have been in the service, Deiter said. “I’ve always had a great deal of respect for what they do. We should do whatever we can to say thanks and show we appreciate them.” This will be the second time in a few weeks that Modern Woodmen has recognized local law enforcement. Bowling Green Police Officer Robin Short was recently given the Hometown Hero Award for working with children in the community. Short was honored at a Bowling Green High School football game, and given stacks of…


Bus driver shortage to affect BG students again this week

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After last week’s plea for bus drivers by Bowling Green City Schools, 14 people contacted the district to express interest in transporting students to and from school. But people have to go through training and background checks before they get behind the wheel of a school bus – so the school district is short on drivers again this week for some of the 1,700 students who rely on bus transportation. “Remember that it is a process from being interested to getting certified, but if everything goes well by the end of the month things should be in better shape. We will still continue to search for additional drivers,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said Monday evening in an email to parents. “With that being said, this week we still face a shortage of drivers,” Scruci wrote. So this week, the following routes will be affected: Bus #22, Tuesday morning and afternoon. Routes that will be delayed will be 8, 18 and 21. Bus #3, Tuesday Routes that will be delayed are 2 and 17. Bus #22, Wednesday Routes that will be delayed will be 8, 18 and 21. Bus #22, ThursdayRoutes that will be delayed will be 8, 18 and 21. Any time a driver can’t be found for one route, it affects other routes that have to compensate for the missing driver. That means some students are getting to school and returning home late. The district has 21 full-time drivers and 11 substitutes. The problem is that 23 full-time drivers are needed, and seven of the subs have other jobs. “They are substitutes for a reason, because they don’t want to work full-time,” Toby Snow, interim co-director of the school transportation department, said last week. The shortage isn’t just affecting regular bus transportation to and from school, but also the shuttling of athletic teams to competitions. The district is also responsible for transporting students to and from non-public schools and Penta Career Center. Bowling Green isn’t alone with its driver shortage. “We’re experiencing the same issues that a lot…