Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

BG planning pipeline panel to clear up questions

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials want to dig deeper into the Nexus pipeline proposed near the city water treatment plant. On Monday evening, Mayor Dick Edwards talked about his continued efforts to contact people with geological expertise about the project. And he supported a suggestion by council member Daniel Gordon to host a public forum with experts on the topic. Gordon noted the different perspectives presented to city council by various geologists, and the need to find facts. “We will proceed on that basis to look at the science and the facts,” Edwards said to city council. “There are a bunch of unknowns out there.” No date or location has been set yet for a pipeline panel discussion. Council member Bruce Jeffers asked if Nexus officials might attend the meeting. Edwards said the pipeline company has had ample opportunity to make its pitch for the natural gas line. He added that “it’s been frustrating,” getting information from the company. “They’ve had every opportunity to make their case in Washington,” the mayor said, adding that the purpose of the panel discussion will be to sharpen the focus on facts. “They’ve had every opportunity to come in and share information.” Council member Bob McOmber echoed that inclination. “I’m not particularly inclined to want them” at a panel discussion, he said. The public event is not intended to be a debate between advocates of opposing sides, but a panel discussion to get to the facts, McOmber said. Edwards suggested that an impartial moderator be used for the discussion. “I think we need to be open and objective,” he said. The primary concern of Bowling Green officials is the water treatment plant near the proposed route of the natural gas pipeline. “We want to keep it healthy and on the right track,” the mayor said. “We want to have assurances and reassurances” that the city’s water supply will be safe, he said. Council member Sandy Rowland agreed that more questions need answered. “I just want to know about safe water,” she said. “How high are the risks?” Gordon agreed. “If there is a risk, we need to do something about it.” Edwards said he recently had a conversation about the pipeline with a representative of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown’s office. He suggested another letter to FERC may be needed to raise further questions about the pipeline. Also at Monday’s meeting, City Council President Mike Aspacher explained a change in the council’s agenda with the “lobby visitation” time for public comments being moved up close to the top of the meeting. People wanting to make comments were also asked to sign in prior to the meeting. “This is going to allow us to be more accurate with the minutes,” and help the city do follow up with people voicing concerns, Aspacher said. By moving…


French fries with firefighters tonight in BG

In the spirit of the Coffee with Cops program in Bowling Green, Fries with Firefighters is planned tonight. Bowling Green Fire Chief Tom Sanderson said the McDonald’s restaurant on East Wooster Street approached the fire division about offering french fries with firefighters tonight, from 5 to 7. The fire division will have a fire truck and ambulance at the event for the public to view.


BG to make ‘welcoming’ resolution more inclusive

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council was seconds away from voting on an inclusion resolution Monday when the lone Republican on council stopped the process – to make the resolution more inclusive. The resolution proclaims the city is a welcoming, safe and inclusive community for all residents, including immigrants, refugees and people from diverse races, ethnic backgrounds, cultures and religions. Council had minutes earlier discussed waiving the rules and giving the resolution its second and third readings Monday evening, then proceeding to a vote. But council member Bob McOmber stopped the process. He mentioned the public comments made earlier in the meeting by citizens who wanted the LGBT community and people with disabilities included in the resolution. “I’m not comfortable with it the way it is,” McOmber said. “I’d rather err on the side of being overly inclusive.” Others on council agreed, and the resolution was tabled so it could be reworded and come back before council at its next meeting. The resolution has its roots in local concerns about national treatment of immigrants. Council member Daniel Gordon said it was the first step on the city’s path toward becoming a “welcoming community” for immigrants. Gordon said the resolution was written specifically with the immigrant population in mind. He noted the recently passed anti-Islamaphobia resolution also didn’t include the LGBT community, which is already protected under a city ordinance. But two community groups which had worked on the latest resolution – La Conexion and the Human Rights Commission – both agreed that expanding the wording to include more people was a good idea. “We wholeheartedly support making the language as inclusive as possible,” Emily Monago, of the Human Rights Commission, said during Monday’s meeting. Also asking for the LGBT community to be added to the resolution was Gwen Andrix, who is transgender. She talked about growing efforts across the nation to limit inclusiveness for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations. “They want to eliminate our access to public accommodations,” she said. “With the mood of the country right now, I’m feeling less safe.” Andrix praised Bowling Green as being a “wonderful, accepting place,” and suggested expanding the resolution would further enhance city efforts. Carmen Dworsky also spoke up for adding the LGBT community and people with disabilities to the resolution. “It really matters to people,” she said. Council member Bruce Jeffers acknowledged changes in the country. “Many of us are concerned about the national movement.” He also acknowledged the fact that some people may not appreciate the city’s efforts to be more inclusive. “Some people don’t like us making too many resolutions,” Jeffers said. Those people may be thinking, “There go those liberals again.” “We are trying to plan for a better community,” and attract younger residents, he said. “We want all kinds of people to feel welcome…


Parking kiosks take too much time, many drivers say

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As she fumbled with the parking kiosk machine, Jennifer Bechtold reminisced about the good old days when she used to live in Bowling Green. “I liked when I could use good old-fashioned change,” in the parking meters. But last week, she stood out in chilly weather with her 4-year-old daughter, who wasn’t feeling well, trying to figure out the parking kiosk the downtown lot. “It’s very cold,” she said. Waiting behind her was Rena Blazek, a graduate student at Bowling Green State University. “I hate standing out in the winter. It sucks – and I’m from Wisconsin,” Blazek said. When Blazek finally made it up to pay at the kiosk, the machine repeatedly spit out her coins before accepting one. Next in line was Jacob Weinmann, of Grand Rapids. “I had to wait a good 10 minutes,” to pay at the kiosk, Weinmann said. Yet, he was the most patient of those in the line, since he believes the kiosks make sense so the parking meters don’t have to be removed for the Black Swamp Arts Festival each year. Next was Kim Jacobs, of Napoleon, who didn’t realize she needed to know her license plate number in order to pay for parking. “Nope, that was a surprise,” Jacobs said, adding that she was lucky enough to be able to read her plate from the kiosk. Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said he is aware that the new parking kiosks are not getting rave reviews from some motorists. “We certainly are trying to monitor the situation,” Fawcett said. The city’s parking technicians have reported that the use of the kiosk parking lot is consistent with the use when the lot had individual parking meters. The kiosks allow motorists to pay with coins, dollar bills or credit cards. According to the city, the benefits of changing over to kiosks include: Replacement parts are more difficult to find and are becoming more expensive for the outdated parking meters. Increased efficiency to clear the parking lot following snow storms. Reduced maintenance for special events such as the Black Swamp Arts Festival. Reduced maintenance costs associated with parking blocks, meter poles and meters. Keep newly repaved parking lot intact. The kiosk also allows motorists who pay with credit cards to extend their time without revisiting the parking lot. However, since the meters were taken out last September and replaced with the kiosks, the lot has become a tough sell for some motorists who avoid parking there. “People just don’t like them,” Fawcett said. One of those frustrated shoppers was Cheryl Sharp, of Pemberville, who said her experience with the kiosk resulted in her forgoing visits to several shops in the downtown. She had to walk back to her car to get her license plate number, then the kiosk took several minutes to…


Reservation date nears for Interfaith Breakfast

As the reservation deadline draws near, the Not In Our Town BG planning committee for the Bowling Green Community Interfaith Breakfast has released the final plans for this year’s event. The program will be held on April 5 at the Junior Fair Building of the Wood County Fairgrounds. The theme is “Building Paths to Peace: Mythbusting,” and representatives from Buddhist, Jewish, Islam, Native American, Hindu and Christian traditions will speak. Additional presentations will be in the form of artwork on the theme of “peace” from Bowling Green City schoolchildren and music from both the Bowling Green High School Madrigals and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. South Side 6, a local food provider, will offer the breakfast as a gift to the community, with the meal served from 7:15-7:45 a.m. Welcoming comments will be offered by Mayor Richard Edwards, Bowling Green State University President Mary Ellen Mazey, and Bowling Green City Schools Superintendent Francis Scruci. A variety of donors have allowed the event to be free of charge. Reservations are required by Friday, March 24 and can be made by contacting Alex Solis (Co-Chair of Not In Our Town BG) at asolis@bgsu.edu or calling 419-372-9452.


BG residents worried about lead can zoom in on waterline map

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With a few clicks on a map, Bowling Green residents can now zoom into their addresses to see what their waterlines are made of. The water service lines map is now posted on the city of Bowling Green’s website, http://www.bgohio.org/. Once on the website, residents can click on the water spigot to pull up information on the city waterlines and on the lines going into each residence. “I don’t want to scare anyone that we have a lead problem. We don’t,” Bowling Green Director of Public Utilities Brian O’Connell said earlier this week to the Board of Public Utilities. But as a water provider, the city of Bowling Green must now submit a waterline map to the Ohio EPA, showing the type of lines supplying homes – copper, galvanized iron, plastic or lead. That map must be updated every five years. O’Connell explained that the city is responsible for the portion of the waterline that extends to the curb stop, but the portion of the line going into the residence is the homeowner’s responsibility. So while O’Connell is confident the lead lines in the city’s portion have been replaced, the same cannot be said of the portions that are the responsibility of homeowners. “We are not aware at this time of any lead lines” installed by the city, he said. Since 1967, the city service lines were all required to be copper or plastic. Prior to then, lead lines were allowed, but in the 1990s any known lead service lines were replaced. The electronic map shows a color-coded circle at each residence. Half of the circle shows the makeup of city’s waterline, the other half shows the makeup of the homeowner’s portion of the line. Green indicates non-lead, yellow means lead, and gray means unknown. The city is still in the process of inputting some of its paper records onto the electronic map, so some of those gray circles will be changing. The information on the city website also explains to residents where they can locate their water meters, which provide good indicators of the waterline product. There is a link that shows how residents can tell if their pipes are galvanized iron, copper or lead by the color or by whether or not a magnet sticks to them. Since some residents may unknowingly have lead lines in their homes, the Environmental Protection Agency has had the city test about 30 water samples each year from residences that may have older connections to the city waterlines. In the past several years, only a handful of homes have shown any detectable levels of lead. All the others have tested as “no detect” for any lead. “I’m not trying to scare anybody,” O’Connell said. However, the risks of lead in water can be significant and long-lasting, especially to young…


Funding defended for programs Trump wants to slash

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   While President Donald Trump’s administration is attacking the value of federally funded community programs, the proof is right here in Wood County. Local officials suggested the administration look at the seniors kept in their homes by the Meals on Wheels program, the children nourished through the WIC program, and the small villages improved through the CDBG program. When Trump’s budget proposal was unveiled Thursday, the winners were the military and border control. The losers were the arts, the environment, the poor, the elderly and the very young. And the cuts weren’t made with a scalpel, but with a guillotine. Local officials who normally make tempered responses to hot button political issues could no longer bite their tongues. When Mick Mulvaney, the president’s budget director, said the Meals on Wheels cuts were justified because the program was “just not showing any results,” the comments pushed Denise Niese past her normally polite poise. “I heard that last night and I was appalled,” said Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. The local Meals on Wheels program is not as dependent as some areas on the federal funding, but it is vital to local residents, serving 132,000 meals last year. Sometimes it’s difficult to collect hard data on social services, but Niese said the proof is in the pudding – and all the other menu items. “We do know that people with home-delivered meals can maintain themselves in their homes at a much lower cost than going into long-term care,” she said. Considering the fact that the local Meals on Wheels cost an average of $4.92 per meal to produce and deliver, that is a real bargain compared to a senior citizen moving to a nursing home facility. “It is cost effective,” Niese said. “There are people who have been able to stay in their homes for five, 10 or 15 years,” thanks to the home-delivered meals. Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey is also worried about the cuts coming from Washington. “Any time we’re talking about reducing social services for people, that’s going to be troubling,” he said. “We all want a strong military,” Batey said, referring one of the winners in Trump’s budget. “But when it’s at the cost of a lot of our programs that help people, it’s concerning.” On the chopping block in the budget proposal is the WIC nutrition program, which helps provide nutritious food for pregnant women, infants and young children. “If we’re not taking into account how we take care of kids, that’s disturbing,” Batey said. Batey is unsure how the funding will look once it gets through the federal process, then goes through the state budget process. He worries that cuts will “drastically affect a program at our level.” Dave Steiner, director of the Wood County Planning Commission, is…



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 Department of Transportation awarded $370,914 to the City of Bowling Green for the continued operation of its 5311 Rural Public Transit System, the B.G. Transit. The number of passenger rides provided in 2016 (32,431) remained relatively stable in comparison to the prior year. Regarding 2016 rides, nearly 87 percent were provided to persons qualifying for Elderly & Disabled Fare Assistance and 3 percent were provided to persons in the areas immediately outside Bowling Green’s corporation…


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 to suicidal issues, medical problems, mental health problems, intoxication, or they are detoxing from heroin or alcohol. The booking area currently has five cells. Gibson said ideally, the new configuration would include at least two group holding cells, some detox cells, and a couple more holding cells specifically for females. Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said the board will take the request under advisement. “We have to think where that leads us in the future with long-range…


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 themselves,” Laux said of the younger children. When their parents are high, they can’t make dinner. They can’t change a dirty diaper. The parents may pawn or sell family items to get money for drugs. Often times, both parents in a family are addicted. In one case, Children’s Services had placed the child with a grandmother, who later was found to be using opioids as well. The agency has also taken custody of newborn babies…


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 lots at county parks. Heard praise from board chairman Denny Parish about the photographs of Wood County parks now on display in the Four Corners office in downtown Bowling Green. The photos will be on exhibit for the month of March. Agreed to demolish the old scale house on the former Mid-Wood property that the park district owns along the Slippery Elm Trail in Rudolph. The building is too small to be converted into ADA…


‘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 of the elected officials, along with growth in sales tax revenue,” Herringshaw said. That has allowed the county to pay cash for some capital projects instead of borrowing funds. “The net result of all of this is a continued excellent bond rating at Aa2.” Other topics addressed by the commissioners included: Water “We can’t have a ‘State of the County’ without talking about water,” Herringshaw said. Over the past year, the county has had discussions…