Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

County alcohol, drug and mental health board has vacancy

The Wood County Commissioners Doris I. Herringshaw, Craig LaHote and Theodore H. Bowlus seek to fill a vacancy on the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board (ADAMHS). Eligible candidates must be residents of Wood County and be interested in mental health services or alcohol, drug addiction or gambling addiction services. Experience in business, finance, law, health care, personnel, or government is preferred. People employed by entities that contract with the ADAMHS Board are not eligible to be appointed. Interested candidates shall complete an application for volunteer service, available at the commissioners’ office, or on the commissioners’ website at www.co.wood.oh.us/commissioners/forms, and submit it to the commissioners’ office no later than 4 p.m. on Feb. 10.


Two Wood County farms named Ohio Historic Family Farms

(Submitted by State Rep. Theresa Gavarone) State Representative Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, applauded the recent announcement from the Ohio Department of Agriculture that two farms located within Wood County have been registered in the Ohio Historic Family Farms program. The Ohio Historic Family Farms program recognizes century, sesquicentennial, or bicentennial farms that have been owned by the same family for 100, 150, or 200 years. It has more than 1,300 farms across Ohio registered. This past year, the program recognized Lang Farms, operated since 1909, and Reynolds Farms, operated since 1907, which are both located within the 3rd House District. “This is truly an incredible accomplishment for the Reynolds and Lang families,” said Rep. Gavarone. “Agriculture is vital for Wood County, and it certainly is not an easy industry to make a living.  It is a testament to the hard work of these two families to be the only ones out of over 1,000 farms in the county to have both been established and run by the same family for over a century.” With over 1,066 farms averaging at 287 acres each in Wood County, agriculture is a critically important industry within the region. According to the 2015 report by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, approximately 67 percent of land in Wood County is dedicated to farming, and it is the third ranked county in the state in terms of soybean and wheat production. Other agriculture products include hogs and cattle. More information regarding the registration requirements and application process to be considered an Ohio Historic Family Farm can be found at http://www.agri.ohio.gov/divs/cent_farms/.


Fatal crash occurs in front of Meijer store

One person was killed in a crash Saturday in front of the Meijer store on East Wooster Street, Bowling Green. Bowling Green Police Division said this morning that the crash involved one motorcycle and two other vehicles, and occurred around 3:40 p.m. The names of the motorists involved were not being released as of this morning.


Questions grow about education secretary pick

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci couldn’t help but think of a comedy sketch when Betsy DeVos, nominee for Education Secretary, testified last week that guns may be needed in schools to defend against grizzly bears. “I looked at a lot of the testimony and all I could envision is a Saturday Night Live skit,” similar to the Sarah Palin “I can see Russia from my backyard” sketch, Scruci said. It would be funny – if it weren’t so scary. When the Bowling Green Board of Education met last week, it was a sobering thought that DeVos’ confirmation hearing was going on at the same time in Washington, D.C. “She is definitely not a friend of public education,” Scruci said. “Her appointment would change the landscape for public education.” DeVos is a multi-billionaire, who never attended public schools, has been a cheerleader for charter schools, and reportedly owes the state of Ohio $5 million for campaign issues. At the school board meeting, Scruci asked anyone who cares about public education to write letters and make phone calls expressing their concerns to legislators about her appointment. “I became even more concerned during the hearings,” Scruci said later last week. Scruci said his comments about DeVos have led to at least one suggestion that he be careful about expressing himself on political issues. “My feelings have absolutely nothing to do with politics,” he said Friday afternoon. “This is strictly from an education point of view. Her track record has been anti-public schools. To replace public education with for-profit options is not a good thing.” DeVos’ testimony last week showed some serious gaps her in education about education. Her answers reflected an unawareness of federal laws providing education for children with disabilities, and protection against harassment and bullying. She consistently said that many decisions are best left to the states – seemingly unaware that they were federal laws providing for these children. Scruci was also troubled that DeVos was unaware of basic education terms regarding performance assessments. She did not know the difference between growth (how much students have learned over a period) and proficiency (which measures how many students reached a specific score). “To not know the difference between proficiency and growth further emphasizes what she doesn’t know,” Scruci said. “How can some be confident that she can lead education in the U.S.?” DeVos’ background…


BG foundation gives grants to community groups

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Community organizations were given grants earlier this week to bring music, sports, reading and more to Bowling Green. The grants, from the Bowling Green Community Foundation, are intended to help the very young to the very old, and everyone in between. The annual grant program began after the 1993 BG Leadership class started the foundation in order to help local groups serve the community, explained Cal Bowers, president of the foundation. “What you’re doing speaks to the vibrancy of our community. You’re at the core of it,” said Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards. This year’s grants total $29,000 for 14 different projects. “That’s an impact to this community,” Bowers said. Following is a list of all the projects awarded grants. BG Area Community Bands – $2,250 for a community band festival. “This is our 10th year as a community band. We feel we have become a staple in the community,” said Ardy Gonyer. “We’re very grateful for the support of Bowling Green.” Thom Headley explained the grant will help the band put on a concert with a guest conductor on May 6. BG City Schools – $1,000 for One Book BG literacy program. Two third grade teachers, Jeni Niekamp and Jonelle Semancik explained the grant will help the schools purchase books for every pre-kindergarten through fifth grade student. The reading program unites families and the community around one common book. “It’s created to promote a love of learning,” Semancik said. BG Parks and Recreation Department – $5,000 for the natural obstacle course. Ivan Kovacevic, of the parks and rec department, said the outdoor obstacle course behind the community center has already been the site of the Zombie Mud Run last fall. BG Parks and Recreation Department – $5,000 for waterpark splashpad creature. The splashpad additions help complete the area for the youngest pool users. “They are both really true community projects,” Kovacevic said of the pool and obstacle course. BG Youth Hockey Association – $1,100 for rink system upgrade. The hockey program involves 315 kids, ages 5 to 15, said Jennifer Bowers. “It’s a really big asset for the community,” she said. “It’s a team of people volunteering a lot of hours. The problem is we don’t have enough equipment.” The grant will help replace orange cones and upside-down buckets with real hockey goals. Bobcat Advocates – $1,310 for downtown banners. The…


What’s that smell? Could be unshowered athletes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   That unpleasant odor may not be a rotting sandwich in the bottom of your teen’s backpack, or a sweaty pair of gym shoes under the bed. It could be emanating directly from your student. Bowling Green Board of Education was notified Tuesday that the high school boys locker room showers have been out of commission since last year. According to head custodian Chuck Martin, the bar joist under the floor of the shower area is starting to collapse. So the showers have been off limits to boys in physical education classes and varsity sports. Martin attributed the problem to poor design when the locker room showers were built in the early 1960s. Moisture and steam leaks are causing supports to bend. “There are cracks in the walls that are three-quarter inch wide,” he said. The locker rooms are safe to use – just not the showers. Board members asked where the boys are showering at school after gym or athletics. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci answered –  they aren’t. Scruci compared the problem to the football bleachers that were replaced last year after the district became aware of rusting issues. “They are rusting from the inside out,” he said. “Outside the building looks great,” Scruci said of the high school. But a closer look inside reveals some problems. Like the bleachers, the fix for the shower room won’t be cheap. A new floor will need to be put in, Scruci said. Preliminary estimates for fixing the problem are somewhere in the $200,000s or $300,000s. A presentation of the project will be given to the board of education during the February board meeting. Scruci said he hopes the district can go out for bids on the project in March.  


Wood County Historical Museum fully accessible to public

(Submitted by Wood County Historical Center & Museum) The Wood County Historical Center & Museum is pleased to offer elevator access throughout the museum as the Accessibility Project comes to a close. The museum opened as the Wood County Infirmary in 1869, and while it has been maintained, has not received a modern update of this magnitude until this time. The Accessibility Project included not only a service-grade elevator that opens from both the exterior as well as the interior of the building, but also four new handicap accessible restrooms, handicap parking, and bus access from County Home Road. The improvements will benefit visitors with mobility conflicts or strollers, group tours, and provide a safer way to move large and heavy Society artifacts. The first elevator ride was honored to Felicia Konrad, who is a life member of the Historical Society, Accessibility Donor, and has a family legacy to Edwin Farmer, Infirmary Superintendent from 1878-1904. During Edwin’s tenure, his son was admitted to the Infirmary when he became confined to a wheelchair, and could not even share a room with his wife because her room was on the second floor. The story of Alfred and Amy Farmer is chronicled on the museum’s website at woodcountyhistory.org. The physical limitations reached their peak in the 1960s when the building was slated for closure in lieu of a new nursing home (Wood Haven). Since becoming a museum in 1975, studies and feedback from members and visitors put accessibility as one of the site’s biggest challenges. To support the $1.2 million project, the Historical Center was awarded $600,000 from the State of Ohio’s capital funds as well as support from Wood County Commissioners Jim Carter, Doris Herringshaw, and Joel Kuhlman, State Senator Randy Gardner, State Representative Tim Brown, Hancock Wood Electric Community Trust Fund, CSX Community Grant, and generous donations from community supporters. The Collaborative, Inc. was the architectural firm on the project and Focht Construction Company served as the contractor. The museum will re-open to the public on Feb. 1, 2017, with new exhibits to highlight the impact of World War I on Wood County. All events detailed at www.woodcountyhistory.org. The museum is located at 13660 County Home Road in Bowling Green.


Conneaut/Beech intersection to close for work

The Water and Wastewater Distribution Division will be closing the intersection of Conneaut Avenue and Beech Street beginning Monday, Jan. 23, at 7 a.m. The closure is expected to last through Friday, Jan. 27. The following detour route will be established – Lafayette, Orleans, Rosewood, Cedar – for east/west traffic along Conneaut. The closure is required as part of the Conneaut Avenue water main line replacement project. Questions about this work may be directed to the Water and Wastewater Distribution Division at 419-354-6277.


BG plugs into power from new solar field

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The sun may be hiding most days recently, but Bowling Green’s new solar field is producing power. The gray days of January aren’t allowing full power generation yet, but on sunny days, the site is producing close to 14 megawatts of power, according to Bowling Green Utilities Director Brian O’Connell. “We should see better production as we get into spring and summer,” O’Connell said during a City Council meeting Tuesday evening. “But we are getting power from it right now.” According to Mayor Dick Edwards, 40 percent of the city’s energy now comes from renewable sources. An estimated 2,900 homes in the city will be powered by sunlight. The new solar field, which sits on 165 acres northeast of the city near the corner of Carter and Newton roads, has more than 85,000 solar panels, O’Connell said. The panels rotate with the sun during the day to get maximum power. The solar field is expected generate 20 megawatts, with Bowling Green getting 13.74 megawatts of the power for its customers. The solar field is the largest solar power generation site in Ohio. American Municipal Power Inc. had planned to own and operate the solar sites in multiple communities. However, AMP was not eligible for federal investment tax credit. So AMP entered into an agreement with NextEra, a third party solar developer. NextEra, which qualifies for the tax credits, is one of the largest generators of solar energy in the U.S. with more than 700 megawatts of solar generation. Since the project now qualifies for federal tax credit, it will cost the city less in the long run. With the original solar plan, it was estimated the city would see a 1.1 percent increase in its power supply costs. That increase was erased with the new proposal. Also at Tuesday’s council meeting, Doug Isaacson was sworn in as the city’s deputy fire chief. Isaacson has more than 35 years with the fire division. It was also announced that more meetings are planned for those wanting to participate in the Community Action Plan. A joint meeting of city council and the city planning commission will be held Jan. 31, at 6 p.m., in the Wood County District Public Library. Then an open house on the plan will be held Feb. 7, from 6 to 8 p.m., in the Wood County Courthouse Complex. Wendy Chambers,…


Great Decisions lecture series starts Jan. 21

The Great Decisions Series is again being presented by the American Association of University Women and the Wood County Committee on Aging, beginning Jan. 21. The lecture series will be held on Saturdays through Feb. 25, from 9:30 to 11 a.m., at the Wood County Senior Center, 305 N. Main St., Bowling Green. The series will be facilitated by Bowling Green State University professors. Dates and topics are subject to change. Jan. 21 –  Conflict with the South China Sea, Dr. Neil Englehart The South China Sea is a locus of competing territorial claims, and China its most vocal claimant. Beijing’s interest has intensified disputes with other countries in the region in recent years, especially since China has increased its naval presence. Despite rising international pressure, including an unfavorable ruling by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, China staunchly defends its policies in the region. Jan. 28 – Nuclear Security, Dr. Marc Simon Nuclear nonproliferation was a top priority for the Obama administration. While the Iran Deal was a diplomatic victory toward this end, major threats persist from both state and non-state actors. Countries like North Korea, Russia, and India and Pakistan continue to challenge nonproliferation efforts. The possibility that terrorists will carry out an attack using a ―dirty bomb, made from captured nuclear materials, looks increasingly real. Feb. 4 – Saudi Arabia in Transition, Dr. Jacqueline Sievert As Saudi Arabia struggles to adjust to the drastic decline in oil revenue, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman attempts to boldly transform the country and shift more power to the younger generation. At the same time, many countries such as the U.S. point out the lack of democracy, women’s rights and human rights in Saudi Arabia, and blame its promotion of Wahhabism, an extremely conservative version of Islam, for creating jihadists. Bipartisan criticism of Saudi Arabia is rising in Congress. Both countries need each other, but they are at a crossroads in bilateral relations. Feb. 11 – Future of Europe: Coping with Crisis, Dr. Neal Jesse The outcome of the United Kingdom referendum on EU membership sent shockwaves across the globe. It even caught British voters by surprise. The European Union has helped secure peace in Europe for the past 70 years. Now it faces an uncertain future. Amid a refugee crisis, lingering financial recession and the constant specter of terrorism, unity seems more imperative than ever. But…


BG Transit general fare ridership on the rise

With 32,121 total passenger rides provided in 2016, B.G. Transit overall ridership remained relatively stable in comparison to the prior year. Regarding 2016 rides, nearly 87 percent (27,840) were taken by persons qualifying for Elderly & Disabled Fare Assistance and 3 percent (975 rides) were provided to persons boarding and/or departing in the areas immediately outside Bowling Green’s corporation limits. General fare ridership, however, increased by 13 percent (3,218) in 2016 compared to 2015 (2,847). The majority of these rides (95%) were provided to passengers boarding and departing the transit within Bowling Green’s city limits. This is the most marked increase recorded in B.G. Transit general fare ridership in recent years. Although it is unknown why the increase occurred, it is an indication that the B.G. Transit is gaining ground in being viewed as a public transportation system available for everyone’s use. This is a welcome trend the City hopes will continue. The B.G. Transit is the City of Bowling Green’s public transit system, and it is open to all for use. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. For rides originating and ending within Bowling Green’s corporation limits, the general fare (one way) is $3.50. For rides originating and/or ending outside the city limits, the general fare is $4. Half-priced fares are available to persons aged 65 years or older, children (4-13 years of age) and those with disabilities. For more information about the B.G. Transit (including how to receive the reduced fares noted above), please call 419-354-6203. To schedule a ride,  call: 1-800-579-4299. For persons with speech and/or hearing impairments, contact us through the Ohio Relay Network at 1-800-750-0750. To learn more about the B.G. Transit, check out our website: www.bgohio.org or contact us at (419) 354-6203.


Columbia Gas doing work in 2nd Ward

Columbia Gas of Ohio has started to replace two natural gas lines in the 2nd Ward. The two affected streets are South Summit, beginning just south of Lehman to East Wooster, and Gould, from Railroad to South Enterprise. The city will work with the contractor to ensure normal refuse and recycling collection occurs. Residents in these areas are asked to be mindful of placing refuse and recycling containers at the curb by 7 a.m. for pick-up as these areas will be collected first during the Wednesday pick-up during the project. Throughout this work, temporary parking restrictions and intersection closures will occur. The work is expected to last through the end of January. More information about this work may be found on Columbia Gas’ website or by calling 419-539-6206. Call Public Works at 419-354-6227 for questions about refuse/recycling collection.


BG votes to condemn discrimination of Muslims

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG  Independent News   Bowling Green was told it could be better – and City Council accepted the challenge. The failure of a sanctuary campus proposal at BGSU Tuesday afternoon was followed by the passage of an anti-discrimination resolution by BG City Council that same evening. One by one, students of color walked to the podium at the packed city council meeting, to tell of their negative experiences and their positive hopes. “I came from a country where I was tear gassed,” during the Arab Spring uprisings, said Amira Hassnaoui, a BGSU student from Tunisia. She came to a country where she could be free – or so she believed. “This is a dream land where everybody can be who they are.” There is no tear gas here, but Hassnaoui is again finding herself fighting for rights. “I’m going to fight for social justice in the U.S.,” and speak out for those unable to, she said. Hassnaoui, who is president of the BGSU Graduate Student Senate, said while she does not wear a hijab, some of her Muslim friends do. She told of walking around a local business, and being followed then questioned by the manager. “This resolution should be passed. Nobody should walk in fear because of who they are,” she told city council. Hassnaoui said she worries about her mother and brother traveling to the U.S. for her graduation. Her mother wears a hijab and does not speak English, and her brother is dark skinned. Though the hate crimes reported around the nation have not occurred here in Bowling Green, Hassnaoui said the resolution could prevent those incidents from happening. “I do believe we don’t have to wait for a situation to occur,” she said. She also reminded council of the importance of students in the city. “We should provide a safe space for our international students. If these students do not feel safe,” they will go elsewhere and there will be an economic loss for the city, she said. The resolution passed by council condemns violence, hate speech and discrimination targeting Muslim people and expresses solidarity with the Muslim community and all those targeted for their ethnicity, race or religion. Ahmad Mehmood, a student from India, said the resolution is more than symbolic for international students. “This is significant. This is not symbolic,” Mehmood said. “This is not just hypothetical, this is real.”…


Drug-free workforce initiative launched

(Submitted by Working Partners Drug-Free Workforce Community Initiative in Wood County) In an effort to address the safety and economic threat of drug abuse in the workplace, the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board has partnered with 13 local stakeholders and Working Partners to launch the Working Partners Drug-Free Workforce Community Initiative in Wood County. Similar community initiatives are occurring in 17 counties across Ohio. The local program launched with the first official meeting of stakeholders held on January 13 th at Wood County Job and Family Services. During the initial stakeholder meeting, the group learned about the objectives of the initiative: to increase workforce readiness and employability; build healthier, stronger, more productive workplaces; and to create systems to educate employees – who are parents or have influence over young people – to prevent drug use among that population. In addition, they discussed current substance abuse trends in the local community, explored community- specific assets and liabilities and reviewed the initial tasks of the initiative. “We are excited to begin the important work of bringing employers and community leaders together to address the drug-related issues facing our community,” said Amanda Moser, Community Educator for the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board. “Our initial stakeholder meeting was the first step in the process of making our workplaces safer and our workforce and community stronger.”


Ag use value renewal forms mailed to landowners

Wood County Auditor Michael Sibbersen has announced that the 2017 Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) renewal forms have been mailed to property owners currently enrolled in the program. Eligible property owners, who are not currently enrolled, may also apply for the program now. In accordance with Ohio law, CAUV applications are to be filed with the county auditor’s office by the first Monday in March, this year by March 6. Eligible property owners must reapply each year with no renewal fee. There is a $25 initial filing fee for all new applications. If renewal forms are not returned by March 6, the county auditor will be required by law to value the property at its market value and recoup the tax savings for the past three years. Current Agricultural Use Value authorizes the county auditor to assess farmland at its crop production value rather than its market value. It protects and preserves farming operations by gearing the tax base to the production of the land rather than its potential for development. Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment which created the program and since 1974 most of the state’s agricultural land has been taxed at this value instead of market value. CAUV soil values are set by the Ohio Department of Taxation and are adjusted every three years for each county. New values were issued for all parcels in the CAUV program in Wood County for the 2014 tax year which was payable in 2015. Therefore, the 2016 tax year payable in 2017 is the third and final year in which those values will be used to calculate taxes. New values will be issued for the 2017 tax year which is payable in 2018. “Wood County has 9,606 individual real estate parcels on ag use,” Sibbersen noted. “A total of 318,785 acres in this program brought a tax savings to agricultural landowners last year of over $3 million.” If you are not currently enrolled in the CAUV program and you believe you may be eligible, contact the Wood County Auditor’s Office at 419-354-9174 for more information.