Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

Debate is over – green space to remain green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s official. “Wooster Green” will remain a green gathering space for Bowling Green citizens for generations to come. After years of debate, City Council voted unanimously Monday evening to preserve the 1.7 acres at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets as green space. The vote was met with a round of applause from those in the council chambers. The action was welcomed by those who spent months planning out a concept for the community space. “I thought all along it would pass,” Eric Myers, who led the task force to come up with a plan for the property, said after Monday’s council meeting. “Hopefully we can continue the momentum for fundraising.” Mayor Dick Edwards, a supporter of the green space concept, said he plans to convene the Green Space Task Force on Oct. 11 to discuss the next steps. 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. “It’s finally happening tonight,” Council member Sandy Rowland said. “It’s been a great journey. That property has just been waiting” to become a community gathering space. “I’m supporting this with all my soul and my heart,” she said. “I knew I would support this since the junior high was torn down.” Rowland said the new community space will help attract families to live in Bowling Green. “We will have a fabulous public space.” 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 the study showed it was possible to combine both a new city building and green space on the acreage, public pressure came from citizens who wanted the site to remain undeveloped, except for a few town square features. Edwards also threw his weight toward the preservation of a green space for public use. Though the green space concept got unanimous support Monday evening, it was not without some regrets. Council member Bruce Jeffers said he still believes the property would be a…


BG rejects moratorium on medical marijuana

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council split 4-3 Monday evening on enacting a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana cultivation, processing and retail dispensary facilities. So despite a request from the city attorney and city planner, the moratorium was scrapped. Council members Daniel Gordon, Bruce Jeffers, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino voted against the moratorium, while Mike Aspacher, Bob McOmber and Scott Seeliger voted in favor. After the meeting, City Planner Heather Sayler said her office has received two phone calls from prospective medical marijuana representatives asking where they would be allowed to do business in the city. As it is now, a retail operation could go in commercial zoned areas, a processing operation could go in industrial, and growing could occur in agricultural zoned areas. The state legislature passed the medical marijuana bill earlier this year, making Ohio the 25th state to legalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes. But few community regulations have been established, so several municipalities 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 last month when the issue first came before council. 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. Marsh added that the city does not have qualified personnel to set regulations for growing, processing or selling pot. But Gordon said he was not willing to add further burden on ill people who could benefit from medical marijuana. On Monday evening, Gordon reaffirmed his opposition to a moratorium. “I continue to feel the legislation is unnecessary and counterproductive,” he said. Council President Mike Aspacher noted last month that Bowling Green applies rules to tattoo businesses, dance establishments and grocery stores. “I think it would be irresponsible,” to not do the same with marijuana, he said. Sayler said her office is waiting for some direction from the state. “It’s new to everyone. We don’t have any guidance yet.” But Gordon said the greater error would be to deny the drug to people in need.  


Clinton vows to stay true to blue collar Americans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Hillary Clinton made her pitch to the blue collar crowd in Toledo Monday – to people who pay their taxes and expect their elected officials to do the same. Clinton hit hard on the latest news that her opponent Donald Trump has likely not paid federal taxes for nearly two decades. She looked at her supporters gathered in the Amtrak station in downtown Toledo, and told them she understands them. “We believe in honest pay for honest work,” she said, mentioning her dad who printed drapery for a living. “He believed in hard work. He passed that on to me.” Those in the crowd appreciated her steady dedication to family and worker causes. Jennifer Rogers, of Toledo, said she likes how Clinton relies on her experience and her heart. “I think Hillary knows more about the world situation than any president we’ve ever had. I think the Republican party has done a real witch hunt and she’s stood her ground.” Larry Robinson, of Bowling Green, admitted he was not a huge Hillary fan. “I’m against Donald Trump,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t trust him to stick to his word.” So Clinton will likely win with Robinson by default. “When it comes time to vote, I’ll probably pull the lever for Hillary,” he said. Andrew Heller, of Toledo, had no doubts. “I think she’s obviously the only candidate qualified for the job.” He then looked at his two young daughters to explain another reason why he wouldn’t support Trump. “It’s despicable how he talks about women.” One speaker suggested it would be fitting for the Glass City to help Clinton shatter the “glass ceiling.” U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, joined in heaping praise onto Clinton. “No matter what gets thrown her way, she keeps chugging along,” Kaptur said. “She gets things done.” One of those things was very meaningful to Toledo, when Clinton voted to save the auto industry. Clinton talked about those tough times, when people were losing their jobs, their homes, their savings. “In 2009, you were in the eye of the storm,” she said to the Toledoans. She used Trump’s words against him, reminding the crowd that he didn’t stand for the auto industry bailout. “He would have let you twist and fall,” she said….


Jail inmate in hospital after beating in visitation area

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   An inmate at the Wood County jail is in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo after being beaten by another inmate last week in the visitation area of the jail. Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said Sunday afternoon that the two inmates were in the visitation area when one punched the other in the back of the head. “We got the victim medical attention immediately and are pressing felony charges against the inmate who beat him,” Wasylyshyn said. Operations Captain Terry James said this morning that Jesse Perez, 36, Toledo, and Franklin Socha, 26, Berea, were having a disagreement Thursday in the visitation area of the jail, when Perez allegedly punched Socha in the back of the head. James said Perez, who was in the jail for domestic violence, punched Socha “several” times. Socha, who was in the jail for felonious assault, was visiting with his mother at the time. Socha was taken to Wood County Hospital, then transferred to St. Vincent in Toledo. The hospital would not release his condition this morning. No jail staff was in the visitation area when the fight occurred, James said. That is not unusual, according to James, who said two deputies were monitoring the area from the room next door. “They saw it and called for backup,” James said. The staff was in the visitation room “very quickly,” James said after watching video of the incident. “I was pleased with how fast we were in there.” Felony assault charges against Perez will be presented to the grand jury on Wednesday. Almost all inmates at the Wood County Justice Center are permitted visitation. “All inmates, unless they are in discipline, are entitled to visitation,” Wasylyshyn said. The sheriff is hoping to change to video communication in the future, so the inmates stay in their jail areas, and their visitors communicate with them similar to Skype.  


‘Bobcat Basics’ to supply students with toiletries, school items

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Like many teachers, Erica Slough often sees students in her classroom who struggle with daily issues that most Bowling Green students don’t have to worry about. They don’t have the basic toiletries, clothing or school supplies they need. So Slough, a high school English teacher, came up with the Bobcat Basics program to provide supplies to students in need. “They do a good job of pretending to be OK. They don’t want to talk about it. But we see kids who are in need and we don’t have anywhere to turn to,” Slough said. “This is a much needed program.” It might be that their families can’t afford to keep supplies of shampoo, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, or notebooks. It may be the family has suffered a job loss, or a disaster such as a fire, or has a more ongoing crisis. “If they don’t have their basic needs met, how are they going to focus on academics?” Slough said. “They are thinking about survival. We want to help them out the best we can.” The plan is to supply the Bobcat Basics program by asking parents to donate items and by working with student organizations to collect donations from businesses. Student groups will also be in charge of keeping track of the inventory and making sure the program is stocked. “It’s set up for students to help students,” Slough said. But that is as far as the students and community will be involved, since the program must be discreet so students in need feel comfortable picking up items. “This is for the teenagers,” Slough said. Students will be approached by their guidance counselors, referred by their teachers, or questioned if they receive reduced cost lunches. “We do have a significant amount on that list,” she said. They will be called down to the Bobcat Basics room during study hall. “People get called down for different reasons all the time,” Slough said. The students can pick out the items that they need, bag them up, and put them in their locker without anyone knowing. BGHS art teacher Lloyd Triggs, who designed a logo for the Bobcat Basics program, said he liked how discreet the program was and how it gave the community an opportunity to help. “It…


Jail inmate beaten by another inmate during visitation

An inmate at the Wood County jail was beaten by another inmate last week in the visitation area of the jail. Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said Sunday afternoon that the two inmates were in the visitation area when one punched the other in the back of the head. The sheriff did not have the names of the two inmates. “We got the victim medical attention immediately and are pressing felony charges against the inmate who beat him,” Wasylyshyn said. Felony charges will be presented to the grand jury on Wednesday. The sheriff did not know the condition of the beaten inmate, but said he had heard that his condition was improving. It is not clear if any jail staff was in the visitation room at the time of the incident. “I don’t know if we had staff in there at that time,” Wasylyshyn said. The inmate who was beaten may have been visiting with his mother at the time, he said. Almost all inmates are permitted visitation. “All inmates, unless they are in discipline, are entitled to visitation,” he said. The sheriff is hoping to change to video communication in the future, so the inmates stay in their jail areas, and their visitors communicate with them similar to Skype. More information will be added to this report on Monday.  


Volunteer Guardians needed to advocate for adults

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Rocky Ramos and Denise Niese are buddies. When they talked Thursday morning, Niese reminded him she was bringing some Costco rotisserie chicken to his apartment for dinner. They talked about Ramos’ favorite sports teams. And he asked again about getting a “Hawaii 5-0” tattoo in honor of his favorite TV show. Though separated by several years, the two are tight. But they are more than friends. Niese is a Volunteer Guardian for Ramos. She is one of 20 volunteers in the county who work with a program established by the Wood County Probate Court to help adults who are unable to look out for themselves. The needs of the program are outgrowing the number of volunteers, according to Jennifer Robeson, office manager for the probate court. The Volunteer Guardian program pairs up volunteers with adults declared incompetent by the court. Many of the adults are referred to the court by local nursing homes, Adult Protective Services, Behavioral Connections or Wood Lane. Some of the older adults are no longer able to look out for their best interests and don’t have family members to help. Some of the younger adults have developmental disabilities and lack family to take the role. “They are mostly strangers,” Robeson said of the volunteers matched with adults in need. They range from teachers and nurses, to attorneys and retirees. The guardians represent the person, not the estate. “They are an advocate or a friend they wouldn’t have otherwise,” she explained. The guardians might have to give permission for medical procedures or be with the person at the end of their life. “On the other hand, they might take them to a movie or dinner,” Robeson said, explaining the wide range of needs. “The volunteers provide a quality of life to these people who wouldn’t have it otherwise,” Robeson said. “This is a fantastic reminder there are still great people in the world,” which is not something that is frequently seen by those working in the court system, she added. Wood County Probate/Juvenile Judge Dave Woessner has been a strong supporter of the guardian program. “I truly believe this is an invaluable program for the county. It fills an ever increasing need in the county,” Woessner said. “They do an excellent job assisting people…


Zombie Mud Run planned on BG obstacle course

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green parks officials are looking at the “undead” as a way to breathe new life into park programming. The first BG Zombie Mud Run is being planned for Nov. 20 on the new obstacle course being built behind the community center on Newton Road. The plans for the event were explained to the Parks and Recreation Board earlier this week by Ivan Kovacevic, recreation coordinator. Participants will run through the 1.5-mile obstacle course wearing flag football belts. Along the route, they will encounter obstacles, mud and, of course, zombies. Kovacevic promised natural and man-made obstacles that the runners will have to hurdle, crawl through, climb over and run through – with plenty of water and mud along the way. And as the name implies, there will also be “zombies” along the course trying to pull the participants’ flags and “infect” them. To successfully finish the race, a runner must navigate through the obstacles and past the zombies to the finish line with at least one flag still intact. “If they make it, they survive. If not, they’re infected,” Kovacevic said. The zombie event may attract some teenage participants, who are hard to attract to park and recreation programs, he said. But the popularity of the “Walking Dead” and all-things zombie, may just be enough to draw in teenagers. Students with the DECA program at Bowling Green High School will be teaming up with the parks and rec department to help with the event. Revenue from the Zombie Mud Run will be directed toward further development of the new obstacle course trail and toward the BG Parks & Recreations Camps for Kids program, which helps subsidize programs for youth and families in need. Also at the park and recreation meeting, the board: Heard from board chairman Jeff Crawford that efforts are gearing up to promote the 2-mill park levy on the Nov. 8 ballot.. Voted to increase non-resident fees for one-day and multi-day camp programs for youth. City Council will review the small fee increases in October. Parks and Recreation Department Director Kristin Otley explained that this would be a good time to revisit the non-resident fees since city residents are being asked to approve a tax levy for the parks. Listened as Cheryl Windisch reported on…


BGSU sees slip in student retention rate

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   BGSU’s student retention rate slipped this fall, sending officials scrambling to find ways to help students stay at school. It’s not enough for Bowling Green State University to attract new students to come to school. The university has to keep them coming back for more – until they graduate. That’s because universities in Ohio no longer get state funding per student headcounts. Now they get paid if students return to school each year and earn diplomas. So the recent dip in returning students at BGSU was concerning Friday to the BGSU Board of Trustees. Last fall, the retention rate was 77.5 percent. This fall, the rate of returning students had dropped to 75.8 percent – creating a bigger gap between reality and the retention goal of 80 percent. “Obviously, we’re not satisfied,” said BGSU Provost Rodney Rogers. “The goal is 80 percent, so we will continue to work on that.” Retention rates dropped for on-campus students (78.4 to 76.5 percent) and for commuter students (67.9 to 64.7 percent.) Meanwhile, several other universities in Ohio were meeting their goals of 80 percent or higher retention rates, Rogers said. Rates at Ohio University, Ohio State University, Miami University and Kent State were all higher than BGSU, while the University of Toledo’s rate was lower. But Rogers assured that BGSU could achieve the higher rate. “That 80 percent is a very appropriate goal for us,” he said. BGSU Trustees President David Levey questioned how the university would meet the goal. “Everybody’s focused on retention and our numbers are slipping,” he said. “What are we going to do this year?” However, Trustee Dan Keller cautioned the board to not over-react to one slip in the retention rate. If the one-year blip turns into a trend, then it will be time to worry, he said. Rogers and Tom Gibson, vice president of student affairs and vice provost, explained that several efforts are already underway to improve the rate. “The two of them are taking this very, very seriously,” Keller said. Among freshman, the highest risk groups for non-returning students are commuters, first-generation students, and Pell-eligible students. “For each of these, we have strategies in place,” Rogers said. “We’re very much focused on these sub-populations.” “We’re seeking to better understand their needs,” Gibson…


Ice Arena investment skates by BGSU Trustees

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Six years ago, the Falcon hockey program was teetering on the edge of the BGSU budget chopping block. But today, the Bowling Green State University Board of Trustees voted unanimously to spend $2.7 million to keep the operation on ice. The money will pay for a new ice plant and replacement of the concrete floor under the main and auxiliary ice at the Ice Arena on Mercer Road. There was no debate about spending the money – with it being noted that the BGSU hockey team is ranked 14th in the nation this year. The concrete floor and ice plant are original to the Ice Arena, which was built in 1967. The facility saw its first upgrade in 1989 with expansion of the seating area, then in 2001 with some office and lounge space being added. In 2010, some roof, gutter, restroom, humidity and lighting changes were made, and later the parking lot and sound system were improved. There were upgrades to the locker rooms, concession area and awnings added out front. And this year, hockey fans will notice a new video score board in the arena. The ice plant and concrete will have to wait until next summer to be replaced, so the work doesn’t interrupt hockey season. Sheri Stoll, BGSU vice president of finance, stressed the need for the improvements. “Our operating costs will increase significantly” if the work isn’t done, she told the trustees. Though the university is prepared to pay for the projects, Stoll said donations are always welcome. “We’d be happy to accept any private donations for this,” she said. Also at Friday’s meeting, the BGSU Trustees approved $9.4 million in improvements to the East Campus and central electrical load centers. Stoll described the project as “mission critical.” The work will remain “invisible” to the public, but failure of the 60-year-old electrical load centers would be “extremely” bad, she said. Stoll said the state is expected to pay for $7.2 million of the project, $750,000 would come from residential life funds, and $1.5 would be long-term debt. The trustees also approved a $3 million ductwork project in the Moore Musical Arts Center, which would improve humidity levels and qualify the building for a “Steinway” designation. The work will require that no staff…


Fewer BG residents stashing trash in recyclable bins

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is trying to use the carrot and not the stick to teach residents about the new garbage rules. But it turns out they are also having to explain that carrots and sticks belong in the trash, not in recycling. The problem came to a head a few weeks ago, when the Wednesday recyclable collection route on the east side of the city consisted of 35 percent trash, according to Ken Rieman, of the Bowling Green Recycling Center. It was believed that the increase in the garbage in recyclable bins was an unintended consequence of the new city ordinance requiring that garbage bins be closed when being picked up. Rieman surmised that residents with overflowing trash bins were stashing the trash in the recyclable bins instead. However, as of last Wednesday, the trash in the recyclable bins had dropped to 20 percent from the peak of 35 percent, Rieman said. “It appears the city education efforts have had some success,” he said. Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said the 35 percent was “an alarming rate.” So the city started a strong education push for residential areas close to BGSU, where it was thought that students might not realize the difference between the green garbage bins and the blue recycling bins. Bright green stickers are being placed on bins that are being used improperly. However, if the education isn’t enough, the city can cite citizens for putting trash in their recycling bins. “Obviously, that is a last resort for the city,” Fawcett said. “We’d rather work with them than fine them.” The new rule requiring the lids to be closed on garbage bins was to prevent pyramids of trash from becoming litter in neighborhoods, and to prevent the garbage bin lids from being broken off by the automatic arms that pick up the bins and dump them in the truck. In cases where city residents need extra space for garbage, additional bins may be acquired from the city public works office, Fawcett said. “The city is willing to work with people. You just need to reach out to us and tell us what you need,” he said. Though the amount of trash in recyclables has dropped in recent weeks, Rieman pointed out that 20 percent trash is still…


BG Fire Division to hold open house, safety demonstrations

(As submitted by the BG Fire Division) October is Fire Prevention Month and the City of Bowling Green Fire Division seeks to educate citizens about the importance of fire prevention. On Saturday, October 8, the Fire Division will host an Open House, at the Pearl Street Station, 1060 Pearl Street, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.  During the event, visitors may tour the fire station, view fire and ambulance vehicles, and talk with Bowling Green Firefighters. Other activities will include: – Auto extrication demonstration, 1:00 pm: Watch the Jaws of Life at work! – Fire hose demonstration: Visitors will be able to test their skills by shooting a real fire hose. – Thermal imaging camera demonstration: Firefighters will demonstrate how the camera improves visibility in a smoke filled area. In addition, educational brochures will be available.  Firefighters will be available to answer questions and provide information. Adults and children are encouraged to attend on October 8.  “Too often, adults think that safety training only applies to children in school,” Fire Chief Tom Sanderson explained.  “Everyone needs to learn how to react in an emergency to keep their loved ones safe.” “The Bowling Green Fire Division reminds everyone of the importance of having working smoke alarms and CO detectors,” Chief Sanderson said.  “Alarms should be checked monthly and the batteries should be changed in coordination with clock changes for daylight savings time.” The theme for fire prevention month this year is “Don’t Wait – Check the Date!” Did you know that smoke alarms need changed every 10 years? Carbon Monoxide alarms should be changed every 5-7 years, depending on the manufacturer.


Simpson Building parking lot to close for work

The City of Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department wants to make the public aware that the Simpson Building parking lot will be closed Tuesday, Oct. 4 – Thursday, Oct. 6. The parking lot will be milled, paved and striped during this time. For questions or more information call 419-354- 6223 or visit the city website at www.bgohio.org and click on parks and recreation.


Donation page set up for Buddy Benches

A First Giving donation page has been set up for the Buddy Benches program at Bowling Green schools. The benches are to help children without playmates on school playgrounds to find other children to play with at recess. The link to the First Giving site to make donations online is  https://www.firstgiving.com/NWOAS/buddybench Those donors who prefer to write checks should make them payable to NWO Apraxia Support. They can be mailed or dropped off to Kenwood Elementary.