Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

Some feel sign sends wrong message about downtown BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News     Some Bowling Green citizens want to give the city a message – they don’t like the new message sign downtown. When a story was posted last week about new electronic signs being used by the city to communicate with residents, it created quite a stir of reactions on Facebook. Two electronic message signs have been erected, with one in front of the police station on West Wooster Street and the other by the public works area on East Poe Road. The negative comments were all aimed at the sign downtown in front of the police station. The sign was called ugly, a waste of money, distracting to drivers and detracting from the historic downtown. “So much for our quaint town,” one person wrote. “It really contrasts with the look of our downtown area. Did anyone consider aesthetics when this was approved,” another wrote. Some questioned the expense, with each sign costing $10,250, suggesting that the money would be better spent on paving or patrolling the city’s streets. “To me, the thing just doesn’t go with the style of that area downtown,” said resident and Realtor Andy Newlove. “We’ve got this vibrant downtown,” and then this sign goes up that looks like it ought to be selling hamburgers, he said. “To just throw that thing up there? It doesn’t look nice. Was it discussed?” Newlove said the city has worked to improve signage downtown and get rid of unattractive signs. While the new CVS also has an electronic message board, “at least that’s a private business.” The new LED signs will alert residents about such items as traffic changes for construction or special events in the community, and about seasonal services such as brush pickup. The sign in front of the police station may also make public service announcements on buckling up and not drinking and driving. The purpose of the signs was to better communicate with city residents, said Joe Fawcett, assistant municipal administrator. “The city has heard consistently from citizens and public officials that communication is very important,” Fawcett said Monday. So the signs were put in the city’s 2016 budget, and will replace the banners with printed safety reminders for drivers. “We view it as an addition to the weekly emails that go out…


BG tries to sweeten smells from sewer plant

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Doug Clark takes it personally when people complain about the foul smells coming from the wastewater plant on the east side of Bowling Green. As superintendent of the Water Pollution Control Plant on Dunbridge Road, Clark is intensely proud of the violation-free operation that treated 2.2 billion gallons of wastewater and stormwater last year. He takes pride in the fact that nearly every step in the treatment is done with biological processes, not chemicals. Improvements at the plant have resulted in a 50 percent reduction in the total solids left from the process – creating a product the EPA has approved for sale to a local landscaper who blends the solids with topsoil and sand. None of the solids are applied to farm fields anymore. The finished liquid product looks like crystal clear water and meets EPA standards as it is sent down Poe Ditch to the Portage River. But there’s one thing that Clark gets prickly about – complaints about the stench from the plant. “It’s pretty amazing,” Clark said as he held up a cup of the clear finished liquid product that was the result of the very complex biological process at the plant. “We get it right a lot more than wrong. Yet the only thing we’re known for is odors every once in awhile.” Clark concedes that the odors are particularly pungent on some days, especially when the wind is coming from the north, sending the smell toward businesses along Dunbridge Road. “Typically, it’s wet heavy mornings when it’s most noticeable,” he said. “It’s those days when you smell it, it’s really bad. There’s no way to know if it’s going to be one of those days.” Though Clark said the staff at the plant does get accustomed to the smells, some days “we do notice it.” The wastewater plant has made several attempts to sweeten the smells emitted. It uses an aerobic digestion process with bacteria that helps consume the waste. “Our job is to provide the best environment for the bacteria to absorb it,” Clark said. “We have done a lot of work” to reduce the odors since Clark took over as superintendent in 2007. To lower the ammonia content, the wastewater is run through filters layered with large rocks, then…


BG art students win carving, painting honors

Four Bowling Green High School art students won awards at the state and national levels for their wildlife carving and painting entries. Senior Tony Reisberg won 2nd place, and sophomore Dana Kleman won 3rd place in their age groups in the Youth Silhouette Division at the 46th Annual Ward World Competition held in Ocean City Maryland, April 22– 26. Their entries were a wood carved and painted Laughing Gull mounted shorebird-style on a base. Over 300 entries were submitted in the silhouette category and judged according to competition rules at the show. At the state level, sophomore, Lucie Moore won 3rd place for her drawing of an American Widgeon in the Ohio Junior Duck Stamp Competition, hosted in Strongsville, Ohio, by the Ohio Decoy Collectors and Carvers Association, a non-profit, volunteer organization. The contest is organized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the national Junior Duck Stamp Program. The Duck Stamp competition is a dynamic art and science-based curriculum that teaches wetland and waterfowl conservation to students in kindergarten through high school. The First Place entry at the state level is then eligible to compete at the National Level. Artwork of the winning entry is produced on a pictorial stamp by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the Junior Duck Stamp Program educational curriculum. Ms. Kleman also won 1st Place for her carved and painted Mini Blue-Winged Teal, and 2015 graduate, Tim Kleman, won 3rd Place Best of Show for his Golden Plover entry in the ODCCA Novice, Rest of the Marsh competition. “I have been really fortunate to work with the members of the Maumee Bay Carvers. Since 2013, Bob Lund, Steve Secord and Garrett Secord have donated their time, expertise, and materials to the students of Bowling Green High School. Students have worked outside of school and during enrichments to try their hand at wildlife art. It has been great to see my students embrace the art of carving decoys. Some students really take to working with wood and you can see their passion grow for it,” said Lloyd Triggs, Bowling Green High School art teacher. Junior Duck Stamp program guides are available at http://www.fws.gov/birds/education/junior-duck-stamp conservation-program.php. For rules and/or entry forms contact, Rebecca Lewis, JDSP Coordinator, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, (419) 898-0014, or rebecca_hinkle@fws.gov. Visit the…


Two BG curling teams to compete in nationals

If you didn’t get enough of curling in 2014 at the Sochi Olympics, then you are in luck—but you may have to drive to Pennsylvania. The Bowling Green Curling Club will be fielding both a men’s and a women’s team in the upcoming Arena National Curling Championships, set for May 10-15, at the Ice Line Arena in West Chester, PA. “We are very excited to have two teams representing our club at Arena Nationals this year,” said Shannon Orr, club president. “Both teams are highly competitive, and we look forward to a strong showing by all of them.” The championship games encompass 20 men’s and women’s teams each from around the nation, including other Great Lakes Curling Association teams from arena-based clubs in Lansing, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis. Tournament selection was made based on application and lottery. This event was initiated 4 years ago, in recognition that the ice in arena-based clubs poses more challenges than dedicated club ice, and the majority of club growth in the United States is occurring on arena ice. “Arena” ice is shared between hockey, skating, and curling. “We have a very supportive and encouraging club, and new members are always welcome,” Orr said. “We hope more folks will come and try one of our learn-to- curls.” Curling dates back to the 16th century, and is one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S., in part for its accessibility to curlers of all ages and physical abilities. A sport of precision, curling is sometimes referred to as “chess on ice,” and requires a combination of strategy, finesse, teamwork, and camaraderie. Teams must deliver each 40-pound curling stone across more than 100 feet of ice and assure it comes to rest in a specific location. In curling, mere inches can make the difference between loss and success. “Curling is a great sport,” said Orr. “It is easy to learn, but challenging to master.” Orr said curlers delight in the “thrill of throwing a great rock or hearing your rock crash into another one and knock it out of play.” Club members traveling to West Chester to compete include Jay Clark of Saline, Michigan; Matthew Smith of Holland, Ohio; and Scott Piroth and Cameron Roehl of Bowling Green, Ohio; for the men’s team. Jen Henkel of Perrysburg, Ohio; Beth Landers of Bowling…


Here’s some advice – don’t forget Mother’s Day

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Most mothers consider it their duty to pass on wisdom to their offspring. And sometimes, to the annoyance of their children, they repeat that advice to make sure it sticks. Over and over again. So in celebration of mothers and the wisdom they impart, a few people around Bowling Green were asked to share the best and worst advice from their moms. On the younger end of the scale, the advice tended to be more practical. Nine-year-old R.J. Agosti pondered a bit then it came to him. “Well, my mom always tells me to never cross the road without holding an adult’s hand. You could get crushed,” he said. Then he thought a bit more. “When you check out a library book, you should bring it back on time.” Not lifesaving advice, but important just the same. His mom, Cathy Agosti remembered some deeper advice from her own mom. “Always treat others the way you want to be treated. That’s the best advice I got from my mom,” she said. Kevin Guimbellot said his family moved a lot when he was young, so he was always the new kid at school. His mom taught him a valuable lesson in survival. “The best advice she gave me was, if they’re laughing with you, they’re not picking on you,” he said. “So she’s responsible for me being a comedian.” Guimbellot had no trouble recalling the worst advice his mother gave him. “She said, ‘your father knows where he’s going.’ We not only got lost, we got stuck in water.” Tavion Torrez, 9, said his mom has never led him astray. “My mom hasn’t given me any bad advice.” Her best advice? “Ask before grabbing,” which Tavion said he always tries to do. Some people had trouble pinpointing the most memorable advice from their moms. A couple young women declined since they had “complicated relationships” with their moms. “My mother told me motherhood was going to be harder than I thought it was going to be,” and that proved to be right, said Amanda Bryant as she walked with her two children. “But maybe that’s because I have a 3-month-old and a 5-year-old.” Prudence Brott said the best advice from her mom was “to always be kind.” The worst advice…


Adventure therapy to reach out to traumatized kids

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Children who have gone through traumatic experiences can’t always be reached with traditional therapy alone. So Wood County agencies will soon be trying Adventure Therapy to help children who have faced trauma in their young lives. Wood County Children’s Services has received a $15,000 grant to pay for training in Adventure Therapy, according to Sandi Carsey, Children’s Services director. Children’s Resource Center in Bowling Green, and Renewed Mind in Perrysburg will provide the therapy, Carsey said. Adventure Therapy will not replace more traditional therapy, but will offer kids aged 12 to 18 a chance to work as a team with other children to do something they may not feel they can’t accomplish, such as climb a rock wall. “Kids will be challenged to do something,” Carsey said. “It will help build up their confidence.” Adventure Therapy, which has been around nearly 20 years, blends experiential activities and evidence-based treatment, according to Janelle LaFond, executive director at Children’s Resource Center. “It won’t be sitting down like talking therapy,” LaFond said. “It will be things that really challenge kids.” “We want to increase their resiliency and their own feelings of confidence,” she said. Adventure Therapy is used primarily with kids who have a traumatic history, such as being removed from their homes and placed in foster care, LaFond said. Children’s Services has found over the years that oftentimes when children age out of foster care they are not prepared to be on their own. This type of therapy could be helpful to them, LaFond said. “This is really the gravy on the potatoes,” she said. LaFond explained that some children, such as those with attention deficit problems, respond best to very structured therapy programs. “But trauma kids, when you put up charts and rules, it doesn’t work as well.” Adventure Therapy is also designed to help children establish trust, social skills, a help seeking behavior. The goal of the therapy is to assess children’s needs and “meet them where they are,” by tailoring activities that engage them and achieve outcomes that will allow them to function more successfully with family, school and work.  


BG erects two LED message signs

Bowling Green city officials have a new way of communicating with city residents. Two electronic message signs have been purchased, with one in front of the police station on West Wooster Street and the other by the public works area on East Poe Road. The signs will alert residents about such items as traffic changes for construction or special events in the community, and about seasonal services such as brush pickup. The sign in front of the police station may also make public service announcements on buckling up and not drinking and driving. The signs cost $10,250 each, according to Bowling Green Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett.  


St. John’s Woods was hog heaven

By CHRIS GAJEWICZ BG Naturalist   Stephen W. St. John came to Bowling Green in the 1840s. He was an attorney from New York State and came to BG with the hope of developing a successful law firm in Wood County and of becoming what we would call today, a “Gentleman Farmer”. St. John owned much of what is currently Wintergarden/St. John’s Nature Preserve although its appearance in the 1800s was very different from what it is today. We know from land records, all of the meadow area was utilized for the planting of row crops and the St. John’s Woods woodlot was used as a pasture for hogs. We also know someone lived in the general area of the west side of St. John’s Woods, although no foundations or structures have been found to date. We have located a dump site within St. John’s Woods and it looks as if it was active for quite a long time leading us to believe that human habitation was not far away. From the plant record, (meaning plants that are currently growing in the general vicinity of the west side of St. John’s Woods), someone who had knowledge of medicinal plant use had a loose garden of healing plants. Perhaps the people responsible for these plants were share croppers of some sort and their dwellings were not built on foundations making it difficult for us to now determine where they actually lived. The St. John house still stands on Sand Ridge Road and is occupied. St. John’s Woods is a leftover from a time when farmers actively managed woodlots on their farms. Many used these woodlots for lumber, fuel, fencing materials and in St. John’s case, for pasture. For the longest time I was under the assumption that St. John pastured his hogs in the woodlot out of frugality; there was a free food crop and natural shade. Oak trees in the woodlot were large and could provide shade but they also provided acorns and in all likelihood, there may have been American Chestnut trees growing in the woods prior to the introduction of the blight in the early 1900s which killed them all. The oaks; Red, White, and Black, all produced fruit abundantly as did the Chestnuts. Recently, I was listening to NPR and I heard…


Communities caught in middle of tax tug-of-war

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Ohio Gov. John Kasich boasts about digging the state out of a deficit and cutting taxes, local government officials see little to brag about. To them, the state’s strategy was not tax cuts, but “tax shifts,” putting the burden onto municipal, township and county governments. The changes in tax revenue have affected every community in Wood County. On the larger side, Bowling Green has lost $964,764 in annual income, and Perrysburg has lost even more at $1,154,451. On the smaller side, Pemberville lost $43,924 a year, Weston lost $41,335, and Haskins lost $5,368, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation. “This is putting the pressure on communities to raise those taxes,” said Kent Scarrett, director of communications for the Ohio Municipal League. “The state says we are cutting taxes left and right,” Scarrett said. “The fact is, that burden is put on local communities.” The three changes made by the state are: Elimination of Ohio estate tax, which is also called the “death tax.” Eighty percent of this money had gone to local communities. Bowling Green lost an estimated $382,848 a year. Big cuts in the state’s Local Government Fund, which made up sizeable portions of county, municipal and township budgets. The LGF was created during the Depression when the sales tax was enacted to share money with grassroots government. Bowling Green lost $563,480 a year. Elimination of local property taxes on business machinery and inventory, also called the CAT tax. The state had a planned phase out of the tax over a period of time, but hastened the cuts. Bowling Green lost $18,436 a year. Those cuts have some communities struggling to keep vital services, such as fire stations open, and are considering more reductions in city services, Scarrett said. “That’s the disconnect that’s going on,” he said. “You’re just shifting the burden.” Across the state, communities are trying four main strategies to handle the funding cuts, according to Scarrett. The first is natural attrition, “especially in safety areas like police and fire,” he said. “A lot of communities aren’t filling those positions.” Next is increasing fees and service charges, for such items as trash pickup, utilities or permits. More communities are also looking at reducing or eliminating tax credits for residents who work outside…


Two BG students charged for bringing knives to school

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Two Bowling Green students face charges after bringing knives to their schools this week. The first knife was discovered at Bowling Green Middle School on Monday, according to BG Police Major Justin White. An officer was on routine foot patrol at the school when the assistant principal notified the officer that a student was found with a fixed blade knife. School officials searched the 13-year-old boy’s locker and found another knife in his bookbag. The student reportedly told school officials he had the knives at school “for defensive purposes.” “We had no indication he made any threats,” White said. The boy was taken to the Wood County Juvenile Detention Center and charged with conveyance of a weapon in a school safety zone. The second knife was found Tuesday when the father of the alleged victim called police to report that his 10-year-old son had been threatened by another 10-year-old with a knife. The victim told police that he and another 10-year-old boy were walking home from Conneaut Elementary School and engaging in an ongoing argument. The alleged victim said the other boy threatened him by showing him the knife and saying something like, “I’m going to get you,” White said. During the investigation, police discovered that the boy with the fold-out pocket knife had the weapon at school, with a school official reporting that they saw the knife when the student left school. The boy has been charged with aggravated menacing and having a weapon in a school safety zone. He was also taken to the juvenile detention center. No one was injured in either incident. The police are working with school administration, which will handle any school discipline. “Kids are making poor decisions,” White said. “They are potentially affecting the rest of their lives.”


Health district to build dental center that won’t turn away uninsured

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Health District has given local residents something to smile about. The district’s Health and Wellness Center has been awarded $824,997 to build a dental center to serve Wood County residents regardless of their ability to pay, according to Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey. The district had applied for two projects, one to build a new center and one to renovate existing meeting rooms. The new center was funded. There is also still a chance the health district will receive funds to help pay for dental staffing needs. The health district has been trying for decades to address dental needs. “This is a huge leap forward in meeting this,” Batey said. “It truly will be a benefit to our residents who are uninsured for dental or who have Medicaid, but can’t find a dental provider who will accept them as patients. It will be a whole new challenge, but we look forward to continuing to expand services to give our residents the greatest options for good health.” The dental clinic will be an expansion of the existing Health and Wellness Center that is part of the health district offices at 1840 E. Gypsy Lane Road, Bowling Green. The dental clinic will have at least four patient chairs and will offer full services. “Just like your typical dental office,” Batey said. “It’s very exciting,” said Diane Krill, CEO of the health and wellness center. Krill said the need for dental services is great. “I just think with the community health assessment, it showed there was a dental need here.” Many Wood County families cannot afford dental care for their children, or cannot find dental offices willing to accept Medicaid patients. “We still see a lack of access for those individuals,” Batey said last year. “That’s still a spot where Wood County struggles.” About a decade ago, local officials who cared about public health and about children met at the county health department to discuss the lack of dental care for local children. At that point there was one dentist in the county who freely accepted Medicaid patients. The problem wasn’t an easy fix with a clear culprit. Dentists are reimbursed at a lower rate by Medicaid than through private insurance. And the Medicaid patients often have…


ATM in Meijer parking lot approved by city planning commission

Bowling Green Planning Commission approved plans Wednesday evening for a Huntington Bank ATM to be constructed in the Meijer parking lot on East Wooster Street. The standalone drive-up ATM under a canopy will be located in the southwest corner of the parking lot, behind the Meijer gas station. A Huntington branch is already located inside Meijer, but the branch further in town on East Wooster Street has been closed. Also at the meeting, the planning commission heard a request for the annexation of 6.2 acres between 1502 and 1518 Napoleon Road. The property is currently in Center Township. Petitioning for the annexation are Steven and Marcia Seubert. A public hearing on the request will be held at the next planning commission meeting on June 1. Planning Director Heather Sayler updated the commission on projects going on in the city, including the battery-wholesale store being built in front of Woodland Mall, the Burger King in front of Home Depot, and the Fairfield Inn on East Wooster that is expected to be open by October.


Clean Plate Awards to be handed out by health district

Wood County Health District is pleased to announce the presentation of this year’s Clean Plate Awards on Thursday, May 12, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. The presentation will take place at the Wood County Health District located at 1840 East Gypsy Lane Road, Bowling Green. The 2016 Clean Plate Award will be presented to forty licensed food service operations out of more than 800 food service operations in Wood County. These restaurants and other food service operations have been dedicated to upholding excellent sanitation and food safety knowledge within their facility. The recipients will receive a certificate of excellence and recognition of excellent performance in food safety from the Wood County Health District.  The winners of the Clean Plate Award will also receive a Clean Plate Award decal to display at their facility. This is the sixth year that the Wood County Board of Health will hand out the awards. “The Food Service Operations in Wood County that are presented with the Clean Plate Award have gone above and beyond in the practice of safe food handling,” said Lana Glore, Director of Environmental Services at the Wood County Health District. This year’s recipients include: American Table Family Restaurant, Bass Pro Shop, Bowling Green High School, Bowling Green Manor, Bowling Green Middle School, Carolyn’s Personalized Catering, Conneaut Elementary, Crim Elementary, Eagle Point Elementary, Eastwood High School, Eastwood Middle School, Edible Arrangements, Fernando’s, First Solar/Eurest Dining, Glenwood Elementary, Holiday Inn Express and Suites, Kenwood Elementary, Luckey Elementary, Marco’s Pizza #8, Nazareth Hall, Northwood High School, Northwood Elementary, Olney Elementary, Pemberville Elementary, Poppin George’s Kettle Corn of BG, Rita’s Dairy Bar, Rossford High School, Subway #5859, Super Suppers – Perrysburg-Maumee, Swig,  Wood County Committee on Aging in Rossford, Northeast Center, Perrysburg, North Baltimore, Pemberville, Wayne & Bowling Green, Wood County Justice Center, Wood Lane School, and WSOS Perrysburg/Rossford Early Childhood Center.    


Monthly siren test to be delayed for commencement

On Saturday, May 7, the Wood County Sheriff’s Office will conduct the monthly outdoor warning siren test at noon instead of the normal 10 a.m. test time due to commencement ceremonies at Bowling Green State University. The regular monthly outdoor warning siren test on the first Saturday of every month at 10 a.m. will resume in June.


Four file for empty seat on BG school board

By  JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Four people are hoping to make the grade as the new member of the Bowling Green Board of Education. Filing for the seat are: Bill Clifford, retired Wood Lane superintendent; Joanna Craig, a parent in the district; Barbara Moses, a retired BGSU professor; and Bryan Wiles, a pastor in the community. The four are seeking to fill the seat vacated by Ed Whipple, who had served on the school board since 2014, but had to resign when he accepted a position in higher education out of state. The board candidates will all be interviewed by the board of education this evening. According to Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci, the board intends to announce its decision on May 12, then swear in the new board member at the board meeting on May 17. The board is required to make an appointment within 30 days of the vacancy. If the board fails to fill the vacancy within 30 days, the probate court must fill the seat. Moses ran for a seat on the school board last fall. The initial vote count showed her winning by 10 votes. However, after the provisional ballots were counted, Moses lost the seat to Ginny Stewart by nine votes. Ed Whipple’s departure means just two of the remaining four board members have much experience. Paul Walker and Ellen Scholl have served multiple terms, but Jill Carr and Ginny Stewart are new to the board this year. “There’s something to say about the experience piece,” Scruci said. At the last board of education meeting, Scruci emphasized the importance of the board position. “This is a critical appointment because we’ve got some important issues coming up,” like teacher negotiations, facility discussions, and a levy to pass, Scruci said. “There’s some difficult things coming forward.” Those interested in being appointed to the board had to submit a letter of interest by April 29, addressing the following issues: Reason for interest in joining the board. Qualifications and experience that would add value to the board. Most pressing or important issue facing Bowing Green City Schools. The eligibility requirements to apply are few, with the applicants needing to be registered voters and residing in the school district. The new board member will fill the remainder of Whipple’s term, which…