Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

BG intersections to be closed for waterline work

B’Hillz Excavating has been authorized to close the following intersections this week to connect a new 8-inch waterline: – Monday and Tuesday: Clough at South Prospect, East Wooster to Washington and South Main to South Summit are the limits. – Tuesday and Wednesday: Manville at Third, Lehman to Fourth and Elm to Manville. – Wednesday and Thursday: High at Third, Second to Fourth and South College to Elm. – Thursday and Friday: Clough at South Summit, East Wooster to Lincoln and South Enterprise to South Prospect. The closures will only be during the workday 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. and opened back up overnight.

BG police investigating aggravated robbery

On Sunday, at approximately 3:45 a.m., officers of the Bowling Green Police Division responded to a report of an aggravated robbery that occurred in the 400 block of North Main Street. The female victim reported that a short black male, 5’-5’2” tall, approached her as she was walking on the sidewalk. The male began a conversation with her. During the conversation, the male pulled out a silver handgun and pointed it at her. The male demanded the victim’s I-Phone. The victim gave the male her I-Phone and then she ran away from him. The victim stated that male did not pursue her. If you have any information related to this crime, please contact BGPD at 419-352-1131 or Wood County Crime Stoppers 419-352-0077.  You may be eligible for a reward if the information leads to a conviction.

Food contest gives chance to put product on shelves

Ever think of starting your own food business but didn’t know where to start?  Have family and friends raved about your unique dish at gatherings?  Or do you have access to local ingredients and always considered a value-added product?  If so, consider applying to the Ohio Signature Food Contest as a method to transform a dream into reality. Sponsored by the Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT) and Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF), the contest will showcase potential new, innovative products from across the state. “We hear it often from food manufacturers of their desire to move toward more local-based products,” stated Rebecca A. Singer, vice president and director of agricultural programs, CIFT.  “This contest reflects that growing trend of the consumer’s desire for ‘local.’  Giving someone in Ohio the opportunity to take their unique, delicious, and innovative product, and eventually place it on grocery store shelves is very exciting.” The economic benefit from a food manufacturing company can be significant based on the number of people employed, the increased income potential realized by a restaurant advancing a “signature item” consumers recognize, and the trained base of resources already available within the region. Entering is simple and quick.  Contestants complete an online form outlining the basic details of their food product, and food industry experts will judge each based on the viability of the product, commercialization potential, business strategy, marketability and overall appeal to the marketplace.  Emphasis is placed on products integrating Ohio ingredients when possible.  Finalists will then be invited to present their business concept and food product to a panel of judges. The Ohio Signature Food Contest winner will be announced during a special ceremony in late July at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus, Ohio. Following the announcement, the winner will receive technical and business development assistance to help advance a product to the marketplace, as well as production of product to be used for consumer feedback. Production will be available at the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen in Bowling Green, a nonprofit commercial facility that educates and advises new and growing businesses, provides access to a commercially-licensed kitchen, networking opportunities with other similar entities, and technical assistance. Products do not need to be fully designed or ready for market, rather an ability to communicate a specific vision.  The technical assistance aspect of the award will provide guidance toward a finished product. Due to the collaboration with OFBF,…

Sales tax holiday extended for back-to-school items

State Rep. Tim Brown, R-Bowling Green, announced that the Ohio House passed SB 264, which designates the first weekend in August 2016 as a sales tax holiday for the purposes of back-to-school shopping. The legislation creates a three-day period in which certain school supplies are exempt from both state and county sales tax. The bill allows clothing up to $75 per item, and school supplies and instructional materials up to $20 per item, to qualify for the sales tax exemption. The intention of the sales tax holiday is to provide families a tax break on back-to-school shopping, while also stimulating economic activity for local businesses. “I applaud the General Assembly for continuing to pass legislation that makes back to school purchases more affordable for families.  The 2015 sales tax holiday spurred economic activity in Wood County and I support this reauthorization.  As my district additionally is rich in collegiate institutions, this tax holiday will also reduce some of the financial burdens our college students face,” Brown said. In the previous General Assembly, the legislature passed similar legislation to create a one-time sales tax holiday in 2015 as a way to explore the potential impact. According to the University of Cincinnati’s Economic Center, the sales total for that weekend was 6.48 percent higher than anticipated and led to $4.7 million in additional revenue for the state. The study also showed an increase of sales near Ohio’s borders, indicating that people from neighboring states came to Ohio to do their back-to-school shopping and take advantage of the sales tax exemption, Brown said. Provided that Governor John Kasich signs the legislation, the bill will take effect in time for the sales tax holiday to take place from Aug. 5-7 of this year.

City office building bursting at its ill-fitting seams

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The city administration building is a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. No, it’s more like several square pegs trying to squeeze into that circular space. The building, at 304 N. Church St., started its life more than a century ago as a school, then was molded into a library, and in 1976 became the city administration building. So while its age poses some problems, the bigger issue is that the building was designed for educating children, not for administering city services. The result is a 17,000 square foot building with cramped offices, maze-like spaces and cobbled together technology. For years now, city leaders have discussed the possibility of a different municipal building, with the debate continuing on whether it should be a new building or a renovated existing site. Most seem to favor the offices staying downtown. But one conclusion that doesn’t get much debate is the need for different space. First, there’s the age issue. About 20 noisy air handlers are crammed between the original ceilings and the drop ceilings. Ultraviolet lights and air purifiers are used to reduce the mold problem. “It’s good mold, but mold none the less,” said Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said. Workers often find a powdery white coating from the drop ceilings on their desks, according to Public Works Director Brian Craft. “I thought it was snowing in my office the other day,” Fawcett said. Across the hall in the personnel and clerk of council office, sloping floors cause a problem. One employee couldn’t use a plastic sheet under her office chair because of the uneven floor. “She’d roll backward” and had to constantly pull herself back to her desk, said Personnel Director Barb Ford. And power access is less than ideal, with masses of cords plugged into inconvenient locations. The old construction is not energy efficient, with the south side sweltering in the afternoon sun while the north side of the building is freezing, Craft said. “There are literally days when the air conditioning is running when the boiler is on,” he said. And speaking of the boiler, “Big Bertha,” as she is nicknamed, is “horribly inefficient,” Craft said. He likened the 60-year-old boiler to a Model T car. And like other areas of the city building, officials are reluctant to invest money in updates if the building will be…

Plant exchange helps gardeners blossom

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The tables lined with plants were like a smorgasbord for people hungry to start their spring planting. The fifth annual Wood County Plant Exchange this morning at the county fairgrounds offered gardeners a chance to trade plantings that may have overgrown in their yards, and pick up new plants to try. There were trees, shrubs, herbs, vegetables, berries, seeds, bulbs, ground covers, grass, daylilies, hostas and vines. There were plants that are fast spreading, and those that thrive in shade and sun. “I’m very excited. This is really cool,” said Pat Snyder, of Grand Rapids, who was stocking up on canna lilies and a spider plant. “And my daughter is dragging something around.” Some of the plants weren’t much to look at. But people with green thumbs were able to look beyond the scraggly appearance to see the potential of the plants. “I had no idea it was this big of a deal, and it had this many kinds of plants,” said Jan Lyon, of Bowling Green.  She brought hostas that she traded for myrtle. “I’ve been giving them away to everyone I can think of,” she said of the hostas. Lyon said she would definitely return next spring for more. “I’ll build up my muscles for next year.” With her arms, bags and boxes full of plants, Yvonne Martinez, of Bowling Green, had her day cut out for her. “My husband’s getting started already. He’s digging holes,” Martinez said as she finished rounding up the blackeyed susans, lilies, cactus, marigold seeds and much more. She traded in several cannus plants, which her husband grew tired of, and enlisted the help of her sister and mom for planting her exchanges. Lyn Long, of Bowling Green, came to the exchange looking for dahlias. She didn’t find any, so she settled on some daisies, blackeyed susans, a tomato plant, and three different kinds of pepper plants. “When they start producing, I’ll figure out what they are,” Long said, smiling. David Ingmire, of Wood County Master Gardeners, said the plant exchange gives people an opportunity to share their extra plants and find something new for their yards. It’s also a chance for budding gardeners to learn from experts on which plants and live peacefully together and which ones fight for space. They also heard from experts on topics such as fairy gardens, terrariums, succulents and…

Water and sewer lines stretched to most of county….now challenge is maintaining them

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For years now, the Northwestern Water and Sewer District has stretched water and sewer lines to the last communities to get services in Wood County. Now, the problem is maintaining all those miles of underground lines. This year, the water and sewer district has identified $8.5 million in water projects and $17 million in sewer projects that need work. Most of those costs for sewers are for maintaining existing lines and pump stations. And much of the water costs are for increasing water quality by looping lines and putting in aeration, according to district engineer Tom Stalter, who gave a report Thursday to the Wood County Commissioners. “They don’t bring us anymore customers,” but the improvements strengthen services, Stalter said of the maintenance projects. The district is currently working on extending Bowling Green water to Bloomdale, in the southeastern corner of the county. “So we can abandon that decrepit water plant,” Stalter said of the aging Bloomdale plant. The village is plagued with very high sulfur, he said. Recently, a water line break occurred while Stalter was in Bloomdale. “You could smell where the water break was.” The waterline is currently under construction, and will make Bowling Green water available to people along the route. “We’ll reach out to all the folks along the line to see if they want to connect,” Stalter said. With the increasing concerns about water quality, the district is also planning to add more bulk water stations in the county, in places like Middleton Township and near the Chrysler plant in Perrysburg Township. “We sell a lot of water that way,” Stalter said. One of the major waterline maintenance projects this year involves the aging East Broadway line in northern Wood County. The problem area is 13 miles of concrete waterline in Perrysburg Township and Rossford. The concrete line is about 40 years old, “and it does start to rot and corrode.” Stalter said a lot of leaks are occurring along the line. “This could be a large liability for us if it failed.” The plan is to insert a hardening liner inside the concrete line to keep it from leaking. Overall the district is experiencing a 20 percent water loss from its lines, so a program is being set up to address the problems. Since the district doesn’t have its own water treatment system, but buys…

Nominations sought for bicycle ‘spokes’person

The Bowling Green Bicycle Safety Commission is sponsoring the 16th annual Bicycle Spokesperson of the Year award. Nomination forms for this annual award are now available at the City Administration Building, Community Center, Simpson Building and the City’s website. Any Bowling Green citizen can be nominated who exemplifies the spirit of bicycling through involvement in biking, bike safety or bike-related activities. Nominations must be submitted by Friday, May 13. For questions or more information call the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department at (419) 354-6225.

Fatal crash stats updated for county

Wood County Safe Communities announced Friday there have been four fatal crashes compared to three last year at this time. This is an increase of one crash to date. May is also Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Motorcyclists have all the same rights and privileges as any motor vehicle driver on the roadway. During Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May –and during the rest of the year –drivers of all motor vehicles are reminded to safely “share the road” with motorcyclists and to be extra alert to help keep motorcyclists safe. In Wood County alone, helmet usage for persons involved in crashes was 52.5 percent in 2015. This is a small increase from 2014, when the helmet use in crashes was 52.4 percent. However, the percentage of people injured in crashes has decreased from 100 percent in 2014, to 66 percent in 2015.

BG Police seek suspects in downtown assault

The Bowling Green Police Division is seeking assistance in identifying suspects in an assault on Sunday, April 24, at about 2 a.m. The victim was standing on the sidewalk in the 100 block of North Main Street when four subjects began yelling at the victim. A black male suspect (5’10’’ to 6′ tall, approximately 260 to 300 lbs, wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, which read “I Love Loud”) then struck the victim twice in the face. The black male suspect was with a white female suspect (5’03” to 5’06” tall, approximately 150 -170 lbs, wearing a white shirt and a green hat). The other subjects shown in the photographs are associates of the male and female suspects. If you have any information related to this crime, please contact BGPD or Detective Andy Mulinix at 419-352-1131 or Wood County Crime Stoppers 419-352-0077.  You may be eligible for a reward if the information leads to a conviction.  

Giving the gift of music to unlock memories

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Music is being used to unlock the memories of some senior citizens in Bowling Green. And with the help of some young college students, many more of the seniors will soon be listening to jazz, gospel, classical, or whatever they please. “For those who have dementia, sometimes they have a hard time communicating,” said Brooke Harrison, administrator at Bowling Green Manor. But music can be the magic that allows them to grasp some of those missing memories. “There are a lot of memories tied to music,” said Andrea Daley, resident service coordinator at BG Manor. “You can actually notice an immediate change” in some seniors when they put on headphones and listen to tunes. A Human Development and Family Studies class at Bowling Green State University focused on adult development and aging this past semester. With professor Laura Landry Meyer, the class learned about music and memory, and heard about an innovative therapy approach at BG Manor which used music. The students were moved by the program and wanted to help it grow. So they collected iPods, headphones and monetary donations with the original goal of raising $250. They far exceeded their goal – collecting $713, nine iPods and 10 headphones for the senior facility. Erica Rybak, a student in the class, explained that she and her classmates were so moved by a video they watched of a man with dementia whose memory was unlocked by music from his past. “This man totally lit up. He was so happy. He had tears streaming down his face,” Rybak said. “It was very special.” Though non-communicative for years, the music allowed him to talk about those he cared about. “He spoke about his family,” she said. “That was the inspiration behind all this.” Meyer said using music in such a way can allow seniors to reach back and find long lost memories. “It increases the quality of life for residents,” she said. Meyer explained that Alzheimer’s Disease eats away at connections in the brain, and somehow music can bridge those gaps. “Music jumps over dead pockets to reconnect places in the brain,” she said. The gift of music to BG Manor residents on Thursday also included a performance by some members of the BGSU Marching Band led by classmate Tiffany Payne.

Wood Lane names new superintendent

The Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities has selected Brent Baer as the next superintendent of the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Baer is currently an Assistant Deputy Director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities responsible for the oversight of Ohio’s 10 developmental centers. He brings 26 years of experience serving Ohio’s citizens with developmental disabilities, with the greatest part of his career employed at the Northwest Ohio Developmental Center (NODC) in Toledo. Prior to his immediate position, Baer was the Superintendent of NODC. Baer resides in Perrysburg with his wife Lesley and they have three daughters, Casza, Mikayla, and Brianna. Baer will transition into the position with current Superintendent Melanie Stretchbery on Aug. 1. At its January 2016 meeting, current Superintendent, Melanie Stretchbery, provided notice of her retirement effective Sept. 30. The Board immediately initiated a search process and received an applicant pool with outstanding qualifications. The Board appreciates the efforts and positive contributions of the Search Committee which included the Board’s Personnel Committee: Rebecca Ferguson, Pamela Van Mooy, and John Hunt; Wood Lane Director of Operations Donna Beam; Director of Finance Steve Foster, and Director of Children’s Services Lorraine Flick; Bethany Gladieux; and family representative, Tim Harris.

BG strong and ready to take on challenges of 2016

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is making great strides in sustainable energy, has seen consistent job growth, and is making progress on some of the stickier issues in the community, Mayor Dick Edwards told the audience at the annual State of the City held this morning. And though some difficult issues await the city this year, the community is up to the challenge. “I often find myself reflecting why the mechanisms and processes of government in Bowling Green seem to work so well over the years,” Edwards said at the chamber sponsored event in the county library. “In my view, and one that is commonly held, it is the continuing ability to work together, to find solutions to perceived needs that seem to work and to think ahead, to anticipate needs.” The mayor praised the economic health of Bowling Green. “Our job growth continues to be one of the most robust of any city in the region and is integrally related to the city’s fiscal health,” Edwards said. He spoke of progress in the city’s effort to use renewable energy, saying the city will soon have “the largest solar field of any city in Ohio.” But challenges lie ahead. “We have a very full plate these days and some special challenges.” Those include: The “absolute must” passage of the park levy. The East Wooster Street corridor plan. Housing and neighborhood revitalization. Vehicular and pedestrian safety and the “new face” for the city at the new Interstate 75 interchange. Maintenance of a vibrant downtown. Finding a new home for municipal government offices in the downtown. Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter talked about the safety and quality of life in the city – much of it funded through the city income tax. The 2 percent income tax, which supports the general fund and the sewer and water capital fund, has grown from $15.6 million in 2011 to $19.2 million this year. “Bowling Green businesses are doing well and employment is robust,” Tretter said. But the increase in the income tax revenue has been countered by the decrease in Local Government Funds and the elimination of estate taxes. Tretter asked City Finance Director Brian Bushong to characterize the health of the city finances, to which he replied, “the outlook is stable with cautious optimism.” The city has several projects planned for 2016, including utility improvements and other infrastructure work….

Never too young to start fighting off effects of old age

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Age may only be a number, but as one ages, a number of things start breaking down.  Bones get more brittle, memories may start fading and mobility may lessen. But rather than giving up to the effects of aging, seniors in Bowling Green were invited Wednesday to “Your Highway to Health, 50-plus Health and Wellness Expo” at the Community Center. “We want to encourage people to be as active as they can be,” Andrea Miller, an intern with the Parks and Recreation Department, said as she checked in registrants. The more active and involved people are, the more they experience a better quality of life and a longer life, Miller said. Some of the exhibitors at the expo offered items to help keep people in their homes as they age, such as walk-in bath tubs and hand bars for bathrooms. There were booths that encouraged seniors to continue full lives, like the library exhibit with books on walking and hiking, and the County Parks exhibit that touted the health benefits of being outside in nature. There were stations that checked up on medical issues, such as blood pressure and nutrition. And there was information on fitness activities offered through City Parks and Rec, like the “Silver Sneakers” program, pickleball, yoga and Zumba. “It’s a good time to get started,” for any age senior, said Ivan Kovacevic, Recreation Coordinator with the City Parks and Recreation Department. The expo also looked at other needs for seniors, such as social and emotional. Rita Betz, of the Wood County Committee on Aging, said services are offered to keep seniors involved in life. “We’re always providing programs that keep people mentally active, physically active and socially active,” Betz said. “Isolation is what kills people.” The Committee on Aging also assists seniors who want to remain independent in their own homes. “We provide resources for them to stay home, which is where they want to be,” she said. Christen Giblin, of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, talked about the emotional needs of seniors. “Depression can happen at any age. Substance abuse can happen at any age. Suicide can happen at any age,” Giblin said. In fact, suicide rates in men over age 40 are seeing an increase, she said. People should be aware that depression is not a side effect of aging, and it should not be…

Meeting special needs of children in BG schools

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Children with learning disabilities used to be removed from regular classrooms, away from regular curriculum, away from regular kids. When Lorraine Flick started teaching 30 years ago, children with special needs were tucked away from her classroom. “They went away to some other teacher. I never saw them.” That is no longer the case. Those children are taught in the “least restrictive environment.” So many of those students with special needs are now in regular classrooms. “Over the years, we have found that students who are segregated or separated from their peers,” can learn in regular classrooms if given a little extra support, said Flick, a former elementary principal who is now director of children’s services at Wood Lane. How Bowling Green schools meet the needs of these children was discussed Monday evening during a panel discussion on special education for the League of Women Voters. Schools are legally bound to offer education in the “least restrictive environment,” said Bob Yenrick, executive director of pupil services for Bowling Green City Schools. If a child can “access the curriculum” with the extra help of being paired with a “para-professional” in the classroom, then that child does not need to be put in a different class. “We need to make sure we are honoring that least restrictive environment at all times,” Yenrick said. That change has consequences for schools, and challenges for teachers as well as for the children. But those challenges are worth confronting, according to the panel. Schools still have special education teachers, but now they are referred to with the politically correct name of “intervention specialists,” according to Christie Walendzak, special education coordinator with Bowling Green City Schools. The specialists look at every student to make sure they are keeping up with curriculum, and identify the areas a child may need extra help. They try to intervene early so children never qualify for special education services. Those who qualify for special education services are give Individualized Education Plans, addressing their specific needs, Walendzak said. Approximately 535 students in the Bowling Green school system have IEPs. Some families choose to send those students to private schools, which Bowling Green schools then have to fund. Bowling Green tries to reach children early who might need extra help. That means getting to kids before they start kindergarten. “We start when children are 2 ½,”…