Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

BG school calendar proposal – good news and bad news

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Next year’s proposed calendar for Bowling Green City Schools has some good news and some bad news. The good news – students’ quarters and testing periods won’t be broken up by long vacations. The bad news – students’ summer will be cut shorter than usual to make that happen. Long gone are the days when school started after Labor Day. Now districts feel the pressure to squeeze in a couple weeks of classes before September rolls around. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci presented the proposed school calendar Tuesday evening to the board of education. The schedule calls for classes to start on Aug. 15. By starting early, students will be able to complete two full quarters before heading off for Christmas break. According to Scruci, teachers and students then won’t have to spend the first couple weeks in January refreshing their memories of what they learned in December. “We can’t afford that anymore,” Scruci said. Spring break will then fall on the first full week of March. That means the vacation time won’t get in the way of school testing, he said. Scruci realizes the mid-August start to the school year may not be popular with some. “Granted, that is early,” he said. But the early start will also mean an early end to the school year on May 23 – as long as the district doesn’t exceed its snow calamity days. The early exit in May could give BG students a better opportunity to compete for summer jobs, the superintendent added. School board member Ed Whipple voiced his support for the school calendar changes. “I think the testing issue is critical,” he said. Whipple also noted that the earlier spring break for the school district would be helpful to many families since it would then align with the break at Bowling Green State University. “They will be doing the happy dance,” he said. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board: Heard a presentation from Jacob Kielmeyer, a member of the DECA program about his project that won first place at the district level. A story will appear later this week on his project. Learned 43 of 50 DECA students qualified for a state tournament. Welcomed 18 international educators who are studying at BGSU. Learned drama club students will be attending the state thespian conference and competition. Heard Model UN members were going to a conference at Ohio State University. Thanked Steve and Rhonda Melchi for their donation of $500 for the “Believe” scholarship.

Forget the rocking chair, these seniors are going rock climbing

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This is not a matchmaking service for senior citizens – at least not in the traditional sense. But the New Adventures program does match up seniors with new people and new activities they might not have the gumption to try on their own. They leave their rocking chairs and their inhibitions behind. The group has gone to a rock climbing wall, basketball game, canal ride, painting party and comedy club. Next on the list – a winery and movie theater for art films. The New Adventures group was started in 2011 by the Wood County Committee on Aging in cooperation with Bridge Hospice. “We were seeing individuals who, after they were grieving, there were no connections for them to socialize,” said Danielle Brogley, director of programs at the Wood County Senior Center. As older adults lost their partners, they often felt a lack of companionship. And if they tried to continue their relationships with couples they had long socialized with, they sometimes felt like the fifth wheel, Brogley explained. So New Adventures was created to engage single seniors to get out and socialize. After a couple years, the group morphed into a program offering new experiences for anyone interested. “It’s not a matchmaking service,” though the group has resulted in one marriage, Brogley said. “It’s just to have somewhere to go and people to do things with.” Several of the outings are in the evenings, when seniors might be reluctant to venture out alone. “The lonely hours are 6 to 8 p.m.,” Brogley said. Between 12 and 15 people go on each outing. Many activities are educational, such as the trip to the new BCII crime lab and the planetarium at BGSU. “We all still want to learn,” said Rita Betz, program and technology specialist at the senior center. “We’re always looking for what’s next.” Others adventures expose the seniors to foods outside their comfort zone. Though some are at first hesitant to try foods they can’t pronounce, the group has acquainted seniors with a sushi bar and hummus. “It’s anything we can find. You wouldn’t do these things if you were by yourself,” said Holly Griggs, program and active aging specialist at the senior center. Many of the seniors come back from the outings with more than a full stomach. “A lot of people from our trips develop friendships,” Betz said. The New Adventures coordinators make all the arrangements, handle the driving, and make sure the trips are affordable, said Mary Grzybowski, of Bowling Green, who has gone on some of the outings. Her favorite was the Shrine of Assumption in Carey. “That was spectacular,” she said. Grzybowksi also went to the wild animal nursery, a Mexican restaurant, Fort Meigs and Carter Historic Farms – all trips she wouldn’t have made alone. “It gets people out and keeps them active and engaged,” she said. “I wish every community could have one of these.”      

BG faces learning curve – roundabouts on their way

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood Countians seem to prefer their intersections squared off like tidy plus signs – none of that fancy circular stuff. But local drivers may want to brush up on their roundabout etiquette since at least a couple rotary intersections will pose a learning curve in Bowling Green starting in 2018. Bowling Green’s plan for its East Wooster Street corridor calls for four roundabouts. Two are definite and coming sometime in 2018 – at the interchanges on each side of Interstate 75. The other two are just possibilities – at Dunbridge Road and Campbell Hill Road. Surveys submitted recently by Bowling Green residents, about the proposed East Wooster corridor work, showed a great deal of suspicion about the roundabouts. But city officials believe that once citizens realize the safety benefits, and experience the ease maneuvering around them, that most motorists will be sold. Though roundabouts are common intersection features in many parts of the nation, Wood County has been slow warming up to the idea. Efforts to install a couple in northern Wood County have met with great resistance. Wood County Engineer Ray Huber has spent a few years trying to convince people that roundabouts make sense for several reasons. They are safer for motorists, take less land to construct, are easier to build, and cost less to install and maintain. So why aren’t roundabouts being embraced here like elsewhere in the nation? “It’s called change,” Huber explained. The single roundabout currently operating on a public road in Wood County is at the southern edge of the county on Ohio 18 in North Baltimore. North Baltimore Police Chief Allan Baer confessed that motorists there had a difficult time adapting to the rotary at first. “They had no idea how to enter, exit or drive in a roundabout,” he said. The roundabout, which was put in three years ago to handle the additional traffic created by the CSX railroad intermodal hub west of the village, has now become routine for local drivers. “They seem to like it,” Baer said. “When people get in there, it flows great. It’s like a ballet.” Since installed, the intersection has been the site of two minor crashes, both weather-related, the police chief said. Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft, who has done his research on the circular intersections, believes the roundabouts would be good for the city for a variety of reasons. First, they are safer. “They are designed to intentionally make you slow down,” Craft said. Head-on and high-speed right angle collisions are virtually eliminated with roundabouts. Second, they can save money by not requiring stop signal installation and maintenance. And third, they can help the city meet its goal of making the east entrance to the city more aesthetically pleasing. The center areas of roundabouts are often landscaped. “That’s the front door to our city and it’s the front door to the university,” Craft said. “This would dress up the corridor a little bit.” Craft is aware that some city residents are firmly opposed to the use of roundabouts. The surveys completed by citizens on the corridor plans included some strong language referring to the rotaries as “the dumbest thing ever.” But Craft remembers another time when local residents spoke out against change. “I heard…

Winterfest full of chills and chili

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Outside in the frigid cold, the lone ice sculptor chiseled away at his work. Inside, hundreds of people shed their layers and loaded up on steaming hot chili. Both the chill and the chili were part of the eighth annual Winterfest celebration in Bowling Green going on this weekend. At noon today in City Park, ice artist Doug Corcoran was finishing up his 15th carving after starting his work at 7 this morning. The cold, which peaked in the teens, didn’t bother him under his five layers of clothing. “I’m doing fine actually. I like the cold,” he said. “Some of the ice is really brittle,” but there was no chance of his artwork melting away this weekend, he said. Each ice carving started as a 350-pound chunk of ice. Corcoran, of Sylvania, then used a chainsaw and chisel to sculpt the ice into artwork. From Bowling Green, Corcoran is headed to an event in Dayton for more carving. In between, he will have a chance to thaw out. “He cranks up the heat in the car,” his wife, Annie, said. Corcoran wasn’t the only one braving the bitter cold this morning. About 50 runners showed up for the Frostbite Fun Run in City Park. One of those was Kristin Otley, head of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. “I couldn’t feel my legs,” Otley said after the run. By the time the race began, the temperature had warmed up to 10 degrees, but it felt like minus 3, she said. The extreme cold wasn’t keeping any of the Winterfest events from occurring, except for the carriage rides. “It’s too cold for the horses,” Otley said, noting the irony that it wasn’t too frigid for the runners. The chill wasn’t a problem inside the Veterans Building in City Park, where people were lined up for the annual chili cook-off. Big roasters and crock pots of piping hot chili quickly warmed up the insides of people coming in from the cold. “This is a favorite,” said Wendy Chambers, head of the Bowling Green Visitors and Conventions Bureau. There were 14 variations of the dish, including sweet potato chili, three meat chili steeped with maple sausage, hamburger and short ribs, chili made with home grown and canned tomatoes, and Indian masala chili with saffron rice. The chili concoctions were made by local organizations, businesses and individuals. Phi Gamma Delta fraternity from Bowling Green State University, served up its “Snowy White Owl Chili.” “We were playing around all day making chili, and we found one we liked,” said Nick Wheeler, as he stirred the pot of white chili. The name was somewhat deceiving, since it referenced the fraternity’s symbol, not an ingredient. “No snowy white owls have been harmed in the making of this chili,” Wheeler said. Some chili ingredients traveled long distances to be served up at the Winterfest. Drew Hanna and Kathy Mitterway made their sweet red pepper chili using small red and black beans that they could only find in Long Island, where Mitterway lives. When Hanna last visited Long Island, he made sure to smuggle back the secret ingredient. “I drove back with two dozen cans of the small beans,” he said. As an added attraction, the pair served up…

Searching for skeletons

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Millie Broka doesn’t look much like a detective. But she and her cohorts spend their time trying to reveal skeletons in people’s closets. As president of the Wood County Genealogical Society, Broka helps people discover their roots and fill out the branches on their family trees. Digging up ancestry has become somewhat vogue lately, especially with the PBS series “Finding Your Roots,” which researches celebrities and often reveals surprising skeletons with checkered pasts. But genealogists would like non-celebrities to know that everyone’s family tree has a story to tell. And in many ways it’s getting easier for the average person to do their own sleuth work. Unlike genealogists of the past, who spent hours with dusty ledgers filled with fading cursive names and dates, most of today’s amateur genealogists search the internet for links to their ancestry. More and more records are being transcribed and are more accessible than in the past. “It’s easier to go online and look for information than go through records up in probate court,” searching for the key details on births, deaths and marriages, Broka said. That doesn’t mean that amateur genealogists don’t still run into brick walls. Even Broka, with all her experience cracking cases, hits dead-ends at times. Broka recommends looking for clues by talking to relatives – before it’s too late. “I think a lot of times, you don’t get interested in it until you are older,” she said. “Then it may be too late. The ancestors are gone or don’t remember things.” Start with the present and move backwards. The genealogy office at the Wood County Courthouse Complex has packets that can help get the search started. The journey begins with a five-generation chart, which can be filled with searches through obituaries, census records, probate records and tombstone records, many of which are online in Wood County. Then be patient. Family trees take generations to grow, so they won’t be untangled quickly. Be prepared for tedious searches through seemingly endless records. Then celebrate when another piece of the puzzle is found. “Once you get hooked, you’re hooked,” Broka said. Wood County’s Genealogical Society has gone to great strides to make records more accessible to people trying to dig up their roots. But that only gets people so far. “Most of our relatives came from the East,” from Pennsylvania and Maryland, Broka said. So as amateur genealogists continue to dig deeper, they are at the mercy of records from other states. Sometimes, the clues come from unexpected places. Broka believed she had hit a brick wall in her search, when she received an email from her nephew in England. Her nephew had received an email from an unknown distant relative in Georgia. It turned out the family records had been clouded by the fact that somewhere along the line, an ancestor had children prior to being married. The clue enabled Broka to break through the brick wall and continue to dig deeper. “Those are the skeletons, and I think they’re fun to find. It’s really exciting,” when the pieces fall into place, she said. Searches are now also being aided by DNA. Broka and her husband, Bob, have had their DNA tested to see what other clues that may reveal. But no one needs…

Moving history doesn’t come cheap

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Park officials don’t want to rewrite history, just the bid requirements for moving a piece of it in Wood County. The Wood County Park District Board voted Monday to re-advertise for bids to move the historic one-room Zimmerman School down the road a spell to the historic Carter Farm. The action was necessary because the last job description did not require a bid bond. The board discussed the costs involved with moving the structure or leaving it at its existing location on Carter Road, north of Bowling Green. The last bids came in at $105,545 for moving the school, putting in a foundation, relocating the restrooms, running electric and propane, and then demolishing the old foundation. The other option of not moving the school came in at $122,485. That cost would cover adding a bus turnaround and parking area, installing a wider culvert, replacing the foundation, relocating the propane tank, moving the restroom, constructing a sidewalk and electrical work. By moving the school, the district officials hope to save money and make the historic farm and one-room school a more all-inclusive learning experience for visiting families and school children. Also at the meeting, the board voted to accept tasers for park rangers at no cost for park district. The tasers were offered by Bradner Police Department, which had received more than needed from Miamisburg’s police department. Munger explained that the tasers would give the rangers another option in their “use of force continuum.” The rangers carry batons, but those instruments are more likely to cause physical damage than tasers, Munger said. The tasers can be used to immobilize someone with no lasting injury, he said. Board approval for the tasers was not unanimous, with board member John Calderonello objecting. He asked for information on how often the district’s park rangers have to resort to force. No information on that frequency was available at the meeting, but Munger said he would try to track down the data. In other business, the park district board: Approved contracting with K&K Construction, Weston, for $6,470, to put a concrete floor in the Beaver Creek Retreat Center. The previous floor was ruined by flooding. Agreed to have a new well put in at the interpretive center at the Bradner Preserve. The current well is running dry, and will cost $5,589 to replace. Voiced support for an effort by the Friends of the Parks to put in a brick memorial trail at the W.W. Knight Preserve. The group was asked to come back with more details so the board could determine how best to help. Learned the park district had received a $21,200 grant to purchase 12 kayaks and related equipment. The kayaks will be for the public to use on park ponds and the Maumee River. Heard a report on the work of the park rangers, who cover the district 365 days a year.

Helping the county avoid growing pains

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Armed with blue, green and red markers, citizens circled areas of Wood County ripe for development, deserving of preservation, and worthy of reinvestment. They came with different purposes – farmers, developers, elected officials – but with one goal to help chart the direction for land use in the county. “I’m just interested to see what their plan is, and how that’s going to affect me,” said Paul Braucksiek, who lives in rural Webster Township, northeast of Bowling Green. He estimated his township is 99.9 percent agricultural. “And it probably needs to stay that way.” The planning open house Wednesday evening was part of the public input portion of the county’s effort to update the land use plan adopted in 2007. The new plan will consider where zoning changes would be appropriate, where utilities should be expanded, where roadways should be built. The process will also identify areas that should not be developed, but preserved. As people milled about looking at county maps at the planning open house, Braucksiek chatted with Denny Henline, of Pemberville. “I came tonight because I watched Levis Commons and I watched the Golden Triangle,” both areas of retail development in the Perrysburg area, Henline said. While he isn’t opposed to growth, Henline would like to see it directed to areas that are not prime farmland. “For my grandkids, my goal is to have a good vision,” he said. “It just breaks my heart when they come out and gobble up prime farmland. It’s like a runaway horse. You can’t stop a runaway horse.” Henline, however, would like to see more development occur in the Pemberville Road corridor that would encompass Luckey, Pemberville, Bradner and Wayne. But to encourage growth in specific areas, utilities like water and sewer have to head that way. From the southern end of the county came Henry Township Trustee John Stewart, who knows something about planning for development. “We got our planned business district,” by the CSX intermodal hub, Stewart explained. “It’s something other townships should look at.” Alice Brown, who grew up on a farm in Perrysburg Township and now lives in Bowling Green, came to keep an eye on the county’s roadmap for the future. “My concern is the future of Wood County,” she said. “Are they controlling development and then in three years it will be obsolete?” Rick Metz, a developer from Bowling Green, shared similar concerns. “We need to look ahead, not backwards,” he said. Metz talked about the demise of shopping malls in the region, and the decay of small towns. “Should we be running utilities out there to preserve the inevitable,” he said, referring to rural towns with dwindling populations. “We need to think ahead.” The county is contracting with McBride Dale, Cincinnati, for $63,000 for the land use plan. The planning process is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete. For more information, contact the Wood County Planning Commission’s Dave Steiner or Katie Baltz at (419) 354-9128 or the website:      

Challenge hatred…whether it’s shouted by politicians or whispered by relatives

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Gone unchallenged, fear can mutate into hatred. Whether shouted at a campaign stop, or whispered at a family dinner, hate speech gains credence if it’s not stopped in its tracks. So those gathered for the Islamophobia discussion Tuesday were told to not remain silent when confronted with hatred. Tolerating talk that equates Islam to terrorism, Jihad to violence, and hatred as acceptable, only allows the fear to fester and spread. “Challenge them,” said panel member Sgt. Dale Waltz, of the Canton Response to Hate Crimes Coalition in Michigan. “Pay attention to the whispering conversations. Shed some light and educate people.” That includes everyone from national politicians spewing hatred from televised podiums, to family members spreading long-held prejudices. “Speak up not just here, but in places where you might feel uncomfortable,” said Eva Davis, also from the Canton coalition. Tuesday’s program was the second Islamophobia discussion sponsored by the Bowling Green Not In Our Town organization. The first, held at Bowling Green State University, brought about an unexpected reaction for one of the panelists, who was told by a faculty member after the program that it is completely legal for someone to hate him. While true, Susana Pena, director of the School of Cultural and Critical Studies at BGSU, questioned the value of the statement. “Is that the bar we’re setting for our community,” she asked. Panelist Wafaa Hassan Aburahma, a BGSU student, tried to imagine how she would respond to such hatred. “Trying mingling with Muslims. Try knowing us first,” she suggested. Islamophobia did not exist here until 15 years ago, according to Cherrefe Kadri, of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo. “It was a non-issue until, oh, about Sept. 11, 2001.” That same night, someone used a high-powered rifle to shoot windows in the mosque near Perrysburg. When called by the media, Kadri was reluctant to release the news, expecting copycats to repeat the violence. But instead of more violence, the community responded with kindness and concern. “We found that there’s a lot more good than evil in the world,” she said. Bowling Green resident So Shaheen, who owns Southside Six, found the same sentiment after 9/11. “I was amazed at the people who stopped by the store to see if I was OK, if anyone was bothering me,” he said. But the hate speech and illogical fear surrounding Islam continues to be fueled by politicians, media and the entertainment industry, according to those present. No matter how many good and charitable acts are organized by the local Islamic center, the works are often in the shadow of horrific acts by radicals. “Unfortunately ISIS and al Qaida take our headlines,” Kadri said. “That’s not us and it’s not our religion.” The wife of the Islamic center’s Imam spoke briefly, pointing out that all citizens came to this country as immigrants. “We are just like everybody else,” she said. “Terrorism has no religion, whatsoever.” Aburahma noted that the stereotypes are promoted not just in news coverage, but also in Hollywood, Bollywood and Disney products. The villains are frequently dark-skinned, with accents, and often with Muslim-sounding names. Programs like Not In Our Town, and those taking proactive approaches to hate crimes in Canton, Michigan, can do much to challenge Islamophobia, Waltz said. “Be…

Cold cooperates with Winterfest…but vandals send ice sculptures packing to park

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After an atypical winter of almost balmy temperatures, cold weather will cooperate by returning for this weekend’s annual Winterfest in Bowling Green. But while the chilly temperatures will accommodate winter activities, it appears the downtown is just too hot for the ice sculptures that normally decorate Main Street during the annual event. The decision was made this year for the bulk of the ice carvings to be exhibited in City Park. The change was made due to the cost of protecting the sculptures from vandals who have knocked over the ice art during the night previous years. “Anytime we’ve had them up downtown, we’ve lost one or two,” said Wendy Chambers, head of the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. Because of the frequency of the vandalism in the past, the city police have provided extra protection for the carvings. In 2014, the cost for two patrolmen during the nights of the Winterfest was $666, according to Police Chief Tony Hetrick. To avoid that cost, last year the police division put two cruisers in the downtown area, and trained volunteers to secure the sculptures, at no charge. But asking people to watch the carvings during the icy hours of the night proved too much for the volunteers, Chambers said. “It’s tough to get volunteers to stay out in those temperatures all night,” Chambers said. And since the ice sculptures are used as a fundraiser for the BG Skating Club, paying for protection was seen as counterproductive. So instead, this year the carvings will be displayed in City Park. But organizers don’t see the move as having a chilling effect on the Winterfest. There will still be a few ice carvings at the courtyard downtown and BGSU Ice Arena. “Spreading them out around town is not a bad thing,” Chambers said. Other events will be spread across the city from the ice arena and the community center, to the library and City Park. There will be horse-drawn carriage rides, ice skating, a chili and soup cook-off, Frostbite Fun Run, youth snow games, Snow Globe Adult Bubble Soccer, family nature hike, Red Cross Fire & Ice Event, and Snow Science with Imagination Station. The downtown will remain a focus of the weekend event. “There’s still a lot of activity going on in the downtown,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said. “I think there’s a lot going on all around town,” said Kristin Otley, head of the city parks and recreation department. Included in that will be a youth hockey event that selected BG because the Winterfest would give family members options for activities. “They picked BG because of the Winterfest,” Chambers said. “It’s fun to try new things and see how it flies.” And the weather promises to cater to winter activities – including the ice sculptures. “Two weeks ago, they might have melted,” Otley said. “I think the cold is good. We’ll just all have to bundle up,” Chambers said. Following is a list of all the events scheduled: FRIDAY Outdoor Ice Skating, City Park, dawn to dusk, weather permitting BGHS Art Show, Four Corners Gallery, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Youth Dodgeball Tournament, Community Center, 3:45 to 6 p.m. BGSU Hockey Game vs. Miami, Ice Arena, 7 p.m. Family Friday Night Hike, Wintergarden…

Curling club to leave BGSU for new site

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For nearly 50 years, Bowling Green Curling Club has been hurling stones at the BGSU Ice Arena. But the relationship between the ice arena and the curlers has cooled enough that the club is moving out. “There’s a really long history there,” said Shannon Orr, president of the BG Curling Club. For years, the sheet of ice on the south end of the ice arena was dedicated to curling. But recently, the curlers have had to share their ice with expanding hockey and skating programs. And though all the sports are played on sheets of ice, the surface is very different for curlers than for skating. So the curling club, with its more than 100 members, is packing up its brooms and stones and is preparing to set up shop in a new site the group plans to buy or lease north of Bowling Green. “This is a pretty exciting adventure,” Orr said. The new site is the former Perry House furniture building at 19901 Ohio 25. “It’s perfect. It’s huge,” Orr said. The site will have room for four sheets of ice that the club won’t have to share with skaters or hockey. Because of reduced ice time at the BGSU ice arena, the club had lost its weekend curling and time for its youth program. Dave Kielmeyer, spokesman for BGSU, said the university was faced with more demand for limited ice space at the arena. “We’re sad to see them go, but we understand their decision,” Kielmeyer said. “We certainly do our best to meet the ice needs of the community, but we have limited resources.” The problem isn’t just ice time, but also ice preparation time, Orr explained. Once the curling ice is converted for playing hockey, it takes about two hours to make it suitable for curling. Ice with ruts made by skates, or ridges caused by Zambonis, are incompatable with curling, she said. Roger Mazzarella, a member of the curling club, said his team has to relearn how to compete on real curling ice when they travel to other places to play. Like many of the local curlers, he is frustrated by the lack of commitment by BGSU to the 50-year-old club. But he is also excited about the opportunities the new facility will offer. “It was the vision with the guys who created this that there should be recreation opportunities,” for curlers at the ice arena, Mazzarella said. “It’s sad, but it is exciting, too.” As they gathered for practice in the ice arena last week, many of the club members agreed. “Yea, I am sad,” said Ed Glowacki, who has been playing at the arena about 30 years. “This is where I learned to curl. There’s a lot of tradition in these buildings.” But the move is necessary if the club hopes to continue. “We’re hoping to get a better surface,” Glowacki said. Curler Paul Haas agreed. “I’m ecstatic. It will be good ice because we’ll take care of it,” he said. The new facility will have many advantages, Orr said. Curling ice is very limited, with Detroit being the next closest location. “We serve the whole Northwest Ohio region,” so this will give the group room to expand, she said. The facility will give…

Recycling efforts grow, but still short in some areas

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than 300 local businesses save on garbage pickup costs and conserve landfill space by separating their recyclables from their trash. Businesses from Northwood to North Baltimore use a program operated by Wood Lane’s Community Employment Service, called R&R, to pick up their recyclables. “This is truly intended to be a county-wide program,” said Vic Gable, head of CES. But while the program picks up recyclables for many private businesses, schools and government offices, it collects items from just two apartment complexes in Bowling Green. While the city picks up recyclables at residences, it does not collect them at apartment complexes. During a recent meeting of the Bowling Green City-University Relations Commission, members discussed the lack of recycling at apartment complexes and downtown businesses. Chris Ostrowski, a member of the commission, said he was the first to start apartment recycling in Bowling Green in the 1980s at Summit Terrace, which has 96 units. “We started because it made economic sense,” Ostrowski said. “It was cheaper than having someone pick it up as trash.” Most of the student renters want to recycle, he said. “For the most part, the students see it as a positive thing.” According to Ostrowski, many apartment complexes don’t offer recycling since the owners are responsible for the start-up costs. Unlike other residences, where curbside containers are provided by the city, the apartments would have to purchase the bins. The Wood Lane program partners with the Wood County Solid Waste District to provide recycling containers to school districts throughout the county. The R&R program does not charge for its services, but it does require private businesses to buy their own containers. “One of the challenges with the business community is they have to purchase the containers themselves,” Gable said. “We have to try to break even.” The three trucks used for pickups were purchased with grant funding. Some of the larger corporate customers are Calphalon and Johnson Controls. About 50 small businesses in Bowling Green are involved. But only a few downtown Bowling Green businesses, like Ben Franklin, Finders and Panera, are part of the recycling program, Gable said. “I know there are other entities interested,” he explained. “But there are a lot of challenges to make that happen. There’s really no place to put big recycling containers.” The R&R program collects aluminum and steel cans, plastic, cardboard, newspaper, magazines, office paper, books and shredded paper, which are then sold to the BG Recycling Center. Last year, the program saved several million tons of cardboard from being landfilled, Gable said.    

County wants help with land use plan

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Calling it a land use plan update is somewhat of a misnomer. Dave Steiner sees it more as a chance to make a clean slate for county planning. Wood County is in the process of replacing its existing land use plan that was adopted in 2007. “I just want to toss out what we have and start from fresh,” said Steiner, director of the county planning commission, the office in charge of the land use effort. The plan adopted nine years ago hit a brick wall when the economy tanked. “The recession hit right after that and everything stalled,” Steiner said. But development is picking up again in the county, and a land use plan is needed to help direct that growth to the right areas. The plan will consider where zoning changes would be appropriate, where utilities should be expanded, where roadways should be built. “I’m very pro economic development in the right places and I’m very pro farmland preservation in the right places,” Steiner said. The plan will help guide that growth. “It’s not a set-in-stone document,” Steiner said, but rather a roadmap with suggested directions. But first, the county needs its citizens to give them the directions they would like to see the county develop or preserve. County officials are very aware that development concerns are very different in the southern rural areas than they are in the urban fringe areas in the northern part of the county. So local residents are being invited to express their opinions about the future growth during a public workshop being held by the Wood County Planning Commission on Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Junior Fair Building at the Wood County Fairgrounds, 13800 West Poe Road, in Bowling Green. The event is designed to engage participants in discussions on the opportunities and challenges the county may face over the next 20 years. The event will also include exercises for participants to identify critical areas for protection, reinvestment, and growth on maps of the county. A 15-minute reception and sign-in will be followed by small group work for approximately one and a half hours. The event will be led by county staff and consultants. “For this effort to be successful, it is vital that the final plan accurately represents both a sustainable countywide vision and a more detailed vision held by the townships, so it is important the citizens of Wood County be actively involved in updating their plan from the very beginning,” Steiner said. The land use plan only covers the unincorporated areas of the county, so no cities or villages are part of the plan. The update process involves the work of a steering committee, made up of members representing business, agricultural, conservation, educational and social service interests. The county is contracting with McBride Dale, Cincinnati, for $63,000 for the land use plan. The planning process is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete. For more information, contact David Steiner or Katie Baltz at (419) 354-9128 or on the website:    

Man arrested for felony drug possession

A Bradner man was arrested after a search turned up illegal drugs, a gun, and money in a local home. According to the Wood County Sheriff’s Office, Ryan M. Anderson was arrested for felony drug possession. The arrest was made after the sheriff’s office, in cooperation with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation Division, and the Sandusky County Drug Task Force executed a search warrant at 1362 U.S. 6, Lot 13 of Twin Maples Trailer Park. The raid uncovered approximately one ounce of suspected crack cocaine, 60 Oxycodone pills, a 9mm semi-automatic pistol and about $3,000, according to Det. Sgt. Rod Smith with the Wood County Sheriff’s Office.  

House for recovering addicts to open

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The average opiate addict relapses seven times before finally being able to shake the addiction. However, if the person gets intensive treatment, the number of relapses drops significantly, according to Tom Clemons, executive director of the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board. For that reason, the board is helping to set up recovery housing for addicts here in Wood County. The board is working with Zepf Center, which operates rehab centers in the region, to establish a home here that can house eight to 10 men trying to kick drug or alcohol habits. The recovery housing will be set up in an existing home on agricultural land near Cygnet, south of Bowling Green. The exact location of the home was not released. Structured settings are important for people trying the shake addictions, according to Clemons. “They really need to have a living environment free from people using drugs,” he said. Wood County residents needing such treatment have had to travel to the Toledo area for services. There is no such program in Wood County. “The program has a lot of success in Lucas County, but they are full,” Clemons said. “The need is urgent in both men and women,” he said. But this home will just allow men. The board may consider helping with a women’s recovery housing program next. “This is really important for success for a lot of people,” Clemons said. “We were looking for how we can meet the need.” Zepf Center will pay for the capital costs, and WCADAMHS will pay for the services provided. That will cost an estimated $280,000 a year. The men accepted at the center will have addictions to alcohol or drugs such as opiates or cocaine. They will be tested frequently to make sure they are complying with rules. “They have to stay clean and sober,” Clemons said. They will be required to participate in treatment programs and follow the plans. The average stay at recovery housing programs is 3.5 months, though longer stays often have better results. Most of the residents at the center will have jobs or work in vocational rehabilitation. “It’s not a jail,” Clemons stressed.        

More than 3,800 landowners to be assessed for creek cleanup

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A creek maintenance project that cuts across Wood County will affect the owners of more than 29,000 acres here that drain into the waterway. Wood County is working with Sandusky and Ottawa counties to clear blockages in the Toussaint Creek, which starts on the north side of Bowling Green, and winds its way north of Luckey on its way to Lake Erie. The total cost for the maintenance, which was petitioned by Wood County landowners, is about $860,000. The cost will be divided among landowners of acreage in the Toussaint Creek watershed area. More than 3,800 notices have been mailed out to the landowners who will be assessed, said Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar. The cost and acreage in each county is estimated as follows: 29,204 acres in Wood County, costing $608,000 7,763 acres in Sandusky County, costing $123,000 12,982 acres in Ottawa County, costing $131,000 Some people receiving the assessment notices may not even realize they are in the watershed, since the creek may not be visible from their property, Kalmar said. But that doesn’t mean it’s not draining into the waterway, he added. So far, 199 objections to the project or the assessments have been filed. The petition for the work, which is being handled by the soil and water districts of the three counties, asks for the removal of log jams and leaning trees along the creek. There will be no channelizing, or moving of dirt, Kalmar explained. A public meeting will be held on the project, but has not yet been scheduled. “Everyone will have the opportunity to speak their piece,” Kalmar said. The creek cleanup won’t start until fall, after this year’s crops have been harvested.