Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

State Highway Patrol to conduct online survey

During the next month, the Ohio State Highway Patrol is conducting an online survey to identify traffic safety concerns and obtain feedback about interactions with the agency. The 2018 Public Survey is anonymous and takes approximately five minutes to complete. The survey is designed to be used as a platform for organizational learning, asking specific questions related to traffic safety issues and previous interactions with OSHP employees. The survey is created in accordance with standards of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). To take the survey please visit:

Auditor candidates disagree over appraisal process

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The two candidates for Wood County auditor differ on a major role of the office – how property appraisals ought to be conducted. The Democratic candidate for Wood County auditor has accused the Republican candidate of outsourcing jobs. Buddy Ritson has called for an end to privatized property appraisals in Wood County. But incumbent Matt Oestreich is defending the practice, saying the vast majority of Ohio counties contract with private firms to conduct appraisals. To do otherwise would be more costly and less efficient, he said. Of the 88 Ohio counties, only 10 do in-house property appraisals, Oestreich said. Those 10 are the largest counties that have enough staff to do appraisals themselves. Property appraisals are done every six years, so most counties can’t employ enough staff to conduct those periodic jobs, he said. “You’d have to have trained appraisers on your staff,” to do the appraisals in-house. And those employees would only be needed every six years when the appraisals are conducted, Oestreich said. The Wood County Auditor’s Office has always contracted with private appraisal firms, Oestreich said. The firms work in the county for 18 to 24 months, then move on to another county, he said. Wood County currently pays $1,258,000 to a company named Lexur Enterprises in Dayton to have the appraisals completed, Ritson said. “These are jobs that can be done here in Wood County. With the number of contracts and the tasks associated with them, these are good paying full-time jobs that should be done here in Wood County,” Ritson said. “To outsource these jobs, as the Auditor’s Office is doing, is bad for the county and its taxpayers.” While the appraisals aren’t done in office, some Wood County citizens were employed in the process. According to Oestreich, during the 2017 mass reappraisal a Perrysburg resident served as the project supervisor, and two other Wood County residents worked on the reappraisals. “Having appraisers living in Wood County is a definite benefit to the process of determining real estate values, as they have a pulse on the local market,” Oestreich said. Through an information request with the Ohio Department of Taxation, Ritson said he found five additional contracts with Lexur Enterprises since 2014 that include yearly new construction updates, assistance with value defenses, triennial updates, and additional appraisal services. All of the contracts with Lexur Enterprises total nearly $1.75 million, which is paid out of the Real Estate Assessment Fund, according to Ritson. Oestreich said the county has approximately 75,000 parcels appraised every six years. The firm doing the appraisals is paid about $16.75 per parcel. “We look at the market. We look at the characteristics of the house to determine the value,” the auditor said. Property owners disputing the appraisals for their property can file appeals. Ritson found 164 appeals, which resulted in a downward adjustment of more than $2.3 million in the county property values. “Our property values are higher than they should be and this downward adjustment proves that,” Ritson said. But Oestreich said adjustments are a natural part of the appraisal process. Every appraisal year has its share of appeals – which is why counties have boards of revisions. The total market value of all the parcels in Wood County adds up to approximately $9.142…

Wood County Democratic Party offers rides to the polls

The Wood County Democratic Party is offering free rides to the polls on Election Day, Nov. 6. To reserve a ride, call the Wood County Democratic Party Headquarters at 419-352-5299. “Democrats believe strongly that everybody should exercise their right to vote. Please give us a call and we’ll get you a ride so you can vote,” said Wood County Democratic Party Chairperson Mike Zickar.

BG police arrest drug trafficking suspect

Bowling Green Police executed a search warrant on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 5162 Bostwick Road in Perrysburg with the assistance of the Perrysburg Police department in a continuing investigation involving the trafficking of drugs, specifically marijuana. During the search approximately 23 pounds of raw marijuana, a half pound of “shatter, “ more than 300 THC distillate cartridges, various packing materials, multiple scales, a cash counting machine, drug ledgers and $1,285 in U.S. currency were seized. The THC distillate cartridges can be used in vaping devices. Laura Heringhaus, 37, of Perrysburg was arrested and lodged in the Wood County Justice Center on three counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs.

Six citizens file to fill First Ward City Council seat

Six Bowling Green citizens have filed to fill the seat vacated by First Ward Councilman Daniel Gordon. Wednesday afternoon was the deadline for applications for anyone interested in the seat. The six candidates will go before the City Council Committee of the Whole on Monday at 6 p.m. Council will then vote to fill the seat at its 7 p.m. meeting. The applicants are: Connor Goodpaster, Mark Hollenbaugh, Neocles Leontis, Sebastian Ochoa-Kaup, Madison Stump and Hunter Sluss. Following are brief descriptions of each applicant. Connor Goodpaster, of 221 Leroy Ave., has lived in the First Ward for a little over a year and plans to stay there to raise his family. He moved to Bowling Green in 2013 to pursue his bachelor’s degree and “fell in love with the town.” Goodpaster and his wife both earned their master’s degrees at BGSU, his in public administration. While working on his master’s degree, he worked with community organizations like United Way and the Wood County Continuum of Care trying to solve problems within the community. If selected, Goodpaster said he would like to work on an agenda that will help the city retain BGSU grads, diversify the economy, and promote development to help the city offset budgeting constraints due to state funding cuts. Mark Hollenbaugh, of 315 Parkview Drive, is a familiar face to City Council, having served as the First Ward member from January 2010 to December 2011. Hollenbaugh is a history and government teacher at North Baltimore Local Schools. Hollenbaugh said that as a former council member, he has both the constituent knowledge and experience to represent the First Ward citizens. Since he periodically attends council meeting, he said he would be able to quickly be up to speed on issues facing the city. Hollenbaugh has also served on several city boards, such as the City Planning Commission, Historic Preservation Committee, Charter Review Committee, and is involved in the Community Action Plan. Neocles Leontis, 119 N. Summit St., has lived in the First Ward since 1996 and has been employed as a professor of chemistry at BGSU since 1987. In addition to teaching graduate and undergraduate classes, he carries out scientific research funded by the National Institutes of Health. Leontis is involved in several community organizations including Bowling Green Kiwanis, East Side Residential Group, Black Swamp Green Team, and Peace Lutheran Church. He is faculty adviser to the BGSU Environmental Action Group. Leontis has been an advocate for making Bowling Green more energy efficient and sustainable. If selected, he would be interested in helping with more measures to make Bowling Green a healthy, economical and thriving place to live and raise a family. Sebastian Ochoa-Kaup, of 812 N. Summit St., works as a non-medical case manager for Equitas Health, making sure people living with HIV/AIDS can access the services they need. He has volunteered with Bowling Green community organizations like the Cocoon, La Conexion, Not In Our Town, It’s On Us, and serving on the city’s Human Relations Commission. Ochoa-Kaup believes he can help represent Bowling Green’s diverse community. He currently serves on the Executive Board of Equality Toledo, bringing a voice to the Latino community and transgender community. He also co-facilitates a support group for transgender youth. Madison Stump, 724 N. Enterprise St., believes she is well-suited to serve…

Vigil set for Sunday to remember Pittsburgh, Jeffersonville victims

Not In Our Town Bowling Green will host a vigil on Sunday for the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the community of Jeffersonville, Kentucky. The vigil will be held at 7 p.m., in the First Presbyterian Church, 126 S. Church St., Bowling Green. Not In Our Town asks that people attend to remember the victims of the massacres at the Tree of Life Synagogue and the recent hate killings in Jeffersonville. Attendees can sign a banner with supporting messages and donations will be accepted to help rebuild the Tree of Life Synagogue. There will be time for fellowship, coffee and cookies after the vigil. Not In Our Town Bowling Green was created to champion diversity and advance the mission of guiding and inspiring people and the community to work together to stop hate and build safe, inclusive environments for all. This movement exists to address acts of intolerance and discrimination. Through the partnership of Bowling Green State University and the City of Bowling Green, those involved with Not In Our Town pledge to stop bigotry before it starts and stand against any and all forms of hate.  

RR crossing at Poe Road to be closed for week

CSX Railroad has notified the City of Bowling Green about rail crossing work scheduled on East Poe Road. As a result of this work, the rail crossing will be closed from Nov. 5 through Nov. 12. CSX has indicated that the dates are dependent upon weather and progress of work.

Wood Lane seeks reduced renewal levy for 2.45 mills

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood Lane is asking voters to approve a reduced renewal levy – dropped from the current 2.95-mills to 2.45 mills. The decrease in millage allows the agency to be fiscally responsible and continue to provide quality services, according to Wood Lane Superintendent Brent Baer. Wood Lane has been required by Medicare/Medicaid rules to shift its services to private providers in the past few years. So some question why the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities needs a levy on the ballot. The reason – while Wood Lane no longer provides the services directly, it now has to pay private agencies for the services. Privatization did result in some reduced costs for the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. And the board did pass those savings on to the taxpayers, Baer said. For example, in 2017 the board eliminated its levy collection all together, and in 2018 it collected 50 percent of the millage. But while there have been some cost savings by privatizing services, there are some cost increases due to growing demands for services, Baer said. Since 2013, the individuals served by the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities has grown from 899 to 1,071. “None of the individuals who previously received services stopped receiving services,” Baer said. “Our commitments are for the life of an individual.” When people with developmental disabilities waive their right to institutional care, they are picked up by community based services – like Wood Lane. That agency then identifies their needs and develops plans to meet them, Baer said. The waivers allow for federal funding, but the community agency must still pick up 40 percent of the costs, said finance officer Steve Foster. Demands are growing as the population here is increasing. “Wood County is one of the few counties in Ohio that’s growing,” Baer said. Wood Lane services start early and follow people throughout their lives. “We start at birth with early intervention services,” he said. More early intervention is needed for children with autism, and for children affected by the opioid crisis, he added. As the children age, Wood Lane School gets involved for youth up to the age of 22. “Anyone who runs a school for people who have significant developmental disabilities has additional costs,” Baer explained. But Wood Lane has no intention of not offering school services. Without them, children would be placed back in their home schools – which would just shift the costs to those districts. Or they would be cared for at home, where little socialization is offered. “We just can’t let that happen,” he said. The agency also offers Family Support Services such as respite care, help with home modifications, and special diet assistance. “It’s a bit of a lifeline between the county board and those who receive services,” Baer said. Requests for those services are also growing. The agency provides homemaker care, transportation to work and medical services, plus vocational services. One of the big challenges is to find safe, affordable and accessible housing for their consumers. “We continue to be overwhelmed by housing needs,” Baer said. One of the newest specialized programs for Wood Lane was the opening of a home for children with developmental disabilities. Baer said he is very proud of that program that…

BG reports updates on construction projects in city

Bowling Green has multiple construction projects currently underway. Below is a summary of these projects along with anticipated schedules. Questions about respective projects should be addressed with the individual department/division or entity listed. The schedule outlined is dependent on weather and progress of work. Downtown: • The Columbia Gas project within the downtown area is anticipated to be complete soon. The City was recently notified that all of the associated low-pressure natural gas lines have been retired and that the focus through this week and next will be on restoration efforts including sidewalk and street repairs. Questions about the Columbia Gas work should be directed to Raquel Colon, External Affairs Specialist for Columbia Gas.  Colon may be reached at or 419-539-6206. • The City is scheduled to begin the installation of a water line, sewer line, and miscellaneous electrical upgrades throughout the downtown beginning January 2019. This work is anticipated to last until the spring, with a contract completion date for the contractor of April 30, 2019. • Following the utility work, the downtown area will be repaved. It is anticipated that this work should begin in May, 2019 – with a contract completion date of October, 2019. Questions about the utility and paving projects should be directed to the City’s Engineering Division at 419-354-6227. Conneaut Sanitary Sewer Project: • It is anticipated that by the end of next week, all sanitary sewer work will be complete. Concrete work was planned to begin this week and paving to occur during the month of November. • Questions about the utility and paving projects should be directed to the City’s Engineering Division at 419-354-6227. Rosalind/Donbar Sewer Line: • Work has been slowed due to some unexpected difficulties and conditions – shallow bedrock and deteriorated conditions of existing facilities that were not a part of the project. To date nearly 300 feet of sewer line has been installed. It is anticipated this work will be complete in mid-December. • Questions about this work may be directed to the Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Division at 419-354-6277.

Menards planning to build store in Bowling Green

Menards is planning a store in Bowling Green, though no specific details are available. Sue Clark, director of Bowling Green Community Development Foundation, said this morning that Menards has been scouting out possible locations in the city. “They have been looking at the community for eight months or so,” Clark said. Initially, the company was looking at a site on East Wooster Street near the Holiday Inn Express, she said. More recently, the firm has been looking at a location on South Main Street – south of WalMart and across the street from Home Depot. Though the company has been in contact with the city’s planning office, no applications have been filed yet with the city, according to city planning director Heather Sayler. “We plan to build a new store in Bowling Green, OH at some point in the near future,” Jeff Abbott, Menards spokesperson stated in an email.  “We are still in the planning phase and have not yet finalized when we might start construction.”

Not In Our Town BG responds to killings, plans vigil

(Submitted by Not In Our Town Bowling Green) NIOT BG joins the country in expressing our profound sadness and outrage at the senseless killing of these individuals who were living their faith and for those living their daily lives. How many more lives need to be lost for action to take place? Just before 10 a.m. on Saturday, Robert Bowers shot and killed 11 people while congregants were at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in the Squirrel Neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Six more people were injured, including three police officers in the line of duty. Clearly this was a hate crime as Bowers yelled “all Jews must die.” Those killed were Daniel Stein, 71; Joyce Feinberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65; Rose Mallinger, 97; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; brothers Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54; husband and wife Bernice Simon, 84 and Sylvan Simon, 86; Melvin Wax, 88; and Irving Younger, 69. Also, last Wednesday, a gunman fatally shot Vickie Lee Jones and Maurice E. Stallard in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, at a supermarket. While this is still under investigation, a witness trying to intervene reported the gunman told him “whites don’t kill whites,” indicating this shooting was likely race-related. In two different towns, citizens lie dead and others remain critically injured, leaving behind pain, anguish, disbelief, uncertainty, sadness and anger in families and all communities involved. We reach out with our deepest sympathy, sharing immeasurable heartache in a world where hate and violence are firmly embedded. We cannot become numb to the hate and violence. No community is immune from this, but we do have choices on how we aspire to live together in our particular communities. NIOT BG holds up a vision of a Bowling Green community in which community relationships are nurtured in positive ways from school aged on up; a community in which all diversity is not only respected but welcomed, and in which no one need live in fear, regardless of religion, color of skin, sexual orientation, ability, gender, or any other dimension of identity. We need to work together to continue fostering relationships with each other – our neighbors, our co-workers, strangers who may look different and strangers who may look the same. We need to reassure our children and grandchildren – the next generation – that we care about all human-beings. As the famed children’s television star and Squirrel Hill resident Mr. Rogers often told children that in times of trouble, “look for the helpers.” Let us all aspire to be “helpers” in all walks of life as we aspire to create a world of hope and love. We all must be convinced by now that being silent is being complacent. NIOT BG supports all efforts to express solidarity with the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, to comfort its members, and the community of Jeffersontown, Kentucky, to squarely face the underlying roots of white supremacy and violence in our society. We ask that all in our BG community stand with the people of Pittsburgh and Jeffersontown. We have to do more to stand together to show that hate cannot prevail. A vigil is being planned for this weekend. Details will be made available as soon as they are confirmed.

BGMS teacher resigns amid allegations, police investigation ongoing

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Middle School teacher under investigation for possible criminal conduct has resigned. After an executive session this evening, the board of education accepted the resignation of Dylan Stark, an art teacher hired by the district in 2017. Stark’s resignation came after the completion of the school district’s internal investigation into his conduct. The investigation by the Bowling Green Police Division is ongoing, according to Deputy Chief Justin White. After the school board’s vote, Superintendent Francis Scruci explained district officials had been given information from another teacher who had received information from students about Stark. The district followed up on those allegations, and on Oct. 19 Scruci turned the information over to Bowling Green Police Division. At the same time, the district continued its internal investigation. Neither Scruci nor Board President Jill Carr were specific about Stark’s conduct that led to his resignation. However, Scruci said the investigation showed “behaviors that we wouldn’t accept in our district.” Stark, who also coached football, turned in his resignation on Monday. Scruci sent out an email to parents and staff last week asking the community to not spread rumors and to wait for the results of the investigation into Stark, who had been placed on paid leave. “Every individual has rights,” Scruci said. “Rumors are dangerous. We wanted to make sure we protected everyone involved.” Most of the allegations proved to be unfounded, but some were found to be true, Scruci said this evening. Carr said the school board backed the district’s response to the accusations. “The board supports the investigation the district engaged in,” she said. A substitute teacher has been filling in for Stark’s classes. The district will now start the process to hire a replacement, Carr said. Meanwhile, the police will continue looking into the possible misconduct. “It’s still under investigation,” White said this evening.

Panera planning move from downtown to Big Boy site

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Big Boy is moving over for bread, bagels, salads and soups. Panera Bread is planning to move from downtown Bowling Green onto the former site of Big Boy on East Wooster Street. Applications have been filed with the city engineer’s office for demolition of the Big Boy restaurant, and with the city planning office for a drive-thru at the new site. A building permit request for a new Panera restaurant was approved earlier this month by the Wood County Building Inspection Office. The new building will have 4,413 square feet of space. For 17 years, Panera has been serving downtown diners in Bowling Green. The move to East Wooster Street will give the restaurant better access to I-75 travelers, students on the BGSU campus, and ample parking. The move will leave a big hole in the downtown, but Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mary Hinkelman was looking at the bright side. “I don’t think it will stay empty long,” she said of the possibilities to fill the South Main storefront. Floyd Craft, owner of the building housing Panera, said he had heard some rumblings about the restaurant moving. Over the years, the business has expressed its desire to have a drive-thru for customers. “I haven’t heard anything official from them,” he said. And he suspects that the move won’t be very soon since a new restaurant will have to be constructed, and Panera renewed its lease two and a half years ago for the current site until 2021. Craft agreed that filling the spot shouldn’t be difficult. “Sooner or later, we’ll find someone,” he said. “I would like to get another good restaurant here.” Craft said he isn’t as worried about the impact of the move on himself – but more so on the overall health of the downtown. “I’m more concerned about them leaving for the traffic they pull downtown,” he said, noting the number of customers who eat at Panera then do some shopping at other downtown stores. “That’s my biggest concern.” The current Panera site at 139 S. Main St. is 5,000 square feet. “They’ve been a good tenant. I’m sorry to see them leave,” Craft said. The manager Tuesday morning at Panera downtown said she couldn’t answer questions about the move. The corporate office did not return a phone call or email request. Meanwhile, after more than 40 years serving the classic Big Boys and strawberry pie at the Frisch’s at 1540 E. Wooster St., officials from that restaurant hope their loyal fans will continue to seek out Boy Boy specialties. The East Wooster site, once a place popular with BGSU students especially for late night food, could not compete with drive-thru food from McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Waffle House, said Rob Armstrong, president of Bennett Enterprises, which operates Big Boy. “We felt this was a good decision,” he said about the closure. Armstrong is hoping customers just shift their business to the Big Boy at North Main Street, which will remain open. “We’ve got a lot of loyal Big Boy customers,” he said. “We hope a lot of our customers find their way over there.”  

Absentee ballot deadlines near for General Election

The Wood County Board of Elections is reminding voters of the absentee deadlines as the Nov. 6 General Election approaches. Voters have until noon on Saturday, Nov. 3, to request an absentee ballot by mail from the Board of Elections office. The application may be found at the Board of Elections website at Completed absentee ballots may be returned by mail or in person to the Wood County Board of Elections. If returning an absentee ballot by mail, it must be postmarked by Monday, Nov. 5, and arrive at the board of elections’ office within 10 days of Election Day in order to be eligible to be counted. If returning an absentee ballot in person, it must be dropped off at the Board of Elections office by the close of polls on Election Day. A completed ballot may be returned by a family member. Voters may not return their absentee ballot at a polling location on Election Day. Voters who wish to vote in person may come to the Wood County Board of Elections office located at County Courthouse Office Building, One Courthouse Square, Bowling Green. In-person absentee voting is available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Friday, Nov 2; from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3; from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4; and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 5.

ADAMHS levy aims to save lives from drugs, suicide

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Tom Clemons makes his rounds to public meetings before next week’s election, he talks about the big difference made by a levy that costs voters a small amount. The 1-mill replacement levy for 10 years for Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services will cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $35 a year. That money is spent on dealing with growing drug addiction problems and increasing needs for mental health crisis services. “We save lives,” said Clemons, executive director of Wood County ADAMHS. The levy funding is needed to keep up with growing needs for services, Clemons said. Some of the biggest issues include dealing with the opiate epidemic, providing more mental health housing, and improving crisis intervention services. Wood County is expected to hit 30 deaths this year from opioid overdoses. The number of suicides is also on the rise, with the county trending at about 20 this year, Clemons said. The funding is vital, he said, for programs fighting the opioid crisis, plus an increase in methamphetamine and cocaine abuse. Addiction recovery houses, and the mental health services are all part of the safety net supported by the WCADAMHS levy. The county used to average six to seven suicide deaths a year. “That’s too many,” Clemons said. And then they spiked. In 2015 there were 17; in 2016 there were 20; in 2017 there was a drop to 11; and this year the county is on pace to hit 25. In response to the increase in adult suicides, the ADAMHS board recently decided to fund a mobile crisis response that replaced The Link crisis center. The mobile unit responds to crises wherever the person is – at home, work, a store, or a park, Clemons said. It has unlimited capacity for calls, so no one calling in for help will be put on hold, he added. “Everybody who answers the phone is thoroughly trained in crisis response,” he said of the new hotline. The ADAMHS board also funded training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, designed for people who are suicidal, self-harming or aggressive to others. The therapy has been proven very successful, Clemons said, and focuses on self-calming skills, mindfulness and meditation techniques. When the training is complete, Wood County should have 30 to 40 therapists available with expertise in the DBT techniques. The levy makes up one-third of the county’s funding for mental health and addiction services, according to Doug Cubberley, president of the Wood County ADAMHS Board. The 1-mill replacement levy will bring in approximately $3.2 million a year. Passage of the levy is vital since this is the final year of the current levy, Cubberley said. “If this levy fails to get the majority vote, our programs will have to be severely curtailed,” he said. At the same time as seeing rising costs for services, ADAMHS is also seeing a drop in help from the state and federal government. A decade ago, state and federal money made up 60 percent of the ADAMHS budget. Now the local levy dollars have to bear the burden of 75 percent of the budget. Clemons stressed that the board has reduced expenses and secured a number of grants. “We have made prudent reductions in our…