Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

BG Council tackles streets, sidewalks, support for schools and more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The city of Bowling Green has its work cut out for 2019. Some challenges are familiar – street construction, neighborhood revitalization and downtown parking. But some challenges presented at Saturday’s strategic planning meeting weren’t on last year’s priority list – sidewalks, side streets and supporting the school district. City Council met for its annual strategic planning session to review the city’s priorities for 2019, and to allow council members to suggest their own goals for the community. “We can see where we’ve been in 2018, and set the stage for activities and goals in 2019,” Council President Mike Aspacher said. Mayor Dick Edwards cautioned that construction downtown and on the roundabouts at Interstate 75 will make this year a little bumpy. “We know it’s going to be an unusually demanding year on many fronts,” Edwards said. “There are things that will put us all to the test.” But the mayor pointed out that unlike some “cities to the north,” Bowling Green officials work well together for the betterment of the community. “I thought we had a very good year last year,” Edwards said. “I think it speaks well for our city government. We work well together.” Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter started out the strategic planning process by reviewing progress made on last year’s priorities. The city began implementing suggestions in the Community Action Plan, work on the East Wooster corridor continued, the city’s charter was updated, and legislation was passed to create a historic preservation commission. Tretter then listed the goals for 2019: Implement of the historic preservation commission.Continue East Wooster corridor efforts in cooperation with BGSU.Continue neighborhood revitalization efforts.Update the zoning code.Improve radio coverage for safety operations.Construct new building in City Park.Complete construction of Wooster Green.Scan permanent planning and zoning records.Determine borrowing need, timing and method for various projects.Upgrade police division recruitment and hiring practices to national trends.Begin and complete downtown utility and paving project.Complete East Wooster/I-75 roundabout project.Increase electric sales to lower customer costs.Explore ways to lower electric transmission costs.Implement new billing software and utility customer interface portal.Remove and replace old shelters at Carter Park. “We have a lot of construction going on in this town,” Tretter said. “We will be enduring some challenges while it’s ongoing.” Aspacher talked about the importance of continuing work on the East Wooster corridor, where many people get their first glimpse of the community as they are looking for a place to go to college or a place to establish a home. “We can’t ignore as people are looking at Bowling Green – that environment impacts them,” Tretter said in agreement. Aspacher praised the “significant steps” already made along East Wooster by the city and university. Council members list their priorities for the year. Following is a list of some of the priorities listed by council members for 2019. Side…

Towering elm from sledding hill turned into benches

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The tree that provided shade for soccer teams and challenges for sledders is now providing a place for people to sit and rest. Nearly a year ago, the towering elm tree at the base of the Conneaut sledding hill was removed after it was deemed a hazard. The timber from that tree has been turned into benches by the city public works staff. “There’s a lot of history here,” Mayor Dick Edwards said, as he looked at the new bench in the city administration building. Mayor Dick Edwards looks at bench made from sledding hill elm. The city of Bowling Green tried to stretch out the life of the shapely elm tree at the sledding hill. Years ago, some limbs were braced together in order to shore up the aging tree, but that was only a short-term fix. Cables were installed to hold up the limbs, Public Works Director Brian Craft said. But in February of last year, the city could no longer prop up the elm – and its fate was sealed. “A very large crack has developed in the tree,” Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter announced last year. “This large part of the tree is separating from the rest of the tree.” The giant tree was examined by Bowling Green’s city arborist and by an Ohio Department of Natural Resources arborist. The two came to the same conclusion. “We couldn’t have children on that hill with that tree there,” Tretter said. The tree was hurriedly disposed of because of three factors – there was snow on the ground, many children wanted to go sledding, and few hills exist in the city. “We didn’t take this decision lightly,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said last year. “Nobody wanted to remove an iconic part of Bowling Green.” But the risk from the rotting tree was too great, he said. “We don’t want to put people using city parks at risk,” Fawcett said. The wood from the iconic elm was saved, and public works employee Rick Beaverson turned the wood into planks. Those planks were then made into benches by fellow public works employees Andy Sergent and Dan Zeigler. One bench will sit in the downtown city building, next to the Tree City display, and another will go to the parks and recreation office, Craft said. A third bench from the elm will be raffled off at the annual Tree City event, Craft said.

Reminder – deadline for dog registrations is Jan. 31

Wood County Auditor Matthew Oestreich reminds dog owners that Jan. 31 is the deadline for 2019 dog registrations. A registration fee of $14 must be paid with the application for each dog registered. The information necessary for registration is age, sex, spayed or neutered, color, length of hair, breed of the dog and the name, address and phone number of the owner. A kennel fee of $70 must be paid with the application for each kennel registered and additional tags are available for $1 each for kennels with more than five dogs. A recent change is that dogs may be registered for a 1-year or 3-year term or a permanent license (for the dog’s life). When completing the application, choose your “Term” (1 Year, 3 Year or Permanent). Fees are: 1-Year License, $14; 3-Year License, $42; and Permanent License, $140. No refunds are permitted Penalty fees will be collected on registrations received after Jan. 31, in the amount equal to the registration fee for each type of license. Therefore the penalty would be $14 for regular licenses and $70 for kennel licenses in addition to the regular registration fee. People acquiring dogs after Jan. 31 have 30 days after the date of acquisition or the date that the dog reaches three months of age to register with the Auditor’s Office. The 2019 dog registration may be filed by mail, in person, or on the internet. When mailing the application please include the license fee, dog information (as stated above) and a self-addressed stamped envelope for return of the license with a postmark of Jan. 3l or before. Licenses can be purchased in person at the Wood County Auditor’s Office, second floor of the county office building between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday or at the Wood County Dog Shelter. Internet applications may be made at and does require an additional $2 processing fee per license which goes to the online firm processing the credit card purchase. Please do not send cash with your mail-in application. If you have questions regarding a dog license please contact 419-354-9150. The Wood County District Board of Health has adopted a regulation requiring all dogs be immunized against rabies. Please provide the rabies information in the application process. Mail applications to: Matthew Oestreich, Wood County Auditor, One Courthouse Square, P.O. Box 368, Bowling Green, OH 43402.

Small grants make a big difference to community groups

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News To several local non-profit groups operating on shoestring budgets, the annual community grants are lifesavers. This year, the grants will allow books to be purchased for children, playgrounds to add equipment for youngsters with disabilities, wireless microphones to be purchased for a theater group, and nutritious meals to be provided to children whose parents are trying to complete their educations. “This is actually the funnest night of the whole year,” said Emily Dunipace, chairperson of the grants committee of the Bowling Green Community Foundation. On Wednesday evening, the foundation handed out $43,000 in grants to 16 community organizations. The grants aren’t huge – but to the non-profit agencies, they can make a big difference. “It’s the reason we exist,” said Jim Elsasser, president of the BG Community Foundation. “To grow Bowling Green in a number of ways,” whether through the arts, education or community service. “To improve the life in Bowling Green – that’s why we exist,” Elsasser said. The foundation had a record number of applications totaling more than $100,000 for this year’s grants, Dunipace said. “That gives you a sense of the need,” she said. The goal is to reach out to as many in the community as possible – with money raised through fundraising, seed money from the Toledo Community Foundation, and endowments. “It’s probably the best way to give back to Bowling Green in that it touches to many different programs,” said Kristin Otley, who was foundation president last year. The foundation began in 1997 as idea from the BG Leadership group. “It’s very Bowling Green,” Otley said. “It’s just so fun to give this money away.” Kevin Cochrane, president-elect of the foundation, stressed that even the small dollar amounts are big deals for local non-profit groups. “Tonight is the best night of the year,” he said. “It is so cool. It’s a fun way to stay involved with the community.” Following is a list of the groups getting grants this year: ·         1BookBG Literacy Program – Funding for this community wide book club, which serves approximately 2,045 students and their families, will be used to give each student a follow-up book to read for enjoyment. ·         Best Buddies – Strives to promote inclusion through one-to-one friendships between people with and without disabilities in our community.  Funding will be used to plan events to promote and create meaningful, life-long friendships for students in the BGSU community and Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in the Bowling Green town community. ·         BG Area Community Bands—Funding will provide an educational and interdisciplinary music and dance experience to depict the connections between these two art forms.  Hixon Dance, a professional modern dance company will choreograph three dances. Students from area dance studios will be invited to create some original choreography and join the band for two selections,…

Gavarone seeks appointment to State Senate seat

Theresa Gavarone, state representative for Ohio’s 3rd House District, today announced her intent to seek the appointment to the 2nd Ohio Senate District.  The 2nd Senate District seat will be vacated by Senator Randy Gardner who was appointed by Governor Mike DeWine to be the Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education.  The district includes the counties of Wood, Ottawa, Erie, Fulton (part) and Lucas (part). “With the support of my family and at the urging of so many people across the district, I have decided to pursue the appointment to the 2nd Senate District,” Gavarone said.  “We have had a lot of success during my time as State Representative and I look forward to the opportunity to serve a larger population and play a bigger role in ensuring North and Northwest Ohio continues to be an amazing place to live, work and raise a family.” Gavarone, who was appointed to her seat in 2016, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Bowling Green State University and a law degree from the University of Toledo College of Law.  She previously served on Bowling Green City Council. In addition to her public service, Gavarone is an attorney and the co-owner of Mr. Spots restaurant with her husband, Jim.  They have three children and reside in Bowling Green where they attend St. Aloysius Catholic Church.

Utilities, trees, and bike meetings set for next week

Three city meetings are planned next week. The Board of Public Utilities is scheduled to meet Monday at 5 p.m. in the City Council Chamber, 304 N. Church St. The Tree Commission is scheduled to meet Tuesday at 4 p.m., followed later by the Bicycle Safety Commission at 6 p.m. in in the City Council Chamber.

After 33 years in Statehouse, Gardner going back to school as chancellor

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News State Sen. Randy Gardner’s dedication is unquestionable. Some may be critical of his politics – but many of those will confide that Gardner’s commitment is indisputable. During his 33 years in the Ohio House and Senate, he has never missed a vote. Since 1985, he has logged 10,423 consecutive roll call votes on bills, amendments and resolutions in his self-described “second home.” And as Senate Majority Leader, he was beginning his 20th year in service to elected leadership positions in the General Assembly – more than any other Republican in Ohio history. Come Monday, Gardner’s voting streak will end. But his service to Ohioans will continue as he is sworn in as the next chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education. The decision to switch roles was made after great deliberation, Gardner said on Thursday afternoon. “I have not had a job change since I’ve left the classroom at Otsego High School,” where he taught history. “It’s been a privilege of a lifetime serving the people of northern Ohio,” he said. But with term limits, Gardner faced just two years left as State Senator. “I still have a great passion for serving,” he said. “I looked at my opportunities to make a difference in the state,” he said. “It’s not because I’m rejecting what I’m doing now. I’ve enjoyed being Wood County’s voice at the Statehouse for more than 33 years.” And the chancellor position pairs Gardner’s passions for education and public service. He has served as chairman of the higher education subcommittee in the House and Senate for the last eight years. “That’s at least one strength I bring to the job,” he said. Gardner’s move may unleash a flurry of interest in the Senate seat left vacant. The opening will be filled by the majority caucus in the Ohio Senate – for the remainder of the two years left on his term. The Senate district covers all of Wood, Ottawa and Erie counties, plus portions of Lucas and Fulton counties. Gardner leaves office with the hope that work he left unfinished will be completed in his stead. “In the last few weeks, I’ve been increasingly concerned about school bus safety,” he said. “I’m hopeful that will be worked on in the next General Assembly.” Then there’s his work on cleaning up Lake Erie, with water advocates, business, agriculture and local government leaders. “To bring everyone to the table – that wasn’t done before,” Gardner said. The work resulted in plans for a bond issue supporting Lake Erie. “I’m certain that will be part of the agenda in next year,” he said. “Obviously, I still have a lot of interest in a lot of issues.” Gardner has a reputation for doing his homework and completing projects once he’s begun. During public meetings, he has been praised…

Gardner leaving Senate to become higher education chancellor

State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, has been nominated to be the next chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education by Governor-elect Mike DeWine. “It has been a tremendous privilege to serve the people of northern Ohio in the Ohio General Assembly,” Gardner said. “The Statehouse has been my ‘second home’ for more than 33 years. It has been one of the great honors of my lifetime to be your voice in the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives.  I look forward to a new chapter of public service.” BG Independent News will have more later on Gardner’s appointment.

BG schools task force weighs in on building options

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Using clickers, the Bowling Green City Schools facilities task force members Wednesday weighed in on heavy questions about the district’s buildings. The majority of the 54 people voting supported a bond issue for schools, preferred one K-5 elementary, and supported the educational vision of the district. However, the significance of those results was questioned by task force members who wanted more options to vote on. Some suggested that there be a “do nothing” option for school buildings. “We need to have an option of ‘do nothing’ till we’re out of debt,” Grant Chamberlain said. Others asked for different configurations of which schools stay and which go. And Bud Henschen questioned how many of those members voting on Wednesday evening were teachers, who are biased about the issue. It was also pointed out that the task force, of 60 members or so, is a minute portion of the voting public in the school district. Crim Principal Alyssa Karaffa leads tour of school for task force on Wednesday. Following are the questions and results of the surveying Wednesday evening. Bowling Green City Schools needs to pursue a bond issue that will address the needs of elementary schools: Strongly agree, 68%; Agree, 16%; Neutral, 7%; Disagree, 5%; Strongly disagree, 4% What is the preferred size of the elementary schools? One school with 1,350 students: 41%Two schools with 675 students: 29%Three schools with 450 students: 29% What is the preferred grade configuration of the elementaries? One pre-kindergarten through fifth grade: 78%Two, with one being pre-kindergarten through second, and the other third through fifth: 6%Three, with one being pre-kindergarten and first, one being second and third, and one being fourth and fifth: 16% I could support one consolidated elementary school: Strongly agree, 41%; Agree, 20%; Neutral, 4%; Disagree, 6%; Strongly disagree, 30% I could support renovating all three elementary buildings: Strongly agree, 25%; Agree, 16%; Neutral, 4%; Disagree, 16%; Strongly disagree, 39% I could support a new Conneaut, a new Kenwood and a renovated Crim: Strongly agree, 27%; Agree, 30%; Neutral, 5%; Disagree, 9%; Strongly disagree, 29% I could support two new buildings, with one north of the middle school and one on the Conneaut site: Strongly agree, 15%; Agree, 20%; Neutral, 7%; Disagree, 22%; Strongly disagree, 35% I could support two new buildings, with one north of the middle school and one on the Kenwood site: Strongly agree, 9%; Agree, 20%; Neutral, 11%; Disagree, 20%; Strongly disagree, 39% I could support two buildings, with one on the Crim site and the other either at Conneaut or Kenwood: Strongly agree, 20%; Agree, 13%; Neutral, 15%; Disagree, 13%; Strongly disagree, 40% Which of the following options could you support (could vote for as many as wished): One consolidated elementary: 35Renovate all the elementaries: 17Build new Conneaut and Kenwood schools, and renovate Crim: 29Two building…

BG to hold tribute to Martin Luther King

A tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be held on Friday, Jan. 18, at 1 p.m., at the Wood County District Public Library, 251 N. Main St.The tribute is sponsored by the City of Bowling Green Human Relations Commission and will feature keynote speaker Dr. Christina Lunceford, Bowling Green State University.  Musical selections will be performed by the BGHS Madrigals along with Dr. Ed Duling, organist of First Presbyterian Church. Also at the event, the Human Relations Commission will present the annual Drum Major for Peace Award, named in honor of King.

Jeffers seeks re-election to at-large city council seat

Bruce Jeffers has declared his candidacy to return to the Bowling Green City Council in 2020.  “Entering my eighth year in this position, I have found the opportunity to work for all the citizens of Bowling Green to be very rewarding and I would like to continue,” Jeffers said. According to Jeffers, at the city level of government, council members are mainly involved with services, economic development, and neighborhood enhancement through planning and zoning.  Larger state and national issues certainly have their impact, but Jeffers said he intends to stay focused on the issues the city can control. “During my tenure on City Council, we have improved our sustainable power supply by adding the largest solar field in Ohio, which complements the wind turbines enabled by prior leadership.  Also, we have been through several rounds of planning initiatives finding ways to improve land use and improve business opportunities and neighborhoods. We have sought ways to improve the labor pool for manufacturing through the Welcome BG process.  All of these initiatives take vision and patience, and I believe I have demonstrated such qualities through my record of action in all these areas,” Jeffers said. “I look forward to serving another four year term as one of your At-Large Council members,” Jeffers said.  

BG school board special meeting on levy options canceled

The Bowling Green Board of Education’s special meeting scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 10, has been canceled. The meeting will be rescheduled when the district’s financial consultant, David Conley, is unable to attend.  The purpose of the meeting is to discuss levy options, with no public participation.  

County park district programs think outside boring boxes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The Wood County Park District’s programs extend outside the box – way beyond anything remotely resembling a box. Take for example the black frog beer and trivia event, the “M-archery Madness” and program on the Valentine’s Day view from the perspective of wildlife. “Those are a little more non-traditional programs,” said Jim Witter, park district program coordinator and the brainchild behind many of the less conventional looks at nature. Public surveys about the park programming have shown appreciation for the variety of activities offered. Some programs draw in crowds, such as the eclipse program that attracted 70 people, and the upcoming owl program that was capped off at 100. “We continue to get incredibly positive responses,” about programs, Bob Hawker, vice president of the park board, said Tuesday during the monthly park board meeting. Part of the attractions come with the particular parks – rock rappelling at Sawyer Nature Preserve, canoeing at W.W. Knight Preserve, and bicycling on the Slippery Elm Trail. “There’s a whole variety of adventure activities that continue to be liked,” Hawker said. But it goes beyond making the most of the rocks, water and trails in the parks. Much of the popularity is based on the park district programming staff’s ability to take a wacky look at wildlife and a non-conventional view of nature. “The staff continues to embrace what our constituents want,” Hawker said. “So far the results are overwhelmingly positive.” Some people are just naturally attracted to nature – so no creativity is needed. Those “nature nerds” will show up for programs on plants and animals. But others require a little ingenuity to lure them in. That’s where Witter and the programming staff gets to wander off the beaten path. Some programs teach skills – some more useful than others – such as how to use a compass, how to build a fire, or how to make a fly for fishing, “We try to think of things more outside the box to get more non-traditional folks out there,” Witter said. “We just have to decide how far outside the box.” The theory is, if a wacky programs gets people to the parks, they just might come back again. Some of the programs offer more “domestic” skills – like making Native American moccasins and reviving the lost art of mending clothes. Then there’s cooking – the old-fashioned way – like pickle making, and the upcoming class on making (and tasting) ricotta. Like many classes, that one is already full but has a waiting list. For the artistic types, there have been programs on decoy carving and painting, scarecrow making, pumpkin carving, and the upcoming program on snowman art – which could be difficult this season. For animal lovers, the list is long. There are chances to participate in frog monitoring, to learn to…

Community Night tonight at BGSU men’s basketball game

(Submitted by BG Parks and Recreation) Come on out to the BGSU Men’s Basketball Game tonight, Tuesday, Jan. 8, for Community Night.  See representatives from Bowling Green Parks & Recreation, the Mayor’s Office, Downtown BG, BG City Schools and the BG Chamber be recognized throughout the game as you cheer on the Falcons. Click the following for a link that will take you to special pricing for the game ––BG-Community-Night-WecfiR

BG City Council to hold strategic planning session

The Bowling Green City Council will meet on Saturday, Jan. 12, at 9 a.m. in the Council Chamber at the City Administrative Services Building, 304 N. Church St., to hold a strategic planning session. Since this is a work session, no public input will be taken at that time.