Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

Playground gives foster kids place to play with parents

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A patch of grass outside Wood County Children’s Services has been turned into a wonderland for foster children. With the help of local service organizations and the county commissioners, a playground has been constructed on the grounds of Wood County Job and Family Services on East Gypsy Lane Road. The playground is to be used by foster children visiting with their birth families. “It’s for family visitation, so kids and their parents can play together in a natural environment,” explained Sandi Carsey, administrator of Wood County Children’s Services. During the average week, the Children’s Services office sees about 10 families come to the agency for supervised visitation with children who have been placed in foster care. “It’s critical that kids have contact with their families,” especially if the goal is reunification in the future, Carsey said. “The kids are attached to their families. They need to see them. They need to maintain those relationships,” she said. And the playground gives children an opportunity to do what kids do with their families – go down slides, climb equipment, be pushed on swings. In the past, Wood County Children’s Services used the Wood Lane facilities for visitation, since there was no space available at Children’s Services. But then an annex was added to Wood County Job and Family Services. The additional space gave families inside room for visits, but no outdoor play area. “The families really liked having the playground” at Wood Lane, Carsey said. So area organizations were approached about donating to the playground project. Money was contributed by Modern Woodmen, Bowling Green…

Teens invited to drug free leadership conference for students

(Submitted by Wood County Prevention Coalition) Ohio Teen Institute (OTI) Conference is coming up on July 17 – 21, at Heidelberg University. Ohio Teen Institute is a week long drug free leadership conference for high school students. Through the program, students develop the skills to become a positive leader within their schools and communities. Students are also equipped with the knowledge and abilities to not only make positive choices for themselves, but also to encourage their peers to make healthy decisions. During the week long conference, students participated in small discussion groups where they are able to form closer connections with a smaller group of youth from other areas, play team building games, and share ideas. Participants also selected workshops to attend to learn new skills and knowledge, hear from motivational speakers, and showcase their talents during the annual talent show. Students attend workshops on alcohol awareness, prescription drugs, family addiction, e-cigs, marijuana, suicide prevention, awareness activities, youth-led prevention, environmental strategies, and relaxation techniques just to name a few. The Teen Institute program planted its roots in Ohio in 1965 and we are proud to be continuing this program 52 years later! To find out how your teen can participate in this group at their school, check out the OTI website at for registration forms, as well as an incredible youth created closing video (embed below) highlighting last year’s event! Forms are due by June 15th to avoid a late fee. For any additional information about Ohio Teen Institute and how youth can get involved you can contact Wood County’s Teen Institute Coordinator, Jeanine Lindquist, at

BG to host ‘Pause for the Pledge,’ elder abuse program on Wednesday

The City of Bowling Green will hold its annual “Pause for the Pledge” ceremony on Flag Day, Wednesday, June 14 at 10 a.m. near the Wood County Senior Center, 305 N. Main St. in Bowling Green. During the program, President of City Council Mike Aspacher will read a proclamation and the Pledge of Allegiance will be recited. Additionally, the city will participate in Wood County Job and Family Services Elder Abuse Awareness program, which will also occur at the Senior Center. All citizens are invited to participate.

Habitat for Humanity may finally get to build homes in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Habitat for Humanity has built 37 homes all over Wood County – except for in Bowling Green. The homes have been constructed in local communities like Northwood, Grand Rapids, Luckey, Bloomdale, North Baltimore and Weston. But Bowling Green land remained out of reach. Until now. On Monday, the Bowling Green Board of Public Utilities will discuss giving Habitat for Humanity land that was previously used for a city water tower. “This is huge,” said Mark Ohashi, executive director of the local Habitat for Humanity branch. “Acquiring land in Bowling Green has been hard,” Ohashi said Saturday as the organization dedicated two of its newest homes in Weston. Because it’s a volunteer organization that relies on donations, Habitat has been able to build in many Wood County communities because the land was given to the group. That could soon be the case in Bowling Green. According to a letter from Bowling Green Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell, the utilities board is being asked to consider donating land at the southwest corner of Manville and Clough avenues. The property is the former site of the Manville water tower, which was removed a few years ago after the construction of the new Newton Road water tower. Since the water tower removal, the city has maintained the grass lot. But the property has no long-term use for either the utilities department or the city, O’Connell explained. So the staff reviewed options to dispose of the property. The property could be placed for sale at auction, but it is unclear how much revenue the property would generate….

BG man accused of setting himself and his home on fire

A Bowling Green man is accused of purposely setting himself and his home on fire Friday. Thomas M. Imondi, 53, of 921 Sunset Drive, has been charged with aggravated arson and is being held in the Wood County jail, according to Bowling Green Deputy Police Chief Justin White. The incident was reported around 1:30 Friday morning. Initially, Imondi told police someone had set him and his home on fire. He told police he heard someone outside his residence and as he looked out the window, the person threw an accelerant on him then lit the bedroom and him on fire. Some of Imondi’s clothing caught fire. Imondi reportedly suffered minor chest burns and had singed eyebrows. The state fire marshal’s office and arson investigators were called in. “He was interviewed at length,” White said of Imondi. “Based on the evidence at the scene and the interview, he was charged with aggravated arson. Imondi was the only person inside the home at the time, officials said. The small fire was contained to Imondi’s bedroom, with the room and only a few contents being damaged, Bowling Green Fire Division reported. Imondi was transported to the Wood County Hospital for minor injuries and later released. Imondi was arrested later in the day after the fire was determined to be arson. He is scheduled to appear in court Monday. White said that Bowling Green police have had contact with Imondi at least once in the past. Though he didn’t have details, White said Imondi was a suspect in a menacing by stalking investigation.

Planet Fitness plans to open gym in Bowling Green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green has long been the home to plenty of pizza joints. Maybe that’s why it’s becoming the home of more exercise gyms. Planet Fitness is the latest gym business to plan on making Bowling Green its home. At Wednesday’s city planning commission meeting, Planning Director Heather Sayler said Planet Fitness has plans to open a gym in the Shoppes on South Main strip mall, south of East Gypsy Lane Road. Sayler also announced a few other commercial and industrial projects underway in the city. A permit has been issued for the construction of a Home2Suites extended stay hotel at 1630 E. Wooster St., in the space formerly used by Victory Inn. The Home2Suites is one of Hilton’s hotels. Another permit has been issued for an addition to the Aldi grocery store at 1010 S. Main St. Currently under review is a permit for site improvements of the McDonald’s restaurant on East Wooster Street. Sayler also noted an increase in requested zoning permits, with 166 being sought this year compared to 137 at his time last year. New construction this year includes 17 single-family homes, three commercial buildings, 1 industrial site, and three institutional facilities. The city’s engineering division has approved construction plans for Plat 1 of The Reserve at Martindale, which consists of three proposed lots along Pearl Street and Martindale Avenue. The city is also reviewing a preliminary drawing for Plat 8 of Pheasant Farms. Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the planning commission reviewed a manufacturing zoning definition request that would allow a vocational training school to be built in Bellard…

Conneaut water project a ‘nightmare’ for city and residents

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Neighbors and city officials can agree on at least one aspect of the Conneaut Avenue water project – it’s been a nightmare. For those living along the stretch of Conneaut from Mitchell Road to Wintergarden Road, the project has meant multiple boil advisories, yards still torn up for the waterline work, and almost constant dust from the gravel roadway. For the city employees, the project has been a source of frustration caused by faulty waterline equipment and unexpected delays. Has the waterline project been a headache and a nightmare? “Yes and yes,” said Bowling Green Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell. In an attempt to explain the delays, the city invited residents along the waterline to an open house Thursday. On display were some of the pieces of defective equipment that have plagued the project. The project began in January to replace the old water main, affecting about 50 homes along Conneaut Avenue. For each home, a “saddle” is wrapped around the waterline, allowing a hookup with the home. The saddles used with the old line were made of cast iron and were severely deteriorated. So new saddles were ordered and fitted to the waterline. But the new saddles would not seal on the old waterline, since it was not an exact round shape. So new PVC pipe was installed and the saddles were fitted. Residents were advised to boil their water, and all seemed good. Then the saddle connections started leaking. So different saddles were ordered and put on the waterline. Residents were again asked to boil their water. Again the seals…

BG mayor joins Climate Mayors organization

Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards has signed on to join the Climate Mayors organization which is made up of mayors across the nation who support climate change efforts. At Monday’s City Council meeting, Edwards said he was investigating joining the group, and later this week he signed on. Following is the story previously printed on the organization. BG mayor may join ‘Climate Mayors’ national movement

BG Council debates further fight against pipeline

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   At least two Bowling Green City Council members are interested in taking the Nexus pipeline fight further. Council has already rejected an easement to allow the pipeline to cross city-owned land within miles of the city’s water treatment plant. The city held a panel discussion with four geologists addressing their concerns about the pipeline. And the mayor has written several letters identifying concerns to FERC, federal and state legislators, and the pipeline. But on Monday, council member John Zanfardino suggested that the city look into filing a motion to intervene on the project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “I know there are questions of cost,” Zanfardino said. But the costs may be worth it to ensure safe drinking water, he said. Zanfardino referred to one of the panelist’s concerns that the environmental statement for the pipeline did not even mention several risks. “This seems to give us a legal leg to stand on,” if something happens, Zanfardino said of the motion to intervene. Though one of the panelists said the cost to file a motion to intervene would be “negligible,” the city’s legal counsel thinks otherwise, especially if it leads to greater litigation and expense.  So Zanfardino suggested some exploration should be done. “We’re running out of time,” he said. FERC tends to rubber-stamp pipeline projects even in the best of times, Zanfardino said. “And we’re not in the best of times.” Council member Daniel Gordon agreed. “There is a real sense of urgency here,” he said. “We can’t put a price tag on our water supply here in Northwest Ohio.”…

Group says political corruption, not algae is hurting Lake Erie

(Submitted by Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie) A Toledo environmental group today charged that the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) lacks legal authority to issue or enforce permits for more than 200 concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs or factory farms) it has permitted since 2002, and recommended four actions to respond to what it called “an ongoing scandal hidden in plain sight.” Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie (ACLE) asserts that Ohio Senate Bill 141, signed by former Governor Bob Taft, claimed to transfer authority over CAFOs from the Ohio EPA to the ODA.  However, the ODA never received the requisite U.S. EPA approval of this transfer, making all ODA CAFO permits moot. “We are here today to explain how authority to regulate CAFOs was illegitimately transferred from the Ohio EPA to the ODA, but this is not the fundamental reason Lake Erie and our health are both under siege from factory farms.  The fundamental reason is that an undemocratic process, built on political corruption, has created an agricultural model that places profit over health and sustainability at every turn,” said Mike Ferner, coordinator of ACLE. “The enormity of this problem almost defies belief,” Ferner explained.  “If you took Ohio’s five largest cities – Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo and Akron – doubled their annual output of raw sewage and dumped it, untreated, on farm fields draining into western Lake Erie, you would equal what CAFOs in Northwest Ohio do every year – and just the ones big enough to require a permit.  How much additional comes from perhaps hundreds of factory farms just under the size needed to register…

Painful loss turned into pleasure at pool for children

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Part of Leah Pekarik was dreading Wednesday. That was the day a new splash pad creature was being dedicated in honor of her daughter, Clara, who died last year at just 10 weeks old. But the other part of Pekarik was overwhelmed by the generosity of the community to turn her family’s pain into pleasure for other children in Bowling Green. With the help of community members who love Leah, her husband, Scott, and their son, Bobby, the day of dread turned into a day of joy surrounding Clara’s short life. “Everyone in this community knows Leah and loves her,” said Kristin Otley, director of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. “So many community members contacted us and said, ‘We want to do something.’” So the park and recreation program came up with a plan. “We asked people to help us remember Clara and give other children in the community something to smile about,” Otley said. When the new aquatic center was built in City Park, there were not enough funds to furnish the “splash pad” area with “creatures” that spray water on children. The idea was to add a frog creature to the area for $6,000. “We started just with that,” Otley said of the original plan to add a frog to the splash pad in honor of Clara. “We got an outpouring of support from people who knew her and from people who didn’t know her.” So the plan grew, with the Wood County Park District donating money for a “snake” creature spitting water at the splash pad, and…

BG cracks down on ‘deplorable’ house on Wooster

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The house is the problem child on the East Side – 1014 E. Wooster St. Neighbors have reported trash, a recliner and a mattress piled in the front yard. This past weekend, the college students living there had a TV “blaring” in the front yard. The inside of the house has also had its share of problems, according to records kept by the city. “It is unfortunate that conditions like this exist and there is so little regard for community values and people who reside in the neighborhood,” Mayor Dick Edwards said during Monday evening’s city council meeting. The owners of the house, Ronald F. and Mary Jo Trzcinski, live in Holland, Ohio. The city has recorded two pages of complaints and official responses to the “deplorable conditions and appearance” of the house that sits to the east of Crim Street across from Bowling Green State University. “It’s enough to make your head spin,” Edwards said. The mayor made several trips to the property over the weekend, and East Side advocate Rose Hess continued to monitor the site. “I think it’s time to take the gloves off with this property,” Edwards said. Over the last few years, the city’s police division, fire division, code enforcement officials, and Wood County Health District have intervened. Each time they have asked the owner to cleanup or repair items, the Trzcinskis have done just enough to comply. This past weekend, Hess recorded more problems at the property. “Last night we drove past there and a 36-inch flat screen TV was blaring in the front yard.  (Interior…

Historical center hosts demonstrations and picnic

(Submitted by Wood County Historical Center & Museum) Enjoy free family fun and historic demonstration at the Wood County Historical Center & Museum on Saturday, June 24 – Sunday, June 25 for Demonstration Days Weekend. The Historical Center is located at 13660 County Home Road in Bowling Green and both the event and museum offer free admission all weekend. The Wood County Amateur Radio Club (WCARC) will hold their annual Field Day in the Boom Town area of the Historical Center grounds at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 24, and if weather permits, through the night until Sunday at 2 p.m. The Wood County Board of County Commissioners will recognize the work of the Wood County Amateur Radio Club with a proclamation on Saturday, June 24, at 3 p.m. Every June, more than 40,000 Amateur (Ham) Radio operators throughout North America set up temporary transmitting stations in public places to demonstrate radio science, as well as their importance to our communities. Field Day is a nationwide exercise sponsored by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) as a means to practice emergency communication procedures using temporary antennas and emergency power. In the event of a disaster, hams are ready and able to set up communication facilities on short notice almost anywhere. Other demonstrations will include a pioneer picnic and 1860s-era outdoor games on Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. The public is welcome to pack a lunch to enjoy on the grounds alongside costumed interpreters. The museum will also be open from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday with free admission as part of the Demonstration Days festivities….

BG mayor may join ‘Climate Mayors’ national movement

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards is bucking President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate control. During Monday’s City Council meeting, Edwards said he is investigating joining the Climate Mayors national movement. “Several residents have been in touch with me about the possibility of joining with mayors throughout the country in combating climate change and in preparing for global warming,” Edwards said. “The intensifying of the environmental movement among mayors is proceeding on a bi-partisan basis in partial response to some of the proclamations emanating in recent days from Washington,” the mayor said. Edward’s statement earned him an emotional thank you from council member Sandy Rowland, and applause in the council chamber from citizens and council members. The mayor mentioned a recent NPR interview he heard featuring the mayor of Carmel, Indiana. That city, like Bowling Green, has no risk of the global warming risk from rising ocean waters. But the Carmel mayor also believes in the need for climate control efforts. “Mayor (Jim) Brainard’s comments about Carmel could well have been said about Bowling Green and our efforts to be on the leading edge of environmental sustainability,” Edwards said. Both mayors are Republicans and are bucking the trend of some in their party. In the NPR interview, Brainard talked about why his community in Indiana cares about climate change. “We see ourselves as a part of the country and the world. And we realize if there’s that sort of displacement, we’re at risk for all sorts of bad things,” Brainard said. “There’s also the frequency and intensity…

Napoleon Road resurfacing to start June 19

The City of Bowling Green has contracted with the Shelly Company to resurface Napoleon Road, from South Main Street to South College Avenue, beginning June 19. This work is expected to last roughly one month – weather and progress of work dependent. The Shelly Company is planning to work Monday – Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. During this project, access will be maintained to all properties and businesses. Contact the Engineering Division at 419-354-6227 for additional information or with any questions.