Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

Federal funding in limbo for community health center

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The uncertain status of federal funding for community health centers across the U.S. has left some local public health officials with a sick feeling. After several delays and missed deadlines, Congress did pass funding for CHIP – the Children’s Health Insurance Program – which provides matching funds to states for health insurance to families with children. Public health officials understood that the CHIP funding would be approved along with the federal funding for community health centers that serve low income patients. “That didn’t happen,” said Joanne Navin, a retired nurse practitioner from Bowling Green, who serves as board president for the Wood County Community Health and Wellness Center. The health center, located at the Wood County Health District on East Gypsy Lane Road, Bowling Green, was expected to get the $1.1 million promised by the federal government for 2018. With those funds last year, the center served about 1,500 unduplicated patients, making more than 3,700 visits for services such as pediatric, immunizations, screenings, chronic diseases, lab services, plus seniors, women’s and men’s care. “It is just frightening that the federal government is denying health care to citizens of this country,” Navin said. “They are playing politics with it.” Though the community health center accepts private pay patients, the primary purpose of the facility is to provide health care to low income, Medicaid patients. Patients pay on a sliding fee scale, explained Diane Krill, chief executive officer of the community health center. The lack of federal funding for 2018 has led to the facility not filling the behavioral specialist position that was vacated after a person retired last year, Krill said. The looming…

Wood County Republican Women’s Club meets with judge candidates

(Submitted by the Wood County Republican Women’s Club) The Wood County Republican Women’s Club held their first meeting of 2018 on January in Perrysburg, Ohio. This was a regularly scheduled business meeting and those attending were pleased to hear from their guest speakers. Invited to speak to the membership were Judge Gene Zmuda, current Lucas County Common Pleas candidate for the Sixth District Court of Appeals, and Judge Craig Baldwin candidate for Ohio Supreme Court, who was appointed to the Fifth District Court of Appeals in 2013. He was elected to the position in 2014 and again in 2016. Prior to his time on the appellate court, Judge Baldwin served eight years as a judge in the Licking County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division. In 2001 he was appointed by the Licking County Commissioners as director of the Licking County Child Support Enforcement Agency until his election as judge in 2004. He was re-elected as judge in 2010. Both candidates shared their experiences and their reason for seeking judgeships to higher courts. The 25 members and guests attending this meeting discussed upcoming outreach opportunities to promote Republican candidates throughout Wood County. The highlight of the meeting was the announcement that application information for the 2018 WCRWC Scholarship has been sent to 30 area school districts. WCRWC will be awarding $500 scholarships to two (2) Wood County women graduating from high school in the class of 2018. WCRWC became active in 1935, and is part of one of the largest women’s political organizations in the country. The grassroots organization works to promote the principles and objectives of the Republican Party, elect Republican candidates, inform the public through political education…

Bubble soccer – blow up suits cushion the blows

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   They are like human bumper cars. But rather than rubber bumpers, they are protected by giant plastic bubbles that surround their bodies from the knees up. The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department has human-size plastic bubbles for adults interested in trying out the non-traditional sport of “bubble soccer.” The community center recently hosted a game of bubble soccer for those interested in playing a sport from inside a bubble. The bubbles stay on by the player holding handles at chest height. “It’s almost like a backpack you strap on,” said Kristin Otley, director of the city parks and recreation department. The players’ legs are free to run or kick – unconstrained by the bubble. “So your legs are running around outside the bubble,” explained Ivan Kovacevic, city recreation coordinator. The plastic bubbles pay off during some of the more physical plays. “Some of the hits people take are pretty powerful hits,” Kovacevic said. “But the hits don’t hurt.” However, getting back on their feet can be a struggle for bowled over players. “It’s like being a turtle on its back,” Kovacevic said. “It’s awkward at first.” The protective bubbles do allow competitors to try plays they otherwise might not be brave enough to attempt, especially on an indoor court. Players dive to defend the goal, or throw themselves onto their sides to block a ball – completely cushioned with their bumper bubbles, he said. In addition to being fun, bumper soccer is also great exercise, Otley and Kovacevic agreed. “It’s a fantastic workout. You’re getting a really good workout as you are having fun,” Otley said. “It’s definitely a really good…

‘Little Hats, Big Hearts’ project at Wood County Hospital

(Submitted by Wood County Hospital) Little Hats, Big Hearts. February is American Heart Month, and in connection with The Children’s Heart Foundation and the American Heart Association, Wood County Hospital (WCH) is honoring babies, moms, and heart-healthy lives in a special way. Volunteers have donated knitted and crocheted red hats for the babies born in the Family Birthing Center at Wood County Hospital this month. Throughout the country, supporters are making hats to be given out to thousands of babies across the country to empower moms to live heart-healthy lives and to help their children do the same. With the American Heart Association, we are working to raise awareness of the importance of heart health and knowledge about congenital heart defects to our families at Wood County Hospital. The American Academy of Pediatric states, “Congenital Heart Disease occurs in nine of every 1000 live births. Approximately one quarter of these children will have Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD), which by definition requires surgery of catheter intervention in the first year of life.” All babies born in the Wood County Hospital Birthing Center are screened for Critical Congenital Heart Disease after 24 hours of age. “We are fortunate to have dedicated volunteers who wish to share their talent with babies born at Wood County Hospital’s Family Birthing Center. Thank you to our volunteers, Amijo and friends, from the entire Obstetric team for designing unique red hats for each baby born the month of February,” said Lisa Barndt, Director of Obstetrics. Little Hats, Big Hearts was started in February 2014 in Chicago, collecting 300 hats. Today, more than 40 states participate in the program.

Book about tiny mouse is a big deal to BG students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Two years ago, the school district’s first “1 Book BG” about Humphrey the hamster caused hamster sales to spike in the Bowling Green area. Parents should be warned that this year’s district-wide reading book is “Ralph S. Mouse.” Bowling Green City Schools has officially started its third annual 1 Book BG program, which engages all 1,700 of its pre-kindergartners through its fifth graders to read the same book. This year, the book is “Ralph S. Mouse.” The unveiling of the 1 Book BG title had students waiting for the big announcement Friday afternoon. The kids filled the gymnasium at Crim Elementary School, as third grade teacher Jonelle Semancik gave them some clues. First, the book heads back to school. Second, the main character is small but mighty. And third, readers should be prepared for an “a-maze-ing” time. Students cheered and gave a drum-roll as Semancik revealed the book they will all be reading – “Ralph S. Mouse” by Beverly Cleary. “I wonder if we can get Ralph to come and say ‘Hi’ to you guys,” Semancik shouted. With that cue, a staff member disguised as a mouse appeared on stage, with a small motorcycle. Those readers familiar with “Ralph” may remember the cute rodent from two earlier stories in Cleary’s “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” series. In this year’s book, Ralph has the ability to speak, but only to certain people – primarily those who are loners. The 1 Book BG program gets everyone in the three public school elementaries, plus Montessori and St. Aloysius, on board reading the same book – whether it’s being read aloud to the younger students, or…

Work planned for next week in Conneaut Avenue area

Next week, beginning on Monday, Feb. 5, Speer Brothers contracting will be working in the parking lot of Conneaut Hill replacing the gravity sewer in this area and two manholes located near the entrance/exit to the parking lot. As a result of this work, the parking lot will not be accessible throughout the week. Following this work near Conneaut Hill, Speer Brothers will begin installation of the lift station in the city-owned lot west of Wintergarden (east of Tamarac). Concurrently, construction of the sanitary sewer force main from this location to Conneaut Hill will occur. Intermittent impacts to traffic flow will occur. Questions about this project may be directed to the engineering division at 419-354-6227.

Consumer watchdog Cordray makes pitch for governor

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Richard Cordray has spent the last seven years as America’s consumer watchdog. The past year, he performed that job under the constant threat of being fired as head of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by President Donald Trump. “The animus and hostility coming out of Washington, D.C.,” is palpable, Cordray said to the Wood County Democratic Committee in Bowling Green Thursday evening. “All the things we try to teach our children not to do, we are seeing the child in the White House do.” Cordray spoke to a packed house of local Democrats about his goal to take the Ohio governor’s seat this fall. “I have the background and track record to get results,” he told the crowd. Cordray has been working as the champion of U.S. citizens, protecting consumers in the financial marketplace. But that was also a job he had to fight to get. Recruited by Elizabeth Warren and appointed by President Barack Obama, Cordray was blocked by Senate Republicans for two years, before being confirmed. The consumer agency was the product of the Dodd-Frank law, intended to protect Americans from unfair practices by banks, lenders and other financial institutions. After Cordray left the post in November to run for Ohio governor, Trump appointed his budget director Mick Mulvaney to head the agency. Openly hostile to the office, Mulvaney requested a budget of zero dollars for the office this year. After speaking to his audience, Cordray said the attempts to dismantle the consumer watchdog agency are disappointing. “They are reversing direction on a lot of things I care about,” he said. However, he believes the bureau will outlast Republican…

Free educational programs and support groups offered on mental health

(Submitted by National Alliance on Mental Illness) Do you struggle with a mental health condition? Do you struggle with your loved ones mental health condition? You are not alone. One in five American families has a member with a mental illness (National Institutes of Mental Health.) Yet though these conditions are far from rare, affected families can feel isolated. They may not know others in their situation, how to cope with their loved one’s symptoms, or how to get him or her the best care. That’s why NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Wood County offers FREE educational programs and support groups for local families touched by mental illness. Those interested may call NAMI Wood County at 419-352-0626 or e-mail for more information or to register. Family-to-Family is a twelve-session class taught by trained relatives of individuals living with mental illness. The course provides participants with information on mental illnesses, their symptoms and diagnosis, and treatment options. Instructors also share strategies for caring for loved ones with these conditions. The next Family-to-Family class will begin Monday, March 5th and continue through May 21st from 6:000 -8:00 PM at the NAMI Wood County office, 541 West Wooster Street in Bowling Green. The Family Support Group to accompany the class meets the last Wednesday of every month from 7:00 to 8:30 PM, also at the NAMI WC office. A group including both family members and peers meets the first and third Thursday of the month from 6:00 to 7:00 PM at the Way Public Library in Perrysburg. Peer-to-Peer is for adults living with mental illness.  A trained facilitator, who is also in recovery from mental illness, covers topics including medications, treatment,…

Classroom is a stage for Conneaut’s Bob Marzola

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The fifth grade classroom at Conneaut Elementary School is Bob Marzola’s stage. “There’s storytelling. There are props. There are costumes. At least when I teach there are,” Marzola said. Marzola, who teaches social studies and English language arts, knew his teaching style was reaching his young audience when a parent came in for a teacher conference. The student had told her mother that Marzola memorizes a new script every day. “‘Mom, I don’t know how Mr. Marzola does it,’” the parent explained her child said after school one day. “‘He puts on a different show every day.’” Ta-da. Lesson learned in a most pleasant way. Marzola was recognized Thursday by the Kiwanis Club as Bowling Green’s elementary inspirational educator. The organization honors outstanding teachers each year. Later this month, inspirational educators from the middle school and high school will be recognized. Marzola is definitely not a traditional type of teacher. His skills are known throughout the district, leading teachers from his own and the other elementaries to recommend him for the award. “He’s creative. We want kids to think outside the box,” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said. “He brings the classroom to life. The kids love him.” And Marzola loves them back. “I’m here receiving this award because of them,” he said. “I have become a better teacher because of my relationship with them. They inspire me. Just as I’m teaching my students, they are teaching me.” Marzola gets to reconnect with a lot of his students when they get into high school, since he choreographs all the district’s musical productions. “Building on the relationships we had when we were in…

County auditor warns of credit card skimmers on gas pumps

Wood County Auditor Matthew Oestreich is reminding consumers to be wary of the presence of credit card skimmers on gas pumps. “Skimmers” are installed by criminals to steal credit card data.  Oestreich encourages daily inspections for credit card skimmers by filling station employees. “It has been a year since the first credit card skimmer was discovered in Wood County. Our weights & measures division inspects the gas pumps at 70 stations across Wood County, among many other duties,” he said. “To combat identity-theft criminals, it is important that gas station owners continue to supplement our inspections with daily inspections of their own.” Anyone suspecting the presence of a skimmer, or witnessing the tampering of a gas pump or credit card reader, should contact local law enforcement. Consumers should know that paying for gas with cash is always the safest option at the pump. Using a credit card is safer than using a debit card, because customers using a debit card risk their PIN numbers being stolen. Motorists should use pumps near the attendant, as criminals often target pumps further from view. The Wood County Auditor’s Office can be reached at 419-354-9150.

Americans squeeze in leisure time between WWI & WWII

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Americans were ready for a break after World War I. Unaware of the impending Great Depression and then World War II, Americans were ready for leisure when their boys came home from “the war to end all wars.” They were ready to have some fun. During the decade after WWI, the first Miss America Pageant was held, the Little Orphan Annie comic strip came out, Kraft created a new version of Velveeta cheese, and the first loaf of pre-sliced bread was sold as “Sliced Kleen Maid Bread.” Life was good. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade started using giant balloons, 7-Up was invented, and George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue was played at Carnegie Hall. This era of leisure is the focus of a new exhibit opening today at the Wood County Historical Center. The exhibit celebrates the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI with “The Return to Normalcy: A Life of Leisure in Wood County, 1920 to 1939.” The exhibit will run concurrently with the museum’s look at Wood County’s role in WWI. The WWI exhibit opened in 2017 to honor the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I, and both exhibits will remain on display until Dec. 1. The new exhibit was inspired by Warren G. Harding’s 1920 presidential campaign platform “The Return to Normalcy.” Visitors are welcomed to the exhibit by a recording of Harding reading his famous speech that was credited for helping him win the presidency. Holly Hartlerode, museum curator, is hoping visitors can relate to the images and sounds of those years. Old radios play hits from that era, like “Minnie the Moocher” by…

Block of Napoleon Road to be closed on Monday

The Bowling Green Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Division will be closing the 100 block of Napoleon Road, from South Main to Prospect Street, on Monday, Feb. 5, from 6:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The closure is required as part of excavation and replacement of a sanitary sewer lateral in the area. Questions about this work may be directed to the Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Division at 419-354-6277.

Gavarone co-sponsors broadband access legislation

(Submitted by State Rep. Theresa Gavarone) State Representative Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, today announced that the Ohio House has passed legislation that would help fund projects that provide broadband to underserved regions of the state. House Bill 281, a Buckeye Pathway bill, would establish the Residential Broadband Expansion (RBE) Program within the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA), through which grants would be provided to local governments that sponsor initiatives to provide broadband to residential areas within their boundaries. The legislation targets the problem of “last-mile” connectivity to residences where it remains too expensive for private broadband providers to extend their services, filling a funding gap for coverage. This would impact both large areas unserved by broadband service, as well as smaller clusters of households within communities that are already served. “In 2018, broadband internet is a vital tool, but unfortunately, too many people who live in rural Ohio do not have access,” Gavarone said.  “I am happy to cosponsor this legislation to help our local governments bridge the current service and funding gaps so that more people can realize the benefits this resource provides.” To fund the RBE Program, the bill creates the Ohio Broadband Development Grant Fund and makes an appropriation of $2 million in Fiscal Year 2019. The RBE grant share for projects would be a third of the total cost, with the remaining funds coming from a variety of sources, representing a partnership between public and private entities to improve internet connectivity statewide. House Bill 281, sponsored by Rep. Rick Carfagna, R-Genoa Township, now awaits further consideration by the Ohio Senate.

Republican Lincoln Day Dinner to feature Secretary of State candidate

(Submitted by Wood County Republican Party) Ohio State Senator, and candidate for Secretary of State, Frank LaRose, will be the speaker at the Wood County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner on Thursday, Feb. 22. The annual dinner is being held at the Holiday Inn French Quarter in Perrysburg. A VIP event at 5:30 p.m. will be followed by the dinner program, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Other honored guests scheduled to speak include Nathan Estruth,  Lt. Governor candidate with Mary Taylor’s gubernatorial campaign, as well as all three Republican candidates for United States Senate (together in the same room for the first time): Melissa Ackison, Mike Gibbons, and Representative Jim Renacci. The theme for the evening’s proceedings is the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, as this year marks the 160th anniversary of those oratorical fireworks. Dinner tickets are $30; VIP event tickets are $100. Sponsorship opportunities are available. To purchase tickets, please contact David Kuebeck, event coordinator, at or mail a check to: Wood County Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner, c/o David Kuebeck, 351 Westwood Drive, Bowling Green, OH 43402.

Doris Herringshaw elected president of TMACOG

At the TMACOG General Assembly of members held earlier this week, the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments elected new leadership to one-year terms. City of Sylvania Mayor Craig Stough stepped down after completing his TMACOG term as chair. Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw, who was vice chair in 2017, was elected to be chair for 2018. Mark Stahl, Ottawa County commissioner, was elected vice chair. Herringshaw has served as a Wood County commissioner since 2013. Before entering elected office, she had a career with the Ohio State University Extension in Wood County and worked with county commissioners and extension educators in a 10-county area.