Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

Court Street Connects prompts temporary parking changes

In conjunction with the Court Streets Connects Festival along Court Street, temporary parking restrictions will be implemented. In order to accommodate the temporary bike lane, no parking signs will be posted from April 17 – 30 along the southern portion of the 300 and 400 block of Court Street. The metered parking along the southern portion of the 200 block of Court Street will also be bagged during this timeframe. On April 22, during the festival, the 200 block of Court Street (from Prospect to Summit) will be closed to traffic. The closure will begin by 8 a.m. and the street will re-open by 5 p.m. Questions about this may be directed to the Planning Department.


Earth Month events planned throughout county

(Submitted by Wood County Solid Waste Management District) April is Earth Month and multiple agencies are collaborating throughout Wood County to provide events geared toward conservation, education and family fun. The Eighth Annual Community Earth Day Celebration will be the culminating event held on Sunday, April 30th, 2017 from 2-4 pm.  This free family event is open to all and is filled with fun hands-on learning stations. Try your hand at archery hosted by the Wood County Park District, take a nature walk with the Bowling Green Parks & Rec Department, power a light bulb with the City of Bowling Green’s power generating bicycle, give the Solid Waste Management District’s giant Earth Ball a roll, and hold a crayfish at ODNR’s Scenic Rivers station.  Interactive games will be provided by the Northwestern Water & Sewer District, BGSU, and Snapology.  The City of Perrysburg, the Wood County Master Gardeners, and Partners for Clean Streams will host earth friendly activities, and the Wood County Library’s CNG bookmobile will be onsite providing earth friendly stories! The Montessori School of BG, located at 515 Sand Ridge Road, provides an ideal backdrop for this Earth Day Celebration!  Enjoy 14 acres of land, visit a Learning Lab, play on the playground and spend some time at the Black Swamp Preserve and Slippery Elm Trail. We encourage you to get involved throughout the month of April to make Earth Day every day!  For a full list of volunteer and educational activities, please visit www.communityearthday.com.    


Drone gives city new view for infrastructure work

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Sounding like a distant swarm of mosquitoes, the city’s drone took a test flight down Pine Valley Drive on Thursday afternoon. The flight showed why Bowling Green intends to start using a drone to help with its infrastructure projects. The drone can provide up-to-date images for roadwork, water, sewer, or other utility projects. In the past, the city has relied on aerial photographs taken for the Wood County Auditor’s Office. The problem, though, is that the photos are taken every two years. “In between things change,” said Jason Heyman, the city’s Geographic Information System coordinator and unmanned aircraft system pilot. For example, the street being surveyed from the air on Thursday was still under construction when the aerial photos were taken. “This is a huge advantage to us,” Heyman said. Now, he will no longer have to answer the question, “Why aren’t these roads on your maps?” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said Google Earth satellite images show roads under construction long after they have been completed. “It’s night and day,” Fawcett said. The drone came at no cost to the city. Bowling Green Police Division seized three drones during a reshipping fraud investigation, according to Major Justin White. The fraud involved a Bowling Green resident having merchandise shipped to him using hacked credit card numbers, then reshipping the merchandise elsewhere. The scheme was like money laundering for merchandise, White said. The police and fire divisions kept one of the drones for each of their operations.  The police are still working on developing a policy and looking into FAA requirements. The fire…


Crim Elementary stages musical to make learning fun

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The backstage was buzzing with nervous actors. The frog and toad were preparing for their big scenes. The snail was brushing up on her slow motion moves. The squirrels were getting ready to make a mess. And the understudies were standing by. In front of the stage, on the gymnasium floor, the eager audience sat with their legs criss-cross applesauce style. When the curtains opened, an excited “ooooooooohhhhh” filled the gym. That’s just the reaction second grade teacher Stacey Higgins was hoping for with the debut of the first musical Thursday at Crim Elementary School. A dress rehearsal was performed in the morning for fellow students, with the big show to occur in the afternoon for parents and other fans. The musical, “A Year with Frog and Toad Jr.” featured all the second grade students – an ambitious endeavor with such young students. “It ties in with our curriculum on the seasons,” Higgins was quick to say. But she added that the performance was also something more. “They need these types of experiences,” she said. “Too much time is spent testing and preparing for tests. We need to get back to making school meaningful and enjoyable for kids.” The musical got the kids singing, dancing, acting, reading narration and designing the colorful set. That is all learning, Higgins stressed. “We want them to have experiences other than just taking tests.” As the audience filed into the gym, and the second graders fidgeted back stage, Higgins admitted to being a little nervous herself. “It’s a good nervous,” she said. “This if the first…


Businesses being recruited to work on drug abuse in workplace

(Submitted by the The Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board) In an effort to address the safety and economic threat of drug abuse in the workplace, the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board recently partnered with the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce, Safety Council, Bureau of Worker’s Compensation, County Commissioners and Working Partners to launch the Working Partners Drug-Free Workforce Community Initiative (DFWCI) in Wood County. One of the key objectives of the initiative is to establish a nucleus of five businesses that have been facilitated through an intensive drug-free workplace (DFWP) management consultation and technical assistance course designed to help them implement or refine their drug-free operations, including second-chance policies. To that end, the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board is currently seeking applications from local businesses to participate in the Working Partners Technical Assistance Course. Participation in the two-day course is free and allows for each business to send three representatives to the session. Business leaders who are interested in applying for the course may complete an online application at https://form.jotform.us/70715706440149 or should contact Amanda Moser at 419-352- 0626 to learn more information about the opportunity. Businesses that complete the course can expect to receive an operational road map to guide them in administering a DFWP policy/program, systems to attract and keep quality employees, increased risk management and insulation against corporate liability, enhanced public relations, and savings in time and dollars. “We believe this is an excellent opportunity for several local businesses to really take a deep dive into their drug-free workplace policies and create systems…


BG student on way to school struck by truck

Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci notified families of an accident this morning at the corner of Poe Road and Fairview Avenue.  An eighth grade student was hit by a truck driven by a high school student.  The student was taken to St. Vincent’s Mercy Medical Center.  The parents were notified, came to the scene and then went to St. Vincent’s.  The student was responsive and appears at this point to have minor injuries. Scruci added that this is a good time for parents to remind students about safely crossing streets and for drivers to always be aware while behind the wheel.


BG may spend $478,000 to stop stink from sewage

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s not easy – or cheap – to make sewage smell like roses … or at least less like sewage. Bowling Green officials are considering spending about $478,000 to take away the foul odor that sometimes emanates from the city’s water pollution control facility on Dunbridge Road. The plant is the source of many complaints, primarily from Bowling Green State University and from nearby businesses. “It’s a sensitive issue for us,” Bowling Green Utilities Director Brian O’Connell said. “We’ve had numerous complaints from businesses in the area.” The facility staff believes the two likely sources of the stench are the septage receiving station and the biofilter that removes the bacteria from the waste and turns it into a harmless solid. A misting odor neutralizer was added to the biofilter’s exhaust fan in 2016, but it has had limited success. The septage station has no odor control. “The odors can be quite foul,” O’Connell said. “We’ve tried to get this problem licked in the past,” but the fixes always proved to be temporary. So that sent the city’s utility staff on a field trip last year to a wastewater plant in Pennsylvania, according to O’Connell. The plant installed a carbon filter system to treat the exhaust air for odors. That change ended all odor complaints, including from the Holiday Inn located right next to the plant, O’Connell said. The permit for the plant allows for “zero odor discharge from the perimeter,” said Doug Clark, superintendent of the Bowling Green plant. “We want to be good neighbors,” O’Connell said. So on Monday, O’Connell asked…


County recorder reports first quarter transactions

(Submitted by Wood County Recorder’s Office) Wood County Recorder Julie Baumgardner has released a report covering the transactions of the recorder’s office for the first quarter, January 1 thru March 31, 2017: 1,295 deeds were recorded for this quarter, compared to 1,435 deeds being recorded for the same quarter last year. 967 mortgages, with a valuation of $4,216,562,440.16, were recorded for this quarter, compared to 991 mortgages, with a valuation of $3,763,692,164.90 being recorded for the same quarter last year. Numerous other documents were recorded, in addition to the above, for a total of 4,142 documents being recorded for this quarter, compared to 4,285 documents being recorded for the same quarter last year. Baumgardner paid a total of: $239,290.11 into the county for this quarter, compared to $248,368.41 for the same quarter last year. $104,833.81 of the total for this quarter was paid directly into the county general fund, compared with $109,026.91 for the same quarter last year. $118,288.30 of the total for this quarter was paid into the housing trust fund, less one percent back to the county general fund by the state for the timely distribution of the money to the fund, compared with $122,665.50 for the same quarter last year, less one percent paid back to the county general fund. The remaining balance of $16,168.00 was paid into the recorder’s equipment fund for this quarter, compared with $16,676.00 for the same quarter last year.  


Changing of the guard for courthouse security?

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After 20 years of securing the Wood County Courthouse, there may be move for changing of the guards. Upon the retirement of Tom Chidester, chief constable at the courthouse complex, a debate began over whose job it actually is to protect the courts. The current security program was devised cooperatively by the commissioners, judges, sheriff and other county elected officials in the mid 1990s, when the county was trying to meet the 12 requirements of the Ohio Supreme Court. A court security office was created and staffed, and now performs several functions like scanning people and packages entering the court complex, standing guard during trials and providing general security functions. But now Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn has questioned whether his office should take over the court security role. The county commissioners, in a memo to the judges, sheriff and prosecutor, suggested that the current system be retained. “It is a cooperative plan that has served the courts, the courthouse complex, and the citizens of Wood County well,” the memo stated. “We are troubled by the premise that we are being asked to undo the work of many previous elected officials, and that the result of our decision, either way, will be disagreement, argument, and animosity where there has been little or none for over two decades,” the commissioners stated. The system was well thought out, has evolved over the years and works very well, the memo continued. Wasylyshn said his only motivation is to ensure that his office is meeting statutory requirements for court security. “The question I’ve had was what…


More staff needed to handle spike in child abuse

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There is no “normal” when it comes to child abuse and neglect cases. On Monday night, five children were taken into custody when their parent was arrested on the highway in Wood County. Last week, Children’s Services was called in when a parent died of an opiate overdose. So Wood County Job and Family Services Director Dave Wigent got on the county commissioners’ agenda to request an additional Children’s Services staff member. But by time the meeting rolled around on Tuesday, Wigent’s request had grown to two additional employees. “The situation has gotten worse,” he told the county commissioners. “We’re setting all-time records” for the number of child abuse and neglect cases being investigated. Child abuse investigations increased in Wood County by nearly 25 percent in 2016 – a jump never seen before by the staff at Children’s Services. The number of cases went from 718 in 2015 up to 894 in 2016 – meaning 176 more child abuse investigations. Cases of abuse were reported in every community in the county. And so far, 2017 looks no better. “This year we are trending above that,” Wigent said, noting that March set an all-time high of 90 new cases. And most are not simple. “These cases are very time consuming.” The lack of local residential facilities for children with special needs is also creating more work for staff, who have to make monthly visits with the children. Most children with special needs in custody are not living in Wood County. “We have children across the state,” Children’s Services Administrator Sandi Carsey said. “There’s…


‘All Politics is Local’ and some is pretty nasty right now

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   If you want to make your words count with politicians, forget the form letter. Face-to-face conversations are best. Personally written letters and phone calls also carry some weight. But email form letters are next to worthless – especially if you forget to put your name in the “insert your name here” slot – which oddly enough, many people do. “Personal contact is best, if you can,” State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, said Saturday during the second in the three part series on “Civics 101: Get Informed. Get Engaged. Get Results.” Gardner was joined in the “All Politics is Local” program by former State Rep. Tim Brown, Bowling Green City Council members Bob McOmber and Sandy Rowland, and Wood County Probate and Juvenile Court Judge David Woessner. The “Civics 101” project is the brainchild of local citizens who were moved by the last election to become more engaged in the workings of government. “I know people are cynical about politics,” Gardner told the crowd. But individuals can make a difference in government. And despite what many people think, it’s not about the money for many politicians, he said. “That’s not true for most,” Gardner said. It’s the chance meeting with a physician at a Kiwanis pancake breakfast about the need for children to carry their asthma inhalers at school, or an emotional plea from a mom about the need for children to have comprehensive eye exams. “Sometimes it’s just one person” who starts the ball rolling on new legislation, Gardner said. When he was just new as a county commissioner, Brown remembered…


Pipeline to reroute around protesting landowners

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Local landowners who dug in their heels against eminent domain have won the battle to keep a pipeline from crossing their properties. Kinder Morgan, the company building the Utopia pipeline, has filed a motion to give up its appeal of a court order that denied its right to use eminent domain. Instead, the pipeline company has decided to reroute the line. “We are continuing to refine the route to have the least impact from the landowners’ standpoint, from the environmental standpoint,” Allen Fore, vice president of public affairs for Kinder Morgan, said Monday. The exact route of the Utopia pipeline is still being determined, and Fore would not say if the pipeline route was avoiding Wood County all together. However, he did state the new route would steer clear of the Wood County landowners who would not budge in their opposition to the pipeline. The use of eminent domain is the “last resort” for Kinder Morgan, Fore said. In some cases, the company uses it as part of the negotiation process. “That’s not at all unusual,” he said. The pipeline company has 95 percent of the property in Ohio needed for the line through voluntary acquisition, according to Fore. “We’re confident we’re going to get to 100 percent. We’re pleased with where we are with our progress.” “We’ve been successful in finding alternative routes,” Fore said, adding that the new route will be announced “very soon.” Maurice Thompson, of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law which represents 26 Wood County landowners, said it is unclear if the rerouting will just avoid the…


BGSU Dance Marathon raises $369,457 for ‘miracle children’

By ALYSSA ALFANO BGSU Student Contributor   Months of fundraising, 120 miles of biking, and 24 hours of dancing brought Ziggython to an end at the Perry Field House on Sunday evening. The amount of time and energy that went into this event was well worth it for the dancers, bikers and miracle children. Money was raised throughout the event in several ways. Visitors paid 5 dollars at the door to enter Dance Marathon. Eric’s Ice Cream had a stand and there were several stands selling T-shirts and other DM apparel. Dancers could pay to sit down, for time to nap, to take a shower and other luxuries throughout the event. Visitors could pay to send their friends who were dancing to “jail,” among many other things. Throughout the event, morale captains taught dancers pieces of the final dance and by the end of the 24 hours, bikers and dancers were able to join together to close Ziggython with a funny, uplifting and exciting dance. Dancers were able to play cornhole, basketball, and other games with the miracle children and their families. Food was provided for the dancers at the event. Acapella groups on campus came to perform for the dancers and visitors at Ziggython. There was a fun rave for the dancers to participate in. Zumba and other activities were also provided to help keep the dancers active, motivated, and excited throughout the event. A grand total of $369,457 was raised by the end of the end of the event. The months of fundraising followed by the money raised during the 24 hours really paid off. The end of…


BG to put up tree tags to show benefits of city trees

The City of Bowling Green Tree Commission is hanging tree tags around town to show the environmental benefits city trees provide in a year. Tags will be displayed for two weeks between April 17 and May 1 which overlaps with both Earth Day and Arbor Day. Benefits of trees can easily be listed, but until recently it has been difficult to actually put dollar values on these benefits. Tag values were calculated using the MyTree app which estimates benefits of individual trees. The stormwater avoidance provides the largest value as falling rain collects on leaves and bark until it evaporates rather than running off and entering storm drains. Factors that influence each tree’s value include: tree species and condition, trunk diameter (DBH), and proximity to a building. Residents can calculate the value of their trees by visiting itreetools.org/mytree on your computer, tablet, or smart phone. The free MyTree app is available from the US Forest Service through the iTree suite of programs. iTree programs are a tool to estimate environmental benefits of trees and all calculations are based on peer-reviewed research.


Velasquez finds his fight for immigrant laborers to be more urgent than ever

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Toledo area has anywhere from 6,000 to 10,000 undocumented immigrants. But every week, more are rounded up and shipped out from the Toledo airport, according to farm labor leader Baldemar Velasquez. “Every Tuesday morning, there are more men and women in shackles being boarded onto planes,” Velasquez said Sunday afternoon. Many are being sent back to Mexico through expedited deportations, without being allowed to see an attorney and without being given their due process, he said. “I don’t know how they are getting away with that,” Velasquez said about ICE and border patrol. “One-hundred years from now, people will look back at us like they do the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850,” when the law required escaped slaves to be returned to their owners, he said. “The fact that we are accommodating such a practice is un-American.” Velasquez grew up as a migrant farm laborer, born in Texas and traveling from field to field in the Midwest. Based on those experiences he went on to create the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, in response to the poor treatment of farm workers. That organization, celebrating its 50th anniversary, still works to achieve justice for migrant workers. Velasquez, who spoke Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Church north of Bowling Green, grew up dirt poor, with a work ethic stronger than most of his white classmates, and with stamina that just didn’t quit. “You always have to finish the job,” he said. “You start that row, you’ve got to finish it. You start that field, you’ve got to finish it. When you’re a farm worker, it…