Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

Study looks at water options besides Toledo

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County needs water from the Maumee River or Lake Erie, but there may be a way to cut out Toledo as the middle man, according to the Water Source Evaluation Study commissioned by the Wood County Economic Development Commission. The study, presented to the Wood County Commissioners earlier this week was intended to ensure good water, at good rates, and give the county control over its own destiny, according to Jack Jones, of Poggemeyer Design Group which prepared the study. The study accomplished its intended goals by not only identifying water options for Wood County, but also by showing Toledo that viable alternatives exist. But as with anything as complicated as supplying water to a region, “the devil’s in the details,” which have yet to be ironed out, Jones said. The study identified three options for water in the northern part of Wood County, which now gets Toledo water distributed primarily by Perrysburg or the Northwestern Water and Sewer District. Those options are: City of Bowling Green’s water system with expanded reservoir space. Maumee River regional water plant with an intake and reservoir. Maumee River/Lake Erie Bayshore water intake, with a regional water plant and reservoir. Working with Bowling Green’s water plant “has the best implementation potential,” the study stated. The city water treatment plant is a state-of-the-art existing operation that already uses membrane treatment technology. A future reservoir is already being considered, and land has already been purchased for a plant expansion, the report said. All of the options would involve building a huge reservoir, possibly between 200 and 400…


NAMI offers classes on mental illness issues

(As submitted by National Alliance on Mental Illness of Wood County) Family-to-Family class Those who care for or about people with mental illness face daily challenges. Their loved ones’ symptoms can be hard to understand and even harder to live with. They may wonder how best to help their loved one, or to get help for him or her. That’s why NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) of Wood County offers its free Family-to- Family class. This course for relatives, caregivers, and friends of people with mental illness educates participants about mental illness’ symptoms and treatments. It educates them about local resources, helping them to navigate through the mental health system. Family-to- Family begins September 12 at 5:30 PM in the NAMI Wood County office (541 West Wooster, Bowling Green.) The twelve-week course also allows participants to share coping strategies with each other. Its trained facilitators have also cared for family members struggling with mental illness. Family-to- Family was one of the first classes NAMI Wood County offered when it formed in 1987. Graduates of the course give it high marks. One graduate stated: “My outlook on our son and his mental illness has changed. I now understand why he does what he does and have a different outlook on dealing with it. “ Another says: “The class has been life-changing. “ Family-to- Family has been designated an evidence-based practice by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The class combines presentations, personal testimonials, and exercises in an informal, relaxed setting. Family-to- Family is just one of the many free courses and support groups NAMI Wood County offers….


Science – not politics – needed to save Lake Erie

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Protecting the health of Lake Erie can be an emotional issue – but the Wood County Commissioners were advised Tuesday to stick to the science. Bob Midden, a biochemist at BGSU, asked to speak to the commissioners about the health of Lake Erie. He encouraged them to ignore the politics and focus on science when deciding what to do. “Science can play a very valuable role in addressing these things,” he said. But politics often get in the way, and make decisions suspect. “What’s more important is to find a way to reduce algal blooms,” Midden said. In the last month or so, the county commissioners have heard a request from environmentalists that they join other elected officials in the region seeking an “impaired designation” for Lake Erie. And they have heard from a local farmer requesting that they let the agricultural community continue to make improvements rather than adding more regulations. Midden did not push for either approach, but instead suggested that the commissioners look at strategies that have worked elsewhere. Do voluntary measures work, he asked. “This is a complex issue,” he said. “But also a very important and very urgent issue. We’ve got a lot at stake.” At stake are the economics of both the lake and agriculture. “We don’t want to sacrifice one for the other,” he said. Also at risk is the health of humans and animals. Midden said ingestion of the algal blooms can cause liver damage, gastrointestinal problems, and death to humans and animals. “It can kill people,” he said. And long-term exposure may cause…


Wood County jail now taking in Toledo inmates

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Starting Thursday, Toledo will be paying Wood County Justice Center $50,000 a month to save 25 beds at the jail for inmates from Toledo. A deal was struck late Tuesday night, resulting in Toledo sending anyone being sentenced for misdemeanors under the municipal code to be housed at the Wood County jail, located on East Gypsy Lane Road, Bowling Green. Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn, explained that Toledo officials turned south to this county for a solution to its inmate issues after an ongoing feud over charges to the city from the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio near Stryker. The city of Toledo missed a July 1 deadline to pay a $1.3 million quarterly bill for its share of beds at the regional jail. By intentionally failing to pay the bill for 228 of the facility’s 638 beds, the city set the scene to withdraw from using the regional jail. The jail agreement reportedly stated that entities that default on payments longer than 60 days will not be able to house inmates there. Wasylyshyn said Toledo’s failure to pay the bill at Stryker does not worry him. “Toledo will pay up front,” Wasylyshyn said Wednesday. So when the first Toledo inmate arrives at Wood County’s jail, Toledo will turn over a $50,000 check. That amount will guarantee the city 25 beds at the jail for the month. “I know they are going to pay it, because they are paying it in advance,” he said. On top of the monthly $50,000, Toledo will also pay Wood County $65 per day for each inmate…


BG residents want action on neighborhood plan

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   By the end of the evening, each table was cluttered with huge sheets of paper listing ideas to revitalize neighborhoods in Bowling Green. The suggestions were widely varied, but linked by one common desire of local residents – they want action. “How many of you are sick of planning and want to see something happen?” asked Adam Rosa, from the consultant group Camiros, from Chicago. The question caused hands to shoot up around the Crim Elementary cafeteria, where nearly 100 people had gathered Tuesday to participate in the process. Rosa then showed an image from the “Animal House” movie. “This is kind of the opposite of what we are going for,” he said. Instead, the goals are to increase the livability, opportunity, vitality and education of the community. And to do that, the Camiros consultants need community input. “This is all about you telling us about your neighborhood,” Rosa said during the first public meeting of the revitalization process. The Bowling Green Community Action Plan will focus on the East Side of the city, where the needs have been identified as the greatest. But the plan will be applied to all areas of the city, Rosa said. Camiros has worked with the special challenges faced by university communities elsewhere, such as the homes to Notre Dame, Indiana State, University of Chicago, Bradley University and Lawrence University. The city of Bowling Green was compared with Kent – showing very similar demographics in population, income levels and percentage of student rental units. Though the statistics were almost identical, the photographs from the two communities…


School bus driver shortage causing route delays

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wanted: Someone willing to get behind the wheel of a school bus as early as 5:50 a.m., to drive 60 unchaperoned students to and from school each day. Not exactly a dream job. “I’ve always said bus drivers are the bravest people I know. They turn their back on 60 teenagers,” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said Monday. Like many school districts, Bowling Green City Schools is having trouble filling the drivers’ seats in its buses. On Tuesday afternoon, Scruci sent out an email to all parents and guardians informing them of problems the shortage might cause. Some of the solutions to the shortage will result in some late drop off times on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, according to the email. Following are some of the problems expected: On Wednesday, Bus 22 has no driver. Buses possibly impacted will be 4, 8, 20, 21.  This will probably delay drop off times for Kenwood Elementary students riding those buses. On Thursday, Bus 22 has no driver. Buses possibly impacted will be 4, 8, 20, 21.  This will probably delay drop off times for Kenwood Elementary students riding those buses. Also Bus 3 for the high school has no driver.  Buses impacted will be 2, 4, 8,17.  This will likely delay high school and Crim Elementary students. On Friday, Bus 3 for high school has no driver.  Buses impacted will be 2, 4, 8, 17.  This will likely delay high school and Crim Elementary students. The email from Scruci ends with this plea: “If you know of anyone interested in becoming certified to drive…


BG refuse and recycling collection to be delayed next week due to holiday

The City of Bowling Green offices will be closed on Monday, Sept. 5 in observation of Labor Day. As a result, all refuse and recycling collection will be delayed by one day per the following: – Regular Monday collection will be collected on Tuesday. – Regular Tuesday collection will be collected on Wednesday. – Regular Wednesday collection will be collected on Thursday. – Regular Thursday collection will be collected on Friday. Questions about this schedule or the city’s refuse/recycling program may be directed to the Public Works Department at 419-354-6227.


Overcoming Ohio’s opioid epidemic

(As submitted by State Rep. Theresa Gavarone) Over the years, the Ohio House of Representatives has come to know the increased rates of opioid abuse as one of the most persistent and troubling issues affecting our state. In order to curtail drug addiction and its influence over Ohio families, we as state and community leaders must continue to take important steps toward preventing more of our loved ones from paying the price of this costly epidemic. According to a report released by the Ohio Department of Health last week, Ohio experienced a 20.5 percent increase in drug overdose deaths from 2014 to 2015. In 2015 alone 3,050 people died of unintentional overdoses, the highest number on record for our state. The prescription opioid, Fentanyl, is more often associated with these fatal overdoses than any other prescription opioid or illegal drug such as heroin. Provided that this growing problem is stemming from the use of prescription drugs, it is imperative that the Ohio House continues efforts to assist those who suffer from opioid dependence. Fortunately, numerous pieces of legislation have been proposed by the Ohio Legislature in order to counteract the drug epidemic, with several that have already gone into effect as Ohio law. One such example is House Bill 4, which increases access to the drug naloxone, a key component in the fight against opioids. Naloxone is an overdose antidote that, if administered quick enough, can reverse the effects of a drug overdose, often saving the individual’s life. House Bill 4 permits physicians to administer the lifesaving drug without a prescription to individuals who have overdosed, and also allows pharmacists…


Pipeline officials promise to treat land and landowners fairly

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Pipeline officials with Kinder Morgan don’t see the protests by Wood County landowners as a fatal flaw to the Utopia pipeline plans to cross their properties. When landowners say “no,” the pipeline officials hear “maybe,” according to Allen Fore, vice president of public affairs for Kinder Morgan. Often property owners hold out until the eminent domain process is underway, but end up entering agreements with pipeline companies, Fore said. In fact, 98 percent of the land acquisition done by Kinder Morgan never gets to the point of final court resolution, he added. “We have worked with tens of thousands of landowners,” Fore said during a recent stop in Bowling Green. Several landowners in Wood County are protesting Kinder Morgan’s efforts to access their land through eminent domain. Fore believes that’s because they aren’t aware of the compensation that will be offered and the mitigation to their property that will be provided. Some of the landowners from the Pemberville area have stated that no amount of money will convince them to let the pipeline be buried on their farmland or building lots. But Fore said these objections are no different than those he has resolved before. “There’s a lot of passion in the process,” he said. “The challenge is on us to make sure people have accurate information.” “It may start out adversarial, but often it doesn’t end that way,” Fore said. But this case may be a bit different since the proposed Utopia pipeline is not sending natural gas to sites to generate public power. The Utopia line will be sending ethane…


The nose knows…more than we may suspect

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It wasn’t exactly scientific, but the simple test did prove how powerful the sense of smell can be. At the request of Dr. Paul Moore, a professor of biology at Bowling Green State University, the roomful of adults plugged their noses, put the jelly beans in their mouths, started chewing and tasted nothing. The second their released their nostrils, the flavors came rushing in – apple, cherry, cinnamon. “As soon as you let go of your nose, you know,” Moore said to the members of the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club during their weekly meeting last Thursday. Moore has been studying the sense of smell for 30 years. “Every animal makes a lot of decisions based on smell,” including humans, he said. We often aren’t even aware of it, but smells play a big role in most people’s lives. Far back in history, the sense of smell was necessary for survival. “Odors played an essential role if you lived or died,” Moore said. Bitter odors would warn people the food was poisonous or meat had gone rancid. “It’s the most ancient sense we have,” he said. And the least explored. “It is the last frontier of the brain.” Unlike colors or noise, odors are more multi-dimensional and harder to define. “Odors don’t lie on a linear spectrum,” Moore explained. Odors are sometimes used to influence people’s behavior – often without them knowing. For example, it’s long been a tactic when trying to sell a house to add the smell of fresh baked items – with chocolate chip cookies being the best, Moore said….


New elevator to make history more accessible

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than a century ago, the Wood County Infirmary was a place of refuge for the sick, the elderly and the poor. Now, a historical museum, the site is again reaching out to those who need a little extra help. After months of renovations, the Wood County Historical Center will soon be fully accessible to the public. And museum staff will no longer have to disappoint physically handicapped guests by informing them that their visits will be limited to the first floor, explained Director Dana Nemeth. By the end of September, the historical center will be furnished with an elevator and handicapped accessible restrooms. “This building was meant to serve the community when it was a social welfare site,” said Holly Hartlerode Uppal, curator of the museum. “We gave people an opportunity to start over.” Though some have questioned the renovations to the historical building, Hartlerode Uppal believes the operators of the county infirmary would approve. “They would be very excited about all the improvements,” she said. “They did their best to take care of people and we are doing our best now.” The $1.2 million renovation, assisted by the state and county, has been extensive. The elevator will make stops at the basement, ground floor, first and second floors, and the attic. Because the west wing of the historical center is a couple steps lower than the center and east wings, the project required that indoor ramps be built on the first and second floors. The elevator will be accessible from the outside of the back of the building. A connecting…


Ashley Furniture plans store on South Main Street

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A home furnishings store is looking to make a home here in Bowling Green. Ashley Furniture has applied for a zoning variance to put up a large sign at 816 S. Main St., in the same strip of stores as Big Lots and Subway. The location was formerly a Hallmark store. “They just want a larger sign to be seen from the road,” said Bowling Green Planning Director Heather Sayler. The variance request will go before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Sept. 14, at 7 p.m., in the city Administrative Services Building, at 304 N. Church St. Ashley Furniture has had a warehouse in Bowling Green for several years. The warehouse, located in Bellard Business Park on the north end of the city, is currently undergoing an expansion to double its size, Sayler said. The retail Ashley Furniture site is leasing the South Main Street space from Southwood Plaza LLC/Tolson Enterprises, in Toledo. “Having a filled-in space is wonderful,” Sayler said Friday morning. And having a retail store in the same community as the warehouse will make it more convenient for customers, she added. Also moving into the same strip of stores is a Rapid Fire Pizza restaurant, which will be located just to the south of Ashley Furniture. The zoning variance for Ashley Furniture was requested by Advance Sign Group, to allow the construction of a wall sign that would be 191.42 square feet in size, which is 79.42 square feet larger than allowed in the city’s B-2 general commercial zoning district. The request also asks for permission for the…


Bringing solar power out of the dark ages

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Ohio may be the nation’s leading solar manufacturer, but some state leaders’ attitudes about solar are back in the dark ages, according to Bill Spratley, executive director of Green Energy Ohio. However, Bowling Green could be a “game changer” – building the largest solar field in the state. “Next year, Bowling Green, Wood County will be the mecca.” It’s appropriate that Bowling Green take the lead, Spratley said, since the city was the first to erect utility scale wind turbines in 2003. Maybe the Bowling Green solar field can convince politicians that harnessing the power of the sun is no longer radical. “They still think solar is out in the future. Solar is here now,” Spratley said. “We’ve got to get past these buggy whip manufacturers.” Spratley said he runs into solar investors around the country, curious about Ohio’s reluctance to support solar power. “What the hell is happening in Ohio,” he said they ask him. The state legislature has frozen Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, he said. Consequently, renewable energy comprises just 3 percent of the overall mix of electricity sources in the state. “We need to send a message to free the hostages in Columbus,” he said of possible solar funding to “get power to the people.” Spratley was one of many speakers at the “Building Big Solar Across Ohio” conference in Bowling Green on Thursday. He was joined by leaders of renewable energy companies, representatives of solar companies, officials from communities using solar power, and green energy advocates. Solar power used to be “for off-the-wall hippies,” said David Dwyer, president…


Wintergarden Park flush with excitement over restrooms

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For all those people who have wanted to bond with nature – only to have nature call at an inopportune time – there is now a public restroom at Wintergarden Park. No more using the port-a-pot. No more trying to get in the nature center on weekends, only to realize it’s locked. There was no ceremonial flush Thursday afternoon, just a collective appreciation by those gathered for the ribbon cutting at the new “Building on Nature” project. “We’ve been standing in line for a long time,” for this day, Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said. Among those at the grand opening were members of the Bowling Green High School cross country team. “We run here every Thursday for the whole season,” coach Pat Carney said. “We’re going to use it more than most people.” Since the runners often get muddy on the Wintergarden trails, they usually used the port-a-potties rather than track dirt through the nature center. “They are very excited to have this facility,” Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley said of the team. They aren’t alone. After the ribbon cutting ceremony, some park patrons peeked into the unisex restroom and expressed relief that they no longer had to rely on a port-a-potty. “Sometimes I’d run home because I didn’t want to use it,” one woman said. Some walkers have asked if they can take their dogs in with them when they use the restroom. “Yes, you can take the dog in,” said Cinda Stutzman, natural resources specialist with the park and rec department. Next to the restroom is…


Environmentalists and farmers shouldn’t be at odds on Lake Erie

(As submitted by Mike Ferner, Coordinator Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie) Responding to your article, “Farmer asks County not to declare Lake Erie ‘impaired,’”  in the BG Independent News, it is important to say that “simple farmers,” as Mr. Drewes defines himself, and people who want to clean up Lake Erie are not enemies and in fact have much in common. I grew up and worked on farms in Richfield Twp., in western Lucas County, spending many summers hoeing corn, soy beans and sugar beets and baling hay.  In those days factory farming was unheard of and I know from my own experience that traditional farmers try to be good stewards of the land and water. Up until 20-some years ago, many more family farms supported the rural economy and grocery stores had plenty of milk, eggs, hamburger and pork chops without CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) even being imagined.   Today, the Ohio Farmers Union, representing a dwindling number of “simple farmers,” is very opposed to the radically unsustainable form of agriculture represented by CAFOs.  This industrial form of food production is the exception to a long tradition of farming methods and history shows it’s not necessary. “Only” 146 CAFOs in the Western Lake Erie Watershed generate an amount of animal waste equal to the sewage output of Chicago and Los Angeles combined — some 700,000,000 gallons annually.  That does not include an unknown number of “one-under” operations that stay just below the number of animals that requires registration with the EPA. The Ohio Dept. of Agriculture estimates 80-85% of excess nutrients going into Lake Erie are from agriculture and there can be little…