Business

Big dairy blamed for busting up rural roads, draining township road budget

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Dave Housholder and his fellow Portage Township Trustees are tired of patching township roads only to have them broken and rutted a few months later. “I’m getting a lot of heck from the citizens,” Housholder told the Wood County Commissioners Thursday morning. The problem, according to Housholder, is that the MSB Dairy, a concentrated animal feeding operation with 2,100 cows, is beating up the surrounding roads with frequent use. Any other type of industry causing such heavy traffic could be held responsible for the road wear and tear, he said. But because of agricultural exemptions, the dairy has no such obligations. Portage Township resident Mike Billmaier joined Housholder to explain the problem to the commissioners. In his previous work as a contractor, Billmaier said he was held responsible for road damages. “It was our job to maintain the roads and cleanup our own messes,” he said. If he didn’t comply, “I would have been fined or put out of business.” The two men explained that the roads surrounding the dairy – Bloomdale, Portage, Emerson, Cloverdale and Greensburg – have suffered great degradation. Bloomdale Road, in front of the dairy, was repaired eight weeks ago and now is so torn up, Billmaier won’t drive down it. “I was literally appalled by the amount of damage,” Billmaier said. “It dumbfounds me that this much damage is allowed to go on.” Housholder asked the commissioners to help the township deal with the ongoing problem. First, he asked that they take a drive down past the dairy – which is in the process of expanding to nearly 3,000 cows. “When you come out to the sticks” to campaign for votes, take a drive down those roads, he suggested. “A lot of life has been taken out of them this year,” he said. “The lifespan of these roads is being shortened.” Second, Housholder asked the commissioners to use their weight to push for changes through state legislators or the County Commissioners Association of Ohio. “Please try to crank up the volume,” he said. Both Housholder and Billmaier said the large dairies should not fall under agricultural exemptions, which were originally intended to help smaller farmers. Traditional dairies had anywhere from 25 to 60 cows – not the thousands allowed in CAFOs. “If they want to hide that under the agriculture umbrella,” that just isn’t fair, Housholder said. “That’s not an agricultural use, it’s an industrial use,” Billmaier said of the mega farms. Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar noted that industries would be held liable for the road repairs. “I can come after a trucking company. I can’t come after this,” Housholder said. And with other types of businesses, the township can require them to locate in areas zoned for industry that are better equipped to handle heavy…


BG shop owner catches shoplifter with help from strangers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This crook didn’t stand a chance. He picked the wrong shop owner to steal from – a marathon runner. He picked the wrong location – next to the police station. And he ran the wrong direction – almost getting hit by the city prosecutor’s car before being nabbed by two strangers. Amy Craft Ahrens has chased down shoplifters before – four times, actually. But on Tuesday, the For Keeps shop owner got a little extra help from bystanders. In the end, two good Samaritans tackled the suspected thief, and Craft Ahrens returned to her shop with the stolen purple Vera Bradley bag. Police were quickly on the scene, since the For Keeps shop shares an alley with the police station. Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick was sitting in his office with Major Justin White when they heard shouting in the alley. They looked out the window. “We saw Amy running, chasing after someone,” Hetrick said. He couldn’t tell exactly what she was yelling, but “you could tell it was loud and angry.” It all started around noon, when Craft Ahrens was on the phone with a vendor in her shop at 144 S. Main St. She saw a man come in the front door of the store. He walked along the aisle with Vera Bradley items, then headed to the back door. As he walked out the door, “I could see something purple in his hand.” She recognized it as a $108 Vera Bradley bag. “I said, ‘I’ve got to go chase a shoplifter’ and threw the phone down,” Craft Ahrens said. If she would have been thinking clearly, Craft Ahrens said she would have just approached the man quietly. “But I yelled ‘stop,’ and immediately he started running.” “I was yelling, ‘Stop thief,’ like right out of a movie. Who does that?” The man – Randy Arndt – ran out into traffic on Wooster Street, and was almost hit by a car driven by City Prosecutor Matt Reger, who then pulled over in the alley to help. A couple was walking on Wooster Street, and heard Craft Ahrens yelling. The pedestrian, Chris Burden, basically “hip-checked him and knocked him to the ground,” Hetrick said. Meanwhile, another car on Wooster Street pulled into the alley, and a passenger, Collin Dille, got out and helped when Arndt tried to get up and run again, the chief said. Dille told police he saw Craft Ahrens running after Arndt. “He didn’t think she could catch up.” Craft Ahrens, an experienced runner who has completed several marathons, was at a disadvantage since she had a dress on, Hetrick said. Craft Ahrens is sure she could have caught up with the shoplifter, if she hadn’t been wearing flip-flops and just completed a big run recently. “I…


Paperwork helps organic gardens grow, ag breakfast told

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Organic farmers are prohibited from using a host of synthetic products. Still there’s an important ingredient if a farmer wants to receive certification – lots of paperwork. Eric Pawlowski, an educator with Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, told the Northwest Ohio Ag-Business Breakfast Forum last week that nothing happens on an organic farm that isn’t documented. Every chore has to be accounted for to make sure no prohibited substances are used that could call into question a farmer’s organic certification. Pawlowski knows the system well. He teaches farmers about it. He conducts audits of farms to make sure they meet the organic standards. And he’s a farmer himself. On his operation, he said, he has workers write everything down on a dry erase board. At the end of the day, he snaps of photo of the board so he has a record of what has happened throughout that day on his farm. “Everything that’s sold has to be traced to the ground of production,” Pawlowski said. When talking about milk everything is traced to the individual cow. And chores such as cleaning equipment have to be monitored. Organic products are commanding a larger share of the market, and they command a higher price at the market. While a bushel of non-organic corn will sell for $2, a bushel of organic corn may fetch as much as $12. Still going organic is not for the faint of heart. For one there’s the paperwork, and there’s also cost affiliated with earning that certification and maintaining it, including annual audits. “If you’re just in it for the price premium, it’s not going to work. You have to have your heart in it,” Pawlowski said. To be certified a farmer has to prove a parcel of land has been free of prohibited pest and weed control for three years. Then maintain it to the satisfaction of annual audits. That’s not as clear cut as it seems. “There’s a lot of gray areas,” he said. These issues are “site specific.” Reflecting his own experience maintaining an organic farm. Pawlowski said. “Every year it shows you what you don’t know.” The OEFFA can help guide the farmer navigate those gray areas. The biggest concern many operators face is “drift” of prohibited substances from non-organic operations, Pawlowski said. If it happens, the farmer has to set aside the affected property for three more years. The best guard against it, he said, is maintaining an adequate buffer between organic and non-organic fields. Also working closely with neighboring non-organic operations is important so when they do aerial spraying, they can observe the operation,and document what they see. The certification dates back to 1991 when federal legislation was passed. It then took another decade to draw up the regulations. OEFFA is one of…


Time to sign up for “Lights, Camera… Angels!” Holiday Parade

From BG CHAMBER OF COMMERCE The Annual Bowling Green Comunity Holiday Parade Project Team announces the 2016 parade theme “Lights, Camera…Angels!”. This year’s parade will take place Saturday, Nov. 19, starting at 10a.m., in Downtown Bowling Green. Come and join community groups, businesses, bands, and Santa for some fun in the sun this year. With many local participants, this can be your year to join in on all the excitement! Unit Registration & Sponsorship forms are now available for the parade in the Chamber office or at www.bgchamber.net. The deadline to register units for the 2016 Annual Bowling Green Community Holiday Parade is 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7. Registration is $50 for Non-Investors, $25 for Investors and $15 for Non-Profits, with the fees supporting band stipends, parade publicity, general administrative costs, as well as the cost of filming and rebroadcasting the parade (dates and times TBD). Sponsorships or donations to help offset expenses of the parade are also appreciated. Sponsorship and unit registration forms can be downloaded from www.bgchamber.net and mailed to the BG Chamber at P.O Box 31, Bowling Green, Ohio 43402. Sponsorship forms must be received by 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7 to be recognized in the media outlets. The 2016 Annual Bowling Green Community Holiday Parade is brought to you by the Premiere Sponsor, Julie’s Dance Studio, with support from BGSU-WBGU-PBS and the City of Bowling Green. The Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce helps improve Investor’s bottom line by offering group discounts on health insurance, informational seminars, creating networking opportunities, and keeping members up-to-date on changing legislation. For more information contact the BG Chamber at (419) 353-7945 or visit www.bgchamber.net.


BGSU Career Center gets new roost where Falcons can hatch careers

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University unveiled a new launching pad for Falcons Friday. In cutting the ribbon for the new Career Center and Student Employment Center on the second floor of the Bowen-Thompson Student Union, President Mary Ellen Mazey said: “It’s about coming to Bowling Green State University and preparing you for that lifetime of success.” When she first came as president in 2011, one of the first questions she asked Provost Rodney Rogers was where career services were located. The offices, he said, were in an academic building – Math Science, to be precise. That would not do, Mazey said. The new center realizes her vision of putting the Career Center at the heart of student life, in a place where about 50,000 people a week pass through. “It’s right here, front and center,” she said. The design, Jeff Jackson, BGSU assistant vice president for Student Career Success and director of the Career Center, is meant to welcome students into the space, with lounge area with comfortable seating extending out from the office. That’s where employers might come to have a milk shake or nachos with prospective employees. That leads into conferences rooms where they can meet one-on-one with employers. That’s part of how the new center is designed to connect students with employers. That may be a job on campus, an internship, or the job that starts their careers, Jackson said. The office is central to the university’s internship guarantee. BGSU promises that every student will have an opportunity to have an internship or other experiential learning, a co-op job, research project, study abroad, Jackson said. On hand were two people at the opposite ends of the career spectrum. Leigh Dunwood, a junior from Columbus, came to BGSU with little idea what she wanted to do with her life. What she knew was “I wanted to help people.” Through her work with the Career Center – she’s now a student ambassador – and career counseling, she has her sights set on going into higher education student affairs. That is, she’d wants to be doing what Jackson is doing. Mike Kuhlin worked at career services at BGSU for two years after he graduated in 1968 with a degree in journalism. He met his wife, Sara, during that time. She worked in the financial aid office nearby, and they married in December, 1971. Once he was engaged, Kuhlin had decided that “I needed to broaden my horizons and do something else.” “So I used career planning and placement to get a position with Ohio Bell in an accelerated management history.” Kuhlin stayed with the company and its successor entities through tumultuous times of mergers and acquisitions. He was part of the team that created Ameritech and was there “to shut off the lights” when the…


Ashley Furniture plans to open in BG by November

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Ashley Furniture store plans to soon furnish a store here in Bowling Green. On Wednesday evening, the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals approved a variance request from the home furnishings store. Ashley Furniture applied for variance to put up a larger sign than permitted 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. Members of the Zoning Board of Appeals questioned Ashley Furniture representatives about the hardship that the sign restrictions placed on the company. Company officials said the larger sign would be proportionate to the 24,000 square foot store, and would be able to be seen from the road, Sayler said. The board agreed to allow the variance. Company officials reported the furniture store may be open by November. Ashley Furniture has had a distribution center in Bowling Green since 2006. 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. And having a retail store in the same community as the warehouse will make it more convenient for customers, she added. “It seemed like a nature fit,” Sayler said this morning. 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 sign to extend 4 feet, 2 inches above the roof line, which is not allowed under zoning. The application stated that since the façade of the building is being remodeled for the furniture store, the larger sign will be better suited to the scale of the new façade. The sign on the building, reading “Ashley Homestore Select,” will be the only sign for the new business. Ashley Furniture currently has other area retail locations in Findlay and in Spring Meadows shopping center near Toledo.  


Huffine offers software consulting with a personal touch

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Susan Huffine brings a personal touch to computer software issues. Huffine has launched HSC Services – Huffine Software Consulting Services – as a full-time business in August. She started the business in March as a part-time endeavor. Now the 1982 graduate of Bowling Green High School is offering knowledge acquired over several decades to area businesses. The software consultant offers a range of services, all customized to the customer’s particular requirements. That includes finding just what software a company needs and how to adapt it to its operations “so the software can work for their company rather than them working for the software.” Huffine also consults on how best to manage systems and analyze a business’s processes. She can set up a basic website and creating advanced databases and spreadsheets for companies. That wide range of services is all delivered with a personal touch. “I need to listen to them,” she said. “I need to ask them questions before I can get to the nitty gritty of what they really need. I cannot create database without them, constantly meeting with them asking questions.” Huffine comes from family of business people. Her father, Bob Huffine, ran a car repair shop in Custar, and her mother, Kay, did the books and continues to work part time at the Farmers and Merchants Bank in the village. “My mother taught me my love for numbers.” She’s proud to have the Huffine name on another business and feels her father, who died in January, is “watching me.” That family background in small business also gives her insight in what it’s like to operate a business, including how tight finances can be. She tries to set her fees accordingly. Huffine, though, didn’t set out to operate a business. She has always loved music and influenced by long-time high school choral director Jim Brown she went to Bowling Green State University to study vocal music. “But life didn’t direct me in that way.” She switched to business education. “I was floundering.” As a student worker in the Career Center at a time when computers were first taking hold, three counselors noted her high tech skills and advised her to go into business. She graduated with a business degree with specialization in Management Information Systems in 2000. Twelve years later she got her master’s in organizational development. With her degrees in hand, Huffine turned her sights to starting her own business. “Education was my goal, now my business is my goal.” She worked for more than 20 years at BGSU and taught her first computer classes there in 2000.  At BGSU she worked with Carl Dettmer. When he moved to Owens Community College, Huffine started teaching one-day classes there, both in Perrysburg Township and Findlay. She also worked part-time for Gail Mercer…


Gathering Volumes in Perrysburg offers place for book lovers to congregate

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Like most booklovers, Denise Phillips can name her favorite bookstores. In Chicago, where she and her family lived until moving to Perrysburg five years ago, there is the Book Table. In Ann Arbor, where they’ve made regular trips in the past several years, there’s Literati. But until earlier this summer, she didn’t have one close to home. So Phillips, and her husband, Brian, took initiative and opened Gathering Volumes at 196 E. South Boundary in Perrysburg. “We’ve been searching for an independent bookstore,” she said. One that sells new books. Used bookstores are plentiful. “I think a bookstore is such a community hub,” Phillips said.  “You just feel at home, no matter if you’ve ever been there before.” With a stock reflecting local customers’ interests, book clubs geared to popular genres, and events featuring area authors, that’s just what she envisions Gathering Volumes to be. The store marks a career switch for her. She was a project manager for an information technology firm. When her father died, Phillips said, “I decided I wasn’t happy doing what I was doing, and this was something that was always there for me.” So two years ago she started researching the book trade. And she tapped the expertise of those who ran the kind of bookstore she loved. “The owners of independent bookstores were incredibly helpful and lovely.” The demographics of the Perrysburg area, with higher than average number of college graduates and lots of families with kids, was a promising market. Phillips knows it’s a gamble. “It’s a huge risk,” she said. “There’s no guarantee it will be here in three years.” It was a bet, though, her family was willing to place. With a small business loan, some savings and help from family the business was launched. Her own two children Isaac, 7, and Mackenzie, 10, are two of the stores biggest fans, preferring to come to the shop after school rather than go home. Mackenzie will even “play” bookstore with friends. “I don’t think the bookstore will replace the income I had,” Phillips said. “But I enjoy my days, and I enjoy the families that come in.” Figuring out what those families want is a key. To stock the more than 8,000 volumes now in the store, she tapped in national analytics, about what would sell. That doesn’t always jibe with local demand. She concedes she probably overstocked mysteries and thrillers and has too little science fiction and fantasy. Both those genres are the focus of book clubs in which members all read a common book and then get together to discuss it.  There are also clubs focused on general fiction and juvenile literature.  Coloring book fans also gather bringing along whatever book they are working on at the time. Phillips said her and her…


Campus Fest, BG Independent and the acoustic typewriter

By ELIZABETH ROBERTS-ZIBBEL Zibbel Media/BG Independent News On Thursday, the staff of BG Independent News sat (and stood) at a table near the Education Building in the middle of the bustling, somewhat controlled chaos of Campus Fest. John, always full of ideas, had suggested finding an old typewriter to display, and if it worked, we could have students type on it and we’d compile their thoughts in a BG Independent piece. The four of us were discussing this via text, our primary means of communication. David seemed the most likely to have one, but he responded, “I don’t know if I have an operating acoustic typewriter.” But David did have one, though the ribbon was nearly worn out. It had belonged to his 94-year-old mother-in-law, Vi Brown, when she was a graduate student at the University of Michigan in the 1940s. As we handed out our blue bookmark us bookmarks and chatted with people and squinted into the sun, we offered students the chance to type a sentence or two about their hopes for the coming year. John optimistically started us off with “I am looking forward to a great year. _John Z” The first brave volunteer typed “to have good grades.” Next was a professor. “All my students will use APA and earn awesome grades. -Dr. LLM.” “Get a better GPA,” and “have a good semester” were next, followed by the more expansive “to be successful in all i do” (complete with lower case I). David, always thinking, realized we’d have a problem if we couldn’t read the sheets later and began scribbling what was being written into his reporter’s notebook. The typed words were becoming increasingly difficult to decipher. The next several lines, however, didn’t make it into his notes: i lik chicken hoping to graduate from el chooo to be the best i can be omg i love this hello. I would love to think that someone was hoping to graduate from elf school, but decoding these thoughts isn’t made any easier by the fact that when typists realized the keys were barely imprinting the paper, many probably stopped trying to make sense, which seems like a metaphor. If a sentence is typed but can’t be read, does it still have impact? “BG Independent News!” Jan spoke hopefully to a group of students. “Online local news and arts coverage, check us out.” “I follow you on Twitter!” a young woman responded, tucking the bookmark Jan handed her into the bag of freebies under her arm. “Oh! That’s me! I’m the tweeter,” I blurted before I could stop myself, glancing sheepishly at the accomplished veteran journalist next to me who has published nearly 500 articles on our site since its inception. “Well good job,” the student said as she walked on. Jan smiled and patted my arm. i…


Kaptur: Dana project example of business & government working together

From U.S. REP. MARCY KAPTUR  Yesterday (Aug. 31, 2016)  Dana Corporation broke ground for an $70 million, 200,000 square foot expansion to triple the size of its new facility in Toledo and create 300 new jobs. It’s a great story, about a storied American company with long local roots. Dana will make axles for the new version of a great American brand, the Jeep Wrangler, on the site of the old Jeep and Willys Overland plant, restoring it from brownfield status. How this came to be is a story about the proper role of government, and how a local community, its leaders and citizens, and private business can join together and work collaboratively for mutual benefit. It wasn’t that long ago when the American auto industry was flat on its back, in bankruptcy, with serious doubts about its very survival. There were some who wanted to give up on the American auto industry and its two million workers.  They chose the easy path, turned their backs, choosing ideological purity over pragmatism.  They voted against providing a funding bridge that was necessary to retool and rebuild the American automobile industry, the backbone of the American economy – and our region’s economy. But the rest of us weren’t going to concede our future.  We weren’t going to simply give up and foreclose on it.  We organized; we planned and made our best case; we fought; we won. Thanks to our efforts, the American auto industry is back, better than ever. I am proud of my role as a leader in the fight on behalf of Toledo’s economy — its auto workers, the auto manufacturers, and its suppliers, like Dana, which has supplied Jeep Wranglers with axles since before World War II. I am honored to have secured the first federal funding necessary to purchase the property and then to arrange funding for the clean-up of the 110 acres of the Overland Park brownfield site. With the Port Authority’s leadership we transitioned the property to a clean, workable manufacturing site. Were it not for securing those federal funds we would not be celebrating Dana’s expansion, nor would there be the future prospects of 300 new quality good-paying jobs for Toledo. America never succeeded by thinking small.  America never thrived by giving up. America succeeds when it dreams big dreams, when it competes to win.  When we are allowed to compete fairly, we win.  


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 cancer. Midden warned that a lack of action will lead to disastrous results. “We’ve got to get it under control,” he said. “You can consider Lake Erie to be a cesspool eventually if we don’t do anything.” The commissioners have seen people point fingers at farmers for the problem, and farmers point fingers at overflowing sewer plants. Again, Midden suggested that the commissioners look at science for the answer. “I’m an evidence guy,” he said. Midden showed satellite photos of Lake Erie, with consistent evidence that the algal blooms start at the mouth of the Maumee River and in the Sandusky Bay. The Maumee River algal bloom is always the larger one, he said. Though some people have suspected that Detroit is adding to the problem, the photos showed very little evidence of that where the Detroit River enters the lake. “You never see a bloom beginning there,” Midden said. “I think that visual is a good indication of what the source is.” Midden gave credit to the farming community for working to reduce phosphorus and nitrogen running into waterways and eventually Lake Erie. Many farmers are using the “4R” approach of applying the right fertilizer, at the right time,…


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 to a private company in Ontario that makes plastic products. Therefore, the local landowners are asking the courts to rule that the Utopia pipeline does not qualify for eminent domain authority. But Fore argued that gathering ethane is part of the natural gas production process when it’s extracted from shale in southeastern Ohio. “There wouldn’t be an industry if you couldn’t move the product,” Fore said. The shipping of ethane benefits the natural gas extraction, since it’s a result of the same process. “We’re confident that it does meet the qualifications for eminent domain,” Fore said. “We think it’s a very important use that Ohioans will ultimately benefit from.” Looking at the “big picture” for Ohio, this project will help the state, he said. Kinder Morgan recently released a study of the economic impact of the Utopia Pipeline, saying Ohio stands to benefit from $237.3 million in economic impacts during the first five years of the project. The study says the pipeline will: Generate $4.9 million in tax revenues. Create 2,132 direct and indirect jobs in Ohio. Contribute $144.9 million to Ohio’s gross state product. Provide $87.5 million uplift to the Ohio economy through additional income and spending. Those numbers,…


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 sign to extend 4 feet, 2 inches above the roof line, which is not allowed under zoning. The application stated that since the façade of the building is being remodeled for the furniture store, the larger sign will be better suited to the scale of the new façade. The sign on the building, reading “Ashley Homestore Select,” will be the only sign for the new business. Ashley Furniture currently has retail locations in Findlay and in Spring Meadows shopping center near Toledo.


Makers of adult incontinence products to expand

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s a sad fact of life. As the nation’s population gets grayer, they have a greater need for adult absorbent products for incontinence. That means more business for a Wood County company that has been meeting those bladder control needs for more than 40 years. So the company, Principle Business Enterprises, is looking to expand in response to greater demands. The company, located north of Bowling Green, near Interstate 75 and Devils Hole Road, is planning a $4 million expansion which would add 47,000 square feet to the existing building. On Tuesday, the Wood County Commissioners approved an enterprise zone agreement with the company for 100 percent real and personal property tax abatements over 10 years. Principle Business Enterprises currently employs about 235 people, and will create at least five new jobs with the expansion. That estimate is very conservative since each new line at the plant will employ six or seven people. The firm produces various products for incontinence, including “Tranquility” and disposable swimwear, and footwear like Pillowpaws and slipper socks. “We are really making a difference in the lives of people with difficult physical challenges,” said Chuck Stocking, CEO of the company. “The bad news is people need our products,” Stocking said Tuesday to the commissioners. The good news is, the company is continuing to work on meeting the demands for adult absorbent products and wound care items. “We’ve had such consistent growth,” said Larry Jones, CFO of Principle Business Enterprises. “As the boomers shift into that period of their lives” when they have more physical needs, the company is expanding to meet them. “It’s a good problem to have,” Jones said of the company’s need to expand. Stocking also told the county commissioners that the company is now working with the Veterans Administration. “It took us seven years to crack the code on how to do business with the Veterans Administration,” he said. “We have a team working on better care for our veterans.” The long term vision for Principle Business Enterprises includes additional expansions, Stocking said. Jones said the company provides a safe and good work environment, so the longevity of its employees is quite high. Wood County Planning Commission Director Dave Steiner also said the company is a good neighbor. “They have been good corporate citizens as well.” As part of the enterprise zone agreement, Principle Business Enterprises will make the school districts involved whole. That means the company will pay $35,000 a year to Eastwood and $4,400 a year to Penta Career Center. “We really appreciate being a part of Wood County,” Stocking said. “We’re very glad to have you in Wood County, too,” Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said. “It’s always exciting to have economic development in Wood County.”      


Can Ohio farmers get in on craft beer market?

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It took intense “hops sensory observations” – otherwise known as sitting around drinking beer – for some Ohio agriculture experts to raise a question. Why aren’t Ohio farmers raising hops to supply all the craft beer makers popping up around the state? “We got to thinking, can this be done in Ohio?” said Brad Bergefurd, a horticulture specialist with OSU Extension in Piketon. The answer is, yes, he told a crowded room at the Northwest Ohio Ag-Business Breakfast north of Bowling Green on Thursday. Truth is, hops used to be grown in Ohio a century ago. But three factors shut down the beer-making crop – prohibition, downy mildew and pesky aphids. The hops market in Washington and Oregon survived since those harvests were shipped overseas where alcohol was not banned. Those two states continue to grow the vast majority of hops used to make beer in the U.S. Bergefurd suggested that now may be the time for Ohio farmers to consider getting back in the hops business. “One-hundred years ago we grew it,” he said. “We can do it.” In fact, right on the ground of the agricultural incubator on Ohio 582, is a small quarter-acre hops yard. It is one of three scientific hops yards in Ohio, studying if farmers in this state could find a place in the beer trade. The U.S. brews more than 5 billion gallons of beer a year. Small craft breweries are a growing trend, with the Ohio Department of Commerce reporting more than 186 in this state alone. Those breweries  produce more than a million barrels of craft beer annually. “There is quite a demand,” Bergefurd said. “Hops is what makes the beer.” The other trend of using locally grown items, and publicizing those to customers, means Ohio brewers are looking for hops grown and raised in this region. “The brewers would like to have more of a local product,” Bergefurd said. “These guys and girls are investing millions in these breweries. They aren’t going away,” he said. While Ohio farmers have picked up the pace, they have some distance to go if they want to supply local breweries. In 2012, there were just three hops farmers in the state, Bergefurd said. That number has grown to more than 60 members in a guild, with just over 200 acres planted in hops. But in order to supply the state’s 186 craft beer makers, at least 6,000 acres of hops are needed, he said. There are some challenges to growing hops – but it is definitely doable. Hops growing in a “yard,” as Bergefurd calls it, look different than most crops. Telephone poles are planted at the end of each row, with a wire strung between them. Then the hops bines (which they are called rather…