Business

AMP promises to fix labor problems with solar site

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nagging questions surrounding the solar field construction have paid off – literally, for the workers there. American Municipal Power CEO Marc Gerken stood before Bowling Green City Council Monday evening, apologized and promised to make things right. Bowling Green officials, who went to bat for the solar project, and the Wood County Commissioners, who approved the project’s tax abatement, have been demanding answers about construction of the site. They suspected that the job was not employing at least 80 percent Ohio labor, and they knew that the contractor wasn’t paying prevailing wage. Gerken took responsibility for one of those issues – the lack of prevailing wages being paid on the worksite. “I’m deeply sorry for that,” he said to City Council and a packed council chambers Monday. Gerken said AMP had planned all along for the project to be a prevailing wage job. However, the size of the 20 megawatt site and the speed at which it needed to be done meant AMP had to go outside for help. “We can’t pull this off ourselves,” Gerken said it was quickly realized. So AMP picked NextEra as a partner as the developer. NextEra then hired Blattner Energy as the construction contractor. Somewhere along the line, the prevailing wage standard was dropped. AMP realized the error when Bowling Green officials brought it to the company’s attention. “I applaud the city for raising it when they did,” Gerken said. When pressed, NextEra amended its contract with Blattner to require that prevailing wages be paid. The company will also go back and make up for lost wages, Gerken said. “They owned up to it,” Gerken said. “But we should have been on top of it. We stumbled a little bit here and I take ownership of that.” As far as the other issue – of 80 percent Ohio labor being required in the tax abatement agreement – Gerken said a law firm has been hired to audit the workforce at the site to make sure Blattner is complying. The audit will certify how many workers are true residents of Ohio. Last week, the Wood County Commissioners sent a letter to the Ohio Development Services Agency stating the county is prepared to yank the tax abatement agreement with NextEra if proof cannot be presented that the contractor is using enough Ohio labor. “Over the past few weeks we have received information stating that the prime contractor, Blattner Energy, may be skirting the 80 percent requirement by leasing local rental housing for out-of-state…


County says it may yank tax break for solar site if 80% Ohio labor not being used

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Commissioners don’t want to be kept in the dark about possible tax abatement violations at the massive solar project north of Bowling Green. And they are prepared to yank the tax break if they don’t get verification that the contractor is using at least 80 percent Ohio labor. Last week, the commissioners sent a letter to the Ohio Development Services Agency stating that on July 19, the county approved a “significant tax abatement” for the solar project based on the criteria and regulations developed by the agency. Of great concern to the commissioners was the requirement that 80 percent of the construction labor for the project be Ohio residents. “Over the past few weeks we have received information stating that the prime contractor, Blattner Energy, may be skirting the 80 percent requirement by leasing local rental housing for out-of-state employees and suggesting that they obtain an Ohio driver’s license,” the letter continued. “Meanwhile, many vehicles parked at the project site have out-of-state license plates.” The commissioners said it is the state agency’s responsibility to ensure that the project owner and contractor are in compliance, and to provide written verification to the county and Bowling Green officials. Since construction of the project is to be complete by the end of this year, verification should not be delayed, stated the letter, which was signed by all three commissioners. Labor at the site was the only item in the abatement agreement that included somewhat local participation. To the commissioners’ displeasure, there was no commitment requiring use of local solar equipment or local contractors with solar experience. “If information regarding strict compliance with the 80 percent Ohio domiciled labor is not provided and verified by you, we will give serious consideration to rescinding our resolution granting the abatement,” the commissioners stated in the letter. Bowling Green Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said this morning that city officials are aware of the county’s letter and the questions raised. “We will be addressing it tonight at city council,” she said. City council members raised similar questions about the solar project labor earlier this month. Council President Mike Aspacher said he received an email from an AMP official in early September saying that prevailing wages would be paid to workers on the project. However, since then it has been reported that is not the case. “There’s some conflicting information,” Aspacher said at the last city council meeting. Council member Bruce Jeffers also expressed his frustration. “I assumed throughout this project that people…


Court rules pipeline can’t use eminent domain

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A judge ruled this week that one of the pipelines planned in Wood County cannot ride roughshod over local farmland. Wood County Common Pleas Judge Robert Pollex ruled that Kinder Morgan does not have the authority to use eminent domain since the Utopia pipeline would be transporting ethane for a private company – not for public use. The ruling came as welcome news to many landowners in Wood County, more than 20 of them represented by Maurice Thompson, of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law. “They can really put the screws to Ohio landowners” and pay them “unfair low rates,” Thompson said of pipeline companies, if eminent domain is used. Thompson had argued that Utopia did not qualify for eminent domain. Unlike pipelines that are sending gas to companies that supply energy for public consumption, the Utopia pipeline would be sending ethane, a byproduct of the fracking industry, to a private plastics company in Ontario. Kinder Morgan was planning to start construction later this year on the $500 million ethane pipeline from shale sites in southeast Ohio to Canada. The proposed Utopia line would run south of Pemberville, then north of Bowling Green, then cross the Maumee River south of Waterville. Kinder Morgan claimed the company has the power of eminent domain to bury the pipeline in 21 miles of Wood County. The statement released by the pipeline company on Thursday said the firm isn’t giving up on the project. “We consider the court’s action to be a misinterpretation of existing law, especially in light of the recent Sunoco decision on September 29, 2016 in the 7th District Ohio Court of Appeals (Harrison County), which upheld the use of eminent domain under similar circumstances,” stated Allen Fore, vice president of public affairs for Kinder Morgan. “We will appeal today’s decision and are confident of prevailing on appeal,” Fore stated. The pipeline case is being heard by all three common pleas courts in Wood County because Kinder Morgan has sued so many local landowners, Thompson said. The landowners’ arguments are two-fold, Thompson explained. First, the private pipeline will provide no public use so it does not qualify for public domain authority. Second, the pipeline company did not explore alternative routes as suggested. The local families had asked that the pipeline company consider placing the line along road right-of-ways, to avoid going through farm fields or housing lots. The Wood County commissioners have also asked the company to consider routing the pipeline along highways to lessen the burden on…


Citizens plot out future for BG community

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The neighborhood consultant group studying Bowling Green got another earful Tuesday evening. More than 60 city residents huddled at round tables to plot out ideas for their community. They envisioned areas of their city with boulevard gardens, a market in the middle of student housing, bicycle paths, historic renovations and townhouses. “We know there are a number of issues in the community we need to deal with,” said Adam Rosa, a member of the consultant group Camiros, from Chicago. On Tuesday, Bowling Green residents were given areas to zero in on: East Court Street, where the focus was placed on improved sidewalks, boulevard gardens, bike paths, and historic renovations. Thurstin, Manville and Wooster streets, where the emphasis was put on mixed used development, improved pedestrian safety, improved business facades, and multi-family development. East Clough and Railroad Avenue where ideas included a rails-with-trails program, business incubator, artist studios, and brewery-taprooms. Third and High streets where the possibilities included a corner store, street trees, pocket park, and small lot single-family housing. Ridge Park area where the focus was on home renovation, possible townhouses, granny flats and more park activities. During the earlier public meeting, planners learned that Bowling Green residents felt the city’s assets were its history, culture, open space, parks, educational opportunities, commercial amenities, and neighborhood appearances. On the down side, citizens felt problems existed with code enforcement, poor transportation which doesn’t accommodate walkers and bicyclists, conflicts between renters and homeowners, property maintenance specifically poor curb appeal, plus trash and noise. Citizens identified opportunities for improvement as the addition of high-quality multi-family housing, open space improvements, bike and pedestrian accommodations and commercial redevelopment especially between campus and downtown. At Tuesday’s meeting, citizens voted to select the first “early action project” for the Community Action Plan. “They are something people can work together on to achieve,” Rosa said. “We want to create early action steps that can build a momentum.” Of 10 options, the top vote getter was a “Better Block Party” on Court Street, an event that would help identify how to make that a more attractive and usable connection between BGSU and downtown. A redesign of Court Street would be tested by temporarily establishing one-way traffic with expanded bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure for a weekend. The redesign would be promoted as part of a block party. Other options in order of their votes were: Code enforcement handout and distribution, house painting and landscape day, neighborhood cleanup day, establishment of a dog park, a walk BG program which…


BGSU grad student Katherine Eboch wins national service award

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Katherine Eboch, an MBA student who is specializing in supply chain management at Bowling Green State University has received the 2016 Student Voluntary Service Award from APICS, a leading professional association for supply chain and operations management in the world. This award chooses one supply chain management student who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to volunteering to the local supply chain management association chapter and community. Eboch lives in Bowling Green with her husband. Out of more than 6,000 supply chain and operations management student members worldwide, a Bowling Green State University student has been the recipient of the prestigious APICS Student Voluntary Service Award since 2013. “I am very honored to receive this prestigious award and to be the fourth consecutive BGSU student to be awarded the APICS Student Voluntary Service Award,” Eboch said. “After completing my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama and working for a few years, I saw the importance of business, specifically supply chain management, in the arts as well as the importance of networking. When I decided to return to school for my MBA, I was determined to get involved and maximize my experience at BGSU, which is why I joined the Supply Chain Management Association. “Looking to the future, I plan to take what I have learned from BGSU about supply chain management and incorporate it into the work I hope to do with nonprofits and arts organizations.” Among Eboch’s many leadership roles, she served as the president of the BGSU student chapter of Supply Chain Management Association (SCMA) last spring, and under her leadership helped BGSU finish its 11th consecutive “gold” year and earned its seventh straight “platinum” award maintaining SCMA as one of the top 10 chapters in the world. Dr. Janet Hartley, professor and director of the BGSU Supply Chain Management Institute, recommended Eboch for the award. “Under her leadership the SCMA hosted professional development speakers from Diebold, Expeditors, and Marathon Petroleum and toured Bittersweet Farms, a non-profit organization that assists autistic adults. Eboch serves as a mentor to freshman and sophomore members to help them develop the skills needed to take on leadership positions in SCMA. Katherine enthusiastically promotes the benefits of being a member of the SCMA and APICS to other students, prospective students and alumni.” As the organization’s president, Eboch worked with the SCMA board to plan and execute other activities ranging from recruitment, professional development, fundraising and social events and helped streamline processes of the organization. Besides SCMA, Eboch serves in a leadership…


County backs rezoning for business expansion

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News     Rezoning of 74 acres north of Bowling Green was given the green light last week to make way for an expansion of Principle Business Enterprises. The Wood County Planning Commission voted to recommend the acreage be changed from agricultural to M-1 light industrial, according to Dave Steiner, county planning director. The Middleton Township Trustees will make the final decision on the zoning change request. The property is located on the north side of Devils Hole Road, just east of Interstate 75. The business, Principle Business Enterprises, can be seen from I-75. The company needs the land for additional production equipment and potentially to build a new warehouse/distribution facility. The new facility would replace the company’s current warehouse located in Ampoint, in Perrysburg Township. The company has already secured approval for an enterprise zone agreement with the Wood County Commissioners. The agreement gives the company 100 percent real and personal property tax abatements for 10 years. The company, which makes products for bladder control, is planning a $4 million expansion which would add 47,000 square feet to the existing building. 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,” Chuck Stocking, CEO of the company, said earlier this year during a meeting with the county commissioners. “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. Steiner said the company is a good neighbor. “They have been good corporate citizens as well.” As part of…


Interview with “Beautiful Question” author at public library

From WOOD COUNTY DISTRICT PUBLIC LIBRARY The library’s popular “Job Coach,” HR expert Frank Day, will be available Wednesday, Oct. 19 starting at 9:30 a.m. to provide advice on polishing your resume, exploring online job sites, or filling out an online application. Please call ahead, 419-352-5050, to make an appointment for your half-hour session with Day. Library users are invited to rediscover the relaxing pastime of coloring on Monday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. in the second Floor Meeting Room. The library provides supplies, but participants may bring their own if they wish. A “Tablet and Smartphone Class,” presented in partnership with the Wood County Committee on Aging and the BGSU School of Media and Communications, will be held Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 6:15 p.m. in the 2nd Floor Meeting Room. The class is structured to suit your needs and to help you to get the most from your phone or mobile device. Registration is required. For details and to register call the Senior Center at 419-353-5661. Join us for an intimate “Coffee at the Carter House” on Wednesday Oct. 26 at 9:30 am. Special guest will be Warren Berger, author of the BGSU Common Read selection, “A More Beautiful Question.” Hosted by Community Reads in partnership with the BGSU Common Read, the event includes an interview with Berger by Clif Boutelle, with a book signing to follow. Library users are encouraged to take a moment to help WCDPL’s Board of Trustees thank library staff by submitting nominations for the John M. Gibson Outstanding Performance Award. The award, which recognizes library staff who have “gone the extra mile,” has been presented annually since 2005. Details and nomination forms may be seen online at http://wcdpl.org/content/john-m-gibson-award-nomination. WCDPL’s full programming calendar, including scheduling and current selections of its popular book discussion groups, may be seen on line at wcdpl.org/calendar. These events are free and open to all. For more details about these and other programs for adults at WCDPL, call the library at 419-352-5050.


Local candidates face questions at forum

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the nation was preparing for the second presidential debate Sunday evening, Wood County residents filled up seats in a Bowling Green church to listen to local candidates. Though the forum was much less contentious than the presidential debate, there were a few accusations lodged at the local level. The League of Women Voters from Bowling Green and Perrysburg hosted the candidate forum for nine county, state and national races. Questions for the forum were accepted from the audience on note cards ahead of the event. But because there were 17 candidates sharing the stage, only two questions were posed to each. The candidates were all given a couple minutes to sum up at the end. The biggest sparks flew when the candidates for the Ohio House – Republican Theresa Gavarone and Democrat Kelly Wicks – were called to the microphones. The first question asked each to identify their top two priorities. But in response to multiple flyers mailed to local residents and a television commercial accusing Wicks of not paying his taxes, Wicks took the opportunity to set the record straight. “I’m Kelly Wicks and I pay my taxes,” he said.  Several years ago, he missed the deadline for a property tax payment, but paid it as soon as he realized the error, Wicks said. He questioned why his opponent and the state Republican party were spending so much on untruths. “Why is she willing to go so ugly, so early?” Wicks said. “What are you hiding?” Gavarone said she did not review the ads against her opponent. “They were produced out of Columbus and mailed out of Columbus.” She also stated her top priorities would be the economy and education. “It’s important to keep Wood County working,” Gavarone said, suggesting the need to reduce taxes and regulations on businesses. Schools need to be funded adequately and the concerns of educators need to be heard, she said. The second question for the House candidates was about charter schools and the need to make them accountable financially and in terms of student progress. Gavarone said recent legislation is making charter schools more accountable, but added “we need to stay vigilant.” Wicks voiced a much different opinion. “I’m against charter schools,” he said. “They have done damage” by draining dollars from the public school system, he said, adding that charter schools are not held to the same standards as public ones. The state’s policies on charter schools are “failing our children and our communities,” Wicks said. In her…


BGSU Center for Regional Development enters $1.5million partnership to address rural issues

BGSU’s Center for Regional Development (CRD) has entered into a five-year, $1.5 million partnership with the Economic Development Administration (EDA) under the EDA’s University Center Program. One of nine centers funded within the EDA Chicago region, BGSU and its longtime partner, Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, collaborate as a Rural Universities Consortium University Center. The EDA funding allows the center to partner with economic developers and businesses on expansion and attraction projects, particularly in underserved rural communities. “We’re very pleased to learn of this sustaining funding and eager to continue working with our partners to promote economic growth and community development in our region,” said Dr. Russell Mills, CRD research fellow and principal investigator on the grant. Mills is also a faculty member in political science. The CRD is an interdisciplinary research, data analytics and technical assistance center with expertise in regional economics and community development. Its mission is to design and implement innovative and pragmatic solutions to a wide variety of regional challenges. One of the Center for Regional Development’s signature projects funded by the EDA grant is the annual State of the Region Conference, held in March, which provides economic development leaders, officials and other organizational leaders a look into trends and factors impacting the 19-county region of Ohio, along with expert panel discussions on relevant economic development topics. “This year will be our 15th annual State of the Region Conference,” said Will Burns, CRD interim director. “We are pleased that the conference has become a premier gathering of local economic development, business and government leaders in northwest Ohio.” The EDA grant will also support CRD’s technical assistance and applied research efforts. Recently, the center assisted the Village of Pioneer and the Maumee Valley Planning Organization (MVPO) in securing over $2 million in federal and state funds for an industrial connector project to support the expansion of a local manufacturing firm. Additionally, CRD collaborated with Fulton County Economic Development and MVPO to secure over $1.6 million in federal and state funding to construct a raw water supply line for Nature Fresh Farms’ greenhouse facility near the Village of Delta. The CRD will also continue its tradition of producing rigorous applied research for the public and its partners, Mills said. As part of the EDA partnership, the center will examine the conditions and factors that lead foreign-owned companies to invest or “reshore” previously outsourced jobs to the United States. This work will assist both the efforts of the Regional Growth Partnership and JobsOhio to encourage foreign direct investment in northwest…


Efforts to simplify building heights rule get complicated

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Efforts to simplify the city’s building height limits became quite complicated Wednesday evening. With a split vote, Bowling Green Planning Commission took action to simplify the city’s building height requirements. The change maintains the maximum height limitations in all zoning categories – but eliminates the maximum story limitations. The change is intended to alleviate some confusion caused by the city’s current zoning rules which pose limits on the number of stories and the height of buildings, explained Bowling Green Planning Director Heather Sayler. But the effort was met by opposition from some residents who felt more protected by the dual rule. The planning commission also faced criticism from a city resident who found information on the proposed zoning change inaccessible to the public. Jeanne Langendorfer said she was interested in the ordinance change, so tried to find information about it on the city’s website. Langendorfer said the website did not show the proposed amendment and did not list the members of the planning commission. She was able to locate meeting minutes from the commission – however, the most recent minutes posted were from 2014. “I would hope that could be addressed,” she said. “It’s not very helpful as a citizen to see something of interest, but not be able to get any information about it.” The building heights issue came up earlier this year when a Hilton hotel was proposed at the site of the former Victory Inn at 1630 E. Wooster St. The proposed hotel was 65 feet tall, which is five feet taller than allowed, and five stories high, which is one story higher than allowed in B-2 general commercial zoning. The proposed change in the zoning language would allow a hotel to have five floors, as long as the height of the building did not exceed 60 feet. The modified zoning language could prevent such confusion in the future, Sayler said. Sayler stressed that the change would maintain the current building heights and be easier to enforce. The cities of Perrysburg and Findlay took similar actions in the last few years because those communities were experiencing the same problems with dual height and floor regulations. A review of the Ohio Chapter of the American Planning Association showed almost all communities regulate building heights, but not number of stories, Sayler said. Bowling Green City Prosecutor Matt Reger said the height requirement would be easier to defend if ever challenged. He added, “there’s no logical reason” to have dual height and story requirements. Mike Rudey, head…


Council doesn’t want to be kept in dark on solar project

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials don’t want to darken the bright future of massive solar field being built on city property, but Council members demanded answers Monday evening to some troubling questions on the project. Concerns have been raised about the percentage of Ohio workers used on the site and the fact that they are not being paid prevailing wages. Council President Mike Aspacher said he received an email from an AMP official in early September saying that prevailing wages would be paid to workers on the project. However, since then it has been reported that is not the case. “There’s some conflicting information,” Aspacher said. Council member Bruce Jeffers also expressed his frustration. “I assumed throughout this project that people would be paid prevailing wage.” The issue is complicated by the fact that Bowling Green owns the property for the solar field at the corner of Carter and Newton roads, northeast of the city. But the solar field is an AMP project, which has contracted with NextEra, which has contracted with Blattner Energy. Bowling Green Utilities Director Brian O’Connell said the city is hosting the solar field and buying energy from it, but not directly connected to the construction. “We’re somewhat removed from the construction,” he said. Neither the agreement with AMP nor the tax abatement granted to NextEra require the prevailing wages be paid or that union labor be used. If the project were the city’s, that would be different, O’Connell said. “We do have a prevailing wage requirement.” But in this case, the city has no control over the wages paid on the project. But Aspacher was not satisfied. “The fact of the matter is it’s being built on Bowling Green property. So I think it’s a Bowling Green project.” The other issue is the workforce on the project. NextEra was granted a tax abatement by the county commissioners on the project on the condition that 80 percent of the labor used on the site would be from Ohio. O’Connell said NextEra actually bumped up that requirement to 82 percent Ohio labor in its contract with Blattner. And as of the last update, Blattner reported 85 percent Ohio labor on the project. But accusations have been raised that some workers are just setting up temporary residence in Ohio for the length of the solar project. Aspacher asked who is responsible for reviewing those labor stats. O’Connell responded that NextEra is reviewing Blattner’s reports. Those numbers may not be made public till next spring. “It’s conceivable that…


Clinton vows to stay true to blue collar Americans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Hillary Clinton made her pitch to the blue collar crowd in Toledo Monday – to people who pay their taxes and expect their elected officials to do the same. Clinton hit hard on the latest news that her opponent Donald Trump has likely not paid federal taxes for nearly two decades. She looked at her supporters gathered in the Amtrak station in downtown Toledo, and told them she understands them. “We believe in honest pay for honest work,” she said, mentioning her dad who printed drapery for a living. “He believed in hard work. He passed that on to me.” Those in the crowd appreciated her steady dedication to family and worker causes. Jennifer Rogers, of Toledo, said she likes how Clinton relies on her experience and her heart. “I think Hillary knows more about the world situation than any president we’ve ever had. I think the Republican party has done a real witch hunt and she’s stood her ground.” Larry Robinson, of Bowling Green, admitted he was not a huge Hillary fan. “I’m against Donald Trump,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t trust him to stick to his word.” So Clinton will likely win with Robinson by default. “When it comes time to vote, I’ll probably pull the lever for Hillary,” he said. Andrew Heller, of Toledo, had no doubts. “I think she’s obviously the only candidate qualified for the job.” He then looked at his two young daughters to explain another reason why he wouldn’t support Trump. “It’s despicable how he talks about women.” One speaker suggested it would be fitting for the Glass City to help Clinton shatter the “glass ceiling.” U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, joined in heaping praise onto Clinton. “No matter what gets thrown her way, she keeps chugging along,” Kaptur said. “She gets things done.” One of those things was very meaningful to Toledo, when Clinton voted to save the auto industry. Clinton talked about those tough times, when people were losing their jobs, their homes, their savings. “In 2009, you were in the eye of the storm,” she said to the Toledoans. She used Trump’s words against him, reminding the crowd that he didn’t stand for the auto industry bailout. “He would have let you twist and fall,” she said. “But you never gave up,” she said to the crowd, many of them UAW members. And “America came to the rescue” – not Trump, she added. And now, Chrysler has announced that it will be building the next generation of…


Dancing with the Stars to benefit Safe Communities

From BOWLING GREEN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE On Saturday, Oct. 22, ACT*BG will host Dancing with the BG Stars, with some of the proceeds benefiting Safe Communities of Wood County. Tickets are $40 per person and may be purchased at the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce, Four Corners Center 130 S. Main Street, by stopping in or calling at (419) 353-7945. There will be concession food and non-alcoholic drinks and a cash bar at the event. The event will feature local BG Community members as our BG Stars. Participants are: Brian Roush and Krista Evans; Eric and Sarah Klotz; Kevin McGill and Carol Lenox; Evan Slates and Stephanie Bell; Matt and Alyssa Karaffa; Mark and Michelle Remeis; and Anthony Stacey. Julie’s Dance Studio is providing professional guidance, practice space and expertise. This night of entertainment will be hosted by BG Chamber investor Nazareth Hall, who is generously donating the use of their facility for this benefit. For more information on this event, contact Marissa Muniz (marissamuniz@bgchamber.net) or checkout the flyer on the Chamber Facebook page. All proceeds from this event will benefit ACT BG & Safe Communities of Wood County. ACT*BG (which stands for Active – Community – Teamwork) is a highly active project team of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. ACT*BG has a mission to attract and retain professionals in the Bowling Green. Their efforts focus on connecting active professionals to each other and to the community through social, civic, charitable, educational, and professional development events.


Piano concert, job coaching all on tap at public library

From WOOD COUNTY DISTRICT PUBLIC LIBRARY The library’s popular “Job Coach,” HR expert Frank Day, will be available Wednesday, October 5 starting at 9:30 am to provide advice on polishing your resume, exploring online job sites, or filling out an online application. Please call ahead, 419-352-5050,  to make an appointment for your half-hour session with Mr. Day. “Tablet and Smartphone Classes,” presented in partnership with the Wood County Committee on Aging and the BGSU School of Media and Communications, will be held Tuesday, October 4 and 11 at 6:15 pm in the 2nd Floor Meeting Room. These classes are structured to suit your needs and to help you to get the most from your phone or mobile device. Registration is required. For details and to register call the Senior Center at 419-353-5661. A popular concert series which showcases graduate students in piano studies at BGSU’s College of Musical Arts returns to the WCDPL Atrium on Monday October 3 at 7 pm. The program features three centuries of keyboard classics from composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Liszt, and Chopin. WCDPL’s full programming calendar, including youth programs and scheduling and selections for its popular book discussion groups during the month of October may be seen on line at wcdpl.org/calendar. These events are free and open to all. For more details about these and other programs for adults at WCDPL, call the library at 419-352-5050.


BG solar project faces scrutiny over hiring practices

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A shadow of doubt has been cast over the hiring practices at the massive solar field being built northeast of Bowling Green. Claims have been made that the project is not adhering to the requirement that 80 percent of those employed at the site be Ohio residents. That percentage was a primary factor in the Wood County Commissioners approving a tax abatement for the project. And concerns have been expressed by city officials that there was an expectation that the project would pay prevailing wages. Officials from the electric subcontractor at the site, Blattner Energy, and the contractor for the project, NextEra Energy, both strongly defended their compliance with the 80 percent rule. However, they also clarified that the project has no requirement to pay prevailing wages. The giant solar project has been welcomed as good for the environment and good for the area’s reputation since it will be the largest solar field in Ohio. The project is located on 165 acres owned by the City of Bowling Green at the southeast corner of Carter and Newton roads. The solar array will consist of 85,680 panels that will track the sun from east to west everyday for maximum power generation. But from the beginning, the solar project stirred up a bit of controversy. The Wood County Commissioners initially refused to grant the requested 30-year tax abatement for the $43 million project until their questions were answered. The tax abatement request for the solar field was unlike those that normally come before the commissioners. First, the amount is massive, giving a tax break of $7.3 million over just the first 15 years. Second, the abatement duration is 30 years, compared to the customary 10 to 15 years. Third, there is no ongoing employment, which is the basis for most tax breaks. Construction of the solar field will employ about 85 people from July 18 to Dec. 31. And while 80 percent of those people are required to be Ohio residents – there is no requirement that they come from Wood County. Fourth, regular tax abatements require that school districts be “made whole” by the business getting the tax break, but this agreement does not. The company will pay some money to local taxing authorities “in lieu of” the tax breaks, but not the entire amount. The commissioners also voiced concerns that the solar array will be built using panels from Hanwha, a South Korean company – not Wood County’s First Solar company. However, it was made clear that…