children

‘Coffee with CASAs’ event to inspire volunteers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The opiate epidemic has reached down into the youngest and most helpless members of Wood County. Just as Wood County Children’s Services is seeing more child abuse and neglect cases, the Wood County CASA program is seeing those growing numbers stretch their volunteers. The numbers have increased so much that some families are being turned away, according to Kathy Hicks, a volunteer member of the Friends of CASA Board. Court Appointed Special Advocates are volunteers who advocate for the needs of children, and act as the voices of children in court, Hicks said. “So the court knows how the child feels,” she explained. “Kids don’t want to tattle on mom or dad.” The CASAs make home visits, speak in court on behalf of the children, and contact doctors, schools or other agencies to try to determine what is in the best interest of the children. The Wood County CASA program, with director Carol Fox, currently has 32 volunteer CASAs who are serving 45 families with a total of 90 children. The growing number of cases has led to about 10 families being turned away so far this year. Much of the increase is due to the opiate epidemic, Hicks said. “It is just amazing to me how many families have this drug problem. It prohibits them from taking care of their children,” she said. “That’s really sad.” The issues are often further complicated by multi-generational opiate problems. “It’s not just the parents. It’s the grandparents,” Hicks said. “Grandma and Grandpa can’t step in because they aren’t clean either.” So the children are often placed with foster families. In order to get more CASA volunteers so more children can be served, a “Coffee with CASAs” event is being held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Grounds for Thought in Bowling Green. Anyone who stops and chats with the CASA volunteers will be given a wooden nickel for a free cup of coffee from Grounds. “We want to get these families the help they need,” Hicks said. Volunteers CASAs will be on hand to explain what it takes to do the job. Volunteers must go through a training program, must pass a screening process, and must have “the desire to help people,” she said. Efforts have been…


Playground gives foster kids place to play with parents

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A patch of grass outside Wood County Children’s Services has been turned into a wonderland for foster children. With the help of local service organizations and the county commissioners, a playground has been constructed on the grounds of Wood County Job and Family Services on East Gypsy Lane Road. The playground is to be used by foster children visiting with their birth families. “It’s for family visitation, so kids and their parents can play together in a natural environment,” explained Sandi Carsey, administrator of Wood County Children’s Services. During the average week, the Children’s Services office sees about 10 families come to the agency for supervised visitation with children who have been placed in foster care. “It’s critical that kids have contact with their families,” especially if the goal is reunification in the future, Carsey said. “The kids are attached to their families. They need to see them. They need to maintain those relationships,” she said. And the playground gives children an opportunity to do what kids do with their families – go down slides, climb equipment, be pushed on swings. In the past, Wood County Children’s Services used the Wood Lane facilities for visitation, since there was no space available at Children’s Services. But then an annex was added to Wood County Job and Family Services. The additional space gave families inside room for visits, but no outdoor play area. “The families really liked having the playground” at Wood Lane, Carsey said. So area organizations were approached about donating to the playground project. Money was contributed by Modern Woodmen, Bowling Green Exchange Club, and Perrysburg Rotary Club. Other funding was provided by the Wood County Commissioners, to be paid back by Wood County Job and Family Services. The cost for the playground equipment was $52,000. But with the addition of rubber flooring for safety, the total price was $120,000. The playground has equipment designed for ages 2 to 12, plus a basketball hoop for older children.


Painful loss turned into pleasure at pool for children

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Part of Leah Pekarik was dreading Wednesday. That was the day a new splash pad creature was being dedicated in honor of her daughter, Clara, who died last year at just 10 weeks old. But the other part of Pekarik was overwhelmed by the generosity of the community to turn her family’s pain into pleasure for other children in Bowling Green. With the help of community members who love Leah, her husband, Scott, and their son, Bobby, the day of dread turned into a day of joy surrounding Clara’s short life. “Everyone in this community knows Leah and loves her,” said Kristin Otley, director of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. “So many community members contacted us and said, ‘We want to do something.’” So the park and recreation program came up with a plan. “We asked people to help us remember Clara and give other children in the community something to smile about,” Otley said. When the new aquatic center was built in City Park, there were not enough funds to furnish the “splash pad” area with “creatures” that spray water on children. The idea was to add a frog creature to the area for $6,000. “We started just with that,” Otley said of the original plan to add a frog to the splash pad in honor of Clara. “We got an outpouring of support from people who knew her and from people who didn’t know her.” So the plan grew, with the Wood County Park District donating money for a “snake” creature spitting water at the splash pad, and the Bowling Green Community Foundation and Bowling Green Parks Foundation paid for “flowers” that dump water onto squealing children. “She had such an impact,” Otley said of Pekarik, who worked for the city parks for 11 years. “People wanted to do something to bring smiles to kids’ faces.” And that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday as the ribbon was officially cut at the splash pad. “We’re here to celebrate a heartfelt project that has a lot of meaning,” for the community and especially for the Pekarik family, said Earlene Kilpatrick, executive director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. As they lined up to cut the ribbon, Clara’s big brother, Bobby, 7, held onto the…


Dunn hits home run with Hometown Hero award

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Playing ball at Carter Park is a rite of passage for many Bowling Green children. It’s where they learn to run for first base, not third after hitting the ball. It’s where their families fill the bleachers to root them on. It’s where they grab a handful of gummy worms and a slush after hot nights on the field. So Modern Woodmen recently honored the man who has devoted 41 years to the BG Youth Baseball program as a “Hometown Hero.” Tim Dunn was recognized at the Carter Park diamonds last month, and the fans seemed to appreciate the honor, since Modern Woodmen paid for hot dogs and drinks for anyone interested. “About 400 people took them up on it,” Dunn said. Many of the young ball players may be unfamiliar with Dunn and this enduring role with the youth baseball program. He started in 1976 by taking care of the grounds as a kid. He went on to umpire in high school, became Pee Wee League commissioner, then president of the BG Youth Baseball and BG Pee Wee League. Dunn has held that position since 1982. He coached teams for years, but now focuses on more administrative items like the scoreboards, sponsorship contracts, and organizing eight tournaments a year. Dunn still enjoys watching games from the stands, but now he usually has a pen and pad, so he can take notes on issues that need fixed. He knows a lot of people are counting on him and the program. This year there are nearly 400 children in the youth baseball program. Some years, the number reaches 500. It is a summertime staple for many Bowling Green kids, ages 4 to 15. Dunn knows it’s programs like this that start lifetime loves of the sport. He watches as kids start pretty raw in April and polish some skills by July. “They learn putting the gloves on their right hand, while they are digging in the grass,” he said. “The light really does come on over time.” Then there’s the lifelong lesson about sportsmanship. “They are one piece of the puzzle to make the team go.” The ballpark not only brings joy to kids, but also to their families who pack the bleachers. “You see friends and families,”…


BG board votes to consolidate elementaries

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Board of Education took a leap Friday afternoon to invest $72 million in a consolidated elementary and new sections for the high school. The board is now hoping the voters follow their lead. After months of discussions and public meetings, the board voted 4 to 1 to go ahead with plans for one consolidated elementary, demolition of Conneaut and Kenwood schools, and major additions to the high school. The vote against the project came from board president Ellen Scholl, who supported an alternate plan for new Conneaut and Kenwood elementaries rather than the consolidation. Though the millage to cover the $72 million project has yet to be determined by the county auditor, it is estimated it could be close to 6 mills on the November ballot. If the issue is approved by voters, the new consolidated elementary planned north of the current middle and high schools, could be completed by the summer of 2020. The high school could be completed by summer of 2021, according to architect Kent Buehrer. Construction is also planned for the middle school, where a wing will be added to adequately handle the sixth grade class. That project, which will likely begin in September, will be financed through $4.6 million in permanent improvement funds that the district already has, so it will not be part of the bond issue in November. The three options being considered for the bond issue were: Renovations of Conneaut and Kenwood elementaries (Crim was renovated recently) and major high school additions: $54 million. Build new Conneaut and Kenwood elementaries, plus the high school additions: $62 million. Build one consolidated elementary, plus the high school additions: $72 million. The renovation option was discarded first, since the 55-year-old elementaries don’t have particularly good “bones,” Buehrer said. Renovating those buildings would be “throwing new money” into old structures not worth the investment, board member Jill Carr said. Superintendent Francis Scruci talked about the benefits of a consolidated elementary. “It puts all our resources in one facility” and allows for optimum collaboration by teachers, he said. The elementary would have 1,500 children, but there would be separate wings for kindergarten and first graders, another for second and third graders, and another for fourth and fifth graders. “They don’t interact unless…


Reading 1,000 books to preschoolers adds up to kindergarten readiness

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Children’s Place at the Wood County Library is building on its summer reading program for school age children to launch a new program for infants through preschoolers. The library is challenging parents and child caregivers, and others in youngsters’ lives to read them 1,000 books before they enter kindergarten. Children’s librarian Maria Simon said she’s wanted to offer the national initiative as a incentive to get parents, child caregivers, relatives, and maybe even a grandparent, via Skype reading to youngsters. The program will be launched Saturday, June 3, from 10 a.m. to noon in the library atrium. Denise Fleming, an award winning author and illustrator, will be on hand. Each child who is enrolled will receive a copy of Fleming’s book “Alphabet Under Construction,” which ties into the summer reading theme “Building a Better World.” If there’s more than one child in the family signing up, another Fleming title will be available. About 100 children have already been enrolled. Simon is hoping younger siblings will sign up as older children sign up for the summer reading program. The kick-off will also include an Early Childhood Resource Fair presented by the Wood County Early Childhood Task Force as well as local childcare providers and agencies. Simon said each booth will have some sort of literacy activity. She said she’s letting them know about Fleming’s other books – she’s published more than 20 since 1991. Fleming will give a presentation to children and families, and then to those participating in the resource fair. Fleming lives in her hometown Toledo where she creates her illustrations painting with pulp. “She understands the value of this program,” Simon said. “Everyone who reads to kids is a fan of hers.” The 1,000 books goal is flexible. It can mean the same book read many times. Simon said she recently read “Alphabet Under Construction” three times to a group of children, along with singing the alphabet three books, she said. A book a day makes the goal in three years, three books a day achieves it in a year. Tiffany Rathburn said that at first 1,000 books seemed like a lot, until library staff explained all the ways that it could be accomplished. Telling a story to her 19-month-old Zoey counts, or having her 9-year-old…


Levy renewal sought for child and adult protective services

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For 30 years, the Wood County Department of Job and Family Services has relied on voters to provide funds to protect local children and seniors. This year will be no different. There have been times when expenses and needs are lower, that the voters have been given a break and the levy has gone uncollected for a year. But that is unlikely to occur again anytime soon considering the most recent increase in abuse and neglect reports. “They are on a record pace for child abuse and neglect complaints,” said Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar. It doesn’t help that Ohio is “dead last” among the states for funding of child protective services, according to Dave Wigent, director of Wood County Department of Job and Family Services. Even if Ohio were to double its spending for child services, the state will still be last, he said. “We’re forced to support with levy funding from the local level,” Wigent said. “We’re in an embarrassing situation for child welfare support,” he said. Also not helping is the uncertainty of the federal budget. If the cuts were to proceed as proposed by President Donald Trump, child abuse and neglect funding would be slashed further. “It would have a devastating effect on us here,” Wigent said. Wigent presented his request to put the renewal 1.3-mill levy on the November ballot this year to the Wood County Commissioners. The commissioners gave the levy request their verbal blessing, and will have staff prepare a resolution to get it on the ballot, Kalmar said. The millage, to be collected for 10 years, will raise an estimated $3.7 million annually. During the last 10-year period, there have been two years when the levy was not collected at all, and two other years when just half of the millage was collected. “We only take the money that we need,” Wigent said. Kalmar said the commissioners talked briefly about reducing the millage going on the ballot. But there were several concerns. “We try not to confuse voters,” he said, noting that even if the levy were to be reduced it could not be labeled a “renewal” levy. Plus, the commissioners realize the needs are frequently changing. “We don’t believe the millage is excessive,” Kalmar said. “It’s better to…


School board looks for building option voters will buy into

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The building options for Bowling Green City Schools are gradually being narrowed down to a project that will best serve students and not scare off supporters at the voting booth. The board of education members met Tuesday morning, and plan to make a decision during a special meeting on June 2 at 11:30 a.m., in the central administration office on Clough Street. The two primary options left on the table are: Building a new centralized elementary school north of the current middle school; demolish the old elementaries; build an addition onto the middle school for the sixth grade; and partial demolition of the high school along with the construction of a new academic wing, new gym, and new cafeteria and kitchen. That option comes with an estimated price tag of $72 million. Building two new elementary schools at Kenwood and Conneaut; demolishing the old elementaries; plus the same middle school and high school plans as above. That option is somewhat less, estimated at $62 million. After the board makes its final choice, the next challenge will be convincing the public to buy into the plan. Superintendent Francis Scruci and the board agreed that just as the building option discussions have been very transparent – so will the plans and the financing. “I think it’s vital. They need to be able to see what they are going to be investing money in,” Scruci said. And it’s important to get stakeholders on board – like teachers, students, parents and community groups. Depending on the duration of a bond issue, the $72 million project could be financed with 6.24 mills. The $62 million option could be paid for with an estimated 5.2 mills – which may be much more appealing to voters, according to Kent Buehrer of Buehrer Group Architecture & Engineering Inc. For the owner of an average Bowling Green house valued at $165,000, the average cost for the larger project would be about $371 a year. Put in perspective, that’s about the cost of a daily cup of coffee or a monthly pizza night, Scruci said. And while some Bowling Green district residents already feel pinched by taxes, the school millage in the county is higher for Lake, Northwood, Perrysburg, Rossford and Fostoria. “It will attract families,” Scruci…


’13 Reasons Why’ gives parents and schools reasons to worry

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Across the nation, parents are checking their Netflix history to see if their adolescents have been watching the “13 Reasons Why” series. The show tells the story of a high school junior who commits suicide. Prior to her death, she records a series of audio tapes describing the 13 reasons why she chooses to end her life. The story has parents and school officials watching for the slightest sign of copycat behavior from young viewers. So they want kids to know this: When you die, you do not get to make a movie or talk to people anymore about how they wronged you. Leaving messages from beyond the grave is a dramatization produced in Hollywood and is not possible in real life. Bowling Green City School officials held a program Wednesday evening for parents who have concerns about “13 Reasons Why” and its effect on their children. “The reality is, students are watching this and we want parents to be equipped for it,” said Ann McCarty, executive director of teaching and learning. In addition to a very graphic suicide scene of the main character cutting her wrists in the bathtub, the show also shows instances of rape, bullying, sexual assault, violence, drug and alcohol use. “It’s a very graphic series,” said Jake Tapley, Bowling Green Middle School counselor. Glaringly absent in the series are school staff or parents who intervene appropriately, Tapley said. While some parents may have no idea that their children are watching the show, it is the talk of teenagers in the cafeteria, on the bus and on their phones. Many students have told Tapley that adults are over-reacting to the show, and that teens aren’t going to commit suicide just because they’ve watched the drama. But those are the kids who are talking about it, he said. The concern is that teenagers’ minds are already pretty messed up. “Puberty hits and hormones are kicking in,” Tapley said. Mental health professionals are worried the series could be misinterpreted by impressionable and developing minds. The show could be seen as glorifying suicide as a viable response to problems and as a form of revenge. The show also provides no helpful adults and no hope for depression. Worsening the impact is the fact that the Netflix…


Luck of the draw sends BG kindergartner to Disney

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Disney World video had the gymnasium full of children at Kenwood Elementary School glued to the screen showing costumed characters and wild rides. They had no idea that one of their school mates would be called to the stage to win a trip to the magic kingdom. Ryan Frankart, from Clubs Choice which runs the annual fundraiser at Kenwood, stopped the film and talked to the children about their efforts last year to raise funds for school technology, the school dance and fifth grade camp. Many of the children won prizes including lunch in a limousine. But Frankart had another surprise for the school on Tuesday. Each year, the fundraising company has a prize drawing covering all 40 states in which it operates. The prize – a trip to Disney World. The chances of winning – one in 75,000. When the company pulled one name, it was a Kenwood student chosen for the trip for four people over four days and three nights. The winner was kindergartner Hudson Karpuleon. When the curtain opened to the gymnasium stage, there sat Hudson’s family with Mickey and Minnie Mouse ears on their heads and balloons surrounding them. Hudson is quiet anyway. But put the kindergartner on a stage in front of 500 or so school mates, and she completely clammed up. “She’s just really shy,” said her mother, Colleen Karpuleon. Most of the questions to Hudson were met with a nod of the head and swinging legs. “It will be a totally different ballgame when you get home tonight,” her father, Steve Karpuleon predicted about Hudson’s excitement level. Her brother, Sebastian, on the other hand, was nearly bouncing off his chair with delight over the Disney trip. Colleen Karpuleon said she was just focused on Hudson selling enough fundraiser items – like candles, wrapping paper and frozen food items – to get a limo lunch ride. She had no idea that her daughter could win a trip for the family to Disney World. When the gym cleared out a bit, Hudson, grasping a bouquet of flowers and wearing a set of mouse ears on her head, was able to talk about which Disney characters she most wanted to see – Rapunzel, and her two favorite princesses, Ariel and Belle.


School program to focus on ’13 Reasons Why’

(Submitted by BG Superintendent Francis Scruci) Dear Parents, As you were made aware last week, the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why is generating a lot of publicity nationwide with both students and parents.  We understand that the topic of mental health and suicide is a difficult, but very necessary conversation to have with your teen.  In an effort to partner with our parents and assist you with discussing these issues, we invite you to join us for “Adolescents and Mental Health: Discussing 13 Reasons Why.”  This program is brought to you by BGCS Department of Instruction and will feature: Jake Tapley, Professional School Counselor at BGMS, and Elizabeth Syrowski, District Behavior Specialist and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. This program is designed to help parents identify the warning signs of mental health issues, discuss the implications of suicide, and address some of the apprehension behind 13 Reasons Why.  We will involve you in discussion about the Netflix series as well as provide you with strategies and resources to approach the subject if needed. Please join us on Wednesday May 10th in the Performing Arts Center beginning at 7:00 p.m. This program is open to all parents. Thank You, Dr. Ann McCarty Executive Director of Teaching & Learning


Author overcomes learning disabilities to become storyteller

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Patricia Polacco, author and illustrator of more than 100 books, remembers the horror of being forced to read in front of her class. She would clutch the book so hard, her nails would break. “To me, that was like being asked to stand in front of a firing squad,” Polacco told her audience of parents and children Saturday at the Literacy in the Park event at Bowling Green State University. “I could not read until I was 14 years old. I could not write. I couldn’t do math,” she said. “I felt stupid. I felt dumb.” Polacco recalled the unintentional cruelty of her classmates. “The whole class started laughing at me,” when she tried to read aloud. “Please don’t laugh,” she told her audience on Saturday. “You have no idea how much you are hurting that kid.” Polacco’s life turned around at age 14 when one of her teachers finally realized that she was dyslexic and dysgraphic. She was also unable to learn when sitting still – something that wasn’t understood till years later. “In my day at school, I had to sit like a rock.” So Polacco is a big believer in the individuality of children and the way they learn. “I believe all children are gifted. The trick is, we don’t open our gifts at the same time.” Polacco, who lives in Michigan, has turned her gifts into beautifully illustrated children’s books. “For me, art is like breathing,” she said. She didn’t started writing books till she was 41. “Older than dirt,” she told her young audience. In the last 31 years, she has written about 115 books. “They come out of me so fast, I can barely keep up with them.” Polacco comes from a family of storytellers – her mother’s people were from Russia and Ukraine, and her father’s people were from Ireland. As she was growing up, her family did not own a television. She asked the children in the audience to guess what she and her brother watched every evening. “My grandmother, that’s what we watched,” she said of her babushka, who loved to tell stories. “I heard all of her stories over 1,000 times.” When Polacco and her brother would ask if the stories were true, her grandmother would look…


Crim Elementary stages musical to make learning fun

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The backstage was buzzing with nervous actors. The frog and toad were preparing for their big scenes. The snail was brushing up on her slow motion moves. The squirrels were getting ready to make a mess. And the understudies were standing by. In front of the stage, on the gymnasium floor, the eager audience sat with their legs criss-cross applesauce style. When the curtains opened, an excited “ooooooooohhhhh” filled the gym. That’s just the reaction second grade teacher Stacey Higgins was hoping for with the debut of the first musical Thursday at Crim Elementary School. A dress rehearsal was performed in the morning for fellow students, with the big show to occur in the afternoon for parents and other fans. The musical, “A Year with Frog and Toad Jr.” featured all the second grade students – an ambitious endeavor with such young students. “It ties in with our curriculum on the seasons,” Higgins was quick to say. But she added that the performance was also something more. “They need these types of experiences,” she said. “Too much time is spent testing and preparing for tests. We need to get back to making school meaningful and enjoyable for kids.” The musical got the kids singing, dancing, acting, reading narration and designing the colorful set. That is all learning, Higgins stressed. “We want them to have experiences other than just taking tests.” As the audience filed into the gym, and the second graders fidgeted back stage, Higgins admitted to being a little nervous herself. “It’s a good nervous,” she said. “This if the first time they get to do it in front of an audience.” The story began as the best children’s stories do – with “Once upon a time…” It went on to tell the tale of two best friends, frog and toad. With the help of an animated chorus and able narrators, the friends navigated the seasons, playing in the summer, raking leaves in fall, sledding in winter, and waking up from hibernation in spring. The young audience members sat with their wide eyes glued to the stage. They applauded heartily went the cast took their bows at the end. “What great singing you did,” Crim Principal Melanie Garbig announced to the cast. “I am so proud…


More staff needed to handle spike in child abuse

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There is no “normal” when it comes to child abuse and neglect cases. On Monday night, five children were taken into custody when their parent was arrested on the highway in Wood County. Last week, Children’s Services was called in when a parent died of an opiate overdose. So Wood County Job and Family Services Director Dave Wigent got on the county commissioners’ agenda to request an additional Children’s Services staff member. But by time the meeting rolled around on Tuesday, Wigent’s request had grown to two additional employees. “The situation has gotten worse,” he told the county commissioners. “We’re setting all-time records” for the number of child abuse and neglect cases being investigated. Child abuse investigations increased in Wood County by nearly 25 percent in 2016 – a jump never seen before by the staff at Children’s Services. The number of cases went from 718 in 2015 up to 894 in 2016 – meaning 176 more child abuse investigations. Cases of abuse were reported in every community in the county. And so far, 2017 looks no better. “This year we are trending above that,” Wigent said, noting that March set an all-time high of 90 new cases. And most are not simple. “These cases are very time consuming.” The lack of local residential facilities for children with special needs is also creating more work for staff, who have to make monthly visits with the children. Most children with special needs in custody are not living in Wood County. “We have children across the state,” Children’s Services Administrator Sandi Carsey said. “There’s a lack of adequate placement beds,” Wigent said. “In a perfect world, all the kids would be here in Wood County.” The closest facility found for a girl with some psychiatric problems is in Missouri. More than 50 facilities turned down the child before the Missouri facilities accepted her. Again, she must be visited by a staff member at least once a month. “Physically laying eyes on the child is so important,” Wigent said. Children’s Services workers try to visit youth in custody at least twice a month, if they live in Ohio. Tragedies can occur when licensed facilities aren’t checked on regularly, he said. Wood County has two group homes that are almost always…


210 pinwheels-for each child abuse & neglect case in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Each of the 210 spinning pinwheels decorating Wooster Green represents one case of child abuse or neglect investigated in Bowling Green last year. “The number jars our senses,” Mayor Dick Edwards said Tuesday morning as the pinwheels whirled in the wind at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets. “I know all of us feel sad to see that number up there,” he said, referring to the sign noting the 210 cases last year. The pinwheels stand as a visual reminder, the mayor said. “Children are Bowling Green’s most valuable and precious resource. This must be remedied.” The pinwheels at Wooster Green represent only those cases in Bowling Green. For the first time, Wood County Children’s Services will be posting pinwheels throughout the county, to let people know that child abuse and neglect happen everywhere. “This year we decided to take pinwheels on the road,” said Maricarol Torsok-Hrabovsky, of Wood County Job and Family Services. They have already been posted in Lake Township, Northwood, Rossford and the Eastwood area. In all, there will be 894 pinwheels planted in the ground. “Child abuse, unfortunately, in Wood County is on the rise,” said Dave Wigent, director of Job and Family Services. Child abuse investigations increased in Wood County by nearly 25 percent in 2016 – a jump never seen before by the staff at Children’s Services. The number of cases went from 718 in 2015 up to 894 in 2016 – meaning 176 more child abuse investigations. Cases of abuse were reported in every community in the county. The increase is being attributed to more people reporting child abuse or neglect cases when they see them, and to the rising opiate epidemic. The number of physical abuse cases investigated in 2016 was 224, the number of sexual abuse cases was 142, the number of neglect cases was 439, and the number of emotional abuse cases was 19. Drugs were involved in 212 of the cases. Wigent said the numbers so far this year are looking even worse. “Now is not the time for us to slow down,” he said. Wigent thanked the Bowling Green police, city prosecutor and city administration for their help in handling  the cases. “I appreciate all the good works of Jobs and Family…