Community

Opiates bring addicts to their knees; recovery programs help them stand again

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Matt Bell knew he had hit rock bottom when he called the police. “I had a gun in my mouth,” he said Thursday to the crowd of people gathered to hear about the opiate crisis and the steps being taken locally to stop it. It had taken Bell several years to get to that point. He had led a charmed childhood, with a loving family, earning straight As in school and competing as a star athlete in three sports. Bell was so squeaky clean that he broke up with his first girlfriend because she smoked cigarettes. Bell went to college on an athletic scholarship for baseball, and had three professional teams scouting him. But that all changed when he tore his rotator cuff and was prescribed 90 percocets. Ninety percent of the time, opiate addictions start with prescribed pain pills, he said. He was hooked. “The pills got too expensive, so I switched over to heroin,” Bell said. The dealer gave him his first hit of heroin for free – knowing Bell would be back. Bell shared his story about opiates, along with health officials who are trying to find answers, a mom who nearly lost her daughter to opiates, and a court official who helped put together a program to help inmates avoid the drugs when they leave jail. “Opiates, heroin specifically, is what brought me to my knees,” Bell said. He tried rehab many times, overdosed three times, and was arrested four times. But Bell told a story of success – like many of those speaking Thursday at the opiate…

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Pipeline petition may – or may not – be booted from ballot

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There may be more than enough valid petition signatures to get a pipeline issue on Bowling Green’s ballot this November. But it’s uncertain if voters will have a chance to weigh in, since the petition may have been filed late. The petition asks that a charter amendment be adopted in the city to prioritize people over pipelines. All within a matter of hours today, officials believed the petition was possibly out, then possibly in – with no clear resolution. The only certainty is that Ohio’s rules on petitioning to put an issue on the ballot are far too complicated. Petition organizers Lisa Kochheiser and Brad Holmes, president of the Environmental Action Group at Bowling Green State University, reported that more than 1,200 signatures were collected, with at least 714 valid signatures required to get the charter amendment on the ballot. Wednesday at 4 p.m. was the filing deadline for issues and candidates appearing on the general election in November. But the pipeline issue did not appear on the board of elections list. Bowling Green Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said this morning that the petition was not filed on Wednesday, because the Ohio Revised Code requires that a charter amendment petition be held at the city for 10 days prior to it being submitted to the board of elections. The petition was turned in to the city on July 31 at 2 p.m. Since the city is required to hold onto it for public viewing for 10 days, that meant the petition could not be turned over to the Wood County Board…


Norovirus in doughnuts suspected in sickening local residents

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   About 30 cases of possible norovirus from doughnuts are being investigated in Wood County. More than 200 people have reportedly been sickened by a fast spreading norovirus outbreak that started at a Maumee doughnut shop. Lucas County Health Department began investigating after patients reporting stomach flu symptoms were found to have eaten food from Mama C’s Donuts, 924 Conant St. The Wood County Health District is investigating if the approximately dozen illnesses reported to its office this week are a result of the norovirus, according to Alex Aspacher, spokesperson for the health district. At least two Wood County business – one being Grounds for Thought, on South Main Street in Bowling Green – purchase doughnuts from Mama C’s, and has purged its shop of the pastries. “Grounds has done everything they needed to do,” Aspacher said. “They have been very cooperative.” The virus, which causes stomach flu like symptoms, spreads very easily, he said. So Grounds for Thought has been working closely with health district staff. Kelly Wicks, who owns Grounds with his wife Laura, said the product was pulled and staff sanitized as instructed. “We’re working with them very closely,” he said of the health district. Wicks said the owners of Mama C’s are very conscientious and hard-working. “I feel bad for the owner of Mama C’s,” he said this morning. Ground for Thought has found the doughnut shop to be very dependable and plans to continue serving the business’ goods. “This is an unfortunate situation and we stand behind Mama C’s.” The other Wood County location that purchases doughnuts from…


1,000 backpacks to help kids start back to school

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Angela Jones, of Weston, had no idea how she was going to afford school supplies for her six children this year. She found the answer with a little help from local agencies, businesses and churches. Mary Jane Perez, of Perrysburg, agonized over those same concerns for her five grandchildren. She estimated it would cost at least $300 to get the grandchildren started in school. “It’s very expensive right now,” Perez said. But her mind was eased a bit Wednesday as she carried out five new backpacks loaded with school supplies. Her grandchildren tried them on and checked out the contents. “I picked mine out,” her youngest granddaughter said, showing off her pink camo print backpack. Jones picked out bookbags for her children, and said each child had also gotten vouchers for new shoes to start off the school year. Her worries, however, were not over. “I don’t even know how I’m going to get them clothes this year.” More than 500 backpacks were ready for families to pick up Wednesday at the Back to School Fair at Woodland Mall, organized by the Salvation Army and United Way. The fair was scheduled to start at 3 p.m. “At 1 o’clock they started showing up,” said Sue Clanton, director of United Way of Wood County. Half of the 500 bags were gone in the first hour, she said. “School supplies are a huge thing for families.” Earlier this week, an additional 500 backpacks, stuffed with school supplies were given out by Wood County Job and Family Services to families who could show financial need….


Homes sweet homes – BG gives Habitat lots for 2 houses

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Principles won out over profit Monday evening as Bowling Green City Council voted unanimously to give land to Habitat for Humanity. The city will transfer the former site of the Manville Avenue water tower to Habitat for Humanity for the first two homes to be built by the organization in Bowling Green. “I’ve heard a lot of positive things about this transfer,” council member John Zanfardino said. “I’m looking forward to working on the houses.” “I think this will be a great addition to our city,” council president Mike Aspacher said. But not everyone shares that enthusiasm. When the proposal to give Habitat the lots was first introduced a couple months ago, Bowling Green landlord Bob Maurer sent a letter to city officials questioning the plan. While Maurer said the donation is a “noble gesture,” he suggested the city should reconsider. ”We would point out that the three lots in question are not worthless,” Maurer wrote. “If they are (zoned residential) the value is over $100,000. We would pay that amount in cash for them.” “At a time when there is a ‘budget problem’ is it a good time to donate $100,000 of the taxpayers’ monies to two people? The City of Bowling Green must not have any financial problems if it can fund a $100,000 donation like this,” Maurer wrote, referring to city efforts to boost a sagging general fund. But Mark Ohashi, director of Habitat for Humanity of Wood County, quickly pointed out that the benefits of Habitat houses go far beyond two individuals. “The benefit is generational. The impact may…


BG nears break through on glass recycling solution

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Don’t throw away that glass quite yet. Bowling Green is reportedly within days of announcing a new recycling solution for glass. Without revealing the name, Mayor Dick Edwards said at Monday’s City Council meeting that an agreement is close with a “world headquarters” of a company in the glass industry in Perrysburg – presumably Owens-Illinois. “We’ve gotten the attention of one huge partner in the world market,” the mayor said. “We’ve had continuing discussions,” Edwards said. “We’re wanting to make sure we stay in the glass recycling business.” Last month, the Bowling Green Recycling Center announced that effective immediately, the facility would no longer be accepting glass. This applies to all the center’s locations, including the 24-hour drop-off site in Bowling Green, plus the satellite trailers and satellite facilities scattered throughout Wood County. City officials contacted Bowling Green State University’s recycling program, which contracts with Waste Management for pickup of recycling materials. But that did not provide an answer, so the city looked elsewhere. Council member Sandy Rowland asked Edwards if city residents should just hold onto their glass recyclables a little while longer. The mayor replied that if possible, they should store them a bit longer. “It’s frustrating,” he said. “People are interested in recycling.” City officials realize that glass recycling has been a costly operation for some time. However, paying for glass to be landfilled isn’t cheap either – with dumping costs at about $40 a ton. The recycling center had been sending glass from Wood County to a recycling site near Dayton. It was costing $30 a ton to ship…


Ohio EPA promises to meet with BG on Nexus pipeline

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After months of thinking no one at the Ohio EPA was listening, Bowling Green officials are being promised a meeting on the Nexus pipeline. Mayor Dick Edwards reported to City Council Monday evening that he had received a “long awaited and very welcomed” phone call from Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler. Butler assured the mayor that the EPA is aware of the city’s concerns about the proposed Nexus pipeline being built so close to the Bowling Green water treatment plant. Butler reportedly said EPA staff and Ohio Geological Commission staff are in the process of reviewing documents sent to them from Bowling Green officials, including a concerning report prepared by BGSU assistant professor Andrew Kear. When those reviews and analyses are completed, Butler and his staff plan to share their findings in a meeting with the mayor, council, staff and members of the board of public utilities. The meeting will be public. The mayor said the EPA director also offered to facilitate further communications, including a possible meeting with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the body that rules on pipeline projects. Edwards expressed gratitude to Butler, State Senator Randy Gardner and environmental attorney Mary Ellen Hogan, for helping to arrange the communication. Butler reportedly told Edwards that the Ohio EPA had been very focused on the problems being caused by the Rover pipeline crossing the state. But he promised the Nexus project will also get a proper review. “We’re going to give it our best scientific review,” the mayor said Butler told him about the Nexus pipeline. “I appreciate it.” Edwards said…