Community

Helping local vets who came home with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As many as 25 percent of the U.S. veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan returned home with traumatic brain injuries. Thirty percent came back with post traumatic stress disorder. In Wood County, it’s estimated that 60 veterans are now living with the effects of TBI or PTSD. Many of the traumatic brain injuries were caused by IEDs (improvised explosive devices) frequently used in recent wars. So when Mary Hanna, executive director of the Wood County Veterans Assistance Center, got a call offering her office a $10,000 grant to help treat those problems, she jumped at the chance. “It was very humbling. We will be the first county office to receive funds to do this,” Hanna said. The need is great, she said. “TBI and PTSD dramatically impacts their ability to get through daily functions,” at school, on the job, and with their families. Hanna contacted the Speech and Hearing Clinic at Bowling Green State University, and a partnership was formed to use the grant to help local veterans. “I’m getting ready to notify each veteran about these services,” which will be offered at no cost, Hanna said of the 12,895 veterans living in Wood County. The grant came from Dr. Chrisanne Gordon, founder of the Resurrecting Lives Foundation, who has made it her mission to get better care for veterans returning home with the often invisible injuries of TBI and PTSD. In many cases, veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan went right from school to war, Gordon said. They never had to navigate in society before – and now some…

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Seniors get “shelf meals” in case of bad winter weather

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Like squirrels putting away nuts for the winter, food is being boxed for seniors throughout Wood County. About 850 “shelf meals” were packed up recently at the Wood County Senior Center. The boxes will be delivered to the seniors who receive home delivered meals from the Wood County Committee on Aging. The goal is to make sure the seniors have food available in case inclement weather makes it impossible for the home delivered meals to make it to them. “If those individuals can’t get out of their house, and we can’t get to them because of the weather,” explained Angie Bradford, director of food services at the senior center. “It’s those extra two meals if we can’t get to them.” The Wood County Committee on Aging used to hand out pre-packed shelf meals, but found the quality lacking. Some of the food was not intended for long-term storage, Bradford said. Such was the case with canned pears one year. “They all exploded in my storeroom,” she said. So now the volunteers pack the boxes themselves. Bradford enlisted the help of people served by Wood County Developmental Disabilities to pack up the boxes. One can of beef stew, two peanut butter packets, powdered milk, corn, green beans, peaches and more. “It’s been a great partnership,” Bradford said. Those packing the boxes enjoy the work, she said. “Phyllis was asking about it in August.” As she packed cans in the boxes, Phyllis Layman explained her motivation. “I like helping people.” Tricia Romero agreed. “We want to be able to give back to the community.”


Park district takes step toward renewal levy next spring

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Park District will be going back on the ballot next year – but the board won’t be asking for any additional funds. The county park board voted Tuesday afternoon to start the levy process by asking the Wood County Auditor to certify the current valuation for the park district. The board then plans to place a renewal of its 1-mill, 10-year levy on next year’s spring ballot. “I believe that will suffice to serve our financial needs for another decade,” Board President Denny Parish said. Wood County voters have a history of supporting their parks, and will appreciate the district’s decision to not ask for more money, Parish said. The current levy brings in a “pretty steady” amount of approximately $2.8 million a year. “I believe we can operate for another 10 years on the same millage,” Parish stressed. Board member John Calderonello mentioned that some voters may still be stinging from issues on this November’s ballot. But Parish said the park district can choose between spring and fall of 2018. “We can’t wait till 2019,” he said. And board member Bob Dorn reminded that if the park levy fails in the spring, it can be repeated in the fall. Parish said many residents of Wood County don’t realize how the park district if funded. “There’s a misconception that we get funded by the general fund of the county commissioners,” he said. The park district first passed its 1-mill levy in 2008. Since then, the district has made several improvements and acquired much more property. “It’s all been done…


BG candidates talk rentals, roundabouts, schools & streets

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green council candidates were asked to take stands on substandard rental housing, roundabouts, the school levy, streets and more Sunday evening. This year’s election is crowded with 12 candidates for Bowling Green City Council. So the candidate forum, sponsored by the Bowling Green League of Women Voters, gave some city residents their first glimpse at those on the ballot. They are: At-large council – Six are running for two seats: Holly Cipriana, Nathan Eberly, Beverly Elwazani, Carolyn Kawecka, Gregory Robinette and Sandy Rowland. Kawecka was not present. First Ward: Daniel Gordon and Hunter Sluss. Sluss was not present. Second Ward: Kent Ramsey and John Zanfardino. Ramsey was not present. Third Ward: Michael Aspacher is running unopposed, so he did not participate in the forum. Fourth Ward: William Herald and Scott Seeliger. Following are the answers given by candidates to citizens’ questions. Cipriani, a Democrat who works as an academic adviser at Bowling Green State University, believes she can be a voice for residents of the city. She said she can offer a “fresh perspective” on issues and isn’t afraid to take action to solve problems. Cipriani said she is “very passionate” about the Complete Streets program as a way to promote safety for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists. She would like to use already conducted research to identify areas of the city were bike lanes can be added. As for the city’s budget difficulties, Cipriani wants to make sure state leaders realize the impact of the money cut to local government budgets. The city needs to focus on improving neighborhoods, infrastructure and…


Zombies to stalk runners in obstacle course event

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As if the muddy obstacle course isn’t hard enough, a bunch of moaning zombies will be on the prowl again for the second annual Zombie Mud Run. At the conclusion of last year’s event, participants had a suggestion – more zombies. So Ivan Kovacevic, recreation coordinator with the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, hopes to double the number of zombies this year. Each contestant starts out the run with three flags on a flag football belt. The goal of the runners is to complete the one-mile course with at least one flag left to be deemed a “survivor.” The goal of the zombies is to rip off the flags, leaving the participant “infected.” Last year, about 150 people participated, with ages ranging from 5 to 74. Kovacevic is hoping for even more this year. The event is Oct. 22, with registration starting at 1 p.m., at the Bowling Green Community Center. Participants will be divided up with ages 5 to 12 and some parents in the first heat, followed by heats of ages 13 and older. Kovacevic, a fan of “The Walking Dead,” TV series, said the zombies add an extra thrill to the course. “Obstacles courses are becoming one of the fastest growing fitness trends,” he said. So why not throw in some zombies? “Get that adrenaline flowing right off the bat.” In addition to the zombie threat, there are also a lot of man-made and natural obstacles along the course located behind the community center. There’s a 5-foot climbing wall, balance beams, a bungee cord obstacle, tire pyramid, log…


BG and county may team up for ‘community solar’ field

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green and Wood County may be teaming up on bright idea for the area. The city has approached the Wood County commissioners about using county land for another solar field. There are currently 70 open acres on the north side of East Gypsy Lane Road, between Interstate 75 and Wood Lane. Fifty acres are owned by the county and 20 by the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. If the solar field becomes a reality, it would likely be a “community solar” project – which means Bowling Green residents and businesses could sign up to be part of the project and get their electricity from the solar field, said Brian O’Connell, director of public utilities for the city. That would make this different from the 165-acre solar field recently constructed on city land at Carter and Newton roads northeast of Bowling Green. Bowling Green gets a portion of the power generated at that solar field – enough to supply nearly 5 percent of the city’s energy needs. By building a “community solar” project, all of the energy created at the proposed site could be used to power Bowling Green, O’Connell said. The city’s proposal was presented to the Wood County commissioners last week. It would require the county to commit the acreage to the project for 30 years. The property is currently rented out as farmland. The commissioners were interested in the idea, said Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar. “They said they were willing to consider it. We don’t see any county building boom” on the East Gypsy Lane property, Kalmar…


He jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge … and lived to tell about it to help others

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The second that Kevin Hines cleared the railing on the Golden Gate Bridge, he knew he had made a mistake. But by then, he was falling 220 feet at 75 mph. Up until that moment, Hines believed he had to kill himself. Hines spoke Tuesday morning to an auditorium full of Otsego High School students. Next month, he will talk with students at Bowling Green City Schools. He was asked to speak at local schools after the recent Wood County youth survey showed an increase in suicide ideation among 7th through 11th graders. In fact, the local rates were higher than the state and national averages. Hines told students they should not keep quiet about their pain. “I was falling apart at the seams, but I hid it from everybody,” he told the students. “Your pain is valid. Your pain matters, because you matter.” Hines was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder and paranoia during his junior year of high school. The diagnosis came after he had a role in the play “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” “I was on a stage, much like this,” he told the students, pointing to their auditorium stage. When Hines looked out at the audience of 1,200 people, he was certain they were all there to kill him. He ran off the stage. Hines went to a psychiatrist, who started treating him. But Hines was resistant. “I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want something to be wrong with me.” Before long, the active, athletic teen was withdrawn, depressed and having hallucinations. After…