Community

Fitness trail links Simpson park to Conneaut sled hill

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   From Conneaut Avenue, it almost looks like a new playground. But there are no slides, no swings, no climbing structures. This is a different kind of playground – one made for adults who want an extra challenge as they walk, run or bicycle past. On Wednesday afternoon, the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce, Wood County Hospital and the City of Bowling Green officially dedicated the fitness trail and exercise station. The trail, which runs through hospital property, connects Simpson Garden Park and Conneaut sledding hill. The exercise equipment is located in the empty lot along Conneaut Avenue, just north of the hospital’s rehabilitation center. Representatives of the hospital, chamber and city parks talked about how teamwork made the fitness trail possible. “I’ve been here 20 years,” said Stan Korducki, president of Wood County Hospital.  “And I remember talking to people about how Bowling Green was different.” That difference was the desire to work together to make life better for citizens. “I hadn’t seen that in other communities,” Korducki said. The hospital decided to tear down the weathered big blue house that sat along Conneaut Avenue, which left a green space with old stone fences. Since one of the hospital’s missions is to encourage people to be more active, the decision was made to tie Simpson Garden Park and the sledding hill together. “This just seemed to be the right thing to do,” Korducki said. Kristin Otley, director of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, remembered checking out the fitness equipment for placement in a city park. “Literally the next day I…

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Energetic kids learn about renewable energy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the young girl pedaled the bicycle, her efforts first turned on the radio. As she pedaled harder, she created enough energy to turn on LED light bulbs. And if she pedaled really hard, she turned on the old-fashioned light bulbs. Pretty sneaky way to teach kids about energy. “You’re pretty strong,” Daryl Stockburger, assistant director of Bowling Green Public Utilities, told the young girl. “When you use these light bulbs, you’re making the electric company work really hard,” Stockburger said of the older bulbs. “Tell your parents to use LED bulbs.” Stockburger was talking about Bowling Green’s energy efforts recently to a group of kids gatherered at Wood County District Public Library. He talked about the new solar field, the wind turbines and hydropower. Stockburger, who is more accustomed to talking energy with adults, did his best to bring the discussion down to the level of the children. He was helped out by Maria Simon, head of youth services at the library, who is more accustomed to taking technical topics and making them understandable to young minds. Simon was the Gracie Allen to Stockburger’s George Burns. “She’s generating 5 amps,” Stockburger said as another girl tried pedaling the energy bike hooked up to appliances. “I think she should come to my house. I think she could run the dishwasher,” Simon said. The program was part of the library’s summer children’s program on Building a Better World. The children provided a challenging range, with one crawling around tracing the shapes on the floor, to another asking about geothermal energy. Stockburger talked about…


Maurer criticizes city donation of land to Habitat

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A Bowling Green landlord is taking issue with the city’s plan to donate building lots to Habitat for Humanity. Bob Maurer sent a letter to city officials questioning a proposal to give Habitat the vacant lots where a water tower used to sit at the southwest corner of Manville Avenue and Clough Street. 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. “We do think it makes more sense to have ‘individuals’ give their personal monies for gifts than have taxpayer funds used? We feel the majority of the taxpayers of Bowling Green would prefer that. Please weigh and consider the proposed transaction,” Maurer wrote. Mark Ohashi, director of Habitat for Humanity of Wood County, was surprised by the criticism of the land donation. “I did not see that coming,” he said on Thursday. Ohashi said the benefits of Habitat houses go far beyond two individuals. “The benefit is generational. The impact may look like you are only serving two families, but the implications of decent housing extend past the home,” Ohashi said. Habitat homes turn families…


‘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…


BG School Board seeks levy millage and duration for building project

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Board of Education made it official Tuesday evening by voting to ask the Wood County Auditor to determine the millage and the duration of a levy to pay for the district’s $72 million building project. The board voted at a meeting earlier this month to consolidate the three elementary schools into one centralized building, and to make major additions and renovations to the high school. That work will be funded by a bond issue. The board also agreed to build an addition to the middle school. That project, which will likely begin in September, will be financed through $4.6 million in permanent improvement funds. If the bond 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. The action taken Tuesday evening by the school board was the adoption of the necessity of the bond issue. The issue will appear on this November’s ballot. In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, the board hired Alyssa Karaffa as the new principal at Crim Elementary School. Karaffa has been the assistant principal at the middle school. Her new position has an annual salary of $75,000. The former Crim principal, Melanie Garbig, was hired earlier this month as the district’s executive director of pupil services. Also at the meeting, Superintendent Francis Scruci said he and the transportation supervisor had made a busing decision that would save the district nearly $100,000 a year. By law, the district has…


BG utilities board doesn’t want its budget tapped

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Last week, City Council sat in council chambers discussing where to get money to fill a shortfall in the city’s general fund. This week, the Board of Public Utilities sat in those same seats, and suggested that council members look elsewhere to solve the general fund problem. The utilities board defended the money set aside for water and sewer projects – and protested efforts to solve general fund deficiencies with utility capital monies. That money, which comes from a portion of the city’s income tax, has served the city well, according to board members. “It’s really come into focus how well this has served our city,” board member Bill Culbertson said. The funding has allowed the utilities department to replace substandard waterlines and install sewer lines without assessing more to residents. “I’ve really seen what we’ve been able to do with our water plant,” Culbertson said. “I look at other communities who have gotten in trouble with their infrastructure” when cities short the utilities funding. “Quite frankly, I’d like to see it stay in place.” City Council has discussed several options to beef up its general fund revenue that has lost much in state funding cuts. To fix the ongoing problem, council is looking for about $800,000 from one or a combination of three options: By charging a tree trimming assessment. By charging residents for trash pickup. By changing the distribution of the city’s income tax revenue. This is the only option that would require a vote by citizens. Utilities board member Mike Frost worried about the slippery slope that could occur…


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…