Community

All the world’s a stage for Gonzalez and her students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News At age 5, Dr. Jo Beth Gonzalez made her stage debut as a carrot. The crowd responded with laughter. “I was hooked,” she said. That former carrot now cultivates that same love of theater in students. She has planted the seed for several Bowling Green High School students, and now feels the thrill as their confidence blossoms on stage. On Thursday, Gonzalez was recognized as one of Bowling Green’s inspirational educators by the Kiwanis Club. Several parents in the Kiwanis audience talked about the difference Gonzalez made in their children’s lives. One relayed how after his first time in the spotlight, her son walked off the stage and said, “I want to do this forever.” Her students have gone on to become professional actors, playwrights and Broadway musical performers. “Jo Beth changes brains and hearts,” said Kiwanis member Scott Regan as he introduced Gonzalez. But that almost didn’t happen. Gonzalez had no intention of becoming a teacher. After her kindergarten debut in theater, she became one of those kids who built stages in the basement. She was playwright, director and actor – to anyone who would be her audience. “Teaching was not on my radar,” she said. Gonzalez wanted to be a part of theater – not a teacher. But when her efforts in theater did not go as planned, her husband Al suggested that she get her teaching certificate. That was not what Gonzalez had envisioned for herself. “I thought a degree in teaching would stick me in a box,” she said. Little did she know, that box was a ticket to theater for her and for countless children she would teach. “Teaching was hard,” but the rewards were overwhelming. She got her masters, then her doctorate, then a job opened at Bowling Green City Schools. Gonzalez guaranteed High School Principal Eric Myers that she would stay one year. “That was 22 years ago,” she said. Her inspiration every day as she enters Room 117 at the high school is the same – her love of theater and of the students. “We go on artistic adventures together,” she said. Gonzalez is also inspired by her colleagues at school and her church, Peace Lutheran Church. She also continues to write, authoring multiple books. “I write because it helps me process challenges and unpack successes,” she said. “Teaching is hard,” she repeated. But the box that she feared does not exist in her classroom. “Today I am very proud to proclaim I’m a teacher,” Gonzalez said. Through theater, Gonzalez…


BG police officers and firefighter promoted to leadership roles

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Three Bowling Green police officers and one firefighter were promoted into leadership positions Tuesday evening. “Sometimes we get lost in the numbers,” of running a city and managing budgets, Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said to City Council members on Tuesday. But the swearing in ceremony for police and fire, she said, provide a connection between the city budget and the people who fill vital roles in the community. “We’re very proud of all of you. Congratulations,” Tretter said. Promoted in the police division were Lt. Mike Bengela, Sgt. Adam Skaff and Sgt. Brian Houser. “They have gone above and beyond the call in so many ways,” Police Chief Tony Hetrick said. “These are the kind of people we look to” for filling leadership roles. Fire Chief Bill Moorman congratulates Tony and Sarah Zmarzly. Tony was promoted to rank of lieutenant at City Council meeting. In the fire division, Tony Zmarzly was sworn in as lieutenant. Fire Chief Bill Moorman praised his service, and recognized the firefighters who filled the back of the council chambers to honor their fellow firefighter’s promotion. Also at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the new branding initiative for the city was unveiled by Wendy Chambers, executive director of the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau. The new branding is intended to reflect the city’s energy. “This city is not sleepy. It’s engaged, accepting and hungry for smart growth,” Chambers said. Bowling Green is not what many people think, she added. “We’re better, cooler and more progressive,” Chambers said. Bowling Green is a small city with a big city mentality, she added. The city welcomes diversity, is open-minded, offers a kaleidoscope of activity and is eco-minded. Part of BG branding initiative The new branding effort is intended to show that this is not the other Bowling Green – in Kentucky. “Bowling Green has the guts to break barriers and the heart to bring others with them,” Chambers said. In addition to pushing the message on social media, the Convention and Visitors Bureau plans to look into a series of wearables and branded merchandise, she said. “We can all be walking billboards,” for the community, Chambers said. “We all need to work together to spread the word.” Council member Bruce Jeffers said the branding proposal was “really impressive.” Council member Sandy Rowland said the effort captures the community. “It does a good job at saying who we are,” Rowland said. “We are busting at our seams to be better.” A “brand launch” party is planned for March…


Wanted: Adults to play hopscotch, read books, eat lunch at schools

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News It doesn’t take a degree in education to help out at local schools. All it takes is the ability to play kickball, eat lunch, or read a book. Last month, Bowling Green School Board President Ginny Stewart challenged the community to help out at schools. Since then, Stewart has been approached by many with questions of how they can help. So at this month’s school board meeting on Tuesday, the district’s five principals elaborated on how local residents can help. Crim Principal Alyssa Karaffa Crim Principal Alyssa Karaffa said her school is in need of playground volunteers who can actually play with the children. The school has playground monitors, but they can’t spend time playing games with the students. Children often don’t know how to play simple games like 4-square, hopscotch and kickball. So it would be great to have some volunteers to teach the games and then participate, Karaffa said. “They really would enjoy that,” she said of the children. Crim could also use volunteers to help with morning reading, and with its lunch buddies program. Kenwood Elementary also needs volunteers to help at recess, plus people to just sit with the children at breakfast or lunch. No pre-registration is needed, Principal Kathleen Daney said. Volunteers can just show up between 11 a.m. and 1:20 p.m. to help. It would also be helpful to have adults to help students with reading or math. “I would match you up with a student who would use another adult in their life,” Daney said. Conneaut Elementary could also use volunteers on the playground and at lunchtime. “They love to have interaction with adults,” Principal Jim Lang said of the students. The school also has a Breakfast Buddies program, where adults can share breakfast with a child every week. Conneaut also has a chess club which meets on Monday mornings, that only has one adult involved. More adults would be helpful, Lang said. Volunteers could also help by developing a relationship with a teacher, and coming in once a week to help in the classroom. Middle School Principal Eric Radabaugh Middle School Principal Eric Radabaugh said volunteers are being sought to help with an upcoming Career Day on May 24. The school would like to have about 40 different careers represented for students. The middle school is also using a “book swap” program to promote literacy. So book donations would be helpful. “We would gladly take those,” Radabaugh said. Volunteers are needed to help with various after school groups. And middle…


Debate over plastic bag ban or fee has many layers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green City Council Chambers was packed Tuesday evening with people who have disdain for single-use plastic bags, and people who rely on them to do their jobs. The hearing was held by City Council’s Community Improvement Committee, made up of Mark Hollenbaugh, Bill Herald and John Zanfardino. Hollenbaugh explained the city is exploring a myriad of options for single-use plastic bags. Nine citizens voiced their support or opposition to possible plastic bag regulation in the city. Seven were in support, and two were against. Another hearing will be held March 4, at 6 p.m., in city council chambers, to give more citizens a chance to share their feelings. James Egan suggested that any fees raised be used to track the effect of a ban, since little data is available. Madi Stump said the plastic bag debate is a sustainability issue, and communities can learn to adapt to changes in their consumer cultures. Joe DeMare estimated that 150 municipalities across the nation have banned or charge fees for single-use plastic. The problem may seem overwhelming, but that doesn’t mean that communities should give up. “Plastic bags can be at the top of the list,” DeMare said. He mentioned the problem with blowing plastic bags at the Wood County Landfill, west of Bowling Green. An ordinance on bags can be an attempt to deal with a highly visible part of the overall problem. “Eventually, we’re going to have to deal with the entire iceberg,” DeMare said. Zanfardino said he was glad to see places like Cuyahoga County tackling the plastic bag problem. “I’m heartened to see other cities looking at this in Ohio,” he said. Tom Klein’s only reservation on the possible plastic bag ordinance is that it doesn’t go far enough. “We’re drowning in waste,” Klein said. And banning plastic bags makes people feel as if they are solving a problem. “They’re deceptive. They make us feel like we’re dealing with the problem.” But Robin Belleville, owner of BG Frosty Fare, said her business relies on the bags to send food orders home with customers. “I come to you urging a ‘no’ vote,” she said. A five or 10 cent fee per sale would have a “huge impact” on her business. “Each and every sale matters to my bottom line,” Belleville said, saying a fee would make her reconsider operating a business in Bowling Green. She mentioned that her husband’s family business, Belleville Brothers, also relies on plastic bags. When customers bring in their own bags, there are…


Scruci searches for path to success for BG school buildings

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci reacted to two ends of the school facilities spectrum at Tuesday’s board of education meeting. First, to Richard Chamberlain’s request that the district not ask voters for any more money until it gets rid of unmandated programs, Scruci said cutting school programs would result in a race to the bottom for Bowling Green City Schools. And second, to the task force members who have voted for elementary consolidation as the top school building option, Scruci said as an educator he agrees. However, as a superintendent who needs to get a building issue passed, he asked the task force to reconsider. “While I believe that’s the best proposal, our community said ‘no’ to that,” Scruci said. And they repeated that “no” a second time when the bond issue was tried again.. “Consolidation is not what this community wants,” Scruci said. The superintendent also responded to some task force members’ disappointment that the high school portion of the overall building plans has been put on hold in effort to get community support for new or renovated elementaries. Scruci agreed that the high school is in great need of work, but the elementaries are running out of space. So the elementaries must either have overcrowded classrooms or add more modular units. “Space is a tie breaker for me,” he said. And Scruci reinforced what the district’s task force facilitators have been saying – “the longer we kick the can down the road,” the more expensive it will be. Superintendent Francis Scruci speaks at board meeting. As for Chamberlain’s suggestion that the district reduce costs by cutting out unmandated programs, Scruci said that would leave English, math, science and social studies. That would mean the end to agriculture education, athletics, band, theater and many, many other programs, the superintendent said. “This board has been fiscally responsible,” Scruci said, noting that the district has not asked for new funding for nine years. The district has to provide unfunded mandates from the state, such as busing to private schools, ACT testing prep, and College Credit Plus programs, which allow students to get college credits with the district footing the bill for tuition and textbooks. Those unmandated programs and unfunded mandates may drain money from the district’s budget, but they also benefit the students, he said. “Cuts are an easy solution – but I would ask – at what cost?” Schools that cut athletics often see a mass exodus of students to other districts. “I would caution against that,” Scruci…


Mayor prepares BG for ‘pivotal’ year at State of the City address

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News After 58 years in public service, Mayor Dick Edwards gave his last State of the City address Tuesday, focusing on Bowling Green’s storied past, its challenging present and its hopeful future. And as for Edwards himself, who started in public service during the Kennedy administration, his success has often depended on the “gospel” of President Harry Truman, who said, “it is amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” Nadine Edwards reminded her husband of that quote when he became mayor in 2012. “Believe me, it works,” the mayor said. So as Edwards listed off the accomplishments of the city in the past year, he made sure to spread around the credit. He talked about the 27 ribbon cuttings for new and expanding businesses last year, the slow recovery of the city budget, and most of all, the city’s partnership with Bowling Green State University. Since 1910, BGSU has been an “integral part of our economic and social fabric,” Edwards said. The two entities are “mutually interdependent. One cannot succeed without the other.” It was the urging of past BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey that resulted in a joint vision study to update the city’s land use plan of 1987. That study led to new plans focusing especially on the city’s east side. “It was a pressing community need – how to give new life and measures of hope and vitality to our sagging neighborhoods,” Edwards said. Eventually, a Community Action Plan with its many “challenging recommendations” was adopted and plans were made for the East Wooster corridor. But the city is up to the challenges, the mayor added. “Now is the time for action,” Edwards said. “It will test our mettle as a community.” And though the mayor is in his last year in office, he assured that isn’t resting yet. For 2019 is a “pivotal year.” State of the City address Tuesday morning in the Wood County District Public Library atrium Bowling Green is primed for progress, Edwards said. The city has achieved a healthy bond rating and good credit score, it has strong employment numbers, and income tax collections that exceeded expectations. Federal and state grant funding of more than $4 million last year is paying for major projects like the roundabouts on East Wooster at Interstate 75, plus roadwork on Conneaut, Fairview, Manville and in the Wood Bridge industrial park. “We all know that substantial financial challenged abound,” he said, listing street maintenance and aging city buildings as continued…


Curtain closing on last movie rental store in BG – Family Video

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The credits are rolling for the last movie rental store in Bowling Green. That means the end of a tradition for those in the community who still prefer scanning the store shelves for a golden classic or a new action flick. Like the generation raised on dime matinees at theaters, there was also a generation raised on weekly trips to the movie rental stores. “When I was a kid, Friday and Saturday nights, places like this were packed,” Ivan Kovacevic said as he reminisced with his son about the end to the movie rental stores. On Monday, Kovacevic and his son were getting some deals buying a couple movies at Family Video. “It’s the changing times,” he said. “Businesses like this have more options” and much more competition. The closure, with the last day open to the public on Friday, has some frequent customers feeling blue, Family Video Manager Kait Nelson said. “A lot of our regulars are sad. They don’t have the streaming services,” Nelson said as she staffed the front counter on Monday. “They are our friends. They are our family. It’s become a routine for them.” Sure, there are Red Box movie rentals – but those aren’t the same as video rental stores, she said. Red Box rentals offer no human interaction. “You get a friendly face,” at the movie store, Nelson said. “Employees can offer suggestions.” But it’s more than that, she added. Try renting a movie classic at a Red Box. “Red Box is all about new stuff,” Nelson said. “We have a lot of classics.” And if you want more than one night to watch a movie – better get ready to pay a fine with Red Box. Family Video rentals last five days. Family Video movies for sale through Friday Bowling Green has been home to many movie rental stores – Video Spectrum, Video Connection and Movie Gallery to name a few. The Family Video store, at 816 S. Main St., was a latecomer to the city. Nationally these stores focused on smaller cities and more rural areas, since Blockbuster movie stores had a secure hold on the movie rental business in larger cities. But the end to Blockbuster stores in 2013 left Family Video as the only video rental chain left standing in the U.S. Now, with the ease of streaming movies making it possible for people to get movies without getting off the couch, many of those Family Video stores are closing up as well. Nelson knows as well…


Boy gives his heart and his birthday presents to the dogs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News For the third year in a row, Drake Stearns’ birthday present list has included unlikely items like dog food, leashes, blankets, bowls and dog toys. When he and his mom, Chris Stearns, dropped off the birthday presents to the Wood County Dog Shelter recently, it took several trips to deliver the loot. There was nearly 100 pounds of dog food (including some mistakenly purchased cat food.) “We’ll mix it in,” Wood County Dog Warden Andrew Snyder said. The dogs will never know the difference, he said. There were 15 boxes and bags of Milk Bone treats, some Pup-peroni, some peanut butter stuffed treats, and bags of squeaky dog toys, soft blankets, and other items. “I think the dogs deserve a birthday, too,” said Drake, who just turned 10. Drake’s tradition of sending out birthday invitations listing dog treats for his gift ideas, seems to have caught on. A classmate of his at Elmwood, Ryken Zeigler, also dedicated his birthday gifts to the dog shelter this year. “You’re a trendsetter,” Snyder told Drake. Drake has his own little pet menagerie at home – with two dogs, two cats, one tortoise and one hamster. One of this dogs (Pawsy) came from the county dog shelter, the other (Puggles) from Santa. Drake can’t exactly pinpoint what it is about dogs that he loves so much – other than “everything.” His mom admits to being an enabler for Drake’s love of animals. An employee at Wood Haven, she happened to stop by the neighboring dog shelter one day. “I didn’t want a dog,” Chris Stearns said. But then she saw the little dog looking longingly at her. “She was in the very last kennel, shivering, looking up at me,” she said. So Stearns brought Drake over to see what he thought of the dog. “They sat down on the floor, and Drake pulled on her ears, and she just sat there,” Stearns said. That was six years ago. This year, as Drake dropped off his birthday stash, he got to spend some time with Chance, a newer resident at the dog shelter. It wasn’t long before Drake was covered in slobber, and Chance was making all kinds of happy dog noises. “He’s like a squeaky door,” Drake said. “I don’t want to leave.” Snyder presented Drake with a certificate of appreciation for making the dogs the recipients of his birthday gifts. “What he does is very impressive, and now he’s got a following,” Snyder said. “We really appreciate all you do for…


County parks fishing to add pond at Reuthinger Preserve

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The Wood County Park District often hears from local residents fishing for a place to cast out their lines and reel in a big one. So when approached by a contractor needing dirt for a construction project, the park district jumped on the chance to provide their dirt and get a pond in exchange. Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger reported to the park board last week that E.S. Wagner Co. is bidding on a large ODOT project relocating the Disalle Bridge. The company needs a lot of fill dirt for the project, and Reuthinger Preserve has some to spare, Munger told the board. If E.S. Wagner gets the project, Munger suggested it would work to the park district’s benefit to let the company excavate a 6.5-acre area of Reuthinger Preserve, off Oregon Road, to create a pond for the park. The pond could potentially provide a place for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and a source of water for the greenhouse in Reuthinger Preserve. “One of the biggest things we hear from the public is they want more places to fish,” Munger told the board. “I think this is a real positive thing.” The pond would be in the northern section of the park. The district is also working on trails and boardwalks through the woods and wetlands in an eastern area of the park. If E.S. Wagner gets the bid, it will dig about 25 feet deep and then compact the pond area, Munger said. Restrooms may be added to the site, and Munger is hoping a windmill might be used for aeration of the pond. “This is an exciting possibility there for us,” he said. Munger also informed the board that he plans to talk with the Wood County engineer about the possibility of installing a four-way stop on Oregon Road at the entrance to Reuthinger Preserve. In other business at last week’s meeting, the park board: Agreed to raise per mile reimbursement for mileage from 54.5 cents to 58 cents, according to the IRS standard.Voted to purchase a Dodge Ram 1500 from Al Smith, in Bowling Green, for $25,870 for the park district’s operations department.Agreed to renew annual membership with the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments, for $2,750. The board agreed membership gives the park district valuable networking opportunities.Reviewed the park police reports for the month, including a call to handle cows loose on the Slippery Elm Trail.


Iler turns mistakes into learning moments for his students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Biology teacher Josh Iler isn’t bashful about his failures. “Failure is the best thing on the planet,” Iler said with a grin. So he teaches his students at Bowling Green High School to not be afraid of making mistakes. “Embrace failure. You will screw up way more than you will ever succeed,” Iler said as he spoke to the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club after being named one of the district’s inspiring educators of the year. Not one for public recognition, he titled his talk “Mr. Iler – an inspirational educator or just a guy doing his job?” To Iler, that means showing students how much can be learned from mistakes. Some of those mistakes he shared with Kiwanis – like the photo of him in the crawl space after neglecting to turn on the sump pump. “You will learn to never do that again,” he said. Or the photo of the deer that he missed because he left his rangefinder at home. “I’ll never do that again.” Or the video of the deer lungs that he inflated in his classroom by blowing into a tube – allowing students to see them expand and retract. “You may ask, ‘why is this on the failure page, Mr. Iler,’” he said to the Kiwanis. That would be because he made the mistake of inhaling through the tube, causing many in his audience to cringe. That’s part of what makes Iler an unconventional teacher. He has a natural talent with students, according to Jodi Anderson, secondary curriculum coordinator for Bowling Green City Schools. He excels at creating meaningful relationships with students, she said. That was evidenced when Iler enlisted the help of students in taming the overgrown courtyard area at the high school – building a koi pond and planting landscaping beds. Superintendent Francis Scruci said seniors came in on weekends and during their spring break to help with the project. “That’s a testament to what you do in the classroom,” Scruci said. Iler’s response was, “I don’t know any other way.” Though he’s been teaching biology and anatomy for 13 years at the high school, his lessons go well beyond textbook science. His unconventional approach includes philosophical advice from his hero, Bill Murray. “Don’t worry,” Iler said. “Failure and lifelong learning is the only path to success. That’s exactly what I think about every day.” “Don’t follow your dreams,” Iler advised. Instead, take them along on your journey. Iler’s path to becoming a teacher was also non-traditional. He credits his parents…


School task force debates how community should pay for buildings

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News It’s not just the dollars and cents – but also who should foot the bill for school buildings – that the school finance task force is debating. The task force met Wednesday evening at Crim Elementary School to look at some preliminary costs for district taxpayers. The questions are many – how much should the district spend on new or renovated buildings; what type of tax should be used; and how many years should a bond issue cover. “What’s best for the majority of people,” asked David Conley, the district’s financial consultant with Rockmill Financial Inc. But task force member Barb Belleville suggested the task force view it differently. “How about how to make sure everyone pays their fair share,” she said. Another task force member suggested yet another perspective. “Can we just look at affordable ways for our community to support this,” Tracy Hovest said. No matter what type of tax is sought by the district, there will be some residents more burdened than others, Conley said. “It’s up to you all to sort of evaluate what you consider the right way for the district,” he said. “It doesn’t matter which tax structure you pick – it will burden someone more than someone else. It’s not a fair system.” Conley plugged in various numbers to calculate how much the average Bowling Green School District taxpayer would pay with different options. He stressed that all the numbers were very preliminary. “We’re just experimenting,” he said. All of the calculations were based on the goal of raising $41 million (which is the maximum amount being considered so far by the school facilities task force.) Based on that goal, the following costs to the average taxpayer were calculated: $181.50 per year ($15.12 per month) if a property tax was used, with bonds over a 37-year period.$256.29 per year ($21.36 per month) if property tax and traditional income tax both paid for half of the $41 million.$331.08 per year ($27.59 per month) if a traditional income tax paid the entire $41 million.$662.15 per year ($55.18 per month) if an earned income tax paid the entire $41 million. Task force member Grant Chamberlain said the earned income tax would be “performance based,” so more fair for taxpayers. However, Ben Otley, another task force member, and Conley pointed out that earned income taxes do not tax capital gains, partnerships, pensions, and businesses claiming depreciation. It would allow less scrupulous large landowners to get out of paying taxes for the schools. “In reality they…


Buttonwood Park overrun, damaged by ice jam again

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Buttonwood Park has again been overrun by ice chunks and water from its neighbor the Maumee River. This is the second time in four years that the river has unloaded ice and floodwater in the county park. “It’s a mess,” Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger said during Tuesday’s meeting of the county park board. “It’s going to be a while till we get in to take a look at it.” But a park employee’s personal drone has taken photos showing the damage they can’t get to by vehicle or on foot. The images show a park sign, gate, information kiosk and some parking lot posts moved or destroyed by ice that appeared to reach eight to 10 feet high in the park. The photos also show the parking lot full of water, gravel shifted and boulders moved by the power of the moving ice and water, soccer fields covered with ice, and trees scarred by ice. Munger is hoping the damage is less than that caused by an ice jam in 2015. “The ice was feet thick then, so I hope maybe this limited devastation,” he said of the thinner ice that came ashore last week. “My hope is we don’t have major damage like that.” But Munger isn’t sure when it will be safe to enter the park, which is located where Hull Prairie Road dead-ends into the Maumee River in Perrysburg Township. “It’s a wall of ice. It’s going to be a while,” he said. “And winter isn’t over yet,” said Tom Myers, chairman of the park board. The fact that the flooding has occurred twice in four years, should give the park district pause about investing money into the park, said Denny Parish, vice chairman of the board. “I think this is a losing proposition – investing in Buttonwood,” Parish said. “I see this as a long-term problem.” Munger pointed out that the park district has no permanent structures at the park, aside from fencing and a gravel parking lot, because of the risks. Since the last flooding, the soccer fields at the park have not been used by Perrysburg soccer programs, but have been used by rugby programs. The park is also the site of the annual “pow wow” for Native Americans. And during the walleye fishing season each spring, the parking lot is overflowing with anglers, Munger said. The county park system also has access to the Maumee River at Otsego Park, but that area is too far upstream for walleye…


Rover pipeline tax payments pumping into county coffers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Pipeline tax revenue has started flowing into Wood County coffers. After much skepticism – some fueled by exaggerated tax estimates from pipeline officials themselves – the property tax payments from the Rover Pipeline project have been made to the county. And soon that money will be on its way to local schools, libraries, townships and other governmental entities. Rover Pipeline has paid a full year of property taxes in Wood County – adding up to $4.2 million, Wood County Auditor Matt Oestreich said on Tuesday. School districts will get nearly $2.7 million, county agencies will get $1 million, townships will take in $422,557, and local libraries will get $65,565. Rover Pipeline, with $57.5 million in property value, has now outpaced Toledo Edison. “They’ve become the most valuable single taxpayer in the county,” Oestreich said. And by next year, a second side-by-side Rover pipeline should be in operation – potentially doubling the tax revenue, the county auditor said. Oestreich said the hesitancy by school districts and other entities to bank on the pipeline is reasonable. “Schools are all waiting,” he said. Rover pipeline did not appeal its tax bill this year, but that right to appeal is offered annually, Oestreich said. “They can appeal next year, potentially they can do that every year,” he said. Oestreich said utilities do sometimes appeal, most recently Troy Energy located in Troy Township. The pipeline will continue to pay local property taxes throughout a 30-year depreciation cycle. The tax revenue coming in from the pipeline will lower the rates for others paying in the county. “That’s a positive for normal residential taxpayers,” said Karen Young, of the county auditor’s office. Much of the skepticism with Rover’s tax payments was due to the company’s exaggerated estimates of how much local entities would reap from the pipeline coming through the area. Some of those estimates, made when trying to woo support from local entities, went as high as $3 million a year for entities like Henry Township. However, that township will actually get $143,245 this next year. In 2015, when the initial promise was made by Energy Transfer which constructed the Rover pipeline, then Wood County Auditor Michael Sibbersen questioned the estimates. Current county auditor Oestreich shared those concerns about inaccurate estimates being given to township officials. “They were throwing around some rather large numbers,” Oestreich said. “I don’t think they understood Ohio taxation at all.” Following is a list of the annual Rover tax revenue going to each entity this year: Schools: $2,698,811 total…


Food stamps vulnerable to possible federal shutdown

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News If the federal government shuts down again at the end of this week, local services cannot make up for the hit to the food stamp system. The federally funded food stamp program, now called SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), helps feed 6,200 people in Wood County. When the federal government was shutdown for 35 days earlier this year, local officials expressed concern about how the food assistance would continue. Those officials last week warned the Wood County Commissioners that local government cannot replace the food program if it is again crippled by the federal government. Dave Wigent, director of the Wood County Department of Job and Family Services, told the commissioners that the SNAP system helps people truly in need. “The community has a bias against the poor,” Wigent said. “The majority of the people in the program are children or elderly,” he said. “They are not able-bodied men sitting at home drinking.” Many of the 3,000 households getting SNAP have family members who are disabled. “The program really does help folks who need it,” Wigent said. If the looming federal shutdown occurs again, those families will be hurting – and there won’t be enough local funding to compensate, he said. Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw asked about domino effect of the shutdown. Does the loss of food stamps create even more dire straits for families, she asked. Definitely, Wigent replied. “It’s systemic. Those people don’t just go away,” he said. Problems started by a lack of food at home, tend to show up elsewhere. Children start showing up at school without lunches. Parents react to the stress of not having enough food. “Then we would have children streaming into Children’s Services,” which deals with abused and neglected children, Wigent said. When the shutdown lingered throughout January, the Wood County Department of Job and Family Services rushed to get food assistance out to local SNAP recipients, explained Laura Seifert, administrator of the Income Maintenance Unit. Workers came in on a weekend to ensure that the support got out before the federal funds were gone, she said. However, while that effort made sure local residents got their food assistance for February, local officials are now concerned that some families may not work to stretch those funds out through this month. So eligible SNAP families will receive half of their March benefits on February 22, and the rest of the benefits will be issued on the normal March issuance date. While meeting with the county commissioners last week, Wigent also…


City and Wood Lane to swap lots in Bowling Green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News A land swap is in the works between the City of Bowling Green and Wood County Developmental Disabilities. The city’s Board of Public Utilities agreed Monday evening to the exchange – trading with Wood Lane a lot that the city no longer needs, and getting a property that the city could use and Wood Lane no longer desires to own. The trade involves the house at 316 N. Church St., and a vacant lot at 1236 Conneaut Ave. Wood Lane currently owns the house located just to the north of the city administration building on North Church Street. The city currently owns the vacant lot on the north side of Conneaut, east of Wintergarden Road. The land swap would be mutually beneficial to both parties, according to Brian O’Connell, public utilities director for the city. Wood Lane Superintendent Brent Baer approached the city about the possibility of selling the residential facility to Bowling Green. The house has been appraised at $175,000. The parcel is attractive to city officials, since the municipal offices are suffering from a lack of space in the current building next door at 304 N. Church St. Bowling Green officials have already talked about using the city-owned space to the east of the municipal building once the Wood County Senior Center moves to its new building on South Grove Street. If a new city building is constructed along North Main Street, the Wood Lane parcel would likely provide additional parking space. Also, the lot could provide flexibility for the new building design. According to the board of public utilities, the Wood Lane lot would increase the available building area to 1.85 acres – which is a 12 percent increase in space. Until a decision is made on the construction of a new city building, the house could be rented out to provide revenue for the city. O’Connell estimated it could generate about $1,000 a month. Now for the other property on Conneaut Avenue. The city purchased the vacant lot at 1236 Conneaut Ave. in 2011, using the water and sewer capital improvement fund, with the plan of building a pump station on the lot. But a few years later, a parcel further west at 1353 Conneaut Ave. became available for purchase, which lowered the construction cost of the pump station. So, the parcel at 1236 Conneaut was no longer needed by the city. However, Baer is interested in acquiring the parcel for the construction of a residential home for Wood Lane consumers. The parcel was…