Community

County to set up 10 full-time recycling drop-off sites

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Rural Wood County residents will no longer have to store recyclables in their garages or cart them around in their cars to recycling centers far from home. On Thursday, the Wood County Commissioners approved plans to offer full-time recycling drop-off at 10 locations throughout the county. “We know everyone’s excited about having recycling 24/7,” Kelly O’Boyle, Wood County assistant administrator, said Friday. The new recycling drop-off sites will not require sorting of items, including plastic bottles, office paper, newspaper, aluminum and steel cans, cardboard, magazines and glass. Those areas in line to get permanent recycling locations are: Bloomdale and Perry Township Grand Rapids Jackson Township and Hoytville Jerry City, Cygnet, Portage, Portage Township and Rudolph Milton Township and Custar Pemberville Perrysburg Township Stony Ridge Tontogany and Washington Township Weston The North Baltimore recycling site will remain open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. The Bowling Green Recycling Center and NAT near Bradner both already operate as 24/7 drop-off locations. “Our goal is to provide the best service at the lowest cost.  We believe the ability to accept mixed recyclables will provide ease of use to our residents and likely the ability…


McOmber served as trusted guide on BG City Council

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the lone Republican on Bowling Green City Council, Bob McOmber could have easily been a pariah, with his comments getting the cold shoulder from his Democratic counterparts. But those attending City Council meetings quickly learn that when McOmber speaks, the heads on council turn his way. Whether talking about budgets or garbage bins, his words are measured and methodical. As he retires at the end of the month after 12 years on City Council, he leaves a legacy steeped in compromise, with no tolerance for political grandstanding or sitting on the fence. When the city faced a $625,000 deficit in its 2017 general fund, McOmber led the way out of the budget hole. Council had several options to plug the hole, including the trash collection fee which was ultimately selected as the best option. “I feel good about how that was handled,” McOmber said. “I purposely wanted it to be a group decision – a consensus among all of us. It could have been a very acrimonious decision. But it was a solid decision – rationally based.” When the city was working to pass two anti-discrimination ordinances in the 2010 election,…


More fitness sites drain dollars from Community Center

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The competition from other fitness sites in the city may be leading to some thin pass sales at the Bowling Green Community Center. “It just boggles my mind that we don’t have more people in there. It’s such a marvelous facility,” Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said during the monthly Park and Recreation Board meeting Tuesday evening. Pass sales so far this year at the community center total $169,114. That’s a drop from last year’s pass sales at this time totaling $196,070. The number of passes sold this year is 1,134 – 215 fewer than last year at this time. Each month this year, the numbers have shown a drop. “I’ve been concerned with the figures we get every month from parks and recreation,” City Council member Sandy Rowland said. A task force has been set up to study how community center membership might be increased, how visibility can be improved, and how the appearance can be updated. On that task force are park and rec board president Jeff Crawford and board member Cale Hover. “It’s going to affect revenue if we don’t do some things,” Hover said. The mayor, who recently…


New City Park building to help celebrate ‘life moments’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The aging Veterans Building in City Park has seen its share of “community life moments.” The building has hosted generations of birthday parties, baby showers, wedding receptions and family reunions. It has witnessed square dancing lessons, euchre game nights, and pint size proms. But its days are numbered, with its crumbling block walls, leaks, lack of air conditioning, and lack of ADA accessibility. There is no storage space, so tables and chairs are stacked in the open. There are holes that let varmints inside – including a skunk that visited during a recent rental. In order to continue offering a place for “community life moments,” the city is preparing for the sale of $3.75 million in bonds that will pay for tearing down three old buildings and constructing one new facility in City Park. On the demolition list in addition to the Veterans Building, are two much smaller structures – the Girl Scout Building and the Depot Building – all near the entrance to City Park. On Tuesday evening, the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board got another look at the initial plans for the new building, which will have adequate space…


East Side organization honored for neighborly efforts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The group honored Monday evening for promoting diversity in Bowling Green was compared to picadors – who stab the 2,000-pound bull in the neck to weaken him before the bullfighter goes in the ring. “We pick, we prod, we poke,” said Rose Hess, head of the East Side Residential Neighborhood Group. The organization was given the Honor Roll Award from the Bowling Green Human Relations Commission. Commission chairperson Rev. Mary Jane Saunders explained how the East Side group got its start and how it has grown. On a summer night back in 2007, a group of eight neighbors gathered to discuss issues involving rental properties and owner-occupied housing on the east side of Bowling Green. A decade later, the group has grown to more than 100 members gathering under the name of the East Side Residential Neighborhood Group, Saunders said. The group’s mission statement states the commitment to: Enhancing residential neighborhoods. Encouraging property maintenance in the pursuit of safe housing for all. Promoting beautification of properties and a strong and diverse community. The comparison to picadors seemed fitting when Mayor Dick Edwards praised the group’s efforts, especially those of Hess. “You’re not…


BG eyes $10M in bonds for roundabouts & park building

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council set the stage Monday for issuing nearly $10 million in bonds – to help build roundabouts on the east side of the city and to build a new park building on the west side of the city. Council declared emergencies on both bond issues, to move them along a little faster. Both will have final readings and a vote at the next meeting on Dec. 28 at 5 p.m. Both projects have been in the pipeline for years. The $6.2 million in bonds is intended to improve the Interstate 75 and East Wooster Street area by constructing roundabouts. The project will add two roundabouts designed for semi-trucks at both I-75 interchanges on East Wooster Street. The bridge driving surface will be replaced, with a bike-pedestrian trail being added from Alumni Drive to Dunbridge Road along north side of Wooster Street. The plan calls for a landscaped gateway to be created to Bowling Green and Bowling Green State University. The goal is made the entrance to the city more attractive, create a smoother traffic flow and reduce accidents at the interchanges. Though utility work will begin in 2018, the…


Landlord and renter responsibilities examined in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In a college town with nearly 7,000 rental units, there’s an awful lot of headbutting between landlords and renters and homeowning neighbors. When problems occur with home maintenance, is it the landlords’ responsibility to prove that their housing meets safety standards? Or is the onus on the renters to notify authorities if their housing is substandard? For years, Bowling Green officials have debated this question. Other Ohio college towns – like Kent, Oxford and Athens – have mandatory rental inspection and licensing programs. Bowling Green has preferred to make sure there are services in place that respond to rental problems as they arise. Following are various viewpoints in Bowling Green, including those from Mayor Dick Edwards, BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey and landlord Bob Maurer. Those who respond to complaints – the health district, fire division, building inspection and planning office – also share their perspectives. People closest to the students, like BGSU legal services and some East Side residents, also weigh in. And officials from rental inspection programs in Athens, Kent and Oxford talk about their experiences. EYE-OPENING TOUR Early this fall, some BGSU students asked their professor Neocles Leontis to…


Underwear thief charged with repeat offenses in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Hundreds of bras and women’s underwear were found during a search of a Bowling Green man’s home after he was caught reportedly trying to break into an apartment. This is not the first time Bradley Feasel, 33, of 236 S. Grove St., was arrested with stolen underwear and bras in his home. He was sentenced to six months in 2004 after being caught stealing items from an apartment on the East Side of the city. In addition to stolen undergarments, in 2004 police also found a telescope in the trunk of Feasel’s car and a journal detailing how to watch attractive people and how to set up a hidden video camera. “This isn’t his first time,” Bowling Green Police Major Justin White said Friday. The Bowling Green Police Division is asking that any women who have had undergarments stolen to contact Sgt. Hartman at 419-352-1131. This past September, college students living in a house on East Merry Avenue reportedly found a man in their residence when they returned home around 1:30 in the morning. The man fled, leaving a pile of the women’s underwear and clothes under a window as he escaped….


BG digs out from deficit to a balanced budget in 2018

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s budget for 2018 doesn’t dazzle – but it also doesn’t drag down the city with a projected deficit. “It’s a budget that gets our head above the water,” said Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter as she introduced the 2018 budget to City Council and city employees Wednesday evening. “And that’s OK.” Last year at this time, Tretter broke the news to council members that the city was entering 2017 with a projected deficit of $625,000. So a balanced budget for 2018 was pretty dazzling to council. “When we stood here a year ago – that’s not where we were,” Tretter said. Council member Bob McOmber, who has served as finance committee chairman for the past eight years, said he would much rather see a “mundane” balanced budget. “It certainly looks better than the deficit we were facing last year.” The city budget, McOmber said, consists of many moving parts. “There are a lot of inter-related parts in the budget.” So getting it to balance is a feat. One reason for the additional projected revenue is a 3 percent increase expected in city income tax revenue. Modest increases are also projected in…


Solar field ‘sanctuary’ to attract butterflies, bees, birds

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials learned Monday evening how its solar field could be turned into a “solar sanctuary” for butterflies, bees and birds. The board of public utilities heard how the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service hopes to develop a wildlife and pollinator habitat around the 165-acre solar field near the corner of Newton and Carter roads, northeast of Bowling Green. “You are producing good clean energy, and you’re helping wildlife at the same time,” said Marci Lininger, of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service “This is a really cool project for us,” Lininger said. One goal of the wildlife habitat area is to bring back pollinators to the region. “Pollinators are in decline right now,” she said. Adult Monarch butterflies have seen a 50 percent drop in the last 10 years due to disappearing milkweed plants  – which are the only plants used by Monarchs for laying eggs. Some wildflower habitats target specific species. The one at Bowling Green’s solar site will be aimed at attracting several species of bees, birds and butterflies. The plan calls for three seasons of blooming plants. The 12-acre wild habitat area is intended to benefit various…


Vivitrol helps jump start recovery for opiate addicts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Travis Williams knows that without Vivitrol, opiate addicts who just went through detox are likely to start using again as soon as their buddies pick them up at jail. “They overdose before they ever leave the parking lot,” Williams said. But he also knows that using Vivitrol can take away the cravings and the highs that cause many opiate addicts to relapse an average of seven times. “You might as well take a tic-tac,” since it will provide the same high as opiates do while on Vivitrol, Williams said during a meeting last week in Wood County about recovering from opiates. Attending the meeting were those who deal with the local addicts in the courts, law enforcement, public health and social services. In June of 2016, Vivitrol shots were started in Wood County Justice Center for opiate addicts who want to quit. Since then, 34 inmates have received their first shots in jail, which were then followed up with monthly shots and counseling on the outside. Northwest Community Corrections Center has a similar program. “We are working on a definition of success, but as of June of 2017 we have 21 people…


Santa collection revives magic of Christmas past

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   All year long, Dale Schmidt is surrounded by the spirit Santa Claus – more specifically by 700 Kris Kringles at last count. Schmidt, a retired art teacher who lives in Bowling Green, started out as an accidental collector about 40 years ago. “I think it just kind of occurred,” he said. “I had a couple things and I realized – I have a collection.” A small portion of that collection is on display in the windowed showcase at the front entrance of Wood County District Public Library, at 251 N. Main St., Bowling Green. The Santas will remain on display there until Dec. 18. Schmidt has tried to go cold turkey in his quest for Santa Clauses. But who can resist the kindly faces, the flowing white beards – and great bargains. “There have been times I’ve stopped and then started again,” he said. “Once you’re a collector, always a collector.” Schmidt’s and his wife, Donna, married after he already had his collection underway. So she knew what she was getting into – kind of, he said. Does she share his love of Santa Claus? “Well, yes and no,” Schmidt conceded. She…


Downtown BG invites community to Shop the Block, Dec. 1

From DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN Shopping is what everyone is doing these days as the holiday is sneaking up on us in less than one month.  Downtown Bowling Green is decorated for the holidays; beautiful lit poles and snowflakes, winter floral and beautifully decorated windows.  Shopping takes on a whole new dimension as you stroll down the blocks of Main Street.  As deemed by the Downtown Merchants “We are Lively, Diverse and Neighborly” and by Ohio Magazine “Best Hometown” This experience will be enhanced even more December 1st as beautiful luminaries line Main Street in the Downtown for evening shopping.  Participating merchants will extend their hours until 9 pm.  Special offers and a remarkable shopping experience should make it a reason for you to shop local and support those that keep our local economy strong. You can find a list of the participating merchants on our website at: DowntownBGOhio.org  as well as some of the other activities we have going on like our Downtown Dollar Give Away, Merchant Window Decorating Contest and our next visit from Santa.


Green thumb grows grapefruit tree at workplace

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Saying that Barbara Jane Hamman has a green thumb doesn’t do her justice. As her co-workers will attest, Hamman can get almost any plant to grow – including a grapefruit tree born from a seed in a fellow employee’s breakfast. More than 20 years ago, Hamman stuck the grapefruit seed in a planter at her workplace at Century Marketing Group, and now the plant towers more than 6 feet tall. “This girl at work had been on a grapefruit diet,” Hamman said. And one morning, her grapefruit had two seeds that had already sprouted. So Hamman stuck one in a planter on her desk. “The seed started sprouting,” she said. Over the years, the plant moved with Hamman as she took different positions at Century Marketing. “It went from one building to the next with me.” But Hamman is planning to retire, and her husband wasn’t thrilled about the grapefruit tree coming home with her. “He said, ‘You can’t bring that home. We don’t have room for that,’” Hamman said of her husband. So a co-worker, Irene Patten, started looking for a new home to adopt “George,” as the tree was named….


Thanksgiving brings community together to feast

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There is something sacred about Thanksgiving, with its roasted turkey and trimmings, family and friends. So when two local churches invite the community to Thanksgiving dinner, they want their guests to feel that warmth and welcome. “It’s not a charity dinner,” said Lynn Eck of Christ’s Church. “It’s a ‘let’s get together’ dinner. It’s just a way to give back to the community.” Tuesday’s feast was the 26th annual community Thanksgiving dinner hosted by Christ’s Church and Grace Brethren Church. It welcomes everyone to the table. “It looks like we’re prepared for dinner guests,” Eck said as she looked over the busy dining room in the Bowling Green Community Center. “That’s important. For a lot of people this is their Thanksgiving.” The menu featured the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, rolls and pie. The feast is cooked in mass quantities – so heaping helpings could be dished out for at least 500 guests. That included 18 turkeys, 24 industrial-size cans of green beans, 44 dozen rolls and 36 pies and cakes. “Everything is doctored up a bit so it tastes like home,” Eck said. And as usual, the guests at…