Community

Trying to keep Lake Erie water from going green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After Lake Erie turned green with algal blooms in 2014, and local residents were cautioned not to consume tap water from Toledo, officials rushed to make changes to keep this crisis from happening again. But too little has been accomplished, and the threat still looms over the lake as summer approaches again, according to a Waterkeepers conference held Friday at W.W. Knight Preserve near Perrysburg. Speakers blamed a good portion of the problem on the amount of manure being created, and the amount of fertilizer being spread on fields. “We are producing more shit than we have land to put it on,” speaker Dr. Earl Campbell, of Perrysburg, said during a break in the program. “We’re not understanding the source and the amounts,” of the phosphorous from manure and fertilizers running into the lake, said Sandy Bihn, executive director of the Waterkeepers organization. “We’re not following the Clean Water Act.” Two speakers from the agricultural community praised farmers for trying to reduce runoff, but also pointed fingers at them for not doing enough. Estimates vary, but agricultural runoff is blamed for 50 to 80 percent of the nutrients creating harmful algae in Lake Erie. The problem has worsened as small farms have been replaced by large farms with more concentrated livestock operations, according to Ron Wyss, a Hardin County farmer. The building of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, sometimes referred to as mega-farms, has led to over application of manure on fields nearest the CAFOs. Recent studies have shown that less phosphorous from fertilizers produces comparable or better yields, yet some farmers continue…


BG schools to hold monthly talks – on drug testing, charter schools and more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s new school superintendent is not shy about communication – and not just Twitter and Facebook – but old-fashioned face to face time. Francis Scruci been hosting regular coffee klatches with citizens, but now he’s looking at narrowing the focus of the discussions and drawing more input. So once a month, Scruci plans to host public workshops. Each will focus on a specific topic, such as drug testing, delivery of instruction, school funding or the impact of charter schools. “I want open and honest dialogue,” he said. The superintendent has asked that all the school board members also attend the workshops. So the gatherings will be like a second meeting a month for the board, but one with more interaction with the public than is possible at regular board meetings. “The community, staff felt disconnected from our board and schools,” Scruci said. Anyone will be allowed to speak at the workshops and no decisions will be made during the meetings. “There will be a climate of collaboration,” he said. “It’s not adversarial.” Scruci presented the idea last week during the first such workshop, this one focusing on the future of school buildings in the district. “We want interaction with our community,” he told the audience. “We want dialogue.” “We have to have the entire village working together for the good of our schools,” Scruci said. The superintendent stressed that anyone wanting to talk to him need not wait until the monthly workshops. In addition to the coffee klatches, he said citizens are welcome to drop by his office at anytime to…


Home sweet home…107 BG families use housing vouchers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Housing Agency has little to do with the actually housing and a lot to do with the people who need it. Members of the volunteer board managing the agency’s work in the city met last week to discuss the latest numbers. As part of the HUD Section 8 voucher program, the agency is currently helping 107 local families by offering rental assistance based on income. Those in the voucher program in Bowling Green include large families, senior citizens and young individuals. The agency does not offer emergency help, and has a waiting list of about 90 families in need. Federal funding is about $31,000 a month, which is used for rent on any appropriate home. Unlike federal housing projects, this program allows the families to choose their own apartment, trailer or house to rent. The landlord must agree to the arrangement, and the home must pass a HUD inspection. There is no limit to how long a family can receive the rental assistance, as long as they still qualify, according to Brian Horst, director of the Bowling Green Housing Agency. The group keeps track of why families leave the program. “What we do like to see is ‘assistance no longer needed’ as their reason for leaving,” housing agency board member Tom Knox said. “Often it means a job has been gotten where there was none before.” The Bowling Green agency is allowed to pay for rental vouchers for up to 119 families. However, the $31,616 in federal funding doesn’t go far enough in BG to house more than 107 right…


Not just spinning their wheels – bicyclists to meet with city engineer

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Squeaky wheels don’t always get the grease. But members of the Bowling Green Bicycle Safety Commission will soon have a chance to have their concerns heard as the city works on its Complete Streets plan. The commission learned Tuesday evening that it will have an opportunity to meet with City Engineer Jason Sisco on April 5 at 6 p.m. “They want to hear more from bicyclists,” explained Kristin Otley, city parks and recreation director and a member of the bike commission. The Complete Streets project is an initiative to make city streets more accessible and safe for bicyclists and pedestrians – not just motorists. When a Complete Streets meeting was held last week, there was a consensus that more input was needed from those in the community who pedal along city streets the most. The bicycle group is realistic. “We don’t imagine that we’re going to have bike lanes everywhere,” member Eileen Baker said. In some cases, just a shoulder along the roadway would be nice, she added. She noted the narrow width of Napoleon Road, which leaves no room for error. “I’m happy to ride in the shoulder,” Baker said. In other cases, it would be helpful to just have a berm area with a bicycle painted on it. Part of the Complete Street concept is to link bicyclists with “destinations” in the city, giving them useable routes to places like Bowling Green State University, all the city schools, park areas and downtown. Baker pointed out how difficult it is to access the downtown area on a bicycle. It is illegal…


State testing survey raises questions

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With school districts across Ohio getting less than stellar grades on their recent state report cards, some further investigation has revealed some disturbing discrepancies, according to Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci. Scruci explained at Tuesday’s school board meeting that a survey about the state tests was conducted with all the district superintendents in Ohio. The superintendents were asked one question – if their district tests were conducted online, on paper, or a combination. A total 450 superintendents responded. Of those, 250 had online tests, with 175 getting an F for the value-added overall grade, and just 47 getting an A. Just 95 districts gave all-paper tests, with 85 of those getting an A. “There is some suspicion in the state that the tests were not equal,” Scruci said. Due to the rash of low scores, there is a possibility of legislative action which would make the most recent scores invalid. However, Scruci said he wasn’t using the discrepancies as a crutch, and he still considers the district responsible for state testing scores. But he also said that a two-hour test should not be used to make a valid assessment of a student. That small “snapshot” is not a true indicator of what the student is learning. Scruci said he is working on a blueprint that will “drill down” to work with each student and take the pressure off teachers when it comes to test scores. “We have to make some changes. We have to do things differently,” he said. Scruci proposed that the district should hire two curriculum coordinators, one at the…


Residents protest pipeline compressor station

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Waterville area residents are sick just thinking about the toxins that a pipeline compressor station could pump into their air. More than 500 showed up Wednesday evening to say they won’t sit by quietly and let the facility be built as part of the proposed Nexus pipeline. The natural gas pipeline would run 255 miles from eastern Ohio, across the state, to Michigan and end in Canada. Along its route, it will pass through Wood County, north of Bowling Green, then through Waterville. When it gets to Waterville Township, a compressor station is proposed off Moosman Road, south of Neapolis Waterville Road. Compressor stations are used to pump natural gas through the pipelines, and are located at intervals along the line to pressurize the gas to keep it moving. Residents packed a school in Waterville Wednesday evening to protest plans to put the station in their community. There were so many people who wanted to testify at the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency hearing, that the EPA skipped the program and went straight to the public comments. “This is one of the larger crowds we’ve ever had at an EPA hearing,” said Mike Settles, of the Ohio EPA. Settles explained that his agency only has authority over the station’s air emissions. FERC is the agency that must approve the actual pipeline. “Safety is not our issue. I know that’s not what you want to hear,” Settles said. The air pollutants typically released from the compressor station include such items as nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, methane, benzene, acetaldehyde, formaldehyde and toluene. Barry…


Something to cheer about – BG buys new bleachers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green fans have something to cheer about – and soon they will have something new to sit on while doing so. The board of education voted Tuesday evening to spend $542,000 for new bleachers in the football stadium. A section of the current bleachers was deemed unsafe last year after serious rusting was discovered. The board voted to spend an extra $14,000 to add slip resistant decking. “I think $14,000 is a very good deal compared to the lawsuit from somebody slipping,” board member Ed Whipple said. The district will use its permanent improvement levy revenue to pay for the new bleachers. However, that levy generates $525,000 a year, so general fund monies will also have to be used for the bleachers. District treasurer Rhonda Melchi cautioned the board that the permanent improvement funds may be needed elsewhere. The $542,000 pays for new bleachers on both the home and visitor sides, handicapped accessible restrooms and pays for the old bleachers to be torn down and taken away. Kent Buehrer, the engineer on the project, said the bid actually came in 11.3 percent below estimate. Also at Tuesday’s board meeting, Kenwood Elementary Principal Kathleen Daney talked about all the “Community Connection” programs at the school. Daney listed such programs as: Students painting city snow plows. One Book BG program, which included the community in the book, “The World According to Humphrey.” Thanksgiving canned food drive. Caroling at Heritage Corner Nursing Home. Dear Santa, a district-wide program adopting 20 families with 55 children during the holidays. Jump Rope for Heart, which raised $18,478…


Wood County voters support Kasich and Sanders; Reger wins Republican primary for judge seat

By BG Independent News Wood County voters joined the rest of Ohio in helping hand Ohio Gov. John Kasich a win in his race for the Republican presidential nomination. On the Democratic side, Wood County voters gave more support to Senator Bernie Sanders, though Hillary Clinton captured the state overall. Of Wood County’s 89,280 registered voters, 36,640, or 41 percent, cast ballots for the primary . Here is how Wood County voted in the primary election. DEMOCRATIC BALLOT President (delegates-at-large and alternates-at-large to national convention) Hillary Clinton: 6,108 (45.76%) Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente: 75 (0.56%) Bernie Sanders: 7,165 (53.68%) United States Senate Kelli Prather: 1,628 (13.47%) G. Sittenfeld: 3,006 (24.86%) Ted Strickland: 7,456 (61.67%) Fifth U.S. Congressional District James Neu Jr.: 9,346 Justice of Ohio Supreme Court John P. O’Donnell: 8,383 Justice of Ohio Supreme Court Cynthia Rice: 8,584 Second Ohio Senate District Kirk W. Halliday: 8,473 Third Ohio House District David Walters: 8,585 Sixth District Court of Appeals Jack R. Puffenberger: 8,278 Sixth District Court of Appeals Mark L. Pietrykowski: 8,697 Wood County Common Pleas Judge Steve Long: 8,569 Wood County Commissioner (term commencing 1/2/2017) Edward A. Kolanko: 7,902 Wood County Commissioner (term commencing 1/3/2017) Joel M. Kuhlman: 8,754 Wood County Recorder Julie L. Baumgardner: 9,232 Wood County Sheriff Ruth J. Babel-Smith (write-in): 684 Wood County Treasurer Jason Hartigan: 8,708   GREEN PARTY BALLOT United States Senate Joseph R. DeMare: 74   REPUBLICAN BALLOT President (for delegates-at-large and alternates-at-large to national convention) Jeb Bush: 74 (0.33%) Ben Carson: 190 (0.84%) Chris Christie: 31 (0.14%) Ted Cruz: 3,718 (16.44%) Carly Fiorina: 27 (0.12%) Mike Huckabee: 49 (0.22%) John R….


BG School District at crossroads … community input sought on building options

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green School District is at a crossroads. Though there are twists and turns with each route, the three basic directions lead to renovating, replacing or doing nothing with its school buildings. One of the possible destinations ahead is consolidation of the three elementary schools in one new building. During the first of many meetings expected to stretch over a year or more, Superintendent Francis Scruci explained to a crowd Monday evening that he doesn’t want to take one branch of the road, if local citizens want to go another direction. “The process starts tonight,” Scruci said to the cafeteria full of parents, staff and citizens. “This is one of many conversations and we need to hear from you.” The superintendent tried to summarize the 341-page school building survey received last month from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. The survey looked at 23 systems – such as heating, electrical or lighting – at each of the five school buildings and attached renovation and replacement dollars to them. The survey found Conneaut Elementary to have the greatest needs, followed by Kenwood Elementary, the High School, Crim Elementary and then the Middle School. If the cost to renovate a school exceeds 66 percent of the cost to build a new school, then the commission considers it wise to build new, Scruci explained. Conneaut is the only school to exceed that two-thirds threshold, though Kenwood and the high school are close. Though some school districts in the area have received significant financial help from the OFCC program, Bowling Green would not, Scruci said. “We are…


BGSU launches Optimal Aging project with $1 million from Med Mutual

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University has a new $1 million baby – an initiative to help older area residents age more gracefully. Officials from Medical Mutual of Ohio, which made the $1 million donation, and BGSU officially delivered the new project at a press conference Monday morning at the College of Health and Human Services. That’s where the Optimal Aging Institute will have its offices. Its services, though, will be offered throughout the area, wherever older folks want and need help make their lives easier, healthier and fuller. In announcing the project, Health and Human Services Dean Mary Huff said: “Optimal aging is defined as living at one’s highest potential, whether or not we are living independently and in excellent health, or coping with a chronic illness or disability. Optimal aging is a focus on what is possible, not on the impossible.” The initiative, Huff said, will have three major goals: • It will create and expand programs and activities for middle-age and older adults. • It will assist those doing research in aging and assist those needing supportive services for themselves or others. • It will educate and train students, service providers, health care workers, caregivers, older adults and business owners. That will include providing students with hands-on learning experiences. Huff said the first step will be to hire a director. A conference will be held in August to help launch the institute. The programs will address all the dimensions of wellness, Huff said. Those are physical, emotional and cognitive as well social, occupational, cultural and spiritual. BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey said more…


Local Republicans rally around party – with no mention of Trump

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nearly 400 area Republicans were given their marching orders Saturday evening – make phone calls, knock on doors and vote. But they weren’t told which candidate to cast their ballots for in Tuesday’s primary, with Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s name never mentioned during the speeches at the annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner hosted by Congressman Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green. While it may have been left open which candidate to support, it was made very clear who to defeat. Keynote speaker Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz hammered the Democrats for failed actions in Benghazi, dishonesty by the IRS, and blunders by the Secret Service. “Everyday I feel like I’m in a cesspool fighting against people who don’t care about doing the best for the people of America,” Chaffetz said Saturday evening at the dinner. Chaffetz, who believes in limited government and was in the spotlight recently for taking on Planned Parenthood, urged fellow Republicans to take a stand in next Tuesday’s primary election in Ohio. “This is ground zero. What you do really, really matters,” he said. Neither Latta or Chaffetz mentioned Trump during their prepared remarks. When approached before their speeches, Chaffetz said he supports Marco Rubio for president, but more importantly, he wants the Republicans to take back the White House. “I want to win,” Chaffetz said. “I want the most conservative person we can find to beat Hillary Clinton. We can’t afford to lose the White House again.” Chaffetz attributed Trump’s success with voters to the nation’s demand for change. “I think the country is beyond frustration with President Obama,” he said. “They…


Horizon Youth Theatre takes its show on the road… a necessity shared with others in BG thespian community

Horizon Youth Theatre is a troupe on the move… by necessity. The troupe is now in its 19th year of giving local children and teens the chance to be drama kings and queens, and it continues to be nomadic – at Otsego Elementary for its Festival of Shorts April 8, 9 and 10; holding drama classes at St. Mark’s in Bowling Green also that month; and in June presenting “Honk!” at the First United Methodist Church in Bowling Green. The location for the summer workshops is still a question mark. The troupe has had many homes over its lifetime from the soon-to-be-demolished theaters in University Hall on campus to whatever space has been available at the Woodland Mall. In a recent conversation a group of board members – President Karen Walters, Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel, Alisa Suelzer and Haley Wilkins – said despite that peripatetic existence the troupe continues to provide theater experience to dozens of children. Since children participate in different ways, drama club to the full-blown productions, putting a precise number on how many children it serves is difficult. And the troupe is always recruiting. Still Walters estimated the participation has doubled in the last three years. “Our goal is education first, and we do that by putting on very high quality productions. But we’re not so much performance oriented as educational,” she said. Still the troupe knows how to put on a show as demonstrated by its participation in the Ohio Community Theater Association’s OCTA Fest Jr. and its collaborations with its partner the Black Swamp Players, including the recent production of “Seussical.” To do this, the board members…


One-room school to move to historic farm

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Old-fashioned math helped convince Wood County Park District officials that the historic one-room Zimmerman School should move to the historic Carter Farm. After many discussions about moving the school north of Bowling Green to the farm down the road, the park board voted Tuesday to go ahead with the project. Bids for moving the one-room school and for making repairs if it is left at its current location helped with the decision. The total cost for moving the structure is estimated at $73,950. Coupled with additional project costs like moving restrooms, sidewalk construction and demolishing the old foundation, the cost is set at $88,590. The cost for leaving it at the corner of Nelson and Carter roads is estimated at $118,510. That cost includes replacing the old foundation, putting in a wider culvert, adding more parking and moving restrooms. The board decided moving the old school made sense financially, and for park programming. By moving the school, the district officials hope to save money and make the historic farm and one-room school a more all-inclusive learning experience for visiting families and school children. The parking area at the Carter Farm needs expanding, regardless of whether or not the school moves to the site. The project, which will widen the culvert onto the property, is estimated at $11,900. Because of the need to move the old brick school when the ground is most solid, the structure will probably not be moved till next year, according to Neil Munger, director of the Wood County Park District. The new foundation can be built this year…


Traditional Irish music knows no season for Toraigh an Sonas

With St. Patrick’s Day just days away Toraigh an Sonas has a busy week ahead. On Saturday, the group of musicians, under the direction of Bob Midden and Mary Dennis, will perform at The Blarney Pub, 601 Monroe St. in downtown Toledo from 2 to 5 p.m. Then on Sunday from 2 to 4:30 p.m. the party moves to Dzia’s Irish Pub, 5131 Heatherdowns Blvd., Toledo. On Wednesday, the eve of the saint’s day itself, Toraigh an Sonas will hold forth at Logan’s Irish Pub, 414 S. Main St., Findlay. These are the musicians’ regular haunts, as is Stone’s Throw in Bowling Green, where they have played from time to time. St.Patrick’s Day also marks the anniversary of the 1993 debut of the Bowling Green Band Paddy’s Night Out, the forbearer of Toraigh an Sonas. Midden said that after members of that band moved away he and Dennis formed the band Toraigh. Midden, who says he has some Irish blood, took traditional Irish music to heart. It’s not just the lilting melodies and toe-tapping rhythms that captivate him. “It’s more based on a sense of community and bringing people together,” he said. “The tradition isn’t based so much on performance as much as an entertaining yourself. It rose from people entertaining each other based on what they could do.” So when he and Dennis found fewer musicians interested in playing the music, they decided to act. They started teaching others to play. They held “slow sessions” so those who only know a few tunes could get a chance to play with other musicians. Midden said probably 30 or 40 folks…


Study shows fewer teens smoking, drinking…but other troubling trends emerging

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Fewer Wood County teens are drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana or cigarettes. And fewer are taking swiped narcotic painkiller prescriptions. But other troubling trends are emerging. Like Wood County teens’ rate for narcotic use that is still higher than the nation’s, more teens turning to electronic cigarettes and more reporting suicidal thoughts. Bill Ivoska reported the results of the annual youth surveys of more than 8,000 local students this morning. With the support of the Wood County Educational Service Center and the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, Ivoska has been conducting the annual surveys in all the county school districts since 2004. “The rates of substance abuse in Wood County were higher than they were in the nation,” when he started 12 years ago, Ivoska said. But since then, the surveys have shown a steady drop in drug and alcohol use among teens – faster than the decline seen nationally. “We have had tremendous improvements in the reduction of substance abuse among adolescents,” Ivoska said. The drop in the use of cigarettes, marijuana, alcohol and binge drinking have been drastic, he said. “We are declining in all the major substances.” When the surveys started in 2004, 70 percent of seniors reported using alcohol. That number is down to 45 percent. In that same period, cigarette use went from 27 percent to 6 percent, and marijuana use went from 36 percent to 22 percent. Ivoska credited the decreases in risky behaviors to the number of prevention and education programs in local schools and communities. Many of those programs…