Community

7 drug canines do sweep during lockdown at BGHS

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green High School went on lockdown Thursday morning as seven drug-sniffing dogs searched the school. At 8:15 a.m., teachers were instructed to put all student book bags in the hallway, according to Superintendent Francis Scruci. The canines then did a drug sweep of all the bags, the lockers, and all the vehicles in the parking lot. The drug sweep inside lasted about 90 minutes. The dogs “hit on” 20 lockers and 20 book bags, but no illegal substances were found. “Nothing was found internally in the school,” Scruci said. The dogs also “hit on” 15 cars in the parking lot, all belonging to students.  Those students were brought out to their vehicles, then school administration and law enforcement searched inside the cars. Marijuana was found in one car. All cars in the lot, including employees’ vehicles, were part of the sweep, the superintendent said. Scruci said no one at the high school knew about the drug sweep until 8 a.m.  – even the administration. The superintendent said the search was not the result of a reported problem, but because he believes it is a good way to promote smart choices for…


Lionface one acts find comedy & drama close to home

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News That coffee shop could be in Bowling Green. That comic convention could be in Columbus. The Lionface Productions one-act plays – all three written for the troupe – have a sense of familiarity viewed through a different lens. The Lionface production of one acts opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the rehearsal hall behind the Performing Arts Center in the middle school. The show continues Friday and Saturday. Guests should enter through door M, near the patio area to the south of the Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $7 and $5 for students. Two of the plays were presented at a Wednesday night dress rehearsal. (The third “The Amazing Red Diamond” written by Jesse Koza got an early run through because of a scheduling conflict.) “Every Seven Years or So,” written by J. Benjamin and directed by Christina Hoekstra, traces the arc of the friendship between Eric (Cole Stiriz) and Fiona (Kathryn Gonda) from being artistically inclined and insecure high school students into young adults when the issues that first drew them together still resonate. We meet them mid-conversation as Eric is telling Fiona how his father, the high school art teacher, caught him…


BG schools did not sanction gun raffle…club cancels fundraiser

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Student groups do all kinds of activities to raise funds – sell candy bars, wash cars, sit in dunking booths. But raffling off guns? Not in Bowling Green, says Superintendent Francis Scruci. Scruci sent out an email to district parents late Wednesday afternoon explaining that a raffle was being promoted by the Bowling Green Wrestling Club. The prize was two firearms, with one being an assault rifle, he said. As of Thursday afternoon, the raffle had been canceled. The superintendent explained he did not sanction the raffle and was not aware it was being conducted. He had been alerted by a parent earlier Wednesday. “The Bowling Green City Schools does not promote guns and is not affiliated with this type of raffle,” Scruci wrote in the email. “I can assure you that if the proper procedure had been followed the raffle would have been denied for distribution through the district.” The email continued to say the Bowling Green Wrestling Club is an outside organization raising funds for wrestlers from youth to university age and exists outside of school parameters. “It’s technically not affiliated with the school,” Scruci said when reached Wednesday evening. No…


Phoenix Technologies gets 1 out of every 20 plastic bottles recycled in US

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bob Deardurff loves the scene in “The Graduate” when a character shares the secret of success with Dustin Hoffman. Just one word – plastics. That one word has proved to be Deardurff’s success at Phoenix Technologies in Bowling Green, which was named Wood County Corporate Citizen of the Year on Wednesday evening. In fact, the company has had so much success that one out of every 20 plastic bottles recycled in the U.S. comes to the Bowling Green company, Deardurff said. Phoenix Technology takes plastics full circle by using items from the recycling center on North College Avenue, washing the items at its plant on East Poe Road, then converting the plastic into pellets at its plant on Fairview Avenue. “We have an opportunity in Wood County and Bowling Green, so we can close the loop,” all within a half mile, Deardurff said. The recycled plastic is then returned to items for packaging food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, shampoo, soap and detergents. When introducing the Corporate Citizen of the Year, Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw noted the company’s beginnings in 1985 in Toledo. “The business flourished,” she said, and by 1991 was manufacturing bottles…


Coffee and conversation with BG cops

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Tim Horton’s coffee shop was probably the safest place to be in Bowling Green Wednesday morning … as long as you weren’t cracking any jokes about cops and doughnuts. The first “Coffee with a Cop” event packed the place with police and citizens wanting a chance to chat. “We want people to be comfortable talking with us,” said BG Police Chief Tony Hetrick. The chief was getting a variety of input from citizens, some with concerns about neighborhood issues like loud parties and littering, and some just wanting to say “thank you” to the police. “It was a mix of a lot of different things,” Hetrick said. Sitting at one table were Lt. Brad Biller and Lt. Dan Mancuso, talking with citizens as they stopped to chat. “It’s been very positive,” Mancuso said. “People are saying things are going in a good direction,” Biller said. Some citizens had specific concerns, such as the woman who was recently widowed and was worried about personal security at her home. Others came with praise for specific officers, like Pam Leid, who wanted the chief to know about a particular patrolman who has been very helpful….


State of Wood County – steady and solid

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County’s annual checkup showed a healthy region with more jobs being created, more teamwork being touted, and more tax revenues coming in to support services. The state of the county address, held this morning in the courthouse atrium, painted a rosy picture of the past year and the one ahead. “The past year was one of progress and change in Wood County,” said Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw, who presented the program with fellow commissioners Joel Kuhlman and Craig LaHote. Finances are staying steady. “Throughout the recession, Wood County remained fiscally strong,” Herringshaw said. Increases in revenue from property tax, sales tax and the casino tax are helping to compensate for loss in revenue from Local Government Funds and investment income. The commissioners recently approved a budget with annual appropriations totaling $40,628,105 – nearly $900,000 more than the previous year’s appropriations. Those solid finances have allowed the county to pay cash for some capital projects, such as the $2.9 million jail expansion and $1 million updates at Wood Haven Health Care. It has also allowed the county to retain its good bond rating, Herringshaw said. The commissioners have made wise use…


Beloved Alvie gets atrium named after him

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Gail Perkins has no doubt her late husband, Alvie, was planning ahead when he sketched out the atrium design for the Wood County Courthouse Complex. “That’s why he put in the skylights, so he could look down and see what’s going on,” she said, pointing up to the glass sections. And she knows Alvie would have been so proud to have the atrium dedicated in his honor Wednesday morning during the annual State of the County address. As the longest serving county commissioner in Wood County history, Perkins would often talk about the atrium at home, his wife said. That and roadwork, and pump stations and flooding ditches after heavy rains. “Our evenings out were to drive around looking at the ditches,” Gail Perkins recalled, smiling. Such is the life of a public servant and his spouse. As the atrium was officially dedicated in his honor, Commissioner Doris Herringshaw referred to Alvie Perkins as a “forefather,” serving 25 years as commissioner and passing away in January. “We believe it’s appropriate to name this atrium for him,” she said. The stories vary a bit, but no one disputes the fact that Perkins came…


Interfaith gathering calls for peace in face of terror

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Just hours after terrorists struck Belgium killing at least 30 this morning, people of different faiths gathered together in Bowling Green. The peace they wanted to promote seemed so fragile in the wake of the attacks. “Today, of course, we woke up to the terrible news of another terrorist attack in Europe,” said Phil Dickinson, who practices Buddhism. “How can we compete with bombs and bullets?” The answer – with hospitality that leads to peace. True hospitality that is offered to more than friends and family. The same can be said for dealing with hate speech that is currently dividing this nation politically. “Fear and terror seem to be everywhere these days,” Dickinson said. Dickinson was one of the speakers of many faiths who shared at the second annual Community Interfaith Breakfast in Bowling Green Tuesday morning. The program included speakers representing Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Protestant Christianity, Islam, and Roman Catholic Christianity. They broke bread, ate fruit and drank coffee together as a community united by their respect for each other. “We see the diversity of people in our community as a gift, not as a problem,” said Rev. Gary Saunders, co-chair…


Park levy need not questioned, but more millage may pose problems

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   BG officials did not question the need for a new parks and recreation levy Monday evening. They did, however, question the chances of the millage increase passing on the November ballot. City council’s finance committee listened to BG Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley as she made the pitch for a 2-mill property tax levy lasting five years. Since the proposed levy is an increased amount from the current 1.4-mill levy, the council committee felt the need to scrutinize the request. Otley explained that the parks and rec program has not seen a levy increase in 16 years. In the meantime, the program has grown in acreage, facilities and programming. “We’ve added so much in 16 years,” Otley said. “The things we added were all things the community was asking for and wanted to see.” Also during that 16-year period, several maintenance projects were deferred. “A lot of things have been put off,” Otley said. For example, the Veterans Building in City Park is in great need of repairs. The parking lot at Simpson Garden Park has serious pothole problems. The park land has grown to 333 acres, including the new Ridge…


Every home in BG to be part of housing survey

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Now might be a good time to touch up that peeling paint, tuckpoint that chimney, and firm up that sagging front porch. Starting in April, a housing inspector from the Wood County Health District will be making the rounds in Bowling Green, checking out residences – all 5,524 or more. It’s time for the housing exterior survey which the city contracts for every five year from the county health district. The contract is a “unique arrangement,” according to Lana Glore, of the environmental division of the health district. In most cases, health districts respond on a complaint basis. “You’re kind of putting fires out,” she said. But in Bowling Green, the city tries to keep those fires from ever starting by having the surveys done every five years. “To me, it looks like it works,” Glore said. The inspector will go from home to home, April through August, looking at exteriors that can be viewed from public property. “Every house is looked at,” Glore said. The data collected will be compiled in September through November. Then the results will be reported to council in December. Each home will be surveyed for 14…


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…


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…


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….


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…


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….