Dems pick Wicks for state representative run

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Kelly Wicks went into Thursday evening with the campaign groundwork, unused funds, and leftover campaign signs. He ended the evening with the backing of the Democratic party. The Wood County Democratic Central Committee voted to put Wicks on the November ballot as the Democratic candidate for the state representative seat vacated by Republican Tim Brown. Wicks received 18 votes from the committee, while Daniel Gordon received 6 votes. The meeting room for Democrats Thursday evening was packed with party members wanting to hear the “job interviews” for Wicks and Gordon. Brown’s resignation has given the underdog Democrats hope at gaining the seat that has not been held by a Democrat since 1938. Wicks will now face off against the candidate yet to be chosen by the Wood County Republican Central Committee. Northwood Mayor Edward Schimmel has announced his interest in the Republican nomination. Perrysburg Township Trustee Bob Mack has initially expressed interest then decided to withdraw his name. Wicks, who owns the Grounds for Thought business in downtown Bowling Green, promised his party that he would hit the ground running if selected. “With your support, our campaign will start now,” he said. Wicks criticized current state leadership of being pro-big business, pro-coal, and pro-charter schools, while being anti-worker and anti-women. His focus would be on job creation, public education, infrastructure, transportation, clean energy and worker rights. “We still need to make sure we’re fighting for workers,” he said. Wicks also vowed to work across the aisle. “Everybody’s tired of the bickering and the fighting,” he said. “We have an opportunity to stand together. I’m someone who will work together for all we can achieve.” Gordon, in his third term on Bowling Green City Council, came in to Thursday evening with the endorsements of 54 elected officials and the urging of the Ohio House Democratic Caucus. “They heard from other folks that I’m the real deal. I care,” he said. Gordon said unlike most college graduates who move away, he dug in. “I didn’t leave. I doubled down on Bowling Green.” Like Wicks, he criticized state leaders who have “attacked working people” and “crippled our state.” “We’ve received so many cuts from Columbus,” Gordon said. “I see the effects of these consequences every day.” But unlike Wicks, Gordon touted his winning record of unseating a Republican then securing two more terms on city council. “I’ve demonstrated the ability to win an elected office and keep winning an elected office.” Once on council, Gordon said he pushed for revitalizing East Side neighborhoods, which is now council’s top priority. “So many people in my neck of the woods felt voiceless,” he said. He also worked to create Ridge Park, the only park area in the First Ward. “That was the happiest day of my life so far,” Gordon said of the day the park was opened. “There’s nothing that prepares you for elected office, except holding an elected office,” Gordon said, promising to campaign tirelessly and bring along the young voters who supported him in the last election. But Wicks pointed out that while Gordon has won elections, Wicks has secured far more votes in his race for mayor in 2016 and state representative in 2012.  He started out as a definite underdog in the…

Back to School Fair offers help to local families

United Way in Wood County is hosting the Wood County Back to School Fair in conjunction with the Salvation Army Tools for School program. The event will be held from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, at the Woodland Mall, 1234 N. Main St. in Bowling Green. Local organizations will provide information about the services and opportunities available to local students and their families including out of school programming, health care options, rent and utility assistance, early intervention services and more. Participating agencies include Girl Scouts, WSOS Head Start, Help Me Grow, Home Energy Assistance Program, HomeNet and Fatherhood initiative, The Cocoon, Boy Scouts, Children’s Resource Center, Wood County Health District, Wood County WIC, Wood County Educational Services Center-STARS program, and Wood County Hospital. The event is free and open to the public. Individuals interested in volunteering to plan the event, seeking more information, or wishing to make a donation should contact United Way in Wood County at 419-352-2390.

Rally in BG takes aim at gun violence

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A week after Democratic members of Congress held a sit-in demanding action against gun violence, a group of local residents held their own sit-in – this one in Congressman Bob Latta’s office in Bowling Green. It was brief – eight minutes – one minute for each of the eight people killed by guns each day in Ohio. “We’ve had enough,” said Toby Hoover, founder of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, as she handed Latta’s staff member a petition demanding action on proposed gun violence bills. “This isn’t about gun rights. This is about victims’ rights.” Hoover knows. Her husband was killed in 1973 by a robber with a gun. Latta, a Republican from Bowling Green, joined others in Congress last week refusing to discuss any legislation involving guns. A good start, Hoover said, would be to just let the issue be studied by the Centers for Disease Control. “Certainly he can’t be against the CDC doing their job,” she said. But that is a sticking point for Congress, with many refusing to even discuss any collection of data on gun violence. “Common sense things can be done,” Hoover said. But only if Congress will discuss the topic. “We just want them to talk about it. Let people discuss it,” she said. Rallies against gun violence are being held in communities across the nation this week in response to the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history in Orlando, and in solidarity with the sit-in for gun violence prevention in the U.S. House that followed. “These are happening all over the country today and tomorrow,” Hoover said, with many of them held at the offices of congressional members. “We’re going to keep watching them. We all want some common sense steps.” In Bowling Green, Hoover was joined by about a dozen others who stood along North Main Street in front of Latta’s office, holding signs saying “Freedom from Gun Violence,” “Disarm Hate,” and “Enough.” One of those joining the rally was Jim Litwin, of Bowling Green. “I’m disgusted with America’s policy on guns,” he said. “President Obama is right on track. If we don’t do something about guns after Sandy Hook and Orlando, we’re never going to do anything.” Litwin said the lack of gun regulations makes no sense. “I don’t know how Americans can accept regulations on food, drugs and driving, but not on guns.” Sheri Wells-Jensen shared similar concerns. “Those kids in Orlando could have been our kids,” she said. And the eight people killed by guns each day in Ohio, “it’s too much,” Wells-Jensen said. “And Bob Latta has to listen.” Wells-Jensen said she was thrilled by the sit-in held in Congress last week – though disappointed with the lack of any results. “I was up all night following it. I was so moved by that,” she said. “I’m appalled that they wouldn’t even vote. We’re talking about people dying.” As she stood by Main Street, holding her sign, Nancy Wellman said the CDC studies so many products and industries in order to make life safer for Americans. “And yet Congress refuses to let CDC collect any statistics,” she said. “It just is illogical.” Wellman said she has voiced her concerns in letters to members of Congress, but has never…

Intersection work planned at South Main and Gypsy Lane

The City of Bowling Green has contracted with Geddis Paving and Excavating for the construction of intersection improvements at South Main and Gypsy Lane. The work will include: -The addition of a left turn lane for westbound Gypsy Lane -New signal poles, mast arms and signals -New LED edge lit street name signs -New pedestrian crossings, signals and countdown timers Work is scheduled to begin on July 18 and is expected to last eight weeks, weather permitting. East Gypsy Lane will be closed to thru traffic for 21 calendar days beginning July 18, with the detour route using Klotz Road and Napoleon Road. Intermittent lane closures are possible on South Main Street throughout the project, but through traffic will be maintained at all times. Contact the City of Bowling Green, Engineering Division (419)-354-6227 for additional information or with any questions.

Northwood mayor interested in House seat

Northwood Mayor Edward Schimmel announced today that he will seek the Republican party nomination for the Ohio House 3rd District seat. The vacancy was recently created when Representative Tim Brown accepted the position as executive director with the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments. Schimmel, a two-term Northwood city councilman and first term mayor, has sat on the Republican central committee since 2012. “One of the things I’ve learned in elected office is that there is always more work to be done,” Schimmel said. “I know that if selected I will be leaving the mayor’s office with unfinished business, but I believe that I can help not only Northwood, but all of Wood County in the State House.” An attorney with the law firm of Hizer & Schimmel, he said that he is fully committed to being representative. “If that means leaving the practice of law altogether, I would certainly do that. The plan at this time would be to only work a couple days a week as an attorney, so that I could devote my time to representing Wood County and my obligations to my family.” Schimmel is 39 years old, and is married with three children. He attended Northwood schools, and the University of Toledo where he obtained degrees in political science and law.

BG Schools wants citizen input on buildings

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green School District wants to hear from its residents. Do citizens want to renovate the existing buildings? Build new schools? Consolidate the three elementaries? And how much are they willing to support? “We can kick the can down the road and ignore the issues,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said to a meeting of about 40 parents and teachers Tuesday evening. But the problems are only going to get more expensive to resolve, he warned. Scruci said he will talk to any group about the options. He will meet with them anywhere they want – in offices, coffee shops or in neighborhood living rooms. The district is also conducting an anonymous survey on school facility and funding options. That survey can be done at The audience members who took the poll on the smart phones Tuesday evening showed a clear preference for building new rather than renovation, consolidation of elementaries, and local funding rather than state assistance. Scruci is hoping that residents will attend meetings and listen to the options before making up their minds. “I have people who have not come, but have all the answers,” he said. “We really want our community to be informed.” “We want to come up with something this community wants to support,” he said. Earlier this year, the district received the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission survey which looked at 24 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. Climate control is a major challenge, with some of the high school rooms peaking at over 100 degrees in the early fall and late spring. “That’s not a good learning environment, not a good teaching environment,” Scruci said. Scruci has heard from older residents who have said, “You know, when I was in school we didn’t have air conditioning.” But “it’s a different world,” he said. Increasing enrollment is a challenge, with modular classrooms already added to Conneaut, and expected for Kenwood soon. The older buildings lack energy efficiency, pose water issues, and were not built for today’s technology. Though some school districts in the area have received significant financial help for constructing new buildings from the OFCC program, Bowling Green would not, Scruci said. The district’s acreage and college population makes it look wealthier than it actually is, Scruci said. The 118-square-mile district is mostly farmland which saw an increase in valuation, plus the district’s population includes “phantom” numbers of transient college students. Those two factors mean Bowling Green would get just 11 to 14 cents for every $1 spent on new construction. Working with state money also comes with state strings, Scruci said. “You basically hand over all the control to the state,” he said. “For 11 cents on the dollar, is it worth handing over the keys…

Parking kiosks to take coins, cash or credit cards

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   People parking in the city lot behind Panera may want to start brushing up on their license plate numbers now. Come August, motorists parking in that lot will need to punch in their license plate numbers and pay at one of three kiosks taking the place of the old parking meters. The kiosks will be located behind SamB’s restaurant, at the parking entrance on East Wooster Street, and near the parking entrance on Clough Street. “We wanted to make it as convenient as possible for people,” said Joe Fawcett, Bowling Green assistant municipal administrator. Fawcett was explaining the new parking payment program Tuesday to anyone with questions. Bowling Green officials chose between three types of parking payment kiosks – pay by display, space or plate. “It was determined that pay by plate would be the most convenient,” Fawcett said. The pay by display kiosks require motorists to return to their vehicles to place tickets on their dashboards. That is the type used at Bowling Green State University. The pay by space would require the drivers to see the parking space numbers, which may be difficult in the winter. The pay by plate requires the driver to punch in their license plate number. The kiosk will accept coins, cash or credit cards. Those who pay with credit cards can add more time by using their smart phones if they end up needing extra time for the parking spot, Fawcett said. The rates and time limits for the lots won’t change. According to Fawcett, the idea of switching from parking meters to kiosks came up when city officials were discussing repaving the parking lot. “We didn’t want to punch hundreds of holes in the parking lot right after paving,” he said. The benefits of changing over to kiosks include: Replacement parts are more difficult to find and are becoming more expensive for the outdated parking meters. Increased efficiency to clear the parking lot following snow storms. Reduced maintenance for special events such as the Black Swamp Arts Festival. Reduced maintenance costs associated with parking blocks, meter poles and meters. Keep newly repaved parking lot intact. The three kiosks will cost the city $37,000. The city’s parking technicians will still patrol the parking lots, but now they will carry hand-held devices that will tell them which cars have expired time. The parking lot will be repaved around July 11, and the kiosks will be installed sometime in August. Until they are placed, the parking will be free. According to Fawcett, this parking lot is just the first of six lots where city officials would like to change meters to kiosks. “They seem to be working pretty well at BGSU,” Fawcett said. The city lots will be changed over as they need repaving. The next in line is the parking lot behind the Clazel. “We will certainly take lessons from this and apply them to the next ones,” he said. Mary Hinkelman, managing director of Downtown BG, said most of the business owners in the downtown area like the change to parking kiosks. “I’m hearing good things,” Hinkelman said. “They’re excited it’s coming,” especially the app that allows shoppers or diners to add time to their parking space through their smart phones – without having to…

Easement granted for Brathaus expansion

By DAVID DUPONT BG INDEPENDENT NEWS The Bowling Green Board of Public Utilities approved an easement that will allow Brathaus on East Court Street to expand. Utilities Director Brian O’Connell said that Doug Doren, who owns the bar, wants to extend the bar, but that would place a building over a manhole. The city would redirect the sewer, which now heads north toward Oak Street, to connect with the line down South Main Street. While digging, O’Connell said, the city will bury the utilities lines. That will allow it to take down a large laminant utility pole across the street from Brathaus on East Court. O’Connell said that the estimate for doing the work was more than Doren had anticipated, so the expansion may be delayed until spring. O’Connell said he would discuss the project with the owner. O’Connell suggested that the city share the expense of the project by assuming the cost of burying the electric lines, which is not essential for the bar expansion to proceed. That work would benefit the city, he said. Doren controls most of the neighboring properties, but the Gavarone family, which owns Mr. Spots, would have to agree. In voting for the easement, board member Bill Culbertson said: “It’s a good idea. It cleans things up.” The board also approved an easement for a water line to cross the parking lot in front of the Dairy Queen. That line now dead ends where Grant Street bumps into the railroad tracks. That causes concerns for water pressure in the case of a fire. That line will now connect with the line that runs up East Wooster Street. That would also enable further improvements if the six-inch line that now runs down Enterprise Street is upgraded to an eight-inch line. Answering a query from Mayor Dick Edwards, Daryl Stockburger, assistant utilities director, explained that one of the wind turbines is not operating because the city is waiting for parts for a gearbox. Wind turbine parts, he said, come from around the world, and the turbines, now 15 years old, are requiring more maintenance. Some suppliers are no longer even in business. Also repair crews must be dispatched from New York or Minnesota.  

Registered voters purged from Ohio rolls … including 3,424 in Wood County

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than 3,400 registered voters in Wood County were purged from the voting rolls last year. Following a directive from the Ohio Secretary of State, 3,424 registered voters were dropped in August of 2015. The state’s directive is telling county boards of election to wipe voters from the rolls if they have shown “no voter initiated activity” since the last two federal elections. That “activity” includes voting, signing petitions or filing for a change of address. Wood County Board of Elections Director Terry Burton explained the process requires the office to send out postcards to registered voters who have not voted in the last two federal elections. That postcard is basically asking the citizen, “Are you still there?” Burton said. If the citizen getting the postcard does not respond, their status goes “inactive,” however, they can still vote, Burton said. But if the person has four more years of no voting activity, they are kicked off the rolls. “Those people get purged,” Burton said. “After eight years and a mailing,” he said. “I don’t think that’s a real stringent bar.” But Mike Zickar, who serves on the county board of elections, sees it differently. “I see it as a clear violation of law,” Zickar said, adding that national voter law forbids removing people from rolls due to their voting inactivity. “Very few states are throwing people off for not voting.” A federal lawsuit against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has added to debate among voting rights activists and elected officials during the 2016 election cycle. The lawsuit is asking the court to stop the purging process from going forward, and for other purged voters to be re-instated ahead of the November 2016 election. The suit alleges that because so much attention is on the presidential race this year, a much larger number of infrequent Ohio voters will be “denied the opportunity to cast a vote that counts.” According to Zickar, studies show that a disproportionate number of minority voters are thrown off of rolls during purging efforts. But Husted maintains that the purging is legal and that over the past five years, his office has removed 465,000 deceased voters and 1.3 million duplicate registrations. Zickar is pleased that Husted’s office is being sued over its directives, but worries that a ruling could come too late for this fall’s election. “I would guess we will find out pretty soon,” on the initial ruling, but that will almost certainly be appealed, Zickar said. According to Burton, the federal rules are basically the same, but in Ohio, the purging process is done every year, not every other. He added that in recent years, under Husted’s leadership, Ohio boards of elections have gotten more serious about reviewing their rolls. “For a long time, we weren’t doing purges. We were just adding,” Burton said. That change in emphasis may be why the process is being questioned, he added. “The newness of the purges is causing some of the angst.” Of the 3,424 Wood County voters purged last August, none of them voted provisionally in November 2015 or March 2016, according to Dale David, of the Wood County Board of Elections. None of those purged have re-registered in the county, he added. “We don’t ever remove anybody…

Trash and recycling pickup changed for July 4

The City of Bowling Green offices will be closed on Monday, July 4 in observation of Independence Day. As a result, the following refuse and recycling collection schedule will be followed: – Regular Monday collection will be collected on Tuesday – Regular Tuesday collection will be collected on Wednesday – Regular Wednesday collection will be collected on Thursday – Regular Thursday collection will be collected on Friday Questions about this schedule or the city’s refuse/recycling program may be directed to the Public Works Department at 419-354- 6227.

Napoleon Road to be closed for waterline work

Beginning Wednesday, June 29, until Friday, July 1, Napoleon Road from Campbell Hill to Cherryhill will be closed to through traffic between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. each day. The closure is required due to a water service line installation. For more information, please contact Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection at 419-354-6277.

Door-to-door checks net dog owners without licenses

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than 550 door-to-door checks for unlicensed dogs in Wood County have netted several owners who have neglected to get dog tags. The license can be a lost dog’s ticket back home – plus it’s the law in Ohio that every dog has one. So from March to November, county dog shelter employees will be going door-to-door checking to see if owners have complied. At times, it just doesn’t work for citizens to conceal their canines when county dog shelter workers come knocking. “Sometimes they answer the door and the dog comes up with them,” Wood County Dog Warden Andrew Snyder said, smiling. The dog owners are given a chance to buy the licenses then and there. “We want them to voluntarily comply, not to issue citations,” Snyder said. Normally, citations are only issued if the dog warden’s staff finds repeat offenders, who have an annual habit of only buying dog licenses once they are caught without one. “There are people who try to get away with it every year,” Snyder told the Wood County Commissioners during a meeting on Thursday. Staff members are visiting homes that previously had licensed dogs, and some addresses picked at random. “That’s the only way to find people that have never registered their dogs,” Snyder said. In March, the checks were done in Haskins and Northwood. In April they were conducted in Northwood, Jerry City, Bloomdale, Pemberville, Perrysburg, North Baltimore, Weston, Portage and Cygnet. And in May, the checks were done in Bowling Green, Custar, Walbridge, Perrysburg, Rudolph, Weston, Risingsun, Bradner and Wayne. Door-to-door license checks will continue until November, with another 1,800 residences in the county on the list to be checked. Snyder also reported on the overall sales of dog licenses in the county. So far this year, there have been 20,243 issued, which is 595 fewer than last year, and 817 fewer than the highest year on record. Snyder explained that the county had been seeing a decline in dog licenses recently. “We weren’t implementing enough of these checks,” he said. “They keep people on their toes.” The county has also seen an increase in the number of dog owners buying multi-year licenses, so they don’t have to renew them so often. Snyder also updated the commissioners on statistics for dogs picked up by staff or dropped off at the shelter. The shelter has an 85.9 percent “live release rate,” not factoring in the dogs deemed “non-adoptable” because they are aggressive or injured. So far this year, the shelter has taken in nearly 200 dogs. Of those, 80 dogs have been redeemed by their owners; 85 have been adopted with 24 of those by rescue operations; and 27 were euthanized.

Camping out close to home in Wood County

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   While some people want to be pampered on vacations, others prefer sleeping bags to luxury accommodations and lightning bugs to chandeliers. They want little more than a body of water where they can cast a line, and a fire pit where they can roast marshmallows. For these folks, Wood County does have a few spots where people can pitch their tents or park their campers. True, there are no geysers, great mountain peaks or grand herds of bison, but the local campgrounds give people a taste of a nature without the travel time. The three campgrounds are at Mary Jane Thurston State Park on the edge of Grand Rapids; Fire Lake just south of Bowling Green; and Buttonwood in Perrysburg Township. “People in Wood County don’t even know this park is here,” Al Alvord, campground host, said about Mary Jane Thurston that sits on the banks of the Maumee River. But Alvord is hoping that recent work at the campground will put it on the map for local residents. “We’ve just made vast improvements,” he said, including adding showers at the marina and putting in electricity to 22 of the 37 campsites. “It has finally happened.” In addition to beautiful views along the river and plenty of fishing spots, the site also features concessions and a day use lodge built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The campground is a stopping point for people traveling through on bicycles, and for local people looking for a mini-vacation from home. “We have people who come here from Weston,” Alvord said. “They come out and enjoy the peace and quiet and solitude.” Some hike trails, some walk the towpath to Grand Rapids, some launch their boats from the marina, and some dip a line in the river. Just the other day, a camper caught a 48-inch flathead catfish, Alvord said. Some campers make the short drive from Bowling Green. “They get away from it all. I’d much rather be in the park.” According to Alvord, who has been host at Mary Jane Thurston for 15 years and who operates Weenie Dog Concessions there, the campground is a “great place to wake up.” “It’s Wood County’s best kept secret,” he said of the only state park in the county. “People are missing out on a great time out here.” On the southern edge of Bowling Green sits Fire Lake Campground, where campers can swim in the lake, ride pedal boats, use the playground, and play volleyball and basketball. The fishing is catch and release, except for blue gill. The campground has three rustic cabins available for rental, a camp store and game room. Most of the 138 sites at Fire Lake are used by regulars, who stay at the campground off and on every summer, said Jennifer Gladieux, who owns the site with her husband, Martin. The majority of the campers live within 45 minutes of Fire Lake. “They don’t want to drive, and their kids have sports,” Gladieux said. The location allows families to run to the ball park for games, then return to the campground. At the same time, it allows them to escape the everyday duties at home. By being minutes from home, campers can return to their residences to mow the lawn, then…

Closing time for Jed’s but downtown still open for business

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Jed’s, home of chicken Fireballs, has flamed out in downtown. Still the owner of the Millikin Hotel building on downtown Bowling Green’s Four Corner is confident he’ll find a new tenant for the former Jed’s space. The sports bar and grill closed for business on Monday. A call to the owners has not been returned. Bob Maurer, who owns the building, said all he knows about why the business closed is “just economics.” The Jed’s restaurant in Perrysburg remains open. “Any time you lose a tenant you want to know what happened, what you could have done to avoid it,” Maurer said. “It’s a good spot. Somebody’s always looking,” he said. “Some people’s problems are another person’s opportunity.” He expects that given there’s been a restaurant in that spot for well over 10 years that another eatery is the most likely option. Maurer expects to have it filled in “four to six months.” Overall Maurer said downtown Bowling Green “is doing extremely well.” He said that compared to Fremont or Napoleon, or even Findlay, Bowling Green’s downtown is thriving. He praised Mayor Dick Edwards and Sue Clark, the executive director of the Community Development Foundation, for their efforts. The Jed’s space in the second vacancy to open up on the Four Corners in the past two months. The Mosaic Consignment shop, which sits kitty-corner from the former Jed’s, closed in May. But that space is already undergoing renovation as another business prepares to occupy it.