Community

Police seek information in Glanz homicide

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than three years after being found dead in her Bowling Green home, the homicide of Dawn Glanz is still unsolved. Investigators want anyone with a possible piece to the puzzle to step forward. Bowling Green Police Division issued a release Thursday asking that anyone with information about her death come forward – even if that information seems insignificant. Glanz, 66, a professor of art history at Bowling Green State University, was found dead in her home on Kensington Boulevard in Bowling Green on May 9, 2013. She was the wife of Robert A. Brown, of Toledo, and stepmother to Josh Brown, of Sylvania. In December 2013, Glanz’s death was ruled a homicide by the Wood County Coroner. The autopsy found that she suffered a sharp force injury of the scalp and was stabbed by an assailant. Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick said this morning that no new information has surfaced about the case, and that the police believe someone has details that could help them solve the case. “We want to keep this in the forefront,” Hetrick said. “We don’t want people to forget we have this unsolved homicide.” “We believe someone has information and for one reason or another hasn’t shared it,” the chief said. Hetrick said the police division will not give up on finding Glanz’s killer. “We’re not going to give up on this case. It’s been a couple years, but we’ve had cases go longer and then solved them,” he said. “Somebody out there knows something,” Hetrick said. “It may seem insignificant, but it might be a vital clue to us.” The press release sent out by the police division states: “If you saw or heard anything, no matter how small it may seem, or have any information as to what may have happened at Dawn’s home on the night of May 8, 2013 or the early morning of May 9, 2013, we would appreciate it if you would contact the Bowling Green Police Division at (419) 352-2571 or call CRIME STOPPERS at (419) 352-0077. “Even a very small piece is needed to complete a puzzle,” the police release states. “Do you have one of the missing pieces?”  


Sign language – variance granted for hotel LED sign

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A variance was granted Wednesday evening which will help a local business owner compete with the big flashy signs closer to the interstate. The Bowling Green Zoning Board of Appeals voted to grant a variance for a new larger LED sign for the Best Western hotel at 1450 E. Wooster St. The variance was requested by Harmon Sign to allow an 18-foot tall and 58.8-square-foot sign, which would encroach 17 feet into the 25-foot front yard setback. Nelson Pixler, of Harmon Sign, said the new electronic message sign is all part of a rebranding effort at the Best Western location. The new sign will not be any taller than the current sign, and will allow the owner to use the existing foundation. “It certainly will spruce up the area with the new look,” Pixler said. The hotel also has a very tall pole sign that was granted a variance in 1991, according to City Prosecutor Matt Reger. Paul Bishop, the son of Best Western owner Jake Bishop, explained the effort to rebrand the hotel, locally called the Falcon Plaza. Approximately $400,000 has already been spent on renovating the common areas, conference rooms, lobby and breakfast area. “I’m very proud of what we’ve done,” Bishop said. Next on the list is upgrading of all the individual hotel rooms, which should be completed next year. Though part of Best Western, the hotel will retain its local flair as the Falcon Plaza. “We intend to keep that as part of the identity,” Bishop said. Not only will the new LED sign be more noticeable to motorists, but it will no longer require the messages to be posted by hand, Bishop said. However, the Falcon Plaza will continue to post localized messages – which the community seems to appreciate, he said. Bishop explained that the new signage is needed to stand out with all the other signs closer to the Interstate 75 interchange. “When you are coming west, we are competing with signs to the east of our property,” he said. The LED sign will cost $18,000, he added. “We’ve been a long term business here in Bowling Green, and we intend to carry on my father’s work there,” Bishop said. Approval of the variance was supported by local developer Al…


Green space still in limbo; BG offered Wood Lane home for expansion of city site

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The city of Bowling Green is still looking for a home for municipal offices. That’s what worries some residents, who don’t want to see the city’s new home built on the green space where the old junior high used to sit. City council has not addressed the issue since mid-April, when a consultant presented plans for a new city building sharing the green space area. So Monday evening, citizen Carol Kinsey asked council where the plans stand for the open space. Council president Mike Aspacher explained that there had been “no development.” The mayor and city administration are looking at all the alternatives for a new city building. He asked that citizens “be patient,” and added that the citizens’ support of saving the green space has not gone unnoticed. “We get that. We understand that,” Aspacher said. Council member Sandy Rowland assured that once the issue moves out of the council committee, public input will again be sought. “There’s a lot of interest in what’s happening,” Rowland said. One option to give the city offices more space occurred recently when Wood Lane officials asked if the city would be interested in buying the house just to the north of the city building on North Church Street. The house is used as a group home for individuals with developmental disabilities. “That house is certainly available,” said Mayor Dick Edwards. But the city has no plans to purchase the property, he added. “We have no immediate need for it.” Aspacher said “a very brief conversation” was held about the property and an appraisal was going to be done since Wood Lane would be able to sell the site to another governmental agency for the appraisal price. The city briefly considered using the site for additional parking. But Aspacher said he does not like the idea of tearing down a quality older home like the Wood Lane home. “Just speaking for myself, I’m a little bit tired of tearing down buildings,” Aspacher said. Edwards echoed that sentiment. “I appreciate the fact that it has a long history there,” he said of the home. The mayor reaffirmed his commitment to keeping the city building in the downtown area. “We’re looking at a range of possible options,” he said. But he also…


Communities compromise to get block grants

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In an era of political bickering and obstinance, Wood County Planning Commission saw a rare example of compromise and cooperation Tuesday evening. As usual during the annual awarding of Community Development Block Grants, the planning commission had far more requests than there was funding. Seven towns asked for a total of $307,800, but the county had just $162,000 to hand out. Each town described its request, with the mayor or other official giving their best pitch. “Now’s the hard part,” Dave Steiner, director of the county planning commission, said of the selection process. “The state puts us in the position of only selecting four and the money is finite,” said commission member John Alexander. The commission weighed the value of the projects and the amounts the towns were willing to pay on their own. And then they tried to shuffle the projects around to meet the winning combination of $162,000 – but with no success. So instead of digging in and defending their requests, the four towns on the top of the funding list all agreed to shave some money off their requests and try to come up with more funding own their own. So when the math was done, the following communities got funding: Bairdstown, through the efforts of the Northwestern Water and Sewer District, will get $40,000 to help low and moderate income homeowners pay for sewer lateral installation costs. The town had asked for $50,000. Bairdstown is the last village in Wood County to get public sewers for its 50 homes. “There are a lot of low income and fixed income people,” in the village, Mayor Jerry Ickes said. Bradner will get $50,000 to replace 715 feet of water main on Main Street, plus add two new fire hydrants. The village had asked for $55,000 and was already putting $122,107 toward the project. “It’s gonna be a squeeze,” but the village should be able to complete the project with that amount, said Jim Smith, of the Bradner Board of Public Affairs. Walbridge will get $36,500 to demolish the existing stairs, construct new ADA ramps and replace a door at the village’s new location of the municipal building and senior center. The village asked for $41,300, and was already putting $4,590 toward the project. Kenneth…


BG puts park and rec levy on fall ballot

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council members seem to be worried the city levy on the November ballot won’t be a walk in the park. Council agreed unanimously Monday evening to ask for voter approval for a 2-mill property tax levy lasting five years for the city’s parks and recreation department. The levy is an increase from the current 1.4-mill levy. Each council member voiced strong support for the levy, but also concern about conveying a strong message to voters. “If it were not to pass, they would lose it all. It would pretty much be a disaster,” said council member Bob McOmber. The biggest hurdle to passing an increased levy amount is explaining to the public why it is needed, he said. “This has nothing to do with expanding the park system in any way,” McOmber said. Instead, the increased funding is purely for “critical” maintenance needs. Council member Sandy Rowland agreed that the levy campaign must convey the need. “It’s extremely important to make this crystal clear what the increase is for,” Rowland said. “This is what it’s going to take just to maintain our wonderful park system.” Council members Bruce Jeffers and Daniel Gordon spoke of the quality park system in place, and Theresa Charters Gavarone noted the park buildings “in dire need of repair.” Mike Aspacher echoed that concern. “Action is becoming critical to save some of these resources.” Mayor Dick Edwards complimented council for taking its time with the levy request. “You raised some very fundamental questions.” Now, the responsibility shifts to the park and recreation board and levy committee to convince voters. “Now the heavy lifting begins,” Edwards said. The city 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, according to Kristin Otley, director of the parks and recreation department. Also during that 16-year period, several maintenance projects were deferred. 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 Park. And the 10-year-old community center is in need of maintenance. The current levy generates $637,400 a year. A…


Parking meters expiring…BG eyes kiosks instead

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Before long, motorists will not have to pump coins into meters in parking lots in downtown Bowling Green. But that doesn’t mean the end of those pesky yellow tickets. Instead of feeding the meter, motorists will have to pay the kiosk. Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter reported to City Council Monday evening that as lighting and utility improvements were being discussed for Lot 2, located east of the first block of South Main Street, the issue of replacing the parking meters with kiosks was suggested. The idea had “numerous advantages,” according to Tretter. The lot would be more attractive aesthetically, easier to maintain, and fit the city’s long-term plan, she said. When discussing plans to resurface all the parking lots downtown, another question arose. “Does it make sense to pave this lot then punch holes in it,” Tretter said. And since the parking meters in Lot 2 are removed for the annual Black Swamp Arts Festival every September, it would make further sense to replace them with kiosks, she added. Initially, three kiosks will be spread throughout Lot 2. If it is determined that isn’t enough, the city will add more. The kiosks would accept coins, cash or credit cards. Motorists would have to enter their license plate numbers into the kiosk when paying. The time limits will remain the same, with two hours in the parking spaces closer to South Main Street, and 10 hours for those closer to South Prospect Street. Lot 2 will just be the first lot to lose meters, according to Tretter. “We plan to implement this in all city lots in coming years,” she said. Information about the kiosk parking plan will be made available in the gallery at Four Corners, 130 S. Main St. Officials will be available in the gallery to discuss the new system on June 28, at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. In other business Monday evening, council: Learned the next Coffee with a Cop will be held June 29, from 8 to 10 a.m. at Biggby Coffee on East Wooster Street. Heard the city will “Pause for the Pledge” on June 14, at 10 a.m. in the area between the Wood County District Public Library and the Wood County Committee on Aging. A program on…


Rally to teach survival skills, firearm training

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Survivalist skills are the special this weekend at Woodland Mall. Classes will teach how to start a fire, set a snare, suture a wound, and reload a gun. “All the classes are basic survival classes,” said Nick Getzinger, state executive officer to the president of the Ohio Oath Keepers, which is holding a multi-state rally at the mall in Bowling Green on Saturday and Sunday. “If there’s a major disaster, these classes teach people to survive.” It’s not just natural disasters the Oath Keepers want people to prepare for. The group also trains for manmade, governmental or financial crises. “If someone attacks us, we want to make sure people can survive it,” Getzinger, of the Weston area, said earlier this year when announcing the rally. Some of the classes will also be geared toward “preppers,” or “homesteaders,” and will teach skills like food preservation and canning. The classes will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The public is invited to attend. Getzinger said overnight camping will be allowed in the mall parking lot for Oath Keeper members. However, a city official said Monday evening that no zoning permit has been granted for the camping. Getzinger said Monday he is unsure how many members of the organization might attend, though he is estimating between 100 and 200. Originally, the Oath Keepers had hoped that members with permits would be able to carry concealed weapons in the mall. However, Getzinger said the mall’s ban will stay in effect during the rally. “We chucked that out the window,” he said. “Our members are all survivalists. They all carry. They are supporters of the Second Amendment.” But the members will have to obey the mall rules, Getzinger said. Classes like the marksmanship training will be held offsite. Getzinger said the Oath Keepers is not a radical organization. The members believe in the U.S. Constitution and in being prepared in case of crises. The group is made up of current and former military, police, fire and EMS personnel, who took an oath to serve the country. “That pledge did not have an expiration date,” he said. “This is the greatest country on the planet,” he said earlier this year. “We want…


BG Police teach how to avoid becoming a victim

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Self defense is much more than learning to take down a purse snatcher. Much of self defense is planning ahead to avoid putting out a welcome sign for criminals. Post pictures from your vacations, but wait till you’re home. Criminals look at shots of you smiling on the beach as an invitation to burglarize your home. Walk with confidence with your eyes on your surroundings. Texting while you walk, with a purse hanging from your shoulder makes you an easy target for thieves. And when in danger, yell “fire” rather than “help.” People rush to help fire victims, but are likely to start recording video of other crimes. About 50 people attended a self defense class last week taught by Bowling Green Police Detective Andy Mulinix and patrol officers Scott Frank and Robin Short. The class, held at Wood County Hospital, was attended primarily by females ranging from young girls to senior citizens. The class started out with instruction, then moved to physical techniques. The officers stressed that no technique is foolproof. “Whatever works best for you. Whatever you’re comfortable with, use it,” Frank said. “Better to do something than nothing.” To set the mood, a video was played showing crimes against innocent victims – an attack in an elevator, the theft of a purse from a woman strolling down the street, theft from a car as someone pumped gas, and a home beating taped by a baby-cam. “We got a crazy world out there. We’ve got to be a little more vigilant,” Mulinix said. The officers warned that local residents should not be complacent just because they live in a small city like Bowling Green. “A lot of people think that Bowling Green is such a safe community,” Mulinix said. “Bad stuff happens in Bowling Green.” Every crime has three components – a victim, a criminal and an opportunity. So if a person narrows the window of opportunity for the criminal, then they are less likely to become a victim, Frank said. For example, don’t walk into a dark parking lot alone, looking down, unaware of the surroundings. “You look like a victim waiting to happen,” Frank said. Don’t leave doors unlocked. Criminals are lazy, Frank said, and will walk from car to car, or house…


Brown Bag Food Project replenishes its shelves

This past Friday and Saturday, the Brown Bag Food Project was stationed outside of Walmart to collect food donations. We would like to recognize the generous people of Wood County and surrounding areas for making this a success. It was wonderful to talk to so many giving people. We offered a short shopping list of food and hygiene item choices for shoppers to buy. The response was overwhelming. We, the board members, would like to say thank you to all who donated and stopped by to talk about the problem of food insecurity in Wood County. Also, an extra loud thank you goes out for those of you that volunteered your time to sit at our table. With your continued help, we truly can make a difference. Brown Bag Food Project continually accepts donations and volunteers who are interested in helping those in need. Please take a moment to check us out: brownbagfoodproject.org or on Facebook at Brown Bag Food Project Wood County Ohio.  Contact us at 419-960-5345.   Thank You, Brown Bag Food Project


Simpson Garden site for open air celebration of the arts

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Bowling Green Arts Council is hoping to establish a new event on the city’s arts calendar. Friday, June 10, the council along with Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department will host Art in the Park on the grounds of Simpson Garden Park, 1291 Conneaut Ave., from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. This is the event’s second year. Art in the Park is intended as a low key summer night’s excursion, said Jacqueline Nathan, president of the arts council. “The original thought was it’d be plein air (open air) painting and music in the park. “The arts council wanted to have some signature event and work with the community.” Paintings will set up their easels throughout the park, capturing the early summer beauty in paint. In its second year, the event has added elements. This year, thanks to the sponsorship of the Montessori School and the Parks and Recreation Department, there will be interactive activities for children organized by the Montessori staff. Adults will also have a chance to work on a community stain glass project with the guidance of noted stained glass artist Gail Christofferson. The finished work will be displayed at the community center. Theater will be presented in the amphitheater. The Black Swamp Players will present a short one-act play, “The Spot,” by Steven Dietz at 5 and 6 p.m. “The Spot” is a satirical look at how political campaign managers approach their candidates’ TV commercials. Horizon Youth Theatre will present an excerpt from its upcoming musical production “Honk!” at 5:30 and 6:30. The show is a modern adaptation by Anthony Drewe of the Hans Christian Andersen story “The Ugly Duckling.” Musicians will be stationed and strolling throughout the garden. Performing will be the Grande Royale Ükulelists of the Black Swamp (GRÜBS) with Sheri Wells-Jensen, Jason Wells-Jensen, Anne Kidder and Geoff Howes and the Root Cellar Band featuring Lucy Long and friends. Also playing will be students from the Bowling Green State University’s Doctor of Musical Arts in Contemporary Music. Derek Emch, clarinet, and Michiko Saiki, vocal, will perform “Hmmm, Nah.” Performing solo will be Nick Zoulek, saxophone, and Aaron Hynds, tuba. Biggby’s and arts council members will provide refreshments. Nathan said that the event was scheduled for a Friday evening so “people could come after work and would be a nice evening…


City interviews consultants for neighborhood revitalization

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is one step closer to a revitalization plan for the northeast and southeast neighborhoods of the city. City Planning Director Heather Sayler reported to the city planning commission on Wednesday that interviews had been conducted with consulting firms interested in taking on the revitalization project. Sayler said it was very important that the proposals considered the community’s traits. “As a college town, we are a different animal than the typical community,” she said. It was also quite important that the consulting firm knows how to collect input from the neighborhoods, Sayler said. “How will they handle engagement with the community?” City council agreed earlier this year to contract with a consulting firm to develop a strategic revitalization plan for the northeast and the southeast quadrants of the city. Among other goals, the plan will look at fixing neglected and abused housing. When offering background information to the possible consultants, city officials said the east side has been impacted by its proximity to BGSU, “which has created a magnet for student rental properties.” “Over the years, the character of these neighborhoods has changed from single-family owner-occupied homes into an area dominated by rental properties geared toward students, compounded by aging stock and lowered property values,” the background information stated. For the northeast neighborhood, the challenge is to return the blocks to family-orientation, and modify infrastructure and regulations to promote the northeast blocks to BGSU graduate students, university staff, alumni and other families. The goals for the northeast neighborhood are: Stop and then reverse “apartmentalization” of houses. Improve livability and aesthetics. Encourage health and fitness. Allow transition uses and higher densities. The challenge for the southeast neighborhood is to upgrade the character and livability of the blocks to make the whole quadrant more appealing to students as well as other types of residents. By doing so, the plan can help BGSU become more competitive and take advantage of the infrastructure already available to make a quality neighborhood. The goals for the southeast quadrant are: Enhance aesthetics. Establish new development that creates high livability. Encourage health and fitness. Create positive first impressions. The strategic plan will focus on how to attract the city’s target market of young professionals, educated and skilled, into the neighborhoods. “We’ve been talking about…


Inmates addicted to opiates will get drug to help them kick habits

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For some opiate addicts, the most dangerous time is right after being released from jail or a treatment facility. They fall in with old friends, then old bad habits. The risks are even greater at that point, since their bodies are no long accustomed to the opiate amounts they used before. When that tolerance for the drug is gone, deadly overdoses are more likely to occur. So Wood County officials are looking at offering inmates injections of one drug, in order to help them beat the addiction of another drug – opiates, with heroin being the most notorious of the drug group. “Heroin is a different beast than we’ve dealt with before,” said Cary Williams, executive director of the Northwest Community Corrections Center located in Bowling Green. To give inmates a better chance at kicking opiates, they will be offered one dose of Vivitrol, an injectable drug that acts as an “opiate antagonist. It limits the body’s ability to get high,” explained Charlie Hughes, program director of the corrections center. By reducing the cravings and the pleasurable effects of the opiates, Vivitrol gives addicts a better chance of kicking the drugs. “So life without drugs seems possible,” Hughes said. Williams, Hughes and Joni Bretz, of Wood County Adult Probation Department, presented a program on Vivitrol to the Wood County Commissioners on Thursday, and asked for the board’s support of offering the drug at the community corrections center. The commissioners supported the efforts and agreed to spending up to $25,000 for one year, which would cover at least 19 inmates from Wood County who qualify for the Vivitrol.  Of the 54 Wood County residents in the corrections center, 35 percent have opiate issues. Just this week, Vivitrol also began being used at Wood County Justice Center, for Wood County residents with opiate addictions. “We are definitely on board with doing that,” Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said. The average opiate addict trying to get clean has seven relapses before being successful, according to Tom Clemons, executive director of the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board. “It’s normal for people to relapse,” Clemons said. And relapse after being clean in jail or treatment is particularly dangerous. According to WCADAMHS stats, someone dies from an opiate-related…


Tall grass keeps neighbors annoyed and city busy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The grass may be greener on the other side of the fence – but it may also be taller, which could get your neighbor a notice about grass and noxious weed violations. This is the time of year when spring rains bring on rapid grass growth, catching some homeowners unprepared or unwilling to deal with their grass and wayward weeds. “Spring is always the worst, with the onslaught of the rain,” said Jason Westgate, Bowling Green’s code enforcement officer. Westgate estimated the city has issued 10 to 20 grass and weed notices each day during the month of May. It’s like a summer version of the city’s snow shoveling ordinance. If landowners don’t take care of the property themselves, then the city will – and send the owners the bill. “During rainy spells, we try to give people time to catch up,” Westgate said. “But we had a lot of people calling to complain that neighbors haven’t mowed and the grass was getting knee-high.” The city’s tall grass and noxious weed ordinance sets the maximum allowed grass height at 8 inches, and prohibits particularly unruly weeds like wild mustard, musk thistle, giant hogweed and poison hemlock, as suggested by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. So like every other springtime, code enforcement has again been busy trying to remind residents of the rules. “It depends on when the warm weather comes and the rain hits. Then it becomes a perfect storm,” said Heather Sayler, city planning director. Several of the violations are reported by unhappy neighbors, and others are spotted by the code enforcement officer. Some involve foreclosed homes, others are rentals that are unused in the summer, and others are just neglected. Sayler said some resident wait to mow until they get notices. “It’s time consuming,” for the city, she said. “It’s so time consuming, but it’s important,” especially for limiting mosquitoes and other critters. When tall grass or weed outbreaks are reported, a letter is posted on the offending home and a notification is sent in the mail. “Sometimes it upsets people when they get that letter,” Sayler said. “We try to make it a nice letter,” not very threatening. “But it also has to have a little bit of teeth,” to get some homeowners to…


New business park planned in Crossroads area

A new business park, promising hundreds of new jobs, is being planned in the Crossroads area of Wood County. NAI Harmon Group today announced its plans to purchase an 87-acre piece of land from the carpenters union for development of a Class “A” business park, the Harmon Business Park, located within Crossroads property. The announcement was made at a Wood County Economic Development meeting this morning. “It’s a great opportunity for Rossford and the Crossroads,” said Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission. “It’s going to provide some much needed development up in that area.” NAI Harmon Group is looking to attract at least 10 end users, totaling hundreds of new jobs for the area in the coming years. The first tenant to the park is slated to break ground in the third quarter of this year. The entire investment is projected to cost more than $75 million upon completion. The Harmon Business Park sits alongside Interstate 75, Ohio 795, and the Ohio Turnpike to attract warehouse/distribution and light manufacturing users. Also, the park will be within an existing TARTA route that will make it easier for employees to access their new jobs. “I am committed to developing this project to the fullest and believe we must create jobs and opportunities to build a strong central metro area,” said Ed Harmon, president of the NAI Harmon Group. The announcement was good news for Rossford officials. “I believe this is the anchor the City of Rossford and Wood County needs to redevelop the Crossroads,” said Neil MacKinnon, mayor of Rossford. NAI Harmon Group plans to partner with the City of Rossford and Wood County to accomplish this project. Harmon is working alongside the City of Rossford to address road, water and sewer infrastructure needs and zoning changes that will allow the area to expand now and in the future. “This new business park and facilities will be designed to meet the demands that we are seeing in the market today,” Harmon said. “I have been meeting with seven possible users for the Harmon Business park and I look forward to developing the property,” Stephanie Kuhlman, senior development agent for NAI Harmon Group. NAI Harmon Group offers commercial real estate services including marketing, warehousing, logistics, construction, property management and more. NAI Harmon group…


Lack of skilled labor slows some local manufacturers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Graduating high school students have long looked at college as the route to financial security and prestige. But more and more, it’s a ticket to great debt and frustrating job searches. For years, parents have propelled their offspring toward professions needing college degrees. “That’s where you make money,” said Sue Clark, executive director of the Bowling Green Economic Development Foundation. “But that just isn’t true anymore.” “Parents want kids to be something other than in manufacturing,” Clark said. But those parental dreams are based on outdated beliefs that industry is hard, dirty work with little reward. Today’s manufacturers are “very high tech, very clean, and very well-paid,” she said. During her annual report on economic development in Bowling Green, Clark talked about healthy growth in the city. Manufacturing jobs had reached 4,000 – the highest ever in the city. “Our companies keep reinvesting in themselves,” she said. “We now have more employees in the manufacturing sector than the university does.” But that growth, along with the low 3.7 percent local unemployment rate, poses a problem of its own. “While I paint a rosy picture, we’re not without our concerns,” Clark said. “Finding good employees is at the top of our list.” The top complaint from industries in Bowling Green is the lack of skilled trade workers, she said. In fact, some manufacturers have reported that they have been turning down work and foregoing expansions because they cannot find the needed workforce. “While we are a university town, we still value plumbers, electricians, die makers and machinists,” Clark said. Some training programs, like union apprentice programs, Penta Career Center and Owens Community College, are responding to the need. But while they are “filling the pipeline,” it’s not solving the problem right now, she said. One of the Bowling Green industries feeling the pinch of not enough skilled trades people is Rosenboom Machine & Tool Inc., which makes custom hydraulic cylinders. “I’ve had difficulty finding the skilled positions I need,” said Dee Meyer, head of Rosenboom human resources. The biggest need is for computer numerical control machinists. The lack of CNC machinists poses two problems. “It keeps us behind in serving our customers,” Meyer said. “And it takes more overtime to get the job done.” While Meyer said a…