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…

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…

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…

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.    

Applebee’s restaurant looks at location in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar is interested in making Bowling Green its new neighbor. The casual dining restaurant has requested a variance from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals to allow more parking spots than now permitted at a site at 1175 S. Main St., near Home Depot on the south edge of the city. “The city has definitely been in communication” with representatives of Applebee’s, said Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards. The city’s planning director, Heather Sayler, has been working with an Applebee’s representative to find a location for the restaurant, he said. “They definitely have been showing interest,” the mayor said Friday evening. “They were looking at different sites,” specifically along East Wooster Street near Interstate 75, Edwards said. But the restaurant chain seemed more interested in the South Main Street location, closer to U.S. 6 traffic. Edwards said he knows few details right now, with most of the discussions taking place between intermediaries. “It certainly piques my interest,” the mayor said, explaining that Applebee’s is a standby for some travelers. “As we travel around, we often stop there.” The arrival of an Applebee’s in Bowling Green could end the drought of chain restaurants building in the city. And it could quiet the claims that city officials won’t allow chains to locate in Bowling Green since chains might draw business from locally-owned establishments – a charge that the mayor denies. “There’s been no effort by the city to keep out chain restaurants,” Edwards said. “In fact, it’s been quite the opposite.” “Quite the contrary,” he said, explaining that Bowling Green is stuck in a “peculiar web” between Findlay, Perrysburg and Toledo. “And that’s what they look at,” often overlooking Bowling Green. Edwards also mentioned that the city values its locally-owned restaurants. “We cherish those establishments,” he said. Applebee’s variance request will be heard by the Zoning Board of Appeals on July 13, at 7 p.m., in the city council chambers at 304 N. Church St. The request seeks a variance to allow 11 parking spaces that will encroach 5 feet into the required 5-foot setback to the north and east.

Optimal Aging Institute hires administrator & schedules community fair

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS BGSU’s new Optimal Aging Institute (OAI) is moving ahead. Its inaugural project administrator has been recently named and a community fair is planned. Paula Davis has been named project administrator effective July 11, Dr. Marie Huff, dean of the College of Health and Human Services, has announced. Currently serving as BGSU’s director of corporate and Foundation relations, Davis served as both the assistant director and outreach coordinator of the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute from 2012-15. In addition, she successfully completed the Geriatric Scholar Certificate Program sponsored by the Columbia-New York Geriatric Education Center in 2013. “Paula’s many years of experience in marketing and fundraising, along with her experience in gerontology, make her uniquely qualified to lead the Optimal Aging Institute,” Huff said. “We look forward to collaborating with her and our community partners and other individuals on campus to develop our long-term strategic plan and beginning to provide engaging programs and resources for the community.” Davis will also be a speaker at the institute’s Optimal Aging Community Fair, to he held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 1 in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. The fair is open to all ages but does require advance registration by July 28. It will include an international keynote speaker discussing active aging, followed by panel discussions and interactive breakout sessions and health screenings in the afternoon emphasizing the seven dimensions of wellness. This event is free for people age 60 and over, BGSU employees and students, and $20 for others. Lunch is included. For more information, visit the OAI website or call 419-372-8243. The institute, based in the College of Health and Human Services, was strategically developed in 2016 to provide learning opportunities and educational materials focusing on optimal aging for service providers, health systems, entrepreneurs, corporations, caregivers, and older adults. The OAI has received a generous five-year commitment of financial support from Medical Mutual of Ohio.

Fair building to be fit for cattle and catered dinners

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Fairgrounds is packed with people for a few days each summer. The rest of the year, it’s pretty much a ghost town. But the fair board has a plan to change that – building a $3.2 million year-round facility made to handle both smelly livestock shows and fancy catered dinners. “We want to put the fairgrounds on the map for year-round use, rather than just six days,” Matt Hughes, of Fair Funding, said to the Wood County commissioners on Thursday. Hughes said the acreage at the corner of West Poe and Haskins roads hosts about 125,000 visitors each year for the county fair. A few days after the fair, the grounds are flooded for the National Tractor Pulling Championships. Other than that, you can hear crickets chirping. But to make the 46,000-square-foot building a reality, Hughes said donations are being sought from every possible source. And Thursday, he made a pitch to the county commissioners as one of those possible sources. “Our hope is you folks would consider a partnership,” he said. “A lot of your population has an interest in the fair,” Hughes said. The fundraising has been going on now about 60 days, with approximately $750,000 secured so far, Hughes said. Those organizing the project are looking for one-time donations, annual contributions, in-kind materials or services and endowments. Hughes told the commissioners the county fairs that are going to still exist in 20 years are those that think beyond the six days of the fair, and plan “beyond bake sales.” He said the commissioners’ help with construction or ongoing maintenance would be helpful. The proposed multi-purpose building will have a dozen 24- by 16-foot garage doors, a catering kitchen, heating and air conditioning so it can be used year-round. The site will be rented out, and will be able to seat 2,000 for dining. To make room of the new facility, the five buildings north of the Fine Arts Building will be torn down. Construction will take six to eight months to complete. Commissioner Doris Herringshaw asked how the same site will be able to host both cattle and catered dinners. “What about the aroma in the air you might not want to have when you have a banquet,” she asked. Hughes said all the garage doors will be open during livestock shows, allowing the odors to…

Wood County Landfill running out of room

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Landfill is running out of room even faster than predicted. When 2016 rolled around, it looked as if the existing permitted space at the landfill would last another 11 years. By Tuesday, that remaining lifespan had shortened to eight to 10 years. The news was presented to the county commissioners on Tuesday by landfill staff and consultants. The reason for the faster filling is three-fold. First, the Henry County landfill closed, resulting in much of the garbage from that neighboring county coming to Wood County. Second, as the economy rebounds, the increase in new construction creates more debris, and people tend to buy new items and throw out the old, rather than stretching out their usefulness. And third, improvements at Wood County Landfill are making it more attractive to waste haulers, said Ken Vollmar, landfill manager. The Wood County Landfill received 38,000 tons of trash in 2014, which jumped to 49,000 tons last year. At the current rate, this year’s tonnage may top off over 60,000 tons. The landfill area covers more than 100 acres, with 43 of those in the current footprint approved by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for dumping. The site has about 60 more usable acres – and depending on the tonnage, the landfill has between 50 and 75 more good years, according to Shawn McGee, of Hull and Associates, consultants to the county. But McGee warned that while the lifespan of the current permitted area is eight to 10 years, the county needs to get working on the expansion now. It takes three to four years for the EPA to review an expansion plan, plus time to do more borings and install new monitoring wells. “We’re getting to a crunch time,” Vollmar said. After the permit is granted, a lot of preparation work needs to be done at the landfill, he said. Vollmar reminded the commissioners of the landfill coming close to running out of permitted space in the early 1990s. The first phase of the proposed expansion would “piggyback” on top of a section already being used. The landfill is allowed to reach a height just over 100 feet. The commissioners were also presented with some costly equipment requests at the landfill adding up to more than $1 million. One of two compactors needs to be replaced, as well as a small loader….

Perrysburg Musical Theatre lands “Big Fish” in impressive fashion

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Staging the musical “Big Fish” is not a small task, and the Perrysburg Musical Theatre is up to it. The story, first a novel, then Tim Burton-directed movie, then a musical, is a sprawling father-son tale that blends uplifting fantasy with real-life drama. At the very big heart of the musical is the hero Edward Bloom (D. Ward Ensign), a small town salesman given to telling grand stories about his life that may be true, at least in some fashion. As he faces death, the world of those stories collides with real life. “Big Fish,” which is making its Northwest Ohio premiere, is being presented Thursday, June 23, through Saturday, June 25, and Sunday, June 26, at 2 p.m. in the Perrysburg High School auditorium. Tickets are $13. Visit “Big Fish” is a great fit for the Perrysburg summer troupe. The show calls for a cast of more than 40, many of them young people. It exudes a sense of community whether in Bloom’s hometown or the circus he works for. The play’s technical demands are a challenge. The plot cuts back and forth between present and past, from a kid’s bedroom and a bewitched forest. The production, led by the creative team of C. Jordan Benavente, Julie Bermudez, Ensign and Nicole Spadafore with set design by Dave Nelms, pulls this off seamlessly. The high point being the daffodil-infused climax of the first act. The show is more than a visual wonder. As well as a large ensemble it demands three strong singing actors for the central parts of the  fantasist Edward Bloom, his wife Sandra (Elizabeth Cottle), and their son Will (Garrett Leininger). All have strong, expressive voices, and solid acting skills. And Cottle and Ensign effectively portray their characters from their teens into late middle age. Ensign needs to embody both the real life father, who can be overbearing, with the hero of his stories, who is resourceful and an underdog. Ensign draws a straight line from the man who was – at least as he tells it – and the man who is. He makes it believable that his wife  is so devoted, despite the fact that he’s frequently absent because he’s a traveling salesman and neglects his household duties. For her part, she seems bemused by his tales. Less forgiving is Will. From a young age (Isaac Bermudez), he’s…

Committee on Aging gets Meals on Wheels grant

(As submitted by Wood County Committee on Aging) Wood County Committee on Aging, Inc. (WCCOA) is proud to announce that it has received a $1250 grant award from Meals on Wheels America for its participation in the 14th Annual March for Meals campaign. This past March was WCCOA’s ninth year participating in the national Meals on Wheels awareness campaign designed to celebrate the proven collaboration of local community organizations, businesses, all levels of government and compassionate individuals to ensure that our seniors are not forgotten. “It is events like this that helps to increase awareness of how important our services and programs are,” said Angie Bradford, Director of Food Service. “The participation we receive from elected officials and other community champions for this event help to spread the word of the importance of a nutritious, hot lunch and daily check to our frail, homebound older adults.” Throughout the month of March elected officials, and other community champions, including realtors and bankers, delivered home delivered meals out of one of WCCOA’s seven senior centers and the production kitchen. Nearly $400,000 has been granted to 265 local Meals on Wheels programs and one Meals on Wheels America-affiliated State Association based on their March for Meals efforts. This year’s grants were made possible through the generosity of Subaru of America, Inc. and its eighth annual Share the Love Event. During the event held from November 19, 2015 through January 2, 2016, $250 was donated to a customer’s choice of a national or hometown charity for every new Subaru vehicle purchased or leased. Meals on Wheels America has been a participating national charity since the event’s inception in 2008. “The March for Meals grant program is our way of recognizing Meals on Wheels America Members for their efforts to raise awareness and much-needed support for the critical service they provide their communities,” said Meals on Wheels America President and CEO Ellie Hollander. “Together, we can change the way this country cares for its seniors.” The annual March for Meals campaign is an effort led by Meals on Wheels America to present opportunities for volunteers, businesses and governments to support seniors in a variety of ways that make communities stronger, safer and healthier. For more information, visit Wood County Committee on Aging, Inc. provides meals, programs, and services daily (Monday- Friday) to the 60 year and older population, throughout Wood County. To receive more…

BG school district hires new athletic director

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Jonas Smith served as athletic director for Dayton Public Schools, where he oversaw seven high schools and a $3.6 million renovation of the district’s Welcome Stadium. But something was missing. Smith is hoping to find that missing piece at Bowling Green City School District. “The last several years, I’ve missed being around kids,” Smith said. Tuesday evening, Bowling Green’s board of education hired Smith as the district’s new athletic director. Smith said he was attracted to the “very welcoming” community, the good schools, and the potential to build relationships. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said he was attracted to Smith’s 20 years of experience overseeing a large program, his reputation in the state, his winning record at Dayton, and his success securing corporate sponsorships for the renovated stadium. “It’s what he brings to the table,” Scruci said. Smith will receive an annual salary of $90,000. “I’m a firm believer that you get what you pay for,” Scruci said. Smith was accompanied to Tuesday’s school board meeting by his wife, LaDonna, and their two sons, ages 15 and 11. He was also joined by a former school superintendent and mentor, who flew up from South Carolina to be present for his hiring. Smith knows time to prepare for his new job is ticking away, with fall sports starting on Aug. 1. His philosophy for school athletics is “7-12,” he said. The head coaches at the high school level should have a hand in their sports from seventh grade on up. The fundamentals should be stressed at the middle school level, so the athletes will be ready for high school, he said. But he also believes athletics takes a back seat to academics, Smith said. “They are students first, athletes second,” he said. “We’re going to do what’s best for children.” Smith said he will be accessible to parents. “I have an open door policy for parents.” But he also believes in following the chain of command, he added. The new athletic director said he sees a lot of opportunity for the district. “It’s not going to happen overnight, but we’re going to move this district ahead and do what’s right for children.” Also the meeting, the school board hired Eddie Powers to take over as head coach of the hockey team. Powers has served as assistant to retired head coach Dan DeWitt, who…

Bowling Green praised for creating safe place

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Gwen Andrix stood before Bowling Green Council Monday evening and thanked city leaders for making her feel safe in the community. Andrix, a transgender woman, was one of the people behind the vigil held last week after the nightclub shooting in Orlando that killed 49 people. She started out last week holding a one-woman vigil at the four corners downtown – holding a rainbow flag in unity with those killed or injured in the shooting. That small symbolic act turned into a vigil attended by more than 300 people last Wednesday in Bowling Green. Andrix thanked city council and the mayor for being present and supportive, and praised the Not In Our Town organization for helping to pull together the vigil. “I feel safe in Bowling Green,” Andrix said. “I’m pretty much accepted. It’s a nice place to be.” In other business at Monday’s meeting, Planning Director Heather Sayler said the city had hired a consultant to work on the neighborhood revitalization plan for the East Side of the city. The consultant, Camiros, will start work in July and has 14 months to complete the plan. The city is paying $98,300 for the project. Mayor Dick Edwards expressed his sadness over the Buckeye Boys State decision to relocate to Miami University after operating at Bowling Green State University for 39 years. “We can only hope that BGSU will be successful in bringing Boys State back to the campus at the end of the five-year contract period,” Edwards said. Also at the meeting: Brian O’Connell, city utilities director, reported the city’s solar field construction is expected to start in early July, with the site being operational by the end of the year. Brian Craft, city public works director, said construction will begin July 18 on a left turn lane from East Gypsy Lane Road onto South Main Street. Businesses in the area are being advised. Craft also reported the meters will be removed after July 4 from the downtown parking lot east of the first block of South Main Street. A parking kiosk will be installed. Anyone interested with the changes may visit the Four Corners Center location on June 28 to get information. The city will have people available at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to answer questions. Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett announced the city fireworks will be held…

BG debates new restrictions for garbage bins

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bob McOmber never expected his job on city council would mean cruising through neighborhoods scouting out garbage bins. “I’ve spent more time than I could ever imagine looking at trash receptacles,” McOmber said Monday evening. He isn’t alone. Fellow Bowling Green council members Daniel Gordon and John Zanfardino have also been driving city streets trying to come up with reasonable rules for garbage bins. The three discussed possible rule changes Monday evening during a Community Improvement Committee meeting before the council meeting. Brian Craft, city utilities director, suggested the rules require all bins to have lids closed when placed out at the curb. Any bin with a “pyramid of garbage” will not be picked up, for two reasons, Craft said. First, when being lifted, the tall trash often spills on the ground, and second, if the lid blows open it can be broken off by the arm that lifts the trash into the truck. Craft also suggested that bins sitting out along the road on non-collection days be picked up by the city, with a citation and $25 fine given to the resident. Just today, the trash crew picked up bins at the curb on East Reed Street after neighbors complained. “The containers were sitting on the curb for weeks on end,” he said. “That’s the hammer to get people’s attention.” Zanfardino asked if civil infractions could be issued rather than the cans being confiscated. But Craft said that response would be too slow for most unhappy neighbors. “A citation doesn’t really correct the problem,” he said. The biggest issue, however, remains unsolved. That is – where can residents store their trash bins on days when they are not being collected at the curb? Gordon said he has received several emails from residents wanting simple language explaining where the bins can be stored. Most agree the cans should not be stored in front of a home. Zanfardino said 16 citizens sent emails to all members of council, with 15 supporting restrictions. Such a response was notable, he said. “When people take the time to address full council, it’s significant.” But McOmber cautioned that if council adopts language banning garbage bins from being visible from the street, more than a couple thousand homes may be affected. Not everyone has a garage large enough for storing the cans. “We’re legislating for the masses,” he…