Community

City, BGSU regret loss of Buckeye Boys State (updated)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News University and city officials this morning are expressing regret by the decision by the trustees of Buckeye Boys State to move the program to Miami University. The board of the American Legion-sponsored program made the decision Thursday night after a year of negotiations on a new five-year contract. On two occasions this year, people associated with the Legion have indicated the program would be leaving BGSU, its home since 1978. A press release from Gerald White, director of Buckeye Boys State, stated that the decision was made by a majority vote of the board. The statement described the negotiations as “intense.” The agreement would have kept the mock government program on campus until 2021. Instead the group will convene next June at Miami University. Dave Kielmeyer, spokesman for BGSU, said that the university had negotiated in good faith and had made several “fair and competitive offers.” Mayor Dick Edwards, who attended Boys State in 1956 and was a BGSU administrator when the program was brought to campus in 1978, said he was “distraught” over the decision. He said he has “so much of my emotional self invested” in Boys State. The decision, he said, came from “an accumulation of frustrations” on the part of the trustees and the Legion. “I’m not unhappy with leadership of American Legion.” He said President Mary Ellen Mazey did intervene in the process to try to save the program. But “it’s been building.” There were concerns about access to certain services and facilities, including the Student Recreation Center. “It was a constant dinging.” An initial proposal that called for a 41-percent increase didn’t help, even though the university backed off later. “It set the wrong tone.” Miami University, on the other hand, said “whatever you want, we’ll provide.” That approach reminded Edwards of his time at the university when BGSU lured the program away from Ohio University. Getting the program here and keeping it here had been a total community effort. Officials like chief financial officer George Postich, who attended Boys State in Illinois, knew the value of the program, he said. The Boys State release noted several other proposals were made to attach Boys State, but that it came down to Miami and BGSU. “In the end, after a fair and equal presentation to the board of trustees on the merits and disadvantages of both institutions and a report to the Boys State Board on negotiations with Bowling Green State University, the board, by majority, voted to re-locate Buckeye Boys State to Miami…


BG fireworks set for July 3 at dusk

The Bowling Green Community Fireworks will be held on Sunday, July 3, at dusk at the Bowling Green State University Intramural Fields. Prior to the fireworks display, the Bowling Green Area Community Bands will perform a free patriotic-themed concert near the BGSU Mileti Alumni Center beginning at 8 p.m. Those attending the fireworks should be aware that no sparklers, fireworks or sky lanterns will be allowed on the grounds of BGSU. Doyt Perry Stadium will not be accessible this year due to construction. Following the event, the Bowling Green Police Division will implement a traffic exit strategy to aid in traffic flow. In order to maximize safety and efficiency of travel, the Police will be directing traffic onto predetermined routes. After the fireworks, Mercer Road will be closed between Stadium Drive and Ridge Street. In conjunction, the police will be requiring traffic to exit via the following routes: North Exit Route (Ice arena lot, Stadium Drive): will be directed north to Poe Road or west to Merry. South Exit Route (lots to the south of the stadium): will be directed to Wooster via Mercer or Alumni. In other cases, depending on traffic patterns, police may be directing vehicles to the “outer belt” of the city to aid in traffic movement. For example, Clough Street traffic will be directed to Napoleon in order to reduce traffic on Wooster Street. Event attendees, or those traveling in the Bowling Green area on the evening of July 3, are encouraged to utilize outlying routes and entrances to Interstate 75 at U.S. 6 or Ohio 582 in lieu of the Wooster entrance for I-75. Attendees are asked to be alert and mindful of the directions provided by police. For the safety of all, those attending need to follow the directions of the police and should not circumvent barricades. The rain date for the fireworks is Tuesday, July 5.


Boys State leaving for Miami

A spokesman for Buckeye Boys State has confirmed that the event’s board of trustees voted Thursday to leave Bowling Green State University. Jim Koppin said he could not provide any more details until a press release is put out later today. Dave Kielmeyer, spokesman for BGSU, said that the university had negotiated in good faith and had made several “fair and competitive offers.” “We appreciate our long standing relationship with Buckeye Boys State and the American Legion and wish them the best of luck.” Boys State has convened every summer on the BGSU campus since 1978. It brings 1,200 high school students from around the state. President Mary Ellen Mazey stated earlier this month that 68 incoming BGSU freshmen had attended Boys State. Kielmeyer said BGSU continues to share Boys State’s mission of developing the leadership in Ohio. The university would like to continue offering a $1,000 renewable scholarship to attendees “if Legion is willing to work with us and provide that information to us.” “We’d like to support that mission in that way.”


Child abuse reports spike, another investigator to be hired

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When child abuse reports jumped in February, it was hoped the spike was just a blip. But then came May. “February set the all time high for Job and Family Services investigations in a month,” said Dave Wigent, director of the Wood County agency. “But in May, we broke the record we set in February.” Children’s Services has gone through brief spikes in the past, Wigent said. “This is going on a five-month trend.” Last year, the agency investigated 718 child abuse and neglect cases. The average has been 60 to 70 cases a month. But this year, the numbers were hitting 80 to more than 90 a month. In order to deal with the increase in child abuse cases, the office needs another investigator, Wigent told the Wood County Commissioners on Thursday morning. While the current staff can handle the increase for a month or two, the continued demands are too much for the present staff. The workload is being spread amongst the six current investigators and others on the Children’s Services staff. “All these folks are busy to start with,” Wigent said. Wigent presented graphs to the commissioners showing the average number of investigations handled per worker per month at other county Children’s Services agencies in Ohio. Of those listed, Wood County had the second highest workload, with each worker handling 13.6 investigations a month. Licking County was higher with 16 per worker, and Allen County was the lowest with nine per worker. “It’s pretty easy to say these seven people are the tip of the spear for us,” Wigent said of the child abuse investigators. They have a dangerous and emotionally draining job, he added. Wigent said Wood County Children’s Services “runs lean,” compared to some other counties, such as Marion County, which has about half the population of Wood County but about twice as many investigators. The agency has enough in reserves, along with state and federal funding, to pay for the new position, he said. Wigent also pointed out that not only are the case numbers up, but also the severity. In the last few years, the county has seen five child abuse deaths. “During the recession, we were all kind of holding our breath,” waiting for stress levels to cause an increase in child abuse cases, Wigent said. But the spike never came – until now. The reason for the increase now seems multi-faceted. “Part of it is the opiate issue,” said Sandi Carsey, director of Children’s Services. “The drug issues…


Opinion: ‘Her Choice’ does not offer all choices

Opinion piece as submitted by J. Murphy One day I noticed a bright, cheery yellow building with big windows encasing the front with what appeared to be a lotus flower under the words “Her Choice” on them. Wondering what this organization does I decided to speak to a staff member. I found out that Her Choice is a Christian, Pro-Life clinic which offers limited services. While this is itself is not an issue, I do take issue with the fact that the center provides false statistics, inaccurate medical information, and hides behind a façade of a neutral, safe place that educates women on all their choices. While they claim to provide guidance and support for women in need, according to the staff member I spoke with, they also talk to women about certain medical aspects of pregnancy, emergency contraception, and all their options with the exception of abortion. Upon further research I discovered the information they provide in these capacities is medically inaccurate, irrelevant, and/or falsified. The location of Her Choice across from campus and the name “Her Choice” is as strategic as its veiled attempts at “offering choice” and “empowering women.” They may not explicitly say “You cannot have an abortion” however, the messages they imply and sometimes explicitly express are biased, inaccurate, false, and are positioned to encourage women to carry the pregnancy to term under false pretenses. From the moment these women step in the door they feel supported, and guided, but they are being guided under a ruse of an “unbiased organization.” This is not to say this organization does not help some women in their time of need. Her Choice offers two “medical” services: they offer free pregnancy tests, and a free ultrasound at the center. They do not refer for abortions. According to the individual I interviewed they will recommend an ultrasound for three reasons. The first is to “…check for an ectopic pregnancy.” Considering only 1-2% of pregnancies are ectopic, I feel this is a tactic used to scare women into getting the ultrasound by telling them there is a risk of ectopic pregnancy without revealing that there is only a 1-2% chance the pregnancy will be ectopic (Kirk, Bottomley, Bourne). The second reason to perform an ultrasound is to measure the baby and determine how far along the woman is. The third to check for a heartbeat and to “determine if a natural miscarriage might occur.” At Her Choice I was told they tell women that 1 out of every 4 pregnancies end in a miscarriage. This…



Tim Brown leaving Statehouse, but sticking with public service

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   State Rep. Tim Brown, R-Bowling Green, is stepping down from the Statehouse to return to his roots. Brown was hired as director of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments on Wednesday. The move ends his 27-year career in government, but returns him to grassroots public service that he found most rewarding. “It was the time I spent with Jim and Alvie, at the local level, that I enjoyed most,” Brown said referring to his years as Wood County commissioner with Jim Carter and Alvie Perkins. “Now I’ll have a chance to do it again,” Brown said this morning. “It’s the local stuff that matters to people. It kind of feels like I get to come home to those issues again. The public service isn’t ending on my part.” The decision to give up the Statehouse for the TMACOG leadership position was tough. “It’s bittersweet,” he said. “This path provides me with the opportunity to do the work I really enjoy doing.” Brown will probably start his new job in mid-July. His salary has not yet been set. Brown started his career in public service working for Congressman Paul Gillmor for eight years. He then served as county commissioner for 15 years, and is now in his fourth year as a state representative. He was not looking for a new job, but was approached by a few people about the difficulty TMACOG was having filling the top position. “The more we talked, I realized this is the work I enjoy. It turned out to be a remarkable opportunity,” he said. “It’s an opportunity I just couldn’t say ‘no’ to.” Though Brown was not being pushed out of office yet by term limits, that reality did play a part in his decision. “Here I am, four years into the job, and my eligibility is half over,” he said. That realization was combined with the rare opening for such a job as director of TMACOG. “It’s not a position that comes along very often,” he said, noting that it has been 25 years since the agency has done an outside search for a leader. Though much of TMACOG’s work is done behind the scenes, Brown said the agency’s impact is great for the region. “Its work is profound.” Brown will be taking over at the time with some big issues looming in the region – one being water quality and water distribution, which TMACOG released a study on Wednesday. “Here we are at the foot of the Great Lakes,”…


BG community gathers in the shadow of Orlando killings

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The people at Pulse, the gay club in Orlando, were there early Sunday morning to have a good time in a space where they felt safe. Then a gunman intruded into the party, killing 49, wounding 53, several gravely. On Wednesday evening more than 300 people gathered at the First Presbyterian Church to remember the victims. The names of the dead were displayed around the community room, and then when the gathering moved outside for lighting of candles, all 49 names were read aloud. “Tonight we are gathered in the ashes of a horrific event in Orlando,” said the Rev Gary Saunders, co-pastor of First Presbyterian. He said that he had talked to “a dear friend, a gay man, who said ‘I won’t be there. I’m too afraid of being part of group like this that will be, by definition, a target.’ So sad, but understandable.” Among those in attendance was Imam Talal Eide, of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, he decried the “heinous” crime, and said that it was against the tenets of Islam. “The bloody slaughter of innocent people is … condemned.” God created all people with dignity and gave people “the freedom to choose our lives,” he said. As a human “I am responsible to build bridges of love between us rather than bridges of hatred.” The Rev. Lynn Kerr of the Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation said it was “O.K. to afraid in the wake of the attack.” But the people needed to make choices. “Let us choose love, and act on it, again and again and again.” Mayor Dick Edwards said the community needs “to embrace the basic tenet of the Not In Our Town movement to fight hate in any form and stand tall for individual liberty.” Bowling Green State University President Mary Ellen Mazey urged those present to act to address gun violence. “I don’t believe our forefathers, when they wrote the Second Amendment, intended for weapons of mass destruction to be used in schools and night clubs.” She said it was “incumbent” on those in the room to address this problem. Gwen Andrix, who along with Linda Tomajko and Amy Jo Holland, organized the event with the assistance of Not in Our Town Bowling Green, has been at the Four Corners every day since Sunday with a gay pride and transgender pride flags where she has at times been preached at and mocked. At the gathering, Andrix read a letter from a childhood friend, a gay man. It detailed the…


Vigil for Orlando moved inside

The vigil for the victims of the Orlando victims will be held inside First Presbyterian Church at 126 S. Church St. tonight (Wednesday, June 15) at 7 p.m. Representatives from community, belief and government entities are expected to participate in the event. The weather report calls for rain throughout the day forcing the vigil inside. It had been scheduled for the green space, next to the church.


Pratt farm defies development, donated to park district

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For nearly two centuries, the farm settled by William Pratt in Perrysburg Township has stayed in the family’s care. Descendants Doug and Mary Ellen Pratt could not bear to have their beloved farm split up and turned into housing developments, so on Tuesday they did something their community-minded ancestors might have appreciated. They gave their land to the people of Wood County for generations to come. “We express our gratitude to the park district,” Doug Pratt said as he and his wife handed their homestead over to the Wood County Park District. “Our only regret is we won’t be here to see it.” The Pratts asked that the park district dedicate about 40 acres for sports fields, then use the remaining 120 acres for trails, trees, a pond, cross country skiing and picnic areas. “What you did is very generous,” said Denny Parish, of the park district board. “I find it ironic that you would thank us.” “The citizens of Wood County thank you,” said Bob Dorn, of the park district board. The 160 acres of fields and farm homestead are split by Hull Prairie Road, just north of Roachton Road. The farmland is almost completely surrounded by housing developments, and will soon be neighbor to the newest Perrysburg school. “We don’t want it in housing,” Doug Pratt said of his farm. Neil Munger, director of the park district, assured the Pratts that the farm would be in good hands. “What a wonderful, wonderful thought on their part to preserve their property,” Munger said. “It will be a natural space for future generations.” Mary Ellen Pratt shared the story of the farm’s beginning nearly 200 years ago. William Pratt, of the New York Militia, was charged with delivering supplies to Fort Meigs during the War of 1812. Something about the region – with its heavy woods, swampy land, and Native Americans – convinced him to settle in the Perrysburg area. In 1819, William Pratt brought his family to the area. He died in 1824, but his family carried on. The oldest farm documentation the Pratts have found is a land patent sent from Washington, D.C., signed by John Quincy Adams. William Pratt served as the first treasurer of Wood County and as a common pleas judge. Fred Pratt (Doug’s father) served as a commissioner and township trustee. Doug Pratt has farmed the family’s acreage for decades, drove school bus for Perrysburg schools, and served 32 years as a volunteer firefighter. “We have a history of giving to…


ODOT details road projects in Wood County

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Construction projects on Interstate 75 and surrounding roads have drivers tied up in knots – or stalled in traffic. “It looks like hell out there,” Wood County Commissioner Joel Kuhlman said during a meeting with Ohio Department of Transportation officials Tuesday morning. Every time he drives on I-75, which is being widened to three lanes in each direction, Kuhlman is amazed at the complexity of the project. “It could be way, way worse,” he said. The commissioners were told by ODOT officials that the widening project is on schedule, with the stretch of I-75 between Devils Hole and Oil Center roads expected to be done by the end of November. “Essentially, we’re where we need to be,” said Brian French, engineer on the project. But until it’s done, the disruptions to drivers will continue, with closures in the Perrysburg area expected till September, then closure of the southbound ramps for Route 582 planned after that. ODOT is trying to stagger road closures and detours. “We certainly appreciate 75 being widened. All of your predecessors talked about it,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said. “Even though we get caught in traffic jams,” Herringshaw added. But Todd Audet, deputy director of ODOT District 2 office in Bowling Green, isn’t apologetic about the congestion caused by the construction project which came sooner than expected due to early funding. It would have been irresponsible for the district to not snap up the construction dollars when they were offered, he said. “Funding became available and we’re doing as much as we can,” Audet said. The entire I-75 project should be completed in two to three years. Then the increasing interstate traffic will flow more easily. Layth Istefan, highway management administrator, said I-75 is “important to our local economy. Most of our goods and services are transported on interstates.” And once it’s complete, the snarled roadway will be a distant memory. “I’ve got to believe five to 10 years from now, people will say, ‘Remember when this was two lanes?’” Commissioner Craig LaHote said. ODOT officials met with the county commissioners Tuesday to update them on the $431 million in projects currently underway. Following is a list of some of those projects: Bridge repair on Ohio 795 over the CSX railroad, for $1.2 million. The westbound lanes will be closed this year, and the eastbound lanes next year, French said. S. 20 resurfacing from Lime City Road to Lemoyne Road, including the replacement of two culverts, which will close the road for 14 days next…


It takes a community to help elders age safely

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It takes a community to not only raise children, but also to help elders age with dignity. As Bowling Green officials stopped to “Pause of the Pledge” on Tuesday morning, they were also encouraged to look out for older members of the community. Last year, 267 cases of elder abuse and neglect were investigated in Wood County. That is an increase from the 2014 reports of 235 cases, according to Marc Briseno, supervisor of Adult Protective Services in the county. Every year an estimated 5 million, or one in 10, older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation. Experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as 23.5 cases go unreported. “We certainly want to be a place where people can live, work and enjoy their retirement,” said Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw. “It is our collective responsibility to make sure they live safely and with dignity.” Many of those present Tuesday were wearing purple shirts with the slogan, “Aging is Natural. Abuse is Not.” It is up to individuals to be aware of elder abuse or neglect, Herringshaw said, to “allow seniors to live as independently as possible.” Wood County has many services in place to protect seniors as they age, according to Dave Wigent, director of the county’s Department of Job and Family Services. “Wood County enjoys an especially robust range of services for seniors,” Wigent said. “Most counties in Ohio do not have these services,” which makes this county a “better place and safe place to age.” Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson expressed his objections to a state commission’s plans to possibly remove senior citizens from the list of special classes of victims in the state. “That’s offensive,” Dobson said. “They deserve the extra protection” of the courts, of law enforcement and of legislation. Dobson urged all those present to be aware of elder abuse when they see it. “This is our responsibility. It’s our responsibility to recognize the signs.” Those signs, according to Briseno, include poor hygiene or poor living conditions either from self-neglect or neglect from a caregiver. Financial abuse can be spotted by noticing unusual spending habits or the lack of money to pay bills. “Those should really raise a red flag for family members.” In an effort to handle the increase in senior issues, an elder abuse task force has been established, led by David Romaker, of the county prosecutor’s office. The majority of the cases involve self-neglect, followed by a…


Oath Keepers gathering rallies survivalists in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Oath Keepers spent the weekend learning how to survive all types of disasters including overreaches by the federal government. Approximately 100 members, many dressed in their black Oath Keeper T-shirts, military cargo pants and boots, and equipped with radios and earpieces, gathered for a multi-state rally at the Woodland Mall in Bowling Green. Nick Getzinger, of Weston, who is executive officer to the president of the Ohio Oath Keepers, said the organization has grown in the last couple months. “People have found out we’re not a militia,” he said. “If they have a militia mentality, they have to keep that with their group,” Getzinger said. “We’re not going to take a military stance.” Since opening the Oath Keepers Outpost store at Woodland Mall earlier this year, Getzinger has stressed that the Ohio branch of the group is not like others in the nation. If potential members show an anti-government mentality during the vetting process, they are turned down for membership, he said. “We’ve turned quite a few people away,” he said. Getzinger is well aware that the Oath Keepers has been labeled as an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. “I know Southern Poverty tries to throw everybody in the same bucket, but you can’t do that,” he said. “We don’t buy into conspiracy theories, but right now we believe our country is on the wrong track.” While that may be Getzinger’s stance, the mindset of the others at the rally is unknown since they were ordered not to speak to the media. Getzinger said the gag order was due to the large number of new members who may not be well versed yet on the organization. “We don’t want any misunderstandings.” When asked to point out a longstanding Oath Keeper who could be interviewed, Getzinger said, “they’re under direct order from the president (of Ohio Oath Keepers) not to speak.” The only other person at the rally allowed to talk was Caroline Pelgar, executive secretary to Getzinger from Lorain County. She described the group as “a community of Christians” dedicated to “taking care of our own.” “As a Christian, we’re called to help one another,” Pelgar said. The members, she added, are “the most welcoming, friendly group you’d ever meet.” When asked about the group’s national reputation with hate watch groups, Pelgar rejected that characterization. “We live in a country where everyone is entitled to their own opinions.” The Southern Poverty Law Center has said that while Oath Keepers vow to support the oaths…



Bearing witness to Orlando killings draws mixed response in BG (Updated)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Local residents came out Sunday morning to show their support for the victims of the mass killing in Orlando, Fla. An attacker, Omar Mateen, gunned down people in the Pulse, a gay night club. Fifty people, including Mateen, died at the scene. Another 53 were wounded. With a rainbow flag, a handful of people gathered near the Four Corners in downtown Bowling Green. They were greeted by a show of hands – some gave them a thumbs up, some gave them a middle finger. Bowling Green resident Amy Jo Holland said “it was not a pleasant experience.” There were positives and negatives, she said. Linda Tomajko, of Bowling Green, said some honked in support, others thanked them for being out. A couple “preachers” showed up, she said. “One said he understood why God killed those people because they were sinners.” Another said those at the vigil were destined for hell. One preacher stood in front of them for 30 minutes and “bellowed at the top of his lungs,” said Gwen Andrix, another Bowling Green resident. She said the reaction was “fairly typical” of what happens when members of the LGBTQ community gather to express themselves. Tomajko said she was prompted to act because the attack struck close to home. She learned of it when she first got up this morning. There have been so many shootings in the past months, she admitted the impact on her has dulled. “I have a lot of friends who are gay and trans,” she said, “and when I woke up this morning and saw that stuff… I was imagining so many of my friends and even myself who’s supportive of the effort. It absolutely broke my heart. “This stuff happens every day,” she said. “The difference is instead of being one or two people, it’s 100, 50 dead and 53 injured.  I felt like instead of sitting there and kind of wallowing, I wanted to do something.” As she was leaving downtown this morning to bear witness, someone stopped and asked if a vigil for the victims would be held. So Tomajko put up an event page on Facebook, and tried to contact people for a vigil in the evening. That vigil drew about 20 people, standing on the corner of the green space across from the police station. The response was friendlier in the evening. Another vigil is planned for Wednesday (June 15) at 7 p.m. at the green space at East Wooster, South Church and South Grove streets in downtown Bowling…