New voting machines in Wood County should be in place for next election

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News When voters show up at the polls next May, they will likely be casting their ballots on new voting machines. Those new voting machines could cost up to $2.2 million – with the state picking up $1.3 million of the bill. That may sound like a lot, but it’s about half of the estimated cost of $4.2 million for the voting machines in 2017. “We were hoping it would come in lower,” and it did, said Terry Burton, assistant director of the Wood County Board of Elections. “We are continuing to try to figure out ways to get this number lower.” The voting machine package got the approval of the Wood County Commissioners on Thursday. The cost not picked up by the state will come out of the county’s general fund. The county needs an estimated 525 voting machines. They will replace the county’s 12-year old touchscreen systems. The previous ballot stations lasted 40 years, and their predecessors were the first voting systems in Wood County. “Our life expectancy is decreasing,” as technology increases, said Carol DeJong, director of the Wood County Board of Elections. The county may lease these new systems, which would cost an additional $139,000 a year and guarantee modifications as the technology changes, Burton and DeJong explained. “It’s when,” not if upgrades will be needed, DeJong said. Terry Burton and Carol DeJong, of the Wood County Board of Elections, make their pitch to the county commissioners. The goal is to have the new voting machines in place by May, so the county has two elections to work out any bugs before the presidential election year. The systems will be leased or purchased from Dominion Voting Systems, headquartered in Denver. The board of elections is continuing to look at voting precincts that can be combined into “voting centers.” In Bowling Green, for example, several precincts share voting locations at the Wood County District Public Library and St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. There are some voting locations in the more rural areas of southeastern Wood County where the buildings didn’t “pass muster”…

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Auditor candidates disagree over appraisal process

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The two candidates for Wood County auditor differ on a major role of the office – how property appraisals ought to be conducted. The Democratic candidate for Wood County auditor has accused the Republican candidate of outsourcing jobs. Buddy Ritson has called for an end to privatized property appraisals in Wood County. But incumbent Matt Oestreich is defending the practice, saying the vast majority of Ohio counties contract with private firms to conduct appraisals. To do otherwise would be more costly and less efficient, he said. Of the 88 Ohio counties, only 10 do in-house property appraisals, Oestreich said. Those 10 are the largest counties that have enough staff to do appraisals themselves. Property appraisals are done every six years, so most counties can’t employ enough staff to conduct those periodic jobs, he said. “You’d have to have trained appraisers on your staff,” to do the appraisals in-house. And those employees would only be needed every six years when the appraisals are conducted, Oestreich said. The Wood County Auditor’s Office has always contracted with private appraisal firms, Oestreich said. The firms work in the county for 18 to 24 months, then move on to another county, he said. Wood County currently pays $1,258,000 to a company named Lexur Enterprises in Dayton to have the appraisals completed, Ritson said. “These are jobs that can be done here in Wood County. With the number of contracts and the tasks associated with them, these are good paying full-time jobs that should be done here in Wood County,” Ritson said. “To outsource these jobs, as the Auditor’s Office is doing, is bad for the county and its taxpayers.” While the appraisals aren’t done in office, some Wood County citizens were employed in the process. According to Oestreich, during the 2017 mass reappraisal a Perrysburg resident served as the project supervisor, and two other Wood County residents worked on the reappraisals. “Having appraisers living in Wood County is a definite benefit to the process of determining real estate values, as they have a pulse on the local market,”…

Wood Lane seeks reduced renewal levy for 2.45 mills

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood Lane is asking voters to approve a reduced renewal levy – dropped from the current 2.95-mills to 2.45 mills. The decrease in millage allows the agency to be fiscally responsible and continue to provide quality services, according to Wood Lane Superintendent Brent Baer. Wood Lane has been required by Medicare/Medicaid rules to shift its services to private providers in the past few years. So some question why the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities needs a levy on the ballot. The reason – while Wood Lane no longer provides the services directly, it now has to pay private agencies for the services. Privatization did result in some reduced costs for the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. And the board did pass those savings on to the taxpayers, Baer said. For example, in 2017 the board eliminated its levy collection all together, and in 2018 it collected 50 percent of the millage. But while there have been some cost savings by privatizing services, there are some cost increases due to growing demands for services, Baer said. Since 2013, the individuals served by the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities has grown from 899 to 1,071. “None of the individuals who previously received services stopped receiving services,” Baer said. “Our commitments are for the life of an individual.” When people with developmental disabilities waive their right to institutional care, they are picked up by community based services – like Wood Lane. That agency then identifies their needs and develops plans to meet them, Baer said. The waivers allow for federal funding, but the community agency must still pick up 40 percent of the costs, said finance officer Steve Foster. Demands are growing as the population here is increasing. “Wood County is one of the few counties in Ohio that’s growing,” Baer said. Wood Lane services start early and follow people throughout their lives. “We start at birth with early intervention services,” he said. More early intervention is needed for children with autism, and for children affected by the opioid crisis, he added….

Prevention educator urges yes on ADAMHS levy

I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to vote yes for the 1.0 mill replacement levy of the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board (ADAMHS). This is not a new tax, it is a replacement tax, which brings the old tax up to current value. The Wood County Educational Service Center receives over seventy-five percent of their prevention education program dollars from the ADAMHS Board. The Educational Service Center is just one of several quality agencies supported by the ADAMHS Board with your tax dollars. The Wood County Prevention Education Program engages youth leaders, schools, parents, communities and agencies to educate and prevent alcohol, tobacco and other drug use in our youth. The Prevention Education Program also addresses issues relating to bullying, dating and relationship violence, classroom behavior, and improving mental health in our youth. On-site prevention education specialists in 9 school districts monitor trends, identify/implement evidenced-based programs, strategies, support, and early intervention and referral for treatment services as selected by each district for all Wood County youth. Prevention education staff members also make referrals for youth experiencing trauma to on-site school-based mental health counselors also provided with funding by the ADAMHS board. National studies report that evidenced-based prevention education programs have a positive impact on academic achievement, school climate, and safe and healthy youth.  Since 2004, a biennial youth survey is conducted in Wood County for all public school students in grades 5 through 12 and in 2018, virtually all drugs are at their lowest rates of usage since the survey’s inception.  Not only is prevention extremely efficacious, it is also fiscally responsible, as for which each dollar spent on prevention programming up to $64 dollars can be saved on societal costs that would have otherwise been incurred.  Prevention, early and often works. Please vote yes for the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services 1.0 mill replacement levy. The positive impact will be felt by your youth, your schools, and your communities. Kyle D. Clark Prevention Education Program Director Wood County ESC  

ADAMHS levy aims to save lives from drugs, suicide

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Tom Clemons makes his rounds to public meetings before next week’s election, he talks about the big difference made by a levy that costs voters a small amount. The 1-mill replacement levy for 10 years for Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services will cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $35 a year. That money is spent on dealing with growing drug addiction problems and increasing needs for mental health crisis services. “We save lives,” said Clemons, executive director of Wood County ADAMHS. The levy funding is needed to keep up with growing needs for services, Clemons said. Some of the biggest issues include dealing with the opiate epidemic, providing more mental health housing, and improving crisis intervention services. Wood County is expected to hit 30 deaths this year from opioid overdoses. The number of suicides is also on the rise, with the county trending at about 20 this year, Clemons said. The funding is vital, he said, for programs fighting the opioid crisis, plus an increase in methamphetamine and cocaine abuse. Addiction recovery houses, and the mental health services are all part of the safety net supported by the WCADAMHS levy. The county used to average six to seven suicide deaths a year. “That’s too many,” Clemons said. And then they spiked. In 2015 there were 17; in 2016 there were 20; in 2017 there was a drop to 11; and this year the county is on pace to hit 25. In response to the increase in adult suicides, the ADAMHS board recently decided to fund a mobile crisis response that replaced The Link crisis center. The mobile unit responds to crises wherever the person is – at home, work, a store, or a park, Clemons said. It has unlimited capacity for calls, so no one calling in for help will be put on hold, he added. “Everybody who answers the phone is thoroughly trained in crisis response,” he said of the new hotline. The ADAMHS board also funded training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy,…

Jennifer Karches: Issue 1 will save money & improve public safety

Please vote YES on Issue 1. I understand it’s not perfect, but there is NO hope that our legislature will enact any meaningful prison/sentencing reform anytime soon. Too many lives are ruined with Ohio’s punitive drug laws, which rely on prisons as the answer. Did you know one year of prison costs Ohioans $30,000? Ohio has approximately 50,000 inmates, which means WE spend approximately $1.5 billion per year locking people away, rather than actively working to rehabilitate and treat their addictions. There is a better way! According to Ohio Safe and Healthy Communities Campaign, here are some excellent reasons to vote YES on Issue 1 to reduce the number of people in state prison for low-level, nonviolent crimes and put the money to better use by directing savings to drug treatment and crime victims. ✓ YES on Issue 1 saves taxpayer dollars: Ohio spends more than $1.8 billion per year on a broken prison system where too many people who pose little public safety risk are incarcerated while treatment and prevention programs suffer. Issue 1 will save tens of millions of dollars annually in prison spending and direct the savings to addiction treatment and victims of crime. ✓ YES on Issue 1 puts our public safety dollars to better use: Wasting law enforcement resources and prison on people struggling with addiction makes no sense. Issue 1 requires misdemeanors instead of felonies for low-level drug possession offenses and requires community service, treatment or local jail, instead of state prison, for people convicted of these crimes or who break probation rules (such as missing a meeting). Treatment and supervision work better to improve public safety than a revolving prison door. ✓ YES on Issue 1 reduces recidivism: Issue 1 expands earned-credit programs so that qualified people can be considered for release if they participate in rehabilitation programs. Experts agree that requiring people to earn their way out of prison through rehabilitation reduces the likelihood they’ll commit more crimes. ✓ YES on Issue 1 protects public safety: This was carefully written to ensure that people that are a danger to public safety remain…

Mayor Edwards asks community to support ADAMHS replacement levy

From a total community perspective, there is perhaps no more important issue on the November 6th ballot than the replacement levy to help support Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services in Wood County.   One only has to assess the daily news to realize the magnitude of need for these life-saving services. Every day the demand for help for crisis situations seems to grow and no family, no household is immune from the need for intervention specialists.   In both my university and public service life, I have seen time and time again the need for support services grow whether for family support, mental health, substance abuse, crisis situations or general informational needs to help others.   As one who has devoted so much volunteer time over the years to help in some small ways to assist others with special needs, I urge you to help in a big way by supporting the ADAMHS replacement levy.   Richard A. Edwards Mayor City of Bowling Green