Ohio should not restrict citizens’ right to petition government

We want to thank Sen. Gardner for conducting the Town Hall Meeting last Saturday and listening to the concerns and questions from his constituents.  At that meeting, I asked him about HJR19 in regard to amending the process for getting a petition on the ballot. The 1st Amendment to the US Constitution grants citizens several fundamental freedoms including ‘the freedom to PETITION the Government’.  In Ohio, the process to get a measure on the ballot is already quite stringent and HJR19 provisions make it even more difficult. Senator Gardner responded to me that the concern was that large donors from out of state were infringing on the rights of Ohio citizens.  If this is the true concern, we respectfully suggest that the Legislature address ‘Money in Politics’, rather than unduly burdening civic organizations, such as the non-partisan League of Women Voters, to successfully get a petition measure on the ballot. Fellow citizens, if this issue being rushed through the ‘Lame Duck’ Session is of concern to you, please contact your elected representatives: Sen. Gardner  614-466-8060 or 419-352-1984 Rep. Gavarone 614-466-1804 or 419-345-7768   Joan and Bob Callecod Bowling Green  

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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. As the children age, Wood Lane School gets involved for youth up to the age of 22. “Anyone who runs a school for people who have significant developmental disabilities has additional costs,” Baer explained. But Wood Lane has no intention of not offering school services. Without them, children would be…

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, designed for people who are suicidal, self-harming or aggressive to others. The therapy has been proven very successful, Clemons said, and focuses on self-calming skills, mindfulness and meditation techniques. When the training is complete, Wood County should have 30 to 40 therapists available with expertise in the DBT techniques. The…

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 incarcerated. No one convicted of murder, rape or child molestation will benefit from any aspect of this measure. Issue 1 has bipartisan support from law enforcement, mental health and addiction treatment providers, nurses, faith leaders, and victims of crime. SAVE MONEY. IMPROVE PUBLIC SAFETY. Jennifer Karches Bowling Green

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

Early voting numbers higher than last mid-term election

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A steady stream of local citizens have been making their way to the Wood County Board of Elections daily for early voting. As of Thursday, 7,595 Wood County residents had requested ballots by mail, and another 1,482 had been to the office to cast their ballots. That’s not as many as the office saw during the presidential election in 2016, but it is more than the last mid-term election four years ago, said Terry Burton, director of the Wood County Board of Elections. The total number of early voters in Wood County in 2014 was 7,990. In 2016 the number was 16,067. With 11 days to go, the early voting this year has already surpassed that of 2014.     Early voting is becoming the norm for many people. And the local board of elections predicts the in-office early voting numbers will continue upward at a faster rate as the election nears. “People are realizing the election is close,” Burton said. Not only do voters get a little nervous about mailing their ballots too close to election day, but also, there will be extended voting hours in the Board of Elections office. The extended voting hours are: Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Next week, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. No in-office voting is allowed on election day, Nov. 6. The fact that early voting numbers are higher than for the mid-term four years ago does not come as a surprise to the local board of elections. Burton tried to find the politically kind words, but ended up just saying that the state races in 2014 included a lot of incumbents and weren’t “overly competitive.” This year, the races are a little more heated. Plus the Secretary of State’s Office mailed out early voting reminders to all voters. The board of elections office is concerned about another mailer sent out by the state Republican party which stated that voters can turn in their absentee ballots at the polls. That is not true, Burton said. The ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 5 or turned into the board of elections office by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. Any voter taking the absentee ballot to…