election

J. Scott Stewart: Yes vote for school bond issue important for BG’s future

This coming Tuesday, May 8th, we all have a rare opportunity.  We have the chance to vote YES for the Bowling Green School Bond Issue.  With the passage of the School Bond Issue, we will provide our children and future students with a modern, safe learning environment that will allow our children to learn in a setting that has up to date technologies, provides equal opportunities for our students no matter where they live in our community and give our students everything they need to compete in the world outside of Bowling Green. Construction of new schools will provide jobs in the community, and more importantly, updated modern schools will attract the 30-something families that both the Land Use Plan and the Community Action Plan have stated are critical to maintaining the long term viability of Bowling Green as an active, vital community. It is not unreasonable to say that passage of the Bowling Green School Bond Issue will be the first real project to actually move the Land Use Plan and The Community Action Plan toward reality. Fellow Bowling Green citizens, we have a rare chance to have a Win-Win project for our city, but we must act!  Please join me Tuesday, May 8th in voting YES for The Bowling Green School Bond Issue. Your VOTE will only count if you CAST IT! Dr. J Scott Stewart


School tours – some see obsolete, some see opportunity

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For more than 60 years, Conneaut and Kenwood elementaries have educated young minds. They continue to do so – but under some challenging conditions. The heat at both elementaries leaves some students sweltering while others have to be bundled in their coats.  The gym floor at Kenwood is buckled, and the microwave in the kitchen has to be moved around to open outlets. Lack of storage space in both schools has led to some items sitting in the halls. Asbestos contained in the ceilings means nothing – not even a staple – can but put in the tiles. Conneaut’s art teacher’s classroom is sometimes a cart, since some years there is no extra room for her class. Residents of the school district were invited into the two elementaries and the high school for tours on Saturday. The district is trying to pass a 5.7-mill levy to construct a centralized elementary, plus renovate and add onto the high school. The tours were in response to criticism by levy opponents, who would rather see the elementaries renovated, costing the district $30 million less than the $72 million price tag for the high school and new consolidated elementary. It seemed few minds were swayed by the school tours. Those against the levy questioned why the district would build a new building, when the 60-plus-year-old elementaries can be renovated. Those for the levy asked why the district would put a band-aid on big problems and delay constructing new buildings as the costs continue to grow. Both sides seemed to dig in during Saturday’s tours. Some parents on the tours expressed disappointment in efforts to “attack the integrity” of the school board and administration. “That’s what’s driving me nuts about this,” one father said. Getting lost in the verbal battles are the children, Superintendent Francis Scruci said at the end of the Kenwood tour. “It’s the best thing for kids,” he said of the building plan. That…


Tracy Hovest: Saying Yes to the BG Bond Issue is saying Yes to students, teachers, and this community

Recently,  Grant Chamberlain touted that being against the bond doesn’t make those voting against the bond against students. I beg to differ and I can no longer be a spectator of their attacks on this community. He and others are against kids and schools as long as it costs them money, but yet try to find any other reason why they are voting no. SInce I moved here a little over a year ago, I have become informed and active in the BG Community and BG BOND issue to a great extent. My family has been so appreciative of what this community and BG Schools has offered us.  However, everything rears its ugly head and it reared its ugly head in the form of Wood County Citizens Against Higher Property Tax. This group’s first attack against kids comes in the repeated malicious attacks against the BG Board and Superintendent Scruci, whom students adore. These individuals have been outright assaulted by this group of naysayers on a daily basis. These insults are unwarranted and a guise to bully people into thinking that the BG Board and Superintendent are trying to bamboozle the voters and swindle tax dollars. This is not the case. The Board of Education and Superintendent have been putting students and their needs first in this district and it’s a shame that others don’t want to see it and try to sway others because of selfishness. When the most vocal nay sayers aren’t stuffing their pockets and riding the coat tails of their farming clients or hustling the community to thinking that the school board is in kahoots to steal the community’s tax dollars, they spend their time being malicious and rude online or attacking the teachers and citizens who defend the bond that is best for kids. Yet another attack on kids of our schools when they go after the throats of the teachers, staff, and community members who are trying to do what’s best for kids. The…


Chamber of Commerce: “All of us will benefit from an enhanced, state-of-the-art  school district”

The Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has voted to endorse the School Bond issue.  From the business and economic development perspective, there is a strong link between quality schools and local commerce.  We know from first-hand experience that new business, whether it has one employee to 500+, often the quality of the schools factor into the decision to locate or not in our district. We know recruiting and retaining a skilled and diverse workforce is a major factor that determines our economic growth.  A quality district with state-of-the-art facilities is often a priority for new hires who are looking to move into our area. If these new hires stay, they add to growth of our housing, retail, churches, parks and more. All of us who live in the BG School District benefits from that commerce as well.   We also recognize that time is of the essence.  Based on the 4/26/2018 Bowling Green City Schools Tax Analysis, compiled and presented by Rockmill Consulting Firm, the costs of the proposed project will only continue to rise. Mr. Conley noted that since the November 2017 election, the cost of our project has already risen by 4M.  The cost is predicted to continue to increase due to interest rates, inflation, and the rising construction costs. To curb costs, waiting is not an option. And to the current and future Bobcats, our community owes you state-of-the-art facilities and opportunities to become the best you can be in a very competitive world.  And for the future, we want you to continue the cycle of investment and commerce in BG, where you too will be assessing the quality of the school district for your own children. The bottom line is this, all of us will benefit from an enhanced, state-of-the-art  school district that is competitive to area school districts. Such a school district is a powerful attraction to new business and the domino effect of strengthening local commerce, the workforce, and the  over-all…


BG Schools property tax plan defended as best option

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A man who makes his living getting schools and governmental entities out of sticky financial situations has issued his verdict – Bowling Green City School District manages its money well, has tax levels lower than most in the region, and is asking for the right tax to fund its building project. David Conley, president of Rockmill Financial, was hired by the district to examine a question raised by citizens. Would an income tax be better than a property tax to finance the $72 million building project to consolidate the elementary schools plus add onto and renovate the high school? “I commend the board for making that decision” to have the issue researched. Many districts would “brush it under the rug,” Conley said during a community meeting Thursday evening. What he found was that a property tax is more fair to the majority of people in the school district. “The property tax they’ve put on the table in front of the community is the best funding option at this time,” he said. The bond issue will appear on the May 8 ballot. To fund the building project with a property tax, it would take 5.7 mills over 37 years. That would mean the owner of a $156,600 home would pay $26.03 a month. For an elderly person, that could decrease to $21.88 a month, Conley said. To fund the project with income tax, it would cost the average family $41.25 per month. It would require a three-quarter percent income tax for 20 years. Using an income tax would make Bowling Green among the least affordable school districts in the region – second only to Ottawa Hills, Conley said. “The increased cost of $15 a month wouldn’t be advisable,” he said. A property tax is more affordable since it is paid by residents and businesses, he said. “Property tax spreads the tax to more taxpayers.” Richard Chamberlain, an outspoken critic of the property tax,…


Two Democrats vying to take the Fifth for their party

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News If either James Neu Jr. or J. Michael Galbraith would succeed in their bids represent the Fifth Congressional District in the U.S. Congress, the winner would be the first Democrat to do that in 80 years. And for 40 of those years, a congressman named Latta has held the seat, Del Latta for 30 years from 1959-1989, and his son, Robert Latta, for the past 10. But both candidates, as well as the incumbent’s two Republican challengers, feel Latta is vulnerable, and all for the same reason – Latta has largely been unresponsive to constituents’ calls to meet with him on a range of issues. (A story on the Republican primary race with challengers Robert Kreienkamp of Wayne and Todd Wolfrum of Middle Point, is forthcoming.)  Voters will decide on May 8. Galbraith said in a recent interview that “hardly a day goes by when I don’t run into a Republican who tells me something has to be done about our current representative.” And, yes, those are Republicans. Latta “does not listen to us,” Galbraith said. “That’s why I’m running.” Neu said that Latta has four challengers is a sign of the dissatisfaction. “He does not listen to them. That’s the main thing we hear from them. He doesn’t listen to constituents.” James Neu Jr. This is the second time Neu, of Perrysburg, has challenged Latta. He ran in 2016 and garnered 100,000 votes, 29 percent of the vote. Neu said the only way to unseat an incumbent with high name recognition is for a candidate to build their own name recognition over several races. He’s said he has people who recognize him as the candidate who challenged Latta in 2016. Such recognition, he said, is “surreal.” Neu sees himself as a representative of the middle working people. He works on the floor at the Chrysler plant, and serves as a union steward. He said he’s knows the dilemma of having to decide whether…


Mike Aspacher urges support for BG Schools levy

I am writing to urge residents to strongly consider supporting the Bowling Green City Schools proposed bond levy. The proposed levy would allow for the financing of much- needed school facility improvements. It is worth noting that our current elementary school buildings were built in the 1950s and 1960s and and are among the oldest school facilities in Wood County. I believe that our Board of Education has done an excellent job of considering all the potential building options and has chosen a plan that will best meet the educational needs of our students. It will result in the construction of school buildings that will meet our community’s needs for years to come. I do not offer my endorsement of this effort blindly. I am very much aware that this levy will place an additional financial burden on all of the residents of our community, and I am sensitive to the impact that this will have on every family and each business’s budget. I do however feel strongly that this investment is critical to the continued health and vitality of the Bowling Green community. It is well established that strong and healthy public schools are a vital component of the overall strength of a community, and the fact that the quality our school facilities has fallen behind those in surrounding school districts can not be ignored. The investment in our community that would result from the passage of this levy will not only allow us to provide for the educational needs of our students, but will also result in increased property values, and will assist in the City’s efforts to attract families and businesses to our community, both resulting in an expansion of the tax base in the community. In short, investment in our school system is also an investment in the continued strength of our community. When you vote on May 8, please consider the responsibility that we all share to provide the same level of support to our…


Bob Callecod: Parks levy protects precious natural resources, provides quality parks & recreation opportunities, and assists local entities

To the Editor: In 1986 I was appointed as a Wood County Park District Commissioner. At that time, the WCPD consisted of Otsego and Wm. Henry Harrison Parks and a very loose agreement with the County to “maintain” the Old Infirmary building and grounds.  Then Director/Secretary Lyle Fletcher and two part-time laborers were expected to maintain those facilities on a budget of about $60,000 provided by the County Commissioners. The entirety of the Park District’s equipment consisted of a beat-up pickup truck and a temperamental riding mower. On my first visit with Lyle to Otsego Park and the building which for many years hosted hundreds of family events, I gagged with the stench emanating from the inoperable restrooms; and nearly fell over when the railing on the stairs leading to the river collapsed when I leaned on it for support.  In the interest of public safety we closed the park shortly thereafter. Wood County ranked 87 out of 88 counties in the amount of land dedicated for parks and recreation. My fellow commissioners, Martha Kudner and George Thompson, and I realized that the only way to restore, protect and build on the natural and historic resources available to Wood County residents was to secure a dedicated source of funding.  That led to the passage in 1988 of a .5 mill, 10-year levy which established the WCPD as a viable entity. Since that time, two more 10-year levies have been approved by the voters and the District now provides and protects 22 parks and facilities encompassing over 1200 acres of precious natural resources. One of the continuing components of that original 1988 levy was the Local Park Improvement Grant Program. The Board felt that a program of assistance to local communities for improvement of their own park areas and facilities would maximize the benefit of the Park District levy for each county resident.  Since its inception over $2,100,000 has been awarded to 34 cities, villages and townships in Wood County. On…


Scruci aims to bust myths surrounding BG school levy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When voters go to the polls next month to vote on the Bowling Green City Schools bond issue, the district wants them to be armed with facts, not motivated by falsehoods. Superintendent Francis Scruci met with local media Tuesday to clear up some misconceptions prompted by levy opposition at recent school board meetings. Scruci said he didn’t address the comments at the time because he considers those gatherings an opportunity to hear from the public – not a time for back and forth debate. However, when some of those falsehoods were getting traction as fact, Scruci wanted to clear up confusion on the following issues. Income tax would be a more fair way to fund school buildings. That may be the case, but it is not an option under Ohio school funding law. “The county auditor has confirmed you can’t use income tax to build a project,” Scruci said. During the last school board meeting, it was suggested that the district had twisted those funding rules for the middle school expansion, so it could do the same for the centralized elementary school and high school expansion. But Scruci explained that the middle school expansion was paid for with permanent improvement levy funds already approved by voters. Permanent improvement funds are allowed to be used for anything with a life expectancy of five or more years. “I want to make sure people understand,” Scruci said. “It was implied we did something inappropriately.” Bowling Green City Schools did not turn down any state money for buildings. “It’s just false that we were offered state money and turned it down,” Scruci said. He considers this myth as one of the big reasons many voters cast ballots against the levy in the fall. Due to the increased property valuation of the Bowling Green City School District – with much of it being rich farmland – the district is currently ranked 520 of Ohio’s 609 school districts,…


Ohio voters have chance to draw line on gerrymandering

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Joan Callecod doesn’t want the next map of Ohio congressional districts to be drawn up like the current lines – in a hotel room, away from the public view. Ohio’s current congressional district lines were devised in a hotel room, called “the bunker,” Callecod said Tuesday evening during a presentation on Issue 1 appearing on the May 8 ballot. Callecod, a member of the League of Women Voters in Bowling Green, explained the need for Issue 1 to pass in order to get rid of gerrymandering in Ohio’s congressional districts. Gerrymandering is the manipulation of congressional district lines to benefit one political party or the other. In the current case, since the Republicans were in control when the lines were drawn after the last U.S. Census, the GOP benefits. “In partisan gerrymandering, the legislators choose their voters. The voters don’t choose their legislators,” Callecod said. Issue 1 would require the process of drawing lines to be transparent, and require bipartisan support of the changes. The process would also limit the cases where cities, villages or townships are divided into separate congressional districts. Ohio state districts already went through redistricting reform in 2015. The issue on the May ballot covers the U.S. congressional districts for Ohio. Regardless of which party benefits from gerrymandering, the system is wrong, Callecod said. Under the present congressional lines, only 3 percent of the 435 congressional districts have truly contested elections, she said. “To me, that’s disgraceful,” Callecod said. Ohio’s current process allows the majority party to dissect counties and cities to create districts that favor the party in power. Under the existing map, drawn by Republicans in 2011, the GOP holds 12 of Ohio’s 16 seats while only winning 56 percent of the votes. Callecod is hopeful that ballot issue will be approved by Ohio voters. “We are not aware of any opposition,” she said. Here’s how the new plan would work: The General Assembly has an…


Katelyn Elliott “Issue 1 … will create a transparent, bipartisan process for drawing Ohio’s Congressional districts.”

 Issue 1, a constitutional amendment on the May ballot, will create a transparent, bipartisan process for drawing Ohio’s Congressional districts. Currently, the majority party in the Ohio legislature can draw Ohio’s federal congressional districts to favor their own candidates. This is known as gerrymandering. The League of Women Voters of Ohio and the Fair Districts = Fair Elections Coalition support Issue 1, which would require a three-fifths majority in each chamber, including votes from at least half of the minority party. If the General Assembly could not agree on a plan, the Ohio Redistricting Commission would be empowered to approve a map.  Issue 1 would create new criteria to keep communities together, including a restriction on the number of times a county could be split. It would also require public hearings and allow members of the public to submit maps for consideration. The voter registration deadline is April 9 and early voting begins April 10. Please join me in voting yes for a more fair, transparent, bipartisan process. Katelyn Elliott Bowling Green


League of Women Voters hosting informational meeting on Issue 1

The League of Women Voters of BG (LWVBG) invites you to their program about ISSUE 1 which is on the May 8 Primary Election ballot.  The program will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27th at First Presbyterian Church, 126 S Church St., Bowling Green, OH.   ISSUE 1 provides for an amendment to the Ohio Constitution which would reform the redistricting process, which is how the US Congressional electoral district map is redrawn following each decennial census.  This redistricting process, which historically has become increasingly partisan, has allowed the majority political party to draw map boundaries to favor itself, rather than an accurate reflection of the party affiliation of voters.  This map drawing, resulting in the legislators choosing voters rather than voters choosing their legislators, is called ‘gerrymandering’. ISSUE 1 implements a more non-partisan method to draw the map and is the product of a compromise between the Ohio General Assembly and the citizens action organization, Fair Districts = Fair Elections, of which League of Women Voters of Ohio is a member. Please join us to learn about the provisions of ISSUE 1 and why it is such an important principle for democracy to succeed.     Joan Callecod, Co-Chair LWVBG Voters’ Rights Committee


BG school board hears praise & protest of bond issue

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With the primary election less than three months away, the Bowling Green Board of Education heard Tuesday from citizens fighting for and against the 5.7 mill bond issue. “It’s great to see some new faces here tonight,” School Board President Jill Carr said at the beginning of the meeting. Then she cautioned that “respectful and civil communications” was expected from all. Board member Ginny Stewart reported that details will be forthcoming on community information meetings about the bond issue to raise $71,990,000 for construction of school facilities. The funding would pay for the construction of one consolidated elementary school, plus renovations and an addition to the existing high school building. The first citizen to speak Tuesday was Tracy Hovest, who expressed her sadness that the school board and Superintendent Francis Scruci were being attacked for trying to do what is best for the district’s students. “I’m here to say ‘thank you,’” Hovest said to the board and Scruci. She went on to scold those opposing the levy who were using misinformation to scare voters. She criticized the opposition for saying the levy is too much. “It’s not too much,” she said. Hovest said she was speaking to those voters sitting on the fence, reassuring them that the school board was taking the right action. “All they are asking for is a functional home that meets the needs of all students,” she said. The bond issue is not too much when looking at the return for the community. “Please don’t say it’s too much,” Hovest said. But Steve Bateson said painting those opposed to the levy as being against schools is not fair. The levy, he said, is “excessive.” When the levy failed in November by 550 votes, Bateson said he hoped the school board would reconsider. “We need to take a step back and see why this levy failed.” Bateson asked the board to see the results of a survey asking community…


Issues and candidates face local voters in May election

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County voters will face some decisions come May 8. Today was the filing deadline at the Wood County Board of Elections for any issues or candidates to appear on the primary election ballot. Voters in Bowling Green will help decide the fate of a school bond issue, county park district levy, and a liquor option for a restaurant. One countywide issue will appear on the ballot: Wood County Park District is seeking a 1-mill renewal levy, lasting 10 years. The levy revenue will be used for operating, improving, conserving and protecting the district’s existing parks. The millage is the same as when last passed 10 years ago for the county parks. For the last decade, the levy has generated about $2.8 million a year. That amount is expected to grow to $3 million a year because of new construction in the county. Two school districts in the county will be going before voters: Bowling Green City School District is seeking approval for a bond issue, of 5.7 mills for 37 years, to raise $71,990,000 for construction of school facilities. The funding would pay for the construction of one consolidated elementary school, plus renovations and an addition to the existing high school building. Eastwood Local School District has filed for a replacement tax levy, of 2 mills for five years, for general permanent improvements. One city issue was filed in Wood County: Perrysburg is asking for renewal of a tax levy for 0.8 mills, for five years, for public transportation services. Two other issues were filed with the board of elections: Sunset Bistro, a restaurant at 1220 W. Wooster St., Suite A, Bowling Green, is seeking a local liquor option that would allow Sunday sales. South East Ambulance District has filed for an additional tax levy of 6.5 mills, for five years, for providing funds for ambulance service and emergency medical services. Wednesday was also the deadline for a few candidates appearing…


Redistricting makes May ballot – thanks to compromise

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It looked as if Ohio’s redistricting reform might be doomed to failure – with opposing sides of the issue not budging. But on Monday, a compromise was reached that satisfied both political parties plus the League of Women Voters and other citizen groups which had been pushing hard for reform. Ohio Senate Majority Leader Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, called the unanimous Senate passage of Ohio Congressional Redistricting Reform “pretty remarkable.” The compromise, he said, should help restore public confidence that state legislators can tackle controversial issues in a bipartisan way. “This historic, bipartisan vote is yet another example how state legislators in Columbus find ways to work together,” Gardner said. This afternoon, the Ohio House voted to support the bill. The compromise was reached just in time, since the deadline to get an issue on the primary election ballot is this Wednesday at 4 p.m. The proposed plan keeps the legislature in charge of drawing congressional district maps, but adds additional steps requiring minority party support to put a map in place for 10 years. Ohio’s current process allows the majority party to dissect counties and cities to create districts that favor the party in power. Under the current map, drawn by Republicans in 2011, the GOP holds 12 of Ohio’s 16 seats while only winning 56 percent of the votes. The plan establishes, for the first time, criteria for limiting the number of times counties, cities, villages and townships can be divided into multiple districts. Monday night the Senate voted 31-0 for a Senate resolution that would place the proposed constitutional amendment on the May primary ballot.  Gardner referred to the effort as a “major breakthrough.” Joan Callecod, a member of the Bowling Green League of Women Voters, was excited to hear about the compromise in the Senate. “It looks promising,” she said. “It’s a positive thing, anytime there is compromise.” The Bowling Green League of Women Voters has been advocating…