Democrat Zack Space says as auditor he’d look to limit the role of money in politics

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Donald Trump got one thing right, Democrat Zack Space believes. Space, who is running for state auditor, said the president’s assertion during the campaign that the political system “was rigged” resonated with many voters. Space doesn’t agree with Trump on much but he agrees with him on that. Space is running against Republican Keith Faber. “The system has been rigged by money and political greed,” Space said during a recent campaign stop in Bowling Green. “The money manifests itself by political contributions, all of which are legal, and improper influence on policy. And political greed manifests itself through gerrymandering. Politicians drawing their own lines.” That allows politicians to select their voters, instead of voters selecting their candidates. As auditor he’ll have a say in addressing that. The auditor will have a place on the panel that will redraw state legislative districts, and possibly on the one that redraws congressional districts. Space, though, has mixed feelings about Issue 1, the constitutional amendment calling for the redrawing of congressional districts, which passed in May. While it is a step in the right direction, he said, it still will allow for gerrymandering by the Republican state legislature. All they have to do is lure a third of Democrats with “extremely safe” seats, and the status quo is maintained. “So the potential for gerrymandering still exists.” This kind of political chicanery “causes people to lose in politics and the institution of government and in democracy itself,” Space said. “When they lose faith in democracy they naturally turn to authoritarianism.” The influence of money in politics is seen in the two controversies roiling state government – for-profit charter schools and pay-day lending. The current a state auditor Republican Dave Yost, who is running for attorney general, could have brought the ECOT scandal to a head by declaring the books unauditable. Then it would be up to a judge to decide whether that was a proper use of public funds. Instead the Democrat said, the charter school company continued to received state money, costing local school district millions of dollars. Earlier this month Space, who served two terms in Congress before losing a bid for re-election, announced schools on his first day as auditor he would create a commission to investigate malfeasance in for-profit charter. The legislature, Space added, only addressed the pay day lending industry after the controversy boiled over, costing Republican House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger his job. Another example of campaign contributions run amok Space said. The battle to succeed Rosenberger, he said, was more about who would control the Republican House campaign funds then who would be the best speaker. The influence of money is seen in the budget process as well, he said. “In budget after budget this assembly has reduced local government funding,” he said. That means communities including Bowling Green and his hometown of Dover are struggling to pay for basic needs, such as fixing roads, and providing police and fire protection. These cuts were necessitated by cuts to income taxes that disproportionately benefit the wealthiest Ohioans, those most likely to make campaign donations. “This is a pay off to wealthy donors,” Space said. “A lot of Ohioans feel left behind in my part of the state, Appalachian Ohio. They are at a competitive…

Voters to decide 2 county levies in fall – though 1 is still in limbo

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County voters will decide the fate of two county-wide levies this fall. The county commissioners heard from both groups last week. One levy is a reduced renewal levy – dropped from the current 2.95-mills to 2.45 mills for Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The other is still a mystery. A request had been made for an increase from a 1-mill to a 1.3-mill levy for Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services. The commissioners seem to be on board with the Wood Lane request. But they have expressed reservations about the increased levy request from ADAMHS. During the presentation by Wood Lane officials, Superintendent Brent Baer talked about the “dynamic growth in services” that the board is seeing. And Martha Woelke, of the board, said great deliberation went into the levy request. “We did everything we can to maximize state and federal money,” she told the commissioners. The board has been able to reduce its levy collections some years, but feels that 2.45 mills is the lowest it can go for the renewal. 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. “Our commitments are for the life of an individual,” Baer said. Demands are growing as the population here is increasing. “Wood County is one of the few counties in Ohio that’s growing,” Baer said. About five years ago, there were 226 consumers on waivers. Now there are 425. Baer expects that number to double again in the next five years. The board may need to be back in five years, asking for a greater levy, but this should do for now, Baer said. It’s not often that a county board approaches the county commissioners about lowering a levy request. “I’ve never had to do one with a reduction,” said Sandy Long, the clerk of the board of commissioners. The commissioners like the idea of asking taxpayers for less for Wood Lane. But they aren’t completely sold on asking taxpayers for more for the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board. The Wood County Commissioners – who have to certify the need for levies before they are placed on the ballot – have asked the ADAMHS board to consider other options for the November ballot issue. The current 1-mill levy generates about $2.9 million. The levy replacement plus addition of 0.3 mills would bring in an additional $1.3 million. According to a letter last month from Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar to ADAMHS Executive Director Tom Clemons, the commissioners aren’t rejecting the request for the 1.3-mill levy. However, they would like the ADAMHS Board to consider other options. Those options, according to the letter, plus the original request are: 1.3-mill replacement levy for 10 years, which would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 approximately $45.50 a year. 1-mill replacement levy for 10 years, which would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $35 a year. Replacement…

Group opposed to school levy turns in campaign finances

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The citizens group opposed to the Bowling Green City Schools levy in May has filed its campaign finance report with the Wood County Board of Elections. The filing deadline for campaign finance information from the May primary election was Friday at 4 p.m. The reports list those who contributed to election efforts, and how that money was spent. The group supporting the school levy made the deadline, but group opposed to the levy did not. However, when the board of elections arrived to work this morning, the report had been emailed in. The group opposed the levy – Wood County Citizens Against Higher Property Tax, with Grant Chamberlain as treasurer – reported receiving $7,267.62 since the first filing.  Following are the contributions listed to the anti-levy campaign: Irene Hinesman, $50 Douglas Seiple, $1,000 SLD Rentals, $300 David Apple, $1,000 Dudley Dauterman, $1,000 Gregory W. Bils, $400 Dan Hoffmann, $100 Robert Strow, $100 Sonja Chamberlain, $250 Thomas Carpenter, $250 Harold Moore, $500 Tad Yarger, $100 John H. Herringshaw, $200 Fine Vines LLC, $1,500 Gary Herringshaw, $200 Stephen C. Bateson, $200 Eric T. Lause, $50 Grant Chamberlain, $67.62 The group in favor of the school levy – Citizens in Support of Our Schools, with Andy Newlove as treasurer – reported receiving $3,600 in contributions since the April filing.  Following is a list of the donations to the pro-levy campaign: Becca Ferguson, $100 David Codding, $2,500 Control Systems of Ohio, $1,000 According to the Ohio Campaign Finance Handbook, if a required report is filed late, then the county board of elections or the secretary of state must refer the PAC to the Ohio Elections Commission. The commission determines if a fine should be imposed. Both pro and anti school levy groups filed the initial required campaign finance reports at the end of April. Those reports showed the contributions and expenditures through the period up to 20 days before the election. The post election reports due last Friday showed the money taken in and spent following the first report filed in April. In the initial reports, the anti-levy group had raised $10,866 from nine donors. The pro-levy group had raised $14,175 from 32 donors. Campaign finance law requires any Political Action Committee to report its finances. The reports must include where the money comes from – both in financial contributions and in-kind donations which are products or services that benefit the cause.

Group against BG school levy fails to file finance report

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The citizens group opposed to the Bowling Green City Schools levy in May has failed to file its campaign finance report with the Wood County Board of Elections. Friday at 4 p.m. was the statewide deadline for political action committees to file reports listing those who contributed to election efforts, and how that money was spent. The group that supported the school levy – Citizens in Support of Our Schools, with Andy Newlove as treasurer – filed its report on Friday morning. The group against the levy – Wood County Citizens Against Higher Property Tax, with Grant Chamberlain as treasurer – did not submit its report by the deadline. It is unusual for a PAC to not comply with the Ohio Revised Code requirement, said Carol DeJong, director at the Wood County Board of Elections. “I have not had this experience with a PAC that didn’t file,” especially on such a high-profile election issue, DeJong said on Friday after the deadline passed. The penalty for not filing can be up to $100 a day, she added. According to the Ohio Campaign Finance Handbook, if a required report is filed late, then the county board of elections or the secretary of state must refer the PAC to the Ohio Elections Commission. The commission determines if a fine should be imposed. Both pro and anti school levy groups filed the initial required campaign finance reports at the end of April. Those reports showed the contributions and expenditures through the period up to 20 days before the election. The post election reports due Friday are to show the money taken in and spent following the first report filed in April. In their initial reports, the anti-levy group had raised $10,866 from nine donors. The pro-levy group had raised $14,175 from 32 donors. In the campaign finance report filed Friday by the Citizens in Support of Our Schools, three contributions were recorded: Becca Ferguson, $100; David Codding, $2,500; and Control Systems of Ohio, $1,000. Wood County Board of Elections Director Terry Burton explained in April that campaign finance law requires any Political Action Committee to report its finances. The reports must include where the money comes from – both in financial contributions and in-kind donations which are products or services that benefit the cause. The school levy was a highly controversial issue, and failed for the second time in May. Reporting of the campaign contributors raised some concerns by citizens who felt that information should be private or should not be reported until after the election. However, the Ohio Revised Code requires the campaign contributions to be filed so the public is aware of where campaigns are getting their money and how it is spent.

Voter purge instructions expected from the state

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The strict voter purging process used in Ohio was given the stamp of approval by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this week. The Wood County Board of Elections – like the rest of the state – has been on hold since the legitimacy of the voter purging has been debated in the courts. But soon, people will again be dropped from the voter rolls if they don’t meet state requirements. The local board of elections will be charged with making the cuts. Carol DeJong, one of the directors at the Wood County Board of Elections, said her opinion on the court ruling was irrelevant. “We are Switzerland here at the board of elections,” she said on Wednesday. “We will of course have to wait till we get instructions from the state,” DeJong said. But since the process of reviewing voting rolls is customary in January and February, she didn’t expect any voters would be purged prior to the general election this fall. The National Voter Registration Act prohibits dropping voters too close to an election, she said. “I don’t expect that we will hear anything new until the beginning of 2019,” she said. The last time Wood County did any purging of voter names was in 2015. That year more than 3,400 registered voters in Wood County were purged from the voting rolls following a directive from the Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. However, in 2016 a federal appeals court found that Ohio’s process for maintaining its voter rolls violated federal law. A judge ruled that Ohio voters who were improperly removed from registration lists could cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election. But since those names had already been purged, the ruling meant if a person showed up at the polls and was not on the official list, they would be allowed to vote by a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot is a paper ballot that is held in a sealed envelope with the voter’s identification. If the identification information was verified by the elections board staff, the provisional ballot was counted. Wood County Board of Elections did not encounter any citizens purged from the list, who wished to vote, Director Terry Burton said. “Those people had been through an eight-year process,” of not voting and not responding to notices, he said. But those who send back the stamped envelope will keep their place on the voter rolls. “Those people we hear from, their status is active,” DeJong said. Bowling Green sees a lot of inactive voters due to its university population, she said. “Kids are here for a while, they get registered here for a while, then they more,” DeJong said. And for those who move out of state, there is no system in place to know if they have registered elsewhere. The case that put the spotlight on the voter purging was brought by Larry Harmon, a software engineer and Navy veteran who lives near Akron. He voted in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections but not in 2012. He also sat out the midterm elections in 2010 and 2014. But in 2015, Harmon did want to vote against a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana and found that his name had been cut from the voting rolls. State…

County worried about taxpayer fatigue impact on levy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Concern about taxpayer fatigue has led to a request that the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board reconsider its proposed levy. The Wood County Commissioners have asked the board to consider other options for its November ballot issue. “We just want to make sure that what they put on the ballot, people will be in favor of,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said on Wednesday. “Our concern is – what if it doesn’t pass?” The ADAMHS board had asked that a 1.3-mill replacement levy be place on the ballot. In order for the issue to appear before the voters, the county commissioners have to certify the need for the levy millage. Last month, Tom Clemons, the executive director of the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, made his pitch to the county commissioners for the agency’s levy request. At that point, Herringshaw said that the commissioners had to discuss the levy request. “We want to make sure it is the right fit for Wood County and for the ADAMHS board,” Herringshaw said. The current 1-mill levy generates about $2.9 million. The levy replacement plus addition of 0.3 mills would bring in an additional $1.3 million. According to a letter from Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar to Clemons, the commissioners aren’t rejecting the request for the 1.3-mill levy. However, they would like the ADAMHS Board to consider other options. Those options, according to the letter, plus the original request are: 1.3-mill replacement levy for 10 years, which would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 approximately $45.50 a year. 1-mill replacement levy for 10 years, which would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $35 a year. Replacement levy at an amount between 1 mill and 1.3 mills for 10 years. Two separate levies, with one being a 1-mill replacement levy for 10 years, plus a new levy of 0.3 mills for five years. That lower levy would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $10.50 annually. If the opiate crisis is still creating a big demand for services after five years, the ADAMHS Board can put that small levy back on the ballot, the letter stated. Clemons said the additional funding is needed to keep up with growing needs for services. Some of the biggest issues include dealing with the opiate epidemic, providing more mental health housing, and improving crisis intervention services. At the same time as seeing rising costs for services, ADAMHS is also seeing a drop in help from the state and federal government. A decade ago, state and federal money made up 60 percent of the ADAMHS budget. Now the local levy dollars have to bear the burden of 75 percent of the budget. “We have made prudent reductions in our budgets,” he said. “We are conscientious about using taxpayer dollars.” The commissioners and Clemons will meet later this month to discuss the levy options.

Neighborhood voters say cheers to Sunset Bistro’s request for expanded Sunday liquor sales

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The folks at Sunset Bistro were celebrating election night as early returns showed that the west side eatery had easily won a liquor option for Sunday sales. Owner Prudy Brott, her staff, and customers will still have to wait before they can toast expanded liquor sales with a glass of champagne during Sunday brunch. Brott said that she’s heard it takes from 30 days to three months for the Ohio Liquor Control Board to approve an application for Sunday sales. Tuesday voters in precinct 110 gave the bistro their approval, voting 545-114. Sunset Bistro has only been able to serve beer and a lower alcohol sparkling wine on Sundays. “I’m excited,” Brott said Tuesday night. “And we are too,” chimed in customer Ellen Sharp, who said she’d helped collect signatures to get the option on the ballot. Brott said that it will be good to be able to offer a glass of wine or cocktail on Sunday. She expects that will boost her Sunday business. New Year’s Eve was a dramatic display of the impact the limited alcohol options had on her business. People would call to inquire about reservations and be told the limited alcohol options, then go to celebrate at another establishment, she said. That happens on other Sundays, as well. Sharp, a loyal customer, said she’s been in the same position. Some Sundays when they’ve had guest they’d opt to go somewhere else where they could have a mimosa or a glass of wine. That’s why Sharp helped with the campaign, and being a resident of precinct 110, voted in favor of it. The support from the neighborhood is “quite humbling,” Brott said. She people in the neighborhood as well as the staff got behind the campaign. Brott said she had lawyers tell her that usually restaurants fail in their first attempts to get Sunday sales. So she was very pleased that her request was approved overwhelmingly on the first try.    

Voters reject BG School’s bond issue for buildings

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Board of Education was left bruised and battered Tuesday evening – from both a bitter levy campaign and a biting defeat at the polls. The district’s second attempt to pass a 5.7-mill bond issue for 37 years went down by a bigger margin than its first loss. The unofficial total on Tuesday night was 2,845 (40 percent) to 4,218 (60 percent). That compares to November’s vote of 3,471 (46 percent) to 4,021 (54 percent). “We are very disappointed,” school board President Jill Carr said late Tuesday evening. “We’re so committed to getting our facilities back to the high quality they were,” Carr said of the $72 million plan to consolidate the three elementaries, plus renovate and add onto the high school. “We wanted the best for students, teachers and community as a whole.” But many did not like the plan – either because of its effect on their pocketbooks or because it meant the end to “neighborhood” schools. Steve Bateson, one of those leading the opposition to the levy, issued a statement after the election results were in. “The voters joined together and spoke, defeating the bond issue for a variety of reasons. Some voters believe neighborhood schools are important, others felt that the additional tax was unfair,” he wrote. “This bond issue has been defeated twice and we hope the school board respects the decision of the voters and moves forward with a new plan that all members of our school district family can support for the success of our students and community,” Bateson stated. But finding a plan that all members of the district can support may be difficult. The school board brought in a school taxation expert who said the board’s request for a property tax was the best decision for the majority of the district residents. Principals at the schools offered Saturday tours to the public so show the poor condition of the buildings. But it wasn’t enough to convince the majority of the voters. “We are just going to have to step back and try to figure out what the next steps are,” board Vice President Ginny Stewart said. “Obviously the community wants something different.” The board will continue to work with school taxation expert David Conley to find a funding solution for the district. Critics of the bond issue has suggested that the $72 million price tag is too much, and could be reduced by renovating the 60-plus-year-old elementaries rather than building one centralized building. The opposition has also criticized the reliance on property taxes, which greatly affect the agricultural community. Supporters of the plan said the only way to provide equity in education for all elementary students was to build a consolidated school. They backed the property tax as the best way to achieve that goal. Superintendent Francis Scruci has repeatedly said that the board tried the bond issue again after its defeat in November because it was the best solution for the students, the teachers and the community. But if the voters won’t support it, the board will have to try for something less than the best, he said. “The board is going to have to make a decision,” Scruci said. “In the next couple weeks we’ll have a better idea.”…

County parks levy takes a hike with levy victory

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As voters where casting their ballots, the Wood County Park District board was holding its monthly meeting in the Bradner Preserve. It was a perfect day to be in a park. Sun was shining. Trees were budding. The park board was hoping that feeling would continue into the evening when the votes were counted. “I’m cautiously optimistic,” said park board president Denny Parish. There was no need for caution, since the voters showed that they supported the county park district’s mission by approving the 1-mill renewal levy by 74 percent. The unofficial count was 14,462 to 5,207. The park board was worried of other financial competition on Tuesday’s ballot. “We were concerned there would be several financial issues on the ballot,” Parish said. “But it’s obvious tonight that people who support the parks, support the parks.” The key to such overwhelming support could have been that the park district stuck with its 1-mill levy, rather than increasing its millage. 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. Or it could have been all the park district offers for residents. The county park district has grown to 20 different parks, with 1,125 acres, open 365 days a year. “I think it’s just the good work that the people I work with everyday do for the parks,” said Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger. The park district may have also won such support by showing voters that it listens to their suggestions. Based on resident requests, new programming has been added – both educational and adventure activities, Munger said. “Everybody likes what we’ve been doing,” he said. “We’ll keep listening to the public to see what they want to see for their parks.” Park district adventure activities include archery, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, hiking, geo-caching, hunting, rock rappelling, bicycling and bouldering. Programs are offered throughout the year, including classes on wildlife, bird migration, nature photography, stream studies, fire building, seed cleaning, beekeeping, trees, yoga, tai chi and camping. There are also full moon walks, senior nature hikes, wildflower walks, and summer nature camps. The park district also shares its wealth, with small community parks in the county. The district awards $100,000 a year to local parks for such items as playground equipment, restrooms, or ADA accommodations. During the last several years, the park district has focused funding on land acquisitions.  But that focus is about to shift. “I think we’re looking at a maintenance phase,” Munger said. But don’t think the park district won’t continue to grow – it’s just that they will do so with different funding sources like grants. “I wouldn’t say we’re going to sit back on our laurels,” Munger said. And now the park district can start planning for the future, Parish said. The Wood County Park District currently has 20 sites throughout the county, including Adam Phillips Pond, Baldwin Woods Preserve, Bradner Preserve, Beaver Creek Preserve, Black Swamp Preserve, Buttonwood Recreation Area, Carter Historic Farm, Cedar Creeks Preserve, Fuller Preserve, William Henry Harrison Park, W.W. Knight Preserve, Otsego Park, Reuthinger Memorial Preserve, Sawyer Quarry Nature Preserve, Slippery Elm Trail, Rudolph Savanna Area, Cricket Frog Cove Area,…

Election result update

10:09 Issue 1 that calls for redrawing U.S. Congressional Districts was winning easily in Wood County with 75 percent of the vote,  mirroring results statewide. That won’t happen before the November election though when incumbent Republican Bob Latta will be challenged by Democrat Michael Galbraith, both of whom won handily in their primary races. There were no surprises in other statewide races with Democrat Richard Cordray and Republican Mike DeWine set to face off for givernor, and Republican Jim Renacci set to face off against Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, who was unopposed in the primary.   9:50 Bowling Green School bond levy loses, 2845-4218, 40-60 percent. Wood County Park levy winning handily with 73 percent of the vote, 13,020-4,812, with 87 of 99 precincts reporting. Sunset Bistro’s liquor ordinance passed easily, 545-114.     9:08 With 20 of 29 precincts reporting, school bond issue is down 1,461-2,287.   9:04 In District 5 Democratic primary, Politico is reporting Michael Galbraith leading James Neu, with  69.6 percent, 4,986-2,174, and 24 percent of the precincts reporting. At this point, the Democratic total votes are running just ahead of the total votes for the two GOP challengers, Kreienkamp and Wolfrum.   8:53 School bond issue failing badly, 746-1356 with 9 of 29 precincts reporting. 8:42 Park levy cruising with 72 percent in favor. 8:38 With four of 29 precincts reporting, BG school bond levy is losing 669-890 8:20 With just over 8,400 5th District votes in, Politico is calling Bob Latta a winner over  Todd Wolfrum and Robert Kreienkamp  with 72 percent of the vote. 8:15 With 141 votes in, people in the neighborhood of Sunset Bistro are saying they want the restaurant to expand its alcohol offerings on Sunday. The liquor option is winning 115-26. 7:58 Initial votes from county. BG school bond: For – 568 45.12 percent; against – 691 votes, 54.88 percent. Park district levy: For – 1852, 74.3 percent, against, 639, 25.65 percent   7:56 p.m. No results yet from Wood County, but Politico is reporting Bob Latta has 70,1 percent of the initial vote with 3,885. Todd Wolfrum has, 1,189,24 percent and Robert Kreienkamp, 467, 8.4 percent, 467.

Studying up on ‘neighborhood’ vs consolidated schools

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some Bowling Green area voters find the school levy numbers disturbing – not the monetary numbers but the numbers of students that would be using one centralized elementary if the levy passes. While some have protested the costs of the 5.7-mill levy spread out over 37 years, these citizens object to the merging of three elementaries into one centralized building. Supporters of the change say it will enable the district to provide consistency and equity in resources and opportunities for young students. Critics say students learn better in “neighborhood schools” as opposed to “factory schools.” Both sides of the issue have presented their rationale. And as with most controversial issues, there is plenty of data to support both points of view. Kimberly Christensen, of the Bowling Green State University College of Education and Human Development, said research shows pros and cons for smaller neighborhood schools and larger consolidated schools. Centralized schools offer “higher educational quality as a result of the wider menu of educational experiences” they can provide, Christensen said. There is more consistency and greater equalization, she said. In a building where all the grades are consolidated, the educational teams can offer more connected and integrated lessons, she said.  The children benefit from having all the support staff and specialized teachers in one location, she added. For example, if a student needs to see the school therapist, the child won’t have to wait days until the therapist makes rounds to that school building. And consolidated schools have higher fiscal efficiency, she said, since there are fewer redundancies. Smaller schools, Christensen said, tend to do a better job of making students feel connected. Studies have documented better relationships are likely to occur in smaller settings. “Students feel supported and cared for,” she said. Some research has shown reduced rates of student participation in extra-curricular activities in larger schools, Christensen said. And there are concerns about kids getting lost in the largeness. “Are you going to see some left out of the process,” she said. However, the latest trend seen in school districts seems to offer the best of both educational worlds, Christensen said. Districts are working to create small schools inside big consolidated schools. “If you create that environment, it makes the larger school seem smaller,” Christensen said. With this model, students can benefit from academic teaming, access to all support staff, and more connectedness at the same time. “As long as you can create that kind of intimacy of a small school in a bigger school,” she said. “It’s going to be so important to do that.” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci has said from the beginning that the new building would be divided into three different schools – one wing for K-1, another for grades 2-3, and one for 4-5. But opponents believe that 1,500 elementary students at one site is just too big. Supporters of smaller schools don’t deny that Bowling Green’s elementaries are currently lacking. They, however, would like to see the district spend money on improvements to the existing schools rather than building a new one. Those supporting the levy believe sinking more money into the 60-plus-year-old elementaries is not a good investment and is just kicking the can down the road. A consolidated elementary would mean…

Matthew Lyons ‘yes’ vote for school bond ‘is based on weighing the pros and cons of the project’

Tuesday the residents of the BG School district will decide to move forward or remain in the past.  For over a year now we have heard pros and cons of the building plan and how it will affect multiple segments of the community.  While I sympathize with those who will be hit hard with this plan, I need to base my decision on what I believe to be in the best interest of my children. First, we need more space.  The average size of a kindergarten class at Kenwood is 17, at Conneaut it is 24.  That disparity should make everyone unhappy.  It also shows a major flaw in our current three elementary configuration.  The new elementary building would have an average kindergarten class size of 21 this year.  Evening out class size across the district leads to smaller class sizes.  Smaller classes lead to the teacher in the classroom having MORE time for individualized attention.  We can do better. Next, our schools need to be as safe as possible.  They need to be safe from those who might want to do our students harm.  We have the boot installed in all our classrooms, and this is a step in the right direction.  But this plan does better.    The new space would be built with required safety features as a part of the building, not as an afterthought.  After attending the building tours it is evident the current buildings were not designed with this type of safety in mind.  Our police and fire divisions have weighed in with support, that alone should be enough to warrant support for this plan. They also need to safe for everyday events like drop off and pick up.  Transportation and traffic concerns have also been brought up as reasoning to keep the current three elementary configuration.  I have observed children being dropped off and picked up in all weather, some coming from just down the street from the school.  Through our actions, the parents and guardians in this district have spoken.  And it is overwhelmingly in support of driving students to and from school instead of letting them walk or ride bikes.  The new building from design to construction will be able to address this and make drop off and pick up the safest experience possible. Finally, the largest argument for this project seems to be cost.  It isn’t a small project.  It could have been if past administrations would have addressed the needs.  But they didn’t, and this is where we find ourselves.   I do not have high school students. However, I did take the tour of the building and have talked with parents who do have children in that building.  We could drop money into our buildings and they could go another 20 years.  But then we would be back where we are now only dealing with an 80-year-old building.  That is a bad investment when the alternative are buildings that will address educational needs in the district far longer than 20 years.  I have been to the auditors website and calculated the increase for my family.  For the facilities we would get, it is more than worth the expense. My decision is based on the research I have done and what I believe to be in the best interest of my family.  It is not influenced on what is going around social media.  It is not based on what is fair, our reps in Columbus for the last 25 years have made sure “fair”…

Melissa DeSmith: School levy opposition is untrustworthy

BG School Levy is Needed!!  BGCS needs updated buildings to give our students the best educational environment we can.  Speak to a teacher or a student today to find out what they deal with on a daily basis in the current facilities! I am writing in support of the BGCS Levy, Mr. Scruci and the BGCS Board of Education!  The superintendent and Board have put forward a plan that is in the best interest of the students, staff and community!! The opposition has put many accusations out there that are just false!  One letter recently from Mr. Strow addressed TRUST.  It is the opposition to this campaign that cannot be trusted!  They have many times put out false information including the recent letter from Mr. Strow! Per Mr. Conley of Rockmill Financial Consulting LLC’s presentation to the community (that can be found on the BGCS website): “The District is very well managed, financially The District’s tax levels are low when compared to others in the region* District total annual expenditure per pupil is below State average**($10,551.76 vs $11,603.12) Current financial condition is strong” As for the amount, the levy is for $72 million (5.7 mills), anyone that understands borrowing should understand there is interest involved, so Mr. Strow saying that the district misled anyone on the payback, is again misleading!  How many other levies are on the ballot that give you the  final payback?  None! They are on the ballot for the principal, their advertising is for the principal, not the payback, obviously because that amount will change based on changes in property valuation and businesses moving into the community, the possibility of revenue from the pipeline, etc.  The more people and companies that come to the area, the less that current taxpayers will pay.  There is also the possibility that if interest rates go down, it can be refinanced to save money. In my research about levies, the school board is required to give the board of election 3 specific items:  the principal amount needed, number of years and a purpose.  The county auditor then takes that information and comes up with the millage.  The millage includes both principal and interest.  So, nothing has been hidden from the public!! I would think someone like Mr. Strow would be happy that the school has operating money in the bank!  He is exaggerating again when he suggests that the school will be “pushed into bankruptcy by 2021.”  First, it is currently 2018 and they are financially sound, second, he must not understand governmental accounting and budgeting.  The superintendent and Board have been very open about the fact that there will be a deficit by 2020 and most likely there will be a need for an operating levy at that time, so again, they have been honest with the public! The last time BGCS asked the community for a new operating levy was in 2010 (8 years ago).  If they don’t ask again until 2020, that is a decade of operating without a new operating levy!  The average district asks approximately every 5 years.  This can only be accomplished by being fiscally responsible! My final point in response to Mr. Strow’s letter is the difference between Public Sector and Private Sector budgeting!  They are 2 completely different worlds.  They differ in purpose, process…

BG voters to decide on Sunday sales at Sunset Bistro

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Voters in a section of Bowling Green’s west side will get to decide one ballot issue next week that won’t cost them a penny – except later when they order a drink while dining out. On Tuesday’s primary election ballot, voters in Precinct 110 will vote on allowing Sunset Bistro to serve wine and liquor on Sundays, from 10 a.m. to midnight. The citizens included in this vote are surrounded by Foxgate, Meeker Street, Wooster Street and Conneaut Avenue. Sunset Bistro, owned by Prudy Brott, at 1220 W. Wooster St., has been open now for three years. The restaurant serves beer, wine and liquor on every other day of the week, but on Sundays can only serve beer and Verdi, a type of sparkling champagne. “We’d just like it to be like the rest of the days of the week,” Brott said. Restaurant employees went door-to-door to collect petition signatures to get the issue on the ballot. “We had such a great response,” Brott said. Customers at the bistro often ask for wine or liquor on Sundays, during the restaurant’s weekly brunch or later during evening dinners. “They want to have a glass of wine or a cocktail,” she said. There have been times when diners have left the restaurant when they find out that wine and liquor are not available on Sundays. And one regular group of diners often goes to one of their party’s homes for a drink then return to Sunset Bistro for dinner, Brott said. The lack of liquor sales was particularly detrimental this past New Year’s Eve that fell on a Sunday. People were reluctant to make reservations, she said. “It limits what we can do here,” Brott said. Even if the voters pass the Sunday sales issue, Brott will still have to apply to the State Liquor Control for the proper license. “It wouldn’t be immediate,” she said. But people have been very supportive. “We serve responsibly, and people love the food,” Brott said.

League of Women Voters lists those who endorse Issue 1

The League of Women Voters has released the following list of those who have endorsed issue 1to address how U.S. Congressional Districts are drawn in Ohio. Lynn Ackerson Roger & Betty Jean Anderson Jan & Carol Bell Dolores Black Peggy & Don Boren Ann Bowers John & Alice Calderonello Bob & Joan Callecod Meg & Roman Carek Steve Cernkovich Pamela Chibucos Todd Childers Dan & Karen Cota Mikaela Couch Chris & Ellen Dalton Dick Edwards Katelyn Elliot Martha & Mike Fether Maria Fong Karen Glassford Beatrice Guenther Milt & Lee Hakel Drew Hanna Linda Hanna Leatra Harper Michelle Holley Geoff & Christen Howes Elayne & Joe Jacoby Jennifer Joseph Andrew Kalmar Jennifer Karches Joyce Kepke Claude & Earlene Kilpatrick Judy Knox Bob Kreienkamp Randye Kreischer David Kuebeck Jeanne & Steve Langendorfer Betty Laukauf Neocles Leontis Lee McLaird Bob McOmber Jennifer McVeigh John Mekus Lee & Marge Meserve Jan Mielsen Judy Miller Barbara Moses Joanne & Leo Navin Eugene Naherny Deb Newlove Barb & Tom O’Brien Gina O’Hare Janet Parks Michael Penrod F. Scott & Diane Regan Barbara Rothrock Don & Char Scherer Kay Sergeant Coleen Smith Sherry Spears Sherlynn Smith Scott & Ginny Stewart Norma Stickler Marcia Suter Steve Vessey Andrew Vroman Bethany Waldrick Matt Webb Helene Weinberger Kelly Wicks Sandra Wicks George & Susan Winters