Environment

NextGen to be tracking BGSU voting precinct

NextGen Climate unveiled a list of youth-dense Millennial Indicator Precincts in battleground states that will provide key insights into millennial turnout. The precincts chosen by NextGen Climate are all majority-millennial precincts, making voter turnout in these precincts a good barometer for youth voter enthusiasm on Election Day. One of the 12 is Precinct BG 3-C (Bowling Green State University) in Bowling Green. The site, nextgenclimate.org/turnout, will be updated with the latest turnout numbers for early voting on Monday evening and periodically throughout Election Day. Unlike exit polls, the Census’ Current Population Survey voting data, and other methods used to estimate voter turnout before the actual voter rolls are updated post-election, NextGen Climate’s Millennial Indicator Precincts will offer a real-time glimpse into the generation’s behavior in 2016 by comparing turnout to 2012 turnout in the same precincts.


Gathering in BG to show solidarity for Standing Rock protest

Submitted by MEGAN SUTHERLAND There will be an open and public Standing Rock Peace Gathering this Saturday, Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. at the public green space in Bowling Green, located next to the First Presbyterian Church,. All are invited to attend this gathering, which is rooted in peace, prayer and education. Our hope is to show our support for the non-violent water protectors from over 250 Native American tribes, which have gathered in North Dakota, on the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s reservation, in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, a crude oil pipeline that will be running under the Missouri River, just upstream from the reservation. Our hope is to educate the public, gain awareness to what is happening, and show our support. love and respect for those in Standing Rock. The Native Americans’ peaceful gathering has been met with brutal force from the authorities, and we wish to send our prayers to them, as well as open the conversation on what we can do, in our own hometowns, to address these issues. Please join us to learn, pray, and show your support for Standing Rock with your community! If you have any questions about the gathering, or if you know of a professor or faith leader which would like to speak, please contact Megan Sutherland at 419-341-0164 or at megan.sutherland.bg@gmail.com


Activists bike across the country to find common ground on climate change

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Climate change activists Mindy Ahler and Ryan Hall are peddling across the country, and that’s taken them right through what many would consider enemy territory. The two bicyclists stopped Saturday in Bowling Green to do what they’ve been doing for the last 60 days and 3,400 miles, talk about the need to address global warming. The two started off Aug. 27 in Seaside, Oregon traveling Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. They traveled a route mapped out by the Adventure Cycling Association, and adjusted based on suggestions by local cyclists. Along the way they have talked to people. Those included supporters and volunteers who met them along the way. They also met people who skeptical about global warming. “We’ve had these conversations even with people in the fossil fuel industry,” Hall said. “If we can have these conversations, we can find those solutions.” What they’ve found along the trail, he said, is that people care about the environment, even if they disagree on global warming, its causes and solutions. Hall and Ahler met each other this summer. She is a Minneapolis-based activist, who serves as the North Wind Regional Coordinator for Citizens’ Climate Lobby and co-director of Cool Planet. Hall is just finishing his third year as an AmeriCorps volunteer. He met Ahler while working in Iowa weatherizing houses. He’s also spent a year working as a mentor and tutor in the Columbus city schools. Ahler said the most impressive aspect of the trip is the “amazing people” they met along the way. Ahler recalled peddling into a town in Montana, wet and cold, only to discover that the food and camping they expected to find were not there. “We were taken in by Dave, the superintendent of schools,” she said. “He put us up for the night. Dried us out and warmed us up and fed us.” This was an example, she said, of “the kindness of people and complete open hearts even when we disagree on climate change and what has to happen.” These conversations are important, the riders said, given the lack of interest in the national media in the issue. “That’s what spurred us into doing this bike ride,” Ahler said. They noted that in the three presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, there was one question about energy and none about climate change. In Nebraska they talked to one person who said she was concerned but no one else was. Then shortly after that someone else said the same thing. “There’s a perception that no one is talking,” Ahler said. The transcontinental ride and conversations are meant the break through that perception of silence.  “Once we hear more of the conversation, we need to get to debating what’s the best way to move…


BG goes for 2-mill levy to maintain parks, programs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department has no grand expansions planned if its levy passes on Nov. 8. It just hopes to maintain the pretty grand properties and programs already in place. The city has 11 parks covering 373 acres – well above the national average for a community this size. Those public parks were one of the biggest factors in Bowling Green recently being ranked one of the top 10 places in the nation to raise a family. The parks offer a variety of settings: Garden, nature, athletic and passive. “That’s very rare,” said Kristin Otley, director of the city parks and recreation department. “It really is truly amazing what we have here.” But in order to maintain that, Otley explained the citizens are being asked to pass a 2-mill, five-year property tax levy to support the parks. It will take place of the 1.4-mill levy that expired last year. The levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home in the city $61.25 a year. That is $18.25 more a year than the previous levy. Otley has complete confidence that Bowling Green residents get their money’s worth out of the city’s parks and recreation programs. “It’s a quality of life issue,” she said. “I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we make a difference in people’s lives every day.” Those differences can be seen in the swimming lessons offered in City Park, the colorful flowerbeds at Simpson Garden Park, the rambling trails at Wintergarden Park, and the beginning T-ball classes for kids. “That’s pure joy and learning,” Otley said of the T-ball classes. “It really is pretty phenomenal.” This past summer, 565 children participated in swimming lessons and 625 joined in summer camp programs. The parks and recreation department has not asked for increased levy millage for 16 years. But during those 16 years, the parks have done a lot of growing, with additions such as Simpson Building and Garden Park, City Pool and Waterpark, Community Center, Ridge Park, Skatepark, Dunbridge Soccer Fields, BG Athletic Fields, Black Swamp Preserve, more trails at Wintergarden, and expanded programming for fitness, aquatics and other events. The new millage will allow the city to maintain the parks and buildings it already has, Otley explained. “So we can keep up with the quality our residents expect and deserve,” she said. “We think it’s a good value,” Otley said. At the previous amount, the levy revenue made up about 30 percent of the park and recreation department’s budget. Fees and charges brought in about 44 percent, followed by city income tax at 21 percent, and donations at 4 percent. The parks and recreation department has worked hard to keep costs down, Otley said, by partnering with non-profits and local businesses to underwrite more than…


BGSU makes list of green colleges

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS BGSU is among the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges, according to the 2016 Princeton Review Guide to 361 Green Colleges. The review chose the colleges for the seventh annual edition based on data from the company’s 2015-16 survey of hundreds of four-year colleges concerning their commitment to the environment and sustainability. BGSU scored 90 on the 100-point scale. Except for the top 50 schools, colleges are not ranked in any order. The ranking provides a good reference for prospective students. Environmentally conscious, college-bound students increasingly seek schools compatible with their beliefs, said Robert Franek, Princeton Review’s senior vice president and publisher. “I’m so very proud that our sustainability efforts have been recognized by the Princeton Review guide,” said BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey, who in 2012 signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, lending BGSU’s support to the effort to promote climate neutrality and sustainability. “Students, faculty and staff have all taken leadership roles in moving us toward our goals and making us a more environmentally aware and responsible institution.” The profiles in the Green Colleges Guide include “Green Facts” about the schools with details on such things as the availability of transportation alternatives and whether the school employs a sustainability officer. They also provide information about each school’s admission requirements, cost and financial aid and student body statistics. To be included in the guide, schools must submit an exhaustive report. “It’s quite detailed in so many areas,” said Dr. Nicholas Hennessy, campus sustainability manager, adding that it goes far beyond most people’s basic concept of recycling as a sustainability marker. People might be surprised to know that, in addition to the obvious criteria like sustainable practices in the operations area, the green guide also places a strong emphasis on academics, Hennessy said. “They look at the courses offered and ask ‘What are you teaching your students about the environment and sustainability?’ What opportunities are available to them outside of class?’ They also look at who on the faculty is doing sustainability research. The idea is that, as a higher education institution, we have the talent, the opportunity and the resources to educate more civically engaged citizens.” Hennessy pointed out BGSU’s alternative break programs as good examples of extracurricular activities that can have an environmental focus. Students have worked in watershed areas and alternative energy projects in North Carolina, for example. Other big events on campus, such as the annual Martin Luther King Day of Service conducted by the Center for Community and Civic Engagement, use sustainable practices, he added. And, along with tangible projects, a major goal of the student-led Student Green Initiative Fund is raising consciousness. “So much of making progress is about changing attitudes and changing behaviors,” said Steven Krakoff, vice president for capital planning and campus operations….


Ohio EPA: Lake Erie ‘impaired’ status unnecessary

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Commissioners were asked this year by an environmentalist to sign onto a request that Lake Erie’s Western Basin be declared “impaired.” They were also asked this year by a farmer to not seek the “impaired” designation. Not certain of the best course of action, the commissioners asked the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to help clear up the issue. But the issue seemed to get more complicated instead. “As clear as mud,” Karl Gebhardt said as he left the commissioners’ office on Tuesday. Gebhardt, deputy director of the Ohio EPA Water Resources and Lake Erie Programs and executive director of the Ohio Lake Erie Commission, said the phosphorus causing algae problems in the lake is already being worked on by the state – and federal involvement is not needed. Ohio EPA officials hear the complaints: “Why is Lake Erie green? Why can’t my grandchildren go swimming in the lake?” But efforts are already underway, Gebhardt said. Based on the marine life in the lake, the shoreline of Lake Erie has already been declared “impaired.” And based on the water treatment steps needed, the areas of Lake Erie around water intakes have been declared “impaired.” The U.S. EPA would like Ohio to designate the Western Lake Erie Basin as impaired, Gebhardt said. But there is currently no science-based criteria for that designation. “We really want to base this on science,” he told the county commissioners. Ohio EPA officials have asked the U.S. EPA to establish “impaired” criteria for open waters. But so far, that has not been done. “We’re saying it’s multi-jurisdictional,” but the U.S. EPA wants each state to set standards, Gebhardt said. “We don’t feel it’s right to establish criteria that is just for Ohio.” “We have to look at the entire lake and not just Ohio’s portion,” he said. Gebhardt’s other concerns about labeling the lake as “impaired” are that “tag” stays with the lake for at least two years and there is no defined process to get rid of that label. “Do we really want the headlines and do we really want people to think it’s always impaired,” he asked. “We just want to be careful that we don’t put a tag on the lake that’s not warranted.” Gebhardt said Ohio EPA and the Ohio Lake Erie Commission already have a plan in place to limit the phosphorus creating algae in the lake. “We don’t really need the feds coming in and putting more regs on us,” he said. The U.S. EPA would require the region to identify sources of phosphorus and address the problem. “We’re already doing that.” An existing Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement with Canada has set the scientific standard that phosphorus entering the lake be reduced by 40 percent. That means Canada’s portion must…


AMP promises to fix labor problems with solar site

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nagging questions surrounding the solar field construction have paid off – literally, for the workers there. American Municipal Power CEO Marc Gerken stood before Bowling Green City Council Monday evening, apologized and promised to make things right. Bowling Green officials, who went to bat for the solar project, and the Wood County Commissioners, who approved the project’s tax abatement, have been demanding answers about construction of the site. They suspected that the job was not employing at least 80 percent Ohio labor, and they knew that the contractor wasn’t paying prevailing wage. Gerken took responsibility for one of those issues – the lack of prevailing wages being paid on the worksite. “I’m deeply sorry for that,” he said to City Council and a packed council chambers Monday. Gerken said AMP had planned all along for the project to be a prevailing wage job. However, the size of the 20 megawatt site and the speed at which it needed to be done meant AMP had to go outside for help. “We can’t pull this off ourselves,” Gerken said it was quickly realized. So AMP picked NextEra as a partner as the developer. NextEra then hired Blattner Energy as the construction contractor. Somewhere along the line, the prevailing wage standard was dropped. AMP realized the error when Bowling Green officials brought it to the company’s attention. “I applaud the city for raising it when they did,” Gerken said. When pressed, NextEra amended its contract with Blattner to require that prevailing wages be paid. The company will also go back and make up for lost wages, Gerken said. “They owned up to it,” Gerken said. “But we should have been on top of it. We stumbled a little bit here and I take ownership of that.” As far as the other issue – of 80 percent Ohio labor being required in the tax abatement agreement – Gerken said a law firm has been hired to audit the workforce at the site to make sure Blattner is complying. The audit will certify how many workers are true residents of Ohio. Last week, the Wood County Commissioners sent a letter to the Ohio Development Services Agency stating the county is prepared to yank the tax abatement agreement with NextEra if proof cannot be presented that the contractor is using enough Ohio labor. “Over the past few weeks we have received information stating that the prime contractor, Blattner Energy, may be skirting the 80 percent requirement by leasing local rental housing for out-of-state employees and suggesting that they obtain an Ohio driver’s license,” the letter stated. “Meanwhile, many vehicles parked at the project site have out-of-state license plates.” Gerken said that if Blattner isn’t using enough Ohio labor, that company will be held responsible for the additional costs…


County says it may yank tax break for solar site if 80% Ohio labor not being used

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Commissioners don’t want to be kept in the dark about possible tax abatement violations at the massive solar project north of Bowling Green. And they are prepared to yank the tax break if they don’t get verification that the contractor is using at least 80 percent Ohio labor. Last week, the commissioners sent a letter to the Ohio Development Services Agency stating that on July 19, the county approved a “significant tax abatement” for the solar project based on the criteria and regulations developed by the agency. Of great concern to the commissioners was the requirement that 80 percent of the construction labor for the project be Ohio residents. “Over the past few weeks we have received information stating that the prime contractor, Blattner Energy, may be skirting the 80 percent requirement by leasing local rental housing for out-of-state employees and suggesting that they obtain an Ohio driver’s license,” the letter continued. “Meanwhile, many vehicles parked at the project site have out-of-state license plates.” The commissioners said it is the state agency’s responsibility to ensure that the project owner and contractor are in compliance, and to provide written verification to the county and Bowling Green officials. Since construction of the project is to be complete by the end of this year, verification should not be delayed, stated the letter, which was signed by all three commissioners. Labor at the site was the only item in the abatement agreement that included somewhat local participation. To the commissioners’ displeasure, there was no commitment requiring use of local solar equipment or local contractors with solar experience. “If information regarding strict compliance with the 80 percent Ohio domiciled labor is not provided and verified by you, we will give serious consideration to rescinding our resolution granting the abatement,” the commissioners stated in the letter. Bowling Green Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said this morning that city officials are aware of the county’s letter and the questions raised. “We will be addressing it tonight at city council,” she said. City council members raised similar questions about the solar project labor earlier this month. Council President Mike Aspacher said he received an email from an AMP official in early September saying that prevailing wages would be paid to workers on the project. However, since then it has been reported that is not the case. “There’s some conflicting information,” Aspacher said at the last city council meeting. Council member Bruce Jeffers also expressed his frustration. “I assumed throughout this project that people would be paid prevailing wage.” The issue is complicated by the fact that Bowling Green owns the property for the solar field at the corner of Carter and Newton roads, northeast of the city. But the solar field is an AMP project, which has contracted…


Court rules pipeline can’t use eminent domain

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A judge ruled this week that one of the pipelines planned in Wood County cannot ride roughshod over local farmland. Wood County Common Pleas Judge Robert Pollex ruled that Kinder Morgan does not have the authority to use eminent domain since the Utopia pipeline would be transporting ethane for a private company – not for public use. The ruling came as welcome news to many landowners in Wood County, more than 20 of them represented by Maurice Thompson, of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law. “They can really put the screws to Ohio landowners” and pay them “unfair low rates,” Thompson said of pipeline companies, if eminent domain is used. Thompson had argued that Utopia did not qualify for eminent domain. Unlike pipelines that are sending gas to companies that supply energy for public consumption, the Utopia pipeline would be sending ethane, a byproduct of the fracking industry, to a private plastics company in Ontario. Kinder Morgan was planning to start construction later this year on the $500 million ethane pipeline from shale sites in southeast Ohio to Canada. The proposed Utopia line would run south of Pemberville, then north of Bowling Green, then cross the Maumee River south of Waterville. Kinder Morgan claimed the company has the power of eminent domain to bury the pipeline in 21 miles of Wood County. The statement released by the pipeline company on Thursday said the firm isn’t giving up on the project. “We consider the court’s action to be a misinterpretation of existing law, especially in light of the recent Sunoco decision on September 29, 2016 in the 7th District Ohio Court of Appeals (Harrison County), which upheld the use of eminent domain under similar circumstances,” stated Allen Fore, vice president of public affairs for Kinder Morgan. “We will appeal today’s decision and are confident of prevailing on appeal,” Fore stated. The pipeline case is being heard by all three common pleas courts in Wood County because Kinder Morgan has sued so many local landowners, Thompson said. The landowners’ arguments are two-fold, Thompson explained. First, the private pipeline will provide no public use so it does not qualify for public domain authority. Second, the pipeline company did not explore alternative routes as suggested. The local families had asked that the pipeline company consider placing the line along road right-of-ways, to avoid going through farm fields or housing lots. The Wood County commissioners have also asked the company to consider routing the pipeline along highways to lessen the burden on landowners. Though many of the landowners did not want to speak publicly, Jerry Bruns said earlier this fall that he has no intention of selling out to the pipeline company. His farmland near Pemberville has been in his family since the 1860s. “It’s basically going…


Annual grants to community parks put on hold

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Every year the Wood County Park District dishes out $100,000 to community parks for items like swingsets, soccer goals and shade trees. This year the approval process hit a temporary snag on Tuesday when park board members said they wanted more details before divvying up the money. In addition to a list of the recommended projects, the board members said they wanted to see the requests that were rejected, the amounts requested and awarded, if any local funds were being kicked in, and how much the communities have received in the past from the park district. So the board will meet again next month, with more information and with plans to vote on the grants. The actual grant funding won’t be dispersed until next February. Following is a list of projects being recommended for grant funds from the Wood County Park District: Bowling Green, $7,913 for water play features at the pool; $1,211 for disc golf course signage. Haskins, $8,604 to replace a swingset. Lake Township, $4,536 for benches, garbage cans and dog waste bag dispensers. Luckey, $2,708 for park benches. Northwood, $9,181 for disc golf course, trees and soccer goals. Pemberville, $14,290 for renovation of old storage building into park shelter. Perrysburg, $9,722 for sun shade structure. Perrysburg Township, $4,064 for playground safety surfacing. Risingsun, $19,572 for playstructure and surfacing replacing old playground equipment. Walbridge, $7,500 for renovation of restrooms/bathhouse at the pool. Weston, $10,699 to replace old playground equipment and surfacing. Grant requests from Cygnet, Portage Township and Troy Township did not make the initial cut. Jeff Baney, assistant director of the Wood County Park District, said he was particularly pleased with two grant requests – one from Northwood, the other from Risingsun. Risingsun is in line to get almost $20,000 for new playground equipment to replace equipment from the 1950s and 1960s. “I know we all played on that stuff and we survived it,” Baney said. But the playground hasn’t complied with safety standards for years. “They got rid of a lot of really arcane equipment,” such as the old “witch’s wheel” that can be quite dangerous for kids, Baney said. “I was glad to see it,” he said. In Northwood, the funding is set to go toward a new disc golf course, which was researched and designed by a student, Baney said. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board discussed capital improvement plans for the Wood County Park District. Some of the projects, reported by Park District Director Neil Munger included: Cedar Creeks Preserve, add new playground equipment. Harrison Park, replace old restrooms with handicapped accessible restrooms. W.W. Knight Preserve, repair boardwalks and shelters. Otsego Park, check bank slipping along the Maumee River behind the stone hall, repair cracking steps, and replace roof on the stone hall. Care will…


Seminar to focus on protecting trees during construction

The Bowling Green Tree Commission will hold a seminar on Nov. 12, on protecting trees during construction. Those attending will discuss how to protect trees during construction projects and how to selecting building materials can help with stormwater run-off and allow air and water to reach tree roots. Attendees will create a tree protection plan. The seminar will begin at 9 a.m. in the classroom at Simpson Garden Park, and end by 11 a.m. For more information please contact BG’s Arborist, Grant Jones, at 419-353-4101 or email him at arborist@bgohio.org.  


Local candidates face questions at forum

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the nation was preparing for the second presidential debate Sunday evening, Wood County residents filled up seats in a Bowling Green church to listen to local candidates. Though the forum was much less contentious than the presidential debate, there were a few accusations lodged at the local level. The League of Women Voters from Bowling Green and Perrysburg hosted the candidate forum for nine county, state and national races. Questions for the forum were accepted from the audience on note cards ahead of the event. But because there were 17 candidates sharing the stage, only two questions were posed to each. The candidates were all given a couple minutes to sum up at the end. The biggest sparks flew when the candidates for the Ohio House – Republican Theresa Gavarone and Democrat Kelly Wicks – were called to the microphones. The first question asked each to identify their top two priorities. But in response to multiple flyers mailed to local residents and a television commercial accusing Wicks of not paying his taxes, Wicks took the opportunity to set the record straight. “I’m Kelly Wicks and I pay my taxes,” he said.  Several years ago, he missed the deadline for a property tax payment, but paid it as soon as he realized the error, Wicks said. He questioned why his opponent and the state Republican party were spending so much on untruths. “Why is she willing to go so ugly, so early?” Wicks said. “What are you hiding?” Gavarone said she did not review the ads against her opponent. “They were produced out of Columbus and mailed out of Columbus.” She also stated her top priorities would be the economy and education. “It’s important to keep Wood County working,” Gavarone said, suggesting the need to reduce taxes and regulations on businesses. Schools need to be funded adequately and the concerns of educators need to be heard, she said. The second question for the House candidates was about charter schools and the need to make them accountable financially and in terms of student progress. Gavarone said recent legislation is making charter schools more accountable, but added “we need to stay vigilant.” Wicks voiced a much different opinion. “I’m against charter schools,” he said. “They have done damage” by draining dollars from the public school system, he said, adding that charter schools are not held to the same standards as public ones. The state’s policies on charter schools are “failing our children and our communities,” Wicks said. In her summation, Gavarone talked about her business, law and city council experience. “I have a track record of working in a bipartisan manner,” she said. Wicks also talked of his years in business and as a community leader, and said he was someone who would “fight…


Wood Soil & Water Conservation District meets

(As submitted by the Wood Soil & Water Conservation District) The Wood SWCD held its 67th Annual Meeting & Awards Banquet and the 4th annual Conservation ATV Tour on Saturday, September 10th at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), near Hoytville. The day began at 9:00 a.m. with a conservation ATV tour, sponsored by Mid-Wood, in southern Wood County. Over 50 ATV riders were escorted by the Wood County Sheriff Auxiliary as they traveled the byways visiting the lagoon in Custar managed by the Northwestern Water and Sewer District, learning how the data collected at the Edge of Field (EOF) monitoring stations is helping farmers manage applied nutrients, touring Graminex pollen collection facility, and stopping by the fields of an organic grain farmer. The Wood SWCD board of supervisors election was held at OARDC 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. with Dale Limes, Dennis Ferrell, and Lee Sundermeier as candidates. Incumbents, Dennis and Lee, were elected to serve three year terms beginning January 1, 2017. Ron Snyder, National Association of Soil and Water Conservation District’s Soil Health Champion and Wood SWCD supervisor, presented “Soil Your Undies.” In addition to the election during the lunch program, awards were presented for Farm Beautification to Dan and Jan Wilson, of Rudolph; Backyard Conservationist to Doug and Cathy Irick; and Friend of the District to the Wood County Sheriff. The John Hirzel Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Amanda Barndt, Bowling Green. Amanda is a junior at Northwest State Community College. In 1975, the late Harold and Iva Lou Bordner established the Farm Beautification Award. The award was designed to encourage farmers’ pride in their farmsteads and is continued through the Wood Soil & Water Conservation District. Each year nominations are accepted and the winning farm is chosen after considering such things as the condition of the buildings, care and upkeep of the garden and lawn, landscaping, windbreaks, absence of unnecessary equipment, and the overall appearance. The 2016 Farm Beautification Award is presented to Dan and Jan Wilson of Rudolph. For nearly 130 years the Potter farmstead is the place the family has called home. Dan’s great-grandfather, Clarence Potter, purchased the house and surrounding land in 1889 and continued to build the family farm for livestock and grain production. The larger remaining outbuilding is one of two 3-story buildings used to store straw and hay. An intricate trolley system made it possible to stack the barn full. The smaller remaining outbuilding is known as the playhouse. It has been relocated multiple times on the property through the years with one spot being near the road so the children had a place to wait for the bus out of the weather. Modern improvements and additions to the home and property were done with care as to always welcome the extended family home for holidays and…


Failing septic systems in county estimated at 6,000

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As many as 6,000 failing septic systems in Wood County are sending sewage into public waterways. That estimate is based on the fact that there are approximately 12,000 septic systems operating in the county, with the average life expectancy of the systems at 30 years, according to Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey and Environmental Division Director Lana Glore. Because aging and failing septic systems are a problem statewide, the Ohio Department of Health has suggested that local health departments examine every system. “They want all septic systems to be looked at,” Glore told the Wood County Commissioners Tuesday during a meeting on septic systems in the county. Though admirable, the plan is quite “grandiose,” Batey said, explaining that the Wood County Health Division can’t meet that goal unless they go on a hiring spree. “The state’s expectation that we check every system in the next five years – that’s just not feasible,” he said. The Wood County Health Division already has a septic system operation and maintenance plan, but it is on a much smaller level, Glore said. Inspections of systems are complaint-driven or prompted by real estate sales. The health division works with the county building inspection office on preventing problems by determining the best locations for septic systems and making sure space is left for replacement systems. The health division also partners with the county engineer’s office to help map out systems using GIS. “We’re working toward better use of technology,” Batey said. The health division also works with landowners to find the most reasonable solutions. “Our idea is always to work with the owners and give them the best options,” Glore said. “Our first goal is always working with homeowners and property owners.” While sanitary sewers are being extended to more rural areas of the county, there are still many areas years away from that option. Health district officials realize there are many older septic systems that were installed without permits and have never been inspected. “A lot of the older systems went into field tiles,” Glore said. If those older failing systems are inspected, and it can’t be proven that the sewage is going into a leachfield or a secondary system, then they have to be replaced. Septic system replacements can be quite costly, especially if bedrock is encountered. “The septic system is almost worth more than the house then,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said. But both Batey and Glore assured the commissioners that the health district works to help homeowners with the costs. For example, the district has staff who can design the systems, which can be a big cost savings to residents. The health district also uses grant funding to help homeowners with the costs. “We’re optimistic we should be able to expand that program,” Batey…


BG residents and bicyclists clash over plans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There was a head-on collision Monday evening between city residents who want to safely bicycle in town, and city residents who want to hang on to their front yards and street parking. John Zanfardino, of City Council’s Transportation and Safety Committee, set the scene by explaining the long-awaited goal of creating bike routes in the city. “Everywhere I visit has bike lanes,” he said. “It seems to me a progressive concept we should consider.” The consultants working with Bowling Green on a community action plan asked about bike lanes during their initial visit to the city, according to council member Daniel Gordon. “The very first thing they noticed when they came to Bowling Green was a lack of bike lanes,” he said. “This is a national movement,” said council member Sandy Rowland. But plans to modify the first two streets for bikes met roadblocks Monday evening from neighbors who felt their concerns were being ignored. When City Engineer Jason Sisco presented the plan to widen sidewalks on the east side of Fairview to accommodate bikes, the neighbors asked why the bike lane wasn’t being placed on the west side along the golf course owned by the city. “Yeah,” several in the audience said loudly. Sisco said city officials had been worried about putting bicyclists too close to stray golf balls, but he added “there’s nothing that says it couldn’t be on the west side.” When given a chance to take the podium, several Fairview Avenue residents defended their front yards, and several Conneaut Avenue residents stood up for their street parking. “If you put a path in my yard on Fairview, you will be able to knock on my side door,” Faith Olson said. “That’s not fair to me as a long-time resident of Bowling Green.” Olson said she understood the frustration of bicyclists waiting from some accommodations in the city. “I understand you’re tired of talking, but you need to consider people on those streets.” One of those people is Francine Auchmuty, who lives on the far east block of Conneaut Avenue, where street parking is currently allowed. “We have six multiple units on Conneaut and Grove,” many with driveways that have room for only one or two vehicles. “There’s no way that would be fair to take away our parking,” she said. Another resident said she sees very few bicyclists on Fairview – but a bicyclist in the audience offered that could be because cyclists don’t feel safe on the street. The council members of the transportation committee said they knew the needs of bicyclists and homeowners might be at odds. “We knew every street we brought up would be a problem for someone,” Zanfardino said. But bike paths attract new residents, provide health benefits and reduce environmental pollution, he…