Pipeline attempt to use eminent domain protested

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Eminent domain often allows pipeline companies to plant their lines where they wish. The only point left to dicker is the amount they have to pay landowners to cross their property. But the pipeline case being heard in all three common pleas courts in Wood County is different. Unlike pipelines that are sending gas to companies that supply energy for public consumption, the Utopia pipeline proposed by Kinder Morgan would be sending ethane, a byproduct of the fracking industry, to a private plastics company in Ontario. Kinder Morgan is 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 claims the company has the power of eminent domain to bury the pipeline in 21 miles of Wood County. “Our position is they absolutely do not,” said Andy Mayle, an attorney working with Maurice Thompson of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law. According to Thompson, a private pipeline company’s taking of land for its own gain violates the Ohio Constitution’s strict protection of private property rights. Thompson and Mayle represent 16 families in Wood County who are contesting the eminent domain claims of the Texas-based pipeline company. The case is being heard by all three common pleas courts in the county because Kinder Morgan has sued so many 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 have 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. But the pipeline company would not budge on its route. However, it appears the company is now reconsidering its previous reluctance to deviate from its proposed route. After last week’s court hearing, Mayle got a call from pipeline representatives saying that an engineer has now determined that the line could be rerouted to run along the perimeters of properties rather than through farmland or residential lots. The pipeline officials also indicated they would be offering “substantially more money” to landowners, Mayle said. “From our perspective, the land is not…

2nd Annual Simpson Gardening Symposium held

(As submitted by Chris Gajewicz, BG Parks naturalist) On July 30th , the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department hosted the 2nd Annual Simpson Gardening Symposium at the Simpson Garden Park in Bowling Green. The symposium is made possible by funding through the Kuebeck Forum on Nature and Environment and the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Foundation. This year, speakers for the forum were from local to international locations and a variety of topics were presented to the fifty gardening enthusiasts. The day started off with Isaac Kirwan, Assistant Horticulturist for the Atlanta Botanical Garden in Gainesville, Georgia. Mr. Kirwan spoke to the group about incorporating natural vistas into your home landscape by looking at the plants and environments which are found in your growing area. By utilizing both native plants and plants which grow in your zone, the gardener can create trails, paths, and scenery in their own yard that mimics the surroundings. Don Schooner from Schooner Farms in Weston, Ohio, spoke on the traditional gardening method known as Hugelkultur. Hugelkultur, German for, “Hill Mound”, has been practiced in Northern Europe for hundreds of years and involves the burying of a fallen tree or log with soil, leaf matter, compost, etc. The mound is then used for the growing of food crops. As the tree or log inside the mound decays, the nutrients it releases can be used by the surface crop. Hugelkultur mounds can been seen in full operation at Schooner Farms at Route 6 and Otsego Pike in Wood County. The final speaker for the day was Botanical Explorer, Joseph Simcox. Mr. Simcox, his brother Patrick, and their team of plant collectors, travel the world in search of seeds from food plants that are on the verge of extinction. With most food crops worldwide, the seed stock is limited to very few varieties. Simcox collects seeds from small farms, deserts, jungles, and anywhere else people grow their own food. The seeds are collected from these familiar, (corn, squash, cucumber, and tomato), food plants, and sometimes unfamiliar, (Dragon Fruit, Nara Melon, Horse Lentils, and Japanese Maize). Simcox said that seeds from many of these food crops plants have been in the same family for, in some cases, hundreds of years and the family each year continue to propagate them. Many of our immigrant ancestors coming to the new world brought the seed stock for familiar food crops with them and many people still have memories of family members saving seed annually from their crop for use the following year. Thanks to this year’s…

Families put up a fight against pipeline plans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Jerry and Elaine Bruns’ farmland near Pemberville has been in their family since the 1860s. They have no intention of giving a pipeline company permission to damage it – no matter how much money is offered. The Bruns are being joined by 14 other Wood County families who are standing up to Kinder Morgan pipeline company, which is planning to build a $500 million ethane pipeline from southeast Ohio to Canada, passing through their land on the way. On Thursday, the landowners listened in court as pipeline representatives said the residents were being greedy and were holding out for a better price. Not true, Jerry Bruns said. “We told them from the get-go. We don’t want the pipeline, no matter what the money.” This is clearly not about the money, he said. “This has been going on for two years.” On Monday, the families will be in court again, trying to convince the judge that eminent domain law does not give Kinder Morgan the right to bury a pipeline on their land. According to their attorney, a private pipeline company’s taking of land for its own gain violates the Ohio Constitution’s strict protection of private property rights. The action filed on behalf of 15 families in eastern Wood County opposes the efforts for the Utopia pipeline intended to send ethane from southeastern Ohio to a Canadian plastics factory. Bruns said he and other families objected to the land surveys by the Texas-based pipeline company – to no avail. “They got a restraining order. We couldn’t even go on our own property,” he said. The proposed Utopia line would run south of Pemberville, then north of Bowling Green, then cross the Maumee River southwest of Waterville. The 12-inch line would travel through 21 miles of Wood County. The Kinder Morgan company has plans for construction of the line to start at the end of this year and continue through 2017. Because the line would be moving ethane, a byproduct of the shale fields, it is not subject to the same approval process as natural gas pipelines. But the pipeline would cause the same damage to his fields, according to Bruns, who said the Utopia map shows it running “the whole entire length of the farm,” south of Pemberville. “It’s basically going to damage the soil of the farm,” by compacting the soil, he said. Despite claims by the pipeline company that the ground will be restored to its present condition, Bruns has seen the effects of such projects….

Statewide solar energy conference set in BG

Solar energy developments across Ohio will be discussed by 20 expert speakers on Thursday, Aug. 25 at the Green Energy Ohio’s Building Big Solar Across Ohio Conference. “This is the most comprehensive look at solar energy across Ohio ever presented – showing the statewide extent of currently operating solar energy systems and the growing list of solar installs expected in coming years,” said Bill Spratley, GEO executive director. Conference topics include: – GEO’s new list of Ohio’s 25 largest solar installations and installed solar in Ohio counties; – Ohio’s largest solar installation of 20 MW, now under construction at Bowling Green; – The state’s first “Community Solar” projects by municipal and rural cooperative utilities; and, – How large-scale solar battery storage and solar tracking systems are operating in Ohio. The GEO News Magazine Summer Edition next week will also release a new survey of solar energy installations in every county of Ohio and a new listing of the top 25 largest solar arrays in the state. This first-ever county-by-county survey will also be discussed at the Bowling Green conference. The day-long event at the Stone Ridge Golf Club in Bowling Green is expected to attract community leaders, solar developers, electric utilities, financiers, installers, and contractors along with manufacturers, retailers, government officials, educators, farmers and consumers. See registration and details on GEO’s website at: www.greenenergyohio.org.

Legislators asked to step up Lake Erie protection

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Two years after algal blooms created a water crisis in the Toledo area, local leaders want to know what Ohio and Michigan are doing to prevent the green water from returning. Last week, legislators from both states were asked to explain efforts at the state level to keep Lake Erie clean. The state senators and representatives were a captive audience for questions from regional city, village, township, county and school officials during a TMACOG forum. The legislators were asked about steps they had taken to protect the water quality in the northwest Lake Erie basin. One legislator from Ohio and another from Michigan said they had been “proactive” in their clean water efforts, with manure application on farm fields now being regulated. State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, stopped short of using the word “proactive,” but listed off several bills and proposals to protect the water. However, he then added, “I don’t believe we have done enough yet.” “We still have more work to do. This lake deserves it,” Gardner said. State Rep. Mike Sheehy, who represents several Lucas County subdivisions, said many Ohio waterways are in compliance with the Clean Water Act. “Guess which river is not on the list?” he asked – the Maumee River. State Rep. Bill Reineke, from the Sandusky County area, said he represents several farmers in his district who have been self-regulating their use of manure on fields. “We can’t be blaming anyone,” he said. Michigan Rep. Bill LaVoy said his region has worked with government sources of the problem, and is now starting to focus on farming sources. “We all have responsibility,” said State Rep. Steve Arndt of Ottawa and Erie counties. The problem is caused by failed septic systems, community wastewater system deficiencies, and agricultural runoff. “There just simply is not enough money,” to tackle the problem without turning to science to pinpoint the sources, Arndt said. The local officials asked about aging and failing water systems that need replacement, but are not affordable for most communities. “We definitely should do more,” Gardner said. “Isn’t it amazing that we live next to one of the most important fresh water sources” yet parts of the region have very high water rates and bicker over their systems. Gardner went on to say he had proposed a billion dollar clean water bond issue that did not garner ample support to progress this year. “That is not going to happen in 2016,” he said. Michigan State Rep. Jason Sheppard said his state shares…

Audits to save BG homes money and energy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG  Independent News   Thousands of Bowling Green homes are letting cool air escape in the summer and heat seep out in the winter. So Columbia Gas is giving every homeowner, landlord and renter a chance to keep the air in their houses and money in their pockets. Bowling Green residents are being offered home energy audits for $20 by Columbia Gas, to identify how homes can be made more energy efficient. And if the residents agree to weatherization upgrades, the most they will pay per home is $300. “It’s because of Bowling Green’s interest in energy efficiency,” Jill McGinn, of Columbia Gas, explained last week to the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. “Everyone in Bowling Green is eligible.” The subsidies through the program will pay for up to $4,000 in home improvements, but the residents will pay a fraction of that. “The most any Bowling Green resident will pay is $300,” McGinn said. “Those are some pretty huge and substantial savings.” The energy audits take about three hours to complete. An added bonus, McGinn said, is that experts also look for safety problems. McGinn knows all about that, since when she had an energy audit done on her home, it found a gas leak in her basement. “Safety is Columbia Gas’ first priority,” she said. The audits often discover leaks at gas line joints or at the appliance hook ups. The next priority is energy efficiency. The homes likely to benefit the most from the audits are those built before 1975, many which use more than 1,000 cubic feet of gas annually. Those homes are often found with very inefficient furnaces, and insulation that has settled over the years and no longer fills up space between the walls. “We run into a lot of houses that have no insulation whatsoever,” McGinn said of some of the older homes. Bowling Green resident Neocles Leontis is a believer in the audits as a way to say energy and money. “It’s a way to keep more of our money in our pockets and in our community,” he said. Leontis thought he was being smart years ago by replacing windows in his century old home. But the energy audit showed the air inside his home escaping through cracks in the basement and around windows. Many homes need thousands of dollars in upgrades to make them energy efficient, McGinn said. But Columbia Gas realizes those type of expenses just aren’t possible for most homeowners. So that’s the reason behind $300 being the most that any resident…

Conservation grants offered to local farmers

Farmers in the watersheds of the Portage and Toussaint rivers are eligible for funds to reduce the amount of nutrients that migrate from their fields to nearby waterways. The grant is through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and is being administered by the Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Wood and Ottawa counties. TMACOG will document costs to farmers and monitor the grants. Applications are being accepted now through Aug. 15 only at Wood County and Ottawa County Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Farms must be within either the Portage or Toussaint River watershed which also includes parts of Sandusky and Hancock counties. The grants will reimburse farmers for three agricultural best practices: variable rate technology with cover crops, water control structures, and blind inlet filters. Variable rate technology (VRT) measures nutrients present in the soil and then delivers only the amount of fertilizer necessary for optimum yield. Under the terms of the grant, farmers will be reimbursed for planting winter cover crops with VRT technology. Farmers will test soil in a three-acre grid or less. The information is mapped in a GIS system and linked to the application of fertilizer. Farmers will be reimbursed for both the cost of the fertilizer and the cost of the cover crop. Water control structures are essentially control valves that are placed on a drainage tile main line. By adjusting the stopper boards – essentially raising a dam in a drainage tile – ground water can be held back in the field in the root zone where plants can utilize the nutrients that may have otherwise been flushed out. Blind inlets are a filter system that is another way of controlling surface runoff into drainage tile. With a blind inlet, the runoff passes through engineered drainage soil which facilitates the processing of nutrients in the water.  

County hears concerns about large dairy farms

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Milk does a body good. No one is disputing that. It’s the byproduct of the dairy cows that local officials are questioning. Last week, the Wood County Commissioners heard from three people about problems associated with Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in the county. Those concerns included a full manure lagoon left behind when a large dairy went bankrupt, the damage caused on rural roads not built to handle mega dairy traffic, and the impact on Lake Erie when the manure reaches the lake and fuels algal blooms. Vickie Askins informed the commissioners that when the Manders Dairy went bankrupt about four years ago, it left behind about 10 million gallons of manure it its lagoon. Since then, about one million gallons have been trucked to the Campbell Soup plant and run through its digesters. That leaves about 9 million gallons of manure behind at the dairy, located at the corner of Rangeline and Maplewood roads, southwest of Bowling Green. “It’s been sitting there basically full,” Askins said. Federal law requires that the manure must be taken care of when a CAFO closes, Askins said. And Ohio EPA requires that no manure be applied to farm fields unless up-to-date soil samples and manure analyses are obtained. Askins, a self-motivated watchdog of mega dairies in Wood County, said neither has been done. The lagoon is nearly full, and no field application study documentation can be found. Yet, she has seen evidence of “manure irrigators” being constructed near the site. “Wait a minute,” she said. “No manure shall be applied till you have a valid plan.” Southeast of Bowling Green, another large dairy is causing headaches for Portage Township Trustee Dave Housholder. That dairy, at the corner of Portage and Bloomdale roads, recently received a permit to expand to 2,960 cows, Askins said. The township is already struggling to keep up with the wear and tear on the roads near the dairy, Housholder told the county commissioners. An expansion will create even more financial hardship for Portage Township, he said. And further to the north, it’s the impact of the manure on the health of Lake Erie that has Mike Ferner concerned. Ferner talked to the commissioners about the effort by the Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie to have the Western Lake Erie Basin officially declared “impaired.” “Our goal is to return Lake Erie to a drinkable, fishable, swimmable body of water,” the advocates’ material states. The clean water advocates point to the algal blooms in 2014, which caused…

Protesters in BG take Donald Trump to task

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Donald Trump prepared to take the podium at the National Republic Convention Thursday, others in Ohio were taking makeshift stages across the state to protest the presidential candidate. Anti-Trump rallies criticizing his “dangerous and hate-filled agenda” were held in 15 cities from Akron to Zanesville. In Bowling Green, the rally started out slowly, with the protesters almost being outnumbered by the security personnel outside the Wood County Courthouse. Dick Teeple, of Bradner, was one of the first to show up, carrying a toilet seat with Trump’s photo in the center. “I have grandchildren. I care about what kind of future they have,” Teeple said, listing his top concerns as the environment, women’s rights, equal pay and climate change. “What they stand for, I’m against,” he said of Trump and his vice presidential pick Mike Pence. Teeple was wearing a Bernie Sanders shirt, but said he would be supporting Hillary Clinton in November. “I’m not 100 percent enthusiastic about Hillary. But she’s not going to sell out the environment.” As he stood on the courthouse steps, Teeple said he is mystified by Trump’s ability to win supporters. “I can’t understand it. I think there is some anger, but I think they better get over that and see what he’s going to do.” At its height, the Bowling Green rally had eight protesters. While their numbers were few, their concerns were many. “I just absolutely think Donald Trump is wrong for America,” said Kristie Foell, of Bowling Green. “I’m so disgusted by the attacks on Hillary.” Foell sees the Republican candidate as morally bankrupt, and his party as being motivated by an opportunity to legislate restrictions on abortions and same-sex rights. “My mother said to me, ‘I would vote for a monkey over Hillary, and now I have that chance,’” Foell said of her mother, who is almost 80 and a lifelong Republican. Sage Rozzel, of Bowling Green, held a sign saying “Dump Trump,” showing the likeness of the candidate in a pile of poo. “I do not agree with Donald Trump at all. He’s not aware of climate change. He’s racist,” Rozzel said, also listing off Trump’s views on immigrants, Muslims and Hispanics. “It’s very scary because people are voting for him. It’s insane.” “He’s feeding off of people’s fear. Feeding off of fear is not going to make it better. It’s going to make it worse,” Rozzel said. The rally outside the courthouse did draw some attention from pedestrians who snapped photos and motorists who honked…

County warms up to solar field tax exemption

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The future looks bright once again for the solar field planned by the city of Bowling Green. Tuesday morning, the Wood County Commissioners approved the tax break requested for the largest solar field planned in Ohio. The approval came one day after the work at the site was scheduled to begin – since the commissioners refused to grant the 30-year tax abatement for the $43 million project until their questions were answered. Though it took longer than hoped, the delay will not negatively impact the project which is set to be completed by the end of this year, said Daryl Stockburger, of the city’s utility department. “At this point, the project can keep its schedule,” Stockburger said Tuesday after the commissioners met. “We are only a day behind.” Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said he understood the commissioners’ desire to get their questions answered. But he was also relieved that the project could now move forward. “It’s a wonderful project,” Commissioner Craig LaHote said. “It would be a great gem to have here.” But the commissioners refused to be rushed into approving the tax break. “We’ve had less than two months to look at it,” LaHote said. “This abatement is unique,” he said. The county has granted tax breaks to private companies before, but this request is different in its size and duration, granting an exemption of $7.3 million over the first 15 years. Most tax abatements are based on the number of jobs created by a business. But this request differs there as well, since there will be no jobs beyond the construction period. “It’s been hard for us to get numbers,” LaHote said. Consequently, it was difficult to weigh the impact of the tax abatement. “The more we looked into this, the more questions came up.” LaHote said the delay on the tax abatement might have been avoided if the commissioners had been given more time to consider the request. “I wish we had been brought into the process a little sooner.” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw also defended the time taken to review the request for the tax exemption. “It has been difficult to get answers to all of our questions,” she said. Commissioner Joel Kuhlman said the board likes to reference historical criteria when making decisions. But in this case, no criteria existed since this request is unlike most. “It’s being driven by a public entity,” but a private entity will profit, he said. Last week, Bowling Green officials met with the commissioners to convince…

BG’s new arborist has deep rooted love of trees

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s new arborist is a big believer in diversity. That’s one of the reasons he was attracted to the city – its diversity of trees. Grant Jones, who was working at the botanical Longwood Gardens outside Philadelphia, knew of Bowling Green’s reputation as a tree hugging community. “I’ve always heard good things about Bowing Green and its commitment to trees,” he said. Jones shares that commitment – though he could do without the messy mulberry tree he has to park under at his temporary home. Since arriving on the job on June 1, Jones has been getting to know Bowling Green’s people and its trees. “There’s a really nice grove of old oak trees,” he said about the huge trees in City Park. “They look like they are doing pretty well right now.” “I think that’s one of the things I like about trees,” they take time to reach their potential, he said. “They’re not something that’s instant.” Unlike Nebraska, where he grew up, Bowling Green has a wealth of maple, oak, honey locust, crab apples and pear trees. “There’s not a lot of trees in Nebraska, so I got to appreciate the trees we had,” Jones said. And unlike many cities, Bowling Green has a tree inventory that tracks all the city-owned trees in the parks, cemetery and right-of-ways between sidewalks and streets. “That’s important,” Jones said. As tree diseases come and go, an inventory allows the community to track its susceptible trees and replace them with types that can withstand the diseases. A few years ago, it was the emerald ash borer that wiped out ash trees. The latest potential threat seems to be the Asian longhorn beetle. “They like maples, which is unfortunate because maples are good trees,” Jones said. But unlike the ash borer, it appears the longhorn beetle can be stopped by treating trees. “It would be nice to avoid that,” he said. Jones said he’s aware of the controversy last year, when the city lost several mature trees along West Wooster Street to a gas line construction. He understands how people become attached to trees. And his office right now is working to replace street trees and those wiped out by the ash borer. “I’d really like to continue the trend of planting a diverse group of trees,” he said. Later this fall, Jones and the city tree commission plan to hold a couple seminars for the public on trees. The exact topics and times have not yet been determined….

Solar project faces more questions from county

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Commissioners threw some shade on Bowling Green’s plans Thursday to build a solar array to help power the city and other communities. Work was to begin on the largest solar field in Ohio in a couple days. But that is unlikely now since the county has not yet approved the 30-year tax abatement requested for the $43 million project. The commissioners continued to question the rushed timeline of the project, which would build a 20 MW solar array on city acreage northeast of the city. “How necessary is this aggressive timeline?” Commissioner Joel Kuhlman asked. “Critical,” responded Brian O’Connell, director of public utilities for the city. “There can be no delay.” If the county does not approve the tax exemption, the solar project will be unaffordable for NextEra Energy and AMP, which are working on the project, according to O’Connell. “It is likely that this project will be canceled due to the increased costs,” he said. “This project is bigger than just a Bowling Green site,” O’Connell said. There are 26 proposed sites in AMP member communities across five states. Six of those sites, including Bowling Green’s, are planned to be completed by the end of 2016. “It is difficult to make solar generation projects cost effective without utilizing all of the tax advantages available,” O’Connell said. So the state is allowing projects like this to be exempt from property taxes as long as they meet criteria. If the city were to own the solar power generating system, it would not pay property taxes, it was noted. But Kuhlman pointed out that the tax breaks will be benefiting a private company – not the city in this case. “This is a private entity that is going to be operating the solar field,” he said. “That’s why we’re asking these questions.” “We are talking about a private entity that is asking for a substantial tax break, that is trying to make money,” Kuhlman said. The city could have constructed its own solar field, but it would not have been nearly as large nor would it have provided as much energy savings, explained Megan Newlove, president of the city’s Board of Public Utilities. The county has granted tax breaks to private companies before. But this request is different in its size and duration, granting an exemption of $7.3 million over the first 15 years. Most tax abatements are based on the number of jobs created by a business. But this request differs there as well, since…

Ohio Prairie Association Conference comes to county

Submitted by Wood County Park District With foci on prairies and savannas, this regional conference will bring expert speakers and field trips to enhance our area knowledge of the value and purpose of the prairies in our Wood County flatlands. Mark your calendars for Saturday, August 13th at Simpson Garden Park. Doors open at 8:00 am and the conference starts at 9:00 am. Lunch is included in the price of admission as well as a choice of three field trips to area locations representing prairie remnant gems, a native plant nursery and greenhouse, as well as several prairie and savanna restorations areas. The conference will end by 4:30 pm and entirely open to the public, but registration is limited, so sign-up today by visiting ohioprairie.org. The OPA Mission Statement: The Ohio Prairie Association is a non-profit volunteer organization that promotes knowledge, appreciation, conservation, restoration, management, and expansion of Ohio prairie communities and their native plant and animal species to individuals, conservation organizations, public agencies educational institutions and others with an interest in native ecosystems. The OPA Vision Statement The Ohio Prairie Association envisions a time when Ohioans will have a strong public understanding and appreciation for Ohio prairies and their native plant and animal species; and these prairies are widely conserved, restored, managed, expanded, and are frequently encountered in the state. A native plant is defined as: a species that occurs naturally in a particular region, ecosystem and/or habitat and was present prior to European settlement. Native plants are beneficial to ecosystems in a myriad of ways such as providing habitats and food for local wildlife & pollinators, filtering the watershed and much more. The organizations who are collaborating to create this day of interactive learning are: Bowling Green Parks and Recreation, Wood County Park District, Black Swamp Conservancy, Bowling Green State University and the Ohio Prairie Association.

Park district’s historic farm looking to grow

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Deer and raccoons have long been residents of the Wood County Park District. But chickens and goats? “Welcome to the farm,” Tim Gaddie, historic farm specialist with the park district, said to the park district board members Tuesday as they held their monthly meeting at Carter Historic Farm. The farm, located on Carter Road north of Bowling Green, is unlike any other park site in the district. The site is intended to take visitors back to the 1930s, when area farms were on the verge of big changes. “It was a big transition from hand powered and animal powered farming to machine-based,” Gaddie said. The historic farm programs focus on skills that families of the era relied on for survival – food preservation, vegetable and herb gardening, rug making and woodworking. Family campfire programs are also offered. This week, a group of kids aged 7 and 8 are attending farm camp there. Next week, 9- and 10-year-old kids will be learning at the farm. But Gaddie would like to do more to make Carter Historic Farm a working farm. Last year, chickens were added to the farm, with many of the eggs being used for programming. Soon, he would like to add some goats, then gradually work his way up to sheep, dairy cows, a draft horse and mules. Gaddie can picture a time when the sheep on the farm will be sheared to create yarn that will then be used for weaving. To accomplish these goals, Gaddie is trying to grow farm volunteers. “We’re working on building the volunteer base to do that,” he said. The farm currently benefits from help from inmates of the Northwest Community Correction Center, and may soon be offering a place for juvenile offenders to volunteer. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without volunteers,” Gaddie said. Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger complimented the progress at the farm site. “I can’t say enough for the work Tim has done,” Munger said. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the park board approved the last of the pay increases that will bring park district employees up to the minimum level as determined by an outside compensation consultant. The raises range from 16 cents to $1.47 per hour. “This takes everyone up to the minimum for their positions,” Munger explained. The board also approved the park district’s 2017 statutory budget. The budget, with estimated resources of $7.14 million, set aside $1 million for capital improvements to parks and $715,000 for land acquisition….

Veterans hit the trail on Warrior Hike seeking peace

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A Bowling Green native has embarked on a long-haul hike intended to help military veterans walk off the war. Marine veteran Martin Strange, 32, started his Warrior Expedition last week. With hiking partner, Army veteran Sterling Deck, Strange will circumnavigate the state of Ohio, taking about three months to cover the 1,444 miles. Warrior Expeditions was started about four years ago by Sean Gobin. After deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Gobin set out to walk the 2,185 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Strange said Gobin gained so much from the experience he founded Warrior Expeditions to offer the same experience to other veterans. There are options for hiking, paddling and bicycling. In trekking the Appalachian Trail, he was following the footsteps of a veteran of an older generation. Coming home from World War II, Earl Shaffer became the first person to hike the length of the trail. Strange served four years in the U.S. Marines as a machine gunner. The Bowling Green High graduate enlisted at 21. “I felt life had my back to the wall,” he said. This was his way “to push back and jump off a cliff and see what happens. That’s what the Marine Corps infantry was to me.” Strange was deployed twice to Iraq. When he was discharged in 2009, he went on and served as security for the State Department, working in Kabul, Afghanistan. “I’m a completely different person from when I joined up,” Strange said. “And grown since I got out.” Strange, son of former BG residents Carney and Dorothyann Strange, went on to study wildlife management at Hocking College, but that lost its appeal after a few years. He was drawn to the Warrior Hike by his love of outdoors. Even before starting the long hike, he’d spent three months sleeping in his hammock, homeless by choice, he said. “Certainly not destitute.” Gobin interviewed Strange over Skype to see if he was right for the adventure. He and Deck were paired up. They’d never met before starting out. The program provides the participants with all the gear they need, food to start out and a stipend to purchase more along the trail. Some areas are remote, but generally the trail in never more than a few miles from a town. Strange said that a conservative estimate on the cost of the trip would be well over $3,000. Strange and Deck headed north out of Cincinnati, moving clockwise around Ohio. They are the first Warrior Hikers to take this Ohio route. “We’re…