Government

County may can some recycling sites, extend others

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County may be cutting back on its satellite recycling sites, but may also be turning some of those monthly sites into permanent drop-off locations. There are currently 15 satellite recycling sites operated by the Wood County Solid Waste Management District. Many of them are open once a month, according to Amanda Gamby, environmental educator for the district. They are located in Bloomdale, Grand Rapids, Jackson Township/Hoytville, Jerry City/Cygnet, Milton Township/Custar, North Baltimore, Pemberville, Perry Township, Perrysburg Township, Portage, Portage Township, Rudolph, Stony Ridge, Tontogany/Washington Township, and Weston. A survey conducted in 2015, through a partnership between the solid waste district and Bowling Green State University master’s of public administration program, was conducted to determine the interest in recycling among rural Wood County residents. A total of 2,725 surveys were mailed to rural resident, with 683 being returned. The study found: Rural residents had a favorable attitude toward recycling. A number of the residents said they drive to Hancock and Lucas counties to use permanent recycling facilities. Of those who use the satellite locations, 55 percent said they would increase their use beyond once a month if permanent sites were made available. As it is now, mobile containers are placed at each of the satellite locations so residents can drop off their recyclables once a month. The recyclables are separated at most of the sites by Scouts or other community groups. Those groups are paid a per capita allocation that adds up to roughly $127,000 a year, according to Kelly O’Boyle, assistant Wood County administrator. The satellite site program contracts with the…

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Taxpayers can now view City of BG checks online

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Taxpayers interested in how much the city of Bowling Green spends on paper, paint and Panera can now get a look at the city’s checkbook. The city has joined other governmental entities in the state posting expenses online on OhioCheckbook.com through a program offered by the Ohio Treasurer’s Office. The city’s bills have never been top secret information, but they also haven’t been really accessible to the average citizen. The online checkbook puts the numbers right at taxpayers’ fingertips. “This information has always been available,” Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said Friday morning during at visit from staff representing State Treasurer Josh Mandel’s office. “We’ve always had an open book philosophy. But you’ve taken it to a whole other level with technology.” The Ohio Checkbook program went live in December of 2014. Since then, more than 1,100 of the 4,000 local governmental entities in Ohio have signed up to have their expenditures displayed online. “We’re a public entity and it’s public information,” said Brian Bushong, finance director for the city of Bowling Green. “If we can make it easier for people to look at the information, it’s a great tool.” In Wood County, the expenses for several entities are already online through the checkbook program, including, Wood County, Rossford, Cygnet, North Baltimore, Bradner, Haskins, Luckey, Risingsun, West Millgrove, Weston, Webster Township, Northwood School District, North Baltimore School District, Otsego School District, Rossford Schools, North Baltimore Public Library and Fort Meigs Cemetery.  Bowling Green State University was the first of the state universities to become part of the program. “It’s been amazing to…


Gavarone backs Medicaid-related veto overrides in House

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News State Rep. Theresa Charters Gavarone voted with the rest of the Ohio House Republicans to overturn 11 budget vetoes issued last week by Republican Gov. John Kasich. While the House did not act on overriding a veto that would have frozen Medicaid expansion in the state, it did override a number of other Medicaid related vetoes. The veto overrides now must go to the State Senate where they will need a three-fifths vote to pass. Gavarone said she was felt particularly strongly about restoring money to counties that they were losing when the federal government said a tax for Medicaid providers could not be levied. That cost Wood County $900,000. “This will partially restore some of that funding,” she said. The funding would stretch over the next six years. State Senator Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) told Clint Corpe on “The Morning Show” Thursday that overriding that veto was his top priority as well. The House also delayed plan to move behavioral treatment under Medicaid into managed care for six months. This was especially important to insure a continuity of treatment for those fighting opioid addiction, Gavarone said. She also said it was important that the House restore the provision calling for Medicaid reimbursement rates to be set at 75-percent of the Medicaid allowable rates neonatal and newborn services. They are now 45 percent. She said the move is revenue neutral. In his veto message, Kasich said, the increase would force the state Medicaid program to lower rates for other services “to avoid an increase in Medicaid expenditures.” That could threaten access to those services…


Manufacturing no longer dead-end and dirty jobs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   From childhood on, kids dream of what they will become when they grow up. Doctor? Teacher? Scientist? Few set their sights on working in a manufacturing plant. But maybe they should. The Wood County Economic Development Commission is working with others to put on the first “manufacturing camp” in the county for middle school age students. Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the county economic development commission, explained the concept Thursday to the county commissioners. “We want to introduce middle school kids to modern manufacturing,” Gottschalk said. “We think there’s a misconception of what manufacturing is.” It’s not like the old days when factories were thought of as dirty worksites with mundane, repetitious routines. Today’s manufacturing plants are often spotless and require high tech skills. And the jobs are plentiful. “We visit the manufacturers and we hear constantly that they can’t find people,” Gottschalk said. “There’s a lot of demand.” So students who choose jobs in the manufacturing sector over getting a college degree often come out ahead of their peers. They have an easier time finding work, they make similar wages to those people with degrees, and they aren’t saddled with the debt from college. But most kids don’t even think about manufacturing as a career. To help change that mindset, the first “manufacturing camp” is being planned in Wood County. Partnering with the economic development commission is U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, the local Ohio Means Jobs office, Bowling Green City Schools, Penta Career Center, BGSU, the Wood County District Public Library, and the Wood County Educational Service Center. The local industries…


Seniors dreaming big about new center possibilities

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Don’t tell these seniors they are stuck in their ways. They are dreaming big about the possibilities of a new senior center – conjuring up ideas like a pool, solar panels and retail space. “If they have a concept we haven’t thought of, that’s what we need to hear,” said Denise Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. But Niese is quick to remind the seniors that the center has to stay within budget. Last month, it was announced that Bowling Green was giving the committee on aging land for a new senior center, and that Wood County would secure financing for the project. The property was formerly used for the school district’s central administration building, between South Grove and Buttonwood streets, south of West Wooster Street. Last week, a second public brainstorming session was held on the project. “People are wanting to give input, which is a good thing,” Niese said. “There was some very good discussion.” During this second session, more ideas were suggested about partnerships with the senior center. One recommendation was a possible teaming with community theater groups, such as the Black Swamp Players and the Horizon Youth Theatre. Niese said the committee on aging would need to look at the additional costs that would entail. “We’re open to exploring and partnering. This will still be a community space – like this one is,” Niese said of the existing senior center on North Main Street. “My board and I have to listen to these suggestions.” The idea was floated again about the committee on aging…


Constitutional rights (and wrongs) defended for 4th

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom to eat ice cream? Well, two out of three beats the national average. While the fireworks were being prepared, and the community band was tuning up for the Independence Day concert, people gathering Monday evening for the festivities in Bowling Green talked about the freedoms guaranteed to them in the Constitution. Some were bona fide Constitutional amendments. Others were rights supported by legislation. And some were just wishful thinking. But overall, the crowd gathered for the July 4th concert was above the national average in their Independence Day and American history knowledge. After all, we live in a nation where some citizens believe “Judge Judy” is a member of the Supreme Court. “Seventy-nine percent of people don’t know who we got our independence from,” lamented Joyce Kepke as she carried her lawn chair for the fireworks viewing. Kepke’s favorite Constitutional amendment gave women the right to vote – the 19th Amendment. Her “biggest disappointment” was that the Equal Rights Amendment still has not been enacted. Some of the 27 amendments are more familiar than others. The 1st Amendment guarantees freedoms of speech, press and religion, plus protects the right to petition the government. The 2nd Amendment, another oft-cited one, guarantees the right to own and bear arms for defense. And the 13th Amendment banned slavery. The 18th Amendment banned the sale and consumption of alcohol. But that all changed with the adoption of the 21st Amendment which repealed the ban. Many of the amendments are much more obscure, such as the one stating citizens…


Gardner says Ohio Senate must wait for House action on overriding governor’s vetoes

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News State Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) is waiting on action for the Ohio House to act on the 47 items Gov. John Kasich vetoed in the $133-billion two-year state budget Friday. “I’m not going to spend an awful  lot of time on any particular item until we find out if the House is going to take action, because if the House decides not to vote the Senate doesn’t have any action to take.” State Rep. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) confirmed the House will convene Thursday to discuss overriding the vetoes. (Gavarone was not available today for an interview. A separate story on her reaction to the budget and vetoes will be published later.) It takes a three-fifths majority to override the governor’s veto. The earliest the Senate would convene would be July 12, he said, and even then it could be as late as August or September. In fact, he said, a measure could be overridden any time during the legislative session, which lasts until August, 2018. Some decisions, though, have to be made sooner. Any override of the governor’s veto of a measure that would have frozen expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, would have to be made before the middle of next year. In the case of the Medicaid expansion freeze, he has concerns about a number of issues. Those include whether provisions making exceptions to the freeze for the drug addicted and mentality ill would be retained. “I wouldn’t even consider voting until I have answers to those kind of questions.” One issue he said he’s “definitely interested in” is the…