Government

Citizens can email ideas for downtown green space

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Despite several public meetings about the new downtown green space in Bowling Green, many citizens complained that they weren’t given an opportunity to express their desires for the proposed town square. To remedy that perceived slight, an email account has now been set up to take suggestions. Anyone wanting to submit ideas for the 1.7 acres at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets can now email their suggestions to woostergreendesign@gmail.com. Mayor Dick Edwards said he spoke recently with representatives at Poggemeyer Design Group about the two main elements already planned for the town square – an arched entryway and a pavilion. The exact designs are still being worked on, but will consider the historic character of the area, and will work to preserve as much green as possible.  Other necessities include bike racks, drinking fountains, benches, sidewalk lighting and trash receptacles. There are many other decisions under consideration that will be needed to turn the site into Wooster Green – a town square for the Bowling Green community. First, what are the protocols for using the site? Second, how can at least $300,000 in donations be raised for the space? And third, how can the entire community be engaged in the project? The steering committee for Wooster Green met Thursday afternoon to make progress on those considerations. “We definitely need clarification on when and how the site can be used,” said Bob Callecod, co-chair of the promotions committee. The green space has already been used for several public rallies, and the steering committee envisions it being used in the…

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Pipeline to reroute around protesting landowners

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Local landowners who dug in their heels against eminent domain have won the battle to keep a pipeline from crossing their properties. Kinder Morgan, the company building the Utopia pipeline, has filed a motion to give up its appeal of a court order that denied its right to use eminent domain. Instead, the pipeline company has decided to reroute the line. “We are continuing to refine the route to have the least impact from the landowners’ standpoint, from the environmental standpoint,” Allen Fore, vice president of public affairs for Kinder Morgan, said Monday. The exact route of the Utopia pipeline is still being determined, and Fore would not say if the pipeline route was avoiding Wood County all together. However, he did state the new route would steer clear of the Wood County landowners who would not budge in their opposition to the pipeline. The use of eminent domain is the “last resort” for Kinder Morgan, Fore said. In some cases, the company uses it as part of the negotiation process. “That’s not at all unusual,” he said. The pipeline company has 95 percent of the property in Ohio needed for the line through voluntary acquisition, according to Fore. “We’re confident we’re going to get to 100 percent. We’re pleased with where we are with our progress.” “We’ve been successful in finding alternative routes,” Fore said, adding that the new route will be announced “very soon.” Maurice Thompson, of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law which represents 26 Wood County landowners, said it is unclear if the rerouting will just avoid the…


Velasquez finds his fight for immigrant laborers to be more urgent than ever

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Toledo area has anywhere from 6,000 to 10,000 undocumented immigrants. But every week, more are rounded up and shipped out from the Toledo airport, according to farm labor leader Baldemar Velasquez. “Every Tuesday morning, there are more men and women in shackles being boarded onto planes,” Velasquez said Sunday afternoon. Many are being sent back to Mexico through expedited deportations, without being allowed to see an attorney and without being given their due process, he said. “I don’t know how they are getting away with that,” Velasquez said about ICE and border patrol. “One-hundred years from now, people will look back at us like they do the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850,” when the law required escaped slaves to be returned to their owners, he said. “The fact that we are accommodating such a practice is un-American.” Velasquez grew up as a migrant farm laborer, born in Texas and traveling from field to field in the Midwest. Based on those experiences he went on to create the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, in response to the poor treatment of farm workers. That organization, celebrating its 50th anniversary, still works to achieve justice for migrant workers. Velasquez, who spoke Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Church north of Bowling Green, grew up dirt poor, with a work ethic stronger than most of his white classmates, and with stamina that just didn’t quit. “You always have to finish the job,” he said. “You start that row, you’ve got to finish it. You start that field, you’ve got to finish it. When you’re a farm worker, it…


Wood County Courthouse has countless stories to tell

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   What do Jimmy Hoffa, Ronald Reagan and the KKK have in common? They all visited the Wood County Courthouse – for far different reasons, of course. The grand Wood County Courthouse, which is recognized by many as an architectural wonder with ornate stonework, has seen more than 120 years of trials, political rallies and people coming in to do everyday business – pay taxes, get marriage licenses, attend public meetings. Though he’s unlikely to give himself the title of courthouse historian, Wood County Auditor Mike Sibbersen is the official most people turn to when they want details about the grand structure. He can rattle off details long forgotten by others, but being an auditor and a stickler for details, he frequently checks his facts as he talks about the courthouse. The courthouse has been the site of some dubious distinctions. Many know the story of Carl Bach who killed his wife, Mary, in 1881 with a corn knife. He was reportedly angry about his unsuccessful farming efforts and being forced to sleep in the barn. Bach was the last man to be executed by hanging in Wood County, next to the previous courthouse on the same site. Tickets were sold to the public event, and a special execution edition of the newspaper was published. Remnants of the murder – Mary’s withered fingers, the corn knife used to chop them off, and the rope used to hang her husband – were on the display for years at the county historical museum. A lesser known fact is that the sheriff who presided over the…


BG ranks high among towns to stay after graduation

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There’s no reason for brain drain here, according to a survey looking at college towns in the U.S. Bowling Green has been ranked as one of the 20 best college towns to live in after graduation, according to a study done by rentcollegepad.com. To determine the best towns, the survey looked at the following data: The unemployment rate for those between ages 25-29, measuring how likely new college grads were to get a job by looking at unemployment rates among the newest set of college grads. The benefit of having a bachelor’s degree compared to those without in the town, looking at the median income for those with a bachelor’s degree and subtracting the median income of those without to figure how valuable a bachelor’s degree is in each town. Percentage of 25-34-year-olds also with a bachelor degree. Towns that are full of young, recent college grads are considered great towns for college grads to be in. To qualify as a “college town” in the study, the town’s population must be less than five times the enrollment of the given colleges. “We really measured up very well,” Mayor Dick Edwards said at last week’s City Council meeting. Bowling Green came in second place, with the following statistics: Unemployment rate for ages 25-29: 1.5 percent. Median salary with a bachelor’s degree: $36,869. Percentage of 25-34 year-olds with a bachelor’s degree: 4.94 percent. The report describes Bowling Green like this: “Bowling Green has a population of 30,028 and is located in the middle of beautiful Wood County. Home to a few popular festivals, like the Black…


Luckey cleanup could take $244 million and 12 years

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG  Independent News   Cleaning up the contaminated beryllium site in Luckey is expected to cost $244 million and take up to 12 years to complete. “It will be one of the larger in the nation,” David Romano, deputy district engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers, said of the Luckey project. Removal of contaminated soil and possibly structures from the 40-acre site is expected to start late this year or next year. Representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers, which is in charge of the cleanup, met with the Wood County Commissioners on Tuesday. The cleanup of the site at the corner of Luckey Road and Ohio 582, is part of the federally funded Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program. Between 1949 and 1958, the Luckey site was operated as a beryllium production facility by the Brush Beryllium Company (later Brush Wellman) under contract to the Atomic Energy Commission. In 1951, the site received approximately 1,000 tons of radioactively contaminated scrap steel, to be used in proposed magnesium production at the site. The Corps of Engineers has identified beryllium, lead, radium, thorium, and uranium as problems in the soil. The cleanup calls for the excavation and off-site disposal of FUSRAP-contaminated materials. The excavated soils will be shipped off-site for disposal at a facility licensed to take such hazardous materials. Groundwater wells near the site are being sampled annually for beryllium, lead, uranium and gross alpha/beta until sampling results show a progressive trend that indicates safe drinking water standards have been met. During the site soils remedial action, more frequent monitoring will be conducted. The cost…


At-large council candidates make pitch before primary

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Eight candidates for two at-large seats on Bowling Green City Council tried to convince voters Tuesday evening that they were the best pick for the job. People of Engagement Bowling Green held a candidate forum at the library for candidates from the Democratic, Green and Independent parties. The primary election on May 2 will narrow down the at-large race to a maximum of two candidates from each party. Since only one Republican filed, voters will be given the choice of ballots for the Democratic Party, the Green Party, or for issues only. Filing for the two available at-large city council seats are the following candidates: Democrats: Holly Cipriani, Mark Hollenbaugh, Robert Piasecki and Sandy Rowland. Green Party: Helen Kay Dukes, Beverly Ann Elwazani, Carolyn S. Kawecka and Rosamond L. McCallister. Independent: Nathan Eberly. Republican: Gregory W. Robinette. The candidates at the forum were asked four questions, the first being why they want the four-year commitment of serving on council. Rowland, a Realtor who is beginning her sixth year on council, said the job requires a lot of juggling. Earlier this week, council dealt with labor negotiations, a resolution for immigrants, and city finances. “I have become deeply involved in many aspects of City Council,” she said. “I want to continue with the knowledge I have.” Cipriani, an academic advisor at Bowling Green State University, came here to get her college degrees, then “I fell in love with Bowling Green.” Her jobs have always been in the realm of public service, some requiring her to seek out citizen concerns. Dukes, a retired minister,…