Government

Penta Career Center plans satellite school in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Penta Career Center may soon have a satellite school in Bowling Green. The Bowling Green Board of Public Utilities voted Monday evening to transfer acreage in the Bellard Business Park on the northwest side of the city to the Bowling Green Community Development Foundation. Two acres of the business park, near the intersection of Newton and Brim roads, will then be sold to Penta Career Center. Penta plans to construct a building to hold morning and afternoon classes for students who will be able to travel to local employers to continue their training and education. The school is also considering using the facility to offer adult training classes in the future, said Brian O’Connell, director of the city’s public utilities. City council will have a public hearing Monday on an ordinance that will pave the way for the vocational training school use in the city’s zoning code. The Bowling Green Community Development Foundation has been working with Penta Career Center to find a permanent location for a satellite school. The school is seen as a first step for collaboration with business parks for training and workforce development for existing manufacturers. One of the biggest needs expressed by local manufacturers is the lack of a skilled workforce, according to Sue Clark, executive director of the Bowling Green Community Development Foundation. The city owns the acreage in the business park, and the community development foundation markets the properties for sale. Penta’s purchase of two acres leaves 3.1 acres remaining open for development in Bellard Business Park. Also at Monday’s meeting of the Board of…

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Help for those caught up in opiate epidemic: Call 211

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County has all types of services for people dealing with the opiates epidemic – for addicts trying to kick it, for families struggling as they watch, for schools trying to prevent opiate use before it begins, and for physicians who prescribe opiates. But if people aren’t aware of the services – they may as well not exist. So here is the one number they all need to know – 211. “We’ve done a lot to try to reduce the barriers,” said Tom Clemons, executive director of the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board. “In a nutshell, 211. Call 211.” Clemons said it became glaringly obvious to him over the last month or two, when a number of local agencies were not aware of the resources open to Wood County residents facing the opiate epidemic. So last week, Clemons and some members of his agency and board met with the county commissioners about helping them reach people in need. “We’re trying to get the word out,” he said. “Help is here.” As an example, Clemons said that Wood County’s recovery housing program for male opiate addicts often has open slots. “A lot of times people are in need, but they aren’t aware of services,” he said. Clemons asked if small brochures, stressing the need to dial 211, could be placed at every desk of county employees who take calls from the public. The brochures are already being carried by law enforcement throughout the county, he said. During the Wood County Fair, information was handed out at several booths….


Wood County asked to support ‘The Big Fix’ for dogs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Last year the Wood County Commissioners were asked to support “The Big Fix” program which provides low cost spaying and neutering of dogs. The commissioners were reluctant, since they had doubts that Wood County residents would drive to northern Toledo to have their dogs fixed. But it appears the $10 coupon inserted with dog license certificates was enough to convince 248 dog owners from Wood County to drive their pets to the Humane Ohio location to be spayed and neutered. So last month, Steve Serchuk, a volunteer with Humane Ohio, was back in front of the commissioners asking again for their support of “The Big Fix.” “People took advantage of it. They outsold their goal,” Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said. “It’s been very successful,” Serchuk said. “If the price is low enough, people will do it.” Since the commissioners turned down the request last year, Serchuk himself funded the cost of the spaying and neutering at Humane Ohio, at an average cost of $65 per dog. The average cost to have a dog fixed at local veterinarian offices ranges between $115 and $225. When Wood County dog owners were asked on their license applications if their dogs were fixed, more than 30 percent said they were not. “That’s a big number,” Serchuk said. Spayed and neutered dogs are less aggressive and less likely to roam – meaning the county could save money in the long run by having to euthanize fewer dogs, he said. But in many cases, people can’t afford the costs. “We demonstrated people in the county would like…


County flooded with calls about Portage River cleanup

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nearly 9,500 letters have been mailed out by the county to the owners of parcels that drain into the south and east branches of the Portage River. The letters are one of the final steps in a river cleanup process that has taken a decade. The Portage River project is the biggest river cleanup ever attempted by the county – covering 46 miles of waterway. The notices mailed out alert the landowners of their estimated assessments for the river cleanup and of a hearing scheduled for Aug. 22. The cleanup of the Portage River branches is intended to reduce future flooding. However, the notices have led to a flood of phone calls to the Wood County Engineer’s Office – many of them from people questioning their responsibility to help fund the project. “We’re getting a lot of calls. ‘What’s this got to do with me? My water doesn’t go there,’” Wood County Engineer John Musteric said of the typical comments from callers. Many landowners don’t realize where their water drains – they just know that it goes away after heavy rains, Musteric said. Though the river cleanup project is the longest ever undertaken in Wood County, it is less extensive than many projects in the past. There will be no digging, no widening, no channelizing. The river branches will be allowed to keep their meandering paths. The work will only remove logjams and trees leaning into the river. “This one is actually very mild,” Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said of the Portage River cleanup plans. But while the cleanup may be…


County may be able to ditch some bridge maintenance

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There may be some troubled bridges over waters here in Wood County. The maintenance of bridges in the county has always been handled by the Wood County Engineer’s Office. That’s 440 bridges total. But the newest county engineer, John Musteric, said his office may only be responsible for about 410. Musteric has asked the county prosecuting attorney to look into the possibility that 30 bridges located in local municipalities should be maintained by those villages or cities. “Some of those bridges may not be our responsibility, we’re finding out,” Musteric told the county commissioners on Tuesday. The engineer is hoping to get an answer from the prosecutor by the end of the year. “More to come.” Wood County’s engineer office isn’t the only one trying to ditch some bridge responsibilities – for cost and liability issues. “This has been happening all around the state,” explained Joanie Cherry, from the county engineer’s office. Wood County Commissioner Ted Bowlus expressed some concern about municipalities having to pick up the costs to maintain bridges. “It would be an expensive venture for them,” Bowlus said. Construction costs to build a small box culvert bridge were estimated at about $100,000 to $150,000. The average bridge costs $350,000 to replace, while larger structures can cost close to $1 million, Cherry said. But Musteric said it seems logical to him that if municipalities annex bridges into their communities, they ought to take care of them. He also pointed out that towns and cities may have better chances of securing state or federal funding. “They have more opportunities to get…


Sherrod Brown announces grant for Perrysburg Township firefighters

From U.S. SEN. SHERROD BROWN U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced July 28 that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded $36,191 to the Perrysburg Township Fire Department for Operations and Safety through the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) program. “Ohio firefighters and first-responders work every day to protect our families,” said Brown. “We must support our first-responder organizations so that communities like Perrysburg have the resources to shield families and homes from fire hazards.” The AFG program supports fire departments across the country to ensure the safety of both first-responders and the public. The program provides funds for supplemental training, upgrades to protective equipment, facility modifications, and other supplies that protect firefighters and first-responders in moments of crisis. Grants are awarded to fire department-based and non-affiliated EMS organizations that best address the priorities of the AFG Program. More information about the AFG program can be found here. Interested fire departments can contact Brown’s grant coordinator to receive information about federal grant opportunities by clicking here.


Prices hiked to keep fitness class budget healthy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board wants local residents to be healthy – but the board also has to worry about the health of the park and recreation budget. So last week, the board voted to raise prices of fitness classes at the community center in the fall. The board agreed to stop short of larger fee increases considered earlier in the year. The classes are provided through MindBody, and brought in $30,618 last year. However, the classes cost $44,447 to offer. “Our mission is to get people healthy and fit, so we do operate a little differently from a private club or fitness studio – some subsidy of classes is not a bad thing, but we need to keep it balanced,” Kristin Otley, park and recreation director, said in her report to the board. Following is the list of current and proposed rates approved by the board: Drop-in rate will remain unchanged at $8. Monthly rate will increase from $40 to $44. Quarterly rate will go from $105 to $117. Annual rate will increase from $360 to $396. This will be the first time the rates have changed since the community center switched to the MindBody program in the summer of 2015. The park and recreation department will also start a couple promotions to encourage those with MindBody fitness passes to get a community center pass, and to urge those with center passes to try out MindBody classes. Those signing up for a community center pass would receive a coupon for a free month of MindBody. Those purchasing an annual…