Government

BG police officers and firefighter promoted to leadership roles

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Three Bowling Green police officers and one firefighter were promoted into leadership positions Tuesday evening. “Sometimes we get lost in the numbers,” of running a city and managing budgets, Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said to City Council members on Tuesday. But the swearing in ceremony for police and fire, she said, provide a connection between the city budget and the people who fill vital roles in the community. “We’re very proud of all of you. Congratulations,” Tretter said. Promoted in the police division were Lt. Mike Bengela, Sgt. Adam Skaff and Sgt. Brian Houser. “They have gone above and beyond the call in so many ways,” Police Chief Tony Hetrick said. “These are the kind of people we look to” for filling leadership roles. Fire Chief Bill Moorman congratulates Tony and Sarah Zmarzly. Tony was promoted to rank of lieutenant at City Council meeting. In the fire division, Tony Zmarzly was sworn in as lieutenant. Fire Chief Bill Moorman praised his service, and recognized the firefighters who filled the back of the council chambers to honor their fellow firefighter’s promotion. Also at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the new branding initiative for the city was unveiled by Wendy Chambers, executive director of the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau. The new branding is intended to reflect the city’s energy. “This city is not sleepy. It’s engaged, accepting and hungry for smart growth,” Chambers said. Bowling Green is not what many people think, she added. “We’re better, cooler and more progressive,” Chambers said. Bowling Green is a small city with a big city mentality, she added. The city welcomes diversity, is open-minded, offers a kaleidoscope of activity and is eco-minded. Part of BG branding initiative The new branding effort is intended to show that this is not the other Bowling Green – in Kentucky. “Bowling Green has the guts to break barriers and the heart to bring others with them,” Chambers said. In addition to pushing the message on social media, the Convention and Visitors Bureau plans to look into a series of wearables and…

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A dozen or so show interest in Gavarone’s House seat

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News About a dozen people have voiced interest in the Ohio House seat vacated by Theresa Gavarone. On Wednesday, Gavarone was sworn into the Ohio Senate seat vacated when Randy Gardner was selected as the state chancellor for higher education. That leaves an opening in the 3rd House District, which covers all of Wood County. “We’ve had about a dozen people who have reached out about the seat,” said Jon Jakubowski, chairman of the Wood County Republican Party. And some of those people, if selected, will mean another domino falling, and another local elected position to be filled. Jakubowski was reluctant to release the names of some of those interested in the Ohio House seat, but did confirm three whose names have become public knowledge. Those are: Perrysburg City Councilman Haraz N. Ghanbari, a former director of the University of Toledo’s military and veteran affairs.Northwood Mayor Ed Schimmel.Perrysburg School Board member Sue Larimer. On Wednesday, Speaker of the Ohio House Larry Householder and members of the Ohio House Republican Caucus announced a screening panel to begin reviewing candidates showing interest in the House seat. At Householder’s request, Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Sylvania) will serve as the chairman of the panel. The panel of Republican House members will include Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima), Rep. John Cross (R-Kenton) and Rep. Tracy Richardson (R-Marysville). The panel will meet to interview candidates the week of Feb. 18. Interested individuals should email a cover letter and resume by Feb. 15 to Rep72@OhioHouse.gov. Though the decision making rests with the Ohio House Republican Caucus, Jakubowski said that as a courtesy the Speaker offered to let him know the names of all the applicants. Because whoever is appointed to the position will have to run in the 2020 election to keep the seat, the party wants to make sure the appointee has a good connection with Wood County constituents, Jakubowski said. The fact that so many people are interested in the House seat is a good sign, Jakubowski said. “I think we have a lot of highly qualified people,” he said. “The…


BG family finds a place to call home with Habitat for Humanity

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News As Marlene Lerch and her family stood in their new kitchen, they were enveloped by family, friends and strangers who helped build their home. “I had no idea, all these people would be here,” said Lerch’s daughter, Audrey, a senior at Bowling Green High School. But Bowling Green had waiting a long time for Tuesday – 25 years in fact. So they weren’t about to miss this celebration of the first Habitat for Humanity home built in Bowling Green. “This is huge,” said Mark Ohashi, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Wood County. “This is what we’ve been looking to do since Maxine Miller started this.” After building 39 homes throughout Wood County, Habitat finally constructed a home in Bowling Green. “This is a dream come true,” Ohashi said. The dream now belongs to Lerch, who has lived for 10 years in a local manufactured home park. She dreamed of finding a better home for her three children. She finally found it near the corner of Manville and Clough streets. “It’s really exciting,” Lerch said as she gazed at her new living room packed with guests. “This is the new beginning for my life. A new chapter – just to have a home,” that is warm and safe, she said. Audrey, Eric and Jeremiah Lerch check out their new home. Lerch and her daughter put sweat equity into their new home. “Me and my mom came every Saturday,” to work and during the week to pickup, Audrey said. That gave Audrey plenty of time to imagine how she will arrange her bedroom when they move in on Thursday. “I have it all set up in my head,” she said, as she stood in her empty bedroom. Next door, her brother Eric, 12, was checking out his bedroom. While the Lerch family gets the home, the rest of the community gets the good feeling of doing something good. “It was really an amazing blend of partnerships,” Ohashi said of the project. One of the first partners was the city of Bowling Green, whose…


Gavarone selected to fill state senate seat vacated by Gardner

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News In a couple days, State Rep. Theresa Gavarone from Bowling Green will become a state senator. A screening committee of Republican senators selected Gavarone today to fill Ohio’s 2nd State Senate District seat that was vacated last month when Randy Gardner was appointed the state’s chancellor of higher education. Gavarone expects to be sworn into the Senate seat on Wednesday. “I’m pretty excited,” she said this afternoon. “I’m going to approach my Senate position the way I did in the House,” Gavarone said. Though instead of representing just Wood County, she will now represent four more – Erie, Ottawa and parts of Lucas and Fulton counties. With Gavarone’s appointment announced today, that poses the next question of who will fill her seat in the Ohio House. The process will be similar, with the Speaker of the House selecting a screening committee which will then take applications for the seat. In the Senate, Gavarone hopes to keeping working on issues she has been focusing on in the House, such as drug addiction issues, mental health and access to health care. But now she expects to add water quality to the list since her district will now border Lake Erie. “I certainly want to continue with Randy Gardner’s good work – working on solutions for Lake Erie that have a real impact,” she said. The 2nd Senate District covers a much larger geographic area, with about 380,000 residents. Gavarone said she understands it takes about two hours to drive from one end of the district to the other. “I’ll find out real soon,” she said. Though her district will be much larger, Gavarone said she is up to the challenge. “Wood County seemed so large when I started in the House,” she said. But she made an effort to get to every corner of the county. “I’m going to take the same approach with the Senate,” Gavarone said. “I want to get to know the people and the issues, and do my best to represent them.” “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to serve…


Free dinner shows solidarity with furloughed federal workers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Dinner was served Wednesday evening in Bowling Green for furloughed federal workers and their families hurt by the government shutdown. A half-hour into the dinner, no workers showed – but those cooking up the meal weren’t discouraged. “I think the need is going to grow with time,” said Joe DeMare, of the Wood County Green Party. He and the other volunteers plan to serve up dinner again if the shutdown drags on. The free dinner – organized by the Green Party and Trinity United Methodist Church, and assisted by the Brown Bag Food Project – featured pizza from DeMare’s homemade recipe, vegetables and salad donated by Apio. The organizers know there are people out there hurting. United Way has estimated there are more than 250 federal workers furloughed in Wood, Lucas and Ottawa counties. In addition to those not getting their paychecks, there are others who use federal programs who will soon feel the pinch of no food stamps or WIC assistance if the shutdown lingers. Though few showed for the dinner, the organizers felt better for offering the help. “The idea of stopping the government for a political dispute is against the Green Party philosophy,” DeMare said. And as far as the church – “that’s just part of their DNA,” said Helen Dukes, who is a member of both the church and the Green Party. “I think the only way to overcome the depression right now is to do something. Otherwise, it just gets worse.” The Green Party is accustomed to being on the outside of traditional government. The group believes in decentralization – acting on local levels to counter national problems, DeMare said. “We can’t afford to give up,” he said. “The issues we fight for are too important to just let slide.” The volunteers have pledged to continue offering the meals until the shutdown is over. “It takes time for things like this to take traction,” DeMare said. “As the need becomes more dire, I think more people will come.” Wednesday’s dinner did receive a lot of support from the…


Women put on their pink hats and pick up their protest signs again

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The women marching in Washington, D.C., on Saturday would like to retire their protest signs and their pink hats. But they picked them up again this past weekend and marched in front of the Trump Hotel in the nation’s capital. The marchers ranged from babies in strollers to older women holding signs stating, “Now you’ve pissed off Grandma.” They were joined by husbands, sons and boyfriends. Associated Press estimated the numbers at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., at close to 100,000 – while cities across the U.S. held their own sister marches. The numbers were drastically lower than the first Women’s March in 2017, which hit a high of one million marchers. Their lists of grievances were longer this year – with complaints added since the last annual march. They now had more frustrations – the Me Too movement, the addition of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, the shutdown over the demand to build a wall on the border with Mexico. Originally scheduled to travel past the White House, that route was rejected by authorities – so the marchers instead focused their taunts toward the Trump Hotel. Road blocks by Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. Debbie Dalke, of Bowling Green, returned for this year’s march. “It was exhilarating,” she said. “It was very empowering.” The numbers were down, but the spirits were high. “I still thought it was so powerful. There were still people as far as I could see.” After the march, Dalke stopped at a restaurant where a waitress thanked her for marching. “She had to work that day,” Dalke said. “It was really great to be here and see so many other people concerned about the direction of our country,” she said. Dawn Hubbell-Staeble, of Bowling Green, also returned to the nation’s capital for the women’s march. She was joined by a son, an exchange student from Germany and another from Spain. Hubbell-Staeble said she was aware of the controversy surrounding this year’s march, but believed it was important to show up. “I thought it was important…


Inspections find lead in a couple water service lines in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News At least a couple homes in Bowling Green have been found with lead service lines bringing water into their faucets. “I don’t want to scare anyone that we have a lead problem. We don’t,” Bowling Green Director of Public Utilities Brian O’Connell said to the Board of Public Utilities. But as a water provider, the city of Bowling Green must submit a waterline map to the Ohio EPA, showing the type of lines supplying homes – copper, galvanized iron, plastic or lead. That map must be updated every five years. To do that, the city inspects some lines that are on homeowners’ properties. Those inspections recently turned up a couple homes with lead lines. O’Connell explained that the city is responsible for the portion of the waterline that extends to the curb stop, but the portion of the line going into the residence is the homeowner’s responsibility. So while O’Connell is confident the lead lines in the city’s portion have been replaced, the same cannot be said of the portions that are the responsibility of homeowners. If there is doubt, the utility crews are inspecting them. “The sooner we get rid of those lead lines, the better,” O’Connell said. Since 1967, the city service lines were all required to be copper or plastic. Prior to then, lead lines were allowed, but in the 1990s any known lead service lines were replaced. Inside the customer’s residence, potential sources of lead could be lead pipes, lead solder, or lead in plumbing fixtures.  Another potential source of lead is the water service line pipe that delivers water from the city water main to the customer’s residence.  Over the years, different pipe materials have been used for water service line pipes such as lead, galvanized iron, copper, or plastic. There is no lead present in the drinking water as it leaves the city’s water treatment plant.  The city treats the water to reduce the potential for lead to contaminate the drinking water. This is achieved through a corrosion control treatment process and by adding orthophosphate to the…