Government

Crime victims’ rights law in Ohio raises objections

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In November, Ohioans will vote on Marsy’s Law – a ballot measure intended to strengthen victims’ rights in the state. On the surface, the law seems to offer reasonable protections to crime victims. But on Tuesday, when the Wood County Commissioners were asked to join other officials across the state supporting Marsy’s Law, they heard strong reservations about the law from Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson. Marsy’s Law is named after a California woman who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in the 1980s. A week after her murder, Marsy’s family was confronted in public by her ex-boyfriend, who had been released on bail without the family being notified. Marsy’s brother has made it a mission to get the victims’ rights law passed in states. So far, California, Illinois, South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana have adopted the law, according to Emily Hunter, who is the Northwest Ohio field director for the effort to pass Marsy’s Law in Ohio. The law, Hunter told the Wood County Commissioners, guarantees that victims of crimes are treated as well as the defendants. “This is making them equal to the rights of the accused,” she said. “Right now, we are seeing many victims re-victimized in the system.” Hunter said she herself is a survivor of sexual assault. “I’ve made it my mission to fight.” Marsy’s Law has been endorsed by several elected officials in the state, including the state attorney general, state auditor, several county prosecutors, the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association, mayors and county commissioners. On Tuesday, Hunter asked the Wood County commissioners to…


Public invited to see plans for new City Park building

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Beloved though they may be, two old buildings in City Park are near the end of their long lives. But Bowling Green Park and Recreation officials are hopeful that their replacement will stir the same affections from city residents. Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley knows it will be tough for some local residents to say goodbye the Veterans Building and the Girl Scout Building. However, she is hoping once residents see plans for the new building, they will be sold. The plans call for one building to take the place and serve the purposes of the two other buildings. The architects are working on a concept plan to show the public on Aug. 22, in the larger meeting room at the Veterans Building. An open house meeting with the plans will be held from 5 to 6 p.m., followed by a more formal presentation of the plans at 6 p.m. The parks and recreation board will then hold its monthly meeting at 7 p.m. in the Veterans Building. The drawings will likely be on display in the community center for a period after Aug. 22 to give more people a chance to view them. “We’re really, really excited. It’s coming along well,” Otley said Tuesday evening, during the park and recreation board’s meeting. In addition to getting a peek at the building plans, the architects should have some cost estimates available. The earliest the construction can start is mid-August of 2018. The existing buildings are needed for summer programming in City Park, so they can’t be demolished until the…


Levy renewal to protect against child, elder abuse

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the numbers of child and elder abuse grow in Wood County, so does the need for county residents to support the levy renewal that provides funding to protect those vulnerable populations. On Tuesday, the Wood County Commissioners signed a resolution putting the 1.3-mill child and adult protective services levy renewal on the November ballot. The millage, to be collected for 10 years, will raise an estimated $3.7 million annually. The levy renewal effort comes at a time when the Wood County Department of Job and Family Services is seeing record numbers of child abuse investigations. It’s expected the county will investigate at least as many cases as last year – when the numbers jumped 25 percent to 894. “We anticipate having about as many as 2016, which set the all time record. Maybe a little higher,” said Dave Wigent, director of the county Job and Family Services. In addition to the increasing number, the county is also seeing an increase in the severity of the abuse cases – requiring that more children be placed in foster care. The overall increased cost of Children’s Services last year was about $500,000, Wigent said. So losing the levy funds that the county has relied on since 1987 would cripple the ability to provide child and adult protective services, he added. “It would be catastrophic for our child welfare and adult protective services,” Wigent said. The levy revenue makes up 90 percent of the adult protective services budget, he said. And loss of the levy would mean reductions in Children’s Services staff. “That would be…


County site tops state list of acreage ready to develop

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some open ground in northeastern Wood County has made it on the short list of top acreage ripe and ready for development in Ohio. A 224-acre area in the Eastwood Commerce Center has been designated as one of Ohio’s first “SiteOhio Authenticated” sites. The acreage, just north of the new Home Depot warehouse, is located off Pemberville Road, south of U.S. 20. “This means the site has undergone a comprehensive usability audit, has gone through all the necessary due diligence, and is now ready for immediate development. This gives the Wood County site a major competitive advantage because it saves businesses which are looking to expand/relocate time and money – increasing their speed to market,” said John Gibney, Northwest Regional Growth Partnership vice president of communications and marketing. JobsOhio and its regional partners announced Tuesday that eight Ohio sites have been named SiteOhio authenticated. When a project is verified with the SiteOhio seal, it is guaranteed to be ready for development on day one, saving businesses time and money. The project designates properties within the state that have infrastructure and utilities already in place, avoiding incompatible use and ensuring the property can get to market faster. Each site undergoes a usability audit to ensure it is intuitively positioned for optimal access. “They made sure it had everything ready to build on should a company decide to locate there,” said Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission. Locations throughout Ohio were evaluated by an independent site consultant from South Carolina, Gottschalk said. The review found the Eastwood Commerce Center,…


BG named one of Ohio’s best hometowns

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As editor of Ohio Magazine, Jim Vickers is accustomed to visiting communities throughout the state. But during a recent stop in Bowling Green, Vickers was struck by three features of the city – the energy from the university even though most students were gone for the summer, the healthy downtown, and the beautiful Simpson Garden Park. Bowling Green left such an impression, that the city was named one of Ohio’s Best Hometowns by Ohio Magazine. The 12th annual Ohio’s Best Hometowns issue of the magazine recognizes four communities in addition to Bowling Green: Marietta, Milford, Mount Vernon and Wooster. Bowling Green beat out other communities because of its vibrant college town atmosphere, strong sense of community and shared vision for the future. “I was in Bowling Green for the site visit,” Vickers said, so he had first-hand knowledge of why the city ranked so high. “Every year we look for towns that exemplify a strong community.” They checked out the campus. “It’s a vibrant college town, even in the summertime,” he said. “There’s an energy there.” They went downtown. “The health of the downtown really struck us. There’s a lot of work that goes into a downtown that works.” And they visited Simpson Garden Park. “That was a true community effort,” Vickers said. “That wouldn’t have happened without the community bonding together.” City officials were pleased that Bowling Green was awarded the honor. “It helps to continue and foster the community that we all know Bowling Green is. There’s a strong sense of community here,” said Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett. “It’s…


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…


Petition aimed at prioritizing people over pipelines

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green residents may be asked to vote on a pipeline issue in November. A group of concerned citizens is trying to place an issue on Bowling Green’s ballot aimed to protect the city and its water supply from pipelines. The group’s goal is to prioritize people over pipelines. Brad Holmes, president of the Environmental Action Group at Bowling Green State University, talked about the charter amendment earlier this week during a City Council meeting. The group pushing to put the issue on the ballot has collected approximately 1,000 signatures so far. “We’re shooting for 1,200,” though just 700 valid signatures are required to get the charter amendment on the November ballot. The group hopes to submit its petition to the Wood County Board of Elections by July 31. Holmes talked about the threats posed by the Nexus pipeline to the Bowling Green water supply, since the proposed route for the natural gas line is close to the city’s water treatment plant. As volunteers have talked to local residents while collecting petition signatures, they have encountered varying degrees of awareness about the Nexus pipeline project, Holmes said. Some residents are not aware of the pipeline proposed so close to the water plant. Many others are under the impression that when City Council denied a property easement to the pipeline company, that the pipeline was no longer a concern. That isn’t true, Holmes said. “We still do face threats from the Nexus pipeline.” The purpose of the proposed charter amendment is “recognizing and protecting community rights to a healthy environment and livable climate.”…


BG gives tax break to company bringing 35 jobs to city

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials plan to give a tax break to a company promising to create at least 35 jobs in the city. City Council heard the first reading of a resolution Monday evening that would give Mosser Construction Co. a 100 percent tax abatement for a 10-year period. Mosser is planning to build an approximately 200,000 square foot warehouse, and anticipates an initial hiring of at least 35 employees. The warehouse is expected to be an investment of $8.6 million in the Wood Bridge Business Park, off Dunbridge Road on the east side of the city. In addition to the project creating jobs, the warehouse will also provide storage space for existing companies in Bowling Green. “For many years, on our economic development visits, companies have relayed concerns about warehousing,” the legislative package given to council stated. “We’ve learned that, in many cases, companies are warehousing out of town.” City officials have also been told by local manufacturers that finding adequate warehousing is important because companies want to find space for new equipment or processes within their existing plants, and moving inventory into a warehousing facility could create that additional space. The problem, however, has been that no such space is available in Bowling Green. But the Community Development Foundation, which facilitated the Mosser site, said the new warehouse will fill that need. The tax break given to Mosser is part of a deal in the city’s new Community Reinvestment Area. The company has negotiated directly with Bowling Green City Schools to make the school district whole on the tax break being…


‘Did the war on drugs create the opioid crisis?’ – Brad Waltz

By now most all of us know of someone affected by the use of heroin. There is no question that every story surrounding its use is a sad one. This article is by no means meant to distract from or to minimize that. So, we have a opioid epidemic. It’s on the nightly news, well nightly. Mike DeWine is making a gubernatorial run in Ohio based on the tragedies. Congress in late 2016 passed the Cures Act; in it $1 billion is set aside to fight the epidemic over the next two years. The latest Senate Healthcare bill sets aside a massive $45 billion over the next ten years. The money will be used to, among other things, “Encourage the use of additional drug courts.” To, “Work to expand same day services for recovery from substance use disorders and co-occurring related disorders.” So, plainly this must truly be an epidemic. Here are how the numbers shake out. According to the CDC, annually 480,000 people die from the effects of cigarette smoking. I’ve no idea the CDC’s methods of tabulating this. I suspect the numbers are a bit fudged to warrant an anti-smoking campaign slush fund. Annually 88,000 die in alcohol related deaths. Car crashes account for (in 2016) 37,757 deaths 55,000 die annually (on average) from the flu In 2013, 31,959 people died the result of stumbling. This number is expected to grow as our life expectancies continue to rise. So, I ask you, the reader. How many people died from heroin overdoses in 2016? How many people dying (again sadly) warrant more federal power, more taxpayer money- to the…


BG frustration builds over Nexus pipeline concerns

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials are tired of getting the brush off by the Nexus pipeline, by the Ohio EPA, and by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. But it appears that getting anyone in authority to listen may take more money than the city can afford – and even then the results are not guaranteed. The major concern is that the 36-inch high-pressure natural gas line will be located close enough to the city’s water treatment plant along the Maumee River, that any accidents could have horrific consequences to the water quality. The city has called in experts and sent letters expressing concerns to many state and federal officials. During City Council meeting Monday evening, Mayor Dick Edwards held up files of information he had collected on the pipeline issue. “This is enough to choke a horse,” he said of all the paperwork. “I take it all very seriously,” Edwards said. “I’m frankly, not giving up at all.” Other efforts are underway to plug the pipeline project. A citizens group is currently collecting signatures to get a charter amendment to protect Bowling Green from the pipeline on the November ballot. (A story on that petition effort will appear later this week on BG Independent News.) Brad Holmes, president of the BGSU Environmental Action Group, who is coordinating the charter amendment effort, asked city officials Monday to file a motion to intervene with FERC. He referred to the Nexus pipeline as a “potential source of disaster.” Neocles Leontis suggested the city also try a different route of asking the Ohio EPA to withhold approval of…


BG not giving up on finding glass recycling solution

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials aren’t giving up yet on finding ways to recycle glass rather than send it to the landfill. Last week, the Bowling Green Recycling Center announced that effective immediately, the facility would no longer be accepting glass. This applies to all the center’s locations, including the 24-hour drop-off site in Bowling Green, plus the satellite trailers and satellite facilities scattered throughout Wood County. That did not sit well with city officials, who found out about the decision through an email after the decision had been made. “Something like that, it would have been nice to be brought in a little earlier. It would have been nice to phase it in,” said Joe Fawcett, assistant municipal administrator for Bowling Green. City officials have contacted Bowling Green State University’s recycling program, which contracts with Waste Management for pickup of recycling materials. The city and county officials also plan to meet with Owens-Illinois representatives about possible glass recycling options. Fawcett said this morning that city officials realize that glass recycling has been a costly operation for some time. However, paying for glass to be landfilled isn’t cheap either – with dumping costs at about $40 a ton. “We’ve been struggling with it for a long time,” Ken Rieman, of the recycling center, said last week. “Basically, the market conditions are just to the point it’s too expensive to send the glass out.” The center had been sending glass from Wood County to a recycling site near Dayton. It was costing $30 a ton to ship the glass, for which it was paid $25 a…


No more glass to be recycled in BG – costs blamed for shattering program

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The glass bottles and jars gathering in the garage for recycling may as well be tossed in the trash. Effective immediately, the Bowling Green Recycling Center is no longer accepting glass. This applies to all the center’s locations, including the 24-hour drop-off site in Bowling Green, plus the satellite trailers and satellite facilities scattered throughout Wood County. It was just last month that a citizen spoke in front of Bowling Green City Council, challenging the body to do more to encourage greater recycling in the city – including more efforts to save glass from being landfilled. Years ago, the recycling center ceased taking glass in curbside bins, but continued to accept it at its drop-off site. But on Tuesday, the officials at the recycling center said that practice was over. “We’ve been struggling with it for a long time,” said Ken Rieman, of the recycling center. “Basically, the market conditions are just to the point it’s too expensive to send the glass out.” The center had been sending glass from Wood County to a recycling site near Dayton. It was costing $30 a ton to ship the glass, for which it was paid $25 a ton. Late last year, the Dayton company raised its shipping costs to $40 a ton, and cut its payments to $10 a ton. The BG center then found a company in Sylvania to take the glass at no cost. However, that agreement ended abruptly, leaving the Dayton site as the only option, Rieman said. “It’s simple economics,” he said, estimating the center shipped out 350 to 400 tons…


Africa’s future is here and now

By PATRICK MAKOKORO Mandela Washington Fellow 2017 Bowling Green State University The United Nations estimates that Africa is home to some 200 million people aged 15-24 years old and they predict that this figure will double by the year 2045. Participation by the youth in matters that affect them politically, socially and economically is vital because it has a direct bearing on how they live their lives. Africa’s young and emerging leadership is made of people who have a vision of the continent’s future that is expressed through focused passion and skills. Bowling Green State University (BGSU) is playing a role in this by hosting 25 Young African Leaders for a six week intensive leadership development institute. The Young African Leaders Institute (YALI) is jointly sponsored by the Mandela Washington Fellowship (https://yali.state.gov/washington-fellowship/) and BGSU. The YALI are from 19 African countries: Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mauritania, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. As one of the young leaders from Zimbabwe attending the 2017 Institute at BGSU, I am very excited to be amongst my colleagues from countries as far North as Mauritania and as far South as South Africa. The various YALI fellows at BGSU have such depth of knowledge on the immediate challenges of African development that when I see their passion and zeal when discussing their countries’ burning issues, I get really excited. My colleagues have inspired me to look at the world through different lenses particularly when addressing issues like poverty, corruption, hunger and disease. A colleague from Guinea-Conakry, Boubacar Diallo,…


Local election official favors limited voter info sharing

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Ohio is one of the 44 states refusing to give President Donald Trump’s elections commission all the voter information requested. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, has said he will provide the newly created Elections Integrity Commission with information that is already made public to campaigns and political parties. But Husted is drawing the line at Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers. The information on Wood County voters is already at the fingertips of the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, according to Terry Burton, director of the Wood County Board of Elections. “Our voter information already is linked with the state data bases,” Burton said on Friday. Though not privy to all the details, Burton said Ohio is handing over only public information. “It sounds like everything he is supplying is public record that could be accessed by anyone else,” Burton said of Husted. The Elections Integrity Commission requested all 50 states to submit full voter information, including registrants’ full names, addresses, dates of birth, political parties, the last four digits of their social security numbers, a list of the elections they voted in since 2006, information on any felony convictions, information on whether they were registered to vote in other states, their military status, and whether they lived overseas. Trump set up the commission to investigate undocumented widespread voter fraud in national elections. He has claimed 3 million votes were illegally cast in the presidential election last year, robbing him of the popular vote. Husted said earlier this year that voter fraud is not widespread in Ohio and…


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…