Government

Citizens sick about losing health insurance

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than 20 local citizens crowded into U.S. Rep. Bob Latta’s office on Thursday to tell the congressman they are sick with worry over the looming repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Latta’s staff listened politely and said they would pass on the concerns. But that wasn’t good enough. “I really want to talk to my representative about the Affordable Care Act,” said Sheri Wells-Jensen, who organized the meeting. Others joined in pushing for a face-to-face with Latta. “Rep. Latta needs to have a public town hall meeting. I think he needs to listen to what’s going on locally,” said Laura Landry Meyer. “He needs to get out of Washington.” His staff stressed that Latta has held close to 700 public events during his terms in Congress. “I understand that, but things are changing by the hour now,” Landry Meyer said. Tim Bosserman, Latta’s district representative, said he did not have a current schedule for the congressman. If a local meeting is scheduled, it will appear on Latta’s website, he said. But the group was persistent, and continued asking for a commitment for a town hall meeting. Wells-Jensen offered condolences for the “poor staffers” in the Bowling Green office who weren’t equipped with the congressman’s schedule. Melanie Stretchbery put the staff on notice that this is no longer business as usual. “We are voters. We are taxpayers and we’re not sitting down anymore,” she said. “We want to be heard,” Landry Meyer said. The biggest concern in the room was the possibility of the Affordable Care Act being repealed with no replacement plan in place. “Address the problem, but don’t pull the rug out from under the people who need it most,” Stretchbery said. Nancy Brownell agreed, noting that many of the problems with the ACA are occurring because the Republicans fought against the single-payer system. “We should never have a repeal before we have something to replace it,” she said. “The Affordable Care Act has made an incredible difference. Repealing it now is not an option.” Bosserman was asked about Latta’s position on repealing the ACA. “I can’t speak for him personally,” Bosserman said. But he said Congress is working on a replacement plan. “I don’t have the inside scoop on what the plan is.” Some of the citizens noted the irony of health care being a struggle in the U.S. “It doesn’t make any sense to me that a country such as ours – one of the greatest in the world – and we’re battling over health care,” Lynn Wineland said. The issue is not partisan, they stressed. It is a matter of doing what is right. To repeal would be “irresponsible, immoral and unethical,” Stretchbery said. “What it will really do is abandon the people who need it most,”…


BG told zoning rules need complete overhaul

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s zoning rules may need more than just a tune-up. They may need a complete overhaul. Les Pollock, of Camiros consulting firm, said ideally zoning rules are tools that help a community be what it wants to be. But in Bowling Green, the current zoning ordinance lacks consistency, is outdated, suffers from lack of enforcement, and is too “loosey goosey,” he said. Pollock, who is working on the Community Action Plan for the city, presented his assessment Tuesday evening during a joint meeting of city council and the city planning commission. Many of the existing buildings in the city don’t reflect the zoning currently in place, Pollock said. “I think you’ve got some pretty major repairs here.” So the question is – does the city want a complete makeover of its zoning rules? “Is there interest in making the zoning ordinance a real tool?” Pollock asked. The council and planning commission members answered by using clickers to rank the importance of a series of questions. Most felt that updating the zoning was important. Pollock warned that zoning could only do so much. “Understand, it’s not the panacea.” It can control the type of buildings, the size, signage, landscaping and parking. But it has no control over quality and behavior. He also warned that revising zoning is time consuming, and usually results in more regulations and the need for more enforcement. “There’s a lot of community agony that comes out of this,” Pollock said, explaining the city really needs design and development standards. “Once you do that, you’ve pretty much opened up a whole can of worms.” After the meeting, Bowling Green Planning Director Heather Sayler said the overhaul seems overwhelming. But she welcomes the challenge. “We’ve wanted to tackle this for a long time,” she said. “Having experts like this is very helpful.” But ultimately, it will be up to city council and the planning commission, she said. “We’ll see where our council and planning commission is willing to go.” It won’t be easy, Pollock said. Zoning rules often crash head-on with political realities and community traditions. “For most people, zoning isn’t about the big picture. It’s about what happens on their land or next to them,” Pollock said. And while city council and planning commission members do their best for the community, most have no training in community planning. “The reality is, it’s the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker,” who are forced to make the decisions. That’s where Pollock comes in. It’s his job to push when city officials aren’t sure which direction to take. Though the zoning ordinance needs an overhaul, Pollock warned that the city should not scrap the current rules and start from scratch. The existing rules are there for a reason, and should be built…


BG to see ‘Good Neighbor Guide’ and community festival plans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Next week Bowling Green residents will get a sneak peak at the new “Good Neighbor Guide” and plans for a community festival. An open house on the Bowling Green Community Action Plan will be held Tuesday, Feb. 7, from 6 to 8 p.m., in the atrium of the Wood County Courthouse. Citizens will be able to view and comment on the planning concepts for the city’s East Side. Also on view will be the new “Good Neighbor Guide” with descriptions of various community problem issues, permits, penalties and contact information. The open house, guide and festival were discussed Tuesday evening during a joint meeting of Bowling Green City Council and Planning Commission with the representatives of Camiros, who are working on the city’s Community Action Plan. (A story on the zoning discussion at the joint meeting will appear Wednesday on BG Independent News.) Plans for the Court Street Connects Festival will also be on display at the open house next week. The festival, set for April 22, is to create stronger connections from the downtown to Bowling Green State University. The all-day event will be held on the front lawn of the county courthouse. Its purpose is to celebrate the city’s East Side, with historic home tours, safety demonstrations at the fire station and Earth Day events. The Court Street Connects Festival will also serve to test on-street bikeways from BGSU to Prospect Street, along the south side of Court Street. The bikeway will stay in place for the following week. Volunteers are being sought to help with the April 22 event. At next week’s open house, the four draft concepts of the Community Action Plan will also be highlighted: Preservation of historic and green spaces. Activation of park and other community areas. Connection of people in the neighborhoods. Evolution of the East Side of the city.


BG green space taking shape as town square

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   While the city was discussing its plans for the green space downtown, the community was already making use of it. During the past few months, the open space that once housed the junior high has been used for community gatherings to mourn victims of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Florida, to unite against an immigration ban, and to offer a peaceful alternative to a pro-gun march. Those uses fit in perfectly with the plans for the 1.7 acres, according to Eric Myers, chairman of the steering committee for the site. “We would certainly encourage that,” Myers said Monday. “It’s a great use for the space.” Last fall the Bowling Green City Council, with the support of Mayor Dick Edwards, approved the use site at the corners of West Wooster and South Church and South Grove streets as a developed green space.  At that time a steering committee was formed to shepherd the development of the space.  While independent from the city, the group has received support from the city administration, the mayor and council, Myers said. The Green Space Steering Committee members are all volunteers who previously served on the Green Space Task Force. In addition to Myers, they are Larry Nader, Dick Newlove, Michael Penrod, Lloyd Triggs and Lori Young. The steering committee has been meeting since December, primarily organizing a committee structure and developing a plan.  The committee has created a loose time frame for the completion of the project. It is hoped that fundraising for the green space will begin in April, with the possible groundbreaking in the fall. The project is expected to be completed no later than the fall of 2018. “We’d certainly like it before that,” Myers said. The task force presented a plan for the space more than a year ago. Then they waited as council debated whether or not to place a city building on the same 1.7 acres. Public pressure pushed for the site to be used solely as a town square. Both the City Planning Commission and the City Council approved a design for the space and the steering committee is determined to keep that design, Myers said.  Included in the design are gateway entrances at the corners on West Wooster, a central floral area and a gazebo. The gazebo will work as a speaking platform that could be used in future community rallies, Myers said. The area will also be available for many other community uses, such as Friday afternoon gatherings and bandstand performances. The task force’s plan also calls for a multi-purpose commons space with wide walkways leading to a large gathering space. The space would include street lighting that would match the rest of the downtown lights, benches, shade options of either sails or umbrellas, a defined…


BG stands together with banned immigrants

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This is not the America to which Lady Liberty welcomed the huddled masses. This is not the country where Gale Swanka grew up, or for which Mohammad Shalabe left his homeland. But this is becoming the America where people like Swanka, Shalabe and crowds across the nation are being motivated to stand together to protest executive orders from President Donald Trump. In Bowling Green, more than 250 gathered Sunday evening in the green space at West Wooster and South Church streets to rise up, resist and rebel. They came bundled for the cold, carrying signs reading “No hate, no fear. Everyone is welcome here.” Or “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.” They chanted, “No ban. No wall,” and “We need a leader – not a creepy tweeter.” They came with concerns, even shame, over their country’s latest actions against natives of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. “I know what it means to be left out,” said Dr. Eileen Cherry-Chandler, an African American woman who held a sign saying, “I’m with the banned.” Cherry-Chandler said she was outraged at Trump’s ban on citizens of seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering the U.S. for three months, and an extended ban on Syrian refugees. “These people are innocent. These people are fleeing from ISIS,” she said. “We need Muslims in order to win this war on terror.” Cherry-Chandler has been horrified by Trump’s actions in his first week in office. “He thinks he’s a king and he can issue decrees,” she said. “That isn’t happening. I’m just delighted that people are standing up to him. That’s the least we can do. It’s good to know people are awake and aware.” Swanka has also been troubled by Trump’s executive orders – from building a wall along the Mexican border to banning the refugees – all “ridiculous policies,” she said. “I wanted to give the president the benefit of the doubt and it’s just not working,” Swanka said. As the crowd gathered for the rally, a line of people signing a petition against the immigrant ban stretched down Church Street. Megan Rancier encouraged the crowd to remember the poem by Emma Lazarus on the Statue of Liberty. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”   Four Bowling Green council members – Mike Aspacher, Daniel Gordon, Bruce Jeffers and Sandy Rowland – attended. Gordon reminded of America’s shameful actions in 1939 when Jewish refugees were turned away. “Many went to the gas chambers,” he said. Gordon compared Trump’s actions to the heartlessness and bigotry shown on the eve of World War II. Instead of persecuted Jews,…


Sandy Rowland seeks another term on BG council

From SANDY ROWLAND City Councilwoman Sandy Rowland has filed petitions with the Wood County Board of Elections to retain her Council At Large seat in the November 2017 election. “There are good things happening in Bowling Green right now and, with the implementation of our Land Use Plan there are exciting things to come in the next few years. I am well acquainted with the plans and want to continue to work hard with council to see these projects through” says Rowland. “I have supported changes that have caused our community to appeal to more people, families and businesses. Our neighborhoods, a lively downtown business district and outstanding schools are important to attract and keep residents here. “ Rowland currently serves as Council’s Chair of the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department. Additionally she also serves on the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee as well as the Transportation and Safety Committee. She serves as Council’s representative on the Bowling Green Convention and Business Bureau of Directors. She is a full time Realtor with The Danberry Company and is a member of Toledo Regional Area Board of Realtors and Heartland Board of Realtors. Prior to becoming a Realtor she was a Regional Director for The Humane Society of the United States for 27 years. Rowland is an active volunteer in her community. She is a volunteer for Black Swamp Arts Festival, Project Connect, Classics on Main, BG Art Walk and Not In Our Town. She is a member of the Exchange Club of Bowling Green and Bowling Green League of Women Voters. Council at Large members represent the entire community.


Solidarity gathering opposing immigration order today in BG

A solidarity gathering to support those affected by the recent executive order regarding immigration from Muslim-majority countries will be held today (Sunday, Jan. 29) at 5:30 p.m. in the green space at the corner of Church Street and Wooster Avenue. President Donald Trump on Friday issued an executive order calling for a 90-day suspension of visas and other immigration benefits to all nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia and the complete suspension of the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days. 


BG prepares for $1 million in water, sewer line work

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As city water and sewer lines age, Bowling Green is faced with sinking money in the ground to repair and replace old lines. The city is currently preparing for nearly $1 million in water and wastewater line improvements. The city has identified several water and sewer mains that are aging, of inadequate size, or that require regular maintenance, according to Utilities Director Brian O’Connell. So on Monday evening, the Board of Public Utilities approved the city advertising for bids and entering into contracts for some of the work. Already planned for in the 2017 budget, and first on the list to be fixed are the following: Water line on Manville Avenue, between Napoleon Road and Wooster Street for $376,000. Water line on Liberty Avenue, between Fairview Avenue and North Grove Street for $70,000. Manville sewer relining between Napoleon Road and Wooster Street for $364,000. Darlyn Drive sewer relining for $55,000. The board of public utilities also approved advertising for bids for utility vehicles and equipment already approved in the 2017 budget. In some cases, existing vehicles will be traded or sold. And when possible, the city will use the State of Ohio Cooperative Purchasing Program and the Ohio Department of Transportation Purchasing Program to cut down on costs. Following are the vehicles sought and the amount budgeted for them: Electric division bucket truck to replace 1995 truck, $250,000. Electric division equipment to replace substation transformer and upgrade the substation on Dunbridge Road, $1.1 million. Water distribution division replacement of service body, $64,500. Wastewater collection, new service truck with crane, $144,000. Water treatment division, replace two touch screens, $70,000. Water pollution control division, replace furnaces, fans and lighting, $70,000. Also at Monday’s meeting, the board agreed to the hiring of a consultant to conduct a GIS joint use pole audit. Several electric poles in the city are used by companies such as Buckeye or Frontier, O’Connell explained. Currently, those firms are charged $4.09 per attachment per year, which generates between $30,000 and $35,000 for the city. The information from the audit will be integrated into the GIS system to enable identification and location of city owned poles. It will also be used to help resolve pole ownership disputes and improve joint-use billing accuracy. In the past, companies have requested GIS data to verify the accuracy of the billing for pole attachments. The audit will also help identify pole attachments that have been performed without city permission. In other business, it was reported the city has experienced about eight water main breaks since the beginning of winter. That is not an uncommonly high number due to freezing and thawing conditions. It was also reported that the wastewater plant had three sewer overflows in 2016, all during periods of above normal rainfalls.


Child abuse cases increase locally by 25% last year

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Child abuse investigations increased in Wood County by nearly 25 percent in 2016 – a jump never seen before by the staff at Children’s Services. The number of cases went from 718 in 2015 up to 894 in 2016 – meaning 176 more child abuse investigations. Cases of abuse were reported in every community in the county. The increase is being attributed to more people reporting child abuse or neglect cases when they see them, and to the rising opiate epidemic. The numbers were presented Thursday to the Wood County Commissioners. The number of physical abuse cases investigated in 2016 was 224, the number of sexual abuse cases was 142, the number of neglect cases was 439, and the number of emotional abuse cases was 19. Drugs were involved in 212 of the cases. “The drug cases are much more difficult,” and take longer to resolve, according to Sandi Carsey, director of Wood County Children’s Services. “It’s normal for people to relapse,” added Brandy Laux, assessment supervisor at Wood County Children’s Services. When investigators arrive at homes with drug problems, “there are bigger issues,” of finances, eviction, utilities and loss of employment. Nearly every month last year saw more child abuse reports than the year before. “Every month last year, except for December, we increased,” Carsey said. And this January is seeing the same uptick. “I would hope we wouldn’t have as big of a spike, but we never know,” Carsey said. In expectation of the increases, the county commissioners approved an additional staff person in Children’s Services last year. “That helps with the load for the workers,” Laux asid. Children’s Services will once again be trying to raise awareness by placing a field of pinwheels out in April, with one pinwheel for each case investigated last year. This year, however, separate pinwheels will be placed in communities throughout the county where child abuse or neglect have been investigated, Carsey said. Those pinwheels are intended to make people aware of abuse occurring throughout the county. Following is a list of the number of cases investigated in each community in the county in 2016: Bowling Green – 210 Perrysburg – 186 Northwood – 80 North Baltimore – 73 Weston – 50 Rossford – 47 Walbridge – 26 Fostoria – 26 Bradner – 24 Grand Rapids – 22 Millbury – 21 Pemberville – 17 Rudolph – 15 Custar – 12 Wayne – 12 Cygnet – 11 Bloomdale – 10 Risingsun – 9 Luckey – 9 Toledo (LCCS) – 8 Jerry City – 8 Portage – 7 Hoytville – 5 Haskins – 3 Milton Center – 3


Women march on to make sure their voices are heard in Washington

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Millions marched last Saturday across the nation last Saturday, their signs and hand-knit pink headwear sending a message that women will not be silent. Now back home from marching in Washington D.C., Ann Arbor or Toledo, local participants and their supporters are ready to take the next step. Thursday Kathy Pereira de Almeida set up shop at Grounds for Thought in downtown Bowling Green armed with 1,000 postcards and the addresses of U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green), U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). The organizers of the Women’s March have called for people unhappy with direction the Trump Administration is moving the government to take 10 actions in the first 100 days of his administration. This is the first. She doesn’t know what the next will be. She’ll be at Grounds all day Friday as late as she needs to be to get as many postcards mailed as possible. Pereira de Almeida said she’s has not been an activist in the past, but “we can’t remain silent anymore.” She’s contacted all three congressional representatives at least twice. “It’s little steps that will have bigger impacts,” she said. “I’m doing it because I’m thinking about my daughters’ future.” Pereira de Almeida’s daughters joined her marching in Ann Arbor, wearing the pink “pussy hats” that have become the iconic symbol of the movement. “They are a nice way of letting our thoughts get out that we’re not happy with the language our new president is using.” On returning after the march she heard from other women who had participated. They wanted to keep the energy going and form a local group. Pereira de Almeida volunteered, and they set up a secret Facebook group – the intent is to keep the trolls at bay – and within a day had 700 members, and now has 1,000. “There’s a voice out there that wants to be heard and wants to hold our new administration accountable,” she said. On the cards, the senders are letting their elected representatives know just what their concerns are. For Pereira de Almeida her chief concern is preserving the Affordable Care Act. As a cancer survivor, she has a pre-existing condition, so without the protections afforded by the ACA, she faces the threat of not being able to get health insurance. Her family did go through a year of not having insurance after they spent a year abroad tending to her father-in-law who was dying. When they returned home, no insurance company, for no amount of money, would cover them. At another point one of her daughters was kicked off the family’s insurance plan because of a medical condition. Later under the ACA, they were able to keep their daughters on the family plan until they were 26….


Questions grow about education secretary pick

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci couldn’t help but think of a comedy sketch when Betsy DeVos, nominee for Education Secretary, testified last week that guns may be needed in schools to defend against grizzly bears. “I looked at a lot of the testimony and all I could envision is a Saturday Night Live skit,” similar to the Sarah Palin “I can see Russia from my backyard” sketch, Scruci said. It would be funny – if it weren’t so scary. When the Bowling Green Board of Education met last week, it was a sobering thought that DeVos’ confirmation hearing was going on at the same time in Washington, D.C. “She is definitely not a friend of public education,” Scruci said. “Her appointment would change the landscape for public education.” DeVos is a multi-billionaire, who never attended public schools, has been a cheerleader for charter schools, and reportedly owes the state of Ohio $5 million for campaign issues. At the school board meeting, Scruci asked anyone who cares about public education to write letters and make phone calls expressing their concerns to legislators about her appointment. “I became even more concerned during the hearings,” Scruci said later last week. Scruci said his comments about DeVos have led to at least one suggestion that he be careful about expressing himself on political issues. “My feelings have absolutely nothing to do with politics,” he said Friday afternoon. “This is strictly from an education point of view. Her track record has been anti-public schools. To replace public education with for-profit options is not a good thing.” DeVos’ testimony last week showed some serious gaps her in education about education. Her answers reflected an unawareness of federal laws providing education for children with disabilities, and protection against harassment and bullying. She consistently said that many decisions are best left to the states – seemingly unaware that they were federal laws providing for these children. Scruci was also troubled that DeVos was unaware of basic education terms regarding performance assessments. She did not know the difference between growth (how much students have learned over a period) and proficiency (which measures how many students reached a specific score). “To not know the difference between proficiency and growth further emphasizes what she doesn’t know,” Scruci said. “How can some be confident that she can lead education in the U.S.?” DeVos’ background is strictly in charter school systems. Many public education officials see charter systems as schools that take away public funding but don’t have to meet the same standards as public schools. DeVos did, however, make substantial financial contributions to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. “I’m sure there was a reason she was nominated, but I can’t believe it was based on her education,” Scruci said. DeVos has never worked in schools,…


BG plugs into power from new solar field

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The sun may be hiding most days recently, but Bowling Green’s new solar field is producing power. The gray days of January aren’t allowing full power generation yet, but on sunny days, the site is producing close to 14 megawatts of power, according to Bowling Green Utilities Director Brian O’Connell. “We should see better production as we get into spring and summer,” O’Connell said during a City Council meeting Tuesday evening. “But we are getting power from it right now.” According to Mayor Dick Edwards, 40 percent of the city’s energy now comes from renewable sources. An estimated 2,900 homes in the city will be powered by sunlight. The new solar field, which sits on 165 acres northeast of the city near the corner of Carter and Newton roads, has more than 85,000 solar panels, O’Connell said. The panels rotate with the sun during the day to get maximum power. The solar field is expected generate 20 megawatts, with Bowling Green getting 13.74 megawatts of the power for its customers. The solar field is the largest solar power generation site in Ohio. American Municipal Power Inc. had planned to own and operate the solar sites in multiple communities. However, AMP was not eligible for federal investment tax credit. So AMP entered into an agreement with NextEra, a third party solar developer. NextEra, which qualifies for the tax credits, is one of the largest generators of solar energy in the U.S. with more than 700 megawatts of solar generation. Since the project now qualifies for federal tax credit, it will cost the city less in the long run. With the original solar plan, it was estimated the city would see a 1.1 percent increase in its power supply costs. That increase was erased with the new proposal. Also at Tuesday’s council meeting, Doug Isaacson was sworn in as the city’s deputy fire chief. Isaacson has more than 35 years with the fire division. It was also announced that more meetings are planned for those wanting to participate in the Community Action Plan. A joint meeting of city council and the city planning commission will be held Jan. 31, at 6 p.m., in the Wood County District Public Library. Then an open house on the plan will be held Feb. 7, from 6 to 8 p.m., in the Wood County Courthouse Complex. Wendy Chambers, of the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau, updated council on plans for the annual Winterfest, which is being promoted as a “Chillabration” this year. “The coolest event of the year,” Chambers said. The Feb. 10 to 12 celebration of winter will include several events at City Park, at the BGSU Ice Arena, and downtown. In other business, council gave first readings to resolutions: Approving revisions to the Parks and…


Community group wants to hear from Bob Latta on plans to repeal Affordable Care Act

From INDIVISIBLE DISTRICT 5 A new community group called Indivisible District 5 is calling on Congressman Bob Latta to hold a public forum with his constituents about his recent vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act — a plan that will lead to nearly one million Ohioans losing their health coverage. Eight members of Indivisible District 5—from Bowling Green, Findlay, and Cygnet—met with Latta’s district director yesterday afternoon at his district office in Bowling Green to share their stories about how the Affordable Care Act has benefitted them and their families and to advocate for the millions of Ohioans who received coverage for the first time, have access to free preventive care, and receive help paying their premiums based on their incomes. “Latta’s staff listened to our stories and the facts we presented and promised to share them with the congressman. But we really need to hear from Latta first-hand about why he is voting to hurt hundreds of thousands of Ohioans,” said Melissa Wynemia Kritzell, a founding member of Indivisible District 5. “Although we learned that Latta intends to hold tele-townhalls in the coming months, we do not know whether that will happen before the next vote to rip away health coverage from thousands of his constituents.” “We agree with Governor John Kasich, who wants to know what will happen to the 700,000 Ohioans who have gotten covered under the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. Unfortunately, we have received only platitudes, but no plan from Congressman Latta,” said Becca Klaver, a visiting professor at Bowling Green State University who was able to come to Ohio in part because she could get insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s individual marketplace. But, she added, “I am far more concerned about those workers, in Wood County and around the country, who are cobbling together several part-time hourly wage jobs, none of them providing benefits, than I am about my own position.” According to an Urban Institute study, 964,000 Ohioans will lose their health coverage if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.


BG Council hears geologist’s pipeline concerns

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green City Council was again asked Tuesday evening to stand up to plans for a pipeline crossing city property. But this time the request came from geologist Bob Vincent, who wasn’t suggesting that the pipeline be blocked – just that it be done right. Last year, council voted unanimously to deny an easement request for the Nexus pipeline to cross 29 acres of city land located in Middleton Township, about 2.5 miles east of the city’s water treatment plant. But the city is reluctant to take the fight any further, since the battle would likely be expensive and futile. The pipeline company does not yet have eminent domain authority, but is actively pursuing that power. On Tuesday evening, chemist Neocles Leontis and environmental science major Lisa Kochheiser presented more information regarding safety issues with the pipeline being planned. Of greatest concern is the pipeline intersection with the BG fault line and the possible existence of karst carbonated rock in the area. “I’m afraid of this,” Vincent said, suggesting that more data is needed before drilling begins for the pipeline. “I don’t want them to stop it,” since the pipeline could bring revenue to the region, “but I want them to do it right.” Vincent said he is unsure if the pipeline firm can be forced to study the proposed route further. But he added, “it’s not best for the company to try this.” Paul Wohlfarth, questioned the pipeline route. “Why they would put a pipeline across a fault line near the Maumee River is beyond me,” he said. Janice Lower, who lives across from the water plant, said she owns a cabin near the fault line. She said the cabin’s basement and a pool previously on the property were damaged by cracking attributed to the fault line. “We are running a tremendous risk if we allow this pipeline to go through,” Lower said. Leontis and Kochheiser presented city council with some suggested actions: Acknowledge and publicize the dangers posed by the proximity of proposed Nexus pipeline to BG fault and BG water facility. Obtain an independent scientific evaluation of the dangers involved. File a formal complaint with FERC regarding the siting of the Nexus pipeline near the BG water facility and inadequacy of the Nexus environmental impact statement. Kochheiser presented a map that showed the proposed pipeline route, the BG water treatment plant, the BG fault, the expected karst area, and the “blast radius zone.” She noted the severe injuries suffered by a man in Pennsylvania when a pipeline exploded there last year.          


BG votes to condemn discrimination of Muslims

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG  Independent News   Bowling Green was told it could be better – and City Council accepted the challenge. The failure of a sanctuary campus proposal at BGSU Tuesday afternoon was followed by the passage of an anti-discrimination resolution by BG City Council that same evening. One by one, students of color walked to the podium at the packed city council meeting, to tell of their negative experiences and their positive hopes. “I came from a country where I was tear gassed,” during the Arab Spring uprisings, said Amira Hassnaoui, a BGSU student from Tunisia. She came to a country where she could be free – or so she believed. “This is a dream land where everybody can be who they are.” There is no tear gas here, but Hassnaoui is again finding herself fighting for rights. “I’m going to fight for social justice in the U.S.,” and speak out for those unable to, she said. Hassnaoui, who is president of the BGSU Graduate Student Senate, said while she does not wear a hijab, some of her Muslim friends do. She told of walking around a local business, and being followed then questioned by the manager. “This resolution should be passed. Nobody should walk in fear because of who they are,” she told city council. Hassnaoui said she worries about her mother and brother traveling to the U.S. for her graduation. Her mother wears a hijab and does not speak English, and her brother is dark skinned. Though the hate crimes reported around the nation have not occurred here in Bowling Green, Hassnaoui said the resolution could prevent those incidents from happening. “I do believe we don’t have to wait for a situation to occur,” she said. She also reminded council of the importance of students in the city. “We should provide a safe space for our international students. If these students do not feel safe,” they will go elsewhere and there will be an economic loss for the city, she said. The resolution passed by council condemns violence, hate speech and discrimination targeting Muslim people and expresses solidarity with the Muslim community and all those targeted for their ethnicity, race or religion. Ahmad Mehmood, a student from India, said the resolution is more than symbolic for international students. “This is significant. This is not symbolic,” Mehmood said. “This is not just hypothetical, this is real.” Another student, a second generation Latino in America, spoke of his fear of Donald Trump’s promise to deport undocumented immigrants. There are many of those people in Bowling Green workplaces and neighborhoods, “whether you recognize it or not,” he said. Student Bea Fields said her father, from Ghana, is one of those undocumented immigrants. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to him,” she said. Fields has faced her own…