Government

Wasylyshyn and Babel-Smith in race for sheriff seat

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Both candidates for Wood County Sheriff want to keep local residents safe – but they have different ideas of how to achieve that goal. Democrat Ruth Babel-Smith, a retired lieutenant with the sheriff’s office, who teaches at Owens Community College, is promising “public safety not politics.” She has her master’s degree in criminal justice administration and is pursuing her doctorate. Republican incumbent Mark Wasylyshyn has held the job for 12 years and if re-elected he will be the longest serving sheriff in Wood County history. He serves on the board of directors of the National Sheriffs Association and if re-elected he will become the president of the Buckeye Sheriffs Association. Wasylyshyn points to a well-operated, cost-effective county jail, and well-trained road deputies keeping the county safe. But Babel-Smith is critical of both the jail and the road operations of the department. If elected, her first goal would be to conduct a task analysis of each area to make sure personnel are being put to use the best way possible. She said too many road patrols are focused on areas that already have their own law enforcement coverage. That means residents in some southern areas of the county wait “upwards of 40 minutes for a deputy to respond.” Babel-Smith thinks there may be a need for more staff, but definitely is a need to shuffle staff around to areas of greater needs. “People just don’t feel safe,” she said. Reassigning staff would also help with staff morale, she said. “I would like to work on picking up the morale. I want to create an environment where people want to stay,” she said, citing…


Kolanko and LaHote have roots in grassroots govt.

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Communication is a major focus of Ed Kolanko and Craig LaHote, two candidates running for the same open seat in the Wood County Commissioners Office. Both men know what it’s like to be on the other end of county government – with Kolanko currently serving as mayor of Walbridge, and LaHote serving as Perrysburg Township Trustee prior to being selected to fill the county commissioner seat when Jim Carter retired. Kolanko, a Democrat who works in the financial advising business, served on Walbridge Council for six years prior to becoming mayor. “I’ve always felt, and still do feel, there’s a huge disconnect between county officials and local communities,” he said. The areas south of U.S. 6 and north of Perrysburg have little contact with county officials, Kolanko said. He would like to bridge that gap. LaHote, a Republican who served three terms as Perrysburg Township Trustee and now serves as county commissioner, said the commissioners travel throughout the county to talk with and listen to local residents. The commissioners hold regular town meetings in far-reaching villages and townships, attend county-wide township and mayoral meetings, meet with chambers of commerce groups throughout the county, attend economic development breakfasts and luncheons will local leaders, and visit senior centers. “We get feedback,” said LaHote, a former information technology consultant. “There’s a lot of outreach. There is always more that can be done, I’m sure.” But Kolanko said the only time small towns see county commissioners is for a ribbon cutting, parade, or town hall meeting. “The only outreach I’ve witnessed is a town hall meeting, which is more of a feel-good thing,” he said. “I…


Wicks may face fine for late financial disclosure (Updated)

Editor’s note: Kelly Wicks was not assessed a late fee for not filing the financial disclosure form because officials at the Wood County Board of Elections reported that it is “likely” he was never sent the form. 12/16/16)   By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Kelly Wicks was put on notice that his campaign failed to submit the required financial disclosure statement on time to the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee. Wicks, the Democratic candidate for Wood County’s state representative seat, may face a fine as a result of the failure to file a timely report. The Joint Legislative Ethics Committee oversees ethics for members and candidates of the Ohio House and Senate. State law requires independent candidates to file their ethics report with the commission 30 days before an election, so the public has access to candidates’ financial disclosure information prior to casting their vote. Neglecting to follow state ethics law puts the public at a disadvantage when it comes to learning more about a given candidate, according to the Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee. “Of all people, Wicks ought to be aware of the state’s ethics laws, having run for the same 3rd District seat four years ago,” said OHROC spokesman Brad Miller. “Failure to submit the financial disclosure statement should give the public pause that Wicks is perhaps trying to hide something from voters.” Wicks responded Tuesday that the problem occurred because the Wood County Board of Elections did not provide his campaign with the notice that the document was required. “This is an administrative issue between the Wood County Board of Elections and the Secretary of State,” Wicks stated. As soon as he got the notice…


Nothing simple about creating city bike lanes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The effort to put bike lanes in Bowling Green hit another bump in the road Tuesday evening. This bump came in the form of memo from the city suggesting that any bike lane initiatives be addressed by the Council Committee of the Whole. “This may slow things down,” said Council member Sandy Rowland during the Complete Streets meeting. “I’ve talked to people who are sick and tired of just talking and want to get things done.” Last month, the three-member Transportation Safety Committee (John Zanfardino, Daniel Gordon and Rowland) discussed plans for bike lanes on Conneaut and Fairview avenues. The decision was rushed due to time constraints for the bidding and funding process. This week, the memo, signed by Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter, suggested that the process should include all council members in the discussion. She pointed out that the city’s road paving schedule should drive the timeline of any bike lanes or other “complete street” modifications. But Rowland noted that schedule could delay the six streets selected for bike lanes – and could result in the last street – Clough – not being made bicycle-friendly for 20 years. Zanfardino was disappointed that the memo seemed to imply the city would only consider bike lanes on six streets. “There were 20 streets at first that were earnestly being considered,” he said. But in an effort to set a reasonable goal, the efforts were narrowed to six streets – Fairview, Conneaut, Court, Pearl, Maple and Clough. So Zanfardino suggested that as the city looks at which streets to pave each year, that bike lanes be discussed for all of them. “If not, I…


Bowlus, Kuhlman face-off for commissioner’s seat

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Safe water, a quality workforce, and the opiate epidemic top the list of concerns for Wood County Commissioner candidates Dr. Ted Bowlus and Joel Kuhlman. Both Bowlus, a Republican and podiatrist, and incumbent commissioner Kuhlman, a Democratic and attorney, grew up in the Pemberville area. The two are competing for one of the two open commissioner seats. Facing off for the other open seat are Democrat Ed Kolanko and Republican incumbent Craig LaHote, both from the northern end of Wood County. A story on that race will appear later. Kuhlman and Bowlus see the water issue as multi-faceted. There is the issue of Lake Erie’s “impaired designation” status, and the decision on water sources for the region. The commissioners have been asked to support an effort to have the Western Lake Erie Basin declared “impaired.” That designation would get the U.S. EPA involved in identifying the sources of the phosphorus creating the harmful algal blooms. Neither Bowlus nor Kuhlman are sold on the need for “impaired” status, though Kuhlman is more open to considering the designation. After sitting through a series of meetings on the issue, Kuhlman called the discussions “enlightening” and “confusing.” While parts of the western basin are already labeled as impaired, Kuhlman wants to delay the decision until more facts are gathered. Bowlus has made up his mind that the impairment status would do more harm than good. “I feel strongly we should not designate the lake as impaired,” he said. “The federal government will step in and the Army Corps of Engineers would dictate to us.” Bowlus also objected to the bulk of the blame being placed on…


Activists bike across the country to find common ground on climate change

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Climate change activists Mindy Ahler and Ryan Hall are peddling across the country, and that’s taken them right through what many would consider enemy territory. The two bicyclists stopped Saturday in Bowling Green to do what they’ve been doing for the last 60 days and 3,400 miles, talk about the need to address global warming. The two started off Aug. 27 in Seaside, Oregon traveling Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. They traveled a route mapped out by the Adventure Cycling Association, and adjusted based on suggestions by local cyclists. Along the way they have talked to people. Those included supporters and volunteers who met them along the way. They also met people who skeptical about global warming. “We’ve had these conversations even with people in the fossil fuel industry,” Hall said. “If we can have these conversations, we can find those solutions.” What they’ve found along the trail, he said, is that people care about the environment, even if they disagree on global warming, its causes and solutions. Hall and Ahler met each other this summer. She is a Minneapolis-based activist, who serves as the North Wind Regional Coordinator for Citizens’ Climate Lobby and co-director of Cool Planet. Hall is just finishing his third year as an AmeriCorps volunteer. He met Ahler while working in Iowa weatherizing houses. He’s also spent a year working as a mentor and tutor in the Columbus city schools. Ahler said the most impressive aspect of the trip is the “amazing people” they met along the way. Ahler recalled peddling into a town in Montana, wet and cold, only to discover that the food…


BG goes for 2-mill levy to maintain parks, programs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department has no grand expansions planned if its levy passes on Nov. 8. It just hopes to maintain the pretty grand properties and programs already in place. The city has 11 parks covering 373 acres – well above the national average for a community this size. Those public parks were one of the biggest factors in Bowling Green recently being ranked one of the top 10 places in the nation to raise a family. The parks offer a variety of settings: Garden, nature, athletic and passive. “That’s very rare,” said Kristin Otley, director of the city parks and recreation department. “It really is truly amazing what we have here.” But in order to maintain that, Otley explained the citizens are being asked to pass a 2-mill, five-year property tax levy to support the parks. It will take place of the 1.4-mill levy that expired last year. The levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home in the city $61.25 a year. That is $18.25 more a year than the previous levy. Otley has complete confidence that Bowling Green residents get their money’s worth out of the city’s parks and recreation programs. “It’s a quality of life issue,” she said. “I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we make a difference in people’s lives every day.” Those differences can be seen in the swimming lessons offered in City Park, the colorful flowerbeds at Simpson Garden Park, the rambling trails at Wintergarden Park, and the beginning T-ball classes for kids. “That’s pure joy and learning,” Otley said of the T-ball classes. “It really is pretty phenomenal.”…


Nearly 300 local absentee ballots get lost in the mail

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Board of Elections sent out 10,229 absentee ballots for the Nov. 8 election. Once they were placed in the mail, the board thought its work was done until the completed ballots were mailed back in. But then they started getting phone calls. Absentee ballots mailed out on Oct. 12 still hadn’t gotten to many voters – primarily those who lived out of state or in the North Baltimore and Fostoria areas. The voters were advised to wait a little bit, that the ballots were in the mail. It now appears many ballots made it to the Detroit mail sorting center in Pontiac, Michigan, but didn’t get any further than that. “Once we drop it in the mail, we lose control,” Wood County Board of Elections Director Terry Burton said Saturday morning. “We rely on that system to do what it should.” “This happens in every election. It just happened a little bit more in this election,” Burton said. And Wood County is not alone. It appears that many absentee ballots from all over Northwest Ohio have not made it to their intended destinations. “What happened to those ballots? Where they got hung up, we don’t know,” Burton said. “While I would like to rail the postal system – and there may be a time for that – what we are focusing on now is correcting the problem.” So as of Saturday morning, the Wood County Board of Elections has reissued nearly 300 absentee ballots for those missing, and has suspended the initial ballots sent out. Each ballot has an absentee number, so the missing ones can be canceled and new…


Middle ground hard to find in discussion over gun violence & gun rights

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Tom Klein opened the panel on gun violence Thursday night with a caveat. The panel, organized by a group of local residents concerned about gun violence, wasn’t as balanced as they had hoped. They planned to have two representatives from those advocating the broadest gun rights, instead the panel had one, Michael Temple, a part-time NRA instructor.  The NRA put the kibosh on the appearance of another representative, and the organizers’ attempts to find someone else proved futile. So Temple was joined by Toby Hoover, founder of the Ohio Coalition against Gun Violence, and three academics who study aspects of gun violence. Before the panel really got underway, though, it became evident that the beliefs in the audience of more than 120 would provide a counter to those of the majority of the panel. Where’s the American flag, a man up front called out. Why no Pledge of Allegiance? That us-versus-them attitude burst into full view after the panel had its say and the floor was open to questions. The organizers were hoping for a dialogue not a debate. If there was any middle ground to be found in the atrium of the Wood County Public Library where the panel was presented, it was over the benefits of training. Gun owners touted the value of training as did members of panel. But still they didn’t feel because some people didn’t bother get training or practice was no reason their rights to own a gun should be denied. But those on the panel pointed out the limits of training. Even police who train and practice only hit the target 25 percent of the time. And…


Stinging and sweet … job of the county apiarist

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Few people probably know what an apiarist is. Fewer still know that Wood County has one on the payroll. But this morning, the county commissioners hired a new apiarist – a beekeeper – to keep an eye on the honey bee hives in the county. Why does the county need a beekeeper? Well it turns out that a lot of crops raised locally rely on honey bee pollination – like pumpkins, apples, tomatoes and strawberries. The role was filled for years by Fritz Gehring, who retired earlier this year. The new apiarist is Michael Horst, who works in the heating and air conditioning business, but who has gardened for years. “As a gardener, it led into that naturally,” Horst said of beekeeping. In fact, he was named Michael after his great-grandfather, who was a beekeeper. He not only inherited the name and the inclination, but also the 50-year-old beekeeping equipment. Horst has already started his rounds in the county, visiting first some of the bee hives in the Perrysburg area and the Wood County Park District. “It’s a lot of education for the newbies, and catching up with the older ones,” Horst said of the local beekeepers. Horst has been inspecting for mites, which are the biggest problem plaguing honey bee hives right now. He also looks for bacterial diseases, which are spread to healthy hives by bees raiding other less healthy hives. “Bees will rob weaker colonies and carry diseases,” he explained. And if diseases aren’t caught, the colony’s health may be threatened. Horst can also inspect commercial bee businesses, to make sure they aren’t selling sick bees. Many of the…


BG Civil Service to administer exam to hire firefighters

The Bowling Green Civil Service Commission will meet at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5. The meeting will be held in the Council Chambers, which are located in the City Administrative Services Building, 304 N. Church St., Bowling Green. The purpose of the meeting is to not only administer an entry-level examination in order to hire Firefighter/Paramedics, but to also take all actions necessary to establish eligibility lists, establishing passing examination scores, and/or certify names of candidates deemed eligible for consideration for hire or promotion to classified positions. Action will also be taken, as necessary, to modify, add, or abolish job descriptions, and to establish classified positions and/or schedule and/or establish the requirements for or types of hiring or promotional examinations.


Sheriff wants to buy drone to aid in searches

  By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn is hoping to add an eye in the sky to help in searches in the county. The sheriff’s budget requests for 2017, presented to the Wood County Commissioners on Tuesday, included a drone with thermo camera. Wasylyshyn said there were 10 times just this past summer when a drone would have been useful to the sheriff’s office. The drone would be useful in helping to search for missing children, suspects hiding in cornfields, or seniors with dementia who wander off, he said. The equipment could even help when livestock escapes, he added. The drone would cost $13,580, and a thermal nightvision monocular would cost $3,833. The infrared camera would make the drone useful in night searches. The training of staff to operate the drone is included in that amount. Wasylyshyn said the drone would pay for itself since it would be less expensive than sending groups of officers out on searches. The sheriff said he is hopeful the department can share the equipment with neighboring law enforcement in need of help with searches. The biggest ticket item on the sheriff’s budget request was the expansion of the booking and medical areas of the county jail. The expansion has been on the list for a couple years, and was ranked top on his list for next year. The estimated cost is $4.8 million. Also on the list were seven new Ford Explorers for $189,000. The sheriff’s office previously used Chevy Impalas, but those are no longer being built for law enforcement use and the greater expense of  Chevy Tahoes could not be justified, Wasylyshyn said. Also requested…


BG to earn revenue from pipeline, antennae

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is set to benefit from a pipeline buried on city-owned property and antennae put high on its water towers. The Bowling Green Board of Utilities learned Monday that Nexus Gas Transmission wants a 50-foot permanent easement and a two-year temporary easement to install the Nexus natural gas line on city acreage located north of Bowling Green. The gas line is making its way from southeastern Ohio to Canada, and has the power of eminent domain, explained Brian O’Connell, director of public utilities for Bowling Green. The 29 acres owned by the city are located in Middleton Township, a few miles east of the city water plant. The installation of the pipeline would have no impact on the operation of the water plant, O’Connell said. The city has no long-term plans for the property. The acreage is rented out for farming right now, which will have to be halted during the construction of the pipeline. The pipeline company will pay $9 per foot for the permanent easement, plus $25 per foot of damaged farm tile. That will add up to at least $151,000. An estimated four acres of the entire site will be affected by the pipeline. The board of utilities approved the easement. The board also approved two lease agreements with Amplex Electric Inc. Amplex is an internet service provider in Northwest Ohio. The company wants to use city water tower space to mount antennae, and will pay $250 a month for each attachment. Amplex plans to put three antennae on the Newton Road water tower and one on the west side tower near Sand Ridge Road. That adds up…


Ordinary citizens honored for extraordinary lives

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   They may have looked like an ordinary farmer, teacher, nurse and small town mayor. But the four were recognized for being so much more than that Sunday during the annual Spirit of Wood County Awards presented in the courthouse atrium. Recognized were Dan Henry, Janet Stoudinger, Brian Tucker and Jean Gamble. “So many times, we forget to recognize people who do outstanding things,” said Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw at the beginning of the event. The Spirit of Wood County Awards changed that during the bicentennial of the Northwest Ordinance in 1987. And after that, the county commissioners decided to make the awards an ongoing effort to recognize ordinary citizens for doing extraordinary acts. Dan Henry, of rural Bowling Green, was given the Agricultural Leadership Award. Henry, a former industrial arts teacher at Anthony Wayne, worked part time at Riker Farm Seed starting in 1975, said Lesley Riker, who nominated him for the award. Upon retiring from teaching, Henry took over presidency and full-time management of Riker Farm Seed. He is active in the Ohio Seed Improvement Association, is on the educational committee, and is active in Ohio Foundation Seeds and Advanced Genetics. “Dan believes strongly in education,” Riker said. Riker Farm Seed hosts corn and soybean test plots, field days and hosts several hundred FFA members who come to the farm for education on hybrid corn and soybeans. Henry is now working closely with Farm 4 Clean Water, OSU Extension and Wood Soil and Water in hosting demonstration plots for cover crops and how they can help with water run-off and nutrient uptake. “We as farmers are doing something for water…


New interdisciplinary major focuses on how society is organized

By ALYSSA ANN ALFANO BGIN Student Contributor Choosing a major can be a tough decision for college students, but now, BGSU has a new major that might provide more opportunities. Students can start enrolling in Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law (PPEL) as their major in January 2017. Kevin Vallier, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at BGSU and one of the contributors in putting this major together said that “the PPEL major was inspired by similar programs at other universities, especially Oxford, which has had a PPE program for nearly a century. But in the last two years, 25 new programs have sprouted around the United States.” Vallier believes that the unique interdisciplinary focus of PPEL is what interests many students. According to Vallier, the benefits of enrolling in this major take on two forms. One benefit is that PPEL equips students to “think about the big questions about how societies should be politically, socially, and economically organized.” He believes that this will better prepare students to ask questions such as what the government should do and how the economy should function. The second benefit, according to Vallier, is vocational. Students are permitted to choose the direction they will go within the major so that they are focusing on areas in which they have career interest. Vallier explained that the template for the coursework was inspired by other large public universities, but that “the heart of the coursework” is designed to give students the basic tools of philosophy, political science, economics and law so that they can integrate these tools to other core courses within the major. In addition to benefits obtained by coursework and the tools gained from this major, the…