Government

BG parks great for activity, but buildings need some work

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s parks give patrons plenty of chances to flex their muscles while walking, playing ball, skateboarding, swimming or climbing playground equipment. But there is room for improvement, according to the citizens attending the park forum this week focusing on the city’s active parks – City Park, Carter Park and the newest, Ridge Park. “I think we have a pretty good park system,” citizen Les Barber said. The parks scored an “A” for activity options, but got lesser grades for park buildings, ballpark drainage, and parking availability. Citizens were asked for input on the Veterans Building in City Park, and the teepee shaped shelters in Carter Park. Kristin Otley, director of the BG Parks and Recreation Department, explained that the teepee-like shelters may be removed and replaced with new shelter houses. No one present objected to that change. Otley also said that the Veterans Building has several problems, including not being ADA compliant and structural leaks. The three options being considered are to renovate the building, tear down the building and leave open space, or tear down the building and replace it with a new structure. “Seems like we ought to keep some kind of facility there,” resident Ellen Dalton said. She suggested balancing the cost of renovations versus replacement. Valerie Brinkhoff asked about the water tower in Carter Park, which was originally designed to have a theater in the bottom below the water storage. That space is currently being used for storage, but Brinkhoff asked if it could possibly be opened up for community events. Also involving Carter Park, a concern…


Wood County tries to ease growing pains

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County faces inevitable growing pains over the next couple decades. So a new land use plan is examining how the county can ease those pains by saving prime farmland, directing development, protecting waterways, and possibly establishing an energy corridor for pipelines. Input on the planning process was sought Wednesday evening. “Do you all feel this is the right direction for us to be heading,” asked Emily Crow, the consultant working with the Wood County Planning Commission on the land use plan. “We’re trying to balance the discussion where there are pressures for growth.” The countywide plan is just the first step. Then the townships will be asked to implement the vision through zoning. “That’s where the rubber meets the road and things actually happen,” Crow said. To prepare for the future, the plan first gives a snapshot of Wood County today. Agriculture continues to be the biggest land use, with more than 76 percent of the acreage in the county used in farming. Commercial uses are located primarily along major transportation corridors. Then projections were made for the future. By 2050, the county’s population of 125,488 is expected to increase anywhere from 5,840 on the conservative side to 21,810 on the high side. Employment, now at 53,638 jobs according to the 2010 Census, may grow by as many as 39,849 jobs by 2050. “You are gaining a lot more jobs than you are population,” Crow said. The biggest growth is expected in retail trade and warehousing. The county is already facing housing demands that aren’t being met, she said. In 2014,…



Ohio ‘med sync’ bill on its way to governor

House Bill 116, jointly sponsored by State Representatives Tim Brown, R-Bowling Green,  and Tim Ginter, seeks to provide for partial drug prescription refills for the purpose of synchronizing multiple prescriptions for one patient. “House Bill 116 will save time, money, and ultimately improve health outcomes of patients,” said Brown. “Over 80 legislators have cosponsored the bill, which is a testament to its support in communities around the State of Ohio.” The bill is an attempt to enact a process known as “medical synchronization”, or “med sync”, in Ohio. “Med sync” simplifies patient and caregiver lives by reducing the amount of visits that a patient needs to make to the pharmacy to get his or her needed medication, allowing them to permissively participate in a process with their physician and pharmacist to align their medications so that they can be refilled on the same day. Currently, some pharmacies and Medicare Part D allow the use of a “med sync” program. HB 116 would extend this process to commercial plans and Medicaid, keeping patients on track with their medication, boosting adherence to their physician-recommended treatment, and making the process more affordable for Ohioans. HB 116 now awaits action by the Governor.


Park district hands out 14 grants for playgrounds, picnic tables and more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Little towns all across the county have been able to add playgrounds and picnic tables thanks to grants from the Wood County Park District over the last 25 years. Places that could never afford to add safety surfacing, backboards or soccer goals have turned to the district to help. This year, the grants will pay for improvements in 14 towns, including swings in Luckey, a scoreboard in Portage and bleachers in Jerry City. “Very few communities have not been impacted,” said Jeff Baney, assistant director of the park district. “Some of these parks would not be here if it weren’t for this program.” Baney explained the annual local park improvement grant program to the Wood County Park District board members during their meeting Tuesday afternoon at William Henry Harrison Park in Pemberville. The park district started giving out local park grants in 1989 when the district passed its first levy. Over the years, the grant funding has grown from $50,000 to $100,000 each year. As he drives through the communities now, Baney said he sees several parks where every piece of equipment was purchased with park grants. “A lot of these communities are so small,” that they rely on the park district for help, said Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger. All communities in the county may apply each year for grants, and may also use the county park expertise to do playground safety inspections, Baney said. The park district puts an emphasis on playground safety, he said, noting that some of the sites “were frankly dangerous.” “They get overwhelmed because…



House to vote to allow medical marijuana

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Listening to families who could find no other help for their children convinced State Rep. Tim Brown to support a medical marijuana bill for Ohio. Brown, R-Bowling Green, served on the committee studying medical marijuana, and is co-sponsor of House Bill 523 which is being voted on by House members today. “It’s been very eye opening to me to hear from patients and parents with children with seizures who have found no relief from anything except marijuana,” Brown said. Some of the children were having as many as 300 seizures a day prior to being treated with marijuana. “It just really pointed out that we as a society are behind the curve on this,” he said. Parents desperate to help their children have to break the law to give them the only medicine known to reduce their seizures, Brown said. “It’s the responsible way to do this,” he said of the legislation. House Bill 523 would allow doctors licensed in Ohio to recommend marijuana to their patients. The marijuana can only be legally produced by state licensed growers. “It doesn’t allow people to grow in their basements or backyards,” Brown said. Though the bill is expected to pass today with bipartisan support, it is facing criticism from both sides – those who think it’s too restrictive and those who are opposed to any marijuana use. Those supporting medicinal use are concerned this bill will take two years to implement, and doctors are required to fill out so much paperwork that it may discourage them from participating. But Brown defended those measures. “We…


Some feel sign sends wrong message about downtown BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News     Some Bowling Green citizens want to give the city a message – they don’t like the new message sign downtown. When a story was posted last week about new electronic signs being used by the city to communicate with residents, it created quite a stir of reactions on Facebook. Two electronic message signs have been erected, with one in front of the police station on West Wooster Street and the other by the public works area on East Poe Road. The negative comments were all aimed at the sign downtown in front of the police station. The sign was called ugly, a waste of money, distracting to drivers and detracting from the historic downtown. “So much for our quaint town,” one person wrote. “It really contrasts with the look of our downtown area. Did anyone consider aesthetics when this was approved,” another wrote. Some questioned the expense, with each sign costing $10,250, suggesting that the money would be better spent on paving or patrolling the city’s streets. “To me, the thing just doesn’t go with the style of that area downtown,” said resident and Realtor Andy Newlove. “We’ve got this vibrant downtown,” and then this sign goes up that looks like it ought to be selling hamburgers, he said. “To just throw that thing up there? It doesn’t look nice. Was it discussed?” Newlove said the city has worked to improve signage downtown and get rid of unattractive signs. While the new CVS also has an electronic message board, “at least that’s a private business.” The new LED signs will alert…


BG tries to sweeten smells from sewer plant

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Doug Clark takes it personally when people complain about the foul smells coming from the wastewater plant on the east side of Bowling Green. As superintendent of the Water Pollution Control Plant on Dunbridge Road, Clark is intensely proud of the violation-free operation that treated 2.2 billion gallons of wastewater and stormwater last year. He takes pride in the fact that nearly every step in the treatment is done with biological processes, not chemicals. Improvements at the plant have resulted in a 50 percent reduction in the total solids left from the process – creating a product the EPA has approved for sale to a local landscaper who blends the solids with topsoil and sand. None of the solids are applied to farm fields anymore. The finished liquid product looks like crystal clear water and meets EPA standards as it is sent down Poe Ditch to the Portage River. But there’s one thing that Clark gets prickly about – complaints about the stench from the plant. “It’s pretty amazing,” Clark said as he held up a cup of the clear finished liquid product that was the result of the very complex biological process at the plant. “We get it right a lot more than wrong. Yet the only thing we’re known for is odors every once in awhile.” Clark concedes that the odors are particularly pungent on some days, especially when the wind is coming from the north, sending the smell toward businesses along Dunbridge Road. “Typically, it’s wet heavy mornings when it’s most noticeable,” he said. “It’s those days when you…


BG erects two LED message signs

Bowling Green city officials have a new way of communicating with city residents. Two electronic message signs have been purchased, with one in front of the police station on West Wooster Street and the other by the public works area on East Poe Road. The signs will alert residents about such items as traffic changes for construction or special events in the community, and about seasonal services such as brush pickup. The sign in front of the police station may also make public service announcements on buckling up and not drinking and driving. The signs cost $10,250 each, according to Bowling Green Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett.  


Communities caught in middle of tax tug-of-war

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Ohio Gov. John Kasich boasts about digging the state out of a deficit and cutting taxes, local government officials see little to brag about. To them, the state’s strategy was not tax cuts, but “tax shifts,” putting the burden onto municipal, township and county governments. The changes in tax revenue have affected every community in Wood County. On the larger side, Bowling Green has lost $964,764 in annual income, and Perrysburg has lost even more at $1,154,451. On the smaller side, Pemberville lost $43,924 a year, Weston lost $41,335, and Haskins lost $5,368, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation. “This is putting the pressure on communities to raise those taxes,” said Kent Scarrett, director of communications for the Ohio Municipal League. “The state says we are cutting taxes left and right,” Scarrett said. “The fact is, that burden is put on local communities.” The three changes made by the state are: Elimination of Ohio estate tax, which is also called the “death tax.” Eighty percent of this money had gone to local communities. Bowling Green lost an estimated $382,848 a year. Big cuts in the state’s Local Government Fund, which made up sizeable portions of county, municipal and township budgets. The LGF was created during the Depression when the sales tax was enacted to share money with grassroots government. Bowling Green lost $563,480 a year. Elimination of local property taxes on business machinery and inventory, also called the CAT tax. The state had a planned phase out of the tax over a period of time, but hastened the cuts. Bowling…


Health district to build dental center that won’t turn away uninsured

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Health District has given local residents something to smile about. The district’s Health and Wellness Center has been awarded $824,997 to build a dental center to serve Wood County residents regardless of their ability to pay, according to Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey. The district had applied for two projects, one to build a new center and one to renovate existing meeting rooms. The new center was funded. There is also still a chance the health district will receive funds to help pay for dental staffing needs. The health district has been trying for decades to address dental needs. “This is a huge leap forward in meeting this,” Batey said. “It truly will be a benefit to our residents who are uninsured for dental or who have Medicaid, but can’t find a dental provider who will accept them as patients. It will be a whole new challenge, but we look forward to continuing to expand services to give our residents the greatest options for good health.” The dental clinic will be an expansion of the existing Health and Wellness Center that is part of the health district offices at 1840 E. Gypsy Lane Road, Bowling Green. The dental clinic will have at least four patient chairs and will offer full services. “Just like your typical dental office,” Batey said. “It’s very exciting,” said Diane Krill, CEO of the health and wellness center. Krill said the need for dental services is great. “I just think with the community health assessment, it showed there was a dental need here.” Many Wood…


ATM in Meijer parking lot approved by city planning commission

Bowling Green Planning Commission approved plans Wednesday evening for a Huntington Bank ATM to be constructed in the Meijer parking lot on East Wooster Street. The standalone drive-up ATM under a canopy will be located in the southwest corner of the parking lot, behind the Meijer gas station. A Huntington branch is already located inside Meijer, but the branch further in town on East Wooster Street has been closed. Also at the meeting, the planning commission heard a request for the annexation of 6.2 acres between 1502 and 1518 Napoleon Road. The property is currently in Center Township. Petitioning for the annexation are Steven and Marcia Seubert. A public hearing on the request will be held at the next planning commission meeting on June 1. Planning Director Heather Sayler updated the commission on projects going on in the city, including the battery-wholesale store being built in front of Woodland Mall, the Burger King in front of Home Depot, and the Fairfield Inn on East Wooster that is expected to be open by October.


Community ride promotes need for improvements for bicyclists

  By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Thursday’s community bike ride is more than a pedal to the park. The organizers have some serious points to make about the need to make Bowling Green a better place for bicycling.               The second Community Ride will begin Thursday at 5 p.m. at the fountain in front of the Administration Building on the Bowling Green State University campus.  The riders will head west toward downtown, traveling eventually to Main Street, before reaching their destination, the green space at the corner of Church and West Wooster streets. The first ride came after Lily Murnen, president of the Environmental Service Club, was talking to Rick Busselle, a BGSU faculty member and bicyclist. Busselle was upset by a couple incidents. A student was struck while bicycling near the CVS on East Wooster Street, and then was ticketed for riding on the sidewalk. Busselle himself took a spill while trying to navigate past that spot. His accident occurred in part because he was unsure at what point cyclists were allowed to ride on sidewalks. The city lacks both clarity in the rules governing bicyclists and the bike lanes needed to make riding in the city safer, he said. Yet, the city officials didn’t really seem to think it was a problem. He and Murnen discussed a mass bike riding event. These can involve a large group of bicyclists taking over the streets and, at times, violating traffic laws. Instead they decided that it would be best to have the bicyclists adhere to the rules of the road, which in some…


County auditor mails out Homestead Exemption Renewals

Approximately 9,100 Homestead Exemption Renewals have been mailed according to Michael Sibbersen, Wood County Auditor. These renewal forms are mailed to all taxpayers who currently have the Homestead Exemption on their residence. If there are no changes in the Homestead applicant’s status the form need not be returned. New applicants wishing to apply for the Homestead Exemption for real estate and manufactured homes must meet the following qualifications: applicants must be at least 65 years of age on or before December 31, 2016 or permanently disabled as of January 1, 2016 and have an Ohio Adjusted Gross Income of less than $31,500 per year. Applicants must also own and occupy the home as their principal place of residence as of January 1, 2016. A person has only one principal place of residence, therefore, the law allows for only one exemption per person. Homeowners who were receiving the Homestead Exemption as of January 1, 2013 or prior are not subject to the income verification and do not need to take any action to continue receiving the exemption. Homeowners who were receiving the Homestead Exemption after January 1, 2014 are subject to income verification each year and should return the form if the 2015 Ohio Adjusted Gross Income is over $31,500. Homeowners needing assistance with the renewal form may contact the Auditor’s Office at: 419-354-1925, Toll Free: 866-860- 4140, wait for the operator and ask for extension 1925, or via email bgraber@co.wood.oh.us. Homeowners who need a new application form may visit the website at www.co.wood.oh.us/auditor to print a copy of the new application form or contact the Auditor’s Office to request one…