Government

Local candidates face questions at forum

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the nation was preparing for the second presidential debate Sunday evening, Wood County residents filled up seats in a Bowling Green church to listen to local candidates. Though the forum was much less contentious than the presidential debate, there were a few accusations lodged at the local level. The League of Women Voters from Bowling Green and Perrysburg hosted the candidate forum for nine county, state and national races. Questions for the forum were accepted from the audience on note cards ahead of the event. But because there were 17 candidates sharing the stage, only two questions were posed to each. The candidates were all given a couple minutes to sum up at the end. The biggest sparks flew when the candidates for the Ohio House – Republican Theresa Gavarone and Democrat Kelly Wicks – were called to the microphones. The first question asked each to identify their top two priorities. But in response to multiple flyers mailed to local residents and a television commercial accusing Wicks of not paying his taxes, Wicks took the opportunity to set the record straight. “I’m Kelly Wicks and I pay my taxes,” he said.  Several years ago, he missed the deadline for a property tax payment, but paid it as soon as he realized the error, Wicks said. He questioned why his opponent and the state Republican party were spending so much on untruths. “Why is she willing to go so ugly, so early?” Wicks said. “What are you hiding?” Gavarone said she did not review the ads against her opponent. “They were produced out of Columbus and mailed out of Columbus.” She also…


Candidate forum planned for tonight

The League of Women Voters of Bowling Green and Perryburg Area are hosting the Candidates Forum on Sunday, Oct. 9, at the First United Methodist Church, 1526 E. Wooster St., Bowling Green. The event is from 7-9 p.m. with doors open to the public at 6:30 p.m. Candidates in contested races for U.S., state and county offices will be present to answer questions.


Wicks calls on Gavarone to denounce Trump

Submitted by the Kelly Wicks Campaign BOWLING GREEN, OH – Kelly Wicks, Democratic State House Candidate for District Three, is calling on his Republican opponent to denounce the remarks as well as the candidacy of Republican standard-bearer Donald Trump. Wicks said, “On a day when the nation was reeling from the disclosure of the crude and degrading comments Republican standard-bearer Donald Trump made about women, my opponent, Theresa Gavarone, was introducing the ticket in Rossford. This is an appalling affront to women that has no place in America. I call on my opponent to denounce in the strongest possible terms not only these unconscionable remarks, but the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump.” Kelly Wicks is a small businessman who owns and has run Grounds for Thought, a coffee shop and bookstore in downtown Bowling Green, for 27 years. He is the former President of the Bowling Green Downtown Business Association. Kelly Wicks is a family man, married to Laura Wicks and has two children, Declan and Rowan who attend BGSU.


Garbage rules education over, enforcement begins

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   School is out on the new garbage bin rules in Bowling Green. Now it’s time for the test. After adopting new regulations for trash bins in August, City Council decided the focus should first be on educating residents rather than citing them for violations. So for the past month, city workers have been posting bright green stickers on trash or recycling bins that are not being used or stored properly. The stickers have boxes that can be checked to explain the violation. “Hopefully, this education process is working,” Public Works Director Brian Craft said to City Council Monday evening. Now that the education process has been given a month to sink in, the next step is issuing warnings for violations. If the violations continue, fines will be issued. It appears that the education effort on recyclables has been effective, since the amount of garbage in recycling bins has dropped from 35 to 20 percent in the areas on the east side of Main Street since the process started. Following is an explanation of the garbage bin regulations: On non-collection days all refuse containers, including dumpsters, whether city or privately owned, shall be stored within an enclosed area, or in the side or rear yard as defined by the city zoning code of the premises adjacent to the structure with the lid closed. Containers should be placed curbside no sooner than 5 p.m. the evening before collection and no later than 7 a.m. the day of collection. All containers must be removed from the city right of way by 7 a.m. the day following collection. Do not fill above the top of the…


Congressman Tim Ryan to speak on behalf of Kelly Wicks

Submitted by the Kelly Wicks Campaign BOWLING GREEN, OH – BGSU alumnus, U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan will be in Bowling Green Saturday to tell supporters why Kelly Wicks, Democratic State House candidate for District Three, is the clear choice to serve in the Ohio House of Representatives. The visit coincides with Wicks’ 50th birthday. The event will take place at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, October 8, 1225 Brownwood Drive, Bowling Green. “I am honored to have Congressman Ryan’s support as well as his good birthday wishes,” said Wicks. “Congressman Ryan knows the policies decided in the state legislature have a direct impact on all Ohioans. Congressman Ryan knows how important this state house race is and I am happy to have him join us.” Kelly Wicks is a small business owner who owns and has run Grounds for Thought, a coffee shop and bookstore in downtown Bowling Green, for 27 years. He is former President of the Bowling Green Downtown Business Association. Kelly and Laura Wicks have two children, Declan and Rowan. Kelly has lived in Bowling Green all of his life. The visit will be a homecoming for Ryan, who is a Bowling Green State University graduate. Ryan was widely reported to have been on Secretary’s Clinton’s short list for vice president and could now be expected to serve in the Cabinet of a possible Clinton Administration. Tim Ryan is a relentless advocate for working families in Ohio’s 13th District. He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002 and was sworn in on January 3, 2003. Successfully reelected six times, he is now serving in his seventh term. Congressman Ryan currently serves as a member of the…


Efforts to simplify building heights rule get complicated

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Efforts to simplify the city’s building height limits became quite complicated Wednesday evening. With a split vote, Bowling Green Planning Commission took action to simplify the city’s building height requirements. The change maintains the maximum height limitations in all zoning categories – but eliminates the maximum story limitations. The change is intended to alleviate some confusion caused by the city’s current zoning rules which pose limits on the number of stories and the height of buildings, explained Bowling Green Planning Director Heather Sayler. But the effort was met by opposition from some residents who felt more protected by the dual rule. The planning commission also faced criticism from a city resident who found information on the proposed zoning change inaccessible to the public. Jeanne Langendorfer said she was interested in the ordinance change, so tried to find information about it on the city’s website. Langendorfer said the website did not show the proposed amendment and did not list the members of the planning commission. She was able to locate meeting minutes from the commission – however, the most recent minutes posted were from 2014. “I would hope that could be addressed,” she said. “It’s not very helpful as a citizen to see something of interest, but not be able to get any information about it.” The building heights issue came up earlier this year when a Hilton hotel was proposed at the site of the former Victory Inn at 1630 E. Wooster St. The proposed hotel was 65 feet tall, which is five feet taller than allowed, and five stories high, which is one story higher than allowed in B-2 general commercial…


Small housing subdivision plan approved in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Planning Commission approved plans Wednesday evening for a small housing subdivision east of Peace Lutheran Church. The seven-lot subdivision will sit on the 3.5 acres between Pearl, Martindale and West Wooster streets. The backside of the development borders the homes on Western Avenue. The property, owned by David Maurer, will be called the Reserve at Martindale. The plan is to develop the subdivision in two stages, with the three lots along Pearl Street going first. The owner, represented by Dave Saneholtz of Poggemeyer Design Group, requested several waivers of subdivision rules and regulations. They were: Reduction of the 35-foot front yard setback to 25 feet. City Planning Director Heather Sayler said this was acceptable since many homes in that area have the small setbacks. In lieu of rear or side yard easements, the owner offered easements along the public right-of-way. Sayler said that was satisfactory. Delay of the waterline installation along Martindale Road until the lots along that road are created. Fire Chief Tom Sanderson said that was acceptable. Waiver from improving the existing street to the centerline. Avoidance of putting in sidewalks along the development since many streets in that area lack sidewalks. The sidewalks waiver request was the only one that met with opposition from city officials. “We do not support that,” Sayler said, explaining that bit by bit, the city has been trying to install sidewalks in residential areas. “We’ve been working hard to get sidewalks in wherever we can.” Sidewalks improve the walkability of neighborhoods and are there “for the benefit of the whole community,” Sayler said. The city now requires them with all new residential…


Failing septic systems in county estimated at 6,000

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As many as 6,000 failing septic systems in Wood County are sending sewage into public waterways. That estimate is based on the fact that there are approximately 12,000 septic systems operating in the county, with the average life expectancy of the systems at 30 years, according to Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey and Environmental Division Director Lana Glore. Because aging and failing septic systems are a problem statewide, the Ohio Department of Health has suggested that local health departments examine every system. “They want all septic systems to be looked at,” Glore told the Wood County Commissioners Tuesday during a meeting on septic systems in the county. Though admirable, the plan is quite “grandiose,” Batey said, explaining that the Wood County Health Division can’t meet that goal unless they go on a hiring spree. “The state’s expectation that we check every system in the next five years – that’s just not feasible,” he said. The Wood County Health Division already has a septic system operation and maintenance plan, but it is on a much smaller level, Glore said. Inspections of systems are complaint-driven or prompted by real estate sales. The health division works with the county building inspection office on preventing problems by determining the best locations for septic systems and making sure space is left for replacement systems. The health division also partners with the county engineer’s office to help map out systems using GIS. “We’re working toward better use of technology,” Batey said. The health division also works with landowners to find the most reasonable solutions. “Our idea is always to work with the owners and give them the…


BG residents and bicyclists clash over plans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There was a head-on collision Monday evening between city residents who want to safely bicycle in town, and city residents who want to hang on to their front yards and street parking. John Zanfardino, of City Council’s Transportation and Safety Committee, set the scene by explaining the long-awaited goal of creating bike routes in the city. “Everywhere I visit has bike lanes,” he said. “It seems to me a progressive concept we should consider.” The consultants working with Bowling Green on a community action plan asked about bike lanes during their initial visit to the city, according to council member Daniel Gordon. “The very first thing they noticed when they came to Bowling Green was a lack of bike lanes,” he said. “This is a national movement,” said council member Sandy Rowland. But plans to modify the first two streets for bikes met roadblocks Monday evening from neighbors who felt their concerns were being ignored. When City Engineer Jason Sisco presented the plan to widen sidewalks on the east side of Fairview to accommodate bikes, the neighbors asked why the bike lane wasn’t being placed on the west side along the golf course owned by the city. “Yeah,” several in the audience said loudly. Sisco said city officials had been worried about putting bicyclists too close to stray golf balls, but he added “there’s nothing that says it couldn’t be on the west side.” When given a chance to take the podium, several Fairview Avenue residents defended their front yards, and several Conneaut Avenue residents stood up for their street parking. “If you put a path in my yard on Fairview, you…


Council doesn’t want to be kept in dark on solar project

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials don’t want to darken the bright future of massive solar field being built on city property, but Council members demanded answers Monday evening to some troubling questions on the project. Concerns have been raised about the percentage of Ohio workers used on the site and the fact that they are not being paid prevailing wages. Council President Mike Aspacher said he received an email from an AMP official in early September saying that prevailing wages would be paid to workers on the project. However, since then it has been reported that is not the case. “There’s some conflicting information,” Aspacher said. Council member Bruce Jeffers also expressed his frustration. “I assumed throughout this project that people would be paid prevailing wage.” The issue is complicated by the fact that Bowling Green owns the property for the solar field at the corner of Carter and Newton roads, northeast of the city. But the solar field is an AMP project, which has contracted with NextEra, which has contracted with Blattner Energy. Bowling Green Utilities Director Brian O’Connell said the city is hosting the solar field and buying energy from it, but not directly connected to the construction. “We’re somewhat removed from the construction,” he said. Neither the agreement with AMP nor the tax abatement granted to NextEra require the prevailing wages be paid or that union labor be used. If the project were the city’s, that would be different, O’Connell said. “We do have a prevailing wage requirement.” But in this case, the city has no control over the wages paid on the project. But Aspacher was not satisfied. “The fact…


Debate is over – green space to remain green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s official. “Wooster Green” will remain a green gathering space for Bowling Green citizens for generations to come. After years of debate, City Council voted unanimously Monday evening to preserve the 1.7 acres at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets as green space. The vote was met with a round of applause from those in the council chambers. The action was welcomed by those who spent months planning out a concept for the community space. “I thought all along it would pass,” Eric Myers, who led the task force to come up with a plan for the property, said after Monday’s council meeting. “Hopefully we can continue the momentum for fundraising.” Mayor Dick Edwards, a supporter of the green space concept, said he plans to convene the Green Space Task Force on Oct. 11 to discuss the next steps. The resolution states the property, formerly the site of the city junior high, is to be developed in consideration of the concept design prepared by the Green Space Task Force. “It’s finally happening tonight,” Council member Sandy Rowland said. “It’s been a great journey. That property has just been waiting” to become a community gathering space. “I’m supporting this with all my soul and my heart,” she said. “I knew I would support this since the junior high was torn down.” Rowland said the new community space will help attract families to live in Bowling Green. “We will have a fabulous public space.” The task force’s plan was originally presented to city council nearly a year ago. But the plan seemed to stall out at that point, and council decided…


BG rejects moratorium on medical marijuana

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council split 4-3 Monday evening on enacting a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana cultivation, processing and retail dispensary facilities. So despite a request from the city attorney and city planner, the moratorium was scrapped. Council members Daniel Gordon, Bruce Jeffers, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino voted against the moratorium, while Mike Aspacher, Bob McOmber and Scott Seeliger voted in favor. After the meeting, City Planner Heather Sayler said her office has received two phone calls from prospective medical marijuana representatives asking where they would be allowed to do business in the city. As it is now, a retail operation could go in commercial zoned areas, a processing operation could go in industrial, and growing could occur in agricultural zoned areas. The state legislature passed the medical marijuana bill earlier this year, making Ohio the 25th state to legalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes. But few community regulations have been established, so several municipalities are enacting temporary moratoriums on medical marijuana cultivation, processing and retail dispensary facilities. “We’ve been watching the state for weeks, waiting for some rules and regulations,” City Attorney Michael Marsh said last month when the issue first came before council. So “rather than have a free-for-all,” Marsh presented legislation asking that council put a hold on medical marijuana sales in the city until the state sets regulations. Marsh added that the city does not have qualified personnel to set regulations for growing, processing or selling pot. But Gordon said he was not willing to add further burden on ill people who could benefit from medical marijuana. On Monday evening, Gordon reaffirmed his opposition to a moratorium….


Clinton vows to stay true to blue collar Americans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Hillary Clinton made her pitch to the blue collar crowd in Toledo Monday – to people who pay their taxes and expect their elected officials to do the same. Clinton hit hard on the latest news that her opponent Donald Trump has likely not paid federal taxes for nearly two decades. She looked at her supporters gathered in the Amtrak station in downtown Toledo, and told them she understands them. “We believe in honest pay for honest work,” she said, mentioning her dad who printed drapery for a living. “He believed in hard work. He passed that on to me.” Those in the crowd appreciated her steady dedication to family and worker causes. Jennifer Rogers, of Toledo, said she likes how Clinton relies on her experience and her heart. “I think Hillary knows more about the world situation than any president we’ve ever had. I think the Republican party has done a real witch hunt and she’s stood her ground.” Larry Robinson, of Bowling Green, admitted he was not a huge Hillary fan. “I’m against Donald Trump,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t trust him to stick to his word.” So Clinton will likely win with Robinson by default. “When it comes time to vote, I’ll probably pull the lever for Hillary,” he said. Andrew Heller, of Toledo, had no doubts. “I think she’s obviously the only candidate qualified for the job.” He then looked at his two young daughters to explain another reason why he wouldn’t support Trump. “It’s despicable how he talks about women.” One speaker suggested it would be fitting for the Glass City to help Clinton shatter the “glass…


Jail inmate in hospital after beating in visitation area

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   An inmate at the Wood County jail is in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo after being beaten by another inmate last week in the visitation area of the jail. Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said Sunday afternoon that the two inmates were in the visitation area when one punched the other in the back of the head. “We got the victim medical attention immediately and are pressing felony charges against the inmate who beat him,” Wasylyshyn said. Operations Captain Terry James said this morning that Jesse Perez, 36, Toledo, and Franklin Socha, 26, Berea, were having a disagreement Thursday in the visitation area of the jail, when Perez allegedly punched Socha in the back of the head. James said Perez, who was in the jail for domestic violence, punched Socha “several” times. Socha, who was in the jail for felonious assault, was visiting with his mother at the time. Socha was taken to Wood County Hospital, then transferred to St. Vincent in Toledo. The hospital would not release his condition this morning. No jail staff was in the visitation area when the fight occurred, James said. That is not unusual, according to James, who said two deputies were monitoring the area from the room next door. “They saw it and called for backup,” James said. The staff was in the visitation room “very quickly,” James said after watching video of the incident. “I was pleased with how fast we were in there.” Felony assault charges against Perez will be presented to the grand jury on Wednesday. Almost all inmates at the Wood County Justice Center are permitted visitation. “All inmates,…


Fewer BG residents stashing trash in recyclable bins

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is trying to use the carrot and not the stick to teach residents about the new garbage rules. But it turns out they are also having to explain that carrots and sticks belong in the trash, not in recycling. The problem came to a head a few weeks ago, when the Wednesday recyclable collection route on the east side of the city consisted of 35 percent trash, according to Ken Rieman, of the Bowling Green Recycling Center. It was believed that the increase in the garbage in recyclable bins was an unintended consequence of the new city ordinance requiring that garbage bins be closed when being picked up. Rieman surmised that residents with overflowing trash bins were stashing the trash in the recyclable bins instead. However, as of last Wednesday, the trash in the recyclable bins had dropped to 20 percent from the peak of 35 percent, Rieman said. “It appears the city education efforts have had some success,” he said. Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said the 35 percent was “an alarming rate.” So the city started a strong education push for residential areas close to BGSU, where it was thought that students might not realize the difference between the green garbage bins and the blue recycling bins. Bright green stickers are being placed on bins that are being used improperly. However, if the education isn’t enough, the city can cite citizens for putting trash in their recycling bins. “Obviously, that is a last resort for the city,” Fawcett said. “We’d rather work with them than fine them.” The new rule requiring the lids to be closed on garbage bins…