Government

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

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


Africa’s future is here and now

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


Local election official favors limited voter info sharing

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


Taxpayers can now view City of BG checks online

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Taxpayers interested in how much the city of Bowling Green spends on paper, paint and Panera can now get a look at the city’s checkbook. The city has joined other governmental entities in the state posting expenses online on OhioCheckbook.com through a program offered by the Ohio Treasurer’s Office. The city’s bills have never been top secret information, but they also haven’t been really accessible to the average citizen. The online checkbook puts the numbers right at taxpayers’ fingertips. “This information has always been available,” Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said Friday morning during at visit from staff representing State Treasurer Josh Mandel’s office. “We’ve always had an open book philosophy. But you’ve taken it to a whole other level with technology.” The Ohio Checkbook program went live in December of 2014. Since then, more than 1,100 of the 4,000 local governmental entities in Ohio have signed up to have their expenditures displayed online. “We’re a public entity and it’s public information,” said Brian Bushong, finance director for the city of Bowling Green. “If we can make it easier for people to look at the information, it’s a great tool.” In Wood County, the expenses for several entities are already online through the checkbook program, including, Wood County, Rossford, Cygnet, North Baltimore, Bradner, Haskins, Luckey, Risingsun, West Millgrove, Weston, Webster Township, Northwood School District, North Baltimore School District, Otsego School District, Rossford Schools, North Baltimore Public Library and Fort Meigs Cemetery.  Bowling Green State University was the first of the state universities to become part of the program. “It’s been amazing to…


Gavarone backs Medicaid-related veto overrides in House

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News State Rep. Theresa Charters Gavarone voted with the rest of the Ohio House Republicans to overturn 11 budget vetoes issued last week by Republican Gov. John Kasich. While the House did not act on overriding a veto that would have frozen Medicaid expansion in the state, it did override a number of other Medicaid related vetoes. The veto overrides now must go to the State Senate where they will need a three-fifths vote to pass. Gavarone said she was felt particularly strongly about restoring money to counties that they were losing when the federal government said a tax for Medicaid providers could not be levied. That cost Wood County $900,000. “This will partially restore some of that funding,” she said. The funding would stretch over the next six years. State Senator Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) told Clint Corpe on “The Morning Show” Thursday that overriding that veto was his top priority as well. The House also delayed plan to move behavioral treatment under Medicaid into managed care for six months. This was especially important to insure a continuity of treatment for those fighting opioid addiction, Gavarone said. She also said it was important that the House restore the provision calling for Medicaid reimbursement rates to be set at 75-percent of the Medicaid allowable rates neonatal and newborn services. They are now 45 percent. She said the move is revenue neutral. In his veto message, Kasich said, the increase would force the state Medicaid program to lower rates for other services “to avoid an increase in Medicaid expenditures.” That could threaten access to those services…


Manufacturing no longer dead-end and dirty jobs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   From childhood on, kids dream of what they will become when they grow up. Doctor? Teacher? Scientist? Few set their sights on working in a manufacturing plant. But maybe they should. The Wood County Economic Development Commission is working with others to put on the first “manufacturing camp” in the county for middle school age students. Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the county economic development commission, explained the concept Thursday to the county commissioners. “We want to introduce middle school kids to modern manufacturing,” Gottschalk said. “We think there’s a misconception of what manufacturing is.” It’s not like the old days when factories were thought of as dirty worksites with mundane, repetitious routines. Today’s manufacturing plants are often spotless and require high tech skills. And the jobs are plentiful. “We visit the manufacturers and we hear constantly that they can’t find people,” Gottschalk said. “There’s a lot of demand.” So students who choose jobs in the manufacturing sector over getting a college degree often come out ahead of their peers. They have an easier time finding work, they make similar wages to those people with degrees, and they aren’t saddled with the debt from college. But most kids don’t even think about manufacturing as a career. To help change that mindset, the first “manufacturing camp” is being planned in Wood County. Partnering with the economic development commission is U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, the local Ohio Means Jobs office, Bowling Green City Schools, Penta Career Center, BGSU, the Wood County District Public Library, and the Wood County Educational Service Center. The local industries…


Seniors dreaming big about new center possibilities

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Don’t tell these seniors they are stuck in their ways. They are dreaming big about the possibilities of a new senior center – conjuring up ideas like a pool, solar panels and retail space. “If they have a concept we haven’t thought of, that’s what we need to hear,” said Denise Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. But Niese is quick to remind the seniors that the center has to stay within budget. Last month, it was announced that Bowling Green was giving the committee on aging land for a new senior center, and that Wood County would secure financing for the project. The property was formerly used for the school district’s central administration building, between South Grove and Buttonwood streets, south of West Wooster Street. Last week, a second public brainstorming session was held on the project. “People are wanting to give input, which is a good thing,” Niese said. “There was some very good discussion.” During this second session, more ideas were suggested about partnerships with the senior center. One recommendation was a possible teaming with community theater groups, such as the Black Swamp Players and the Horizon Youth Theatre. Niese said the committee on aging would need to look at the additional costs that would entail. “We’re open to exploring and partnering. This will still be a community space – like this one is,” Niese said of the existing senior center on North Main Street. “My board and I have to listen to these suggestions.” The idea was floated again about the committee on aging…


Constitutional rights (and wrongs) defended for 4th

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom to eat ice cream? Well, two out of three beats the national average. While the fireworks were being prepared, and the community band was tuning up for the Independence Day concert, people gathering Monday evening for the festivities in Bowling Green talked about the freedoms guaranteed to them in the Constitution. Some were bona fide Constitutional amendments. Others were rights supported by legislation. And some were just wishful thinking. But overall, the crowd gathered for the July 4th concert was above the national average in their Independence Day and American history knowledge. After all, we live in a nation where some citizens believe “Judge Judy” is a member of the Supreme Court. “Seventy-nine percent of people don’t know who we got our independence from,” lamented Joyce Kepke as she carried her lawn chair for the fireworks viewing. Kepke’s favorite Constitutional amendment gave women the right to vote – the 19th Amendment. Her “biggest disappointment” was that the Equal Rights Amendment still has not been enacted. Some of the 27 amendments are more familiar than others. The 1st Amendment guarantees freedoms of speech, press and religion, plus protects the right to petition the government. The 2nd Amendment, another oft-cited one, guarantees the right to own and bear arms for defense. And the 13th Amendment banned slavery. The 18th Amendment banned the sale and consumption of alcohol. But that all changed with the adoption of the 21st Amendment which repealed the ban. Many of the amendments are much more obscure, such as the one stating citizens…


Gardner says Ohio Senate must wait for House action on overriding governor’s vetoes

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News State Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) is waiting on action for the Ohio House to act on the 47 items Gov. John Kasich vetoed in the $133-billion two-year state budget Friday. “I’m not going to spend an awful  lot of time on any particular item until we find out if the House is going to take action, because if the House decides not to vote the Senate doesn’t have any action to take.” State Rep. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) confirmed the House will convene Thursday to discuss overriding the vetoes. (Gavarone was not available today for an interview. A separate story on her reaction to the budget and vetoes will be published later.) It takes a three-fifths majority to override the governor’s veto. The earliest the Senate would convene would be July 12, he said, and even then it could be as late as August or September. In fact, he said, a measure could be overridden any time during the legislative session, which lasts until August, 2018. Some decisions, though, have to be made sooner. Any override of the governor’s veto of a measure that would have frozen expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, would have to be made before the middle of next year. In the case of the Medicaid expansion freeze, he has concerns about a number of issues. Those include whether provisions making exceptions to the freeze for the drug addicted and mentality ill would be retained. “I wouldn’t even consider voting until I have answers to those kind of questions.” One issue he said he’s “definitely interested in” is the…


BG Girl Scouts get real life government lesson in D.C.

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the nation prepares for another birthday, a group of Bowling Green girls will celebrate this Fourth of July with new knowledge about their government. Members of Girl Scout Troop 10799 recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where they crammed in as many tours and sightseeing stops as possible in four days. They learned that George Washington didn’t smile for portraits because his artificial teeth would fall out. “He was a great leader, but his teeth … not so great,” said Girl Scout Natalie Hollands. They learned that while the Senate chambers is a serious and somber place, the House of Representatives is raucous and chaotic. “You could hear a pin drop in the Senate,” said Allie Parish. But not the House. “It was really crazy,” Paige Suelzer said. The leader kept banging the gavel for quiet. “They were like little kids.” And they learned that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is no place for giggling – even if one of their little sisters drops a water bottle that rolls close to the feet of the soldier on guard. Thirteen Bowling Green Girl Scouts, who will be entering sixth grade this fall, toured the city with their families. They visited the memorials to Lincoln, Jefferson and Martin Luther King Jr., the memorials to those who served in the Vietnam War and those killed in the 9/11 attacks. They toured the East Wing of the White House, the Capitol Building, and the Pentagon. The girls all had their favorite sites. For Sophia Nelson, a big fan of Abraham Lincoln, her…


BGSU employee suggests amendment to allow sick time sharing

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A phone call from a Bowling Green woman resulted in one sentence inserted in the state budget bill that could make a difference for many Ohio residents. On Wednesday, State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, stood up in chambers and read off an amendment, which he dubbed the “Faith Olson amendment.” The change is one paragraph in a more than 4,000-page budget bill. “Still in this big state, one person can make a difference,” Gardner said from the floor. Olson, a Bowling Green State University employee since 1978, reached out to Gardner about employees at state universities not being eligible for a paid leave donation program. Previously, state university employees could save up their unused sick time, and put it in a “bank,” where other employees could use the time in case of critical or chronic illnesses. Gardner met with Olson, fiscal officer for the BGSU College of Education and Human Development, at Frisch’s on North Main Street to discuss her concerns over breakfast. Olson explained that under an interpretation from Attorney General Mike DeWine, the unused sick time could no longer be donated to fellow state university employees in need. DeWine’s unofficial opinion stated that unless the program was in a union contract, or involved faculty, that the paid leave could not be given to others with chronic illnesses. That troubled Olson. “There were people still in need,” she said. So she reached out to Gardner, who she felt has been supportive of higher education issues. “I think it’s a valid request,” Olson said. So did Gardner, who decided to put…


Animal cruelty calls to go through sheriff’s office

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   To prevent animal cruelty cases from slipping through the cracks, Wood County residents will soon have one place to call to report animal abuse. After a meeting between the Wood County Commissioners, the Wood County Humane Society, the Wood County Dog Warden and the Wood County Sheriff, it was decided that the sheriff’s office will soon take over as a clearing house for animal cruelty complaints. As the county commissioners prepared to give the humane society its annual $30,000 check to support the position of a humane agent, Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar suggested that the roles of the various agencies involved be outlined. “We want to make sure that is clear,” Kalmar said of the role of the humane agent. “What can law enforcement expect?” Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn voiced his concern that cruelty calls could be going unanswered. “Are things slipping through the cracks,” the sheriff asked. “Is there tracking? Is there accountability with the calls.” The problem is the humane society has one humane agent to investigate cruelty complaints. She cannot work 24/7, so some calls don’t get immediate responses. The sheriff’s office also gets a share of the phone calls about animal abuse. So Wasylyshyn offered to have sheriff’s dispatchers take all the animal cruelty complaints to improve the tracking and the responses. That suggestion was welcomed by Erin Moore, the humane society shelter manager, and Heath Diehl, the humane society board president. “I think we’re missing things because people don’t know who to call,” Moore said. And with one agent, help is needed, she added. “That…


Ohio House Dems urge Kasich to veto Medicaid freeze

From OHIO HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS Ohio House Democratic lawmakers today sent a letter to Governor Kasich urging him to line-item veto the Medicaid expansion freeze in the state operating budget, House Bill (HB) 49, that will end healthcare coverage for over half-a-million people. “The people of Ohio deserve representatives in Columbus who will stand up and fight for them,” said state Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “Passing the Medicaid expansion freeze and kicking people off of Medicaid is unacceptable, harmful, and cruel and unusual punishment.” If approved by the federal government, the GOP freeze to Ohio’s Medicaid expansion will phase out medical coverage for over half-a-million Ohioans, leaving families with minimal healthcare options. “We need to provide healthcare for Ohio’s families, all of Ohio’s families.” Sykes said. “Without access to healthcare, lives will be lost and costs will rise. Ohio cannot afford to pay for the increased costs that will come by taking away people’s healthcare.” June 28, 2017 Governor John Kasich Riffe Center, 30th Floor 77 South High Street Columbus, Ohio 43215 Governor Kasich, We write to urge you to line-item veto the Medicaid Expansion freeze in Budget House Bill 49. If signed into law, this will dramatically change the state’s ability to provide healthcare for many Ohioans in need. Medicaid Expansion has allowed more than 725,000 Ohioans to receive proper care, including the developmentally disabled, the elderly, families in transition, veterans, pregnant women and low income families. Ohioans need to be healthy in order to be productive in their day to day lives. Without the ability to afford doctor visits, hospital stays, nursing home care, home health care,…


BG Community Center to fine tune fitness class fees

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Changes are being considered at the community center that will help pay for fitness instructors and help people stay fit at the same time. But it also means people will be paying a little more for fitness classes. The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board on Tuesday discussed new fitness class pricing for the fall, and offering a discount for community center members who want to take classes, and for those who take classes who want to join the community center. “Our mission is to make sure people are healthy,” said Kristin Otley, director of the parks and recreation department. The price increase will be voted on next month, and go into effect in September. The following rates are being considered: Drop-in classes: $8 now, $10 proposed. Monthly: $40 now, $45 proposed. Quarterly: $105 now, $117 proposed. Annual: $360 now, $396 proposed. The last time rates changed was 2015, and Otley said she would rather see “small incremental price increases” than putting it off and needing big rate hikes. “Minimal increases is our philosophy,” Otley said. No increase will go into effect until the fall. “We want to be able to give people a heads up,” she said. “We want to be as transparent as we can.” In the past, people taking classes could only go to the specific class they signed up for. But now, people can pay monthly, quarterly or annually and pick from a variety of classes, such as spin, step or zumba. That makes it more appealing for people who want to try different classes, Otley said. But…


Daniel Gordon finalist for national NextGen service honor

Bowling Green City Councilor Daniel Gordon is a finalist for a NextGen Public Service Award. Gordon was nominated in the NextGen Courageous Champion Award category. According to NextGen: “This award recognizes a public servant that is blazing the path for their generation in government with courage and determination at the local, national, or international level.” Gordon, who is in his third term representing the First Ward on city council, is among 30 finalists selected in five categories. Each of the finalists will be recognized at the Next Generation of Government Training Summit on July 27-28 in Washington, D.C. According to NextGen: “Public servants make a difference and we are happy to give them the support they give to so many of us.” On its website NextGen Government is described as a movement that “educates, inspires and promotes innovation and positive growth for government.” For the full press release visit: https://www.nextgengovt.com/nextgen-general/2017-nextgen-public-service-award-finalist#.WVAE5pD71AU.twitter