Government

Keeping peace: Courthouse security duties may be divided

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In order to keep the peace, it appears the duties of securing the Wood County Courthouse Complex may soon be divided. Though the plans have not been finalized, it looks like the current court constables will continue to provide security in the courtrooms, jury rooms, adult probation and domestic relations. However, Wood County Sheriff’s deputies will take over the atrium entry, the county office building, the rest of the courthouse and the grounds. “I have always suspected it was my duty to do that,” Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said about his office providing security. The issue came up last month when Chief Constable Tom Chidester retired after 20 years of his department securing the courthouse complex. The current security program was devised cooperatively by the commissioners, judges, sheriff and other county elected officials in the mid 1990s, when the county was trying to meet the 12 requirements of the Ohio Supreme Court. The court security officers perform several functions like scanning people and packages entering the court complex, standing guard during trials and providing general security functions. But upon Chidester’s departure, Wasylyshyn questioned whether his office should take over the court security role. The county commissioners and judges favored continued use of the court security officers. But Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson said the issue is not whether or not the current court security system is serving the county well. “The question isn’t whether it’s working,” he said. “The question is whether we are following the law.” Wasylyshyn said Dobson was strong in his statement that it is the sheriff’s responsibility to keep…


Citizens sound off on East Wooster corridor plans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Citizens got to heap compliments and complaints earlier this week on Bowling Green’s plans to recreate its image from the interstate. Giant drawings showed plans for roundabouts at I-75 and East Wooster Street, a walk- and bike-path along Wooster, and a new decorative look to the bridge over the interstate. “It’s beautiful. I think it’s going to organize traffic in and out of the city,” and prevent accidents in the process, said Brandon Welsh, operations manager at Best Western on East Wooster Street. The project will add two roundabouts designed for semi-trucks at both Interstate 75 interchanges on East Wooster Street. The bridge driving surface will be replaced, with a bike-pedestrian trail being added from Alumni Drive to Dunbridge Road along north side of Wooster Street. The plan calls for a landscaped gateway to be created to Bowling Green and Bowling Green State University. Though utility work will begin in 2018, the bulk of the actual interchange and roadway work will take place in 2019. ”I’m very excited about the new pedestrian improvements,” said Chris Frey, who lives close to downtown but said he would use the bikeway along East Wooster to the Meijer store. “I’m looking forward to it. I’d be very happy to ride my bicycle to the store.” The more accommodations the city can make for bicyclists and pedestrians, the better, Frey said. “We don’t have a culture of stopping for pedestrians.” But that may come, he added. Dawn McCaghy also liked the addition of 10-foot wide bike and pedestrian lane over I-75 that will be made possible by…


BGSU offers free training on how to comply with government regulations

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University will host a free training to address various aspects of compliance during the fifth annual Compliance Day on June 1. Community members and business professionals have the opportunity to receive training directly from representatives of government agencies. Sessions will be led by representatives from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC); Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, Veterans Programs; Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs; the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division; Ability Center and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC). The open sessions will cover a variety of topics regarding new regulations, the Civil Rights Act of 1964; EEOC’s strategic enforcement plan for fiscal years 2017-2021; disability awareness and resources; the Fair Labor Standards Act; powers and duties of the OCRC as it relates to employment; types of unlawful discrimination (Ohio Revised Code 4112; advantages of hiring a veteran; overview of the military skills translator and new 503/VEVRAA regulations, and lessons learned since the regulations have been in effect. “Compliance Day is designed to provide additional knowledge from the subject matter experts, who serve as regulators in their respective fields,” said Lisa Dubose, BGSU director of employee relations, professional development and EEO compliance. “It is imperative that organizational leaders continually update their understanding of existing or new laws and regulations pertinent to the workplace. We are pleased to offer this prestigious, no-cost training at Bowling Green State University.” The training is recommended for federal contract holders; EEO compliance professionals; hiring directors; managers and supervisors; and professionals in the fields of ability/disability services, veterans services, law, human resources,…


BG demands answers to questions about pipeline

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Last week’s pipeline panel discussion raised questions that Bowling Green officials want answered. “We’ve all been wrestling with this,” Mayor Dick Edwards said Monday evening as he sought council input on the letter he penned. The letter received support from council, including an endorsement from member Daniel Gordon, who called it “strongly and appropriately worded.” The letters will be sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, U.S. Rep. Bob Latta and Nexus pipeline. Slightly modified letters will also be sent to State Senator Randy Gardner, State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, Ohio EPA, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and possibly PUCO. Gordon said the lack of deadlines for the pipeline makes it difficult for those objecting to the project. “It’s a source of a great deal of frustration,” Edwards said. The decision rests with the federal government. “It’s frustrating for municipalities to take on the federal government.” The mayor stressed the need to send the letter as soon as possible. “We are trying to establish a record of concern,” he said. “We will try our best to keep pressing the issues.” Edwards also expressed concerns about the pipeline company, which refuses to answer questions about the project. “I’m disappointed with the Nexus group.” Gordon suggested the city add a timetable to the letter, and warn that the city will take the next step if questions are answered adequately. Even if there is a low probability of getting the pipeline rerouted, “it’s worth taking that chance.” Because of possible threats to the city’s water treatment plant, the city…


More crosswalks, roundabouts planned for East Wooster

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council fast-tracked some changes Monday evening for East Wooster Street. Council suspended the three-readings rule and passed legislation to seek funds for two additional roundabouts, and proceed with installation of four marked crosswalks between Manville Avenue and Campbell Hill Road. The city is already working with the Ohio Department of Transportation on roundabouts at the Interstate 75 interchanges on East Wooster Street. The resolutions before council on Monday involved the roundabouts at the intersections of East Wooster at Campbell Hill and Dunbridge roads. The four crosswalks are planned at areas where pedestrians are more likely to use when dodging traffic on East Wooster Street. According to Public Works Director Brian Craft, two different types of crosswalks are proposed. Pedestrian hybrid beacons are planned by the Stroh Center and by the BGSU McFall building. These crosswalks will have buttons for pedestrians to push, which will turn flashing yellow lights to solid red lights for vehicle traffic. Passive crossings are planned in the areas of Troup Street and at the driveway to the Falcon Health Center. These crossings will have islands in the middle of the street for pedestrians, Craft said. In addition to creating less air pollution, city officials are interested in the roundabouts because the East Wooster Street Concept Plan identified these locations for intersection improvements, including a “new look” for the corridor. The plan calls for a calmer and more aesthetically pleasing entrance to the city with a landscaped median as part of that concept. Since the East Wooster corridor is the “front door” to the community, the…


BG looks for best of bad options to raise general fund

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s rare for Bowling Green City Council to use movie quotes to explain city predicaments. But on Monday, dialogue from the movie “Argo” just seemed to fit the options being considered to help the city’s general fund recover, according to council member Bob McOmber. “We only have bad options available,” McOmber said. That set the scene for the Committee of the Whole’s job Monday evening. The council members were tasked with narrowing down the bad options to the best of the bad for building the city’s general fund back up after federal and state funding cuts. Nine options were presented Monday evening. Four were eliminated after getting very little support from council members. Those dropped from the list were: Raising the city income tax. Cutting police and/or fire divisions. Cutting the city arborist. Eliminating tax reciprocity. That leaves five options still on the list: Redistribute the city income tax. Privatize city trash collection. Continue offering city trash collection, but charge a fee. Charge an assessment for tree services. Reduce city funds that are assisting other entities. The budget for 2017 lists revenue of $14,996,197 and appropriations of $15,623,253 – which means it is cutting into the balance by $627,056, and is not sustainable. The losses seen in the general fund are ongoing, so while the shortfall in this year’s budget has been identified as $627,056, the structural deficit is actually more – closer to $800,000 or $1 million a year. Raising the city’s 2 percent income tax rate got very weak support from council. McOmber said 2 percent is pretty standard for…


Sugar Ridge still under EPA orders to get sewers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For a decade now, the community of Sugar Ridge has been on the Ohio EPA’s clean up list. In 2007, the Wood County Health District got a report of a sewage nuisance in the unincorporated village located north of Bowling Green. The EPA took over sampling and “deemed it a sewage nuisance,” said Lana Glore, director of environmental services at the Wood County Health District. The area was ordered to connect to a public sewer system. But that proved to be easier said than done. The Northwestern Water and Sewer District conducted a feasibility study to find out how to make it affordable to hook up the homes to public sewer. “They found it was very costly to build the sewer” – too expensive for the average homeowners in Sugar Ridge, Glore said last week. The project recently came onto the health district’s radar again when a concerned citizen reported that a resident of the Sugar Ridge area was trying to install a new sewer without approval, on Long Street. Upon inspection, Glore found that the resident was actually trying to fix a drainage system. She also found serious ground water drainage issues that could be affecting the septic systems. Residents in the area were advised to pump their septic tanks more often and lessen their water usage if possible. Worsening the situations is a plugged ditch along Sugar Ridge Road. Middleton Township officials are looking at how that ditch may be cleaned to allow for proper drainage, Glore said. The bad news is the septic systems are not sufficiently handling the…


‘Die-in’ shows grave concerns about GOP health plan

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A strip along North Main Street was turned into a makeshift “cemetery” Thursday as supporters of the Affordable Care Act laid on the ground and held up cardboard tombstones. “Last Thursday, the House passed a bill that will have this effect on people,” said Sara Jobin, one of the organizers of the “die-in.” One “tombstone” read “Beloved daughter chose college over health care.” Another stated, “Killed by heartless lies.” And another, “RIP Democracy.” The protest was held in front of the office of U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green. Latta was not present and the office closed shortly after the “die-in” began. Molly Tomaszewski, of Northwood, held signs protesting the projections that 24 million Americans will lose coverage under the American Health Care Act passed by the House GOP members, including Latta.  She believes the answer is a single payer system. “Universal health care is not a partisan issue. It’s a life issue,” she said. “We need health care.” Tomaszewski said her husband has good health insurance through his job. But she has 27 pre-existing conditions as listed in the new GOP plan. Without insurance, her prescriptions would cost $5,000 a month. “They could put lifetime caps on,” she said, worrying about how she would then afford her medications. Of the 30 people gathered for the protest, the majority were women. Anesa Miller, of Bowling Green, said her husband died last month after a long illness. She was insured through him, and is two years away from qualifying from Medicare. So she may have to pay six times as much for coverage…


BG offers senior center land so old site can be retired

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The aging Wood County Senior Center is being retired. In front of a packed room of seniors waiting for lunch, Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards announced Thursday that the city has plans to give the Wood County Committee on Aging some land for a new home – the old school central administration property at 140 S. Grove St. The announcement was welcomed among those who use the senior center on a daily basis. “It’s about time,” said Mary Hansen, of Bowling Green. She and Virginia Combs quickly listed off all the deficiencies they have noticed at the current senior center which is over a century old. Too many stairs, not enough parking, poor heating and cooling topped the list. “It gets hot and then it gets cold. We always layer up,” Hansen said. And then there’s the unreliable elevator. “It makes noises when it does go,” she added. The news was also welcomed by Herb Hoover, Bowling Green, who frequents the senior center for lunch and card games. “My wife and I come here five days a week for lunch,” Hoover, 89, said. “It really breaks up the day.” The gifting of the land for a new senior center may also help the city solve its own building dilemma. For years, city officials have talked about cramped conditions at the city administration building which is located directly to the west of the senior center, which the city owns. The senior center moving to South Grove Street would free up space for a new city building in the area currently shared by the…


William Easterly touts the power of poor people, not experts, to address poverty

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News William Easterly believes that poor people are the key to ending poverty. He doesn’t have to look far to find a prime example in his father, Nathan William  Easterly, retired Bowling Green State University professor of biology. His father, Easterly said, came from southern West Virginia. He was 3 years old when his father died. It was the middle of the Great Depression. “It was really a heroic effort by him, his mother and his family for him to be able to climb out of that and become a professor at BGSU,” Easterly said “It was much easier for me as a professor’s kid to become a professor. That was the easy part. The hardest part was done by my father. And I’m enormously grateful to BGSU for making that possible for my father.” Easterly followed his father’s academic path, though, in economics, not biology. He chose the field because it brought together his passion for mathematics and social justice. “He got a PhD; I got a PhD,” the younger Easterly said. “He became a professor; I became a professor. He’s my role model. I really admire enormously what my father accomplished in his career. He had much further to go then I did.” His father was present Sunday, when BGSU bestowed an honorary doctorate on his son in recognition of accomplishments as one of the world’s most read, most cited and most recognized economists. Part of him still remains in Bowling Green. He stayed in town as long as he could until opportunities elsewhere forced him to leave. That included doctoral studies at…


Geologists agree more data needed on Nexus pipeline

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The probability of a local catastrophe with the proposed Nexus pipeline is quite low – but the magnitude of the damage it could cause is quite high. And Nexus engineering and geological data have failed to instill a lot of confidence with local officials. A panel of geology experts answered questions Monday from Bowling Green officials concerned about the close proximity of the proposed 36-inch natural gas pipeline to the city’s water treatment plant and water intake on the Maumee River. The geologists all agreed on one point – more study is needed before the pipeline is buried near a fault line and under the river. The panel consisted of Dr. Charles Onasch, retired professor emeritus of geology at BGSU; Dr. Andrew Kear, assistant professor of political science and environment and sustainability at BGSU; Mark Baranoski, retired geologist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources; and Stephen Champa, a senior hydrogeologist for Eagon & Associates. Steve Kendall, from WBGU and host of the Northwest Ohio Journal, acted as moderator. Though the council chambers was full, the bulk of the questions were asked only by Kendall. The panel discussion was arranged by Mayor Dick Edwards after City Council kept hearing a wide variety of answers to basic questions about the pipeline risks. Edwards hoped the panel could focus on the science – not propaganda from pipeline protesters or the pipeline company. But the geologists, to varying degrees, said more data is needed before science can give a stamp of approval to the pipeline. Council President Mike Aspacher asked if the pipeline poses a…


Latta’s “communication with his constituents is subpar” – Deborah Schwartz

From DEBORAH SCHWARTZ The article “Latta’s Health Care Vote Leaves Some Constituents Feeling Sick,” published May 5, 2017, did an excellent job covering both sides of the political healthcare story in District 5: Bob Latta ‘s oft-repeated Republican poppycock about the failures of “Obamacare” and his constituents’ concerns about the deleterious effects “Trumpcare” will have on their health. But thankfully, it went one step further in reporting on Latta’s lack of communication with his constituents. As someone who has emailed him, called him, gone to his Bowling Green office, and worked on planning town halls to which he was invited but did not attend, I can attest to the fact that his communication with his constituents is sub-par: · He does not hold or attend town halls. · His telephone town halls are one-sided, with no notice of when they are scheduled, screening of questions, and no time for follow-up questions. · His District Director and office staffers respond blandly to questions about Mr. Latta’s votes and opinions, as in “Mr. Latta hasn’t communicated with us about that yet.” · His schedule is not posted in advance of events – anywhere – although a BG office staffer said that press releases on his website told where he would be. · He doesn’t respond to comments on his posts on Facebook. · His email newsletter is full of superficial reports on legislation and his letters are form letters that do not respond to constituents’ questions or concerns. Last Friday, while two Wood County residents braved the rainstorm to stand on Main St. with signs about having a pre-existing condition and needing…


Water & sewer district eyes BG as expanded water source

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the water wars continue in Toledo, the Northwestern Water and Sewer District is looking for the best partner to do business with in the region. The more officials study the issue, the better Bowling Green water looks. “What we’re seriously looking at now is Bowling Green,” NWSD Executive Director Jerry Greiner said Sunday during an open house at the district headquarters located on Ohio 582 between Bowling Green and Perrysburg. Bowling Green’s value in water services rose to the surface nearly three years ago when the algal bloom crisis prevented Toledo water users from consuming their water. Bowling Green’s water had no problems. Since then, concerns about Toledo’s water quality and expense has led many areas of the region to reconsider their contracts with Toledo. In addition to large surcharges, surrounding communities are also being forced into tax sharing agreements if Toledo water leads to economic development. “That’s sometimes difficult to swallow,” Greiner said. The dissatisfaction has led to a great deal of study on alternative water sources – with Bowling Green being one of the options. Earlier this year, Waterville switched over to Bowling Green water. Now the water source is being eyed by three other regions – the Northwestern Water and Sewer District, Perrysburg and Maumee. According to Greiner, Bowling Green currently has enough water capacity at its existing plant to supply one of the three entities. To supply more, the city would need to expand its plant, Greiner said. And the Bowling Green reservoir space has to expand regardless of whether or not more customers are added, he…


Wood County to direct growth with new land use plan

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The new Wood County Land Use Plan does more than give lip service to organized development – it’s added some teeth. Recently the Wood County Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the new land use plan, which will direct growth to areas with the roads, waterlines and sewer lines to handle it – while maintaining the agricultural and natural areas that are also important to the county. “It’s nice because you have zoning, and zoning is great for directing growth, said Dave Steiner, director of the county planning commission. But the land use plan takes it a step further. “Without a plan, you don’t have something to fall back on.” So if a developer wants to rezone some acreage in the middle of prime farmland for industrial use, the land use plan helps back up the rejection by the county and townships, Steiner said. The plan takes into consideration the latest census information, demographics and development. The plan also looks at “reinvestment areas,” where previous development has “fallen by the wayside” and may need a jumpstart with brownfield development, Steiner said. And the plan defends agricultural areas that are still vital to the county’s economy. The county had outgrown the last land use plan, which had been adopted in 2007. “It was not nearly as comprehensive as this one,” Steiner told the commissioners. The guiding principles of the land use plan are as follows: Support sustainable land use and development patterns, and identify and protect natural and environmental resources. Protect prime agricultural land and support agricultural production. Target economic development areas to support…


Overall voter turnout 11.2% for local primary election

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Voter turnout in Wood County for Tuesday’s primary election was a weak 11.2 percent. That means nearly 90 percent of the registered voters left the fate of the Bowling Green City School’s income tax renewal and the city council candidate race up to the few people who showed up at the polls. Of the 38,424 registered voters in the areas of Wood County with items on the ballot, just 4,302 voted. The low turnout means that two Green Party candidates made it into the November election by getting just 41 and 31 votes. It’s not that voters didn’t have opportunities to cast their ballots. Early voting was offered 30 days prior to Tuesday’s election. The Wood County Board of Elections was open every weekday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The week prior to the election, the hours were extended to 7 p.m., and the office was open last Saturday and Sunday for voters. The exact voter turnout in Bowling Green is not calculated by the board of elections, since the primary election had issues in Bowling Green, the Bowling Green school district area, Henry Township, Jerry City, Tontogany, and Rossford school district. But it is known that overall, the turnout was 11.2 percent. “That’s a pretty low percentage,” even for a primary election, said Terry Burton, director of the Wood County Board of Elections. The turnout in some ways is disappointing to Burton. “The democracy side of me says I wish people participated in the process,” he said. “We go through the same process, no matter how many vote.” The last…