Government

One manufacturer expanding, another one moving to BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials approved the sale of acreage to one local industry looking to expand and to another looking to move here from Cincinnati. The Board of Public Utilities on Monday evening voted to support the transfer of 1.56 acres to Vehtek, located on the east side of the city in the Woodbridge Industrial Park. “They have a large amount of racking to store items in the parking lot,” said Brian O’Connell, director of the city’s public utilities. “This is going to be a big help to solve a parking problem.” Vehtek, with approximately 700 employees, is one of Bowling Green’s largest employers. The company has plans to add another 50 employees. The company wants to buy two parcels west of the plant. Several employees already have to park in the grass during their shifts. “They definitely have a need for additional parking,” O’Connell said. The fire chief has had continuing concerns about employee and plant safety. Plans call for an improved right-of-way on East Poe Road, with the addition of a culvert crossing over the Poe Road ditch, along with widening a portion of Poe Road. These improvements will allow better truck access into and out of the facility. For the right-of-way widening, Sue Clark, director of Bowling Green’s economic development office, has been working with the state to secure Ohio Department of Transportation funds for 75 percent of the improvements. Normally the city would fund the other 25 percent of the project, O’Connell said. However, the city is proposing that Vehtek pay $60,000 to the city for a strip of city property adjacent to the company’s northern property line. This will improve Vehtek’s ability to expand its site and make parking/storage improvements. “That parcel really has little value to anyone else besides Vehtek,” O’Connell said. On the southeast corner of the city, three acres will be sold to a new company moving from Cincinnati to the John Quinn Innovative Tech Park off Napoleon Road. The property will be sold for $26,000 per acre. According to Clark, the company plans to build an 18,000-square-foot manufacturing building. It currently has 10 employees, and plans on hiring 10 more by 2022. Also at Monday’s meeting, the public utilities board approved a solar project easement and lease agreement with the Wood County Commissioners and Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The city has been…


Candidates compete for voters’ support at forum

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For two hours Sunday afternoon, 18 candidates on the November ballot talked about the lack of civility in Congress, arming teachers in schools, abortion, and judicial temperament. As far as candidate forums go, this one was not a snoozer. However, it was rather lengthy, so another story will follow about the seven State Board of Education candidates. The forum, hosted by both the Bowling Green and Perrysburg League of Women Voters groups, skipped the candidates’ opening statements and went straight into questions. The three candidates for the 5th District Congress seat were Democrat J. Michael Galbraith, who has taught finance and management at the college level; Libertarian Don Kissick, who is an autoworker and Navy veteran; and incumbent Republican Bob Latta, who previously served as state legislator and county commissioner. The first question was about the brutal discourse in Congress, and how that might be changed. Latta talked about the importance of establishing working relationships with people. “You just have to turn off the TV and sit back and talk,” he said. Latta was critical of the Democrats being unwilling to consider the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, and instead stating from the beginning that they would oppose his advancement to the court. Galbraith saw the issue differently. “Congress is being run by a group of people with extremely narrow interests,” he said, noting tribalism on both sides. As for Kavanaugh, Galbraith said the nominee was “forced through.” “I personally didn’t feel this man has the temperament,” he said. Galbraith pointed out the partisanship that doomed Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court. “They are simply not responsible to the people of the U.S.,” Galbraith said of Congress. Kissick suggested that more could be accomplished if Congress would stick to the issues rather than attacking each other. “We’ve lost that in Washington, D.C.,” he said. Career politicians are disconnected from the average person. He suggested citizens could change that situation by voting outside the two-party system. “You have to start voting differently,” Kissick said. “That’s how we ended up in this mess.” The congressional candidates were then asked about the contamination at the Luckey FUSRAP site and the harmful algae in Lake Erie. When would the studying end and the solutions begin? Galbraith said there is “too much finger pointing going on.” Farmers and people working on the…


Candidate pushed for funding for new voting machines

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Frank LaRose got a close-up look at the Wood County voting machines that will be replaced next year with funding he pushed through the Ohio Senate. Wood County’s 12-year-old touchscreen systems are faring better than voting machines in some counties, where spare parts have been scrounged up from Tractor Supply stores or paper clip stashes. “This is an investment for a long time with the state, so we have reliable, safe machines,” State Senator LaRose, the Republican candidate for Ohio Secretary of State, said Thursday as he stopped in Bowling Green. Senate Bill 135, sponsored by LaRose, sets aside $114.5 million for new voting machines in Ohio. Wood County’s share is $1.3 million. The funding for the voting machines comes as the current systems get closer and closer to being obsolete. Wood County’s machines were built in 2006, said Terry Burton, director of the county board of elections.. “In the grand scheme of things, when you’re talking about technology,” the systems are almost antiques. Though Burton credits the local board of elections staff with babying the systems to keep them functioning well. “Every election, we see a little bit more wear and tear,” Burton said. “It’s time.” Wood County currently has 575 functional voting machines. Senate Bill 135 is intended to replace all the voting machines in the state – as long as county boards of election are satisfied with the “Chevrolets” and not the “Cadillacs” of voting machines, LaRose said. However, in Wood County, Burton said the $1.3 million from the state will be about $3 million shy of the total expected cost of $4.2 million. “It’s not going to cover it all,” Burton said. “I’ve looked at it all along as a helper. I’m not going to complain about getting $1.3 million.” Wood County Board of Elections doesn’t want the “Cadillac” of voting systems, but it doesn’t want the “Chevrolet” either, Burton said. “We’re looking for the SUV,” he said. “We’re looking for a system that’s hardy.” The total state funding is being divided up among counties based on the number of registered voters and the size of the counties, LaRose said. Wood County Board of Elections has decided to stick with touchscreen systems, not the optical scans. The touchscreens will be larger and will move more like mobile technology, Burton said. The Wood County Commissioners have been prepared for…


Candidate committed to protecting voter rights in Ohio

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A veteran in Kathleen Clyde’s district was denied the right to vote after his name was purged from the voting rolls. For Clyde, defending the rights of all Ohio voters is the utmost concern as she runs for Secretary of State. Clyde, a four-term Democratic state representative from Kent, stopped by Bowling Green State University and Stone’s Throw pub on Wednesday to pitch her campaign. “I am very passionate about the idea of bringing fair, secure and accessible elections to our state,” she said. “There have been a lot of partisan attacks on the right to vote,” Clyde said. “We’ve got to see those partisan attacks end.” The secretary of state seat is wide open since the current holder, Jon Husted, is running for lieutenant governor on Republican Mike DeWine’s ticket for governor. Clyde is running against Republican Frank LaRose, a state senator from Hudson; Libertarian Dustin Nanna; and write-in candidate Michael Bradley. Clyde pointed at gerrymandering and voter purging efforts in Ohio as proof of problems. “We need everyone’s voice to be heard in a democracy,” she said. “I have been an opponent of the secretary of state’s efforts to purge thousands of people from the rolls,” Clyde said. Though she sees the rationale of removing people from the rolls who are deceased or who have moved, Clyde doesn’t support the current system that has resulted in many citizens being wrongly removed from voting rolls. One such voter was Larry Harmon, a resident of Clyde’s district. Harmon, a veteran, showed up at the polls  in 2015 and was told he couldn’t vote. “This veteran was turned away at the polls,” she said. A little bit closer to Wood County, the mayor of Oak Harbor, Joe Helle, was denied his right to vote after he returned from active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. “He found out when he went to vote after coming home,” Clyde said. “It needs to stop.” Ohio election officials send notices to anyone who fails to cast a ballot during a two-year period. People who do not respond and don’t vote over the next four years, including in two more federal elections, are dropped from the list of registered voters. Initial court rulings on the voter purge process favored the citizens. A federal appeals court ruled against the state, concluding that roughly 7,500 Ohio voters — in a…


Senate hearing exposes local sexual assault wounds

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The raw emotions exposed during testimony at last week’s hearing on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have opened wounds for sexual assault survivors nationwide. The wounds – some fresh and some old but never healed – were also laid bare here in Wood County. “We definitely know when something brings sexual assault into the forefront,” said Kathy Mull, executive director of The Cocoon in Bowling Green. The calls flooded in from survivors who had remained quiet after past trauma, and from those who suffered recent assault. “We definitely have seen an increase in calls coming in,” Mull said on Monday. “It brings it out of the shadows.” The Cocoon’s hotline has been getting more calls, and the Cocoon staff has responded to victim reports at the hospital, to counselors, and on campus. “They want to have a conversation with someone they feel safe with,” Mull said of the sexual assault survivors finding themselves moved to share their experiences. Typically, the Cocoon sees about 75 sexual assault survivors a year. As the Senate Judiciary hearing was televised last week, 24 calls from local people came into the Cocoon hotline. “That’s definitely a jump from our average,”  Mull said. These aren’t strangers from thousands of miles away, Mull stressed. “They are people in our neighborhoods,” she said of the callers motivated to seek help last week. Since Dr. Christine Blasey Ford publicly accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, a spike in calls had been noticed at the National Sexual Assault Hotline operated by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. On Thursday, the day Ford testified in front of senators and the whole country, the sex assault hotline saw a 201 percent increase in calls compared with a typical day. Since the advent of the MeToo movement, there has been a frequent barrage of news reports about abusers and their victims. That can be overwhelming for victims. Since the MeToo movement spread across the country almost a year ago, RAINN’s victim service programs went from helping about 15,000 victims per month to helping about 22,000 per month. Last week’s televised hearings brought back painful memories for many women. “If you’re a survivor of sexual assault, you are watching this very carefully,” Mull said. “It was difficult to watch. I could only take it in small doses.” Survivors will also be playing…


Muslim student thanks BG for anti-discrimination efforts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nearly two years ago, Ahmad Mehmood stood up in front of Bowling Green City Council and asked city leaders to stand up for people from different lands. On Monday, Mehmood was back – this time thanking City Council for taking a stand against discrimination in the community. “I didn’t expect life here to be as easy,” said Mehmood, who has been a student at Bowling Green State University for two years. As a “brown Muslim student” from India, he was prepared to face discrimination and distrust. But instead, he found acceptance. “There is no space for hate,” he said praising the anti-discrimination resolution passed by City Council in January of 2017. “The City of Bowling Green has made it clear. It won’t accept that from its residents.” Back in 2017, as council was considering the anti-discrimination resolution, Mehmood stressed that for international students the measure was far more than a symbolic act. “We’ve always felt like we belong here,” he said on Monday evening. “We share something bigger than what divides us.” Mehmood talked about his homeland of India, where groups are targeted as part of the caste system. “We don’t want our country to be like that,” he said. No two people are identical, he said. “It’s almost like finding the same two colored socks on a Monday morning.” Yet, there are enough similarities that different people can coexist. “We can live side by side,” he said. To show appreciation to city leaders for their efforts, Mehmood invited City Council, the mayor and others to the annual Muslim Student Association dinner on Oct. 19 on campus. Council member Sandy Rowland thanked Mehmood for the invitation, and said she would attend. “I’m proud and happy to have you here,” Rowland said. “I want to thank you for your kind words, and want you to know you are appreciated in Bowling Green.” Mayor Dick Edwards thanked the Muslim Student Association for its involvement in the community. “I too have been the beneficiary of their very thoughtful invitations to various events.” The resolution passed by council in 2017 condemns violence, hate speech and discrimination targeting Muslim people and expresses solidarity with the Muslim community and all those targeted for their ethnicity, race or religion. The resolution calls on council to: Condemn all hateful speech, violent action, and discrimination directed at Muslim people and those…


Push is on to get local citizens to register to vote

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The man picked up the brochure in the library on how to check on his voter registration status. “I think I’m registered,” he said. “I definitely don’t want to miss out on this one.” The League of Women Voters don’t want him or any other Wood County citizen to miss out on voting. So on Tuesday, members staffed tables at libraries throughout Wood County to help people register or make sure they are already registered to vote. “Most people have said they’re registered, which is great,” said Judy Knox, as she sat at a table in the Wood County District Public Library on National Voter Registration Day. The window to register to vote is nearing closure, with the last day on Oct. 9. Early voting for the general election starts the next day on Oct. 10. The League of Women Voters teamed up Tuesday with libraries in Bowling Green, Grand Rapids, North Baltimore, Pemberville, Walbridge and Weston, to give local residents opportunities to register to vote. “It’s a very dynamic political environment,” said League member Joan Callecod as she volunteered up at the Walbridge Library. “It’s important for people to cast their votes.” The League of Women Voters have had a registration table at the Bowling Green downtown farmers market all summer. “We’ve tried to put a real push on,” Knox said. “This is the first step to being a citizen,” Knox said about registering to vote. “The next step is getting to the polls.” There are multiple options for how people vote, she explained. They can vote absentee, or do early voting at the board of elections, or vote on Election Day Nov. 6. As she was working at the voter registration table in Bowling Green, Knox heard a common refrain from a citizen. “Someone walked by and said, ‘I don’t know why people wouldn’t vote. Countries fight for the ability to do that,’” Knox said. Voting, she said, should just be part of a person’s life. “Every voting is important, frankly.” In addition to registering voters, the League of Women Voters members also offered information on registering online, the types of identification accepted at the polls, and verifying voter registration. “It’s just good to check,” with voter purging being done, Knox said. Prior to being removed from voting rolls for inactivity, citizens should receive notice from boards of election, Callecod…


BG asks county to help welcome immigrants to fill jobs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   “Help wanted” signs are going unanswered in Wood County. So local officials are looking at attracting immigrants to the region to fill those openings. Bowling Green initially wanted to put out a welcome mat to immigrants because it was the right thing to do morally. Then as city officials researched the idea, they discovered it was also the right thing to do economically. As evidenced by the number of “now hiring” signs posted in the region, Bowling Green and Wood County economic development officials have been hearing for months that the region is running low on workers. In May, Wood County economic development officials were celebrating a banner year in business expansions – creating nearly 1,000 new jobs. But the issue waiting in the wings was the low unemployment in the region, wavering between 3 and 4 percent. While that low rate is great news to employees, it is worrisome to economic development officials. “It’s a good thing. But there is going to be a time when new businesses slow down looking at Northwest Ohio,” Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission, said earlier this year to the county commissioners. On Tuesday, the county commissioners heard the same warning – this time from Bowling Green officials. “We hear the same message time and time again,” Mayor Dick Edwards said. “We need good workers.” City Council passed a resolution in 2017 welcoming immigrants and “condemning any discrimination, harassment or unjustified deportation of immigrant residents.” As the initiative was researched, it became obvious that the welcome mat could have far-reaching economic benefits. Ohio Means Jobs estimates there are 9,200 job openings within a 20-mile radius of Bowling Green. “We are looking for skilled and other kinds of workers to come to Wood County and Bowling Green,” Edwards said. While Ohio has always been looked upon favorably by companies because of the region’s work ethic – that means nothing if there aren’t people to fill jobs. Wood County Commissioner Craig LaHote said site selection teams will notice if the available workforce is too low. “We might get ruled out before they look at anything else,” he said. Communities around the region – like Toledo and Sandusky – have already adopted “welcoming” initiatives. And while the success of the region and Wood County to bring jobs here is great, it has created…


BG schools to get state funding to improve safety

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than $12 million in grants have been awarded to Ohio schools to improve safety. All of Ohio’s public, chartered nonpublic, and schools operated by county boards of developmental disabilities will receive the greater of $2,500 or $5.65 per student to spend on school safety programs and training. Bowling Green City School District will receive $16,627. Other schools in the city will receive $2,500 each, including Bowling Green Christian Academy, Montessori School, St. Aloysius, and Wood Lane School. Schools will have the flexibility to use these grants for training for school resource officers, safety and security materials, and programs to identify and help students who may be struggling with their mental health. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said that school districts in the area haven’t received official word about the grants. However, Attorney General Mike DeWine sent out a press release on Friday listing the districts and the amount they would be receiving. “If there is money for us, we will use it,” Scruci said Monday morning. “As a board, that’s what we’re committed to.” Though the board will determine how the funding is spent, Scruci predicted it would be used either on safety training for staff or on installing more 3M film over glass doors at school buildings. The covering makes it more difficult for the glass to be broken enough to allow entry to a building. “It creates an obstacle for an intruder for two and a half or three minutes,” Scruci said. “The delay allows time to get people to safety.” The grants are funded with appropriations made by the Ohio legislature as part of House Bill 318. The law requires that participating schools and county boards work with law enforcement in their jurisdictions to determine the best use of the grant funding. School district are also being encouraged to take advantage of two new school safety efforts recently launched by the Attorney General’s Office: Active Shooter Response: An Educator’s Guide: This 25-part video series was produced by the Attorney General’s Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy to aid educators in preparing for and reacting to a potentially violent school incident, such as a school shooting. The brief videos are an update to the training offered by OPOTA beginning in 2013 that provided guidance to nearly 15,000 educators on how to intervene with students who could pose a danger and…


‘Welcoming’ language inserted in city charter preamble

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Not everyone on City Council welcomed the same language proclaiming Bowling Green as a “welcoming” community. But after some word wrangling and drawn out analysis, the city charter got a new preamble Monday evening. The new preamble makes a statement about the city being welcoming, inclusive and non-discriminatory. It reads as follows: “We the people of Bowling Green, in the county of Wood, and in the State of Ohio, desirous of securing for our City and for ourselves and our children the advantages of self-government conferred by the home-rule provisions of the Ohio constitution; and determined to be a welcoming, inclusive community with adherence to practices of non-discrimination as established by law; do hereby ordain and establish the following Charter.” Council member Daniel Gordon, who led the effort for the preamble change, acknowledged the compromise that went into the wording. After words had been added and subtracted, the preamble commits the city to “standing with marginalized communities within Bowling Green,” he said. The preamble change was supported by all but one City Council member – Bruce Jeffers. “I appreciate the language you put together,” Jeffers said, noting that his fellow council members “fought it out” until they reached a good compromise. Though he approved of the wording, Jeffers said the welcoming statement did not belong in the city charter. They were the “right words in the wrong place,” so he voted against the preamble change. Council member Bill Herald said he understood Jeffers’ concerns, and he reminded council how the vote to pursue the preamble change narrowly passed by a vote of 4 to 3. However, Herald commended the work of the council committee, which included himself, Gordon and John Zanfardino. There was “spirited” and “respectful” discussion which resulted in a worthy compromise. After wrestling with the meaning of the term “welcoming,” the committee arrived at wording that did not detract from the purpose of the preamble, Herald said. “It goes with the type of community we want Bowling Green to be,” he said. Council members Gordon, Herald, Zanfardino, Mike Aspacher, Greg Robinette and Sandy Rowland voted in favor of the preamble change. But Robinette challenged council to look further if it wants to truly be welcoming. “If we really care for the well-being of citizens,” council should look at the city’s codified ordinances, he said.


Bicycle safety groups look for affordable solutions

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   City groups looking at transportation and bicycle safety want to do more than just spin their wheels. So on Monday evening, a joint meeting was held with the Bicycle Safety Commission and the City Council Transportation & Safety Committee. Together, the groups wanted to look at the two priorities involving bicycling that City Council selected in the new Community Action Plan. After discussion, the groups decided on the more manageable goal of pursuing grants to fund a bike lane on Court Street. They also decided to further explore the more “sweeping goal” of creating bike friendly streets in the area of Clough, Scout Hamilton, Thurstin and South College streets. Meanwhile, John Zanfardino, head of the council committee looking at bicycling in Bowling Green, said he continues to struggle with the seemingly opposing threads of the bicycling discussion. One direction focuses on education of bicyclists and motorists, so they learn to better share city streets. The other focus is on creating infrastructure for bicyclists – whether that is the more expensive bike lanes or the less costly sharrows painted on roads. “I’m a fan of Yay Bikes,” Zanfardino said of the Columbus-based organization that has worked with Bowling Green officials to better educate bicyclists and motorists. “It has the benefit of being a low cost way of making the city safer for bikes,” he said. Council member Daniel Gordon, also a member of the council committee, agreed that the Yay Bikes program was helpful. But he questioned the Yay Bikes conclusion that Bowling Green only needs education – not biking infrastructure. “Your streets are fine. You don’t need bike lanes. You don’t need infrastructure,” Gordon said of the Yay Bikes’ observations. “That’s certainly not the sentiment I’m hearing from folks in town,” Gordon said. The communities of Toledo, Sylvania and Perrysburg are working on biking infrastructure, he said. So it seems strange that a college town like Bowling Green would be veering away from bike lanes, Gordon said. “Residents have been calling for bike lanes for decades,” he said. “I think it’s well past time for us to make further efforts.” While people who bicycle a lot in the city are comfortable sharing the road with motorized vehicles, many people don’t have that comfort so they just don’t bike, he said. It seems, Gordon and others have concluded, that the momentum for bikes…


Shared salute sought at new BG City Park building

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   No battle lines were drawn, but there are some strong feelings about veterans retaining top billing in the new structure replacing City Park’s Veterans Memorial Building. City Council member Greg Robinette – a veteran himself – reported to council Monday evening that he had spoken with Dave Ridenour of American Legion Post 45 about the history of the existing building. The local legion had leased the building from the city for its post headquarters from 1929 to 1979, Ridenour said. Even after the headquarters moved, the city decided to continue honoring local veterans by keeping the name Veterans Memorial Building. While city officials would like to continue that tradition, they would also like to reduce the debt on the new building by looking for private sponsorship of the new structure. “I fully understand,” that desire to look for naming rights, Robinette said. The building name could be a compromise between a major donor and local veterans. “I think we can make that work.” But council member Bruce Jeffers expressed some concern that the respect for local veterans not be clouded by recognition of a private donor. He also talked about the value of a veterans display inside the new building. “It seems we might want to distinguish between those who have served in combat zones,” Jeffers said. Council member Sandy Rowland said she supports the continued recognition of local veterans in the name of the building. However, she mentioned the effort the city is making to get a return on its investment of $3.75 million in bonds for the new building. The building is expected to be used by community members for events such as weddings, memorials and other public gatherings. “I think we have to be careful in the way we outfit the interior,” Rowland said. For example, a display of weapons of war may make the building less appealing to those wanting to rent it for occasions like weddings. “I hope we don’t plan on putting a cannon in there,” Rowland said. Also at Monday’s meeting, Mayor Dick Edwards recognized Earlene Kilpatrick, who is retiring from her position as executive director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. “You’ve had a wonderful working relationship with the city,” Edwards said to Kilpatrick. During her years as director, the city saw many groundbreakings, the mayor said. “You haven’t allowed the ceremonial scissors…


State Issue 1 drug law proposal faces strong opposition

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Drug offenders in Ohio currently encounter the carrot and the stick. If they participate in treatment and comply with the courts’ orders, they can often avoid jail time. State Issue 1 would only offer the carrot – and take away the stick. That just won’t work, according to local judges, the county prosecutor, sheriffs and state legislators. On Thursday, some of that local opposition to Issue 1 gathered in the Wood County Courthouse atrium. On the surface, Issue 1 may look harmless. It downgrades the vast majority of drug offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. And it promises to move money saved by not incarcerating drug offenders into drug treatment programs. Proponents of the issue, which will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot, are massively outspending opposition, according to State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green. As of a month ago, Issue 1 had raised $4.1 million, with much of that being money from outside Ohio, he said. Meanwhile, there was no organized opposition to the issue. Issue 1 – which would change the state constitution – was not getting much attention until recently, Gardner said. So Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, asked local law enforcement and court officials to join them Thursday to express their concerns. “Our courts are on the front lines for this,” Gavarone said. As officials took their turn at the podium, they were unanimous in their opposition to Issue 1. Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson talked about the newly created ARC program, which is currently working with 70 opiate addicts in the county. The program is having such success because it is able to offer addicts intervention in lieu of jail time. If jail time was not an option, it is unlikely that many of those addicts would go through the difficult treatment process. “Almost all of those efforts will be negated by State Issue 1,” Dobson said. Issue 1 would remove drug offenses from the criminal justice process, to be treated solely by the behavioral health process. It’s a mistake to not include both processes for drug addicts, he said. Dobson has heard from many addicts who seek treatment only because a judge has told them it’s either treatment or jail. Gardner said he has heard the same stories from addicts who don’t seek treatment until they hit rock bottom – which is the…


County jail expansion plan locked in at $17.6 million

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For years, Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn has been saying the county jail needs some changes and a possible expansion. The price tag for that work at the Wood County Justice Center is $17.6 million. But once it’s done, Wasylyshyn promised he won’t be back with any more jail requests for the county commissioners. “We think this will get us many, many years,” the sheriff said Thursday as plans for the jail expansion were presented to county commissioners Doris Herringshaw, Ted Bowlus and Craig LaHote. The project can be divided into two separate proposals. One is the expansion and reconfiguration of the intake and medical areas of the jail. That would cost an estimated $8.6 million. The second part of the plan adds on an expansion of inmate cells plus renovation of the security pods. That would raise the overall price tag to $17.6 million. The jail currently has 220 beds. The expansion would add another 78 beds. The commissioners asked for more time to review the expansion plans. Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said the commissioners support the plans for revamping the booking and medical areas of the jail, and have already appropriated funds for the architectural and engineering of that part of the project. But the actual addition of inmate beds is not so certain. “The question is do they want to take one step more,” Kalmar said. The jail averages 165 to 180 inmates a day. However, all inmates can’t be housed in any cell. For example, high security inmates can’t be placed in minimum security housing. Females can only be housed in female units. Relatives cannot be in the same area, nor can inmates being held for the same crime. So while the jail has 220 beds now, that doesn’t necessarily mean it can house 220 inmates. Justice Center Captain Rebecca McMonigal compared it to a Rubik’s cube. Wasylyshyn said the addition of more beds would benefit the county. The county has operated a jail since 1820, and that’s not likely to change. “We’re always going to be in the jail business,” he said. Even if the county does not need all the beds, it can rent the extra to area counties facing overcrowding in their jails, the sheriff said. This year, the jail will take in close to $350,000 from other counties housing prisoners here. Some come…


Mayor tries to resurrect historic preservation efforts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is revisiting history – trying to resurrect efforts to create a Historic Preservation Commission. Mayor Dick Edwards reintroduced plans for a commission which would “preserve, promote, encourage and support the maintenance, use and reuse of historic buildings in the city.” In other words, it would help property owners who want to preserve historic structures. The proposal for such a commission was first brought up in 2009, then became part of earnest discussions in 2013. Efforts died in 2015 after some citizens interpreted the city’s preservation efforts as government telling them what to do with their properties. At that time, Edwards tried to explain that the commission was to help – not give orders. “It’s not threatening, it’s not dictating to people, it’s not putting the heavy hand of government on neighborhoods,” he said. “It was misconstrued and misinterpreted by some individuals.” Nevertheless, suspicions about the motivation for the historic preservation commission killed the effort. But at Tuesday’s city council meeting, the mayor reintroduced the concept. “There was some misunderstanding about what it is,” Edwards said of the commission. And he would like to try again. “This is so successful in so many other communities,” he said. More than 70 cities and political bodies in Ohio are working with the state to address historic preservation. Cities like Toledo, Akron and Tiffin are taking advantage of preservation tax credits to rebuild central city business districts and enhance property values in historic neighborhoods, Edwards said. “I’d like to think that the program can help sustain the life of neighborhoods and make it a more attractive place to live.” One of the first steps will be to create a five-member historic preservation commission. The group, appointed by the mayor, will include one member from each of the four wards and one from the downtown business district. Edwards said he is looking for recommendations. The purpose of the commission is to foster civic beauty, stabilize and increase property values, strengthen the local economy, maintain and enhance the distinctive character, safeguard the city’s heritage, and facilitate reinvestment and revitalization through historic preservation. The commission would have the authority to assist with historic preservation efforts through building inventories, public education, tourism and establishing community partnerships. The formation of such a commission has been supported by several city planning documents including the housing section and the future land…