Government

Dog warden reports on changes at county dog shelter

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County dog warden is not like an old dog that can’t be taught new tricks. Chief Dog Warden Andrew Snyder said Tuesday morning that he is always looking for ways to improve operations at the county dog shelter. Those changes include more visible signage for the shelter, more dog license sales, increased outdoor exercise for the dogs, improvements to the dog park, decreases in dogs euthanized, and increased efforts to find homes for impounded dogs. Last Friday, approximately 50 protesters rallied in downtown Bowling Green to protest dogs being euthanized at the Wood County Dog Shelter. Snyder reported to the county commissioners Tuesday that the dog shelter’s euthanasia rate is 8 percent – far lower than the 40 percent rate a decade ago. Of the 184 dogs impounded so far this year, 81 were reclaimed by their owners, 45 were adopted by new owners, 35 were taken in by rescue organizations, and 15 were euthanized. “I think our adoption statistics show we have a really good relationship with our rescues,” he said. Commissioner Doris Herringshaw asked if some dog owners surrender their dangerous dogs to the shelter for euthanasia. “Do they bring them to you with that in mind?” Snyder said that does occur, and added that some owners drop off older ill dogs. On Monday, the shelter took in four new dogs, he said. One was a pit bull whose owner has been incarcerated, and the family cannot take in the dog because it is aggressive toward other dogs. “We take in a dog like that and do our best to find that dog a home,” Snyder said. But fewer rescue groups are available to take in such dogs. “It’s a never ending process to try to find a home for these dogs.” Snyder reported on some improvements to the commissioners, such as: Revisions to a kennel worker’s hours now allow the dogs to get outdoor exercise time six days a week. A new, more visible sign will be erected at the dog shelter,…


Grants go toward small town sidewalks, street, roofing

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Small communities won out in the county-wide race for Community Development Block Grants this year. Custar, Pemberville, Risingsun and Perrysburg Heights were recommended to receive block grant funding by the Wood County Planning Commission and approved by the county commissioners. Northwood was selected as an alternative. “I know some of these small villages really struggle,” said Wood County Engineer John Musteric. Winning support for funding were: $61,700 for Custar to reconstruct about 1,360 feet of asphalt pavement and install four curb ramps, reconstruct one catch basin and one manhole on Superior Street. $68,900 for Pemberville to install about 38 curb ramps and 12 ADA detector pads in existing sidewalks, and repave 2,532 square feet of sidewalk to meet ADA requirements. $67,400 for Risingun to reconstruct about 2,980 feet of sidewalk along Main Street from the village limits to U.S. 23, plus install ADA ramps at all intersections. $55,000 for Perrysburg Heights Community Center to replace the roof on the original portion of the facility. Northwood’s request was for $100,000 to reconstruct about 1,190 feet of asphalt pavement, replace curbs, add sidewalks and curb ramps, and reconstruct catch basins along Maryland Place between Andrus Road and Brentwood Drive. Wood County Planning Commission had $253,000 to award this year in the CDBG funds. According to Planning Director Dave Steiner, there were several other applicants, but they failed to meet qualifications. Steiner showed slides of each community need, including broken up roadway and uneven sidewalks. Community representatives also made their own pitches for funding. Custar Mayor Renee Hartman talked about her town’s need for help. “Custar Road is in serious need of repair,” she said. “We would be very grateful. It’s one of the most important things to the village right now.” Pemberville engineer Steve Darmofel pointed out the need for ADA curb ramps, since only 12 percent in the village currently meet ADA standards. The plan is to replace 38 curb ramps on College, Hickory and Maple streets. “Those are bad. They’re not even close to compliant,” Steiner said…


Nearly 800 acres set to be shovel-ready for business

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County took another step this week to get nearly 800 acres shovel-ready for prospective developers. The Wood County Planning Commission voted to recommend rezoning of 793 acres in Troy Township, from A-1 agricultural to B-PUD planned business district. The acreage is located off the west side of Pemberville Road, just south of U.S. 20, near the Home Depot distribution center and the East Ohio Gas Co. site. The zoning change was requested by the gas company, also called Dominion Energy. The recommendation will go to the Troy Township Trustees for a final decision. With the economy picking up, East Ohio Gas has gotten some interest in the property, according to Dave Saneholtz, of Poggemeyer Design Group. “They are getting a lot of calls from perspective users,” Saneholtz told the county planning commission. And the companies calling are interested in large acreage areas, he said. “We don’t know exactly who’s coming,” Saneholtz said. But that specific information is not needed for the zoning change, which is intended to consider the best overall use of the property. Once a company makes a proposal for the site, then it will be required to present detailed plans to the township. Most of the surrounding zoning in that area is for industrial uses, with some agricultural land. Wood County’s land use plan calls for the area to be the site of growth. “We assumed it’s going to be growing,” said Dave Steiner, head of the county planning commission. “It’s an area we’d like to see economic development.” The acreage already has utilities to the site, and it has been declared by the state to be a “Job Ready Site.” “That’s a pretty important distinction there,” Steiner said. The zoning change now would be one less hoop for developers to jump through if they select the property. “This would get the property ready for development,” Steiner said. “So it will be shovel-ready. They won’t have to wait for the property to be rezoned.” The planned business district zoning classification allows some flexibility,…


Scruci asks city to join in solution for school district

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci invited city leaders Monday evening to get involved in school business. Scruci asked those attending City Council to put June 25 on their calendars. Since the school district’s bond issue has been rejected twice by voters, the board is taking a different approach. “Our board is committed to finding out what our community will support,” he said. So a community task force open meeting will be held June 25, at 6:30 p.m., in the school’s performing arts center. “It’s going to be turned over to the community,” Scruci said. City Council President Mike Aspacher thanked the superintendent for the invitation to join in the process. “We’ve all been supportive of your efforts in the past,” Aspacher said. Also at Monday’s meeting, Mayor Dick Edwards expressed regret that the “celebrity guest” expected to attend the meeting was unable to make it. But the mayor revealed his intentions to declare June 15 as Jerry Anderson Day in Bowling Green, in honor of the newscaster’s last day at WTOL-11. Anderson got his start in broadcasting 44 years ago at WFOB radio here in Bowling Green, Edwards said. Since then, he has helped many community groups with fundraising, either by acting as auctioneer or emcee. His generosity has been “totally amazing,” the mayor said. Edwards also mentioned all the positive national publicity Bowling Green is receiving since the general managers of both hockey teams in the Stanley Cup are Bowling Green State University hockey alums.  The men, both from the same town in Canada, both played under BGSU Coach Jerry York, and were roommates for three years. George McPhee is now with the Las Vegas Golden Knights, and the Brian MacLellan is with the Washington Capitals. Ryan Carpenter, a more recent BGSU hockey standout, is playing for the Golden Knights. And Mike “Doc” Emrick, who earned his doctorate at BGSU, has been mentioning the many BGSU connections during this play-by-play announcing. In other business, Public Works Director Brian Craft was asked to give an overview of…


Tax breaks – just part of doing business for cities

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council member Bruce Jeffers isn’t against business. He’s just doesn’t like the idea of having to offer incentives to attract them to the city. So before council voted on an ordinance Monday evening for a new job creation and retention program, he had a few questions. “I value our businesses in Bowling Green,” Jeffers said. And the city has done a good job of making sure the community has good infrastructure and energy options for prospective businesses, he said. “So I wonder why we need to offer incentives for businesses to come here,” he said. “The answer seems to be because everyone else does it.” That answer is partially true, responded City Attorney Mike Marsh. Incentives like tax abatements are nothing new, Marsh explained. “I wrote the first one 32 years ago,” he said of the first city incentives program for Bowling Green. The city, Marsh said, doesn’t offer every possible incentive, but picks and chooses what works best here. “You don’t have to have the exact same programs, but you need to have some things tailored for who we want to attract,” he said. So the city is selective in its incentives. “We don’t want people who want to come here and not pay any taxes,” Marsh said. “We’re not desperate. We don’t want to give away the store.” However, without some incentives, the city may not even get a glance from some perspective businesses. “Then again, if we didn’t have them, we might not have gotten them to look at us,” Marsh said. Council went on to unanimously approve the new job creation and retention program. According to Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett, the program is modeled after one used by the city of Maumee. Similar programs were reviewed from dozens of cities, he said. The purpose of the city’s program is to “help maintain Bowling Green’s competitiveness as a location for new businesses and the expansion or retention of existing businesses.” The program offers incentives to qualifying businesses that agree to…


BG passes food truck ordinance – time to get cookin’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Phil Barone has already scouted out a great place for his food truck. And after Bowling Green City Council’s action Monday evening, he may finally get to set up shop. City Council voted in favor of the new mobile food vendor ordinance and declared an emergency to get things cooking. “We’re getting into good weather and want to get things moving,” said council member Bill Herald, who led the food truck ordinance effort. The fees set by council Monday evening are $100 for an annual mobile food vendor permit, and $40 for a special event permit. The ordinance was welcomed by Barone, who has owned Rosie’s Italian Grille in Toledo for 36 years, and has a food truck that serves customers in Perrysburg, Maumee, Waterville and Toledo. Barone, of Perrysburg, arrived early for the council meeting, so he drove around town looking for a good spot for his truck. His eyes zeroed in on Wooster Green with the new gazebo. “I think we could get enough trucks there to make a difference,” he said. Barone heads up a food truck association which has 11 members. Their menus offer items like grilled baby lamb chops, lobster mac and cheese, cauliflower crust pizza, Cuban food, steamed mussel salad, perch, cappuccino, and ice cream. Now he just has to find a day of the week that works. “It’s usually best to do it once a week, so people get used to it.” Some communities couple their food truck evenings with other events. Perrysburg pairs its farmers market with food trucks. Waterville links art exhibits with food trucks. Barone is thinking Bowling Green’s hook may be music. “We have some fantastic food vendors, we just need to get them down here,” he said. Earlier this year, Barone wasn’t so sure Bowling Green would get its food truck ordinance done. But he was hopeful, since both he and his wife graduated from BGSU and love the community. “Bowling Green is not known for doing anything really fast,” he said. “Bowling Green deserves…


BG site selected for medical marijuana dispensary

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A Bowling Green location has been selected by the state as a provisional medical marijuana dispensary. The former Glass City Credit Union Building, at 1155 N. Main St., will be able to provide medicinal marijuana under the name Glass City Alternatives. The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy today awarded 56 medical marijuana provisional dispensary licenses. A total of 376 applications had been received. A provisional license is a temporary license issued to an applicant for a medical marijuana dispensary license, authorizing them to begin establishing a dispensary. All provisional license holders have six months to demonstrate compliance with the dispensary operational requirements to obtain a certificate of operation. Once a dispensary is awarded a certificate of operation, it can begin to sell medical marijuana to Ohio patients and caregivers in accordance with Ohio laws and rules. The state had been divided into four quadrants for medical marijuana sales – with Northwest Ohio to have 10 dispensaries. The region was broken into districts, with Wood, Hancock and Henry counties being combined into one district to be allowed one dispensary. No applicants filed for locations in Hancock or Henry counties. So that left Wood County to host a dispensary. The three applications filed with the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy were for sites at: 106 E. Napoleon Road, Bowling Green, with the business name of Debbie’s Dispensary, filed by Sara Presler. 1155 N. Main St., Bowling Green, with the business name of Glass City Alternatives, filed by Mark Jacobs. 2701 Woodville Road, Northwood, with the business name of Serenity Dispensary, filed by Deitra Hickey. House Bill 523, the Ohio law that in 2016 legalized marijuana for medical use only, tasked the Ohio Board of Pharmacy with determining which locations should be approved as dispensaries. A total of potential 376 sites were submitted, though just 56 were approved, according to Grant Miller, spokesperson with the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. The law requires 500 feet between any marijuana business and a school, church, public library or public playground. “We…


BG to hand out micro-grants for neighborhood projects

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is ready to offer money to citizen-led projects to help neighborhoods. Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter announced last week to City Council that the city is launching a micro-grant program. This will be the first priority put in place from the city’s newly adopted Community Action Plan. The micro-grant program will allocate $500 to $5,000 annually to proposals that meet the goals of the CAP by improving neighborhoods. Applications for the first round of funding will be due June 15. A total of $5,000 will be available. Tretter said money was already set aside for the CAP this year – so this would be a good use of that funding. “I think we’re all interested in seeing something move forward,” she said to City Council. The money can be used for a variety of projects, such as the Connect Court Street event that was held last year, the Firefly Nights that just started downtown, or projects such as neighborhood tool sharing or home improvements, said Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett. “There are probably things we haven’t even thought of yet” that would qualify, Tretter said. The plan will be to offer the micro-grants twice a year, with the deadlines for applications being Jan. 15 and June 15 each year. These grants are not intended to compete with the Community Foundation grants, which serve different purposes, Tretter said. Those receiving the micro-grants will be accountable for the funding, and will be asked to come before City Council to explain the impact of the grants, she added. Other items on the list to be worked on soon for the Community Action Plan include: Work on the city zoning code and land use issues. This might include such efforts as more training for the zoning board of appeals, and forming a committee to review city parking regulations. Work on bicycling grants and infrastructure improvements. Study of potential improvements to Carter Park. Also at Monday’s meeting, Police Chief Tony Hetrick explained changes in the city’s emergency dispatching system. The work…


First Solar site promising 500 new jobs gets tax break

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The future is looking bright for the First Solar facility proposed in Lake Township. The Wood County Commissioners voted Thursday to grant a tax abatement request that would relieve the company from 100 percent of its eligible property and inventory taxes for 15 years. The solar panel company has plans for a $400 million facility, with 1.2 million square feet of space, and 500 new jobs. “It’s nice to see this major project go forward here in Wood County,” Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission, said during the meeting with First Solar officials and the county commissioners. The new plant will be located at the southeast corner of Tracy Road and Ohio 795 – just down the road from the existing First Solar facility in Perrysburg Township. Lake Township officials have already signed off on the tax abatement, and the two school districts affected by the tax break have already made deals with First Solar. The agreements will result in Lake School District getting an additional $898,000 a year – enough to allow the school board to forgo the next levy planned for the ballot. Penta Career Center will receive $72,000 a year. In addition to creating 500 new jobs at the site, another 500 construction workers are expected to be employed to build the facility. Clarence Hertzfeld, plant manager for the Perrysburg operations, said the new site will have an estimated employee payroll of $30 million. “It will essentially double our output capacity,” Hertzfeld said of the new location paired with the existing site. First Solar’s main customers are large commercial and industrial power producers. “We compete in all the global markets,” Hertzfeld said. Jay Lake, who handles First Solar manufacturing workforce development, said the company hopes to leverage more of the “great workforce” in this region. Wood County Planning Director Dave Steiner was asked by the commissioners to weigh in on the tax break request. Steiner said he saw no problems with the request. “They’ve been a very good corporate…


Firefly Nights appeal granted for liquor at downtown events

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s first Firefly Night led hundreds of people downtown last week. Now the event will give those drawn downtown something to drink. City Council voted Monday evening to grant an appeal for a liquor permit for future Firefly Night events. According to Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett, the state requires city councils to approve selling of alcohol on public property. So the request was initially rejected until council could act. Now it will be up to the state to act on the liquor permit request. Council’s approval was met with applause from those in council chambers Monday evening. Prior to the vote, a pitch for the liquor permit was made by the four women downtown business owners who have organized the Firefly Nights – Stacie Banfield owner of Mode Elle, Kati Thompson of Eden Fashion Boutique, Gayle Walterbach of Coyote Beads, and Laura Wicks of Grounds for Thought. The organizers created a non-profit group for the purpose of offering food, fun and entertainment in the downtown every third Friday during the summer months of May through August. The first Firefly Night, which was held last Friday, attracted more than 200 participants in a 5K run. The events are designed as Main Street festivals, with the street shut down from Court to Washington streets, with traffic being able to cross Main on Wooster Street. The events offer kids activities, shopping, live music at both ends of the festival, and food trucks in the future, Thompson said. “We’re a group of passionate small business owners,” Thompson said. “We believe a strong downtown can breathe life into a community.” Thirty merchants in the downtown area have signed up to help sponsor the Firefly Nights, she said. “We want to see our businesses grow,” plus attract new ones, Thompson told council members. But without a liquor permit during the monthly events, people will have to remain inside businesses if they want to consume alcohol. The permit would allow people to purchase alcoholic beverages and enjoy the entertainment out in the…


BG trims fat off proposed food truck ordinance

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some of the leftover crumbs from the food truck discussions were tidied up by Bowling Green City Council Committee of the Whole Monday evening. The ordinance allowing food trucks to operate in the city will be ready for City Council to vote on at its next meeting. The decisions made Monday evening favored making the ordinance the least restrictive as possible – with the understanding that if a problem occurs, council will then handle the issue. But council member Bill Herald, who was head of the committee tackling the food truck issue, brought up several issues that weren’t addressed in the ordinance, just to make sure they should not be included. In most cases, the Committee of the Whole preferred to keep the recipe for food trucks as simple as possible. For example: Trucks in the downtown area Herald noted that the ordinance did not require food trucks in the downtown area to have “visibility triangles.” Council member Sandy Rowland reminded that the goal was to “keep the regulations as free as possible. Those are things we can change as we live through the implementation.” Council president Mike Aspacher agreed that council can “adjust as needed,” when problems arise. If a food truck were to park in an unsafe location, the city will discuss the problem, Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said. The city has a history of working with people and coming up with solutions that are agreeable. “We really do try to employ diplomacy,” she said. Hours and days of operation Herald pointed out that the ordinance does not limit food trucks to certain days or hours of operation. Aspacher said the city’s goal is to not place such limits. “My feeling is we should not do so,” he said. Council members Rowland and Bruce Jeffers agreed. Several food vendors have attended city meetings to explain that they only set up on days and times when they can get plenty of customers. Appeals process for those opposed to food trucks The proposed ordinance allows food vendors…


BG water rates hiked 6 percent annually for next 5 years

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green will see a 6 percent bump in its water rates each year for the next five years. The increase was approved by the Board of Public Utilities earlier this week as a way to keep the water expenses afloat. The new rates, which go into effect in June, are based on a rate study by Courtney & Associates found that revenues need to be hiked by 32 percent by 2022. While the 32 percent hike may sound big, even with the proposed rate increases, Bowling Green’s water rates will be much lower than those in some other communities in the region, according to the rate study. The average homeowner currently pays a monthly water bill of $11.46. With the five-year increase, that bill will be $16 a month. That compares to monthly bills more than $50 in Perrysburg, Napoleon and Fremont. John Courtney, who presented the water rate study, said Bowling Green has been able to keep its water rates low because city officials decided years ago to use money from income tax revenues to help fund the city water system. “Your rates are still the lowest on the list,” Courtney told the Board of Public Utilities. But the income tax fund made up 40 percent of the water rate expenses 10 years ago. That shrunk to 33 percent five years ago, and is now about 23 percent. “Your costs are going up,” Courtney said. The city has seen some growth in wholesale water sales to communities outside Bowling Green, but very little growth in water demands in the city. “Your sales have been fairly stable over the last several years,” Courtney said. The city has not increased its water rates since 2016. Meanwhile operating expenses continue to increase. At current rates, the different categories of water customers generate the following annual revenues: Residential, $1,025,800 Commercial/industrial, $2,307,100 Wholesale, $2,178,900 Hydrant, $35,900 The proposed rate changes called for: Phase-in increases over the next five years. Increase rates to result in an increase in revenue of approximately…


East Siders question self-inspections by landlords

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   East Side residents are worried that the city’s rental registry will bear similarities to the fox and the henhouse. Many homeowners on the campus side of the city have long wanted some type of inspection or registration program for rental housing. But the type of program being considered falls short of what East Siders had wanted. The rental registry proposed in the city’s new Community Action Plan calls for self-inspections by landlords. While that’s a good start, it doesn’t go far enough, the residents agreed during a meeting of their neighborhood association. “I don’t let my students grade themselves,” said Neocles Leontis, comparing the self-inspections to self-grading. An East Side resident questioned why self-inspections would be allowed. “Is it because the landlords have money and we don’t,” she asked. Leontis said that parents of college students often assume that rental units undergo fire inspections in Bowling Green. “They are absolutely shocked to learn the places they rent haven’t gone through fire inspections,” he said. “It’s not only about students. It’s about young families,” Leontis said. “Let’s do something before we have a tragedy in town.” If landlords are allowed to do their own inspections, it was suggested that at least a check-off box be included where landlords can identify if a rental unit has undergone a fire inspection. City Council member and East Side resident John Zanfardino agreed. “The registration is only going to be as good as the information on it,” he said. Zanfardino, plus council members Sandy Rowland and Bill Herald agreed the rental registration program may be the best the city can get. “I don’t see BG moving to inspections,” Zanfardino said. Renter satisfaction surveys are also being planned, Zanfardino said. While BGSU offers renter reviews, much of that focuses on apartment complexes, while this will focus on houses. The questions will focus on rental houses having inadequate heat and air conditioning, structural problems, and other issues. Due to a fear of retribution by landlords, specific addresses will not be published. In other business…


La Conexion raising funds to assist father detained by ICE

Submitted by LA CONEXION A couple of weeks ago a member of La Conexion was detained and reported to ICE. A simple traffic violation in Wood County area caused this hard working, honest, father of three citizen children, and member of the BG community to be sent to an ICE facility in Michigan. Our member is a tradesman who has been working for a local company for the last 7 years. Who wins by deporting this person? Certainly not his citizen children, his wife, his employer, or this community. (Click for related story.) His first immigration hearing in is set on Monday 5/21/18 and at that time a bond will be placed by the judge. Help us assist his family in raising the funds they need to get him back in our community. Solidarity Ice Cream Social Sunday May 20 — 5:00 to 6:30 PM First Presbyterian Church basement 126 S. Church St., BG (parking on S. Grove St.) There will be an informal community conversation about what we can do as a community to support immigrants, including those who are subject to arrest. If unable to attend contributions can be mailed to: La Conexion, POB 186 Bowling Green OH 43402 (write: Member on memo line) For more information: Contact La Conexion 419.308.2328 Event organized by members of La Conexion and the La Conexion Immigrant Solidarity Committee.


BG to push pedaling as way to navigate city

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green wants residents to become more comfortable shedding their four-wheeled transportation for the two-wheeled type. But since bike lanes are so expensive, the city is focusing on changing the culture on city streets. That will involve regularly scheduled “slow roll” group rides in the city, to make people more comfortable bicycling in the city. And it will involve the offer of individual training for people who want to start biking to work or school. The efforts will hit full speed this month, which is Bicycle Month. Bowling Green students will attend an assembly by Right Direction BMX team on May 15. The second annual Ride of Silence will be held May 16, 6:30, starting in City Park. The worldwide ride is in honor of those killed or injured in bike accidents. Ride to Work and School Day will be held May 18. And the city’s bicycle “spokesperson” will be named on May 21. On Monday evening, the Bicycle Safety Commission and City Council’s Transportation and Safety Committee held a joint meeting. Steve Langendorfer talked about the Yay Bikes initiative to support safe bicycling in Bowling Green. The Yay Bikes program sent consultants to BG to train local bicyclists to become more comfortable riding city streets. Those people will soon be working to spread that awareness to other bicyclists in the city, Langendorfer said. The five people trained locally will offer development bike rides for individuals or for groups. They will cater the training to meet the needs of the riders. Regular community bike rides will also be scheduled to get more people involved. The particular days and times of the rides have not been determined yet. But they will not be strenuous, and will have stops along the route. City Engineer Jason Sisco said that “theme” bike rides are being considered – such as rides that stop at ice cream shops along the way. The goal is to make cyclists more comfortable and motorists more accustomed to sharing the roads. In Columbus, where Yay Bikes is…