Government

BG asked to be patient on green space decision

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green residents were urged to be patient as the city deliberates on the future of the gray area known as the downtown green space. On Tuesday evening, Mayor Dick Edwards said he expects the city to make some decisions within the next two months on the open 1.7 acres at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets that formerly housed the junior high school. Edwards noted that the 15-member Green Space Task Force completed its work more than nine months ago, after “very intensive study efforts.” That group suggested that the location be preserved as a green space and gathering area for the community. “I don’t want to see the work of that task force slip away or be forgotten,” the mayor said. The task force, led by Eric Myers, addressed the four points they were asked to study: Develop and recommend a conceptual plan for the space. Review the history of the site and prior recommendations for possible use of the space. Consider design elements that require minimal operating costs in keeping with the history of adjoining properties. Recommend a plan that lends itself to private fundraising efforts. In the nine months since then, City Council’s Public Lands and Building Committee looked at the possibility of a new city office building sharing the acreage with a green town square. “Council and the administration have been engaged in a process that reflects the weight of the topic and the value of the land as well as the varying opinions…


Charters Gavarone interested in state rep seat

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council member Theresa Charters Gavarone announced Wednesday evening that she is seeking the state representative seat vacated by the resignation of State Rep. Tim Brown. Charters Gavarone, a Republican, is an attorney, business owner, and is serving her second term as council member representing the city’s Fourth Ward. She earned a business degree from Bowling Green State University and a law degree from the University of Toledo. “I really enjoy the work on council,” she said Wednesday evening. “I think I have something to offer at the state level.” Charters Gavarone said she is interested in mental health issues, drug addiction, education and economic development. As an attorney for 22 years, Charters Gavarone said she has first hand experience with the justice system. “The impact of mental illness and drug addiction on both adults and children is devastating on both a personal and community basis. Although a lot is happening to improve services, there is more work to do to make services available to those in need.” “I think we have a long way to go,” she said Wednesday evening. As co-owner with her husband of the Mr. Spots restaurant in downtown Bowling Green, Charters Gavarone said she understands the role small businesses play in the local economy. “I think it’s important to keep Wood County working,” she said. “It’s important to support small businesses.” Charters Gavarone also pointed to her experience as a parent. “As a mother of three, I understand the challenges faced by families, children, and…


BG Council balks at setting tough trash bin rules

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After months of discussions on garbage bins cluttering front yards, the bins have yet to budge an inch. Other college towns in Ohio have set clear rules about garbage bins in their communities, but Bowling Green is reluctant to ask residents to move their bins beyond the front of their homes. City officials spent well over two hours discussing the issue again Tuesday evening – first during a committee meeting, then at the city council meeting. Those who want the most sweeping changes have heard from citizens who are tired of overflowing trash cans sitting in front yards and littering their neighborhoods. Those who want minor changes have heard from citizens who say moving the bins back from the front of their homes would pose a hardship. At the end of discussions, city council presented a watered down version of the original proposal – and it’s still not clear if that has enough support to pass a first reading at the next council meeting. City Council had wanted the new rules to be in place by time BGSU students arrived back in town at the end of August. Those council members wanting the strictest rules were Daniel Gordon, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino. Those wanting the loosest requirements were Mike Aspacher, Theresa Charters Gavarone and Bruce Jeffers. Bob McOmber appeared to be the swing vote, with his secondary concern being clear wording that citizens can understand and the city can enforce. Some in the audience appreciated the “healthy debate,” which was a…


County cool to solar field request for tax break – commissioners want more information

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The prospect of Bowling Green having the largest solar field in Ohio appeals to county officials – but they don’t like to be kept in the dark about tax abatement details. So on Tuesday, company officials involved in building and operating the solar field northeast of the city were asked to explain their request for a 30-year tax break for the $43 million project. Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw noted the confusion on the part of NextEra Energy officials about needing to outline their request. But she explained that the commissioners have a policy of meeting in person with any company that wants tax breaks. “We certainly feel it’s something we need to know as much as we can about,” Herringshaw explained to representatives of NextEra Energy and AMP Ohio. The tax abatement request for the solar field is unlike those that normally come before the commissioners. First, the amount is massive, giving a tax break of $10 million over just the first 15 years. Second, the duration is proposed at 30 years, compared to the customary 10 to 15 years. Third, there is no ongoing employment, which is the basis for most tax breaks. Construction of the solar field will employ about 85 people from July 18 to Dec. 31. And 80 percent of those people are required to be Ohio residents – but there is no requirement that they come from Wood County. Fourth, regular tax abatements require that school districts be “made whole” by the business getting the tax…


County senior center expenses getting old for BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The building used to house senior citizens services in Bowling Green is a senior itself. And like anything elderly, the 102-year-old structure is showing its age and facing some costly repairs to keep it functioning. Earlier this year during a city strategic planning meeting, it was noted that major structural repairs are needed at the Wood County Senior Center, which the city leases to the Wood County Committee on Aging for $1 a year. But while the rent is cheap, the repairs are not. Many city officials were not aware of any contract holding the city responsible for repairs, but learned the city had always just done the work. However, the long-standing lease agreement for the senior center does state the city is responsible for “major maintenance requirements,” including repairs to the roof, boiler, furnace and electric system. The agreement holds the Wood County Committee on Aging responsible for “minor building repairs,” such as general maintenance and upkeep including interior painting. So city officials are looking for someone to share the costs of the senior center, which started out as a post office in 1914 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. And the most natural place to look for help is Wood County, since the senior center serves residents of the entire county not just Bowling Green. “We would like to have a discussion with the county commissioners,” said Bowling Green City Council President Mike Aspacher. “We would like to have that discussion to figure out if we can…


Dems pick Wicks for state representative run

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Kelly Wicks went into Thursday evening with the campaign groundwork, unused funds, and leftover campaign signs. He ended the evening with the backing of the Democratic party. The Wood County Democratic Central Committee voted to put Wicks on the November ballot as the Democratic candidate for the state representative seat vacated by Republican Tim Brown. Wicks received 18 votes from the committee, while Daniel Gordon received 6 votes. The meeting room for Democrats Thursday evening was packed with party members wanting to hear the “job interviews” for Wicks and Gordon. Brown’s resignation has given the underdog Democrats hope at gaining the seat that has not been held by a Democrat since 1938. Wicks will now face off against the candidate yet to be chosen by the Wood County Republican Central Committee. Northwood Mayor Edward Schimmel has announced his interest in the Republican nomination. Perrysburg Township Trustee Bob Mack has initially expressed interest then decided to withdraw his name. Wicks, who owns the Grounds for Thought business in downtown Bowling Green, promised his party that he would hit the ground running if selected. “With your support, our campaign will start now,” he said. Wicks criticized current state leadership of being pro-big business, pro-coal, and pro-charter schools, while being anti-worker and anti-women. His focus would be on job creation, public education, infrastructure, transportation, clean energy and worker rights. “We still need to make sure we’re fighting for workers,” he said. Wicks also vowed to work across the aisle. “Everybody’s tired of the bickering and…


Wicks selected by Democrats to run for House seat

Kelly Wicks was selected this evening by the Wood County Democratic Central Committee to appear as the Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives seat being vacated by Tim Brown. Wicks, a Bowling Green businessman, received 18 votes from the committee while Bowling Green Councilman Daniel Gordon received 6 votes. Wicks will run against the candidate yet to be chosen by the Wood County Republican Central Committee.  



Rally in BG takes aim at gun violence

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A week after Democratic members of Congress held a sit-in demanding action against gun violence, a group of local residents held their own sit-in – this one in Congressman Bob Latta’s office in Bowling Green. It was brief – eight minutes – one minute for each of the eight people killed by guns each day in Ohio. “We’ve had enough,” said Toby Hoover, founder of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, as she handed Latta’s staff member a petition demanding action on proposed gun violence bills. “This isn’t about gun rights. This is about victims’ rights.” Hoover knows. Her husband was killed in 1973 by a robber with a gun. Latta, a Republican from Bowling Green, joined others in Congress last week refusing to discuss any legislation involving guns. A good start, Hoover said, would be to just let the issue be studied by the Centers for Disease Control. “Certainly he can’t be against the CDC doing their job,” she said. But that is a sticking point for Congress, with many refusing to even discuss any collection of data on gun violence. “Common sense things can be done,” Hoover said. But only if Congress will discuss the topic. “We just want them to talk about it. Let people discuss it,” she said. Rallies against gun violence are being held in communities across the nation this week in response to the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history in Orlando, and in solidarity with the sit-in for gun violence prevention in the U.S. House…


Intersection work planned at South Main and Gypsy Lane

The City of Bowling Green has contracted with Geddis Paving and Excavating for the construction of intersection improvements at South Main and Gypsy Lane. The work will include: -The addition of a left turn lane for westbound Gypsy Lane -New signal poles, mast arms and signals -New LED edge lit street name signs -New pedestrian crossings, signals and countdown timers Work is scheduled to begin on July 18 and is expected to last eight weeks, weather permitting. East Gypsy Lane will be closed to thru traffic for 21 calendar days beginning July 18, with the detour route using Klotz Road and Napoleon Road. Intermittent lane closures are possible on South Main Street throughout the project, but through traffic will be maintained at all times. Contact the City of Bowling Green, Engineering Division (419)-354-6227 for additional information or with any questions.


Northwood mayor interested in House seat

Northwood Mayor Edward Schimmel announced today that he will seek the Republican party nomination for the Ohio House 3rd District seat. The vacancy was recently created when Representative Tim Brown accepted the position as executive director with the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments. Schimmel, a two-term Northwood city councilman and first term mayor, has sat on the Republican central committee since 2012. “One of the things I’ve learned in elected office is that there is always more work to be done,” Schimmel said. “I know that if selected I will be leaving the mayor’s office with unfinished business, but I believe that I can help not only Northwood, but all of Wood County in the State House.” An attorney with the law firm of Hizer & Schimmel, he said that he is fully committed to being representative. “If that means leaving the practice of law altogether, I would certainly do that. The plan at this time would be to only work a couple days a week as an attorney, so that I could devote my time to representing Wood County and my obligations to my family.” Schimmel is 39 years old, and is married with three children. He attended Northwood schools, and the University of Toledo where he obtained degrees in political science and law.


Parking kiosks to take coins, cash or credit cards

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   People parking in the city lot behind Panera may want to start brushing up on their license plate numbers now. Come August, motorists parking in that lot will need to punch in their license plate numbers and pay at one of three kiosks taking the place of the old parking meters. The kiosks will be located behind SamB’s restaurant, at the parking entrance on East Wooster Street, and near the parking entrance on Clough Street. “We wanted to make it as convenient as possible for people,” said Joe Fawcett, Bowling Green assistant municipal administrator. Fawcett was explaining the new parking payment program Tuesday to anyone with questions. Bowling Green officials chose between three types of parking payment kiosks – pay by display, space or plate. “It was determined that pay by plate would be the most convenient,” Fawcett said. The pay by display kiosks require motorists to return to their vehicles to place tickets on their dashboards. That is the type used at Bowling Green State University. The pay by space would require the drivers to see the parking space numbers, which may be difficult in the winter. The pay by plate requires the driver to punch in their license plate number. The kiosk will accept coins, cash or credit cards. Those who pay with credit cards can add more time by using their smart phones if they end up needing extra time for the parking spot, Fawcett said. The rates and time limits for the lots won’t change. According to Fawcett,…


Registered voters purged from Ohio rolls … including 3,424 in Wood County

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than 3,400 registered voters in Wood County were purged from the voting rolls last year. Following a directive from the Ohio Secretary of State, 3,424 registered voters were dropped in August of 2015. The state’s directive is telling county boards of election to wipe voters from the rolls if they have shown “no voter initiated activity” since the last two federal elections. That “activity” includes voting, signing petitions or filing for a change of address. Wood County Board of Elections Director Terry Burton explained the process requires the office to send out postcards to registered voters who have not voted in the last two federal elections. That postcard is basically asking the citizen, “Are you still there?” Burton said. If the citizen getting the postcard does not respond, their status goes “inactive,” however, they can still vote, Burton said. But if the person has four more years of no voting activity, they are kicked off the rolls. “Those people get purged,” Burton said. “After eight years and a mailing,” he said. “I don’t think that’s a real stringent bar.” But Mike Zickar, who serves on the county board of elections, sees it differently. “I see it as a clear violation of law,” Zickar said, adding that national voter law forbids removing people from rolls due to their voting inactivity. “Very few states are throwing people off for not voting.” A federal lawsuit against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has added to debate among voting rights activists and elected officials during…


Door-to-door checks net dog owners without licenses

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More than 550 door-to-door checks for unlicensed dogs in Wood County have netted several owners who have neglected to get dog tags. The license can be a lost dog’s ticket back home – plus it’s the law in Ohio that every dog has one. So from March to November, county dog shelter employees will be going door-to-door checking to see if owners have complied. At times, it just doesn’t work for citizens to conceal their canines when county dog shelter workers come knocking. “Sometimes they answer the door and the dog comes up with them,” Wood County Dog Warden Andrew Snyder said, smiling. The dog owners are given a chance to buy the licenses then and there. “We want them to voluntarily comply, not to issue citations,” Snyder said. Normally, citations are only issued if the dog warden’s staff finds repeat offenders, who have an annual habit of only buying dog licenses once they are caught without one. “There are people who try to get away with it every year,” Snyder told the Wood County Commissioners during a meeting on Thursday. Staff members are visiting homes that previously had licensed dogs, and some addresses picked at random. “That’s the only way to find people that have never registered their dogs,” Snyder said. In March, the checks were done in Haskins and Northwood. In April they were conducted in Northwood, Jerry City, Bloomdale, Pemberville, Perrysburg, North Baltimore, Weston, Portage and Cygnet. And in May, the checks were done in Bowling Green, Custar, Walbridge,…


Bob Mack opts out of race for Ohio House

By BG INDEPENDENT NEWS Bob Mack, a Perrysburg Township trustee and commercial real estate developer, has opted not to run for the Ohio State House. The vacancy was created when the incumbent, Tim Brown, of Bowling Green, was hired as executive director of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments. Mack was considering the run, but said this morning (June 27) that “to be in that race you need to be 110 percent and I wasn’t sure I could get to that level.” Family obligations and his partnership in the commercial real estate firm Signature Associates, which is involved in commercial and industrial sales and leasing, prevent him from meeting the demands of the race. Mack said there’s unfinished business in Perrysburg Township he’d like to address. “Perhaps I can have greater impact on a more local level.” The Republicans have until Aug. 15 to name someone for the November ballot. Michael Marsh, the GOP county chairman, said others have expressed interest. Two Democrats have said they will run business proprietor Kelly Wicks, who ran for the seat in 2012, and Bowling Green City Councilor Daniel Gordon. The county Democrats are scheduled to meet Thursday (June 30) to decide who to nominate.