Government

Library council launches campaign to support state funding

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Wood County Library is joining libraries around the state to rally their supporters to let legislators know how important libraries are to them and to the state. Library Director Michael Penrod told the library board about the Ohio Library Council’s Protect Public Library Funding advocacy campaign. Penrod said the idea is to let legislators know how important libraries are as the state budget starts to take shape this fall. The governor doesn’t propose the biennium budget until early in the year, but much of the work goes on behind the scenes in fall, said Penrod. The information presented by Penrod shows the general decline in funding from 2008 when it was set at 2.22 percent of the state’s general fund budget until it was 1.66 percent in 2015. The legislature did raise it to 1.7 percent in 2016, but unless action is taken that will drop back to 1.66 percent. Libraries aren’t advocating for a specific amount of funding, he said. Just no cuts. “It’s very much a positive campaign, people to contact our representative and senator and tell them why you love the library,” Penrod said. The library council provided statiics on the economic impact of public libraries. For every $1 spent on public libraries it generates $5.48 in economic value. Libraries, according to the handout, provide $2.7 billion in direct economic benefit to residents.  With more than 8.7 million Ohioans with library card holders, Ohio has the highest per capita use of public libraries in the nation. Libraries have only two funding streams, state money and a local levy. Penrod also reported on local efforts to help the ibrary. The Library Foundation raised more than $94,000 at its annual fundraiser at Schedel Gardens. Also, the Friends of the Library’s book sale earlier this month raised $4,600, the most ever. Penrod reported that since the library started using a collection agency about eight years ago to go after those who have not returned materials borrowed from the library, it has retrieved materials worth $121,000 and collected $119,000 in reimbursement for materials not returned. This is not a source of revenue, Penrod noted, because it simply replaces materials the library already possessed. Meeting in Walbridge, the board also received an update on the expansion project there. “Everything seems to be going well,” he said. He said he expects the library will have to…


Gavarone appointed to Ohio House committees

State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, has been appointed to serve on several Ohio House committees. She has been appointed to serve on the Education Committee, the Financial Institutions, Housing and Urban Development Committee, and the Health and Aging Committee. The appointments will be effective Sept. 26. Gavarone is serving her first term in the Ohio House of Representatives after being appointed in August. She represents the 3rd Ohio House District, serving residents of Wood County.


Trump supporters put trust in promises of greatness

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the Donald Trump supporters waited for their candidate to arrive in Toledo on Wednesday, they gushed about the man they believe can make America safe and strong. The fact that he doesn’t speak like other politicians makes him even more appealing. He didn’t disappoint his followers, promising to create a nation of “one people, under one God, saluting one American flag.” He repeated his plans to keep out dangerous immigrants and bring back jobs. “I like the fact he’s not politically correct,” said Vera Wiskochil, of Toledo. “He may not speak correctly, but at least he’s not a liar.” A Vietnam veteran, Mike Vehue, also of Toledo, agreed that Trump “tells it like it is.” And unlike Democrats who have a habit of sticking their noses into places the don’t belong all over the globe, Vehue said Trump will focus on America. The Republican nominee has the business savvy to turn things around in America, Vehue added. “He’s a smart business man,” he said. Sure, a lot of items touting Trump’s name are made in other nations, but that’s part of his business smarts, Vehue said. “He gets stuff where it can be made cheap.” It’s comments like these that send a lot of eyes rolling in the pool of journalists that cover Trump’s speeches. The traits praised in Trump – honesty, business expertise and commitment to American workers – are all personal characteristics that have been refuted by those who have worked with and studied the candidate for years. On the streets outside the rally in the Stranahan Theater Wednesday afternoon, protesters held signs that said, “Build bridges, not walls” and “End racism.” One of the lead national news stories on Wednesday was about Trump using charitable funds to settle lawsuits against him. That type of information means little to his die-hard supporters who are counting on him to turn around America from what they see as a disastrous course. “I think he’s the most outspoken guy and the most honest guy in a long time,” Gary Douge, of Lambertville, Michigan, said. “It’s good to see a man who’s not a politician.” “We need a shake-up,” his wife, Diana Douge, said, adding that Hillary Clinton must not be allowed to appoint any U.S. Supreme Court justices. “It would be a disaster. We’re almost too far over now to be saved.”…


Sheriff pleads case for more jail holding cells

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s not uncommon for Wood County inmates to be doubled up in the booking holding cells, or even placed in an office where the furniture has been replaced with a cot. Though far from ideal, the current booking area of the Wood County jail just does not have room for all the traffic, especially all the special needs created by drug use or mental health conditions. “It’s a ticking time bomb,” Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said Tuesday morning to the county commissioners. “It’s not a safe way to do it, but we don’t have any options.” But the sheriff hopes that will change. Wasylyshyn made his pitch to the commissioners again for expansion of the jail’s booking and medical areas. He made the same request about five years ago, but at that time the commissioners approved the part of the expansion allowing more beds at the facility, but not the booking area. At that point, the booking expansion was estimated at around $5 million. When the Wood County jail was built in 1989, it was intended to have a larger inmate booking area. But efforts to trim costs resulted in the booking area being smaller than planned. Wasylyshyn said the expansion can no longer be put on hold. The current booking area has five cells, intended to hold one person each. The request is that the area be expanded to six individual cells for men, five individual cells for women, two group cells for men, and one group cell for women. The group holding cells could accommodate 10 each. Since the jail first opened in 1990, the needs have changed. Now the facility is booking more people with drug addictions and people feeling suicidal. So the holding cells are being used for these people, who must be kept under watch. One person who was deemed suicidal, but did not qualify for care at a psychotic facility, was kept in a holding cell for six months, where he could be checked on every 10 minutes. “Everyone knows we have a problem with drugs everywhere,” said Ronda Gibson, jail administrator. “It makes us not have holding cells for what is actually intended,” she said. Gibson estimated on any given day there are four to five active detox cases that have to be watched at all times. “The female population everywhere has gone up…


Lines at parking kiosks cause patience to expire

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Motorists are adapting to the week-old parking kiosks in City Lot 2, but they aren’t crazy about having to wait in a line as people figure out the new process. Bowling Green officials are trying to make the change as painless as possible by responding to concerns. They have added more signage about the kiosk locations, have simplified the directions on the kiosk screens, and have made city employees available at the sites to answer questions. “There has been a learning curve for the public and employees as well,” Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said at Monday’s City Council meeting. However, based on the lines forming at the kiosks, the city may have to make one more change – add another kiosk, which will cost the city $11,000. Last week was the debut of the new parking kiosks in the city parking lots behind the first block of South Main Street, on the east side. Three kiosks took the place of the individual parking meters, and require motorists to punch in their license plate numbers as they pay. The three kiosks are located behind SamB’s restaurant, at the parking entrance on East Wooster Street, and near the parking entrance on Clough Street. Large electronic signs have been erected in the lot to notify people of the changes. Tretter said the ability to pay with credit cards at the kiosk has been a real hit with motorists. And if drivers input their cell phone number, they will be texted 10 minutes prior to their time expiring. They can then renew their parking time on their smart phones. The city’s parking technicians will still patrol the parking lots, but now they will carry hand-held devices that will tell them which cars have expired time. That change means that motorists cannot back into or pull through parking spaces since a license plate must by visible to the parking technicians. The rates and time limits for the lots haven’t changed. Those motorists wanting to park for up to 10 hours must use the part of the lot along South Prospect Street and must pay at the kiosk in that area. According to the city, the benefits of changing over to kiosks include: Replacement parts are more difficult to find and are becoming more expensive for the outdated parking meters. Increased efficiency to clear the parking lot following…


Wood Lane to suspend its levy collection next year

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood Lane is giving the voters a little gift next year. The Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities voted Monday to request the Wood County Budget Commission to suspend collection of the 2.95-mill levy for 2017. That means the board will not collect on the levy, which brought in nearly $8.4 million this year. To the owner of a house valued at $100,000, that is a savings of $93, according to the Wood County Auditor’s Office. The levy suspension is possible because of a lot of cost-cutting measures at the local level and changes mandated at the state level, according to Wood Lane Board President Ed Metzger. “We have not reduced the level of service,” Metzger stressed Monday evening. This may be the first time Wood Lane has ever suspended the collection of levy millage in the county. “It is something the budget commission has talked to us about in the past,” Metzger said. “As board members, we have talked about not just the service to our population, but also our responsibility to the taxpayers,” Metzger said Monday evening. The levy collection will be suspended just for 2017, then the need will be re-evaluated for 2018, Metzger said. The board was reluctant to give up the levy funds for more than a year in case there are further changes at the state level. “Things can change at the snap of a finger on the legislative side,” Metzger said. The board’s decision comes after a number of cost-saving measures since the five-year levy was passed in 2013. There has been a steady reduction of staff as individuals served by Wood Lane choose private providers. That has resulted from legislative action that stops boards of developmental disabilities from doing both the prescribing and providing of services to citizens. Other savings have been seen due to transportation changes, a conservative salary increase and the anticipated merger of the county board’s health plan with the county commissioners’ health insurance plan. The Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities also continues to increase the enrollment of individuals in home and community based waivers and increase utilization of federal funds. Finally, the county board reviews its capital plan annually to maintain fiscal responsibility with a preventative maintenance program. Despite these cost-saving measures, the number of individuals eligible for services continues to steadily increase with needs and diagnoses being more…


Family honored for building cultural bridges in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A Bowling Green family known for its Mediterranean cuisine was honored Monday evening for building cultural bridges in this community. So and Amal Shaheen were presented with an Honor Roll Award by the Bowling Green Human Relations Commission during a city council meeting. The award recognizes actions that promote respect and diversity in the community. “Our town’s quality of life rests on this foundation of equality and understanding, a foundation built by countless actions, both in the public eye and behind the scenes,” said Rev. Mary Jane Saunders, co-chairperson of the commission. The Shaheens, who own South Side Six, have taken very public actions to bring the community together. “So and Amal Shaheen are an example of bridge builders whose quiet efforts enhance our town as a community of peace,” Saunders said. Sometimes, the bridges are built with food – the Mediterranean cuisine from South Side Six that they have donated to the interfaith peace-making breakfasts held in Bowling Green. “Summertime finds South Side Six serving their menu at Lunch in the Park and educating customers about Mediterranean cuisine,” Saunders said. Sometimes, the bridges are built with words – such as during the Not In Our Town forums on the nature and the effects of Islamophobia. “The planners thought it was critical to have a Bowling Green resident representing the Muslim faith,” Saunders said. “And so Amal convinced So, twice, that he should be that representative. Talking about one’s personal faith in such a vulnerable setting called for courage and community spirit, and So’s comments and insights were an important contribution to the understanding of his experience living the Muslim faith in the BG community.” The Shaheen family has been a part of Bowling Green since 1991. “When their name comes up in conversation, it’s always followed by the observation that ‘they are great people, very generous, and very community-oriented.’ They are good neighbors, and the Human Relations Commission is honored to present them with this Honor Roll recognition,” Saunders said. Amal Shaheen was unable to attend the meeting, so So Shaheen accepted the award with two of their children by his side. He commented that he wanted his children to see the importance of being involved in the community. In other business at the city council meeting: Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley reported the five-year master plan for the city’s…


Tobacco 21 urges cities to increase smoking age

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Trying to regulate tobacco products has become a game of Whack-a-mole. As soon as standards are established for one product, the innovative tobacco industry comes up with another one. “We regulate one product and another one pops up,” said Tom Geist, regional director for the Tobacco 21 program. So instead of spending all their efforts chasing new products, Tobacco 21 organizers are trying to convince municipalities and states to bump up the legal age for tobacco products to 21 years old. In Ohio, five communities have increased the legal age: Cleveland, New Albany, Bexley, Grandview Heights and Upper Arlington. Two states – California and Hawaii – have increased the age statewide. As of last Friday, there were 190 cities in 14 states that have adopted ordinances making 21 the legal age for tobacco. Geist has set his sights on adding Bowling Green, Toledo, Athens, Dayton and Columbus to the list. Geist spoke to members of the Wood County Prevention Coalition Friday at the Wood County Educational Service Center, explaining the reasons for Tobacco 21. First, tobacco is deadly. According to widely accepted numbers from national health institutions, tobacco is responsible for one in five deaths in the U.S. “It is the worst failure of American public health in the last 100 years,” he said. Smoking kills between 500,000 and 600,000 a year in the U.S. That’s more people each year than all of the Americans killed in World War II. Put in a more graphic manner, it’s like three packed 747 airplanes crashing and burning daily, Geist said. Several health issues have been linked to smoking, some of which greatly diminish the quality of life. “It’s not just death, it’s the road there,” Geist said. “One that’s entirely avoidable.” Smoking also causes several neonatal problems, and doubles the infant mortality rate for babies when their mothers’ smoke during pregnancy. Second, by making tobacco illegal before age 21, several young people may be stopped from smoking as youth – and as adults, Geist said. The average age of smoking “initiation” is 14 to 15. “If you can keep kids from smoking until they are 21, it’s very unlikely they will start smoking,” he said. “Teenagers are not the best at decision making. Teenage brains are wired to take risks, set themselves apart.” But if legalized smoking can be discouraged until age 21, by…


Wood County Commissioners talk sewers, landfill, pipelines, more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Commissioners took a look at the big picture for the county this past week during a long-term planning meeting. They talked tax abatements, sewers, and the landfill expansion. And they discussed pipeline corridors, unsafe intersections and jail improvements. The long-term planning meetings give the commissioners a chance to look ahead and prepare for issues that may pose problems in the future. Such as: Tax abatements. The commissioners discussed the benefit of keeping track of businesses that have abatements that are nearing expiration, so county officials can examine the possible effect on the county. Septic systems. The cost of putting in a new septic system can cost up to $20,000. The commissioners have heard from local residents who have installed new septic systems, then shortly after find out that a sewer is being constructed past their homes, and they are legally required to tap into the public sewer system. The commissioners talked about being more proactive about letting county residents know where sewer services are being proposed so they don’t invest in new septic systems needlessly. Wood County Landfill. The county is within 10 years of filling to capacity the current cell that is licensed at the landfill. The commissioners talked about the need to begin the expansion process. There is open acreage at the site, but permits must be acquired before it can be used. Pipeline corridors. Earlier this year, as plans were underway for four pipelines to run different routes through Wood County, the commissioners asked that the pipeline companies consider combining routes so as few landowners were affected as possible. This week, the commissioners discussed the possibility of asking the planning commission to recommend in the county’s land use plan that pipelines be built along roadways. Jail improvements. The sheriff has been asking the commissioners to approve renovations to the jail booking area, the holding cells and the medical area. The commissioners plan to meet with the sheriff soon to discuss the project. Energy audits. The county has already made changes resulting in significant savings in energy usage in governmental buildings, including new boilers, lights and windows. Next on the list for energy audits are the jail and the Child Support Enforcement Agency. Unsafe intersections. The commissioners occasionally get letters from citizens concerned about rural intersections where accidents have occurred. The engineer and sheriff will be asked…


Students win big in Constitution ‘Jeopardy’ game

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s not every day that kids get to shout in a library, or that a state legislator gets to pretend to be Alex Trebek. Just on U.S. Constitution Day, or in this case, the closest school day to the anniversary of Sept. 17, 1787, when the document was signed in Philadelphia. The Constitution Jeopardy contestants were excited, but well behaved fifth graders from Conneaut Elementary School. The game show host was State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, whose previous position as a history teacher helped prepare him for Friday’s role. The setting was the Wood County District Public Library, in the same room that will be used in less than two months for local adults to elect their public servants. “This room makes me nervous, because this is where I get hired or fired,” Gardner said to the students. He asked the children if they could name his boss. The names started flying. The president? No. The vice president? No. The governor? “Some people think so, but he knows he’s not. I’ve told him that before,” Gardner said. After several other wrong answers, Gardner revealed the answer. “You are my boss. I’m required to listen to you.” The fifth graders may not have been prepared for that question, but once the Constitution Jeopardy game began, they could not be stumped. The categories consisted of topics like the founding fathers, checks and balances, branches of the government, the creating the Constitution. The students had no trouble naming the law-making branch of government; the third president, who was not at the signing of the Constitution; and the location of the Constitutional Conference. A history teacher at heart, Gardner could not resist throwing out a few of his own questions, asking the number of congressional and senate members. The answers may not have always been exactly what he had in mind. When asked about other items associated with Philadelphia, children named cheese steak and Hershey chocolate. As the Jeopardy game heated up, without the aid of dueling buzzers, the teams shifted to raising hands rather than shouting out answers. Arms shot up for those knowing the power of a veto vote, and the First Amendment as defender of freedom of speech and religion. The clue for Alexander Hamilton was aided with mention of the popular Broadway musical. Some questions were pretty easy for the fifth…


BG Schools not satisfied with state report card

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   None of Wood County’s school districts brought home grades worth posting on the refrigerator in the latest round of state testing. But one difference is that while other districts were scrambling to explain their grades when they were released Friday, Bowling Green had already prepared its residents for the bad news. When Bowling Green City School District got word of the less than stellar grades in July, Superintendent Francis Scruci decided to rip off the bandaid. The district announced early the scores wouldn’t get them on any honor roll. The district scored C on overall achievement and post high school readiness; A in annual progress and graduation rates; and F in literacy gains in K-3 and closing the achievement gap. The scores were lower than customary across the state, possibly because of the new testing system. In the area of overall achievement, scores for other Wood County school districts were: B for Perrysburg; C for Eastwood; and D for Elmwood, Lake, North Baltimore, Northwood, Otsego and Rossford. On Friday, Scruci repeated his distrust in the state testing being an accurate measure of student achievement and teacher performance. “We’re going to own what we got,” he said of the grades. But he cautioned that a one-day assessment is not fair to schools or students. “It cannot be confused with the good things going on in our district. It’s not a true assessment of what kids know and how teachers are doing.” Scruci pointed out that 85 percent of the school districts in the state are dealing with lower than desirable grades. “So is it a school problem, or is it a testing problem?” “It would be wrong to judge us based on this report card. Most superintendents would say it’s a flawed system,” he said. “A lot of school districts are in the same boat. We’re not in this boat rowing alone.” Scruci also questioned the calculations used by the state to grade districts. “You can make data look the way you want it to look,” he said. “The Bowling Green City School District is not accurately reflected by that report card.” That’s not to say that Bowling Green schools aren’t going to make changes to bring up their grades. “We’ve got areas to improve on. Every district does,” he said. In July, when the district first broke the news of the low…


No illegal “skimmer” devices found in Wood County during sweep

The Wood County Auditor’s office participated in Ohio’s recent statewide sweep and no illegal “skimmer” devices were found in the county.  The sweep represents a continuation of the ongoing inspections that the auditor’s office conducts in a protection effort to prevent credit card fraud as a result of information theft at the pump.  A total of 64 counties participated in the coordinated search at nearly 1400 stations checking over 12,000 pumps. To this time 35 skimmer devices in 16 counties across the state have been found since last October.  The auditor’s office has issued an advisory to the gas stations in this county and continues to encourage operators and managers to protect customers by performing daily checks at the pump to ensure the safety of their customer’s credit information and combat crime.  This year nine “Skimmer Summits” throughout the state have also been hosted by county auditors to raise awareness of this danger. Consumers should know that paying for gas with cash is always the safest option at the pump.  Using a credit card is safer than using a debit card, because customers who use their debit cards risk their PIN numbers being stolen.  Motorists should use pumps near the attendant, as criminals often target pumps further from view.  Anything that seems out of place or indicates that a pump has been tampered with should be reported.


Help offered for safe drug disposals at home

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When you look in your medicine cabinet, how many old prescription bottles are looking back at you? Maybe there are some pain pills for post surgery recovery. Or maybe there’s some antibiotic you forgot to finish as you recovered from an infection. Wood County residents now have a save way to dispose of old prescriptions. Deterra drug pouches that deactivate drugs are being given away by the Wood County Educational Service Center. The zip-lock pouches deactivate drugs effectively, safely and quickly, according to Milan Karna, program coordinator with Wood County Prevention Coalition. “The compounds of the drugs are rendered useless by the carbon inside,” Karna said. Though some drug drop-offs are available at law enforcement agencies in the county, the Deterra packets can be used at home. The pouch top is ripped off, drugs poured in, water added, then zipped tight and disposed. Liquid medications can also be placed in the pouches. The packets are biodegradable, Karna said. This option is better than throwing pills in the trash or flushing them down the toilet, where the medications can make it into waterways, he said. And it’s much better than keeping old prescriptions in the medicine cabinet, where they can be tempting to kids – even good kids. Across the nation, prescription meds like these are finding their way into “skittles” parties, according to Andrea Boxill, deputy director of the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team. Kids collect random pills from home and make a potluck of them at parties. An estimated 2,500 juveniles start taking opioids every day – and many of those are prescription drugs, Karna said. “We don’t want someone to go down the path of those unintended consequences,” he said. And it’s not advisable to share drugs with others, or use expired drugs yourself, he added. The Wood County Educational Service Center partnered with donors to get more than a thousand of the Deterra packets. They are being given away at the center in Bowling Green. Karna is also hoping to make the packets available through partners in the county, such as the health district, law enforcement offices and food pantries. Anyone interested in getting a Deterra packet can contact Karna at mkarna@wcesc.org or 419-354-9010.


Ashley Furniture plans to open in BG by November

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Ashley Furniture store plans to soon furnish a store here in Bowling Green. On Wednesday evening, the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals approved a variance request from the home furnishings store. Ashley Furniture applied for variance to put up a larger sign than permitted at 816 S. Main St., in the same strip of stores as Big Lots and Subway. The location was formerly a Hallmark store. “They just want a larger sign to be seen from the road,” said Bowling Green Planning Director Heather Sayler. Members of the Zoning Board of Appeals questioned Ashley Furniture representatives about the hardship that the sign restrictions placed on the company. Company officials said the larger sign would be proportionate to the 24,000 square foot store, and would be able to be seen from the road, Sayler said. The board agreed to allow the variance. Company officials reported the furniture store may be open by November. Ashley Furniture has had a distribution center in Bowling Green since 2006. The warehouse, located in Bellard Business Park on the north end of the city, is currently undergoing an expansion to double its size, Sayler said. The retail Ashley Furniture site is leasing the South Main Street space from Southwood Plaza LLC/Tolson Enterprises, in Toledo. “Having a filled-in space is wonderful,” Sayler said. And having a retail store in the same community as the warehouse will make it more convenient for customers, she added. “It seemed like a nature fit,” Sayler said this morning. Also moving into the same strip of stores is a Rapid Fire Pizza restaurant, which will be located just to the south of Ashley Furniture. The zoning variance for Ashley Furniture was requested by Advance Sign Group, to allow the construction of a wall sign that would be 191.42 square feet in size, which is 79.42 square feet larger than allowed in the city’s B-2 general commercial zoning district. The request also asks for permission for the sign to extend 4 feet, 2 inches above the roof line, which is not allowed under zoning. The application stated that since the façade of the building is being remodeled for the furniture store, the larger sign will be better suited to the scale of the new façade. The sign on the building, reading “Ashley Homestore Select,” will be the only sign for the new business. Ashley…


Ohio swing state status comes with privilege & pain

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Ohio is just a face in the crowd of 50 states most years. But every fourth year, we have bragging rights that our votes truly count. As Ohioans, we get showered with attention every presidential election – and unlike citizens in New York or California, we matter. That’s because Ohio has picked winners in presidential elections 28 out of 30 times since 1896. “Ohio, hands down is the most important,” said Melissa Miller, political science professor at Bowling Green State University. “We have the best record of swinging to the winner.” Ohio isn’t just a bellwether state, it is THE bellwether state, Miller said Tuesday. And this year, we may well be the swingingest of the swing states. “We could be the Florida of 2000,” she said. Miller will be giving a presentation for the public about Ohio’s status as a swing state, Wednesday at 7 p.m., at Zoar Lutheran Church, 314 E. Indiana Ave., in Perrysburg. Miller will talk about Ohio’s role as a battleground state – which puts its residents in the bulls eye for both Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s campaigns. The latest polls which include all four candidates – Clinton, Trump, the Libertarian’s Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein – show Clinton and Trump incredibly close in Ohio. “They’ve been neck and neck for a long time,” she said. And the campaigns know more about Ohio than many Ohioans do. They know that Ohio most closely maps the national popular vote. The average deviation has only been off by 2.2 percent in the last 30 elections, Miller said. They know Ohio most often puts the winner over the top in the Electoral College. “That’s huge,” she said. “We provide the last little edge” to push the winner over the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win. “That to me is just stunning.” Other battleground states are important. But none of them – not Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Iowa or New Hampshire – have the long history of picking winners like Ohio. With our battleground status comes some privileges and some pain. We have more power, and are listened to more by the campaigns. The saying, “one person, one vote,” may hold true – it’s just that our votes count more. “Ohio voters have more influence,” than true blue or red states, Miller said. “That gives Ohio…