Government

Recycled tire material tried on buckled sidewalks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is trying out a new product that may put a slight spring in the step of walkers as well as help trees along city sidewalks. Buckled up sidewalk pavement is being replaced by a product made from recycled tires. The first experiment with the rubber surface sidewalks is being tried on a small section of Eberly Street, where  tree roots had buckled up the paved sidewalks, said Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft. Craft explained to city council Monday evening that the recycled tire product is flexible with expanding tree roots, and with the ground as it freezes and thaws in the winter – “where concrete will break.” The rubber will not only help trees by allowing their roots to grow without buckling the concrete, but it will also be beneficial to walkers. It should reduce the trip hazards of broken pavement, and it will allow the water to run into the ground rather than gathering on the pavement and freezing in winter. “It’s a way to save the trees and not damage the roots,” Craft said. The city may try the rubber material next on some sidewalk sections on North Maple Street. The recycled tire product costs about $6 a square foot, which is comparable to concrete. However, the rubber takes more labor and time since it has to be mixed as it is applied. “The pace is slower,” Craft said. But it is probably worth the expense, “if it saves you from taking down a perfectly healthy tree,” whose roots are causing upheaval with concrete sidewalks. The city may also try the rubber material in the downtown area next to the bricks around trees. The material may work well to slope up around the trees, Craft said. “It’s good for the environment,” he said. And “it’s really going to wear well.” Craft does have some concerns about snow removal on the rubber, but will wait and see how it goes over winter. The rubber comes in different colors, with the city using a dark gray on Eberly Street. In other business, Mayor Dick Edwards reported that city officials attended a meeting on water issues with the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments on Monday. “This ended up being a very positive meeting,”…


County warms up to solar field tax exemption

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The future looks bright once again for the solar field planned by the city of Bowling Green. Tuesday morning, the Wood County Commissioners approved the tax break requested for the largest solar field planned in Ohio. The approval came one day after the work at the site was scheduled to begin – since the commissioners refused to grant the 30-year tax abatement for the $43 million project until their questions were answered. Though it took longer than hoped, the delay will not negatively impact the project which is set to be completed by the end of this year, said Daryl Stockburger, of the city’s utility department. “At this point, the project can keep its schedule,” Stockburger said Tuesday after the commissioners met. “We are only a day behind.” Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said he understood the commissioners’ desire to get their questions answered. But he was also relieved that the project could now move forward. “It’s a wonderful project,” Commissioner Craig LaHote said. “It would be a great gem to have here.” But the commissioners refused to be rushed into approving the tax break. “We’ve had less than two months to look at it,” LaHote said. “This abatement is unique,” he said. The county has granted tax breaks to private companies before, but this request is different in its size and duration, granting an exemption of $7.3 million over the first 15 years. Most tax abatements are based on the number of jobs created by a business. But this request differs there as well, since there will be no jobs beyond the construction period. “It’s been hard for us to get numbers,” LaHote said. Consequently, it was difficult to weigh the impact of the tax abatement. “The more we looked into this, the more questions came up.” LaHote said the delay on the tax abatement might have been avoided if the commissioners had been given more time to consider the request. “I wish we had been brought into the process a little sooner.” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw also defended the time taken to review the request for the tax exemption. “It has been difficult to get answers to all of our questions,” she said. Commissioner Joel Kuhlman said the board likes to reference historical criteria when making…


BG debates trash bin enforcement – issue fines or confiscate cans?

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council wants to make sure that once a garbage bin ordinance is passed, that it is enforceable. So on Monday evening, council debated whether violators should face fines or have their trash cans confiscated. Council member John Zanfardino expressed concerns about the penalty portion of the ordinance. He is in favor of ordering violators to pay fines when problems are spotted. Waiting to confiscate the cans on garbage pickup day would be like arresting someone for walking around with an open bottle days after the violation, he said. He asked that the city warn residents for first violations, then issue fines for additional violations. “To me, that’s a very laborious way to address it,” Zanfardino said of city workers confiscating the cans. Council member Sandy Rowland shared concerns about the city taking away garbage bins from violators. “I just don’t think it’s going to work for enforcement,” she said, voicing concerns about city workers entering private property. But Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said the cans would only be removed from property when they are sitting by the street on pickup day. “We don’t want people to go on private property. We own the right-of-way,” City Solicitor Mike Marsh said. The city already confiscates trash cans that are left at the roadside for several days. Residents then have to pay $50 to get them back. Council member Bruce Jeffers said confiscation of a trash bin sends a strong message. Marsh cautioned that fines cannot be levied against residents without a citation being issued. “There isn’t a way to fine someone without citing them first,” he said. Council members suggested that a violation to the new garbage bin ordinance be a civil infraction. Zanfardino said the most egregious trash violators will just tidy up their yard on trash day and continue breaking the rules the other six days of the week. Other college towns, like Kent, fine people for violations, he said. “If we’re serious about this, I sure hope the council considers a civil infraction,” Zanfardino said. “A warning will fix 75 percent of them,” he said. And the rest should be convinced after facing fines. “Unless someone is stubborn as a box of rocks,” having to pay a fine should encourage compliance, he said….


BG’s new arborist has deep rooted love of trees

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s new arborist is a big believer in diversity. That’s one of the reasons he was attracted to the city – its diversity of trees. Grant Jones, who was working at the botanical Longwood Gardens outside Philadelphia, knew of Bowling Green’s reputation as a tree hugging community. “I’ve always heard good things about Bowing Green and its commitment to trees,” he said. Jones shares that commitment – though he could do without the messy mulberry tree he has to park under at his temporary home. Since arriving on the job on June 1, Jones has been getting to know Bowling Green’s people and its trees. “There’s a really nice grove of old oak trees,” he said about the huge trees in City Park. “They look like they are doing pretty well right now.” “I think that’s one of the things I like about trees,” they take time to reach their potential, he said. “They’re not something that’s instant.” Unlike Nebraska, where he grew up, Bowling Green has a wealth of maple, oak, honey locust, crab apples and pear trees. “There’s not a lot of trees in Nebraska, so I got to appreciate the trees we had,” Jones said. And unlike many cities, Bowling Green has a tree inventory that tracks all the city-owned trees in the parks, cemetery and right-of-ways between sidewalks and streets. “That’s important,” Jones said. As tree diseases come and go, an inventory allows the community to track its susceptible trees and replace them with types that can withstand the diseases. A few years ago, it was the emerald ash borer that wiped out ash trees. The latest potential threat seems to be the Asian longhorn beetle. “They like maples, which is unfortunate because maples are good trees,” Jones said. But unlike the ash borer, it appears the longhorn beetle can be stopped by treating trees. “It would be nice to avoid that,” he said. Jones said he’s aware of the controversy last year, when the city lost several mature trees along West Wooster Street to a gas line construction. He understands how people become attached to trees. And his office right now is working to replace street trees and those wiped out by the ash borer. “I’d really like to continue the…


Health center doesn’t turn any patients away

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Navigating health care systems can be a scary process, especially for those people who lack adequate insurance. But local residents who have put off medical care for fear of another bill they can’t afford will not be turned away at the Wood County Community Health and Wellness Center. “We are looking at the whole person” and that includes offering services on a sliding fee scale so they are affordable to all, said Diane Krill, director of the center located inside the Wood County Health District at 1840 E. Gypsy Lane Road, Bowling Green. “No one is turned away for services,” Krill said. The health and wellness center provides primary care for all ages, with Dr. Steve Dood as chief medical officer and Katie Barricklow as family nurse practitioner. “It’s care for infants through everyone,” Krill said. The center offers STD testing, women’s health care, senior health care, behavior health services and social work services. An in-house pharmacy allows patients to get their prescriptions filled on site. “They can get all of their needs met,” Krill said. The center is a lifesaver for many patients who have put off dealing with health issues, said Rhonda Stoner, social worker at the site. “They’ve let their health go for so long, by the time they come to us there are a lot of health needs,” Stoner said of some patients. “We see the smiles on their faces now. Before they thought there was no hope,” she said. “We see the healing in that old wound.” The center focuses on treating the entire person, Krill explained. So in addition to tending to physical needs, the center also has a behavior health specialist to help with mental health needs such as anxiety, depression and everyday life struggles. “Evidence shows that physical and mental needs are really integrated,” Krill said. “We do feel behavioral medicine is important.” The services are “patient-centered,” and based on community health assessments of local needs. With its expanded services, the health and wellness center has seen an increase in patients. Last year, the center saw more than 1,000 patients, and so far this year 344 new patients have come in for care. “We’re always accepting new patients,” Krill said. And anyone is welcome – people with high co-pays,…


Water study searches for non-Toledo options

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The suspect quality and high price of Toledo water has prompted Wood County to search for other sources of water for its customers now dependent on Toledo. A study paid for by the economic development commission identified three alternate sources of water for Wood County users. The three primary scenarios identified in the study, which was released Friday, were: City of Bowling Green’s water system with expanded reservoir space. Maumee River regional water plant with an intake and reservoir. Maumee River/Lake Erie Bayshore water intake, with a regional water plant and reservoir. Wood County customers have long questioned the price of Toledo water, but also began to doubt the quality after the water crisis in the summer of 2014, when people were warned to not drink water from Toledo due to the algal blooms. So a study was conducted to look at other options. “The Wood County Economic Development Commission believes the national attention on the water crisis brought into question the potential impacts on future economic development attraction and retention effects for Wood County,” a release on the study results stated. The cost of Toledo’s water to users outside the city limits also prompted the study. “There’s a big upcharge for the suburbs,” said Wade Gottschalk, executive director for the Wood County Economic Development Commission. “We asked, are there other alternatives that are economically feasible?” “The answer is – yes,” Gottschalk said. The options would relieve Wood County customers’ dependency on Toledo water, said Jerry Greiner, executive director of the Northwestern Water and Sewer District. The contract between many Wood County users and Toledo for water expires in 2024. So this study gives time for action to be taken to create other sources. “A water plant might take five or six years to get up and running,” Gottschalk said. “Ideally, we’d like to see some sort of regional water agreement.” The current Wood County usage from Toledo is approximately 5.5 – 6.8 million gallons per day with projected maximum usage to increase to 12.3 – 14.25 million gallons per day. To meet these demands, a 10 to 20 million gallons per day water treatment facility is required. The Wood County study considers the capital costs, operational costs and probable rates for the three options identified. The…


Solar project faces more questions from county

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Commissioners threw some shade on Bowling Green’s plans Thursday to build a solar array to help power the city and other communities. Work was to begin on the largest solar field in Ohio in a couple days. But that is unlikely now since the county has not yet approved the 30-year tax abatement requested for the $43 million project. The commissioners continued to question the rushed timeline of the project, which would build a 20 MW solar array on city acreage northeast of the city. “How necessary is this aggressive timeline?” Commissioner Joel Kuhlman asked. “Critical,” responded Brian O’Connell, director of public utilities for the city. “There can be no delay.” If the county does not approve the tax exemption, the solar project will be unaffordable for NextEra Energy and AMP, which are working on the project, according to O’Connell. “It is likely that this project will be canceled due to the increased costs,” he said. “This project is bigger than just a Bowling Green site,” O’Connell said. There are 26 proposed sites in AMP member communities across five states. Six of those sites, including Bowling Green’s, are planned to be completed by the end of 2016. “It is difficult to make solar generation projects cost effective without utilizing all of the tax advantages available,” O’Connell said. So the state is allowing projects like this to be exempt from property taxes as long as they meet criteria. If the city were to own the solar power generating system, it would not pay property taxes, it was noted. But Kuhlman pointed out that the tax breaks will be benefiting a private company – not the city in this case. “This is a private entity that is going to be operating the solar field,” he said. “That’s why we’re asking these questions.” “We are talking about a private entity that is asking for a substantial tax break, that is trying to make money,” Kuhlman said. The city could have constructed its own solar field, but it would not have been nearly as large nor would it have provided as much energy savings, explained Megan Newlove, president of the city’s Board of Public Utilities. The county has granted tax breaks to private companies before. But this request…


Charters Gavarone to fill Statehouse seat, vacate BG Council seat

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Theresa Charters Gavarone has been selected by a Statehouse screening panel to take the state representative seat vacated by the resignation of Tim Brown. That means the statehouse will gain a member and Bowling Green City Council will lose a member. Speaker of the Ohio House Clifford A. Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, announced this evening that the screening panel for the 3rd House District seat unanimously recommended Charters Gavarone for the appointment. She will fill out the remainder of Brown’s term through the end of this year. Other Wood County Republicans who were screened for the seat were Haraz Ghanbari, of Perrysburg, and Ed Schimmel, of Northwood. “I believe Theresa Charters Gavarone is an incredibly solid choice to represent the citizens of Wood County in the Ohio House of Representatives,” said Brown, who is leaving the Statehouse for the top job at the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments. “As a member of city council, she has already established herself as someone capable of working in a bipartisan manner for the benefit of Wood County’s citizens.  Her experience as a small business owner, an attorney, and an elected official will enable her to represent the people of Wood County extremely well.” The screening panel decision is the first step toward filling the seat. The Ohio House Republican Caucus will vote on the screening panel’s recommendation and swear in the new member on Aug. 2. The Wood County Republican Party’s Central Committee is meeting this Thursday evening in Bowling Green to pick the name to appear on the November ballot in place of Brown’s. Bob Mack, head of the Central Committee, expects that person to be Charters Gavarone. “That would make the most sense,” he said Wednesday evening. In cases like this, the other candidates not selected often “show solidarity” and back out of the race, Mack said. Brown agreed. “I would expect that the committee will replace my name with hers.” And that means Charters Gavarone would have to give up her seat on city council once she is appointed on Aug. 2. According to City Solicitor Mike Marsh, Bowling Green City Council will have 30 days to appoint a replacement. If they fail to do so, the mayor will appoint a new member representing the Fourth Ward. The…


Wood County jail may start housing Toledo inmates

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Justice Center may have the key to Toledo’s inmate issues. That means the county jail in Bowling Green may soon be housing up to 25 people a day arrested in Toledo for misdemeanors. According to Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn, Toledo officials turned south to this county after an ongoing feud over charges to the city from the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio near Stryker. “They were looking at their options,” Wasylyshyn said on Saturday. The sheriff said the Wood County jail could house at least 25 misdemeanor inmates for $65 a day, plus an initial booking fee. That is the same amount charged for overflow inmates from other neighboring counties. “I told them I could easily handle 25,” Wasylyshyn said. “I didn’t want to over-count – so we have room for our inmates.” However, the sheriff said that number from Toledo could possibly grow since the recently completed expansion of minimum security housing at the Wood County Justice Center has created the room for 224 inmates overall at the jail. As of last Friday, the county jail had 142 inmates. Based on the low estimate of 25 inmates from Toledo a day, the county jail could bring in an extra $600,000 a year, Wasylyshyn said. “It’s good for Wood County,” he said. “We have the bed space, so it’s a great thing for Wood County to get some of the money back that was spent on the expansion.” Prior to the expansion, which was estimated at around $3 million and which included more than the inmate housing areas, the jail had 149 beds. The deal with Wood County Justice Center may work for Toledo for a variety of reasons. First, the county jail on East Gypsy Lane Road in Bowling Green, is quite a bit closer to Toledo than Stryker, and costs less per day per inmate. Second, the city is in the midst of a dispute with the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio and Lucas County over jail costs. The city of Toledo reportedly missed a July 1 deadline to pay a $1.3 million quarterly bill for its share of beds at the jail. By intentionally failing to pay the bill for 228 of the facility’s 638 beds, the city may be setting…


Zoning change allows The Beat to go on

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With some fancy footwork, Bowling Green Planning Commission tweaked the city’s zoning code to allow a dance studio to build a new facility in the Bellard Business Park. Bowling Green Economic Development Executive Director Sue Clark asked that the M-3 zoning classification be expanded to allow for a dance studio. Clark explained to the planning commission Wednesday evening that The Beat dance program has been asked to leave its current location at 1060 N. Main St., in order to make room for another tenant. Clark said she looked at several possible sites with the client, but could not find a suitable home for the business which has about 200 students and needs parking for 30 to 35 vehicles at a time. So the owner, Colleen Murphy, has decided to build instead. “We have done an extensive search for appropriate properties to build on and this location keeps surfacing as the best fit,” Clark said in a letter to the city planning office. “I showed her a lot of places,” Clark said Wednesday evening. “She kept coming back to Bellard.” Several of the dance students live in Perrysburg, according to Clark. “She really wanted to stay on the north end of town.” The business purchased the northernmost two acres of the business park near the corner of Newton and Brim roads, and is planning to build a facility of about 7,300 square feet. “We think this will be compatible,” with the area, Clark said. But under the current zoning code, it is not permitted. The zoning code allowed indoor sports training facilities, defined as for baseball, basketball, batting cages, boxing, cheerleading, gymnastics, martial arts, soccer and volleyball courts. The language specifically rules out ice and roller skating rinks, bowling alleys, racquet and tennis clubs, paintball arenas, billiard halls, archery and shooting ranges. Dance and yoga classes, as well as health and fitness clubs were previously on the list of not permitted activities, but were moved to the permitted list with the planning commission action Wednesday evening. Also at the meeting, Bowling Green Planning Director Heather Sayler reported the city has issued 172 zoning permits so far this year, compared to 189 for the same period last year. The city has approved 19 single-family homes, compared to 16 last…


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 from many members of our community,” Edwards said to council. The mayor said that out of respect for that process, he has tried to listen quietly to public debate. “At the same time, it’s been no secret that I strongly favor the retention of the 1.7-acre green space as green space given its integral spatial relationship to our historic downtown and the adjoining historic church and neighborhood,” Edwards said. “I see great value in what it means to be a vibrant and healthy community to have a small space where people can gather and enjoy, and where adjacency to the downtown is possible,” he added. That doesn’t mean he is unaware of the need for a new city office building. “I am reminded each and…


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 schools,” she said in making the announcement. “I’ve worked with students in the classroom and library and have supported teachers and coaches as a fundraiser and volunteer. Wood County needs a representative who understands the issues from all sides and someone who is willing to listen and represent their interests in Columbus.” As a city council member, Charters Gavarone said she has employed a bipartisan approach to issues. “In my years as an elected official, I have proven that I can work with people to solve community problems regardless of party affiliation. Wood County needs a representative in Columbus that will work hard and reach across party lines to make decisions that will best serve the needs of our community. I have that track record.”…


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 little testy at times. But some were frustrated with the proposal that was weaker than they wanted. “I’m very disappointed and depressed that a majority of the council can’t stand up for the older neighborhoods,” said Les Barber, who lives on North Prospect Street. Many of the older neighborhoods have been overtaken by rental properties, where residents take less pride in their homes. That leads to “degradation of those areas,” he said. Barber questioned how the city will proceed with its neighborhood revitalization plan if city council can’t even enact strong trash bin rules. Some on council wondered why other college communities have been able to enact rules requiring residents to keep their trash bins behind the front line of their homes – with little…


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 break, but this agreement does not. The company will pay some money to local taxing authorities “in lieu of” the tax breaks, but not the entire amount. One other concern is that the solar array will be built using panels from Hanwha – not Wood County’s First Solar company.  Jared Haines, of NextEra Energy, said his company has an ongoing relationship with Hanwha, which produces solar panels that have a “less toxic influence” when they are removed at the end of their usefulness. But Wood County Commissioner Craig LaHote said he believes First Solar handles the disposal of its products. LaHote asked the NextEra Energy representatives what would happen if the commissioners don’t approve the tax abatement. Janet Ward replied that the cost of the…


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 work together to do what the building needs.” However the Committee on Aging’s six satellite sites in North Baltimore, Pemberville, Perrysburg, Rossford, Walbridge and Wayne are also open to any older residents of the county, and rely on community partners, according to Denise Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. None of those communities are objecting to the expense, she said. “We could not do what we do throughout the county without support of the communities,” Niese said. None of the senior sites are owned by the committee and all are supported by the communities in which they are located. Many are housed in churches or municipal buildings, with the committee on aging paying a small user fee. “It works because of…