Government

Gardner and Brown talk about marijuana, wind energy and roundabouts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County’s state legislators fielded questions about marijuana, roundabouts and windfarms Friday morning from local residents. State Sen. Randy Gardner and State Rep. Tim Brown, both R-Bowling Green, presented a legislative update to members of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. The talk covered a wide range of topics on health, energy and transportation. Gardner reminded those present that he and Brown value direct contact from their constituents and make an effort to be “very accessible” to citizens. Brown said it’s good for the public to be aware of state legislative efforts. “The more sunshine we have on these deliberations the better it is for all of us,” he said. Following are some of the issues discussed. Windfarms Brown talked about a wind energy bill that currently calls for setback requirements that make wind farms “next to impossible.” Under the current language in the bill, the majority of the wind turbines at Ohio’s largest windfarm would not be allowed. “Their right to have them has been stripped away,” Brown said, adding that he is working to change that. Some businesses are reluctant to locate in Ohio because the state doesn’t do enough to promote clean energy, he added. “We have businesses who want to be in our state and say, ‘No,’” such as Amazon, Brown said. “They demand renewable energy.” Gardner said Ohio needs to look at making use of renewable and natural resource energy. “I think there’s an ‘all of the above’ policy,’” he said. Orange barrels Ohioans should not expect relief from road construction anytime soon, Brown said. “I hear more about this from people than anything else.” The state has increased the annual funding to fix Ohio roads and bridges from $150 million to $175 million during the next five years, then up to $200 million after that. “The orange barrels aren’t going to go away,” he said. The goal with projects, such as the Interstate 75 widening here in Wood County, is to grow the economy and attract businesses. The state is also looking at more roundabouts as a way to keep traffic moving and reduce serious accidents. “It takes me a lot of getting used to,” Gardner said about roundabouts, but added that statistics show they are much safer for motorists. Medical marijuana The bill allowing medical marijuana in Ohio passed the House this week and is now in the hands of the Senate. Brown explained the bill does not allow people to grow or smoke marijuana. However, it will allow people to use it if they have medical conditions that can be helped with marijuana. “There are true medical needs for marijuana,” he said, noting testimony from a parent whose child had as many as 300 seizures a day but now has about five a day. One person in the audience Friday said her daughter currently goes to Michigan to get medical marijuana to treat her ovarian cancer. Brown said that is presently illegal, but this bill would change that. Gardner said the Senate would likely vote on the bill in the next week or two. Marijuana supporters believe the bill is too restrictive, and are working on putting an issue on the November ballot which would legalize medical marijuana in the state’s Constitution. “To put…


BG parks great for activity, but buildings need some work

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s parks give patrons plenty of chances to flex their muscles while walking, playing ball, skateboarding, swimming or climbing playground equipment. But there is room for improvement, according to the citizens attending the park forum this week focusing on the city’s active parks – City Park, Carter Park and the newest, Ridge Park. “I think we have a pretty good park system,” citizen Les Barber said. The parks scored an “A” for activity options, but got lesser grades for park buildings, ballpark drainage, and parking availability. Citizens were asked for input on the Veterans Building in City Park, and the teepee shaped shelters in Carter Park. Kristin Otley, director of the BG Parks and Recreation Department, explained that the teepee-like shelters may be removed and replaced with new shelter houses. No one present objected to that change. Otley also said that the Veterans Building has several problems, including not being ADA compliant and structural leaks. The three options being considered are to renovate the building, tear down the building and leave open space, or tear down the building and replace it with a new structure. “Seems like we ought to keep some kind of facility there,” resident Ellen Dalton said. She suggested balancing the cost of renovations versus replacement. Valerie Brinkhoff asked about the water tower in Carter Park, which was originally designed to have a theater in the bottom below the water storage. That space is currently being used for storage, but Brinkhoff asked if it could possibly be opened up for community events. Also involving Carter Park, a concern was voiced by Diane Biems, president of the girls fast pitch baseball organization. The girls teams use the north softball fields at Carter Park – which frequently flood especially with spring rains. “We have limited usage of it because of poor water drainage,” Biems said, adding that she understands it’s quite expensive to fix flooding fields. But, “it’s hard to have home games at Carter Park when there’s such poor drainage.” Ridge Park could benefit from the addition of some type of walking trail around the perimeter of the park, so parents could exercise while their children use the playground equipment, Barber said. “That probably wouldn’t be too expensive,” he said. Otherwise, Ridge Park offers kids what they need – some playground equipment and some wide open spaces for unstructured play. “Ridge represents a place for passive activity,” meaning non-organized sports, Barber said. City Park offers the most options for activities with the pool, playground, basketball courts, ball field, skateboard park and a circular roadway ideal for walkers. The central location in the city works well for kids, Dalton said. “Kids can get there on their bikes.” And the new aquatic center is “fantastic,” Biems said. Dalton pointed out that additional parking would be nice, especially during summer concerts. Another issue arose about the property next to City Park, which the city leases to Bowling Green Country Club for golfing. Barber mentioned that some residents believe it is wrong for the city to lease land to a golf club. Barber also brought up the possibility of a park near the old South Main Elementary. “I’m very surprised there isn’t anyone here advocating for a park in the Second Ward,” he…


Wood County tries to ease growing pains

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County faces inevitable growing pains over the next couple decades. So a new land use plan is examining how the county can ease those pains by saving prime farmland, directing development, protecting waterways, and possibly establishing an energy corridor for pipelines. Input on the planning process was sought Wednesday evening. “Do you all feel this is the right direction for us to be heading,” asked Emily Crow, the consultant working with the Wood County Planning Commission on the land use plan. “We’re trying to balance the discussion where there are pressures for growth.” The countywide plan is just the first step. Then the townships will be asked to implement the vision through zoning. “That’s where the rubber meets the road and things actually happen,” Crow said. To prepare for the future, the plan first gives a snapshot of Wood County today. Agriculture continues to be the biggest land use, with more than 76 percent of the acreage in the county used in farming. Commercial uses are located primarily along major transportation corridors. Then projections were made for the future. By 2050, the county’s population of 125,488 is expected to increase anywhere from 5,840 on the conservative side to 21,810 on the high side. Employment, now at 53,638 jobs according to the 2010 Census, may grow by as many as 39,849 jobs by 2050. “You are gaining a lot more jobs than you are population,” Crow said. The biggest growth is expected in retail trade and warehousing. The county is already facing housing demands that aren’t being met, she said. In 2014, the county had 53,840 houses, with approximately 7 to 9 percent being vacant. But buyers are looking for newer homes. “You have a demand in the market for new housing stock,” Crow said. Catalysts for business growth include the capacity and access improvements being made to Interstate 75 and the CSX rail hub in the southern end of the county. The county appears to have a good supply of land already zoned for commercial and industrial uses. So what happens as the county grows? “You have increasing land value for your agricultural areas,” which may be an incentive for some farmers to sell land for development, Crow said. “It’s a consideration. How do we maintain that agricultural base for the county?” Demands for sanitary sewer and good water services will increase, and drainage systems will have to change to accommodate growth. Development is most likely in Troy Township and Middleton Township, where utilities and zoning are in place for industrial growth. Though water and sewer have been extended to the southwestern corner of the county, that area is most likely to remain agricultural, except of the land near the CSX hub. “There’s no fear we’re going to run out of land to support all the growth that’s going to happen,” Crow said. Crow pointed out that the growth forecasts for Wood County took into account neighboring counties. “We didn’t look at Wood County in a bubble.” When the draft plan is completed, another public meeting will be held. Following are the guiding principles in the land use plan: Agriculture: Farming is part of the county’s heritage and a fundamental component of economy. The plan will protect prime farmland and support…



Ohio ‘med sync’ bill on its way to governor

House Bill 116, jointly sponsored by State Representatives Tim Brown, R-Bowling Green,  and Tim Ginter, seeks to provide for partial drug prescription refills for the purpose of synchronizing multiple prescriptions for one patient. “House Bill 116 will save time, money, and ultimately improve health outcomes of patients,” said Brown. “Over 80 legislators have cosponsored the bill, which is a testament to its support in communities around the State of Ohio.” The bill is an attempt to enact a process known as “medical synchronization”, or “med sync”, in Ohio. “Med sync” simplifies patient and caregiver lives by reducing the amount of visits that a patient needs to make to the pharmacy to get his or her needed medication, allowing them to permissively participate in a process with their physician and pharmacist to align their medications so that they can be refilled on the same day. Currently, some pharmacies and Medicare Part D allow the use of a “med sync” program. HB 116 would extend this process to commercial plans and Medicaid, keeping patients on track with their medication, boosting adherence to their physician-recommended treatment, and making the process more affordable for Ohioans. HB 116 now awaits action by the Governor.


Park district hands out 14 grants for playgrounds, picnic tables and more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Little towns all across the county have been able to add playgrounds and picnic tables thanks to grants from the Wood County Park District over the last 25 years. Places that could never afford to add safety surfacing, backboards or soccer goals have turned to the district to help. This year, the grants will pay for improvements in 14 towns, including swings in Luckey, a scoreboard in Portage and bleachers in Jerry City. “Very few communities have not been impacted,” said Jeff Baney, assistant director of the park district. “Some of these parks would not be here if it weren’t for this program.” Baney explained the annual local park improvement grant program to the Wood County Park District board members during their meeting Tuesday afternoon at William Henry Harrison Park in Pemberville. The park district started giving out local park grants in 1989 when the district passed its first levy. Over the years, the grant funding has grown from $50,000 to $100,000 each year. As he drives through the communities now, Baney said he sees several parks where every piece of equipment was purchased with park grants. “A lot of these communities are so small,” that they rely on the park district for help, said Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger. All communities in the county may apply each year for grants, and may also use the county park expertise to do playground safety inspections, Baney said. The park district puts an emphasis on playground safety, he said, noting that some of the sites “were frankly dangerous.” “They get overwhelmed because playgrounds are so expensive,” Baney said. That’s where the park district comes in. “I’ve seen improvements in the outlying villages.” The district gets about 20 applications each year, consistently adding up to more than $100,000. “We’ve always had to pare it down,” Baney said, explaining that a three-member panel helps select the projects to receive funding. “There’s always going to be projects that aren’t funded,” Munger said. Safety projects often get the highest priority. While many towns can’t afford matching dollars, they sometimes offer volunteer labor. “That’s a big old star for our panel” making the selections, Munger said. Communities can submit requests for whatever items they feel are important. “We’ve always tried not to suggest specific projects,” Munger said. “We don’t want it to appear that we are handpicking projects.” The projects that were initially selected for grants last fall received the funding Tuesday. Those projects are: Grand Rapids, $2,449 for asphalt repairs and a bench. Haskins, $9,999 for playground equipment and safety surfacing. Jerry City, $1,100 for bleachers. Lake Township, $8,006 for dog park equipment. Luckey, $3,150 for basketball backboards, park benches and swing seats. North Baltimore, $21,189 for playground equipment and surfacing. Perrysburg, $10,000 for shade structures. Perrysburg Township, $10,175 for bench, playground equipment and surfacing. Portage Township, $3,500 for a scoreboard. Risingsun, $1,460 for sealcoating of asphalt walking path. Rossford, $4,804 for multi-purpose court. Tontogany, $2,839 for playground equipment. Walbridge, $10,932 for picnic tables and soccer goal. Weston, $10,397 for playground equipment and surfacing. In other business, naturalist Jim Witter gave a presentation on programming by the Wood County Park District. He noted the increased attendance at park programs in the last couple years. The board…



House to vote to allow medical marijuana

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Listening to families who could find no other help for their children convinced State Rep. Tim Brown to support a medical marijuana bill for Ohio. Brown, R-Bowling Green, served on the committee studying medical marijuana, and is co-sponsor of House Bill 523 which is being voted on by House members today. “It’s been very eye opening to me to hear from patients and parents with children with seizures who have found no relief from anything except marijuana,” Brown said. Some of the children were having as many as 300 seizures a day prior to being treated with marijuana. “It just really pointed out that we as a society are behind the curve on this,” he said. Parents desperate to help their children have to break the law to give them the only medicine known to reduce their seizures, Brown said. “It’s the responsible way to do this,” he said of the legislation. House Bill 523 would allow doctors licensed in Ohio to recommend marijuana to their patients. The marijuana can only be legally produced by state licensed growers. “It doesn’t allow people to grow in their basements or backyards,” Brown said. Though the bill is expected to pass today with bipartisan support, it is facing criticism from both sides – those who think it’s too restrictive and those who are opposed to any marijuana use. Those supporting medicinal use are concerned this bill will take two years to implement, and doctors are required to fill out so much paperwork that it may discourage them from participating. But Brown defended those measures. “We want doctors to be licensed to do this and have a definitive relationship with the patients.” On the other side of the issue, the Wood County Prevention Coalition has taken a stand against legalization for any purpose, saying the bill is “disappointing and frightening.” “States which have legalized marijuana for either ‘medicinal’ or recreational purposes have seen an increase in youth substance use and abuse, earlier age initiation and decreased perception of harm,” according to Milan Karna, coordinator of the Wood County Prevention Coalition. However, Brown pointed out that states with legalized medicinal marijuana showed a 25 percent reduction in prescribed opiates. “To me, that is an extremely compelling fact. Opiates are highly addictive,” he said, calling them a “four-lane highway to heroin use. They are killing substantial numbers of our citizens.” Brown said studies suggest that marijuana is not addictive to most people and can benefit patients with seizures, cancer, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other conditions. “We have an obligation to try to shift people,” away from addictive and deadly opiates, he said. The Wood County Prevention Coalition supports research and science-based medicines that could be produced from marijuana plants, as long as they are held to the same testing standards as all medicine. Brown said House Bill 523 will allow Ohio to collect data on medicinal marijuana use and tweak regulations as needed. “We have an obligation as a government to study this,” he said. The bill includes several restrictions regulating the types of conditions for which a doctor can recommend marijuana, the growers, the dispensaries, and how the marijuana can be used. The bill does not allow it to be smoked, but it can be used…


Some feel sign sends wrong message about downtown BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News     Some Bowling Green citizens want to give the city a message – they don’t like the new message sign downtown. When a story was posted last week about new electronic signs being used by the city to communicate with residents, it created quite a stir of reactions on Facebook. Two electronic message signs have been erected, with one in front of the police station on West Wooster Street and the other by the public works area on East Poe Road. The negative comments were all aimed at the sign downtown in front of the police station. The sign was called ugly, a waste of money, distracting to drivers and detracting from the historic downtown. “So much for our quaint town,” one person wrote. “It really contrasts with the look of our downtown area. Did anyone consider aesthetics when this was approved,” another wrote. Some questioned the expense, with each sign costing $10,250, suggesting that the money would be better spent on paving or patrolling the city’s streets. “To me, the thing just doesn’t go with the style of that area downtown,” said resident and Realtor Andy Newlove. “We’ve got this vibrant downtown,” and then this sign goes up that looks like it ought to be selling hamburgers, he said. “To just throw that thing up there? It doesn’t look nice. Was it discussed?” Newlove said the city has worked to improve signage downtown and get rid of unattractive signs. While the new CVS also has an electronic message board, “at least that’s a private business.” The new LED signs will alert residents about such items as traffic changes for construction or special events in the community, and about seasonal services such as brush pickup. The sign in front of the police station may also make public service announcements on buckling up and not drinking and driving. The purpose of the signs was to better communicate with city residents, said Joe Fawcett, assistant municipal administrator. “The city has heard consistently from citizens and public officials that communication is very important,” Fawcett said Monday. So the signs were put in the city’s 2016 budget, and will replace the banners with printed safety reminders for drivers. “We view it as an addition to the weekly emails that go out to the city,” Fawcett said. “We know that some people don’t use social media.” So it was believed the electronic signs would provide timely reminders about traffic closures or detours, and brush or heavy trash pickup. The sign in front of the police station was paid for through the law enforcement trust fund, which includes such items as property seizures by the police. The sign in front of public works came from the city’s general fund. Fawcett said landscaping will be added near the signs. “I’m sure that will improve the aesthetics of it,” he said. Though the majority of the Facebook comments about the signs were negative, there were a couple citizens who approved of the electronic communication. “Anything that prevents me from missing large trash or brush pickup is fine by me,” one wrote. “A good way to share up to date info and a lot better than a buckle up sign that stays in place for months,” another wrote. But to most…


BG tries to sweeten smells from sewer plant

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Doug Clark takes it personally when people complain about the foul smells coming from the wastewater plant on the east side of Bowling Green. As superintendent of the Water Pollution Control Plant on Dunbridge Road, Clark is intensely proud of the violation-free operation that treated 2.2 billion gallons of wastewater and stormwater last year. He takes pride in the fact that nearly every step in the treatment is done with biological processes, not chemicals. Improvements at the plant have resulted in a 50 percent reduction in the total solids left from the process – creating a product the EPA has approved for sale to a local landscaper who blends the solids with topsoil and sand. None of the solids are applied to farm fields anymore. The finished liquid product looks like crystal clear water and meets EPA standards as it is sent down Poe Ditch to the Portage River. But there’s one thing that Clark gets prickly about – complaints about the stench from the plant. “It’s pretty amazing,” Clark said as he held up a cup of the clear finished liquid product that was the result of the very complex biological process at the plant. “We get it right a lot more than wrong. Yet the only thing we’re known for is odors every once in awhile.” Clark concedes that the odors are particularly pungent on some days, especially when the wind is coming from the north, sending the smell toward businesses along Dunbridge Road. “Typically, it’s wet heavy mornings when it’s most noticeable,” he said. “It’s those days when you smell it, it’s really bad. There’s no way to know if it’s going to be one of those days.” Though Clark said the staff at the plant does get accustomed to the smells, some days “we do notice it.” The wastewater plant has made several attempts to sweeten the smells emitted. It uses an aerobic digestion process with bacteria that helps consume the waste. “Our job is to provide the best environment for the bacteria to absorb it,” Clark said. “We have done a lot of work” to reduce the odors since Clark took over as superintendent in 2007. To lower the ammonia content, the wastewater is run through filters layered with large rocks, then smaller porous rocks, then root material. That process gets rid of some odors, but “quite frankly, not the most offensive ones.” “We have done just about everything we can,” Clark said. Just about. But now Clark and Brian O’Connell, director of public utilities for the city, want to try one more fix. The two recently visited the wastewater plant in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which uses activated carbon to take out all the remaining odors that aren’t stopped by the aerobic digestion process. “It’s the belts and suspenders part of the equipment that takes care of the odors that get through the biofilter,” O’Connell said. “We’re hopeful it will benefit us the same way.” The price tag to get rid of the annoying smells – $220,000. The money is not in this year’s wastewater treatment budget, but O’Connell said he is looking for other projects that could possibly be put on hold, or funds that could be diverted from other projects. As the city eyes costly improvements…


BG erects two LED message signs

Bowling Green city officials have a new way of communicating with city residents. Two electronic message signs have been purchased, with one in front of the police station on West Wooster Street and the other by the public works area on East Poe Road. The signs will alert residents about such items as traffic changes for construction or special events in the community, and about seasonal services such as brush pickup. The sign in front of the police station may also make public service announcements on buckling up and not drinking and driving. The signs cost $10,250 each, according to Bowling Green Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett.  


Communities caught in middle of tax tug-of-war

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Ohio Gov. John Kasich boasts about digging the state out of a deficit and cutting taxes, local government officials see little to brag about. To them, the state’s strategy was not tax cuts, but “tax shifts,” putting the burden onto municipal, township and county governments. The changes in tax revenue have affected every community in Wood County. On the larger side, Bowling Green has lost $964,764 in annual income, and Perrysburg has lost even more at $1,154,451. On the smaller side, Pemberville lost $43,924 a year, Weston lost $41,335, and Haskins lost $5,368, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation. “This is putting the pressure on communities to raise those taxes,” said Kent Scarrett, director of communications for the Ohio Municipal League. “The state says we are cutting taxes left and right,” Scarrett said. “The fact is, that burden is put on local communities.” The three changes made by the state are: Elimination of Ohio estate tax, which is also called the “death tax.” Eighty percent of this money had gone to local communities. Bowling Green lost an estimated $382,848 a year. Big cuts in the state’s Local Government Fund, which made up sizeable portions of county, municipal and township budgets. The LGF was created during the Depression when the sales tax was enacted to share money with grassroots government. Bowling Green lost $563,480 a year. Elimination of local property taxes on business machinery and inventory, also called the CAT tax. The state had a planned phase out of the tax over a period of time, but hastened the cuts. Bowling Green lost $18,436 a year. Those cuts have some communities struggling to keep vital services, such as fire stations open, and are considering more reductions in city services, Scarrett said. “That’s the disconnect that’s going on,” he said. “You’re just shifting the burden.” Across the state, communities are trying four main strategies to handle the funding cuts, according to Scarrett. The first is natural attrition, “especially in safety areas like police and fire,” he said. “A lot of communities aren’t filling those positions.” Next is increasing fees and service charges, for such items as trash pickup, utilities or permits. More communities are also looking at reducing or eliminating tax credits for residents who work outside the municipality. And finally, “the last resort many communities look for” – tax increases, Scarrett said. The state initiated the tax changes to help deal with an $8 billion budget deficit in 2010. The state was suffering from a depressed economy and reduced revenue. But so were local communities, Scarrett said. “For five years, our folks had already been working through this. Our folks were already trying to find reductions.” “Our communities know that more economic activity raises revenues,” he said. But attracting economic activity is difficult for communities when their funding is cut. Scarrett suggested that since Ohio has recovered from its deficit, and has more than $2 billion in its rainy day fund, that it’s time to start sharing the wealth with grassroots government again. “Our communities are strapped,” he said. Grants are not the solution, as some state leaders believe, Scarrett said. Many communities don’t have the matching funds required to secure grants. They need funding “without strings.” “Putting more grants out…


Health district to build dental center that won’t turn away uninsured

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Health District has given local residents something to smile about. The district’s Health and Wellness Center has been awarded $824,997 to build a dental center to serve Wood County residents regardless of their ability to pay, according to Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey. The district had applied for two projects, one to build a new center and one to renovate existing meeting rooms. The new center was funded. There is also still a chance the health district will receive funds to help pay for dental staffing needs. The health district has been trying for decades to address dental needs. “This is a huge leap forward in meeting this,” Batey said. “It truly will be a benefit to our residents who are uninsured for dental or who have Medicaid, but can’t find a dental provider who will accept them as patients. It will be a whole new challenge, but we look forward to continuing to expand services to give our residents the greatest options for good health.” The dental clinic will be an expansion of the existing Health and Wellness Center that is part of the health district offices at 1840 E. Gypsy Lane Road, Bowling Green. The dental clinic will have at least four patient chairs and will offer full services. “Just like your typical dental office,” Batey said. “It’s very exciting,” said Diane Krill, CEO of the health and wellness center. Krill said the need for dental services is great. “I just think with the community health assessment, it showed there was a dental need here.” Many Wood County families cannot afford dental care for their children, or cannot find dental offices willing to accept Medicaid patients. “We still see a lack of access for those individuals,” Batey said last year. “That’s still a spot where Wood County struggles.” About a decade ago, local officials who cared about public health and about children met at the county health department to discuss the lack of dental care for local children. At that point there was one dentist in the county who freely accepted Medicaid patients. The problem wasn’t an easy fix with a clear culprit. Dentists are reimbursed at a lower rate by Medicaid than through private insurance. And the Medicaid patients often have significant dental needs because they have delayed treatment due to the expense. “That’s the first thing people put off,” Batey said. They wait till the pain is unbearable, and the cost is escalated. Since then, the county has offered a Band-Aid solution that has been a lifesaver to some residents. Once a month, the Smile Express parks its RV-size mobile dental unit outside the Wood County Health District to treat patients who otherwise would go without care. Though it has made a difference in many lives, it is just scratching the surface of the unmet dental needs in the county. Every time the health district conducts an assessment of the county, the lack of dental services for low income residents ranks high on the list of needs. “It’s an issue of access to care. They don’t have dental insurance and they can’t afford the out of pocket expenses,” Batey said. Wood County is not alone. Last year, dental care was the top unmet health care…


ATM in Meijer parking lot approved by city planning commission

Bowling Green Planning Commission approved plans Wednesday evening for a Huntington Bank ATM to be constructed in the Meijer parking lot on East Wooster Street. The standalone drive-up ATM under a canopy will be located in the southwest corner of the parking lot, behind the Meijer gas station. A Huntington branch is already located inside Meijer, but the branch further in town on East Wooster Street has been closed. Also at the meeting, the planning commission heard a request for the annexation of 6.2 acres between 1502 and 1518 Napoleon Road. The property is currently in Center Township. Petitioning for the annexation are Steven and Marcia Seubert. A public hearing on the request will be held at the next planning commission meeting on June 1. Planning Director Heather Sayler updated the commission on projects going on in the city, including the battery-wholesale store being built in front of Woodland Mall, the Burger King in front of Home Depot, and the Fairfield Inn on East Wooster that is expected to be open by October.


Community ride promotes need for improvements for bicyclists

  By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Thursday’s community bike ride is more than a pedal to the park. The organizers have some serious points to make about the need to make Bowling Green a better place for bicycling.               The second Community Ride will begin Thursday at 5 p.m. at the fountain in front of the Administration Building on the Bowling Green State University campus.  The riders will head west toward downtown, traveling eventually to Main Street, before reaching their destination, the green space at the corner of Church and West Wooster streets. The first ride came after Lily Murnen, president of the Environmental Service Club, was talking to Rick Busselle, a BGSU faculty member and bicyclist. Busselle was upset by a couple incidents. A student was struck while bicycling near the CVS on East Wooster Street, and then was ticketed for riding on the sidewalk. Busselle himself took a spill while trying to navigate past that spot. His accident occurred in part because he was unsure at what point cyclists were allowed to ride on sidewalks. The city lacks both clarity in the rules governing bicyclists and the bike lanes needed to make riding in the city safer, he said. Yet, the city officials didn’t really seem to think it was a problem. He and Murnen discussed a mass bike riding event. These can involve a large group of bicyclists taking over the streets and, at times, violating traffic laws. Instead they decided that it would be best to have the bicyclists adhere to the rules of the road, which in some instances may cause a greater inconvenience to drivers. People, Murnen said, feel safer navigating the city’s streets in groups. Murnen was in charge of putting together a list of events for Earth Week, so she decided a community ride would fit right in. The first ride attracted 25 riders, despite a change in the day of the ride. Murnen said the ride attracted “a really nice mix” of students, faculty and community members. The 25-minute ride went west on Wooster, turned right onto North Grove, left on Conneaut, right onto Fairview, right onto West Merry, right onto North Main Street and then proceeded to the Four Corners, where the group took a right onto Wooster and then a left on South Grove and the green space. The route, Murnen said, was designed to minimize left turns, but also to travel through populated areas and downtown to get some visibility. The response the riders received from people along the route, she said, was positive. Thursday’s route will be similar, maybe with another loop added, she said. She and Busselle would like to keep the rides going. Murnen who will be in town until July said she’d like to see others step up to organize it. It could be done by a group, she said. She like the riders to sit down with Bowling Green Bicycle Safety Commission to hash out ideas. Busselle said he hopes the rides bring attention to the city’s need for bicycle lanes and streets that are safe for bicycles, cars and pedestrians. “The goal is bike lanes.” More also needs to be done to improve bicycle safety in the area around the high school and middle school,…