BG residents and bicyclists clash over plans

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There was a head-on collision Monday evening between city residents who want to safely bicycle in town, and city residents who want to hang on to their front yards and street parking. John Zanfardino, of City Council’s Transportation and Safety Committee, set the scene by explaining the long-awaited goal of creating bike routes in the city. “Everywhere I visit has bike lanes,” he said. “It seems to me a progressive concept we should consider.” The consultants working with Bowling Green on a community action plan asked about bike lanes during their initial visit to the city, according to council member Daniel Gordon. “The very first thing they noticed when they came to Bowling Green was a lack of bike lanes,” he said. “This is a national movement,” said council member Sandy Rowland. But plans to modify the first two streets for bikes met roadblocks Monday evening from neighbors who felt their concerns were being ignored. When City Engineer Jason Sisco presented the plan to widen sidewalks on the east side of Fairview to accommodate bikes, the neighbors asked why the bike lane wasn’t being placed on the west side along the golf course owned by the city. “Yeah,” several in the audience said loudly. Sisco said city officials had been worried about putting bicyclists too close to stray golf balls, but he added “there’s nothing that says it couldn’t be on the west side.” When given a chance to take the podium, several Fairview Avenue residents defended their front yards, and several Conneaut Avenue residents stood up for their street parking. “If you put a path in my yard on Fairview, you will be able to knock on my side door,” Faith Olson said. “That’s not fair to me as a long-time resident of Bowling Green.” Olson said she understood the frustration of bicyclists waiting from some accommodations in the city. “I understand you’re tired of talking, but you need to consider people on those streets.” One of those people is Francine Auchmuty, who lives on the far east block of Conneaut Avenue, where street parking is currently allowed. “We have six multiple units on Conneaut and Grove,” many with driveways that have room for only one or two vehicles. “There’s no way that would be fair to take away our parking,” she said. Another resident said she sees very few bicyclists on Fairview – but a bicyclist in the audience offered that could be because cyclists don’t feel safe on the street. The council members of the transportation committee said they knew the needs of bicyclists and homeowners might be at odds. “We knew every street we brought up would be a problem for someone,” Zanfardino said. But bike paths attract new residents, provide health benefits and reduce environmental pollution, he said. “It’s a way to attract new and young folks,” Zanfardino said. But Olson objected, saying her rights as an older resident shouldn’t be ignored. Bicyclist Penny Evans-Meyer said Bowling Green is behind other communities in making travel safe for cyclists. “We might be as many as three decades late with bike paths,” Evans-Meyer said. “It’s time we put aside some of our worries and say it’s the thing to do.” The city adopted a long range plan in 2007,…

BG rejects moratorium on medical marijuana

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council split 4-3 Monday evening on enacting a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana cultivation, processing and retail dispensary facilities. So despite a request from the city attorney and city planner, the moratorium was scrapped. Council members Daniel Gordon, Bruce Jeffers, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino voted against the moratorium, while Mike Aspacher, Bob McOmber and Scott Seeliger voted in favor. After the meeting, City Planner Heather Sayler said her office has received two phone calls from prospective medical marijuana representatives asking where they would be allowed to do business in the city. As it is now, a retail operation could go in commercial zoned areas, a processing operation could go in industrial, and growing could occur in agricultural zoned areas. The state legislature passed the medical marijuana bill earlier this year, making Ohio the 25th state to legalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes. But few community regulations have been established, so several municipalities are enacting temporary moratoriums on medical marijuana cultivation, processing and retail dispensary facilities. “We’ve been watching the state for weeks, waiting for some rules and regulations,” City Attorney Michael Marsh said last month when the issue first came before council. So “rather than have a free-for-all,” Marsh presented legislation asking that council put a hold on medical marijuana sales in the city until the state sets regulations. Marsh added that the city does not have qualified personnel to set regulations for growing, processing or selling pot. But Gordon said he was not willing to add further burden on ill people who could benefit from medical marijuana. On Monday evening, Gordon reaffirmed his opposition to a moratorium. “I continue to feel the legislation is unnecessary and counterproductive,” he said. Council President Mike Aspacher noted last month that Bowling Green applies rules to tattoo businesses, dance establishments and grocery stores. “I think it would be irresponsible,” to not do the same with marijuana, he said. Sayler said her office is waiting for some direction from the state. “It’s new to everyone. We don’t have any guidance yet.” But Gordon said the greater error would be to deny the drug to people in need.  

‘Bobcat Basics’ to supply students with toiletries, school items

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Like many teachers, Erica Slough often sees students in her classroom who struggle with daily issues that most Bowling Green students don’t have to worry about. They don’t have the basic toiletries, clothing or school supplies they need. So Slough, a high school English teacher, came up with the Bobcat Basics program to provide supplies to students in need. “They do a good job of pretending to be OK. They don’t want to talk about it. But we see kids who are in need and we don’t have anywhere to turn to,” Slough said. “This is a much needed program.” It might be that their families can’t afford to keep supplies of shampoo, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, or notebooks. It may be the family has suffered a job loss, or a disaster such as a fire, or has a more ongoing crisis. “If they don’t have their basic needs met, how are they going to focus on academics?” Slough said. “They are thinking about survival. We want to help them out the best we can.” The plan is to supply the Bobcat Basics program by asking parents to donate items and by working with student organizations to collect donations from businesses. Student groups will also be in charge of keeping track of the inventory and making sure the program is stocked. “It’s set up for students to help students,” Slough said. But that is as far as the students and community will be involved, since the program must be discreet so students in need feel comfortable picking up items. “This is for the teenagers,” Slough said. Students will be approached by their guidance counselors, referred by their teachers, or questioned if they receive reduced cost lunches. “We do have a significant amount on that list,” she said. They will be called down to the Bobcat Basics room during study hall. “People get called down for different reasons all the time,” Slough said. The students can pick out the items that they need, bag them up, and put them in their locker without anyone knowing. BGHS art teacher Lloyd Triggs, who designed a logo for the Bobcat Basics program, said he liked how discreet the program was and how it gave the community an opportunity to help. “It seemed like a good fit for the community,” Triggs said. While the program will start out offering toiletries, some Bobcat school clothing and school supplies, Triggs is hoping it can he expanded in the future to help students with some classroom costs that they can’t meet. “We see a lot of students who come through the art department, that when we ask them to purchase supplies, they can’t,” he said. To begin with, Bobcat Basics organizers hope to collect the following toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, toilet paper, Band-aids, Kleenex, body wash, face wash, soap, baby powder, sanitary pads (panty liners, regular, heavy and overnight), tampons (light, regular, super, super plus), chapstick and lotion. The following school supplies will also be collected: pencils, lined paper, pens, backpacks, binders, calculators, folders and erasers. Anyone wanting to help may drop off donations in the high school office or email Slough at  

Volunteer Guardians needed to advocate for adults

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Rocky Ramos and Denise Niese are buddies. When they talked Thursday morning, Niese reminded him she was bringing some Costco rotisserie chicken to his apartment for dinner. They talked about Ramos’ favorite sports teams. And he asked again about getting a “Hawaii 5-0” tattoo in honor of his favorite TV show. Though separated by several years, the two are tight. But they are more than friends. Niese is a Volunteer Guardian for Ramos. She is one of 20 volunteers in the county who work with a program established by the Wood County Probate Court to help adults who are unable to look out for themselves. The needs of the program are outgrowing the number of volunteers, according to Jennifer Robeson, office manager for the probate court. The Volunteer Guardian program pairs up volunteers with adults declared incompetent by the court. Many of the adults are referred to the court by local nursing homes, Adult Protective Services, Behavioral Connections or Wood Lane. Some of the older adults are no longer able to look out for their best interests and don’t have family members to help. Some of the younger adults have developmental disabilities and lack family to take the role. “They are mostly strangers,” Robeson said of the volunteers matched with adults in need. They range from teachers and nurses, to attorneys and retirees. The guardians represent the person, not the estate. “They are an advocate or a friend they wouldn’t have otherwise,” she explained. The guardians might have to give permission for medical procedures or be with the person at the end of their life. “On the other hand, they might take them to a movie or dinner,” Robeson said, explaining the wide range of needs. “The volunteers provide a quality of life to these people who wouldn’t have it otherwise,” Robeson said. “This is a fantastic reminder there are still great people in the world,” which is not something that is frequently seen by those working in the court system, she added. Wood County Probate/Juvenile Judge Dave Woessner has been a strong supporter of the guardian program. “I truly believe this is an invaluable program for the county. It fills an ever increasing need in the county,” Woessner said. “They do an excellent job assisting people who can’t help themselves.” And the work benefits the volunteers as well, the judge said. “Feedback is that it’s very rewarding. It can be challenging at times, but the rewards outweigh the challenges,” Woessner said. However, the Volunteer Guardian program cannot keep up with the need, both Robeson and Woessner pointed out. “There’s a rise in the number of people needing guardians, but there aren’t people to fill the role,” Robeson said. So Robeson is putting the call out to try to get more volunteers. To qualify, a volunteer must be 21 years or older, fill out an application and go through a background check. They must complete six hours of training, then three hours of continuing education each year. The volunteers must make at least once a month face-to-face contact with the person they are matched with. “We need more volunteers. Our population is growing, we’re aging,” Robeson said. “We don’t want to turn people away.” To handle the growing need, some volunteers take…

Hospital to mark opening of new ICU with ribbon cutting, Oct. 12

Submitted by BG CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Wood County Hospital (WCH) will be hosting an introduction and ribbon cutting ceremony, open to the public, for the new Intensive Care Unit at the hospital Wednesday, Oct. 12 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Mayor Richard Edwards will be in attendance and will assist with the ribbon cutting. There will be refreshments and tours of the new patient rooms as well as a meet and greet with staff. Guests are asked to enter through the main entrance to the hospital and will be directed to the second floor ICU. The event is brought to you by Wood County Hospital and the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. The new Intensive Care Unit at Wood County Hospital will have ten new and larger rooms with technology and infrastructure enhancements that allow for advanced treatment options. Sue Brezina, MSN RN, is the Director of the ICU and has spent her entire 35-year nursing career at Wood County Hospital. “The physical improvements of the new ICU will provide a patient care area that’s more conducive to safe, efficient, family-centered care.” WCH recognizes the importance of family support and family can mean different things to different people. All loved ones will be welcome in the new ICU. The visitation policy will also allow for family and support people to be involved in the patient’s care and will promote education, understanding, and preparedness for discharge. The new rooms also offer more comfort for visitors. There will be sleeping sofas in each room for loved ones to stay bedside during the patient’s stay.

BG School District discusses student drug testing

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Schools has been one of the hold-outs in the county for student drug testing – but that may be ending. The board of education heard a presentation Tuesday evening from Kyle Prueter, of Great Lakes Biomedical, which handles drug testing in about 120 schools in Ohio. “We have a concern just like most schools,” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said, noting that Eastwood is the only other district in Wood County that doesn’t already do random drug tests. Scruci said he hopes to have a “community conversation” about a drug testing program, possibly next month. He stressed that the purpose of the testing would be to help, not punish students. “It is not a gotcha program,” he said. “We are not in the business to kick kids out of school.” Prueter said his business, Great Lakes Biomedical, has the same philosophy. The purpose is prevention. “It’s all about giving kids one more reason to say ‘no,’” when other kids pressure them to use drugs or alcohol, he said. Random drug testing of students averages 85 percent support from parents, and more than 50 percent support from students. “The kids are tired of it also,” he said. Testing is done with kids in extra-curriculars because attending school is a right, but participating in athletics or other activities is a privilege. It is a myth, Prueter said, that drug testing turns kids away from sports and other extra-curriculars. “There is no decrease in participation,” he said, noting that his business has been doing drug testing for 20 years. In the past, some schools treated positive drug testing results with “zero tolerance,” Prueter said. But most schools now realize it does no good to kick kids out of school for doing drugs. Though it will be up to the school board to set the district’s policy, Prueter said schools often give students two options if they test positive for drugs or alcohol: Plan A requires the student to get as assessment to determine the seriousness of the problem, then get counseling. They will not be kicked out of extra-curriculars, but they may be “dinged a bit,” meaning their participation may be curtailed. Once testing positive during a random check, they may also be tested more often during future tests. Plan B is the less desirable alternative. If the student will not comply with Plan A, then he or she may be kicked out of extra-curriculars. Drug testing works, Prueter said, citing the success of a past grant in Wood County that tested for marijuana in six school districts for three years. While marijuana use went up elsewhere, the use in those districts decreased, he said. “It’s not going to eradicate drug use at school,” he said, but added, “the program does work.” Prueter said most schools set up drug testing programs based on the school board’s discretion of how often the tests are conducted, who is tested, and what items are tested for. The tests are normally conducted at school, with randomly selected students giving urine specimens, then returning to class. The urine samples are sent to the same labs that test airline pilots and truck drivers, he said. If a specimen test is positive, a medical review officer will call the…

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 that time their brains have grown enough to know better than pick up the habit, Geist said. Surveys show that 27 percent of Ohio’s high school seniors have used tobacco in the last 30 days. “People think tobacco won’t hurt you for a while,” he said. But the neuro-toxins make the users predisposed to use other substances, Geist said. Kids who smoke have higher drop-out rates, have higher rates of depression and anxiety, and have a much harder time kicking the habit as adults. Third, addictive nicotine is again being marketed to youth – this time it’s the e-cigs or vaporizers, according to Geist. The e-cigs come in countless flavors, like vanilla, cherry or bubblegum, which make them seem so innocent. They are advertised using images of sex, candy, or high school settings as lures. The public should not be fooled by the tobacco industry’s claim that the primary purpose…

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 or 419-354-9010.

Opiate addictions treated like disease, not choice

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Matt Bell knew he had hit rock bottom when he sat in his mother’s garage with a gun in his mouth. “I just wanted to die,” Bell told an audience at Bowling Green State University Wednesday evening. “The only reason I didn’t pull the trigger is because I didn’t want her to find me like that.” Bell was one of the lucky ones. Every day in Ohio, eight people die from opiate related overdoses. “Those are good people, who got sucked in,” he said during the program on heroin and opiates. The opiate problem has been going on for more than a century, according to Andrea Boxill, deputy director of the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team. But it didn’t seem to matter when Asians used it as they built the railroads across the nation. Or when poor African Americans and Appalachians returned from the Vietnam War using it. But now it’s different. “It’s the first time it’s affected young, white, affluent people,” Boxill said. Ohio has the distinction of ranking second in the nation for overdose deaths. Bell was almost one of those statistics. He grew up with an idyllic childhood in a middle class family in Walbridge. “I went to a good school. I got straight As. I played sports. I went to church.” He had a loving family that ate dinner together each evening. He stayed away from drugs and alcohol and even dumped his girlfriend after he heard a rumor that she had smoked a cigarette. But then he went from his small school to St. Francis, where there was much more competition. His freshman year, his father was diagnosed with cancer and died six months later. With Bell’s hero gone, he looked for one elsewhere. It started with a cigarette, moved on to beer, then liquor, then cocaine. The day he got his driver’s license, he got a DUI in Rossford. But he was still able to function well enough to play three high school sports, get at 4.0 GPA, and get a baseball scholarship to University of Toledo. But one day in college, turning a double play, Bell tore his rotator cuff. The fairly minor surgery would make a major change in his life. “They sent me home with a prescription for 90 Percocets.” He took the first one. “I remember thinking – I want to feel like this the rest of my life.” The pills were gone in a week, between Bell and a few friends he shared them with. Bell was faced with trying to function without that feeling, or buy pills off the street. “I started buying a lot of pills,” he said. “I graduated from Percocets to Oxycontin.” He was averaging five pills at day, at $50 a pop. At that point, breaking the law meant nothing, as long as he could get the pills. Then one day, when his dealer had no pills, Bell graduated again, this time to shooting heroin. “I just wanted to feel better.” Once hooked, Bell explained that withdrawal was similar to a case of the flu – multiplied by 1,000. The pain is indescribable, he said. Bell shot heroin for nine years. “I didn’t care about eating. I didn’t care about my family. I would do anything…

Medical marijuana moratorium fails to get enough votes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council needed six votes Tuesday to enact a moratorium on medical marijuana growing and sales. It got five. So on Thursday, it will be legal for people to get zoning permits to sell medical marijuana in the city – with no state regulations on the growing, processing and retail sales. The state legislature passed the medical marijuana bill earlier this year, making Ohio the 25th state to legalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes. State officials assured that regulations would be in place by the time the bill went into effect – which is this Thursday. But as of Tuesday, there were still no standards set by the state. So several communities are enacting temporary moratoriums on medical marijuana cultivation, processing and retail dispensary facilities. “We’ve been watching the state for weeks, waiting for some rules and regulations,” City Attorney Michael Marsh said. “There still aren’t any.” So “rather than have a free-for-all,” Marsh presented legislation asking that council put a hold on medical marijuana sales in the city until the state sets regulations. But to have that in place by Thursday, when medical marijuana becomes legal, city council needed to give the resolution three readings on Tuesday evening. And that required support by six council members. Since Bob McOmber was absent from the meeting, that meant all the council members present had to support the three readings. Five supported the moratorium, but one – Daniel Gordon – did not. “I don’t feel comfortable rushing this through tonight,” Gordon said. But some others on council saw it differently. “I don’t want to rush through and put something in place with no regulations,” Scott Seeliger said of marijuana businesses. Seeliger said he was “sympathetic to people who could use it this week. But are we ready to handle this the right way?” The topic evoked a lot of emotion from council members. Sandy Rowland said she recently lost a brother who might have benefitted from medical marijuana. “I just saw my loved one die about 10 days ago, and he would have been with us longer,” she said. “It really hurt,” Rowland said. “It hurt to think that there are people who are suffering,” who won’t be able to access the drug if a moratorium is passed. She spoke of children who have up to 100 seizures a day, who can be helped with marijuana. Bruce Jeffers shared that concern. “I will feel really bad if we set some impediments to people getting medical marijuana.” They will be able to access the drugs in communities without the moratorium, but that means asking sick people to travel to get their medicine. Marsh said he understood those feelings, and said he is not opposed to medical marijuana. “I get that,” he said. “I don’t have anything against the intent.” However, he cautioned that without any regulations in place, legalized marijuana sales are risky. “All of us were caught by surprise that no rules were in the pipeline,” Marsh said of the state dropping the ball. “There are no rules. I know it’s stunning and it doesn’t make any sense. I’ve been doing this 29 years and I’ve never seen it.” There is no quality control, no safety testing. “There isn’t anything,” he said….

BG to try for medical marijuana moratorium

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Earlier this year, state legislators approved a medical marijuana bill, making Ohio the 25th state to legalize marijuana use for medicinal purposes. But when House Bill 523 goes into effect next Thursday, city officials hope to have their own medical marijuana restrictions in place. On Tuesday, Bowling Green City Council’s agenda shows the first reading of a resolution imposing a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana cultivation, processing and retail dispensary facilities in the city. When the legislation was passed in June, the state cautioned it could take up to a year to be fully implemented. “Like the state, the city of Bowing Green also needs time to work on its regulations as they relate to medical marijuana,” the resolution explanation states. The city resolution would impose a year-long moratorium on medical marijuana growth, processing and sales. The moratorium will also cover the submission, consideration and approval of all applications for special permits, use permits, building permits and other permits from the planning or zoning departments for cultivating, processing or retail dispensing of medical marijuana. House Bill 523 includes a provision allowing municipalities to adopt resolutions to prohibit or limit the number of cultivators, processors or retail dispensaries licensed under the new law. The city planning department will be directed to begin research and come up with recommendations “necessary to preserve the public health, safety and welfare through regulatory controls for medical marijuana growing, processing or sales.” The resolution is proposed to go into effect immediately as an emergency measure and to be in place prior to House Bill 523 going into effect on Sept. 8. “Note that implementing this legislation is not a long-term decision for the city,” according to the legislative package that went out to all council members for Tuesday’s meeting. “It simply provides the time that we need to fully vet this issue. As stated, there are many issues the city needs to consider related to this matter. If this is not passed, there will be no regulations on Sept. 8 and could be problematic for planning and zoning.” House Bill 523, was supported by State Sen. Randy Gardner and former State Rep. Tim Brown, both Republicans from Bowling Green. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, the bill includes the following provisions: Timeline and Regulatory Authority:  Regulatory oversight will be shared among three agencies, which will write rules following the effective date. The Department of Commerce has until March 6, 2017 to adopt rules to oversee cultivators and testing labs. The Board of Pharmacy, which will oversee the patient registry and dispensaries, and the State Medical Board of Ohio, which will oversee physicians, will both have until Sept. 6, 2017 to create and adopt rules. Qualifying Medical Conditions: Ohio includes several qualifying medical conditions in its program — including AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cancer, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy or another seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic or intractable pain, Parkinson’s disease, positive status for HIV, PTSD, sickle cell anemia, spinal cord disease or injury, Tourette’s syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and ulcerative colitis. The state medical board may add other diseases or medical conditions. Certifying Physicians: To qualify for the program, a patient must be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition and…

Study looks at water options besides Toledo

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County needs water from the Maumee River or Lake Erie, but there may be a way to cut out Toledo as the middle man, according to the Water Source Evaluation Study commissioned by the Wood County Economic Development Commission. The study, presented to the Wood County Commissioners earlier this week was intended to ensure good water, at good rates, and give the county control over its own destiny, according to Jack Jones, of Poggemeyer Design Group which prepared the study. The study accomplished its intended goals by not only identifying water options for Wood County, but also by showing Toledo that viable alternatives exist. But as with anything as complicated as supplying water to a region, “the devil’s in the details,” which have yet to be ironed out, Jones said. The study identified three options for water in the northern part of Wood County, which now gets Toledo water distributed primarily by Perrysburg or the Northwestern Water and Sewer District. Those options are: 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. Working with Bowling Green’s water plant “has the best implementation potential,” the study stated. The city water treatment plant is a state-of-the-art existing operation that already uses membrane treatment technology. A future reservoir is already being considered, and land has already been purchased for a plant expansion, the report said. All of the options would involve building a huge reservoir, possibly between 200 and 400 acres. Jones mentioned that some regions also use such large reservoirs as recreational sites. 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. “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. The urgency for the study has heightened because the local contracts for Toledo water expire relatively soon for Perrysburg and the Northwestern Water and Sewer District. According to Jones, it will take between five and seven years to build a new water plant and intake system, so the study was needed now. “It is no small effort to build a new water treatment plant,” with current requirements, Jones said. “There is no fast solution to this.” 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. Jones and Gottschalk said very preliminary conversations have been held with Bowling Green officials about the city taking on the role of being a regional water provider. Bowling Green’s…

NAMI offers classes on mental illness issues

(As submitted by National Alliance on Mental Illness of Wood County) Family-to-Family class Those who care for or about people with mental illness face daily challenges. Their loved ones’ symptoms can be hard to understand and even harder to live with. They may wonder how best to help their loved one, or to get help for him or her. That’s why NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) of Wood County offers its free Family-to- Family class. This course for relatives, caregivers, and friends of people with mental illness educates participants about mental illness’ symptoms and treatments. It educates them about local resources, helping them to navigate through the mental health system. Family-to- Family begins September 12 at 5:30 PM in the NAMI Wood County office (541 West Wooster, Bowling Green.) The twelve-week course also allows participants to share coping strategies with each other. Its trained facilitators have also cared for family members struggling with mental illness. Family-to- Family was one of the first classes NAMI Wood County offered when it formed in 1987. Graduates of the course give it high marks. One graduate stated: “My outlook on our son and his mental illness has changed. I now understand why he does what he does and have a different outlook on dealing with it. “ Another says: “The class has been life-changing. “ Family-to- Family has been designated an evidence-based practice by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The class combines presentations, personal testimonials, and exercises in an informal, relaxed setting. Family-to- Family is just one of the many free courses and support groups NAMI Wood County offers. For more information on other classes and events, please call NAMI Wood County at (419) 352-0626 or go online at Peer-to-Peer class Mental illness is common; one in four American families has a member living with it. Despite the numbers, however, people struggling with these disorders can feel isolated. Friends and even family may not understand their symptoms, and the stigma that still haunts mental illness sometimes prevents sufferers from seeking help. But people living with mental illness can provide crucial help to each other. That’s the rationale behind Peer-to- Peer, a free class offered by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) of Wood County. The class– used all over the country—is designed and facilitated by people recovering from mental illness. It teaches adults (eighteen and over) about mental illness’ symptoms and treatments, presents up-to- date research on brain biology, and gives them tools for interacting with health care providers. Participants also develop a personal relapse prevention plan and skills for making decisions and reducing stress. The next Peer-to- Peer class begins September 13 and meets for five weeks each Tuesday and Thursday from 4:00 to 6:00 PM at NAMI Wood County’s offices at 541 West Wooster Street in Bowling Green. For more information or to register call NAMI Wood County at 419-352-0626 or go online at One of over 1,100 affiliates nationwide, NAMI Wood County has provided education, advocacy, or Talk therapy Talk therapy and sometimes medication are crucial, but people living with mental illness recover best when they recognize what triggers their symptoms and know how to respond. That’s what WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) offers. NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) of Wood County…

Science – not politics – needed to save Lake Erie

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Protecting the health of Lake Erie can be an emotional issue – but the Wood County Commissioners were advised Tuesday to stick to the science. Bob Midden, a biochemist at BGSU, asked to speak to the commissioners about the health of Lake Erie. He encouraged them to ignore the politics and focus on science when deciding what to do. “Science can play a very valuable role in addressing these things,” he said. But politics often get in the way, and make decisions suspect. “What’s more important is to find a way to reduce algal blooms,” Midden said. In the last month or so, the county commissioners have heard a request from environmentalists that they join other elected officials in the region seeking an “impaired designation” for Lake Erie. And they have heard from a local farmer requesting that they let the agricultural community continue to make improvements rather than adding more regulations. Midden did not push for either approach, but instead suggested that the commissioners look at strategies that have worked elsewhere. Do voluntary measures work, he asked. “This is a complex issue,” he said. “But also a very important and very urgent issue. We’ve got a lot at stake.” At stake are the economics of both the lake and agriculture. “We don’t want to sacrifice one for the other,” he said. Also at risk is the health of humans and animals. Midden said ingestion of the algal blooms can cause liver damage, gastrointestinal problems, and death to humans and animals. “It can kill people,” he said. And long-term exposure may cause cancer. Midden warned that a lack of action will lead to disastrous results. “We’ve got to get it under control,” he said. “You can consider Lake Erie to be a cesspool eventually if we don’t do anything.” The commissioners have seen people point fingers at farmers for the problem, and farmers point fingers at overflowing sewer plants. Again, Midden suggested that the commissioners look at science for the answer. “I’m an evidence guy,” he said. Midden showed satellite photos of Lake Erie, with consistent evidence that the algal blooms start at the mouth of the Maumee River and in the Sandusky Bay. The Maumee River algal bloom is always the larger one, he said. Though some people have suspected that Detroit is adding to the problem, the photos showed very little evidence of that where the Detroit River enters the lake. “You never see a bloom beginning there,” Midden said. “I think that visual is a good indication of what the source is.” Midden gave credit to the farming community for working to reduce phosphorus and nitrogen running into waterways and eventually Lake Erie. Many farmers are using the “4R” approach of applying the right fertilizer, at the right time, in the right place, in the right amounts. Not only does keeping the chemicals on farmland help the lake, but it also saves the farmers’ money. As far as manure placement on fields, Midden said if done properly, the recycling of nutrients is a form of sustainable agriculture. But if applied too heavily or before rains, it too ends up in the lake. “As with anything else, it’s all about how it’s done.” Some farmers take the steps of soil…

Ohio scores $2 million in federal $ to address opioid epidemic

From Office of U.S. REP. MARCY KAPTUR Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-9) today (Aug. 31, 2016) announced that Ohio will receive nearly $2 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under three health-related programs to address the statewide epidemic of opioid misuse and overdoses. The awards announced today were made by two agencies within HHS, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), which focus on opioid misuse and overdoses.  Ohio was selected for three separate programs and will receive a total of $1,998,455 out of $53 million allocated nationwide to 44 States, four tribes and the District of Columbia to “improve access to treatment for opioid use disorders, reduce opioid related deaths, and strengthen drug abuse prevention efforts. In addition, funding will also support improved data collection and analysis around opioid misuse and overdose as well as better tracking of fatal and nonfatal opioid-involved overdoses.”   “This is welcome news, of course. Any additional resources are a help,” said Congresswoman Kaptur. “But this is an epidemic, and it’s getting worse, based on what I have been told by medical professionals and law enforcement officials in northern Ohio.  Everyone acknowledges this isn’t enough – everyone except the Republicans in Congress, that is.” In Ohio, deaths and overdoses from heroin and opioids have reached epidemic proportions.  According to data released last week by the Ohio Department of Health, opioid overdoses killed a record 3,050 people in Ohio in 2015, more than one-third of them from fentanyl, a super-potent opiate often mixed with heroin. When the data includes heroin and opioids, Cuyahoga County has seen 1,386 people die from overdoses between 2010 to 2015. Deaths in 2016 are expected to exceed 500 in number, nearly double the total from 2015, according to William Denihan, the chief executive officer of the Cuyahoga County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board. In Lucas County, 113 people died of heroin or other opioid overdoses in 2015, with roughly 3,000 reported non-fatal overdoses, according to law enforcement sources.   Ohio will be awarded funds under one program administered by the Substances Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, or SAMHSA, and two programs oversee by the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC.