Health

More fitness sites drain dollars from Community Center

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The competition from other fitness sites in the city may be leading to some thin pass sales at the Bowling Green Community Center. “It just boggles my mind that we don’t have more people in there. It’s such a marvelous facility,” Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said during the monthly Park and Recreation Board meeting Tuesday evening. Pass sales so far this year at the community center total $169,114. That’s a drop from last year’s pass sales at this time totaling $196,070. The number of passes sold this year is 1,134 – 215 fewer than last year at this time. Each month this year, the numbers have shown a drop. “I’ve been concerned with the figures we get every month from parks and recreation,” City Council member Sandy Rowland said. A task force has been set up to study how community center membership might be increased, how visibility can be improved, and how the appearance can be updated. On that task force are park and rec board president Jeff Crawford and board member Cale Hover. “It’s going to affect revenue if we don’t do some things,” Hover said. The mayor, who recently officiated at the ribbon cutting of the newest fitness center in town – Planet Fitness – urged the task force to look at other facilities, especially community-supported centers. Long-time member of the Bowling Green Community Center, Frank McLaughlin, suggested that the reduction in hours at the community center did not help with attendance and pass sales. Some of the new facilities in town are open 24/7, and most are less expensive. “Clearly there’s a lot of competition in town,” he…


Landlord and renter responsibilities examined in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In a college town with nearly 7,000 rental units, there’s an awful lot of headbutting between landlords and renters and homeowning neighbors. When problems occur with home maintenance, is it the landlords’ responsibility to prove that their housing meets safety standards? Or is the onus on the renters to notify authorities if their housing is substandard? For years, Bowling Green officials have debated this question. Other Ohio college towns – like Kent, Oxford and Athens – have mandatory rental inspection and licensing programs. Bowling Green has preferred to make sure there are services in place that respond to rental problems as they arise. Following are various viewpoints in Bowling Green, including those from Mayor Dick Edwards, BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey and landlord Bob Maurer. Those who respond to complaints – the health district, fire division, building inspection and planning office – also share their perspectives. People closest to the students, like BGSU legal services and some East Side residents, also weigh in. And officials from rental inspection programs in Athens, Kent and Oxford talk about their experiences. EYE-OPENING TOUR Early this fall, some BGSU students asked their professor Neocles Leontis to help them get out of a lease at a rental property they felt was unsafe. “I could not believe it was allowed to be rented,” said Rose Hess, who toured the house. Photos taken during the tour show a ceiling fan dangling from the ceiling, a filthy washing machine that wasn’t working, a dryer that was not vented, a stove that didn’t work, fuse boxes without covers, and bricks holding open windows. “These properties are unrentable, yet they are being…


Safety council reports more traffic deaths, warns about drunk driving dangers

From SAFE COMMUNITIES OF WOOD COUNTY Safe Communities of Wood County announced today (Friday, Dec. 1) that there have been 14 fatal crashes in Wood County, compared to 11 last year at this time. This is an increase that is completely preventable. Safe Communities of Wood County and law enforcement are teaming up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to remind all drivers that Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving and to always plan a sober ride home before holiday parties begin. The holidays are a special time in America, full of excitement and endless festivities. Oftentimes, these celebrations bring higher numbers of drunk drivers to the roads, endangering those drivers and others. Drunk driving can have deadly, devastating consequences. Nationally in 2016, 37,461 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes, and 28 percent  (10,497) died in crashes where the driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit of .08. In fact, from 2012-2016, 14,472 people lost their lives in motor vehicle traffic crashes during the month of December, and 28 percent (3,995) died in a crash that involved a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher. Remember these tips to avoid a OVI and to keep our roads safe:  Remember that it is never okay to drive drunk. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get home safely.  Even one drink can impair judgment and reaction time and increase the risk of getting arrested for driving drunk or causing a crash.  If planning to drink, do not plan to drive. Plan ahead; designate a sober driver before the…


Planet Fitness extends Judgement Free Zone to Bowling Green

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green has now become part of the Judgement Free Zone. On Tuesday, Planet Fitness marked the opening of its Bowling Green location, 1135 South Main St., The gym, which bills itself as a Judgment Free Zone, first opened its doors at Halloween. On hand to help mark the grand opening was Danni Allen 2013 winner of NBC’s “Biggest Loser,” which Planet Fitness sponsors. Allen, who is a national ambassador for the fitness company, said as someone who once topped 300 pounds she can relate to the people coming to the nationally franchised gym. She believes Planet Fitness is the right fit for many. “We cater to first time gym users or people looking for a fresh start,” she said.  “We do accept multiple flavors as I call them. We have more flavors than Baskin-Robbins that walk through the front door. From any range of fitness you can get your goals met at Planet Fitness. Just walking in the door you see there’s a different range of sizes, ages, demographics. The great part is we all sweat the same color.” Jonathan Habuda, the regional manager, said that from its founding 25 years ago, Planet Fitness has promoted “the judgment free zone” concept. “We want to create an atmosphere that’s comfortable for everyone and offers fitness instruction in a comfortable non-intimidating environment,” he said. Planet Fitness has about 1,400 locations nationwide. That welcoming concept extends to pricing, which is $10 a month. For another $10, said Deanna Silmi, who manages the BG facility, a member has access to further amenities in the spa such as tanning and massage chairs. The standard membership provides access to…


Pass the turkey – not food poisoning – on Thanksgiving

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Sure, Butterball has a turkey hotline for novice Thanksgiving cooks on Thursday. But it’s doubtful that their emergency operators have to tell many people not to use the hot cycle of the dishwasher to thaw out their frozen turkeys. That was one bit of advice dished out by the Wood County Health District to a local food establishment years ago. When asked last week for some tips on how Thanksgiving hosts can prepare a feast without poisoning their guests, the restaurant inspectors revisited some unforgettable turkey tragedies. In many cases, restaurants want to serve up all the holiday favorites, but just don’t have room to safely thaw out giant turkeys in their refrigerators. So they devise some creative methods. Registered sanitarian Julie Nye told about the turkeys thawing in a mop sink. That’s a no-no. Then there was the turkey in the dishwasher, with the appliance working double time to also wash all the vegetables for the trimmings. “They thought it would thaw faster,” Nye said. “There are creative ways to thaw that become a public health nightmare.” The best advice is to plan ahead, so the bird has time to thaw in the refrigerator. If you find your turkey still slightly frozen on Thanksgiving morning, don’t panic. It is safe to place a turkey under cold running water to help it thaw, registered sanitarian Jillian Bodey said. Following are more safety tips from the health district sanitarians, so your guests don’t get sick from the feast. Top on the list – wash your hands … often. “The number one thing we can remind people to do is handwashing,” Nye said. That…


Old prescriptions adding to opiate crisis – 5 sites accepting drop-offs year-round

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Across the U.S., many household medicine cabinets have old pill bottles tucked away … just in case they are needed later. That tendency to save prescriptions is adding to the opiate crisis in the nation, according to local law enforcement, public health and education leaders. An estimated 75 percent of opiate addictions start with prescription drugs. “One piece of our heroin problem is in our medicine cabinets,” Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said Wednesday during a press conference at his office. Once people no longer need their prescribed medications, many have the habit of hanging onto them. “I’m just going to hold onto this till I need it someday.” But too often, those drugs are found and used by someone other than the original patient. So local officials in Wood County have established safe drug disposal boxes in five locations that are available year-round and round-the-clock to people wanting to dispose of old drugs. National Drug Take Back Day is Oct. 28, but the Wood County Educational Service Center, Wood County Sheriff’s Office, Wood County Health District, and some law enforcement chiefs throughout the county want to offer disposal sites 365 days a year. “We cannot make significant gains in combating the drug epidemic by simply taking back our unneeded prescriptions one or two times a year,” Kyle Clark, director of prevention education at the Wood County Educational Service Center, said. “Our community needs to take action now.” The Drug Enforcement Administration approved permanent drug take-back boxes in Wood County are located at: Bowling Green Police Division, 175 W. Wooster St. Perrysburg Police Department, 300 Walnut St. Perrysburg Township Police Department, 26611…


Helping local vets who came home with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As many as 25 percent of the U.S. veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan returned home with traumatic brain injuries. Thirty percent came back with post traumatic stress disorder. In Wood County, it’s estimated that 60 veterans are now living with the effects of TBI or PTSD. Many of the traumatic brain injuries were caused by IEDs (improvised explosive devices) frequently used in recent wars. So when Mary Hanna, executive director of the Wood County Veterans Assistance Center, got a call offering her office a $10,000 grant to help treat those problems, she jumped at the chance. “It was very humbling. We will be the first county office to receive funds to do this,” Hanna said. The need is great, she said. “TBI and PTSD dramatically impacts their ability to get through daily functions,” at school, on the job, and with their families. Hanna contacted the Speech and Hearing Clinic at Bowling Green State University, and a partnership was formed to use the grant to help local veterans. “I’m getting ready to notify each veteran about these services,” which will be offered at no cost, Hanna said of the 12,895 veterans living in Wood County. The grant came from Dr. Chrisanne Gordon, founder of the Resurrecting Lives Foundation, who has made it her mission to get better care for veterans returning home with the often invisible injuries of TBI and PTSD. In many cases, veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan went right from school to war, Gordon said. They never had to navigate in society before – and now some are faced with doing that with a TBI or PTSD….


Project Connect serves with no strings attached

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   They started lining up in the darkness at 6:45 a.m. – waiting for Project Connect to open Wednesday at 9 a.m. “Before the doors opened we had a line around the building,” said Erin Hachtel, co-chair of the fifth annual Project Connect coordinated by local social services and held at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Bowling Green. The one-day event is a one-stop shop for goods and services for people in the Bowling Green area. “It’s to bring together people who have needs with people who can provide for those needs,” Hachtel said. The needs were varied. People came for a warm meal and bags of food to take home, for dental exams and vision checkups, for flu shots and birth certificates, and for winter coats for entire families. They went home with all that and more at no cost to them. As always, those seeking help were not called patients, consumers or clients. They were called “guests.” “Project Connect is a hospitality event where everyone is welcome,” Hachtel said. Help is offered with no strings attached. “We don’t ask at the door for them to prove they are in need.” Each guest was assigned to a volunteer, who helped them navigate through the sea of services offered. Barbara Ramsay, of Bowling Green, had come to the program before – but this year she was using a wheelchair. Her goal was to get food, a winter coat for her “grandbaby,” some leads on rental housing that is handicapped accessible, and a copy of her birth certificate. The Wood County Health District printed off the certificates for 110 people, with a donor paying…


Writer reaches beyond trauma of rape, 9/11 to confront PTSD

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Julia Torres Barden grew up as the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center rose above the New York skyline. “I spent my whole childhood watching them get bigger and bigger,” she said in a recent interview. That childhood started in the projects in the South Bronx, amidst her fellow Puerto Ricans, and then later in Upper Manhattan. On the day of the 9/11 attacks she was back in Manhattan on business. She was watching the aftermath of the first plane striking on a large screen in Times Square with a group of strangers. At that moment they assumed it was an accident, then the second plane struck. “It was devastating … to see them collapse like that. Those towers were raise in glory throughout my childhood,” she said. Now there was a sense of the city being under attack. Torres Barden, now of Perrysburg, recalls in striking detail the next couple days, being trapped in her hotel room, watching far too much TV coverage. She remembers the constant bomb threats to the Empire State Building, Grand Central Station, the Lincoln Tunnel, which was her exit from the city, At the time, she said, she was just concerned with making it through the day, and getting back to her husband and three sons in Virginia. It would be a few years later when she would realize the toll the attack took on her, when suddenly found herself struggling to breathe. What she and doctors thought was an allergic reaction to nuts, turned out to be the emergence of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Torres Barden has written a book “NewYoricanGirl … Surviving My Spanglish Life,” that…


Cuts to services for people losing vision are short-sighted

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   State cuts in services for older adults with vision problems are being called short-sighted by a local agency who serves people in the region with vision impairments. Adults 55 and older, with mild or moderate vision problems, will no longer be eligible for vision rehabilitation services through Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Independent Living Older Blind program. That means the services that help adults adapt as their sight fails will no longer be funded. The Sight Center in Toledo currently helps area residents learn to live independently as their eyesight worsens. “There’s a transition, and the earlier you can make that transition, the better,” said Tim Tegge, of the Sight Center. Tegge, of Bowling Green, has lived his entire life with vision problems. People who experience loss of vision later in life are often terrified about the changes they face. “I see people every day who come in who have the gut punch of losing their sight,” Tegge said. The three Sight Centers across the state have been a major resource for those people, he added. But less than a month ago, the state OOD “blindsided” the Sight Centers by announcing that older adults with mild and moderate vision problems would no longer qualify for services. That decision makes no sense, Tegge said, since addressing vision loss early, while people still have some vision, is the best method. “It’s a missed opportunity,” he said. Several Wood County residents will be affected by the change. The Sight Center in Toledo historically serves around 40 to 50 Wood County residents per year with clinical services. As many as 75 percent of those people would…


BG woman puts needles to work knitting knockers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Peg Cranny has knitted since a child, making afghans, sweaters, caps. But now her focus has shifted to making knockers – that’s right, knitted knockers. Cranny, of Bowling Green, works with the national Knitted Knockers program that provides prostheses for women who have had mastectomies. She has been donating the knockers to the Maurer Family Cancer Care Center at Wood County Hospital, where they are given to cancer survivors at no cost. Cranny has not had cancer, but she has friends who have had mastectomies. “I feel sympathy for the women who have had breast cancer. It must be devastating to lose a breast,” she said. “If I can help in any small way to make them feel better about themselves, then I’m happy.” One out of eight women will experience breast cancer in their lifetime. There are 50,000 mastectomies done a year in the U.S., and 90 percent of those women will wear breast prostheses at least for a while. Many of the women find the traditional breast prostheses to be hot, heavy and expensive, Cranny said. That’s where her knitting skills come in. “They have thousands of women who do this across the U.S.,” she said of the national program. Cranny learned to knit as a Brownie, “and I’ve knitted ever since,” she said. “I like to knit and I like to knit fast projects,” Cranny said. She makes knocker sizes from A to DDDD. “I can whip that out in an hour or two,” she said of the smaller A sizes. The national Knitted Knockers program has strict standards on the type of soft, cotton yarn that must be used. “They…


Opioid addiction is the talk of the town

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News State Senator Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) was understating matters when he said last Wednesday that the opioid epidemic has “a lot of people talking.” He said this just as a “BG Talks: Heroin and Opioids in Bowling Green and Wood County” was just getting underway at the Wood County District Public library. The moderator for the panel discussion Kristin Wetzel, began the session painting a bleak picture of the crisis nationwide, 948,000 overdoses in 2016, and 13,219 fatalities. These numbers are enough to get anyone talking. On Thursday afternoon, State Rep. Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) convened a roundtable of state politicians, law enforcement officials, and treatment experts to discuss the crisis. This Wednesday, Sept. 20, the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce will host a seminar on the epidemic. See details here. Both Gardner and Sprague noted that the legislature has done more than talk about the issue. In a budget year when the legislature faced tight finances, it budgeted an increase of $178 million more to combat the epidemic. Still, Gardner said, frustrations over the progress remain. Eight years ago, Belinda Brooks, of Solace of Northwest Ohio, got “a crash course” in the issue. Her then 18-year-old daughter became hooked on opioids after a serious ATV accident. She was prescribed Percocet and Vicodin. Having some self-esteem problems, the daughter suddenly realized “she was the life of the party when she took them.” That led to heroin. And at 19 she got pregnant, and even that wasn’t enough to get her to kick the habit. Charlie Hughes, of the Northwest Community Corrections Center, said of addicts “their brain has convinced them they need (the opioid) to…


‘Real Men Wear Pink’ … for an entire month

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some men are uneasy about wearing pink. Not Ben Batey. And that’s a good thing, considering Batey will be wearing pink every day during the month of October. Batey, Wood County’s health commissioner, has signed up for the American Cancer Society fundraiser called “Real Men Wear Pink.” Ten men from Northwest Ohio were asked to take the pink challenge to raise funds for breast cancer research. Batey is the only one in Wood County. In order to wear pink every day for the month, Batey is having to augment his wardrobe. “My wife went out and bought me a bunch of pink shirts,” he said. “I told her not to go too crazy, it’s just for one month.” Some days it may be a pink tie, or pink socks. So far he hasn’t purchased any pink pants or jackets. Batey was approached to take the “Real Men Wear Pink” challenge by Kami Wildman, outreach coordinator at the county health district. He agreed – and then he saw the rules. “I thought she just meant occasionally,” wearing pink – not every day. “But by then I was committed,” he said. Batey actually doesn’t mind wearing pink. “That’s never been an issue for me,” he said. Batey has decided to take the pink challenge a step further – well, many steps further. He has promised to walk one mile in Wood County for every $100 that people contribute to the cause. “If I’m going to be asking people to contribute and support this cause, I want to do something as well,” he said. The goal for each of the 10 “Real Men Wear Pink”…


Library to host panel on drug crisis, Sept. 13

On Wednesday, September 13 at 7 pm the Wood County District Public Library will host a panel discussion on heroin and opioid use and addiction and their impact on our community. Panelists include Sen. Randy Gardner; BGPD Chief Tony Hetrick; Charlie Hughes of Northwest Community Corrections Center; Solace of NW Ohio’s Belinda Brooks; and Aimee Coe of the Zepf Center. Learn what is being done locally to fight this epidemic, and what you as a community member can do to help. For more information, contact the library at 419-352-5050.


Pro-choice campus group to protest HerChoice march

FORCE at BGSU will hold a protest of HerChoice’s annual “Life Changes Everything” fundraising walk Saturday, Sept. 9, at 8:30 a.m. 531 Ridge St., Bowling Green. The protest will start on the sidewalk across from HerChoice and follow alongside them as they walk for two miles. (Their registration opens at 8:30 a.m. and the walk starts at 9.) Donations for the Aggie Fund,  a local fund that s  financially assists those who are seeking an abortion but are unable to raise the full amount. According to the protest organizers: “HerChoice—a pregnancy center in Bowling Green—advertises free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds to students, but they do not provide unbiased care. They are a Christian organization with the goal of ending abortion, which they claim has ‘devastating effects’ on women.”