Free New Year’s rides offered in Bowling Green

From SAFE COMMUNITIES OF WOOD COUNTY Wood County Safe Communities will again be providing free rides in Bowling Green on New Year’s Eve from 11 p.m. on Dec. 31 until the last person is home safe on New Year’s Day. In Wood County, 21 percent of fatal crashes involve alcohol compared to 26 percent statewide.  Four percent of all crashes in Wood County as well as statewide involve alcohol. We need to do whatever we can to make sure that these numbers do not increase over the New Year’s holiday. If you are in Bowling Green, call 419-823-7765 for a ride home.  We will provide rides within the city limits of Bowling Green and the surrounding 10-mile area.   Thayer Chevrolet, Wood County Committee on Aging, Wood County Hospital and Wood County Emergency Management have provided continued assistance.  This program would not be possible without the coalition members, local businesses, and volunteers who give of their time to make sure this program is a success.

Medical marijuana dispensary in BG expected to open in March

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Many Ohioans are still waiting to be able to buy medical marijuana – though 2018 was supposed to be the year when state residents with certain medical needs got full access to the drug. It appears unlikely that the state will meet that timeline. However, the delays will pay off in the long run, according to the man opening up the medical marijuana dispensary in Bowling Green. Mark Jacobs, who will operate the dispensary called Glass City Alternatives on North Main Street, said the state is doing a good job trying to iron out all the kinks in the new medical marijuana program. That attention to detail should mean smoother operations once the dispensaries are up and running, Jacobs said last week. “The more regulations now, the more we won’t have to go back later for changes,” he said. “We are learning it all together,” Jacobs said. “The time up front will be well spent.” Some dispensaries in Ohio are planning to be in operation in January. Jacobs is planning for mid-March for the Bowling Green site. The location, formerly the Glass City Credit Union Building at 1155 N. Main St., still needs about eight to 10 weeks of construction work, according to Jacobs. Wood County Chief Building Inspector Mike Rudey said the plans for the medical marijuana dispensary in Bowling Green include controlled entries into the building and a fenced-in area in the back where deliveries will be made. The marijuana product will be stored in the old bank safe in the building, Rudey said. The medical marijuana provision in Ohio was signed into law by Gov. John Kasich in 2016. The effort missed its Sept. 8 deadline as growers, processors, testers and dispensary operators got bogged down in regulations. The timetable also lagged for the program’s patient and caregiver registry, which went live earlier this month. According to the Associated Press, doctors have submitted nearly 4,500 recommendations for the medical marijuana patient and caregiver registry. There is an online portal where certified doctors can recommend patients and caregivers. One of the final pieces of getting marijuana to patients — the approval of a testing facility — came late last week. The state is still working with cultivators and processors, Jacobs said. “That would be problematic,” if the dispensaries opened with no product, he said. There are no legal cultivators registered in…

Gardner talks funding, water, guns and abortion at town hall

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Since the lame duck session of state government usually brings some hasty legislative decisions, State Senator Randy Gardner spent Saturday morning conferring with his constituents. Always a history teacher at heart, Gardner tried to put the present in perspective by explaining past decisions. For two hours, he answered questions at his town hall meeting, then spent another hour talking with citizens individually. Though they didn’t always like his answers, the citizens at Saturday’s town hall meeting appreciated the willingness of the senator to hold a public gathering. “The next three weeks will be a really challenging time with big decisions,” said Gardner, a Republican from Bowling Green who has rotated between the state representative and senate seats since 1984. Adding to the unpredictability of the lame duck session will be the number of amendments tacked onto bills at the last moment. “Amendments will change the outcome of bills,” Gardner said. And it’s not unusual for amendments to present competing interests in the same bill, he added. Gardner has two of his own issues pending in the lame duck session. The Sierah Joughin bill creates a statewide database for law enforcement listing convicted violent offenders living in their jurisdictions. The bill is in response to the death of a 20-year-old woman from Fulton County, who was killed by a convicted violent felon. “I’m pretty optimistic,” this will pass, Gardner said. This bill has its critics, he said. Some feel the database could impede the rehabilitation of convicts. To better understand that criticism, Gardner said he met with Eddie Slade, who spent 31 years in prison for murder and burglary. “I have extra respect now for people who struggle to turn the lives around,” he said. But Sierah’s Law is in the best interest of communities, he said. Gardner’s other pending bill would “finally” see movement to get funding for the preservation of a healthy Lake Erie and help the agricultural community at the same time. Following are some of the other topics Gardner was asked about during the town hall. Hot button issues – guns, abortion and petitioning Marilyn Bowlus, of Pemberville, asked Gardner about pending house bills on “Stand Your Ground” gun laws and abortion rights. “It seems like Ohio is going backward,” Bowlus said. States that make it easier for people to justify…

County dental center to fill gap in local medical services

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Many Wood County families cannot afford dental insurance, or cannot find dental offices willing to accept Medicaid patients. So for many, dental care is put off until the pain is unbearable. But soon, local residents will have a place to turn to for help at the new dental center at the Wood County Community Health Center. The center, with its sliding fee scale, will not turn away anyone due to lack of insurance or funds. “Nobody will have to go without dental services because of an inability to pay,” said Alex Aspacher, community outreach coordinator at the health department. “There’s a large need for those in the Medicaid community.” The dental center will target women, children and the uninsured, but anyone will be accepted. “As soon as you’re ready for your first checkup, till you don’t have a need for us anymore,” said Kami Wildman, outreach and enrollment specialist at the Wood County Health Department. The dental clinic has five exam chairs, a lab, and will offer services such as X-rays, minor surgeries and preventative care. The addition of the dental services makes the community health center a comprehensive “patient-centered medical home,” Wildman said. The center provides a primary care physician, dental, pharmacy and behavioral health all in one building, Aspacher said. The dental facility provides a patient service that has been identified as an important missing piece for decades. “Dental has been a consistent need in the county going back some time,” Wildman said. “It’s easy to put it off until you have pain.” And like many other health issues, poor dental care can lead to or worsen other health problems. More and more correlations are being identified between poor dental health and diabetes and heart issues. “It’s possible if we help people with oral health, that other benefits will follow,” Aspacher said. By reaching children at a younger age, local public health officials hope to help promote healthy dental habits early on. The opening date for the facility is still unknown. The dental center has hired its program coordinator and an hygienist. Still to be hired is a dentist, two assistants and two support staff. An open house at the dental center is planned for Dec. 6, from 4 to 7 p.m. “We’re really thinking once people get in here to see it, they will be impressed,” Aspacher said. Community…

Heart Association speaker serves up food for thought about healthy holiday eating

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News First the good news on the holiday eating front — scientific studies find people are not likely to gain 10 pounds over the holidays. A few people might, though. And some may very well might feel like they did. Those were some of the takeaways from “Finding a Heart-Heathy Balance for the Holidays,” a presentation at he Wood County Library by Jessica Hover, of the American Heart Association. “People do not gain significant weight over the holidays,” Hover said, though they may pick up three or four pounds, and feel bloated. She added their moods worsen and the incidence of heart and other diseases increases. “So it is time to rethink some of our habits.” The holiday rush and stress lead to heightened emotions. “How can we take care of ourselves?” Hover said it’s not just about the heart, but about the brain, which she likened the brain to an engine that must be fueled.  “We have to fuel it with high quality foods that have vitamins and minerals that our neurons need. That protects us from all the stress. The healthy nutrition protects our brains.” Hover added: “Heart disease is the number one killer of men, women and children.”  One person every 80 seconds dies of heart disease, she noted. “But  80 percent of heart disease can be prevented with lifestyle changes, exercise and diet. We need to start addressing health. As Americans were not doing a great job of that.” On the diet front that means more fruits and vegetables, four to five servings of each daily. A serving can be a cup of raw greens, a medium size fruit or vegetable, or a half-cup of cut up raw or cooked. A good measure is that a dinner plate should half full of veggies or a half cup of chopped vegetable or fruit, with the rest protein and starches. Incorporating more whole grains, nuts and legumes, and fish is also recommended. Using healthier preparation— roasting, sautéing, stir-frying, blanching, and steaming — helps as well as using a healthy oil such as olive oil, or Hover’s favorite, avocado oil. But don’t overcook the vegetables. Vegetables can be slipped into soups, stews and omelets to help increase intake. She advised “experimenting with things like different spices, or vanilla or peppermint extract, that add flavor without affecting health.” The holidays pose a particular calling for…

BG City Council votes 6-1 to make parks smoke-free

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s city parks will be smoke-free starting in 2019. The decision to do so was one vote shy of unanimous by City Council. Council member Bruce Jeffers was the sole vote opposing the smoke-free ordinance. While Jeffers supports the existing ban against smoking inside park buildings, he believes the expansion of the ban to all park property is going too far. It’s “reasonable” for people to be able to smoke in parking lots at the parks, Jeffers said. “If a person chooses to smoke there, in my view they are not really bothering anybody,” he said. But council member Sandy Rowland said the smoking ban is appropriate for all park property. “There are children outside playing. Those children are inhaling the smoke,” Rowland said. Rowland, who serves as city council’s representative to the parks and recreation board, said the decision to expand the smoking ban was the right one. “I laud the park board for making this decision of what’s best,” she said. “We know we’re doing what’s right.” After all, Rowland said, the parks department supports healthy lifestyles. “The parks promote health. It’s a brave move,” she said. Council member John Zanfardino asked if the vote for the smoking ban by the park board was unanimous. Rowland confirmed it was unanimous. Council member Mark Hollenbaugh asked if smoking in a car on park property would be a finable offense. City Attorney Mike Marsh replied that he did not believe it would be. When it came up for the vote, Jeffers was the only council member to vote against the ordinance. The smoking ban will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2019. Kristin Otley, parks and recreation director, said most park visitors obey with the current ordinance. “Most people have been accommodating,” she said. Otley said the parks department will post signs explaining that smoking will not be allowed anywhere on park property. After the council meeting, Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick said his officers will start out by just issuing warnings during a “grace period” while people become acquainted with the change. After a certain period, citations will be issued. “You don’t want to be heavy-handed, but you want to send a message,” Hetrick said. The city has long banned smoking in park buildings. Then in 2007, the policy was taken a step further. “At that point the…

Class offers chance to dance through Parkinson’s disease

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The dancers in Tammy Starr’s class at The Beat Dance Company studio are getting a step up on their struggles with Parkinson’s Disease and other related neurological diseases. Moving and exercising are widely viewed as beneficial in forestalling the onset of symptoms.  So this is serious business. It’s also fun. Starr teaches the weekly one-hour classes on Sunday. This class, offered through the Wood County Committee on Aging, runs through Dec. 9, and another starts in January. It will meet the second and fourth Sundays of the month at the Beat studio, which provides the space for free. Spouses are welcomed to participate.  Contact the Wood County Committee on Aging for details. Anyone is welcomed to stop by to get an introduction in what the classes offers. Starr is a trained dancer who has performed and taught. She’s also a physical therapist, a profession she took up after years as a dancer and choreographer. “These days I really enjoy working with that older adult population,” she said. She also works through the committee on aging with people with dementia. Starr’s philosophy was expressed by a Salt Lake City troupe she danced with:  “Dance is for everybody.” As a modern dancer, she said: “I look at every movement and see dance. … Being a dancer I have something to offer especially in group setting. I’m used to teaching a group.” When she was studying physical therapy at the University of Toledo she learned about the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment, LSVT, which was originally designed as speech therapy, before being applied to movement. When Starr read about this approach, she realized: “This sounds like dance to me.” People with Parkinson’s make small, rigid movements, and have balance issues. “In dance we work on moving big and fluidly. We certainly work on balance.” Describing the class, she said: “It’s an opportunity to move in an environment where they feel supported and safe with people who are dealing with the same things. It’s a positive experience with movement because they’re fighting that all day.” It’s fun, said Pat Smith, of Wayne, one of the participants. She also participates in the Delay the Disease sessions at the senior center.  That’s been helpful, but the Dancing with Parkinson’s is “so different. It’s much more fun.” Smith has taken dance lessons in the past and appreciates Starr’s approach. “She’s a wonderful…

BGSU on track to take over Mercy College by fall

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University’s acquisition of Mercy College is on pace to be completed by fall. Interim Provost John Fischer told Faculty Senate Tuesday that BGSU officials have been meeting with the nursing and health  college’s officials and students. On Monday, he said, Mercy faculty and staff received letters from BGSU assuring them that they will remain employed when BGSU takes over operation of the college. Pending state approval that will occur next fall. Completing the integration of the two institutions is expected to take up to three years. BGSU soon will file its application to transfer Mercy’s operations to the Higher Learning Commission. That application process will involved site visits to both Mercy and BGSU. In June the HLC will vote on whether to approve the transfer, If it approves, the transfer will happen within 30 days. Mercy will then become part of BGSU. But then it will take years to integrate its operations — financial aid, billing, course registration, email, and more — with the university. Fischer said that Mercy students are “very passionate” about being part of that college. Many are post-traditional students. Mercy students expressed concerns about what their diplomas will say when they graduate. BGSU officials said one of the attractions of the deal is Mercy’s success working with non-traditional students, something that’s essential for the university’s future health given the decline in the number of high school graduates. Fischer said that one change will be that senators from Mercy College will be seated in Faculty Senate next fall. How that happens will be driven by the Mercy faculty.  Fischer said that given enrollment is up at Mercy College, the transfer of operations should benefit BGSU financially. The transfer of operations was first announced in September. Mercy College has 1,300 students in Toledo and another 200 in an associate’s degree program in Youngstown.  BGSU is ending its nursing education consortium with the University of Toledo. That arrangement was ended, officials said, so each institution could explore other options that will result in the education of more nurses. The nation, they say, is facing a shortage of nurses and other health professionals. Students enrolled in that consortium will not have their studies interrupted.

BG Chamber supports ADAMHS levy

It is the decision of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors to support The Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Replacement Levy in the upcoming November election. We considered the services offered by ADAMHS and how vital they are to our business community.  We also gave consideration to your use of public funds and conceded that use is reliable and respectable. It is our belief that this replacement  levy will allow ADAMHS to continue to help fight real-life problems faced by our entire community and the affects drug addiction and mental health issues have on the employment pool of our business affiliates.   Mary F. Hinkelman, Executive Director Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce  

Trustees approve study of transfer Mercy College to BGSU

The Bowling Green State University trustees approved a motion to explore the possibility of merging with Mercy College. The university and Mercy Health announced their intent to transfer the operations of Mercy College to BGSU earlier this month. This would also allow the university to explore additional collaborations with Mercy Health, BGSU President Rodney Rogers said. The transfer is expected to take three to four years to realize. The resolution gives Rogers and other top university officials the authority to make the decisions to realize the transfer. “I think this is a wonderful day for the university,”  said Daniel Keller, chair of the trustees. Acknowledging the work ahead for university personnel, he added: “The board will be fully supporting of you in your efforts.”

Clearing the air – BG to ban all smoking in city parks

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board put principle (and clean air) above profits Tuesday evening as members voted unanimously to ban smoking in city parks. The park board asked that City Council adopt an ordinance prohibiting smoking in the parks. The only concern expressed by the board was the possible loss of rental revenue from people using park facilities. But the board agreed that the loss of a couple rental fees was worth the effort to provide clean air to park patrons. “If we’re a trend setter in that area, I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” said Kristin Otley, director of the city’s parks and recreation department. The city has long banned smoking in park buildings. Then in 2007, the policy was taken a step further. “At that point the staff was very concerned about smoking near our programs and around our younger users,” Otley said. In order to keep smoking away from ballparks, playgrounds, and shelter houses, the park board banned smoking in all areas except parking lots. In 2015, vaping was included in the smoking restrictions. On Tuesday, the board voted to ban smoking anywhere in the parks, starting in 2019. “We can make sure people using our facilities are in a healthy environment,” Otley said. Park board president Jeff Crawford agreed. “It fits with what we stand for as parks and recreation,” Crawford said. “Maybe we’ll gain a few rentals.” Natural resources coordinator Chris Gajewicz said he doesn’t envision the smoking ban hurting park usage. He noted the smoking ban at BGSU has not cut into the university’s enrollment. “It doesn’t seem to be hurting them,” he said. Park staff has noticed an uptick in cigarette butts being tossed in the parks.The new smoking rule would be enforced by park staff – as are the current restrictions. “I have no problem walking up to someone and saying, ‘Please smoke in the parking lot,’” Gajewicz said of the current rules. If staff ran into problems, they would call city police to assist. Passage of a city ordinance would strengthen the enforcement, Otley said. Mayor Dick Edwards commended the board for taking steps to completely ban smoking in city parks. “Given what we’re all about with the parks, it makes really good sense from my perspective,” Edwards said.

BG Rides wants to kick efforts into a higher gear

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Biking has many benefits. The rider gets exercise, and maybe sheds some pounds. Bike riding can help reduce the use of cars, and the resulting emissions. And for some folks it’s how they get where they need to go. For those people even the cost of an inexpensive bike can be a barrier. For a couple years, an informal group of bike enthusiasts has been gathering unwanted bicycles, rehabilitating them, and then giving or selling them for a minimal price. Now Kelly Wicks, one of the organizers of BG Rides, wants to step up the effort. They are meeting Wednesday, Sept. 19, at 6 p.m., in Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St. Anyone interested can contact Wicks at: BG Rides, Wicks said, started as an offshoot of the Community Rides in summer, 2016. He participated in the rides and from that sprouted the idea to connect unwanted bikes with bike riders. “We’re looking for help to see if there are other people  in the community interested in helping to take the group from its more informal nature to something more structured,” Wicks said. “In talking to  people in the community from various non-profits and international students, there’s a great need for bikes. For some people it’s an important form of transportation.” In its three summers of existence, BG Rides has distributed about 200 bikes, he said. The group would like more and wants to enlist more help to pursue that mission. “We fix those bikes up and either give them away or sell them for the cost of that it took to get them road ready.” Though it has been a low-key effort, Wicks said that Grounds for Thought gets multiple calls a month from people inquiring about finding a bike. “We need bikes,” he said. “We’re asking for bike donations.” Maybe landlords have abandoned bikes that can be refurbished rather than put out on the scrap heap. Even bicycles that can’t be repaired can be used for spare parts. Bicycling, Wicks said, is the second most common form of transportation after walking. “How many students have we seen come over from China or Europe and get here and not have any avenue to get around?” He added: “When you ride your bike a little bit, you become of aware of benefits.” Maybe it’s just “getting out and seeing your neighborhood,” he…

BGSU eyes Mercy College partnership as way to expand its nursing program

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University announced Wednesday an agreement with Mercy Health that will dramatically increase the number of nursing students it educates. BGSU and Mercy Health have signed a letter of intent to transfer operations of Mercy College of Ohio to the university. This marks just the first step of the transition that could take up to four years to finalize. First the trustees of BGSU, Mercy Health, and Mercy College need to approve the plan, then it will need to run a gauntlet of state, federal, professional and accrediting boards. That’s expected to take about a year. Then finalizing the arrangement will take  another two to three years. While many details are yet to be worked out, the goal is for BGSU to increase to 2,000 the number of nursing students. It now has about 350 who receive their clinical training through partnership with the University of Toledo. Earlier that summer the two institutions announced that partnership will end in 2022. Mercy College now has 1,300 students in Toledo and another 200 in an associate’s degree program in Youngstown. None of the students currently in either the BGSU or Mercy programs will not be affected by the change.  “This is an exciting day,” BGSU President Rodney Rogers said at a press conference announcing the partnership. “Clearly there is a tremendous need to insure we’re growing the number of nursing graduates.”  Bob Baxter, president and CEO of Mercy Health-Toledo Region said: “The demand for nurses and other allied health professionals far exceeds the supply in Ohio and the nation.”  By 2024 the country will need a million more nurses. That demand is driven by the aging of baby boomers, retirements in the health care field, and increasing demand by consumers for health care close to home. He said that the partnership builds on BGSU’s depth of academic programs and Mercy College’s 100 years of educating nurses.  The collaboration with Mercy Health will also offer BGSU faculty and students opportunities for research. Because of Mercy’s statewide network, clinical opportunities will be available around the state closer to here many BGSU students live. In entering into this plan, Baxter said, Mercy Health is responding to changing market conditions and the reduction in reimbursement for hospital-based nursing education programs. The transfer will allow Mercy Health to be able to focus on “its core business.” The need to…

More people have health coverage – fewer exercising & eating right

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   More Wood County residents have health insurance – but fewer are getting enough exercise and eating right to take care of their bodies. A Community Health Assessment is conducted for the Wood County Health Department every three years to gauge how adults, youth and children are doing with their physical and mental health. The survey looks at such areas as health care access, health behaviors, chronic diseases, social conditions, youth and child health. Alex Aspacher, community outreach coordinator for the Wood County Health Department, reported on the results of the survey during a recent meeting of the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. The survey found that more Wood Countians have health care coverage now. In 2012, approximately 15 percent of local residents had no health insurance. That number is now down to 6 percent. “People don’t just have insurance, they are using it more,” Aspacher said. A total of 61 percent of Wood County adults had routine health checkups in the last year, compared to 49 percent in 2015. However, local adults still need to take better care of themselves – by exercising more and eating less unhealthy food. The number of adults who are overweight or obese in the county shot up to 72 percent, compared to 66 percent in 2015. The statewide rate is 67 percent and the national rate is 65 percent. On the survey, adults admitted to daily habits of 2.4 hours of watching TV, 1.5 hours on their cell phones, 1.4 hours on their computers outside of work, and 0.4 hours playing video games. A quarter of those surveyed said they had no moderate exercise in the past week. The health department recognized this as a problem. “We spent this summer encouraging people to use free community options,” Aspacher said. On the survey, many adults identified lack of time and the cost of gym memberships as impediments to getting exercise. So the health department has been working to identify free exercise opportunities. The Centers for Disease Control recommends 2.5 hours a week of exercise for adults, and one hour each day for kids. The survey showed that many local youth and children are getting recommended amounts of exercise. The youth and child obesity rate in the county has dropped in the last three years. “Our kids are at least getting exercise – even if we’re not,” Aspacher said….