law enforcement

After losing stepson to overdose, Dobson offers hope to others

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The horror of the opiate epidemic is not some distant tragedy for Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson. “Last year, 14 months ago, I lost my stepson to this crap – opiates,” he said Tuesday to the Wood County Commissioners. His stepson, who was 37 when he died of an overdose in Colorado last year, had struggled with opiates, recovered, then relapsed. As part of treatment, he went through an Ohio Means Jobs program in Toledo, which gave him an opportunity to go to University of Toledo, where he earned certification. The program gave him gas cards, a lap top computer and helped with car repairs. “They were taking away every excuse to fail,” Dobson said. But eventually, his stepson – who moved to Denver for a job – overdosed and died. “He couldn’t let the ‘dragon’ go,” Dobson said. Though his stepson was ultimately not helped with intense programming, Dobson is hoping that others will be. “There’s always hope. My faith doesn’t allow for me to not have hope,” he said. According to the Wood County Coroner’s Office, 16 people died of opiate overdoses in the county last year. In response to a survey of local first responders, 16 departments said they responded to 83 opiate overdoses last year, and administered the life-saving drug Naloxone 60 times. And in the last 18 months, the county prosecutor’s office has seen about 130 drug cases. Dobson presented this hopes to the county commissioners Tuesday in the form of a four-tiered plan for dealing with the opiate epidemic in Wood County. The plan calls…

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Solidarity committee supports undocumented immigrants

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Between the words “illegal” and “undocumented” sits a gulf of misunderstanding. Reading stories on the concern and fear in the immigrant community, a number of people write: “They’re illegal.” For them that settles the matter. For those who work with and advocate for immigrants who lack the proper paperwork to continue living in a place that has become their home, that response neglects their history and day-to-day fears. Those fears are real, according to Beatriz Maya of La Conexion de Wood County. When La Conexion hosted a session with legal experts from Advocates for Basic Legal Equality in Toledo, some undocumented immigrants were unwilling to show up for fear of being identified. The meeting, though, was well attended by those who want to stand in provide the voice for their undocumented neighbors and want to work on their behalf. That Immigrant Solidarity Committee will hold an ice cream social including a silent auction Sunday, April 30 at 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 126 S. Church St., in Bowling Green. The event will spread awareness, discuss future plans, and raise money to help with expenses undocumented residents may have because of sudden deportations. “They are really afraid,” Maya said. “If they were afraid before, now it was just terror. They didn’t want to go to rally. We need people who can do solidarity work and be the voice of the immigrant community.” Margaret Weinberger, of Bowling Green, was one of those who attended the March session. The stories she heard about what is happening as close as Lucas County were chilling, she said….


April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, but what do we really know and believe about distracted driving?  We tell ourselves multiple lies every day when we drive:  I can multi-task without a problem; I have a Bluetooth so it’s no problem to talk and drive; talking on a cellphone is just like talking to a passenger in the car; I only use my phone at stop lights or stop signs; and a great deceiver – I use talk to text I’m all good!!   We are great at fooling ourselves to perceive that driving conditions are safer than they really are.  You just read the text – you don’t respond!  It’s just a quick call!  People who want to continue to use technology to stay connected while they drive are going to look for any evidence that it is okay to do so.  But it is not.   Your brain can keep track of only about four objects at any one time.  How many more things do we actually track while driving?  What thing gets deleted from our visual field and memory retention? It only takes once to miss a pedestrian, to not see the vehicle ahead of you slowing for a turn, or the red light at a busy intersection.  You need your brain drive, and when we overload the brain with two very difficult tasks, driving and trying to communicate, driving loses.     We need to stop fooling ourselves.  Thousands of people are dying for the sake of calls and texts probably none of which are worth a human life.     It only takes once.  Please…


Activists describe the heartbreak, terror of undocumented immigrants today

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News   The immigration debate is about more than walls. It’s about families trapped by laws and borders that separate them. Eugenio Mollo, Jr., managing attorney with ABLE has those difficult conversations. A father of three, here without documents, telling him his mother is dying in Mexico. If he goes to see her, he’s at risk of not be able to return to his wife and American-born children. What can he do? Mollo can explain the law, but he has no good answer to give him. The client loves his family in America and yet the law poses the choice of being separated from them or comforting his mother in her dying days. He asks: What kind of heartless system is this? This is the system we have, and it is a system that has become more unforgiving since Donald Trump has moved into the White House, Mollo said. Mollo and Beatrix Maya, director general of La Conexion de Wood County, took part on a panel Developing Strategies to Mobilize Our Communities as part of STRELLA: 7th Annual Conference of Student Research on Latino/A/X and Latin American Studies. “The current climate has created an environment of fear and alarm in the community,” Maya said. “The greatest challenge we are facing in organizing the community is the fact that the community is absolutely terrified.” The Trump Administration plans to add 10,000 new border agents, and to double to 80,000 the number of people it incarcerates for immigration problems. Work place raids have increased, she said. None have occurred in Wood County, though a raid in Montpelier…


BGSU administrator suspended after erotic material, some with children, found on work computer

A Bowling Green State University professor and assistant dean has been immediately suspended after erotic material, some involving children, was found on his university computer. In a statement issued this afternoon, BGSU said it has suspended Alan Atalah “effective immediately” for misuse of state property and violation of university policy. According to the report from the Ohio Office of the  Inspector General, Atalah, of the College of Technology, came to its attention in March, 2015, after erotic stories, including some involving children, was discovered on a USB drive sent to the Ohio Department of Transportation. The flash drive contained information on culvert boring process research that Atalah was conducting. ODOT was not satisfied with the work and asked to have all material related to it returned. Personnel at the ODOT State Office of Planning and Research discovered the document when reviewing the material on the disk. ODOT referred the matter to the Inspector General’s office. The inspector general interviewed Atalah, who admitted to sometime looking at and copying erotic stories. He said he did not know how the file got onto the flash drive sent to ODOT and denied being the author of the document. Evidence of such material was found both on his laptop and on his work computer, in violation of BGSU’s internet use policy. In a follow up letter to the investigators, Atalah said  when he finally read the document he was “sick to his stomach” because of the nature of the material, and concluded by stating that he would do whatever he could “to assure you that I am not the kind of person who would…


Sheriff says jail booking area needs expansion

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A few years ago, Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn had to make a choice – add more beds to the county jail or add more space to the jail booking area. The jail expansion was priced at about $3 million and the booking area reconfiguration was priced at about $5 million. And since the county was already spending money by paying other counties to house Wood County’s overflow inmates, the 75-bed jail expansion project won out. When Wasylyshyn took over as sheriff, the county was spending about $500,000 a year on housing prisoners elsewhere. “Let’s stop the flow of Wood County money,” the sheriff remembered thinking. The decision paid off, with Wood County jail being able to house all of the local inmates plus bringing in an extra $130,000 last year for housing prisoners from other counties. But now, Wasylyshyn would like to revisit the booking area project. He had requested $5,000 from the county commissioners to have an architectural firm look at reconfiguring the booking area to add more holding cells and move the medical area closer to booking. The commissioners rejected that request, saying new Commissioner Ted Bowlus should be able to review the request. So on Thursday, the sheriff was back before the commissioners, asking again for the $5,000 to get new drawings for an expanded booking and medical area. The sheriff also hopes to get a cost estimate for the project, predicting it will be higher than the $5 million estimate a few years ago. The commissioners listened to Wasylyshyn’s proposal, but made no decision. The sheriff and…