Local Government Update

County approves $5 hike in license plate fee

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Wood County Commissioners unanimously Thursday (May 17) voted to increase the cost of getting a license plate by $5. This will bring the county portion of the fee to$20 or $25 depending on the community. The state fee is $34.50. County Engineer John Musteric said the Permissive License Fee increase will generate an additional $632,660. That money will all go to road and bridge projects, he said, not for personnel or operating expenses. The county, he said, is facing a shortfall of about $3.7 million meet the needs of county road and bridges. “This will only be a drop in the bucket, but every little bit helps,” Musteric said. After a study of road conditions, the engineer’s office determined 74 percent of the county roads are in marginal or worse conditions. To address all that work, would take about $6 million a year. The office now spends $2.3 million. Also, 52 of the county’s 441 bridges, which have an average age of 41 years, are in poor or worse conditions. To catch up, the county would need to replace nine bridges annually, at about $400,000 each. That’s double what it can do. This comes at a time when the cost of materials is increasing. Musteric said his office has tried to make cost savings where it could, including not replacing employees who leave and doing in-house work that had been outsourced. One county resident Wade Kemp commented on the license fee increase. He said he supported it but wondered why he had to pay the same amount for his motorcycles as for his truck or his neighbor had to pay for a recreational vehicle. That is set by the state, assistant county prosecutor Linda Holmes said. Commissioner Craig LaHote noted that if the state allowed the county to levy an additional 3.2-cent-a-gallon gas tax, it would provide the revenue needed to fully fund the road and bridge repairs. Given the fluctuating price of gas, people wouldn’t even notice it Musteric said. Kemp noted that as federal fund economy standards go up, and people use less gas that will take a bite out of revenues from the gas tax. Musteric said that’s especially true with the increasing popularity of electric cars, and hybrids. LaHote said some states charge more for a license plate for an electric vehicle. California, Musteric said, charges by weight for…

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BG streets closed, parking restricted during BSAF weekend

In conjunction with the annual Black Swamp Arts Festival scheduled for September 9, 10, and 11, certain street closures and parking restrictions will be imposed in downtown Bowling Green. Beginning at 6:00 am on Thursday, September 8, the eastern portion of City Parking Lot 2 will be closed. The entire lot will be closed beginning Friday, September 9 at 6:00 am. At 3:00 am on Saturday, September 10, on-street parking will be prohibited in the following locations: Main Street between Clay and Pearl; Prospect between East Wooster and Clough; Clay between Main and Grove; and Clough between Main and S. Prospect. Any vehicle parked in these restricted areas after 3:00 am on Saturday will be towed at the owner’s expense. At 4:00 am on Saturday, September 10, Main Street, between Clay and Pearl, will be closed to vehicular traffic. While Main Street is closed, no through traffic will be permitted on Oak, Court, Clough and Washington Streets. Wooster Street will remain open for east and westbound traffic throughout the festival. During the Main Street closing, detour routes for local and truck traffic will be posted. Throughout the event, shuttle buses will pick up visitors at the Bowling Green High School, Wood County Fairgrounds, Meijer, and Bowling Green State University. The buses will drop visitors off downtown at the Frontier Communications building as well as the Bowling Green Police Division. All streets will reopen and parking will be reinstated on Sunday evening.

First Community Action Plan meeting, Aug. 30

The City of Bowling Green is hosting the first community meeting for the Community Action Plan, Aug. 30 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at Crim Elementary, 1020 Scott Hamilton Dr. The Community Action Plan will advance goals from the City’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan Update by identifying city-wide neighborhood improvements. Call the Planning Department at 419-354-6218 or visit the Planning Department webpage for questions. The City of BG hired Camiros, Ltd. (http://www.camiros.com/) for this project.

McComb now part of water & sewer district

From NWWSD At a recent board meeting for the Northwestern Water & Sewer District, final, detailed approval was given for the merger between the district and the village of McComb. According to Northwestern Water Sewer District President Jerry Greiner, “We have green lights all the way around now, and we officially took over McComb July 27th, 2016.” This acquisition by the District allows the village to get a much needed wastewater plant upgrade, as well as allowing the village to now receive attention and repairs to its water distribution system. Greiner states “The basic monitoring, attention, maintenance, and upgrades can now be folded into the District’s everyday operations schedule, which should really help the folks in the village.” The Village of McComb has approximately 700 users including its independent village school system. Another important user is Hearthside Foods, a regional cookie factory, which has approximately 1600 employees.

Review of BGPD shows very low use of force, few citizen complaints

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News There were enough chairs set up in the Simpson building Tuesday to seat every citizen who had filed a complaint against the Bowling Green Police Dvision in the past three years. And there would be room for more. None of them showed up when a visiting accreditation team from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc.  set up shop to receive citizens’ comments. City Councilman Bruce Jeffers was there. He said the police force is “positively engaged with the community.” In a time when there are so many reports of clashes between police and citizens with violence “going in both directions,” he is “amazed” how the BG officers “deal with large number of partying students … without losing control or using excessive force.” Planning Director Heather Sayler was there as a resident to praise the department, especially the D.A.R.E. program. Fire Chief Tom Sanderson was there to lend his support to Chief Tony Hetrick and the officers. He and his crews see first-hand BG police officers’ ability to de-escalate tense situations, which allows EMS crews and firefighters to feel safe doing their jobs. That camaraderie between the fire and police divisions is not always the case, said Robert Johnson, a retired Illinois State Patrol lieutenant colonel. Also on the CALEA team was Capt. Brad Fraser, from Shelby, North Carolina. Lt. Daniel Mancuso serves as the BGPD’s accreditation manager. That wasn’t the only surprising thing they found in reviewing the BG police’s performance from 2013 through 2015. Over that period, Johnson said, Bowling Green officers never used their firearms, nor did they use their batons. He called that “pretty surprising… given the climate the police operate in.” “This is far better than I expect to see,” Johnson said. “I’m more used to seeing force used more frequently and use of greater force.” In that three-year period, BG police made 8,000 arrests, and used force in 71 of those. Not a single lawsuit related to use of force was filed against the department. In the same period, the police issued 26,000 traffic citations and warnings. They made 89,000 calls for service. And they received 54 citizen complaints. The accreditation process is voluntary. CALEA is the only national and international agency. Johnson said 5-10 percent of law enforcement agencies opt to seek CALEA accreditation. Among those is the Bowling Green State University department. Bowling Green was…

East Reed to be closed for gas line work

Columbia Gas has been authorized to close portions of East Reed to through traffic, between North Main and North Enterprise, during the week of April 25. The closures are necessary for the installation of natural gas service lines as part of the 2016 natural gas line replacements. During these closures, no parking will be allowed in posted areas from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Questions may be directed to Columbia Gas of Ohio or the Engineering Division at 419-354-6227.

House Bill 173 expands veteran identification

During House session this week, State Representative Tim Brown spoke on the floor about House Bill 173, a bill Representative Brown co-sponsored.  The bill gives military veterans a new identification card and DD Form 214 filing option.  Specifically, HB 173 allows counties to authorize the issuance of veteran identification cards to qualifying individuals, either through the county recorder or the county veterans service office. While some county recorders already issue the identification cards, HB 173 seeks to standardize the cards issued in Ohio.  The cards will give military veterans in Ohio another option for documenting their veteran status for purposes like employment applications, veteran hospital services and discounts at participating retail establishments and restaurants.  Additionally, the identification card will be useful for certain veterans who do not fit into a category to receive a veteran ID card distributed by the federal government or through their local registrar’s office. HB 173 also provides veterans with the opportunity to record a copy of their DD 214 forms with their local county recorder – which will provide a permanent record of the document for the veteran.    The DD 214 is a document issued by the US Defense Department upon retirement or discharge from the military.   (No materials involved in the application process—including photographs, documents or other information obtained by a county recorder or veterans service office—are considered public records.) “I’m pleased to be involved in providing these additional options for our local veterans.  These men and women have done much in service to our Nation, and we must provide assistance to them whenever possible.”  Representative Brown said. The bill now awaits consideration in the Ohio Senate.