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 party begins.  If you have been drinking, do not drive—even a short distance. Call a taxi, a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation. Try NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, which allows users to call a taxi or a friend and identify their location so they can be picked up.  Help others be responsible. If you see someone you think is about to drive while impaired, take their keys, take them home, or help them arrange a safe ride home.  If you see a driver on the road that appears to be intoxicated, contact police when it is safe to do so. Your actions could help save a life. Keep your holidays happy and safe by letting someone sober do the driving. Remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.

The bell may be tolling for Ohio’s bellwether status in presidential elections

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Ohio has an enviable record of being on the winning side of Presidential elections. Since 1896, it has voted for the winner in every election, except when it voted for Republicans Thomas Dewey in 1952 and Richard Nixon in 1960, both extremely close elections. Author Kyle Kondik said those bellwether days may well be over. Recently, Kondik, the editor of “Sabo’s Crystal Ball,” the University of Virginia Center for Politics’ newsletter, gave a local history award talk at Jerome Library on the Bowling Green State University campus. He was being honored for his 2016 book “Bellwether: Why Ohio Picks the President.” Kondik said he may have written the book just in time. The book covers the period from 1896 through 2012. And while Ohio went for Donald Trump by a comfortable margin, the election points to changes that have Ohio out of step with the national electorate. When looking at a state’s predictive power, he said, how closely the winner’s margin of victory in the popular vote in the state matches the national margin of victory must also be considered. Over the years, Ohio has reliably been within 5 percentage points of the national popular vote total.  In 2016 Trump won Ohio by 8 percentage points, 51.3 percent to 43.2 percent for Hillary Clinton. However nationally Trump trailed Clinton by 2 percentage points in the popular vote, 46.1 percent to 48.2 percent. This, along with the changing demographics of Ohio and the nation, may being signaling an end to the state’s bellwether status. Kondik said that the state’s electorate is less ethnically diverse that the nation as a whole, with 80 percent of its population white, compared 70 percent nationally. The state also has fewer college graduates than the national average.  Trump did extremely well with whites with no college degrees, a dominant bloc in the Ohio electorate. But, Kondik noted, just because these voters don’t have college degrees “doesn’t mean they’re necessarily poor.” Clinton lost areas that had voted for Barrack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and even in places such as Youngstown where she won, she won by far fewer votes. Clinton saw “a huge erosion in important vote centers,” he said. The question is whether they voted for a third party or just didn’t show up. African-American support, Kondik said, was weaker for Clinton than for Obama. Nationally Clinton did do better than Obama in California, Atlanta, and cities in Texas. “She traded useful votes in the Midwest for not so useful votes in the Sunbelt,” he said. Ohio has economic issues that played a factor. Aside from a few places such as Delaware County, north of Columbus, much of the state has stagnant or decreasing population. Much of the state’s population was born here, with few moving in. The result is “brain drain.” And those stresses are felt by the electorate. “You can interpret the Trump vote as a cry for help,” he said. Still the final word on the 2016 election is not in. “There’s so much about this election we haven’t worked out.” So why did Ohio earn this bellwether status in the first place? Kondik gave several reasons dating back to the state’s founding. Ohio, the 17th state to join the union, was considered the first American…

East Side partners with police to decrease problem parties

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A partnership on the East Side of Bowling Green has seen success at cutting the number of nuisance parties. As the East Side Residential Neighborhood Group celebrated its 10th annual meeting last week, the members also acknowledged that their efforts were having positive outcomes. “One of our main concerns is trying to stop the deterioration of properties – and keep peace in the ‘hood,’” said Rose Hess, president of the neighborhood group. Hess admitted that the organization spends a lot of time on those two issues. But they are seeing progress. Last year, in the first few months of the fall semester at BGSU, the police responded to 22 complaints of nuisance parties. So far this fall, there have been six nuisance parties. Last year, there were 70 total complaints of parties and offensive gestures or noise, compared to 55 this year. “This year is down in numbers,” Hess said. Hess credited the neighbors, the police and the landlords for creating a more peaceful East Side. The East Side, next to BGSU, has a lower percentage of owner-occupied homes than the west side of the city. The numbers are close to 80 percent rentals and 20 percent owner-occupied in the areas bordered by Enterprise, North Main and Poe roads, and by Lehman, South Main and State streets. And Hess admitted that their organization is a squeaky wheel. “That’s what we’re known as – complainers,” she said. But the group and its partners have managed to help create better neighbors out of the students – or make life miserable enough for them to move elsewhere. “We don’t win big battles,” Hess said. “These are little skirmishes we feel are worth pursuing.” The work starts as students arrive in Bowling Green. Members of the neighborhood group walked to 513 rental units to hand out flyers welcoming students to the community, and making them aware of city rules on such topics as garbage collection and cars parked on lawns. “We make an attempt to tell the students what it means to be a good neighbor,” Hess said. Neighborhood members also plan to attend the BGSU Housing Fair in November. “Every student is great at 3 in the afternoon,” she said, noting it’s better to meet them then rather than 3 in the morning. “It’s an opportunity to connect.” The East Side group has also been partnering with the Bowling Green Police Division. On Monday mornings, Chief Tony Hetrick makes the group aware of issues that officers had to respond to, and he calls landlords about weekend parties that get out of hand, Hess said. “We write letters to the landlords and the tenants,” Hess said. One member of the group tracks nuisance issues in the neighborhood. After two citations and two convictions, the city prosecuting attorney sets up an intervention program, where the student renters are confronted by officials from the police division, BGSU, the courts, the landlords and the neighbors, Hess said. Unlike last year when there were four houses on South Summit Street that were “a nightmare” for local residents, there appear to not be any real problem rentals this year, she added. It appears, Hess said, that local landlords have really cracked down on student misbehavior. “The key is getting the landlords…

Wood County Safe Communities reviews three fatal crashes

Wood County Safe Communities held its quarterly Fatal Data Review on Tuesday, October 10. Three crashes were reviewed from the third quarter of 2017. The crashes reviewed were:  Route 20 at Oakmead in Perrysburg Township  Route 795 at Broadway  Route 199 a t Dowling Road The countermeasures established as a result of these crashes are as follows:  Always wear your seatbelt  Always be attentive when driving  Always obey all traffic control devices  Do not drive impaired

BGSU student dies in crash on U.S. 6

Bowling Green State University announced that John Sands, a senior from New London, died Monday morning in a traffic accident on U.S. 6 near Bradner. He was 23 years old. Sands was pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice. He was a part of the Firelands College criminal justice cohort and was taking a course on the Bowling Green campus this semester as he worked to complete his degree. Those wishing to express  condolences to his family, can send them to sympathy@bgsu.edu. Counselors are available to help the campus community cope with this loss. The BGSU Counseling Center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.,Monday–Friday, or can be reached by phone at 419-372-2081.

BGSU responds to instances of hate speech

The administration at Bowling Green State University has released a statement to the community in response to five instances of white supremacist and anti-gay postings on campus as well as an anti-gay demonstration by several members of an outside group. “These viewpoints do not represent our core values of fostering diversity and a culture of inclusion.,” the messge signed by President Mary Ellen Mazey, Provost Rodney Rogers, and Vice President for Student Affairs Thomas Gibson, states. The statement promises to keep the BGSU community informed of instances when people “spread messages of hate on our campuses.” The message notes that white supremacist groups are targeting campuses across the country. The message outlines what the university can and cannot do. “The University is committed to protecting the open exchange and debate of ideas and opinions. … BGSU cannot shield individuals from ideas that they find unwelcome or even repugnant.” However, it draws a line when such postings deface property, as the stickers did, or violate university policy as other postings do. “Rather than suppressing speech, we can, and will, speak out against individuals or groups that espouse racism, anti-Semitism, intolerance or hate. We will also continue to work to support members of our community affected by such speech.” The message concludes by encouraging those at BGSU to report such instances. The complete message is below. Members of the BGSU community: At Bowling Green State University, we are dedicated to ensuring that all members of our community feel valued, appreciated, respected and safe. We will communicate to you when members of our community fail to live up to our values, or when outside individuals or groups work to spread messages of hate on our campuses. Over the last two weeks, we have received several reports of stickers and flyers representing white supremacist groups that were found on light poles or bulletin boards on our Bowling Green campus. These types of activities are not limited to BGSU. We know from organizations that monitor these groups and from our peers, that white supremacists are targeting college campuses across the country. Additionally, several individuals from an outside group were on campus last week demonstrating against homosexuality. These viewpoints do not represent our core values of fostering diversity and a culture of inclusion. We know these incidents are upsetting to many people and made some individuals feel unsafe. We want to share with you what we can do to address these types of incidents, and how we responded in these cases. The University is committed to protecting the open exchange and debate of ideas and opinions – a bedrock principle of both higher education and the U.S. Constitution. This includes the right to assemble and freedom of speech as defined by the First Amendment. BGSU cannot shield individuals from ideas that they find unwelcome or even repugnant. However, speech rights are not without responsibilities and limits. It is constitutionally permissible for BGSU to have and enforce rules that prohibit severe and pervasive harassment, that defame another, or that substantially interferes with University operations. Rather than suppressing speech, we can, and will, speak out against individuals or groups that espouse racism, anti-Semitism, intolerance or hate. We will also continue to work to support members of our community affected by such speech. As in the cases above, all…

BGSU prof launches database that tracks cases of police being arrested

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Phil Stinson, the go-to scholar for police shootings, has launched a new database that tracks instances of police going bad. Stinson, who teaches criminal justice at Bowling Green State University, has created The Henry A. Wallace Police Crime Database. The site went live Tuesday and can be reached at: https://policecrime.bgsu.edu/. The database was funded the Wallace Action Fund of the Tides foundation. Using media reports and court records, Stinson and a team of student assistants has compiled information on 8,006 instances of sworn nonfederal police officers being arrested between 2005 and 2012. That includes four cases in Wood County.* The database uses 159 different variables to describe each individual case, providing data about the arrested officer, the officer, and the disposition. What it doesn’t provide, Stinson said, is the name of the officer. “We’re not publishing names because we don’t see any benefit from a research perspective.” However, using the details that are provided, someone could fairly easily discover those names, he said. “We’re not trying to hide so many facts that you couldn’t find them.” Stinson said: “It’s important that there be knowledge of it so that law enforcement agencies can start to address it. These are not just one-offs and not just outliers. Some are huge problems.” One part of addressing it is providing help for officers who are having problems. “You look at domestic violence, it just seems to be too many cases.” “We envision people will use this database to learn about the incidence and prevalence of police misconduct in their own communities,” he said. They may start looking up reports from their hometowns then “get lost in it and understand the phenomenon in a broader sense.” Assault is the most commonly charged offense with simple assault at number one, and aggravated assault at number four.  Drunk driving is the second most commonly charged offense, followed by various types of official misconduct. Drug offenses are next. Drugs of choice in order are cocaine, marijuana, crack, steroids, and oxycodone. Rounding out the most frequent offenses are: forcible fondling, false reports-false statements, intimidation, weapons law violation, and forcible rape. Of those sexually assaulted, Stinson said, just over half are under 18. And school resource officers are more likely to be commit sex crimes. He has uncovered a pattern of officers sexually abusing youths enrolled in Explorer programs. This is the first time this information is available. Attempts by the federal government to gather the data have been stymied because it requires agencies to self-report. Some data is available, but not in a format that makes it so readily accessible. Stinson said the database – the public database is a large subset of the data he has accumulated for his research which tracks 270 variables – comes from 48 Google alerts that track reports of cases of officers being arrested. This digital dragnet has snared 6,596 individual nonfederal sworn law enforcement officers, employed by 2830 state and local law enforcement agencies in 1302 counties and independent cities from all 50 states. Once a case is identified, another search is created to track it. The researchers will then search court records to determine the outcome of the case. Research assistants cull the stories, which are printed out, for all the essential variables. Stinson said…

Sexual assaults reported at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University is again grappling with more accusations of sexual assault on campus. President Mary Ellen Mazey in a statement to the campus community said that the suspected assaults happened on Aug. 20 and Aug. 26 in Centennial Hall and the Greek Village. University Spokesman Dave Kielmeyer said that the Aug. 20 incident was reported on that day, and the Aug. 26 incident was reported on Aug. 28. Mazey wrote: “The initial investigations have revealed that the alleged assailant in both reported incidents was the same individual. To help ensure the safety of the campus community, the alleged assailant, a student, has been suspended from the University and barred from campus pending the outcome of the investigations. Because of privacy laws and the ongoing investigations, we are unable to share any additional details at this time.” The incidents involved two different victims. Kielmeyer said that “when the connection between the two incidents became apparent we took immediate action” against the alleged assailant. The incidents are being investigated by the BGSU campus police and the dean of students office. The university was rocked last spring by demonstrations over the way it handled sexual assault. Over the summer a task force to study the issue was convened and its recommendations were accepted by the administration at the beginning of the semester. “We are implementing the recommendations of the Task Force on Sexual Assault to improve our reporting, investigation and adjudication processes to ensure we are empathetic, thorough, fair and respectful.” The new procedures for handling reports of sexual assault are being implemented in these cases, Kielmeyer said. Specifically the university has one administrator handling taking the initial report and supporting the victim, another in charge of the investigation, and another person will adjudicate the incident. Kielmeyer said while it was disappointing that two incidents happened so early in the semester, it is heartening that they were reported. “If incidents happen we want to know about them. It’s moving toward that culture of reporting which is positive in the long term.” He said that as the investigation progresses, the university “will be as transparent as possible.” Mazey concluded her statement by urging students and others on campus to be vigilant. “One sexual assault on our campus is too many. We are committed to enhancing our prevention and care efforts and we need your help. Continue to be aware and don’t be a bystander. If you see someone who may be at risk and are concerned about the situation, step in and safely intervene, or get help. As a community, we must all work together to prevent sexual assault. “I know it is extremely difficult, but I encourage you to report all incidents of sexual assault and misconduct. Notify the BGSU Police or the Office of the Dean of Students, or talk to your hall director or resident advisor. Tell us, so we can take action.”

Net neutrality backers target Latta with billboard

From FIGHT FOR THE FUTURE Today (Tuesday, Aug. 29) digital rights organization Fight for the Future unveiled 3 more crowdfunded billboards targeting Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers,  Bob Latta, and Greg Walden, members of Congress who have publicly supported the FCC’s efforts to gut net neutrality protections that keep the web free from censorship, throttling, and extra fees. The three new billboards are the latest in an ongoing campaign focused on lawmakers who oppose Internet freedom. Earlier this month the group launched an initial round of net neutrality billboards targeting six different lawmakers in states across the country. The move comes just hours before the FCC’s final deadline for public input on their controversial plan to repeal net neutrality. With lawmakers still in their home districts, the billboards – paid for by hundreds of small donations – appear in three different states. Since the massive July 12th day of action, millions have contacted their representatives – who have oversight over the FCC – to ensure these key protections are not changed or removed. The billboards send a strong message to any Members of Congress contemplating support for the FCC’s plan to repeal net neutrality, which is currently being tracked through a “congressional scorecard” on BattleForTheNet.com. So far very few lawmakers have been willing to publicly support Ajit Pai’s plan, likely in light of polling that shows voters — including Republicans — overwhelmingly oppose it. The billboards encourage constituents to contact their elected representatives; for example, Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Rep. Greg Walden’s (R-OR) billboard in Medford, Oregon asks, “Want slower, more expensive Internet? Rep. Walden supports CenturyLink’s plan to destroy net neutrality. Ask him why: (541) 776-4646.” The outdoor ads feature some of the few members of Congress who came out with early support for FCC’s plan to repeal net neutrality rules, including: Spokane, WA – Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (N. Monroe Street at W. Broadway Ave) Findlay, OH – Rep. Bob Latta (corner of E Main Cross St and East St.) Medford, OR – Rep. Greg Walden (N. Pacific Hwy at Elm Ave) “It doesn’t matter which party you’re in, or how charming you are on TV — if you attack net neutrality and Internet freedom we will make sure everyone knows that you’re corrupt to the core” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future (pronouns: she/hers), “every member of Congress should take note: supporting the FCC’s plan to allow censorship, throttling, and price gouging may get you a few extra campaign donations from big telecom companies, but it will infuriate your constituents, and will come with a serious political cost.” The billboards highlight the increasing scrutiny on Congress – who have important oversight authority over the FCC. With no viable legislation on the table, net neutrality supporters remain opposed to any attempt at legislation that would undermine the strong rules at the FCC, which were fought for by millions of Americans, and are calling on lawmakers to publicly oppose Ajit Pai’s plan, and require the FCC to act with transparency and address serious irregularities in its rulemaking process. Fight for the Future was also one of the leading organizations behind the historic Internet-Wide Day of Action for Net Neutrality on July 12, which drove a record breaking 2 million+ comments to the FCC and Congress in a single day. Learn more at fightforthefuture.org

BGSU talks about how to prevent Charlottesville here

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green State University students and staff met Tuesday to prevent their campus from becoming another Charlottesville. Many of those present had fresh memories of the white supremacy leaflets posted around campus this past spring. And they had even fresher memories of the images of the violence at a white supremacists rally in Charlottesville earlier this month. Tuesday’s scene at BGSU was set as Angelica Euseary and Zarina Cornelius, of the Black Student Union, played video of President Donald Trump’s three statements about Charlottesville. They reminded the audience of the Maumee man who drove his car into a crowd, killing one and injuring many more. Euseary said Tuesday’s “community conference” was a safe space, where no bashing was allowed. “Attack the argument, not the person,” she said. Those present were reminded that last spring BGSU was targeted by alt right white supremacists, who stuck materials around campus. Those items were quickly removed, but left a bad feeling among many on campus. Students wanted to know how BGSU police would handle a demonstration like the recent one in Charlottesville – if neo Nazis and other white supremacists came here to rally. BGSU Police Chief Mike Campbell said the campus department’s 24 sworn officers have trained for handling demonstrations – both passive protesters and active aggressors. But he admitted his office has limitations. “We’re a small agency,” he said. BGSU police department has mutual aid agreements with Bowling Green, Wood County and state law enforcement – who would be called in to assist. Campbell stressed that students could also help by sharing information with police. “You guys are going to understand things are brewing long before I do,” he said. He asked that students talk with police so they can prepare for demonstrations. “We’re going to take it seriously if we get word of something.” “We want to intervene early if we can,” Campbell said. Some students asked about freedom of speech – if there are lines that can’t legally be crossed. “That can be a difficult topic,” Campbell said. “We’re talking about a Constitutional right that applies to everyone,” even if some find the words offensive. “There’s a limit to what we can restrict.” Freedom of speech law can be tricky, he said. And there is no firm line defining when freedom of speech turns to hate speech. “Does that mean we can blanketly say what we want? No,” Campbell said. The chief also said that while BGSU has designated “freedom of speech” areas on campus, groups are allowed to hold rallies elsewhere on campus as long as they aren’t disrupting classes or the flow of student traffic. Campbell asked that students look at the police as partners on campus. “Our sole purpose is the safety and security of the university,” he said. “We want to make sure this is a safe environment.” “The last thing I want you to do is look at us as just the cops on campus,” the chief said. One student asked about police training for working with marginalized people – blacks, transgender, mentally ill. She asked about sensitivity training for the department. Campbell listed off the required training for all the officers. But the student said that training was all institutionalized, and asked if there might be…

BGSU Task Force on Sexual Assault’s recommendations to be implemented

By BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS The Bowling Green State University Task Force on Sexual Assault has completed its work and issued a final report of recommendations to address sexual assault on the university’s campuses. President Mary Ellen Mazey has announced that all of the recommendations will be implemented. “As a community, we must all come together to prevent assaults from occurring on our campuses,” Mazey said. “I am extremely pleased with the progress we’ve made and the direction we’re taking.” Mazey appointed the task force, which is comprised of students, faculty, staff and a victim advocate, in May. The charge of the task force was to review university policies and procedures for Title IX and sexual assault, benchmark university efforts against best practices from across the country and provide recommendations to improve policies, campus culture, and education and prevention efforts. Key recommendations include additional staffing and resources to support several new and enhanced efforts. For example, the university will be creating a new center focused on sexual violence prevention, advocacy and wellness. Reporting, investigative and hearing processes will be improved to ensure an empathetic, thorough, fair and respectful process for all involved parties and support services will be strengthened. Also recommended are increased training and education, including widespread promotion of and enhanced support for the “It’s On Us” campaign and its bystander intervention techniques. “It’s On Us is a cultural movement aimed at shifting the way we think about sexual assault,” said Alex Solis, task force co-chair. “Sexual assault is not only a crime committed by a perpetrator against a victim, but a societal problem in which all of us have a role to play.” Task force co-chair Meg Burrell added, “Anyone can be a bystander to a situation; it is up to each of us to be an active bystander and take a stand and intervene when appropriate.” In addition, mandatory training for students, faculty and staff will be implemented and a male engagement coordinator will be added. This coordinator will be responsible for educational programs, mentoring and community building; engaging men in prevention has been shown to decrease future risk. A new sexual assault and conduct policy that supports environment of reporting is being created, and members of the university community will have additional opportunities to provide ongoing feedback about this important topic. “We will also provide additional information to faculty and staff so that they understand the importance of and responsibilities associated with being mandatory reporters,” said Maureen Wilson, task force co-chair. “This aligns with our efforts to create and support an environment of reporting that provides a fair process and care for all involved parties.” Mazey added, “Preventing sexual assault is a challenge facing colleges and universities across the country; combatting it will take a long-term, concerted approach. Moving forward, our priorities will continue to include making sure survivors are properly supported and ensuring that our processes are thorough, fair, equitable and respectful.” Resources, including support, risk reduction and prevention information, policies and laws, and bystander intervention information, are now available on one comprehensive website: bgsu.edu/bgsu-cares. Resources and information will be added and updated throughout the coming academic year.

Rainbow pride flag to rise again over Unitarian Universalist church

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The rainbow pride flag has flown at the Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation for longer than the Rev. Lynn Kerr can remember. She knows it was flown on occasion before she arrived at the church six years ago, and that it has been a constant presence since after she arrived. “We want it to be known that we’re welcoming so we have a big flag out there,” Kerr said. Many of the congregants, she said, identify as LBGTQ, or as allies. “We welcome anyone from the community to join us, especially LBGTQ.” That extends now to those who on Tuesday trespassed on the church’s property on Ohio 25, and ripped down the flag. Photos taken of the incident that Kerr and members of the congregation have seen, indicate the vandals were teenagers. “I felt bad that there are teenagers who have this kind of hate,” Kerr said. “That does not bode well for our future.” The Wood County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the incident. The suspects have not been positively identified, the BG Independent was told. The incident will not keep the congregation from flying the rainbow colors, though. Kerr said that organizers of Toledo’s Pride Parade, scheduled for Saturday (Aug. 19), will present the church with a new flag. On Sunday (Aug. 20) about noon after the service, congregants will gather out front to raise the new flag. Kerr said the public is invited to join them. The flag and the congregation’s outspoken support for LBGTQ rights has drawn criticism before. “We’ve riled some people up, but never felt in danger.” And it’s not only been flying the flag that has drawn the ire. “We put controversial messages on the board, important and liberal and good messages. Some people don’t like those either.” After the 2015 murder of nine black churchgoers at a historic church in Charleston, South Carolina, MVUUC posted: “Confederate flag down rainbow flag up.” The complaints come in the form of and e-mails, like the packet of Biblical passages sent to Kerr monthly. One local minister told Kerr she shouldn’t call herself a minister because of what she preaches. She and her congregants are undeterred. “I tell my congregation we’re not going to return their fear and hate with more anger. We’re going to return it with compassion.” Kerr said she will address the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the desecration of their flag in her sermon on Sunday. Kerr said she believes the vandals were “acting out of fear of the unknown.” “I wish they would get to know us and find that we’re not scary, that we welcoming people and loving people.”          

Drivers urged to be aware of student activity

Submitted by WOOD COUNTY SAFE COMMUNITIES Wood County Safe Communities announced today (Aug. 11) that there have been 8 fatal crashes in Wood County compared to 9 at this same time last year. August is back to school month for local school districts and higher education facilities in Wood County. When travelling rural roads, please be attentive to school buses in the area picking up and dropping of their precious cargo. Watch for increased traffic in the area of school buildings and be mindful of the 20 mph school zone speed limit during restricted times. Owens Community College will start its fall semester in August. Watch for increased traffic on Oregon Road for students entering and exiting campus. Students be mindful of congestion in parking lots and be aware of your surroundings. Let’s prevent the high number of crashes that occur in your parking lots. Bowling Green State University (BGSU) will also return beginning August 21. Wooster Street is the main thoroughfare to enter the campus and shows a high volume of crashes from 11 a.m. to 6  p.m. Most crashes occur on Friday but with any event at BGSU, please be aware of the high volume of traffic and travel these areas with caution. Let’s make this back to school season the safest in history!!

Pollyeyes suspect identified

The Bowling Green Police Division has identified the suspect in the Campus Pollyeyes breaking and entering Aug. 3 at about 1 a.m Police report that: “After the subject was identified, he was interviewed and admitted to his involvement in the incident. The incident continues to be investigated – no charges have been filed. “

Here’s the scoop – cops meet with kids over ice cream

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For more than a year now, Bowling Green Police Division has been meeting citizens over cups of hot coffee. On Friday, they tried something different – meeting them over bowls of ice cream, with chocolate sauce and sprinkles on top. “This is bigger than the Coffee with the Cops,” said Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick as he looked out over the room at the Wood County District Public Library, full of children eating ice cream and wearing police badge stickers. “We’re making you all honorary policemen today,” the chief told them. Police officers posed for photos with kids holding their bowls of ice cream. They answered questions about their jobs. Deputy Chief Justin White said he did not get the usual, “Have you shot somebody” question today. In fact, most of the questions were not about the two-legged officers, but about their four-legged canine officer named Arci. “He’s going to make an appearance,” assured Hetrick. The goal was to make the kids more comfortable around police officers in their community. “We’re here to help,” said Lt. Brad Biller. “The police officers in the community are here to serve them, not to be feared by them.” The officers have visited the library in the past to read to kids, but this visit was a little different. “We’ve invited the police officers before, but we’ve never thought of combining it with ice cream,” children’s librarian Maria Simon said. “What a great idea.” The ice cream, combined with the location, drew in a different and larger crowd, Lt. Dan Mancuso said. “We were trying to get other people,” not just the normal coffee crowd, Mancuso said. “It’s summertime, kids like ice cream.” And the long-term benefit may be more than the bowl of ice cream. “So if there are problems, they feel comfortable coming to us.” The hit of the day proved to be Arci, the Belgian Malinois canine cop. His handler, Sgt. Gordon Finger, said Arci is trained for several different jobs like sniffing out narcotics, tracking people, searching for missing people, and apprehending people. Arci, who responds to commands primarily in Dutch, loves to work, Finger said. “Work is his life’s blood,” he said. “His favorite part of the day is when he sees me getting ready for work.” “When I take a shower, he’s standing staring at the door, waiting for me to get out,” Finger said. Gordon placed a container that previously held drugs in the courtyard area at the library, and Arci demonstrated how he identifies the presence of narcotics. Though Arci may be a tough cop on the job, at home he adores the family’s other dog, an 8-pound “schnoodle.” “He sleeps right beside me at home,” Gordon said. But on the job, he’s all business. “He doesn’t bite anyone that I don’t want him to,” Gordon said, noting Arci’s protective nature. “I’m his pack master.”