BG Schools takes steps to make buildings safer

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Bowling Green City Schools students went back to school today, they entered buildings that had been made safer over the summer. Superintendent Francis Scruci reported to the Board of Education Tuesday evening that several changes have been made and are in progress to keep students and staff safe from intruders. All school entrance doors have had 3M safety film installed. The change is not visible to the eye, but the film is designed to slow down anyone trying to break through the doors. According to Scruci, the safety film takes about three minutes to break through – which gives people inside the school time to seek safety and notify law enforcement. Ballistic shields have been added to the large windows in the middle school cafeteria. The district also made some changes in the new wing added at the middle school. Rather than have locker bays in the hallways, which give intruders a place to hide, the new wing has all the lockers lining the hallway walls. Also, the outside doors into the new wing are solid – with no windows. “We’ve taken some steps to make that a little safer,” Scruci said. In order make other school entrances more safe, bushes were removed or cut back outside school buildings. The district is in the process of installing indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras at the buildings, he said. Plans are being made with the Bowling Green police and fire divisions to make weekly walks through the school buildings – in addition to unscheduled visits. A security meeting is being planned with school staff, police and fire personnel, to talk about some type of safety training at the schools. That training may be on the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evaluate) system, or some other safety program. Scruci and the district’s head of school building maintenance, Chuck Martin, recently attended a seminar on safety and security. Many of the ideas from the seminar had already been identified and were being worked on at the district’s buildings, Scruci said. Scruci said he will be looking for grant funding for safety measures. However, he added, “if they’re just one-time grants, then the district is going to have to sustain it.” Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Scruci reported on capital improvements made…

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BG school board hears concerns about taxes, safety

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   An opponent of Bowling Green City School’s bond issue suggested a way for the board to bypass more property taxes – and asked if board members would resign if the May bond issue fails. Richard Chamberlain told the school board Tuesday evening that an income tax would have a better chance with local voters than a property tax. There’s a problem though – Ohio doesn’t allow schools to finance long-term building projects with income tax revenue. But Chamberlain suggested the district could get around that rule. He pointed to the middle school addition currently being built. “We must be moving funds around,” he said. Superintendent Francis Scruci, however, explained after the meeting that the board borrowed the $4.4 million for the addition, with plans to pay back the loan with permanent improvement funds. Those funds were approved by district voters. Chamberlain asked the board members about their plans if the levy doesn’t pass on May 8. “If this thing fails, I’d say the board has failed us,” he said. Then he took it a step further. “Are you going to resign,” and let someone else take over, Chamberlain asked the board. Numbers presented by Chamberlain show that the school district’s annual funding includes about $20 million in property taxes, $3.4 million in income taxes, and $8.2 million in state funding. The proposed $72 million bond issue, spread over 37 years, will cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $200 a year in property taxes. He suggested hiking the income tax would be better, since the district collects 0.5 percent in income tax now. According to Chamberlain, 89 percent of school districts have income taxes of more than 0.5 percent. “We’re low. We’re stuck in this past mode of funding,” he said. The school board heard from another citizen Tuesday evening, who said the district should not be spending money on buildings. Brenda Pike said teachers work many more hours than they are paid for, and buy many of their own classroom supplies. New buildings won’t give the teachers more hours in a day or more materials for their classrooms, she said. Many of the district teachers, however, have spoken out in favor of the new building proposal, and have talked about the improvements a new consolidated…

Hundreds walk out of BG High to protest gun violence

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Hundreds of Bowling Green High School students walked out of school this morning (March 14) at 10:00 to protest gun violence. The student-led protests against gun violence come a month after the Valentine’s Day attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 students and teachers. The BGHS walkout was to last 17 minutes in their honor. Jacob Fausnaugh likened it to the protests against the Vietnam War. In the 20 years since the shootings at Columbine more people have died from gun violence than American troops died in the Vietnam War, he said. “They walked out for that, we walked out for this.” Alyson Baker, one of the organizers of the walkout, said shortly before the protest was scheduled to begin that she expected about 100 students to take part. When students started streaming out of the school it was clear participation was much greater. The crowd that gathered near the spirit rock in front of the school appeared to be several hundred strong. Baker said the response from fellow students had been mixed. “Some people think it won’t do anything.” Still she said she expected to see many students coming out to say otherwise. Gun violence is “essentially an epidemic,” she said. Baker also noted the crowd of about 100 supportive community members lining the sidewalk near the school. School administrators and Bowling Green police kept the community members and media off school property. Baker said the school administration “has supported us the entire way.” “They’ve been a tremendous help.” (This story will be updated.)  

Luck of the Irish won’t help drunk drivers

From SAFE COMMUNITIES OF WOOD COUNTY St. Patrick’s Day has become one of the nation’s most popular times to celebrate and party. Unfortunately, too many people are taking to the roads after drinking alcohol, making this holiday also one of the most dangerous. In fact, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the deadliest holidays on the road our nation’s roads. During the 2012-2016 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18), 269 lives were lost due in drunk- driving crashes. In 2016, drunk driving killed more than 10,000 people in our country, and every single one of those deaths was preventable. To keep the roads safer, Wood County Safe Communities is reaching out with an important life-saving message and warning: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. If you plan to celebrate with alcohol this St. Patrick’s Day, follow these tips to stay safer:  Before celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, decide whether you’ll drink or you’ll drive. You can’t do both.  If you’re planning on driving, commit to staying sober. If you’ve been out drinking and then get behind the wheel, you run the risk of causing a crash or getting arrested for a DUI.  Help those around you be responsible, too. Walking while intoxicated can be deadly, as lack of attention could put you at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.  If someone you know is drinking, do not let him or her get behind the wheel.  If you see someone who appears to be driving drunk, pull over to a safe location and call the police. Your actions could help save a life. Remember this St. Patrick’s Day: Plan Before You Party! Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.

BG police & fire train on new strategy for school shootings

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Last week while Bowling Green schools were closed for spring break, teams of police officers clad in protective vests and carrying AR-15 air soft training rifles trained in their hallways. By this week, all of the city’s police officers will have gone through rescue task force training. The point of the practice is to prepare police and EMS to work together to get medical help to victims of mass shootings as quickly as possible. “Time is so critical,” Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick said. On Friday afternoon, another team of police officers wrapped up their active shooter drill at Crim Elementary School. While they train annually for active shooters, this was the first time that police and firefighters/paramedics trained together. Police trained to go into the “hot zone,” to confront the shooters, and create an area in the nearby “warm zone” for EMS to take care of those injured. “Our entire role in all of this is to train the police officers to make a safe area,” so medical treatment doesn’t have to wait until the entire scene is cleared of risks, Bowling Green Fire Chief Bill Moorman said. “Our paramedics are escorted in to treat in the building, and not wait for patients to be brought out to us,” Moorman said. “It’s getting our people into the building faster than normal.” The rescue task force responses to mass shootings do not require EMS personnel to carry firearms. “We are the firefighters’ protection for tactical emergency medical services,” explained Bowling Green Police Deputy Chief Justin White as he stood outside Crim Elementary. The rescue task force training included every police officer and firefighter. “All our officers are getting trained this week,” Hetrick said. “Every single one will go through it,” Moorman said. Each of the training sessions was held in Crim Elementary, though Hetrick said his officers are familiar with every school building in the city. The rescue task force training had been months in the making – long before the shooting in Parkland, Florida. But the timing proved perfect with concerns heightened after 17 students and teachers were killed by the Parkland shooter. “Anxiety is through the roof,” Hetrick said in the days following the Florida school shooting. Immediately after the Parkland school shooting, Bowling…

Safe Communities reports 4th quarter road fatalities

Wood County Safe Communities has announced that the Fourth Quarter Fatal Data Review Committee met on Tuesday, January 9, 2018. The following fatal crashes from the Fourth Quarter of 2017 were reviewed: • Route 6 between Wayne and Pemberville Roads • River Rd. Between Bates and White Roads • Route 6 at Rudolph Road. In all five people died in the crashes, including two sisters and their mother in the Route 6 and Rudolph Road accident. The following countermeasures were established: • Obey all Traffic Laws • Do not drive Left of Center • Obey all Traffic Control Devices For More Information: • Lt. Angel Burgos, Ohio State Highway Patrol: 419-352-2481 • Sandy Wiechman, Safe Communities Coordinator: 419-372-9353 or

Swallow Your Pride, Call for a Ride “is a complete community endeavor”

To the Editor: To quote Robert F. Kennedy, “The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.” Once again, this happened in Bowling Green this past New Year’s Eve. Armed with a host of volunteers and two vans, 85 persons took advantage of the Swallow Your Pride, Call for a Ride Program. The riders were met with smiles, laughs and warm vehicles. Our volunteers were greeted with cold and thankful students who were in disbelief that people would volunteer on New Year’s Eve to make sure that they made it home safely. This program is a complete community endeavor and I am thankful for each and every person and business that supports Safe Communities of Wood County. I cannot thank  enough our Media partners for making sure there was continuous promotion on local radio and television, as well as Best Western and Fairfield Inn for providing information on their billboards and to their patrons. Pagliai’s Pizza, Frisch’s East Wooster, Oasis, Cookie Jar, Waffle House and the local bars for promoted the program with stickers and table tents, and the Safe Communities Coalition for always supporting the program. To the numerous citizens who posted and shared on Facebook, who “retweeted” on Twitter, or posted on their Instagram we thank you! I would be remiss if I did not thank those who CHOSE a safe ride home. Not only did they take advantage of our program, over 300 people chose safe rides with Super Cab, and numerous others who chose Uber. Thank you Super Cab for supporting our efforts! You are a great partner in making sure no one drives impaired in Bowling Green year round. We have made our corner of the State of Ohio safer, and I look forward to being able to continue to grow this program until we have the entire county with safe rides….stay tuned! Sandy Wiechman, Coordinator Safe Communities of Wood County