Wood County

Mountain biking park and path explored along Slippery Elm Trail

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Park District is hoping to hitch a ride on the off-road mountain biking craze. On Tuesday, the park board voiced support for a proposal to create pump tracks in Rudolph and a mountain bike trail in the savanna area along the Slippery Elm Trail. Park naturalist Craig Spicer presented a proposal for both concepts during the monthly park board meeting held at Harrison Park in Pemberville. The mountain biking park and trail would help the district attract teens and young adults. A survey conducted earlier this year showed only 6 percent of the county park users were college student age. All parks suffer from the same difficulty luring teens and young adults, Spicer said. “They are one of the most finicky audiences,” he said. According to Spicer, off-road and sport biking are growing in popularity. “This is a good opportunity to ride that wave,” he said. The creation of an off-road biking park in Rudolph, and a trail north of the community would also be an investment in a county park in the southern part of Wood County. Currently just five of the county’s 20 parks are south of U.S. 6. “There’s a little bit of imbalance there,” Spicer said. The proposed park would be located in the one-acre area already owned by the park district along the Slippery Elm Trail, just south of Mermill Road. The park board voted last month to have unused farm silos removed from the property. A proposal created by Pump Trax USA shows a park with a “strider” track for little kids, a beginner track, an intermediate and advanced track, and a skills trail for mountain biking. The area would have parking for 30 cars, a bike fix-it station, and a covered shelter house. “This project fits our mission,” Spicer said. “I think it will attract people for years to come.” Maintenance of the park would be similar to the neighboring Slippery Elm Trail, since the bike park courses would be constructed of cement or asphalt. Don DiBartolomeo, of the Right Direction Youth Development Program, told the board he would offer programming for free at the bike park. DiBartolomeo is in the ninth year of running the non-profit youth support program Right Direction, and organizes programming at the…

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Tipping the scales – local fight against childhood obesity

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Diane Krill was a child, she spent summer days playing in the park – not parked in front of the TV. “We were there from sun up to sundown,” she said of days of non-stop activity. “We didn’t go home until the dinner bell rang.” But times are different now, said Krill, CEO of the Wood County Community Health Center. Parents afraid to let their children roam the neighborhood sometimes prefer to use the TV as a babysitter. And when they do activities – like soccer or baseball – busy parents often rush through a fast food drive thru to pick up dinner. “We are seeing trends that are leading from childhood to adulthood,” said Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey. The likelihood that an obese child will learn healthy eating and exercise habits as an adult is, well, slim. So on Tuesday, the Wood County Health Department held a meeting on childhood obesity for interested community members. A recently conducted Community Health Assessment showed that 72 percent of Wood County adults are overweight or obese – higher than the state average of 67 percent. That adds up to about 37,000 Wood County adults who can be labeled as obese. “That seems staggering,” Batey said. “What can we do about that?” The survey found slightly better results among local youth, where the number of obese youth dropped a bit in the last three years. “We’re seeing a positive trend with our youth, and we don’t want to lose that,” he said. A big problem appears to be that many Wood County adults are not modeling healthy exercise or eating habits for their children. And discussing people’s diets can be a potential minefield – like bringing up politics or religion, Batey said. When surveyed about exercise, many local adults said they don’t have time for physical activity. However, in the same survey, adults averaged 2.4 hours a day watching TV, 1.5 hours on their cell phones, and 1.4 hours on the computer for non-work items. “We’re not taking time to get up and move,” Batey said. “I’m not saying don’t watch TV. But get up and move while you’re watching TV.” Batey admitted to being a “couch potato” himself, and eating too much fast food – until…


County voters to face two levies on fall ballot

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County voters will have two county-wide issues to decide in the November election. Neither are asking the voters for more millage – which was very important to the county commissioners as they deliberated the tax levy requests earlier this year. One levy is a reduced renewal levy, dropped from the current 2.95-mills to 2.45 mills for Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The duration of that levy is five years. The other is a replacement 1-mill levy for 10 years for Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services. During a presentation by Wood Lane officials earlier this year, Superintendent Brent Baer talked about the “dynamic growth in services” that the board is seeing. And Martha Woelke, of the board, said great deliberation went into the levy request. “We did everything we can to maximize state and federal money,” she told the commissioners. The board has been able to reduce its levy collections some years, but feels that 2.45 mills is the lowest it can go for the renewal. When people with developmental disabilities waive their right to institutional care, they are picked up by community based services – like Wood Lane. That agency then identifies their needs and develops plans to meet them, Baer said. The waivers allow for federal funding, but the community agency must still pick up 40 percent of the costs, said finance officer Steve Foster. “Our commitments are for the life of an individual,” Baer said. Demands are growing as the population here is increasing. “Wood County is one of the few counties in Ohio that’s growing,” Baer said. About five years ago, there were 226 consumers on waivers. Now there are 425. Baer expects that number to double again in the next five years. The board may need to be back in five years, asking for a greater levy, but this should do for now, Baer said. The Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services board started out asking for an increase in levy dollars, from the current 1-mill to 1.3 mills. But the Wood County Commissioners – who have to certify the need for levies before they are placed on the ballot – asked the ADAMHS board to consider other options for the November ballot issue….


Local farm tours to plant seeds of knowledge

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Agriculture is big business in Wood County. And while local residents are surrounded by rich farmland, many may still be unaware of locally grown foods served at their kitchen tables and those shipped round the world. To help spread that information, the first Wood County Ag-Venture self-driving farm tour is being held on Sept. 15, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Seven local farms and agricultural companies are opening up their barns and businesses for local residents to tour. “Agriculture is our number one workforce, so we want people to understand what we do and how important it is,” said Lesley Riker. “A lot of people don’t know where their food comes from.” The tours are open to the public, and every stop will have activities for children. This is the first time for a county-wide tour to be organized, said Julie Lause, of the Wood Soil & Water Conservation District, which is one of the sponsors. “We were inspired by some of our neighboring counties,” Lause said. “Agriculture in Wood County is the top business and people don’t realize how extensive agriculture can be,” she said. “They don’t realize what it takes to create the products we eat.” Some of the stops on the tour ship their products internationally. “They want to tell our story,” Lause said of the farms on the tour. “They really want people to know what goes on behind the scenes.” Also sponsoring the Ag-Venture tour is the Wood County Economic Development Commission. “It’s a great opportunity for tourism in the county, and making people aware of ag-businesses in the county,” said Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the economic development commission. There are more than 1,000 farms in Wood County. Here’s how they rank with the rest of Ohio’s counties: 1st in value of grain sold. 5th for soybean crops planted. 6th in total value of agricultural products sold. 8th in total value of vegetables sold. 13th in total value of greenhouse sales. 17th in total value of aquaculture sales. 181st in the U.S. for total grain value. Following is a description of each agricultural site on the tour. Luckey Farmers, 11330 Avenue Road, Perrysburg Luckey Farmers is a grain marketing and farm supply cooperative that serves about 2,000 members with grain…


Living history – Kazoos, ‘marriage mill’ and speakeasy raids

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   During Prohibition, Lizzie Fuller led raids on local speakeasies. During the Great Depression, Wallace Kramp and his farmer friends started the local “penny auctions” to save neighboring farms after foreclosures. And Georgia Sargent Waugh led the Kitchen Kazoo Orchestra of a local homemakers group. Their stories and more will be part of the 15th annual Wood County Living History Day on Sunday, Aug. 26, at 2 p.m., in Oak Grove Cemetery in Bowling Green. Local residents will portray citizens interred in Wood County cemeteries or those who had an impact on Wood County’s leisure time of the 1920s and 1930s. The citizens selected this year were chosen to coincide with the “leisure time” exhibit at the Wood County Historical Center & Museum, “The Return to Normalcy: A Life of Leisure in Wood County.” The annual Living History Day draws a crowd to the cemetery because it gives a glimpse into everyday people who lived in Wood County, said Kelli Kling, director of the Wood County Historical Center. “I think it’s popular because the people being portrayed are real people,” Kling said. “It’s not necessarily the celebrities. It’s people just like us, who made an impact on Wood County.” This year’s portrayals include people with intriguing hobbies or occupations. For example, Georgia Waugh and her kazoo orchestra. “That’s such an unusual thing,” Kling said. “There will actually be a performance at the event.” Also portrayed will be Paul Fuller, who had a role in the Bowling Green “marriage mill.” “Bowling Green was an area where a lot of people passed through to get married,” Kling said. “There was a bit of a competition going on” to see who could marry the most couples. Then there’s Lizzie Fuller, who grew up in a strict Christian household in Grand Rapids, where travelers frequented on the canal boats. She was a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, which considered alcohol an evil. So she led raids on speakeasies, where alcohol was sold on the sly during Prohibition. “She felt it was her duty to protest against them,” Kling said. Following is a list of all the people being portrayed, as well as the people taking on their roles for the Living History Day event. “I love the fact that they’re all…


Public hearing planned on county landfill expansion

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Local citizens will get to weigh in Wednesday on a plan to expand the Wood County Landfill. A public hearing will be held at 6 p.m., in the fifth floor hearing room of the Wood County Office Building, on the plan to grow the landfill which has been submitted to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The county landfill originally opened along U.S. 6, west of Bowling Green, in 1972. The current permitted area of the landfill has an estimated six years of space left. It takes anywhere from three to five years for the Ohio EPA review process, said Kelly O’Boyle, assistant administrator for Wood County. “It’s a long process,” she said. The proposed expansion will add an estimated 105 years to the landfill, based on current use. For a period of nearly 15 years after 2000, the Wood County Landfill averaged about 35,000 tons a year taken in. Then Henry County closed its facility, and for three years, Wood County Landfill took in about 48,000 tons a year. Last year, that tonnage jumped to 58,000. The current footprint being used is 42 acres, reaching almost 100 feet high. The expansion would take place on approximately 59 acres to the north of the existing acreage being used. “We want to keep it as a public asset, so people can bring their stuff here,” O’Boyle said. The bottom of the landfill has an EPA-approved liner, and once an area is full, it gets an EPA-approved cover. Methane gas is monitored with a series of wells, and leachate is captured so it doesn’t move off site. Those same monitoring standards of groundwater, surface water and methane will be required for the expanded area, O’Boyle. The proposed expansion will allow the landfill to extend upward 180 feet. The existing landfill area is approved to reach 120 feet high. The county owns a total of 350 acres at the landfill. Staff from the Ohio EPA will be present at the public hearing on Wednesday. “By law we’re required to have a hearing for people to ask questions,” O’Boyle said. County officials have been talking about the need for a landfill expansion for years, and have not heard any complaints from citizens, she said. “It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone,” O’Boyle…


County moves money to pay for roads and bridges

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In March, Wood County Engineer John Musteric reported that the county’s roads and bridges were in dire condition. They suffered from too many repairs needed and not enough funding. That announcement sent the Wood County Commissioners on a search for county funds that could be moved over for road and bridge improvements. And on Monday, the commissioners reported that they had come up with nearly $6.5 million to be used during the next five years to build and repair county bridges and roads. “We look forward to much progress in improving our roads and bridges,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said during a press conference announcing the funding. Herringshaw said it was clear that the county engineer’s office would never catch up with road and bridge repairs under the current funding system. The commissioners agreed earlier this year to enact a new $5 vehicle license fee, with the revenue going to road and bridge work. But Herringshaw said it was clear that wouldn’t generate enough funding to meet the needs. The county roads and bridges are at a crisis, Musteric said this past spring. “We’ve been in a crisis mode for a long time. We’ve got so much to take care of and maintain.” The county has 245 miles of roads to maintain, plus 441 bridges with an average age of 41 years. More than 20 bridges have passed the century mark, with the granddaddy of them all being the 133-year-old bridge on Custar Road south of Sand Ridge Road.“We’re way behind, way behind,” Musteric said in March. But the newly found funding will help, he said Monday. The road and bridge funding will come from the following sources: – One-time transfer of $1.8 million from Wood County Building Inspection cash balance. – One-time transfer of $300,000 from the conveyance fee that funds county economic development. – One-time transfer of $100,000 from the Wood County Clerk of Courts’ auto title fund. – $200,000 each year for five years from county sales tax revenue. – $650,000 annually from the new $5 vehicle license fee. Musteric said much of the funding will be spent on the road and bridge needs south of U.S. 6, where safety has become an issue. “These are your roads. I’m here to protect them and improve…