Wood County

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…

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873 pinwheels show extent of child abuse and neglect

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The spinning pinwheels planted in the ground by giggling children tell a very different story than it appears at first glance. “Without alarming the kids, we let them know this is something to help other children who need help,” said Susie Dunn, who brought out children from Dunn’s Kiddie Kare to plant the pinwheels in the ground. The 873 pinwheels represent the number of child abuse and neglect investigations conducted last year by Wood County Children’s Services. This year the blue and silver pinwheels bear testament along Ohio 25 where motorists will easily see them, in the front yard of Thayer Ford/Nissan, 18039 Dixie Highway, Bowling Green. The annual display of pinwheels is part of Child Abuse Awareness Month in April. The display serves as a reminder that not all children have carefree and loving lives. “We continue to run record levels of investigations,” said Dave Wigent, director of the Wood County Department of Job and Family Services. Last year’s numbers dropped slightly from the 894 cases in 2016, but the severity of the cases continue to worsen. The pinwheels are a visual reminder that the public needs to notify authorities about child abuse and neglect. “We depend on the community to report child abuse,” Wigent said. In addition to the countywide pinwheel field, individual displays are once again being planted in communities to show the number of cases in each school district. “It’s everywhere in Wood County,” said Sandi Carsey, administrator of Wood County Protective Services. Area schools will have displays on their campuses, with the number of pinwheels indicating the number of families in the district assisted by Wood County Children’s Services. The breakdown per district is: Bowling Green – 198; Eastwood – 45; Elmwood – 46; Lake – 55; North Baltimore – 75; Northwood – 72; Otsego – 54; Perrysburg – 146; and Rossford – 90. The pinwheels will be on display throughout the month of April. Some of…


Dogs put to the test before deemed safe for adoption

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   All 120 pounds of Winston with his wagging tail showed up in the Wood County Commissioners’ hearing room on Tuesday. The mastiff mix – who was adopted from the Wood County Dog Shelter – was used to help exhibit the testing that dogs go through before they are deemed safe to be adopted out from the shelter. “If we have dogs with unsafe behaviors, we are not going to place them,” Wood County Dog Warden Andrew Snyder said to the county commissioners. “We are making decisions based on the best interest of the public and best interest of the dogs.” Snyder talked about Safety Assessment for Evaluating Re-homing tests intended to judge dog behavior. “This assessment was designed to identify behavior modification before adoption,” he said. However, the dog shelter does not have the adequate time or staff to perform the detailed two-person videotaped evaluations, he said. “It’s really not a function we are equipped to carry out,” Snyder told the commissioners. So the Wood County Dog Shelter is using its own version of the behavior evaluations. According to Snyder, dog shelters in Lucas and Hancock counties also do modified versions, while dog shelters in Seneca, Sandusky, Henry and Ottawa counties have no formal evaluations. But a canine advocate group called Wood County Canine Alliance believes some dogs at the local shelter are unfairly labeled as dangerous and doomed to euthanasia. Snyder defended the evaluations as a public service. With the help of Winston and his owner, deputy dog warden Nora Davis, Snyder showed the county commissioners how dogs are assessed. Observation of the dog’s body language can tell a lot, he said. Is the dog barking in a happy or aggressive manner, cowering in the back of a kennel, pacing, acting dominant or submissive, avoiding eye contact? Are the ears back, hair raised, tail wagging? “Dogs are very, very good at reading people,” Snyder said. “As we’re assessing them, they are…


First responders honored for giving opiate addicts second, third and more chances

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Those being honored Monday in the war against opiate abuse weren’t front and center. As usual, they were gathered far from the podium. “The first responders are all in the back of the room,” Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson said. “Frankly that’s where they would prefer to be. They would much rather be out doing their jobs.” Those are the jobs they were being honored for on Monday – saving people from opiate overdoses. “They step into circumstances that we can’t imagine,” Dobson said. “They stand between us and danger in a very real sense on a daily basis.” EMS and law enforcement are being recognized across Ohio this week for saving people who overdose on opiates. In the Wood County Courthouse Atrium, the first responders were thanked by the second and third responders in the opiate crisis. To show appreciation in Wood County, that meant lunches will be delivered to fire and police stations throughout the week by Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “This is basically to say ‘thank you.’ We know it’s difficult work,” said Milan Karna, with the Wood County Prevention Coalition. A video was played, showing people who had been saved by first responders using narcan to revive them after overdoses. The faces thanked the first responders for not giving up on them – even if they had to respond to the same person for multiple overdoses. Tom Clemons, WCADAMHS director, used Dobson’s terminology of this war on opiates creating “refugees” in need of care. “It takes all of us working together on this,” Clemons said. On the front lines of this war are EMS, law enforcement, children’s services, and hospitals. “It is a widely recognized fact that a lot of first responders are putting themselves at risk,” with fentanyl being very dangerous to those treating overdose victims. But the use of narcan is giving opiate…


Overweight trucks weigh heavy on minds of county officials

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County roads took a beating from the Rover pipeline construction across the southern part of the county. So Wood County Engineer John Musteric wants to get an overweight truck program in place before more pipeline construction traffic rumbles over county roads and bridges. But while the program will keep an eye on pipeline transports, it was decided that it won’t target farm traffic. The Wood County Commissioners on Tuesday reviewed the proposed fees for an overweight truck program – with the ultimate goal of saving county roads and bridges from unnecessary wear and tear. “This is to protect our assets,” Musteric said. “We’re spending a lot of money to improve these roads and bridges.” At the same time, the engineer’s office is aware of many overweight loads using county roads and bridges. “We hope to God a catastrophe doesn’t happen,” with older bridges being weakened with every heavy load, Musteric said. The county has already posted signs notifying Nexus pipeline construction traffic of the route they are to take north of Bowling Green. The permit program will require the pipeline company to purchase permits for all of its trucks, and will allow the county to issue fines if the trucks stray from the assigned route that can better handle the heavy loads, Musteric said. “They better stay on those routes. They’ve been warned,” Musteric said. “If you get off those routes, you will pay.” The county learned a hard lesson from the Rover pipeline construction in the southern part of the county, Musteric said at a previous meeting. “Rover tore the heck out of the roads,” he said. Though the proposed overweight truck program has been unpopular with some, there are companies ready to pay for their permits, said Shane Johnson, of the county engineer’s office. For Nexus pipeline, the program will require more than 85 permits at a proposed $150 each. “They haven’t batted an eye,” Johnson said. But local…


Wood County home health services for seniors cut

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For decades, Wood County Job and Family Services has provided in-home care for low-income old and infirm residents. The value of those personal care and homemaker services was extolled last year as the agency promoted its tax levy. The levy passed handily. But now, months later, the agency is drastically cutting these services to older county citizens. The purpose of the programs is to allow senior citizens to stay in their homes. The homemaker services provide cleaning for seniors unable to maintain a safe home. There were approximately 140 people in this program. The personal care program provides bathing, nail care and medication set-ups to another 75 citizens. “The programs are a safety net diverting people from institutions,” said Denise Niese, director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. Many of the people being removed from services by Wood County Job and Family Services are citizens also served by Niese’s agency. “They are feeling abandoned,” Niese said. Dave Wigent, director of Wood County Job and Family Services, agreed the letters sent out to seniors have raised concerns. “We’ve got some frustrated people,” he said. Wigent said the cutting of the services months after passage of the levy was unfortunate timing. But when his agency did a review of services in late November, it was discovered that Job and Family Services was getting reimbursed by the federal government for a small fraction of the cost of the program. “Not only is it not mandated, it’s not funded,” Wigent said of the senior programs. In 2017, the agency spent $900,000 on the homemaker program with its six employees, he said. At the same time, an evaluation showed that the bulk of the people receiving the non-mandated services had other options for the same care. “We came to the realization we had a lot of people in the program who could take care of themselves, or had the resources to take care of themselves,” he…


County helps fund humane society cruelty investigator

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Last year the Wood County Humane Society responded to 221 complaints of abused or neglected animals. With the help of $32,500 from the Wood County Commissioners, the agency can continue coming to the rescue of mistreated animals. The commissioners presented the funds Tuesday to representatives of the humane society. The check was $2,500 more than the usual annual amount given. The money is used each year to pay for the humane agent’s salary, plus help with costs for the vehicle and equipment used to respond to complaints. Heath Diehl, president of the volunteer board, and Erin Moore, shelter manager, reported to the commissioners on changes at the shelter. Diehl said the agency is constantly focused on working more efficiently and being good stewards of donated monies. Moore said the agency had an operational audit conducted recently by an outside company. She also pointed out increased efforts to send staff to educational seminars. The humane society has a new humane agent, David Petersen, who responds to cruelty complaints. “He’s been pretty busy on education,” Moore said. Petersen, who has experience as Sandusky County’s humane agent, gets an estimated 16 calls a month about suspected animal abuse or neglect. In some of those cases, the owners are educated on proper care and the animals are left with them. For that reason, the humane agent also conducted 882 re-checks last year, according to the Wood County Humane Society’s annual report for 2017. In other cases, the owners surrender the animals, or the case is taken to court. “During the really hot times of the year and the really cold times, we get more” cases reported, Moore said. According to the annual report, the humane society set a record last year of the number of animals taken in, and the number of lives saved. A total of 1,055 animals were taken into the shelter – an increase of 20 percent from the year before – and…