Wood County

KKK history in Wood County unmasked by BGSU prof

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When the Ku Klux Klan took root in Wood County in the early 1920s, the members wore the traditional white robes and hoods, but there was little secrecy about their activities. There was no need to conceal their hatred since the membership roster included many local politicians, businessmen and ministers. Every Ohio county in the 1920s had an active Klan group, according to Michael E. Brooks, author of the book, “The Ku Klux Klan in Wood County, Ohio.” “Wood County is not particularly unique in having a history of the KKK,” said Brooks, a historian who teaches at BGSU. “What is unique is that the records survived.” Included in those records is a membership ledger that was reportedly rescued from a burn pile in 1976. The ledger, which is included in Brooks’ book, reads like a “Who’s Who” of Wood County, with familiar surnames recorded from every community. Brooks explains that economic uncertainty in the 1920s was one of the most significant factors in the rise of the reborn KKK in Ohio. Newspapers told of historically high unemployment rates, declining farm incomes and sluggish postwar economic growth. Membership records in the Center for Archival Collections at BGSU show that nearly 1,400 members paid dues to the Wood County KKK in 1924 and 1925. Once accepted into the Klan, the new members would be fitted for robes and hoods. Measurements would be taken at the local KKK office, and the information would be submitted to the national Klan headquarters for tailoring. No women…

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After years of bumper crop of taxes, farmers get some relief

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After years of watching their taxes valuations grow like weeds, local farmers are now seeing their property taxes drop. While that is good news for farmers, it’s shifted some of the tax burden to homeowners. Every six years, state mandated full reappraisals are done on all properties in the county. Updates are conducted every three years. Later this month, the Wood County Auditor’s Office will send out notices of the new valuations to local farmers. Prior to 1974, farmers were taxed based on the market value of their land – that’s how much it would sell for, explained Wood County Auditor Matt Oestreich. So 40 acres of farmland on the edge of Perrysburg would be taxed at a much higher rate than 40 acres outside of Bloomdale. That created a lot of pressure on some farmers to sell their land because they couldn’t afford the property taxes. “Farmers were being taxed off their land,” Oestreich said. So the state changed its formula, and started setting valuations based on the amount that could be produced on the acreage. In Wood County, that covers approximately 380,000 acres – with about 81 percent of the county’s total acreage used for agriculture. “The income potential is the same,” per bushel of corn in Perrysburg Township as it is in Bloom Township, said Brian Jones, the Current Agricultural Use Valuation specialist in the Wood County Auditor’s Office. Factored into the valuation are the different soils, with Wood County having about 200 different soil types. Nearly two-thirds of…


Sibbersen served county 40 years in taxing position

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Mike Sibbersen started out at the Wood County Auditor’s Office in a summer job, testing local gas pumps and checking store scales for accuracy. “I remember doing Beeker’s” general store in Pemberville where the scales weighed penny candy. At the end of the summer, Sibbersen was offered two jobs – one teaching and one continuing at the auditor’s office. He took the latter. That was 40 years ago. For the last 24 of those years, Sibbersen has been county auditor – the tax man some people love to hate. “The news you have to convey is not always what people want to hear,” he said. In many ways Sibbersen is the opposite of his predecessor, Harold Bateson, who was boisterous and often confrontational. Sibbersen is measured, certain and exact – on everything from numbers to words. “I have the reputation around here of being a frustrated editor,” he said. “Words are important.” The job has changed a great deal in the past four decades – much of it due to technology and revisions in tax law. When Sibbersen started, in addition to checking weights and measures, he also had to inventory lock boxes of deceased residents for the Department of Taxation. “When I came here, we were still doing personal property tax,” that has been phased out by the state, he said. Now the office inspects all the store checkout scanners in the county to make sure they are accurate. They also have to be on the alert for credit card skimmers….


County hears pitch for business incubator to hatch inventors’ ideas

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A business incubator may be set up in Wood County to help local inventors hatch their ideas. The Wood County Commissioners heard a proposal Tuesday morning from Rene Polin, president and founder of Balance, a company that helps entrepreneurs turn their ideas into reality. “You can’t just be a dreamer. You have to be a dreamer with a business plan,” Polin said. And that’s where Balance would come in to the picture. “We want to bring our panache in the industry from Cleveland to Wood County,” Polin said. To do that, Polin needs some type of very basic workspace – something with office space, power and connectivity. “I know that sounds primitive,” but that’s all that’s needed, he said. The firm’s Cleveland space is an old factory building. The firm works with entrepreneurs, helping them assess their plans, fill out necessary paperwork, and determine if the project is worth their time and investment. After all, most inventors aren’t good business people, explained Doug Miller, of the Wood County Economic Development Commission which is working to bring Balance here. “They don’t have any idea how to run a business,” Polin agreed. “We bring the management acumen.” The business incubator can help entrepreneurs determine if there is a market for their product, Miller said. “People get focused on their invention,” but if the public won’t buy it, the idea isn’t going anywhere, he said. Sometimes, the dreams need to be tweaked. “We ask the hard questions,” Polin said. “We don’t kill the dream, but…


Wood County selects solution for glass recycling

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The glass recycling operation may resume soon for Bowling Green and all of Wood County. The behind the scene operations may be a little different, but residents will once again be able to drop off their glass recyclables as they have in the past. “The public should see no difference from before,” Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said Thursday morning. The new solution calls for the glass to be shipped to a new location in Dunkirk, Indiana. “The commissioners are optimistic this will work,” Kalmar said. “The most important part is it doesn’t go in our landfill,” he added. The county commissioners selected a proposal from Strategic Materials, with costs of $20 a ton for shipping paid to Strategic Materials, and $10 a ton for handling paid to the Bowling Green Recycling Center. The county will pay the entire $30/ton fee. Strategic Materials is interested in a three- to five-year agreement. ”This arrangement is uncomplicated, restores glass recycling county citizens, cost effective, and keeps glass out of the landfill,” Kalmar said. Bill DenBesten, of the Bowling Green Recycling Center, said the center board will review the decision made by the commissioners. “Since this new proposal includes a change of partners, increased due diligence is required before we formally respond. We have already begun informal discussions and are planning a more comprehensive meeting, likely on Monday evening,” DenBesten responded. “I’ll let you know just as soon as the board has made its decision.” If the agreement proceeds, people dropping off glass will once…


Roundabout eyed for Campbell Hill – Napoleon Road

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   East Wooster Street in Bowling Green may not be the only route in the area steering for roundabouts. Wood County Engineer John Musteric has asked for a safety study to be conducted at the intersection of Napoleon Road and Campbell Hill Road – just on the east side of Bowling Green. The Wood County Commissioners agreed to the study, which will be conducted by Poggemeyer Design Group. According to Musteric, the Campbell Hill-Napoleon intersection was identified on a list compiled by the Ohio County Engineers Association as one of the worst intersections in the region for accidents. Other Wood County intersections have made the list in the past, including Hull Prairie and Roachton, which now has a roundabout, and several on Oregon Road between Ohio 795 and the city of Northwood. A roundabout is currently being considered for the intersection of First Street and Oregon Road, Musteric said. In the city of Bowling Green, roundabouts are planned at East Wooster’s intersections with Interstate 75, Dunbridge Road and Campbell Hill Road. Now it appears there may be one more roundabout, just on the outer edge of the city. During the past three years, Musteric said the Campbell Hill-Napoleon crossing has been the site of about 45 accidents. Most have involved property damage and none have been fatal crashes, he said. “There have been a lot of accidents there,” he said. It doesn’t seem to be a matter of visibility, and the county has added signage. But that doesn’t seem to have helped. “People…


BGSU teams with Wood County to monitor mosquitoes

By BOB CUNNINGHAM BGSU Office of Marketing & Communications Notice an uptick in mosquitoes in northwest Ohio? You can thank climate change. Warmer summers mean longer mosquito seasons, and milder winters signify a higher survival rate for mosquitoes. Those conditions, which have allowed for the emergence of diseases such as that caused by Zika virus, are cause for concern — especially as mosquitoes that vector, or carry, such viruses migrate farther north. “What’s happened the last two to three years has led to a lot of concern about mosquito-borne pathogens and viruses,” said Dr. Dan Pavuk, an insect biologist and lecturer in Biological Sciences at Bowling Green State University. “South Florida last summer in mosquito season had more than 200 cases of the Zika virus in humans that were actually documented to be transmitted by mosquitoes. That has spurred the interest in revitalizing a lot of the mosquito surveillance.” The Wood County Health District recently received a $17,696 grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to study mosquitoes in Wood County. The health district contracted with BGSU to assist in its mosquito surveillance project. Pavuk and two undergraduate biology students, Erica Eskins of Bellevue, Ohio, and Hannah Alanis of Oregon, Ohio, have been working on the project all summer. They’ll set the traps throughout Wood County, including three sites in Bowling Green and one each in Pemberville, Grand Rapids, Perrysburg, Rossford, North Baltimore and Walbridge. “We go out at least once a week and set the traps and then go back the next day to pick them up,” Pavuk said. “Most people…