Wood County

Voters pass two countywide levies by wide margins

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The willingness of Wood County voters to help those in need resulted in the easy passage of two countywide levies on Tuesday. The Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities’ 2.45-mill levy walked away with 72 percent of the vote (34,546 to 13,172), and the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services’ 1-mill levy passed handily with 67 percent of the vote (32,061 to 15,901). Wood Lane Superintendent Brent Baer said voters clearly responded to the need. “We’re so appreciative of the support,” he said Tuesday evening. “We’re looking forward to getting back in the office tomorrow and doing what we love to do.” Baer was pleasantly surprised by the margin of the levy’s victory. The last time the levy was on the ballot in 2013, it passed with 57 percent of the vote. The increased support may be because of a decrease in the millage, and in the spike in demands for Wood Lane services, Baer said. “I do believe people really responded to the information,” that requests for services are at an all-time high, he said. “They agreed the need is there.” Tom Clemons, executive director of Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, spent a great deal of time traveling to communities in the county to educate voters prior to the levy vote. But he found that many county residents were already aware of the services. “I think we have really improved our community education over the past several years,” Clemons said. And the ongoing opiate crisis has helped spread the word. “The opiate epidemic certainly increased awareness,” he said. Clemons said he was worried that people would be so tired of hearing about the opiate crisis, that they might shut out the message about the levy. He is also weary of hearing the horrors, “but closing my eyes to it doesn’t make it go away,” he said. “We’re making a difference. We’re saving people’s lives. But we’ve got a long way to go,” he said. As he promoted the levy, Clemons also talked about the need for more suicide prevention efforts in the county. “The high rate of suicides we’re seeing has really sobered people up,” he said. Voters responded to the need, Clemons said. “Wood County residents really do have care and compassion, and they come together to help their neighbors,” he said. “I’m…


Auditor candidates disagree over appraisal process

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The two candidates for Wood County auditor differ on a major role of the office – how property appraisals ought to be conducted. The Democratic candidate for Wood County auditor has accused the Republican candidate of outsourcing jobs. Buddy Ritson has called for an end to privatized property appraisals in Wood County. But incumbent Matt Oestreich is defending the practice, saying the vast majority of Ohio counties contract with private firms to conduct appraisals. To do otherwise would be more costly and less efficient, he said. Of the 88 Ohio counties, only 10 do in-house property appraisals, Oestreich said. Those 10 are the largest counties that have enough staff to do appraisals themselves. Property appraisals are done every six years, so most counties can’t employ enough staff to conduct those periodic jobs, he said. “You’d have to have trained appraisers on your staff,” to do the appraisals in-house. And those employees would only be needed every six years when the appraisals are conducted, Oestreich said. The Wood County Auditor’s Office has always contracted with private appraisal firms, Oestreich said. The firms work in the county for 18 to 24 months, then move on to another county, he said. Wood County currently pays $1,258,000 to a company named Lexur Enterprises in Dayton to have the appraisals completed, Ritson said. “These are jobs that can be done here in Wood County. With the number of contracts and the tasks associated with them, these are good paying full-time jobs that should be done here in Wood County,” Ritson said. “To outsource these jobs, as the Auditor’s Office is doing, is bad for the county and its taxpayers.” While the appraisals aren’t done in office, some Wood County citizens were employed in the process. According to Oestreich, during the 2017 mass reappraisal a Perrysburg resident served as the project supervisor, and two other Wood County residents worked on the reappraisals. “Having appraisers living in Wood County is a definite benefit to the process of determining real estate values, as they have a pulse on the local market,” Oestreich said. Through an information request with the Ohio Department of Taxation, Ritson said he found five additional contracts with Lexur Enterprises since 2014 that include yearly new construction updates, assistance with value defenses, triennial updates, and additional appraisal services. All of the contracts with Lexur Enterprises total nearly $1.75…


Wood Lane seeks reduced renewal levy for 2.45 mills

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood Lane is asking voters to approve a reduced renewal levy – dropped from the current 2.95-mills to 2.45 mills. The decrease in millage allows the agency to be fiscally responsible and continue to provide quality services, according to Wood Lane Superintendent Brent Baer. Wood Lane has been required by Medicare/Medicaid rules to shift its services to private providers in the past few years. So some question why the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities needs a levy on the ballot. The reason – while Wood Lane no longer provides the services directly, it now has to pay private agencies for the services. Privatization did result in some reduced costs for the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. And the board did pass those savings on to the taxpayers, Baer said. For example, in 2017 the board eliminated its levy collection all together, and in 2018 it collected 50 percent of the millage. But while there have been some cost savings by privatizing services, there are some cost increases due to growing demands for services, Baer said. Since 2013, the individuals served by the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities has grown from 899 to 1,071. “None of the individuals who previously received services stopped receiving services,” Baer said. “Our commitments are for the life of an individual.” 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. Demands are growing as the population here is increasing. “Wood County is one of the few counties in Ohio that’s growing,” Baer said. Wood Lane services start early and follow people throughout their lives. “We start at birth with early intervention services,” he said. More early intervention is needed for children with autism, and for children affected by the opioid crisis, he added. As the children age, Wood Lane School gets involved for youth up to the age of 22. “Anyone who runs a school for people who have significant developmental disabilities has additional costs,” Baer explained. But Wood Lane has no intention of not offering school services. Without them, children would be…


ADAMHS levy aims to save lives from drugs, suicide

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Tom Clemons makes his rounds to public meetings before next week’s election, he talks about the big difference made by a levy that costs voters a small amount. The 1-mill replacement levy for 10 years for Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services will cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $35 a year. That money is spent on dealing with growing drug addiction problems and increasing needs for mental health crisis services. “We save lives,” said Clemons, executive director of Wood County ADAMHS. The levy funding is needed to keep up with growing needs for services, Clemons said. Some of the biggest issues include dealing with the opiate epidemic, providing more mental health housing, and improving crisis intervention services. Wood County is expected to hit 30 deaths this year from opioid overdoses. The number of suicides is also on the rise, with the county trending at about 20 this year, Clemons said. The funding is vital, he said, for programs fighting the opioid crisis, plus an increase in methamphetamine and cocaine abuse. Addiction recovery houses, and the mental health services are all part of the safety net supported by the WCADAMHS levy. The county used to average six to seven suicide deaths a year. “That’s too many,” Clemons said. And then they spiked. In 2015 there were 17; in 2016 there were 20; in 2017 there was a drop to 11; and this year the county is on pace to hit 25. In response to the increase in adult suicides, the ADAMHS board recently decided to fund a mobile crisis response that replaced The Link crisis center. The mobile unit responds to crises wherever the person is – at home, work, a store, or a park, Clemons said. It has unlimited capacity for calls, so no one calling in for help will be put on hold, he added. “Everybody who answers the phone is thoroughly trained in crisis response,” he said of the new hotline. The ADAMHS board also funded training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, designed for people who are suicidal, self-harming or aggressive to others. The therapy has been proven very successful, Clemons said, and focuses on self-calming skills, mindfulness and meditation techniques. When the training is complete, Wood County should have 30 to 40 therapists available with expertise in the DBT techniques. The…


Citizens honored for making a difference in Wood County

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County honored its best on Sunday – a farmer who shows his love for the land by putting agronomics ahead of economics, a teacher who pushes his students to achieve goals they never believed possible, and a volunteer who helps connect people with ancestors they never knew existed. The Wood County Commissioners continued the annual tradition of handing out the Spirit of Wood County Awards on Sunday afternoon in the courthouse atrium. The following people were recognized: Mark Drewes for Agricultural Leadership. Robert Pollex for Liberty Through Law/Human Freedom. Charles Cox for Education for Civic Responsibility. Richard Adams for Religion and Liberty. Tom Oberhouse for Industrial/Economic Development. Millie Broka for the Lyle R. Fletcher Good Citizenship Award. Michael Sibbersen for the Lyle R. Fletcher Good Citizenship Award. Ann Harris Householder for the Lyle R. Fletcher Good Citizenship Award. David Chilson for a Special Spirit of Wood County Award. Drewes, a grain farmer from the Custar area, is a recognized steward of the land who always has a tractor seat to share with people who want to learn about farming the land. “My dad preaches the term agronomics over economics,” said Drewes daughter, Darcy Krassow. Drewes is part of a multi-generational family farm partnership that has farmed in the Black Swamp area since the 1880s. Drewes’ farm model and mission encompass important conservation principles. And he shares his knowledge with others, having been a member of many national and state agricultural associations that work to find solutions to problems. He has been a strong advocate for farm issues and for the people who dedicate themselves to making their living off the land. Drewes has an open door policy at his farm – welcoming anyone to ask questions and discuss farming. He has hosted many crop tours, FFA tours, and bus tours of his farmland. When agriculture needed research on reducing the impact on the environment, Drewes offered up his farm as a research laboratory. He is unafraid of results and willing to lead by example in implementing new practices and technology to better his farm and the environment, according to the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association. Pollex, of Perrysburg, served as a Wood County probate/juvenile judge from 1984 to 1998, then as a common pleas judge until retiring in 2016. “He had an impact on generations of juveniles in Wood County,”…


Early voting numbers higher than last mid-term election

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A steady stream of local citizens have been making their way to the Wood County Board of Elections daily for early voting. As of Thursday, 7,595 Wood County residents had requested ballots by mail, and another 1,482 had been to the office to cast their ballots. That’s not as many as the office saw during the presidential election in 2016, but it is more than the last mid-term election four years ago, said Terry Burton, director of the Wood County Board of Elections. The total number of early voters in Wood County in 2014 was 7,990. In 2016 the number was 16,067. With 11 days to go, the early voting this year has already surpassed that of 2014.     Early voting is becoming the norm for many people. And the local board of elections predicts the in-office early voting numbers will continue upward at a faster rate as the election nears. “People are realizing the election is close,” Burton said. Not only do voters get a little nervous about mailing their ballots too close to election day, but also, there will be extended voting hours in the Board of Elections office. The extended voting hours are: Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Next week, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. No in-office voting is allowed on election day, Nov. 6. The fact that early voting numbers are higher than for the mid-term four years ago does not come as a surprise to the local board of elections. Burton tried to find the politically kind words, but ended up just saying that the state races in 2014 included a lot of incumbents and weren’t “overly competitive.” This year, the races are a little more heated. Plus the Secretary of State’s Office mailed out early voting reminders to all voters. The board of elections office is concerned about another mailer sent out by the state Republican party which stated that voters can turn in their absentee ballots at the polls. That is not true, Burton said. The ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 5 or turned into the board of elections office by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. Any voter taking the absentee ballot to…


“I believe Joel Kuhlman will make a good appellate judge” – Mel Browning

​A few years ago, after 23 years, I retired as an attorney at the Sixth District Court of Appeals. During my time there I had an opportunity to observe some really superior appeals judges. The court is one of the most respected in the state. ​The common characteristics of a good appeals court judge include not only a firm understanding of the law, but a sense of fairness, impartially and a dedication to protect the rights of all who come before the court.  The good judge must also temper the application of the law with a sense of compassion and an understanding that those who come before the court should be dealt with respectfully. ​I have known Joel Kuhlman and his family for decades now. I believe that he has the traits necessary to be a good judge. He has a firm understanding of the law, having practiced for ten years in Wood and the surrounding counties. He is fair, impartial and compassionate. ​He also brings with him an appreciation for the perspective of the non-urban parts of the district which, although comprising approximately half of the population of the Sixth District, have been traditionally under-represented on the court. ​I believe that Joel Kuhlman will make a good appellate judge and that his election to the court would bring a perspective and vigor that the court needs. For these reasons I would urge your support for Joel Kuhlman for Sixth District Court of Appeals sthis November. Mel Browning Rossford


Belly dancing? Dinner theater? New senior center full of new ideas

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The public got a chance to ask questions about the new senior center plan on Tuesday. Will there be room for gardening? What about a stage for dinner theater? And will one of the activity rooms be large enough for belly dancing? With far more than bingo and shuffleboard – this may not be your grandparents’ senior center. The schematics showed a building more than twice the size of the current senior center, with more space for programs, an adult day care area, and a community storm shelter. The price tag is expected to be about $6 million. The new 35,000-square-foot senior center, designed by Duket Architects, will be located at the site of the former school administration building between South Grove and Buttonwood streets, south of West Wooster Street. The new facility will replace the 14,500-square-foot center currently housed in the 104-year-old building on North Main Street that formerly held the post office. The architects for the project – Jerry Voll and Jeff Brummel – did their best to answer questions from a roomful of interested people of all ages. They were curious about the size of the new gift shop, the number and size of restroom stalls, the space to display artwork, the capacity of the elevator, and the dining room acoustics. One of the questions was shouted down by a senior playing a game of pool on the balcony upstairs with three of his buddies. “Where does the pool table go?” he asked. Denise Niese, director of the senior center, took the pointer and showed him exactly which activity room the pool table would take. But she stipulated with a smile that with the new facility, she expected to hear fewer swear words from the pool players. As for space for belly dancing – the answer was probably. “I’m not sure how much room is needed for belly dancing,” Brummel confessed. The new senior center will have between 80 and 100 parking spaces, will have one-story and two-story sections, and will be designed to fit in with the early-century residential area in which it will sit. The first floor of the senior center will have two main entrances covered for weather protection. There will be a dining and multi-purpose room that can seat up to 200 people – compared to the current dining room which can hold 114. Also…


Distracted driving – simulator teaches safety behind the wheel

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With no warning, a car strays into the neighboring lane. “Is this not Bowling Green,” said Sandy Wiechman, Wood County Safe Communities coordinator. “You really have to pay attention.” The driver manages to avoid a collision, but seconds later, a dog runs into the street. She slams on the brakes, but it’s too late. “She just killed a dog,” Wiechman said. In this instance the dog and the driver are fine, since the crash occurred on Wood County Safe Communities’ distracted driving simulator. The simulator gives drivers an idea of the distractions out on the road, without the threat of injuries. The “driver” sits behind the steering wheel, with control of the wheel, the gas pedal and the brake. But there is much the driver has no control over. “You’ve got distractions all over the place,” Wiechman said. There’s a soccer ball that rolls out on the street, fire trucks approaching, construction cones, sun glaring into the windshield, school buses stopping, dogs and cats dashing into the road, pedestrians and bicyclists. And then there are the distractions inside the vehicle. There’s an annoying passenger who keeps asking the driver to make a call or text for him. In Wood County, about 4.5 percent of car crashes are blamed on driver distraction. In 2017, drivers reported the following distractions: Cell phone, 25; texting or emailing, 5; other electronic communication device, 7; electronic devices such as navigation devices, DVD player or radio, 39; others inside the vehicle, 99; and external distractions outside the vehicle, 84. Wiechman said the distractions go far beyond texting. Some people try eating lunch, check out the neighbor’s yard, or look to see if they know the bicyclist as they pass. “I refuse to do it just on texting. There are just so many things that can happen,” she said. “You never know when a kid is going to dart out into traffic,” Wiechman said. “One time can ruin your life and someone else’s life.” Even conversation in the car can be distracting. “You just have to pay 100 percent attention,” she said. It isn’t long before the “driver” is cut off by another car, swerves to avoid that vehicle and then hits an oncoming vehicle head-on. The simulator screen then gives the driver a view of the EMS crew standing over as an air ambulance lands nearby. The driving…


County park district hits bullseye with archery range

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The latest park hit the bullseye for archers in the Wood County area. On Tuesday, the Wood County Park District held its monthly meeting at the new Arrowwood Archery Park, located on Linwood Road, southeast of Bowling Green. The park adds archery to the activity list of canoeing, biking, fishing, hiking, hunting, kayaking and rock climbing offered by the park district. “It shows the diversity of the Wood County Park District and the diversity of the staff,” said Denny Parish, chairman of the park board. Parish said he is proud of citizen support and staff making the variety of activities possible. Park district Executive Director Neil Munger agreed. “The idea for this archery range actually came from public input,” Munger said. (A grand opening will be held Sunday.) After the meeting, park board members were given a chance to try their skills at the new archery range. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the park board got its annual visit from former park board member and current park patron Frank McLaughlin about the need for more bike accommodations by the county park district. McLaughlin said he was out on the Slippery Elm Trail again this past weekend. He said he can’t imagine any park in the county getting more use. “It’s like a freeway out there on Saturdays and Sundays,” he said. While the trail from Bowling Green to North Baltimore is great, more would be nice. “We could certainly use something from Bowling Green to Perrysburg,” McLaughlin said. Munger mentioned that as a member of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments bicycle committee, the park district has learned of possible plans to use Hull Prairie Road to connect Bowling Green and Perrysburg. McLaughlin noted the narrow nature of Hull Prairie. Wood County is also falling behind on connecting the Chessie Circle and North Coast trails, he said. A bike trail already stretches from Lorain to eastern Wood County, then picks up again in Lucas County heading west to Archbold. McLaughlin mentioned the park district owns land that could be used for a bike trail in the Perrysburg Township area. “It would be nice to see that happen,” he said. “This is the one missing piece,” he said of the east-west bike trail across northern Ohio. Munger said the park district is trying to use a regional approach on bike trails, and will…


NSG Pilkington may build new glass plant in Wood County

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Troy Township is on the list of possible sites for a new glass plant estimated to cost close to $300 million to build and furnish. Earlier this week, paperwork was filed at the Wood County Commissioners’ Office from NSG Pilkington Glass requesting an enterprise zone agreement that would give the company a 100 percent tax abatement for 15 years. “This is not a done deal by any means,” said Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission. “They are still investigating other sites.” The Wood County site making the short list of locations for the new plant is off Pemberville Road, just south of Garling Road, Gottschalk said. The location is south of the massive Home Depot warehouse off Pemberville Road. The paperwork states that NSG Pilkington will create 150 jobs at the new 511,000-square-foot plant, according to Sandy Long, clerk of the county commissioners. The total investment at the site is estimated at between $260 million and $294 million, including the construction, machinery, fixtures and inventory for the new float glass facility. Todd Huffman, plant manager at the Rossford NSG facility, said Thursday that the company recently developed a new type of glass coating. The new transparent conductive oxide coating is thinner and lighter while being durable and resistant to chemicals. It can be widely used for solar cells, buildings, cars and various electronics and medical devices. The Rossford plant will continue its production, but a new plant is needed to produce the transparent conductive oxide coating glass. “We are going to be expanding in North America,” Huffman said, not elaborating on how many sites are under consideration. The request for tax abatement is just one item on a long list of criteria the company is considering for a new location. The location will be somewhere close to Toledo, Huffman said. “We need to be making glass for our customers in the fourth quarter of 2020,” he said. That means construction must start in the spring of 2019, Huffman explained. Gottschalk said he is hoping the Troy Township location makes the cut for the new plant. “It’s a great local company,” he said of NSG Pilkington. “We’d love to land this company in Wood County.” “This is yet another example of the attractiveness of Wood County for economic development,” Gottschalk said. “We hope to get another big win…


Utopia pipeline uses existing line to cross Wood County

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   One of the three pipelines crossing through Wood County found a different route – allowing it to transport its product without digging a single new trench through local fields. Rather than plowing its own route through the county, the Utopia pipeline built by Kinder-Morgan ended up using an under-utilized existing pipeline to pump ethane from the east side of Ohio to Sarnia, Ontario. “You’re not going to see that,” Allen Fore, Kinder-Morgan public affairs vice president, said recently as he sat in Kermit’s Restaurant and looked outside at the torn up pavement for the Columbia Gas project in downtown Bowling Green. The $540 million Utopia pipeline, which is capturing the gas being flared away from fracking in southeastern Ohio, has been in operation since January. But before Kinder-Morgan officials found the existing line to use, its route for the Utopia pipeline ran into court battles from Wood County landowners. Last year, local landowners who dug in their heels against Utopia’s eminent domain efforts won the battle to keep the pipeline from crossing their properties. Maurice Thompson, of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law which represented 26 Wood County landowners, said the use of existing pipelines is the best solution. “That’s what we’ve argued all along,” Thompson said. “Use existing pipelines instead of taking more land.” The proposed Utopia line would have run 21 miles through Wood County – south of Pemberville, then north of Bowling Green, then crossing the Maumee River south of Waterville. It would have affected 67 landowners on 117 tracts of land. “Sometimes these things start as adversarial and end in a good way,” Fore said. Meanwhile, two other new pipelines have been constructed through Wood County in the past year. The Rover pipeline cuts through the southern portion of the county, and the Nexus pipeline runs north of Bowling Green. The repurposing of a pipeline worked well for Kinder-Morgan and local landowners. The project started with 147 miles of pipeline being constructed from Harrison County to Seneca County. There the new line connected with the repurposed pipeline for 77 miles through Sandusky, Wood and Lucas counties. “It can work,” Fore said. “This was a real win-win for everyone.” There are more than 2 million miles of pipelines already buried across the U.S., according to Fore. “If you can utilize existing infrastructure, there’s a benefit. There’s more certainty,” he…


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 skate park in Bowling Green City Park. “Having something like this skills track is huge,”…


Plans unveiled for new $6 million county senior center

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Plans for the new Wood County Senior Center – and its new price tag – were unveiled Wednesday. The schematics showed a building more than twice the size of the current senior center, with more space for programs, an adult day care area, and a community storm shelter. Originally, it was estimated the new senior center would cost about $4 million. However some unexpected issues led that price tag to jump up to $6 million. “We’re proud to be able to roll this out to the community,” Ben Batey, president of the Wood County Committee on Aging Board, said Wednesday. The board viewed the preliminary building plans – designed to meet the growing needs of local seniors – created by Duket Architects. The new 35,000-square-foot senior center will be located at the site of the former school administration building between South Grove and Buttonwood streets, south of West Wooster Street. The new facility will replace the 14,500-square-foot center currently housed in the 104-year-old building on North Main Street that formerly held the post office. The new senior center will have between 80 and 100 parking spaces, will have one-story and two-story sections, and will be designed to fit in with the early-century residential area in which it will sit. “We tried to design the building to fit the community,” said Jerry Voll, of the architectural firm.   The first floor of the senior center will have two main entrances covered for weather protection. There will be a dining and multi-purpose room, five activity rooms of varying size, public restrooms, skylights to let in natural light, and an elevator. The first floor will also have a lounge area that may double as a library, with a gas fireplace, and coffee. Also on the first floor will be an adult day care space, with its own entry. “I’m personally really excited about the adult day care concept. That doesn’t exist in Wood County yet,” Batey said. The Alzheimer’s Resource Center in Toledo has offered to provide the day care services. There will be outdoor patios off the multi-purpose room and off the adult day care. The second floor will have room for administration offices, social services, activity rooms and office space for the BGSU Optimum Aging Institute, which will be teaming up with the senior center at the site. “Our students will be here….


Addiction and mental health safety nets depend on levy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After Carol Beckley’s life turned dark, she tried to end her life five or six times. After Kyle Snyder started stealing from his dad’s medicine cabinet, he ended up overdosing on opiates multiple times. Their lives have few similarities – except Beckley and Snyder were both saved by the safety net stretched out by the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board. So on Monday, the two told their stories at the kickoff for the WCADAMHS levy which will appear on the November ballot. “Nothing speaks as clearly as to hear somebody’s personal story of their recovery,” said Tom Clemons, executive director of WCADAMHS. Beckley, who grew up in Wood County, started having problems 26 years ago. “My life as I knew it fell apart,” she said. She grew detached from things that were important to her, and started cutting herself. Beckley said she attempted suicide five or six times. Over the next five years, she was hospitalized about 20 times. “It was a revolving door for me,” she said. At that point, Beckley moved back to Wood County, where she found the safety net of services for people with mental health and addiction problems. Through Behavioral Connections, she was assigned a psychiatrist, therapist and case manager. She started hanging out at the Connections Center, where people cared how she was doing. “It was a place I could go on a daily basis,” Beckley said. “It got me out of my house. I started to crawl back to some sense of normalcy.” Without the levy funding for local mental health services, Beckley would not have been standing at a podium Monday telling her story. “Without the funding, without the help, I wouldn’t be here today,” she said. “Life as I know it is not the life I planned – but it is very rich.” Snyder was helped by a different safety net – one for addicts. As a child, Snyder watched as his father struggled as he waited for a kidney transplant. He remembered the burden and pain he felt as a child. “I remember at 10 years old I didn’t want to be alive,” he said. As a teenager, Snyder searched for ways to escape his world. “Anything to alter my reality,” he said. When alcohol was no longer enough, Snyder began taking his dad’s prescribed morphine from…