Wood County

Wood County youth vaping more, drinking alcohol less

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Local teens are downing more caffeinated energy drinks and inhaling more vapors. But fewer are using alcohol, painkillers, cigarettes, cocaine, meth and steroids. More than 10,000 students, in all of county’s public schools’ grades 5 to 12, responded to the biennial Wood County Youth Survey coordinated by Dr. Bill Ivoska. For those who question the wisdom of trusting kids to tell the truth on the surveys, Ivoska wholeheartedly agrees. “Kids lie. We know kids lie,” Ivoska said Friday morning as presented the findings of the survey to its sponsors, the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Services Board, the Wood County Educational Service Center, and the Wood County Prevention Coalition. The anonymous surveys are designed to catch kids who were fibbing. For example, students who reported using drugs with made-up names were booted from the results. Kids who reported to using all drugs, all the time, had their surveys tossed out. What was left were survey results that local experts feel accurately reflect drug, alcohol, and mental health issues faced by Wood County students. In some ways, the surveys reveal a “whack-a-mole” problem. When local services focus on one issue, that problem decreases. Meanwhile, another problem arises.  For example, local teens have faced heavy-duty warnings about smoking for years. The survey shows the results of that, with cigarette use down 84 percent in teens from 2004 to the present. “Think of the long-term health benefits for those kids,” Ivoska said. Local efforts have been so successful, that the results stand out as better than national trends. “Rates of decline in Wood County are sharper and faster,” Ivoska said. “We’re closing that gateway.” But when one gate closes, another one opens. Vaping has seen a 17 percent increase in use among seniors in the last two year. “Vaping is in a honeymoon period right now,” he said. Many teens consider vaping as a healthy alternative to cigarettes, especially with harmless sounding flavors like “bubblegum.” Vaping is also more difficult for people to identify among users. “You can sneak a vape in your locker” and no one would know, Ivoska said. The trends showed that alcohol use among Wood County students is down 46 percent, and binge drinking is down 63 percent since 2004. “Another great accomplishment,” Ivoska said. In the last two years, marijuana use went up with some older kids, while cough medicine use went up with some of the younger ones. Use of LSD ticked up a bit for all ages. The use of painkillers dropped – possibly due to local efforts to limit access and encourage older family members to discard old medications. “Grandma’s closet is getting cleaned out,” Ivoska said. The decline in heroin use may be attributed to kids seeing the effects of the drug on…


America’s cookies rely on winter wheat grown in Ohio

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wheat grown in Ohio is a mainstay for Oreos and Chips Ahoy. Sure, other states grow the wheat that makes artisan breads and premium pastas. But Ohio’s soft red winter wheat is the type needed for pastries, cookies, saltines, cake, brownies and pretzels. Brad Moffitt, director of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, talked about America’s crops in general and Ohio’s wheat in detail at a recent Bowling Green Kiwanis Club meeting. “We are the top soft red winter wheat state,” Moffitt said. Six main types of wheat are grown in the U.S., with the differing soil types and growing seasons determining which type grows best in which areas. Though corn and soybeans are currently more profitable, farmers realize it’s good to keep wheat in the soil rotation, Moffitt said. More than 590,000 acres in Ohio were planted in soft red winter wheat in 2016. Moffitt described himself as “a farm boy from Urbana,” growing up with crops, cattle and hogs. He then went into a career in education, before “getting back in agriculture, where I belong.” His current job consists of working on research, market development, promotion and education. Moffitt talked with the Kiwanians about agriculture remaining the largest industry in Ohio, and about America’s role in feeding the world. “Our farmers are more than capable of feeding the U.S. and the world,” he said. “We’ve done it before. We’ll do it again.” Estimates suggest that 9.7 billion people will need to be fed by the year 2050. “American farmers have met the challenge before,” he said, describing farmers as industrious and ingenious. The problem isn’t growing the food, Moffitt said. The real problem is transportation infrastructure, storage, refrigeration and processing. “We can produce the food – getting it there is another problem,” he said. The world’s demands for food have not only grown, but they also have changed. More “middle class” people means more demand for meat protein. “They want some of the things we take for granted in this country,” Moffitt said. “When you move into the middle class, you want to eat a little bit better.” More meat demand means more corn, wheat and soybean needed for livestock consumption, he added. Nearly half of the wheat grown in the U.S. ends up in 125 other countries, Moffitt said. Common destinations include Mexico, South America, northern Asia, China and Europe. “Fifty percent of the U.S. wheat crop ends up on a boat and shipped to other countries,” he said. That keeps the ports in Toledo busy, since that is the only place in Ohio where grain can be loaded into vessels, according to Moffitt. Farmers are not only industrious, they are also business savvy. “We are very passionate about NAFTA not being messed up,” he said. Ohio wheat…


More jobs may be headed for Wood County – but are there workers to fill them?

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County has an enviable good news-bad news dilemma. The good news – Wood County is being eyed by companies that would create 1,400 new jobs here. The bad news – Wood County may have a hard time filling those jobs. Wade Gottschalk, director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission, met with the county commissioners last week to give them an update on projects in the county. “We’ve been very busy,” he said. But the potential for so many new jobs has county officials worried about an unusual dilemma. With its low unemployment rate of 3.8 percent, that means there are just over 2,000 unemployed adults in Wood County. “Our current issue is workforce,” Gottschalk told the county commissioners. “It’s really a matter of we need people to move to Northwest Ohio.” The state overall is experiencing the same problem. “They are working to find bodies for these companies,” he said. Two of the biggest potential projects in Wood County are in the Perrysburg area. Gottschalk predicted those companies won’t have difficulty filling positions since they will be offering high-paying jobs. However, the new openings may drain employees from other lower-paying companies. “We’re going to work very hard on the backfill,” he said. Wood County benefits from having a variety of industries, such as solar, machine shops and robotics. “We have a very diverse base of companies,” Gottschalk said. The region’s low cost of living coupled with relatively easy commuting patterns help by drawing workers from a broader region outside Wood County. “It gives us a larger area to attract from,” he said. Gottschalk briefed the commissioners on the companies looking to possibly add jobs in Wood County. The Walgreens distribution center, at Ohio 795 and Oregon Road in Perrysburg Township, is considering an expansion that would add approximately 350 new jobs. “It would be a substantial investment,” creating good paying jobs, Gottschalk said. But Gottschalk cautioned that the expansion is not definite. “This isn’t a done deal, by any means,” he told the commissioners. Perrysburg Township Planning Commission has approved the site plan and variance for parking. If the project proceeds, the company will seek tax abatements, Gottschalk said. “They are basically in the decision mode, to see if this will work,” he said. If the expansion proceeds, “we would likely see dirt moved this year.” The city of Perrysburg is being considered by an unnamed company that would create 1,000 to 1,100 jobs and invest $900 million in the location. Also competing for the company are sites in Michigan and Indiana, Gottschalk said. So local economic development officials here are working to reduce barriers to the company considering Perrysburg for its business, he said. This company would have significant wastewater needs, which would be more than Perrysburg could handle…


Nemeth to leave historical museum for new challenge

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Five years ago, Dana Nemeth came home to the Wood County Historical Museum – the former county infirmary that she frequently visited as a child. As director of the museum, she was at the helm as the site was transformed into an ADA accessible facility – no simple feat for the rambling building more than a century old. And she led the staff as they created a World War I exhibit that filled the sprawling site and drew the largest crowds ever at the museum. But now, Nemeth is leaving for another challenge – also one close to her heart. On April 2, she will move into the new position of reference archivist at the Bowling Green State University popular culture library. “It’s bittersweet,” Nemeth said about her departure from the museum and arrival at the library. “I love the museum and what I do there,” she said. “I grew up going to that museum. It’s had a special place in my heart – always has, always will.” Nemeth’s dad, Dorsey Sergent served as the pharmacist for residents at the county infirmary, then later volunteered his time to turn the closed site into a county historical museum. “I remember as a little girl going over there with my sister,” Nemeth said of the historical center which is about a quarter-mile from her childhood home. But Nemeth also has history with her new home at BGSU. She graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Master of Arts in Popular Culture, and previously served as a library associate at BGSU’s Jerome Library’s Center for Archival Collections. As a student, she worked in the pop culture library. Her new position is in administration, and will entail supervising student employees and helping with research requests. BGSU was looking for someone with a library science degree and popular culture expertise. “It just seemed like a really good fit for me,” Nemeth said. “It seemed like the right thing to do.” She previously worked at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, N.Y.; the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich.; and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. During her years as director at the county historical museum, the overarching goal was to make the site more accessible. With the help of state funding, support from the county commissioners, and volunteer fundraising efforts, the museum was transformed and now has an elevator so people of all abilities can see all the exhibits. “Accessibility is the thing I’m most proud of,” Nemeth said. “That was something we wanted for 40-plus years.” The museum also took a big chance by switching from its traditional exhibits, and turning the entire building into an examination of World War I and Wood County’s role in the war. “I’m really proud of all…


Citizens seek creature comforts at county dog shelter

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Connie Donald and Dolores Black are looking out for homeless residents of Wood County – the four-legged ones. The two women met with Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw and Administrator Andrew Kalmar earlier this week to see how the lives of dogs at the county dog shelter could be improved – even if for just a brief period. “I think as a nation we need to be more kind to the less fortunate,” and that includes dogs, Donald said. The women had some success in their quest. One of their main concerns was that the Wood County Dog Shelter is difficult for people to locate. The shelter is in a small nondescript building in the back section of the county’s East Gypsy Lane Complex. The signage at the complex entrance is too small, they told Herringshaw and Kalmar. “They feel that our signage to direct people to the dog shelter isn’t enough,” Kalmar said. “People get lost. A lot of people think the Wood County Dog Shelter and Wood County Humane Society are the same thing,” Donald said. The county officials agreed that the signage could be improved – perhaps even including the happy cartoonish dog figure that now adorns the dog shelter vans. “I think that’s doable,” Kalmar said. But the other requests were not met with the same enthusiasm. Donald and Black suggested that the county dog shelter adopt the same spay-neuter policy that some other shelters have to fix dogs prior to adopting them out. The county currently charges $14 for a dog license when someone adopts a dog from the shelter. The new owner is then given a $75 gift certificate to use for spaying or neutering their dog. “They want to spay and neuter them before they ever go out the door,” Kalmar said. “We think the person adopting the dog should take the responsibility.” Donald said only about 30 percent of the new owners use the certificates and get their new dogs fixed. “I think we should spay and neuter, and vaccinate before they leave,” she said. “If we stop having puppies, we can stop killing them.” If the canines at the dog shelter were spayed and neutered, they would then be able to use the outdoor dog park which is located next to the county dog shelter. Donald and Black also asked about the $82,000 bequeathed to the dog shelter for the health and betterment of the dogs, by local resident Dorothy Stokes. “Some people have the view that now that you have a lot of money, you should spend it,” Kalmar said. The county had air conditioning installed in the small intake room for dogs, but not for the main kennel area due to the expense. “If they are reasonable suggestions, we can do…


NW district weighs water options from Toledo, BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Concerns about water quality, quantity and costs have resulted in a possible regional water system with Toledo in the center. But if that Plan A falls apart, then the northern Wood County area is eyeing a possible Plan B involving Bowling Green water. The Northwestern Water and Sewer District held a public meeting in Perrysburg Thursday evening to talk about possible options for approximately 6,500 of its water customers in northern Wood County. To serve its northern customers, the district currently purchases water from Toledo, then distributes it to Rossford, Northwood, Walbridge, Perrysburg Township, Troy Township and Lake Township. The status quo has been disrupted in the past few years by several concerns about Toledo water quality and cost. Toledo has been ordered to make many water system improvements, with the costs being passed on to customers who already pay large surcharges. Complaints from communities served by the district have shown growing dissatisfaction over the rates and the water quality since the Toledo system went through the algal bloom crisis of 2014. The district’s contract with Toledo water expires in 2024 – which in water agreement years is not much time. Meanwhile, talks with Toledo are still not quite complete, and negotiations with Bowling Green haven’t even begun. Rex Huffman, attorney with the district, explained at Thursday’s meeting that several political entities served by Toledo water share the same concerns. So after months of negotiations, the Toledo Area Water Authority was created. Signing a memorandum of understanding for TAWA were officials from the Northwestern Water and Sewer District, Toledo, Lucas County, Maumee, Perrysburg, Sylvania, Whitehouse, Fulton County and Monroe County. “We have a chance to really look at regional water,” Huffman said. “We want to link arms, work together, solve these problems regionally,” he said. The TAWA agreement focuses on providing economical savings and environmentally safe water for all parties, according to Eric Rothstein, an attorney who is helping to form the water authority. “This is an approach to a regional water system that benefits all parties,” Rothstein said. The proposal calls for a redundant water supply source, so the 2014 water crisis is not repeated. And it calls for transparency in the pricing structure – which does not exist now with the Toledo charges, Rothstein said. “There’s a commitment to financial transparency,” he said. “Rates will be based on the cost of doing services,” not on arbitrary surcharges like now. In the last decade, water rates from Toledo doubled the rate of inflation. Rothstein predicted the same for the next decade. He also noted that TAWA may be the best way for the region to address replacement of lead surface lines, and provide bill assistance for those in need. Then came the discussion of Plan B by Jack Jones of Poggemeyer…


Park district grants pay for playgrounds, picnic tables

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For 30 years, the Wood County Park District has been sharing its levy revenues with local community parks. Towns use the funds for picnic tables, playground equipment and ADA sidewalks to parking lots. This year was no different, with the county park board getting a list Tuesday of the community requests selected for funding by park officials from neighboring counties. Neil Munger, executive director of the Wood County Park District, explained the local grants have been awarded since the passage of the first park district levy in 1988. This year another $100,000 will be handed out to meet the following requests: Bloomdale, $4,157 for picnic tables. Bowling Green, $4,332 to fund features for obstacle course fitness trail. Bradner, $2,479 for playground equipment. Custar, $6,900 for walking path, rain garden and swing bench. Cygnet, $9,011 for playground safety surfacing and ADA sidewalk to parking lot and restrooms. North Baltimore, $14,872 for playground safety surfacing and to replace roofs on shelters. Pemberville, $8,635 to complete shelter house conversion and playground mulch. Perrysburg, $11,949 for sunshades and swing bench. Walbridge, $14,372 for construction of a new basketball court. West Millgrove, $14,988 for playground equipment and safety surfacing. Weston, $8,305 for sunshade. Two park grant requests – one from Luckey and one from Tontogany – did not make the cut. The park district plans to continue its grants to local community parks, but first it must pass its 1-mill renewal levy in May. Board President Denny Parish noted the park district has less than 90 days till the May 8 election. The levy is the “lifeblood of the park system,” Parish said. “I hope the public will continue to support us in May and into the future,” he said. Parish said he has been asked by some local citizens how the park district can project 10 years into the future. “We have five citizen volunteers sitting in chairs as park commissioners who are very aware these are taxpayer funds,” he said. Also at the meeting, the board heard an update on county park projects from Jeff Baney, assistant park district director. Some of the projects with bigger price tags for this year include: $420,000 for the interpretive center at Sawyer Quarry in Perrysburg Township. $125,000 for a parking lot and bridge over a ditch for Baldwin Woods near Weston. $50,000 for new playground equipment at William Henry Harrison Park on the edge of Pemberville. $50,000 for new playground equipment at Otsego Park near Grand Rapids. $13,860 for acoustic treatment of the great room at W.W. Knight Nature Preserve in Perrysburg Township. $12,500 for deck repairs at the W.W. Knight Nature Preserve in Perrysburg Township. Also at the meeting, Chief Ranger Todd Nofzinger talked about the duties of the six full-time rangers. The certified peace officers work…


ODOT offers site for county engineer highway garage

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County is looking for a new home for its highway garage, and the Ohio Department of Transportation may have a solution. ODOT has contacted county officials to gauge their interest in the state’s maintenance facility on Mitchell Road, on the southwest edge of the city. So that leaves the county with three options: Stay put on East Poe Road, move into existing facilities on Mitchell Road, or build a new facility on county ground on East Gypsy Lane Road. Last year, the commissioners and Wood County Engineer John Musteric discussed the possibility of moving the highway garage out to county land on the East Gypsy Lane complex. That location already has a fuel facility, and it has good access to county roads. It would also allow the county to sell the Poe Road land currently used for the highway garage – which should be desirable property on the north side of Bowling Green State University. The county commissioners rejected the county engineer’s $2.5 million request last year for a new highway garage. However, on Tuesday, the commissioners approved spending $18,750 to have Poggemeyer Design Group study the two possible new sites for the county highway garage. The existing highway garage, located at the corner of East Poe Road and Thurstin Avenue, is at least 60 years old. “Things are showing their age out there,” Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said last year. “We’re at the point where we’re going to have to do some work there – or move.” When constructed, the county highway garage was on a remote edge of Bowling Green. But over the decades, the open space around the highway garage, has been gobbled up for other uses – apartments, businesses and the university. So there is no land left at the current site for expansion. The existing site on East Poe Road sits on about seven acres. Both the Mitchell Road and East Gypsy Lane Road locations have about 12 acres, Kalmar said. And both of the newer sites have easy access to U.S. 6 and rural roads, he added. “We want to compare the two sites,” he said of the ODOT and county complex sites. Poggemeyer Design Group will be asked to examine the condition of the existing ODOT buildings on Mitchell Road. “What would need to be done to make it useable for the highway garage,” Kalmar said. The county is considering the possibility of moving the engineer’s office to the same site as the highway garage. The engineer’s office is currently on the third floor of the Wood County Office Building, in the courthouse complex in Bowling Green.


Keep your snow shovels handy

Brad Gilbert, Wood County EMA director has issued the following advisory: A very active storm tract through the Ohio Valley and the Lower Great Lakes will bring three storm systems with accumulating snow to our area this week. Storm No. 1 will move into the area late this evening and into the overnight hours.  1.5”-2” of fluffy type snow can be expected.  Tuesday morning’s commute may be slippery. Storm No. 2 will move into the area late Tuesday evening and into the morning hours of Wednesday.  0.5”-1.5” of new snowfall can be expected.  Wednesday morning’s commute will likely be slippery as well.  (Heavier snow in Central/Southern Ohio and into NE Ohio) Storm No. 3 will move into the are late Thursday and possibly continue into the early weekend.  This will be a strong storm system that will have the potential for heavy snow; however, the exact storm path is not known yet, so we will continue to monitor this storm as it develops and moves across the country.  Again, this storm may have more significant snowfall if the storm path puts the heavier snow bands across NW Ohio.  More information on this storm later in the week.


Federal funding in limbo for community health center

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The uncertain status of federal funding for community health centers across the U.S. has left some local public health officials with a sick feeling. After several delays and missed deadlines, Congress did pass funding for CHIP – the Children’s Health Insurance Program – which provides matching funds to states for health insurance to families with children. Public health officials understood that the CHIP funding would be approved along with the federal funding for community health centers that serve low income patients. “That didn’t happen,” said Joanne Navin, a retired nurse practitioner from Bowling Green, who serves as board president for the Wood County Community Health and Wellness Center. The health center, located at the Wood County Health District on East Gypsy Lane Road, Bowling Green, was expected to get the $1.1 million promised by the federal government for 2018. With those funds last year, the center served about 1,500 unduplicated patients, making more than 3,700 visits for services such as pediatric, immunizations, screenings, chronic diseases, lab services, plus seniors, women’s and men’s care. “It is just frightening that the federal government is denying health care to citizens of this country,” Navin said. “They are playing politics with it.” Though the community health center accepts private pay patients, the primary purpose of the facility is to provide health care to low income, Medicaid patients. Patients pay on a sliding fee scale, explained Diane Krill, chief executive officer of the community health center. The lack of federal funding for 2018 has led to the facility not filling the behavioral specialist position that was vacated after a person retired last year, Krill said. The looming funding question is very frustrating for Krill, who expected the federal government to live up to its promises. “I see the stats out there,” Krill said, referring to the number of people served across the nation at community health centers. The failure to act on the funding has put at risk 9 million patients’ access to health care, 50,000 jobs, and nearly 3,000 health center sites. Some centers will be forced to close down, Krill said. The Wood County center does a good job of working within its budget, Navin said. But that doesn’t mean it can continue as is with its federal funding being yanked from the agency. “It will mean a big hit to the budget,” she said. “You can only cut so much.” Navin believes many in Wood County aren’t aware of the work performed at the community health center. “A lot of people in the county don’t realize how important this is to us. We’re reaching a lot of people in the county. These are people who care about their patients,” she said about the center staff and management. “It is a gem in our county…


Americans squeeze in leisure time between WWI & WWII

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Americans were ready for a break after World War I. Unaware of the impending Great Depression and then World War II, Americans were ready for leisure when their boys came home from “the war to end all wars.” They were ready to have some fun. During the decade after WWI, the first Miss America Pageant was held, the Little Orphan Annie comic strip came out, Kraft created a new version of Velveeta cheese, and the first loaf of pre-sliced bread was sold as “Sliced Kleen Maid Bread.” Life was good. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade started using giant balloons, 7-Up was invented, and George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue was played at Carnegie Hall. This era of leisure is the focus of a new exhibit opening today at the Wood County Historical Center. The exhibit celebrates the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI with “The Return to Normalcy: A Life of Leisure in Wood County, 1920 to 1939.” The exhibit will run concurrently with the museum’s look at Wood County’s role in WWI. The WWI exhibit opened in 2017 to honor the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I, and both exhibits will remain on display until Dec. 1. The new exhibit was inspired by Warren G. Harding’s 1920 presidential campaign platform “The Return to Normalcy.” Visitors are welcomed to the exhibit by a recording of Harding reading his famous speech that was credited for helping him win the presidency. Holly Hartlerode, museum curator, is hoping visitors can relate to the images and sounds of those years. Old radios play hits from that era, like “Minnie the Moocher” by Cab Callaway, “Shim, Sham Shimmy” by the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra,” and “Red Lips, Kiss My Blues Away.” Radios became the family entertainment center in that era, playing programs like the “Jack Benny Show,” the “Lone Ranger,” and “The Shadow” featuring Orson Welles. Those programs kept families glued to the radio listening for the next adventure. The radio programs playing at the museum exhibit include those type of shows, plus a Wheaties cereal jingle and a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers. “There’s no television yet, so people are still reading,” Hartlerode said. But for the first time, radios united families for home entertainment. “They brought stories into the living room. This was an event in somebody’s home.” The museum exhibit is linked with a timeline stretching around one room, and features signs in each area reminiscent of the old red Burma Shave road signs. Companies were offering vacations for the first time, and car payments could be spread over years. “That allows for more leisure time,” Hartlerode said. The leisure exhibit focuses on the game of bridge, which was all the rage for a while….


Sexual harassment refresher – set policy and stick to it

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The workshop was intended to keep county governments from getting “caught with their proverbial pants down.” “I realize that is not a good metaphor considering the topic,” said attorney Marc Fishel on the sexual harassment webinar earlier this month sponsored by the County Commissioners Association of Ohio. Wood County government already makes sexual harassment part of its new employee orientation, and has policies in its employee handbook. But officials felt this was a good time for a refresher course. “We’ve been addressing this for many years,” said Pam Boyer, human resources manager with the county commissioners’ office. “This is a good reminder.” “We don’t see these things and not do something about it,” Boyer said. The webinar, titled “Top 10 Dos and Don’ts of Sexual Harassment,” was attended by 64 Wood County employees. Fishel, who regularly represents public employers throughout Ohio on employment related issues, presented the webinar. He started out stating the obvious. “Don’t have a lock on your desk that doesn’t let out a person, ala Matt Lauer.” “Don’t walk around naked in your office, ala Charlie Rose,” he said. “If you can avoid those, that’s a good start.” “Don’t invite someone to your hotel room and answer in your robe, ala Harvey Weinstein.” But beyond blatant offenses, the lines may get blurry for some people. Fishel tried to clear up any confusion. While discrimination based on sex is illegal, “there is no law that prevents sexual harassment,” he said. So it’s up to employers to make the rules. Employers need to set expectations for the workplace, enforce rules that prevent sexual harassment and respond appropriately if it does occur, Fishel said. Employers should not set the bar too low – believing that behavior is acceptable as long as it doesn’t violate the law. “You don’t want that to be your standard,” Fishel said. “The goal is to eradicate this kind of inappropriate conduct. Don’t wait till it rises to the level of ‘Oh crap – we could get sued.’” Set and stick by strong policies Employers must go further than set the right sexual harassment policies, Fishel said. They must take those policies seriously, make them clear to employees, make it easy for employees to report problems, and must not retaliate against those reporting wrongdoing. “Distribute the policy and educate the employees on the policy,” he said. Then, every so often, redistribute the policy, do re-education, and ask for questions. “Train and retrain on the policy and workplace expectations,” he said. Of course, that does not mean employers are in the clear. “If the employer does everything right, they may get sued,” Fishel said. But employers can better defend themselves if they set up safeguards against sexual harassment. Use those policies Once those policies are in place, they must…


It’s about time…courthouse clock chimes on time…for now

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Time has taken its toll on the clock that rises high above Bowling Green. Even the majestic courthouse clock is bound to lose track of time when pigeons roost on its hands, when blizzard winds whip in its face, and when it works round the clock for more than a century. After several years of the Wood County Courthouse tower clock being behind – or actually ahead of the times, Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar talked with the courthouse crew about fiddling with the mechanism to get the clock to chime on time. The commissioners’ office had gotten a few complaints over the years about the 195-foot tall clock running fast. But now that the clock is on time, neighbors appear to be finding it discombobulating. “Most of them aren’t happy the clock is on time,” Kalmar said. It turns out some of the neighbors seemed to appreciate the advanced notice the courthouse clock had been giving them for decades. “I’m kind of disoriented because the clock tower in the county courthouse is chiming exactly on the hour. I’ll get used to it,” Geoff Howes, a courthouse neighbor wrote on Facebook. “We’ve lived three blocks from the courthouse for 30 years and if I’m not mistaken, this is the first time it’s been on the hour. It changes every spring and fall, when we go on and off daylight savings time. Sometimes it’s three minutes early, sometimes two, sometimes five or six. Most recently it was four minutes off.” That led to Victoria TenEyck responding on Facebook. “It’s about time,” she typed, then added LOL about her clock pun. Some Bowling Green residents had grown to rely on the early chimes, which acted as a giant snooze alarm of sorts. “I count on it being five minutes early,” lamented Neocles Leontis. “That is screwing me up,” Amy Fry said. Gordon Maclean asked if this meant that Bowling Green Standard Time had been abolished. “Ten years I’ve lived here and I count on those chimes being at least three minutes early,” Ellis Nigh wrote. “What? That’s just gonna feel so wrong,” Amy Craft Ahrens added. Kalmar defended the timelessness of the courthouse tower clock, which is about 120 years old, running on a motor that is about 70 years old. Relying on it for exact time is asking for a lot. “It’s a giant clock. It’s not like the cell phone in your pocket,” he said. Since the clock was running four minutes ahead recently, Kalmar asked the courthouse crew to turn off the clock motor for four minutes, then start it up again. That did the trick – at least for the chimes. Those relying on the clock hands to tell the time will still be a few minutes behind … or…


Wood County jail to enter deal to take Toledo inmates

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County jail is once again opening its doors to inmates from Toledo – but only misdemeanor offenders. The county commissioners will review the contract between the Wood County Justice Center and City of Toledo on Thursday morning. The agreement allows Toledo to “rent” 10 beds on an ongoing basis at the Wood County jail, on East Gypsy Lane Road in Bowling Green. The beds will be used for misdemeanor offenders sentenced under the Toledo municipal code. “They are the lowest level offenders,” Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said Wednesday. That’s good for many reasons, the sheriff said. “We’re tight when it comes to secure housing, but we have plenty of beds in minimum security,” he said. The misdemeanor offenders also pose the least risk. “They aren’t all altar boys, Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts,” Wasylyshyn said. But it’s nothing the jail staff isn’t accustomed to dealing with, he added. This is not the first time Wood County entered an agreement with Toledo to house inmates. In the summer of 2016, Toledo officials turned to Wood County for a solution to its inmate issues during an ongoing feud over charges to the city from the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio near Stryker. That arrangement lasted about six months, until Toledo and CCNO renegotiated prices for prisoner housing. This contract is similar to the last one between Toledo and Wood County, except Wasylyshyn said he made sure to clean up a transportation issue – with the new contract requiring Toledo to pay for the inmates’ taxi transports back to Toledo once they are released from jail. Toledo will pay the county jail for 10 inmate beds, regardless of whether or not all 10 are needed. If Toledo needs more than 10, the city will pay $65 per bed per day, plus the booking cost of $40. “We’re talking roughly $240,000 a year,” Wasylyshyn said. That money will be put toward the proposed expanded booking area and renovated medical area of the Wood County Justice Center, the sheriff said. “It’s great for Wood County. It’s great for Toledo,” he said. “It’s a win-win for everybody.” Toledo will also pay for medical costs or other expenses that arise with its inmates, according to the agreement. The jail housing agreement has been in place since Dec. 31, with Toledo paying for each month’s beds in advance, the sheriff said. The contract extends over six months and is subject to change if either party seeks revisions. So if Wood County needs the extra bed space, the agreement can be revised, Wasylyshyn said. That, however, is unlikely since as of Wednesday the Wood County Justice Center was housing 173 prisoners in its 240-bed facility. The Wood County jail also accepts inmates from Maumee, Sylvania, Hancock County and Ottawa…


Hull Prairie ditch cleaning supported – but cost details sought

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Landowners along Hull Prairie Road are in favor of the county cleaning out the ditch that runs along the road. But they have one big concern – how much will it cost them. The Wood County Commissioners held a public hearing Tuesday morning on the Hull Prairie ditch project, which covers 11.6 miles in Bowling Green, Plain Township, Middleton Township and Perrysburg Township. The project extends from south of Newton Road to north of Roachton Road. For years, clogged ditches along Hull Prairie Road only affected neighboring farmland. But now, with so many homes and housing subdivisions growing along the road, ditch drainage is necessary to keep water from creeping into basements. The estimated cost for the project is $422,000, according to Wood County Engineer John Musteric. The watershed area covers 6,749 acres, with 1,378 parcels. A preliminary cost per acre would be $62.53. However, no surveys have yet been conducted, Musteric said. Several neighbors of the ditch project attended Tuesday’s hearing to voice their support for the ditch cleaning. Carl Barnard said several of his neighbors get water in their basements with heavy rainfalls. One neighbor recently had $6,000 in damage due to flooding. “This is very critical to us,” Barnard said. Musteric agreed that the project should proceed. “Prolonging implementation now will do nothing but exacerbate drainage issues later,” he said. Better drainage will not only result in better farm yields, but also help the residential areas, Musteric said. Unless the ditch is placed under the county maintenance program, the responsibility to keep it clean is on the townships and landowners. The benefits of the project are greater than the costs, Musteric said. But the landowners would really like some more specifics on exactly what those costs might be for them individually. “This is all well and good. But the bottom line is the cost,” Joe McIntyre, of Cogan Lane, said. Until the survey is done, those costs are unknown, Musteric said. “Everybody is very curious about the costs,” said Robert Ashenfelter, of Lake Meadows Drive. The flooding problems are worsening as development occurs, according to Ashenfelter, who said the two drainage ponds in his subdivision don’t drain if the ditches are clogged. “We would like something to get rid of the water a little faster,” he said. “We’re excited to see this come to fruition.” Musteric listed the benefits of the project as: The ditch will be maintained by the county rather than the farm and residential communities. The potential for water damage will be reduced. The assessments are only charged when monies are needed for maintenance. The plat of the project will become a permanent record. The county engineer listed the disadvantages as: Landowner assessments are necessary. Most landowners aren’t aware of the permanent 25-foot maintenance easements with…