County businesses to get help fighting drugs in workplace

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For years local manufacturers have reported difficulty with drugs in the workplace. Employers have said they have trouble filling some positions due to applicants failing drug tests. Companies have struggled with how to handle employees who show up on the job high or intoxicated. So Wood County is going to try a different approach. A $20,000 grant from the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services will help start a program working with local employers on the issue. Chris Streidl, manager of clinical programs and quality improvement for the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, presented information on the program recently to the Wood County Commissioners. The goal of the program will be to connect with local employers to provide training and resources so they can recognize substance abuse and respond appropriately, Streidl said. The program will help employers decide how and when to get help for an employee, or how and when to sever the relationship with that employee. Businesses will also learn to develop policies to protect both themselves and workers. The legalization of medical marijuana in Ohio makes it even more difficult for businesses to be drug-free, Streidl said. “Finding people to fill positions has been difficult. It’s been an issue in our community,” he said. The program will be designed to meet the needs of Wood County businesses. “It will be tailored to our community. It won’t be cookie cutter,” Streidl said. Streidl asked for the county commissioners’ support – not financially – but in getting the word out to area businesses. “We want to make sure we get this to everyone who can benefit,” he said. “We want to make it accessible to all businesses, big and small.” A final needs assessment will be conducted as part of the grant. Streidl said he expected the first meeting of those involved in the program will be held before the end of the year.  

Campus parking office offers chance to pay tickets with playthings for kids

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Parking Services at Bowling Green State University wants to replace some of the annoyance of getting a parking ticket with some holiday cheer. Parking services has launched its inaugural Toys for Tickets campaign. People who get most types of parking tickets on campus can pay up with a new toy of similar value as a ticket. Participants need to provide a receipt with the toy. Those toys, said Aaron Kane, manager of parking services, will be donated to Wood County Children’s Protective Services and Wood County Children’s Resource Center. Some serious offenses, he said, are exempt from the tradeoff. You can’t trade toys for the $250 tickets for having a forged permit or for parking in a handicapped space. The Toys for Tickets applies to tickets written between Oct. 1 and Dec. 9. People don’t have to get a parking ticket to participate. Kane said he’s always looking at how other agencies conduct their operations and saw one city that did something similar as a food drive. (The Wood County Public Library has a food for fines program during the holidays.) The toy drive was inspired by the University of Cincinnati. Kane credited Ashley Allen from his office and Amber Stark from Marketing and Communications for coordinating the effort. Within a few days, Kane said, gifts started accumulating under the tree in the Parking Services office in the College Park Office Building. In the first days of the drive more than 30 toys had been donated. He said his office issues about $30,000 in tickets in the time frame covered by the drive. That includes, he said, those tickets not eligible for the promotion. Still, “there’s potential there.” The drive, Kane said, is part of a top-down encouragement of efforts that benefit the community. “That’s what we strive for,” Kane said, “positive community relationships.”          

Community on parade as BG ushers in holiday season

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The theme of Bowling Green’s Holiday Parade was Lights, Cameras, Angels. Well, Saturday morning wasn’t the best day to be donning angel wings, as the Wood County Library contingent found out. They were book angels, each celebrating a favorite story. But the icy wind caught their cardboard wings and twisted them out of place. But the blustery weather, a sudden blast of winter after Friday’s unseasonable balminess, didn’t dampen the spirits of those walking down Main Street, nor the spirits of the bundled masses, including candy collecting kids, lining the parade route. The Holiday Parade puts the community on revue. You have to wonder with so many people marching, how many are left to watch the parade. The parade features the panoply of the community from youngsters in childcare to senior citizens. Those who keep us working like Lubrizol and Rosenboom and those who entertain us like the Horizon Youth Theatre. As expected there were twirlers braving the weather with skimpy costumes and frozen fingers, and marching bands that blasted out brassy renditions of holiday favorites. Frieda and Freddy and the cheerleaders represented Bowling Green State University, and a large Not In Our Town group represented town-gown cooperation. Professionals showed a more playful side. The dental practice of Phipps, Levin, Hebeka & Associates, put on their brightest smiles and won honors as the best float for their efforts. Other winners were: Best of Show:  Julie’s Dance Studio Most Unique:  Jerome Rollers Best Youth:  The Beat Dance Company Best Live Performance: High Society Baton Corps All this led up to the arrival of Santa Claus, who was carried on a sled by the team of horses not reindeer. The predicted precipitation had held off until then, though just a few minutes after the parade ended, there was snow in the air. The holiday festivities got underway the night before with temperature in the 60s, when Mayor Richard Edwards flipped the switched to light the tree in front of the Wood County District Library. This, he said, later was the beginning of the holiday season, and he was optimistic it would be a good one for the city. Wendy Chambers, of the Convention and Visitors Bureau said, “people are ready to spend money.” And the Shop Small campaign slated for the weekend after Thanksgiving is an effort to share some of that wealth with the downtown merchants. The next morning businesses that sold hot beverages were already feeling some of that holiday cheer.                  

BG master plan for parks to be reviewed

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green will soon get a walk through the park master plan. When the city planning commission meets next month, it will schedule a hearing for the park plan in January. The master plan was completed after a series of public forums was held earlier this year to collect community input on the parks. Park and Recreation Director Kristin Otley has described the five-year master plan as a “living, breathing, fluid document.” The goal is to “focus on maintaining and taking care of our parks, programs and facilities, while being aware and open to new opportunities,” she said. The plan identifies needs at the 11 parks, at all the buildings, and with the programs. Some of the bigger, more visible projects include a renovated or new Veterans Building in City Park, a completed trail from the community center to the middle-high school complex, and a speed slide at the aquatics center. ADA issues will continue to be addressed in all the parks and facilities. Lighting upgrades will be made where necessary, and rental policies will be reviewed. Efforts will be made to upgrade online registration, create a land acquisition policy, and create a book of donation opportunities. The parks and recreation board on Tuesday also heard updates on the Zombie Mud Run planned Sunday at noon in the new obstacle course by the community center. As of Tuesday evening, 135 people had signed up for the event, with ages ranging from 5 to 74. Ivan Kovacevic, recreation coordinator, said modifications may be made to wet areas of the course if the weather is chilly on Sunday. The obstacle course has been made possible with donations from several organizations and businesses, he said. Several school and Scout groups have also helped with the project. “It’s been an awesome community collaboration,” Kovacevic said. Participants will run through the 1.5-mile obstacle course wearing flag football belts. Along the route, they will encounter obstacles, mud and, of course, zombies. Kovacevic promised natural and man-made obstacles that the runners will have to hurdle, crawl through, climb over and run through – with plenty of water and mud along the way. And as the name implies, there will also be “zombies” along the course trying to pull the participants’ flags and “infect” them. To successfully finish the race, a runner must navigate through the obstacles and past the zombies to the finish line with at least one flag still intact. “If they make it, they survive. If not, they’re infected,” Kovacevic said. Revenue from the Zombie Mud Run will be directed toward further development of the new obstacle course trail and toward the BG Parks & Recreations Camps for Kids program, which helps subsidize programs for youth and families in need. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the parks and recreation board talked about the results of the park levy, which won with nearly 70 percent support. “It was a team effort to get this passed,” said Jeff Crawford, president of the park board. “The results speak for themselves.” “We can’t thank the community enough for supporting what we do,” Otley added. Otley reported that 44 park programs had levies on the ballot in Ohio on Nov. 8. Forty of those levies passed, and 14 were asking for more money….

BG peace march makes statement of unity

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   On the heels of a very divisive election season, nearly 400 people marched for peace and unity in Bowling Green on Friday. They came pushing strollers, riding bicycles, walking dogs and carrying signs with slogans like “We shall overcome” and “Librarians for peace and justice.” The march, organized by Not In Our Town, started downtown and ended in front of the student union at Bowling Green State University. City officials walked next to students and faculty. University officials marched next to families and public school leaders. Matt Lavery, who recently moved to Bowling Green from Florida, joined in the march. “When I heard about this initiative, I thought it was the project to join up with,” Lavery said. “I think it’s too easy for people to focus on our differences, rather than our similarities. And if we’re not in this together, what’s it all about?” At the front of the march, carrying a section of the Not In Our Town banner, was Rev. Gary Saunders, who said the event gave people a positive way to stand up against hateful behavior. “This is drawing together what we think is the best voice of Bowling Green,” Saunders said. People from other communities also joined in, like Christina Kern from Cygnet. “We’re from small towns, and we don’t have a voice there. And the violence is just too much,” Kern said. They came seeking peace for those parts of the population who were further marginalized by the election. “I’m here in solidarity,” said Nancy Patterson, voicing support for women, the LGBTQ community and Muslims. Patterson was a Fulbright Scholar in Morocco, and later had a Muslim Moroccan student live with her family while she studied at BGSU. “I’m here because I’m afraid and I needed some hope,” Patterson said as the march concluded on campus. “This feels like hope and healing.” Many students also joined in, like Aurelian Greeno. “I want to make sure our community stays safe and everyone is allowed to be who they are,” Greeno said. Also leading the march were Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards and BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey. “The turnout was beyond what I hoped,” Mazey said. “It’s about celebrating our diversity. You could see the diversity among the group.” And the point is inclusion for all, Edwards said. “It’s about stomping out hate in any form.” The community and campus were rocked last week when two racially-motivated attacks were reported by students, one on Crim Street and the other on campus near the student recreation center. After investigations by city and campus police, both cases are thought to be bogus. “The incident didn’t happen as it was reported,” Thomas Gibson, BGSU vice president for student affairs and vice provost, said of the on-campus report. In the other case, city police have charged Eleesha Long, 24, with filing a false police report. Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick, who participated in the peace march, said his department made Long’s alleged attack a priority – pulling two detectives off a sexual assault case, an arson case and several drug investigations to work on Long’s case. But the investigation showed Long’s claim of being assaulted and called racial slurs was bogus. Gibson, who also attended the march, sent out a…

Library director & others get pay hikes

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Wood County Library board handed out praise and pay raises at its meeting earlier this week. Both Library Director Michael Penrod and Fiscal Officer Linda Joseph received 3-percent increases as part of an overall $32,814 merit package for staff salaries. The raise brings Penrod’s salary to $83,338.58. Joseph’s raise brings her hourly rate to $27.51. Joseph works 22.5 hours over three days a week. Trustee Jane Robb said of Joseph, “I don’t know how you pack a full-time job into 22 hours.” Board President Brian Paskvan said her work was so good, “I actually look forward to the auditor’s call.” Trustee Nancy Buchanan told Joseph: “If you need more time, take it.” Trustees also had high praise for Penrod. “You’re always ahead of the game,” Robb said. “We know you’re not paid what you deserve,” Paskvan said. “But we look forward to rectifying that at some point in time.” In approving the merit pool, Paskvan expressed similar sentiments. “We’re still making up for those very difficult times. We’re very careful. We want to give you something to work with to compensate people appropriately.” “They are a great staff,” Penrod said. “I can honestly say of the 40 people we have here, I would rehire all of them.” In another financial matter the board approved the health insurance plan for the coming year. The plan through Paramount will cost the library 8.81 percent more this year. Employees cost will rise to $45 a pay period from $41. This covers almost 22 percent of the $5,380 annual premium. Ben Otley, of First Insurance, explained what the library’s options were. The library has, under current law, one more year in a transitional plan before it has to offer insurance in full compliance with the Affordable Care Act. Such a plan, Otley said, would cost 49 percent more. But, he said, some changes in the ACA are expected and there’s a likelihood the library could at least get another transitional year. “But don’t hold me to that,” he said. For the future the library could consider joining other entities in seeking insurance in an effort to keep costs down.    

How to feast at Thanksgiving and avoid foodborne illnesses

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Thanksgiving is a time for family, feasting … and foodborne illnesses. The holiday is ripe for spreading sickness, with stuffing made inside the turkey, a lot of hugging, and leftover food sitting out for hours as people nibble their way to the next meal. So the Wood County Health District is offering advice on how to celebrate the holiday and remain healthy. The health district is accustomed to keeping an eye on kitchens – with 750 licensed food operations in Wood County. Last year, the district investigated eight foodborne illness outbreaks, when two or more people reported symptoms. So far this year, the district has investigated four cases. Many times the public never knows about the reports – since more than 90 percent of the time the source cannot be proven. “It’s not always clear cut,” said Pat Snyder, communications manager at the health district. “There’s not a need to worry the public,” unless some information can be released that will protect the public from getting sick. Oftentimes, when people get ill they blame it on the most recent food they consumed. But the reality is, foodborne illnesses can make a person sick in as quickly as 30 minutes, or take as long as 30 days to take effect. “Many times when people call in, they believe it was the last place they ate,” said Amy Jones, director of health promotion and preparedness. But usually, it’s not. “Sometimes, it’s very difficult.” Finding the culprit can be like a puzzle. And quite often, some of the pieces are missing. In a perfect case, the health district would be able to identify poor sanitary conditions at the restaurant where the food was prepared, collect some of the suspect food, and gather the necessary specimens from the victim’s stool or vomit. But it’s rare when all the pieces fall into place, said Connor Rittwage, epidemiologist. “We may never know what caused it,” Rittwage said. The suspect food is often gone by time the illness is reported, according to Kelly Bechstein, assistant director of environmental health. “Chances are by time a person calls us, they don’t have that food anymore.” There have been a couple investigations that have netted the culprit. Jones recalled a case in 2006 when a local family became ill with e-coli. As Jones was driving to work, she happened to hear a story on the radio about contaminated spinach making people sick in other areas of the country. She called the local family and asked if they had recently eaten spinach. They had – and they still had a partial bag in their refrigerator. So Wood County became part of the national e-coli outbreak. “Sometimes it’s just putting a puzzle together,” Jones said. Another time, several people reported illnesses but had not eaten at the same place. However, upon closer inspection, the pieces fell into place. All the victims had eaten contaminated potato salad made by a caterer for several graduation parties. Reports of suspected food poisoning often spike in the summer time, when there are picnics and food is left out in warm temperatures. Gatherings like potlucks and fundraisers an also be troublesome since no health guidelines are in place. Even if the source of a foodborne illness can’t be found,…

BG police say student assault report is bogus

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The BGSU student who reported being assaulted and called racial slurs last week has been charged with falsification and obstructing official business. The student, Eleesha Long, 24, had reported that she was assaulted by three white males, Nov. 9, on a sidewalk in the first block of Crim Street, near campus. But an investigation by Bowling Green Police Division has resulted in Long being charged with filing a bogus report. “Her statements changed several times,” Police Lt. Dan Mancuso said Thursday afternoon. The details Long gave detectives varied on the location and the time of the incident. During one interview, she said it occurred in the morning as she was picking up political signs, and later she said it occurred at night as she was coming home from a bar, Mancuso said. “There were completely different statements as to what had happened,” he said. Police used text messages on Long’s cell phone plus information from cell phone towers in their investigation. “She was not where she said she was,” Mancuso said. Long was contacted by BG Independent News, but declined to answer any questions about the charges. Mancuso said false reports cause the police division to spend time needlessly on a crime that didn’t occur. “It wastes a lot of the investigators’ time, when they could be following up on actual complaints.” The assault accusation also created an uproar in the Bowling Green community, since Long reported that rocks were thrown at her by three males, who surrounded her, called her the “N” word and said they were “making America great again.” She said one of the males struck her in the face. “It also causes problems in the community,” Mancuso said. “It causes fear in the community.” Long’s accusation also put BGSU in the spotlight, with students accusing university officials of not releasing alerts about the assault. During a town hall meeting held earlier this week, university officials explained they notified students of the alleged assault as soon as they were able to talk with Long about the incident. Long initially reported the incident on Facebook, and filed a police report only after BGSU officials spoke with her. When asked by police why she posted the incident on Facebook, but did not contact police, Long said she did not think anyone else had witnessed the attack and it would have been her word against their word, according to the police report. The officer in the initial interview observed red bruising on the right side of her neck and some redness on her right cheek. The police canvassed the Crim Street area, speaking with five residents who live in the block that the incident reportedly occurred. All were home at the time of the alleged attack, but had not heard or seen anything, the report stated. While filing her statement with police, Long gave detailed descriptions of the three males she said attacked her, including details about one missing a tooth, one wearing a Fox brand hoodie, and another wearing an Insane Clown Posse shirt. Her texts to family and friends list different details, including descriptions of the three men wearing “Trump” shirts. Her texts to family and friends also state the she was at the hospital with police right after the…

BGSU cast kicks up its heels in “Drowsy Chaperone”

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News “The Drowsy Chaperone” is a love song to musical theater, and our hero barely sings a note. Instead the Man in the Chair played by Nathan Wright, listens and revels and harrumphs, and in the end reveals himself. “The Drowsy Chaperone” opens in Bowling Green State University’s Donnell Theatre tonight (Nov. 17) at 8 p.m. and continues with shows Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Advance tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students and children. All tickets the day of the performance are $20. 419-372-8171 or visit The show opens in the dark with Wright talking about that sense of anticipation before the lights go on in the theater. Then they do, and he informs us what he expects from a show: “A good story and a few good songs.” And the man, being something of a curmudgeon, tells us as well what he doesn’t like, including breaking through the fourth wall and interacting with the audience, which is exactly what he is doing. And that’s what he does throughout the show, which is billed as a musical within a comedy. He puts on an LP, a prized possession, though we don’t know just why until much later. It’s an original cast recording of a 1920s musical “The Drowsy Chaperone.” As the overture starts, the man begins a guided tour of the show, and we slowly find out why it is his favorite. Even he admits it’s hardly a classic. Rather it is a spectacle created by the scriptwriters Bob Martin and Don McKellar to send up the various clichés of the style. The plot is slight. The handsome businessman Robert Martin (Justin Roth) is about to marry Janet Van de Graaff (Madi Zavitz), a darling of the stage. Their love is a whirlwind affair as love usual in a musical. Janet fell in love during a moonlit conversation about the Martin family’s oil business. She’s determined to give up her career. In “Show Off,” she demonstrates with great detail and energy all the things she no longer wants to do. She emjoys it all immensely. The plot is driven along by the best man’s insistence that the two lovebirds not see each other before the ceremony. Played by Braeden Tuttle, the best man is very conscientious and overwhelmed by his duties. So, in one silly sequence, Martin wanders about in the garden with a blindfold on so he doesn’t recognize that the French girl he encounters is his fiancée. We meet in rapid succession the various other cast members. There’s a subplot about a producer (Adam Rawlings) who wants to break up the nuptials because he doesn’t want to lose Janet as a star. He’s pursued by two gangsters (Jabri Johnson and Connor Long) whose boss is threatening him with a “Toledo Surprise” because the show he helped finance will close without Janet. The producer is accompanied by that staple of musical, the ditzy blond (Erica Harmon), who wants to step into the starring role. We also meet the dotty mistress of the estate where the wedding is to take place, Mrs. Tottendale (Ashleigh Schneider), as well as her long-suffering butler (Nathan Stelts). There’s the requisite Latin lover (Seth Serrano), and of course, the…

First Solar to halt production in Perrysburg Township while plant is redesigned (updated)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News First Solar Inc. has announced it will halt some production at the plant in Perrysburg Township for about 18 months. The move comes as the company shifts from one series of solar modules to another. In a conference call Wednesday Mark Widmar announced it will scrap its new series 5 line and move directly to its series 6 line. That will require it to retool its facilities including the Perrysburg Township plant. Steve Krum, spokesman for First Solar Inc., issued a statement Thursday afternoon detailing the job cuts. As of Nov. 21, the company will begin “separating” 450 employees who either work on the affected lines or support those employees. Those employees will stay on the payroll for 60 days. Another 200 workers will continue to manufacture Series 4 modules on lines not affected by the plant retooling. The statement continued: ” Additionally, several hundred associates working in Research & Development, supply chain sourcing, customer support, IT and other functions will continue to support our global operations out of the Perrysburg facility.” CEO Mark Widmar said Wednesday that “Ohio will continue to be our innovation hub.” The company expects some production at Perrysburg will resume in the second half of 2018. Thursday’s statement said: “We will assess the need for additional production workers when the new lines are operational.” The company said moving to the newest series and skipping one line will better meet market demand. The Series 6 modules will cost 40 percent less to produce. The company will also be able to manufacture them in their existing plants. The company said it is also considering putting a plant in Vietnam that was built but never used to work once production is ramped up. In the meantime production will be less next year than this, down from more than 3 gigawatts to about 2.2 gigawatts. First Solar hopes to have 3 gigawatts of production in 2018. Widmar said the move is in the best long-term interest of the company. The company is expecting to pay $10-15 million in severance charges this year. In announcing the move, Widmar stated: “The acceleration of the Series 6 roadmap is an important development for First Solar. Following the completion of an internal review process to evaluate the best competitive response to address the current challenging market conditions, we have developed plans that will enable us to more quickly begin production of our Series 6 module. Although the decision to accelerate our Series 6 roadmap requires a restructuring of our current operations, we expect the transition to Series 6 will enable us to maximize the intrinsic cost advantage of CdTe thin-film technology versus crystalline silicon. Recent steep module pricing declines require us to evaluate all components of our cost structure and streamline our business model to best position the Company for long-term success.” Widmar also noted during the call that there’s some uncertainty in the future about if a Trump Administration will continue support for alternative energy technology.

First United Methodist spreads the Gospel with rousing “Godspell”

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News “Godspell” turns the good news into happy talk. The musical, directed by Janine Baughman, is on stage at the First United Methodist Church Thursday through Saturday. The 34th annual dinner theater is sold out, but there will be about 20 tickets for show and dessert only available each night. Tickets will be $15 at the door. This after dinner seating will be at 6:45 p.m. With a book by John-Michael Tebelak and most of the music by Stephen Schwartz, the musical’s take on the Gospel is very much in the spirit of  1971 when it was created, free-spirited, free-wheeling. The show opens with a gaggle of philosophers, each spouting fragments of their philosophy creating a cacophony of abstraction. As “Tower of Babble” proceeds, they each take turns climbing a tall ladder center stage. Then John the Baptist (Will Baughman) enters, carrying a water gun, skirting the audience as he approaches the stage. He sets about baptizing the cast who have now shed their personas as philosophers. Now they are just folks, wide-eyed and happy. Baughman brings a big goofy charm to John, and then to Judas. The last to arrive is Jesus (Michael Barlos). Barlos conveys a charisma that instantly captivates the crowd and the audience. He exudes a warmth and tolerance, like a favorite teacher. He loves the rambunctiousness of his disciples, but knows when to firmly but lovingly draw the line. The cast is a team of individuals. They all have their own way of smiling, and each gets a chance to shine in a song that reveals more personality. We feel we’re getting to know them. But it really is how they work together as a group that gives the production its lift. Other cast members are: Andrew Austin, Daniel Carder, Mara Connor, D. Ward Ensign, Courtney Gilliland, Cassie Greenlee, Garrett Leininger, Emily Popp, Tyler Strayer and Sherel White. There’s a palpable joy in their interplay as they act out parables. They even pull in audience members to help them. Throughout they inject contemporary references including a few jabs at the president-elect.  As cast members step into the spotlight for features, their fellow actors seem to enjoy them as much as the audience will. There’s much to enjoy. The music moves from the heartfelt ballad “Day by Day” sung by Connor to the gospel fervor of “Bless the Lord” performed by Carder. Barlos and Baughman have a great time in the vaudeville number “All for the Best.” Not often you get to see a tap dancing Messiah. During intermission the cast spills into the audience to help serve dessert. Their enthusiasm cannot be contained on stage. Andrew Austin opens the second act with a low-key reprise of “Learn Your Lessons Well,” accompanying himself on ukulele. While the disciples seem as high spirited as usual at the beginning, Barlos is clearly troubled. A shade seems to fall over his demeanor, even as he tries not to worry the others. The act pivots with the women, led by Popp, performing “By My Side.” The musical puts the women front and center in Jesus’ ministry. Though the script provides no motivation for his actions, Baughman shifts to the betrayer without betraying the easy-going character he was in the first act. The point is we are…

Old one-room school gets new home on the farm

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The historic one-room Zimmerman School taught a lesson in patience Wednesday. In two hours, the school had crawled almost one-third of a mile across a corn stubble field to its new home. The Wood County Park District decided to move the 1892 brick school from its home at the corner of Carter and Nelson roads to the site of the Carter Historic Farm one country block to the north. The move was done across farm field rather than down the road. “We don’t have to worry about wires or the traffic,” explained Neil Munger, director of the park district. But there was nothing quick about moving the 210-ton building. As the school inched its way across the field, a skid steer kept circling it to move steel plates from the back to the front of the building so the tires did not sink into the soil. The person controlling the process sat next to the school and moved a joystick to direct the route. The destination was a spot dug out in the field behind the Carter Farm, with the footer already there waiting. Once in place, Munger said the final tuck pointing and repair work will be completed. “It will be better than ever,” he said. The one-room school will be an easy trek from the farm, so kids visiting can walk to school, “just like Sally used to,” Munger said. The building was moved by Wolfe Building Movers, of Indiana. Officials from company took one look at the structure, and said “absolutely, we’ve moved bigger things than this,” Munger said. Bids for moving the one-room school and for making repairs at its current location helped with the decision to move. The total cost for moving the structure was estimated at $73,950. Coupled with additional project costs like moving restrooms, sidewalk construction and demolishing the old foundation, the cost was set at $88,590. The cost for leaving it at the corner of Nelson and Carter roads was estimated at $118,510. That cost included replacing the old foundation, putting in a wider culvert, adding more parking and moving restrooms. There was no space at the Zimmerman site for public parking when classes visited the school, making it difficult to utilize the school for public programming.  When students would visit the Zimmerman site, the school buses would have to park at Carter Historic Farm and the elementary students would walk along Carter Road for a quarter-mile, with no shoulder to walk on. The board decided moving the old school made sense financially, and for park programming. By moving the school, the district officials hope to save money and make the historic farm and one-room school a more all-inclusive learning experience for visiting families and school children. The parking area at the Carter Farm needs expanding, regardless of whether or not the school moves to the site. That project, which will widen the culvert onto the property, is estimated at $11,900.  

Wasylyshyn a law enforcement liaison with Trump team

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn is helping the president-elect’s team plan policies for the Donald Trump presidency. Wasylyshyn, who was sworn in Tuesday evening as president of the Buckeye State Sheriffs Association, has been acting as a liaison between the National Sheriff’s Association and the Trump team. The sheriff hopes to have input on issues involving jails, surplus military equipment, and presidential responses to shootings by law enforcement officers. “I’ve always been very outspoken and not afraid to ask the difficult questions,” Wasylyshyn said this morning. “I’m very honored and humbled that I’ve been asked to be involved. It’s great for Wood County.” The sheriff, who recently won a fourth term, has been told to be prepared to go to Washington, D.C., on short notice. One of the initial items the sheriff’s association is being consulted on is the appointment of officials by the Trump team. “The Trump transition team has contacted us and they want input on appointments,” such as federal prosecutors, the attorney general, Homeland Security and U.S. marshals, he said. Wasylyshyn wants to make the Trump team aware of problems at jails, which is one of the “hottest issues” for law enforcement. According to the sheriff, 85 percent of all jails in the nation are run by sheriffs, and they are being overwhelmed by drug and mental health problems. “We need a serious discussion,” he said. “Jails are becoming detox facilities for people coming off heroin and other opioids. That is a drain on us.” Wasylyshyn also hopes to have input on decisions on mental health issues. “So many of the shootings” in the country involve people with mental health problems, he said. “We need to get help for these people before they go over the edge.” The sheriff wants to help convince the Trump administration to reverse the decision by President Barack Obama to limit the use of surplus military equipment by local law enforcement. That decision was made after police departments responded to protests across the nation in more of a military fashion than a community policing strategy. But Wasylyshyn said that military equipment is sometimes necessary for local law enforcement. He referred to the armored vehicle the Wood County Sheriff’s Office secured from the military, that has been used when dealing with armed suspects or as a barricade to protect the public. “When we’re sending a special response team in, I want them going in the safest vehicle,” he said. Wasylyshyn is also hoping to see a different philosophy toward police-involved shootings from the Trump administration. He faulted the Obama administration and media for creating a non-supportive environment for law enforcement. “We don’t want a president to immediately come to the conclusion that police are at fault,” he said. “It’s causing a lot of turmoil in society.” He is hoping the Trump administration will “wait for evidence and look at both sides.” Throughout Trump’s presidency, Wasylyshyn is hopeful that liaisons with law enforcement will be consulted. “We want the Trump people to call us and say, ‘What’s law enforcement’s side on this?’ We have not had that with the Obama administration.” Wasylyshyn added that he believes it’s Obama’s responsibility to quiet the current protests around the nation over Trump’s election. “I respect people’s right to protest,”…

Gardner says state testing changes are likely

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   State legislators have been listening to school officials concerned about too much testing for students with too little input from educators. On Tuesday evening, State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, said there is an “excellent chance” that school testing requirements will be changed. “I think there is substantial agreement” that changes are needed, he said when contacted by phone. That should be good news to the more than 300 school superintendents and board members who  rallied in Columbus Tuesday to ask state legislators to rework the graduation requirements in Ohio. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci joined the “historic” rally Tuesday morning at the Statehouse. About half of the superintendents in Ohio took part in the rally to raise the issues of over-testing of students, inaccuracies of district “report cards” from the state, and graduation requirements. “Decisions continue to be made without the input of those on the ground and in the classrooms,” Scruci at the Bowling Green Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening after he returned from Columbus. Scruci said it was “disappointing” that no legislators attended the rally. “I did not see one legislator who felt compelled to come out to see what going on.” But it appears legislators have been listening. Gardner, who was just named Senate Majority Leader on Tuesday, said he has been meeting with the Senate Education Committee chairman and state school superintendent on changing the testing requirements for graduation. Gardner said some of the testing has been mandated by the federal government. However, the new Every Student Succeed Act grants states more flexibility, he said. “We want to grant more flexibility to local school districts,” he added. Over the next six months, Gardner said he expects meetings to be held with school superintendents, teachers, curriculum directors and school board members. “All will be at the table,” he said. That is exactly what school officials have been asking for – fewer tests and more input. The concern is that the latest testing standards are expected to keep many students from graduating. The standards place too much emphasis on test taking – and not enough on daily learning, educators have said. “There needs to be some reform,” Scruci said, calling upon the state to take action. “Do the right thing for kids.” Starting next year, students no longer will be required to pass the Ohio Graduation Test to receive a diploma. Instead, they will have to meet one of three options: earn 18 out of a possible 35 points on seven end-of-course exams taken during high school; get a “remediation-free” score on a college entrance exam; or obtain an industry credential indicating they are ready for a job. Across the state, school district officials have said that 20 to 50 percent of their students have failed the exams, meaning they are at risk of not graduating. Bowling Green High School Principal Jeff Dever said the junior class has less than 20 students who have not yet reached the scores to graduate. They will have more opportunities to retake those tests, he said. Scruci said that while few Bowling Green students are at risk of failing, the system is still very wrong. “There still needs to be reform,” he said. “We will continue to advocate for teachers, students and…

Human trafficking is a global problem right next door

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When law enforcement breaks down the door in a human trafficking raid, they are not greeted as superheroes with capes by the victims. The teenager forced into domestic servitude, living in a basement, regularly raped, will tell them: “My life is perfect.” That’s also what Russian teachers forced to become strippers would say. And what Honduran and Guatemalan men who worked in a meat packing plant near Buffalo, New York, for seven days a week, 16 hours a day, said, even after asked about stab wounds. What they said was their detention was costing them money, $3.50 a week. “We have victims that aren’t happy to see us,” said Amy Allen, a forensic investigator for Homeland Security Investigation division.  “The first reaction is shock and denial.” Getting the truth out — that the stab wounds are inflicted when they fell asleep, that when they do sleep it’s packed jigsaw like 16 in a room the size of a bathroom – takes a special kind of questioning, one that assumes from beginning that they are victims. Allen has heard over and over. “My life is perfect.” She knows the reasons behind the statement. She knows the experiences that lead up to it. She knows the fear and deprivation that leads to such acceptance. She knows what it takes to ease those fears and get to the truth so maybe they have a chance for a better life. Allen was the first presenter in a symposium on Global Trafficking held Tuesday at Bowling Green State University. The symposium was hosted by the School of Cultural and Critical Studies. In her career Allen has traveled around the world.  Still even she was surprised that trafficking was so pervasive so close to home. That could be as close as the local nail salon or the home next door. Allen said that when she joined Homeland Security eight years ago “I just didn’t have a grasp of the reality that’s right in our backyard.” She recalled a case of a girl in Farmington Hills, Michigan. A neighbor was concerned and called child protection services to no avail. Truancy, which was the original concern, was handled by the police. That was news to the veteran detective, just a few days from retiring, who took the concerned neighbor’s call. The neighbor had talked to the girl who said she was “adopted” by the family and wanted to go to school but had to wait until she spoke English better. Strange since she expressed all this in perfect English. When the detective came to the door, she wouldn’t open it.  Finally she let the detective in and her story slowly emerged. Her family was so impoverished they “could not afford to keep her.” By being “adopted” by this couple who would take her from Cameron to the United States, “she felt she was a relief to her family by accepting this adoption and coming to the United States.” There she did house work and cared for three small children. Her “mother” beat her and her “father” raped her. But Allen said, “she had no outcry because she believed this was her life.” She still wanted to go to school and become a journalist like the glamorous Diana Lewis she saw on TV….