Wasylyshyn and Babel-Smith in race for sheriff seat

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Both candidates for Wood County Sheriff want to keep local residents safe – but they have different ideas of how to achieve that goal. Democrat Ruth Babel-Smith, a retired lieutenant with the sheriff’s office, who teaches at Owens Community College, is promising “public safety not politics.” She has her master’s degree in criminal justice administration and is pursuing her doctorate. Republican incumbent Mark Wasylyshyn has held the job for 12 years and if re-elected he will be the longest serving sheriff in Wood County history. He serves on the board of directors of the National Sheriffs Association and if re-elected he will become the president of the Buckeye Sheriffs Association. Wasylyshyn points to a well-operated, cost-effective county jail, and well-trained road deputies keeping the county safe. But Babel-Smith is critical of both the jail and the road operations of the department. If elected, her first goal would be to conduct a task analysis of each area to make sure personnel are being put to use the best way possible. She said too many road patrols are focused on areas that already have their own law enforcement coverage. That means residents in some southern areas of the county wait “upwards of 40 minutes for a deputy to respond.” Babel-Smith thinks there may be a need for more staff, but definitely is a need to shuffle staff around to areas of greater needs. “People just don’t feel safe,” she said. Reassigning staff would also help with staff morale, she said. “I would like to work on picking up the morale. I want to create an environment where people want to stay,” she said, citing a lack of longevity in the sheriff’s office. Longevity in staff is not lacking, according to Wasylyshyn. “I’m very proud of the deputies we have,” he said. In addition to patrolling roads and responding to emergencies, the deputies perform community services like funeral escorts. The sheriff considers it his responsibility to do death notifications. “That’s the worst part of my job,” he said. Wasylyshyn praised the work of staff conducting human trafficking sting operations. “We continue that battle,” he said, noting a recent case in which a 15 year old girl was returned to her family in Detroit. Due to the success of the sting operations, the word has gotten out that this is not a safe county for human trafficking, he added. “People say they don’t want to meet in Wood County. That’s music to my ears,” he said. Road and civil deputies also now carry Narcan to revive cases of opiate overdoses. Wasylyshyn disagrees with the mentality that people overdosing are “just druggies.” “It’s somebody’s son. Somebody’s father,” he said. Babel-Smith said the sheriff’s office needs to do more to stop the drugs coming to Wood County. “Who’s bringing this heroin in to the county,” she said. Detectives need to be looking at how the drugs are getting here, “to cut off the inroads.” Babel-Smith would like to talk with Lucas County Sheriff  John Tharp about the Drug Abuse Resistance Training program operated there. And she objected to Wasylyshyn’s use of inmate commissary funds to buy a body scanner. “That’s money to be used for inmate education and rehabilitation programs.” But Wasylyshyn said the body scanner makes the…


BG High troupe conjures magical world of Narnia

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News On a gray autumn morning fourth and fifth graders from Bowling Green schools got to visit a magical land of Narnia. They came on school buses, accompanied by teachers. The heroes of the play “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” that they’d come to see arrive in Narnia through a wardrobe in an English country home. For the BG students this was a release from the humdrum; for the quartet of British school kids, this was a life and death adventure, involving evil and redemption. The Bowling Green High School Drama Club opens the stage adaptation of the C.S. Lewis philosophical fantasy “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” tonight (Nov. 3) at 7 p.m. continuing with shows Friday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Bowling Green Performing Arts Center. These children – Peter (Michael Martin,), Edmund (Bob Walters), Susan (Megan Carmen), and Lucy (Lily Krueger) – are transported into a land in the grip of eternal winter. The wicked White Queen (Claire Wells-Jensen) has cast a spell over Narnia. Unbeknownst to the children, their coming has been foretold as a sign of the return to the rule of Aslan (Martin Simon) the just, kindly, giant lion. Narnia is populated by magical forest creatures, who are largely on the side of Aslan and the evil magical creatures, the specters, ghouls and ogres who rally to the witch. The high school troupe brings this world to life. Mr. and Mrs. Beaver (Alexis Reinbolt and Moe Kellow) lumber about as you’d expect of creatures more at home in water. The costumes and the way the characters move in character with them do much to create the world, which is otherwise represented by a few large, but simple set pieces. This enables the action to flow smoothly from scene to scene. The biggest technical accomplishment is representing Aslan. Martin Simon appears within a large wooden puppet that moves majestically about the stage. Amid all the spectacle, the human element remains at the forefront. Edmund’s story as one tempted and lured by the White Witch gives this an emotional dimension beyond a simple battle of good against evil. The actors playing the children form a believable band, each a distinct personality that complements the group as a unit as they move through this strange landscape. These characters must experience their own horror or in case of the White Witch and her henchman… must revel in inflicting pain. That’s especially true in a scene where Aslan sacrifices himself for Edmund, in accordance with an ancient dictates. The story is a Christian allegory, but without any explicit religious references. The message is one of forgiveness, loyalty and courage, lessons suitable for all ages.


Kolanko and LaHote have roots in grassroots govt.

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Communication is a major focus of Ed Kolanko and Craig LaHote, two candidates running for the same open seat in the Wood County Commissioners Office. Both men know what it’s like to be on the other end of county government – with Kolanko currently serving as mayor of Walbridge, and LaHote serving as Perrysburg Township Trustee prior to being selected to fill the county commissioner seat when Jim Carter retired. Kolanko, a Democrat who works in the financial advising business, served on Walbridge Council for six years prior to becoming mayor. “I’ve always felt, and still do feel, there’s a huge disconnect between county officials and local communities,” he said. The areas south of U.S. 6 and north of Perrysburg have little contact with county officials, Kolanko said. He would like to bridge that gap. LaHote, a Republican who served three terms as Perrysburg Township Trustee and now serves as county commissioner, said the commissioners travel throughout the county to talk with and listen to local residents. The commissioners hold regular town meetings in far-reaching villages and townships, attend county-wide township and mayoral meetings, meet with chambers of commerce groups throughout the county, attend economic development breakfasts and luncheons will local leaders, and visit senior centers. “We get feedback,” said LaHote, a former information technology consultant. “There’s a lot of outreach. There is always more that can be done, I’m sure.” But Kolanko said the only time small towns see county commissioners is for a ribbon cutting, parade, or town hall meeting. “The only outreach I’ve witnessed is a town hall meeting, which is more of a feel-good thing,” he said. “I think a commissioner needs to be engaged more. You should go to a council meeting when you don’t have to, go talk to a mayor.” As president of the Wood County Mayors Association, Kolanko said “my peers respect my leadership.” “I listen to what the people want to find a solution,” he said. “I like being involved, not just sitting in an office waiting for the phone to ring.” The smaller communities are struggling with funding cuts, and could use some help from the county, Kolanko said. “They need help. Go to those communities and understand their issues, and work directly with them,” he said. “They need to be getting in front of constituents to address their concerns.” LaHote said the commissioners do that, in fact this year the county approved Community Development Block Grant funding for multiple communities including Walbridge for street repairs. “The commissioners’ office does the best to spread the money around,” he said. LaHote also mentioned the casino tax revenue, which is regularly put into the county engineer’s funds to help repair deteriorating bridges throughout the county. “Staying up with the bridges is always a challenge,” he said. But Kolanko sees greater needs. He mentioned the deteriorated roads surrounding the big dairy farms in the county. He doesn’t blame the CAFOs, “but it is leading to infrastructure problems.” And he was critical of county money being spent on round-abouts, when he sees more important issues. Kolanko thinks more emphasis should be placed on economic development in small towns. The county has resources that should be shared with local communities, he said. “A lot of these small…


Faculty senate mulls options for cutting students’ textbook expense

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Bowling Green State University heard about many ways to reduce the cost of textbooks on Tuesday. When it came time to approve a resolution that called for formulating a plan by May, 2017, that would cut costs in half, the senate balked. Not that the senators weren’t behind cutting textbook costs. Rather they were concerned about committing to that specific target before the issue had been studied, as well as for procedural reasons. Gov. John Kasich and the Republican-controlled legislature have been pushing for reductions on the price of textbooks as part of efforts to reduce the cost of higher education for students. This concern comes at a time when the trend has been a significant decrease in state support for higher education. Universities did receive a modest increase in funding in the most recent budget. Before considering the resolution titled “To Lead Ohio Higher Education in Textbook Cost Reduction,” the senate heard from a panel about what is being done to control the cost of textbooks. Provost Rodney Rogers said that after the major expenses of tuition, fees, room and board are paid, students and their parents are then confronted with “additional costs that are pretty significant and sometimes it surprises families.” Jeff Nelson, the manager of the University bookstore, said that the timing of when professors decide what materials they will use is key. The earlier, the better, he said. Through BGSU Choose, price comparison software, the bookstore gives students information on what books and materials cost at the bookstore and at 12 other national vendors, including Amazon. As soon as the bookstore knows what books will be required it can do the research, he said. The system also “gives us a lot of data and analytics.” Sometimes that information leads the bookstore to discount the price of some textbooks. He said that 85 percent of students who use BGSU Choose end up buying something from the bookstore. Nelson also said that if the bookstore knows before finals week that a text will be required the next semester, a student will get twice as much when selling their copy of that text. The bookstore, he said, was working on making texts in all forms, new, used, rental and online, available to students. Colleen Boff, associate dean of Universities Libraries, said, that the library had piloted a program where certain texts in high demand are available at the reserve desks. The library spent $5,000 on texts for 42 high enrollment, high cost courses, and plans to add to that collection. Faculty also always have the option of placing desk copies of their texts on reserve, she said. OhioLINK, a system through which college libraries share resources, is looking at making more texts available. Because OhioLINK is so established, it is negotiating directly with the State of Ohio and publishers. Library staff are available, she said, to help students and faculty locate exactly what they are looking for on OhioLINK. She suggested that it would help students if professors made it clear whether “a slightly older” edition of a textbook would be acceptable. Boff said the University Library is also involved with open source materials, making them available and bringing training in to help faculty develop their own open source materials. Members of the…


Wicks may face fine for late financial disclosure (Updated)

Editor’s note: Kelly Wicks was not assessed a late fee for not filing the financial disclosure form because officials at the Wood County Board of Elections reported that it is “likely” he was never sent the form. 12/16/16)   By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Kelly Wicks was put on notice that his campaign failed to submit the required financial disclosure statement on time to the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee. Wicks, the Democratic candidate for Wood County’s state representative seat, may face a fine as a result of the failure to file a timely report. The Joint Legislative Ethics Committee oversees ethics for members and candidates of the Ohio House and Senate. State law requires independent candidates to file their ethics report with the commission 30 days before an election, so the public has access to candidates’ financial disclosure information prior to casting their vote. Neglecting to follow state ethics law puts the public at a disadvantage when it comes to learning more about a given candidate, according to the Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee. “Of all people, Wicks ought to be aware of the state’s ethics laws, having run for the same 3rd District seat four years ago,” said OHROC spokesman Brad Miller. “Failure to submit the financial disclosure statement should give the public pause that Wicks is perhaps trying to hide something from voters.” Wicks responded Tuesday that the problem occurred because the Wood County Board of Elections did not provide his campaign with the notice that the document was required. “This is an administrative issue between the Wood County Board of Elections and the Secretary of State,” Wicks stated. As soon as he got the notice from the ethics commission, the paperwork was filed, he said. “This is the perfect example of a lot about nothing,” Wicks said. Wood County Board of Elections Director Terry Burton said he is not certain whether or not the letter was sent out to the Wicks campaign about the filing deadline. So the board will take the same action it has in other cases like this and contact the Secretary of State’s Office to ask that the fine be waived, Burton said. “We’re going to go ahead and mail out the request, as we’ve done with other candidates over the years,” Burton said Wednesday morning. The Ohio House Republican Organizational Committee is accusing Wicks of also being dishonest about a past tax lien issued against him for failing to pay his property taxes on time. According to Miller, in a Sept. 30 Facebook post, Wicks admitted to failing to pay his property tax. But he said that the payment was just “a few dates late.” In reality, it took more than six months. “A few days late” would not have resulted in an official lien being filed against him, Miller said. “Clearly, Kelly Wicks’ actions and words point to a pattern of deceptive behavior,” Miller said. “We believe the public deserves an explanation from Mr. Wicks about why he broke state law and why he continues to be dishonest with the people of Wood County.” Wicks fired back about the campaign being run for his Republican opponent, Theresa Gavarone. “This is the ugliest, nastiest campaign in Wood County history,” he said. “I hope the voters of Wood County see through…


Nothing simple about creating city bike lanes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The effort to put bike lanes in Bowling Green hit another bump in the road Tuesday evening. This bump came in the form of memo from the city suggesting that any bike lane initiatives be addressed by the Council Committee of the Whole. “This may slow things down,” said Council member Sandy Rowland during the Complete Streets meeting. “I’ve talked to people who are sick and tired of just talking and want to get things done.” Last month, the three-member Transportation Safety Committee (John Zanfardino, Daniel Gordon and Rowland) discussed plans for bike lanes on Conneaut and Fairview avenues. The decision was rushed due to time constraints for the bidding and funding process. This week, the memo, signed by Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter, suggested that the process should include all council members in the discussion. She pointed out that the city’s road paving schedule should drive the timeline of any bike lanes or other “complete street” modifications. But Rowland noted that schedule could delay the six streets selected for bike lanes – and could result in the last street – Clough – not being made bicycle-friendly for 20 years. Zanfardino was disappointed that the memo seemed to imply the city would only consider bike lanes on six streets. “There were 20 streets at first that were earnestly being considered,” he said. But in an effort to set a reasonable goal, the efforts were narrowed to six streets – Fairview, Conneaut, Court, Pearl, Maple and Clough. So Zanfardino suggested that as the city looks at which streets to pave each year, that bike lanes be discussed for all of them. “If not, I think we really are more than slowing it down,” he said. “We don’t need to be hasty, but we need to earnestly move ahead.” Rowland agreed. “Every street that’s repaved should be a Complete Street,” she said. Gordon said the planning consultants working with the city noted the lack of biking accommodations in the community. “The first thing they noticed was a lack of bike lanes,” he said. And that puts Bowling Green at a disadvantage to attract people to the community, he added. The extra layer expected to further delay any bike options in the city was met with dismay by some cyclists in the audience. “I’m disgusted,” said Frank McLaughlin. “If we wanted to do nothing in the city, this is a great way to get nothing done.” For a city that prides itself on being progressive, there has been little movement toward bicycle accommodations over years of discussion, he said. “There’s been no real commitment by the council or by the city to get things done,” McLaughlin said. McLaughlin said he could empathize with residents along Conneaut and Fairview avenues, who don’t want to lose on-street parking or portions of their front yards. But he added to council members, “I’m not sure you’re going to get this done without upsetting some and spending some money.” “We need to get something going,” even if it’s piecemeal, McLaughlin said. John Wasinski said other communities are somehow able to create Complete Streets. “Where they are getting their funds, I don’t know,” he said. But “just painting stripes and calling it done” is not good enough. As a resident of Court…


Piper Kerman found friends, a book & a cause in prison

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Piper Kerman was a just a couple years out of college when she stepped over the line. She’d been traveling all over the world with her drug dealing girlfriend. She tried to keep out of her lover’s business until she was asked to carry a suitcase full of money from Chicago to Brussels. Kerman knew what she’d done, and soon after broke off the relationship, returned to the United States and put that life behind her. That’s what she thought. About five years later federal authorities rang her doorbell in New York City, and the time came to pay for her crime. Kerman ended up serving 15 months in federal prison, and came out to write the best seller “Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison.” On Tuesday night she spoke at Bowling Green State University as the guest of University Libraries’ Ordinary People: Extraordinary Lives series. Being in prison meant more than serving time. Kerman said when she had carried that money from Chicago to Brussels she didn’t think about the consequences her actions. In prison she came face to face with those whose lives had been devastated by drugs. “My closeness and connection to those women led me to realize the harm of my own actions, and I’m very, very grateful for that,” she said. Kerman said she was grateful to Jenji Kohan who produced the Netflix series based on the book, for keeping the issues she wanted to highlight in the book in the forefront. Among those were friendship. Kerman said she didn’t go into prison expecting to find friends, but wouldn’t have survived without them. Kerman talked about Pom-Pom. They worked at jobs near each other in prison. Pom-Pom was released a few months before Kerman, just before Thanksgiving. She ended up sleeping on the floor of a relative who didn’t want her there. The area she lived in was cold and dangerous and poor. Before Christmas she wrote a letter to Kerman, telling her to keep her spirits up because she’d be released soon. Then she wrote: “I really miss you guys. I feel like you’re my real family.” Kerman was overwhelmed. She cried not just about her friend’s current situation but because “I wished she was back in prison with us.” In writing “Orange Is the New Black,” she said she wanted readers to feel as deeply about Pom-Pom as she did. Since being released in early 2005, Kerman has worked on efforts to assist inmates and on criminal justice reform. The United States imprisons more people than any other country in the world. While the U.S. has 5 percent of the world population it has 25 percent of its prisoners. It has a third of the female prisoners. In the past three decades the number of female inmates has increased 650 percent. (The male prison population increased 400 percent.) And those arrested, judged and sentenced are disproportionately black. This was not because of any crime wave, but the way sentences are handed out. Most were for non-violent offenses such as drug possession and prostitution.  In the past these offenses wouldn’t merit prison time. In New York City it costs $65,000 a year to put a woman in prison. If she has kids and…


Artist documents the cycle of abuse suffered by female inmates

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Carol Jacobsen’s photographs and videos of women in prison could have been self-portraits. In the late-1960s, Jacobsen was in the same kind of situation that landed many women in prison for life, Right out of high school, she said in a recent interview, she ran off and married her high school boyfriend.  “He was a sociopath. He beat the shit out of me,” she said. So many women in prison, she said, are there because they finally fought back and killed their abusers or were forced or coerced into participating in crimes, and then had to pay for the male partners’ actions. These are the issues she explores in work now on display in the exhibit “Criminal Justice?” in the Wankelman Gallery in the Bowling Green State University School of Art. Her videos explore the lives of those in prison and her photo pieces reflect the continuum of the abuse of women within the criminal justice system. The exhibit also features Andrea Bowers’ video documentary “#sweetjane” about the Steubenville rape case. The exhibit continues through Nov. 20. Unlike the women whom Jacobsen depicts and advocates for, the artist was able to flee her abusive spouse. “I ran off,” said Jacobsen, who teaches at the University of Michigan. “I had to hide out of town for month. I was pregnant. I was lucky I had family and friends who hid me, and parents who took me to the abandoned building in Detroit for the illegal abortion that I insisted on having to free myself from a violent man.” When she met the women in prison, she realized: “This could be me; this could be a lot of us.” Jacobsen went on to study art and earn a graduate degree from Eastern Michigan University. She was inspired to move her work into a political realm, something not permitted at the university, while living in London in 1980. She witnessed political activism and saw “women raising hell in court.” When she returned to the United States, “I wondered who was disturbing the peace here.” She went to district court in Detroit, and at first focused on the plight of prostitutes, mostly poor, black women. Their punishment by the state and stigmatization by society was a nexus of the feminist issues – abortion, rape, and battering, domestic abuse. Her idea was to follow some of these prostitutes when they went to serve time on prison. Once in prison, she met other women, women serving life sentences. “These are the murderers?” she asked. They were doing time for the crimes of their boyfriends, or for defending themselves. “I got hooked,” Jacobsen said.  She decided to integrate legal activism into her art. She collaborated with a couple attorneys and together they formed the Michigan Women’s Justice and Clemency Project. Under the auspices of the project she would go inside the state’s prisons, and film the inmates and record their stories. Then in the late 1990s, Gov. John Engler closed off the prisons. All filming was banned. Visitation was limited to immediate family and legal counsel. The move was made because the Michigan prison system had been cited as one of the worst in the country by the U.S. Justice Department, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the United Nations. They…


Bowlus, Kuhlman face-off for commissioner’s seat

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Safe water, a quality workforce, and the opiate epidemic top the list of concerns for Wood County Commissioner candidates Dr. Ted Bowlus and Joel Kuhlman. Both Bowlus, a Republican and podiatrist, and incumbent commissioner Kuhlman, a Democratic and attorney, grew up in the Pemberville area. The two are competing for one of the two open commissioner seats. Facing off for the other open seat are Democrat Ed Kolanko and Republican incumbent Craig LaHote, both from the northern end of Wood County. A story on that race will appear later. Kuhlman and Bowlus see the water issue as multi-faceted. There is the issue of Lake Erie’s “impaired designation” status, and the decision on water sources for the region. The commissioners have been asked to support an effort to have the Western Lake Erie Basin declared “impaired.” That designation would get the U.S. EPA involved in identifying the sources of the phosphorus creating the harmful algal blooms. Neither Bowlus nor Kuhlman are sold on the need for “impaired” status, though Kuhlman is more open to considering the designation. After sitting through a series of meetings on the issue, Kuhlman called the discussions “enlightening” and “confusing.” While parts of the western basin are already labeled as impaired, Kuhlman wants to delay the decision until more facts are gathered. Bowlus has made up his mind that the impairment status would do more harm than good. “I feel strongly we should not designate the lake as impaired,” he said. “The federal government will step in and the Army Corps of Engineers would dictate to us.” Bowlus also objected to the bulk of the blame being placed on farmers for the water quality problems. “It’s not just the farmers. It’s the antiquated septic systems. It’s the contributions from Detroit. The farmers are complying with the current regulations. How can we blame them?” Both candidates also believe the county needs to investigate alternative water sources identified in multiple studies. Kuhlman stressed the importance of three issues – reasonable water rates, voting rights for Wood County on the distribution process, and the regional economic development impact. “We need to do what’s in the best interest of residents of Wood County,” Kuhlman said. Kuhlman believes in the value of keeping Toledo strong as changes are considered. A regional water board centered around Toledo, but giving votes to outlying areas would be beneficial, he said. “That gives us a say in rates and infrastructure improvements.” At the same time, Kuhlman is interested in study results that show Bowling Green as a strong alternative water source. “We’ll continue to nurture that potentiality,” he said. “We need as many options on the table as we can possibly get.” Bowlus has also familiarized himself with the water studies conducted by Sylvania, Toledo and the Wood County Economic Development Commission. “All three agree the regional approach is the best,” Bowlus said, with the possibility of another water intake being added on Lake Erie. “I am in favor of the regional approach.” Both candidates are also concerned about the opiate crisis and its impact on Wood County residents. “I think it’s important for the Wood County citizens to realize it’s not just the large cities having deaths, but also the rural areas,” Bowlus said. “We need to…


Activists bike across the country to find common ground on climate change

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Climate change activists Mindy Ahler and Ryan Hall are peddling across the country, and that’s taken them right through what many would consider enemy territory. The two bicyclists stopped Saturday in Bowling Green to do what they’ve been doing for the last 60 days and 3,400 miles, talk about the need to address global warming. The two started off Aug. 27 in Seaside, Oregon traveling Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. They traveled a route mapped out by the Adventure Cycling Association, and adjusted based on suggestions by local cyclists. Along the way they have talked to people. Those included supporters and volunteers who met them along the way. They also met people who skeptical about global warming. “We’ve had these conversations even with people in the fossil fuel industry,” Hall said. “If we can have these conversations, we can find those solutions.” What they’ve found along the trail, he said, is that people care about the environment, even if they disagree on global warming, its causes and solutions. Hall and Ahler met each other this summer. She is a Minneapolis-based activist, who serves as the North Wind Regional Coordinator for Citizens’ Climate Lobby and co-director of Cool Planet. Hall is just finishing his third year as an AmeriCorps volunteer. He met Ahler while working in Iowa weatherizing houses. He’s also spent a year working as a mentor and tutor in the Columbus city schools. Ahler said the most impressive aspect of the trip is the “amazing people” they met along the way. Ahler recalled peddling into a town in Montana, wet and cold, only to discover that the food and camping they expected to find were not there. “We were taken in by Dave, the superintendent of schools,” she said. “He put us up for the night. Dried us out and warmed us up and fed us.” This was an example, she said, of “the kindness of people and complete open hearts even when we disagree on climate change and what has to happen.” These conversations are important, the riders said, given the lack of interest in the national media in the issue. “That’s what spurred us into doing this bike ride,” Ahler said. They noted that in the three presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, there was one question about energy and none about climate change. In Nebraska they talked to one person who said she was concerned but no one else was. Then shortly after that someone else said the same thing. “There’s a perception that no one is talking,” Ahler said. The transcontinental ride and conversations are meant the break through that perception of silence.  “Once we hear more of the conversation, we need to get to debating what’s the best way to move forward and the best solutions.” Citizen’s Climate Lobby is advocating for the institution of carbon dividends.  This approach calls for a fee for carbon emissions to be imposed on producers by the federal government with all the revenue collected distributed to American households. “We need to put a price on pollution, and then let the market figure it out,” Ahler said. Some people believe nuclear power should be part of the mix while others think the solution is in adopting…


Senior levy sought to care for graying population

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Committee on Aging wants local senior citizens to stay independent and involved. That means providing meals, transportation and social activities for the growing gray population of the county. And that means they need voters’ help. The Wood County Committee on Aging is asking voters to support a renewal 0.7-mill, five-year levy for senior services. For the owner of a home valued at $100,000, that adds up to $19.31 a year. The levy, which generates about $2 million a year, makes up about 69 percent of the committee on aging’s budget for the county. “We want to make sure the seniors of the county have what they need,” explained Denise Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. That is a weighty goal, considering 19 percent of the county’s population are senior citizens. That number is about 25,400 now, and is expected to explode to 32,000 when the baby boomers reach senior citizen status. The Committee on Aging serves many of those older adults at the seven senior centers in the county, in Bowling Green, Perrysburg, North Baltimore, Pemberville, Rossford, Walbridge and Wayne. Seniors are offered meals, transportation, social interaction and education programs for those who aren’t done learning. More than 126,000 meals are delivered annually to 900 individual homes of senior citizens throughout the county. And for those able to get to the senior centers, about 70,000 meals are provided to more than 2,200 seniors a year. The home-delivered meals provide sustenance and social contact, according to Tom Bamburowski, president of the committee on aging. “They enjoy nutritious food and they enjoy seeing another human being,” he said. “It might be the only other person they see that day.” The meals at the senior centers get older residents out of their homes, mingling with others. “That’s the front door to senior services,” Niese said. “They come in for a meal and they stay for other things,” such as exercise classes, lectures or card games. Transportation services provide an average of 509 rides per month to medical appointments, grocery shopping, senior centers or social events. The demand for those services is expected to grow as the older population living at home increases, Niese predicted. “I think we’re going to see more of that as our 75 population becomes our 85 population, and our 85 population is going to be 95,” she said. To ensure that seniors’ homes remain in good condition, the committee on aging also offers a home repair program which can take care of items like water leaks or the need for railings on porch steps. “That helps keep seniors home longer,” said Jim Stainbrook, director of fiscal and facility operations for the committee on aging. The senior centers – all of which are housed in community buildings not owned by the committee on aging – also offer several services that improve the quality of life for local seniors. “If you’re isolated and you don’t talk to anyone all day, you get depressed,” said Roger Anderson, past president of the committee on aging. Visits to the senior center encourage older residents to eat better, take care of themselves and develop support systems. “They check on each other,” Niese said. To some, the socialization is a lifesaver….


BG goes for 2-mill levy to maintain parks, programs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department has no grand expansions planned if its levy passes on Nov. 8. It just hopes to maintain the pretty grand properties and programs already in place. The city has 11 parks covering 373 acres – well above the national average for a community this size. Those public parks were one of the biggest factors in Bowling Green recently being ranked one of the top 10 places in the nation to raise a family. The parks offer a variety of settings: Garden, nature, athletic and passive. “That’s very rare,” said Kristin Otley, director of the city parks and recreation department. “It really is truly amazing what we have here.” But in order to maintain that, Otley explained the citizens are being asked to pass a 2-mill, five-year property tax levy to support the parks. It will take place of the 1.4-mill levy that expired last year. The levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home in the city $61.25 a year. That is $18.25 more a year than the previous levy. Otley has complete confidence that Bowling Green residents get their money’s worth out of the city’s parks and recreation programs. “It’s a quality of life issue,” she said. “I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we make a difference in people’s lives every day.” Those differences can be seen in the swimming lessons offered in City Park, the colorful flowerbeds at Simpson Garden Park, the rambling trails at Wintergarden Park, and the beginning T-ball classes for kids. “That’s pure joy and learning,” Otley said of the T-ball classes. “It really is pretty phenomenal.” This past summer, 565 children participated in swimming lessons and 625 joined in summer camp programs. The parks and recreation department has not asked for increased levy millage for 16 years. But during those 16 years, the parks have done a lot of growing, with additions such as Simpson Building and Garden Park, City Pool and Waterpark, Community Center, Ridge Park, Skatepark, Dunbridge Soccer Fields, BG Athletic Fields, Black Swamp Preserve, more trails at Wintergarden, and expanded programming for fitness, aquatics and other events. The new millage will allow the city to maintain the parks and buildings it already has, Otley explained. “So we can keep up with the quality our residents expect and deserve,” she said. “We think it’s a good value,” Otley said. At the previous amount, the levy revenue made up about 30 percent of the park and recreation department’s budget. Fees and charges brought in about 44 percent, followed by city income tax at 21 percent, and donations at 4 percent. The parks and recreation department has worked hard to keep costs down, Otley said, by partnering with non-profits and local businesses to underwrite more than $30,000 each year for special events and youth sports. The department also uses a lot of volunteer labor and relies on the park foundation and donors to fill in some gaps. “We are nothing if not thrifty,” Otley said. Failure of the levy could result in a cut in hours, a cut in programs, or a cut in staffing – none of which Otley wants to see. The department has 18 year-round employees and about 200 seasonal staff. Otley also…


Pizza Pub 516 ready to cook up good times for diners at former Myles site

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The smell of pizza in the oven is in the air again in the vicinity of 516 E. Wooster St. in Bowling Green. On Wednesday, Jay and Paula Williams opened the doors of the Pizza Pub 516 in the former location of Myles Pizza, which closed about a month ago. Fans of the iconic eatery will likely feel right at home in the shop’s new incarnation, and that’s by design. Paula Williams said that they will maintain the atmosphere and many of the signature items, while adding their own touches. The Williamses have experience taking over a favorite local dining spot. Three years ago, they bought Trotters Tavern in downtown. The key to taking over a beloved restaurant, she said, is understanding the community. “We’re going to try really hard to make sure that everyone in Bowling Green feels welcome, and know that they’re going to get a good pie in a friendly atmosphere.” She said they hope to grow the dining room business. “We’d like people to think of us when they think about where they’re going to go the watch the game. They can order a pizza and garlic bread and sit down and watch a sporting event with their friends.” The pub will continue to offer the same style of thick crust that Chip Myles offered for 39 years. They’ve also added a thin crust as well as a gluten free crust. The thick and thin crusts are made in house. Myles has refused to sell the recipe for his pizza sauce and the name. The Williamses tried to buy “the whole package,” but when they couldn’t, they went ahead and purchased what they could. Pizza Pub 516 aspires to continue to be the kind of place where someone stopping by to pick up a pizza will likely to meet friends. Regular customers will also find familiar faces among the staff. Williams said they hired everyone from Myles Pizza who was interested in joining the new venture. “The family we inherited” has been a great help in getting the shop up and running, she said. She said they’ve also brought in employees from their other businesses – the family also own Quarters in Perrysburg – as well as their children Jessica, a senior at Bowling Green State University, and  Andrew, a senior in Bowling Green High School. Reliable, trustworthy and friendly help, Williams said, is essential to operating a restaurant. She said that’s the kind of staff they have. That staff didn’t have to wait long to swing into action. Even though the restaurant’s computer system wasn’t in place, they opened anyway. “It comes down to you’ve got to have the doors open,” Williams said. The food and drink were ready. The shop was ready. “It was time to sell some pizza,” she said. While this would be considered “a soft opening,” Williams said: “It wasn’t really soft. It was pretty busy.” Though there’s a menu printed, she said, they are still fine-tuning it. That’s done in consultation with the cooks and the rest of the staff as well as comments from customers. Some items had to stay on the menu, she said. That included the garlic and pizza bread. And “the salads here are beautiful fresh large flavorful,” she said,…


Nearly 300 local absentee ballots get lost in the mail

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Board of Elections sent out 10,229 absentee ballots for the Nov. 8 election. Once they were placed in the mail, the board thought its work was done until the completed ballots were mailed back in. But then they started getting phone calls. Absentee ballots mailed out on Oct. 12 still hadn’t gotten to many voters – primarily those who lived out of state or in the North Baltimore and Fostoria areas. The voters were advised to wait a little bit, that the ballots were in the mail. It now appears many ballots made it to the Detroit mail sorting center in Pontiac, Michigan, but didn’t get any further than that. “Once we drop it in the mail, we lose control,” Wood County Board of Elections Director Terry Burton said Saturday morning. “We rely on that system to do what it should.” “This happens in every election. It just happened a little bit more in this election,” Burton said. And Wood County is not alone. It appears that many absentee ballots from all over Northwest Ohio have not made it to their intended destinations. “What happened to those ballots? Where they got hung up, we don’t know,” Burton said. “While I would like to rail the postal system – and there may be a time for that – what we are focusing on now is correcting the problem.” So as of Saturday morning, the Wood County Board of Elections has reissued nearly 300 absentee ballots for those missing, and has suspended the initial ballots sent out. Each ballot has an absentee number, so the missing ones can be canceled and new ones issued. “So at least we can make sure they can vote,” Burton said. The majority of the initial absentee ballots went out without a hitch. Some residents in Bowling Green and Perrysburg reported “getting them practically overnight.” And as of Saturday morning, 5,279 completed absentee ballots had been returned to the board of elections. Some of the voters who called to report they hadn’t received absentee ballots have since gotten the original ones in the mail. In those cases, they are being advised to call the board of elections and read off the ballot number to make sure the ballot is still activated. The Wood County Board of Elections is trying to ensure everyone who wants to vote absentee has a ballot to do so. “If they’ve called in, we’ve reissued them a ballot. It’s better that we get something to them,” Burton said. “We’re just trying to manage the situation as we can. We are trying to control what we can control.” But Burton realizes the board of elections is in a real “time crunch,” with the election just 10 days away. Absentee ballots must be postmarked by the day before the election, Nov. 7, and must be received by the board within 10 days after the election to count. It has helped that higher authorities have gotten involved in solving the problem, Burton said. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and U.S. Rep. Bob Latta have pushed for the ballots to be located. And the Postmaster General has “cleansed” the Pontiac postal center to make sure any ballots received there are sent out. That appears to have…


Why do we pay to have bejeebers scared out of us?

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Kent McClary remembers the first scary movie he snuck into by lying about his age. His mom had warned him that children would be “permanently scarred” by watching “The Exorcist.” That was enough to convince McClary he had to see the flick. Later, he was terrorized by the book “The Amityville Horror,” due to the subtitle, “A True Story,” which he took to be the sworn truth. “I like to get scared,” said McClary, a retired Kenwood Elementary teacher. Janet McClary, his wife, remembers going to “freak shows” as a child, marveling in horror at Lobster Boy and Alligator Woman. The McClarys, like many people, enjoy having the bejeebers scared out of them. Every Sunday evening, Kent McClary shares his love of spooky topics on the “Dead Air” radio show on 88.1 FM. But why? Why do so many people pay to get goosebumps and a racing heart? Especially this time of year, when people stand in long lines at haunted houses and pull out classic terror movies. One popular theory is that we humans have the fight or flight instinct imbedded in us. However, in today’s world most people have very few chances to put that instinct into action. So a scary movie, book or haunted house gives us the opportunity to face fears in a safe environment. We get the adrenaline rush, and the sense of relief once we have survived the imagined danger. Margee Kerr, a sociologist who focuses on the study of fear and teaches at the University of Pittsburgh, explained why some humans crave thrills and chills. Her research shows that our bodies’ threat responses trigger chemicals meant to help us survive, flooding our bodies and brains with adrenaline, endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. This response shares similarities with other high arousal responses, like when we’re happy, excited and surprised. The importance is knowing the difference between a real threat or just a thrill. Not everyone likes being scared, even in a safe place. For some people a racing heart, sweaty palms, and fear of anticipation is just too much to tolerate, let alone purposefully induce. But for others, being scared in a safe place is a source of enjoyment and makes them feel strong when they overcome a scary situation, Kerr found. That thrill-seeking behavior is what Bob Turner – otherwise known as “Crazy Bob” from the Haunted Hydro in Fremont – is counting on. “You are paying money to get scared,” Turner said during a presentation to the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club on Thursday. Janet McClary remembers well her first trip to the Haunted Hydro more than 20 years ago. She was scared out of her wits, but couldn’t get enough of the adrenaline rush. “That started me down this twisted path,” she said to the Kiwanis Club audience. “I’m a victim of this stuff too,” her husband said. “I think it’s part of our nature to do that.” The couples’ reactions are different to haunted attractions. Kent McClary views it more as a theater experience. He enjoys watching the people in the line, clinging to each other in fright. Janet McClary, on the other hand, is one of those people terrified by the severed limbs, the splattered brain matter, the high pitched screams, the…