Demands of volunteer firefighting lead some to burnout

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As a young boy, Tim Schroeder remembers kids chasing behind fire trucks, then watching in awe as volunteer firefighters battled blazes. Children dreamed of becoming firefighters, and as soon as reaching adulthood, many joined the ranks. That was then. Now, most kids don’t race behind fire trucks, they have different dreams, and most don’t sign up on volunteer fire departments. Most prefer jobs that pay, that have reasonable hours and that don’t demand quick departures during dinner or in the middle of a deep sleep. That has some volunteer fire departments struggling to survive. Add to that the training requirements, the equipment costs, the calls at all time of day and night, and the fact that many employers no longer let volunteer firefighters leave work for fire calls. Despite all those odds, Wood County still has 23 fire departments, the vast majority volunteer. A few neighboring departments have merged to become fire districts, but only one – Jerry City – has shut down in the last few decades. Though their memberships are shrinking, and in some cases graying, the fire departments are a source of community pride and camaraderie. “There’s still the excitement,” Schroeder, a member of Weston EMS, said Saturday during the Northwestern Ohio Volunteer Firemen’s Association training held at Bowling Green State University. “It’s just a struggle to get personnel.” The volunteer job demands time and dedication. One of the hurdles to getting and retaining firefighters is the training. Over the weekend, about 700 area volunteer firefighters were at BGSU trying to rack up some free training hours. The basic initial firefighter training is 36 hours. That used to be good enough to keep someone on the department for a lifetime. But now an additional 18 hours of training is required each year. “You used to get a certification and that was it,” said Tom Bentley, from Wayne Volunteer Fire Department. “The older guys don’t want to maintain that,” said Dave Miller, from Woodville Township Fire Department and chairman of the fire school. In addition to firefighting skills, the volunteers learn how to handle hazardous materials, search and rescue skills, emergency medical skills, and how to drive fire trucks. Over the weekend, there were classes on handling agricultural accidents, tanker shuttles to put out fires where there are no fire hydrants, fire investigations, the heroin epidemic, meth labs, natural gas safety, silo explosions and severe weather. “It’s hard to attract people with all the training requirements,” said Ryan Lee, of Central Joint Fire District. But…


Young filmmaker Caroline Koziol’s dream has taken her to slums in Brazil, & Bowling Green

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News At 23, Caroline Koziol has already lived a well-traveled life. Born in Poland, she immigrated to England. She came to study theater and film at Bowling Green State University for semester and stayed to graduate. Now she’s back in London doing graduate studies in film. That’s just the outline. She’s hitchhiked along Route 66 and around Morocco. Her dreams have also taken her to the slums of Brazil where she found the subject for both a documentary and a book. Koziol’s ambitions to be a documentary filmmaker revolve around the Dream Catcher project, where she approaches strangers and explores with them what their dreams and fears are, and what they are doing to achieve them. She found people who dream of fame and a lottery jackpot. She found someone who wanted to have a cup of coffee with her, and a man who thought she should run for president. She probes and encourages and teases her subjects, justifying her intrusion in their daily life with a beaming smile and bubbly repartee. It’s an approach that works across cultures. Koziol tells those she meets the time to start pursuing their dreams is now. And she practices what she preaches. Koziol discussed her life’s journey in a series of e-mails from London. The idea for the Dream Catcher project was born in Grounds for Thought one weekend while she was a student here. “There was this enormous world map on one of the walls. I was staring at this map and an idea sprang to mind – I study filmmaking, love to travel and people,” she wrote. “Those were my three biggest passions in fact. Combine the three and you get to start making documentaries.” Koziol decided to start her Dream Catcher Studio, where she could make and produce films and music videos. The idea was to educate by showing viewers “different cultures, different ways in which people live their lives.” She also wanted to talk to people and motivate them. “Life is wonderful and gives us plenty of opportunities,” she said. “I noticed just how many chances we get in life and decided to take my life into my own hands and never give up. She’s loved movies since she was a child in Poland. “Acting and more broadly filmmaking was always a magical process to me. Even when I was very little,” she wrote, “I was never scared of horror films, because I imagined how it was made, analyzed the acting. “Making films gives us a chance to live…


Fire damages home on East Reed Street this morning

A passerby reported a house fire at 129 E. Reed St. at 6:41 a.m. today, Sunday. Bowling Green Fire Division responded with two engines and the ladder truck. Upon arrival, heavy fire was showing on the second floor of the large, former single-family home that had been converted into a triplex, according to Bowling Green Fire Chief Tom Sanderson. A resident of the first floor apartment was evacuated by Bowling Green Police Division. According to Sanderson, the initial fire attack with a deck gun was followed immediately by an interior attack and search of the second floor apartment. No one was in the second floor apartment at the time. The fire was quickly under control, the chief said. Mutual aid was called to the scene, including Central Joint Fire District with an engine and four firefighters, and Mid-County 120 Ambulance with two paramedics. There were no injuries to residents or firefighters. The fire is under investigation, Sanderson said.


More county residents turn to food pantries for help

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Across Wood County, more people are turning to food pantries to help feed their families. Some food banks offer food once a month, others whenever needed. Some require proof of need, others ask for nothing. “We’re seeing more food insecurity,” said Sue Clanton, director of United Way in Wood County. So last month, people representing food pantries throughout Wood County gathered at the United Way office in Bowling Green to collect information on all the grassroots efforts to help the hungry. Information was recorded on how often food is available, how much food is given per person, and how families qualify at each operation. The details will be updated in the county’s “211” help telephone system, so when people call for help they can be directed to the place most able to assist. In addition to bags of groceries, many of the sites offer such help as free meals, laundry and shower services, clothing, kitchenware, toiletries and baby items. Others provide car care, used furniture or community garden crops. Many of the operations are hosted by churches. Some are open multiple days a week, others once a month. “We don’t turn anyone away hungry,” said a volunteer with St. Thomas More’s food pantry in Bowling Green. First United Methodist Church in Bowling Green averages 200 clients a month at its food program, Heather Sayler said. The church has four freezers, and may need to add another for the program. “We’re looking at harnessing our volunteers,” with more than 50 a month, she said. “Long-term we’re looking at home delivery.” Perrysburg Christians United offers food once a month, and help with rent and utilities for people at risk or eviction or having their utilities cut. The Brown Bag program in Bowling Green is open three days a week. The site has no “means testing,” and provided for about 17,000 meals last year. “We help people in urgent crisis in need of food,” Gwen Andrix said. “All it takes is for someone to say, ‘I don’t know where I’m going to get my next meal.’” Many people are falling through the cracks, according to Andrix. All it takes is one unexpected car repair, sickness or a spouse leaving to push someone into poverty. So people are also offered a sheet listing local resources – “to hopefully find a lasting solution to whatever situation they are in.” The Brown Bag program also tries to offer delivery 24/7. “If you call us today, I will try to get food to you…


Gambling problems reach into college population

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News   A study conducted last summer by the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board showed that 4.3 percent of those surveyed showed some tendency toward disordered gambling behavior. The study was done while first-year students were on campus before the semester started, said Lorrie Lewandowski, ADAMHS associate director. The survey found males more likely to indicate problem gambling tendencies than females. The study is an ongoing effort to study disordered gambling, prompted by the opening of four casinos in 2012 in Ohio, including the Hollywood Casino Toledo, just over the Wood County line. The constitutional amendment that approved the casinos requires they provided 2 percent of their gross revenues to combatting problem gambling. In 2016, $5.4 million was generated for those efforts, according to the state’s casino control commission. But casinos are just one gambling option. The Ohio Lottery offers a variety of games that are widely available. ADAMHS figures show there are more than 115 licensed lottery retailers in Wood County who sold over $24 million worth of lottery products in 2014. About 2,000 online gambling sites exist, most operating illegally. Lewandowski said the ADAMHS board is focusing on three groups, teenagers up to age 18, college age youth, and senior citizens. They are the groups most in danger of developing gambling disorders. The board employs Bill Ivoska to consult on developing local data. If the board is charged with addressing local problems then it needs local information, she said. Ivoska recently co-authored a scholarly article based in part on Wood County data that showed while lottery games such as scratch off tickets were the most common form of gambling among young people, sports-related gambling including fantasy sports, has a stronger link with developing problem gambling behaviors. Among college students online gambling is also prevalent. What the survey found was that college student athletes were more likely to engage in fantasy sports type gaming. She attributed this to long rides to athletic contests leaving them with time to kill. College students reported little interest in visiting casinos, citing lack of money and lack of transportation, Lewandowski said. Those with gambling disorder display the same symptoms as those with drug addiction. Gambling taps the risk-reward center of the brain, where the excitement of the game and possibility of winning creates a high. In Wood County, 3 percent of the adolescents, 14 to 18, displayed some tendencies toward disordered gambling. Again the problem was more prevalent in males. The still-developing young brain is particularly vulnerable, she…


BG couple persistent in piecing together giant puzzle

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Rarely does one birthday present bring so much pain and pleasure. Steve and Lois DiMaria’s grandchildren gave their grandpa an 18,000 piece puzzle – innocently instigating a mystery the Bowling Green couple felt compelled to solve. “It took us four years to do it,” Steve said. “We would tackle it during the winter months.” The grandchildren also had no idea of the space the puzzle would consume. Every year after Thanksgiving dinner until Easter dinner, the DiMaria’s dining room table would be overtaken by the Ravensburger puzzle showing an African scene of elephants, giraffes, rhinos, lions and zebras at a watering hole. That’s a dining room table, with two leaves – with the puzzle taking up the entire 9 ½ by 6 ½ foot space. When guests would come over, the DiMarias would have to offer more casual dining. “Sorry, we have to eat in the living room on TV trays,” Lois would say. “We’re not going to move it.” To tackle such a monster of a puzzle really takes personalities that love puzzles. Lois is such a person. Steve, not so much. But Steve rose to the challenge and became hooked on completing the project as much as his wife. “It would be hours at a time,” Lois said. “I’m an all or nothing person.” The work was extra tedious since the pieces were so small and similar in shape. Sometimes they would have to take apart sections that were already completed to redo them. There were times the couple felt like giving up – especially in the vast areas of gray on the elephant. Some portions of the puzzle, with lots of color, were easier to piece together. “There were sections that were really fun to do,” Lois said. “It really felt like you had accomplished something.” Luckily, the 18,000 pieces were divided into four plastic bags of 4,500 pieces each. That made the job a little more manageable, Steve said. “We were grateful for that,” Lois added. After four years of on-and-off work, the puzzle was complete – except for one annoyingly missing piece right in the center of the elephant. The couple searched everywhere for the missing piece, but finally had to call the puzzle company to ask for another. Of course, the missing piece came in a bag with 4,499 other pieces. “I don’t think I have the gumption to do it,” Lois said about sorting through the bag for the exact piece of gray. The giant puzzle now lives on eight…


Apartment fire in BG contained to one unit

A fire in a 12-unit building at 505 Clough St., Bowling Green, was contained to one apartment this evening. A resident of the building called 911 at 5:38 p.m., when the renter smelled smoke in the hallway while leaving the building. Bowling Green Police Division went door-to-door and evacuated residents from the building which sits next to the railroad tracks. No one was injured. When Bowling Green Fire Division arrived on the scene, firefighters could see the flames through the window. They had to force entry into Apt. 9, where the fire was located. Once inside, the fire was knocked down quickly, according to Fire Division Capt. Bill Moorman. The fire is under investigation, with the cause not yet known. No one was home in the apartment at the time of the fire, Moorman said. Bowling Green State University is on spring break this week. The resident of the burned apartment was in town, but reportedly at work when the fire occurred. While the fire was contained to one unit, several other units were being ventilated for smoke. It was unknown yet if there were inhabitable. “At least the tenants can come in and check them out,” Moorman said.


Health district aims high for public health goal

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Health District has a pretty lofty goal for local residents. “We’re striving to be the healthiest county in Ohio,” Health Commissioner Ben Batey said Thursday to a meeting of the Wood County District Advisory Council – representing the municipalities and townships in the county. In order to improve local public health, the district has set some lofty goals for itself. In addition to all the environmental and nursing services already provided, the district plans to focus on the priority issues of obesity, mental health, youth violence and bullying, and health care access. Dental care will also be a priority for the health district, with the use of an $820,000 federal grant to build a dental center onto the existing health district building on East Gypsy Lane Road. Medicaid dental services have long been identified as a serious need in the county. The new dental clinic, which will have five examine chairs, is expected to be open by the beginning of 2018. Though the number of projected clients is unknown, Batey said of the 1,300 health center patients surveyed, 75 percent said they would be interested in using the dental services. Batey also noted that the county’s Net Plus program now offers transportation to medical appointments for any Wood County residents. “We have set a standard in Ohio,” for good medical access, Batey said. “We tackle these issues that other counties are really struggling with.” The success of the health district was recognized last year when the agency received national accreditation. “That was a very proud moment for us,” Batey said, noting that very few health departments throughout the nation achieve that status. “We got very positive feedback on the job we are providing our residents.” The efforts are being recognized outside Wood County as well, he said. “People are now looking at us as a regional leader.” Batey presented the health district’s annual report to the municipal and township leaders Thursday evening. The report lists the programs offered to protect public health in the county. Those include programs covering: Food safety. Public swimming pools and campgrounds. Private drinking water and home sewage treatment systems. Animal bites and rabies prevention. School inspections. County housing and general nuisances. Institutions and jail inspections. Smoke-free workplace enforcement. Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition. Children with Medical Handicaps. Immunizations. Personal care for seniors in their homes. Healthy Kids program working to prevent obesity. Emergency preparedness. Non-infectious disease epidemiology. Child and Family Health Services. “I’m very proud of this report,”…


Paying for textbooks could put a dent in BGSU budget

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bowling Green State University could take a significant financial hit if a state budget proposal requiring colleges to pay for students’ textbooks becomes law. At a session of the BGSU Faculty Senate in late February President Mary Ellen Mazey said that even with the option of a new $300 annual textbook fee, the cost of providing textbooks would be significant. Mazey reported that the estimates for state aid are a 1-percent increase this year with a freeze in the second year of the biennial budget. She also expects a freeze on tuition and fees, other than the possibility of the new textbook fee. No one, she said, knows how much paying for textbooks would cost. “I’ve heard as low as $6 million and as high as $18 million. That could be a major, major budget cut if we go in that direction.” She noted that the governor had already instructed universities to find ways to control textbook costs. As a result the university has surveyed what it now does to contain those costs and has formed a textbook affordability committee to study how the university could do more. As reported to Faculty Senate late last year, it was clear the BGSU was already doing a lot to help reduce the cost of books for students. The bookstore offers a price comparison program. The library had purchased copies of texts for some of the most popular courses with the most expensive books and makes them available for use in the library. Students can also get books through OhioLink, a cooperative library system that connects higher education libraries in the state. Some faculty have also opted to use older editions of books, which are available for much less, and then augmenting those with other materials to keep current. Some have also put copies of the books on reserve at Jerome Library for students to use. The textbook committee, which is chaired by Ellen W Gorsevski, of the School of Media and Communication, is seeking more information about how much textbooks cost. She shared notes from the committee’s first meeting. Part of the problem is that texts, including bundled online course content, and other supplies tend to get lumped together. The $300 fee is far short of the estimates of at least $600 a semester. The committee is considering getting estimates of textbook costs for each major, since these vary. Among the other ideas considered are providing grants and release time to faculty to develop open source online course material that would…


BG Schools program focuses on positive behaviors

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s hard to teach science theories, sentence dissection, or just about anything when kids are acting up. So Bowling Green City Schools are adopting a program called PBIS – Positive Behavior Intervention Supports. The program provides consistent rules throughout the district and reinforces positive behaviors by students. In order to have good learning environments, “we have to get the behaviors under control,” Crim Principal Melanie Garbig said during a recent board of education meeting. Each school in the district has a PBIS team, spearheaded by the guidance counselors, with the goal to have the program fully implemented next year. The program reinforces the same expectations to all students – from preschoolers to seniors. Students are reminded to be responsible for themselves, respectful of others, and safe in their schools. That common language will follow the students every year of school. “Those expectations are going to be the same,” Garbig said. “I think it’s going to make a difference.” The PBIS program focuses on positive reinforcement. Students caught being good are given “pride” slips. “Pride” postcards signed by teachers, are addressed to children and mailed to their homes. “It’s a way to celebrate the positive behaviors,” said teacher Stacey Higgins. Posters stating expectations of students are placed around the school, defining good behavior in the hallways, cafeteria, playground, bus, or during assemblies. To trick is to make it fun to behave. Crim staff and students made a video showing examples of bad and good behavior. The twist was that the teachers were the ones misbehaving, and the students were schooling them. The video shows teachers messing around during lunch, running in the halls, banging on bathroom doors, throwing items in the classroom, and climbing around the seats on the bus. The students then get their turn of exhibiting the right way to behave in each setting. “Obviously there’s more to education than reading and writing,” said school board member Paul Walker.


Efforts underway to find leaking septic systems

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Though sewer lines are inching their way across Wood County, there are still an estimated 14,000 homes that continue to rely on septic systems. An estimated half of those are failing and leaking raw sewage. By later this year, all 26 municipalities in Wood County will have public sewers. But many homes in rural areas don’t have that option.  And many may not be aware their septic systems are failing. “’Working fine’ is they flush the toilet and it goes away,” said Lana Glore, Wood County Health District environmental division director. But the question is – where does the sewage go? Since the average life expectancy of a septic system is 30 years, Glore said it’s possible that as many as 7,000 septic systems are sending sewage into public waterways. “In an ideal world, we’d have everybody sewered,” she said. Because aging and failing septic systems are a problem statewide, the Ohio Department of Health wants local health departments to examine every system. The Wood County Health Division already has a septic system operation and maintenance plan, but it is on a much smaller level, Glore said. Inspections of systems are complaint-driven or prompted by real estate sales. Since many older septic systems were installed without permits, they have likely never been inspected. “The first step is going to be playing catch up,” Glore said. “Where are our critical areas?” The health district consults with the Northwestern Water and Sewer District to see if plans exist to extend sewer services to problem areas. The health district works with the county building inspection office on preventing problems by determining the best locations for septic systems and making sure space is left for replacement systems. The health division also partners with the county engineer’s office to help map out systems using GIS. The health division also works with landowners to find the most reasonable solutions. If those older failing systems are inspected, and it can’t be proven that the sewage is going into a leachfield or a secondary system, then they have to be replaced. Septic system replacements can be quite costly, especially if bedrock is encountered. The health district hopes to use staff to design the septic systems and test soils, which can be a big cost savings to residents who would otherwise have to hire system designers and soil testers. The district also uses grant funding to help homeowners with the costs. New septic systems can cost anywhere from $6,000 to $20,000, Glore said. “In all cases,…


TJO to beat the drums in memory of Roger Schupp

The Toledo Jazz Orchestra will bring on the drummers to pay tribute to one of their own. The big band will present Drums and Drummers, a concert dedicated to Roger Schupp, the long-time TJO drummer who died in December, 2015, Saturday, March 11, at 8 p.m. at the Valentine Theatre in Toledo. Tickets are $25 and $35 from the Valentine box office at 419-242-2787 or order online at valentinetheatre.com. Ron Kischuk said that the TJO wanted to wait to plan its tribute to Schupp until after Bowling Green State University, where Schupp was a percussion professor, did their tribute concert. Kischuk said he’d encountered Schupp over the years, but the two first worked regularly when Kischuk became leader of the jazz orchestra after it re-formed seven years ago. He liked working with Schupp so much, he brought him to Detroit to record with his own groups. “What made Roger such a special player was his never ending appetite for becoming better at what he did,” Kischuk said. “He had such a joy to learn about all types of music and to excel at all types of music.”   Schupp performed at such “a high level all the time it almost became something sadly that’s taken for granted.” Given that Schupp so enjoyed the camaraderie of other drummers the theme seemed appropriate. The concert will feature three drummers during the concert. Tommy Igoe leads large ensembles on two coasts, the Birdland Big Band in New York City and the Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy in San Francisco. He’s also author of top drum instructional books. That dedication to both teaching and performance is fitting for someone paying tribute to Schupp, Kischuk said. Jerry McKenzie, who did two stints as the drummer with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, will also perform on three Kenton-related numbers. McKenzie knew Schupp from a previous performance at a Kenton-themed TJO concert. McKenzie said the two bonded musically when he played drum set and Schupp played utility percussion – timpani, congas and more. McKenzie admired Schupp’s ability to be an all-around percussionist. “And his big band prowess was excellent.” He recalled how on one number on which he soloed. “Roger would keep the time, and I could play around that. It just gave me more freedom to expand my solo.” Then, he told Schupp, “to beat those timpani to death because I was on a search and destroy mission to kill my drum set.” McKenzie said “the Kenton stuff was very bombastic and brassy. You just lay into it.” They stayed in touch throughout…


Lawmakers pan Trump proposal to unplug Great Lakes initiative

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Two Republican lawmakers are condemning a Trump Administration proposal to drain funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Ohio Senator Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green), the Ohio Senate Majority Floor Leader, in a statement Tuesday (March 7) stated: “If federal officials have new ideas to make sure our healthy Lake Erie efforts are more efficient and effective, then let’s get together and have that discussion. But a reduction of this magnitude is just not explainable and defensible unless it is replaced with a new strategy that can truly make a difference. Lake Erie is one of America’s great natural assets. I join many members of Ohio’s bipartisan congressional delegation in support of restoring these funds.” The president’s proposed budget cuts funding for the initiative from $300 million to $10 million. The initiative, which first received funding in 2010, supports projects aimed at reducing runoff from cities and farms, clean up toxic pollution in the lakes and combating invasive species, including the Asian carp The reduction in funding for the initiative goes along with dramatic decreases in appropriations for the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. U.S. Rep. Bob Latta issued a statement: “Protecting our Great Lakes is not only critical to the region, it’s important to the entire country. That’s why I authored the Drinking Water Protection Act, which was signed into law last Congress. It’s also why I’m also continuing to work on legislation to improve water infrastructure. “While Congress still hasn’t received the President’s official budget, it’s important to note that the document is the start to the Congressional budget process, not the end,” the statement continued. “Over the previous years, Congress has restored funding in its budget for the GLRI that the Obama Administration had proposed cutting.” The Obama Administration had proposed a $50 million reduction in funding to the initiative. Bowling Green State University political scientist Russell Mills said that a president’s budget proposal never gets through the congressional appropriations process intact. “What people really need to watch is what’s going on in the (House) Appropriations Committee,” he said. “That’s where the cuts will be made.” Mills said he expected the “draconian cuts” to the EPA and NOAA. Those, he said, are tied to those agencies efforts to combat global warming. The attack on the Great Lakes initiative, though, was surprising since it has had since its founding bipartisan support. The issue of Lake Erie water quality became critically urgent in August, 2014, when toxic algae made the water in much of…


Verdict in – Chidester retires leaving secure courthouse

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When Tom Chidester took the job as chief constable for the Wood County Courthouse 21 years ago, he had a tall order to fill. The Supreme Court order requiring courthouses to be made secure meant some unpopular decisions. But as he prepares to retire at the end of March, Chidester can sit back and rattle off the threats over the years that were stopped before they entered the courtrooms. In addition to standards knives and guns, there was a sword hidden in a cane, mace, plus knives hidden in phones and wallets. Oh, and then there was the six-pack of beer in a backpack. When Chidester, a former trooper with the Ohio Highway Patrol, took the job in 1996 there was little courthouse security in place. There were no metal detectors, no court security staff to keep an eye during emotionally charged trials. But there were orders in place that courthouses around the country were expected to obey. One of the biggest problems at the historic Wood County Courthouse was the number of building entrances that would need to be staffed. So county officials took the bold move of closing down all but one entrance. And former Wood County Commissioner Alvie Perkins came up with the idea for the atrium that would connect the courthouse and the county office building, which houses one of the common pleas courtrooms. “The elected officials were kind of divided on how the public would react,” Chidester recalled. “They went through many public meetings.” In December of 2005, the atrium opened and security measures went into place. There was some grumbling about just one entrance and about people needing to pass through a metal detector – but that all seems second nature now to those who use the courthouse. Chidester worked on meeting all 12 standards for courthouse safety, including such additions as cameras in courtrooms, panic buttons, limited access, metal detectors, X-ray machines and properly trained personnel. “I built it up slowly over the years,” he said, often able to get grants to pay for some of the expenses. “We were one of the first courts that met the standards.” Chidester was on a team that helped other courthouses meet the security challenges. “Most courts didn’t meet any of the standards.” Wood County’s court security now has four full-time and nine part-time officers. They scan people as they enter the courthouse complex and are posted in all criminal trials. The most common weapons confiscated at the entrance are knives. “A lot…


Latta gets way on ACA repeal, but future of bill is uncertain

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News U.S. Rep. Robert Latta (R-Bowling Green) is throwing his support behind the House proposal aimed at repealing the Affordable Care Act, and replacing it with a new plan. Latta, who has voted numerous times to repeal what is known as Obamacare, issued a statement Tuesday. “Obamacare has failed and it keeps getting worse as insurance marketplaces collapse and costs continue to rise. It’s time to repeal its broken promises and replace it with patient-centered health care. The plan proposed in the House will give Americans more choices, lower costs, and provides states with more flexibility to help repair markets damaged by Obamacare.” His spokesman Drew Griffin said the congressman was not available for an interview. A Bowling Green State University political science professor, however, questions the feasibility of the proposal and its political future. When Russell Mills saw the proposal that was released last night, he wondered:  “How are they going to pay for it?” Transforming subsidies into tax credits, he said, is a wash. “What they did was keep the most expensive parts of Obamacare but didn’t provide a way to pay for them,” Mills said. The proposal will allow young people to stay on their parents’ plans until they are 26. And it continues to stop insurance companies from refusing to insure people because of pre-existing medical conditions. And it maintains, at least for a few years, the expansion of Medicaid to help people with low incomes. But the funding to the states to support that Medicaid funding will get less generous after a few years. “I think they believe they’ll realize the savings by trimming the Medicaid portion of the ACA,” Mills said. The changes to the Medicaid expansion has already prompted four Republican senators from states that accepted that money to question the bill. That includes Ohio Sen. Rob Portman who came out “pretty immediately and said he had concerns about the House proposal.” Mills questions some of the assumptions. The bill would remove the penalty for people and businesses not having health insurance. The proposal would instead provide a tax incentive to encourage people to buy insurance. If that doesn’t work, and the pool of those getting insured is less healthy, that would drive up rates for everyone. While the plan has attracted the expected opposition from Democrats, and some from moderate Republicans, it has also generated opposition from more libertarian Republicans who have dubbed the proposal “Obamacare-lite.” “This is really not much of a big alteration,” Mills said. The political calculations surrounding the…