Library council launches campaign to support state funding

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Wood County Library is joining libraries around the state to rally their supporters to let legislators know how important libraries are to them and to the state. Library Director Michael Penrod told the library board about the Ohio Library Council’s Protect Public Library Funding advocacy campaign. Penrod said the idea is to let legislators know how important libraries are as the state budget starts to take shape this fall. The governor doesn’t propose the biennium budget until early in the year, but much of the work goes on behind the scenes in fall, said Penrod. The information presented by Penrod shows the general decline in funding from 2008 when it was set at 2.22 percent of the state’s general fund budget until it was 1.66 percent in 2015. The legislature did raise it to 1.7 percent in 2016, but unless action is taken that will drop back to 1.66 percent. Libraries aren’t advocating for a specific amount of funding, he said. Just no cuts. “It’s very much a positive campaign, people to contact our representative and senator and tell them why you love the library,” Penrod said. The library council provided statiics on the economic impact of public libraries. For every $1 spent on public libraries it generates $5.48 in economic value. Libraries, according to the handout, provide $2.7 billion in direct economic benefit to residents.  With more than 8.7 million Ohioans with library card holders, Ohio has the highest per capita use of public libraries in the nation. Libraries have only two funding streams, state money and a local levy. Penrod also reported on local efforts to help the ibrary. The Library Foundation raised more than $94,000 at its annual fundraiser at Schedel Gardens. Also, the Friends of the Library’s book sale earlier this month raised $4,600, the most ever. Penrod reported that since the library started using a collection agency about eight years ago to go after those who have not returned materials borrowed from the library, it has retrieved materials worth $121,000 and collected $119,000 in reimbursement for materials not returned. This is not a source of revenue, Penrod noted, because it simply replaces materials the library already possessed. Meeting in Walbridge, the board also received an update on the expansion project there. “Everything seems…


BGSU buying spree nets four parcels near campus

From BG INDEPENDENT NEWS Bowling Green State University has purchased four properties in its neighborhood. BGSU bought two rental properties at 141 and 145 Troup Ave., just off East Wooster Street for $280,000, according to university spokesman Dave Kielmeyer. The homes will be used for the university’s growing program in forensic science. The two houses will be used as forensic investigation scenario houses, he said. “We will make improvements to the houses and the landscaping,” he said. The houses are located in the middle of a residential street. The university is also purchasing two empty business properties at 904 and 908 East Wooster Street for $351,000. The buildings are on the corner of College. The Falcon Health Center is just to the west of the properties. They were most recently operated as a book store, but have served a variety of purposes over the years. Kielmeyer said those properties were being purchased as part of BGSU and the City of Bowling Green’s ongoing plans to improve the East Wooster Corridor leading from the intersection of I-75 into downtown Bowing Green.   The university is “buying in anticipation of what we might do there,” Kielmeyer said. He described it as “a strategic property acquisition. Those are important properties in our plans.” Beyond saying they were looked at for future mixed-use development, he couldn’t say what was envisioned for the property. They will be demolished sometime next year, he said, though before that they may be offered to the Fire School, held every summer on campus, for use in training exercises. The money to buy all four properties will come out of the university’s operating funds. The university trustees have given the administration approval in advance to make such real estate acquisitions as the opportunities arise.  


BG shop owner catches shoplifter with help from strangers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This crook didn’t stand a chance. He picked the wrong shop owner to steal from – a marathon runner. He picked the wrong location – next to the police station. And he ran the wrong direction – almost getting hit by the city prosecutor’s car before being nabbed by two strangers. Amy Craft Ahrens has chased down shoplifters before – four times, actually. But on Tuesday, the For Keeps shop owner got a little extra help from bystanders. In the end, two good Samaritans tackled the suspected thief, and Craft Ahrens returned to her shop with the stolen purple Vera Bradley bag. Police were quickly on the scene, since the For Keeps shop shares an alley with the police station. Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick was sitting in his office with Major Justin White when they heard shouting in the alley. They looked out the window. “We saw Amy running, chasing after someone,” Hetrick said. He couldn’t tell exactly what she was yelling, but “you could tell it was loud and angry.” It all started around noon, when Craft Ahrens was on the phone with a vendor in her shop at 144 S. Main St. She saw a man come in the front door of the store. He walked along the aisle with Vera Bradley items, then headed to the back door. As he walked out the door, “I could see something purple in his hand.” She recognized it as a $108 Vera Bradley bag. “I said, ‘I’ve got to go chase a shoplifter’ and threw the phone down,” Craft Ahrens said. If she would have been thinking clearly, Craft Ahrens said she would have just approached the man quietly. “But I yelled ‘stop,’ and immediately he started running.” “I was yelling, ‘Stop thief,’ like right out of a movie. Who does that?” The man – Randy Arndt – ran out into traffic on Wooster Street, and was almost hit by a car driven by City Prosecutor Matt Reger, who then pulled over in the alley to help. A couple was walking on Wooster Street, and heard Craft Ahrens yelling. The pedestrian, Chris Burden, basically “hip-checked him and knocked him to the ground,” Hetrick said. Meanwhile, another car on Wooster Street pulled into the alley, and…


Trump supporters put trust in promises of greatness

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the Donald Trump supporters waited for their candidate to arrive in Toledo on Wednesday, they gushed about the man they believe can make America safe and strong. The fact that he doesn’t speak like other politicians makes him even more appealing. He didn’t disappoint his followers, promising to create a nation of “one people, under one God, saluting one American flag.” He repeated his plans to keep out dangerous immigrants and bring back jobs. “I like the fact he’s not politically correct,” said Vera Wiskochil, of Toledo. “He may not speak correctly, but at least he’s not a liar.” A Vietnam veteran, Mike Vehue, also of Toledo, agreed that Trump “tells it like it is.” And unlike Democrats who have a habit of sticking their noses into places the don’t belong all over the globe, Vehue said Trump will focus on America. The Republican nominee has the business savvy to turn things around in America, Vehue added. “He’s a smart business man,” he said. Sure, a lot of items touting Trump’s name are made in other nations, but that’s part of his business smarts, Vehue said. “He gets stuff where it can be made cheap.” It’s comments like these that send a lot of eyes rolling in the pool of journalists that cover Trump’s speeches. The traits praised in Trump – honesty, business expertise and commitment to American workers – are all personal characteristics that have been refuted by those who have worked with and studied the candidate for years. On the streets outside the rally in the Stranahan Theater Wednesday afternoon, protesters held signs that said, “Build bridges, not walls” and “End racism.” One of the lead national news stories on Wednesday was about Trump using charitable funds to settle lawsuits against him. That type of information means little to his die-hard supporters who are counting on him to turn around America from what they see as a disastrous course. “I think he’s the most outspoken guy and the most honest guy in a long time,” Gary Douge, of Lambertville, Michigan, said. “It’s good to see a man who’s not a politician.” “We need a shake-up,” his wife, Diana Douge, said, adding that Hillary Clinton must not be allowed to appoint any U.S. Supreme Court…


Paperwork helps organic gardens grow, ag breakfast told

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Organic farmers are prohibited from using a host of synthetic products. Still there’s an important ingredient if a farmer wants to receive certification – lots of paperwork. Eric Pawlowski, an educator with Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, told the Northwest Ohio Ag-Business Breakfast Forum last week that nothing happens on an organic farm that isn’t documented. Every chore has to be accounted for to make sure no prohibited substances are used that could call into question a farmer’s organic certification. Pawlowski knows the system well. He teaches farmers about it. He conducts audits of farms to make sure they meet the organic standards. And he’s a farmer himself. On his operation, he said, he has workers write everything down on a dry erase board. At the end of the day, he snaps of photo of the board so he has a record of what has happened throughout that day on his farm. “Everything that’s sold has to be traced to the ground of production,” Pawlowski said. When talking about milk everything is traced to the individual cow. And chores such as cleaning equipment have to be monitored. Organic products are commanding a larger share of the market, and they command a higher price at the market. While a bushel of non-organic corn will sell for $2, a bushel of organic corn may fetch as much as $12. Still going organic is not for the faint of heart. For one there’s the paperwork, and there’s also cost affiliated with earning that certification and maintaining it, including annual audits. “If you’re just in it for the price premium, it’s not going to work. You have to have your heart in it,” Pawlowski said. To be certified a farmer has to prove a parcel of land has been free of prohibited pest and weed control for three years. Then maintain it to the satisfaction of annual audits. That’s not as clear cut as it seems. “There’s a lot of gray areas,” he said. These issues are “site specific.” Reflecting his own experience maintaining an organic farm. Pawlowski said. “Every year it shows you what you don’t know.” The OEFFA can help guide the farmer navigate those gray areas. The biggest concern many operators face is “drift” of prohibited substances from non-organic…


Sheriff pleads case for more jail holding cells

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s not uncommon for Wood County inmates to be doubled up in the booking holding cells, or even placed in an office where the furniture has been replaced with a cot. Though far from ideal, the current booking area of the Wood County jail just does not have room for all the traffic, especially all the special needs created by drug use or mental health conditions. “It’s a ticking time bomb,” Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said Tuesday morning to the county commissioners. “It’s not a safe way to do it, but we don’t have any options.” But the sheriff hopes that will change. Wasylyshyn made his pitch to the commissioners again for expansion of the jail’s booking and medical areas. He made the same request about five years ago, but at that time the commissioners approved the part of the expansion allowing more beds at the facility, but not the booking area. At that point, the booking expansion was estimated at around $5 million. When the Wood County jail was built in 1989, it was intended to have a larger inmate booking area. But efforts to trim costs resulted in the booking area being smaller than planned. Wasylyshyn said the expansion can no longer be put on hold. The current booking area has five cells, intended to hold one person each. The request is that the area be expanded to six individual cells for men, five individual cells for women, two group cells for men, and one group cell for women. The group holding cells could accommodate 10 each. Since the jail first opened in 1990, the needs have changed. Now the facility is booking more people with drug addictions and people feeling suicidal. So the holding cells are being used for these people, who must be kept under watch. One person who was deemed suicidal, but did not qualify for care at a psychotic facility, was kept in a holding cell for six months, where he could be checked on every 10 minutes. “Everyone knows we have a problem with drugs everywhere,” said Ronda Gibson, jail administrator. “It makes us not have holding cells for what is actually intended,” she said. Gibson estimated on any given day there are four to five active detox cases…


BG School District discusses student drug testing

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Schools has been one of the hold-outs in the county for student drug testing – but that may be ending. The board of education heard a presentation Tuesday evening from Kyle Prueter, of Great Lakes Biomedical, which handles drug testing in about 120 schools in Ohio. “We have a concern just like most schools,” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said, noting that Eastwood is the only other district in Wood County that doesn’t already do random drug tests. Scruci said he hopes to have a “community conversation” about a drug testing program, possibly next month. He stressed that the purpose of the testing would be to help, not punish students. “It is not a gotcha program,” he said. “We are not in the business to kick kids out of school.” Prueter said his business, Great Lakes Biomedical, has the same philosophy. The purpose is prevention. “It’s all about giving kids one more reason to say ‘no,’” when other kids pressure them to use drugs or alcohol, he said. Random drug testing of students averages 85 percent support from parents, and more than 50 percent support from students. “The kids are tired of it also,” he said. Testing is done with kids in extra-curriculars because attending school is a right, but participating in athletics or other activities is a privilege. It is a myth, Prueter said, that drug testing turns kids away from sports and other extra-curriculars. “There is no decrease in participation,” he said, noting that his business has been doing drug testing for 20 years. In the past, some schools treated positive drug testing results with “zero tolerance,” Prueter said. But most schools now realize it does no good to kick kids out of school for doing drugs. Though it will be up to the school board to set the district’s policy, Prueter said schools often give students two options if they test positive for drugs or alcohol: Plan A requires the student to get as assessment to determine the seriousness of the problem, then get counseling. They will not be kicked out of extra-curriculars, but they may be “dinged a bit,” meaning their participation may be curtailed. Once testing positive during a random check, they may also be tested more often during…


Lines at parking kiosks cause patience to expire

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Motorists are adapting to the week-old parking kiosks in City Lot 2, but they aren’t crazy about having to wait in a line as people figure out the new process. Bowling Green officials are trying to make the change as painless as possible by responding to concerns. They have added more signage about the kiosk locations, have simplified the directions on the kiosk screens, and have made city employees available at the sites to answer questions. “There has been a learning curve for the public and employees as well,” Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter said at Monday’s City Council meeting. However, based on the lines forming at the kiosks, the city may have to make one more change – add another kiosk, which will cost the city $11,000. Last week was the debut of the new parking kiosks in the city parking lots behind the first block of South Main Street, on the east side. Three kiosks took the place of the individual parking meters, and require motorists to punch in their license plate numbers as they pay. The three kiosks are located behind SamB’s restaurant, at the parking entrance on East Wooster Street, and near the parking entrance on Clough Street. Large electronic signs have been erected in the lot to notify people of the changes. Tretter said the ability to pay with credit cards at the kiosk has been a real hit with motorists. And if drivers input their cell phone number, they will be texted 10 minutes prior to their time expiring. They can then renew their parking time on their smart phones. The city’s parking technicians will still patrol the parking lots, but now they will carry hand-held devices that will tell them which cars have expired time. That change means that motorists cannot back into or pull through parking spaces since a license plate must by visible to the parking technicians. The rates and time limits for the lots haven’t changed. Those motorists wanting to park for up to 10 hours must use the part of the lot along South Prospect Street and must pay at the kiosk in that area. According to the city, the benefits of changing over to kiosks include: Replacement parts are more difficult to find and are becoming…


Poetry & art all have part in composer Elainie Lillios’ music

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Elainie Lillios’ music emerges from a web of relationships. The composer works closely with the musicians as she’s writing. She meets with the poet whose work inspires her. She reaches beyond music to poetry and art to construct her pieces that merge electronics and acoustic sounds. All those elements are in play as the Bowling Green State University professor of composition works on her newest piece. “Hazy Moonlight” is being funded by a prestigious Barlow Endowment Commission for Music. Lillios had already been discussing composing a piece for the duo of percussionist Stuart Gerber and saxophonist Jan Berry Baker before the Barlow Commission. In fact, it was the performers who suggested she apply. Lillios was one of 12 recipients out of 150 applicants. Lillios had visited them in Atlanta where they were playing on a streetcar during a festival. That’s part of what impressed the composer about the performers. “Just because music is difficult doesn’t mean it can’t be shared with the community,” she said. “They are very committed to this idea of getting music outside buildings, outside the academy, into places new music necessarily doesn’t happen. … They are really fearless performers. They want to engage with the community.” Lillios engages the performers from the very beginning of the composition process. “I like to be in a relationship with the people with whom I work. I’m not the kind of composer who goes into my room and spends six months there to write a piece and says ‘here it is’ without having any collaboration during the process.” Lillios wants them to feel “like they’ve been part of the piece from the very beginning.” Lillios wants to know who the performers’ favorite composers are, particular techniques they like or don’t like, how the piece will fit into their repertoire. The discussions include logistics as well. What instruments can the percussionist expect to have available while on tour? Lillios already has decided the piece will only use soprano and alto saxophones since that’s what saxophonist Berry Baker carries when she travels. The piece will use both taped sounds and real time electronic processing of the sounds produced by the performers on stage. Lillios is in the very earliest stages of the composition process. When writing for instruments, she said, she…


Wood Lane to suspend its levy collection next year

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood Lane is giving the voters a little gift next year. The Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities voted Monday to request the Wood County Budget Commission to suspend collection of the 2.95-mill levy for 2017. That means the board will not collect on the levy, which brought in nearly $8.4 million this year. To the owner of a house valued at $100,000, that is a savings of $93, according to the Wood County Auditor’s Office. The levy suspension is possible because of a lot of cost-cutting measures at the local level and changes mandated at the state level, according to Wood Lane Board President Ed Metzger. “We have not reduced the level of service,” Metzger stressed Monday evening. This may be the first time Wood Lane has ever suspended the collection of levy millage in the county. “It is something the budget commission has talked to us about in the past,” Metzger said. “As board members, we have talked about not just the service to our population, but also our responsibility to the taxpayers,” Metzger said Monday evening. The levy collection will be suspended just for 2017, then the need will be re-evaluated for 2018, Metzger said. The board was reluctant to give up the levy funds for more than a year in case there are further changes at the state level. “Things can change at the snap of a finger on the legislative side,” Metzger said. The board’s decision comes after a number of cost-saving measures since the five-year levy was passed in 2013. There has been a steady reduction of staff as individuals served by Wood Lane choose private providers. That has resulted from legislative action that stops boards of developmental disabilities from doing both the prescribing and providing of services to citizens. Other savings have been seen due to transportation changes, a conservative salary increase and the anticipated merger of the county board’s health plan with the county commissioners’ health insurance plan. The Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities also continues to increase the enrollment of individuals in home and community based waivers and increase utilization of federal funds. Finally, the county board reviews its capital plan annually to maintain fiscal responsibility with a preventative maintenance program. Despite these cost-saving measures, the number…


Family honored for building cultural bridges in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A Bowling Green family known for its Mediterranean cuisine was honored Monday evening for building cultural bridges in this community. So and Amal Shaheen were presented with an Honor Roll Award by the Bowling Green Human Relations Commission during a city council meeting. The award recognizes actions that promote respect and diversity in the community. “Our town’s quality of life rests on this foundation of equality and understanding, a foundation built by countless actions, both in the public eye and behind the scenes,” said Rev. Mary Jane Saunders, co-chairperson of the commission. The Shaheens, who own South Side Six, have taken very public actions to bring the community together. “So and Amal Shaheen are an example of bridge builders whose quiet efforts enhance our town as a community of peace,” Saunders said. Sometimes, the bridges are built with food – the Mediterranean cuisine from South Side Six that they have donated to the interfaith peace-making breakfasts held in Bowling Green. “Summertime finds South Side Six serving their menu at Lunch in the Park and educating customers about Mediterranean cuisine,” Saunders said. Sometimes, the bridges are built with words – such as during the Not In Our Town forums on the nature and the effects of Islamophobia. “The planners thought it was critical to have a Bowling Green resident representing the Muslim faith,” Saunders said. “And so Amal convinced So, twice, that he should be that representative. Talking about one’s personal faith in such a vulnerable setting called for courage and community spirit, and So’s comments and insights were an important contribution to the understanding of his experience living the Muslim faith in the BG community.” The Shaheen family has been a part of Bowling Green since 1991. “When their name comes up in conversation, it’s always followed by the observation that ‘they are great people, very generous, and very community-oriented.’ They are good neighbors, and the Human Relations Commission is honored to present them with this Honor Roll recognition,” Saunders said. Amal Shaheen was unable to attend the meeting, so So Shaheen accepted the award with two of their children by his side. He commented that he wanted his children to see the importance of being involved in the community. In other business at the city council…


Park district takes aim at creating archery range

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Briana Witte is aiming for a bullseye with one of the newest programs to be offered by the Wood County Park District. Witte, a woodland specialist with the park district, is heading up the archery program which will include a new range for archers on Linwood Road, near Bowling Green. The archery program came about as a result of town hall meetings held across Wood County, asking local residents about park programs they would like to see. Two of the top requests were kayaking, canoeing and archery. The kayaking and canoeing are now in place, and the archery is on target to be ready soon. Archery, unlike so many other sports can be enjoyed by people of varied ages and skill levels, Witte said. “You don’t have to be in really good shape. You don’t have to be strong. You don’t have to be fast. You just have to be patient,” Witte said. People will be able to use their own bows and arrows at the archery range, or they can use the compound bows purchased by the Friends of the Parks. “These are really nice because an 8-year-old can use it and with a few adjustments, a 50-year-old can use it,” Witte said of the compound bows. Adaptive bows will also be available for people who use wheelchairs or have other particular needs. Crossbows, which are typically used for hunting, will not be permitted at the archery range. Once completed, the archery range will be open from dawn to dusk. It will not be staffed unless there is a class or special event planned. Classes are planned for children and adults. “This is the only archery range in the county,” said Jamie Sands, communications specialist and volunteer coordinator. “The free, open access to being able to practice is wonderful.” Mobile archery ranges have been offered at parks throughout the county, but the permanent range on Linwood Road will be much more convenient. The site will have room for 10 archer lanes and targets, ranging from 5 to 70 meters. There will be a shelter house with benches for the archers, spectator seating, a storage room and a parking lot for 20 cars. The stands are being constructed as part of an Eagle Scout project by Bryce…


Tobacco 21 urges cities to increase smoking age

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Trying to regulate tobacco products has become a game of Whack-a-mole. As soon as standards are established for one product, the innovative tobacco industry comes up with another one. “We regulate one product and another one pops up,” said Tom Geist, regional director for the Tobacco 21 program. So instead of spending all their efforts chasing new products, Tobacco 21 organizers are trying to convince municipalities and states to bump up the legal age for tobacco products to 21 years old. In Ohio, five communities have increased the legal age: Cleveland, New Albany, Bexley, Grandview Heights and Upper Arlington. Two states – California and Hawaii – have increased the age statewide. As of last Friday, there were 190 cities in 14 states that have adopted ordinances making 21 the legal age for tobacco. Geist has set his sights on adding Bowling Green, Toledo, Athens, Dayton and Columbus to the list. Geist spoke to members of the Wood County Prevention Coalition Friday at the Wood County Educational Service Center, explaining the reasons for Tobacco 21. First, tobacco is deadly. According to widely accepted numbers from national health institutions, tobacco is responsible for one in five deaths in the U.S. “It is the worst failure of American public health in the last 100 years,” he said. Smoking kills between 500,000 and 600,000 a year in the U.S. That’s more people each year than all of the Americans killed in World War II. Put in a more graphic manner, it’s like three packed 747 airplanes crashing and burning daily, Geist said. Several health issues have been linked to smoking, some of which greatly diminish the quality of life. “It’s not just death, it’s the road there,” Geist said. “One that’s entirely avoidable.” Smoking also causes several neonatal problems, and doubles the infant mortality rate for babies when their mothers’ smoke during pregnancy. Second, by making tobacco illegal before age 21, several young people may be stopped from smoking as youth – and as adults, Geist said. The average age of smoking “initiation” is 14 to 15. “If you can keep kids from smoking until they are 21, it’s very unlikely they will start smoking,” he said. “Teenagers are not the best at decision making. Teenage brains are wired to take…


Music meets art in EAR|EYE concert by BGSU musicians

By DAVID DUPONT BG INDEPENDENT NEWS The EAR|EYE concert series at the Toledo Museum of Art brings together musicians from Bowling Green State University’s Doctor of Musical Arts in Contemporary Music program with art on display at the Toledo Museum of Art. The series opened its second season Friday night inside the Levis Galleries with the sculptures of Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. The galleries offered the musicians and about 80 listeners plenty of chance to move about and perform. For each piece, the musician is stationed in proximity to an art work. The monumental size of several pieces lent themselves well to such interaction. Soprano Hillary LaBonte sang inside the hanging curtains of words of “Silent Rains.” Saxophonist Christopher Murphy performed under the looming, gargoyle like heads of “Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil.” As usual the pieces correlation between the pieces and the works are imprecise, yet evocative. The format allows both a fresh look at the art, and a chance to hear contemporary music from a different angle. Each performance was introduced first by Robin Reisenfeld, a museum curator, who gave insight into the individual Plensa works, and then Marilyn Shrude, who provided listening notes to the music. Scott Boberg, the museum’s manager of programs, shepherded the listeners from spot to spot within the gallery. The next performance will be Friday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m.at the museum. Related stories For a story on an EAR|EYE concert last November visit: https://medium.com/@DavidRDupont/in-the-shadow-of-paris-the-music-plays-on-6429b539d576#.m65d6wbz8. For a story on the Plensa exhibit visit: http://bgindependentmedia.org/jaume-plensas-in-just-the-right-place-at-toledo-museum-of-art/          


Wood County Commissioners talk sewers, landfill, pipelines, more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Wood County Commissioners took a look at the big picture for the county this past week during a long-term planning meeting. They talked tax abatements, sewers, and the landfill expansion. And they discussed pipeline corridors, unsafe intersections and jail improvements. The long-term planning meetings give the commissioners a chance to look ahead and prepare for issues that may pose problems in the future. Such as: Tax abatements. The commissioners discussed the benefit of keeping track of businesses that have abatements that are nearing expiration, so county officials can examine the possible effect on the county. Septic systems. The cost of putting in a new septic system can cost up to $20,000. The commissioners have heard from local residents who have installed new septic systems, then shortly after find out that a sewer is being constructed past their homes, and they are legally required to tap into the public sewer system. The commissioners talked about being more proactive about letting county residents know where sewer services are being proposed so they don’t invest in new septic systems needlessly. Wood County Landfill. The county is within 10 years of filling to capacity the current cell that is licensed at the landfill. The commissioners talked about the need to begin the expansion process. There is open acreage at the site, but permits must be acquired before it can be used. Pipeline corridors. Earlier this year, as plans were underway for four pipelines to run different routes through Wood County, the commissioners asked that the pipeline companies consider combining routes so as few landowners were affected as possible. This week, the commissioners discussed the possibility of asking the planning commission to recommend in the county’s land use plan that pipelines be built along roadways. Jail improvements. The sheriff has been asking the commissioners to approve renovations to the jail booking area, the holding cells and the medical area. The commissioners plan to meet with the sheriff soon to discuss the project. Energy audits. The county has already made changes resulting in significant savings in energy usage in governmental buildings, including new boilers, lights and windows. Next on the list for energy audits are the jail and the Child Support Enforcement Agency. Unsafe intersections. The commissioners occasionally get letters from citizens…