Child abuse reports spike, another investigator to be hired

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When child abuse reports jumped in February, it was hoped the spike was just a blip. But then came May. “February set the all time high for Job and Family Services investigations in a month,” said Dave Wigent, director of the Wood County agency. “But in May, we broke the record we set in February.” Children’s Services has gone through brief spikes in the past, Wigent said. “This is going on a five-month trend.” Last year, the agency investigated 718 child abuse and neglect cases. The average has been 60 to 70 cases a month. But this year, the numbers were hitting 80 to more than 90 a month. In order to deal with the increase in child abuse cases, the office needs another investigator, Wigent told the Wood County Commissioners on Thursday morning. While the current staff can handle the increase for a month or two, the continued demands are too much for the present staff. The workload is being spread amongst the six current investigators and others on the Children’s Services staff. “All these folks are busy to start with,” Wigent said. Wigent presented graphs to the commissioners showing the average number of investigations handled per worker per month at other county Children’s Services agencies in Ohio. Of those listed, Wood County had the second highest workload, with each worker handling 13.6 investigations a month. Licking County was higher with 16 per worker, and Allen County was the lowest with nine per worker. “It’s pretty easy to say these seven people are the tip of the spear for us,” Wigent said of the child abuse investigators. They have a dangerous and emotionally draining job, he added. Wigent said Wood County Children’s Services “runs lean,” compared to some other counties, such as Marion County, which has about half the population of Wood County but about twice as many investigators. The agency has enough in reserves, along with state and federal funding, to pay for the new position, he said. Wigent also pointed out that not only are the case numbers up,…


Tim Brown leaving Statehouse, but sticking with public service

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   State Rep. Tim Brown, R-Bowling Green, is stepping down from the Statehouse to return to his roots. Brown was hired as director of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments on Wednesday. The move ends his 27-year career in government, but returns him to grassroots public service that he found most rewarding. “It was the time I spent with Jim and Alvie, at the local level, that I enjoyed most,” Brown said referring to his years as Wood County commissioner with Jim Carter and Alvie Perkins. “Now I’ll have a chance to do it again,” Brown said this morning. “It’s the local stuff that matters to people. It kind of feels like I get to come home to those issues again. The public service isn’t ending on my part.” The decision to give up the Statehouse for the TMACOG leadership position was tough. “It’s bittersweet,” he said. “This path provides me with the opportunity to do the work I really enjoy doing.” Brown will probably start his new job in mid-July. His salary has not yet been set. Brown started his career in public service working for Congressman Paul Gillmor for eight years. He then served as county commissioner for 15 years, and is now in his fourth year as a state representative. He was not looking for a new job, but was approached by a few people about the difficulty TMACOG was having filling the top position. “The more we talked, I realized this is the work I enjoy. It turned out to be a remarkable opportunity,” he said. “It’s an opportunity I just couldn’t say ‘no’ to.” Though Brown was not being pushed out of office yet by term limits, that reality did play a part in his decision. “Here I am, four years into the job, and my eligibility is half over,” he said. That realization was combined with the rare opening for such a job as director of TMACOG. “It’s not a position that comes along very often,” he said, noting that it has been 25 years since…


BG community gathers in the shadow of Orlando killings

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The people at Pulse, the gay club in Orlando, were there early Sunday morning to have a good time in a space where they felt safe. Then a gunman intruded into the party, killing 49, wounding 53, several gravely. On Wednesday evening more than 300 people gathered at the First Presbyterian Church to remember the victims. The names of the dead were displayed around the community room, and then when the gathering moved outside for lighting of candles, all 49 names were read aloud. “Tonight we are gathered in the ashes of a horrific event in Orlando,” said the Rev Gary Saunders, co-pastor of First Presbyterian. He said that he had talked to “a dear friend, a gay man, who said ‘I won’t be there. I’m too afraid of being part of group like this that will be, by definition, a target.’ So sad, but understandable.” Among those in attendance was Imam Talal Eide, of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, he decried the “heinous” crime, and said that it was against the tenets of Islam. “The bloody slaughter of innocent people is … condemned.” God created all people with dignity and gave people “the freedom to choose our lives,” he said. As a human “I am responsible to build bridges of love between us rather than bridges of hatred.” The Rev. Lynn Kerr of the Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation said it was “O.K. to afraid in the wake of the attack.” But the people needed to make choices. “Let us choose love, and act on it, again and again and again.” Mayor Dick Edwards said the community needs “to embrace the basic tenet of the Not In Our Town movement to fight hate in any form and stand tall for individual liberty.” Bowling Green State University President Mary Ellen Mazey urged those present to act to address gun violence. “I don’t believe our forefathers, when they wrote the Second Amendment, intended for weapons of mass destruction to be used in schools and night clubs.” She said it was “incumbent” on those in…


Pratt farm defies development, donated to park district

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For nearly two centuries, the farm settled by William Pratt in Perrysburg Township has stayed in the family’s care. Descendants Doug and Mary Ellen Pratt could not bear to have their beloved farm split up and turned into housing developments, so on Tuesday they did something their community-minded ancestors might have appreciated. They gave their land to the people of Wood County for generations to come. “We express our gratitude to the park district,” Doug Pratt said as he and his wife handed their homestead over to the Wood County Park District. “Our only regret is we won’t be here to see it.” The Pratts asked that the park district dedicate about 40 acres for sports fields, then use the remaining 120 acres for trails, trees, a pond, cross country skiing and picnic areas. “What you did is very generous,” said Denny Parish, of the park district board. “I find it ironic that you would thank us.” “The citizens of Wood County thank you,” said Bob Dorn, of the park district board. The 160 acres of fields and farm homestead are split by Hull Prairie Road, just north of Roachton Road. The farmland is almost completely surrounded by housing developments, and will soon be neighbor to the newest Perrysburg school. “We don’t want it in housing,” Doug Pratt said of his farm. Neil Munger, director of the park district, assured the Pratts that the farm would be in good hands. “What a wonderful, wonderful thought on their part to preserve their property,” Munger said. “It will be a natural space for future generations.” Mary Ellen Pratt shared the story of the farm’s beginning nearly 200 years ago. William Pratt, of the New York Militia, was charged with delivering supplies to Fort Meigs during the War of 1812. Something about the region – with its heavy woods, swampy land, and Native Americans – convinced him to settle in the Perrysburg area. In 1819, William Pratt brought his family to the area. He died in 1824, but his family carried on. The oldest farm…


ODOT details road projects in Wood County

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Construction projects on Interstate 75 and surrounding roads have drivers tied up in knots – or stalled in traffic. “It looks like hell out there,” Wood County Commissioner Joel Kuhlman said during a meeting with Ohio Department of Transportation officials Tuesday morning. Every time he drives on I-75, which is being widened to three lanes in each direction, Kuhlman is amazed at the complexity of the project. “It could be way, way worse,” he said. The commissioners were told by ODOT officials that the widening project is on schedule, with the stretch of I-75 between Devils Hole and Oil Center roads expected to be done by the end of November. “Essentially, we’re where we need to be,” said Brian French, engineer on the project. But until it’s done, the disruptions to drivers will continue, with closures in the Perrysburg area expected till September, then closure of the southbound ramps for Route 582 planned after that. ODOT is trying to stagger road closures and detours. “We certainly appreciate 75 being widened. All of your predecessors talked about it,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said. “Even though we get caught in traffic jams,” Herringshaw added. But Todd Audet, deputy director of ODOT District 2 office in Bowling Green, isn’t apologetic about the congestion caused by the construction project which came sooner than expected due to early funding. It would have been irresponsible for the district to not snap up the construction dollars when they were offered, he said. “Funding became available and we’re doing as much as we can,” Audet said. The entire I-75 project should be completed in two to three years. Then the increasing interstate traffic will flow more easily. Layth Istefan, highway management administrator, said I-75 is “important to our local economy. Most of our goods and services are transported on interstates.” And once it’s complete, the snarled roadway will be a distant memory. “I’ve got to believe five to 10 years from now, people will say, ‘Remember when this was two lanes?’” Commissioner Craig LaHote said. ODOT officials met with the county…


It takes a community to help elders age safely

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It takes a community to not only raise children, but also to help elders age with dignity. As Bowling Green officials stopped to “Pause of the Pledge” on Tuesday morning, they were also encouraged to look out for older members of the community. Last year, 267 cases of elder abuse and neglect were investigated in Wood County. That is an increase from the 2014 reports of 235 cases, according to Marc Briseno, supervisor of Adult Protective Services in the county. Every year an estimated 5 million, or one in 10, older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation. Experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as 23.5 cases go unreported. “We certainly want to be a place where people can live, work and enjoy their retirement,” said Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw. “It is our collective responsibility to make sure they live safely and with dignity.” Many of those present Tuesday were wearing purple shirts with the slogan, “Aging is Natural. Abuse is Not.” It is up to individuals to be aware of elder abuse or neglect, Herringshaw said, to “allow seniors to live as independently as possible.” Wood County has many services in place to protect seniors as they age, according to Dave Wigent, director of the county’s Department of Job and Family Services. “Wood County enjoys an especially robust range of services for seniors,” Wigent said. “Most counties in Ohio do not have these services,” which makes this county a “better place and safe place to age.” Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson expressed his objections to a state commission’s plans to possibly remove senior citizens from the list of special classes of victims in the state. “That’s offensive,” Dobson said. “They deserve the extra protection” of the courts, of law enforcement and of legislation. Dobson urged all those present to be aware of elder abuse when they see it. “This is our responsibility. It’s our responsibility to recognize the signs.” Those signs, according to Briseno, include poor hygiene or poor…


Patient advocate bill signed in Ohio law

One of the most comprehensive patients advocate bills in the nation was signed into law at the Ohio Statehouse Monday, according to State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green. Gardner sponsored Senate Bill 129, known as the Prior Authorization Reform Act, to require faster turnaround times for patients and medical providers to receive health care coverage decisions from insurance companies. “This bill begins a new era when patients can receive health care in a more timely manner – the same health care they expect, deserve and have paid for,” Gardner said Monday.  “We need a more modern, accountable and cost-effective prior authorization process in Ohio.  Soon we will.” Gardner said the Ohio State Medical Association had approached him to sponsor the bill. “I agreed with them we need a better system,” he said. “I’ve always been one who wanted to strengthen the doctor-patient relationship.” Nearly 80 health care providers and patient advocate organizations, including the American Cancer Society, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, several mental health organizations, the Cleveland Clinic and numerous other hospitals supported the bill. The lead supporting organization, the Ohio State Medical Association, said the bill is one of its top priorities during the current session of the General Assembly. “Senate Bill 129 has a number of provisions that will make the prior authorization process more transparent, more fair, and more patient-focused,” said Tim Maglione, senior director of government relations for the OSMA. Gardner said the bill was quite complicated, involving several medical organizations and tackling multiple provisions. “Most states have done one or two provisions at a time,” he said. Highlights of Senate Bill 129’s numerous reforms include: Requires a new electronic web-based prior authorization process designed to end the costs and time lost with the current fax and phone call system. Provides for a 33 percent reduction in the time allowed for insurers to decide prior authorization requests and a 67 percent reduction in decision time for appeals of denied requests. Mandates that insurance companies disclose to medical providers all necessary information and documentation that a provider must submit in order for the request to be considered…


Mustang designer enters Boys State Hall of Fame

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Ford Motors wanted to perk up its product line with a car that would appeal to young drivers, they turned to Gale Halderman, the company’s chief designer. He came up with a classic, the Mustang. Buckeye Boys State revved up its Hall of Fame Monday when it inducted Halderman, who turns 84 Tuesday, into its Hall of Fame. Halderman attended Boys State in 1949. He went on to attend the Dayton Institute of Art, and decided he wanted to design cars. He joined Ford as a 21 year old, and spent the next 40 years with the company. He described himself as “just a farm boy who liked to draw cars.” At Ford, the former farm boy designed trucks and tractors as well as the Mustang. Since retiring he’s turned the barn on his family farmstead into a car museum featuring a number of vehicles he designed. Halderman said he gained much during his week at Boys State that served him well in his career. As a member of the newspaper staff, he learned to work with people, even people he didn’t necessarily like. “But you don’t need to tell them,” he said. “You’ve just got to work with people in any career you choose.” Halderman wasn’t the only speaker who recalled the lessons learned from Boys State. Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said those lessons in the hands-on civics program have served him well in his career in government and university administration. He attended in 1956. “I can firmly state my Boys State experience has never left me.” Edwards said he would be remiss as a band alumni if he didn’t “give a shout out” to the musicians in the ensemble, especially his fellow saxophonists. The program continues at Bowling Green State University through Sunday.


Black Swamp Players taking late director’s dream play to state conference

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Dennis East had long wanted to stage “The Black Bonspiel of Wullie MacCrimmon,” a dark comedy about dealing with the devil and curling. Years ago he and his wife, Kathy, had seen the play in Canada, and he just felt would be a great show for The Black Swamp Players to perform back home in Bowling Green. East was a veteran of the troupe, having done everything from set construction to acting to serving as president. Finally “The Black Bonspiel,” with a few approved changes to make it more suitable for a local audience and provide more female roles, made it onto the Black Swamp Players’ schedule for fall, 2013. Then East was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The play was scrapped as East battled the disease. Finally last September, still in treatment, East brought Wullie MacCrimmon and his colorful cast of Canadian curlers to the First United Methodist stage. Kathy East remembers it was a strain on him. But he persisted.  “He was just determined he wanted to do it,” she said.  As was his practice he built the sets. “He would spend a lot of time in morning, and afternoons he was napping.” He complained, she said, that he used to be able to construct a set in two weeks. The devil-may-care comedy, in which a shoe repairman played by Lane Hakel bets his soul on the outcome of a curling match, or bonspiel, came off so well that the Players opted to submit it as their entry into the Northwest Region of the Ohio Community Theater Association conference. As the conference, held this past weekend, neared East’s condition worsened. He was able to make it to the first rehearsal before the conference. Kathy East said the cast “just did fabulous,” she said. ”The lines just rolled off their tongues.” Impressive given it had been seven months since the play was staged. East noticed that some boards needed to be painted. So he and Kathy brought them home, and she painted them and returned them during the next rehearsal. That, she noted, did…


Oath Keepers gathering rallies survivalists in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Oath Keepers spent the weekend learning how to survive all types of disasters including overreaches by the federal government. Approximately 100 members, many dressed in their black Oath Keeper T-shirts, military cargo pants and boots, and equipped with radios and earpieces, gathered for a multi-state rally at the Woodland Mall in Bowling Green. Nick Getzinger, of Weston, who is executive officer to the president of the Ohio Oath Keepers, said the organization has grown in the last couple months. “People have found out we’re not a militia,” he said. “If they have a militia mentality, they have to keep that with their group,” Getzinger said. “We’re not going to take a military stance.” Since opening the Oath Keepers Outpost store at Woodland Mall earlier this year, Getzinger has stressed that the Ohio branch of the group is not like others in the nation. If potential members show an anti-government mentality during the vetting process, they are turned down for membership, he said. “We’ve turned quite a few people away,” he said. Getzinger is well aware that the Oath Keepers has been labeled as an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. “I know Southern Poverty tries to throw everybody in the same bucket, but you can’t do that,” he said. “We don’t buy into conspiracy theories, but right now we believe our country is on the wrong track.” While that may be Getzinger’s stance, the mindset of the others at the rally is unknown since they were ordered not to speak to the media. Getzinger said the gag order was due to the large number of new members who may not be well versed yet on the organization. “We don’t want any misunderstandings.” When asked to point out a longstanding Oath Keeper who could be interviewed, Getzinger said, “they’re under direct order from the president (of Ohio Oath Keepers) not to speak.” The only other person at the rally allowed to talk was Caroline Pelgar, executive secretary to Getzinger from Lorain County. She described the group as “a community of Christians”…


Bearing witness to Orlando killings draws mixed response in BG (Updated)

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Local residents came out Sunday morning to show their support for the victims of the mass killing in Orlando, Fla. An attacker, Omar Mateen, gunned down people in the Pulse, a gay night club. Fifty people, including Mateen, died at the scene. Another 53 were wounded. With a rainbow flag, a handful of people gathered near the Four Corners in downtown Bowling Green. They were greeted by a show of hands – some gave them a thumbs up, some gave them a middle finger. Bowling Green resident Amy Jo Holland said “it was not a pleasant experience.” There were positives and negatives, she said. Linda Tomajko, of Bowling Green, said some honked in support, others thanked them for being out. A couple “preachers” showed up, she said. “One said he understood why God killed those people because they were sinners.” Another said those at the vigil were destined for hell. One preacher stood in front of them for 30 minutes and “bellowed at the top of his lungs,” said Gwen Andrix, another Bowling Green resident. She said the reaction was “fairly typical” of what happens when members of the LGBTQ community gather to express themselves. Tomajko said she was prompted to act because the attack struck close to home. She learned of it when she first got up this morning. There have been so many shootings in the past months, she admitted the impact on her has dulled. “I have a lot of friends who are gay and trans,” she said, “and when I woke up this morning and saw that stuff… I was imagining so many of my friends and even myself who’s supportive of the effort. It absolutely broke my heart. “This stuff happens every day,” she said. “The difference is instead of being one or two people, it’s 100, 50 dead and 53 injured.  I felt like instead of sitting there and kind of wallowing, I wanted to do something.” As she was leaving downtown this morning to bear witness, someone stopped and asked if a vigil for the victims would…


Horizon Youth Theatre’s “Honk!” delivers important message with smile

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Horizon Youth Theatre is ready to make some noise. This weekend the youth troupe will stage “Honk!” a contemporary musical retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s story “The Ugly Duckling.” The musical will be performed at First United Methodist Church, 1526 E. Wooster St., Friday, June 17, and Saturday, June 18, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, June 19, at 2 p.m.  Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children. Visit http://horizonyouththeatre.org/product/honk/. Director Cassie Greenlee said the musical is a perfect fit for the young troupe — a fun show with a message. The script was written for a cast of 12 with most actors playing multiple roles. Instead Horizon cast an actor for every part. That meant a role for all those who came out for auditions. That’s a cast of 37, and there’s plenty for them to do. “The secondary characters may be only in one scene but they have a big song or a big part, so we’re able to showcase the talent Horizon has,” Greenlee said. All the members of the cast “have a chance to shine.” That means they all “have a large chunk of responsibility.” Many are “stepping out of their comfort zone, maybe singing solo for first time.” “It’s important to push them out of those comfort zones a little bit and they’ve risen to the challenge,” Greenlee said. Sky Frishman, 16, auditioned for the show because of that wealth of parts. She wasn’t aiming for a particular role, she just wanted to be part of the show. “There were so many good roles,” she said. She’s playing one of the leads as Ida, the Ugly Duckling’s mother. A veteran of eight years with Horizon, she said, she hasn’t had that many leads. Now as Ida, the Toledo School for the Arts student has a number of songs to learn. That’s a challenge, she said. It’s also what Horizon Youth Theatre is about.  The troupe accepts children “no matter how much experience you have, just to learn and grow.” That’s what she’s done. Frishman remembers how “cool”…


Diving head first in no-hands pie eating contest

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Six grown men tested their stamina and their stomachs Saturday during a no-hands pie eating contest at the Heritage Farm Festival held at the Wood County Park District’s Carter Historic Farm. James Benschoter put his beard in a ponytail. Dylan Thomason starved himself ahead of time. And Joel Kuhlman thought he was prepared. “I was actually looking forward to it all week – until I got here,” said Kuhlman, a Wood County commissioner. The rules were simple, but strict. No utensils. No hands. The first person to finish and stand up won $20. “The rest of you get to finish the pie we gave you,” said Bryan Bockbrader, the park district’s stewardship coordinator. “If you pass out in your chair, you are disqualified,” he added. The men were thanked for sacrificing their dignity, then told to begin. The apple pies went down easy to start, with the men occasionally lifting their heads to breathe. All the contestants were given large bandana handkerchiefs to use as bibs. But most were employed to get apple pie out of their noses. As they labored to inhale the desserts, Bockbrader egged them on. “This is muskrat pie, we found it along the road.” Thomason, the youngest of the group, was going strong right up till the end. “No more pie for me for a year,” he said after he walked from the table and slumped down to the ground. John Dalton, the eldest of the group, gave it a noble effort, rarely lifting his head from the pie plate. But in the end, the first man to devour down to a clean pie tin was Chris Henschen. His secret was picking up the pie plate with his teeth and banging it on the table to break up the crust so it was easy to handle. “Slow and steady,” Henschen said with a smile. “I do like apple pie.” The Heritage Farm Festival was also an educational experience for younger participants. Children learned that planting potatoes is harder than ordering French fries at the drive-thru window. They…


County housing analysis reveals lack of affordable rentals and lack of public transportation

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A new analysis of housing in Wood County revealed the same problems as past studies – too few affordable rentals and a lack of public transportation which doesn’t allow people to access less expensive housing. Dave Steiner, director of the Wood County Planning Commission, shared the latest Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing with the county commissioners on Tuesday. The study is required every five years in order for the county to get Community Block Grant Funding from HUD. The massive report digs into the county’s demographics, and looks at areas where fair housing opportunities can be furthered. Steiner said the report points out three areas needing improvement. First is the lack of affordable rentals, which are limited primarily to Bowling Green. Few low rent properties are available outside of the city, he said. Second is the lack of public transportation, which is especially detrimental in small villages. Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw mentioned the new Net Plus transportation program which should be in operation by the end of last week. However, that program is to provide rides to doctor’s appointments, not to the grocery story or social visits. “It does keep people in small towns kind of isolated,” Herringshaw said of the lack of public transportation. With Wood County being the seventh largest county geographically in the state, efforts to provide comprehensive public transit have stalled. “There’s no easy solution to that,” Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said. Steiner agreed. “I have yet to find a solution,” he said, adding that the need for public transportation will continue to grow. “With the aging population, that is going to be a bigger problem.” The third issue identified in the housing study was the fact that many people are not aware of their rights when renting a home. For example, Steiner said, if a doctor has determined that a person needs a service animal, that person cannot be denied from having a service animal in their rental. “People don’t always know their rights,” he said. In addition to highlighting housing problems, the countywide…


BG ready for algae season in river water

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It’s that time of year, when the recipe for algal blooms starts cooking in the Maumee River. Spring rains run nutrients from soil into waterways and the sun’s rays warm up the water to create algal blooms. “All those ingredients in the water that promote algae growth start to happen,” said Brian O’Connell, utilities director for the city of Bowling Green. Last week, an algal bloom in the Maumee River near Defiance’s water treatment plant prompted a “no contact” advisory. Defiance is located upriver from Bowling Green’s water intake which sits between Grand Rapids and Waterville. “Swimming and wading in the Maumee River is not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women, those with certain medical conditions and pets,” a Defiance news release stated, according to the city’s newspaper. But Defiance officials said the drinking water supply was safe. The water is currently being drawn out of the city’s reservoir, not the river, they reported. And water from the reservoir had been tested, showing safe levels. Bowling Green’s drinking water is also safe despite algal blooms in the river, according O’Connell. Bowling Green draws its water from the Maumee River near its West River Road plant, and pumps it into a reservoir where it is treated for any algal blooms. That is just the first step, O’Connell explained earlier this week. “To top that off, there’s a small UV light system,” he said, and then chlorine treatment just in case anything slips past the processes. “Our finished water samples have always shown a ‘no-detect,’” level of algae, O’Connell said. Throughout the treatment process, the water is repeatedly tested. “We, like every other plant, are doing the required sampling on the raw water side,” he explained. Then the testing is conducted again on the treatment side. The city’s plant has not yet experienced a level of algal blooms that it can’t effectively treat, he said. “The harmful algae has never got through the system,” O’Connell said.